When all out of quotes
– have a cup of tea and just be.
The Wilderness is a multi-part podcast documentary on the Democratic Party; its history – where we’ve been, and where we’re going. It is hosted and facilitated by former Obama speechwriter, Jon Favreau.
After graduating from the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, Jon went to work for the 2004 John Kerry Presidential campaign. From there he was recommended as Barack Obama’s speechwriter in 2005, where he remained through the Senator’s Congressional term through his Presidency until 2013.
In 2017, he, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Lovett formed and co-founded Crooked Media, which is self-described as “a no bullshit conversation about politics.” On this I would heartily agree.
Jon has written for The Daily Beast and co-hosts the political podcast, Pod Save America (another I would highly recommend) with Vietor, Lovett as well as another Obama alum, Dan Pfeiffer.
In the few episodes of The Wilderness I’ve listened to, he’s brought together a riveting narrative with historians, political bigwigs and not so big wigs as well as archival audio to create a whole, solid picture of what went wrong in 2016, and how Democrats can move forward through the twenty-first century.
It’s fifteen parts, released over months, and each part is about forty-five minutes long. The Wilderness is informative. It’s compelling; engaging. It’s emotional. Any student of politics and history is caught up in the predictive nature of our own memories of the political past. When Jon says the date April 4th 1968, we know that his next sentence is the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Prior to that, when he talks about JFK’s slow but steady plans for civil rights and the future of African-Americans’ freedoms, we know that was cut short in a motorcade in Dallas. We are swept up now as much as the first time in what ifs and what could have beens. I recognize King’s voice, and President Obama’s, and Walter Cronkite’s as he announces for the world the assassination of Kennedy.
I will admit to a couple of times that I was forced by emotion to pause the podcast. In the introduction, we relive the night of November 4th, 2016 when we went from the glass ceiling to the dumpster fire. Nine-eleven and current Administration nonsense made me hit pause as well. It wasn’t simply the mentioning of the 2016 election outcome; it was the reliving through audio and background that triggered a deep sense of sadness and anxiety. I could feel the panic rising up through my chest. I remembered back to that night, tears and fighting back tears, the denial, and the immediate days that followed – the tightness of my chest, the weakness of my legs, the headaches, the always being on the edge of tears. It was 9/11 all over again. As someone personally affected by 9/11, I do not invoke its memory lightly. My mother-in-law died the summer before this election, and our house was very much back to that feeling of devastation during the period between November 4th and January 20th, 2017, like a doomsday clock counting down to the end of the world.
But after a few deep breaths, a glass of soda, a check of email (not Twitter, Lord, stay away from Twitter), I returned my ear buds and pushed play on the podcast.
I hope you will give this documentary a listen.
We continue to say that if we forget our history we are doomed to repeat it. This is a lesson in that history and how we can come out of the other side better for having lived it. Remember it and improve and move forward.
The Wilderness can be found on your favorite podcast app.
I listen on Player.FM on my Kindle, and I would absolutely recommend this app for Android. (That doesn’t preclude Apple or using it on Apple – I know nothing of Apple products unless you mean the delicious ones that grow on trees.)
October is my favorite month for a lot of reasons. It is also the beginning of a very stressful and anxious time for me. It’s almost every year, and once this was brought to my attention, I was able to pay attention to the signs, to be self-aware, maybe a little overly self-aware to remember to take care of myself and to enjoy what I do enjoy and push through what I find difficult.
For one thing, school is humming along. All of the back to school paperwork has been handed in, drama club has begun, my son’s birthday is in two weeks, the leaves are changing, we’re planning our applepicking day, choosing Halloween costumes, not buying candy so we don’t eat it before the 31st, and I’m kind of getting ready for Nanowrimo. For the past two Halloweens, we’ve only started buying candy on the 29th and 30th. So far, so good.
I have a lot of medical stuff getting done this month. I’m about to schedule a mammogram, and my physical and colonoscopy is near the end of the month. I’m getting hearing aids in two weeks, which is nerve-wracking, depressing from a getting older perspective, and also excited anticipation so I can hear half of the things I’ve been missing.
I was also just informed (cautiously, nicely, with as much gentleness as was possible) that my oldest child is moving out. To be honest, I know he’s ready, and he’s thought it through, and he’s good and decent and it’s time, but also to be honest, I’m devastated. I can’t think of anything else. He’s been working two or three jobs for the last year, so it’s not like I’m used to seeing him around anyway. His main job is an overnight, so he gets home in the morning while I’m still sleeping, and he’s sleeping when I get up for the day. He hasn’t eaten dinner with us in weeks (months, really), he only answers about half my texts, and so physically not much will change.
But I’m still distraught.
The depression is building.
It’s also an election year – it is the most important election year in our lifetimes. That is no exaggeration. It’s time for those of us in the majority show the rest of the country what that actually means.
We are about to seat a new Supreme Court Justice, and the nominee (without the baggage of credible allegations of sexual assault) is the least qualified, the most lacking in temperament, the most self-entitled man to be chosen by any President in modern times. I’m also still deeply pained by the disgusting partisan insulting treatment of Judge Merrick Garland, and the traitorous behavior of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, not only for that, but also for refusing to sign onto a bipartisan statement informing the American people of the Russian election interference in the 2016 election.
I am not over that election. I will never be over that election.
A foreign government put their finger on the scales of a fair and free election, and our Republican party helped.
I do apologize for this political outburst. That is not what this monthly blurb is about, but this hangs heavy over my October this year.
I’m going to take a deep breath, and make a few suggestions to you, and to myself while I try to keep October on an even, mindful, centered keel. As the campaign season winds down to Election Day (in thirty-four days), more than likely we will all need some form of self-care, and October actually lends itself really well to some unique ways to bring ourselves back to the center.
1. Take a drive to see the fall foliage. Many regions of the US have a beautiful change of season. I am very lucky to live in the Northeast, so it goes from green to bright oranges, reds, and yellows, sometimes in a matter of days.
2. Go applepicking. While you’re there, definitely eat one apple from the tree. Clean it on your shirt, and listen to the sound of the crisp, juicy snap of that first bite of the apple, its stem still attached, the leaf brushing against your nose. My favorite variety is the snapdragon, a relatively new hybrid.
3. Cook something comforting. Stew, chicken soup, chicken pot pie, mac&cheese, apple bread, apple pie.
4. Have a cup of tea. Or better yet, a mug. And keep them coming.
5. Light a scented candle. I like lilac.
What would you add to this list?
It’s not so much the month of September that I love but what it brings combined with the back to school season. While October is my favorite month (more on that tomorrow), ultimately this is my favorite time of the year from September and Back to School until the end of the year. I find it more of a renewal time of year than the January new year or spring when we all come out of our winter cocoons and spring clean.
We have a much more focused energy on fall cleaning, getting ready for the rest of the year. Clearing out the clutter for homework spaces and new school supplies (one of my weaknesses), earlier dinner and groceries in the house, bath schedules, physical, but also mental space.
It’s time to settle down and ease into our semi-hibernation.
We’re also getting ready for the holidays. Getting it clean and straightened and maintaining it for the myriad of family gatherings that are happening between now and the end of the year. Our outside gets decorated for Halloween with pumpkins and caution tape, spiders and witches. We move our decorating talents inside for Thanksgiving. Cornucopias, squashes, oranges and browns, table runners and lap blankets. Fall is applepicking, apple pie, chutney, tarts, or just a cold, crispy snap of an apple in the orchard.
I always find the Jewish New Year a time to reflect, think, and read. No work means settling down with a cup of tea, a buttered slice of challah and a pile of books. Yom Kippur brings the fasting and the prayer; time to atone and forgive; asking for forgiveness and offering it. Forgiving ourselves.
For us politicos, especially this year, we’re gearing up for an election, getting out the vote, promoting our candidates and our values.
School supplies, the Hogwarts Express, leaves changing colors and falling gently to the browning grass, Christmas card lists, buying stamps, printing return address labels, designing Halloween costumes and cosplays, Thanksgiving shopping and organizing recipe cards.
If we could carry fall with us all year, the world (and our worlds) would be a better place.
I planned my entire Thursday around Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. When I went out in the morning to grab something to eat, I listened to Senator Chuck Grassley’s opening remarks on the radio, and I was home in time for Senator Diane Feinstein’s. From that point on, I watched, without interruption.
If I’m being honest, I hadn’t planned on watching Judge Kavanaugh’s, but I thought in the interest of fairness (and a cleared afternoon schedule), I decided that I would watch it live rather than wait for that evening’s analysis.
Prompt: Talk about your Favorite Teacher, or one of your favorite teachers. What made them your favorite? What grade were you in? Did you have them for more than one year?