THE PAINTING MODEL

“Hey, would you model for me?” he stammered. She was walking through the hallway as he spoke, on her way out the door.

“What?” She said to him, turning on her tall, black heels sharply. His cheeks reddened, and he felt his ears grow hot.

“I-I said, would y-you model for me?” Her eyebrows raised behind her oversized Chanel sunglasses, and she cocked her head to the left. “I was thinking about how er…what you said earlier, about how people had called you Amber Rose, and how…um…how you didn’t like that people said that because they never had anything to show for it.”

“And…?” There was a light impatience in her voice.

“And well, um, I was thinking that maybe I could, like, paint you or something?” He exhaled deeply, and the vibrant red that had filled his cheeks washed away. He looked down at the ground, ashamed, as the room filled with silence.

One…

Two…

Three…

The words floated through his mind like wooden planks down the Nile. Then, she clucked her tongue once and tapped her heel.

“I’ll think about it,” and she turned to walk out the door with half a smile. He listened in stunned silence as she walked down the hall, each clack of her heels fell with the same heaviness as the beat of his heart.

 

*          *          *

 

He scrabbled with the lock on the door; his arms were filled with bags and his myriad of keys were all jumbled together. When he finally got it open, he hoisted the bags up higher so he didn’t accidentally let one slip.

“Hi there,” he heard from around the corner. He walked in, set the bags down on the counter, and began unpacking

“Hello again, I picked up a few jugs of—” his eyes drifted up and his voice caught in his throat. She was standing in the room, fully exposed save for an exceptionally tiny bikini. He looked back to the contents of the bags, “I-I picked up a few containers of milk this weeks since everyone went through it so fast.” She laughed at him.

“Thank you,” she said, “I decided you can paint me—”

“I didn’t quite mean—”

“You didn’t mean today? Good. I wanted to spend this afternoon tanning.”

“Well I was thinking I could paint you, perhaps, in a little different setting?” He had turned to face her, and could feel the heat in his body rising.

“Oh?” She said. After a quick pause, her eyes lit up, and she reached behind her back to undo her top, “nude? I’m game to do nude.” His cheeks burned inside him and he turned his head away.

“No I was thinking something that didn’t…objectify you so much? Maybe something like sleepwear?” There was a silence. He felt the air grow cold around them. Then, roughly, she grabbed his chin with her thumb and forefinger and turned him to look at her.

“You want to paint me right?” She asked firmly.

“Yes,” He tried to look away.

“And why do you want to do that, hmm?” she pulled him closer to her, so that they were within a few inches of each other.

“Well I—”

“What, do you want to fuck me?” He tried to pull away but her grip was tight, “you want to fuck me? Turn me over, lay me out? You think coddling me with kind words and romantic pictures will seduce me?” Her thumb pressed harder into his chin. “Let’s get this straight. You won’t fuck me because you’re nice to me. You won’t fuck me because you’re mean to me. If you fuck me, it’ll be because I want you to.” She glanced down meaningfully. “And you’ll paint me how I want to be painted. Not how you want. Not how some man wants. Me. Ok?”

“Ok.” He said. She released his chin and smiled.

“Good,” she snaked up and kissed him softly on the cheek, then turned to walk away, twirling her top in her hand, “tomorrow it is then!” she called back, and put a hand up to wave goodbye.

——

 

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NATURE’S FURY

I saw a single blooming flower on the tree. Against the dense, green foliage riddled with long, thick leaves, the delicate white of the flower stood out like the first star in the night sky. The flower itself was enormous—nearly the size of a cantaloupe, with majestic petals, curling their way out to greet the sunlight. Yet it had not completely unfolded into its maturity. The purity of the original bulb shape was still perceptible to the attentive eye.

I saw this lone flower blooming, and knew I had to have it. It was off the ground, out of my reach, and the tree appeared to be an arduous climb. But the craving in my gut pulled me up to the task. I moved to the base of the trunk. The bark of the tree was rough and protective, like a father. It was also quite sturdy, and as my nimble fingers curved themselves into nooks and crannies, I found that the shoulder like branches of the tree were stronger than I had initially expected. I darted up, from branch to branch, with such rhythm that I felt like Tarzan himself.

The last few branches were the most perilous. Near the top of the tree, the branches thinned and swayed, and beneath my weight a few began to snap. I glanced as they fell away, while my arms grabbed for new holds on the tree. Eventually though, I found my way to the flower. She was beautiful, pure, and perfect. There was no flower quite like it—no flower that I had battled so valiantly for. I knew she would love me as I loved her. My hands, trembling, reached out and cupped the base, where she connected with the tree, and carefully plucked her away.

The whole tree seemed to shake for a moment, and the flower quivered, curling slightly back in on herself. Then everything was still. The descent was much easier, fortunately, and I carefully shielded my flower from the stray branches and leaves as I passed through them. They felt like tiny hands, pulling, scratching, and seizing my clothes. I shook them away as I moved. I reached the ground, and broke into a great, boyish smile. I took the flower home; watered it, and gave it sunlight.

But would you believe how she repaid me? The bitch wilted, unbloomed, before my very eyes. The vibrant pure white, which seemed to cleft through the surrounding, faded into a smoky fog, and then further into a dead, blackened husk. Every morning, I awoke, and saw her with disgust. Such beauty; why couldn’t she have been mine? And yet, I felt in the pit of my stomach something more terrifying, though I had no idea as to what it was.

Until, of course, the dried petals finally began to fall. Then, I was shocked, to hear the roar of the forest, like thunder, calling to me. The great tree, which had grown since I had stolen her from it, had taken up its roots and marched on my home. All my structures—the walls, the roof, and the floors—were ripped apart by this incarnation. The wrath of Nature itself stood on my doorstep. Roots and vines tore it apart, until I stood, naked, before the behemoth himself. The vines snapped and slithered around me, wrapping around my arms and legs, and I was pulled into the air.

I hung there, limp, for what seemed like an eternity, while the vines snaked around my neck. Then they paused, and a vine lifted my chin. Before my eyes, he held her. She looked solemn, limp, and peaceful, but utterly dead nonetheless. In a rush of pain, I felt both my legs snap. I cried out, but there was no help for me.

Then, it all stopped. I was dropped on the ground with a thud, and the tree went away. My legs sprawled lifelessly beneath me, but I had been shown mercy. My watered eyes looked out around me, and I saw the tree disappear behind the hills. I slumped to sleep, as my eyes grew more and more blurry, and as they shuttered closed, I saw a single, pure white petal, before me. Mocking me.

——

 

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INTERSECTING PERSPECTIVES

Hello everyone,

 

I have been thinking about perspective quite a bit over the last couple days, mostly after listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” and then the follow up criticism a few of my friends have shared over Facebook. Because there was some division between my interpretation, and the interpretation given in the criticism, I’ve spent all morning pondering which perspective is closer to the mark.

So here’s the divisive lines:

 

I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop

Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor

Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks

Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch in Polo socks, ayy

 

Make sure you watch at least this part of the video, so that you have some context for what the imagery displayed was (it’s at 1:43 minutes). What was your perspective on these lyrics? Are they sexist? I mean, an argument against Photoshop, in favor of a natural look isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, it is still telling women how to dress and looks, assuming this addresses women in the first place.

Now that you’ve gathered your thoughts on this set of lines, let me tell you the interpretations I have been struggling with. First of all, there’s the perspective that applies these lines to all women—as in, this is Lamar’s expectation for women, and even if he’s arguing against the mainstream media’s presentation of women, it is still narrow minded and does not actually make a difference. Women should be empowered for whatever decision they make—whether it is being all natural, getting plastic surgery, or whatever—rather than be judged as simply objects by men (and society). This isn’t an unfair assertion. I mean, look at the last line. It directly addresses the “you,” which can pretty safely be assumed to be women, speaking that Lamar is pretty clearly heterosexually inclined.

The other interpretation goes simultaneously less far and further. It stops at “he’s arguing against the mainstream media.” The allusion to Richard Pryor, an old, anti-establishment comedian, as well as the statement about Photoshop, indicates that his first three lines of this segment are perhaps not addressing women, but instead addressing those who portray women. Instead, he asserts that what people care about is the real look of a woman, over the superfluous tendencies the media puts upon them. It isn’t entirely a progressive view, since it does still objectify women to an extent, but it is less “anti-woman” through this perspective than through the previous one.

The video adds a significant amount of depth to the lyrics as well, showing the two faces of a woman—one apparently done up and whitened, in the way the media often prefers, the other lacking make-up, and so on. I’ve chosen to withhold which perspective is mine, and which is from Facebook, because I don’t want my personal perspective swaying you, the reader, one way or another. The irony is that sometimes even the most parallel perspectives will cross lines in the details. That’s what, in many ways, occurs here. But that’s why it is a discussion. Let me know your perspective in the comments!

——

 

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CAUGHT (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Perseverance

How do you succeed?

Fail at a million things,

Till you win at one.

 

Diseased

The pain in my bones

Is dull compared to the pain

That rots in my heart.

 

Orders

“Women shouldn’t be:

Afraid, angry; too sexy.”

…Because that’s worked out.

 

False Lives

My friends post pictures

Of their glorious nights out,

But tell me they’re sad.

 

Caught

Perhaps the liars

Aren’t all terrible people.

Just those that got caught.

——

 

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HIGHER (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Too Many Writers

I read less than write,

But all that I write is read.

Does that make me wrong?

 

Lecture Halls

Click-click goes the pen

As the class drifts off to sleep.

Higher thought indeed.

 

Sleepless Nights

I just want to sleep,

But there are too many lights.

Mom! Stop partying!

 

Patriarchs

“Praise be unto Zeus

For he has brought us the rain!”

Words from a rapist.

 

Higher

I fell through a haze

Of smoke that was in my car

To the universe.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #29 – WHAT TO DO?

What to do? What to do? What to do?

I really don’t know what to do with you.

 

You can be such a great guy

With a merry look in your eye,

But if the King finds out then

We’re screwed.

 

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Why did I go on that date with you?

 

I guess your head was in Rome

And your brain was your own

But I didn’t want more trouble

‘Fore noon.

 

What to do? What to do? What to do?

Well at least I‘ve got this lovely view.

 

Ah why not! What the heck!

Screw my dad! No respect!

At least now all my troubles

Are through.

 

He’ll come ‘round and demand

Who has taken my hand

And I’ll say…

 

I’ve got you! I’ve got you! I’ve got you!

——

 

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UNDER THE GLASS CEILING

I was sitting on a glass ceiling. The chairs and tables in the room were all lush and fashionable. The grandfather clock struck 3:30 as the meeting drolled on. At the head of the table, my boss was in a clean suit with a red tie reviewing the documents before him, while to my left the freshly hired Ms. Tilda—Tilly, as I call her, flicked her thumb and index finger nervously. The room was a work of art, to remind the people below that they had more to aspire to. In the room below, the scene is very different. Workers bustled about to and fro—some with papers, some with water jugs, some with carts of giant materials.

We were all at the water treatment facility in Arkansas. It’s an enormous, windowless building, with water tubes running throughout the building. Every room of the building, save the room I was in, had pipes throughout it, along the walls and the ceilings. Some rooms had so many pipes you couldn’t even see the ceiling above. The room below had almost none. There truth was that the two rooms were separated by a few feet—there were two “glass ceilings,” one for the room below, and one to make up the floor of the room I was in. The only way in or out of this room was by helicopter. There was a huge roof above us, with enough space for two choppers to land safely. In the room below, I could see my friend, Shirley, a brilliant woman on her way to the top, down below. She was ordering another worker to do something, and pointing at the door to the stairs. I was surprised that Tilly got the promotion over her—of course, deep down, I knew it was going to happen.

Shirley was an outspoken woman, and she was really forward. She and my boss clashed constantly. She was typically right, too, and while I argued to him that this was a good thing for developing our company to bring to meetings, he went in favor of the quiet Ms. Tilda. It probably helped that Tilda’s father and my boss were good friends. That, and the fact that she was gorgeous. She was five foot five inches, blond, and well toned. She had enough muscle to look fit, but not so much that it was intimidating. She had a soft face, she giggled at every joke, smiled constantly, and dressed well. Today, she was wearing a short, dark blue dress that was tight to her body. The dress itself stopped about 8 inches short of her knees—would you even call that a dress? I don’t know fashion very well. She constantly was pulling the bottom of the dress down to keep it from rolling too high, which I found quite comical. But, she certainly stood out, and I think our boss liked that. He, or the investors at the meetings, often shot her quick glances.

Of course, Tilly rarely spoke during meetings—not that she had been to that many. We had two meetings a week, and she had only been brought on a month ago. Normally there were an empty chair or two at meetings, but since Tilly had joined we have had to add a few chairs. She was the only woman in the room. Unfortunately, those days didn’t last. You see, there was an accident that day. At 3:35, the main pipeline backed up—we learned later that it was from a build up of plastic—and the pipes began to burst from the pressure. The building flooded. I remember it so clearly. Every room with a pipe must have flooded in minutes. The water pressure was so high, it forced the doors closed. The building was old, and our boss had neglected to put in the easy-open doors that Shirley had requested a year ago. I saw the water flood up below me through the glass ceiling. Shirley was down there, pulling frantically at the door. When she realized she couldn’t get it open, she started trying to plug the water flooding out of a pipe on the wall.

Eventually she had to start swimming, and we looked on in horror below as she, and other workers, were enveloped by water. I can still remember her hand banging on the glass, as the air bubbles popped from her mouth. The glass was industrial, made to withstand the harsh weather of the area. There was no way she would be able to break it—it was practically bulletproof. Eventually, the banging motions became slowed, until finally her arms drifted listlessly through the water, and the life drained from her eyes. Of course, we were all safe in our room. It was the only one separated from the main building. Tilly was crying. Our boss looked shocked. I wish I could say I felt the same, but as I looked at all the well-dressed men around me, I could only feel like this was their fault.

You see, that’s the problem with the glass ceiling. It lures people into the false sense that they can shatter it. But the reality is that they will just drown beneath it. They didn’t need a fancy ceiling, they needed a door. A real path out of that hell. But what kind of boss gives people a way out?

ROSE

“Hello Rose!” a voice called out to me, shocking me out of my mind and back into the train. I was on the Metrolink, on my way home from work in Los Angeles. I would take this train to Baldwin Park, then drive a few blocks away to my house. Turning to the man that had called out to me, I noticed it was Michael, my good friend that I had met at a coffee parlor a few years back.

“Hey Mike. How’s it going?”

“Oh ya know, it’s going. What’d you do today at the office?”

“Mike, I told you, it’s not an office, it’s more of a lab.”

“Fine,” Michael raised his hands, admitting defeat, “What did you do at the lab today?” He put an extra emphasis on “lab,” as if to tease me. I took a deep breath.

“Well, we just finished the big Biomimicry project, and it should be ready for release in the next couple months. Everything at this point is up to marketing now.”

“Really?” Michael always was so excited by my engineering projects. It made me smile, “So do you think it came out alright?”

“It could have gone better. I don’t like that we couldn’t figure out a way to account for pregnancy well, but we have future iterations to fix that in. What I’m really excited for is my side project.” I looked off into the distance, past the woman struggling to keep her child still, at the sunset. The clouds were this beautiful hue of orange-red from the sun’s light on them. It was so peaceful.

“What project is that? This is the first I’ve heard of this.” Michael looked at me with curiosity, then smiled deviously, “is it a love machine? You can’t just compute someone into falling in love with you.” He laughed and I slapped his arm playfully.

“No stupid, I’ve been working on this thing that will help change the world,” Michael’s face settled on an expression somewhere between happy and tired. I leaned in toward him and lowered my voice to a whisper, “I’ve been working on a time machine. Well, it’s really more of a time displacement machine, but it works like you would imagine a time machine to work.”

“And you are doing this how…?” Michael got very serious as his voice trailed off. I blushed in embarrassment.

“Well the science still has a bit of a way to go before I can safely change when I am living, but I think I am close to breaking through. I’ve got all the math finished. It’s a long story that you aren’t going to understand if I go in depth.”

“Try me.” Michael boasted. I looked at him sarcastically.

“Ok, so the quantum mechanical theory is that you take the change in oxygen density to create a time zone, and then use that baseline to create and track the oxygen of other time periods, lock on to one, and then-“ Michael cut me off.

“Ok I was lost after quantum. But this is my stop, I’ll see you later.” He grabbed his bag, and stepped down the stairs and out of sight. I sat in silence for the remaining 15 minutes of my ride, before eventually reached my stop: 3825 Downing Avenue. I got off the train, walked straight to my Civic, and drove home. What I hadn’t gotten to tell Michael about was that tonight was the first dry run for time travel. Or that I had been working on this project at home. Or that I was going to be going to be aiming straight for George Washington’s timeline to get to know our first president. With all the orange-faced re-election talk, I thought it might be valuable to check in with one of our premier leaders in history.

I pulled into my driveway, hopped out of the car, and climbed the stairs to my front door. The old, wooden door creaked as I stepped into my little house, as it always did. I walked over to my fridge, poured a glass of milk, downed it, then poured a second glass for while I worked. I carried the glass with me over to the makeshift workshop I had put together. All in all, the machine wasn’t actually that big. In fact, once I realized how simple it was to move through time, I refined my original design so that the main device would fit on a table. I took another sip of milk, then set the glass on a well-worn coaster, and examined at the device.

It was about the size of a backpack, with silver and blue panels on the exterior to cover the grotesque mess of wires and lights on the inside, as well as a big red button. Everything was all in place. I turned it on, and a low whir started emanating from the middle, and I could feel the table vibrating with it as I set the machine down. It lit up like a snowflake reflecting in the sun, which was beautiful. To the left of the main machine was the most important part of the device—the anchor. I had designed it as a bracelet that was fashionable and subtle at the same time. It, like the machine itself, was blue and silver, except it was a bracelet, with stones that looked quite a bit like sapphires. I slipped it onto my left wrist, the reached over to the machine itself and adjusted the date to April 15th, 1757. I figured I should talk to Mr. Washington before all hell broke loose in the colonies. Then, I punched in “MOUNT VERNON” to the keypad on the device.

I realized my hands were shaking with excitement, and I took a deep breath. It was going to be ok. Sure, if my calculations were off I could go spiraling back to who knows what year, but at least I had set up a fail safe to pull me back after 7 days. My hand hovered over the big red button, which seemed almost ominous. I guess it was also possible that because of how I was dressed I might be thought of as a whore, or worse. I mean at least I’m wearing jeans, right? Or maybe I hadn’t calibrated the machine right, and I would end up 6 feet underground…no. I was definitely right. I had over compensated. If anything, I would end up a few feet off the ground. I took one more deep breath, closed my eyes, and hit the button.

Suddenly, my who body was twisting and turning. It felt like I was being squeezed into a tiny box and pulled apart from each limb at the same time. My breath left me in a hurry, like someone had punched me dead in the stomach, and I thought for a second I would pass out. Then, suddenly, I opened my eyes and I was out in a field, in broad daylight.

 

TRAIN STOP

“Here comes the train,” she yelled, pulling my hand, “We’re gonna miss it if we don’t run!” It was a nice summer day. The birds were chirping, the sun was high in the sky, and it was warm but not too hot. My overalls were a jingling as we ran across the platform, which was packed with people taller than me. Why so many coats? It was a great day for shorts and a t-shirt, and all these people were wearing coats.

“Where’s dad?” I wondered aloud.

“Daddy’s at home sweetie” Mom was panting. The tiles on the floor sped passed me as we ran. It kind of looked like a streak of a rainbow.

“No he’s not! I just saw him!” How had she not see him earlier? He was getting out of the car in the parking lot while the train was pulling up. Mom stopped short, we were 10 feet from the train. I could see the ticket taker smiling at us. Mom turned back to me, and knelt to look right in my eyes. I shifted mine to the ground.

“Honey, are you sure you saw daddy? Where did you see him?”

“He was getting out of the car just a few minutes ago,” I pointed in the direction of the parking lot. Her face froze. She glanced up at the people around her, then looked back at me and smiled.

“He’s probably just coming to wave goodbye, sweetie. Can you wait here with our bags? I’m going to go ask the ticket taker a question.” I frowned at her, but she squeezed my hand and I felt that made me feel proud. I got to watch the bags. Mom stood up, and walked over to the ticket taker. She was moving her hands. His face slowly went from a chipper smile to something a little more solemn. He looked at her, then over to me, then back to her, and he nodded quickly, then walked off. Mom walked back over to me.

“Can we get on the train now?” I asked. Mom smiled at me.

“Yes! Lets go!” She grabbed her bag and my hand and we walked over to the train. It was a huge train, with green and red colors, and a little painted wreath! I was so excited. Mom had told me we were going to stay with Aunt Em for this holiday! There were three large steps we had to go up to get inside. It was cool, but not cold inside. Very nice, just outside. We hadn’t even sat down when the train started moving.

“Where’s dad?” I asked again.

“Keep your eyes out! He’s probably coming to say goodbye!” My mom said with a slight quiver in her voice. I panned through the crowd with my eyes looking for him. Then I saw him. He was pushing through people with his eyes on our train. I stood up in my seat and put my hands on the window, waving to him fervently.

“I see him!” I exclaimed to mom, then I yelled “Bye dad!” through the window. I smiled happily. I was so happy he came to the station, especially since we didn’t get to say goodbye to him at home. He finally caught my eye. He had a very serious expression on his face, and he was pushing and shoving through the crowd.

“Sit down sweetie,” said my mom.

“But I want to say bye to dad! Why isn’t he coming?”

“Dad isn’t coming because…” She trailed off, took a deep, shaky breath, then said “Dad isn’t coming because he has to work.”

“But I thought dad didn’t have a job.”

“Well, he does. He got hired the other day.”

“Oh. Ok.” I turned back to the window. “Good luck on your job dad! I love you!” He was still chasing after us. He looked back up at me and smiled. There were tears in his eyes. Why were there tears in his eyes? Dad never cried. As the station platform ran out, he slowed down and started to fall behind. Then he stopped completely and waved at me. I kept my eyes on him, still waving. I could just make out a lone tear flow down the side of his face, before he rubbed his eyes and smiled again. I kept my eyes on his smile until I couldn’t see him anymore, and the station fell into the distance.

“Sit down now sweetie.” I sat down, and looked at my fingers. There was an empty pit in the base of my stomach. I laid down on the train bench. The red booth seats were very comfortable. I closed my eyes to beat back tears, which had come unbidden to my eyes. Why was I sad? I pictured my dad, the smile on his face, and the determination on his face, and drifted off into a deep sleep.

RED SUNRISE – POST ELECTION THOUGHTS

Hello everyone,

 

So I am a pretty far left-wing person, and I’m here to digress about my perspective of this election. It’s currently 10:56 PM in California on Tuesday of the election, and I’ve seen a lot of things happen today. I got a text of disbelief from my family when Trump was leading early on in the election process today. Then I saw all my friend and family joking about how he could never win. I, myself, could hardly believe it, but in the pit of my stomach I could feel that something was wrong. Then the day went on, and I, along with many others, turned in my ballot to vote. Now, I’m in California, so it really doesn’t matter that I voted, mathematically, because California is a strong blue state. Yet I voted none-the-less, because it it my belief that all people should take advantage of the choices they are given. As the night wore on, it became clearer and clearer that Trump was winning this election.

The first major tip off for me was that he was ahead in all the swing states. He won Ohio, which is a corner stone state for elections. And things were still not really setting in for people on my Facebook feed. Then Florida came down to the wire and Trump won. Everyone of my generation has feelings about votes in Florida that come down to the wire, because when Bush won Florida by a supreme court ruling, it was talked about by everyone’s mom and dad pretty much until Obama was elected. This seemed to be when everyone woke up to reality. And suddenly all my friends, all these well intentioned Democrats, started to panic. How could Trump be winning? How? He called Mexican immigrants rapists! He was backed by the KKK! He bragged about sexually assaulting women! He said we should persecute Muslims!

So then how did he win? It seems so obvious to me that he is not an acceptable candidate for our country, but 49+ million people voted for him. That’s a literal fuck ton of people. It’s not just racism. It’s not just anti-Hilary. People believe this guy will actually change the way America works. At its core, they believe what he has said to be true. In at least some of their eyes, all these things he said is true. Now, I dislike Trump, but he is a powerful speaker. He uses concise, simple language that is direct and to the point. You know that idea that some guy is a ladies man because he is self-confident? That’s what Trump expresses to people. He also uses my favorite rhetorical device, hyperbole. “Make America Great Again,” is a slogan that feels hyperbolic. But hyperbole incites people. It hits people in their emotional areas. It’s an appeal to pathos, but it appears as a logos argument, which makes it really hard to argue with.

Which is what the election became about. It became about who had the more important issue. And the reality is that Trump crafted more important issues. They might not be really important in the scope of the world, but he made them seem more important—and at what point does “seems” and “reality” not simply become the same thing? I’ve talked about this before. If you say something is true for long enough, it becomes true, because truth is relative to what humans perceive. Hillary became the enemy to Red America. Less people trusted her than Trump, despite numerous studies showing that he lied on a more consistent basis than any other candidate in the entire election cycle. And the problem is that the DNC let it happen. They did not handle Bernie Sanders well, which divided the party and made “party unification” something that felt begrudging. “Fine, I’m with her, I guess” was a real bumper sticker, to further illustrate my point.

Trump thrives on hyperbole. He made a TV show emphasizing the phrase “You’re Fired.” If you have ever played a game competitively, you know that once you begin playing your opponents game, you have already lost. If you are an aggressive team, you have to stay aggressive, or you will lose because you are in an uncharted territory. You may think Trump is an idiot, but he’s clearly grabbed American democracy by the…throat. Now, I’m all for country unity, but country unity requires the unity of all people. Which I’m not sure a Trump candidacy can ever do.

Some of my close friends are terrified. The LGBTQA friends I know are horrified by Mike Pence, and rightfully so. The guy OK’d electroshock therapy to “cure gays.” My immigrant friends are afraid—even the ones that are here legally, because they know that a mob mentality can sweep away people who have done nothing wrong. It only takes a spark to catch fire, but that spark can burn for hours on end. Don’t believe me? Move to California for a summer and see how fires start. Or look at how some people are speaking to and about minorities now, and see that in many peoples eyes, People of Color are still lesser beings.

“Who could have seen this coming?” Well, I did. It was pretty clear from the primaries that he was going to win. He knocked his opponent’s off balance. He sowed the seeds in rural voters minds that politics were failing and that they had been rigged, then used his ethos as a “successful” businessman to get them fired up enough to come out and vote. Rural voters were up from 19% in 2012 to 26(ish)% this election. This is something that the Hilary campaign did not do. I’m not saying Hilary didn’t run a good campaign—by normal standards, she ran a very good campaign. She was composed, she was rhetorical, she was educated, she was far more prepared than any candidate we’ve seen in recent debates aside from perhaps her primary opponent, and she was extremely experienced. The problem was, that wasn’t what this campaign was about.

I brought up hyperbole, and negativity was another key aspect of this campaign. This should have been obvious, given how vile the 2012 campaign got due to Citizens United. What, did we think things were suddenly going to be nice? No. Trump is a direct result of Citizens United. He embodies negativity, and even embraces it. He took a video tape of him bragging about sexually assaulting a woman, embraced that he did it, and moved passed it. WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT HILARY’S DAMN EMAILS. Trump didn’t let something phase him, or act as a thorn in his side—even if it meant saying something more obscene the next week to get away from it. Hilary…kinda did. And maybe it was out of her control. People kept bringing it up, and maybe this wouldn’t have happened to a man and our country is still sexist. Excuses. True maybe. But they are excuses.

The fact of the matter is that those issues needed to be put to rest. Instead of “I accept responsibility for X and in the future” it should have been “Yeah, I made a mistake, but you know what? Everyone makes this mistake. It’s so common.” And then listed all the other embassy attacks that were mishandled and private email servers that had been used. Maybe even, I don’t know, bring up her opponents use of hidden information? If the election is about hyperbole, negativity, and strength, then don’t let it be Trump’s court. Make it your court.

I digress. I am worried for my friends. Tensions are high. That happens when things are taken out of proportion, which happens a lot around election year. The stock market was up earlier today, and now it is falling. Women feel threatened. Non-white Americans feel threatened. Non-Christians feel threatened. Democrats feel threatened. Journalists feel threatened. Our allies feel threatened. Countries that are not are allies feel happy because America is in turmoil, but they know they are threatened in the back of their heads too.

Now, I’m sure I could be called a “Libitard,” for buying into the facts that have been presented to me, but I don’t think that’s true. I’ve long come to terms with “Liberal Hypocrisy” as a mainstay of thought. The idea that a liberal has all answers to problems so that they can get a long. A so-called “higher path” to the bigoted, narrow minded Republicans. But, in the words of Lewis Black, “if liberals are so good at winning, why do they lose?” I’ll tell you why. Because from up on that seat, that high horse, it becomes harder to get down and vote. “We’ve got this in the bag.” “There’s no way we can lose.” “They’re handing us this election by putting Trump against Clinton.” Really? 2/3rds of America doesn’t vote. What if half of one of that third comes out and votes? That’s what happened for Republicans. But it’s more than that. It’s taking our politics seriously. It’s standing up and saying “I’m going to watch the news even though I hate the news because my life will be changed by this election.” And change it shall. Many people are talking about moving out of the country. Canada’s citizenship website crashed. Maybe the reality is that we’ve been spread too thin. There’s no way the needs of Iowa match the needs of California, Texas, New York, and Utah.

And I get it, State’s have rights to. I live in California. I know that my life is probably going to be the least impacted out of the whole country by this election—save nuclear war. But as a citizen of this country I am distraught. Because Donald Trump has been divisive in his rhetoric. Sure, he united a party that was on the verge of falling apart, but uniting half the country and alienating the other half is worse than alienating a quarter of the country. Think about how much you hate your opposing party’s candidate. Think how much you hate that one aunt that is voting in opposition with you. Think about how much you were surprised your friend was voting for the enemy team, and how much you loathe them now. It’s almost brother versus brother. It makes my stomach hurt because all these things we stand for—and I don’t even know which “we” I am referring to—but the things that we stand for have been compromised. I was taught that bullying was a weak man’s trade. I was taught that being braggadocios is proof of an excess of pride. I am not Christian, but I was taught that humility should supersede the rest of life. I was taught that all men are created equal. I was taught that if you worked hard, things would get better. Tonight, I have been taught that you can short cut your way to success by taking advantage of people. And I’m not sure what that means for the rest of the world. But it’s 12:08 AM now, and here we are.

I wish I could end on a positive note. That the sun will rise in the morning. But if the sun rises red with anger, and hate, is that really a sun we can all live happily under?

 

Edit:

Here’s a post-post election thought that I figured I should add in. I sat down to add this at 12:03 PM on the day after the election. Ironically, “Good Morning” by Kanye West was the first song on by Pandora. As shaken as I still am by the decision America made last night, life does go on. Hate will get us one of two places. One, further divided. Riots are starting, which I am not surprised about. I am worried they will escalate to Civil War. We haven’t experienced a Civil War with nuclear weapons, and I doubt we want to. The other option I see hate bringing us is the same cyclical nonsense that occurred when Obama was first put in office. Remember that? Remember the Tea Party people? And while the phrase “not my president” has continued to this day, I would hope that we could be the better people, and put that aside. There is only so much space in prisons. Do not sit down if hatred sets in, but do no be the person to insight violence. Protect each other. Do not let this so-called “white lash” become the split in our country that causes us to sink under.