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The morning after the first Presidential debate, my feed continues the trend began the night before, in which friends express outrage, frustration, anxiety and disgust with the words of the seated president, the lack of assertion of the would-be Commander In Chief, the inefficacy of the moderator. Last night there were bingo cards with no prizes- not even satisfaction- for winners, and drinking games guaranteeing momentary oblivion with a chaser of liver damage.

Folks blustered and blurted and wailed and “ugh!”ed along, in real time and unison like a well-schooled audience at a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening circa 1985; all armed with toast and toilet paper they played their parts with devotion and to the hilt, a bleak chorus chiming in loudly, clearly. They were INCENSED. They were VEHEMENT and ENRAGED. I feared for the keyboards of those on laptops, doubtless pummeled with force and fury.

The next day, everyone has had an awful night’s sleep and feels like shit. They grab their phones while still in bed, nestled between partners and dogs, and go back to the rage of not even twelve hours before, brewing their anger before their coffee. They burned the midnight adrenaline and now are spent, tired, aching but still mad; mad, but with no fuel to support it, endlessly striking the flint of their vexation but never generating a spark. Buffering, buffering, buffering. They’ve been robbed of any peace or calm.

Political analysts use terms like “chaos”, “bully”, “unhinged”, and “shitshow” to describe after the fact what anyone who’s paid even the most miniscule amount of attention could have predicted long before the opponents reached their podiums. Everyone is so fucking irate at that fucking fuck. Can you believe an established stupid ass motherfucker would behave like a stupid ass motherfucker?

I mean, I can.

Stupid ass motherfuckers gonna stupid ass motherfucker. And because I have absolutely zero FOMO for watching the country collapse, I opted out and read the latest installment of a book series about a doctor who treats monsters; in this one she’s in Paris for a conference and has been kidnapped by vampires who’ve made questionable fashion choices and wear too much glitter. At the onset, I checked in with social media here and there, but it got tedious quickly, all that toast throwing, and I disconnected, turning to words nicely assembled. Eventually I took the dog for one last spin, hit a bowl, and fell into a dreamless and comfortable sleep, waking up not livid.

And I’ll do it again.

I’m not politically unknowledgeable. I’m active on numerous levels, from marches to email and phone campaigns to small intimate targeted actions to those large in bodies and scope. I know who voted for what and why and how they were funded, on the most local of levels all the way to the top. I follow activists in my community and around the world. I know that every dollar I spend is a political decision and I’m obsessive in tracking what my money supports. I work to affect change wherever and however I can.

And I additionally know myself, and my outrage, frustration, anxiety and disgust, and how those things can kneecap me to render me useless. And I know that I would gain nothing from watching that debate but further irritation to multiple already piqued ulcers, due both to stress and the alcohol that I would consume while watching, not drinking as a game but with monumental gravity and dead seriousness.

The only way I will give my precious fucking time to a presidential debate in this election is if they dispense with the construct of language and turn to fisticuffs instead, rolling up starched sleeves and bareknuckling it in the undeniable truth of jabs and hooks. That violence I can believe in, the honesty of a crack across the mouth, the candor of a wallop to the ear. Surely Trump will hide razor blades in his palm but we all know that’s coming including Biden, who will hopefully have learned his lesson and come armed with his own sleeves occupied with a trick or two.

Until then, I don’t need to tend to the flames of discontent and spleen, already burning, continually stoked like a sacred fire. I don’t need to feign surprise and shock by getting exactly what I expected. There is no criticism being levied to those who choose to give unreturnable minutes of their lives to this shit circus, but if that’s you, understand that you have other possibilities and are consenting to the emotional and mental damage watching will exact upon you.

You have my sympathies for the harm you receive, but from a distance.

I’ll be busy reading.

is a Pittsburgh-based journalist, playwright, and theater artist who writes about social justice, visual art, travel, and her dog.

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