Something Swell on Saturday

The 3:30 Project is a collaborative blog by three life-long friends: Maggie, Mary Margaret and Jillian. On Saturdays, Mary Margaret plans to post something from the week that made her smile.

Ironically enough, given the timing of our post on healthcare, on Tuesday I suddenly got terribly dizzy and nauseated, and I had to leave my work call, make my way carefully home (don’t be that vomiting person on the train!!), and then attempt to not move my head for the next 24 hours. It was mercifully brief, but I hate, hate, hate having to not follow through on what I’ve committed to doing, no matter how compelling the circumstances. Having to leave work, take the day off, cancel on plans with a friend, and then sit still was painful for me. I’m not advocating this kind of guilt about being sick– actually it’s really something I should work on. As we wrote on Thursday, sometimes you just get sick, everyone does. Welcome to having a mortal body.

But what it allowed me to do, while I was feeling puny, was finish watching the HBO series John Adams, (streams on Amazon Prime video if you have it, and I’d say certainly worth your time). It stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail Adams, and while I couldn’t help but wish that Lin-Manuel Miranda would pop up suddenly as Alexander Hamilton, I think the 7-part series is well-acted, well-designed, and also perhaps just what I needed in the current political climate. In the Internet Age, it was illuminating to watch dramatized the life of these earliest Citizens. Even though it was only a couple hundred years ago, how quickly we forget this moment when a relatively small group of people was trying to grapple with what exactly America even was. Emphasis on a small group of people; the series does an excellent job in certain moments of reminding you who was left entirely out of the conversation.

In an era of instantaneous “tweets” and 24- hour news cycles, I enjoyed being reminded of a time where you might have to wait months for a response to a political inquiry or treaty proposal, since that response literally had to travel across an ocean. In an era of “celebrity politicians” I enjoyed being reminded that our US President at one time could walk alone without a security detail through the streets, because he literally might not be recognized. I enjoyed being reminded of the ways things are exactly the same- Congress has always been rife with petty bickering, tunnel vision is inherent to politics, and the Office of the President is only ever held by an oh-so-human mortal, no matter how much we want to mythologize. (See also our older post about First Ladies)

Sure it’s just a mental exercise, but looking at different accounts of our history (it’s interesting to contrast the musical ‘Hamilton’ against this miniseries to really feel the impact of the musical’s lyrics- “you have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story”) helps us keep tabs on what we accept as normal and take for granted in our era.

So if you are in search of some well-produced edu-tainment to temper your intake of the evening news, acknowledge the historical inaccuracies, but take a look to John Adams. You might just feel a little more hopeful and less cynical about our Nation.