Thursday, October 13, 2016
On Second Thought / A Political Post
There was a brief point this morning where, like every other day, I was faced with debate over how best to employ a glorious 11:00 hour. Debating exactly what tasks to tackle, in what order, during the two (three if I'm lucky) uninterrupted hours I have while Hayes is napping, the older boys are in school, and the house lays quiet and untouched. Typically my options consist of the same few things: answering emails, filling shop orders, editing photos, laundry, kitchen clean up, overdue phone calls, and the sweet allure of a finished blog post tugging willfully there on the sidelines. Which, when I do oblige, never comes guilt free. Not when there are toilets to clean. Writing feels indulgent. And in this house, there are always toilets to be cleaned and words that go neglected.
Today I figured though I had plenty of reason to skip my morning dish duties in lie of a gushing blog post seeing how Bob Dylan (my number one "always and forever") was awarded the Nobel Prize, allowing easy reason to sit at a computer screen during lunch typing words of praise in honor of a man who means so much. Scouring the headlining news sites, picking photos and feeling proud. And yet I refrained. Folding clothes piled in the corners of the loft, tinkering with Polaroids from our Baja vacation - a handful of which I painted with watercolors on another hour I should have been cleaning something else up - answering emails, and dutifully going through a list of to-dos on an otherwise uneventful Thursday afternoon.
Until I turned on the news (to keep me company like I always do) and found Michelle Obama holding court on center stage, looking radiant, teary eyed, encased in trademark eloquence while blasting Donald Trump for the gross atrocities he's been tossing at women ever since he first decided to come forth and forge this wild course a little over a year ago. Sometimes to the bemusement of the larger media, more times at the expense of the poor and powerless. I sat there feeling partly defeated, as a women it's hard not to - disgusted by the state of this election. But also inspired by Mrs. Obama, wife to a man I helped vote in, part of a couple I respect immensely for upholding a grander vision, clear judgment, solid voice, with humble smarts. A woman I watched set straight a bumbling idiot in the matter of a few minutes, who helped awaken a new fury inside of me I knew I've been avoiding now too long. Counting myself too busy to confront or contend with. A housewife, swimming in daily distractions, too frazzled to be bothered by these kinds of seething political headlines. The kind of women I feared I would become, a decade ago, before children, when I carried with me a different kind of passion.
The lady I nannied for during college told me once that she avoided the news because it was "too depressing" for her, as a mother, to bare. A response that came as polite dismissal to whatever unjust news event I'd brought up in casual conversation, explaining, in defense, that she kept all focus on her own "little bubble." Meaning life inside the quaint quarters of her quiet suburban home. Noting that anything on the outside, on the darker scale of heart, was better left alone. I remember being silently offended. By the blow of unabashed apathy. Coming from a women her age, educated and otherwise awake, making conscience effort to remain disconnected in light of raising children. As if the world's issues shrank away in the face of a more pressing home life. With the addition of homework, soccer games and park playdates.
And yet, all these later, I have to wonder how much different I really am.
As a child I bore an odd, young fascination with all things political. In kindergarten I use to make collages from magazine torn remnants of Regan's handsome chiseled visage and read articles and watched news channels on elections just for fun. Later, in typical tweenaged rebellion, I declared myself a new Republican. To the clear amusement of a classically Democratic household. A mother who collected Clinton pins and fought the city on the leveling of main street to instill unsightly strip mall replacements in it's wake, and a step dad who's pick up truck bumper was littered with local Union allegiance stickers the same way my partner's utility truck in the drive way these days wears his. When I came back around I came back in time to soak up the whole Clinton / Gore fervor of the late 90s. It was exciting and I felt patriotically charged even as a 13 year old still years away from a ballot of my own to boast. I watched the debates, the back and forth banter on CNN in between, and celebrated with joyous glee on Inauguration day when I was allowed to skip school to watch the events unfold.
The first vote I cast was the first year I was able. And then every four years thereafter, though my intensity for the issues attached continued to wane as life grew louder, more complicated, steeped in the kind of chaos that comes with raising young children who offer us up endless excuses to fall off the social radars. A fact I choose, instead of all the other happy things I planned to sit down here today write, to express in public regret. Because I think, at some point it becomes inexcusable to ignore the politics of our times. When it becomes these lax conveniences we take for granted. We owe it to our children, if no one else, to sort through our own ways of reason and find the will to keep up. Where regardless of what party you come to align yourself, the simple fact of staying informed and connected transpires in the example we draw for them. They see parents who get worked up and are affected by what is going on in the outside world it sets the tone for how they will come to process the same kinds of issues down the line, hopefully using the will of heart and good intent we helped arm them with.
This time the stakes are high. I can't listen anymore to the words that spill from the mouth of Donald Trump and see how it has anything to do anymore with party ties at this point. How the berating and the bullying and the hatred that he spews (towards women and countless other classes) hasn't become a shared embarrassment to us as common Americans. Where the issue on the table is less now about how you regard or view or distrust Hillary Clinton, and more about how a man with so much contempt in his being can make it this, damn, far.
I wanted to write today about Dylan as a hero freshly crowned, but the new fury inside of me took over. So while I'm not here to push a Clinton or praise a party, I came to admit to how long it took me to feel as deeply infuriated by what's gone on as it has. How long I let it go before finally saying it's enough. But I rest assured that we as women, next month, flooding the ballots, raging with resentments, will be the defining difference.
The time to wake up is now. To get out and vote. Or don't. But don't sit back and let these bigger issues that loom on the outer rim of tightly packed schedules just pass by. It's a village in the end we're hoping to hand over. Let's make sure we're all doing our parts in keeping up the goods.