Election stress? Have a drink and check out my dog.

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Uh oh – It’s 8 am, and I’m about to mix a martini. Hell, I might not even bother using a shaker; I might start drinking straight out of the bottle. I can’t breathe, and I’m breaking out in hives. Why? Because it’s finally here: After the country’s longest, ugliest campaign season, it’s time to vote. This is it! The election is tight! The polls are narrowing! Our future is at stake, and my hair is falling out. The pundits, with their constant discussions of “who the hell knows what will happen blah blah blah battlegrounds blah blah margin of error,” are causing me to have a nervous breakdown.

Given the stress of the day, the heightened anger and the sickening anxiety, I’ve decided — for self-preservation — to focus today’s post on something that will lower our collective blood pressure and allow us to take a deep breath. Since we won’t know who the next president will be for several hours (or God forbid days), let’s just distract ourselves by looking at animal pictures. Maybe we can even learn something from them.fullsizerender-19

I made the big decision, despite of my husband’s pleas, to fill our apartment with pets. Like politicians, my animals do not get along with each other, do not respect each other’s differences, and are rude to each other. But the point is, my writing companions are adorable and completely unfazed by the presidential race. And I’m jealous that this election means absolutely nothing to them. There might be a radio in that picture above, but believe me, it’s not on a news channel. I’m going to take a lesson from my pets today, tune this whole mess out, and try to relax for the first time in months. Here’s a page from their playbook:

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Allow me to introduce you to Tucker, a dog I inherited from my mother. Stressed out? I don’t think so. Tucker enjoys sleeping, resting, lounging, and watching westerns on TMC. He’s impressively lazy, preferring to sit with me while I read, over taking walks. Although he barks at the TV when Trump comes on, he has never expressed any political party affiliation or opinions about the candidates. When asked about the closeness of the race, he yawns. He does not give a shit.

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Meet Pigeon, a slightly overweight but lovable cat we found in a dumpster and decided to keep. Forced by her doctor to watch her waistline and count calories, Pigeon is often grumpy. But her bad mood has nothing to do with the election, and she hasn’t lost a minute of sleep over any of this garbage. She could not possibly care less about political rallies, foreign meddling, hacked emails, the FBI, SNL, CNN, Jay-Z, Chachi, insiders, outsiders, Twitter rants, voter fraud, government agencies, or any systems, rigged or otherwise. Nothing about the 2016 race upsets her.

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And next, we have Stella. Stella is a brat, a spoiled princess we decided to keep after a crazy woman brought her to us, saying she had smuggled her in from Ethiopia in a backpack. We didn’t buy the story, but we adopted Stella anyway. She has an ear-piercing yowl and loves to show it off. But in spite of all that noise, she has zero interest in fighting about politics. In fact, she doesn’t give a rat’s ass who gets elected today. Does she surf the internet reading every possible article she can find on the candidates? No. She uses the laptop for good: to chase cartoon fish on the screen. And look at that level of relaxation —

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So. Do you feel better now? No? Me neither. I guess it’s time to start drinking.

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Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

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