It hasn't happened yet but I'm sure it will, so long as I keep up the yapping in public.

All right, so it is time for my Long Awaited 2008 Elections Results Post, Non-Being-Pissed-Off-About-Homophobia Edition! It is only in the last few days that I realized that the constant fear and dread about the election results–combined with the usual tribulations of living abroad–were making me really depressed here! I had become anhedonic; that is, I did not enjoy the things I used to enjoy: walking, traveling, going out and doing fun cultural stuff in general (the theatah, the ballet, etc), cooking, eating, working on my dissertation. I kept up all of the things that I knew I needed to do (so that would be: my dissertation and eating), and otherwise I just moped around, mope mope mope (the fact that it is always cloudy and cold here does not help, nor does the fact that it gets dark at approx. 2 p.m. every afternoon), and I was afraid that I was suffering from real textbook depression and was in for it! And then Obama won on Tuesday and it was like this giant veil lifted off me: I want to travel again, I like going out and doing things, I am not scared to leave my apartment and go try something new. I guess I just didn't realize how crazy the election was making me (some other people did, though, you know who you are, and I am sorry); or rather, I did, but I didn't think I could do anything about it. Why all this yammering about my depression? I thought this was your highly-anticipated post-election treatise, you say. Hold on there, I'm getting to it.

The reason, I think, I spent the last month and a half in a constant state of agony was that the agony of 2004 came rushing back all at once–those horrible hours when we got buoyed by exit polls and then crushed when Bush won again, and the next four years turned even more odious than we ever could have imagined. So, you know, no big whoop, but it had me a little down. 2004. In 2004 I was still a professional TV watcher in New York, and a lot of the commiserating about the election I did with my fellow professional TV watchers, including Patricia, who was the first person to say the words "Barack Obama" to me (I had read an article about his keynote speech; I didn't watch the convention that night, because despite my profession I had no TV of my own to watch it on), and thus to teach me how to pronounce those two words. Obama's senate win in 2004 was one of the only things we had to comfort us in that long winter of Bush's disgusting and over-the-top re-inauguration, and I remember a few wistful conversations about "well, maybe Obama in 2016" or "maybe Obama in 2024" or "Maybe Obama in Neventeen Neventy-Never because he is just too good ever to make it far in politics." Fast forward to 2006 when serious talk of him running for President arises, and I still write him off with the same thoughts of Hillary Inevitability everyone else had, and was, until January of 2008, planning to vote for Dennis Kucinich like I always do, because I love that crazy little vegan hobbit, I just do.

And then on a cold morning in January, walking through St. Louis with my boyfriend, I happened to catch the results of the Iowa caucuses on the front page of a paper (in 4 years I graduated from no TV to neither TV nor Internet, or at least when in St. Louis). "It's OBAMA!" I said. "No way! Obama! Wow, would you look at that." And in that instant the Presidential race because phenomenally interesting, because here was this guy, this firebrand, this truly interesting person, this SMART, interesting person (who just happened to be biracial and very unfortunately middle-named), who looked like he had…a chance? To become the nominee? And suddenly I was interested, and started paying attention to his stump speeches, and liked the bejeezus out of what I heard: plans to focus on green energy jobs and education, to get out of Iraq and repair our horrendous international reputation. And with the kind of energy I had never seen in a political candidate in my time (Bill Clinton had a different kind of charm, one that was always a leeeeeeeeeeetle bit creepy). And as quickly as I became interested in Obama, he lost New Hampshire and everyone wrote him off again. Except this time I didn't. I decided I was into him and began to be unable to shut the fuck up about it (ask my boyfriend, if you want him to get re-annoyed with me all over again). And this proceeded through the agonizing primary season and into the general election season, at which point I progressed from mildly angst-ridden/secretly really excited to totally fucking whacko, thanks to the pick of one Sarah Palin, who I am pretty sure gave me a mini-stroke.

Anyway, fast forward through the last two months and here we are, he's actually won. I still can't really believe it. Nobody I want for the primaries EVER actually wins. I am far too idealistic and intellectually-driven for any of my candidates to get elected, to, like, President of the United States. I like Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Jerry Brown, Howard Dean–I like LOSERS (except now Howard Dean's 50 state strategy fucking DOMINATED, so who's the screamer now? ME, that's who, YEEAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!). And suddenly, for the first time, either I had the good luck to pick a winner or the rest of the country suddenly decided I was onto something (and with my previous trends, how could I not be? Of course, the earlier ones were in my imagination, as I was not yet alive…but HRC and I had a seance to contact them, badambumCHAH, now freak out about me, Sean Hannity). I am going with the good luck, and I have a theory as to how:

In 2004, I was obsessed with gymnastics in the Summer Olympics (as I always am) and my chosen gymnast, Svetlana Khorkina, choked, while the plucky little non-graceful fireplug Carly Patterson won. And then my "chosen" candidate (who was my reluctant second choice, or rather third behind Dean and Kucinich) also choked.

In 2008, my girl Nastia Liukin dominated the Summer Olympics, and as I watched her finish her breathtaking gold-medal floor routine I said to my friends Anita and John: "Well, this bodes well for the election." They didn't understand, but perhaps now they do.

I also procured at Chrismakuhnalolsticewanzaa last year a creepy little Hindu dragon talisman from my mom, which has either brought me good luck or coincided with a lot of good luck this year: I got a Fulbright AND another fellowship I had to turn down, I got a summer research grant I didn't even apply for, I had an article accepted for publication (after a protracted struggle, or a semi-protracted semi-struggle, or a hint of not really a struggle), and, most importantly, I managed to hold onto–and even, dare I say, strengthen–my relationship despite its increasingly long-distance nature (or, given my most recent mental state, because of it).  So, to recap:

Carly_patterson


+

(no dragon)

=

453px-George-W-Bush

…but

Nastia_01

+

Asian-Dragon-Statue-283965

=

Obama_victory

I accept your gratitude, everyone.

Now, whatever rift in the space-time-Republican continuum may have caused this epic victory, I could tell you several things (several billion things) I am looking forward to about the Obama years, but this epic Long Awaited Obama Victory Treatise has gone on long enough, so I will narrow it down to one: I am teary-eyed at the prospect of an intellectually curious President of the United States who values intellectual curiosity in others, applies that intellectual curiosity to a masterful command of the U.S. Constitution, and will spread the value of intellectual curiosity to all of our shores and beyond. That and everything else, "my friends," that and everything else.

\

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4 thoughts on “Suddenly I allow myself to speak English in public, just hoping some Viennese will yell NA COOL, OBAMA at me.

  1. Dearest Rebecca,
    You made we weep! Thank you for that draggon! The whole world is grateful.
    And yes, me too I took the election way too personally and checked pollster.com every morning *before* I checked my email, waiting for the polls to crash and they never did and now he is the president! And I still wake up in the morning and wonder why I am so happy? And then i remember why.
    So please do flaunt your Yankeeness in Vienna!
    But how wrong you are about Bill! Creepy?! How dare you!
    love
    anna

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  2. Thanks for that! And here I was thinking that it was because I stayed away from the US before the election this year (I think I’ve mentioned that I have been the Typhoid Mary of politics ever since I got out of elected office: in US for two W “wins”, in France for Sarkozy, in Italy for Berlusconi, in Austria for the resurgence of the extreme right, and then… away from US for OBAMA VICTORY! Anyhow, thanks, and if you don’t mind, please send some dragon love my way — I could use some help right now.

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  3. Thanks muchly for the shout-out. Totally right there with you on the whole “pre-election anxiety and doubt consumed my life” thing, and for exactly the same reasons that you laid out, which was that the 2004 election — and the endless commiserating over said election results with all of you — remains one of the most defining and upsetting times of my entire life. But I’m very glad that I had even the smallest part to play in your Obama story, and that yes, what for years ago seemed unthinkable has finally happened.
    And yes, Clinton = creepy. In a strangely compelling, maybe-I-once-had-a-dream-about-him kind of way.

    Like

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