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.

Pitfalls of Email, Snowpocalypse and the Fiscal Cliff


Red winter coat

Red winter coat (Photo credit: chlywhite)

Had hoped to avoid all US election related updates until at least this evening, but I was foiled by my gmail account of all things. It contained a less than subdued gloat headline from the Huffpo.

I hate Huffpo but I foolishly linked to it via Facebook once and now it spams my mailbox with its tripe. Not consistently though, so I don’t know if I am actually on its mailing list or if my sporadic following of links back to its equally vacuous Canadian version remind it that I exist now and again, and it feels obligated to send me a missive.

Anyway, four more years. Rah. Rah. Whatever. Nothing has changed. My course is set and at some point next year that course and the United States of America will part ways.

I did chuckle a bit when I read a post at ZeroHedge that noted the stock market reacted to the Obama win by promptly dropping.

Not because of Obama but because the odds of a fiscal cliff nightmare showdown went up and the odds of resolution went down quite a bit. Best advice I saw regarding the personal finance health of all US taxable persons came from Simon Black at Sovereign Man who said,

after December 31st,

- Income tax rates are going up
– Capital gains rates are going up
– Rates on dividends are going up
– Estate and gift tax exclusions are going down. Dramatically.

If you are a US taxpayer, you now have 53 days to get your tax affairs in order.

53 days left! It’s like the anti-Christmas.

Meanwhile, a snowstorm blasts it’s way through our neck of Canada. What began as “possibly 5 to 10 cms” has morphed into probably 25cms with a bit of freezing rain, blowing, drifting and shit for visibility.

Had I not desperately needed the massage I was scheduled for early this morning, I wouldn’t have ventured forth at all. But between allergies and hormonally driven semi-migraines, I was left with no choice.

Once in town, it seemed foolish not to stop at the fitness centre for a brisk walk. Here I found a semi pulling an empty flatbed jacked neatly between the curb and a lamppost and nicely impeding inflowing traffic.

It only got better.

At the Safeway, a young blond woman nearly smashed me flat in the pedestrian cross walk because I nearly slipped and she was driving far too fast for the condition of the pavement.

On the way back to our hamlet, I passed one semi in the ditch to next encounter an oversize cube van blocking the entire road. How he managed to get his back half dangling over the banked ditch and his front half at a diagonal cutting off the oncoming traffic almost completely, I still can’t work out in my mind’s eye. Some people are just very talented winter drivers.

At this point, as I was slowly turning myself around, I realized that Dee’s bus would have to travel this road home plus quite a few other back country roads that weren’t nearly as wide or snow cleared. I headed back into town, swung by school for her and took the very long way back home. Long because it involved using the highways and because the blowing made visibility even worse as town receded and was replaced by fields and little else.

Remarkably I am still maintaining a fair bit of zen about this early winter thing. I have considerably less zen about the gloating on my FB feed and I might need to hide more people. While my conservative friends have kept their disappoint largely under control, some liberal friends have been smug fucks for the most part, but I feel bad for people who are now having to resign themselves to another four years under the boot heel (their perspective) of a guy they loathe. I lived under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, so I get that. Knowing also that there really is no difference in what now happens as opposed to what would have happened under a Romney win, I see little reason for happiness or sadness but I am inclined to be more tolerant of the sad. For now. I believe in a statue of limitations. A reasonable time frame but one that definitely is finite.

And nobody gloats as cattily or with as much “in your face assholes who disagreed with me!!” as a liberal does. Except maybe O’Reilly, Hannity and Rush – and they are entertainers who are paid to do it. My FB friends are just being mean girls for the mean girls in the choir.

I am tired of hearing about people’s vaginas though. And I don’t want to hear about the prepubescent vaginas of my friends’ daughters. Ewww.

Snow continues to pile as I type. Did we have a storm this bad last winter? Once possibly. I think it might be the norm this winter. Damn my sister and her prescient knees.

The winter that Rob and I met, it began snowing here in early November and just snowed like a bastard all winter long. Shoveled snow piled alongside roads and sidewalks until it was like going through tunnels.

I don’t recall what it was like in Iowa that winter. Not that bad because I was teaching at Hoover High in Des Moines, I am fairly certain I walked outdoors at lunch nearly everyday. It was an icy fucker of a winter though and led to a Noah’s Ark spring that nearly did me in with a basement flooding while I was trying to sell in a housing market with the bubble about to burst.

Memories of fun times. Sigh.

However, I am two for two on the “suck it up and drive; it’s just winter” meter. If a little snowstorm stops you in Alberta, you might as well just make like a bear.

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.