November 6, 2008, 9:03 pm Tears to Remember
On Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1980, my 10th-grade American history teacher started class by unfurling The New York Times. She pointed to its triple banner headline: ?Reagan Easily Beats Carter; Republicans Gain in Congress; D?Amato and Dodd are Victors.?
?Save this paper,? she told us. ?This is the start of a whole new era.?
And it was. An era of unbridled deregulation, wealth-enhancing perks for the already well-off, and miserly indifference to the poor and middle class; of the recasting of greed as goodness, the equation of bellicose provincialism with patriotism, the reframing of bigotry as small-town decency.
In short, it was the start of our current era. The Reagan Revolution was the formative political experience of my generation?s lifetime, like the Great Depression, the Second World War or Vietnam for those before us. And in its intellectual and moral paucity, in its eventual hegemony, these years shut down, for some of us, the ability to fully imagine another way.
I will admit that back in January, when Barack Obama, in his post-Iowa victory speech, spoke about the ?cynics,? the ?they? who said ?this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose,? he was talking about me.
I will admit that the call of ?change? did not speak to me as an achievable goal.
Until it actually came.
On Wednesday, there was a run on newspapers, as voters rushed to grab a tangible piece of the history they?d made. My husband Max and I, unable to find extra copies, brought our own worn papers home to 8- and 11-year-old Emilie and Julia.
Sept. 11, the seismic event that we?d feared would forever form their political consciousness, shaping their world and constricting the boundaries of the possible, had actually been eclipsed, light blotting out darkness, the best of America at long last driving away the demons of fear. We wanted them to see that it was the end of an era.
?Look,? we said, pointing to the headline ?Racial Barrier Falls.? ?This is huge.?
We labored to make them understand that their world ? art that day, and orchestra, and Baked Potato Bar at lunch ? had irrevocably changed.
But how can you understand change when you?ve only known one way of being?
They were happy because we were happy. They rose to the occasion in that bemused way children do when adults tell them what they should feel. They were glad to be rid of George W. Bush and to be saved ? for now ? from the specter of Sarah Palin. (?It is not O.K. to say she?s an ?idiot,?? I had snapped when they came home from school stoked by the mob. ?Prove your case. Show, don?t tell.?)
They?d had, like many D.C. children, more than their share of politics. After first following the country into battle against the all-purpose boogeyman Saddam Hussein, they?d become antiwar. They had opinions on tax policy and spoke angrily about the ?wealth gap.? In the past election year, they?d been fired up about the woman thing, in all its pretty girl versus smart girl iterations; in fact, they and their friends had remained hard-core Hillaryites long after their moms had moved on.
But the race thing? The groundbreaking immensity of the election of our country?s first African-American president?
?You?re being racist,? Emilie had said when I made a comment about how particularly earth-moving this election was for black voters. ?Why should it matter if people are black or white??
Theirs has often looked to me like a world drained of meaning. Girl power put to the service of selling Hannah Montana. Feel-good inclusiveness that occulted the very real conflicts, crimes and hatreds of history.
It isn?t easy to let go of the past to embrace something new, to risk heartbreak on the chance of the world?s actually having changed.
Or at least, it hasn?t been easy for me. But it comes naturally to some. Like the hundreds of George Washington University students who gathered in front of the White House on Tuesday night, cheering and screaming and shouting their goodbyes to the political era of their youth.
?Bliss it was to be alive, but to be young was very heaven,? Max emailed me, paraphrasing William Wordsworth on the French Revolution, at 11:30 p.m. on election night, after leaving his desk to walk among the revelers downtown. I, home with the kids, was in bed, sleeping the drugged sleep of an alcohol-abstaining migraineuse after drinking half a glass of celebratory champagne.
Colin Powell did not dance for joy over Obama?s victory; he wept.
?Look what we did. Look what we did,? he said, puffy-faced, red-eyed, fighting back more tears on CNN. ?He?s won. It?s over.?
David Dinkins was similarly solemn. ?Things do change. There is a God. They do get better,? said the mayor who presided over New York City at a time of toxic racial tensions.
Obama, too, resisted giddy gladness on Tuesday night. But he did proclaim an end to the world as we?ve known it for far too long.
?To those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you,? he promised. ?This is our moment. This is our time.?
The glory of Barack Obama is that there are so many different kinds of us who can claim a piece of that ?our.? African-Americans, Democrats, post-boomers, progressives, people who rose from essentially nowhere and through hard work and determination succeeded beyond their parents? wildest dreams are the most obvious.
But there are also people who respect intelligence and good grammar. People who see their spouse as their ?best friend,? as Barack called Michelle on Tuesday night. People whose children have the same knowing look as Sasha and Malia, who are probably more excited about their puppy than about their father?s presidency.
Two images will forever stay in my mind to mark this epoch-breaking Election Day. One is that of Jesse Jackson?s face, drenched in tears, in Chicago?s Grant Park on Tuesday evening.
And the other is a photo that ran in The Times on Wednesday. In it, a black mother and daughter sit on the floor of a church in Harlem. The mother, Latrice Barnes, having heard of Obama?s victory, is doubled up in tears; her daughter, Jasmine, is reaching a tentative hand up to soothe her. To me, she looks like the future, reaching out to heal the past.
At the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, Latrice Barnes, right, is comforted by her daughter Jasmine Redd, 5. (David Goldman for The New York Times)
It is, I suppose, in part a matter of temperament, whether one shouts or weeps at happy transformative moments. But I also think it?s a matter of what has come before. The young people joyfully frolicking in front of the Bush White House never knew the universe whose passing was marked by Obama?s victory and Jackson?s tears.
This moment of triumph marks the end of such a long period of pain, of indignity and injustice for African-Americans. And for so many others of us, of the trampling and debasing of our most basic ideals, beliefs that we cherished every bit as deeply and passionately as those of the ?values voters? around whose sensibilities we?ve had to tiptoe for the past 28 years.
The election brought the return of a country we?d lost for so long that it was almost forgotten under the accumulated scar tissue of accommodation and acceptance.
For me, this will be the enduring memory of election night 2008: One generation released its grief. The next looked up confusedly, eager to please and yet unable to comprehend just what the tears were about.
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I am reasonably sure I saw Damian Kulash at the grocery store this morning. Tell me the odds that two people in LA who don't think "Semiotics" is a kind of paternity test shop at the same Vons. Tell me the odds of my seeing my former avatar buying his cornflakes. Longshot, I'm thinking.
Above is a link to a video on how to make adabo chicken. I have a better recipe, to be honest, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as entertaining to give you that.
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I like that.
Little Irish's journal just reminded me of something that happened today at work. I attended my first managers' meeting and the very proper Indian (bead, not feathers) head of something-or-other was reporting on some exchange of funds we do with the federal govt. This exchange of funds is referred to - is is EVERY DAMNED THING in the federal government - by anagram, which I would guess is "KWIF". And, as you can guess, Captain Starched Collar pronounced it "queef".
I can't tell you any thing more about whatever the thing was he was discussing, because I had to put every ounce of brain I had into not laughing. I didn't even trust myself to ask what the letters were that make up the anagram, so that's just my best quess, above. He started by saying "The KWIF has expanded..." and from there on out, all I could hear was blood roaring in my ears.
I just got my ass handed to me in Literati by a chick who called herself barbie_doll. I lose constantly to Relish and Droogy, but at least with that, I'm losing to respectable sorts. I need to figure out how to clear my game history. How humiliating!
I tried emailing this to just my NE Ohio friends, but the photos get all screwed up going cross-platform, so I'm posting it here so people can see the whole thing.
Mattel recently announced the release of limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Greater Akron market:
[color=black][font=Arial]This princess Barbie is sold only on the square in Hudson. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbagbs, a Lexus SUV, an imported long-haired dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in cunjunction with the augmented version.[/color][/font][color=black][font=Arial][/color][/font][color=black][font=Arial]
Cuyahoga Falls Barbie
The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation. Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately.[color=black][font=Arial][b][/b][/color][/font][color=black][font=Arial]
Goodyear Heights Barbie[color=black][font=Arial][b][/b]
This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a meth lab kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about.[color=black][font=Arial]
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.[color=black][font=Arial]
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt, and Tweety Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud Light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 ft and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a Confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.
This tobacco-chiwing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Ravenna Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter top. Also available with mobile home.[color=black][font=Arial][/color][/font][color=black][font=Arial]
Highland Square Barbie[color=black][font=Arial][b][/b]
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy arpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Highland Square Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.[color=black][font=Arial] [/color][/font][color=black][font=Arial]
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.
Market Avenue Barbie/Ken[color=black][font=Arial][b][/b]
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken, simply by adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on parts.[color=black][font=Arial][/color][/font][color=navy][font=Arial][/color][/font]
[b]From the Herbal Encyclopedia:
MEDICINAL: Lavendar tea made from the blossoms is used as an antidepressant. It is used in combination with other herbs for a remedy for depression and nervous tension and stress. It is also used as a headache remedy.
RELIGIOUS: Lavendar is used in purification baths and rituals. It is used in healing incenses and sachets. Carrying the herb will enable the carrier to see ghosts. The essential oil will heighten sexual desire in men. Lavendar water sprinkled on the head is helpful in keeping your chastity. The flowers are burned to induce sleep, and scattered throughout the home to maintain peaceful harmony within. Carrying lavendar brings strength and courage.
GROWING: Lavendar likes light sandy soil and full sun. It grows to 18 inches. It should be mulched in colder climates for winter protection for this
1/2 c dried lavendar petals
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 c brandy
Combine in a jar and store in a cool, dry place for 6 months, shaking occasionally. Strain into sterilized bottles and seal tightly.
Or, wait two days, which is what I did. heh
Then I made this:
1 measure vodka
1 measure triple sec
1/2 measure lavendar liqueur, strained
Shake with ice and serve in a martini glass. mmm!
Beyonce wrote this. I'm saving it because I've been considering taking an acting class, and this would blow the doors off as an audition piece.
Dude, what's up with your mom?
She still hasn't added me to her Friends List on Myspace. I see she's been on there, she updated her pic and everything. I mean, I don't want you to say nothing, if she's going to be that way it's cool. I'm just sayin', man. That's pretty effed up.
Your mom loves to play silly ****ing games with me, man. I don't know how long I'm gonna take this ****. Did you know she borrowed money from me a few weeks ago? I gave her $300.00 to fix her car and she can't ****ing add me to ****ing Myspace??? That's some ill ****.
Anyway, **** it, man. You and me are still tight. I'm not going to diss your mom because, you know, that's your mom and ****, but I'm pretty ****in' burnt.
Is her phone still on? I'm not trying be all on her for the money but I think I deserve a damn phone call or something. Let a mother****er know that you are at least thinking about giving him his money back. ****, lie to me but don't just dissapear. Speaking of dissapearing, man she better not have run off to Galvaston again. I don't know why she goes there or what she does, but she always comes back like 3 days later (how does she keep her job like that?)- bloodshot eyes and 10 pounds thinner. Then I gotta go over her house and make sure she eats. That should be YOUR job, man.
Nah, I'm just playin'. You got things to do. I know you got a life too.
Anway, let's just drop it. Just talking about your mom gets me heated.
Think of New Orleans, and music will be one of the first things to come to mind. But along with the terrible loss of life and belongings in Hurricaine Katrina, the culture of the city was - and continues to be - damaged by the storm.
This is the site of a grass roots organization called REdefine 8X29, who are working to help New Orleans musicians who were displaced by Katrina. A friend of mine is involved with this group - it's an earnest organization. They've been working for the last year to make it possible for displaced NOLA musicians to get back home, and get their lives back together.
It's a year later. Christmas is coming, and there is still not enough low-income housing in New Orleans for most musicians to go home. The $10.4 billion Road Home CDBG program does not apply to renters. Out of the 77,000 homeowners who applied for the CDBG funds, 18 people have received grants. The national news media has moved on, and the Red Cross - well, that's a whole other discussion.
If you want to get involved or donate, please check it out.