It’s Christmas Eve. Santa rides this evening….and in the wee hours when the kids are down it’s a great night for reflection. The house dark except for the tree lights…and maybe a gas fireplace roaring at the flick of a light switch. Drink in hand….we can ponder. We can conjure up all the lost dogs and mixed blessings of the past year, and vow to do better. We can stop taking for granted those we love, and maybe pledge to right any wrongs we’ve done. We can, for a few quiet moments at least, allow all the accumulated weariness to fall away. We can talk in whispers and hold onto each other for dear life and sleep the sleep of wounded but grateful survivors. Because we made it one more lap around the sun.
Feelings this warm never last long, of course. But the key to not needing medication is to recognize them as they happen, and harness their power the same way the bloodstream harnesses a .5 benzo.
This past year has pretty much sucked. Too many great ones have died and too many assholes have remained alive. We somehow managed to elect Donald Trump President. We’ve lost loved ones and jobs and health benefits and gotten sick and not gotten better. Safety nets are being dismantled by angry rich white men, who of course don’t need safety nets. We’ve grated on each others nerves and made fools of ourselves in Facebook and Twitter comment wars. We’ve spent way more time binge watching Netflix than we have talking to each other. And we’ve done all of this with heads buried in our phones. I have to think 2017 is gonna be better, if only because the thought of it being worse is unbearable.
So the glass is either half-full or half-empty. The optimist or the pessimist. We choose sides. But when you’re really thirsty that glass is gonna be empty with one swig, and what we’re left with is something we can all agree on. Thirst is coming soon. And then we panic and start hitting each other over the head. Because that’s what panicked people do. They hit each other over the head. And when somebody asks “why are you hitting that man over the head?”, instead of saying “because I want his drink” we say “because he’s different..and he doesn’t belong”. Hate is insidious, but it’s not hard to understand.
Maybe we could take the pessimist and the optimist and put ’em together…with their glasses….and pour one into the other….so they have a single glass filled to the brim. And then they can share it. How’d that be for a cool 2017 eh? Some solidarity. And when the glass was emptied, they’d walk together to the river and fill ‘er back up again. Certainly expending less energy than trying to kill each other first, then heading to the river alone and having to wipe away the evidence.
Yea, I’m a dreamer and those last two paragraphs are a bit over the top and borderline incoherent. But still. I’ve always thought it was easier to help somebody up than to keep them down. Being nice to someone is a lot simpler than being a dick. I’m 50 years old. I adore simplicity.
We always make all sorts of resolutions as the year ends. We’re gonna hit the gym and stop eating weekender bags of Middleswarth barbecue chips in a single sitting, or at least switch to light beer. By mid January the gym membership is dusty, the couch is coated with chip residue from mindless hand rubbing, and the Budweiser 6 pack has turned into a Miller Lite 12 pack. And so it goes. These types of resolutions rarely stick because they’re not simple. Life is hard enough without making it harder.
But being a better humanoid IS simple. It really is. You don’t have to go to the gym or give up chips and beer. You smile and say good morning and excuse me and you let that car in that’s trying to merge. You tip your waitress and bartender a few extra percentage points. You help the new guy at work and you say you’re sorry when you mess up. If your neighbor is laid up you shovel his sidewalk for him. If you see folks don’t have enough, and you have some extras, you quietly pass it along. You let the people you love know you love them and you try like hell to hate with less intensity. If you can’t think of something nice to say, that’s the cosmos telling you to shut the fuck up. Sit with your family and watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas….and then leave the house thinking “what would Linus do?”
Man, the world would be a better place then, eh?
Merry Christmas bubba.
In a bit..
What did you expect was going to happen?
The climate. Gay and Women and minority rights. Health care. Social Security. Immigration. Black Lives Matter. Government regulations. A roll call of progressive causes (and right wing pet-peeves). All are gonna be gutted like dead fish. And that’s before the Apprentice gets his hands on the Supreme Court. Each cabinet pick is more ghastly than the last….a steady stream of mill-billionaires being chosen to lead agencies they would prefer to abolish altogether. His most recent pick is Rick Perry, who in 2011 pledged to get rid of three specific government agencies, but could only name two of them when pressed as to what they were. The one he couldn’t conjure up was the Department of Energy, not so coincidentally the department Trump now wants Perry to oversee. So it’s not like the President-sorta-elect doesn’t have a sense of humor.
You could make this stuff up…but nobody would believe you.
Meanwhile the President-elect continues his 3am alternative reality tweet-storms, distracting the shit out of a media that reminds me of my dog when she hears food wrappers being crinkled. Never has the term “circus”seemed more appropriate. Meanwhile, Trump deals with the fact that the election he claims to have won in a “landslide” may have been compromised by Russian government hackers….by meeting with Kanye West….while at the same time calling himself too busy and too smart for for daily classified briefings. As the world turns.
60 million people voted for this man. The fact that close to 63 million people voted for his opponent doesn’t matter because, well, America. Thems the rules even though nobody can really explain them. But still. That’s a lot of people who are gonna be expecting a whole lotta shit. Like the coal mines re-opening and that wall going up and stuff like that. So far they seem quite willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. His promises to “lock her up” and “drain the swamp” went away like deleted tweets….but thus far, judging by his victory-lap speaking tour at least, he seems as popular as ever with his deplorables. Republicans in Washington have either debased themselves already, or are still in bed with the covers pulled over their heads. I wouldn’t expect much opposition there. Democrats are hampered by the fact that they are…you know…..Democrats, and are still trying to come to grips with losing to a man who managed to offend every group in the country except for pissed off white people (who have shown themselves incapable of being offended as long as there is a neck to stand on). For the time being Democrats are in danger of extinction. Like the giraffe. Or Howard Dean.
So what to do? Trump thrives on chaos. On people screaming at each other. It’s the white noise that allows him to sleep like a baby. As long as I blame his ascension to the throne on 60 million dumb people, he’s got me by the balls. He’ll just stop watching late night TV for a few seconds, call down his people’s wrath in a tweet with half the words spelled wrong, and wait for the fuse to catch. Game over. No, there’s gotta be another way. We’re broken for sure, but it’s not because we’re a nation of degenerate bigots. It’s because we’ve lost hope in the better angels of our own nature. I want to be inspired. When’s the last time you felt that way? For me, Bernie Sanders had that ability. But up against an entrenched, super connected ball-snipper like Hilary, the poor guy never had a chance (as backroom deals have proven). He’s lucky he didn’t end up in some landfill somewhere. The cake has already been cut up and divided…..and all we can do is kick each other in the teeth over the crumbs. We need a bigger cake. Or smaller slices.
What I should be troubled by is the fact that Democrats have taken so many voters for granted for so long. We’re a nation of have-nots, essentially. It’s 99 to 1….99 of us living from paycheck(s) to paycheck(s). You tell me you have my back…but you’re sipping cocktails at a fundraiser at George Clooney’s house. That’s not cutting it any more, Bubba. Get you ass down here and explain to me what you’re gonna do so I can afford my child’s medication.
Or I’ll vote for guy who’s not at George Clooney’s house. Even if he’s a guy who brags about sexually assaulting women and mocks handicapped people for the laugh. Because maybe that will get your attention.
Lesson learned, eh?
I’ll say this for Trump. The bar is so low that when he says something that’s not wildly offensive, or something that’s not completely made up bullshit, something Presidential even, it’s italicized all over the world. And people say, “see…he’s not that bad”. He’ll usually ruin in a few hours later by taking a handful of uppers and making shit up on Twitter, but still. He has a golden opportunity to actually get things done because he gets a pass simply for not being an asshole. That’s the very definition of house money, isn’t it?
But will he get anything done? Or is his goal simply to destroy what’s already been done?
His health care “fix” seems to be “get a job with a company that offers benefits”. While definitely easier to understand than Obamacare, it’s not exactly inspirational leadership. He’ll deal with foreign policy by asking an oil executive what Putin wants. Domestically, how a guy who won’t leave his ivory tower is gonna (as Nixon termed it) “build outhouses in Peoria” is anybody’s guess. We’re all still awaiting what exactly he knows about ISIS that the Generals don’t know. And on and on it goes…..the world’s financial markets holding their collective breath over whatever the next 140 characters his brain can process will be. It’s not a very seemly way to run a railroad.
All we’re left with is knowing that, now that it’s happened once, it can happen again. And until we control the fear that brought all of this on….and learn to hope yet again, this is only the beginning. Because behind every cartoonish blowhard like Trump, is a battle-tested wild-eyed hater like Mike Pence….who can do irreparable damage. Trump is the mirage in the desert. Guys like Pence are dry springs people crawl towards to drink….only do die of thirst at the trough.
In a bit..
I’m not much good with change. It’s a strange thing. We yearn for it at times. We often look back on it with fondness. And yet, when we’re in the midst of it, all sorts of wires seem to get crossed. Our balance is thrown off. We miss what we never planned on missing….and we appreciate what we had, if only because it was familiar. The grass isn’t always greener of course. Most of the time it’s sorta the same brownish hue it was before. But we’ve got new attitudes to treat with. New buzz words to learn. New routes to take to get to the same places we all need to be. Above the water line….one step ahead of the bank’s warning letters. And most of the time is all sorta works out…somehow. In retrospect that is. At the time you’re constantly convinced you’re in the midst of a disaster.
The world’s number one fear, so I’m told, is public speaking. Death is number two. I guess I’m just as afraid of dying as the next person….but I never had an issue with public speaking. I’ve given all sorts of talks, eulogies, presentations, not to mention just standing on a stage for 4 hours armed only with an acoustic guitar. For me, change trumps (no pun intended, I swear) the dying thing. Change of any kind. A new job. A new location. A new task. A new route to a new store. A new payment process at a parking garage. You name it. If I’ve been doing something, anything, one way and you come and tell me that I have to start doing it differently, my very first instinct is to panic. My second instinct is to panic more. And then one reaches for the benzos.
I’m sorta kidding about the last part because change often comes with no immediate health insurance…but you get the idea. As a kid I assumed this sort of thing would ease up as I got taller. But no…all growing up allows you to do is not toss yourself on the floor at the mall and pitch a fit when your Mom asks you to do something you don’t want to do. I still feel exactly the same way, but as an alleged adult I must mask these moments with at least a thin veneer of maturity. So while in my head I’m still banging my head off the floor of JC Penney’s, outwardly I continue to resemble a male version of a Stepford wife. In other words, I’m acting all middle aged and respectable and exceedingly boring. The kind of person who gets invited to parties, but nobody really notices when they leave.
Sometimes we do things because we want to. Sometimes we do things because we think that’s what others want us to do. Sometimes we’re just bored, and treat day to day stuff like we’re sitting in front of a bunch of buttons and thinking….”I wonder what this big red one that says ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ really does…” Once you hit that button…..there probably ain’t no re-do, Bubba. But hell….sometimes they tell you not to look into the sun, and you know damn well that’s where the fun us. I think Abraham Lincoln said that. Or some ragamuffin from Jersey.
It’s amazing how much time we spend in this life forced to do things we don’t want to do. Time is precious, and not because there isn’t enough of it. Time I got, and the amount’ll do me just fine. What I ain’t got is the freedom to spend it doing what I love to do. As a kid the nuns used to blame all of this on Adam eating that damn apple. If only that snake hadn’t tempted him, we’d all be lolling around in gardens playing guitars and writing songs, mercifully free of the 40+ hour work week. But alas, ’twas not to be. We must suffer through insufferable co-workers and mandatory overtime and incomprehensible computer code due to the vanity of some ancient fool with a hard-on. It wasn’t much to go on but it seemed reasonable to a seven year old. Religion is awesome that way.
So that’s that for now. Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. And sometimes love IS the answer. Because if it wasn’t, why the hell would we bother?
In a bit..