First the Good News, Then the Bad News: Riding the 2020 Roller Coaster

I hate roller coasters. I vowed never to get on one again after losing my glasses and my sh*t thirty years ago thinking that a ride in the front car with my ten- and seven-year-old kids would be as much fun as it had been when I was their age. We all still laugh about mom’s complete freak out. But I’m going to have to learn how to ride the news cycle roller coaster if I’m going to stay sane in 2020. And figuring out how is no laughing matter.

First the Good News: On Thursday I learned that the immunotherapy my husband is receiving for metastatic HPV cancer is working, thanks to the clinical trial he is participating in. As I heard the words, “responding to treatment,” my heart exited my throat as hope for a cancer-free future suddenly became a possibility.

Then the Bad News: On Friday both Dan and I were plunged into despair as we watched the cancer that is overtaking our politics strangle the call for witnesses — and hence any check on metastasizing corruption– in a different kind of “trial.” Clearly, our body politic needs immunotherapy to survive every bit as much as Dan does.

It’s so hard to stay focused on the good things in our own lives, remaining productive and optimistic, while continuing to engage in the world beyond our front door. The news cycle is relentless. On Saturday we both said NO to social media and refused to turn on the TV, spending time instead with our adorable toddler grandson. We rebounded.

Then yesterday’s Super Bowl controversy over a halftime show featuring two amazing middle-aged women thought by some to be too scantily clad, their performance too sexualized, was barely (every pun intended) over when Trump’s inability to find Kansas City on a map set off the next Twitterstorm. Maps seem to be a theme recently, no?

Today it’s IOWA, IOWA, IOWA. Will it be Bernie? Will it be Biden? What about Elizabeth, Mayor Pete? Is this the end for Klobuchar? Will I be elated? Disappointed? Apathetic? Stay tuned! It’s an unseasonably warm day in New York City today and I’m going to go outside with my dog as soon I post this. No all-day coverage of Iowa voters in diners for me, thanks.

Tomorrow it’s the State of the Union address. I know how I will feel about that. The Union has the same prognosis that Dan received in October: “ominous.” Our worst days– emotionally speaking– spanned the interval between his diagnosis and the beginning of treatment, the limbo period, we called it. That’s what the country is in until November, and it’s taxing.

Wednesday it’s the vote to acquit Trump (and yes that is what will happen). I won’t be watching evening coverage as I’ll be in class receiving  pans glowing reviews of Chapter Nine of my memoir. And who the hell knows what will happen on Thursday.

Riding the good news, bad news roller coaster in this crazy time is all about balance. Finding it, keeping it, trying to embody it. How? Here’s my advice, which I repeat to myself on the regular.

  • Stay present, don’t tune out the world around you, but tune in to your own inner world at a ratio of at least two to one.
  • Don’t become complacent. Your life can be upended in an instant as ours was with that word “ominous.”
  • Appreciate what you have as much as you work toward what you wish to have. Even on my worst days I write down one thing that I am grateful for before bed.
  • I know it sounds trivial, but life really is one day at a time. Decide each day what one thing you want to accomplish for yourself, for your family, for your community, for your country, that will make you sleep better that night. Keep it simple.

My goals for today are to write this post, donate to NPR and tell my brother half a world away that I love him. And yes, I have a zillion other things on my plate which I will also try to accomplish, but they are tasks, not things that will feed my soul or make the world better.

Have a good week and thanks for coming to my Ted Talk 😉


10 thoughts on “First the Good News, Then the Bad News: Riding the 2020 Roller Coaster”

  1. Good news on cancer in the family trumps politics…

    My father the historian was fond of saying — usually the things people worry about the most never come to pass.

    That makes me feel a little better about all the negative news. I hope it helps you too.


    1. I’m trained as a historian and appreciate your father’s wisdom. Unfortunately, my background teaching U.S. History for decades also makes me see the current issues in parallel with past scenarios. My husband is sick of my saying since 2014 that the decade was beginning to feel like the 1850s. BUT … I am so grateful for the good news in my personal life and I am trying to stay as positive as I can about my country, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agree on the 1850’s worry. But it could be the 1920’s with roaring inequality and conservative backlask against progressivism.
        Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to depression and war, and it’s really just 1974 and we pull back from the brink…


  2. Wow, all that bad stuff and you didn’t even mention the coronavirus, which is all I can think about. The latest round of impeachment hearings had no impact on me at all. The senate did exactly what they said they were going to do. It was like reading the last chapter first. I’m finding that being present is the only way I can feel good anymore. So I’m striving to stay present.


    1. Just to make you feel better, I read something yesterday that said that flu was a much bigger threat than coronavirus. Just keep watching your hands!! Even in NYC we haven’t yet had a confirmed case. I’m not trying to trivialize it because let’s face it, with a husband with cancer there is a lot I can worry about. But I worry more about what the world my grandson will inherit might look like if I flunk civic engagement. I can’t fight viruses as I have learned all to well, but I can try to fight authoritarianism. Stay positive!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve thrown in the towel on behalf of my kids. Pandemics, climate change, trump. I would say ‘it can’t get much worse’ but if I think about it, I can see a lot of ways it can get worse. The young ones will have some hurdles to clear.


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