MY WEEK OF LIVING BIGLY: T-Minus One Miserable Fucking Day

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Now Playing: Love Me I'm a Liberal by Phil Ochs as covered by Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon

I remember exactly where I was when I found out that Donald Trump had entered the race.

I was sitting in a movie theatre in Ireland. I was about to watch Amy. I was prepared to be devastated. But I wasn't prepared enough.

I knew Trump was going to be making an announcement, but I never thought he'd actual enter the race. I checked Twitter. He had entered the race.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to all of my Irish friends. Because when I was sitting in that movie theatre reading about how Trump had promised to build a wall and in the same breath called Mexicans the things Donald Trump calls Mexicans, my thought process wasn't even "Well, he won't win a single state." It wasn't even "He'll be gone in a week." It was "What a fucking joke."

Because that's what it seemed like. That's what it still seems like, though it's becoming more and more clear that the joke is on us rather than it is on him. Back then, in that Rathmines movie theatre, the joke was very much on Donald, as it had been for my entire childhood.

To me, a suburban kid from New Jersey, Donald Trump never represented success so much as he represented celebrity. He was a Famous Person, first and foremost. He was a celebrity. He had a TV show and he was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I always figured his name being on buildings was all part of his brand as a celebrity, not because he had any business sense. It never really even occurred to me that he had a business. He was just a Famous Person.

So when Donald rocketed to the top of the polls, that's what I figured the cause was. He's a celebrity. He's a Famous Person. He's winning because people already know him and he doesn't have to introduce himself to the country the way that someone even like Jeb Bush does. But that's not enough to sustain a campaign. Even as he maintained his lead throughout the rest of that summer, I had multiple conversations with my Irish friends in which I, after apologizing, said, "He will be gone in three weeks. You have nothing to worry about from Donald Trump. Don't be scared of Donald Trump. He's just a celebrity."

Three weeks turned into three months turned into what feels like three years. Donald Trump is one smelly orange cock hair away from the Presidency.

So I'm sorry, Irish friends. I spoke the truth that day. What I said was absolutely the truth. "Donald Trump will be gone in three weeks." I did not lie. I just happened to be living in a different reality.

At least that's what we've been telling ourselves for this entire campaign, hasn't it? Not just that Donald Trump lives in his own reality or that there are two different versions of America. We tell ourselves, "This can't be real. This can't be happening. I must be in an alternate reality."

The latter examples are hyperbole, sure, and the earlier examples are knocking on the door of truth. But to claim that we live in two different countries - one in which Donald Trump is a savior and the other in which he is a dictator - is kind of a cop out. Furthermore, it's an end to a conversation rather than the beginning of one.

Yes, I as a kid who grew up in the suburbs who makes a living writing plays have no idea what it's like for a struggling family with no running water in the middle of the Ozarks. That doesn't mean that we are living in two different worlds, and that sure as shit doesn't mean that we're going to be voting in two different elections tomorrow. We share this country. We share this responsibility. We live in the same reality, no matter how we try to color it.

I made a promise to my Irish friends whenever they talked to me about Trump. I promised them, "You have nothing to worry about." Even if i was wrong about his shelf-life, even if I was wrong about his power, I still truly believe that they should not worry about him entering the White House. I plan on making good on my promise.

And if I'm wrong on that front, too, then I can only hope they welcome me back to Rathmines with open arms. Because Donald Trump makes Enda Kenny look like Paul Wellstone smoking legal weed through a spliff made out of welfare checks.

Vote. Be safe. Be with your friends. Tell your family you love them. Don't stay up too late watching scary movies tomorrow night, and don't do anything I wouldn't do.


Sunday, November 6th, 2016.

Now Playing: New Cannonball Blues by TV on the Radio

My shopping list for this evening includes portabello mushrooms, some Zatarain's Red Beans and Rice, avocados (if they're ripe), a bag of apples, a bottle of bourbon, five bottles of wine, and popcorn. A lot of popcorn.

Stocking up for election night is a lot of like preparing for a storm. You want to make sure you're not going to run out of anything, you buy a lot of everything. It's better to overprepare than to underprepare. And if the power and water never go off, you can say to yourself, "Sure, we didn't drink any bottled water, but hey - now we have a case of bottled water!" Tuesday night is going to be like that, but with lots of drugs and alcohol.

I am going to drink with purpose on election night. I am going to numb myself with extreme prejudice. I will not be alone in this endeavor. Do a quick Google search for election night drinking game and browse through all of the options, all the different ways people have found to get through the returns. One sip every time someone says "rigged." One shot every time a new exit polls come out. Finish your drink when we have a President. No matter what it takes, America is going to play like a champion this week.

I, for one, have no intention of playing a drinking game. I have no intention of getting too drunk too fast. My goal is to sustain myself all night long. I'll pace myself, yes, but as I said before I'm drinking with intention. I must remain focused enough to not lose my temper or start screaming, but I also must be drunk enough to be able to look at the TV screen. I won't be able to look at the electoral map sober, but if I'm too drunk I'll refuse to believe that it's real.

The first exit polls will be released at 7:00 pm Eastern. I get off work at 6:00pm and it will take me roughly forty minutes to get home. Upon arriving home, I will drink a beer, and then promptly at 7:00 I will open a bottle of wine and drink a glass once New Hampshire is announced. My goal will then be to make the wine last me until 9:00pm, after which Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina will have been announced.

This is where it gets slightly more complicated. I will be a bottle of wine and a beer in, and at that point will likely have a pretty clear idea of where the election is going. If Hillary wins at least two of those states, I will continue with the wine. If Trump wins either Pennsylvania or Florida, I will make myself an Old Fashioned and drink that over the course of the next hour.

If it is clear come 10:00pm that Hillary will cross 270 at 11:00pm when she wins California, I will open the champagne. If things are still in the air, I will take a shot and then switch back to wine until the contiguous 48 have been called.

God willing, by that point, one way or another, we will have a new President. And if we don't? No more drinks after 11:00pm. No more running away from the results, no more masking the pain. If we have a new President at that point, then it will be time to accept their ascension head-on, warts and all. If we don't, then it's even more important to stay sharp, keep vigilant, and expose lies and bullshit when detected. Besides, it's a weeknight; we have work to do.

My Week of Living Bigly: T-Minus Four Days

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Now Playing: I Get Wet by Andrew W.K.

Thank God it's Friday.

My heart breaks a little bit every time I hear someone say this. I hear no excitement when its said, but rather mourning for the week that's gone by. You say, "Thank God it's Friday," and I hear, "I hated this week and want it to be over." That's sad to me, and I wish it weren't this way, but this week... this fucking week... this week I think we all need to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and say not just "Thank God it's Friday," but "Thank God it's almost over."

We're so close. So very, very close to this thing being over. There's no guarantee that things will be wrapped up in a neat little bow in the late hours of Tuesday evening, but what is certain is that the campaign will be over and the votes will be cast. No more pandering, no more swapping scandals, no more rallies. This weekend is this campaign's final hurrah. This campaign has turned us all into monsters. Let's spend this weekend doing stuff that makes us happy.

I'm trying to put together a list of all of the things that unfailingly make me smile. Art, food, activities, whatever it might be, I want to make a list of the things that work to make me happy. I know that I'm a better person when I'm happy, and I know I'm at my worst when I focus on politics. So this weekend, apart from these blog posts, I'm going to work on being a happier person by engaging in some gold old fashioned hedonism.

Let's start with the Patron Saint of Hedonism: Andrew W.K. Is Andrew W.K. a good musician? In the sense that he can play music, yeah, he knows a thing or two. Are his songs good? I mean, define good. Is he a poet? The first verse of "Party Hard" features an A-A-A-A rhyme scheme, but who says poetry has to rhyme? (Actually, that first verse doesn't rhyme so much as have every line end with the word "right", which is fine by me.) All of these questions are aside the point. Andrew W.K. writes feel-good music. The album I Get Wet is a feel good album. It's asinine, tounge-in-cheek, beautifully self-aware, catchy as catchy can be, and goddammit if it those synthesizers don't make me happy.

So I Get Wet will be on repeat this weekend, and I'll only turn it off to watch The Sopranos, the only TV show that I can watch over and over again. I think I'm on my third watch-through right now and every frame makes me happy. I come home after a day of work and reading about how Hill is this and Trump is that, and I put on The Sopranos, and suddenly the only thing that matters is who's short on their take this week. The only thing that matters is that I'm smiling.

Skipping rocks makes me smile. Playing with my brother's dog makes me smile. Writing plays makes me smile. Intoxicants in moderation make me smile (more on this at a later date). Getting lost in a new neighborhood makes me smile. Being with other people doing the things that make them smile makes me smile.

And the good thing about these things is that they are not going to stop making me smile. I know that under a Trump presidency if I'm ever feeling down all I have to do is skip some rocks by a lake and I'll feel okay again. If Clinton fails to deliver on her progressive campaign promises, I know that watching Tony play with the ducks in his pool will make it hurt that much less. This isn't a matter of escapism or denial, but rather a necessary step to take in order to maintain sanity and keep calm. You cannot properly effect change if you are so unhappy that you can't breathe. You cannot possibly have the energy to engage with the world around you if all of your energy is spent yelling at the TV. Either way this election goes, each and every one of us must make it our duty to protect each other and to hold our politicians accountable. We have to make sure we're all going to be okay, and that starts with making sure that you're going to be okay.

I'm going to be okay, at least for this weekend. Thank God it's Friday. It's time to party, and when it's time to party, we will always party hard.

A Short List of Things That Officially Bug the Fuck Out of Me

  • Guns don't kill people. Yup. So long as they're not fired it's a goddamned party. But not a cool party where we get to shoot guns. A boring party where all of the dishes have flax seeds and everyone has an opinion about Jonathan Franzen.
  • Why won't Obama say the words "Radical Islamic Terror"? Because he doesn't want to, doesn't have to, and doesn't need to. You could just as easily ask, "Why won't Obama say the words 'Pinkerton' is a modern classic?" and the end result will be just the same: everyone will think you're an idiot.
  • Republican leaders who voted against background checks should be killed. No joke, this little gem showed up on my news feed this morning. Read your shit before you send it out to the world and the world will thank you for it.
  • We need to fight them over there so that we don't fight them over here. Admittedly this one has fallen out of fashion since Bush Part Deux, but I still hear people say it every once in a while and the logic just eats itself. As soon as we start fighting them over here everyone's going to ask "Well, wait, then what was that whole war business about?" Either we're fighting them everywhere or we're fighting them nowhere. First things first: let's scrap the whole idea of us vs them.
  • My heart goes out to everyone effected by this tragedy. I know this sentiment comes from a genuinely good place, but don't tell me you have empathy, show me. The people effected by tragedy, especially tragedy that is the result of something systemic like easy access to guns or homophobia, couldn't care less that your thoughts are with them. Before you share your thoughts, share you actions.
  • We need to call it like it is. - Do we, though? Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe. Truth and honesty are two very different things. Avoid anyone who speaks like this, and especially avoid anyone who follows someone who's main credential is their calling-it-like-it-is-ness.
  • Don't make this political. Isn't this one just code for laziness and ineptitude? Isn't this just a cop-out? If we don't make this political now, when will we ever?
  • And you actually want to VOTE in November? The lesser-of-two-evils argument especially bugs the fuck out of me. "I don't want to vote for the lesser of two evils." Why not? Would you rather the greater of two evils? You want your voice heard? Make it heard. Don't posture behind your self-righteousness and either vote or show me how your abstention is more effective, because at this point I remain unconvinced.
  • We all need to respect each other. Nope. This is a different kind of posturing and it's equally destructive. We should all listen, we should all engage, but courtesy and respect are two different things.
  • I told you so. Good for you. I'm sure you did. You're so smart. I respect you so much because you told me so. That makes you better than me. Thanks!
  • Fuck it all. This one I get. It's hard, man. It's super hard to do anything at all, let alone reasonably try to effect positive change in a world that seems determined to change only for the worse. You wake up to news that fifty people are dead because someone who wanted to kill them was able to kill them, "Fuck it all" is as reasonable of a thing to say as anything. But that's not how you start a conversation, that's how you end one. Let's start talking. I want to hear what you have to say. But if you say any of the above, you're going to bug the fuck out of me. Having said that, I can get over being annoyed. I have to. Let's talk.