“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Yes, I did just quote Nietzsche. I know. Pretty lame way to start a post. What is this, freshman philosophy class? But I can’t get this quote out of my head. And I think I finally figured out why. Bear with me.
I’ve taken some abuse over the last several days as nearly everyone in my immediate family—as well as my extended family—are Trump supporters. Facebook has been positively brutal lately. I posted a rather longwinded post there a few days ago, and the shit hit the proverbial fan. Thing is, it wasn’t even that outrageous or personal. It was kind of hopeful, actually. But, because tensions are high and egos are involved, it got ugly fast.
Let’s see, I unfriended two members of my extended family and unfollowed nearly everyone else. I canceled Thanksgiving this year. We are going to stay put and make our own meal. But it sucks. The whole thing sucks. And a few family members have said, “Get over it! Life is short. Don’t let this get in the way!” And they’re right. And it won’t get in the way forever. But for now? I, like many others, just need time.
Here’s the deal: I know most of my family members aren’t racist. Some are. That’s just the truth. But most aren’t. They are afraid of certain things; afraid of what they don’t understand. But they aren’t bad people. I would wager to say most people aren’t bad people. Most people are good. And most Trump supporters aren’t racist. But, and here’s the catch: they supported a racist, bigoted, misogynistic person. They supported a racist, bigoted, misogynistic person who then went on to appoint an anti-semite as his chief strategist. They supported a man whose pick for Vice President is pretty terrifying if you’re a woman.
And that’s the part I think many of us are having trouble coming to terms with. People we care very deeply about—people who care for us—stood behind a person who legitimized intolerance and hate.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that between November 9th and November 14th, 437 incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment have been collected. Some may say, “Well, the SPLC never collected incidents of hate like this before.” To which I might respond, “Well, the SPLC never had a reason to collect incidents of hate like this before.”
A common theme I see from Trump supporters is that Hillary Clinton supporters are acting like sore losers and crybabies (actual words used). We are told that we are spending too much time whining and not enough time supporting our now president-elect. We’re not being hopeful enough. We are being told to suck it up. What’s done is done. We have to accept it because the system is the system and he won fair and square. But that’s not really what’s happening here. It’s not about our inability to accept the outcome of who won. That’s not what’s causing this nagging headache I have had sitting behind my eyes since last Wednesday. That’s not what’s making me feel a coldness I haven’t felt in a long, long time.
I have accepted the reality: Trump is going to be our next president. I get that. He won fair and square and I’ve accepted that. But ultimately, I’m not upset that you won and I lost, I’m upset that from now on, I can’t overlook who you stood behind.
I attended a town hall meeting last night. I even got up to speak. I am not one to do such a thing. Throw myself into a room full of people I’ve never met and then stand at a podium and talk into a microphone? Hell no. Not me.
But I went. I overcame that fear and I went.
There were a handful of us from the public, but most everyone else held some type of office. It was pretty empty overall. Three of us from the public got up to speak. I went last.
I’m not going to reiterate everything I said, but I will say that I left even more inspired. Every single member of my local government lent me their ear. They made direct eye contact with me. Every single one of them spoke directly to me. They listened.
I implore you, go to your town hall meetings. Get the know the people who represent you. Ask them questions. Tell them your fears, your worries. Tell them what you would like to see changed. Tell them what they’re doing correctly. Tell them what they could do better. Thank them. And if they’re NOT doing what you want, tell them that. And then when the time comes, vote for someone else.
We need to become more active on a local level. I learned that from Bernie Sanders.
I know so little about what’s going on around me. It’s truly embarrassing. And it’s all my fault. I take responsibility for it. Democrats typically have terrible turnouts when it comes to local elections. We need to show up and we need to know who it is we’re showing up to vote for. I have been so bad at this. No more.
If you’re liberal and you live in a conservative town, go to your town halls. Demystify the fear you have of “the other”. If you’re a conservative, sit across the table with someone who is liberal. Other than a few very heated topics (abortion, gun ownership, etc.) we are also very similar. We have the same fears; we have the same concerns; we have the same basic needs.
Get off Facebook and actually TALK to people. More importantly, listen.
Do something that scares you.
What I did last night scared the shit out of me. I even told them as much. I started off by saying, “I’ll make this brief because, quite frankly, this terrifies me. Public speaking terrifies me. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I simply can’t remain quiet anymore. I need to get involved. I need you to help me.”
Today I’m going to call my local representative and ask that he NOT allow Bannon to hold any position at the White House. I can’t undo a Trump win, but I might have a say in whether a racist, antisemite works at the White House. I implore you to do the same. Here is the entire directory of the House of Representatives.
Don’t normalize this.
Use your voice.
I am about as anti-gun as they come. Friends and family know this. And since many members of my family are pro-gun, whenever the topic comes up, I usually admit straight up that I can’t have a rational discussion about guns because I am so completely opposed. That usually does the trick. And I’m not lying when I tell them this. It’s one of the few topics I can’t keep a rational head about. I just get so worked up, I stop making sense. It’s as if my brain won’t even consider the other side.
I liken my intense opposition toward guns to those staunchly opposed to abortion. You know how there is NOTHING you can say to a person who, at their very core, believes abortion is wrong? They see it their way, perhaps irrationally so, and you will never, ever change their mind? That’s me when it comes to gun ownership.
I have learned not to discuss it very often. And I realize that’s a bit of copout. But back when I did actually argue with people, nothing changed. I still remained staunchly opposed; they remained very much for; and both parties left the situation feeling agitated.
(To quote my previous post: What good can come from this? Probably not much.)
So, I don’t really talk about guns anymore. But I will say this here and now: if I could amend the U.S. Constitution, I would. I would change the hell out of the 2nd Amendment. I don’t agree that people should have access to the guns we’re capable of making today. I don’t believe people need more than a rifle for hunting. In my perfect America, guns (all but those used for hunting) would be a thing of the past. They’d be melted down and turned into playground equipment, new (electric!) cars, art, jewelry, anything that isn’t a gun.
The recent shooting in a Florida movie theater has me remembering why I became so opposed to guns so many years ago. I lived in DC at the time. Two “soccer moms” got into a massive fight while driving. (If memory stands, both were on the Beltway in Virginia.) Their road rage escalated to the point where both ended up on the side of the road. (I can’t remember if they got into an actual accident or simply wanted to duke it out one-on-one, but they pulled over.) Well, it ended with one of the soccer moms shooting the other. She lost her cool and, blink! just like that, ended someone’s life. (She basically ended her own as well.) That story haunted me for years. An otherwise calm, normal mother lost her shit and shot another mother. It seemed so… easy?
It pains me knowing that a man felt the need to bring a gun into a movie theater. Had he lived in a state where carrying a concealed firearm in public was illegal, chances are this 71-year-old father/husband/grandfather wouldn’t be spending the rest of his life in prison. And another father wouldn’t be dead. And a 3-year-old girl wouldn’t be without a dad. That’s the thing with guns: a quick, irrational reaction can leave us with a most final, tragic result. And I feel so sad for everyone involved including the shooter and his family.
We all lose our temper. I know I do. (Especially these days with all these surging hormones.) I have seen people get into fistfights on the subway. I have seen people fight in bars, restaurants, at birthday parties, soccer games, in line at Starbucks. People lose their cool. We all do. And when we do, we can only hope the other person isn’t armed. Because it’s so easy to get lost in that moment of pure rage and simply react. And a gun makes that outcome horribly final yet surprisingly easy to get to.
I loathe your guns. And your right to bear them shouldn’t trump my right to adamantly and loudly oppose your right to bear them.
I served Joe Paterno a grilled Sticky once. I worked as a waitress at The Diner. He came in one morning and sat at the counter. My coworkers excitedly pointed him out, “THAT’S JOE PATERNO! You have JoePa in your section!”
“Yeah. So?” I scoffed.
Back then, he was just a customer. I didn’t give a shit about football. The only reason I knew who he was at all was because of hundreds of cardboard JoePas I’d seen in windows all over Penn State. I didn’t care about football at all. I only wanted Penn State to win because of the tips. Sad, drunk fans left terrible tips.
Joe was just another customer.
The Penn State Thing.
When it happened, when everything unfolded, my emotions were all over the place. At first I was in shock. Then that wore off and I became obsessed. I read everything. I dug up Sports Illustrated articles from 1998 looking for hints, something. I read it all. And I tried to write about it. The more I read the more I wanted to write about it. But I bit my tongue. There would have been some pretty intense posts had I let myself write about it last week. First of all, I would have stated that I don’t agree with the firing of Joe Paterno. And I would have backed up why and that would have started a few fights. But I knew it was too soon. I knew that I would have written something I would have regretted. My emotions were raw footage; I needed an editor first.
Things have settled down a bit since then.
But not before I canceled everything.
I was supposed to meet up with a friend and her new baby. I canceled. I was supposed to meet a few moms at the playground. Canceled that too. I was supposed to go out for drinks. Canceled. I even canceled a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t muster up the energy. I didn’t want to see anyone. I wasn’t going to be very good company. So, I quit. Everything.
Last Thursday night, as I combed through even more articles and (stupidly) through comments sections, something finally occurred to me: I am depressed.
I don’t live with depression. I have written that before. I go through ups and downs like most people. My downs are manageable, and they don’t come out of nowhere; there is almost always a catalyst. My miscarriage was a catalyst. Our move to San Francisco, another. My infertility, yet another massive catalyst.
So last Thursday when I realized I was experiencing depression, I knew right away the catalyst was The Penn State Thing. But I couldn’t figure out why it was hitting me so very hard.
A Bit Of History
I moved to State College from Raleigh, North Carolina when I was 15-years-old. I didn’t want to move even though we’d been moving my whole life. I can safely say now that I was headed down a very wrong path in Raleigh, but I didn’t want to leave. I considered State College boring, lame, pathetic, loser-ish—all normal angsty teenage things. No one worth a damn could possibly live in a town called State College. And who names a town STATE COLLEGE? What a stupid name for a place to say you’re from.
I met a boy. A boy who broke the shit out of my heart. REM helped me get over that.
I got a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I got fired a month later.
I made some friends. We’d drive to the Altoona Salvation Army, load up on Taco Bell and cheap cardigans. Nirvana’s Bleach was our soundtrack.
I got a job at The Diner where I would continute to work for 8 years.
I graduated from high school, something I probably wouldn’t have done had we stayed in Raleigh. Moving to State College saved my ass in so many ways. Who knows what would have happened to me had we stayed in Raleigh. I’ll leave it at that.
I was accepted into Penn State. I declared Philosophy as my major. (Ha!)
I got a second job at The Nittany Lion Inn. Eventually I got promoted and started working more important, smaller gatherings for high-ranking Penn State officials. (Incidentally, I waited on a few of the men involved in last week’s scandal.)
I declared Graphic Design as my major.
I made a lot of friends. Friends I still call friends.
I could sit here and recall every last memory, they are endless, but that’s like telling people about a dream. Boring. And I’m probably no different from anyone else when it comes to memories. But the backdrop for my memories are very much intertwined with the fact that they took place in State College. And at some point during my twenties, after graduating from Penn State, discovering (and loving) college football, and getting a “real” job, I realized something: State College is where I am from.
State College, y’all. What a dumb name for a town, right? Even the talking heads from last week’s media frenzy said it with confusion—like, who names a town State College?
I don’t know, Talking Head. But that’s where I’m from.
The Scandal and Its Aftermath
News broke. Several boys were sexually abused by a Penn State football coach. This, while not yet proven in a court of law, is likely the case. I’ve read the 23-page indictment. I believe it to be true.
Then more news came out about who may have known what and how they didn’t do enough (or nothing) to stop it. Several people were fired. Others quit. It was a shitstorm, a State College shitstorm. And the media ate it up! When 1,000 Penn State students rioted in downtown State College, the media went crazy for it even though that number represents the smallest sliver of Penn State’s student body. Suddenly every student, past and present, was guilty of some of the most heinous crimes known to man. Online, people began referring to Penn State as “Pedophile University”. People demanded the football team forfeit their upcoming game even though those kids have nothing to do with any of it. People slammed the whole lot of us. All of Penn State was guilty of something. Anything. Whatever. It didn’t matter. Fuck Penn State!
Or so it seemed to this wounded alumnus.
Twitter exploded with finger-pointing. Everyone had something to say about it. Those involved in the scandal were guilty as charged. So much for innocent until proven guilty. Hang the lot of them! For many, Paterno was the worst of all because of his allegiance to kids, because of his otherwise stellar history. He had a lot further distance to fall and a name.
Believe me, I don’t blame anyone for reacting with such intense outrage; Sandusky, and the people who allegedly did nothing to stop him, warrant your anger. I get it. I really do. It’s when you add it all up, and start to see every reaction as one big one, well, that’s when it looks really ugly.
And I couldn’t escape it.
Here’s the deal, State College has been our idealistic little town for a decade and Penn State plays a huge part in that ideal. Toby Joe and I wanted to raise our boys there. I very nearly got a job at Penn State two years ago. If it hadn’t been for the fact I would have to relocate from New York City, it would have been mine. State College has been on our radar for as long as we’ve been together. It has been our town, our little slice of heaven, an ideal. Hell, we’ve even been carrying around our dead cat’s ashes because (and I quote), “State College is his home. That’s where he’d want to finally rest.” (Go ahead! Commence with the eye-rolling!)
Basically, no matter how bad things got elsewhere, we always had State College. We knew we could make it in State College. It was safe. It was home. Even though in the back of our minds we knew we’d probably never return, it was home.
On Tuesday, a friend asked me how I was feeling about the whole scandal, putting aside my emotions regarding the crimes committed and the firing of Joe Paterno (which, I will go on the record with saying, I don’t agree with) I told her it feels like my town was bombed. My idealistic hometown no longer exists. The place I wanted to return to, the place I wanted to move my boys to, is gone. Just like that. Gone. And every time I think to explain my feelings, the thoughts come out sounding laughable, absurdly so. It’s a town, after all. Just a town. Why so dramatic?
I don’t know. But I do know it’s egotistical. This terrible story has nothing to do with me yet I’m making it personal somehow. And perhaps I’m putting State College on a pedestal. But it’s hard not to when it’s home to so many of my best memories. And doesn’t everyone have someplace they fantasize about when times are tough?
State College was my safe-haven even if it wasn’t.
In past last two weeks, I have received five emails from different business located in State College begging me, a prior customer, to come visit. Last night, I got one from my high school letting me know my 20-year reunion is next spring and that I should plan ahead! Because rooms fill up. These emails just made me feel worse. Because I know they are being sent by people who are facing unknown hardships. They are uncertain about their future. And they have their tails between their legs because their hometown was emotionally leveled. A place most people hadn’t even heard of before last week is now known as one of the ugliest, most horribly secretive places in America.
I’m even mourning the businesses of Penn State.
It feels like my town is gone, y’all. And Sandusky had a lot to do with it. But the media frenzy is to blame as well. State College is wounded and it will take years, maybe decades, for it to regain what it’s lost. The town will suffer. The university will take a huge hit. The football team is as good as done… at least for a while.
This is far from over. And my skin is thin right now. And the town I’ve been idealizing all these years, the safe place to raise my boys, it’s not there anymore. And that breaks my heart a little bit. I feel a little empty.
I read this article on CNN this morning and I’m left pondering something about Mississippi’s law regarding murdering a pregnant woman and being charged for two murders.
If the murder victim was not yet visibly pregnant and the killer had no idea the woman was pregnant, does that still count as taking two lives in terms of murder?
CNN visitors: Please read the comments before jumping to conclusions about how I personally feel regarding this case and issue. Also, please make sure you understand what it is I’m asking.
Forgive me ahead of time for not posting a Mom It Down today. I have had the flu for almost three days; eating has been difficult, baking and cooking even more so. I promise to do something awesome next week, assuming I’m not dead.
Speaking of good health (or lack thereof), my question today is one that Toby and I have been asking one another for years: How do people who work for themselves cover health insurance? How can someone running a small business afford the premiums today? How do you do it? What does a monthly breakdown look like to you? Do you have deductibles? Is it just you or do you have kids?
If you have minute and you happen to be an independent contractor or you run your own business, please take a minute and discuss your health insurance. I find it troubling that in a nation founded by independent, hard-working people individualistic entrepreneurs are becoming a dying breed largely due to the cost of healthcare.
So, how do you do it?
It’s a simple question, I just want to know what you think of when you hear (or read) the word feminism. What type of woman do you consider a feminist? When does feminism rear its head in your everyday life? I’m not looking for text book definitions, because we all know that terms tend to change once they are applied to our actual lives.
I realize I’ve brought somethig like this up before, but this is for a different purpose and I’d love to hear what you have to say. If you dislike leaving comments, please feel free to email me. Also, feel free to do so anonymously. (Anything goes, my friends. Don’t hold back.)
Thank you in advance!
Here in New York we weren’t allowed to hit the polls early. I’m anticipating long lines tomorrow. I’m wondering how other stay-at-home-moms are doing it (or have done it). Do you have a story to tell? Ideas? Suggestions? I have to bring Em with me. And while I’m hoping he behaves himself as long as we’re in line, I can’t promise anything.
Perhaps Election Day should become a national holiday, so that whomever goes to work for a living can stay home while the primary caregiver gets out to vote. While employers face charges if they don’t give their employees time off to vote, babies don’t have to follow the law.
If they can’t give the nation the day off, maybe they should have a “Fast Track” option for those of us with toddlers who really don’t enjoy being confined to a stroller for very long. Not that I’m looking for special treatment or anything. ;]
Edited to add: Early voting could go nationwide. Maybe in four years, this won’t be an issue for SAHMs and Dads after all.