Mingling Past and Present

I'm so thick into 1962, it's ridiculous. I look up with a hazy "whaaa?" and three hours have passed. I'm working mostly at Panera, where the coffee refills are free, and the Caesar salad is crisp. I'm watching the Democratic National Convention each evening -- what a spectacle! --which catapults me into 2008, then I crash into bed and rise each morning with my face crumpled from a deep sleep and weird dreams mixing 1962, 2008, and the new configuration of our household, which of course changes the ebbs and flows... not to mention the tides.

But I am here! Remember when I said, way back when, that I had wrestled chapter one to the mat and was charging full steam ahead? (I even said that chapter one SINGS...)

Well... after talking with my editor two weeks ago, I realized that I had more wrestling to do with that first chapter... and the first chapter's flow is crucial, for me -- it's got to be right before the rest of it falls into place... no wonder I've been so bogged down.

So the past two weeks have been all about story -- the political process unfolding this week and next, and the politics of 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I'm trying to get the details right -- and I'm asking for help: Tom West is a geek. Is "geek" a word that would have been used in 1962? Would "nerd" be better? I've done a search, but so far haven't been able to figure this out. I need the right word -- it may be something else altogether. Weirdo. I don't know what we used for "geek" then. I can do a more thorough search at some point, but for now, I'm trying to keep moving.

I've also been consumed with reading the press surrounding the Democratic National Convention -- it has become my coffee reading in the morning, and I have to MAKE myself stop, in order to get to work. I read from a variety of sources, mainstream and not; I want to learn to think for myself about politics, and I want to know more -- back to the foundations, the fundamentals, just like anything we want to do well... we begin at the beginning.

This morning I read, in one opinion piece, that the Democratic National Convention is so boring it's fascinating. Thinking for myself, I have to agree. ha! But truly, so many history-making moments are happening this week -- I remember, waaaay back in 1984 , when Geraldine Ferraro was tapped for Walter Mondale's running mate... I made sure my eldest daughter, then 12 years old, sat in front of the television with me to watch that historic moment. "Remember you were here, and remember this day," I said.

Last night, younger daughter Hannah, age 22, and I sat together and watched Hillary Clinton's speech -- (did you dig that bright orange pantsuit? Ohmy! One comment heard in my family room: "She's dressed in Creamsicle!") But I loved her reference to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits -- loved the cheer and the recognition of a YA title -- yahoo. But there was more than that going on, of course... much more.

I'm hooked these days, both on the political process and the 1960s. I'm watching MAD MEN right now -- anybody else out there a fan? Hannah and I are catching up on last season's episodes, and forging ahead with season two on Sunday nights at 10 Eastern on AMC. I have more to say about something in particular that sparked something else (can you be more eliptical, Debbie?), but that will have to wait for tomorrow.

My candidate spoke yesterday. Sigh. Maybe another year.

Tonight -- an historic roll-call. I want to be there. I watch this convention, and my past trips across the stage -- geez, I'm older than I thought I was.... I got positively teary when Ted Kennedy walked on stage. The dream lives on... my. Maybe it's all that time I'm spending in the Sixties. Time. And torches being passed... that's what I see this week, as much as anything else. It makes me realize, there is more time behind me now than there is in front of me, unless I live to be 110.

One more dip into 1962 before I call it a day and go home.

(All photos courtesy of the DNC website.)


  1. We used to say "dork" back in the 60s. It was a two-meaning word that referred to inept people and/or jerks. Does that suit your purposes? (And for the record, it evolved/devolved to mean "penis" (and its synonyms) in the 1990s.

    Please keep those 60s memories comin'! :)

  2. Dork! Of course! Thank you, thank you! Ack on is devolvement... hmmm....

    I will surely keep those '60s memories, questions, and thoughts coming -- it's where I live these days, during my writing time. Thanks for reading -- and commenting online...

  3. I did some research (not being quite old enough to be trustworthy regarding 1962 slang) and found that "nerd" started as a term used by the Beat Generation and had taken hold quite firmly by the late 50s. Dork will be tougher for a contemporary reader to process, as it is hardly used anymore. I'd say nerd will work just fine.

    I've had no time to watch any of the convention (or the Olympics) due to working 16 hour days!!! The show opens Sept. 12 and I will probably sleep for 48 hours after...


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