To the right, to the right

Even though I brought gym clothes with me to work out after work yesterday, I ended up taking a detour to Pike Place Market along the waterfront of Seattle last night. I felt a little like I was being extra brave, given the terrorist attack that happened just the night before at the Christmas markets in Berlin. I thought to myself as I walked, “Take that, terrorists.”

Of course, after the events in Berlin this week (so similar to those in Nice in July, it’s scary), I thought back to the same line of thinking I had when I wrote another recent post, Marked safe. Why should I get to go to Pike Place Market and be safe, when 12 other people went to the markets across the world and they weren’t? Sometimes, it’s just not fucking fair.

I thought of the fire in Oakland’s Ghost Ship, which happened the night I arrived in Berkeley, Oakland’s neighbor, earlier this month. How those 36 people went about a perfectly mundane night listening to music, making art, supporting other artists, and how that night ended. It felt realer and closer because I was in town over that weekend, and maybe partially because my mother knew I’d be there and was so worried I was in the fire, she made me call her to prove I was safe.

Monday night at the gym, watching the results of the electoral college (which, by the way, proved itself completely worthless and useless) voting that day, I started hate stationary-biking. I’m so fucking sick of seeing the name Trump, of seeing his chubby turkey neck and stupid schmuck look on his face all over the news/media. I’d hoped we’d have a Hillary win, and he could fade into obscurity via shame spiral, but that was not to be. Thanks, ‘Murica. Since my hate biking, I’ve tried to limit my exposure to news/media because the state of world, if it wasn’t getting to me before, is surely getting to me now.

 photo deep thoughts.gif

I know I shouldn’t hate. It brings me down to the level of everyone else rooted in hate – the KKK, anti-LGBTQ initiatives and  supporters, and so much more. But I fucking hate Trump and all that he stands for. I hate the team of people he’s selected for his cabinet. They might as well call his team the Bad News Bears. Cruella DeVil for animal protection. Bill Cosby for women’s rights. For real. I’m sickened to live in a country that voted for him. To be clear, I did not.

But in limiting my exposure to news, I still managed to read something which resonated with me. I usually try to cite my sources when I can, but unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read about this idea.

There is a global trend toward right wing ideologies inspired by the waves of terrorism increasing in frequency and amplitude everywhere. That’s how ISIS was supposedly inserting itself in nearly every country. By performing acts of terrorism in not only war-torn middle eastern countries, but also the US, Europe, etc., ISIS was effectively attacking democracy and the very foundational ideals on which the western world exists. Brexit was a British right-wing response; Trump winning the election was the US’s right-wing response to terrorism; as was the socialist president of France deciding not to seek re-election due to an unfavorable climate, stepping aside to make way for more conservative republicans who have broader favor with the French people. France had its fair share of horrible terrorist attacks recently, with the most recent attack in Nice on Bastille Day, November 2015 with shootings at multiple crowded locations before that, and shootings at Charlie Hebdo before that. And the French people are leaning more conservatively now, as a result.

Russia hacking and influencing the US’s election of Trump was the pinnacle of attack on democracy, and I did read an article that John McCain, of all people, is making a case for a special investigation into the cyberwarfare. McCain advocates that, “A committee is necessary to look at ‘the whole issue of cyber warfare, where we have no strategy or no policy’ because it is ‘perhaps the only area where our adversaries have an advantage over us.’” Cybersecurity is where America is weakest and potentially not #1, thus that is where we must build our defenses.

The global political climate leaning more and more to the right actually induces way more fear in me than I thought possible. I always felt safe in San Francisco, slightly less so in Sydney but to be fair, I was also outside the country and thus outside my comfort zone there. I feel pretty darn safe in Seattle. Having a president-elect who believes climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese also terrifies me, because this is a crucial point to continue and even ramp up environmental protections to save this planet from mass self-destruction. But, I digress.

 photo lifes not fair.gif

But it’s like countries who have been fucked with by conservative terrorists want a conservative no-more-chances response from government. So in a way, the terrorists ARE winning and everywhere is falling into the plans they had all along. They wanted us to react with hate, and fear, and conservative views on all kinds of topics from immigration to jobs to welfare. So good job everyone. *slow clap*

Being more conservative aligns more closely with terrorist views and how they want things. In my best Beyoncé voice, “to the right, to the right.” I’m not saying by any means that electing Trump was the right thing to do. Rather, in the game of chess, we’ve been played. Check-mate. We lost. Unless the sane part of the world comes up with a genius response to unwind all of this soon, where we’re heading is not good.

Despite raging against the dying of the light by going to the Seattle markets last night, most of the stalls were closing up as I got there. I didn’t get what I went there for – gifts for family and friends. I felt better for going, though. I felt I had to, despite the cold, despite my limping on a sore knee and foot that won’t go away from a gym injury a few weeks ago. Because some people who went Monday night in Berlin couldn’t finish their time there. So, that one was for you, you 12 souls lost, who have yet to be named. Trying to patronize stalls of local artisans instead of ordering everything through Amazon Prime was for you, lost souls of Ghost Ship in Oakland. I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do. I am not perfect, and even I am susceptible to hate. But my gift is my actions, and that one was for you.

Advertisements

Gratitude

You know, I didn’t realize I took for granted celebrating Thanksgiving, or being American at home in America, for that matter. It wasn’t until I moved to Sydney that I realized, duh, they have totally different holidays than America. Yeah, they had Christmas; they had Easter. They didn’t have the 4th of July (but they did have the near equivalent of Australia Day), nor did they celebrate Thanksgiving. Their half-ass attempts at Halloween were ample justification to only buy candy for cheaper prices and eat it yourself, without having to trick-or-treat for it. Hell, Australians celebrate the Queen’s birthday, but it’s not even their Queen! And it’s not even really her birthday! But, I digress…

First off, everyone who uproots themselves on purpose to move to another country to live for a period of time suddenly becomes a foreigner in a foreign land, by the very nature of the beast. There is no longer the safety automatically afforded by being on the home team at the home game. When you’re the visitor at an away game, there is a distinct change in how all of your meaningful encounters play out.

Walking the halls of the CityRail train stations at Town Hall or Kings Cross, if I was talking with my mate, Sydneysiders’ ears would perk up when they would hear my American accent. When I went to restaurants and pronounced/enunciated differently than most Australians, waitresses and staff immediately noticed. Not only that, they called me out on it. Asked where I was from, how long I’d been there, and we’d chat. I mispronounced (even though, in my world, I was pronouncing them properly) other words like Melbourne, merlot, Dymocks (the bookstore), oregano, aluminum foil, and had countless other verbal faux pas on a daily basis.

I suddenly felt different from everyone else, very different. I’d read a different subset of books growing up, had a different plant environment than Australia, and everything made me feel really unique. I had redwoods and sequoias, not gumtrees and jacarandas.

Even in business meetings, I used an American colloquialism like “snafu” and then got called out by the client to explain what it meant. One guy googled it during our meeting to find that Situation Normal: All Fucked Up was what it was, and then we started using it all the time, because hey, free swearing. I brought something new to the table and I had a different perspective. I loved it.

I can be a rebel and I don’t like to necessarily be traditional. I don’t take classes at the gym because I have a blatant disregard for authority figures and discipline. I work out on my terms; and when I can, I celebrate holidays on my own terms. I embraced not having to deal with traditional habits, rituals that lose meaning over time, and I didn’t do that more than when I lived abroad. Even now, I’m not traveling for Thanksgiving this year, nor Christmas. I don’t want to, and you can’t make me.

 photo tumblr_inline_n10n54qCG91rnvwt1.gif

As a foreigner, when you have differences that aren’t visible to the naked eye, you can also experience some discrimination and some racism. My propensity towards assertive forwardness and ability to start a friendly conversation is most definitely very American in Australian circles. I was always nominated as the one to ask the waiter if we could modify an entrée, or to start a conversation from which to glean very important information, like if we could get a free round of drinks if we were extra nice and tipped well *wink wink*

Now, being back on my home turf, in my familiar little town of former Atlanteans, San Franpsycho, I feel like not only am I unique, but I fit right in here. I’m quirky, open minded, with lots of experiences, and in my weirdness, I am like a lot of people in this pond. I certainly don’t feel so different, though I still retain those qualities that make me different.

Difference is relative. I only feel different when I am around those not like me. I love feeling different though. I am still different, but not feeling it, not truly appreciating it, well, you forget that what makes you so special should be felt all the time. I should feel special all the time. Everyone should. Life’s too short not to.

 photo murica.gif

While I enjoy being different, I still have the same rights as other citizens of the United States. I have a really hard time feeling bad for violent protestors. There, I said it. Alcohol is sometimes the answer, but violence is never the answer.

Shooting, looting, and going batshit nuts in Ferguson, and here in the bay area closer to home (Oakland, I’m looking at you) is unnecessary. There is a lot to be said for getting your point across in a way that someone will actually listen, and take your point on board, seriously. Racial segregation is somehow on the forefront of the news, coming back in a big way, even though apartheid didn’t work in South Africa and it doesn’t work now, in the wake of events this week, even after all the lessons we learned in the 50’s. In my Facebook feed this morning, someone talked about how they saw a black man encounter racism on a Bart train for this morning’s commute. No one would sit by him. What the hell is wrong with you people? I ain’t hatin’ the players though – I’m hatin’ the game.

 photo haters.gif

I have the same rights and must abide by the same laws as anyone else. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying protestors don’t have a right and reason to protest with what they think is wrong with the system. We have the right to free speech. We don’t have the right to shoot people or end a person’s life. We don’t have a right to treat someone differently based on looks, and you should be ashamed of yourself as a human if you do. I think the Ferguson verdict has been taken personally by people when maybe it doesn’t need to be. It’s hard to accept that though, because how could this get any more personal??? It’s human rights.

 photo civilrights.gif

That’s the thing about advice – it sounds so good in theory, and the intentions are there. Maybe because I’m a Caucasian female, with blonde hair and blue eyes, and I’ve never been discriminated against for my looks, I never had an appreciation for what it might be like, therefore I have no place to speak. I have a voice, and I have an equal right to free speech, which I will not take for granted.

It wasn’t until I was a foreigner in another country, even though I looked like any other Australian, that I learned how I somehow wasn’t equal because I wasn’t Australian. Beyond being a gay woman.

Let’s just add to my point soup that I’m also a lesbian because 1) it’s fun to remind everyone of that fact every so often, and 2) I have had the privilege of not having been personally discriminated against ever for it. Maybe that, too, is just because I live in San Francisco, so maybe I don’t have a right to speak about that, either. Well guess what, I’m gonna anyway, because you’re not the boss of me.

 photo mmhmmm.gif

Brass tax, I am utterly grateful – for every privilege I’ve had growing up, for the opportunity I seized to live in Australia for 3 years and try something new in hopes of broader perspective. I’m thankful for everyone I’ve had the privilege of knowing so far and meeting in my travels.

I approach each day with gratitude. I grew up in a country that has a national holiday to remind people to be thankful for what they have. Don’t take it for granted – take nothing for granted, including life itself. Maybe other cultures could benefit from a holiday that reminds you that it’s not getting what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.

I’m not even going to talk about what causes us to celebrate this holiday (a bunch of people not wanting to pay their taxes interacting with Native Americans who paid the ultimate price when those tax evaders came to America), that’s a story for a whole other day. But, however flawed this country is, in the system that showed us again this week that it can still fail, sometimes, we Americans get things right. Pumpkin pie is one of those things. Because pumpkin should be sweet; not savory. Now, I’m looking at you, Australia. “Look at moiiiiiieeeeee…” (in a Kath Day-Knight voice)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 photo eating.gif