Madison Monday: Hurricanes, presidential elections, and deja vu

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It’s deja vu time this September in Madison.  One of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog, way back in 2008, was about the effects of Hurricane Ike in Indiana.  It was September, and the beginning of the school year at Hanover, and a presidential election year.

Four years later, it’s September, the first day of classes, there’s a hurricane affecting our weather, and a presidential election coming up.  It seems as good a time as any to do my own little, “Then and Now.”

Ike versus Isaac

Thankfully, Hurricane Isaac is providing us only with some much needed rain, unlike Ike, whose high winds resulted in property damage and power outages all over the Midwest, leading the college to cancel the second week of classes altogether in 2008.

Not that cancelling classes is always a bad thing.  Especially, say, on Labor Day, a day on which no decent American should really be working.  I know there are a lot of folks out there who probably don’t particularly consider college professors decent Americans, or perhaps even define what we do as “working,” but that’s another post for another time.

How I was saved from being a crazy cat lady (maybe)

In 2008, I was still single and living all by myself in the house I had just recently bought, except for a very grouchy and deeply unhappy old cat.  In 2012, I am married, living in the same house with my husband and step-daughter, and I have traded the deeply unhappy cat for two happy, if slightly neurotic, cats.  But then, maybe saying, “slightly neurotic cat,” is redundant.  Has my situation improved, then?  That all depends on whether you think having two cats is better than having one, really an age-old philosophical debate.  I will say that adding a husband and a child gave me much more to write about on this blog than just, say, cats.

What has Obama done for me lately?

I distinctly remember (and also, I wrote a post about it, so I don’t really have to distinctly remember) that at this point in the 2008 presidential election, I was obsessively checking the electoral maps of several different news organizations more than once a day.  Much of my happiness hinged on what those electoral maps told me.  At this point in September 2008, I was ready for it all to be over.  The presidential election, that is.  And possibly the life of the old and deeply unhappy cat, too, but certainly not my own life.

This September, I can tell you with complete honesty that I have not checked a single electoral map.  My husband tells me that Obama is up in Florida, which is good.  Or maybe it was Ohio.  I don’t remember.  I have discovered that one of the beautiful things about marriage is allowing someone else to carry the burden of anxiety from time to time.  My husband is worrying about the presidential election for both of us.  I’m worrying about global climate-induced apocalypse.  It seems like a fair trade, and there’s not much we can do about either situation.

Also in the last four years I went on sabbatical; became a parent; wrote a book; learned how to play the fiddle, guitar and knit; had my first ever paid gig as a musician; had my first paid speaking gig; and sang in public for the first time since I was ten years old.  Is President Obama’s list nearly as impressive?  I doubt it.

one eyed cat
A cat in every pot–I mean, household

Still, Obama didn’t get in my way, and for that (and some other fairly important reasons), I’ll be voting for him again in November.  Sometimes you can’t say too much about just being left alone, and I’m under no illusion that the other candidate has any intention of leaving me alone.  Don’t be fooled; dismantling the government and leaving me alone are not at all the same thing.

But I’m a generous person, so who knows?  Maybe President Obama can take some credit for my last four years of happiness, productivity, and the impressive doubling of my household cat population.  I see a presidential slogan there–“Two cats in every house.”  What the politicians won’t tell you–twice the vomit and poop.

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