My Nephew, Alex P. Keaton


Sympathy card

Sympathy card (Photo credit: artnoose)

It’s no secret that my younger nephew, N2 is a Republican. During the election of 2008, he used to yell rebuttals at Obama signs as they drove by and while he has outgrown that, he took yesterday’s election results a bit hard.

“Who won?” he asked my sister when she roused him for school.

“Well, N2,” she said, gently, “Obama won.”

He was mute for a moment and then, “But how? Why? Don’t they understand?”

Because for N2, this election was about the economy. It was about taxes and the 53%, which is where he firmly plants himself and his parents.

There were no vagina politics or healthcare concerns for him. He doesn’t have a vagina, and healthcare for him is a moot point. His parents are middle-class and professionally white-collar.

More to the point, he lives in an area of the country that has an unemployment rate of less than 5%. Jobs actually go begging.

Oh, there is poverty. He’s never seen it himself though he’s driven past it on his way to his paternal grandmother’s. It exists just off the edge of the peripheral vision of the city.  Some endemic and some uprooted from Chicago when that city tore down its low income housing and the inhabitants fled to the river cities along the border Illinois and Iowa border.

Like a lot of people in my hometown, N2 has limited patience with those of the generational poverty crowd. Needing help and even taking it is fine but it isn’t a first resort and certainly isn’t something you do forever and then pass on to kids and grandkids.

You work hard. You follow the rules. Pay your taxes and save and you live a good life because you’ve done the things necessary to make it happen. That’s how his father does it. That’s how his grandfather did it. That’s how N2 plans to do it.

He doesn’t think it is fair that some people get to skirt around the self-restraint, work, sacrifice, and in a lot of ways, he is not wrong.

It’s like that bible story of the prodigal son, who demands his inheritance and then pisses it away, crawling back later when he has nothing left. His father, instead of taking the kid up on his offer of working to make it up, simply hands him more. When the prodigal’s older brother expresses some rightful resentment, he is told not to be such a jerk.

That’s how N2 sees it. The rules for him are different, more demanding and requiring that he shoulder his own weight and pony up for the slackers besides.

And while it is a little more complicated than that, he is just eleven. Life is concrete and nuance-less, and some of us never really leave the idea of middle school fairness behind. Which is also not all that bad a thing.

After his mother calmed him down and got him out the door to the bus stop, his dad joined him and N2 ranted himself up into a frenzy again.

“I just don’t get it.”

And though it’s tempting to try to explain the politics of social values, race, gender and those who consider themselves too educated and too far up the food chain to dirty themselves worrying about anything as grimy, slimy as economic realities, it would be a waste of time.

N2 is a simple guy in the making. Family first. Work ethic. Loyalty to friends and community. Politics is and always will be local for him.

And that’s not a terrible thing.

Those who puzzled along with N2 yesterday, maybe still today, are not concerned with the great social agenda as much as they are with impact of a sputtering economy on their families and communities. It’s not wrong to care about those things either.

I ran across FB updates and op-ed/blog posts reminding these people “hey, I lived under Bush and survived, so just shut the fuck up and do the same as I did”, which they’ve forgotten was whine and whinge and carry on like toddlers more often than not. Though they seem to think they were the Dalai Lama and Jon Stewart rolled into one during Bush/Cheney, I remember it differently.

“My condolences,” I said to N2 when he appeared in the background as I chatted to my sister and mother on FaceTime.

“Huh?”

“She’s saying she is sorry that Romney lost,” my sis translated.

“Oh, thanks,” he smiled.

That’s all people want. To know that you know their disappointment and respect their right to it. Saying, “I know you are disappointed just like the time I was but I wasn’t as big a baby as you are being” is not empathy. Just saying.

That is Enough


English: Logo for the Our America Initiative

English: Logo for the Our America Initiative (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometime later today (except for this blog and photobombing my own FB feed), I head offline for a few days. I can pretty much count on no one around here feeding me POTUS election results because, frankly, no one in my neck of Canada really cares all that much. While the folks out East gobble up election coverage with the same hysteria that Americans do, we out here in the hinterlands just don’t dwell close enough (apart from Vancouver) to worry over much about the cry baby/sore loser fears, and we puzzle a bit about all the smug gloating. Canadians really don’t do either and consider it one of those undesirable American traits that feed our own sense of superiority – only quietly. Arched eyebrow, slight eye roll and maybe a slightly inaudible cluck of the tongue.

So, if I manage to avoid accidental contact with print media, I might be able to remain ignorant of who is POTUS until my mother arrives for her visit.

That’s my focus of the next several days. My mommy is coming to visit me. The only member of my family and friend set who will brave the trip up to bask in my company. No one else really loves me enough, which is why we trek down there once a year, enduring questionable sleep and GMO-laden foods.

I think my plan is a sound one. I stole it from another FB friend who is employing a similar tactic though she plans to be gone for weeks. Living in Michigan, I don’t know how she will manage blissful ignorance but I admire her spirit.

She is one of the few FB friends I have who didn’t either unfriend me or hide my feed during the last few months as I railed against the lack of fact, tact and general disregard for buying in totally to the age of soundbite and meme politics. One person even blocked me from posting on the blog s/he writes, which is interesting given how infrequently I comment anywhere in the blogosphere anymore.

It’s been an ugly wrap up to a interminably long POTUS cycle (two years and $6billion dollars – they should be asking for forgiveness for such a waste of time and resource), and in the end, nothing much will change. No Mayan end of the world. No zombies. No notably shifts in culture or socioeconomic levels.

When I compare it to a Canadian election cycle – six mercifully short weeks at the end of which politicians actually go back to work – I could weep.

Biggest awareness moment for me is that I have changed. Enough that I need to do some real thinking about quite a few things.

In the past reactionary, lesser evil politics worked well enough for me. Now? Not so much.

I used to be a big supporter of women’s rights but I see now that it is a distraction issue and that civil/human rights issues and laws that don’t distinguish gender, religion, or “race” is really where effort must be put. It only serves the masters when we scramble for scraps and fight amongst each other.

One of my feed updates today said that I just don’t care about how anyone feels – good or bad – tomorrow in terms of the POTUS election aftermath. A friend noted that I seemed to care a lot, but she read it wrong. I care about all the issues that weren’t discussed as folks bought wholesale into the little details they think are at stake and about the continuing degradation of the voting process in the US, but the drama and the gloating tomorrow – because it will be out of proportion, mean-spirited in a personal way that will ruin friendships and hurt family relations – I don’t care about that.

This election isn’t personal in an intimate sense for me, but it is a watershed.

If your guy won, congrats though I still think that he will have no great impact on events to come. They are bigger than he is and the Europeans, Canadians, Chinese, Russians and all the rest have it right – America doesn’t matter as much as she thinks she does.

If your guy lost, I am sorry. Nothing bad is going to result though. Your life is going to be pretty much the same as it was last week and last year. A POTUS can’t really create jobs or fix economies or stop hurricanes from inundating neighborhoods that really just sit too close to the sea now that the climate is shifting (and he can’t do anything about that either). Chin up. People have lived under POTUS’s they didn’t vote for before and even believed was the anti-Christ. They survived without any visible scarring, so take heart.

I will cheer a bit in Gary Johnson gets enough votes to qualify the Libertarians as a real party with a right to federal funding for their candidates. A third-party emerging from this farce is a bright spot to be sure.

Enjoy the election theatre this evening. I am going to teach a yoga class , read a few chapters of The Mark of Athena to Dee before tucking her in. take a long shower with my husband and then curl up with my iPad to finish a book about Henry VII. Fascinatingly, we can virtually nowhere since the days when paranoid monarchs ruled us through fear and favoritism.

Tomorrow is another day for thinking about things. Scarlett may have been self-interested, but she had her priorities straight.

2010 Top Ten Posts


Australia Day Fireworks

Image by Sam Ilić via Flickr

Top tenning is THE new year eve’s week thing to do in the blogosphere.  Mostly because bloggers need vacation time too.

Thanks to the wonderful tech team at WordPress’s need to constantly justify their paychecks, I have a plethora of data aggregating goodies to help keep track of posts by popularity.

So here are the top ten posts by page views at anniegirl1138 for the year we are about to bid adieu:

10) Brad Pitt shaved the scraggly thing off months ago, but it lives on in my post about goatees and dead husbands.

9) Though I’ve successfully steered my daughter away from the cash-grabbing universe of “dance” studios, my contempt remains. Remember the Single Ladies? 9 year olds hoochie dancing for the dirty old men who troll the Internet?

8) Although I wrote this ages ago and it’s true intent has been repeatedly misunderstood, Angelina’s non-weight problems continues to be a big draw.

7) Another oldie but goldie, Lisa Parker still pulls readers and comments.

6) It’s hardly the only Facebook Meme worthy of scorn (I ignored the equally awful Movember Movement), but breast cancer awareness meme’s, and pink ‘s co-option by Susan Komen for that matter, sparked a rant that people read.

5) Jennifer Petkov was another post that missed its mark but certainly got read.

4) I’d originally planned to write this for Care2, or maybe I did and it got rejected, regardless, young and dumb in America was a huge hit.

3) Jillian Michaels is a poor role model and apparently I am not the only one who thinks so.

2) Musing on my life of plenty.

1) And the biggest post of the year? Women with no basic understanding of dressing for body type.

“You know,” my husband observed as he glanced through this list, “not one of these posts is about your family … or me.”

“Can you believe that? ” I said, “No one wants to read about you guys.”

“I am dismayed, disappointed and disgusted, ” he replied, ” but not surprised.”

Nor am I.  My best stuff is usually not the most popular, but that is the bane of all bloggers.

I hope you enjoyed the year’s effort and will continue to read in the new year.