Losing Hope

I’ve found that people in my mother’s generation, the Boomers, can’t usually remember the first presidential election they participated in. I find that interesting, since the people I’m most often in political arguments with are Boomers. I have inferred from these two things that 1, Boomers weren’t terribly political people until they got older, and 2, that Boomers, above all else, are characterized by a desire to talk.

I did the math, and my mother turned eighteen just a month before the Nixon v. McGovern election. I know that she voted for McGovern. I know this because her father was a Democrat, and therefore she registered as a Democrat.

When I first learned this, I thought it was terrible. I couldn’t imagine voting for someone just because my mom did. I have thoughts, values, and opinions that are dramatically different from my mother, so often our political opinions are quite different. It took a while for me to think about why that was so awful, though. It’s because I had the time. I had the luxury of time to investigate the candidates. I googled their positions on topics important to me. I wasn’t being pressured into getting married right out of high school. I wasn’t a minority for not having ended up pregnant in high school. I had options and free time, and I had been encouraged to know and understand the world around me. My mother wasn’t privy to ANY of that.

When my mother was eighteen, she was graduating high school, getting her first divorce, figuring out where to live so she didn’t have to move back in with one of her parents, had no idea what she was supposed to do with her future, AND her senior year was sullied by riots and violence caused by the hostility of desegregation. In the small city my mother was raised in, it was the norm for girls to get married in high school, get knocked up, and never finish high school, much less go to college. This was doubly true when kids were scared of going to school because of the rioting… people could get killed. My mother had gotten married, but insisted on finishing high school. She was also not on board with being barefoot and pregnant while relying on some good ol’ boy from her hometown to take care of her. My mother was, and still is even if she’d never admit it, a freethinking feminist.She didn’t know that at the time, of course… and she really didn’t want ME to be one, oddly enough.

I’m fortunate that my high school career was pretty boring. I went to an a public school in a nice neighborhood (even if we didn’t live in that nice neighborhood), with a mixture of races, creeds, and religions, and never had to think twice about it. I was literally so fortunate that I didn’t even understand that I was going to have to decide what to do with my life until like my second year of college. Even now I kick myself for living in that dream world… but my academic life is a post for another time. My point is that I lived a life of security, and so when my first election year came up, I was prepared AND I was excited.

I guess it helps that my first election year was the year of hope. Obama spouted off about hope a lot that year, and while I knew that hope was a fickle thing that could leave at any time, I was excited to be part of something so much bigger than myself. My friends were equally excited. One even had an Obama party for election day. That win was amazing. It was a win for hope, and it was a win that put the first black president into office. (I am aware of the strangeness that mom’s first election was marred by the violence of desegregation and mine was highlighted by the election of the first black president… if this were a work of fiction, that would be a genius plot device.)

This election was a joke, and it took a lot away from me. Actually, the whole campaign season was a joke, with half the country backing a candidate that didn’t even win the party vote, and the other half backing a caricature depiction of what every country in the world sees America as: a racist, stupid, entitled fuck. I was legitimately ashamed of being American this year. (Although, Australia also had political catastrophes this year worthy of laughing at… but the world doesn’t have all eyes on Australian government.)

I was so sure, so very sure, that the American people wouldn’t let me down. Maybe a candidate like Ted Cruz could have garnered enough votes to win. He’s still a ludicrous Republican with no idea how the average American lives, but he’s a legit politician with a sense of decorum and people watching what he says so he doesn’t shout, “KILL ALL THE (insert pretty much anything that isn’t a cis, hetero, white man here)” from the rooftops. Surely, I thought, no one was REALLY going to vote for Trump, though. I mean, last time he ran for office he was laughed out of the election before the primaries. Much to my dismay, and true to form, America let me down.

Even before we get into how the American electoral system let me down, America let me down. The fact that there was ANYONE in the country, my country, that could listen to this bigot talk and not hate him was beyond me. The idea that there are people in the world that could back someone with his history, with his mouth, with his blatant disregard for the courtesy of lying to the American people about what you stand for just to save face… This man isn’t a Republican who is against abortion and for religion, and I’m mad because his idea of America is more “traditional” and less “politically correct” than mine. This is a man that scared other Republicans. This is a man that bad-mouthed people in his own party with blatant disregard. This is a man who had pending legal actions against him for rape. This is a man that has no political experience. This is a man that  This is a man that seems to have a weird bromance with the would-be dictator of Russia. (I know he’s the president, but if he could swing a dictatorship he would do it…)

I found myself wondering if the fear and sickness I felt was common after losing an election year. Would I have been scared of McCain or Romney? No, I decided. Palin made me nervous, but I wasn’t SCARED of her politics… just her idiocy. Did people feel this way when Bush was elected? A lot of scary things happened while Bush was in office, but no was the answer I got from those who voted in that election. They’d been disappointed, sure, but not scared.

It wasn’t until the election results were finalized that I understood how the electoral system had failed me. I’d never seen the popular vote not match the electoral vote before. I didn’t realize that was a thing that could happen, though I was sure I learned that in Discrete Math back in high school. Furthermore, when presented with all the information, I was sure that the electors would HAVE to represent the people. The electoral college was created as a barrier between the American people and a bad choice, a last ditch effort at protecting the public. At the bare minimum it should act to represent the people, right? Apparently… no.

2016 has been a dumpster fire of a year. It wasn’t until now that I realized just what it’s taken from me, though. It stole my hope.

I’ve lost interest in the government. If the actual popular vote means nothing, then why DID I vote? If the government, built on hear its people, doesn’t give a fuck about the people, then what freedoms can the American public actually claim they have?

In what world is it okay that every politician in the game is BEGGING the American people to give Trump a chance? BEGGING they not riot or revolt… BEGGING that we not start killing each other… and yet Trump isn’t begging his supporters for shit. Even when they wage domestic terrorism against the LGBTQIA+ Community, and the Black Community, the Latino Community, the (insert anything not cis, hetero, white male here) Community he remains… like the stone faced villain of some bedtime story meant to scare children.

It’s weird to feel so disillusioned, and so afraid. I never knew I put so much faith in my fellow Americans until they let me down. I never considered the holes in the electoral system until it spat in the face of the people.

I know a lot of people who already felt this way about America, but I never understood the reasoning. No, one vote doesn’t win an election, but until now I always thought that my vote still meant SOMETHING. I felt like it was important, even if it just got lumped into a pile with the others. Now, when I think about it all I feel empty… dirty even, for being so naive. It’s not that I thought America was the greatest country in the world… I just… I thought… I thought we we safer than we are.

A war hasn’t been fought on American soil since we fought ourselves. People don’t understand the security in that. I’m scared for the next eight years. I’m scared of what can be taken from me. I’m scared of what might happen to people I care about. I’m scared that the choices of a single, stupid fucking man could take me to an early grave… I’m scared of my life turning into a Young Adult novel set in dystopian, post-apocalyptic America…. I don’t have the gall to be a Katniss. I don’t have the heart to be a Tris. I am just numb to anything that isn’t fear when I think about our futures…

This is a feeling I will never forgive my government for.

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An Open Window

For the past month and a half, I have been miserable. Every single day has been harder than the last. I’ve tried to ride it out. I’ve tried to be recklessly optimistic about it. I’ve tried push it down into a tight little diamond, which has just resulted in me getting an ulcer. The past month and a half I have narrowly dodged a complete nervous breakdown, and last night while wide awake at midnight, it came to a head.

I am not an overwhelmingly clean person. I collect junk, I don’t dust very often, and there is so much pet hair in this house, my lungs are probably coated in it. Irony is aware of this, and that is why when I am very anxious and can’t sleep, I clean. Last night I was awake panicking about going to work today. It was a bad panic attack and I decided to clean the bathroom. I stepped in a puddle. I have a very old dog, coming up on 15 years old, so accidents happen. I cleaned it up, but just minutes later I stepped in it again. The dogs avoid me when I stress clean, because I cry and make strange noises when I panic, so in my tiny bathroom I knew this was some kind of leak. I found it. The toilet was leaking from the base.

With my last bit of rational mind, I turned the water off and drained the bowl and tank. I called my mom to let her know I’d need a plumber, and to ask her to help with the cost. I hate admitting that, but as someone fortunate enough to have a parent that will still help my ass, I’m also not above asking for the help. I’d needed to call one before winter, anyways, because my water wasn’t getting as hot as it should… She agreed they could look at both, to which I thanked her and then had a complete breakdown on the phone. She told me to go to bed.

So a couple plumbers came out today and fixed me up. It took most of the day and cost $800. The long and short of it is that my hot water heater needed new heating elements because of the mineral deposits in the water, and the toilet… Well, the guy that installed it didn’t use a wax seal or seal it correctly, so it’s been leaking into my downstairs ceiling for a while. Also, there was shit under my toilet… Because the seal wasn’t lining up, so these nice men got to clean up my human waste and I got to pretend that this didn’t make me want to die.

Meanwhile, my mom was at work pitching an idea to the boss. She needs help, but no one in the office can help her. I am a rare gem, I guess. So, without telling bossman that I wanted to die and hate my new position, she pitched to get me back. She succeeded and I will now be the office manager.

Few things have ever made me happy cry. In fact, I can’t name something that has until today. I, on the brink of mental breakdown, cried with happiness at the news I was being released from the fallout of my choices. Fortunately, it’s not a move backwards, but even if it was I would take it. I would sit next to the printer I hate more than spiders and gladly listen to it slowly drive me insane just to be back to what I know. Fortunately, it’s a move up, really. I’m very excited.

Once I got the news, it was like the weight of all my mistakes were lifted. I was mostly useless after the plumbers left. I was just so relieved. I cried, I laughed, I got Chipotle, and I took a nap, after scrubbing my bathroom floor enough that you could eat on it. I had to get the feces bacteria to die. I am still unsettled and I’ve washed the floor about fifteen times…

I’m sad that I didn’t make it in finance. I wanted to, but even if so,eine had shown me what I was doing and I’d gotten proper training, I’m just not comfortable selling. I understand having to make a profit, but I feel bad about it. Lol. I also hate interacting with customers. Our customers are often unpleasant.

Once we get me a desk and a computer, it’s all in place.

They are hiring an experienced finance person to replace me. With Carlos gone there’s really no reason for me to babysit paperwork, and the two folks we have are very meticulous, so I don’t think we will have problems. I’m just so happy to be going back to my desk with my list of duties and organization. I can listen to music and help people, and really I’m very good at that.

I’m fortunate enough to have seen the floor and how it is. The people were pretty okay, except Carlos, who I still want to punch for leaving me with so much shit work to do. While this has been one of the worst experiences in my eleven years of working for the store, I’m glad I got to see another perspective. I think it will help me later in.ife and often when trying to communicate with the sales floor. I never thought it would be so different.

So yes, today was terrible, but tomorrow will be better. It has to be, and there is so much hope now. Hope for a better future. I’m really looking forward to all the things I will learn and showing that this is where I really shine.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear the GM expressed concern that he was taking away the opportunity I asked for. I don’t agree with his whole look on things, but it’s nice to know that he wanted to be sure I knew about the negotiations before he said yes.

My ego is a little hurt that I didn’t cut it, and that I had to have my mom help me out of my choices. It feels really juvenile. Still, I think a big part of growing as a person is knowing when to deal with the consequences of your choices, and knowing when to throw in the towel. It’s ok to ask for help, and I often forget that. People might be made to suffer, but you are in more control of that than you realize. Life is not short, but it’s also worth not wasting.

As I close this door on my sales floor experience, I am reminded what people of faith often say: When God closes a door, he opens a window. Idunno about God, but I found me an open window, and I’m going to throw myself from this burning building and see if I can fly. If I can’t, at least I know who is there to catch me when I fall.