I don’t give a shit what the founding fathers think

One of the things I’ll definitely miss about living in Flagstaff is the way you just “run into people you know” all the time. Like I remember a couple years ago being in the grocery store and a student shouting across the dairy aisle “Hey, Gruber! Do we need to just do the reading questions for Monday?”

“Just the reading questions,” I smiled, grabbing some Irish butter. (Seriously, how do the Irish do this? What passes for “Irish butter” in the states isn’t nearly as good as actual fucking Irish butter in Ireland, but I swear the Irish are putting some kind of ancient Celtic deliciousness spell on their butter because no butter tastes that good. I mean, when I first went to Ireland I was impressed by the butter, and I’m not the kind of woman who often takes the time to appreciate things like “butter” — — weird cloud formations and good art, yes. Butter, no.)

By virtue of being from (respectively) Chicago and Milwaukee, I find this kind of closeness super charming.

By virtue of being a teacher, I run into lots of people. Students, parents, grandparents who met me at some school event or another. It’s nice. And then you run into your friends sometimes — who in a small town are largely the people you work with, but sometimes random others you know from the local lit scene or the one of two Walgreen’s in town or the place where you always get your coffee.

Today, at the place where I always get my coffee (I will always love you, Kickstand), I ran into my friend Mike who is also a co-worker or colleague or whatever (I go back-and-forth on the “colleague”/”co-worker” thing because
co-worker is like you work in a cube or a factory and colleague is like you’re running a Silicon Valley tech company or a law office or a healthcare practice or floating around the halls of academia as it was in the 1930s and 40s). He’s a guy I know who earns money in exchange for helping young people become the kind of young people who can hold civilizations together and make those civilizations better and who aren’t completely losing their shit all the time. How’s that? I’m sure there’s a singular verb/noun like “love” in German for the relationship I just described . . .

So Mike is a theater person and a writer and I am a writer and have an appreciation for theater and we’re both kind of intense in completely different ways — like Mike is sometimes intensely loud, his voice, his physical presence, and I am sometimes intensely quiet, my body posture, my voice (or lack thereof); and we both feel things really intensely, but what we emotionally wear to express that feeling is going to look way different: Mike’s would be more floral and drapey whereas mine would probably be black, cable knit and loose-but-not-too-big) — most importantly we crack each other up easily, regularly. We have these fast intense conversations where we’re laughing and gesticulating and dropping coffee cups and our jaws and gasping and squinting and doing the “think pose” anyone who’s spent more than ten years
a student knows to strike when they’re trying to show they’re “really considering” what the other person is saying (we’re fucking animals who have the cognitive ability to understand our own instincts from an objective perspective and yet we can’t cure cancer. I don’t get it.)

What I’m saying is, I love Mike. He’s one of my favorite friends. Quality person.

Anyway.

I’m at Kickstand to meet with my boss about some logistics stuff regarding the move down to Tucson and also just to catch up because my boss is also my friend (things get real incest-y on a social level in a small town; like once, I got a colonoscopy and my anesthesiologist was the father of a student who failed my class. Yes, it was awkward).

Anyway, I run into Mike and I sit down because it’s not quite time for my meeting yet, and we’re just shooting the shit and talking about my upcoming move to Tucson (which feels increasingly more of a “flee” than a “move”) and then we get on the subject of “olden days” (2014–2019). Shit we miss from olden days.

And then we start talking about how last November we were both doing the NanoWriMo thing.(For those not in the know: NanoWriMo is basically a “game” for people who enjoy writing and the goal is to write a complete novel-length draft in the month of November, but no pressure because NanoWriMo understands everyone is super stressed out — which everyone WAS in 2019, but not quite to this extent. It’s insane, but mostly fun.)

Mike finished his novel. Actually wrote something he likes.
I wrote a few thousand words. Pretty slowly. Never finished.

“You bailed on that,” Mike said.

I started laughing, “‘bailed’ — I fucking got cancer in November, remember?”

Mike started laughing. Hard.

“Bailed” I repeated, then started doing this snarky teen voice “Oh, Gruber is such a wuss. She totally bailed on NaNoWriMo when she found out she had stage four cancer. What a fuckin’ dilettante.”

And we’re both dying laughing now, and Mike has to stand up from the table so he doesn’t spit his tea.

And sometimes while I’m laughing, I get these little pinches of fear because I’m a little afraid about my PET scan results and The Election.
Okay, I’m a lot afraid.
Of both.
But when fear would pinch me while I was laughing,
I would swipe it away like one of those gross ass bugs
that in Illinois we called “earwigs” and . . . I think probably
everyone calls them “earwigs” because that revolting name
is the only thing that properly suits them.

Tuesday’s calendar is marked: SUFFERING

I’m serious. That’s my calendar. I’ve cleared the day for suffering.

It’s going to be like a fucking existential colonoscopy:
without anesthesia, with a whole extra liter of Prep.

As for today and Monday, I am going to live my damn life.
Sarah and I have packing to do. And I have to get in for an eye exam
because I am tired of pretending I don’t need transitional lenses —
it’s like men who are too prideful to wear hearing aids. It’s passive aggressive
and in the case of my sight, I’m only being passive-aggressive to myself
because who the fuck else does it bother if I can’t see up close anymore?

Anyway, Suffering, my schedule is PRETTY FUCKING FULL, but
I have generously penciled you in for ALL OF TUESDAY, so please
try not to fucking bother me
until then. “Thx.”

I was talking to my friend today about Suffering Tuesday
and about how
there are types of suffering.

The worst is caused by fear of the unknown:
not knowing what the scan will show, not knowing how the election will go. “The Unknown” generates
the worst kind of fear-based suffering.
That’s why we’re all so messed up
about being mortal.
We don’t know what death is, or when it’s coming —
we just know that we can’t avoid it and we feel like we’re being pursued
by The Unknown and, sometimes, we end up ruining
our whole fucking amazing, tiny lives over this ONE
fear-based suffering which we can
do absolutely nothing
about.

And yes, this burden SUCKS mightily.
HOWEVER, you HAVE been given some time
and what makes time really precious (sidebar: Mike told me there is a fucking Precious Moments Museum in Missouri and I’m not saying it’s on my bucket list but I’m also not saying I wouldn’t stop if I was driving past) what makes
time really precious and heartbreaking is that we only get like two teaspoons.
Damn it. Two fucking teaspoons.
And then there’s this shitty test to see if you can manage
to really enjoy the two teaspoons and not
fucking obsess about what the teaspoons
will be like
when they’re empty.

Like the test is about carrying several
really heavy things
all at once. All the fucking grocery bags
all your life
are on one hand
that is going numb so you
can carry your keys
in the other. OR
you decide to split
the grocery bags between two
hands and there’s still too many, they
are still too heavy. So now both hands are numb,
and you’re constantly fumbling
with your keys.

I don’t want
to fumble with my keys
I want to be able to open
as meany doors as steadily,
as comfortably, and as simply
as I can until I get to the
big apartment in the sky or whatever
is waiting for all of us.

Know what I mean?

I don’t mean we shouldn’t fear the Unknown of Tuesday.
Suffering Tuesday is going to be so, so real. On different levels
for every one of us. We have every right and reason
to be afraid of Tuesday. Frankly, I’m more scared about
the election than my PET scan results.

So we know that Tuesday is going to suck. Majorly.
For me it’s going to suck medically, also.
THAT SAID we do NOT know which way
Lady Luck is going to tilt
on Suffering Tuesday.

I know the election is not “luck” but “democracy”
and my cancer is not “luck” but “science” or “biology” or “bad genetics” or whatever but honestly, these days, everything is so fraught and tattered,
that even democracy and science feel
as arbitrary and mythic
as the notion of
“luck.”

So there are KINDS of suffering.

And all Suffering Packages are the same in one way:
we don’t get to choose which package
we are subscribed to. Some of us get lucky. Get
subscribed to the super-healthy-makes-it-to-ninety-six-despite-
heavy-smoking-of-unfiltered-cigs and some of us get subscribed to
the shitty-parents-in-a-shitty-town-never-touched-a-drink-but-has-kidney-failure plan. We don’t get to choose the goddamn plan. Not really.
The universe is so American.

But regardless of the package we’re signed up for
we have some choices (see? life is always fucking with you. life is over here all “YOU HAVE NO FUCKING CHOICE . . j/k sort of . . .”

For example:
I DO have the choice to turn my phone off
when I’m tired of being scared
by phone calls from people who are confused
because they work in a fucked up organization that is
totally disorganized.
That kind
of fear-based suffering, I am choosing
to be done with
now.

I DO have a choice not to suffer over concern
that my truth will offend or frighten others.
Also, know there is a difference between being honest and
being an asshole. What I mean when I say that I
choose to speak truth is that I will have no compunction
about going to the fancy mall in Tucson in sweatpants and Docs
with my hair looking all a mess if what I really need in that moment
is a couple scoops of Frost. (If you know Frost, you know what I am saying.) What I mean is I will NOT hesitate to let you know what I really mean about things that matter (and also on things that don’t matter so much but are fun to discuss)

*** CAVEAT HERE: Some people pride themselves on “keeping it real.” Say things like, “What? I’m just being honest” or “I’m just telling it like it is” — know the signs: sometimes, but not always, the former phrases may be an indication that person is just an ASSHOLE with poor social-emotional skills/boundaries.

Like telling someone you hate their cologne or the shirt they’re wearing or telling someone you think they’re dumb or calling a woman a “bitch” just because you’re mad or confused isn’t “keeping it real” nor is it “sharing your truth”: you are just being an ass.

“Speaking your truth” doesn’t mean giving voice to every thought that pops into your tiny human brain. However funny, clever, sublime, or true said thought might be. ***

Please America,
at the very least
learn the difference between
being an asshole
and being authentic.

Another illustration, another way of thinking about it —

A lot of people like Trump because they say he “just tells the truth”
and he “tells it like it is.”
But what Trump is actually doing is sort of idiot stream-of-consciousnesses-improv that has been shaped by people smarter than him (long list!) to appeal to the very worst tendencies
of our country in order
to make money and life for himself
and the people he thinks are “cool” (seriously, do you want Donald Trump Steve Rubell-ing people in and out of the most functional schools, hospitals, and social systems our country has to offer? Do you want Donald Trump
and Mike Pence to be the arbiters of who is cool enough
to have money
or good, sustainable jobs
or healthcare for when they’re really sick
and not just hungover or too stoned.)

Donald Trump is not “speaking his truth” or anyone’s truth.
He is just a racist, pathetic, sub-mediocre man who, not entirely unlike the late Steve Rubell, thinks money and celebrity makes people smart and more interesting and “better” morally and otherwise than people who are not famous
and do not have a lot of money. Donald Trump thinks rich people and famous people have more of a right to live than I do. And I’m a middle-class gay white lady (does middle-class exist?). So if that’s what he thinks of me, imagine
what he might be thinking about someone you know and love
or you yourself.

Money.
SAT Scores.
Fame. (Film, television, literary, et al)
Body Mass Index.
Facial structure.
Physical health status.
Mental health status.
Race.
Sex.
Degree earned.
these things will not save you nor do they have any
connection to your actual human fucking worth
these things have nothing to do with your mind
or soul or character which, if you want this brief life
to be good for you and everyone else sharing your time
with you, are most important in this life.

Are you a good person? Or are you a shithead?
Does the answer matter to you? Or are you so fucking
wrecked by life that your busted, knotted heart
feeds on a sense of theoretical superiority and entitlement
and rage?

If the latter is true — if you have arrived at a point
where you really just don’t fucking care if people fucking suffer
so long as you can keep your money if you are that much
wreckage the end — which will come in spite of your money or
political influence, or celebrity — is going to be so bad
you’re going to wish
you were never born.

I never wish
I was never born.

(When my niece was a toddler, she was walking — like upright, on her feet — across my brother’s back and he said, “Ow! Alice! That hurts!” and she seemed a little surprised and perplexed and said, “It feels fine to me.”
Because it did feel fine to her.
She was walking on someone’s back;
HER back was not being walked upon.
What I mean is can we get past this toddler logic?
What I mean is just because it “feels fine to you”
doesn’t mean it’s fine. Just because it “feels fine to you” doesn’t mean
it’s not feeling REALLY FUCKING BAD to others. Can we grasp this?
Please?)

Some of the best people I’ve ever known were (some still are) broke as hell financially, but crazy rich in other ways that were infinitely more interesting and meaningful and helpful. You want a good story? Talk to someone who is money poor or grew up money poor.
You want advice on how to buy stock?
Talk to someone who is money rich or grew up money rich.
I am not interested in stocks. It’s just fancy gambling.
I’ll take the good story.

The truth should help.
In politics, truth should help justice be
more just. In medicine truth should help
individuals make a plan for more life with quality.
In education truth should teach the individual how to navigate
and understand this messy little span of time we’re given
without getting mean or going insane.

Because one of the cosmic jokes (there’s multiple, right?)
is that life is SO. FUCKING. AWESOME. BUT
it’s also designed to test us really hard the whole fucking time.
For example:
You’re eighteen years old and adorable and all excited to start your adult life like — “Wow! I get to go to live in New York City” and life is like
“THE WORLD HAS A PANDEMIC WHICH THE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA
IS ESPECIALLY DISINTERESTED IN STOPPING. SO NO, YOU ARE NOT
GOING TO NEW YORK!”
For example:
You’re forty-four and you’re all “goddamnit, Trump is president and now I have stage iv cancer, and I’m really scared and upse, but oh well, I’m tough, and there’s some good treatment out there in Modern Times.”
and life is like “FUCK YOU! I AM GOING TO KILL YOUR DOG RIGHT NOW!”
For example:
You’re fifty-seven and you’re like “Damn, my marriage is falling apart. This is so fucking rough. And life is all, “I AM GOING TO END THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY IN WHICH YOU EARN MONEY RIGHT FUCKING NOW!”

In every scenario, we’re like “What the fuck, life? What is wrong with you? Why are you such a fucking asshole? I had this one fucking thing to deal with and then you go and fuckin’ throw this ‘America Has Wannabe Dictator’ shit on top of my plate. Seriously. Do you think this is fucking funny, life? I don’t.”

Life is kind of a permanent adolescent. Annoying, gross, but also really sweet and fascinating sometimes.

Anyway, even the person with the most money and most health
and most charmed, longest ass, comfy life is going to suffer like fuck
over the death thing (at least that one).

So that fucking prank gets us all.
Rich people.
Poor people.
Gay people.
Brown and black and white people.
Straight people.
Furries.
Plumbers.
Professors.
Steampunkers.
Hipsters.
Foodies.
Trumpers.
Never Trumpers.
Vegans.
Who am I leaving out?

Everybody gonna die.

Sucks because it’s The Unknown which is so scary to us, which fucks us up so bad because we have these big, amazing, imaginations.
Like my puppy Abe can’t even fathom the concept of “tomorrow,” but I can conceive of fifty different scenarios (both horrifying and hopeful) in under a minute about what Tuesday will be like.

We have to STOP hastening our own deaths
with wars and shitty healthcare (or none at all) and crazy stressful work hours and school hours and we need to STOP hastening our own deaths
by telling ourselves our worth can ever be counted in dollars.
(Shit, not even dollars anymore — I think even money is mostly digital, so we’re not even measuring our worth by a tangible thing — we’re measuring our worth by a robot’s idea of what money is. Yikes.) We have to STOP hastening our deaths
with poor mental healthcare and by telling boys and men that it’s a sign of weakness to seek help when their minds are hurting or by telling girls “yeah, you can do what you want but just know you’re going to have to conform to X, Y, Z way of being” or “only boys” or “only girls” — it’s bulllllllllshit.
We have to STOP hastening our own deaths with clinging to our
racist ass garbage, hoarding that shit like its going to save your life
look at yourself, America. You’re a fucking mess.
We have to STOP hastening our own deaths
by making people fucking cage fight and fight for basic fucking
shit that America is WELL EQUIPPED TO PROVIDE like healthcare,
education, and fucking housing.

We need to redefine what it means/looks like/is to be “tough” or “resilient” or whatever we want to value, going forward, as Americans.

The best thing about living in Modern Times (TM) is that, in theory, we
can enjoy our human lives a little longer and more comfortably with
more time to read and watch movies and listen to music and solve
complex scientific problems and see the world and laugh with our friends,
but we’ve fucking let greedy white bastards (yes, in America, white bastards are 99.9999% of the fucking problem and NO that’s not “reverse racism” because your white ass, like my white ass, has never been truly fucking hurt or held back based on the color of your fucking skin. Yes, I know you’ve hurt. I’ve hurt, too. Bad. Everyone does. But all human suffering is not racism. And if you’re white in America you have never suffered
because you
were white. Remember: pain and suffering are NOT
one and the same. A papercut is not a knife wound.)

But we live in Modern Times and we’re in America which has so much
goddamn potential, but we’ve been so fucking mean to it and its residents.
We’ve let weird, selfish rich white men (and women) with gross, warped ideas of what a “good life” is make huge fucking decisions “for us,” let them tell us WE were the weird fucking ones because we couldn’t “win at America.”

“America is an easy game,” they’ve been telling us. “Why can’t you just learn how to win this game?” And they’re smirking when we’re not looking, because
they’re fucking with us so hard.
They’re gaslighting us so badly.
The game is so fucking rigged that it’s not even playable.
And these fuckers are telling us they’re going to take care of us?
Going to make decisions for us? Going to
let us play?

The thing is, we need to get away from this Ben Franklin American Masculinity as ideal thing — stay with me, I’m 95% sure I have a point —
like we tend to think of Ben Franklin as pretty benign. Like this dude
who rode the lightning with a kite and kind of helped write the basic,
rough outline for our nation, but he was also TOTALLY a dude OF HIS TIME and he was terrible to women (like everyone was back then) and I think he maybe conceded that black people were human (radical for his time, but not ours) .
Like for his time.
For another rich, white guy in American politics
Ben Franklin was fine.
Whatever.
But in 2020, no fucking American should be looking up to Ben Franklin or wanting to be “like” Ben Franklin. Or Thomas Jefferson. Or George Washington. They were just some rich people who had some good ideas.
They were broken as all people are broken by life.
Let’s keep the essence of their best ideas,
and move the fuck on.

Miss me with the “what would the founding fathers want?” bullshit.

Why do I, an American woman in the year 2020, give a fuck what some guy from almost three hundred years ago wanted three hundred years ago
at a time when the “humanness” of women and people of color was a pervasive and philosophical question (in certain parts of America it still is, I know) and slavery was still legal and my wife and I probably would have been burnt on a pile of crisp Massachusetts-autumn leaves as Sapphic Witches and at at a time
in medical history when I would have died a slow and very painful death
at the age of thirty five and been but a footnote in some butcher-come-doctor’s journal: the leeches were unable to Sucke Thye Badye Cancyre from the Spynestire’s Breaste . . .

So no, America. I don’t give a FUCK what the founding fathers’ “opinions” are on America in 20motherfucking20.
They wrote a solid rough fucking draft. AND
they raped and kept slaves and beat their wives (probably raped them, too)
and they were NOT great with kids, so I don’t care what their “thoughts” are on the matter of life in 2020.

Nor am I anti-tradition. Live your fuckin’ traditions man.
Tradition is important. I still want a fucking ham on Christmas.
Worship your god or deity or sprite or Magic Eight Ball, I don’t care.
I just have three basic rules:

1) Don’t hurt kids (there’s lots of ways to hurt kids, but if you take the time to have them or be around them, make the best fucking effort you can to not hurt them/totally fuck them up so they have to deal with messy drug addictions and self harm and shit)
2) Don’t hurt animals.
3) Don’t fucking force other people to LIVE your shit. If you think a ghost
is telling you to live in a bunker with nine husbands and forty-seven cats
and not believe in science, that’s cool. Just pay your taxes and stay out of
politics, healthcare, and education.

Like I remember when marriage was finally legalized for us gays and the super conservatives were screaming (as they’ve been screaming for decades) about how our mere existence was FORCING IT DOWN THEIR THROATS and then you had all that fringey shit about gay people recruiting kids to be gay (just a note: most LGBT people I know have actual lives and no time/interest in growing a cult — especially now)

and the motherfuckers screaming about this are the same motherfuckers who are giving me pamphlets and screaming at people “going to hell” or paying politicians lots of money to tell Americans that it’s not-American to live our lives. (And us lefties got to own a little of this, too. We need to stop suing the ULTRA SCARY CONSERVATIVE RELIGIOUS ZEALOT because she doesn’t want to make us a cake that says “I am a homo.” We have to lead by example. She doesn’t like that I’m a homo? Cool. I don’t like her cakes or her, but I’m not going to BURN DOWN HER WHOLE LIFE because she’s weird and broken. Now, if homophobic cake lady is a teacher or in healthcare or a politician or a landlord, we’re gonna have a problem.)
We don’t have to agree on all things.
That’s our right as Americans except in the following cases:

— Cruelty toward children
— Cruelty toward animals
— Being a wanton asshole to the planet. Like seriously in 2020 I should NEVER fucking see a wrapper blowing around on the sidewalk. Quit that shit. (I know sometimes shit falls down and blows away, but in most cases you’re just being an incredibly lazy jackass.)
— Cruelty — psychological or physical — toward another sentient being for any reason whatsoever.
(Unless it is truly one of those rare cases where it’s “really” self defense.
Those cases are as rare as the “good guy with a gun who saves the day”
it’s usually just straight up murder over a television.
And I don’t know about you, but if someone comes in my house
to steal my television — and that’s all — I really don’t want
to END THAT PERSON’S LIFE
over my very replaceable flat screen t.v.)

** When I say cruelty I don’t mean “anything that hurts.” Learning and growth and perfectly normal human evolution sometimes “hurt.” Knowledge sometimes hurts, and as Lizzo has taught us all, “truth hurts.” Cruelty is always pain, but not all pain is cruelty. Know what I’m saying? Like if my onco tells me on Tuesday, “Your cancer has spread to your lung” that’s going to be really fucking painful, but if it’s the TRUTH I need my doctor to share it with me. He is not being a dick because the truth makes me feel bad. Now, if I walk into my onco’s office on Tuesday and he says, “Scan looks great, but you really look like shit” he’s delivering a truth that is only designed to be cruel.
Get it?

(Now if someone comes in my house bent on killing me or
my wife or hurting us really badly then I can use
fist, bricks, Jedi mind tricks —
what I’m saying is we probably shouldn’t
kill struggling people who are trying to take
our replaceable property. We can make laws
about how to deal with that shit. We don’ t have
to fucking kill someone unless we’re pretty damn sure
they’re about to kill us and even then maybe instead of guns
we could all get really ripped and fit learning how to
subdue people well and safely so no one dies
strung out on drugs or religion or racism.)

Like can we all agree,
as humans, these things are objectively bad
not up for debate? And that we could do better?
Like don’t you want to live in an America where the “president” doesn’t make fun of people with disabilities? Or brag about sexually assaulting women? Or call people who died in combat “losers”?
Like what about a return to really fucking basic
kindergarten classroom
decency?

But now we’re all freaked out and suffering.
We’re so delirious on fear that we’re coming up with
weird conspiracies like Qanon and shit. We are out of our minds.
We are not thinking clearly, much less rationally right now
as a nation.
People with money (who are also the people in power) know we are not thinking clearly right now. They are capitalizing on this shit. Should we be scared? Yeah.
Should we be totally out of our minds with fear?
Generally, I don’t think that’s helpful. I don’t know about you
but I typically don’t
make my life’s best decisions
when I’m delirious
with fear.

Problem is you got these moneyed motherfuckers who want to be in politics because they are broken but un-mended. Like us: we’re broken as hell, we’ve seen some shit, we’ve been alive, but we mended pretty good, I think. Some people don’t mend at all. Or they mend all fucked up with like crooked spots all over and big pieces missing but not in a “cute way” and bubbles of dried Hot Melt Glue just barely holding shit together.
Not “pretty cracks” is what I’m saying
(and some cracks in things and people are EXTRAORDINARILY beautiful — even the zig-zaggy, chunky cracks . . . beautiful in the right things and people).

Anyway. Live your life.
Live your traditions.
Live what you feel is right for you.
Just stay out of my life — and you can do that by staying out politics, healthcare, and education.

(A conservative reader might here think: Whatever. She’s just a commie lefty lesbian liberal elitist teacher type. To this,
I will respond by saying, 1) I have never had any desire
to force any person — young or old — to share in my beliefs
about all things in heaven and earth; I have only been a person
who gets very excited about the many facets of life from Woolf to
Westward Expansion and 2) if by “communist” or “liberal” you mean “has warm feelings toward her fellow human beings” then I guess I’m a communist liberal and
3) you wouldn’t know an actual fucking Communist if a statue
of Lenin fell on your fucking head, you bitter, angry, fool.)

Take for instance Amy Coney Barret. (I don’t want to take
her at all, not even for “instance,” but here we are . . .) —
she and her husband/commander/overlord (I don’t know
what she calls the guy she’s married to) should take their lawyer/professor money and start a gated community in Florida for Catholics who want to live as Biblical Literalists.
They should SO do that and anyone who wanted to live in that gated community could totally go there and roll around in their money
and stew in the hate that keeps their mangled little hearts beating.
Like a commune for super broken people — particularly those who are
self-hating Catholic women. (Still have to pay taxes and abide federal laws, y’all.)

But no, these fuckers want to make us ALL live like they live.
So they use their religion to make money (sorry, but I’m looking at you Catholic Church, Mormons, et al) and they are trying to make money so they can influence politics and they are trying to influence politics because they are so broken and damaged and sick that they think the only purpose in life is to control other people.
Like these are people so fucked in the head they think they know what is right for EVERYONE.
You know how fucked up that is?
Can you imagine that?

I have this theory that every President/Prime Minister/Dear Leader has to be just an ounce (often more) total batshit psycho
because WHO but a psycho thinks they KNOW what is best for EVERYONE? And that they SHOULD LEAD MILLIONS.
Like that’s one step away
from believing you actually ARE
god.
Kind of . . . extreme.
Anyway, some of our presidents have turned out okay (what’s up, Obama? I miss you, friend), but some have really let their
I AM A REAL AMERICAN PSYCHO flag fly in office.
(I needn’t name names.)

Like I can’t fucking believe
America has made it this long before
getting its honest-to-the-gods first true FUCKING PSYCHO
BROKEN ASS BABY MAN MOTHERFUCKER SOULLESS
WHITE MALE FREAK —
(I’ve heard Jackson was kind of nuts, but that
was before television or the internet and really
I think his main problems were booze and hookers, which is
so very mild by comparison to what our Current Idiot’s
main problems are.)

Stevie Nicks said it best, “Rulers make bad lovers.”
We don’t need rulers.
We need leaders
who have the capacity
to love
big and broadly
and boldly.

I don’t know. I guess I just feel like, in the end, I don’t need everyone to agree with me on all matters, I just need everyone to be decent.
And like I guess I would totally respect Coney Barret
if she and her hubby opened a freaking Catholic Literalists gated community
somewhere in Florida and I wouldn’t be suing to go live there just to make some political point because life is too fucking short for that. Like
just because you have the right to do something it doesn’t mean
you need to flex that right. Like I could totally take FMLA and watch
Netflix until I die, but I am not actually that sick. I have the right, but
no need to exercise the right (granted I say this from the privileged place
of a person who loves
what she does for “work”). What I mean is someone else could
bake you a good fucking cake. Homophobes and racists don’t corner
the market on baked goods (I’ve found the opposite to be true in most cases) or gated communities. Like I think even the gays in Florida have gay gated communities now, so . . . Let’s show our rights a little respect and save
our ability to exercise them until some real shit hits the fan
like we have a Psycho in the Oval Office (and we do) or brown kids
are not getting access to the same quality education as their white peers (which in most cases they do not) or when a doctor won’t give a woman
a medical procedure because it’s against his “faith” (which is happening
right now
in America).

Just as I don’t want Amy making ANY decisions for me or my loved ones,
I don’t feel I should make ANY decisions for Amy as long as she and her ilk
can abide by the rules of basic human decency.

Amy Coney Barret has a right to exist.
She has a right to good healthcare and to her gross (to me, at least) beliefs (it’s cool — I love pineapple on pizza, but I love and respect all my friends, family, and students who don’t share this view)
(I know equating religion with pizza is really trivializing and
insulting and stupid to some, but the current state of America is really
trivializing, and insulting, and stupid to me right now)
and to live out, within the bounds of fair and just laws, her life on this earth anyway she likes.
She doesn’t have to agree with me on abortion or pop music.
She just needs to not fuck up my life the way I have no designs on fucking up her life.
So if you have these really strong religious convictions that overwhelm you daily with the holy spirit or whatever, stay the fuck out of politics, education, healthcare.

If religion is your best, most important, most central thing — build a fucking church.

If you’re religious (and you know it!) or spiritual and you have the cognitive/intellectual ability to set those beliefs aside for a sec
in order to give Jesus a break and let science, reason, and
universal human dignity
take the wheel
in order to make objectively decent decisions —
If your beliefs can guide you toward
helping people feel better or be better
if you can find it in yourself, with ease, to put
community, reason, and science
before theology (whether in the form of a god or money
or both) then by all means,
go into politics, education, healthcare.

The thing about faith is that it can’t be measured in feet or dollars or pounds. It just is.
It’s not even necessarily a part of the rational, material world — and that’s okay.
When our iphones and our cheeseburger and our Disney+ subscription isn’t enough, many of us have the faith thing to lean into like a beanbag chair.
We need it. It’s good. Kinda magical. Tied in, somehow, with the limitless human imagination — the same human imagination that painted the Sistine chapel, and wrote the album Rumors (yeah. still on that kick.), and invented
Penicillin, invented religion and spirituality.
That’s fucking beautiful. That’s real.
But it’s also super personal. It’s kind of how I have a stack
of kinda “edgy” stories from my life that I will share, sometimes,
with my teenagers and another stack that is for CLOSE FRIENDS ONLY.
Religious beliefs belong
in the proverbial
“close friends only” pile.

I stop respecting real serious religious people
when they start trying to make my life
or the lives of my kids or my friends
harder; when they press on me that I must conform
to what they believe. Any person or business or religion
that needs to force people to be friends or followers or customers
is broken.
Like remember the kid who bullied or bribed you into hanging out in the1980s? (I hope that fucking kid got better.) Or imagine if Starbucks was like “drink our coffee or I’ll do this again” and threw a fucking hot cup of burnt ass coffee in your face (they kind of are like that, but whatever) or a doctor was like “I will shoot your fucking foot off if you don’t let me do an appendectomy on you right fucking now, so help me god”?

Like you wouldn’t want to be near that shit.
That’s an almost hopeless
kind of broken.
Stay far away from people,
businesses, and religions like that — even if they’re from your own
family or the federal government.

Goodnight, America. See you Monday.

Educator, essayist, feminist, human.