I got pissed off today at the Obama campaign in my town of Lafayette, Colorado. I noticed there were McCain & Co. signs all over the place around town but no Obama campaign signs. I volunteered to go around putting some up. The response was "signs don't vote". And "good luck on getting some voter registrations done today". Ok.
I forwarded the whole exchange to the national campaign and asked if the lame no-sign policy was a local one or a national one? Michael Moore was right - liberals are too disorganized and lazy (looked for the sound bite but didn't find it. I'm paraphrasing.) They further pissed me off by creating "voter guides" (which my husband spent his hard-won free weekend time to deliver to 70 households) that tell you to vote "yes" or "no" on each referendum. Fuck you! Tell me why you think that, please.
Yeah, I'll find my own damn information. Television ads don't buy cars, either, do they? And bad perceptions of democrats don't vote either, I imagine. Well that's good, because you guys are creating lots of them.
Maybe my mother was right - she thought by the time I hit 40 I'd finally turn Republican. (Pffft - do you know me *at* *all*?????) Today, I wondered - maybe I should look around a bit. What I found is that liberals and conservatives (at the least the vocal ones on the web) are pretty consistently obnoxious. I found the cons a bit more obnoxious than the libs, overall, but that's because I agree with the libs more often. Generally, liberals seem to have some compassion. I think most conservatives have compassion, but they don't show it as much for people they don't know. (A line from one Republican site: "9/11 - Never Forget, Never Forgive". Ok, good, because for a minute there I was going to confuse you guys with actual Christians.) If it wasn't for the social conservatives, Republicans might stand a chance with me, but that is not the case in the current climate. Think abortion is murder? Then please, share your views about why but don't freakin' legislate it. I had an abortion in my early 20's. I would be hard-pressed to ever recommend one to someone else - I think it is a harsh way to deal with a pregnancy and if I had to do it over again, I would have chosen differently. But I will never vote to make it illegal. A great anti-abortion campaign would be "Get educated about your choices. You live with your decision for the rest of your life." If we continue to educate women on the pros and cons of their choices, I believe we will continue to see the abortion rates go down.
In the end, I don't know that I like any of us very much during election season. We become so polarized that it is impossible to hear each other. It's like a big, huge freakin' bad marriage. I can't believe this is the best we can do. I don't even know myself - I get pissed at both sides - how can I stop doing that? One thing I am going to do is go back to being registered as 'independent'. It better represents my point of view, although about 99% of the time I will vote Democratic.
I read a piece in the NY Times the other day about "waiting for schadenfreude". As in, now that the super-rich Wall Street boys are crashing, are the rest of us going to enjoy it somehow? They've made us feel like failures for years, apparently. I know what she is saying, yet, it isn't the Wall St gang that causes me to feel like a failure. I was never about the money. I mean, I love having some money. But I don't need more than one house or to have millions in stocks or whatever it is. And I don't hate people who have that. I have a very close friend who is quite wealthy and is incredibly generous. I appreciate her generosity, and have enjoyed stays at several of her houses.
No, I feel like a failure for not having found true meaning in my work. I feel like a failure for not having achieved any sort of body of work to be proud of - like music, art or writing. I feel like a failure for not taking a stand - if I think the US way of life tends toward bullshit, what I am doing about it? What am I willing to give up? Or to build? I've worked for universities my entire adult life. I believed in higher ed for the longest time. I don't even know if I do anymore. It's fine for some people, but I wonder if it isn't better to learn a trade, and be useful to other people by doing it? What has my trade become...management?? What a fucking disappointment I must be to God.
I had times over the years where I would listen to people talking about their stocks and all that and wonder if I'd missed the boat somehow. Was it really all about money and I was just an idiot for not seeing that? I usually decided that I didn't think so.
I suppose what we have here is the classic mid-life crisis. I am buying the moral equivalent of a sports car by continuing to keep myself on the thinner side, dying my hair and covering my aging skin with foundation. I'm having a hard time accepting that I've lived this long, and not done what I thought I would have. What did I think I would have?
First, I was going to help people with music therapy. I majored in it and then dropped out of the University of Georgia after three pretty miserable (there were a few bright spots) years as a music major. I had had recurrent depressions, a bout of mono and some horrific compulsive eating and bulimia. I still wanted to be useful and help people. So, I was going to save poor people from suffering. I volunteered as an overnight staff person every Sunday night at a homeless shelter in New Jersey. I was a VISTA Volunteer. As a VISTA, I did community organizing in Iowa, of all things. I stayed on as a staff person for another year after my VISTA year was up. We were rivals with ACORN (take that, Obama!). I later wrote a paper in grad school about the weirdness of community organizers competing with each other. I was still struggling with my bulimia and my depressions. Pretty crippling stuff, really. Had a lame suicidal overdose and wrist-slashing episode that landed me in the hospital for a week.
I left Iowa and eventually returned back east. I didn't have the courage to go back to school, at first. Still struggling with bulimia, I worked at a large-size woman's clothing store for a few years (The Better Half). It was a good job for me in a few ways. Helped me come to terms with myself at the time. Also still struggling with recurrent depression, my dad hooked me up with a psychiatrist. He helped me get straightened out a little bit. I went back to college as a night student and did very well, at Montclair State University. I developed a love for sociology, partially because I did pretty well with it. I was also in my 20's and living right outside NYC. I had some trauma (a rape), some drunk nights, some stupid dates, and some other crappy experiences with men. I went on to study poverty in grad school but did not figure it out, despite working with William Julius Wilson and getting a thank you in his book. Which makes me seem more important than I ever really was. I thought I was going to have a Phd. But I eventually realized I didn't really have the passion for academia that I needed to have for that. I did pass my prelims, though.
My experience in school and with organizing made me think I could be more effective working from the 'inside' of an actual company or institution. I had also developed a passion for computers. I seemed to have a knack for it. I went to work in student financial aid, which was my way of dropping into social work. That was ok - after a couple of years I got tired of the people side and moved over to the systems side of things and taught myself everything. I got pretty good at it. I wrote a system in Basic that was one of the first electronic data transmission system in the federal financial aid industry. I had an opportunity to move to Colorado and took it. I spent the next 15 years working in systems and operations in student financial aid. I believed in what I was doing, which was pretty nice. Over the years, I got my overeating, bulimia and depressions to a level that was manageable, with the help of medication and some therapy. Ok, lots of therapy. I wasn't always happy at work, but at least I could rationalize that my suffering was going toward a good end. I felt like I was trying to make the bureaucracy less horrible for students. But I kept moving up and eventually moved out of financial aid into a bigger systems job. While I did a good job mastering that particular position, my university was moving on to buying a new student system. I have never found the right place for me on this big, giant project. I flamed out miserably in one position - something I had rarely done before in the past. I'm currently trying to tread water and am not sure I'm even doing that. And tomorrow I get to go back and do it some more. It feels like I moved up too high and I can no longer really be useful. A friend of mine tried to talk me out of the promotion, saying that I wouldn't be happy not being hands-on anymore. I wonder about that a lot.
I starting diving back into music, which has been fun, but it isn't going to be a career move. On the positive side, my playing has greatly improved! Along the way, I was diagnosed with MS which has not helped anything at all. Much of my energy these days is spent trying to figure out how to have more energy. I had a terrible episode this spring and have been working part-time under the FMLA since then. I filed for disability because I just couldn't imagine that I could keep doing my director job full-time. I have had increasing cognitive trouble and fatigue over the years. I was naive, in that I didn't realize how vicious the disability insurance company was going to be. I need to decide if I am going to fight them. I wasn't asking for full disability - I'm asking for 50%. I'd like to keep working at something part-time. I couldn't believe some of the things they stated in their response (not that they sent it to me, of course. My neurologist's office had to read it to me.) Apparently, I'm also a failure as an MS patient. I've been "out of compliance" (because I didn't stay on a drug that made me suicidally depressed - thanks Rebif!! Or bruised beyond repair with a nasty reaction to the nightly self-injection - thanks Copaxone!!! Or caused my immune system to be even more on the fritz and encourage UTI's which then cause flare-ups - thanks Novantrone!!! I've now been on the controversial and occasionally life-threatenting Tysabri for 14 months - how's that for compliance, you jerks??) Also, my symptoms are inconsistent. Hey, anybody at "The Standard" understand MS?? I get that it is their job not to give me disability. "We give you the confidence to dream", says their web site. I dream of a day where I live in a world that has compassion and gets what it means to have MS and try to manage a life.
I am raising two children with my husband. Most of time, I don't feel like a failure in that regard. We've have had our share of challenges, to be sure. My teenage daughter was a colicky baby and is now a colicky teenager whose grades aren't so hot - that gives me grounds to feel like a failure. Although, not all of them are horrible. My son is dyslexic, and is in a special school that has taught him to read. That is a wonderful thing. I wonder if my daughter has a touch of that dyslexia but I didn't see it because it wasn't severe enough. I need to figure out how to get her whatever it is that she needs.
I nearly failed at marriage. Twice, I moved out of the house to live on my own. I thought of it last night, when I went to see the film "Ghosttown" with Ricky Gervais. In the end, the film turned out to be a love story. I don't like love stories. I don't like love stories because they usually end at what is actually the beginning of the real relationship. Shit, anyone can fall in love. Yeah, it's groovy and everything but - big deal. Show me how you enjoy staying in the relationship for a lifetime and then I might like your movie. (I thought Gervais and a few of the other actors were very funny and very good.) Ozzie and I somehow have worked very hard to keep ourselves together in spite of some severe hurdles, which include me moving out of the house. We both stopped drinking. We learned how to be kind to each other. We really did a lot of work. I have a lot of respect for Ozzie for how far he has come. I don't know if I've come as far as he has.
The failures of Wall Street at the moment don't make me feel any better or worse about myself. I feel for people who are struggling, whoever they are. (Unless they are the one currently pissing me off!) In the end, we are all humans. We are not perfect. But we always think everyone else should be (like me and the Lafayette Democrats). It's hard to stop judging everyone else's imperfections. I caught a glimpse into how God - the Universe - the Divine might actually view us in the HBO show John From Cincinnati. I watched the DVD's recently of its one and only season. I love that show. It reminded me that what I call God (you don't have to), views us with love, not judgement. God wants us to heal, and to succeed in loving. For those of us that grew up believing that God was a mean, nasty judging thing, and that the job of parents is to criticize, it's an interesting concept to think that maybe that isn't the case. I have learned to love God, although I don't love religion. I have tried to choose nurturing vs critical parent whenever possible in my own parenting, but I don't always succeed. Having a teenager makes that harder than ever. She just wants, wants, wants and wants and rarely gives. I know it is a stage. I know that somewhere in there is the little girl I used to know. Some days, however, it just isn't fun. I think a reason I'm not a complete failure is that I have had some angels visit me along the way. And by angels I mean a few human beings who wandered into my life who've made an extreme difference. That's another blog entry, I think.
I suppose that giving up all the foods I have been addicted to for 30 years or more is part of what is not fun anymore as well. I am a bit of a walking dry drunk at the moment, I think. I miss my food - it was my cushion against the harshness of life. And, the critical-parent voice in my head says "oh, your life isn't harsh at all compared to most peoples". Thanks for the support, critical-parent-voice. I wish you would figure out that I respond much better to love and nurturing. As do, I believe, most humans. Which is why I am a liberal. Which is why I will probably buy a bunch of Obama signs and put them up in Lafayette. Because while signs don't vote, I think they give the appearance of representing opinion. I think we need to show that we have an opinion, whatever it is :-). Mine is that the current administration has done more to ruin our country than any one before it. I am not interested in continuing to give their party the power.
Mitch Yost should get back in the game.