There is one thing you will not catch me doing this week, and possibly even next: I won’t be beating myself up for the things I didn’t get done, the books I didn’t read, the shows I didn’t watch, the news I didn’t consume, the calls I didn’t make, or the Facebook statuses I didn’t write. I’m not requiring it of me, and you shouldn’t require it of you.
It’s ok if all you did today was nothing.
The election is over; the anxiety is not. And in this horrific state of limbo, we have nothing to do but wait and see, doom and scroll, and it very simply is not good for our health.
Tuesday was a good day for me. I spent it counting absentee ballots (like the dirty, nasty demon that all ballot counters are) in my county. I wasn’t allowed to have my cell phone, and I sat at a table for 15 hours with an elderly Republican lady who told me all about how to become a master gardener and which plants would attract hummingbirds naturally in our area. It was a great day. I came home to 280 text messages. I skimmed them (sorry, friends) because I knew that getting mired in the minutiae of the day would wear me out more than counting and re-counting envelopes and affidavits and ballots all day and night did.
Sidenote: A Word About Ballot Counting
It’s bipartisan. It’s mostly volunteers. The people doing it have no agenda other than to help the election commission. And there is literally NO WAY to “find ballots” or “hide ballots” or “manufacture ballots” or “steal ballots” or even accidentally invalidate ballots, especially not in large numbers. Ballots counters aren’t allowed writing implements other than specific inks that won’t show up on ballot scanners. They aren’t allowed scissors or lighters or anything that could destroy ballots. They can’t leave their table (where they sit with a member of the opposite party) if they currently have ballots. Everything is more than triple checked. By hand and by machine. Counts are meticulous. If someone messed up their mail in ballot, more than one person examines it before more than one person voids it. It’s un-steal-able. In a surprise to no one, the president lies about things he knows nothing about in order to save himself. That’s all.
Wednesday, we waited.
We waited for counts. We waited for word. And we worried.
I kept busy. I was tired, but I ran important errands, rearranged a drawer, wrote a bit for NaNoWriMo, and put a few touches on a room I’ve been redecorating (If IKEA would just get the black RANARP lamp back in stock for delivery, I could put a pin in that), I helped my daughter with an English project, I walked my dogs, I did some laundry. And yes, I checked my phone here and there. But I refused to stay glued to the results.
More importantly, I refused to get mired in the muck. The votes have been cast. Arguing with uninformed folks about the “coalition building” of the electoral college and a ballot wagon in Arizona is not worth my time. What is? Well, contacting my local party office to find out how I can organize meetings to keep momentum going out here in the suburbs. It’s not a little thing, but I am a little scared.
But this is The Cool Table, and you might want to know what fun stuff we’re doing to help pass the time.
So here are some recs:
Read Atomic Love by Jennie Fields. It takes place in Chicago in 1950 and follows a female physicist who worked on the atomic bomb, and now works at a Marshall Fields. She misses her old work and her old lover and her old life, and suddenly an FBI agent (a tall one – wink wink) comes into her life and asks her to spy on her former flame. Much danger and romance ensues. It’s got nylons and hidden safety deposit boxes and mixed messages and some Russian spies. It’s a great escape.
Add PBS Documentaries to your streaming channels. It’s on $2.99, and it has everything /Stefan. Reconstruction, The Black Panthers, Vatican Secrets, Koko the Gorilla, and actual investigative journalism.
Create a Pinterest board for a new project. I know, it’s not 2009, but hear me out. You don’t have to have anyone over for Thanksgiving this year, so you can go full Ina Garten on your menu and your brother-in-law won’t be there to complain about the gorgonzola and the lack of congealed green bean casserole. Also, wallpaper is back. How are you gonna know what you want to put in that nook in your dining room if you don’t pin a million birds-of-paradise prints and compare?
Follow Heather McMahan on Instagram. I should have told you to do this two and half years ago when I started following her because now I just look like a bandwagon poseur, but trust me, being late to Heather’s party does not mean it gets less fun. She’s a comedian from Atlanta, and her real life and her IG stories will keep you entertained and away from Nevada’s election calculator. She also has a podcast, but believe me, get to know her on IG first or you will feel like a new kid in middle school with a wild cowlick if you drop into the vast ocean of Absolutely Not without context. CONTEXT.
What will I be doing today? Well, I’m done writing this, so it’s time to write something else.
Beth is the proud sponsor of two little women and a huge fan of fandom. She took 3 years of Latin in high school and now speaks fluent pretension, which fully explains her current preference for gay wizard regency novels. She will roll over for a giant book with a map in the front. She takes comic book recommendations every day but Wednesday and TV recommendations never (she knows what's good).