I Cannot. Can You?

May 16, 2013

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I am old and I’m losing my edge. No, no — stop saying that I’m still super cool and edgy. Seriously, stop! It’s embarrassing me how you are going on and on about how I’ve “still got it” and I’m the mayor of Funkytown. In the absolutebest case scenario I maybe maintain an air of former coolness, like someone you’d see in an Eileen Fisher ad.

Here are some examples of how I know I’ve lost  it: first, I have started doing that thing where I hold restaurant menus out as far as my arm can reach so I can read them (this is with my glasses on), and that is not sexy; second, I recently contemplated buying some decorative, painted buoys to hang from my fence — the young, cool me would have been like, “Buoys?! Seriously?”; and third, you know how I said that thing about Eileen Fisher? Well, I’ve realized that I totally like those clothes. I will be wearing a pre-washed linen caftan in a muted tone any day now. I know, it’s not a good situation but I’m just being honest.

But the main change I’ve noticed is that I just can’t take it. I know that is a weird sentence because I didn’t define what “it” is, but the truth is that “it” changes by the day. “It” is whatever is in the news. “It” is gun control legislation, Benghazi, Guantanamo, drone strikes, Montsanto, sea level rise…all of it. I’m struggling.

Have you seen those links on Facebook to “33 Dogs Who Just Cannot Take It Right Now?” And then there’s a bunch of photos of dogs looking 100% insane with their eyes bugged out and the captions will say things like, “This dog just can’t handle life right now. He cannot.” I am all of those dogs. I cannot.

I used to be able to read and listen to news without internalizing all of it, but then I also used to be able to watch American Idol without crying during the montages of the contestants visiting their hometowns. I used to laugh at the violence in Quentin Tarantino movies and walk between moving subway cars and sleep on someone’s couch who I barely knew and eat at filthy restaurants in the East Village. I almost never considered my own mortality. I knew about current events but they seemed so separate from me — although, as an aside, I was ready to protest anything when I was in college. Seriously, if there was a march happening, I wasn’t leaving until justice was served! “Hey-hey, ho-ho, [INSERT INJUSTICE HERE] has got to go!”

But it didn’t hurt like it does now.

Those days were pre-Internet, of course, and now we are all inundated with articles and petitions and photos every single time we go to check the weather. And everything I read seems to cut to the quick for me. I still think about the parents of the kids who were killed in Newtown, CT, and how they must have one fraction of a second of normalcy when they wake up each morning, before the realization kicks in. I think of all the people killed in the factory in Bangladesh who were making cheap crap for us to wear. And don’t get me going on Gitmo, where people are being force fed against their wishes, many of whom were cleared for release years ago. It makes me sick.

Oh my. That was dark. Do you see how I just can’t?

I’ve said this before but, the older I get, the more I understand why people would decide to go all Doomsday Preppers, completely off the grid; I have actually wondered if it’s realistic to start a commune of sorts with like-minded individuals. I know that things like the defeat of the recent gun control legislation is supposed to get me all fired up to do more and try harder, the truth is it just really, really bummed me out and made me sad for the US. I’ll be honest: I’ve even thought that I should move my family to another country, where people don’t accidentally or purposefully shoot each other with guns every single f$$king week.

On the other hand, I don’t want to turn into just another blissfully uninformed American. And if every intelligent citizen like me decided that they just cannot, who would fight the good fight for those who, truly, can not? For me the solution has been to take things to a more local level and to try to do the best I can for my family and community, while also realizing that if I buy a shirt at Wal-Mart and it costs $2.99, that it was not made by a happy, tiny garment fairy.

I’m curious to see if others feel the same way and, if so, how do you balance the wanting to be informed so you can make good decisions with the wanting to stay sane? And one other question: should I order this linen caftan in moon pebble or sandstone?

PS If the dog photos didn’t make you laugh because you’re more of a cat person, check out the Sad Cat Diary on YouTube. I don’t even like cats and it cracked me up.

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