Friday, November 18, 2016

The Trash Lady

No surprise that post-election, I am distraught. No further surprise that living in my own skin right now causes me a great deal of discomfort. I have gone near cold turkey on my news consumption, looking only at the post-election news as it relates to protesters and their shadowy anarchist tagalongs wreaking havoc at work. I don't click news links posted by friends to learn the latest outrage wrought by the pussy-grabbing-elect troll we have elected king.

***

Wednesday mornings is trash day in my neighborhood. My neighbor to the left is a 30-year-old husband and wife team who have a 2-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. My neighbor across the street is a 65-year-old woman forced back to full-time work due to economic pressures and the suicide of her husband about 18 months ago. The folks next door to her are a 70-year-old woman and her stroke-addled husband who now has full-blown dementia.

About a year or so ago, daytime home burglaries ramped up in our area. Brazen break-ins as fuckers from out of town -- yes, from out of town, thank you -- case our peaceful, largely inner-focused homes and decide which one looks like an easy target with a backdoor sliding glass door, hidden from view, easily smashed with a well thrown rock. In under 5 minutes, they take whatever they can quickly grab -- laptops, tablets, game systems, jewelry -- and off they go.

On Wednesday mornings, I take in my trash can and recycle can after they're emptied about 8 a.m. And then I take in those two cans for those three neighbors. And around noon on Wednesdays, after the yard trash has been picked up, I put away my own green bins and those of my three neighbors. Corrie the wonder mutt keeps me company. More often than not, the mother next door is home as is the woman with the ailing husband across the street.

***

As Youngest tries out for high school soccer, I join Pete walking the track to get in my 13,000 steps per day. I rant about the hopelessness I feel. I have spent the days since the election feeling futile in my efforts to make a difference. What can I possibly do to have an impact? There's nothing I can do to change the world. There really isn't. And there's nothing I can do to change my country. Hell, change I've tried to affect in the fucking local school district is clearly for naught.

My efforts do not matter. I cannot stop the waves of hatred and the bitter truth that people truly do not give a flying fuck about the welfare of others as long as they're doing fine.

Utter hopelessness.

That bitter Wednesday after the election, I brought in all the cans on my street. Two days ago, I did it again. And I will keep doing it, as long as I am able. I cannot change much, but I can change my own street.

That'll have to be a start.



Saturday, November 12, 2016

Acceptance of the Trump Supporter in my House

Part Three

Of course, it would be Springsteen who would provide me guidance about this. [Yes, I recognize that I look at his work and likely find the song or words to fit wherever I want to find myself on my own. That's possible. It's also possible that he and I have been linked since my birth and, while I have recognized that all this time, he has yet to discover that link. That's also possible, albeit less likely than scenario one.]

I heard him speak the words live, of course. And I've heard him speak the words on one of his live albums dozens upon dozens of times. Here's what I recall him saying: his father would often say he couldn't wait for the army to get its hands on Springsteen and make a man out of him. Here his father was looking at this rebel in his home, standing for every single thing he stood for.

Springsteen's story goes on to say he came home after a few days away and his dad was asking him where he'd been. He'd been to his physical because he'd been drafted. He failed the physical and told his dad they wouldn't take him. "That's good," his dad said. "That's good."

I have a son who would vote for Trump. When he wore his Trump shirt the morning after election day, I honest-to-fucking-god had the thought, "I hope he gets his ass kicked today."

I honestly don't know what he encountered. I didn't ask. I didn't care.

But if you were to tell me he didn't get his ass kicked for wearing that fucking shirt, I'd have said, "That's good. That's good."

Part One
Part Two



Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Son, the Trump Supporter

Part Two

The irony of Youngest supporting Trump in light of my closely held personal beliefs is not lost on me. Ah, yes, the generational divide. This just isn't your run-of-the-mill teenage rebellion. It's supposed to be the free thinking youth who want to expel the structure erected by their conservative elders. But it's not.


I try to gauge how much Youngest owns the stance that he would vote for Trump on his own versus the perverse pleasure he gets at stabbing me. As I said in Part One, he loves to take the opposite stance and keep that stance because he gets off on annoying other people. That's not all he's learned from the master. He's also learned the art of needling others. I tell you, it's hard to tamp down the pride when you see yourself mirrored in your kids. [Since I have to continue to pen this saga as a means of working this all out for myself, I might as well keep some humor intact.]

I can't gauge what portion is real and what portion is the extra seasoning he brings to every exchange. It doesn't really matter, though, what portion is real. Pete says he's 14 and doesn't realize the impact of such a choice. [For the record, Pete would never have voted for Trump. He would also have never voted for Clinton.] I've tried to articulate my fears of Trump, and I've tried to bring them to their most base: Trump lacks impulse control which could lead us to war and he will stack the courts with judges which will make the landscape of America starkly bleak for the remainder of my life and a large portion of my children's lives.

Yet.

Still.

He would vote for Trump.

And, so, yes, I did say to him on more than one occasion that I'm horrified that I am raising a son who would vote for Trump. And yesterday, when he asked me if we would get through this and if we would be okay, I said, "Oh, honey, I love you. I just like you a little less."

When he asked if I was kidding, I told him I was not.

Yes, I am crying as I write this.


Part Three

I'm Horrified I've Raised a Boy Who Could Vote for Trump

Part One

Yes, those were my precise words to Youngest, my 14-year-old son, late last week. I repeated them to him the morning after, as I was walking the dog alongside him as he walked to another day in his freshman year of high school.

I will repeat those words until they are no longer true. I see only two ways that statement will no longer be true. One, I become no longer horrified. Two, he would no longer vote for Trump over Clinton if given the choice.

I'll tell you right now that the first option ain't ever going to happen.

I honestly can't say that the second option would ever happen either.

I teared up with a friend the morning after (that would be yesterday) when we were on the phone and she asked how it was in my house [versus the relative peacefulness of her own house which, if you knew the horrible time that family is in the throes of experiencing, you could never imagine existing on any plane of existence]. I had told her when, a few days before the election, I had pushed Youngest to choose. He said he'd have voted for Trump.

I've been here in this little space a decade. If you're reading this, chances are you know me personally or you know me through this blog. Folks don't just happen upon my little space here. [Unless, you know, this string of words -- we can't wish for Trump to be dead because then Pence would take over -- becomes a search term for someone on Sir Google and you've now landed here.]

My point is, you all know who Youngest is. I've been talking about demon spawn since just about my first post. He must always be right. He must always have attention. He must always argue against your point of view. It's only been in the last year -- and he's 14 -- that detente has settled upon our house and peace has actually blossomed between his sister and him. [Interestingly, she left for college in August.] And the vast majority of the bad relationship they had was because of him.

And now here's the part where you can place the blame squarely at my feet: I got him a Trump for President shirt for Christmas last year. He wanted to wear it ironically. And so he did, getting grief from fellow 8th graders and others. I think he's worn it once or twice to school his freshman year.

On election night, after I'd called the race but the media was going to hold out for another couple of hours, the discussion rolled around to that shirt. He wanted to wear it to school the next day. I didn't want him to. Pete discouraged it as well. We both explained that while he certainly was entitled to wear it, given the hard feelings many Clinton supporters would have the next day and the fact that we're talking about interacting with other impulse-control-lacking teens, maybe it wouldn't be a good idea.

In the end, of course, he could do what he wanted in that regard. I suggested he keep his sweatshirt on first period and ask for his commander's opinion in his next class, JROTC. Walking with him to school the morning after, I asked if he had his shirt on. He did. And so I reiterated that I would remain horrified that I'd raised a boy who could vote for Trump.

And off to school he went.


Part Two
Part Three






Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Limbo

It was about 6:45 last night when I realized he was going to win. I had my Twitter feed open -- got to check the New York Times feed, dontchaknow -- on my phone. I had the Washington Post's live feed open on my Fire. I had Facebook open on Pete's iPad. I had PBS on the TV. I had assumed that position as soon as I walked through the door from work.

And it was something I'd heard on NPR on my way home that hit me hard right at that moment: Republicans were following party lines. The fuckers were voting for him. And when the New York Times changed their projection to Trump having a 55% chance of winning, I knew.

I posted another less-than-pithy tweet. And then I posted a final tweet for the evening, saying I was going offline.

Off went Twitter.

Off went Wapo's live feed.

Off went Facebook.

Off went Patty for a walk with Youngest and the dog.

I don't know how long it took everyone else to come to that conclusion, but I spent the rest of the time until 10 p.m., when I went to bed, willing the media to call the damn thing and put people out of their misery.

I am in limbo right now. I know the outcome. But right now, before I've gone anywhere online except my little home right here, it is not reality. In this limbo, where I hang with Doctor Strange, something absolutely earth-shattering could have happened on the other side, and it could be a different world than I know it is. It doesn't have to be the 1933 Germany that got behind some charismatic wingnut whom they will follow to his bitter end. And, yes, I am comparing Americans in 2016 to the Germans in 1933. I am THAT person.

Limbo is really rather pleasant. You might want to come join me here for, I don't know, a couple of years at least.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Mad Monsignor

It was the JROTC's fundraiser and tribute to veterans at the bi-annual Vets & Cadets event last night. Along with 75 or so cadets, Youngest did his part serving. Pete helped with the raffle and I did four hours of this, that and the other.


An hour or so into the event, it was time for the POW and MIA Missing Man Ceremony. A young cadet read the words about the meaning of the empty table. [Don't know what it's all about? You can read about it here.]

It's a powerful time. The explanation of the missing man is as powerful as any prayer given by any random priest or, yes, monsignor, in all the Catholic churches and all the Catholic high schools which rent out space for events like this one. And it was at that precise moment that the Director of Mission and Ministry at the school knocked on the door I was standing near.

His car was blocked, you see. And that rightfully so angered him. Someone in what turned out to be a pretty sweet grey BMW with license plate beginning with 7JBF had parked in an area with a no parking sign. He passed the lowly woman and went to a tall man and explained -- loudly -- his predicament. The man tried to appease him, saying he'd make an announcement as soon as this ceremony was over.

The monsignor could give a rat's ass about waiting. "I'll make the announcement myself," he said. "This clearly isn't a school event. Everyone here knows to follow signs."

I maneuvered him outside -- where his car was parked on the fuckin' lawn, dudes! -- and got the license plate of the offending car and he followed me back to the room.

"Do I need to make the announcement? I'm an hour late. Did you hear about the shooting of the police officer last night in San Francisco? I have to go see him."

I tell him -- again -- that we'll make the announcement. Could he please just wait one more minute?

A nicer woman tries to appease him by engaging him in conversation, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about him. I hope he's okay."

Gruffly, the monsignor notes the officer will be fine but, really, who the hell are you people and "I can't wait to meet the owner of that car."

When the ceremony is done, the tall man and I make the announcement. I quip about how Christian the monsignor is and how I hope the owner of the car makes it back alive.

My immediate reaction was to write a letter to the school and the monsignor and tell them exactly how fucking rude that man was. I'll grant you the guest should not have parked where he did. But, honestly, the demeanor of this man of God, representing not only the church but the school as well, was so inappropriate.

I will not write a letter. I will not get the JROTC blacklisted because the monsignor is a mighty dick. The world is filled with mighty dicks. I bet they have their own club. And their own secret handshake. 



Friday, October 14, 2016

I Believe

It is Youngest whom I want most of all to understand. He who has become so wrapped up in the election hysteria, watching debates as intently as I do and keeping up on the news nearly as much. He who wears his Trump T-shirt and enjoys entirely too much the interactions he has while wearing it. The fact that we know he wears it as an ironic statement does almost nothing for my disapproval of his wearing it. And, while I recognize that I am the adult in this relationship, I let him continue to wear it and fight his battles. I will value his political engagement and set aside the rest.

Or maybe I won't.

I won't.

He said to me last night that it is inexcusable that the Trump sexual harassment accusers waited as long as 30 years to speak up. He completely discounts the Jessica Leeds's story about her encounter with Trump on the plane. He can't imagine anyone not speaking up at the time.

But I can imagine it. I lived it. For more than a year, more than a decade ago, I was harassed by a man in a position of power. And I did nothing about it as a means of self-preservation. I needed the job. I hated being in the situation I was in, no doubt about it. But I sucked it up. A number of us did. There really felt like there was no recourse.

Ultimately, when he went way too far with another woman, it all came crashing down. And you know what happened to him? Nothing. Sure, corporate sent him for a bit of counseling and he gave up drinking (at least around any employees for awhile). And he continued to run the company. And he continued to make me uncomfortable until I finally had the chance to leave.

Dear Youngest, it happens. The strongest women among us suck it up because we see what happens when we don't. Nothing.

It's time to bin the Trump shirt, honey.


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