lunch conversation

Had lunch with a friend, “Jonas Viliam,” this weekend. We talked about the creative process, politics, third party votes, and Utah mormons voting Trump.

On my book–basically, since October 2014, I completed:

  1. The initial 160k draft
  2. The first edit cutting it down to ~110k
  3. The second round of edits.
  4. Sent it to beta readers
  5. Got started on the third round of edits

In between steps three and four, I also tried to find a writing group. Since I hadn’t hooked up with a permanent writer’s group in college, I tried Meetup, but eventually had to admit it wasn’t working. Mostly, I ran into groups that focused overmuch on copyediting advice (as opposed to story/ plot/ character feedback), and/or the members had a strong tendency to project their writing voice onto the manuscript they were giving feedback on. I was also surprised (and dismayed) to observe how defensive some (not all) of the Meetup group writers tended to be in response to feedback. Just in general; not my feedback specifically (although, not gonna lie, that happened too).

I means, its something I’ve heard of, of course, but I hadn’t really dealt with defensive/ angry writers aggressively challenging feedback since, man. I dunno. Creative writing 101, back in 1999? I gravitated toward writing and research–and therefore, writing-group/ feedback-heavy courses–throughout my undergrad, so I had the joy of working with a lot of people from a variety of backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures in feedback/ editing groups. Ironically, I often vented about participating in these assigned groups to my husband, because writing wasn’t their first passion. In retrospect, I realize those college writing groups spoiled me in terms of the level and quality of feedback I expect, and I miss so many of them. Gods. 

So now I’m kind of casting about on how to find a higher quality writing feedback space. I’ve got some ideas–the writing center at my old college, and a few suggestions from some authors I spoke with at Wordstock regarding some more professional local resources. So there’s that.

The other thing we talked about was how, on this third go-round of edits, I’ve found it more and more difficult to stay focused/ interested on the book. I feel like I have to justify myself–my effort–but I’m also frustrated and angry at the manuscript a lot. Its like wrestling a baby dolphin covered in coconut oil, in the ocean. All slippery and slick and muscular and aggressive. Jonas says thats normal–he says his dad (also a writer) compares it to sharters and brick-shitters. Some people just flow with ideas, and others have to squeeze and strain for every nugget.

I hate it.

Worse, I’ve got all these other tempting ideas I want to work on, flitting around my head like sexy, taunting, distracting faeries, “Ooohh, look at me, do you really want to play with that stupid oily dolphin?

I hate dolphins so much.

Jonas reminded me most authors set aside their first manuscripts, anyway–which I know! I know–I know–most writers set them aside and they never see the light of day. I’ve read the innumerable author interview quotes, and heard the advice. I know. But knowing something intellectually and accepting it in your heart are two different things, and it was really hard. In the end, it was three things that convinced me:

  1. Watching Brandon Sanderson’s BYU creative writing lecture series, specifically the one on character-driven vs. plot-driven writers, and realizing I’d written the book like a character-driven writer even though pretty much everything else I write I approach with a structure in mind.
  2.  Attending Wordstock and listening to Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn, describe her writing process during an author panel. I haven’t actually read her books, I confess, but I went home and bought the first one after listening to her panel. Basically, she told aspiring writers to recognize their first draft will suck, and to accept it. To give themselves permission to be bad; to even lean into it and accept it. Its a bit of advice I’ve read probably a hundred times before, but I guess the hundred and first time is a charm.
  3. Also at Wordstock, the response to the question, “What inspired you to write this book?” by an author, which was, “Actually, this is the first book I ever wrote–ten years before I was published. It wasn’t working then, so I put it aside and moved on to a different project.” (different author, different author panel; cannot recollect his name).

So I told him how I’d realized I’d gotten what I could from finishing my first book, from beginning to end, with two completed edits and a partial third edit. It took roughly 14 months total to complete the manuscript and first two edits. The third edit slogged on for another 9 months before I admitted I’d learned what I could from the experience. I came home from Wordstock, shut down all the tabs related to the third edit, and started my next project.

I’m currently using a fountainpen to write my next manuscript, by hand, in a moleskine. Not trying to be precious (I hate writing by hand, actually). This is practical–I read an interview a while back about Neil Gaiman’s writing process for Stardust, and he mentioned deciding to write it by hand for reasons (1920s setting/ authenticity, blah blah) and I was like, “Dude, that’s insane,” but then Gaiman said something like (paraphrased), “And actually, one benefit was that when it came time to type up the manuscript, my word count was much lower, which was nice. I actually had to edit up for once, which was a change,” and I was like, “Oh, now that would be a treat. Worth it!”

Hence the moleskine.

The politics … well. Obvs, living where we live and being friends, Jonas and I are both socialist-liberal Bernie Sanders’ supporters who voted Clinton in the presidential. Not super-enthusiastic Clinton supporters by any stretch of the imagination, but pragmatic enough not to cut off our noses to spite our faces.

Unfortunately, in the reeling aftermath of the election, we’re both left to wrestle with a more personal conundrum/ heartbreak than the national one.

For Jonas, he has family/ friends living in a swing state who voted for Stein, thereby implicitly contributing to the current situation. His loved ones consider themselves morally untouched; to have “voted with their conscious,” and therefore not to blame for the current state of affairs. The old mealy-mouthed side-step hand-brushing of, “I am not to blame; I did not choose either of them,” which is such a cop-out. The system is set up to choose one or the other; choosing anyone else is ceding your voice/ not making a choice. Its not a morally upright/ pure choice; its a non-choice.

The way people talk about politicians baffles me. “I don’t like the way they do xyz. I don’t like their laugh. I don’t like the thing they did in office so many years ago, (under the direction of their boss).”

Its like they forget that politicians have bosses, and people to report to, and levels of bureaucracy at their jobs, just like they do. That a politician–no matter the party, no matter the office–can (generally speaking) no more make a unilateral decision than, say, a supervisor or manager at the office can regarding office policies. There are protocols, levels, people to go through. Approvals and sign-offs and all that shit.

Its insane to me how voters talk about political candidates as though they’re supposed to be an avatar of them–an extension of their desires/ wants/ and goals, set into the office to enact the specific policies of that individual voter, and if there’s a mismatch in any area, the voter is like, “Eh. Nah.”

I’m guilty of this myself, btw–its only recently I’ve become aware of how we look at political candidates like they’re menu options, or consumerist choices on a shelf. Like we can pick and choose from the desired traits:

“Oh, I like the hair and personality on that one, but I don’t like their policies. Ooooh, I like the experience of that one, but the gender–ugh! Can I get that blue one, but in male? No? Okay, well, I’ll take the other version, the discount. What’s the return policy on this, anyway? Actually, never mind–I never return anything!”

I pointed Jonas toward a thought-provoking Slate article I’d read on the topic, discussing how anti-consumerist Nader, of all people, helped propagate this inherently consumerist notion of politics as personal choice, rather than a democratic voice for the common unity (community), and we talked a bit about the annoying trend of the moment, with the ridiculous amount of people now saying we need to “respect the office of the presidency,” which is so fucking hypocritical after they spent the last eight years maligning it. Like, did they forget? Did they honestly forget? Maureen Dowd posted this column in the New York Times bemoaning her “difficult” Thanksgiving with her family, with a selection of a lecturing response from her conservative brother to what he clearly perceives as uncouth, tantrum-throwing, entitled liberals.

This is after years of hearing conservatives call the Obamas “Obummer,” and “apes,” and “muslims,” along with other, even less savory words, as they muttered darkly about fraudulent birth certificates and stolen elections. I think of that “satirical” New Yorker terrorist Obama cover that completely fed into conservative fears. I think of eight years–eight years–of a GOP-dominated congress stalling on any and all legislation, and blaming Obama for their refusal to do their fucking jobs.

I think of how, during his first presidential campaign–in 2007–people were frothing at the mouth because he was associated with Jeremiah Wright, a Christian pastor called “radical” because he spoke truth to power in speaking out about how the government had not only protected but in many cases abetted, sustained, and enforced institutions of white privilege and racial discrimination. He was called “divisive” and “racist” for acknowledging racism, so President Obama disavowed the minister who had presided over his marriage and stepped down as a member from the church he’d attended most of his life to appease the voting public … who promptly forgot this controversy of radical Christianity when he entered office, labeling him instead a secret Muslim.

Right. “Respect the office.”

Fuck you, hypocrites.

The left, caught off guard by this victory, is in a spasm of self-doubt/ examination (I find myself, suddenly, wondering if the right engaged in any such self-examination post-2008 or 2012), which is actually sort of annoying to me, since I’ve made it a regular habit to attempt to combat the echo chamber of my preferred views by intentionally seeking information/ perspectives from sources counter to my default. My preferred news sources (in alphabetical, not ranked order) are: Al Jazeera (awards); Mother Jones (awards); Rolling Stone*; The Atlantic (2016 Ellie winner); The Guardian (awards); The Local No. (source info). I also like Jacobin, Bitch Media, and NPR.  And yes, Rolling Stone is still on the list despite the 2015 debacle.

They have a long record of award-winning investigative journalism showing their dedication to the craft; they admitted fault and apologized, which is huge (far too many news organizations, when caught out, either double down or try to minimize); and they’ve committed to improving investigative standards and identified what went wrong (basically, relying overmuch on one source). So I’m okay with them, for the time being.

Obviously, I mostly gravitate toward news sources that are either international (Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Local), and so (hopefully) lacking the specific corporate funding biases/ messages infiltrating and corrupting US news media; or publications which are non-profit or subscription/ reader funded, meaning they can set their own editorial standards and pursue the investigative stories they prefer, rather than kow-towing to the dictates, comforts, and preferences of elite corporate owners.

So to combat my (obviously socialist/ left-leaning/ proletarian) bubble, I read libertarian blogs/ websites like Reason, FEE, and The Beacon. I tried reading the Libertarian Standard for a bit, but honestly, after a bit, they all just kind of read the same. And for conservative/ evangelical perspectives, I browse Fox News, (local and national), local news (especially in red counties)–always making sure to dip through the comments– and watch interview clips by Fox News pundits discussing current events.

My sources tend international, (not US-liberal biased) and working-class focused, which means I was actually already getting a lot of articles/ interviews/ thinkpieces on red-state voters and the working class during the election cycle. What was interesting to me was not so much how Trump was trying to work these guys over, or even the older ones buying it–it was how the liberal elites consuming only US media were buying the narrative hook, line, and sinker, despite more and more voices pointing out that poll returns showed the average Trump supporter was making around $75k.

Post-election returns show it, too–the New York Times showed households with incomes under $40k overwhelming voted for Clinton, while those with incomes over $50k voted for Trump, meaning the working class was once again sold out by the middle and upper class. That is not the popular post-election coverage narrative, though– the preferred focus is educational attainment, which gets quoted way more than the income one, because those with lower educational attainment voted for Trump, and the correlative assumption is that degree valuation indicates economic status; therefore those without degrees are poor idiots who voted against their own interests.

The idea that rich idiots could have voted for their own interests, and bright poor people could have been sold out by the middle class, doesn’t seem to even exist in the narrative.

But like I told Jonas, the thing I keep coming back to is that even if Trump did have the best economic plan in the godddamn world (he doesn’t), that still doesn’t excuse the little teeny tiny detail of him being a massive fucking racist misogynistic tool.

I just can’t overlook that. I try–like 50 percent of Utah voted for him, and that’s mormons, dude, so I’m trying to wrap my head around this. I am fucking trying. I was like, okay, calm down. Maybe I’m being unfair, and dismissing their point of view because my perspective is different, right? I mean, I left the church, so I have a different perspective on the doctrine and history … I got my BA studying labor law, civil rights, and immigration law through the study of constitutional history at Evergreen, not BYU, and that’s gotta be an influence on available readings and understanding of US history, right? So wheel it back, wheel it back. Put yourself in their shoes; imagine having the toolset of available information they have.

So I wheel myself back, mentally, to 1998, when I was 18. A high school graduate, reasonably ignorant of history and politics. Sure, I had a rep as a reader, but I was more into historical fiction, fantasy, and mythology than nonfiction, classics, or spec/ sci-fi. As far as actual history studies, at that time, I kinda viewed US history as the story of white people building houses on empty land (boring), and English history as more interesting, so I wasn’t really “up” on my US history past the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

I did know about the American Concentration Camps holding Japanese-descent US citizens during WWII, in large part because my mom (who’d served a mission in Germany) had a fascination/ horror with Hitler’s WWII Jewish Death Camps, and one of her books made a reference to the US analogue (which simply detained and worked the prisoners, as opposed to killing them). I remember being shocked at this dark blot on our history–the land of the free and the brave? Had illegally locked up innocent civilians?

At 18, I was also religiously devout–not always in action, but definitely in intention. Though I wasn’t a particularly good mormon at the time, I did strongly believe in the tenets of the LDS church, my childhood religion, and I thought one day I would be a good mormon– that I would meet and marry a good mormon man and raised a good mormon family who would share my values and morals like those espoused in the Articles of Faith, such as everyone having the right to worship according to their religious beliefs, and seeking after the good, pure, and beautiful things in this world.

Even after I left my childhood faith and became atheist, I’ve still never questioned the basic right of people to practice the religion they see fit. If anything, atheism has made me somewhat bemused about the amount of religious people (including mormons) intent on controlling other people’s religious expression.

Basically, what I’m saying is–sure, I’ve learned more about US history and politics since I was 18. I’ve learned new information about the history of my religion and country, yeah. But while learning economics, history, and developing a deeper spiritual and theological understanding of my moral values solidified the vast array of reasons I did not vote Trump, my education alone cannot be credited for me not voting Trump this November.

Because even if I’d never learned anything at all–even if I was I’d remained morally and intellectually stagnant; the same person today that I was at 18?

I still would not have voted for Trump.

At 18, I knew enough to know that when a racist demagogue uses divisive language to appeal to the common man, bad things will follow, and its the little people who pay the price. No economic plan in the world is worth that trade.

At 18, as now, I believed in honesty, truth, and benevolence. I believed virtue would be its own reward. I believed in the value of doing good–to all human beings–and that education, compassion, kindness, and humility are virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy. I believed people were measured by their actions–their works–not by empty promises.

I still believe that.

Love is a verb. Faith, if you have it, is a verb–these are not things shown through empty words and broken promises, but through action, through sacrifice, through deeds..

So when I drill down to it … I can’t figure how anyone voted for Trump, and I certainly can’t figure out how so many Mormons voted for him. I thought Mormons were raised with the same LDS values I was–that by his works ye shall know him. That actions speak louder than words. That kindness, compassion, humility are valuable traits. That honor and morality are of good report.

How did so many of people of this religion endorse Trump?

I just cannot parse it. Because when you strip everything else away–the arguments about the education levels and incomes and economic concerns of the voters–what you’re left with is a man who mocked the physically disabled. Who was endorsed by the KKK and white nationalist leaders. Who made restricting religious freedoms a central campaign promise. Who sexually assaults, objectifies, and dehumanizes women.

And people–mormons— heard all this, and justified it. Or minimized it. Or dismissed it. Or agreed with it. Outright endorsed it. Whispered, “yeah,” to themselves, and did a little affirming nod because, wow, they really didn’t think all that other stuff he said was cool but he had a point about the [INSERT BIGOTRY YOU’RE OKAY WITH HERE].

How? How?

It appalls me. I don’t care if Trump actually had a fucking gold-plated economic plan endorsed by every goddamn economist in the world. He’s a racist, sexist bigot. To vote for him is to endorse that. That is a problem. 

Jonas pointed me to this article, An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural Americawhich I just finished reading today, and wow.

Okay.

I admit, I guess after all these years out of the LDS church, I’d kind of looked back on it with rose-colored glasses. I had a happy childhood, I was never abused, nothing shit ever happened to me … I just stopped believing because its false. The doctrine relies on some pretty hefty logical fallacies, the historical record is flawed and contradictory, and the whole thing is false. I mean, it wasn’t lack of desire to have a testimony, it was lack of fucking evidence when I went searching for support in the historical record.

So I guess, because so many people leave for other reasons and carry a lot of anger toward the LDS church, I’ve kind of–as a result–intentionally purged any anger I had, leaving me with a sense of neutral/ fond tolerance toward mormonism, sort of like the amused feeling I have when I’m riding my motorcycle and I see a Vespa rider out and about. Like, “Awww. How cute!” And then I wave, and they get so excited they almost fall off waving back, like, omigodomigod, a motorcyclist waved at me! I got the motorcycle wave! 

Like, I’m not mad at mormons. I have a lot of fond memories and I mostly think they’re sweet. In day-to-day life, I kinda find them amusing, well-intentioned, sometimes vaguely annoying (slow), and sometimes a little pathetic. But hardly worth anger or strong negative emotions.

Reading that article reminded me of the racist and sexist LDS bent of my upbringing. The whole, “Lamanites were totes 100% Native Americans,” claim, which was apparently disavowed/ reneged by the church after I left? And being taught that black people had dark skin because Cain’s descendants were cursed because he’d killed Abel, and whenever I’d been like, “But, uh, what about man shall not be punished for Adam’s transgressions?” getting basically a shrug and a non-answer in response, (“Cain wasn’t Adam!” “Seems like we’re splitting hairs, there.”), and the persistent, unsettling question about why an omnipresent, future-knowing God would wait 15 fucking years after the civil rights act became the law of the land before granting black males equal rights in his church?

And the subtly sexist ways they degrade women–put them as separate but equal. Complementary to men, but never equivalent. Capable of running meetings, conducting prayer, going on missions–but not capable of actually having the priesthood powers, like prophetesses of old. Like the early women in the church, who held baptisms and conducted blessing. Like some select female temple workers do even today–because who knows what havoc would be wreaked if a woman had priesthood powers, right?

Right.

Leaving the LDS church and all that foul, omnipresent, subtle racism and sexism that pervades every aspect of the doctrine let me push it away and forget what its like to have that pervasive, daily influence permeating your life and lessons. To accept it as the status quo, the default, the way things are and should be. I remembered the good parts and forgot the discomfort of the bad– I pretended they didn’t even exist anymore. I believed in the best of mormonism, and forgot about the worst.

I forgot about the racism, the sexism.

I forgot how they could influence the vote.

And gods, they did. Mormons, like the KKK, endorsed Trump. Overwhelmingly.

its that time again

I’ve never really been a huge fan of thanksgiving, honestly. Too many people, too much food, and not really a poultry person.

I’ve hosted exactly one thanksgiving in my adult life. The food was fine, but everything else was kind of a disaster, so after the last guest left and I finished cleaning up the kitchen, I told my husband we would never host another thanksgiving again. The lack of assistance or even appreciation for all the work and stress was simply not worth the payoff. We accepted the occasional invites elsewhere, but quickly realized … hell, we just preferred staying home. The ‘holiday’ is too icky and weird and complex to feel comfortable celebrating.

As a paid day off with family, sure. We’ll take it. As a celebration where we sit around with loved ones pretending everything is hunky-dory?

Eh ….

I almost think it would be easier if it was rebranded for the normal harvest festival it was originally supposed to be, instead of having all the mythical weight its accrued of this foundational peaceful meeting between two diametrically opposing cultures sitting down to break bread as friends.

But as is, with that mythical heritage weighing the holiday down, it makes it icky. Especially given the current climate, where Native American DAPL protesters and their white allies are trying to protect tribal land, natural resources, and US citizens from the poisonous overreach of major corporations and eminent domain.

Ironically, the DAPL protests–which conservatives and the GOP largely do not support–is an issue that seems to align with their anti-eminent domain stance. Libertarians (or, as I call them, pot-smoking republicans) and traditional Republicans have denounced eminent domain–the appropriation (and recompense) of private lands by the government for projects which benefit the public–for years.

Until recently, when they’ve been (largely) uncomfortably quiet about the use of eminent domain by private multinational companies to build the Keystone XL pipeline and DAPL pipeline.

Hundreds of veterans have even self-deployed to protect the protesters at DAPL against the more than 300 militarized police shooting tear gas, water cannons (in sub-zero temperatures) and foam bullets at protestors (which, by the way, they did not do to the white men armed to the teeth who attempted to steal public lands for their private use), and I suppose we can all guess at the reason for that.

Anyway.

Normally, I list the things I’m grateful for, so I guess …

  1. I’m grateful we don’t live in a racist, sexist, politically divided dystopia that has voted a capitalist petty tyrant into the highest office in the land, who is surrounding himself with white nationalists as he lays out plans to raise taxes on the working and middle class, privatize public road infrastructure, register members of religions he fears, threatening journalists and news media, and endangering the future of the planet by shutting down all climate research.
  2. Wait a minute …
  3. Oh, shit.

oh yeah

We canceled our cable tv years ago–gods, so long ago, it was before streaming video was even a thing. I was trying to figure out how to cut costs, and I said to my husband, “Look, its the cable tv or the cable internet,” and he chose the internet. That was 2002. We had Netflix, back when it was mail-only, and a massive DVD collection. I like to read. We made do.

In 2008 or 2009, we had cable again … briefly. For like a year–not even that, I think. I got pissed at the commercials and canceled it again. By that time, Netflix streaming had been around for a few years, and we’d just stream through the xbox console to the tv.

One thing that has always baffled me about cable tv, from the time I was a kid in a cable-free, basic programming house, was the notion that people paid for programming which contained ads. Ads, to me, belonged on non-paid content. Advertisements are supposed to be a way to make money when the user won’t pay up-front costs. The whole point of paying subscription prices is to avoid ads.

Anyway, recently I subscribed to another cable package (kinda)–the SlingTV thing. I’m kinda on the fence about it. On the one hand, I like Drunk History, Adam Ruins Everything, and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.

On the other hand … oh yeah. I hate ads. And I hate not being able to pause the show when people in the room want to talk. And i hate having to worry about a program schedule.

I really loathe traditional tv. How did I forget that? Gods, it so super annoying.

persistence of memory

My husband and I were talking about Ted Cruz today, and what it must be like to be him–to have flipped, and endorse/ support Trump, after the things Trump has said about Cruz’s dad and wife. I said, “I assume that Cruz must have a memory like mine, but worse.”

My memory isn’t actually that crap–its a self-deprecating joke because I prefer to try to avoid dwelling on negative interactions. I’m not always successful, but I’ve noticed life is definitely easier/ happier when I don’t let my mind spiral down into those cycles. There’s a well-known quote about how dwelling on anger/ grudges is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill your enemy, and I definitely agree with that.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying people shouldn’t get angry or upset when they’re mistreated, or when they witness negativity. I just think that hurt should be channeled into productive action. Like a conversation, or social action, or volunteering. And if none of those things are possible, one thing I have learned is that tends to be better for my mental/ emotional health to try to stop thinking/ talking/ writing about the incident, because mulling over it drags it out months or even years longer than I would have otherwise dealt with it.

Anyway, my husband laughed and said, “Yeah, but Trump said it on tape. Its all on record. Cruz can’t escape it!”

That’s interesting when you think about it. Because its true–my forgetfulness only works for person-to-person interactions. Wherever Cruz goes, wherever he turns, the record of Trump’s accusations of his father and insults to his wife will trail him like a constant footnote. They’re a part of his story now–the politician who opposed the upstart demagogue, who denounced him on moral and ethical grounds, who defended him family against Trump’s slander … and who ultimately went down on one knee (metaphorically) to kiss the ring of the chosen leader.

Me, I can go, “Eh, this person is generally a well-intentioned/ good individual; they’re just going through a hard time. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and forget this incident/ action/ language/ behavior/ treatment that offended me.”

Or maybe, “Eh, I don’t like this person’s personality (or they don’t like mine), but I think they have generally good intentions and we just don’t click. I don’t want to waste the emotional investment in dwelling on their behavior or trying to repair the relationship.”

Or even, “Eh, I think this person is a total shithead, and I don’t care what they think of me. I don’t see the value in wasting my emotional energy dwelling on their behavior or trying to repair the relationship.”

Whatever it is, most of my episodes of forgetfulness are interaction where I’ve had the freedom to:

  1. Talk about/ resolve the incident with the individual OR block/ avoid the individual altogether in the future
  2. Delete unwanted emotional recorded reminders of the incident, if desired (if the individual and I disagreed over text/ email/ IM/ etc)
  3. Avoid discussing/ hearing about the incident on constant repeat

The ones I’ve had the worst dwelling/ mulling over cycles were due to one of two situations:

  1. There were a lot of people aware of/ involved in the original incident who kept asking about/ discussing it/ bringing it up long after I was emotionally done with it, OR
  2. I was stupid enough to write about it on a blog somewhere in my first flush of rage, and even with pseudonyms and anonymized locations, the person(s) in question always seem to find it months/ years later, after I’d forgotten and moved on, and the whole thing would blow back up.

That second one was especially annoying, because the entire reason I ever blogged about personal disagreements in the first place was only after all other lines of communication/ resolution had failed/ been shut down, and the two parties were at an impasse, so I was basically venting to the digital void. So the inevitable reaction of the person(s) I was in disagreement with finding the months/ years old post wherein they recognize themselves in the incident would be to a) e-mail the link with an outraged message to everyone in our shared circle, and b) contact me with the same defenses and explanations they had in the original disagreement, as though they thought I hadn’t heard them the first dozen times.

Lesson learned, haha.

Mind you, I still believe people should be able to write about their perspectives/ experiences on personal interactions, relationships, friendships, and family disagreements online, especially if they’re considerate and use pseudonyms/ anonymize the other parties … but for me personally, having dealt with unwanted re-initiated contact and the fallout of hurt feelings/ drama, sometimes years after the original incident, just because someone realized I’d aired my perspective on a situation and were outraged by that … eh. So not worth it to me.

But again, all those heated interactions are ones I have the relative anonymity and freedom–at least for now, and hopefully for always–to forget. I can clear out those entries by editing, deleting, or privatizing my blogs. I can delete angry IM exchanges or regretted email exchanges–at least, on my end. True, I can’t control what the recipient does with them, if they choose to hold onto/ dwell on the words I flung at them in a moment of ill-thought temper or not.

But on my end, I can sort through the disagreements and consign insults (you’re a crazy, stupid feminazi!) flung in the heat of anger to digital dustbins, while holding onto what may be possibly valid character concerns to address in therapy (you have irrational behavior expectation standards!).

But Cruz and other media figures … they won’t be able to do that, to avoid the very public reminders of these disputes. Isn’t that interesting to think about?

It reminds me of this Vulture article I read awhile ago, about a woman name Christine Chubbuck who committed suicide on live tv in 1974, and rumors persist that a recording (still unconfirmed) exists of the event. At the time, apparently studio recordings were not commonplace, and VHS/VCR wouldn’t debut for another three years. Chubbuck allegedly asked the cameraman to record the show the day she killed herself (not disclosing to him the reason for it). Whether or not the taping actually occurred is in dispute, as is what happened to the film if it was recorded.

Think about that. Forty-two years ago–a little over four decades, and we can’t find a tape of something that happened on-air. If that happened today, you can bet it would be shared and re-shared over and over; reflected and recorded through embedded windows on news commentaries, YouTube videos, and endless mirrors when the inevitable take-downs started.

Donald Trump was 28 years old in 1974. He grew up in an era when you could say or do something–even something wildly outrageous and/ or offensive, even as a reasonably well-known person, even on local or national television … and it could still disappear into rumor. I would ask if its any wonder that he has a different grasp on what constitutes truth, but …

There’s this fascinating article, which says Tom Cruise did not, in fact, jump wildly and ecstatically up and down on Oprah’s couch as he proclaimed his love for Katie Holmes, the way we all remember him doing. Apparently, that infamous 2005 interview aired only a few weeks after YouTube went online, to relatively little fanfare. Strange to recall, but before 2005, viral videos weren’t really a “thing,” due  to the difficulties in making, hosting, and watching them. YouTube was a game-changer, and when a looped clip of the Oprah interview went viral on the new platform, it also changed the public perception of Tom Cruise.

Clearly, the younger generations have our own issues with verifying reality.

Its popular to say history is written by the victors, but I wonder how often people really think about what that means–what the stories we tell ourselves about our shared pastwould look like if we’d lost this war or that, or if this social cause or that hadn’t succeeded. What things now considered anathema to so many would be normal, justified, even defensible–worth dying for?

The other interesting thing to me about demonstrably untrue political slander such the type Trump has engaged in is that it is now part of the historical record. I’m certain the working class has always gossiped about those in power, and we’ve clearly had political slander between opposing parties before (Jefferson and Adams, with their infamous, “He’s a hermaphrodite,” rebutted with, “Well, he’s dead!” campaign), but Trump fascinates  me because he took the dark gossipy underbelly of unsubstantiated rumors and presented them as truth–which, ironically, even after they were denounced as the lies and slander they were, have forever imbued them with a sort of legitimacy/ truth of their own. A Place In History, as it were.

The conspiracy that Cruz’s dad was involved in Kennedy’s assassination might’ve been lost to the mists of time, had not the guy elected president in 2016 made it part of his campaign–but now that baseless accusation will live on as a recorded footnote through the span of recorded human history, alongside the information about Cruz endorsing Trump after his initial denunciations of the candidate. Barring any serious future developments, I suppose he’s rescued the family name from infamy … but on the flip side, its kind of landed in pathetic humiliation territory, so, y’know. Win some, lose some.

Heartbroken

We woke up in a country today where half the citizens turned out in force to defend racism, misogyny, sexual assault, and the ongoing corporate exploitation of the working class.

I don’t know how to explain that’s not okay to people who don’t get it.

I still don’t know what to say.

I don’t know what to say to kids who could not vote, but will be feeling the repercussions of this election through Supreme Court decisions for decades to come.

And I don’t know how to explain our devastation to the unapologetic non-voters, third-party voters, and Trump voters who think we are overreacting. Who say, “Oh, just go to work, pay your bills. Nothing will change.

I mean, first off, shut up. The whole point of this stupid vote was a change away from politics as usual, so trying to pretend things are the same and will remain so is the most facile and least reassuring thing anyone could say. If Trumpians wanted the status quo–going to work/ paying taxes/ things will be fine–they would have voted Hillary Clinton, or not voted at all.

Hillary ‘DNC Establishment Candidate’ Clinton was the “nothing will change” vote. Donald ‘The Outsider’ Trump was the vote to blow shit up.

But they emphatically turned out, in force, to vote for Trump. A guy who told them in no uncertain terms that he was against freedom of religion, that he did not accept the melting pot of America, that he rejects the tired, the poor, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

He told us, blatantly and repeatedly, that he hates minorities, plans to profile people based on religious practices and strip citizens of constitutional rights, and has happily used his power to sexually assault women.

And millions of people said, “Eh, probably won’t affect me. I can live with that.”

He bragged about his comfort with dishonest and shady business business practices that break contractual agreements with business partners and suppliers, harms local communities, and exploits workers; casting it as business savvy and evidence of success, despite the plethora of public records (including the tax records leaked during his campiagn) which show he not only lacks business acumen, but is in fact a man in possession of a singular talent for financial mismanagement and compete incapacity for self-assessment.

He is the type of person most observant individuals and small business owners would choose to avoid in their personal business dealings, recognizing him for the slick willy flim flam man that he is, and would warn their friends and neighbors to avoid him as well–but somehow, writ large, his flaws become charms, and the risks are no longer personal. The individual voter may decry Trumps racist language, misogynist behavior, tax avoidance, and exploitative business dealings … but hey, he says, and proceeds to minimize. To extemporize. To explain how that was then, and this is now, and it wasn’t anyone he knew that Trump said the racist things about, and his wife joked that she’d enjoy being groped by him, so that’s okay, and gosh, wouldn’t everyone like to get out of paying taxes? and maybe it was the worker/ contractor/ suppliers fault for being taken for a ride–for making a bad deal … and blah blah blah.

But what it comes down to is, “It wasn’t me got screwed over, so I don’t care. That was then, and this is now. He’s not gonna screw me over, because I’m not black and I’m not Mexican and I’m not a woman, and I’m not a dumbass who gets taken advantage of in bad business deals. 

Trump showed through language and behavior that he disdained compromise, compassion, decency, respect, and even the basic civic value of cooperative contribution– the exact personality type we try avoid at church or school; that we cringe to be assigned on work projects with; that we wouldn’t invite home to dinner; that we don’t want our kids around. He has never lied about his character. The voters knew, and they were okay with it–as the Young Turks put it, that was a feature, not a bug.

That’s the country I live in.

Its not even so much that they didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton; its that people did vote for Trump! Its what that says! What it means! It means that everything we’ve been told all our lives about decency and kindness and respect and honor and compassion–about the golden rule and do unto others was a lie. A fucking lie. That so many people either actively agree with his racist, misogynistic invective or, (possibly worse) minimize it–see it as unimportant, a non-issue. Like all the lessons of history that have been collectively taught to us–that I know my peers and community members and cousins and family members are aware of–were just fucking … ignored. “Well, that was then, and this is now. We might be hitting all the same notes, but its not the same score.”

Everyone who protest voted (or protest not-voted) seems to have been so enamored with the uniquely American absorption in consumerist choice and moral absolutes that they forgot there’s no return simple program for a faulty president. We can’t just throw this one away as defective and buy a new one, or shove him to the back shelf of the closet.

Despite the overly long marketing campaigns and technicolor reality-programming hue, political candidates aren’t action figures or t.v. shows to be turned off and ignored when their noisiness is too offensive. They create policy. Influence legislation through appointments.

Even if he’s a dud and fulfills neither the hopes and dreams of his supporters, nor the wildest fears of his detractors, we don’t need anarchy, illegal civilian detainment camps, or nuclear war to for nightmares to come true. Dystopias happen quietly, too, as regimes quietly crumble under state violence while lead seeps into the public water and the disconnected, wealthy elite sail their private armadas across moonlit seas, far from the concerns of the crumbling infrastructures on land.

The Department of Defense released a report identifying climate change impact as an ongoing national security threat, and identified the real-world impacts both currently in progress and projected to intensify over the next 34 years as a result of climate change. The are:

Trump, as you’ll recall, doesn’t believe in climate change. Neither, apparently, do the conservatives in Congress. This year, the Pentagon requested funds to adapt and upgrade national defense installations, personnel training, and weapons acquisitions to meet the threats posed by climate change.

The GOP in Congress voted no.

Then, just to be really sure the Pentagon wouldn’t “waste” any money, the GOP in Congress expressly passed an amendment forbidding our military leaders from even drafting contingency plans for climate change related risks.

Think about that for a minute. Just think about it. You don’t even have to be pro-military to recognize the fucking idiocy of it. I’m certainly not pro-military or pro-war. I’m ridiculously non-confrontational and pacifist. But c’mon … I’ve got enough self-preservation to listen to the advice of trained fucking military leaders. If the goddamn Pentagon says we should probably shore up our defenses against climate change and potential fallout, I’m kinda surprised that trigger-happy, veteran-jacking conservatives of all people reply, “fuck you very much, lets take our chances with the storm.”

I thought the GOP were the ones who were all, “God bless our military, they’re so fucking brilliant and smart and have our best interests in mind and are the super duper best!”? — but I guess that’s only when they want to use the military as a jobs program/ extermination mill for the poor in America? Not when it comes to taking actual fucking national defense advice from national defense experts?

And now Trump has said he’s going to halt all funding for programs trying to mitigate climate change. He’s picked a climate change denier as head of the EPA. And as the cherry on this shit Sundae, he is investing in the military–but not the Pentagon’s recommended climate change plan. No, he wants to make the U.S. military–already the strongest in the worldeven bigger, to “to quell global threats.”

Specifically, he wants to counter missile and terrorist threats from Iran, North Korea and other nations by adding 65,000 active duty troops to the U.S. Army for a total of 540,000 active duty soldiers. He wants to exceed the Navy’s fleet restoration goal of 308 ships by 42; bringing them to 350 ships and upgrading their cruisers while bringing in additional modern (nuclear) destroyers. Oh, and bring the U.S. Air Force up to a force of 1,200 fighter aircraft.

Sounds like *some*one wants to unnecessarily invest $30 billion or so bulking up the largest fucking army in the world. You don’t do that for a summer tea party.

Yeah… I’m sure this is absolutely a good idea not to shore up national defenses! I’m sure this is a decision no conservative in the U.S. will come to regret in the history of ever.

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Gunshow by K.C. Green