For those who don’t know, Oregon is on fire.
So is Montana. And California. And all this while Texas reels from Harvey, the Caribbean is being hit by Irma (and Florida is bracing herself) and a thousand people just died in a monsoon in India.
And my own Oregon, including my beautiful Columbia River Gorge, just outside Portland. There is a fire ravaging over 30,000 acres right now, at 0% containment and spreading, just over 20 miles from my home. The ash is covering the city, and we are all choking and nauseous from the smoke.
It’s been three years today since Michael Brown–an unarmed teenage boy, just a kid, still showing the signs of childhood in his face–was murdered for the high crime of being Black in Ferguson, Missouri. After the cop shot him, they left his body laying unceremoniously in the street for hours. They then threw his body in the back of a van and drove off. People were already gathered in shock and protest. And in the ensuing weeks, the protests continued to grow as the town rose up against the violence systematically perpetrated against them by the police and the state. People swarmed from around the country. Amnesty International sent representatives. The state of Missouri brought in the National Guard.
We’ve all experienced loneliness, isolation and alienation in our lives, in one form or another. Some of us have dealt with more extreme examples: being disowned by our families; abused by a lover; abandoned by the system (homeless, jobless, thrown in prison, refused rehabilitation, left fighting for ourselves in foster care, etc); mistreated because of our skin color or gender identity or ability; the list goes on.
But even those of us fortunate enough to have avoided the most dramatic alienation have still felt it in some way. We have been single and lonely and unsure how to meet friends or lovers. We have felt lost at our jobs like we’re just wasting our lives. We have felt a lack of control and connection with our bodies. We have felt a sorrowful longing for the earth and nature. We have been in a room full of people and felt even more alone than when we’re by ourselves.
Hi friends! Most of you know I do some podcast stuff here and there…I write for one here and used to be on one there, to be specific.
Go check both of them out, Unpops is the bomb dot com and is definitely taking over the world–move the fuck aside, Joe Rogan–and Tim at Everyone is Funnier Than Us is still better at long-form jokes and making geography interesting than anyone else in the podcast world.
Anyway, though…enough about everyone else. This is about me.
I started writing this piece a week ago, because I knew it would be hard and I would need extra time.
I started by reading what I wrote in the immediate aftermath–reeling with shock and sadness and begging people to stop arguing about gun control and terrorists for just a day; to please just give us one single day to mourn first–and I immediately knew that I was right. This was going to be hard. Really hard.
Can we talk for a second about Jared Kushner, aka Kush-Dog, aka The Frat Boy from Hell, aka The Guy Hillary Duff Likes at First in the Disney Channel Original Movie Before Realizing He’s a Douche and She Should Be With the Sweet Guy Who’s Been Her Best Friend All Along?
Because homeboy’s straight awful, and his terribleness is not given enough attention what with his dad in-law being a mega-monster and appointing a whole cabinet full of other mega-monsters and such.
Yes, I’m talking about the American Civil War.
For my friends in the North slash most of the rest of the world, yes, this is a conversation we’re still having.
For my friends in the South, holy shit, how exhausting is this conversation we have to keep having?
For everyone who thinks this is a conversation we SHOULD keep having because you disagree that it was about slavery…well, we’re probably not friends.
For everyone who’s confused, this piece is meant to break it down for you. I’ll go over the arguments people make, and why they’re wrong, and what I think the war was really about (hint: it’s slavery).
Okay, before 90% of my readership punches me square in the gut for even daring to suggest we stop focusing on Trump’s Russian connections, let me just say I DO think there’s sufficient evidence of collusion to warrant an independent investigation, and I don’t think it’s all just bullshit or anything.
Please bear with me here, because my argument is not so bold as to say the Russia thing deserves zero attention. I think it deserves some attention. But, like, maybe 10% of what it’s been getting. And I will explain why.
Warning: this post discusses abuse.
My second husband was abusive.
I’ve mentioned this before, though usually in passing. He was abusive in most of the ways you can imagine, though thankfully with direct physical violence only once. We split two years ago this June, and as you might expect, I’m still sorting out the emotional rubble.
Stick with me, because this is not just some lazy millennial being clueless and not understanding why labor is necessary. I’ll start with my own experience so you can see where I’m coming from here before I go into why our work system is so fucked.
I’m a ridiculously hard worker. My mom’s side of the family, who raised me, were poor working class folks, the descendants of turn-of-the-century Scottish immigrants and the product of a not-too-socially-acceptable 1950s divorce. My grandpa spent several years of his childhood working on a farm while his mother (the divorcee) tried to stabilize herself enough to take him back in. My mom and stepdad were count-out-pennies-to-buy-milk poor until I was in middle school, and they lost their home during the housing crisis seven or eight years later. Anyone who made it to middle class in my family felt like a goddamn hero.