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Tag Archives: America

Rude? RUDE? Call me rude again, I’ll punch you right in the neck.

I keep meaning to talk about this thing but then other things happen and I want to talk about THEM and I keep forgetting. I know. I’m the worst. How do you even STAND me.

So! Finally! Let’s talk about this totally illustrious thing!

A few weeks ago, some site called The Business Insider that I’ve never heard of, because I don’t care about business, I guess, did this survey where they polled Merkans about what they thought about other states. They asked them questions like “who has the weirdest accent” and such.

NEW YORK WON MANY OF THESE POLLS.

Ready? Want to know what New York is best at?

We have one of the weirdest accents! (Massachusetts won this one.)

We have the best food!

We are one of America’s favorite states! (California won this one.)

We are one of the craziest states! (California ALSO won this one.)

We are one of the drunkest states! (Louisiana won this one.)

We are the most arrogant state!

We are the rudest state!

We are one of the smartest states! (Massachusetts won this one.)

We have the best sports fans!

We apparently also have the WORST sports fans!

We are one of the most overrated states! (California won this one, too.)

So! What does this tell us about my most beloved state?

Yup, there we are! Right there!

Yup, there we are! Right there!

Honestly, I think this tells us more about the people taking the poll than the states, to be frank. The states that consistently got the most votes (people weren’t allowed to vote for their own states) were the biggest, most well-known states. California, New York, Texas, and Florida tended to factor in pretty heavily every time. I think if people didn’t know who to vote for, they were like “eh, I’ll vote for one of the big states that I’m familiar with.”

The weird accent one, I have to assume, is New York City and Long Island. I don’t know if the rest of the state qualifies as “weird.” People from Buffalo have a distinctive way of talking, as do people from upstate, where I’m from. (We have a distinctive Canadian accent. I had to break myself of it when I got to college to stop people from making fun of me.) I’m sure the other bigger cities have a “tell” as well, but I don’t know many people from those places. But I don’t know that people from all of Merka know about our smaller regional dialects. I think they think of New York, they think of either New Yawkas or Lon Guylanders. (I don’t know if they’re “weird,” though. I think they’re wonderful. I adore accents.)

THE BEST FOOD! Do we really? Well, that’s pleasing, right? THANK YOU, PEOPLE WHO WERE POLLED! (I don’t know about the best food. We have excellent food, but I’ve been to a lot of places in other states and have had excellent food…so it’s really subjective, right?)

Aw, we’re one of your favorites. As we SHOULD be. We’re really fantastic. We have Broadway and we have the Adirondack Park and we have Niagara Falls and we have ALBANY. I mean, seriously. We have all the things. (California also has many things. I’m cool with California being a winner here. I very much enjoyed my time in your fine state when I visited, California. Your ocean was lovely. And your people were very friendly.)

We’re apparently both crazy and drunk? This seems suspect. How are we more crazy and drunk than so many other states? By sheer population density? I mean, we didn’t WIN these categories (Dad’s always saying California’s crazy…he calls it “the land of fruits and nuts”…and I guess Louisiana won the drunk competition because of Mardi Gras?) but we were one of the top contenders. I don’t know about crazy. I mean, we HAVE crazies, but what state doesn’t? And as for drunk, again, I don’t know what state doesn’t. These are silly categories.

Well. We’re the most arrogant and most rude state. Again, I have to assume the people taking this poll are judging us on New York City (because let’s face it, people who don’t live here think the state’s one big New York City, sometimes. “Oh, you’re from New York? Did you go to Broadway a lot as a kid?” No. Since it was ALL THE WAY AT THE BOTTOM OF MY STATE, I did not attend a show on Broadway until I was 18, but thank you for assuming I lived on the Great White Way as a toddler.)

Here’s the thing. New Yorkers (I AM talking about the city now) aren’t much more arrogant or rude than any group of people living in a large city. They’re busy, and they’re very often in a hurry, and they don’t like stupidity or things that slow them down or dumb tourists, but they’re actually quite kind. I’ve had New Yorkers be very helpful when I’ve asked for directions; I’ve had people hold doors for me; I’ve seen many genuine smiles and small kindnesses in my trips to my favorite city in the world.

YES. It is things like this that make New Yorkers get rude. STOP BEING BAD TOURISTS WHILE IN THE CITY!!!

YES. It is things like this that make New Yorkers get rude. STOP BEING BAD TOURISTS WHILE IN THE CITY!!!

People seem to ASSUME New York City is rude, and the people arrogant. My mother was PETRIFIED to visit for the first time. She thought she’d get lost and people would laugh at her, possibly while spitting on her, and that she’d get psychomugged like a billion times. (When she got home, she said “Huh. It was nothing like I thought. Mostly just crowded. And the buildings were really tall.”)

This is what made me saddest about this poll. I wish everyone could visit New York City and see the place I do when I visit, and how wonderful it is. I also wish people would stop judging my entire state on New York City. WE ARE A VERY BIG STATE WITH A LOT OF OTHER PLACES IN IT.

See the City? Way down there? And ALL THE REST OF US UP HERE? Sigh.

See the City? Way down there? And ALL THE REST OF US UP HERE? Sigh.

Back to the poll. We are one of the smartest states! I assume Massachusetts won this because of all their colleges. That’s ok. We ARE very intelligent. She says humbly. The people I know here are very bright. I have such intelligent conversations with people. They genuinely love to learn. This makes me so happy. So YES. This one’s valid. We’re smarties, we are.

I don’t know anything about this best/worst sports fan thing. It seems like a stupid question to ask and answer and what makes a good/bad sports fan, really? Silly silly silly.

We are one of the most overrated states? Huh. I’d say there’s no WAY we are rated highly ENOUGH, yo. Because we are the BEST. THE! BEST! Fine, I might be a little biased, here. But I’m also RIGHT. (Why you hatin’ on my state, yo? I don’t say mean things about YOUR state!)

What have we learned today, bloggonians?

  • New York is apparently one of the states people think of when there are polls about things.
  • People seem to think we’re rude and arrogant but also have delicious noms and are super-smart so SUCK IT!
  • Polls are silly. And oddy biased. And sometimes ask weird questions that make no sense.
  • NEW YORK IS THE BEST STATE EVERRRRRRR. (What? We didn’t learn that? Fine, I’m cheating. But it’s with LOVE. I’m cheating with LOVE.)

Happy Monday, internet. I hope you had weekends of adventure and your weeks ahead are the best of the best. Here in Amy-land it is COUNTDOWN TO LAURA WEEK. Laura will be here on FRIDAY! I cleaned the house so she doesn’t arrive to a messy cat-fur wonderland! IT IS ALL VERY EXCITING!

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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.


Homophobes and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

(I realize you were all expecting Part Two of yesterday’s post today. Sometimes, as the man said, life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. And life happened yesterday and demanded I blog about it. Expect Part Two of the stats post…Friday. Maybe. Or Saturday. I don’t know. I have to go to Massachusetts tonight to watch a musical based on a Marx Brothers movie. Don’t ask.)

Yesterday, the Supreme Court met to vote on the constitutionality of two things: Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (known as DOMA) and Prop 8. If you’re on the internet at all ever, I’m sure you’ve seen people having changed their profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook to this:

“ARGH HOW WILL I KNOW WHO ANYONE IS?” you might have thought, if you had no idea what was going on. “WHY ARE ALL MY FRIENDS RED BOXES WITH PINK LINES?”

To show their support for marriage equality and the unconstitutionality of DOMA. Also, seriously, try being a theater person. I haven’t known who was posting what on Facebook for MONTHS. Everyone was a red box with pink lines. I’d be all, “Did Patrick post that or was it Dan? SOMEONE STRIKE EFFING DOMA DOWN ALREADY I MISS EVERYONE’S FACES!”

In case you’ve been hiding your head in the sand all ostrich-style for a while, here’s a quick DOMA/Prop 8 primer.

DOMA:

  • Allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states
  • Bars same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage benefits

Prop 8:

  • States that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (which overturned the California Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex couples had the right to marry.)

To break these into terms you might understand if you are a homophobe:

DOMA, were it against everyone, and not just segregating the same-sex couples in a totally unconstitutional way, not to tip my hand about how I feel about it or anything (coughdirtyliberalcough) would say if you married your husband/wife in New York, you wouldn’t be recognized as a married couple in Mississippi. It would also state that if you married someone from England, he/she would have to return to England once their visa expired, and if you were dying, your husband/wife couldn’t make any decisions about your care, and if you were killed in a terrifying tractor accident, your husband/wife wouldn’t get your Social Security benefits.

Prop 8, were IT against everyone, just says you can’t get married in California.

Aren’t we lucky these aren’t against everyone, and just against those pesky gays.

Anyway, enter Edith Windsor.

Edith Windsor married the love of her life – a woman she’d been in a forty-year relationship with, Thea Spyer, in Canada in 2007. They lived in New York. New York (holla!) recognized their marriage as valid. When Thea died, and left her estate to Windsor, the estate tax was $363,053. Now, were they an opposite-sex couple, the estate tax would have been waived. But they weren’t. They were a same-sex couple. And, well, DOMA.

Windsor paid the tax. And promptly turned around and sued the Federal government for a refund.

Listen. The love of her life – FORTY FUCKING YEARS – had just died. And now the Federal government was telling her that their marriage didn’t count. Did she roll over and pay the money and weep about how unfair it all was?

Fuck that. FUCK THAT. She sued the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

And you guys?

Yesterday she won.

And they say there aren’t any more heroes.

The Supreme Court of the United States said that Section 3 of DOMA – the second bullet point up there – was unconstitutional. And from what I’m reading, it’s apparently only a matter of time before Section 2 (the first bullet point) goes bye-bye, too. (Oddly, Section One is just “This is called DOMA.” I’m not even kidding. We’ll let ’em have that section, if they want it.)

What does this mean?

Well, if you’re a same-sex couple married in one of the thirteen states that currently allow same-sex marriage (WHAT? THIRTEEN? BUT WHEN I WOKE UP YESTERDAY THERE WERE TWELVE! Yeah, wait a minute, slappy) you get the same benefits as a opposite-sex couple. You can pay taxes together, you can make healthcare decisions, you can have insurance together, you can stay in the country if you are an expatriate or an immigrant who married someone who lives here…same rules apply.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES OMG FIRE! OMG BRIMSTONE!

It means nothing changes. It means life goes on. It means you wake up tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and you get to instill the same homophobic bullshit into your kids’ malleable little brains as you always have.

No one’s making you marry someone of the same sex as you.

Let me put it simply, in case I’m being too verbiose:

FOR YOU, LIFE GOES ON AS IT ALWAYS HAS, YOU SMALL-MINDED PIECE OF HOMOPHOBIC SHIT.

Now, let’s talk about Prop 8. See, Prop 8’s a pain in the ass because for a brief period of time, same-sex couples were allowed to marry in California, until people got all “WHAT OMG NO!” and Prop 8ed them and then they couldn’t get married anymore.

Right after voting Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Merka voted Prop 8 unconstitutional as well.

Yesterday was the worst day ever to be a homophobe, you guys. If they weren’t such small-minded crapmonsters I’d almost feel sorry for them.

Californians of the same sex can feel free to marry again as soon as various little legalities are ironed out.

That means we’re up to 13 states that allow same-sex marriage here in America. Well, 13 and Washington D.C., so 13.0005 or whatever we call D.C., I suppose.

You are all aware that’s both awesome and terrible, right? Because that’s 26% of Merka. 26% more than we had when we started, but ONLY 26%.

Now, listen. I know what you homophobes are thinking. You got home yesterday. You kicked at your pets and you poured yourself some sort of stiff double beverage and you started saying the following to whoever would listen:

  • “The Bible says this is AGAINST GOD’S WILL!”
  • “Those damn gays! Who do they think they are? They don’t deserve any more rights than the rest of us!”
  • “Once gays marry, who’s next? Turtles?”
  • “Kids raised by the gays are more likely to become gay themselves!”
  • “The gay agenda is taking over Merka and I DO NOT LIKE IT!”

I am here to help, homophobes. Luckily, I grew up among you. I dated some of your ranks. I am related to some of you. I KNOW YOUR PEOPLE. I speak your LANGUAGE. I can HELP.

Let’s break this down, one by one.

“The Bible says this is AGAINST GOD’S WILL!”

Yes. The Bible says a lot of things. The Bible also says don’t eat lobster and don’t wear clothes that mix fabric types and to stone whores and, here’s the kicker, and I know this one’s going to shock you…treat others as you, yourself, would be treated.

That’s the one people tend to forget.

Would you want people screaming your marriage is against God’s will? Would you want people telling you you’re an abomination? Would you want people telling you your marriage is invalid?

Nope. Didn’t think so.

“Those damn gays! Who do they think they are? They don’t deserve any more rights than the rest of us!”

I totally agree with this one. Who DO they think they are? They DON’T deserve any more rights than the rest of us! Oh. Shit. Wait. That would mean…the right to marry whoever they loved…and get the same benefits as opposite-sex couples…and not get beaten up on the streets just for holding hands…and not get called names…and “faggot” wouldn’t be something you call a kid in school if he was feminine as the ultimate put-down…

Crap. Where would we STOP once we gave them the rights that the rest of us had? This IS a slippery slope.

“Once gays marry, who’s next? Turtles?”

I think we’ve talked about this a few times because Bill O’Reilly said on Fox News once that if same-sex marriage became a thing, then people would start marrying turtles.

That’s just absurd. Everyone knows turtles look awful in veils. Now FROGS, on the other hand…

(No one’s marrying a turtle. Or a goat. Or a frog. Listen, let’s liken this to when interracial marriage was banned, then allowed. Did people start marrying wildlife? No. They didn’t. So I highly doubt anyone’s going to wake up today all, “Part of DOMA got declared unconstitutional? I’m marrying the bear at the Country Bear Jamboree today, then, dammit!”)

Well, he COULD provide the musical entertainment at your wedding. That is a consideration.

Well, he COULD provide the musical entertainment at your wedding. That is a consideration.

“Kids raised by the gays are more likely to become gay themselves!”

I can answer this one without research. I know, right? It’s amazing how cool I am.

Children raised by same-sex parents are not more likely to be gay or lesbian. And do you know why?

Because being gay or lesbian (or trans, or bi, or what have you) ARE NOT CHOICES.

They are they way people are born. It’s hard-wired into your brain. Asking this question is like asking, “Are the children of same-sex couples more likely to be left-handed?” or “Are the children of same-sex couples more likely to be blondes?”

It’s the way you’re born. A gay child is just as likely to be born to a gay couple as a straight couple. End of argument.

“The gay agenda is taking over Merka and I DO NOT LIKE IT!”

OMG SPARKLES AND RAINBOWS THE GAY AGENDA!

You’re totally right, though. I’m going to tell you a secret that the gays don’t want me to tell you. See, I have many friends amongst the gays, and they entrust me with their secrets – and I am sharing one with you now. This may well get me kicked out of their special people club.

THE GAY AGENDA *IS* ATTEMPTING TO TAKE OVER MERKA.

And guess what it is?

Equal rights for everyone in the LGBTQIA community.

Full stop. End of sentence.

Equal fucking rights.

The right to marry the person they love. The right to have all the accompanying benefits that come with marriage. The right to be safe in their environment. The right to be accepted. The right to be seen as an equal member of the human fucking race.

Yes. The gay agenda. Look out, homophobes. It’s coming to YOUR TOWN.

And it’s deliciously accessorized. Possibly with a feather boa, or perhaps a pair of kickass motorcycle boots.

(Congratulations to everyone affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Section Three of DOMA and find Prop 8 unconstitutional yesterday. Selfishly, a SPECIAL congratulations to my most-beloved gay and lesbian friends, married or not, who are now one step closer to being a citizen with full rights in the country they were born and live in. Thank you, SCOTUS, for doing the right thing; in a country where you never quite seem to know if the government is for or against you, you did the right thing not once, but twice today. And yes, I spent pretty much the entire day yesterday reading my Facebook feed and various news outlets and weeping in joy. We got it right. For once, we got it right.)


And we always will

sj emailed me yesterday because she knows I can’t check social media while I’m at work. She let me know there’d been two explosions at the Boston Marathon. No real news yet. Reports of possible severed limbs. Chaos.

She knows things like this bother me. She didn’t want me to be blindsided on the drive home, or by one of my coworkers. I love her for that. I love her for being that person for me.

When I got home, I made myself read the reports. Watch the videos. Read my Facebook feed, people who were looking for loved ones in Boston. We’re only two and a half hours from Boston, where I live. I’ve never been, but it’s somewhere I want to visit quite badly. I’ve always wanted to go to Boston. It seems like a magical city to me. And you know how much I love magic.

I noticed what Patton Oswalt did in the videos, in between my sobbing, watching runners falling, tripping over themselves to get away from the noise, the smoke, hearing the screaming start, the faint and horrified “Oh. Oh, oh my God. Oh,” from the newscaster who’d been planning on filming nothing more than the finish line of the marathon for some background footage.

People were running toward the explosion.

People were running toward the explosion even though there could have been more explosions. They didn’t know what had happened. It didn’t matter.

And not running toward the explosion once the screams started, and not running toward the explosion once people started dragging them over, or when people started calling for help. People IMMEDIATELY started running toward the explosion. One man said, in a thick Bawston accent that sounded like the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard in my life, “There are people that are going to need our help over there,” and immediately headed over. He didn’t say it to anyone. There was no one around him. He was saying it to himself. He was telling himself what to do. He was explaining to himself, this is what we do, when we’re needed, because there really isn’t another viable option right now.

And the people, the firemen, the National Guardsmen, the policemen, and the people who were there – runners, bystanders, just everyday people – worked together to pull down the barricades, to make it easier for emergency vehicles and EMTs to get to the wounded. Everyone became a united force. Everyone knew what they had to do. Sadly, it’s become a thing: we have experience with this now. We know what to do when the bomb goes off or the plane crashes or the man with the gun and the dead, dead eyes enters the crowded room. We’ve learned. It’s not something we should have to have learned, but it’s something we collectively have.

The news is still being guarded. By the time you read this, we might know what happened, but for now, people are saying it’s terrorism, and people are saying we don’t know yet. People are saying there’s a subject in custody, people are saying it’s just too soon to say anything. People are saying two more bombs were found before they exploded. People are saying there is video of a man with a backpack leaving the bombs in the area.

People say a lot of things, when these things happen. It’s one of the things that people are good at. We talk because we don’t know what else we can do. We talk because it keeps the gibbering maniacal panic at bay.

But for all of the talking, I like what Patton Oswalt has to say.

There are more of us than there are of them.

There are more of us that run toward the explosions to see what we can do, that hide the children in the cupboards and face the shooter with our hands spread and resolution stubborn in our eyes, that run into the burning building to bring out just one more person, if possible, just one more, just one more.

There are so, so many more of us on this beautiful, amazing, hope-filled planet.

You can see us all around. We’re in the small kindnesses; the letting of people into traffic, the kind smile of a stranger, the holding of a door, the compliment when needed but unanticipated; the bigger ones, the offer to listen, the helping each other up, the thank you for being in my life, the telling someone you love them, no matter what, for always, for forever. The small kindnesses, the bigger ones, the huge heroism. To some people, they are all the same thing. You never know if your kindness, if your hand reaching out for theirs, is the thing that saved someone’s life.

There is a lot of darkness and a lot of sadness out there right now. It’s warranted. It’s a scary time. Every day, something else. Every day, something that seems like one more step on that descent into madness.

When it gets too much, though, look at all the heroes. They’re all around you. They are infinity times infinity and they stretch on forever.

And make damn sure you’re one of them.


The right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, and I would most totally win this, you guys

Today, I got what might well be the most exciting piece of mail in the entire world.

Ironically enough, I might be the only person in all of America who’s excited about getting this particular piece of mail.

BACKTRACK!

When I was in my first year of grad school, and was working at a clothing store and taking a whole bunch of random lit classes because I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grow up (still don’t, just making it up as I go along), I got called for jury duty.

I was living in glorious Binghamton at the time. (I MISS YOU, BINGHAMTON!) I was SO EXCITED about this. JURY DUTY! I would be doing my civic DUTY! I would be making a JUDGMENT about a PERSON who was either GUILTY or NOT GUILTY! I would be watching JUSTICE IN ACTION!

PRIDE!!!!

PRIDE!!!!

So I told my job I needed some time off (which kind of sucked, because it was a part-time job, so it wasn’t like it had a jury duty pay policy or anything) and I dressed up in FANCY LADY CLOTHES (ok, I was like 21 or 22, so I think that meant I wore a hippie skirt and some sort of nice-ish teeshirt and not Doc Martens) and drove on over to the courthouse. The courthouse! Ooh, this was the big time now!

There were a lot of us, and we all sat in the courthouse and then the lawyers started calling up jurors and questioning them. I watched a lot of law shows. I knew how this all went down. Some would be DENIED! Because they were BAD NEWS! I anxiously waited my turn because I knew I would win jury selection. I mean, I was in my FANCY clothes. And I was MOST impressive. I knew all about law. I would be a very good jury member. Of course they would want me!

This guy got in wearing an Adidas shirt. I WORE FANCY CLOTHES, COME ON!

This guy got in wearing an Adidas shirt. I WORE FANCY CLOTHES, COME ON!

Well, almost twenty years ago is where I learned that teevee is very seldom like real life. No one got rejected in a dramatic fashion. The lawyers asked the potential jurors very softball questions, mostly like “Do you feel you can serve impartially on a jury?” And everyone was accepted. All twelve of them. The first twelve people they called. Leaving the fifty or so (I don’t even remember how many there were, it seemed like a lot) of us sitting in the courtroom anxiously awaiting our turn in the hot seat sad and forlorn. (OK, fine. Only I was sad and forlorn. The rest of those people looked like they’d won the lottery, because if you show up and you’re not accepted, you don’t get called again for like 4 years or something like that.)

I left very sad, because FOUR YEARS, you guys. That is a very long time.

Can I just ask – why don’t people want to serve on jury duty? I think it would be SO EXCITING. First, you don’t have to go to work, and you still get paid (at least some of your salary, if not all of it, depending on your job and its policies.) THEN, you get to go to a courthouse! And listen to a LIVE LAW AND ORDER EPISODE! And then you get to decide whether the person is innocent or guilty! I mean, seriously. Could this BE any more fun? Why do people get so weird about this and not want to do it? Is it because they don’t want to judge another person? Well, that person is given a jury of their peers, it’s the rule, if no one served, he or she couldn’t get what they were promised, and what they deserved, you know? Also, didn’t you see 12 Angry Men? I mean, seriously, don’t you want to be one of the angry men? WHY NOT?

Don't you want to be an angry man? I totally do. I would rock at that.

Don’t you want to be an angry man? I totally do. I would rock at that.

Fast forward almost TWENTY years. I have never been called for jury duty since. Not even once. Mom sent me a pamphlet that said “how to volunteer for jury duty” but it was unhelpful. Everyone I knew was getting called for jury duty. Some people like every four years like CLOCKWORK. This seemed very unfair. VERY unfair. Didn’t they know I would be the best on jury duty? Like, THE best? Is that why they weren’t calling me? Like, they were afraid I would be so much better than everyone else and they didn’t want to give people a complex?

Today, when I got my mail, it was a lot of crap. Coupons for something I don’t even buy (sigh); a flyer for a grand reopening of a store that never closed (confusing); a letter from my insurance company telling me they wouldn’t pay for ADHD screening for my children (sorry, Dumbcat and Newcat) and then…THIS!

What could THIS be, I ask you? FEDERAL COURT!!!

I know, the first thing you’re thinking is that I’ve been served. NO I WAS NOT SERVED!

OMG WHAT IS THIS?!?!? It is MERKA, you guys! MERKA!!! Well, on a small scale. NEW YORK MERKA! OK, not even all of New York. NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK MERKA!!!

THEY WANT TO DETERMINE MY QUALIFICATIONS AS A JUROR YOU GUYS! FOR THIRTY-TWO COUNTIES!!!!

Also, check out the middle there. “Northern District’s Master Jury Wheel.” I totally imagine all of our names on a big old Wheel-of-Fortune wheel and the Jurymaster spinning it with a devilish look in his eyes and saying “TODAY WE WILL CHOOSE LUCY’S FOOTBALL!!!”

I WIN! What do I win? JURY DUTY!

I WIN! What do I win? JURY DUTY!

So I talked to Mom tonight and I was all “MOM! MERKA! JURY! I WILL WIN THIS! I WILL MAIL THIS BACK WITH A POST-IT ON THERE THAT SAYS ‘PLEASE PLEASE PICK ME I WOULD BE THE BEST AT THIS DON’T YOU WANT TO MAKE MY WHOLE LIFE COMPLETE?!?!’ Mom was quite sure this would make them throw my survey away, as no one WANTS to serve on jury duty, so they would think I was a crazyperson. WHY IS THIS? I seriously don’t get it.

“Mom, I would be not ONLY the best jury member, I would be IMMEDIATELY picked to be FOREMAN of the jury, and I would be the BEST foreman. I would hand out PAPER and PENCILS and ask if anyone needed to see any of the EXHIBITS again and then POLL THE JURY to see where we STAND and see if we are DEADLOCKED and also I would organize our LUNCH ORDER. It would be the best. THE. BEST. Why haven’t they called me before this to see how the best I am?”

This would be me, only I would be so much better. SO MUCH BETTER.

This would be me, only I would be so much better. SO MUCH BETTER.

Mom changed the subject. I’m pretty sure that’s because she agreed how much the best I’d be.

When I told DAD, he told me the following story:

“I also got one of those questionnaires a couple months ago and it said you had to return it in ten days but it asked a lot of questions I wasn’t comfortable with the government knowing so I refused to return it even though your mother yelled at me. Then the other day they sent me another one, and do you know what it said? That they were going to send me to JAIL if I didn’t fill it out! To! JAIL! Well, if that’s not a sign of a government conspiracy, I don’t know what is!”

So Dad’s probably going to jail, so that’ll be nice, I’ll have to bake him a cake with a file in it or something.

So then I read the letter and it said I didn’t even HAVE to mail it back in. I could fill it out online! Well, that means they would get it faster. And I would be on the wheel of jury duty destiny FASTER. I’m completely cool with that.

So I answered all the questions. Most of which were things like “ARE YOU A WHITE PERSON?*” (*WE ARE NOT RACIST WE PROMISE!) and “Do you know English?” (since the questionnaire was IN English, I don’t know that I’d have gotten to that page had I not) and “Are you a dentist?” (Yeah, I don’t…I think that was a way you could get out of jury duty? I guess if you don’t show up to clean someone’s molars you might not get paid and that’d be bad? I don’t know.) I answered them with VERVE. And PANACHE. And MUCH JOY.

Now I wait, I guess.

Dear United States District Court (MERKA!):

OMG, this is so much Merka it makes my head almost explode with Merkaness.

OMG, this is so much Merka it makes my head almost explode with Merkaness.

No one wants to serve on your jury. I know you must be so sad about that. Like someone picked last in gym class. Like you’re a joke. I feel terrible about that, USDC (MERKA!) and therefore and happily volunteering my services. I love to vote! I happily do it every time I’m allowed! I tell others to do it in a haranguing tone all the time! And now I would be HAPPY to serve on a jury! For any sort of case! A large case (HATCHETMURDER!) A small case (JAYWALKING!) I don’t even care! I would be very good at this, USDC (MERKA!)

Also, even though I’m very chatty, I promise I will not talk about our super top-secret case online. I will only talk about it in the most veiled of terms. Think of how many people will want to serve on a jury once I tell everyone in the blogosphere how cool it is, USDC (MERKA!)

Also, I know now that fancy dressing is not a skirt and a teeshirt and whatever shoes are not Doc Martens. I totally have GROWNUP clothes now. I will dress up for you, USDC (MERKA!) I will dress up for you SO HARD.

Don’t leave me hanging, here, friend. You call me. I will be the best at this. I like to win. And I will win this for you.

Most sincerely yours, your future best juror in the history of ALL OF MERKA,

Amy.


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