Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Dream of Madonna...and Obama

Since 1985, I’ve had recurring dreams about Madonna. Sometimes I’m at a concert. Often I’m backstage. Once I was even a back-up dancer. But in each of them, at some point, she looks up and chats with me like I’m her friend. And although I am always thrilled, it also just feels natural. I mean, I came of age to her music and any sense of “sexy” I have was so clearly inspired by one of her videos. She’s been a part of my life for over 20 years, so of course I have a personal relationship with her…in my head.

Now, I’ve never dreamt about anyone else this way…until Barack Obama. Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of dreams about him, too.

In one, I was 17 and Obama was at my family’s house for dinner. We were all drinking wine (which is, apparently, legal for 17-year-olds in dreamland), and chatting around the table. At one point he leaned over and told me he’d noticed that I kept blushing when he spoke. I stammered something about it being the wine, but he interrupted me and said, “Jen, I think you’ve developed a bit of a crush on me.” (I gasped!) “Now don’t be embarrassed. But let me remind you that I am a happily married man with two little girls. I’m flattered, and I hope you will work on redirecting that crush in a way that will bring you the happiness you deserve.” I woke up adoring the man on a new level. I now had a personal relationship with Barack Obama…in my head.

So what?

“So what?!” you’re probably thinking. I’m sure lots of people dream about these two. And it’s true; I actually own a book called I Dream of Madonna: Women's Dreams of the Goddess of Pop. It was delightful to learn that I was not alone. My kids (3 and 6) have suggested that perhaps I only dream about people whose names rhyme. If so, I have an excellent dream future ahead of me with the Dalai Lama, Nirvana and the film Big Momma’s House.

But strange as it may sound, Barack Obama and Madonna actually have more in common than rhyming names…at least to me. Madonna is an icon of physical change. As a performer she reinvents herself, embracing the changes in her own life and molding them into entertainment for the world. To me, Barack Obama is an icon of change itself. I believe him when he speaks, and I believe in his ability to help America make the changes it so desperately needs.

Both Madonna and Obama have inspired me more than anyone else in their respective fields. I’m going to Las Vegas with 15 friends to see Madonna next week - the only person I’ve ever traveled to see in concert. I’ve planned an outfit, saved some spending money, and forced my children to have an unusual number of Madonna dance parties in the living room.

I’ve also spent the last the year donating to the Obama campaign, sharing articles, beta testing the Obama iPhone application, and attending debate parties with my kids. Our family stood in line for 3 hours last May, winding our way through downtown Portland just for a glimpse of him. When I finally filled out my ballot and voted, I’ll admit it; I teared up and kissed the envelope for good luck. (That doesn’t invalidate it does it?)

Seriously, so what?

Again, you may be thinking, “Seriously, so WHAT?!” A lot of people go to Madonna concerts and are also politically energized by Barack Obama. So at long last, here is my point. What happens next Wednesday when the election is over? Obviously I have the greatest hope that Obama will win, and I look forward to a country changed through his leadership. But what about me? I mean, the day after the Madonna concert, I’ll go home and continue to have dress-up dance parties with my kids. And occasionally I’ll look at my concert pictures and reminisce with my friends about how good we looked in our Madonna-inspired outfits. But what about the money, the time, and the energy Barack Obama has inspired me to share in my life? Where does that go when the campaign machine turns off?

I have a feeling I’m not the only one asking themselves this question, but I can only answer it for myself. It turns out I can miss a few episodes of Desperate Housewives, I can ignore a few of my Facebook friend requests, and I can even go without a pedicure every now and then. Yes I can! I did it before the election, and I hope to do it after. It seems I can do more to effect change in the world than I have given myself credit for. Barack Obama taught me that. He’s a great leader not just because he strives to make changes, but because he inspires others to make changes as well.
In fact, he’s inspired me to make so many changes, I made a Change List to keep track of them:

Jen’s Change List – October 2008

1. Post a list of names and pictures of local politicians on my fridge so my whole family knows who represents us.
2. Learn conversational Spanish – for real this time.
3. Talk to my kids every time I make a donation, explaining who our money is going to and why.
4. Find a volunteer opportunity the whole family can do together.
5. Floss.
6. Visit and - two of many websites out there devoted to change.

No matter who wins the election, I have a Change List to update next Wedneday; to keep me striving for change as I know Barack Obama will. I’m taking dream-Obama’s advice, and redirecting my crush in a way that will bring me, and hopefully others, the happiness we deserve.

(P.S. Check out more Change Lists on this Facebook Group)


Loey, Andy & Dylan said...

Welcome to the blogsphere. Once you go blog, you'll never go unpublished again!
fellow blogger
I was hoping to see a package of tater tots on your heading!

Megahn & Marie said...

FAB! GREAT REWRITE! And I'm sending this to everyone on my email list.

Rau Family said...

Hey. Congrats on starting the blog... If you continue to write such long entries though you may not have any time to work on your change list...

Megahn & Marie said...

Hi Jen,

An auspicious start - and I think I'll add a change list to my fridge as well.

Megahn & Marie said...

That last comment was from me - Marie - not Megahn. How you liking that Mickey Mouse watch?

Jen said...

Loving my Micky Mouse watch, thank you very much!

Patti said...

Jen, proud to read your first (and may I add fantastic) blog! I am glad that all of the hours you spent dressing, singing & studying Madonna as you were growing up coupled with your current passion for Obama have paid off in a big way. Love, Mom

Alyson said...

Very change list is:
1. Be nice to people in service -- they have less money then me and therefore are doing a the shitty job of serving ME - so don't they at least deserve my respect. (So far I have been doing very well.)
2. Figure out what makes my new identity interesting to me..there will be more then baby groups one day..

I don't think I will publish that list though - it mostly makes me sound rude, immature and lost...

Carolyn said...

Way to go! Love the name of your blog.