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Category Archives: patriotism

I hold these truths to be self-evident (even though I am on the wrong team)

I know that sometimes it’s very hard to love America.

I mean, sincerely. We have a war on women that’s putting us back to suffragette-times, and we have the government doing random nefarious things like listening to us telling our loved ones about our days (EVEN WHEN THEY’RE BORING, seriously, wouldn’t listening to these tapped calls be the WORST?), and we have so much religious shoutery you want to get earplugs permanently implanted, and we have so much insane hatred of the gay community it makes me want to attack someone with nunchucks and we have things like Twilight and Honey Boo Boo.

MERKA! We are the butt of INTERNATIONAL JOKERY! This is embarrassing, sincerely. People in other lands say things like “OMG, so happy I don’t live in America” and “WTH is happening in America” and “HA HA MERKA.”

Sigh.

Yes. America has problems. We yell a lot about a lot of things. We can’t seem to agree on ANYTHING. Everyone seems to really, really enjoy being angry. Like, ALL THE DAMN TIME. Just drive around a little, even if you’re in a good mood, and you’ll catch some good old American anger. I think we might hand it out to new citizens along with their certificates or something. “Here you go! ALL THE ANGER YOU WILL EVER NEED! WELCOME TO MERKA!” The haves are always yelling at the have nots for being lazy teat-suckers, and the have nots are trying REALLY HARD to make ends meet and ignore the yelling. And we’re not very trusting. And why should we be? Our government seems to be kind of like the villain in one those old cartoons that ties the ingenue to the train tracks. Snidely Whiplash. Our government, lately, is like Snidely Whiplash.

I’m more than willing to point out that the Emperor has come out of the palace in his birthday suit. Anyone who reads my blog is aware that I’m not all rah, rah America. Mostly because I like to call it Merka. And pick on it for doing very stupid things. And muse about how it might be nicer to go live in Finland, where they have Midsummer poles (which are most definitely a euphemism.)

However, I’ll tell you something that might surprise some of you.

I love the hell out of my country.

I think it is an amazing place. Sometimes I love it so much it makes me have tears. Sometimes I get so stupidly proud of this sprawling piece of dirt I get GOOSEBUMPS. I know. You’re totally shocked right now. Dad finds it amazing. “No one on the wrong team loves their country as much as you do,” he marvels on a regular basis. “I think there might be something wrong with you.”

(“The wrong team” = Democrats, in case that needed explanation.)

I believe, despite all the problems, America is an amazing place. It is a country full of potential, and beauty, and power, and majesty. It’s a country that, were it to live up to its potential, would be so good. So FINE. A country that other countries could look up to and a country that we could be proud to live in ALL the time, not just some of the time, not just when we get it right, but ALL the time.

Dad says we’re not allowed to say “Happy Fourth of July” today because that’s liberal propaganda. “If you say ‘Happy Fourth of July,” Dad said, because Fox News told him to, “you are shitting on everything our forefathers worked so hard for. It’s not just a DAY. It is INDEPENDENCE DAY.”

“What if I say Happy Birthday Merka?” I asked.

Dad grumbled. “I don’t know. The Real News didn’t say what to do if someone called it America’s Birthday.”

“Because that’s what I like to say. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MERKA! Because you know what everyone likes. BIRTHDAYS!”

Dad grumbled some more. “Well, it’s really Independence Day. That’s what The Real News says.”

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MERKAAAAAAAA! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUUUU!”

“You’re insane.”

“I love birthdays. Also Merka.”

“Fine. Just remember it’s also Independence Day. And don’t bake America a cake because I don’t think America has a mouth.”

“It DOES. Probably the mouth would be the Grand Canyon. I could throw the cake in the Grand Canyon.”

“You. Are. Insane.”

Happy birthday, America.

Happy birthday to the country that brings us Wendy Davis, who knew what was right, and wasn’t afraid to stand up for it, even though the amount of hatred for her in that room would have scared away almost anyone else in the world.

Happy birthday to the country that brought us E. E. Cummings.

Happy birthday to the country that was founded on giving us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Happy birthday to the country that brought us Katelyn Campbell, who said, “you know what? I might be only a high school senior, but this abstinence-only education is factually incorrect, and I’m going to protest it” even though the school’s principal threatened to make sure she wouldn’t get accepted to college if she did so.

(P.S. - it didn't work. Kick some ass at Wellesley, Kate.)

(P.S. – It didn’t work. Kick some ass at Wellesley, Katelyn.)

Happy birthday to the country that brought us Edward Hopper, who understood what it was to be very, very alone.

Happy birthday to the country that was founded by a bunch of rebellious yahoos who wanted things to be better than where they came from (and who, I’m quite sure, would be horrified with what we’ve done with what they left us; they would, very likely, tell us we’re the reason we can’t have nice things.)

Rebellious yahoos with really humorous hair.

Rebellious yahoos with really humorous hair.

Happy birthday to the country that brought us Rosa Parks, who’d just had enough, and who just wanted to sit the hell down, and didn’t want to have to walk all the way to the back of the bus to do it;

Alice Paul, who asked Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty, even when they put her in jail, even when they force-fed her when she wouldn’t eat, even when it seemed everyone had turned against her;

and Harriet Tubman, who risked her life time and time again to bring others to freedom.

Happy birthday to the country that has beautiful large things…

…and beautiful small things…

…and things that are ridiculous, and wonderful, and beautiful just because they exist, and are filled with whimsy.

Happy birthday to the country that allows me to be as loud as I want, and as wild as I want, and to speak up against what it’s doing…and not go to jail for it, because for all of our faults, we do still have free speech here. We have the Bill of Rights. Which, when I read it, when I read it out loud, I weep. Because it’s beautiful. There are all different types of poetry. The first amendment of the Bill of Rights?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That’s poetry. That’s a group of people who’d had enough, who didn’t want anyone after them to go through what they’d been through; enough so that they made it one of our inalienable rights as Americans.

Happy birthday, and happy independence, Merka. I love you, even though you frustrate me. You’re like a beloved child; no matter how angry I get at you, no matter how much you upset me, no matter HOW MUCH I disagree with your choices, I still love you. I love you furiously. I love you so much it makes me crazy. I love you so much I’d defend you with my life. I love you so damn much I want the absolute best for you.

You are my country, and sometimes you’re a big old weirdo, and yet I still adore you.

(Even though right now I think you’re in that awkward adolescent phase where you’re smoking too much pot and drinking too much and sleeping with questionable partners who are just bound to give you the herp.)

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Merkans. Give your country a hug today, yeah? It’s trying really hard not to be a jerk, sometimes. There’s still some of that glory in there. There’s still wonder. There’s still beauty. There’s still magic.

You just have to look a little harder to find it.

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Perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder

Here we are. Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans. One of my favorite holidays. Not for normal reasons, like the “let’s all have a barbecue and set off some fireworks and drink fruity drinks” way. I don’t do any of that. I used to, back in the day. Now mostly I am just excited about a random day off in the middle of the week so I can stay up late the night before and sleep in on the 4th, and then have the day to do whatever I want all day. Quite American, right? Right.

WHOA.This is WAY American.

Nope, it’s one of my favorite holidays because it’s a day that celebrates my country. And I really do, for all the fun I poke at it, love my country. So, so much. (I think half of being an American is poking fun at your country. The other half is probably eating hot dogs.)

Very, VERY Merkan.

So, 236 years ago today, the Declaration of Independence was adopted. A group of Americans got together and did something we, as Americans, are very good at. They got pissed off. They got angry that the British were telling them what to do and refusing to listen to them and being bossy-britches, and finally were all, “SCREW THIS YO” and wrote up a declaration stating that, nope, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore so we’re taking our toys and we’re GOING HOME. Oh, wait, we’re home. YOU go home, British. YOU GO HOME. (Another reason to love our forefathers? The British had them officially declared traitors in 1775. Traitors! I like that. I like that a lot. My forefathers were traitors. Well, ok, my spiritual forefathers, as my actual forefathers were probably hanging out in Canada at the time, from what I can tell. Oh, and my foreMOTHERS. Can’t forget my foremothers. They were undoubtedly quite kickass traitors as well.)

They don’t look especially traitory. I think that’s because of the wigs. Wigs negate traitorness.

What’s that? I’m oversimplifying a little bit? OK FINE. You can read the whole Declaration of Independence here. It’s much fancier than just a lot of stomping and crankiness. Look, this was written over two hundred years ago and it’s really beautiful. Jefferson was an amazing writer.

Ooh, this is a stylish fur collar! Check this out! Nice one, Jefferson!

They wrote the Declaration of Independence and they handed it out to all of the cranky-pants early Americans and they were all “this ROCKS you guys” and then they continued to fight the American Revolution and that went on for a reallllly long time (8 years, yo!) and with the help of France, Spain, and the Netherlands (thank you, buddies!), we finally became MERKA. Whew! So we could legally be crabbity without taxation without representation and such.

Horses and stabbery and death and destruction. Same as war now, except for probably the horses, I guess. And maybe a little less stabbery.

How much do I love American history? (Well, all history. But American history is one of my favorite things. It gets me all fired up and excited and bouncy. TRAITORS! WARS! POWDERED WIGS! SEWING OF FLAGS!)

HAND-sewing of the flag. Hand-sewing sucks. I don’t envy them this.

I like the fourth because people think about where we came from. I think we should think about that more. We really have a lot to be proud of, you know? We were the underdogs. I love that. Holy HELL do I love that. We were the underdog story and we WON. There is NOTHING I like more than an underdog story. Did we do some crappy things along the way? Sure we did. But overall, we took on a world superpower and we won the right to be our own country. Simplified? Yeah. I like to boil things down to their essence. Makes them easier to take. Like medicine.

So we’re from a bunch of traitors who were cranky and independent and obstinate. You can see why I like a holiday that celebrates our first major step toward that, right? Sure you can.

Stubborn and obstinate. These are my people.

I like to go beyond the 4th and think about the building blocks that made America, well, America. I like to think of the people that explored, and invented, and refused to accept things the way they were.

Our authors: Arthur Miller, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, L. Frank Baum, Louisa May Alcott, John Irving, Mark Twain, Anne Sexton, Ray Bradbury, Robert Frost, Stephen King, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath. I’m proud they walked the same soil as I did. I’m proud the same country formed them as formed me.

Our artists: Mary Cassatt, James Whistler, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollack, Jasper Johns, Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jeff Koons, Frederic Remington, Jean Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Norman Rockwell, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth.

Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.” I will always love this painting.

I like to think that these people were born here where I was, that they were educated here, grew up on this same soil that I did, that the same set of values from the same country somehow seeped into them the same way they seeped into me. That we’re all connected, somehow. That makes me proud. Does it also make me a little naive? Sure. It’s the 4th of July. I’m allowed to be naive today. It’s my apple-pie-and-red-white-and-blue-bunting day. Let it ride, sunshine.

And if I naively want America to be a little better, a little more honorable, stronger, truer, more clear-eyed and less backstabby and to work harder and to be all it can be? Well, you might think I’m nuts, but you can’t stop me. I’m childlike in my hope for this, in my belief that we can be better, that we can be amazing.

We’re all a little nuts, us Americans. We’re all melting-potty and we’re all pretty sure we’re always right about everything and we’re bullheaded and we’re angry a lot of the time. We’re also often quite kind. And more intelligent than people give us credit for. And funny. And brave. And hard-working. And some of us are asshatty, sometimes. Guess what? Just like all people all over the place. We’re all people. But they’re all my people, you know? It’s the 4th. I love my fellow Merkans today. With their fireworks and their hamburgers and their beer in big coolers.

I like to think of all of these things rather than all the fighting over politics or illegal immigration or how much we hate other countries for one reason or another or how much we hate each other for being different than we are; I like to think that, for one day, we’re all just kids, looking up at the sky, oohing and aahing over the fireworks, bonding over the grill, basking in the sun and laughing and celebrating a group of traitors who’d had more than enough kowtowing to the man. I like to think of that.

Happy Fourth of July, my wonderful, beautiful, generous, amazing, intelligent, obstinate, argumentative, crazy, hilarious, and, most importantly, human fellow Americans. I’m proud to share my patch of earth with you all.

Happy little sparkler for all of you. Don’t burn your fingers.

(Title from Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s amazing “I Am Waiting,” which is long but worth a read, especially today. It’s soaring. Here, I’ll paste it in below. It makes me proud to be a fellow American poet, and it’s perfect for today – which is a surprise, since it was written over fifty years ago. Enjoy your day off, all.)

I Am Waiting
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn\
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder


Also, we usually don’t live like we’re dying or serve beer to our horses. Sorry, Germany.

Dear Germany:

It has come to my attention, through this very educational blog post my friend (and I’m pretty sure somehow my secret long-lost twin even though my father SWEARS it’s not genetically possible and I promised I’d believe him) @lahikmajoe posted the other day, that apparently, you are forming your opinions of us through a radio station called The Ranch.

When I researched this radio station, I learned that a., their website was cluttered with all the bright knick-knacks the internet can hold and kind of gave me a total headache, and b., they are “the sound of Texas.” Well! That’s nice.

Listen, somehow, randomly, and I really have no explanation for this, I have become acquainted with some awesome Texans lately? PLUS, twice, I drove through the top of Texas on my way west, and again east. I’m pretty sure that’s called the panhandle, or something. Although I don’t think it looks like a panhandle. And who even says “panhandle” anymore? Except beggars. ANYWAY, I’m pretty sure this radio station isn’t the sound of my Texans. From what I can tell, the sound of MY Texans is a lot of sarcasm and awesomeness. But probably no one would listen to that radio station. Except me. I would listen ALL THE TIME to that radio station.

Some of the things @lahikmajoe’s countrymen ask him about our country (specifically, Texas, but I’d like to think that The Ranch makes them think this about all of us), according to his post (and listen, are you reading his blog? I’m totally about to get all up in arms here. I really like his blog. You should too! He is awesome and like a zillion times more intelligent and thoughtful than I am. Go follow him. No, seriously, I’ll wait. I’m drinking all the Olive Garden magic no-hangover wine tonight, I have the patience of JOB right now. Go! Go, go! OK, you’d better be back now, because we’re moving on) are:

  • Did you grow up with horses?
  • Did you wear a cowboy hat to school?
  • What’s a real rodeo like?

These questions sadden me, Germans. Because listen! America has a lot of other things, too! Like weird roadside attractions like big balls of twine and huge cement rolls of Life Savers! And zombie preparedness stores! And like 43 gabillion Dunkin’ Donuts!

But then I did some research, and I realized that the country songs you are listening to that form your idea of America (or, if you’d like, “MERKA,” which is the way I say it when I’m pretending to be a patriotic hillbilly, because it makes me laugh) are totally misleading and also kind of upsetting. So I’d like to talk about them with you, and maybe disabuse you of any notions they’ve caused you to form about our great land.

“Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”
by Joe Nichols

What this might make you think about MERKA: Drinking to excess makes women forgetful and nudist.

What is wrong with this picture: Alcoholism isn’t this jolly or sexy, even in MERKA.

This song is about a man whose significant other is going out to drink margaritas at the Holiday Inn (CLASSY!) and he’s all “oh, good gravy PUT ON SOME EXTRA CLOTHES THIS TIME MYRTLE” because apparently she comes home wearing table linens when she drinks tequila, but not champagne or or rum or vodka.

Germany, I can assure you this is not the case. I had a very long and storied love affair with tequila, and it did NOT make my clothes “fall off.” At least, no more than any other alcoholic beverage. It did, however, cause some HELLACIOUS hangovers. And also vomiting. A LOT of vomiting. Once in a cab. Sorry, cabdriver. Sorry.

Please do not come to our country and buy our ladies margaritas expecting us to start shedding clothes like trees in the fall. Or, wait, do. I totally love margaritas but those suckers are EXPENSIVE, yo. I’ll meet you at the Holiday Inn. There’s one right around the corner from me. So that’s handy!

“Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy”
by Big & Rich

What this might make you think about MERKA: Cowboys are super-hot, and everyone wants to have sex with them, and they buy everyone drinks, and they’re totally always making “riding” puns.

What is wrong with this picture: I don’t know that these type of cowboys exist anymore outside of movies. And also, have you never HEARD of STDs? What is this, the 60s, you damn freewheeling hippie? You KNOW this jackass isn’t packing protection.

This song is about a braggy cowboy who tells about all of his exploits in a shouty, “look at my big old dick, mama!” voice. Things he does: buys everyone drinks; rides his horse all over the place, including into cities; passes out hundred dollar bills to everyone in a bar; compares himself to John Wayne (AS IF); taking a girl out to some abandoned road and showing her how to hunt frogs (WHO DOES THIS I LOVE FROGS) with his dog while singing her all the Willie Nelson songs and then they MAKE LOVE (I’m sorry, but that phrase makes me want to throw up until I’m sore).

(Side note: I’m kind of the most in love with John Wayne. I know. It’s weird, right? I want him to protect me from all the badguys. I have no explanation for this phenonemon, either. Carry on.)

I’m not going to deny there’s some sort of shouty appeal to this song, but I don’t think these kind of people exist, and if they do, I don’t think people are falling all over themselves to MAKE LOVE ZOMG to them because a., if anyone ever said to me “let’s make love” I’d be all “ok, Barry Gibb, where are your platform shoes, the 1970s called and want their sayings back” and also then I’d probably laugh until I cried, and b., no one DOES these things. No one rides into the city on a horse and starts throwing money around like a crazy person. If they do, they deserve to get mugged and beaten. That’s looney tunes behavior.

I feel like people in Germany are listening to this and they’re like that poor kid in Love, Actually who wanted to come to America to have sex with all the hot American co-eds like in the sex comedies. Although that kind of worked out for him. Dammit. THIS WILL NOT WORK OUT FOR YOU, GERMANS.

“Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue”
by Toby Keith

What this might make you think about MERKA: I shudder to think. Ok, fine. That we will stick a boot in your ass. It’s the American way.

What is wrong with this picture: We’re not all jingoistic morons.

When this song came out, it was a tough time for America. Post 9/11. We were all pretty shaken up. There was a lot of “rah rah AMERICA” sentiment. I get it. I totally get it! From the tip of my liberal toes to the top of my liberal head, I get it.

Then this song happened, and my friend Mer and I were seriously not sure whether to run away to Canada or to hide under our covers until the inevitable end of the world came.

“Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.”

“Oh, justice will be served and the battle will rage:
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage.
An’ you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A.
‘Cos we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”

Please, Germany. We will NOT put a boot in your ass. I promise. We are not all crazy people. We actually don’t even all have guns. I mean, can we? Sure. But we don’t all EXERCISE that right. Please don’t be too scared, Germans. We’re not all big dogs. Some of us are little dogs! Like Basenjis. Doesn’t everyone like Basenjis? They lick themselves! Like cats! And they’re barkless! Barkless clean dogs! PLEASE DON’T BE AFRAID GERMANY!

“Bubba Shot the Jukebox”
by Mark Chestnutt

What this might make you think about MERKA: That we all have guns in our cars and we shoot up bars when we get sad. And we have people here named Bubba.

What is wrong with this picture: I don’t think this happens DAILY or anything.

This song is about Bubba, a mentally-ill man, who is at a bar and drinks a lot and the jukebox makes him cry so he goes out to his car and gets a gun and shoots it. You know. As you do.

Um, Germans, I’m not going to say this has never happened? Because this totally sounds like something that COULD happen. I’m not going to lie to you, Germans. But probably it won’t. PROBABLY it won’t. I mean, I can’t guarantee anything. But odds are good this won’t happen if you come to MERKA.

Now listen, Germans. There are fun and enjoyable country singers you can listen to. Old country singers are kind of kickass. Johnny Cash! Willie Nelson! Dolly Parton! Kenny Rogers, before he became a scary plastic-faced monster! And also, I’m totally madly in love with Brad Paisley, because his songs are clever and adorable. Also, he’s super-smart on Celebrity Jeopardy. Although that “I want to check you for ticks” song was a total misstep. I’m not going to lie about that.

Also, GERMANS! I totally spent four days in your country in the late 90s and I liked it VERY MUCH. Things I liked: your chocolate; seeing the Berlin Wall museum; how even when people were smiling, your language sounded totally gruff, so it was kind of an adorable disconnect; Germans were not as anti-American as, say, people in France were (DAMN YOU RUDE PARISIANS AND YOUR TOTALLY SNEERY CORRECTION OF MY HIGH SCHOOL FRENCH) and in one town we went in, there was an entire RESTAURANT that served nothing but FUNNEL CAKE. I don’t know why EITHER. It was the BEST THING EVER.

So I kind of think I owe to to you, you lovely people, to let you know that we may be Americans, but we’re not all MERKANS. From what I understand, Texas is LOVELY. And also, so is New York! I mean, I choose New York, obviously, because, well, I’m here, and I’m kind of the most kick-ass awesome, but I’m pretty sure if you decide to go to Texas OVER New York (I mean, I’m not telling you what to DO, or anything, but you DO know we have Broadway here, right? OK, just checking) that you won’t get stampeded, or forced to ride the bull in the rodeo, or wear a ten-gallon hat. Even if the country songs make you think otherwise.

Sleep well, Germans! And if you want to send me a thank-you gift, I totally would take some of that random funnel cake.

Love, Me.


Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

Hi, Lucites. (This is my new name for you. What do we think? It makes me laugh and think of stripper shoes with goldfish in the heels.)

And I hope you did/do, too.

Not to get all high-horsey, but it takes only a few minutes, you probably don’t have to go too far out of your way to get to your polling place, and listen, IT IS AWESOME. I don’t want to get on you all, CIVIC DUTY and A MILLION STARVING CHILDREN IN CHINA and all, but seriously, you get to VOTE. For people who REPRESENT YOU. That’s an awesome ability we have! And so many people I know just don’t bother. I know it’s not the presidential election year this year, but there are people running for positions that need your vote, so go, run in, take ten minutes out of your day and do something awesome that we, as Americans, get to do.

OK, slightly haranguing rant over.

Also, I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll do it again, but UGH Scantron voting, you SUCK SO HARD. Why is this a thing? Why did we get rid of the old awesome cast-iron historic voting machines? Chads? Hanging chads? Well, I hate you, hanging chads, because I miss the old days. And now I am my grandmother. But seriously, something is missing from the experience.

OLDEN DAYS

Walk into a old-timey booth that has been used for probably half a century by other voters. Pull the lever; a musty, ugly curtain seals you in. Just you and the voting machine. Push down the little levers. They give a satisfying little “click” as you vote. You can go back and correct your votes if you screw up and misread the instructions. Sometimes, people bring their children in with them so they can see how democracy works. The children giggle as they are allowed to push the levers into place. This is utterly adorable. When you’re finished, pull the big lever again; your curtain withdraws, and your votes are tallied in the bowels of the big metal machine. You are counted. You feel part of history. You feel special and important and proud.

MODERN TIMES

Walk in. Everyone’s chewing gum and looking so, so bored. They hand you a Scantron sheet. They are supposed to hand it to you in a privacy envelope but no one ever gives you one so your vote is all hanging in the wind like a exhibitionist’s naughty bits. You walk to a plastic table that wobbles when you stand on it, which is separated by mere inches from the weird, grunting person beside you with barely opaque plasticine “walls.” If a child were allowed to stand beside an adult in this cubicle to watch the democratic process, the entire thing would topple like a house of cards. You fill in your bubbles, hoping you don’t make a mistake, because if you do, back to the table of boredom and the vaguely disapproving polling place overlords. Walk sadly to the Scantron machine and feed your sheet into the machine. The fingerprint-grimed screen flashes you’ve been accepted. Walk, somewhat defeated, to your car, wondering what the definition of “progress” is, and fairly sure, whatever it is, this isn’t it.

But, no matter the fashion, vote! Vote! Vote!

This year there were a lot of people running unopposed. I find it odd they were even on the ballot. Isn’t it a done deal? I mean, they only need one vote, right? Or do they even need that? It seems like a waste of ink. Are they there in case of some sort of groundswell movement of write-ins? I should totally have voted for myself for County Coroner, shouldn’t I? DAMMIT. Missed opportunity. I would have been the best County Coroner, I can’t even tell you. Like the girl from Tru Calling, only without magical powers or whatever she had. I don’t remember it that well.

This year, I voted against my party lines in one race, which I don’t take lightly. But I researched it and researched it and I just couldn’t vote for one person. I had many, many issues with her. I’m fairly sure my one measly Scantron bubble isn’t going to make her lose – we’re pretty stuck in our ways where I live, and she’s an incumbent, so I think she’s going to get it, no matter what I do – but I felt better letting my Scantron bubble do the talking.

And! Listen, the political robocalls were OUT OF CONTROL this year. Were you all getting these as badly as we were around here? I was getting, on average, 3-5 of these a day for the past 3 weeks or so. And why are they YELLING SO LOUDLY ON MY VOICEMAIL. Here is a typical political robocall:

“THIS IS JUDGE DICK HANDLER. I AM RUNNING FOR STATE SUPREME COURT. ON NOVEMBER 8, PLEASE VOTE FOR ME. DICK HANDLER. AS I AM RUNNING IN A POLITICAL RACE AND NEED YOUR VOTE IN ORDER TO WIN SAID RACE. SO PLEASE VOTE FOR ME. THAT’S DICK. DICK HANDLER. YOUR VOTE COUNTS. BUT ONLY WHEN CASTING IT FOR DICK HANDLER.”

I am now deaf, Penis Groper. But thanks.

Also, I have an unlisted number. HOW ARE THEY GETTING IT IN ORDER TO CALL ME. I think this is a Mel-Gibson-sized conspiracy theory, right here, friends and neighbors. Maybe Mel can get that beaver puppet and look into this or something.

If you are lucky enough to have a polling place in a school, you might even get an adorable children-run bake sale, or book sale, which are the most fun and also totally suck you in. How can you turn down these kiddos with their little faces of neediness? I mean, what if you just walked on by and then they thought less of the democratic process, hmm? NICE JOB SLICK.

Hey, and also, women, back, on the, “get out and vote please it makes me feel better if you do” thing that I promised I’d stopped way on up the page there? I don’t mean to call you out, here, but we fought REALLY HARD for the right to vote. And I know. I KNOW. We also have the right NOT to vote, OUR BODIES OUR CHOICE, yes yes yes, I get it, go go girl power. But I like to think that our ancestors, who didn’t have the chance, are watching you with COMPLETE HORROR that you don’t even bother to take ten minutes out of your day to do something they fought really, really hard for. I mean, we didn’t even get the right to do so until  1920, for the love of Pete. ALSO, today I found out that Mississippi didn’t ratify the 19th Amendment (that’s the suffrage bill, you non-history types) until – are you seriously ready for this? NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR. I mean, women there could VOTE, but Mississippi was making it very clear that they were NOT DOWN WITH IT. Anyway, look:

If these women wearing these totally constricting-looking outfits and hats and such can protest for your right to vote LESS THAN 100 YEARS AGO I think it’s really not too much to ask that you go down and occupy your Scantron cubby. I mean, seriously, 1920? My grandmother (and also Hugh Hefner, because they are TOTALLY SIMILAR) was born in 1926. This is kind of still within the reach of history. But I am so, so glad that styles have changed because my, oh, my would I have had trouble with corseting, skirts and hats. DO NOT WANT.

To those of you (I am sitting not five feet away from one RIGHT NOW in my office) who refuse to vote because “every year the same people get voted in” – well, think about it logically. Let’s say you, and a thousand people like you, who don’t normally vote, decided to go out and vote this year, for someone other than the incumbent. Or ten thousand. Whatever. What would happen, Lackadaisical McMalaise? CHANGE. Change would happen. But you know when it’s NOT going to happen? SITTING ON YOUR ASS COMPLAINING.

AND. If you don’t vote? You don’t get to complain about the people in office. You don’t get to say “I didn’t vote. He’s YOUR president.” Nope! He’s ALL of our president (or state senator or governor or dog catcher.) Because YOU DIDN’T VOTE. Congrats! He’s YOURS now. You’re the winner! By not participating, YOU WIN.

I know. I kind of went off-track, here, and back into the haranguing I promised I wouldn’t. See, listen. I love to vote? I think it’s just the coolest. I think we get to do some really awesome things, as Americans. We can speak our minds and we have the Constitution to back us up. We can marry who we love, despite race and (in some states, and more all the time!) gender. And dammit, we can vote! Why would you NOT vote when it’s this free and awesome thing that we’re given as a gift, just for living in the country we live in?

So you have until 9pm tonight, in most areas – go out, bubble in your bubbles, make a difference, even if it’s only to yourself. And let me know that you voted! It will restore my faith in America.

(Title courtesy of George Jean Nathan,  New York drama critic and editor. Because if I can shoehorn theater in, even in a political post? Win win WIN.)


Instead then shall the voice of liberty be mute?

As it’s Independence Day today, I wanted to talk about something uniquely American, or at least something patriotic. Because listen, I love my country. I know you might be thinking I don’t seem like the kind of person who would. I seem like one of those crazy liberals, right? Who hates America, and all it stands for?

Yeah, no. I love America. I love American history. It makes me tear up, actually, I love it so much. American history is like a real-life version of The Mighty Ducks, only instead of a rag-tag band of kids led by a young Joshua Jackson, you have our founding fathers, and instead of whoever the Ducks were fighting in whatever sequel you’re watching, you have the British. It’s like the ultimate underdog story. Who doesn’t love an underdog story? And we won. There was bravery and fighting and people being stubborn and refusing to pay taxes and rebelling against the man – this is good stuff. Of course I love America, you dolt.

(“Did she just compare the American Revolution to…” Yes, shut up, I love The Mighty Ducks. My taste in movies is sometimes a little questionable. Deal with it. I watch real movies sometimes, too, movies with artistic value and subtitles and such. But sometimes you – fine, ME – want{s}to watch a group of kids pull it together in time to win a championship, while quacking and performing the Flying “V”. Leave me alone.)

If I didn’t love America, wouldn’t I have moved somewhere else? I mean, Canada’s right there. I grew up literally minutes away from the border. I’m not saying I don’t say things like “I’m moving to Canada!” once and a while (there are two instances where I can imagine myself looking into Canadian citizenship – sadly enough, both involve something happening I’d love to see, a woman becoming president.  But the two seeming front-runners – and I think you all know who they are, and I certainly don’t want to drive any traffic here by naming them, it’s kind of like saying Bloody Mary three times into a mirror AND SHE APPEARS! – scare the bejeebers out of me. My spell check wants me to change that word to bedchambers. They also scare the bedchambers out of me) but honestly, I’m just venting. I wouldn’t go. Nothing against Canada. I like Canada a great deal. I just love my country too much to leave it, ever, no matter what happens.

There was a news story on last night where they’d done an informal poll and 58% of Americans under the age of 30 didn’t know why we celebrated Independence Day, and another weirdly high number which I have forgotten because I have the attention span of a child raised by wolves didn’t know who we had become independent from. The statistic was skewed in the favor of men (men got the answer right more often than women did.) This is frightening news. Were you not paying attention at all in school, or in life? Were the statistics wrong? I don’t understand this, really. Did you think America was just here, and people just showed up and it was just waiting for us, all industrialized, tables set for dinner, shiny new appliances waiting for their owners, a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage? Did you think that July 4th was just a random day off for you to get drunk, drive like assholes, and hold fireworks in your hand while lighting them, then blow off some fingers, then call the local ambulance-chasing lawyer to sue the fireworks manufacturer for not warning you harshly enough? And why were men more able to answer this question than women? I like to think because the women saw the pollster coming and thought he was about to hit on them, or spray them with cheap perfume, or something, so they just walked by briskly and with purpose as if they didn’t hear him calling and he marked them as “too stupid to answer the question” out of spite. Because it really makes me sad, otherwise. 

I’m mostly friends with intelligent people – I have very little time for stupidity, it takes too long, honestly, and I’m busy, so if I have to explain fourteen times what I want to you, then I’m going to probably not call on you again – so someone not understanding the history behind one of our major holidays confuses me. But then again, I never understood those “Jaywalking” bits that Jay Leno used to do (he might still do them, I don’t know, I don’t stay up late enough to watch him and wouldn’t, even if I did, because I don’t think he’s funny and I don’t approve of how NBC handled the Conan situation.)  You’ve seen these, right? He would ask people questions like, “Who invented the telephone,” or “What did Neil Armstrong say when he walked on the moon?” and the people say things like “Albert Einstein” or “I gotta pee.” Now, I’m not sure if these people are plants (as in, planted by the producers, not wisteria vines or beans or zucchini) or these are real answers. But I’m going to assume they are real answers, because I’ve seen people being interviewed on the local news, and some of the things people say when a camera is stuck in their face are very, very stupid.

I don’t know how you can’t know basic things about your country. I’m a little foggy on a few things, I’ll admit it. I have a mental block on the term limits of senators, representatives, judges, etc. at state and national levels (2? 4? 6? they serve for life? SO MANY OPTIONS) so often have to research that if I want the answer. And since I didn’t get ABC as a child, I was not able to watch Schoolhouse Rock so I’m not 100% on how a bill becomes a law. But here’s the thing – I can Google it. Anyone can. Google is for everyone! Even if you don’t have a computer or a fancy phone, you can get to a library, and use theirs! And you can research things that interest you! Or, if you are scared of technology, there are books, which came before technology, and they can tell you things, too! Interesting things! Sometimes with pretty pictures!

Crap. I’m way off topic, here. I wanted to talk about something uniquely American or patriotic or something for the 4th of July and instead we’ve discussed The Mighty Ducks, spellcheck, Jaywalking, and Google.  Which, if you think about it, are all kind of uniquely American, if not patriotic. Whoa. It is an Independence Day MIRACLE.

For those of you who didn’t know what we’re celebrating today, 235 years ago today, the Declaration of Independence was approved and signed. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Yeah, there aren’t any wizards or vampires or robots, so I can see how it slipped past you. There were just a group of men who were pretty sick of being told what to do and how to act and such so they did something about it, and because of them, you have the unalienable right to be as clueless as you’d like – and I have the right to call you out on it. 

Thanks, founding fathers.

Happy birthday, America.

(My title is from e.e. cumming’s lovely poem “next to of course god america i.” Happy 4th, all.)

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