Playground Politics

We're missing the train

I seem to have missed my train

Hello all.  Yes, yes, it’s been a while.  You know when more time than usual passes in between speaking to a friend, you keep thinking you should call, but the more time passes the harder it becomes to make that call?  Yeah.  First I was in a bit of a funk; there’s nothing to say, no one cares what I have to say, blah, blah, blah. Then, in the past few weeks, there’s been so much going on I couldn’t decide where and how to jump in.  Nothing has happened to me/mine personally, it’s been wonderful having Man Child home, he has a good job, Nerd Child is in the last stretch of high school–drove north and saw his final production the other day–that young man is an excellent director! Art Child is well, Husband is well, Incredibly Stupid Dog continues to forget which end is supposed to be on the pee pad when she lets loose…all good in Fringeland.  But the world around me?  Prince died, which I took more personally than I have any right to. North Carolina has decided genital checks are in order because thinkofthechildren.  The Bernie movement has faltered (to say the least), and Donald Trump has won the GOP nomination.

After two weeks of pretending that last tidbit couldn’t be real, I have to accept it.  I have to get on the train. Not the train car supporting him, of course.  I feel like it’s rush hour and the car open in front of me is suspiciously empty.  If you’ve ever been a subway rider, you know what I mean.  If you haven’t, let me give you a tip.  When a crowded train pulls in, if the car you’re about to get on is miraculously empty with several open seats, there’s a reason–and that reason usually involves a stench so foul even the most weary and unsteady travelers would prefer to be squashed nose to armpit in the next car.

Yesterday I was having a conversation about this nightmare with a friend of mine, and I referenced playground politics.  For me, this sums it up.  Because it doesn’t feel like a train.  I’m an adept rider; pains, nerve damage and all, I can keep my balance, squeeze into the most narrow space between two man-spreaders if it means a seat, and throw myself through the closing doors without getting my purse caught.  This is more like a throwback to childhood, a concrete lunchtime playground where girls have cooties and with a choice between splintered seesaws, dodgeball, and a cement water fountain that dribbles rust.  So here we are, this cycle of American politics where might makes right and he who spreads the most outlandish, the most vicious rumors wins.  Where is the lunch aid?  Where are the teachers?  Where are the grown-ups?

As I’ve said previously, I like Bernie.  I never thought he was a perfect candidate, and I had questions, but I thought he was the best choice.  For a moment, I thought he had a real shot.  That moment is over.  I don’t love Hillary.  I have a lot of questions and reservations about her that I don’t want to have.  (I’m a feminist ferchistssake, a woman for President? Yes, please.)  But I’m not hesitating to support her, especially when I look at the alternative.  The alternative isn’t Bernie Sanders, it’s Donald Trump.  A man whose positions take us from an unsupervised playground to Lord of the Flies.

While I wasn’t blogging, I did more reading than I’d done in a while.  I even decided to read Infinite Jest, it’d been on my to-read list forever, and it seemed like the perfect time.  I got about 600 pages in, and spent a good 500 of those pages feeling certain that I’m an idiot, because I didn’t get it.  Not that I wasn’t able to follow the storyline, I was.  Not that I didn’t notice and appreciate some lovely sharp prose, I did.  But I really, really don’t understand the how/why this novel became the lauded, prized bestseller that it did.  So I gave up, once again determined to accept that I’m just not that smart, and clearly incapable of understanding the publishing industry.  If a friend had written it and given me the manuscript to beta read, I’d have suggested cutting about 500 of the 1200 pages.  But the timing of my attempt to read this was perfect for today’s political climate, because today is when we are living the backstory of Infinite Jest.  If Donald Trump becomes President of the United States, we will slide right into Subsidized Time, and tomorrow will become the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment.  I may not be smart enough to slog through all 1200 pages, but I’m smart enough to know I don’t want to live inside them.

You’re frustrated?  Me too.  You’re broke?  Me too.  You’re tired of the status quo?  Me too.  But my eyes are open.  And what I see is hideous.  A circle has gathered around the combover playground bully.  The circle is growing, gathering legitimacy and support, and it’s feeding on greed, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and wishful thinking.  I know some people speak of idyllic childhoods and pine for their lost youth.  Me?  I was glad to leave the playground behind, and I don’t want to return.  The lunch aid isn’t coming.  We have to turn away from the childish blowhards telling us might makes right, get on the train before it derails completely, and be the grown-ups.  We may or may not be in the gifted program, but we’re smart enough to recognize the stench of fresh shit.

18 comments

  1. Oooh, a new post. I’ve missed them. I’m too on Infinite Jest! Hahaha. But my Kindle says I’m merely 4% through. The device taunts me. I don’t get the book either. The sentences are crammed with too many words, and unlike you, I don’t even know what the story is. I read a few pages at a time, then I can’t take it anymore so I go read something else. At this rate, it’ll be a decade or so before I finish it. Have you see the movie about the author?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alex, how nice to see you!! ❤ Thank you. Funny, that we're on the same novel. Of all the gin joints… 😉 I haven't seen the movie about Wallace, but I'd like to. Is it on Netflix, by any chance? I do think he was brilliant, and normally I'm happy to settle in for a long novel, but for me this didn't do it. I read what I read in dribs and drabs riding the trains, which worked for me–I needed to go slowly to follow the storyline. I gave up when I admitted that I wasn't going to "get" it.

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  2. Beautifully written. As an ex-New Yorker, your subway analogies brought back more than a few memories – fond and otherwise. Your post, while RIGHT ON, makes me worry, however.

    Can the people who voted for Trump even read? If they can, DO they? Do they have the attention span to get through ANY content of significant length? Can they follow basic logic? Understand analogies? Maybe something rah-rah aimed at American tweeters and texters might reach one or two of them who MIGHT change their votes when it counts?

    In any case, I hope that the Trump voters will fail to go to the polls in droves. I mean, it has l-o-n-g been the American way to get lazy when we think something is in the bag.

    I hope that articles like yours will inspire all of the *readers* among us that EVERY SINGLE VOTE MATTERS, in this election especially. I’m not ready to move to Europe!

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This makes me worry, too. I do believe people read, but I believe their hate trumps logic. He taps into that hatred and anger, holding these up as if they’re values to be proud of and shout from the rooftops. Sadly, too many respond, because they don’t care about the logic or consequences of voting someone like this into office. He’s been in their living room, offering a vicarious thrill with every “you’re fired” and crowning of Miss America. Much like the separation between church and state, the line between entertainment and news/politics continues to grow blurrier. Thank you for joining in, and yes, this is why I dragged myself out of my funk to blog–I believe we have an obligation to speak out. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You make good points, and I’m right with you. I also agree that we ALL have an obligation to speak out — encouraging those of us who aren’t consumed by hate to make sure they VOTE.

        As you know, my blog is Mental Health focused – I’m noodling a way to write my own article on this mess that will tie in and speak to my readership. I’ll link here when I figure out how to write it.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcome back, mrs fringe. We were both riding that train, I think, the one that didn’t seem to be going anywhere. . .

    Now you’re talking about that other train–The Crazy Train, right? Yesterday, I think it was, MSN online featured a Washington Post story, written by Robert Kagan, about Trump, the rise of Fascism, and how it’s happening here: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/this-is-how-fascism-comes-to-america/ar-BBtdvIH

    In part, Kagan wrote:
    We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.
    ——–

    In comparing Trump to Hitler, Kagan wrote: Whatever the problem, he could fix it. Whatever the threat, internal or external, he could vanquish it, and it was unnecessary for him to explain how.

    He’s right, this is exactly what Trump is saying, and the fact that the GOP, and the American public, is swallowing this crap and rallying behind the guy, the fact that he is actually going to be a candidate for the U.S. presidency, the fact that he might actually WIN…

    You’re right, mrs fringe. we have an obligation to get on that train and turn it around, because here it’s headed, where we’re headed, is NOT the place we want to go.

    -kk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t read that particular piece, kk, thank you. He is right, and I’m freaking terrified. Even if Trump is trounced on election day, he has offered voice and validity to the idea of America going backwards and embracing hatred.

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      1. Thing is, the citizens of this country who are embracing his shit are doing so blindly. He says he’ll fix everything, give them the country they want . . . and what they want is not the country I know and love. Not the country our forefathers envisioned. Not the country we tout: Land of Liberty, Justice for All. . .

        The idea that the Republican party/Democratic party/media are treating this man as a viable GOP candidate is ludicrous. Ludicrous. Trump’s interest is Trump. Period. He’s an immature, egotistical blowhard. The only reason people are rallying around him is that he’s a billionaire. If he wasn’t. . .

        But he is.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Unfortunately, while I agree that his money is part of the reason people like him, I don’t think it’s the only one, and certainly not the harmless one. He offers “easy” answers, and we’ve reached a point where our population wants it all to be easy. Get rich quick, quick remedies, simple solutions. It doesn’t matter that what he offers are lies, they sound “good.” Now add in the licenses he’s offered for blatant racism, misogyny, xenophobia in the form of “Make America Great Again.” A reality tv star, offering reality tv solutions. I enjoy a lot of reality tv (hey, I never claimed to be highbrow), but it ISN’T reality–just fun to imagine someone out there saying and doing outrageous things while in designer duds. But to represent us? Make decisions for us? Interact with other world leaders? Decide when/how we engage in war? No.

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  4. As someone who rode the Parisian subway for years, I relate with your train adventures.
    And with your views on politics. A few years back French voters re-elected Chirac only to push back the far right candidate. Not a glorious moment. Sometimes, however, bad is better than worst. I fear that we will face the same choice comes November. Awful that women cannot follow Hillary Clinton in a heartbeat, right? Like you I have more than mixed feelings. But considering the alternative…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. People can rally when faced to the raw truth. We must trust the intelligence of others in a meaningful and useful vote when the moment is there. Meanwhile it is freaking scary. Best to you.

        Like

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