distractedblog

First of all, let me make myself clear. I don’t believe in an old white bearded man who lives in the clouds and sits on a throne. In fact, it’s safe to say that most people, including those who regularly pray and attend services in their house of worship, don’t believe in such a deity.

I do, however, believe in a higher power of infinite wisdom, love, and mercy that I call God. I also believe that God can appear to humans in a number of different forms: the Creator, the Savior, the Holy Spirit, a burning bush, a pillar of fire, the inner voice that guides us, and probably many others that I haven’t even considered.

I used to believe that God made everything happen according to His will, and that when we encounter hardship in life, it’s all part of God’s plan even if we don’t understand it at the time. Over the past few years, however, I have come to realize that much of what happens is a result of the choices that we humans make. Other happenings are a result of the laws of nature that God set into motion. Despite what insurance companies say, I don’t believe that it’s an “act of God” if the roof falls off your house in a tornado. I cannot believe that a loving God would send deadly hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, or disease. I don’t believe that God is responsible for COVID. So why doesn’t God stop these things from happening? I don’t know, but perhaps what we call God isn’t as all-powerful as we previously thought. Some might say that if God isn’t all-powerful, then He (She? It? They?) can’t be God, but I don’t agree. It just means that when we humans were incorrect when we defined God as all-powerful.

I still believe in God because I have had many experiences when, in prayer or at a religious service or event, I have become aware of a new insight or answer that I wouldn’t have come to on my own. I have felt the presence of a higher power while on retreats. I have encountered people who have come into my life at just the right time, often due to a number of random circumstances. Had any one of these circumstances not occurred when they did, I wouldn’t have met that particular person, and I believe it’s the work of a higher power.

Now, some may be skeptical and say that every single one of those occurrences was pure coincidence, and that I’m reading too much into them. However, there was one occasion in particular that I simply cannot dismiss as coincidence.

It was exactly twenty-two years ago in April, 1999. I was a junior in college, and the guy who I had been seeing (I’ll call him Sam to protect his identity) had just broken up with me, and so I was heartbroken. Sam was a very handsome young man; possibly one of the best-looking guys on campus. He was also very friendly, outgoing, funny, and generally pleasant to be around. Just about every young woman at my college had a crush on him, including me. Naturally, I was elated when he became interested in me, especially since I had never really dated anyone or even kissed anyone before. He seemed too good to be true.

Well, you know what they say: if someone seems too good to be true, he usually is, and Sam was no exception. He wasn’t at all compatible with me, to say the least, and he broke up with me after a little less than three months.

The following Sunday, I was in church, and I prayed, “Dear God, if you bring another man into my life who I like even half as much as Sam, I will be satisfied.”

I had no sooner finished that prayer when something remarkable happened. I hesitate to say that I heard a voice, because that implies that I perceived it with my ears. I didn’t hear it with my ears, I heard it in my head. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like when you have a song stuck in your head. You’re not hearing the song with your ears, yet you are just as aware of the song as if you heard it with your ears.  The same thing happened to me when I “heard” the voice in my head.

The voice said, “Love is more than just physical attraction and being swept off your feet. Love is about having a deep connection with another person.”

After having this revelation, I realized that I did not have that kind of deep connection with Sam. I never really felt that I could be myself with him, and he frequently criticized me.  Plus, we didn’t have a lot in common. It was not love.

I absolutely believe 100% that the voice was from a higher power. There is no way that I could have come to that conclusion on my own, given the life experience that I’d had at that point. I was young and naïve and had confused attraction for love. Some will say that perhaps I was simply remembering something that I had previously heard or read. I don’t see how that’s possible, considering that just seconds earlier I had thought that I’d be lucky to date someone who I liked half as much as Sam. Others will say that perhaps I was wise and mature beyond my experiences, and so I was able to intuitively understand it. To them, I say that they don’t know me very well. I definitely don’t have the ability to understand something I have never experienced. In fact, one of my weaknesses is the inability to anticipate and be prepared for new situations. So that can’t be it, either. Then there’s the possibility that I am remembering it incorrectly or that I have unconsciously created a memory of something that never happened. However, my journal entry for that night proves that it really happened.

There is simply no other explanation that makes sense, other than it was a higher power of love. A former pastor of mine once preached that we know that the voice in our head is from God when it is a message of love. Love is the one thing that all religions have in common. The Bible says “God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)

A few years later, I met my husband, Jim, and I found with him the deep connection and love that the voice had spoken of. We had only been together a very short time (shorter, even, than the entire time I was with Sam!) when I knew that Jim was the one and that he felt the same about me.              

There have been a number of other times when I have felt God’s presence and heard a similar voice in my head, but that time back in April 1999 was unlike all the others, because it defies any other explanation.  

And that’s the reason why I believe in God. That’s also the reason why I don’t regret going out with Sam, even though it didn’t work out. In fact, it was precisely because it didn’t work out that I had the revelation that I did. Over the years, especially in times of despair and hardship, that experience has given me hope and sustained my faith when all seemed lost.  

I hope that my story gives you some hope as well.

  1. Go-Valley Lodge
  2. When It Don’t Come Easy-Patty Griffin
  3. You Get What You Give- New Radicals
  4. No Scrubs- TLC
  5. Let It Go (from Frozen)- Idina Menzel
  6. Unravel- Debbie Neigher
  7. Long Train Running- The Doobie Bros.
  8. Storms In Africa-Enya
  9. Searchin’ My Soul- Vonda Shepard
  10. Angel- Sarah McLachlan

I think those ten songs summed up the past four years very well. I wanted Trump to “Go,” things didn’t “come easy,” I realized that “you get what you give,” Trump is a “scrub,” I wished I could just “let it go” and escape to a world where Trump wasn’t president, democracy was about to “unravel,” and I just wanted to get on a “long train” that was “running” away. I don’t know if there were many “storms in Africa” but there were many storms in America, both the literal and the figurative kind. I found myself “searching my soul” and prayed for an “angel” to come and make everything okay again!

It was so refreshing to see Joe Biden be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Despite former President Trump (ah, it feels so good to write that!) attempting to rig the election and his voters attempting to overturn the election by committing acts of terrorism, we made it to this point. As Biden said in his inaugural address, democracy has prevailed.

Despite his acknowledgement of democracy’s victory, Biden’s speech was not purely celebratory. He also spoke of the many challenges and issues that he and his administration will be facing, including COVID, climate change, the economy, racism, and the need to heal a divided nation. He also called on all Americans to come together for the good of the country.

For me, however, the most moving part of Biden’s speech was not what he said, but how he said it. I myself am a former stutterer who struggled for years to overcome my speech disorder. As I heard President Biden giving his address, I recalled that he, too, is a former stutterer. Tears of joy came to my eyes as I heard him speak clearly and fluently. Overcoming a stutter is not easy, and it takes much hard work and determination; two qualities that America needs in a president, especially now.

But a speech disorder is far from the only adversity that Biden has overcome. He has witnessed the death of his wife, his daughter, and his son, all of whom died at a young age. He previously ran for president twice and lost. Yet through it all, he has remained a man of faith and character, and has worked tirelessly for the American government over the years. He understands that the top priority of a president is not his own interests; but rather the American people who he was elected to serve.

To be honest, I’ve never been wild about Biden. He makes countless gaffes and he lacks enthusiasm and charisma. Although he overcame his stutter, he still doesn’t have the brilliant oratory skills of Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. He’s never had particularly groundbreaking plans or ideas, like the ones of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. In fact, he’s one of the most mundane politicians in recent history.

However, after four years of a president who never quite grasped that the duties of his political office were dramatically different from his previous job as a TV star, it’s time for America to have a president who is less of an entertainer and more of a leader. As Stephen Colbert said, “I’m looking forward to having a boring president.” Generally speaking, if people aren’t thinking or talking about the president that much, it means he’s doing a good job.

Here’s to four years of not thinking or talking too much about Joe Biden.

The day was January 6, 2021. I had just returned from the veterinarian’s office and had made the difficult decision to put my guinea pig, Cavy Couric (Couri for short), to sleep. She was very ill and the vet said that there was little chance of recovery. Meanwhile, my other guinea pig, Meryl Squeak, was suffering from an abscess of a tooth, which meant that she could no longer eat solid food, and so I had to puree all of her food in the blender. She, too, had a vet’s appointment later that day, and I wasn’t sure how much longer she had to live.

Anyone who has lost a beloved pet will understand the heartbreak I was feeling. They’re more than just animals; they’re part of our family. To distract myself from the pain in my heart, I turned on MSNBC so I could see Steve Kornacki announce the results of the Georgia senate election that had been held on the previous day.

To my surprise, Kornacki was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the TV showed footage of a mob of Trump supporters protesting, and the caption “BREAKING NEWS: TRUMP SUPPORTERS STORM U.S. CAPITOL. I thought to myself, “What’s the big deal? I don’t agree with them, but it’s their First Amendment right to protest.” Then, the reporter said that the Trump minions had crossed the line and several of them were now on the steps of the Capitol, which is not open to visitors or protesters. Minutes later, there was another breaking news update. The Trump supporters had now broken windows and illegally entered the Capitol, stealing statues, signs, and other items. Some of them even walked right into the Senate chamber, where a joint session of Congress was convening to certify Joe Biden’s election.

This was no peaceful protest. This was an act of terrorism and an attempted coup. Was this the beginning of the end of our democracy? Although terrorists have attacked the United States before, this was even scarier, because these terrorists were incited by our president. I had seen news reports from other countries, where the loser of the election managed to overturn the result. I never expected to see the same thing happening in America; and yet at the same time, I had always feared that it would happen.

Ever since February 2016, when Jeb Bush dropped out of the race and I realized that Trump had a realistic chance of winning the election, I had been fearing this moment. I had nightmares of Trump bankrupting the country like he bankrupted so many of his businesses, and allowing China to take over the U.S. government. While I’ve never had dreams that turned out to be prophecies (and I don’t know if anyone really does have those kind of dreams), I nevertheless became worried that Donald Trump would be the last president of the United States.

My anxieties only grew throughout the Trump presidency as I saw him throw out one baseless conspiracy after another, all of which his minions believed, no matter how absurd they were. It was horrifying to see how so many people could be taken in by his lies and his refusal to admit even the slightest error. Although I laughed at his “covfefe” tweet, it was terrifying at the same time. Terrifying to see that the president was so egotistical that he couldn’t even admit that he made an error while typing. What else would he be unwilling to concede? Would he steal the 2020 election? Would he order his minions to work at the polls and stuff the ballot boxes, or find some other way to rig it in his favor?

Thankfully, Trump’s attempts to steal the election failed, and Joe Biden was declared the winner. My fears were gone. Democracy had won. Even though Trump refused to concede and acknowledge that he lost, I remained 100% certain that Biden would be inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Trump had tried to subvert the constitution and become a dictator, but was unsuccessful thanks to the ballot box.

Yet now, as I watched the horrors unfold on my television screen, I once again began to worry that our democracy as we knew it was over. What would happen next?

Later that evening, my husband and I were parked in our car outside the animal hospital while Meryl had her appointment. Due to the COVID pandemic, we were not allowed inside the building. I tried to pass the time by reading. I pulled out my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which I had been re-reading. Because of what was happening at the Capitol, I decided that a dystopian novel where America was taken over by radical misogynist right-wingers wasn’t a good choice to read that day.

I put the book back in my purse and opened the news app on my phone. I saw that the police had managed to remove the Trump minions, and that the senators and representatives had returned to the Capitol to complete the certification of Biden’s win. Both Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell had publicly condemned the rioters. I felt better knowing that the worst was over, but I remained anxious about what would happen next.

The vet called me on my phone to update me on Meryl. After some discussion of my options, I booked another appointment for her to have a dental procedure. My husband and I then went into the vestibule to pick up Meryl, as well as the remains of Couri.

The next morning, I woke up to the news that Congress had officially certified Biden as the next president, and also that Jon Ossoff had won the senate election, officially giving the Democrats a majority in both houses. I was relieved that the coup by the minions was unsuccessful, and that our democracy remained intact.

It was a little later that day, when my husband buried Couri in the backyard, that the reality of her death finally hit me. Because of the riot at the Capitol, I hadn’t had a chance to properly mourn Couri. It struck me for the first time that I never would see her again. I picked up Meryl and cuddled with her, noticing how much weight she had lost. I realized that her days were numbered as well.

“Don’t leave me, Meryl,” I pleaded. “I love you and I can’t handle losing both my guinea pigs at the same time. Be strong and keep hanging in there, just like your namesake Meryl Streep.” She purred and snuggled up next to me.

After several minutes, I put her back in her cage (not wanting her to go to the bathroom on me) and resumed reading The Handmaid’s Tale. As I read, I was struck by the following sentences:

“(They) shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency….It was hard to believe. The entire government, gone like that. How did they get in, how did it happen? That was when they suspended the Constitution.”

How fortunate for us that the law enforcement and lawmakers had prevented the horrors of Atwood’s novel from becoming a reality. Trump and his minions tried to turn the United States into a dictatorship. In other countries, one man had managed to take over the government, such as Hitler in Germany and Putin in Russia. The same thing almost happened here; yet the Constitution and democracy prevailed. Many of the rioters have been arrested and charged with various crimes. Several members of Congress who had previously stood by Trump have finally turned against him for inciting the riot.

Trump finally declared that he wouldn’t be attending the inauguration, thus acknowledging that he understood that he was not going to be sworn in for a second term. Twitter permanently banned his account, and both Republican and Democrat leaders are considering impeaching him for a second time. Some say it seems unnecessary at this point, since he only has a week and a half left in office anyway. However, it’s not so much about removing him from office as it is about upholding the rule of law.

I believe that this is the beginning of the end of Trumpism, and I look forward to a new era. It is unfortunate that it took a violent attempted coup to make this happen, but sometimes, things have to go all the way to the bottom before they can come up again. There will still be conspiracy theorists out there, but Facebook and Twitter no longer will give them a platform. These social media sites are on a mission to delete and ban any misinformation about the election, the pandemic, and especially comments that have the potential to incite violence and insurrection.

Meryl continues to hang in there. She still eats her food and has a healthy appetite, and hopefully will gain back the weight she lost.

The events of this past week (or the WHEEK, as guinea pigs say when they are hungry), have been exhausting and overwhelming for me. On Wednesday, I lost my beloved and precious Couri, and I will never get her back, at least not in this lifetime. However, I (and every other American) came very close to losing something far more beloved and precious: our democracy and our Constitutional right to vote in a free and fair election. While I will always miss Couri, I will be eternally grateful that our right to vote, which Hillary Clinton referred to as “the most precious right of every citizen,” was not taken away from us.

I’ll close this article with a cute picture of Meryl and Couri, back when they were both healthy.

My Top 10 Most Played Artists in 2020:

  1. Rachael Sage
  2. Fiona Apple
  3. Shana Halligan
  4. Enya
  5. Grace Potter
  6. Bitter: Sweet
  7. Massive Attack
  8. Solange
  9. Muse and The Nields (tie)
  10. Idina Menzel

My Top 10 Most Played Songs in 2020:

  1. Release- Grace Potter
  2. When It Don’t Come Easy-Patty Griffin
  3. Shameika-Fiona Apple
  4. Maryland-Vonda Shepard (I think this song is on my Top 10 EVERY year, lol)
  5. Angel-Sarah McLachlan (ditto)
  6. Dirty Laundry-Bitter:Sweet and Justified-Shana Halligan (tie)
  7. New York Is A Harbor-Dar Williams
  8. Daylight- Grace Potter and Let It Go-Idina Menzel (tie)
  9. Go-Valley Lodge (another one that’s on my Top 10 every year) and Since You Been Gone-Kelly Clarkson (tie)
  10. Storms In Africa- Enya

My favorite new album of 2020: “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” Fiona Apple

My favorite new musical discovery of 2020: Shana Halligan

And, just for fun, Top 10 Songs That Perfectly Sum Up 2020, Even Though They Were Written Several Decades Earlier:

  1. Long December-Counting Crows
  2. Stayin’ Alive- Bee Gees
  3. Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard-Paul Simon
  4. Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Goodbye-Steam
  5. So Far Away- Carole King
  6. Toxic-Britney Spears
  7. From A Distance-Bette Midler
  8. Don’t Stand So Close To Me-The Police
  9. Breathe-Anna Nalick
  10. Hands Clean-Alanis Morissette

Finally, in all seriousness, here’s a song to give us some hope in the coming year. Grace Potter wrote it for her album “Daylight,” which was released in October 2020, but decided at the last minute not to include it. In April 2020, she released it as a single because she thought the optimistic message could remind people to remain hopeful and not give up. Here’s the video:

Grace Potter – We’ll Be Alright (Live) – YouTube

Recently, I saw a TV special “One Night On Broadway,” which featured performances from several Broadway shows; including “Jersey Boys,” “Chicago,” “A Chorus Line,” “Rent,” “Mean Girls,” and many others. It was a televised fundraiser designed to raise money for actors and other theater professionals who have been out of work due to COVID.

One performance in particular caught my interest. It was a performance of “You Oughta Know” from the musical “Jagged Little Pill,” based on the album of the same name by Alanis Morissette. I had seen the subway ads for this musical a few years ago when it premiered in Boston prior to going to Broadway. I was particularly intrigued and curious about this show, because I (like almost every other Gen X woman) had bought a copy of “Jagged Little Pill” back in the 1990’s and listened to it nonstop.

The version of “You Oughta Know” from the Broadway play slightly differed from Morissette’s original hit song from 1995. Morissette’s song was directed towards her ex-boyfriend who left her for an older woman. In the play, it was sung by a lesbian whose ex-girlfriend had left her for a man, which meant that the pronouns were changed (i.e. “would she have your baby” became “would you have his baby”). The energy of the rock performance reminded me a little of “Rent,” which, incidentally, first opened on Broadway right around the time that Morissette’s music first became popular.

After I finished watching the show, I turned on my computer and listened to the entire album of the original Broadway cast recording of “Jagged Little Pill.” As I heard the familiar songs sung in a new way by new voices, it evoked memories of when I heard them for the first time as a teenager in the 1990’s.

I think of the original “Jagged Little Pill” album as the soundtrack to my senior year in high school. Whenever I hear “You Oughta Know,” I remember singing along to it on the radio on my way home from play rehearsal, and feeling particularly exhilarated because my theater teacher went out of his way to praise my performance that day. “Hand In My Pocket” brings me back to school dances. “Ironic” reminds me of conversations with my friends at the lunch table, as we discussed the lyrics and debated as to whether they were really ironic. (We concluded that they weren’t; which I guess is kind of ironic itself? Don’t you think? A little too ironic…) The album perfectly captures that era in time, in a way that only music can.

However, the album “Jagged Little Pill” is memorable not only for the role it played in my life, but the role it played in popular music overall. Prior to its release, female vocalists fell into one of two categories: the innocent girl next door, or the sex kitten. Women in the first category included Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Sophie B. Hawkins, and others with beautiful, powerful voices. They sang mostly inoffensive ballads about either love found or love lost, and dressed modestly. By contrast, the sex kittens, such as Janet Jackson, Madonna, and TLC, dressed in revealing costumes, performed erotic dances in their videos and concerts, and sang songs with sexually explicit lyrics.

That all changed with the release of “You Oughta Know,” Alanis Morissette’s first single from her “Jagged Little Pill” album. Here was a woman singing with raw, charged emotion about her own heartbreak and anger. She was no virgin, as made evident by her use of the word “fuck” as a verb and lyrics referencing oral sex. Other songs on the album contained references to drug abuse, eating disorders, and other controversial topics that the Whitneys and Celines stayed far away from.

But she was no vixen, either. Although she freely and unashamedly sang about sexuality, she did not portray herself as an object for male desire. Rather, she was singing lyrics she had written from her own personal perspective; which meant revealing her unfiltered emotions and her pain for the world to hear and see. In the 1990’s, this was groundbreaking and revolutionary. Now, I know some of you will say, “But wait a minute, what about Liz Phair? Ani DiFranco? Courtney Love?” While those women certainly were not shy about expressing their inner emotions through song, their songs hadn’t hit the Top 40 radio stations. This meant that sheltered suburbanites like myself, with no access to the underground music scene, didn’t yet know about them. Alanis Morissette was the first among the angsty, post-grunge women to become a household name. Her success opened the door for several other women singer-songwriters to hit mainstream radio, such as Paula Cole, Jewel, and Fiona Apple. She also inspired countless women who came after her, including artists as diverse as Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, and Beyonce.

Although it will be a long time before Broadway theaters and touring companies open to audiences again, I hope to see the musical “Jagged Little Pill” when they do. I just hope it’s easier to get tickets to than “Hamilton.”

As you may have heard, there will be an astronomical event on December 21, 2020 known as “The Christmas Star.” This event, in which Jupiter and Saturn will be so close that they will appear as one very bright star when observed from earth, has not happened in hundreds of years. Experts have done research and found that a similar event happened around the year 2 B.C., which may have been the Star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to the newborn Jesus.

Coincidentally, December 21 will also be the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, which is the shortest day of the year. It got me wondering what significance, if any, there will be to this conjunction of the planets.

I’m not sure if I believe in astrology. I personally have a hard time understanding how the movement of the planets and the stars have an impact on earthly matters. In my own experience, horoscopes and the like sometimes make sense for me and sometimes don’t; much like the popular Christian game where someone opens the Bible to any random page and puts their finger on the page with their eyes closed, and then opens their eyes to read the verse their finger is on. Also, many scientists and astronomers have dismissed astrology as pseudoscience and superstition.

However, many scientists also dismiss religion and the existence of God as well; and I certainly believe in God. There have been a number of times when I, in prayer, have had an epiphany or revelation that I could not possibly have come to on my own, given the life experience that I’d had at that moment. Some will scoff and say they were all pure coincidence, but it’s happened enough times to me that I am convinced of the existence of a higher power. I also know many people who believe in astrology, some of whom are religious and some of whom are atheists. Astrology is also a belief that has been followed for centuries, by many different civilizations. So it’s possible that there is some truth to astrology. I don’t really know. All I know is that it’s fun to read about, and so I searched and read a number of astrological articles about the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

Here’s one of the articles I found, which claims that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn is a new step in the Age of Aquarius. Anyone who is familiar with the musical “Hair” has heard of the Age of Aquarius, and according to astrologers, the earth itself has different astrological ages, just like each month has its astrological sign. I read the article, and instantly became skeptical when I read one the fourth sentence, “There’s no firm consensus among astrologers as to when the Age of Aquarius will begin (or has already begun!).” Yeah, it definitely sounds more like pseudoscience than science.

Still, I continued to read the article, and was about halfway through the page when I got to the sentence, “However….we will eventually find a New Renaissance.” I stopped and gasped in amazement. Just a few months ago, I had written an article in this very blog titled “A Second Renaissance.” In this article, I opined that just as the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages had lead to the Renaissance, perhaps COVID-19 will lead to a new renaissance that we so clearly need.

I clicked on the link in the article that I had been reading, and was directed to an article that gave an astrological explanation as to how the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn will usher in a new age. Although my own article was based on earthly observations rather than extraterrestrial or heavenly ones, both articles came to the same conclusion: we are on the verge of many positive changes that are long overdue.

Intrigued, I Googled “new renaissance” to see what else I could find on the topic. After scrolling through results for several bookstores, chiropractors, film festivals, and middle schools with the name “New Renaissance,” I eventually found this article: 2020 Will Bring A New Renaissance: Humanity Over Technology. This article, published on January 5, 2020; predicted a new renaissance based on economic and technological observations. While the author of the article had no way of knowing how COVID-19 would impact the year 2020; he, too, optimistically predicted that the world is about to change for the better.

Finally, I found this article: How the Coronavirus Could Lead to a New Renaissance – Real Leaders (real-leaders.com). The author made the same points that I made in my own article: that just as the bubonic plague exposed many of the problems in Europe and sparked the Renaissance, COVID has exposed many of the problems in America and has the potential to spark a second Renaissance.

No one knows what the future has in store, and nothing in the heavens or the earth can predict the specific details of each day. One thing is for sure, 2021 will bring many changes to our world and our lives. Just don’t expect them to happen overnight.

A few days ago, I discovered a YouTube video about Laci Fay, a woman who lives like it’s still 1958. Intrigued, I watched the video and discovered that she wears 1950’s clothing, makeup, and hairstyles, decorates her home in 1950’s style, and even drives a 1950’s car. She does not eschew modern inventions, however, as she is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She also lets her son decorate his room and dress however he wants, and doesn’t force him to live like the kid on Leave It To Beaver. Her interest in the 1950’s is purely aesthetic and inspired by photos and stories from her grandparents about the decade.

After I watched the video, I got thinking and considered the possibility of living like it was a previous decade when life was simpler and less stressful. Heck, any year/decade is better than 2020, right? I finally decided on the 1990’s, the decade of my adolescence and some of my happiest memories. It was a time of peace and economic prosperity in the United States. The internet was around, but only accessible by computers. Most people didn’t have cell phones, and the ones who did couldn’t access the internet from them. In fact, you couldn’t do anything with a cell phone except talk on it. There was no social media, and most people didn’t have the technology necessary to upload photos to the internet, so we didn’t worry about our embarrassing photos being shared with the public.

 I decided to see if I could go an entire day without using anything that was invented after 1999. Unlike Laci Fay, my goal isn’t to dress or decorate my home in 1990’s style (which is a good thing, as my husband isn’t too keen on redesigning our living room with floral patterned sofas, fake plants, and damask curtains) but rather to return the simplicity of a time when we weren’t constantly tethered to our devices and we had to set aside time to watch the news and to check our emails.

This meant that I couldn’t use my iPhone for anything other than phone calls, and I couldn’t use my iPad at all. I debated as to whether it was okay to watch my flat screen TV and use Wi-Fi. Although they weren’t around in the 1990’s; television, computers, and the internet certainly were. I finally decided it was okay as they weren’t new inventions, but rather bigger, clearer, and faster ways of using technology that was already around. I would not, however, use Facebook, YouTube, or any other websites that weren’t around in 1999. 

I chose November 23, 2020, as the day where I had to avoid anything invented in this millennium. It was an ideal day to do so, as my class is over for the semester and I wouldn’t have to use Zoom. I got out of bed and began to prepare my breakfast. I usually like to have music on while I eat breakfast as it helps me wake up in the morning. Since I couldn’t listen to Spotify, I instead put a CD on. I chose Jewel’s “This Way,” which I believed was released in the early 2000’s. As I wasn’t attempting to deny that the past twenty years happened, I allowed myself to listen to music, read books, and watch TV shows that were written after 1999, as long as I did so only using technology that was available then. I found myself wondering where Joe Biden went to college and was about to pick up my iPhone and Google it, but then stopped myself just in time. As I ate my breakfast without looking at my phone or tablet, I was able to finish my oatmeal before it got cold!

I then began my twenty minutes of light box therapy (I have seasonal affective disorder, which is particularly bad this time of year). Light therapy boxes were around in the 1990’s, weren’t they? Even if they weren’t, I decided to use mine anyway because it was for health purposes. I had to keep looking at the clock to know when twenty minutes would be up, because I couldn’t use the timer on my phone.  Next, I put on shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers so I could work out. I don’t care for the background music on my workout DVD, so I mute the TV and listen to a workout playlist on Spotify. I was about to put on a CD instead, but then realized that if I put it on loud enough to be able to hear it in another room while working out, it could potentially bother my husband who was working upstairs.

Then I remembered that he has a small boom box that he keeps on the kitchen table so he can listen to the news on the radio while having his lunch. I unplugged it and brought it into the living room, and tried to play a CD. However, it had been so long since the CD player had been used that it no longer worked. I finally decided to just work out with the volume on. I didn’t enjoy my workout as much as I usually do, but I still burned the same number of calories. After showering, I put on blue jeans, an Indigo Girls T-shirt that I’ve had since 1997, and a plaid flannel shirt that I’ve also had since then. I didn’t have to dress in 1990’s fashion, but I decided to anyway just for fun.

I then had lunch, and I felt like listening to Fiona Apple. I really wanted to listen to “Fetch The Bolt Cutters,” her album that was released earlier this year, but I couldn’t as I had stopped buying CD’s after I started using Spotify. (I have a feeling that it’s not even possible to buy “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” on CD!) This meant that I had to choose from one of her first three albums, which were released in 1997, 1999, and 2005. I chose “Tidal,” her first album, and then turned on my computer so I could check my email. I then went on Google (which debated in 1998) and searched for the questions I had been wondering about earlier that day. I discovered that Joe Biden went to the University of Delaware, Jewel’s “This Way” was released in 2001, and light therapy boxes were invented in the 1990’s.

Then, I opened a Word document and wrote the first draft of this article that you are reading now. (Since blogs weren’t around in the 1990’s, I had to wait until Tuesday to copy and paste it into WordPress and publish it.) I worked on it until it was time to start making supper.

As I had planned to make a recipe I had pinned on Pinterest, this posed another problem. I resolved it by Googling the recipe and printing it out. I discovered that it is a lot easier to cook while reading from a piece of paper as opposed to from my iPad screen. I didn’t have to deal with pop-up ads or videos slowing down the page as it was loading, and I could see the entire recipe without having to scroll.

As supper was cooking, I realized that I had not yet updated myself on the major events of the day, so I turned on the TV and watched the evening news. I ran into another problem because I realized that if I put on the timer on the microwave, I wouldn’t hear it over the TV. I finally gave in and used the timer on my phone, but no other apps. I discovered that there was something very satisfying about learning the news stories without reading the commentary from users who posted replies about conspiracy theories and other nonsense. (Yes, I realize that I don’t have to read the comments and I really shouldn’t, but it was refreshing not to have the temptation in the first place.)

When supper was ready, I went upstairs to let my husband know (instead of texting him like I usually do) and we ate. Then we cleaned up the dishes. I put on a CD by Jake Armerding, a local folk singer who I haven’t listened to in ages, as his music isn’t on Spotify. When the dishes were done, I turned the computer back on and finished writing this article.

I learned a lot from my day of living like it’s 1999. For one thing, music sounds better on my Bose CD player than it does on a phone. I’m going to start listening to CD’s more frequently again, especially when I’m eating breakfast and getting ready in the morning. I’ll still listen to Spotify when working out and at various other times. I also will print out recipes rather than reading them directly off my devices when cooking. I also learned that I don’t need to be on social media, and that it doesn’t do anything to enrich my life. I really don’t need to know the daily updates from people who I haven’t seen since high school. While I won’t give up Facebook entirely, I do intend to use it a lot less.

It’s now nine o’clock at night, and I plan to spend the last few hours of the day reading a book and then possibly watching Stephen Colbert if I’m still awake at 11:35. If not, I’ll watch the episode tomorrow on the DVR. Yes, I know DVR’s weren’t around in the 1990’s, but that won’t be an issue as my experiment was only for one day.

One dance left, this world is gonna pull through.

Shortly after the Democratic National Convention, I wrote an article in this blog about how I had finally come around to realize that Joe Biden is the president that America needs right now, despite voting for Elizabeth Warren in the primary.

On Saturday, November 7, Joe Biden finally obtained the votes he needed to win the electoral college and become the next president of the United States. Like millions of people all over the country and around the world, I was ecstatic that Trump had finally met his Waterloo and been defeated. I felt revived and renewed as the tension that had gripped my body for too long finally escaped. It was like the first spring day when the temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and everyone joyfully runs outside after a long winter of biting cold, ice, and snow. Appropriately enough, the temperature was in the 70’s for most of the northeastern United States, despite it being a time of year where the average temperature is 45.

Now that the initial excitement of the moment has passed, I have become even more certain that Biden is the leader that we need right now. As I wrote in my previous article, he is humble and down to earth. He can accept criticism, admit his mistakes, and change his behavior as a result. His many years of experience in the Senate led him to cultivate friendships with several other senators, including both Democrats and Republicans. As a result, the Republicans will likely be more willing to work with him than they were with President Obama. In fact, when he was Vice President, he frequently was successful at negotiating a deal with Republicans who were reluctant to cooperate with Obama.

Despite Biden receiving more votes than any other candidate in the history of the United States, most of his voters aren’t in awe of him. They didn’t vote for him so much as they voted against Trump. Biden doesn’t have the pizazz of Barack Obama, the revolutionary ideas of Bernie Sanders, or the brilliant plans of Elizabeth Warren. He also has a history of making gaffes and is the subject of many internet memes depicting him as foolish and immature.

Still, I continue to believe that Biden is the leader we need now; not despite his flaws, but because of them. Since his voters and those in his own party are aware of his flaws, they will be more forgiving of him when he makes mistakes (because he will, no one is perfect) and won’t hesitate to criticize him. Americans don’t see him as a superhero or a rock star, but rather a down-to-earth man who isn’t all that different from you and me. And I think that’s one reason why people like Joe Biden: because he reminds of ourselves. He’s imperfect and flawed, yet determined to work hard.

I am also happy that we will finally have a female Vice President and that she will also be the first Vice President who is a person of color. I am looking forward to the new perspective that she will bring to the table.

Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris!

Between the raging threats of climate change that are constantly being ignored, the hundreds of thousands of deaths from COVID-19, and a president with a disturbing resemblance to the Biblical description of the Anti-Christ, many Americans have wondered if the end times are near.

What if, however, these days are not the end, but rather about to usher in a new beginning? The bubonic plague of the Medieval era lead to the Renaissance. The word “Renaissance” means “rebirth,” and it was a time marked not only by Europe rebuilding itself after the plague, but by significant advances in art, science, religion, and politics.

Just as the bubonic plague exposed much of the problems in medieval Europe; COVID-19 and President Trump’s failed response to it have exposed many of the problems in 21st century America. These problems include (but are not limited to) confirmation bias, the cult of personality surrounding the presidency, division among party lines, systemic racism, low voter turnout, a system where a candidate can lose the election despite receiving several million more votes than her opponent, and many more.

Confirmation bias is described as the tendency to accept information that supports one’s existing beliefs; and to dismiss as false any information that contradicts one’s beliefs. While Trump displays extreme confirmation bias, it didn’t start with him. It was back in 2005 (fifteen years ago!) when Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness,” meaning “the quality of seeming to be true, regardless of what the facts say.” Truthiness was frequently exhibited by then-President George W. Bush and his followers. It increased with the advent of social media, which made it possible for information to be available to the public without first being vetted for accuracy. The popularity of social media has coincided with a growing tendency for Americans to disregard scientifically proven facts like never before. This can be seen among those who deny the existence of climate change and the effectiveness of vaccines, and it has reached its culmination in the president’s dismissal of the medical experts regarding COVID-19. As a result, over 175,000 Americans have died of the virus. This tragedy has exposed the dangers of ignoring science, and has opened many Americans’ eyes to the need to listen to the experts. Even Trump himself has started to wear a mask and has cancelled his in-person rallies; two things that just months ago he swore he would never do.

The Trump presidency has also highlighted the cult of personality surrounding the presidency. While no president in recent history has embodied the cult of personality more than Trump, the tendency among Americans to idolize their president and view him as the solution to all their problems is nothing new. Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama were all idolized and venerated to a degree that the Founding Fathers never intended.

Perhaps the best antidote for this unhealthy hero worship of the president is a candidate who is more down to earth than his predecessors. What we need now is someone who is just your average Joe, if you’ll excuse the pun. I initially was disappointed about Joe Biden being the nominee, due to his age and his tendency to make gaffes. I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primary (and I still highly admire her intelligence and determination) and saw Biden as belonging to a previous era, just in a time when we needed to be moving forward. However, it recently occurred to me that Biden is exactly who we need at this point. We don’t need a charismatic or flamboyant person who delivers catchy phrases or motivational speeches, but rather a person who is humble enough to recognize that he doesn’t know everything and is willing to work with others. We need someone to remind us that we all need to work together to achieve the goals we want, rather than looking to those in positions of power to solve all our problems. As Lin-Manuel Miranda so eloquently put it, “We want our leaders to save the day/but we don’t get a say in what they trade away. We dream of a brand new start/but we dream in the dark for the most part.”

We are much closer to “the room where it happens” in 2020 than Americans were in Hamilton’s day. We have live coverage of important government meetings on C-SPAN, as well a plethora of other resources available to us. The technology of the 21st century makes it easier than ever for Americans to participate in our democracy. The Founding Fathers rejected a totalitarian government ruled by a monarch. They instead envisioned a democracy ruled by the people, where the leader merely presides over the government. The word “president” literally means “one who presides.” Preside means “to exercise guidance , direction, or control.” Sadly, the presidency has been elevated to a position that is less like what the Founding Fathers had in mind and more like the British monarchy that they fought against in the Revolutionary War. Joe Biden‘s humility and compassion make him an ideal person to steer the role of the presidency away from its pomp and pageantry, and restore it to its role of guidance and direction.

Perhaps this dark era in our nation’s history will lead to a brand new awakening, just as the Dark Ages of the Medieval era led to the Renaissance. In the history of the United States, we’ve never been more in need of a renaissance than we are now. However, the second renaissance can only take place if every American takes the time to do their part. Everyone who is eligible to vote must do so, whether by absentee or in person. Only then can we move forward into an era of rebirth where we will strive not to make America great again; but to make America better than ever.

Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other followers