Monday, December 5, 2016

Lost in the Supermarket

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily

~~ “Lost in the Supermarket” by the Clash

I spotted this at the grocery store today and of course, I had to have it. While I’m looking forward to reading it and I’m sure the articles will be excellent, I think there is an element of wanting to hold on to him and never let him go. I find myself feeling increasingly bereft as his time in office nears its close. There is also a sense of impending doom as the next administration nears, and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

I feel fortunate to have lived during the eight years of Obama’s presidency. We have had our ups and downs but there is no denying (at least among the rational) that he is a good, decent, extremely intelligent man who has the best interests of the country at heart. So buying this special issue was my little way of falling to the ground, grabbing him around the knees and wailing, “NO! Please don’t go! Don’t leave me this way!”

::sigh::

But since it looks like he’s not going to declare martial law in order to set himself up in the Oval Office for life, I know he has to say goodbye.

It seems that I’m not the only one who is experiencing this feeling of loss. At the checkout line, the clerk rang it up and slid it to the end of the lane for the bagboy to put into a bag. As she did it, she glanced at it and read the headline: “The Obama Years.” The bagboy looked sad and said, “I’m going to miss him.”

The clerk said, “Me, too.”

Naturally, I chimed in with, “Me, too!”

Here is where it gets really interesting. The clerk, who is an older lady I see there often (I won’t mention her name for privacy reasons), seems to be close to retirement age. She is sometimes a little gruff, but mostly just all business. She seemed in a good mood today and was quite a bit more talkative than usual. She said to me, “I fear for my life now,” and flashed me a little smile that didn’t seem to quite reach her eyes. The bagboy, a youngster who could possibly have been of Hispanic heritage, murmured, “Yeah,” and I said, “I think a lot of us are concerned.”

The bagboy put the magazine into a bag and said, “He’s been great.”

The clerk wasn’t done. She said, “Like my daughter says, grab your picture ID and run for your life!”

At that point, we all did chuckle a little bit, but I would describe it as “rueful chuckling.” As in, “We have to kind of laugh about this, right? Even though we are scared and sickened by what is happening?”

I found this encounter intriguing on several levels and it has stuck with me all day.

First, not everyone in the Midwest is onboard the Yam Express to Hell. There are plenty of us right here in Indiana who are unhappy about this.

Second, it goes beyond just being unhappy. I’ve been unhappy with election outcomes before. We are now in the Fear Zone. Here were three disparate people: an older woman close to retirement, a young man of uncertain ethnic origin (I don’t mean that in a bad way...I just have no idea what his ethnicity was, but I could tell he wasn’t total whitebread like me) who is just starting his life’s journey, and middle-aged me who worries about erosions of civil liberties and about setbacks in all the progress that has been made in the last several decades.

Three very different circumstances, but a common sentiment: we are all afraid.

Afraid of what is going to happen to retirement funds and Medicare; afraid of what is going to happen to our gay friends and family; afraid of what is going to happen to women’s reproductive rights; afraid of what kind of life is going to be waiting for any young person when they get out of college—if they can even afford to go to college. We were all feeling afraid enough that we actually talked about this a bit in a place of business. I think we all are trying to find comfort where we can, and perhaps my purchase of this magazine reassured the clerk and the bagboy that there are people out there who are feeling the same way. I hope so. I hope that gave them a little boost today. Hearing their words sure gave me one!

It also made me feel angry. Because we shouldn’t have to feel afraid of the leader of our government and what he is going to do to our country and to the world. None of us. I’m not going to say that it’s unfair, because I know that life isn’t fair. I think it’s reasonable to say that it is unjust, though. It is unjust that a significant portion of our population is now living in fear. I remember being afraid of nuclear war a few decades ago. I feel that same pall over my life now and it seems that my compadres at the supermarket are feeling it, too.

Finally, it makes me think that the coalition is still there. The Democrats just need to figure out how to bring us all together so that we can work on progress for all, not just a select few.

I just hope that by the time they figure it out, it’s not too late.

This song is going out to the current Commander-In-Chief. You may not be in the Oval Office soon, sir, but you’ll always command my heart...and my respect.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Man in the High Tower

I am a lover of blank journals and have different ones going at various times. I have one for current books I’m reading, in case I want to jot down a note about something I read, one for the Modern Library list of novels I’m reading (I’m a little behind on that!), and one that I call my Idea Book.

The Idea Book consists of things that I think might make a good story or book. I don’t know if that will ever happen, especially a book, but it’s important to me to write down those ideas when they occur to me. I usually write in the Idea Book when I get up in the morning because I have very vivid dreams and that is mostly what generates the content of the Idea Book.

I had a rare late night idea tonight and went to write that down when I discovered something I wrote on October 13th. I don’t think this came from a dream...I believe I was speculating on a worst case scenario. I think I was planning on writing a blog entry about this but never got around to it because I was so focused on reading political blogs. I was rather stunned to read this because it seems that my worst case scenario pretty much came true. Here is what I wrote, with a little editing to expand upon my abbreviations.

I titled it “The Man in the High Tower,” a riff on Philip K. Dick’s novel “The Man in the High Castle” (as well as an excellent Amazon series).

***

How does The Yam get elected?

  1. Complacency
  2. Early freak blizzard in New York or New Jersey
  3. Late freak hurricane in Florida  

Attorney General Christie jails Hillary—ACLU gets her out. Christie indicted, replaced by Giuliani.

First two years—slim Democratic majority in Senate so no SCOTUS appointments.

No major harm in the first two years.

2018 midterms—all Republican Congress. SCOTUS appointments, Roe v Wade and marriage equality overturned. ACA repealed, millions with no care. All same-sex marriages nulled—CHAOS!

Taxes cut on wealthy. No money for infrastructure, etc. Money for military WAY up.

Persecution against gays, women, minorities.

Underground forms. Contact via Net but elaborate code.

No solution—YET. Hopeful.

Oh, and theocracy—mandatory church attendance? New cabinet post for Falwell, Jr.?

***

I was obviously wrong about some of these things. Christie is persona non grata in the Yamistration. The Democrats did not get a slim majority in the Senate. But it seems that much of my nightmare scenario isn’t all that far off the mark. Jerry Falwell, Jr. was really being considered for a cabinet post.

I’m half-tempted to delete the part about speculating on an Underground because it might actually be necessary! I’m laughing now, but I’m not sure I will be in the coming months.

Like many of you, I am feeling powerless right now, and I can’t begin to tell you how much it pisses me off to feel powerless. I am still trying to wrap my brain around this and figure out how to proceed. One thing I know is that if I see or hear any sort of discrimination or bullying of anyone, I will speak out. Zero tolerance. I also will push the decent people who voted for him to denounce those supporters who are racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and bigoted. Seriously, you have to step up here, people. If you disagree with the bigotry, then fucking say so! Denounce it with your loudest voice! I sure as hell will.

I am also calling on the media to stop pandering and call it like it is. Do your damn job! One of the foundations of our democracy is a free press, and you’d best start exercising that right before it is taken away.

Sometimes nightmare scenarios come true and sometimes I write scary things in my Idea Book.

But we can’t give up. Note that word “hopeful” in what I wrote. We have to hang on to that and we have to help each other.

Peace.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Salvation

Scream with your hands up in the sky
Like you want to testify
For the life that's been deleted
Sing like a rebel's lullaby
Under the stars and stripes
For the lost souls that were cheated

~~ “Revolution Radio” by Green Day

I’m still not in a great place.

Oh, I’m doing all right. I’m living my life, having fun, all that stuff. I haven’t been gunned down in the street, had my uterus ripped out, or been told “Hush your mouth, little lady.”

A stranger hasn’t grabbed my pussy, so there’s that.

I am still not feeling real happy about things right now.

At the moment, there is not a whole lot I can do about it. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, but for now? I guess I have to see what plays out.

In the meantime, I’ve been focusing on meeting my reading challenge. I have met the goal of fifty books per year in my Facebook reading group, but my personal goal is 52, and I am two books away from that. I think I’m going to make it! I’m going the distance! I’ve read some great books this year, but I’ve read a few stinkers, too. Quirky does not always equate to good.

Reading is always a refuge for me. I’m not retreating from the world, but diving into a good book and losing myself for a while is always a good thing.

We’ve also been watching “Aquarius,” the show starring David Duchovny (I lurv him) and about the Manson family. It’s fascinating, disturbing, and a great diversion.

As always, music is the best retreat. I’m listening to a lot of different things, but Green Day is the band that is perfectly matching my mood right now and their new album “Revolution Radio” is getting lots of airplay at Nutwood.

We’ll see what happens going forward and we’ll see what response is needed.

For the moment, I can immerse myself in books, movies, TV, and music.

To be continued.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Meme That Could Save Us All

Well, Pink Flag Joe
He does the flambo twist
With the finger motions
That you can't resist
~~ "P.F.J." by Ric Ocasek
Yeah, it’s been a rough week. I’m still vacillating between disgust, horror, anger, and other feelings that I’m not even sure there is a name for.

Music has helped. I’m listening to a lot of Green Day because they have the right mix of rage and sweetness. “The Reflex” came on the radio one day when I was in the shower and I belted it out at the top of my lungs. Thanks, Duran Duran...I needed that! A couple of good movies, a lot of reading, a Notre Dame basketball game today, and a late lunch/early dinner with Shane and Matt. We had a chance to talk about things and even had some laughs. Margaritas and beer helped! Seriously, there is not enough booze in the world right now.

The personal healing has begun, in other words. We are in the situation we are in and we go forward from here. That doesn’t mean we’re going to shut up about it. Far from it.

But what has brightened my world more than anything is all the Joe Biden memes that are making their way around the Interwebs. (Click on photos to embiggen.) I don’t know exactly what it is about them that delights me so much. Is it putting these silly words into VP Biden’s and President Obama’s mouths? Is it the sheer goodness and coolness of Joe Biden? Is it the earnestness of Joe and the serious Obama trying to calm him down? I have no idea, but there is something so goofy and endearing about the memes that it totally eases the pain in my guts. It feels good to laugh.

The Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. It’s been way too much of the latter this week so I’m happy to get a little more of the former.

Here is a little more Biden joy.

And here is a Joe song. Imma miss him.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

American Idiot

Yes, I feel quite a letdown today, but the sun came up, and we have beer in the fridge.

~~ Ken

I had a quiet day at home as I reflected on and processed what happened Tuesday night.

Boy, I sure called that one wrong, didn’t I? I take zero pleasure in the fact that it wasn’t just me. Almost everyone was wrong about it—the pollsters and the pundits—and they get paid to do that stuff!

To say that I am heartsick doesn’t do it justice. I am also disgusted, appalled, and embarrassed. What might be the biggest blow is that my eternal optimism and unwavering belief in the innate goodness of humanity has been shaken. I truly did believe that we would find our better angels.

But we didn’t. Some of us did. But not enough.

I’ve seen enough recrimination to last a lifetime today. Everyone wants to lay blame. I’m not going to target any particular group of people or any age group. We failed collectively as a country. We allowed our paranoia and fear and hatred to cloud our reason and judgment. Many of us did our part by contributing and voting and advocating for reason. But this didn’t happen overnight. The Republican party has been fomenting this unrest and anger for years, and this is the culmination of that effort. Should we have made more of an effort to speak out long before this? Would it have made a difference? Or was the worldwide sweep of nativism and populism inevitable in our country, too?

I honestly have no idea and it’s above my pay grade, anyway. All I know is that this is where we are right now.

So what do we do now? I have a couple of ideas.

First, we must speak out. I fear that a massive wave of bigotry, sexism, and hatred has been unleashed. We’ve seen some very ugly scenes lately and I am afraid that we will see more. I know that a lot of us have not been afraid to stand up for someone who is being bullied or abused. We must have zero tolerance for any such behavior. If you see it happening, make your stand! (With regards to Stephen King and my all-time favorite book, The Stand. I might be due for yet another read of it, because there are lessons to be learned and relearned there.) Those who are most vulnerable among us will be under attack and all of us must stand up, speak out, and defend and protect them. We must not let hatred become routine or ignored.

Second, we must speak out against policies that are antithetical to what we believe. We have elected a new president whose policies (what little he has proposed) I find absurd and whose personal behavior I find repugnant. But he has been elected president. That is reality, and unlike most of his supporters, I’m a big fan of reality. I will respect the office. I will no longer call him the Yam, the Vulgar Talking Yam, Yamboy, or any of the other things I’ve called him. (Tool, Asshole, A-hole, and many others.) I will refer to him as the president or as Trump. Not even Mr. Trump. He doesn’t have any respect for women, so why should I have respect for him as a Mister?

I’m not going to call him names, because as Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” It drove us all crazy when people called President Obama and Michelle names, right? So I’m not going to resort to those tactics. However, while I am forced to accept that he is the elected president, I absolutely, unequivocally and forever reject his brand of hatred.

I refuse it. I will speak out against it whenever I see it. I will post about his lies and misdeeds (and there will be many...have you been paying attention?), I will post about the lawsuits against him, I will post as much as I want, when I want. All based in fact, of course, because I don’t traffic in conspiracy theories.

I know many of us feel disheartened and bereft. I felt that today, too. (The nausea was a side effect.) But listen to me and know this: we are not done. We have work to do and it begins with us. Speak out. Do not be ruled by the politics of fear. Reject bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and hatred of any kind. Do not let this negate your belief in what is true, what is right, and what is just. They have not taken those things from us...we still have them. They have not taken our country from us...it is still ours, too.

We still have a voice. Let’s use it.

This song has never been more appropriate.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Final Countdown

Will things ever be the same again?

~~ "The Final Countdown" by Europe

Well, here we are.

In about 48 hours, we may (or may not) know who our next President will be.

Some of my friends are feeling very anxious and worried about the outcome of this election. While I share some of their apprehension, I feel fairly confident that the blue state firewall will hold for the Democrats and that Hillary Clinton will be our next President. I could be proven wrong, but I really do think our better angels will prevail.

It is obvious to me (and hopefully the majority of Americans) that Trump is unfit for the office. We shall see.

It’s been a brutal campaign and I think we are all a little damaged by it. I have worried about my blood pressure, I have felt anxiety and stress, I have had a hollow feeling in my stomach. I have unfollowed people because I couldn’t stand seeing their posts. I’m sure others did the same with me and I am okay with that. Our Clinton-Kaine sign was stolen from our yard. (Two more are going up in its place tomorrow.) I have seen people who aren’t from the U.S. lecture us about what is going on and have felt anger about that. I don’t totally understand the UK political structure, for example, so I don’t try to lecture them on how they should or should not be running their country. If you don’t have a vote here—and even worse, if you DO, and don’t vote—you can probably just be quiet, okay? We know we’ve got problems and need to work on them. We are also the greatest force for good in the world and have been for many years, and yes, I believe that.

I have seen friends and family members embrace the misogynist, racist bully, and I have felt despair. I have questioned the intelligence and sanity of people whom I hold dear. I have pleaded with those I know to be principled conservatives to think about how that man has treated women and what he says about them.

But at the end of the day, I feel hope and optimism. Why? Because that’s me!

I went to a rally in downtown South Bend on Thursday and saw Democrats coming together and fired up about our chances. I saw a diverse crowd full of positivity and wanting to make things better for ALL Americans.

I believe that the state polls will tell the tale. I believe that the majority of Americans will reject the politics of hate and fear and embrace the politics of inclusion and tolerance. I believe that we will elect the first woman as President of the United States of America and that fills me with awe and joy. I believe that we are still a great country that does good in the world, I believe that we are a generous people, I believe that we feel compassion and empathy and yes, LOVE, for our fellow human beings!

I believe that we all want to see every child in this country have a chance, with health care, proper nutrition, and an education so that they can succeed in this world, and that their race and gender doesn’t matter. I believe that people should be able to love whomever they want to love and that they should not be discriminated against for who they are. I believe in the separation of church and state and that no one should be able to dictate what others should or should not believe. I believe in SCIENCE, goddammit, and believe that we must do everything we can to save our planet. I believe in the power of music to bring people together, to forget our differences and just enjoy the celebration.

I believe.

I’ll check back with you all on Tuesday night. In the meantime, go vote. VOTE, you beautiful citizens! It is your right and you have a voice! Do you understand how fortunate you are??

VOTE!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

There Are Other Worlds Than These

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head

~~ “Planet Claire” by the B-52s

Today we got a special treat, with a visit to the Notre Dame planetarium at the Jordan Hall of Science.

This was especially fun because we had NO IDEA that Notre Dame has a planetarium! They’ve had it for twelve years.

Why wasn’t I informed of this??

Anyway, Ken got the tickets through our local NPR station, WVPE. I haven’t found out yet how accessible or available it is to the general public. It looks like they also do journeys into molecules and the human body. COOL! Can I just hang out there all the time?

So here’s the deal. Notre Dame is a Catholic university. This program blended a journey through our known universe, using actual data and images from satellites and NASA, with theological readings from various scholars. It was way too churchy for me. As I told Ken later (we stopped for a beer at the Crooked Ewe and discussed amongst ourselves), I am in awe of the natural world and don’t feel any need to ascribe it to some sort of supernatural being.

Leaving the theological stuff behind, it was a truly awe-inspiring look into just how vast our universe is and how precious and fragile our pale blue dot is. The program put our place in the universe into perspective, pulling out to show our world, our solar system, our sphere of radio transmission, our galaxy, and the trillions of galaxies that lie beyond our own.

KABLOOIE. Mind blown.

The astrophysicist, Dr. Sakimoto, who runs the place took questions after the program and man, how great is it to be surrounded by fellow science geeks? Pretty damn great, for real! There were some good questions and Dr. Sakimoto had some interesting answers. One that he gave often was, “To be honest, we don’t know.” That was perfect. Science does NOT have all the answers. The reason we science is because we want to learn and figure it out!

There was some discussion of whether or not there are other civilizations and life-forms out there. Ken and I continued that discussion over beers and I wondered how we define life? Maybe there are other life-forms out there that do not jibe with our carbon-based life-forms. Exhibit A: the Horta in Star Trek, a silicon-based life-form. I know it was a TV show, but come on! It’s a valid point! Why do life-forms necessarily need water? Anaerobic bacteria don’t need oxygen. What if other life-forms evolved under different circumstances? What if anaerobic bacteria evolved into anaerobic beings??

KABLOOIE. Mind blown again.

It was a fun afternoon and it really made me ponder. It also made me realize that our little orb is very precious and that we need to protect it. Climate change denial threatens us all.

We are a long way from being able to colonize other planets. Let’s take care of the one we have, okay?