Friday, November 20, 2020

The Monsters Without: Chapter 3.2

And he wasn’t going to know anyone at this new school, Carver High, phone or no phone.

He walked slowly to the bus stop that first morning. Because, according to his mother, high school was old enough to ride the city bus alone. But, really, it was because the school was close enough for the bus to be convenient whereas the Stones would have required a three hour trip on the bus in the afternoon and wasn’t even available in the mornings because the bus wasn’t running at 4:00am.

He’d never been on a bus before except one time in first grade on a field trip, but that had been a school bus full of people he knew. This was… different. He hung around the outskirts of the crowd of students waiting for the bus when he got to the bus stop. There were so many of them, and he didn’t know how to fit in, so he just orbited the mass of teenagers as if he were an asteroid trying to decide whether to become a moon or go flying back out into space. He was leaning toward flying back off into space.

Most of them were showing each other videos on their phones, though there were a couple who were making first-day-of-school videos or something. Kids taking selfies together after not seeing each other all summer. He felt cold and alone, outside of all the camaraderie he was witnessing.

Then the bus pulled up, and everyone was filing into the bus, sliding their bus cards through the swiper. All he had was a handful of change and, when he looked, it wasn’t even enough. Evidently, his mother gave him money based on how much she remembered the bus being not because she’d looked up the cost. If he pooled the change he had for both trips, he could get to school, but he wouldn’t have enough money to get home.

While he was staring at the quarters in the palm of his hand, the door to the bus closed, it hissed that noise that only buses make, and drove away, leaving him and a few other kids behind. He looked up in bewilderment, still unsure of what to do about any of this.

A voice said close to his ear, “It was full.”

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Monsters Without: Chapter Three

Jeremiah graduated from middle school. It wasn’t a grand achievement other than that it meant he had seen no more monsters. Even so, they were never, at this point, far from his mind. Why had he seen them? Were they coming back? Where did they come from? Where did they come from!

His two best friends, when he tried to talk to them about seeing the monsters, thought he was making it all up. Everyone knew he’d been sent to Stepping Stones because he’d kicked a teacher in the face and sent her to the hospital, so his friends didn’t believe him when he told them he’d been trying to get away from a monster and hadn’t meant to kick the teacher. They thought it was some kind of cover story and were impressed that he wouldn’t tell them what really happened. They would say things about how great it would be that he would never break when questioned by cops, something that made him very uncomfortable.

Talking about it with them did make him wonder…

Had his teacher somehow been the monster? Had the mailman been the monster he’d seen in front of his house? But what about all the slug creatures in the classroom? Not everyone could be a monster. Could they?

All he had were questions.

The worst of which, despite the fact that he believed in the monsters or, maybe, because of that fact, was whether all of it was even real? Was something wrong with him?

Moving on to high school was difficult. He was being moved back to his district high school since he had been, what was considered at Stepping Stones, a model student, which meant he had not been in any fights that he had started or exacerbated. And he made good grades. Straight As, in fact, not that that had been difficult for him. It’s not like the work had been challenging.

His best friends, though, were staying at “the Stones.” He didn’t want to be separated from them and, occasionally, considered faking a monster episode so that he would have to stay. But he knew how important it was to his mother that he return to “normal” school, so that’s what he did.

It would mean he would finally get to take a computer class, and he was excited about that. He felt, achingly, the absence of computers in his life. He didn’t even have his own phone, and his mother’s laptop was ancient and generally off limits anyway. The lack of a phone was another thing that got him picked on a lot. Bullied. Because everyone knew he had no way to call for help. It was another thing that cemented him to his friends, something he’d learned almost right away. Don’t be without someone who had a phone.

And he wasn’t going to know anyone at this new school, Carver High.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Timmy Has a Stick

Now that we're through the election, even if we're not through with the "controversy" around the election (this is me projecting as I'm writing this on November 7), we're going to be hearing a lot of "now it's time to reach across 'the aisle' and try to understand the other side and why they voted for Trump (#formerfakepresident) in the first place and figure out how to live in harmony with them again." The idea here is that if we can understand why they're racist assholes then we will be able to find common ground with them and move forward.

This is the same shit we heard four years ago when they all voted for Trump the first time and understanding their whys didn't change anything. If anything, it helped them to decide to double-down on their "christianity" and racism and authoritarianism and draw even more of them out to push their corrosive conservative fascist agenda.

See, the problem here is that Timmy has a stick.
It's a big stick, and he's swinging it around and hitting the other children with it. Not all of the other children, mind you, just the ones he doesn't like, children who mostly happen to be black or brown or female or not straight, and those who have tried to help to defend the children he's hitting. Timmy is a bully and a thug and swinging his stick around makes him feel powerful.

Now, anyone who works with kids --parent, teacher, whatever-- will know that the first thing you have to do in this kind of situation is get the stick away from Timmy. You don't try to engage in a conversation with Timmy while he's actively swinging his stick around and hitting people.
1. Timmy isn't listening or even able to listen because he's having fun. He enjoys hitting people with sticks.
2. Timmy's not going to stop hitting the other kids just because you're talking to him. The longer you try to get him to talk to you, the more kids he will hurt.
3. As the adult, it's your responsibility to take the stick away from Timmy, even if that means you get hit in the process, because he's not going to just put it down because you ask nicely.

And, see, the problem here is that no one has been willing to step up and take the stick away from Timmy. Everyone's just been waiting for... I don't know... for Timmy to realize the error of his ways? For Timmy to get tired? For Timmy to suddenly become "presidential"? For Timmy to grow some empathy and realize that he's hurting people? So everyone has just been watching Timmy, trying to reason with him while he swings his stick and doesn't listen, and, in some cases, yelling at Timmy to stop but, again, Timmy is completely satisfied and happy with what he's doing and isn't going to stop.

Let's be really clear here: Timmy still has his stick and is continuing to beat people with it.
And let's be even more clear: Timmy is not Trump (#formerfakepresident). Timmy is Republicans and other Conservatives, and they've been swinging their stick around for a long time.
And to be blatantly clear: Sometimes Timmy's stick is a gun.

So all of this talk about reaching out and making peace and blah blah blah... well, to change analogies midstream, this is Lucy talking Charlie Brown into, yet again, trying to kick the football. Yes, Lucy is Republicans and Charlie is Democrats who naively continue to tell themselves "maybe this time." No, not this time. Or any time. Lucy is never going to let Charlie Brown kick the football. She just likes watching him fly through the air and land on his back.

To get back to the stick, the first step to getting the stick away from Timmy is going to be getting McConnel out of power. As long as he's in charge of the Senate, he will continue to swing that stick. As long as he's in the Senate, he will continue to swing that stick. He's not going to stop. And, see, there are too many people, now, cheering Timmy on. Too many white people. So it's not just about getting McConnel out of power, it's about getting Republicans out of power. Getting Conservatives out of power. Possibly, at this point, getting white people out of power.

Face it, the cult of white supremacy has gone on long enough and, mostly, white people, so far, have been, minimally, content to let it happen. If it takes getting white people out of power in the US, then that's what needs to happen. Or, at least, white men.

Somebody has to step up and take that stick away from Timmy, and white voters just showed us that they aren't really interested in that job. In fact, a majority of them have picked up their own sticks and and are flailing about as well.

How do we get the stick away from Timmy? I'm not really sure. I'm dismayed that dumbass white people have once again so reveled in rolling around in shit and voted for Trump again. The hope that they will "do the right thing" is in vain. All of which is to say that the only real step we have at this moment is... Georgia. Which just seems so weird for me to say but here we are. If Georgia can put two Democrats in the Senate in January, we can begin to pull the sticks out of the hands of Republicans. If not... well, it might be time to get some sticks of our own.

Monday, November 9, 2020

The Temptation To Say "It's Over"

 When I say, "we won," I say it with the expectation that I don't have a whole heck of a lot of conservative followers anymore so...

"We won."

I imagine many of you are wondering why that's not all in caps or with a butt-ton of exclamation points or whatever, but I feel the simple period says it best. That's probably because the natural extension of that thought right now is, "It's over."

"We won. It's over."

Except that it's not. Over, that is. It's really just beginning. Which is... exhausting. Because it's been an incredible battle to get to where we are right now at this moment, and where we are is that roughly 20% of the country turned out to vote for a racist fascist with the hopes of keeping him in power. And, possibly as bad as that, around 1/3 of the country couldn't be bothered to show up to vote one way or the other.

Let's see... "Hey, there's a wannabe dictator running for President of your country, would you like to go vote for the other guy?" "Nah, I can't be bothered with that."

Which is to say that more than half of the citizens of the United States are, minimally, perfectly fine with the downfall of democracy in the US.


What we have to look forward to, now, is that over the next couple of months Trump (#formerfakepresident) will be out trying to whip his drones into a frenzy about how the election was stolen from him with the hopes that they will do something, anything, to keep him in power. I guess we'll see how that plays out. Violence is my guess, but I hope I'm wrong.

And that's not even the real fight.
The real fight is that Darth Mitch still holds the Senate in his purple-inflamed fist and is already vowing to, well, keep doing what he's been doing, blocking everything that doesn't support his agenda to subvert the judicial system into a racist conservative perversion that only supports rich white people. The real fight is in, initially, trying to repair all of the damage done by the petulant toddler who's been inhabiting the White House for the last four years.

The really real fight is going to be trying to restore the environment and people still, largely, are not being aware of how critical this is and that, in many ways, maybe most ways, the damage has been done and can't be fixed; all we can do is try to lessen the effects of what's coming.
--For fuck's sake people, an iceberg the size of the state of Delaware has just decided to begin roaming the Atlantic and is expected to bring catastrophe to an environmentally-important species-diverse island.

So, while it would be great to sit back and relax and hold onto the thought of "it's over" as if it's a steaming cup of coffee on a chill morning and it feels oh-so-good on your cold fingers, it's not time for that yet. The real fight is still ahead. The fight to get Biden into office was the fight to get us into the real fight. The fight for the environment. The fight against the racist assholes who support #fakepresident. The fight to reform the criminal justice system into something that's fair for everyone, not just those who are white and/or rich. The fight against ignorance, stupidity, and intolerance.

The fight against "christianity" and the destructive forces of religion in our country. But more on that later.

I guess what I'm saying is this:
Take a breath if you need to. Go dance in the streets some more and ring some more bells (thank you Paris and Berlin, in particular). Be happy in this victory.
But do not think "It's over; we won," because this was just a skirmish, and, really, we barely won it, this which really should have been a no-brainer of a victory. Taking the Senate should have been an easy job, and we're still waiting to see what happens there. We lost seats in the House for no good reason other than the fact that Democrats are horrible at down-ballot voting. Democrats and liberals are not fully invested in what's going on; Republicans and conservatives are. They are bringing this fight as hard as they can and have been doing so for decades.

So dig in. It's not over.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

This Means War: Where I Am Right Now

Well... here we are at election day.

You know, the one that is being billed as the most important election, possibly, ever. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it's at least the most important election in the last century.
All I feel is... dread.

And maybe I'm too pessimistic about humans -- although what I have learned in the last four years is that, really, I have not been pessimistic enough -- but I don't think it matters which way the election goes: There's going to be violence.

The most likely scenario is this:
Trump -- already a #fakepresident -- loses the election. His supporters, already primed for violence and on standby, "revolt." They will claim that the election was rigged and try to use force and violence to help Trump reman in office. Will this be an actual civil war? I don't know. It really depends on whether these guys organize or not. It could just be like spot fires that have to be stamped out but, if any state governments get behind this shit, it could be a whole lot worse.

The problem, here, is that I think Democrats are thinking that if Trump (#FAKEPRESIDENT -- yes, I'm saying it again) loses that everything will... just be okay. Everything will go back to "normal" and we can all pretend that the last four years didn't happen.
I don't think it's going to be that way. At all.

The other scenario is that Trump "wins," again losing the popular vote but by an even greater margin. The electoral college again fails to do the job it was created to do and gives the election to Trump. This will be the slow burn war that might result in an actual civil war. Two things will happen:
1. the GOP will pull out all of the stops on their facism
2. liberal will organize

Of course, all of this will be complicated -- or maybe simplified -- by what happens in Congress. If things remain relatively as they are now -- specifically, the GOP retains control of the Senate -- I think the likelihood of everything I've just been saying goes up. McConnel is drunk on power, right now, and already out of control. If Republicans retain control of the Senate, it will be like Palpatine declaring himself Emperor.
But if the GOP loses control of the Senate, especially if the loss is significant, we may be able to make it through all of this with a "minimum" of violence, whatever that means.

None of which is to mention that Trump is already calling for Biden to be assassinated and some of his followers, his cult, have already been taking that seriously. Because of course they do, and he wants them to.

So, yeah, that's where I am right now.
I really hope that you're in a better place than me, but I really don't see how we get through all of this without bloodshed. Maybe it was always going to be that way with where we are in the political cycle; I don't know. And I hope I'm wrong. I hope people (by "people," I mean Conservatives) regain their senses, but I think they've moved past that. When I see them posting things about Trump being god's chosen one, I can't get away from the fact that all of this has become a holy war for them. This is no longer politics; it's religion. It's disgusting.