Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Horrors of Private Publishing

I looooooove email. While I think most people really like getting email from their friends, I'm especially blessed since my friends (mostly) are pretty terrific writers. This means that their emails to me are extra, extra great - and thus, my serious email addiction. Anyway, today's Email of the Day comes from Jeff. While our normal day-to-day emails involve things like buying cat food or running late to dinner, he managed to write a truly great email today which deals with art (of a sort) and politics (of a sort), so I thought I'd share a bit of it (the link above is for the site he's talking about, which offers self-published science fiction novels):

Here are some brief descriptions from the site of some of the books and/or series, and some comments of mine. I especially admire the last couple items for their subtlety and reserve. Here we go:

Attack of the Bounty Hunters: "Plot summary: The Graftonites had incredible reflexes, making them superior bounty hunters and almost unstoppable gunmen.They could draw and fire a blaster in a blink of an eye. Grafton II had evolved into a planet with no government--a purely libertarian society where all services were privatized and civil disputes were mediated by one-on-one gunfights. But when the Graftonites banded together to take over the galaxy, only superspy Clifford Croft, aided by Red Sally the always angry firestarter, the Clapper, an eccentric telekinetic who liked to clap, and the legendary bounty hunter known as the Silencer could stop them."

The Column Infiltrator: "Everyone on the Happy Worlds were under the direct mental control of the state. There's no individuality, no freedom of thought, or action. When the Happy Worlders plot to invade the League of United Planets, superspy Clifford Croft is sent in to investigate. Croft, a brilliant infiltrator, will face his toughest assignment yet: infiltrating a society where nearly everyone and everything is watched, monitored, and controlled by the state. Policemen tap resistors with long black rods that zap their minds and give them blank smiles."

Several of the books feature a character described as "military supergenius War Admiral Norman North". Nice.

There's a villain named the Terrible Thinker.

There's also an apparently non-science-fiction novel about an "ivy law school grad who inadvertently gets a job at a scummy New York law firm where she is degraded and sexually harassed. Read as she takes it, and then how she fights back." Sweet creeping Jesus.

And finally, these two:

"Coming soon--Newt World--a parallel dimension where the radical right rules America, with positive positioning for white men replacing affirmative action, constitutional amendments requiring proper respect for the flag and only permitting sex in the three approved positions, and featuring the long overdue invasion of France."


"Coming soon--Teddy World--a parallel dimension where the radical left rules America, where the marginal tax rate reaches 95%, gay sex is promoted as a means of birth control, and abortion and suicide booths are on every streetcorner."

I wonder what the three approved sex positions are. Seems like there'd be fewer than three in Newt World.

Wow. Thanks, Jeff.

Monday, November 29, 2004

God, Peggy Noonan - I hate you so much

I don't know why it took forever for this little piece of crud to come popping up on my screen, but it did - and now I want to share it with the world (or, at least, that part of the world that hasn't read it yet).

I am not opposed to all conservative writers. I happen to rather like William Kristol's writing (he's a very precise, clean writer - I like that) and every now and then The New Criterion actually prints something quite good (I have copies of a couple of articles in case you don't believe me). I have other examples too, but they're just not immediately coming to mind.

Now, clearly, I have to sometimes tune in/tune out to the larger agenda of what the particular writer is writing about, in order to get down to the nitty-gritty of purely enjoying their personal style of stringing together words into sentences - but that's okay. I'm aware that I have my likes and dislikes (hey, I turned down a nice new bottle of blonde hair dye that was on sale today, purely based on the fact that the model on the bottle looked slightly like Ann Coulter), but I really feel as though I ought to be able to turns those opinions off every once in a while and really enjoy, you know, the craft.

Peggy Noonan, however, is a horrible writer. Just get a load of this crap:

Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief--CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS's "60 Minutes" attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election--the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America.

Oh, what the fuck is that (other than, quite possibly, the only time in the history of our language that "yeomen" has been used in three consecutive sentences)? Is it supposed to be funny? Is there something wrong with her, like a brain tumor or something?

Sigh. Whatever. I'm glad I wrote this. It made me go from being really pissed off to really bored in under five minutes.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Yuppie Like Me

It's always darkest... either "before the dawn" or "before it goes completely black" - I'm not sure just yet. Either way, here's some of the things I've been thinking about that I made mention of in my previous posts - things which give me hope, sometimes.

I've made certain choices in my life that, for the longest time, I felt certain lead me to where I am today. And when I say "where I am today," I mean struggling financially, falling behind, and confused as to how the world has turned out the way that it has (among, um, other more positive traits that I have).

But by "certain choices" - well, you can stop recoiling in horror. I'm not about to suddenly confess to being a crack addict who sells her body on the streets, nor am I about to admit to having given birth to a slew of illicit children, or anything else seedy and terribly interesting. No, the choices that I'm referring to are actually quite dull, but they're probably familiar to the people who read this blog.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have long suspected that if punk rock had never caught my ear as a teenager, I never would have dyed my hair funny colors which seemed to (in that weird way that considering your past sort of compresses things) lead me to major in art, which then led to me-of-today being broke and wondering how on earth I fell so out of step with good All-American types like I encountered in Fresno.

That's oversimplifying to the extreme, but it is true that at a certain point in my life I chose to be outside of the mainstream, to take another path. And while on one hand I'm quite pleased with this decision in many ways, it does leave me worried about what the future holds.

I found myself thinking about all of this about a week ago while sitting in the passenger seat of my mother-in-law's car, which was parked in a lot in front of a drug store in Fresno. I was waiting for my husband to come out with her prescription and just sort of spacing out, when another car pulled into the spot next to mine. It was a beaten up car driven by a kid about 17; he had some music blaring and had the unmistakeable non-haircut of a skater kid and was (I shudder to admit) cute as hell. I just sat there, probably staring at the kid and as he passed by our car, he gave me a polite nod that said, Hello, Ma'am.

I felt a sting at that nod - he greeted me as an older woman. What's more, he essentially dismissed me as an unattractive older woman, to the point where I nearly sprang out of the car and explained to the kid, Listen, I know I look like a soccer mom now, but I used to be cool too, so you really shouldn't dismiss me so easily - you know, you're going to get old some day too, so it would be nice if you held back on the "ma'am" and maybe swapped it out for "miss" but as I sat there, feeling like I was losing my mind, I realized I ought to be conveying a much more appropriate and mature message to the kid.

Maybe it was because he'd treated me like someone's mom, but I really got this strong maternal instinct to go over to him (oh, he was long gone at this point, don't worry) and say Look: get a haircut, go out for the football team. Your life will be so much easier. Please. Buy some Britney Spears albums, go to church, whatever you have to do. Sell out now, while it's easier. You'll thank me in ten years when you have a normal life.

It's so easy to blame your very big problems on little insignificant things like how you were in high school, especially when your problems - like feeling alienated and being broke - are the sorts of things we don't go around talking about. Have you ever turned to your neighbor down the hall and asked them if they feel completely alone in the world, or if they're struggling to pay their bills as well? If you're like me, you probably assume they've got it all figured out - that you're the only one who feels this way. Or that maybe you and your friends - people who made the same sorts of choices you did - are the only ones like this. But, funny enough, I had this exact conversation with one of my neighbors right before we left for Fresno.

My neighbor is a bright, well put together young woman about my age. She's very nice, but we rarely bump into each other, so we haven't talked much. She's the sort of person I really admire - from a working class family, she put herself through college and has a real, 9-to-5 job, in finance.

Almost spontaneously, she and I started talking about how we're barely keeping our heads above water financially and how we feel totally screwed as a result. Now, this may sound like two yuppie women complaining about making $70k when they really want to make $100(believe me, that's not the case - I can't speak for her, but I make about half that first number), but it's more serious than that - I got the distinct impression that she's really not making much money at all. She works like a dog, but only the people at the top of her company make a lot; what's more, while she didn't specifically say this, I suspect that she has family to look out for. And so, here's a woman who's always played by the rules and done everything you're supposed to... and yet she's still having the same problems that I have. (Oh, and just as I had assumed she was doing really quite well financially, she assumed the same about me - so it was especially interesting to exchange notes on that front.)

I won't dwell too much on my conversation with her, since I don't know her too well and I don't know how much I can spill here as a result. But I had another conversation with a friend of my husband's, which I feel more comfortable talking about.

R. is a software programmer, "the steelworkers of our time" is how he described it. He's watching all the jobs around him get shipped overseas and he's getting worried. He makes really good money and lives in a beautiful home, but he's got a wife and two kids to support, and so now - despite having a full-time job and a masters degree in computer science - he's considering going back to school to get a teaching certificate as an emergency back-up career.

And so now he feels completely fucked and alienated and confused by the world - did our parents ever need emergency back-up careers? I know Jay has shared this blog with a group of college students, so let me just toss this in in case they think I'm whining for no good reason: Being broke when you're in your thirties is radically different than being broke when you're in your early twenties. Being young and broke is noble and good and it forces you to be creative; being broke and somewhat older is like being screwed by the world constantly. It truly sucks. All that stuff you're supposed to do as you get older - like, just to start, plan for a family of your own or take care of your existing family - you can't do, and it hurts like hell. It does all sorts of things to your head - I can't imagine how R. feels, with three people depending on him - that you don't really want done to you. It's a constant pressure that never goes away. And remember - R. and my neighbor have real jobs - they're not artists who have taken some unspoken vow of poverty. They're people who went to school to get real, specific skills to help them in the marketplace. They're not piecing it all together, bit by bit between painting sales; they're putting on nice office clothes and going to work every day for a boss and a big corporation. And they're still getting fucked.

But here's the good news (sort of): I'm not the only one who feels this way. In two random conversations - with R. and my neighbor - I spoke to two different people who made completely different choices in their lives than I did and are still screwed... ok, it doesn't sound like good news, but bear with me. As R. talked with a fair amount of anger about the "red" parts of this country and my neighbor kept shaking her head, marvelling at her inability to get ahead, it occurred to me that this feeling that's in the air is quite a bit larger than just a few artists and slackers pissed off about the election. There just might be the seeds of some real change out there - but I think it's going to have to start with us all talking, one on one, to each other.

These problems are generational - the slow and steady rollback of government funding for programs to help people like us (ie, education assistance, help with medical costs, etc.), the ever widening gap between rich and poor, the consolidation of wealth in a few hands taken to the extreme. These are issues that effected our parents and grandparents, but not to the extent that they effect us. I believe so much in the power of collective action that this revelation really gave me hope - I'm not the only one; we're all screwed. So maybe we can work together to figure out a solution.

(Oh, ok, just to finish up some old business: So my husband's still off at the pharmacy when skater boy comes back to his car, and I'm now tempted to make up some story along the lines of Oh yeah, so I'm just waiting for my boyfriend to finish ripping off this store and then we're off to Mexico where we're... gonna... live... um, like kings? but I couldn't even pull it off in my own head, so I just sat there shooting the kid hateful daggers and finally he sort of turned around and glanced at me as he got in his car, kinda like Freak! and this made me crack up and then he drove away.)

Friday, November 26, 2004

Postcard from Fresno, CA

My husband and I disappeared for a week to his hometown of Fresno for Thanksgiving.

Whenever I go to Fresno, I get transformed into the most politically incorrect whore that has ever lived - but for good reason (or so I think). It starts slowly, but suddenly the woman who can talk a blue streak about how Starbucks is ruining this country is clamoring to go there because, quite simply, have you ever tried to get a decent cup of tea in Fresno? It's just tea, after all, just hot water and a tea bag, but somehow Starbucks seems to make it just right when all other stores around it fail. Sure, in NYC or JC you can get a cup of tea made perfectly fine without ever venturing into a Starbucks, but once you leave the east coast things get a little dicey.

Whole Foods is another "gateway" for me - ok, I hit Whole Foods all the time when I'm at home, so why on earth would I need to go there when I'm on vacation? Fresno is the heart of ag country, so surely they have good veggies elsewhere, right? Surprisingly, no - I don't know what sort of sick deal with the devil Whole Foods has made (or perhaps, the other stores haven't made) that ensures that they get only the most crisp and greenest of the greens, but they do... and so off to Whole Foods we go (I think we made three trips).

And then it's all downhill from there: Soon we find ourselves wandering through the aisles of a Super Wal-Mart, gawking at the dozen eggs for a dollar, loading up on glass votive candle holders for $.57/each, and carrying out what would amount to about $50 in knitting supplies if purchased out here but works out to somehow cost under $10.

Soon, I'm feeling guilty. I've only been visiting Fresno for about seven years now, and already I can see the changes that the big block stores have brought. Stretches of highway that were once open fields have enormous, hulking stores on them, selling products at such low prices it's a wonder Fresno has any independant stores left (they do: there are small sections of the city that are just independantly-owned stores, but I find myself wondering how long they can stick around).

But here's the clincher for me; here's where things get really confusing: I looked at the Fresno craigslist (yes, Fresno has a craigslist) Rants and Raves section before we travelled out and found post after post by Fresnans clamoring for more. More big block stores ("A Pottery Barn, please!" read one post), more choices, more low, low prices. Of course there were people wondering what the future holds for the Tower District or Downtown where those independant stores are located, but they were mostly drowned out by the fretting of others over how they were going to furnish their new homes without driving to the SF-area Ikea.

So that's confusing item #1: You have your stated problem (how do I furnish my new home with cool stuff?) along with another stated problem (has anyone noticed that downtown looks a little... empty?) and the solution which seems pretty obvious to me (hey, wouldn't it be great if there was a store downtown where I could buy stuff for my new place all while keeping the downtown charm intact by being independantly owned?) doesn't seem readily apparent. I don't mean for a moment to disparage Fresnans - after all, I married one - but it's troubling to me that these two tangents don't seem to come together in any productive way.

What might shed light on why this doesn't happen leads me to confusing item #2: The employees we encountered at Wal-Mart, et al, seemed really quite happy. Like, disturbingly happy. Like, happy in a way that those of us who live out in an area where we hear nothing but how Wal-Mart is killing this country could never imagine a person working for them being happy .

Now, this is probably due in part to the general good-naturedness of the people of central California. I have come to believe it is literally impossible to linger for a moment anywhere without someone striking up a conversation with you (ok, coming from the east coast, that took some getting used to). But it also comes from years drifting by where those big block stores suddenly became the only game in town; the only jobs with benefits and security, something to do and someplace to go once your family gave up their farm and you've gotten sick of doing contractor work. I'd imagine it's either a version of Stockholm Syndrome (loving/identifying with your captor) or simply making the best with what you've got.

And so, I was thinking of all of this as we passed the stores on the highway; about how these stores used to send shivers down my spine when I first started visiting Fresno, but they don't anymore. Somehow, this time, I was less surprised by the walnut groves and vineyards and more so with the W04 stickers and the "Get fit with Jesus!" signs. I don't know if I'd forgotten that this chunk of CA is quite red, or if it just impressed me that somehow shopping at these big block stores, voting for Bush, and loving Jesus have become all one and the same. But here's one last thing that was weighing on my mind as we drove:

Fresno is a very liveable city if you're middle class. Hey, I could afford to buy nice stuff for my place - just like that Fresnan craigslist poster had wanted to do. I could finally afford to knit for fun, something I haven't been able to do for months - it's a small and petty thing, but it actually meant quite a lot to me. Extrapolate from there: I could buy groceries, furniture, clothing - all the things I need, for a fraction of the price than I can out here. It is, in short, convenient and doable and affordable for those of us who are not rich in a way that NYC and by and large much of "blue America" is not.

Suddenly, as I was thinking of all this, everything felt laid out before me. Oh, okay, the left didn't win the culture wars, after all; no one in Fresno is devastated by the election (at least, not to the extent back in NYC, what with the teeth-gnashing and wailing and all); that class-warfare I've been hoping for simply isn't going to happen.

And so, I'm tempted right now to hand down a very simple pronouncement. I'm tempted to say flat out that we're screwed, that this country has simply drifted way too far to ever find its way back. As tempting as that is, I won't - and what's holding me back are two conversations I've had in the last week which I'll write more about in the next few days. There are faint glimmers of change out on the horizon, but you have to really tilt your head and squint to see them - but they are there. At least I have to hope they're there, because if they're not - we're really in trouble.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

sharing time

one of my recent paintings, just thought i'd share- its this stuffed-annimal pig--

these are by far the dumbest paintings i've ever made they really have no theory or anything clever to them at all, and i really like that about them-they're just the stuffed animal and me loving paint, and hoping that the painting can surprise me which it does sometimes-- this one is really wierdly in-between a lot of things.. actually i'm just going to stop right there i don't like the way it sounds when i try to describe these so i'm just going to shut up. here's a pig.

One thing i can natter on about a bit is how i just love paint, as a medium and its special to me, and there's really not intelectually justifible reason why that should be just like there's no reason why anyone loves their stuffed animal, you just do, you know its stupid but you can't honestly say you don't care about it and its not special above all other stuffed animals-- actually we're the same way about people-- i think of this fleetingly when i go to find my grandmother, or before she died, my great aunt in the old-folks home- i'm on a mission to find MY old person-- i ignore countless other people's old people many of whom might enjoy my visit, or might need company, but i don't care (much) about them-- i just want to find mine- the one i love-- there's something illogical about that, but its so strong and so common to all humans that we don't even think twice about it, of course your going to be nicer to your family than to some stranger--its just considered normal-- when you extend it out to pets or even further to stuffed animals, the ridiculousness becomes apparent because the feelings aren't anywhere near as strong, so you can laugh at yourself a little bit. That attachment is ireducible, i think-- its just YOUR stuffed animal, and you can laugh about it, but its the feeling is still there and you can't talk yourself out of it..... i bet i'm not the only one. Any way maybe its like that with mediums, paint or clarinets or mud or rubics cubes and your medium is your medium is your medium... Actually though i know a lot of people have no such attachments--- i think...

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

KRS ONE: Where are you when I need you?

This morning I awoke to the news I was already aware of, thanks to Drudge, when I had fallen asleep the night before: That it would appear that Condelezza Rice is set to be our new Secretary of State. Somehow, the news hitting my eyeballs at 11:30pm is a very different thing from it hitting me at 7:30am, and I got angry all over again only this time more unintelligably than I had the night before.

I laid on our couch with the blankets pulled up by my ears, just sort of muttering to myself, "Goddamn... stupid... puppet... hate her... stupid... provost... hate... puppet..." for quite some time, before the immortal - if, at this instance, completely incoherent - words of KRS ONE came to me. Blaring in my head, I could hear the line, "You want to see the devil? Take a look at Clarence Thomas!"

Ok, techincally that made no sense that I would suddenly think of Clarence Thomas and KRS ONE while looking at pictures of a beaming Condi Rice, except that I've now finally had a chance to sit down and look up those lyrics and it seems my subconscious was up to something:

The white man ain't the devil I promise
You want to see the devil take a look at Clarence Thomas
Now you're saying, "Who?" like you a owl
Throw in the towel, the devil is Colin Powell
You talk about being African and being black
Colin Powell's black, but Libya he'll attack
Libya's in Africa, but a black man
will lead a black man, to fight against his homeland
An accomplice to the devil is a devil too
The devil is anti-human, who the hell are you?

Jesus! That's so fucking awesome! (And comforting too: ok, KRS ONE ----> Colin Powell -----> Condi Rice... now I feel better.)

All this leads me to something I've been thinking about ever since the Republican convention wheeled into town. One of the local hip-hop stations turned over their noontime hour to nothing but back-to-back protest rap - and it was incredible. You forget - or at least I do - how unbelievably powerful Public Enemy and KRS ONE are/were, and how specific and razor-sharp their rhymes got. It was so moving to listen to this - this weird little mini-protest that was blaring in my headphones as I walked around, in the guise of a "classic showcase." That, along with punk, was the music that I really hooked into when I was a teenager, and it was amazing to hear all the raw emotion and urgency come rushing back to me, as fresh and immediate as when it was first recorded.

Another station hit the Rage Against the Machine button quite a bit during that week, but since then all the stations around here have been pretty quiet with the protest music. I don't know if anyone's making music this tough and urgent - and yet still highly listenable - anymore, but I'm really hoping someone younger and cooler than me will write in and turn me on to someone new.

But then, interestingly enough, I started listening to Johnny Cash this weekend (possibly because I'm old and uncool). And wow - if you ever finding yourself wondering if the world has changed or if you've changed, turn on Johnny Cash and be confronted by the answer: It's the world that's changed.

So here's Cash, playing country music, which by now is the de facto soundtrack to the GOP. Only it's not now, it's 1969, and Cash isn't playing to a crowd of drooling fat cats who have come in from their day of corporate high-living and fucking over their fellow man. He's playing to prisoners at a maximum security prison - the lowest of the low, men who never had anything and never were anything and most likely will never be anything. And he's, through his music, taking their side.

The moment in the album I was listening to that completely rocked my world was this - but wait, I have to set it up for you: So there's Johnny Cash on stage at San Quentin. Before him are a couple of hundred prisoners - probably not a few murders among them - and their guards; and he looks out from the stage and says/sings (in a voice so scary and serious, you think he's just witnessed another man fucking his wife and then shooting his favorite dog), San Quentin: I hate every inch of you.

The crowd goes nuts. San Quentin: I hate every inch of you - not like, "I hate all you prisoners" but "I hate this place as much as you do." As in "I hate all the horrible things that you went through that lead you here;" as in, "I'm on your side."

For me, personally, it was like looking out into infinity - I could see all these weird little loose strands of all my moral beliefs come together into a neat little package, all swirling around and reconciling themselves. Sort of like, "Oh right, the reason why I consider myself a Christian isn't because I secretly want to deny women abortions or hate people who are gay, but because I was always raised to believe that Jesus looked out for the lowest of the low, so therefore I should look out for the lowest of the low, which is exactly the same tradition that Johnny Cash was drawing upon when he said these words. And the reason why I've felt funny referring to myself as a Christian these last several years is that those teachings have been co-opted by others with a larger agenda, to the point where the Christianity seen now by the mainstream bears little resemblance to that in which I was raised. Oh, okay. Got it."

(I had a similar flash some weeks ago listening to Kanye West's sloppy, self-congratulatory, but very listenable "Jesus Walks," but it really took a superior songwriter and performer to really have it all come together for me.)

I don't know - this may be yet another example of me having my head up my ass, but it was a profound moment for me.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Terror Informant Ignites Himself Near White House

"It is my big mistake that I have cooperated with FBI," he said in a recent interview. "The FBI have already destroyed my life and my family's life and made us in a very danger position . . . I am not crazy to destroy my life and my family's life to get $100,000," he said.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Let's all have fun with the Democratic Party

Yes, I know: Bush stole the election. I'll get to posting some stuff about that in a little bit (look, my work schedule right now SUCKS, but bear with me and I'll get right on this), but first...

Regardless of any funny business at the polls, the Democrats also have their share of the blame. With all the shit going on in the world, there's no way the election should have been so close. Simply put: I donated more money during this campaign than I ever have before, and right around now I'm feeling really bitter and that I'd like my $75 back.

And so, in the height of my bitterness, I received just now a lovely email from that evil succubus Terry McAuliffe, asking my opinion on the election and to "help determine the Democratic Party's next steps." Oh, I filled out your form, Mr. McAuliffe, and boy did you ever hear from me.

And so, let us all fill out the above posted questionnaire. Let's let them know that perhaps it might be nice to hire a guy who knows a thing or two about strategy, rather than just fundraising, which is McAuliffe's specialty. Although I was simply too blinded by rage to do so, you might also want to pipe in that it would be nice if the Democratic Party didn't tilt wildly to the right in '08 and that maybe - just maybe - the working class should be occasionally thrown a bone.

All of that would be a lot more helpful and productive than my comments, which were terse and nasty, but kind of fun to write.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Still thinking...

I could barely keep up with the flood of email coming into me today, written by friends completely distraught over the results of last night's election. Strangely enough, what worries me most is the friends I haven't heard from - friends who just 24 hours ago were writing to cheerfully tell me about phone banking or leafletting or the really, really high hopes they had.

And so, I'm writing to you what I'd like to say to them, only it's just a little too early and the wound is a little too fresh. This isn't a definitive posting on what happened last night; it's basically just a first stab.

First of all, the "struggle for a better world" (can't think of a better way to put that) was never going to be over today, even if Kerry won. Even if the guy swept the nation, we were still going to wake up today with loads of work to do. So if things seem overwhelming now, remember they would be just as overwhelming if he had won. Kerry winning didn't mean we'd instantly be out of Iraq, nor did it mean that the poor in this country would suddenly find themselves with excellent health care, a safe place to live, and a great school to send their children to. All the problems we face now would not have instantly vanished. We would have had to ride that guy just like we have to Bush - although I certainly admit that the road to a better place now seems further and harsher.

Secondly, I truly think we have to come to terms with the fact that the majority of Americans like Bush, that they approve of him, and that the "moral issues" that seem like no big deal to those of us living here weigh heavily on the minds of most of the people in this country, much more so than the war and the economy. If there had been a low turnout, if millions of dollars were not made available to Democratic causes to make its case, then perhaps you could say that these issues weren't as important as they now seem; right now I'm not sure how you can make that argument. (The flip side to this is that if maybe - just maybe - the DNC had had the balls to put a truly anti-war candidate on the ticket, things may have been different... but I don't think this negates the impact of those "moral issues" that we in the solidly blue states really aren't terribly concerned about.)

Lastly - and this is the part I really have to think about and really have to consider pretty deeply - I believe there is a serious lesson to be learned from all of this. The lesson is not that we are powerless, that all that time put into volunteering and talking to your co-workers and so on and so forth was all for nothing; it's that we haven't truly come to terms with the extent of our power. It's that we haven't yet tapped into this core that I think exists in all of us, a place of light and change that can really effect the world, and found a way to externalize it.

If it sounds like I'm tripping, consider this: I'm sure somewhere, at sometime in your life, there exists a person who you had contact with who completely changed the way you look at the world. If you're anything like me, you've run into dozens of people like this. It could be anything - a conversation you had with them, the way they lead their life, whatever. That person affected you, deeply, and made you see the world differently. This is the power - or at least part of it - that I'm talking about.

I'm not suggesting at all that if we're all just really nice to each other, Social Security will still exist when I turn 65. What I am suggesting is that the major flaw with the election is that we didn't pin our hopes on a much grander goal than simply changing the occupant of the White House. The solution is not to put up a more moderate (more Republican) Democrat in '08; it's to extend the reach of what we really want.

A friend of mine - in a totally unrelated email - sent me an Arabic proverb that I think fits nicely in this ramble of mine:
Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.
When things seem bad, it's only human to try and snuff out those bad feelings, to put them in a box and pretend the whole incident never happened. That desire we all felt 24 hours ago might seem really tough to revisit, but I think it's important that we do. Instead of suffocating it, let's strengthen it. Let's let it grow. Let's let the desire for a better world grow so huge and so powerful that it becomes all-consuming, and then let's go from there.

(And yes, in case you're wondering, I am currently working on some thoughts to put this to practical use!)

Monday, November 01, 2004

Wow. Even LaRouche endorses Kerry.

Ok, this was a little surprising to me, as LaRouche's supporters are about a million times more diehard than your average third-party fan. I saw the table that sits handing out his literature in Journal Square had a modestly-sized, hand-lettered sign that said something to this effect, but even after running into another supporter tonight (who was rather aggressively handing out LaRouche's latest communique titled, "Go Flu Yourself!") confirmed this to me, I still had to track it down on the web.

The greatest link ever!!

Wow, did I ever need a laugh. And just when things were at their darkest, this little gem came floating my way. Dear God, it's brilliant.