The Distraction Game: What I’m Doing to Disengage from the Trump Presidency

Hey, Fickle Readers! This is my first official, written post for 2017, and I’ve been avoiding it for weeks now. In fact, I’ve been avoiding writing anything at all here because of the election. Like many, I was not pleased with the outcome of said election. I would say, in retrospect, I tried very hard not to be devastated, because I’ve lived through devastating elections in recent memory and I know I’m not strong enough to let yet another get to me the way those other disappointments did.

What I wish I could do is vow to stay away from news of the Trump <hurk> presidency for the next four years. I wish I could do this for a number of reasons. First, picturing and/or thinking about Trump in the White House makes me viciously, brutally, destructively angry. Just reading the news (let alone seeing his bloated chipmunk face and pompous, puny-fisted hand gestures) threatens to send me into a She-Hulk-like rage, where I tear at my clothes and go out and find something to smash.

Artist's rendition of one possible scenario.

Artist’s rendition of one possible scenario.

There’s also the fact that I don’t want my wrath against the government to rule my life the way it kinda did during the <urk> Bush/Cheney administration. Back then, I homed in on every lie, every idiocy, every legistlative abomination, and held it in my mind as I waited for the day when someone would finally notice and make the whole thing stop. Needless to say, for eight whole years, my mental perseverance did nothing. I don’t want to start fixating on Trump the same way (and I know myself–I will fixate) and have him destroy my peace of mind for years on end.

And yet, and yet. My Twitter feed is full of outrage and snark over the narcissistic craptocracy of Trump and his cronies, and I’ve found I can’t avoid peeking, reading, retweeting, and happily getting sucked in. Inaugural crowd size! Women’s March! Imaginary immigrant voter fraud! Mistreating Melania! Punching Nazis!!! How can an anti-Trumper like me not get into the spirit when it seems as though Trump has already pissed off huge swaths of the high-end snark-crafters who patrol the Internet?

Furthermore, ignoring the <hrp!> Trump presidency could have serious consequences for the country. I strongly believe that. If everyone who’s disgusted by Trump averts her eyes and goes off the grid, nothing about his wholesale destruction of the government will change. I don’t want to look back and remember how I sat on my ass and played video games while the U.S. collapsed. Not when a few mechanisms in our rusting democratic process still function and can still be operated by citizens to effect change.

So my overall strategy for dealing with the indefinite future is to find ways not to think of the future–or the present–all the time. I’m trying to cultivate new interests, new obsessions, and let them take me as far away as I need to go to prevent myself either from chewing off a limb or leveling some Republican lobbyist’s shi-shi Capitol Hill brownstone. (And I have been to Capitol Hill, and the brownstones there are beyond shi-shi.) Hopefully, I’ll be able to overcome my usual inertia and write about some of the new shiny objects now taking up my brain. Otherwise, I’ll continue my usual pattern of remembering I haven’t posted anything to my blog in forever and quickly digging up a halfway interesting iPhone photo. Y’all like chickens, right?

Happy 2017, everyone! Stay safe, and try to stay sane.

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Fickle as Donald Trump

Come on, admit it–you knew this one was inevitable.

It isn’t so much that he is a strict disciple of radical ideology, but rather that he is devoid of fixed principles, willing to do anything and everything to gain fame, fortune and power. He has an endless, consuming need for perpetual affirmation. This is a bully who just wants to be liked, a man-boy nursing a nagging internal emptiness. 

He is fickle and spoiled and rotten.

–Charles M. Blow, “Donald Trump, Terroristc Man-Toddler” (Article)

Yet Another Post on Gun Violence

Today was another day when I woke up to discover Americans had been shot.

Yet another day when police SWAT teams in army regalia were swarming American streets.

Yet another day when news outlets posted videos and pictures from witnesses, words from good Samaritans giving first aid and comfort to the wounded as they bled.

And so, as always, we’ll wait for the response.

And as always, we’ll be told by lawmakers that all Americans have the right to own guns, even suspected terrorists of any color. Even those who have expressed a desire to kill. They all have a right to carry a loaded weapon virtually anywhere.

Because at some point in the past, that became the American way.

I really, really want someone to re-evaluate what the American way is. Somehow, I don’t think this was the idea when those vaunted Founding Fathers carved out our democracy.

Somehow I don’t think they thought, we really ought to make sure everyone in the country has an insanely powerful gun, even if they have a grudge against our government, even if they have a history of violent behavior. Because that’s only fair.

Dear infinite, unknowable God, please please please do something. It’s apparent that no one on Earth has the power to stand up and do the right thing.

Throwback Thursday: Politics in 1982

I haven’t been posting a lot on this year’s election, mostly because I’m willfully ignoring it, mostly because the whole spectacle makes me queasy. I feel like ever since 2000, I’ve plunged myself in these roller-coaster elections and tried to influence the course of events with my willpower alone. Now the whole thing seems kind of a waste of time. I know who I’m voting for. No one and nothing will change my mind. And so, watching people I detest say detestable things in debate after debate seems masochistic in the extreme. I know a lot of people like the reality-show absurdity of the whole process, but I for one don’t enjoy watching horribly unqualified people bloviate and then having nightmarish imaginings of said people in the Oval Office. I don’t need the extra stress.

And yet sometimes, even when trying to avoid politics, I find a lovely moment in my fickle reading that manages to put everything in perspective. This passage comes from May Sarton’s journal At Seventy, written in 1982, and therefore does indeed bring with it that security that comes from knowing that everything that’s happening and is going to happen will do so from the safety of the past. You can be the judge as to how much things have changed since then:

There is never any depth in Reagan’s perceptions of the world. He behaves like an animated cartoon, wound up to perform futile gestures and careless witticisms. It made me feel sick when his reaction to the despair of blacks about this administration was to engineer the other day a visit to a middle-class black family who had been threatened five years ago by a burning cross. So the TV cameras were marshaled, and Reagan and Nancy were shown kissing the family one by one. He made a few remarks about “this sort of thing” not tolerable in a democracy. But what is not tolerable is such a cheap ploy. Meanwhile, forty-eight percent of young blacks are jobless, and the administration offers no help. The black family behaved with perfect dignity, but the whole false “scene” was shown up clearly for what it was, a public-relations media event, an insult to the black community, neglected and shoved under the rug.

No More Prayers. Action.

Today, I posted my reaction to what I thought was the latest mass shooting in the U.S. Later, I found out that two other mass shootings had taken place today: one in Savannah, where a gunman killed one woman and injured three men; the other, which happened practically as I was typing my fantasy of flaying the last shooter, in San Bernardino, California, where a small group of gunmen killed 14 people and injured as many as 17 others in a facility for people with developmental disabilities. This afternoon, there was also another shooting at a women’s clinic in Houston, although reports are murky as to whether the person shot and killed was a victim or suspect, or if the shooting was directly connected with a political agenda.

At some point I remember blogging (or possibly thinking about blogging) that if I tried to keep up with all the gun violence that happens in this country I’d spend all my time writing about it. Turns out my prediction was a lot more accurate than even I could have imagined.

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here in my little corner of the Internets. But I’m going to say this anyway: this has got to stop.

Guns are not technogadgets. Guns are not fashion statements. They’re weapons. And our country is not a firing range or a real-life movie set. Civilization isn’t sustainable if every ten minutes there’s some disgruntled individual out there preparing to open fire on a supermarket or a bank or a strip mall. Nor can we have a functioning society if we let everyone with a trigger finger have a gun. Too many guns means too many opportunities to use them. I think the well-publicized fact that there have been more mass shootings than days in the year this year bears that out.

I’m sure many of you Fickle Readers out there know of Chekhov’s gun, the rule of writing that says if you introduce a gun in a play, you’d better be prepared to fire it before the play is over. Well, now we’re discovering that if you allow unfettered access to guns that people will find occasion to fire them. Even if they don’t start out as “bad guys with guns,” they often wind up that way.

Remember Steven Jones, the Northern Arizona University freshman who killed one fellow student and wounded three others in an early morning fight? Jones was reportedly very familiar with guns and was even a certified safety instructor. Now he’s murderer, and even though he’s maybe not going to jail for the rest of his life because he’s young and white and grew up in a nice neighborhood, he’s still going to have a criminal record for gun violence following him for the rest of his life. Because of something he did at age 18.

You know who else is going to have gun violence following him for the rest of his life? Laquan McDonald. And Tamir Rice. And Trayvon Martin. And Michael Brown. That’s because all these people are dead because of guns. Or, more accurately, because “good guys with guns” decided to reach for a gun instead of a phone or a pair of handcuffs–or instead of maybe just trying to communicate with words. The good guys felt threatened, and a gun was within easy reach.

I could go on about suicides and murder rates, both of which go way up when guns are present. I think I’ve made my point, though. The way things are is unacceptable. The golden age of guns, guns guns! has to end. Now.

Dear God: Forgive Me for Wishing Inhuman Violence on the Planned Parenthood Shooter

 

[WARNING: The following includes scenes of gruesome bodily harm against rapists, murderers, and mundane terrorists. If you’d rather not look in the face of my blood-drenched, over-the-top anger, read no further.]

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[You have been warned.]

O Father God, please have mercy on me for being a merciless tyrant in my own heart. Forgive me for wanting to find the dullest, rustiest axe still impaled in the rotting corpse of a mother grizzly in the Rockies and with infinite slowness flay the fugly white beard off the face of the Planned Parenthood shooter. Forgive me for imagining myself removing his spleen with my teeth and a toothbrush. For picturing a horde of women trampling him wearing six-inch stiletto heels (the women, not the shooter, although he can wear whatever he likes in the face of the stampede). For slicing him head to toe into microscopic bits, then inventing a machine that will stick him painfully back together so I can start the process all over again.

O Mother God, please look with pity on my fiery mind that has no outlet to rage against the mass shooters of our country. I want no weaponry. I am a pacifist. Instead, I want your wrath and the most profound and hidden powers of the universe to transform myself into a flaming beast the likes of which Planned Parenthood “protesters” have never seen. Those men and women who ignite gasoline on the doorsteps of clinics and shriek in the faces of women trying to get health care? I want to gather them all in the most barren stretch of the desert and belch brimstone down upon them until they fall to their knees and doubt their own existence, let alone their perception of You.

And for the politicians who try to deny this despicable man, the shooter–a man who was not a “gentle loner,” as a New York Times reporter claimed, who beat his wives and was charged with raping a woman at knifepoint: I want those politicians to experience simultaneous shin pains and catastrophic attacks of diarrhea at their next debate to pay them back for ratcheting up the far right’s hatred of women, all to gain support for the primary election. How I wish I could pray to you, O Many-Personed God, to infest all of their clothing with fleas and all their mattresses with bedbugs. But I don’t believe in praying to You to damage Your creation, so I guess I’m stuck wishing for these things to happen.

And to the community of men and women, mothers and fathers, who lived with this latest Christian terrorist: I want them to be haunted by the eyes of the dead. I want them to realize that men (particularly white men in this country) become monsters because smaller acts of violence–stalking, adultery, a cuff to the wife’s chin every now and again–are left to slide. I want these people to take real accountability for their actions and stop forgiving hatred toward women because somehow women “deserve it.” I want mothers especially to figure out what sort of sons they want to raise and teach their sons to understand that they have no right to dominate anyone else’s body.

Forgive me for wishing pain and horror on all these people, O Unknowable God. Forgive me for getting sucked into their awful game.