We've got Obama Overload at our house.
You may not find this particular psychological disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM), but I can assure you, it exists. I know because we have it.
It's certainly not one of those things you can predict. I thought we were normal, pretty-much-not-interested-in-politics type of people. I've spent my career in radio staying away from talking about it. (It's too divisive, and I need all the listeners I can get.)
I do know when it started. I can pinpoint the day. It was the day John McCain brought Sarah Palin onto the ticket as VP. That was the day my sleeping political animal awoke and came unleashed.
I couldn't sleep that night. I was too ticked off. I couldn't stop talking about it the next day. My friends (who might not be Democrats) told me to shut up. I turned to the only method of expression I had that wouldn't get me thrown out of restaurants. I wrote.
I hadn't written essays or op/ed pieces since college when I was editor of the newspaper. I've been a broadcaster for 20 years and we don't need to know how to string sentences coherently or how to spell someone's last name properly, or what kind of punctuation goes after a sentence fragment. (We just use dots.) But the choice of Sarah Palin for Vice President so insulted me that I pulled out my old AP style book and went to town. I wrote until 2 in the morning, and then I sent it out to everyone on my email list who might lean even slightly to the left of far right.
When I got up the next morning I was greeted with a massive amount of email. I realized that I had struck a chord, especially with women. I wasn't the only one insulted, nor the only one pissed off. And my email list encouraged me to write more.
So my next piece I submitted to the Huffington Post. And when they accepted it, I got another blast of euphoria. There were even more people who felt as incensed as I did! And I was connecting with them.
This, my friends, is the start. Sadly, I must say, the Huffington Post is the gateway drug of Obama Overload. I know. Because I didn't just check to see if anyone had commented on my piece, I started reading other pieces. And then other sections. Then older pieces of the writers I really liked. Soon I was checking HuffPo, (as we addicts like to call it), several times a day. I was sending url addresses out in emails. I was watching the slideshows of the Obama's PDAs and tearing up at the realness of it. I was watching the debates because I WANTED to, not because I had to. I was hooked.
So I hear you say, "But that is simply an addiction." That's how it starts, my friends. It only gets worse. Here's how you know you when you have crossed the line into Obama Overload (OO):
You find yourself putting off important tasks to read "just one more" political article. Soon it's 2 in the afternoon and you are sitting at the computer, still in your nightgown, reaching for the eyedrops to soothe your bleary eyes. People call and ask when you'll have their project done. You say you are in the middle of something really important now and will call them back when you break free. You just never break free.
Polls. I don't have to explain. All of you other addicts and OO'ers out there already know what I mean. You know where they all are. And you check them every hour.
You start talking with your children about history and they don't walk out of the room. Your daughter is a 22 year-old college student and only drops by when she's out of cash or needs the laundry done. Now you spend copious amounts of time together talking about the lost 2000 election and hanging chads, about what the Constitution says the job of the VP entails, and how the Republican Party ain't the way it used to be
You use certain code words around people to determine what their political affiliation is. And when you find that someone you thought was a McCain fan turns out to be an Obama supporter, you make new friends for life.
You have no real sense of time. You tell your daughter, who is waiting patiently in the car, that you will only be in the store for 10 minutes while you pick up the bubble mailers that are 3/$1.00, but in fact you emerge several hours later, (only after the security guard hustles you out because the store is closing). This is because you have been standing in the store aisle talking about Obama with one of your "new friends."
You get emails from your friends saying "I don't want to talk politics with you anymore. Please stop. Don't text me, either." Granted, those are from your Republican friends, but they are friends nonetheless.
You start downloading Obama ringtones. You attach them to the numbers of your Republican friends so you can at least have a laugh each time they call you. Plus the added bonus of pissing them off when they hear your phone ring.
You humanize your cats. When Clawdine, the little cat, starts horking up a hairball, you ask what her problem is. Your daughter replies "She's choking over the thought of Palin as Vice President."
And here's how I knew we had a real problem:
Your daughter admonishes Tim Robbins about voting. In a dream. Your daughter wakes up and tells you that she dreamed she saw Guy Ritchie. She asked him if he had voted for Obama, but he told her that he is not an American citizen. She tells him to spread the word to his American friends. Tim Robbins approaches and she asks HIM if he has voted for Obama. He says he is planning on it. She says "That's not good enough! Get off your duff. Early voting is still open. Don't plan... DO!"
I have contacted a therapist for help with our problem. After we talked for 2 hours about why America needs Obama, she agreed to put us in a 12-step program. The first step is making sure Obama gets elected. I think the other 11 will fall into place on November 5th.
Follow Pam Atherton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PamAtherton