So, my oldest child now has a driver's license and a car. It's my old car, my trusty Mazda 5, which I hated for many reasons and wasn't all that sad to pass on to the next generation. I replaced it with a Ford Flex, which I love more than any girl has a right to love a car because I feel like I'm driving a cool surf wagon and the seat AUTOMATICALLY ADJUSTS TO WHERE I WANT IT WHEN I GET INSIDE, but that's another story...
The real story here is one of letting go, something my generation inexplicably has difficulty with. My daughter and I were slogging through the Saturday crowd at the BMV the very first moment she was eligible to receive her small, plastic ticket to freedom (for me as much as her). As we waited, we watched dejected people swear under their collective breath because they'd been denied something by a BMV hag. We amused ourselves by coming up with the answers to interview questions one must have in order to be hired there. Some examples:
Q: Is customer satisfaction important to you? A: No.
Q: Is being efficient important to you? A: No.
Q: Do you like to take breaks at the busiest time of the day? A: Yes.
After we tired of that game, my daughter shared with me that she was surprised I was "letting" her get her license already, and that many of her friends' parents were too nervous to let them drive. Then, she revealed that many of her FRIENDS were too nervous to drive. Flummoxed, I remembered back to 1987 when I got my license. None of us could wait until we could drive. It meant absolute freedom and awesomeness. Why would anyone want to deny his or her child this autonomy and responsibility?
So after we got home after only two rounds and three hours at the BMV - I had not brought some obscure paper that we showed the lady on our phone screen, but we needed a paper copy - my dear girl drove off by herself as I took obligatory "driving away for the first time" photos for social media sharing, I did a little informal survey of people I know with 16 year olds. I was shocked to hear them say things like, "I'm not ready for (insert snowflake's name here) to drive. It's too scary," or, "(Insert name here) has anxiety," or "I don't mind driving (name) a little longer." It was the last one that really got to me - I couldn't wait to have my own snowflake driving herself to the dance studio and school and to her myriad social engagements! What has happened that we can't let kids grow up and be free? I don't want mine around living in the basement, so I'm sure as heck letting them hit milestones on time.
The best part of having another driver in the house came yesterday, when I was able to go out for cocktails and appetizers with coworkers after school. See, last week I wouldn't have been able to go because I would've needed to pick up one son at football practice. Yesterday, I texted the daughter, and made her go get the son. I got to be "not mom" for a whole hour until guilt prodded me home to fix food for everyone (why do they want to eat dinner EVERY DAY?).
My daughter and I both got more freedom that day at the BMV. Her head is a little higher as she knows I trust her, and she trusts herself. Do I worry a little every time I hear her fire up the fierce and mighty Mazda 5? Maybe. But I wouldn't trade that freedom for the world.
Confession: every year, I think about leaving teaching, usually right after retuning after Spring break when the whiff of despair that there are STILL SIX WEEKS left before the sweet release of summer permeates the building. I spend time updating my resume and spinning my teaching experience into something resembling professional marketing/writing/editing/whatever skills. It never works, and by the end of the year I have to slog through the diplomatically worded rejection e-mails telling me that "while your skill set is impressive, we've gone with another candidate at this time."
Then the last day comes. The 6-page research papers are graded. The yearbook is pretty much done and edited. The students rebound from their own despair. The sun blazes and we can conduct class in the park with suspect "educational purpose." Joie de vivre replaces ennui, and I realize I don't want to leave teaching after all, especially when people with "real" jobs have to wake up the day after school gets out and go to some dreadful office as I sleep in - sometimes until 8:00.
The first day of summer vacation is sublime. Ten weeks to loll about and the potential for a tan (though who are we kidding - this pasty skin hasn't seen a tan ever, only lobster-like searing). Stacks of books wait to be read poolside. Quality time with my children. Time reflecting on how I can be a better teacher next school year. I wonder why I ever thought about leaving teaching.
One week into break this year, and I know why I'm tempted to cut and run every year. It's not the kids. It's not the teaching. It's the constant message from administrators and politicians that I'm not doing a good job. That teachers are the bottom-dwellers of the professional world. That no matter how hard I work - how many hours outside the school day, on weekends, and over that precious summer break - I'll be seen as someone who can't "do," therefore I teach.
To boost my own morale, I created a list of #teacherperks to combat the dominant paradigm in this country which says that teachers are lazy union hacks who only work 9 months of the year:
1. The KIDS - I get to spend my days with the future of our country, helping them find out who they are and who they will become.
2. The TEACHING - Being a huge nerd, I love planning and executing lessons that engage kids and make them see how their 13 years of compulsory schooling are relevant.
3. The OTHER TEACHERS - Contrary to popular opinion, the teachers I've had the privilege of knowing are some of the hardest working, creative, kind, hilarious, inappropriate (when off-duty, of course), divergent thinkers I've met. They sharpen me, and I hope I sharpen them.
4. The SUMMER - Although I'll spend many hours each week and many days in professional development meetings getting ready for my first day (July 31 this year - egads!), it is a huge #teacherperk to have this time to refresh, reflect, and refine my teaching practice. Also, I get to spend time with my three wonderful kids, who are now teenagers and planning their own futures, which involve leaving home. This is exciting and devastating at the same time. I catch up with friends who I don't see during the school year. I purge my stuff and soak up Vitamin D.
5. The AMNESIA - By the time break is over, the sun will have baked all my negative thoughts away. I'll have forgotten the administrators and politicians who make teachers feel less than (to be clear - not ALL admins and politicians are like this, but enough that I've been soured somewhat). And I'll start the year with all the feels as I look out over the shining faces of the kids who also benefit from some time apart, optimistic that the year will be the most marvelous of them all.
I just returned from what will likely be the last band concert I will ever attend, as my boys have decided to pursue more athletic activities. I arrived 25 minutes early, and found myself relegated to suffer the hideous indignity of sitting on a bleacher bench. I do not have a core solid enough to withstand holding myself upright, so I slouched like a hunchback and settled in for the long haul. My mind filled with dread when the band director, a perky blonde, announced the concert would be "lengthy."
My boys are not in the "good" band, so their part was over in the first twenty minutes or so. I clapped dutifully and belted out the chorus of "Sweet Caroline" in unison with the crowd. As the better bands played, I started to lose interest and made good use of my time watching the kids and the spectators as I grew hotter and hotter, sweat making rivulets down my back. Of course, a man came late and sat right next to me with a spirited sprite of a girl who proceeded to jump and flail her little arms about until I had to give her the "mom" glare. She finally backed down and sat, trembling, against her father. Victory!
I watched a trumpet player consume a three-course meal of detritus from his nose. Boys snickered and girls giggled. As we headed into hour two of this thing, I started to wonder if it was ever going to end. Would my crooked and weary back give out? Would I get a blood clot from sitting too long? Why does that lady over there keep staring at me with her RBF? Is that nose-picker ever going to run out of his endless supply of snacks?
Mind you, there are four school days left. I have ten days' worth of grading to finish. Being an English teacher, my math skills are rusty, but I can extrapolate from those statistics that some things may end up recycled rather than graded. Certainly nothing productive was getting done as I listened to "YMCA" and performed the appropriate hand motions. I thought back to just last week, when I had to write the comment, "Don't use the word 'weenie' in a formal paper," and wondered if a nice, long hospital stay with a morphine drip could possibly be in the cards for me soon. Is that my appendix hurting? PLEASE? Let it be my appendix so I can leave...
Suddenly, the stream of consciousness writing I've been teaching made perfect sense. William Faulkner must have written his great works while trapped at the mercy of an unholy band director and her minions, keeping us captive through middle school renditions of The Beach Boys and Michael Jackson. One's mind must wander in order to keep sane.
Finally, after what was admittedly an awesome drum line act, it was time to go. After three knee creaks and a lower back pop, I was upright and hobbling down the steps, hoping feeling would return to my cankles soon. Caught up in the swoop of parents frantically trying to reach their spawn, I felt a hint of nostalgia and a whiff of sadness that my band days are over. As I found my long-haired boys - easy to spot in the sea of their crew-cutted friends - I loved them a little bit more for letting me have a glimpse into the music world. Maybe these concerts aren't so bad after all.
While slogging through the interwebs trying to determine what is "alternative fact" and what is real, I came across several articles outlining the preparation of world leaders for an upcoming apocalypse. This very same topic was eerily shared with me on Twitter, so it must be true. As during any good and final tragedy - think of the violinists playing as The Titanic sank, leaving poor Rose nearly frozen to death on a wood plank but with a song in her heart - I've been thinking of a good playlist as the world turns into a mushroom cloud in a final showdown between Trump and the nameless, faceless gaggle of enemies he's already accrued. I'm thinking it'll be a short list, say 10 songs or so, to get us through the final moments of napalm burning our lungs. Feel free to steal and add your own in comments.
1. Disco Inferno - The Trammps, for obvious reasons
2. I Just Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble, for some irony
3. American Idiot - Green Day, because someone - and not a smart someone - got us into this mess
4. Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen, because it's my theme song/anthem
5. Toxic - Britney Spears, because the air will be toxic and because Brittney RULES
6. All I Do Is Win - DJ Khaled feat. Ludacris, because I'd want one more time to do the "Ludacris" part flawlessly
7. Notorious - Duran Duran, because I'd want to think about Kevin Kelly one last time
8. Don't Dream it's Over - Crowded House, for denial
9. Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler, because of the likely eclipse of the sun from ash and debris
10. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood, because that's really all you can do when the world goes down
When Donald Trump was inaugurated a mere nine days ago, I was willing to give it a chance, particularly since I didn't find any of the candidates this time around very exciting (refer to my "Clowns" post from a couple of months back). While I didn't vote for him (nor did I vote for Hillary), I do see why he was elected. The many, many people from the so-called flyover states/Rust belt have felt disenfranchised and unheard for years, and being called "deplorables" was likely the final straw that poked the beast to the ballot box. These people are being painted as redneck Christians who have no compassion and care only about their wallets. Trump is their Hitler, wantonly cackling as he signs executive order after executive order as his base cheers him on while drinking chicken blood and dancing around bonfires.
I think what rankles me most is the throwing around of the word "Christian" as an insult and a broad statement about all people who support this dangerous administration. It's no better than those who throw "Muslim" around to describe all terrorists. I can't begin to wonder what sort of actual Christians are on board with Trump's plans to exclude people, to leave them on the fringes, to take away from the weakest and most vulnerable people, is in any way in line with what the Bible commands of the followers of Christ.
Throughout the Bible, people are admonished to visit the sick and poor, to support widows and children, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the immigrant. My hope that these things could come to pass - my hope that Trump's promises were much like any other politician's and unlikely to happen - has waned to the point of nonexistence. I don't see how the policies he's already set into motion align with the commands of the Bible. How does banning people who are trying to escape war-torn countries and taking insurance away from the poor fit in with the Christian described in Matthew? How does it help the "least of these"? How does de-funding Planned Parenthood help get care for women (federal abortion funding is already illegal under the Hyde Amendment, so this de-funding only takes away affordable care and birth control, which would REDUCE abortion)? How does keeping people who are legally allowed to be in the United States, who have created lives and families here, from coming home help anyone? How can a true Christian person be on board with anything he's done or plans to do?
And don't get me started on Betsy DeVos for anything to do with education. How can we conceive of putting a person who has never even breathed the scent of public school cafeteria food or a school bus in charge of public education? After suffering mightily as a teacher in Indiana under the iron fist of Mike Pence, who did all sorts of damage to public education here, causing a mass exodus from the profession and a teacher shortage, I can't fathom what damage this sort of leadership will do on a national level.
For awhile, I hoped all the talk really was just conspiracy theories created by liberals in tin foil hats. All the Hitler talk seemed so preposterous. Even presidents I haven't liked in the past have, in their hearts, had the best interest of this great country in mind. I may not have agreed with their decisions or policies, but I'd be surprised to find out any sinister motive - just a different perspective. Trump seems to care about Trump. The alternative facts. The slashing of Obamacare without a replacement plan. Don't get me wrong - the ACA has definite issues that need looking at. But to pull the rug without another plan? Not Christian. Talk of building a wall? Not Christian. Putting people with no experience in charge of things because they donated money to a campaign? Not Christian (or smart).
This is not to say that I've become a die-hard liberal or that I'm cutting ties with Trump voters. I love many people who voted for him, and they are not the monsters they're made out to be. But I think we have to be very careful with using the word Christian to describe anything our megalomaniac president plans to do. His actions do not show compassion or love or thought. They do not show intelligence or consideration or respect. Our president sits in his golden tower creating his own personal utopia without thinking how these actions will impact for the worse the very people who put him there. The Christians need to stand up and say he doesn't represent them and show people that they're not the enemy. The Christians I know are in the trenches loving people. They are marching. They are fighting. And I hope they win.
If you have no idea what Festivus is, please stop reading immediately and find Seinfeld season 9, episode 10, and watch it at least three times. Once you pick yourself up off the floor, you'll have a renewed sense of seasonal joy.
Well, my friends, today is Festivus. A day of airing grievances, competing in feats of strength, and raising an aluminum stripper pole in place of the Christmas tree. I'm actually not sure it's a stripper pole, but it is quite reminiscent of one. Everyday events can be called a "Festivus Miracle" and the magic of the holiday lives on. It's also a day in which one is encouraged to blow off work for "religious purposes." It's the perfect holiday
The premise behind Festivus is that, unable to get the toy of choice for his child, Frank Costanza invents his own holiday to counter Christmas and the commercial mania that goes along with it. I don't think this is a bad idea, and have been casting about for a way to invent my own holiday for years.
This year, the "hot" toy is something called a Hatchimal. I praise the Lord every day that my kids are too old for hyped toys (and also that I escaped the ridiculous Elf on a Shelf mania, but that's a whole other post). Apparently, Hatchimals are some sort of creature hatched over several hours out of an egg. They look pretty cute, and like something my kids would've enjoyed in third grade.
Upholding the Christmas spirit and traditions of greed, stress, and money-grabbing, people who have a sixth sense about what will be the "it" toy of the season snatched them all off the Wal-Mart, Target, and Meijer shelves back in the days of yore before Trump became president and everything went south. These toys are now selling for upwards of $200 on e-bay and on Facebook garage sale sites. I witnessed a rather ugly back-and-forth on one of these sites, in which an angry mob of Hatchimal-seeking parents vilified a capitalist just trying to make a buck this holiday. I expected the headlines the next day to be about desperate parents marching with pitchforks and torches on the mansion of the scrooge holding Hatchimals hostage for huge ransom.
Pinterest has climbed on board with this madness, offering letters of condolence and promises of post-Christmas Hatchimal delivery signed by Santa himself for parents to give their grieving children on Christmas morning. There will be no Hatchimal under the tree, kids, because avaricious capitalists are selling them for more than mommy and daddy can afford, but you'll get one soon when the hype dies down.
Festivus counters all this. Instead, you get to air your grievances and get out your aggression, which seems much healthier than sweating to death in stores for trinkets. So here are some of my grievances, and I'll exhibit my feats of strength later in what will surely be a gruelling Orangetheory Fitness class far beyond my meager physical capabilities (burpees, anyone?):
1. My stepfather, in addition to hauling me into court with frivilous contests to my mother's will over the last two years, took all our family heirloom Christmas decorations after she died.
2. It's winter. There are enless months of gray, cold, and miserable days still yet to come.
3. People where I live do NOT know how to drive and it makes me stabby. Also, pedestrians here walk WAY too slow and down the MIDDLE of the parking lot aisles. MOVE IT, PEOPLE!
4. I have friends who are really hurting right now and I don't know how to help them.
5. No matter how much I work out, I still have the body of a creature that would result if Bilbo Baggins mated with a manatee.
See, now, that felt good, although I'm right now countering these things with positives so I don't feel icky (which goes against everything Festivus stands for). I'd encourage you to look at the holiday season through the Festivus lens, and I hope you all experience a Festivus miracle or two today. And maybe even find a rogue Hatchimal at sticker price on a random shelf today.
This is not my manifesto. Credit belongs to the late E. Paul Torrance, a leader in gifted education. I learned of it during a most fantastic conference of the Indiana Association for the Gifted, of which I am privileged to be part of the conference committee and soon-to-be board member (knock on wood). Torrance, who prized creativity and independent thought, gives these wise words to children in his Creative Manifesto:
Take a moment and let that sink in. How many hours are spent trying to make kids "well-rounded" and learning to regurgitate what is told to them to earn a letter grade based on rather arbitraray measures? How often do the kids come up with the questions, the passion, the learning objectives that are meaningful to them, as opposed to answering the questions given them? Right now, in my Vera Bradley teacher bag, I have about 5 inches worth of level 2 and 3 questions about The Crucible to grade. Questions I think are important. Questions the kids were motivated to answer (in complete sentences with proper punctuation) in large part because it was for a grade and there's a test Thursday over the material. Looking over this list, however, it's hard to fit the expectations of school in with these very impactful words on how to be successful in life! It's as if school and life are compartmentalized. As if, as an adult, my work and my life are compartmentalized. How often do I waste energy doing things that aren't my greatest strengths, ending up frustrated and feeling like a failure? How often do I put my intense passions on the back burner to attempt to be "well-rounded"? I doubt Steve Jobs, George Lucas, JK Rowling, Ernest Hemingway, or any great leader in a field cared much for fitting into a box or checking things off a list of what makes a well-rounded person.
Going forward, I will put this manifesto on a little laminated card on my desk, and try to hit as many as possible when planning, and make sure my students get a copy. It'll be a challenge to fit state standards into all of these, particularly with students who decidedly do NOT have the passion for English literature that I do - but I want to show students how to funnel the skills they learn into their passions.
I'm fortunate to work at a school with a maker space - that's just one way the creativity and impulse to CREATE rather than simply USE goods can be developed in the students. I don't know any answers right now, but one of my passions (and something I love and can do well) is teaching kids. But I need to go beyond teaching and focus on developing student life pursuits of their own interests and strengths. Perhaps that will be what I create for myself. Perhaps I'll fail a whole bunch of times before I sort of get it right, but isn't that the point? To never actually reach perfection, but spend a lifetime in passionate pursuit of it?
"Mom! Hey, mom!" I heard a cherub chirp from around the corner as I washed up the dinner dishes, wondering why *I* am washing the dishes when I have a house full of able-bodied children whom I could force to do it. "MOM!" The chirping turned to screeching when I didn't immediately reply. I turned off the water so I could hear the most urgent need of this darling fruit of my loins.
"Yes, precious muffin. What can I do for you? Please let me know." (Hey, it's my revisionist history. Shut up.)
"When are you going to put up the Christmas decorations?"
"I'll do it in between my manicure and leisurely lunch that I have planned tomorrow, as I have nothing better to do." (This is not true. I said something along the lines of probably over the weekend, if I have time at home at all between trips to drive "you kids" places, or between meals and cleaning up. I laid on the guilt so thick that said child slunk upstairs and wasn't heard from again until morning.)
What I really wanted to do was cry and/or shout, "Put up the d$#& decorations yourself!" What kind of woman/mother/homeowner am I? It was the third of December, and I had nary a twinkly light nor a Christmas village house adorning my home. The Christmas plates were still ensconced in their box in the garage. I hadn't even thought about a Christmas card. I'd been working 10 hour days for weeks and still felt behind, and I didn't WANT to put up the Christmas decorations, even though I knew I'd love it once it was done. I was exhausted, empty, and resentful, because let's face it - even though the cries of feminism and equality ring through the air and over social media on pages like Pantsuit Nation, the brunt of these things is borne by the woman of the house.
So this past Sunday, after guilt grabbed hold, I dragged in the boxes of yuletide cheer from the garage and began halfheartedly decking the halls. My children helped some, my husband carried heavy things; they all wandered off at some point, leaving me alone in the room to put the finishing touches on what now resembled a Christmas explosion.
As I set up the Christmas village, I was rendered immobile by a fit of nostalgia. Many of the houses in the village were my Nana's and then my mother's. Mom gave me the Dickens houses a year before she died, as I had coveted them for years. She said I could have them for that year, and she'd take them back the next. She didn't live to see another Christmas. I thought of the hands that had touched these houses; the places they'd lived. The boxes bore handwriting of women who'd decorated their homes before me. Familiar, warm, distinctive writing which exemplified Nana and Mom both. I thought of the care that had been taken to set out and pack away these precious family decorations, and tears pricked my eyes. I miss my mom. I miss my Nana.
I realized that my lack of motivation is tied up in the sense of loss that comes out the most at the holidays, not necessarily my work/housekeeping/driving kids around schedule. Family is everywhere this time of year. People doing things with their parents and loved ones. I have loved ones galore, but the loss of parents is acute and leaves one feeling decidedly lonely.
Once everything was set up and the happy lights of the tree and village cast a warm glow over the front room, I loved it, as I knew I would. I doubt the loneliness of the holidays and the wish for just one more Christmas with my mom will pass, but I can speak her story and handle her things, and hope to give the gift of love to my family this season.
There have been a lot of victories in the news lately, some shocking, some not so much. The first is the Cubs winning the World Series. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't really care about baseball. I played as a kid, but watching it makes me want to stab my own eyes out by the fourth inning just so I can stay awake. I am neither subtle nor nuanced, which apparently are two essential skills needed to love baseball. However, I love a good underdog story. The fact that they came back to win a series when they weren't favored to (curse or otherwise) made my heart sing. It was awesome watching my social media blow up with the joy and pure exhilaration of my die-hard baseball fan friends. Finally! Cubbies win! Woohoo! I found myself wishing I were as invested in something so fantastic. But I'm a nerd. Give me a book and a Bic, not a ball and bat.
Mere weeks later, Donald Trump stunned a nation by winning the presidential election. Even those who voted for him were in disbelief. After a moment of shocked silence, the hand-wringing and name-flinging began. Again, my social media blew up - but with no joy this time. Videos of violent protest, the calling for more "unfriending," the naming of any Trump supporter as a racist, xenophobic misogynist, and the gloating from the "winners" made me so upset I had to stop looking. I know people who voted for Clinton. I know people who voted for Trump. I know people who voted for a third-party candidate. I can tell you with certainty that none of them are horrible, Satan-loving, racists, socialists, sore losers, misogynist whatever-you-want-to-box-them-in-as people. They're frustrated and want voices heard. One side cries, "But we won the popular vote!" The other cries, "But that doesn't matter! The electoral college counts!" Our nation is divided and in an ugly way. I'd argue that no one really won.
Last night, the great Westfield Shamrocks (the school where I teach) won the Indiana Class 5A football championship for the first time ever in the history of Westfield schools. This win came after years of hard work, sweat, and tears. The coach reported that the boys practiced 331 days of the year, in addition to games and various community service events. This coach focuses on building the character of the boys, and I have to say that these boys are respectful, smart, focused, and disciplined because of the football program and the support they receive from their parents and coaches. As I watched them play, biting my nails at intervals of close calls in the game, I saw kids from every race, socioeconomic class, and size working together on the sidelines to help their team win. I saw the losing team shake their hands with grace and dignity. There was no name-calling, no mud-slinging. And I secretly was glad that these boys won so no one will feel like Uncle Rico in 20 years (If only we'd won state!). I realize a high school football game is nothing like a national election, but I think we can all take a lesson from these kids. Be gracious and humble in winning and losing. If you want something, work hard for it - be disciplined and respectful.
I don't know what the future holds in terms of politics. I hope the apocalypse-predictors are wrong and that we aren't in for a huge crash in the market or Hitler-like regime under our new president. I hope the election wasn't hacked by the Russians. I hope that people on both sides can see each other for more than the worst stereotype (Deplorables! Socialists! Criminals! Liars!) and work together. It does no good to wish for failure on the part of either side - we only hurt ourselves. I want to be like the Cubs and the Shamrocks and persevere se we all win, even against the odds.
Since I teach high school, I'm privy to all sorts of insane, dramatic fears that sweep through society, cause emotions to run high, and disappear just as quickly. I've survived the Zayn leaving One Direction madness, which caused millions of teenage girls to wail and gnash their teeth with abandon. More recently, the clown scare has gripped the daily existence of many. "Are they really killing teens?" my students ask, with dread in their usually hopeful eyes. I read stories of people keeping their kids home from school (not in my district, but in other places) because a clown may or may not have been sighted in the vicinity. I'm the first to admit that clowns are creepy AF (to steal a saying from the kids). They stare, they have too many teeth. However, on the bright side, they can be rounded up in a single police car! (ba dum bum)
I'm not afraid the clowns will kill us all, and in a way I'm enjoying the distraction from the real circus going on in our country. By this I mean the election. Just when I think it can't get worse, it does. Just when I think I can't dislike the candidates any more than I already do, I'm proven wrong. I'm not sure what it says about our country that out of hundreds of millions of people, these clownish ones are the only choices. Yes, I know there are others on the ballot, but let's get real. Only in my wildest fantasies will a third party candidate win this particular election, though I do hope the horror show unfolding before me will cause the implosion of the major parties and allow something new to rise from the ashes, not unlike a beautiful Phoenix. The ugly division I see unfurling across social media and across tables of friends is frightening to me. Each side is so convinced they are right all civility has been thrown aside. Ugliness abounds as neither side seems capable of tolerance of the other side. Relationships are being destroyed. People are being unfriended over the posting of meaningless memes on Facebook. It makes me sad, like I'm living out Pagliacci (or at least Crazy Joe Devolo's version) every day. I'm petrified to share my own political leanings, because my friends are way more important to me than which ghastly candidate wins this joke of an election. Recently, I've realized my reticence is taken by some as a tacit (silent, sad clown-ish) endorsement of Trump. Or of Clinton. Depends on the crowd I'm with at the time. Why is it that if I don't wish to share what I'm thinking, people assume I disagree with them, and therefore must be a moron?
I love politics and have always met election seasons with glee bordering on psychotic. For the first time in my adult life, I'm face with two candidates I cannot conceive of voting for. So I mock them both equally, and try to listen to both sides, hoping that someone will say something that makes sense to me - not loaded words or rumor or hyperbole. I hope it happens soon, as election day is only a month away. The song that goes, "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you..." runs through my head and pretty much sums up how I'm feeling these days and about this. I think most people are in the middle and feeling like no one in government represents them. It's time to send out the clowns and take back sanity.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and high school English/Journalism teacher. Her first novel, Cate in Flux, was released December 10! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.