Saturday, June 25, 2016

Billion Year Old Carbon


We marry and purchase our first personal computer the year of the Rodney King beating. Our 25th anniversary is celebrated with tacos, fish and chips and ice cream at the Grand Central Market. I am lucky to get out at all. To his own delight, Himself has located a meme that says—“Staying home. Going to Bed Early. Not Going to Parties. All of my childhood punishments are what I aspire to as an adult.” I'm sure his pulse is racing as he rushes to share this on Facebook. The giant hall reverberates with people, mostly younger than ourselves. The Market is open nights now and the kids are sick of me noting that in my day the only time anyone went downtown at night was to go to the Music Center or bail someone out of jail.

I remember the certainty of my early 20s that my life would have gravitas and that all of my wheel spinning would inevitably result in success. It was urgent to ferret out the best movies and films, wear the right clothes, visit cool places and affiliate with the right causes. We were the only trendsetters who would ever matter and it was our destiny to usher civilization into a magnificent golden era. Now the kids, besotted with their own good taste, all want to “curate” something or other.

My golden era is over and all around me buzzes young humanity who feel no connection to me, or actually for about the last decade or so, take no notice of me at all. There is a relief that comes with knowing that the topsy turvy world is truly is out of my hands. The right wing hovers now towards fascism but a socialist receives just about as many votes as the presumptive Republican nominee. There is a black president and marriage equality. Who'd have thunk? But the Voting Rights Acts is eviscerated and many states sanction discrimination against the LGBT community. There's a swath of states where it is nearly impossible, despite a constitutional right, to get an abortion.

Social media makes it easy to find our own peeps. The conundrum is that the more we, proudly and ardently, identify ourselves with a race, culture, nationality or gender, the more we separate ourselves from the family of man. I am old enough to shrug off “family of man” and know that in this case “man” means “men and women,” but the sexism of language rankles many. We attend a college graduation and most of the student speakers substitute “they” in place of “he” and “she.” I am more English teacher than feminist so this is excruciating but I see the need for non-gender specific language. At some point, the rest of the alphabet will be added to LGBT and gender will evolve to be more fluid than binary.

I watch OJ: Made in America and the episode of In Their Own Words—Muhammad Ali, both of which I recommend. Ali confronts racism head on, although given his fortune and fame, he needn't have. OJ, on the other hand, takes pride in having obliterated every shred of blackness until his defense team hails Mary and evokes Rodney King and the L.A, riots. We have a black president but one in fifteen black men is incarcerated and African Americans have the highest (about 28%) rate of poverty of any ethnic group in the country.

I feel the Bern. I get it about Hilary and will undoubtedly feel a twinge of pride when I vote for her but I have a few friends who are old school feminists and apoplectic that I would consider any candidate other than the woman. It is traitorous to suggest that Bernie will better represent all people INCLUDING WOMEN . On the long list of things that Himself and I know to leave moot is the efficacy of voting ones conscious or opting for a lesser of evils. I am of the latter persuasion but still, Margaret Thatcher haunts my daydreams. The former persuasion opts for Jill Stein.

The Supreme Court rules that Obama oversteps his reach in what I consider a fair and compassionate immigration plan. Between this and Brexit this week is almost as grim as the last when 49 club revelers are gunned down. My hopes, after Occupy L.A., are dashed. It feels at the time like something larger than what ultimately pans out. And then there is Bernie. There was a moment when it seems like it could happen and then it becomes clear that it won't. Broken record I know but reminding myself that just about as many Americans voted for Bernie as did for Trump keeps me from opening a vein.

After the disappointments of Occupy and Bernie I'm afraid about getting suckered in by the sit-In on the floor of the House but I can't help myself. I weep and watch the grainy Periscope feeds for hours. My fingers are crossed that these tactics, which worked in the 60s, are effective and that NRA machinations don't sap this budding movement of civil disobedience of its momentum.

In my twenties I earnestly believed I'd change the world. I struggled so to be noticed and now I find comfort in invisibility and accept that my mark is ultimately much smaller than I'd expected. I am saddened and disappointed that fear and hatred still weigh on the political landscape, despite the fantastic strides achieved in my lifetime. I have trouble filling in a lot of the time between the Rodney King beating and my 25th anniversary but we have two adult sons to show for it. They are curatorial and have high hopes. And my hope is that after some dreams come true and some are brutally dashed they'll end up like their mom. Angry and frustrated by the world's capacity for malice and stupidity but actually finding solace in the acceptance of their own smallness.