Punishment

We had our primary yesterday. In Ohio you can get either ballot, you just tell the poll worker you want the Republican one or the Democrat one. Up till the very second I said Democrat I thought I might ask for the Republican one. Because I am scared as hell about Trump. I thought it might be more useful to vote against Trump than vote for anyone. Luckily Kasich took our Republican primary.

It’s funny to be back in Ohio, where we don’t have leather parades and there are actual Republicans who are shitty around. The liberals in San Francisco were so smug and self-congratulatory and SO RICH I sort of started hating Democrats. But in Ohio we have actual Republicans- Boss Republicans who will hint strongly you should vote Republican to keep your job, as recently happened to an acquaintance of mine. I’m in a city ensconced in many social circles of progressives, so sometimes I can forget the greater political context of this state.

But oh how I love this state. I love this state so much. I love our cities, I love our weird neighborhood pockets of eastern europeans and puerto ricans and african-americans and appalachians, from when everyone worked at a plant or a mill but everyone also wanted to stick to their kind. I love our crazy weather. I love our dark humor. I love all the questions we ask. I love our manners. I love the short life spans of cars because of rusty undercarriages, I love the salt on the roads, I love that everyone starts wearing shorts when it hits 50 degrees.

But you know, we’re also a state where lots of state senators from podunks-ville try to make a name for themselves by introducing some insane anti-abortion bill. And we’re also the state where Tamir Rice was killed. And we’re the state the orange lizard man who has chosen the human name of Kasich hails from.

It’s 60 degrees. The middle schoolers at the school next door are running around in short sleeves. It’s not supposed to be 60 degrees in March. It’s supposed to be slush and freezing rain weather.

Last week I was drinking coffee in the backyard of my dad’s house and he comes out and looks at me looking at the yard and he says, “This is bad. We’re gonna be punished.” It was a joke/wasn’t a joke.

I was so shocked by the homeless in San Francisco and the level of MONEY and all the coke and heroin that was around, and yeah, honestly, also all the leather parades and dungeons and sex parties that people treat like…I don’t know, the Elks or the Knights of Columbus, like it’s kind of your civic duty to belong to some kink organization out there, and meanwhile the BART stops in the mission are gathering places for 20 year olds too skinny and strung out and far from home. My imagination became very apocalyptic out there. I thought, “Oh this is where the class war breaks out. And my income bracket is definitely losing that war.”

People thought I was from a farm town when I said Ohio. My boyfriend out there once said to me, “I’d like to see the midwest but I wouldn’t want to live someplace so intolerant.” Oh gosh, talk about realizing you love Ohio. Talk about realizing you want to be where people ask questions and have dark senses of humor and are really taken aback when they meet someone on heroin. Where people know about steel mills and Grandpa’s Cheese Barn and Tom Raper RV and the Fuzzy Bear festival.

Trump scares the shit out of me. I’ve protected myself from activists now that I’m back in town- I don’t want to end up in a pronoun circle. I don’t want to have gender explained to me. I don’t want to hear about anyone’s poly google spreadsheet calendar. I’ve just hunkered down and concentrated on my own life.

Trump scares the shit out of me. Maybe I’m letting my anxiety spin out stories that are actually unlikely. Maybe I’m allowing myself to be drawn into an orchestrated pageant.

The middle school kids next door come in a lot of different shades. Some have braids, some have wispy ponytails. That’s like the middle school I went to. People outside of Ohio think it’s a very white place, but you know, that has a lot more to do with what kind of life stories make it onto a tv screen than the reality of the midwest.

I don’t know what I’m worried about. Yes I do. I’m worried about how to stop a popular racist and xenophobic movement. I’m worried about how to stop it. I’m worried about the future coming for us. I’m worried about how bad it can get. I’m worried about such an early spring. I’m worried what it is going to look like when we get punished for all of our excess and all of our cruelty. I’m worried who will own the water and who will be sent away and who will be ok and who will not.

I try to remember the world has always been ending. Women have always kept kids alive through the apocalypse. That is the nature of our work- we insulate, we keep it level, we get food on the table and teach the family to leave the profanity outside in the maelstrom.

Creating peace is a duty. Defending the powerless is another. Loving your neighbor is another.

I don’t know Mother Mary, I don’t know, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, which could happen whenever but hopefully we are useful to the people around us in the meantime.

 

4 thoughts on “Punishment”

  1. I’ve been thinking many of the same things in different language…

    I live in a conservative rural area not too many states away and can get very protective of this space despite its real problems. I can go on and on in the same way you did about my love of things like soft pretzels at roadside stands but then there’s also things like the fact that I found out last month that an admired former female friend from high school now runs a well-organized local anti-abortion group.

    I’m deeply scared of Trump and what it says about the world that people are supporting him not just out of immediate desperation but with total enthusiasm… even my dad is putting effort into regurgitating right wing defenses of Trump’s behavior to me. I want to ask “who is behind all this” but maybe it is just some force of nature-type thing organizing itself into a horrible wave that will crush us all… maybe not a “punishment” but just social structures breaking down from the weight of constant erosion by human destruction, in the same way ecosystems are decohering and becoming disorganized, unstable systems.

    I dunno. I am worried, too… I know with the Earth we have basically reached a point of no return… maybe we have reached this point with modern capitalism and democracy, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. this moment in America is really scary. It’s why I had to start praying (well, and also because my own life was terrifying). I feel like being able to act intentionally and calmly while terrified is the spiritual task I HAVE to master to operate effectively in this current world.

      Like

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