Saturday, March 29, 2008

Or, just go to your rooms. Now.

In Full Mom Mode:

Dear Senators Clinton and Obama,

Please promise me you know what you're doing, that both of you really are present enough to be a good president and neither one of you will do anything that might deliver this election to McCain. It's not so much that I hate John McCain, because I don't. He's a patriot who served his country nobly throughout his adult life. I don't even hold his widely acknowledged anger issues against him. Sometimes a little righteous indignation is highly motivating, as long as he demonstrates better impulse control than the inmate who's been running the asylum for the last almost eight years. We just really can't afford to stay on our current path. I mean, we literally can't afford it, can't pay for it, don't have the money to wage endless, expensive wars that, more than anything else, prove the points of those who hate us, fan the flames of anti-Americanism, make the world more dangerous for us and us lame broke. Haven't we had enough of leaders who say one thing and do the opposite?

Barack, Hillary, please just promise us you have a plan, that you'll drag this out only long enough to keep yourselves and your party atop the news cycle to fill this gap 'til the conventions, but that you'll do it without drawing too much blood. Then, find a way to make a true and lasting peace for the good, not just of your party, but of your country. Walk the damn walk. There sure has been enough talk. You can prove what great presidents y'all would be, prove it, by bringing peace and harmony to the Democratic Party. At this stage I don't care which one of you is atop the ticket, or if the other is on it, just that, whatever happens, it is genuinely without animosity (or you do a grand job of making it look that way - and that you make some important place for John Edwards). First, you must make peace. Kiss and make flipping up.

Demonstrate what a great president we're going to have, 'cause we're going to need one with the mess this disastrous administration has left for you to clean up. If y'all can come out of this forging party unity I'll believe you're more than just ordinary presidential candidates, you're patriots and diplomats, totally prepared to meet the challenges of the presidency.

I've been watching John Adams on HBO and I'm deeply touched by the enormous sacrifices our founding fathers and mothers (and their families) made when they gave birth to this country Their wisdom and commitment are now so clear in the difficult choices that yielded our republic, as well as in the well-chosen words that became their Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. We need the next president to respect the foundation on which this country is built and care about individual rights. Put the good of the nation ahead of your own goals and ambitions, and please start now.

So, stop pointing out each others' weak spots, or else the boys and girls on the other side of the aisle will be laughing all the way to the White House. Show us you're ready before day one. Really be living conduits for change. Take the high road. Both of you. Work it out. Senators, I believe that you each think you'd be a great president. I don't care which one of you it is. The good news is that you have before you a great chance to show us how it's done.

Either that, or both of you go to time out.

Yours, in Momness,


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Calm or Control

It's easy to be serene amidst calm, at least easier than finding calm amidst chaos. I'm usually pretty good at both but seem to be losing my touch amidst the shit really hitting the fan. Not that I'm not well practiced, but it seems worse than even my usual. Additionally, I've come to believe that, sometimes, excellent stress management techniques do nothing so much as enable us to sustain, well, more and more stress. Sometimes I think it would just be better in the long run to become hysterical, declare the vapors, fall apart, give up, lean into nothing there. I just don't know how, and can't quite forgive those who do, being also slightly outnumbered by them.

I saw Michael Clayton recently On Demand and had opportunity to discuss it in comments to Dangerblond's insightful post about the film. Carefully woven into Tony Gilroy's tense story are themes of mental health and mental illness as they relate to moral ambiguity or clarity. Tilda Swinton and George Clooney both played characters locked in morally challenging careers. Tilda Swinton's Karen Crowder drowns in evil amidst a severely misplaced Herculean effort to maintain the appearance of professionalism, of control, of normalcy; while George Clooney's title character trudges forward, losing himself completely in trying to do what's right by his ex, his child, his brother and his job. Between them is Tom Wilkenson's brilliant Arthur Eden, obviously slipping into madness and the absolute certainty it sometimes brings. Clayton, desperately trying to bring in and control his AWOL colleague, confronts him in an alley, concluding, "I'm not the enemy," to which his old friend responded, "What are you then?" Arthur understood, even in his illness, perhaps because of it, what was right and what was wrong. Michael, so caught up in fulfilling the roles into which he had become entrenched, couldn't see. I empathize with that.

Ultimately, we get up every day and try to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes mental illness comes with great clarity, other times it's more like just plain evil. There's a fundamental difference between maintaining control (or appearances) and answering chaos with calm, it's just not always so easy to know which is which.