I'm back from an Idyllic jaunt to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, where perfect weather and lovely people and a Secret Winery all converged in a Holiday Vortex that left me repeating, "This is so wonderful" overmuch. Our Vacation Friends from New York were staying at the inn; we had a convivial evening in the garden house with the innkeepers and some very good organic wine; we splurged and sat down to a winery chef's dinner of five courses (with wine pairings) where, astonishingly, I enjoyed a raw oyster sprinkled with flying fish roe. Enjoyed! It was a revelation.
With no television in our balcony room, I was blissfully unaware of the World around me. Vacations there are also a vacation from The News and, especially, The Politics. Tim, our innkeeper, keeps a table of newspapers in the breakfast room, but I assiduously avoid them. And I'm not the only one. Most of the American guests do, I've noticed, and the few Canadian guests do a cursory skim of the front pages of each section, then turn their attentions to the excellent homemade bread, yoghurt, or daily sweet, especially if Sharon has made her tempting cranberry coffeecake or lemon poundcake.
(This changes markedly if a Presidential election is News in the United States. Everyone, no matter his or her passport, wants to talk about that at breakfast. We are spared, at least for a bit.)
Still enrobed in my Zen--somewhat--I caught up on The News a little, and I reviewed some of the articles I have been saving. Quite a bit of The News and The Politics is frosting my cupcakes lately. Perhaps, I thought, if I try to address all of it at once and all of it while I am still a bit Warm And Fuzzy, things won't Get Out Of Hand.
Oh, let's do try. Shall we? On, then.
1. Hillary and President Clinton and Who Is "Dead Broke". My admiration and deep love for President Clinton is a Given. My vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential Primaries was, too. But someone has to wrench these people and all politicians out of their extraterrestrial elitist circles and show them how the Real World lives. And, if necessary, show them Some Math. As in, a family has an income of $46K, and the average price of gasoline is $3.50 a gallon, and a loaf of bread is $2.00, and a pound of ground chuck is $3.59, and the average mortgage payment in, say, the Cleveland, Ohio, metro area is $800 monthly, and yada yada yada, do you get my drift? And that is for the people fortunate enough to be employed fully and gainfully. In the United States of America, %15 of our fellow citizens live below the poverty line. Now who is Dead Broke? Consider telling a family of four making ends meet on less than $24,5K a year that you, a former First Lady who spends more on haircuts and wine in a year than they do on...oh...living, are Dead Broke. These D.C. people need to get out and get The Questions. "Do you know how much a gallon of gasoline is in your district, or anyplace?" "How much is a steak at the grocery store?" "How much is a gallon of milk?" And no, it's not "wrong to focus on these small things in light of larger legislation" (paraphrasing here). Why? Because WE LIVE THE SMALL THINGS. I care a hell of a lot about the bullshit that the Supreme Court just shoved down my throat and up my skirt. But some people need to Get Real, too. Why do you think the Supreme Court handed down such tripe? Because they are Out Of Touch with the day to day realities of real people. Look at the vote. Duh. (And that's Real People. Not corporation people. Or people corporations. Or whatever the hell the 5/9 Supreme Beings want to call them/think they are.)
2. Ugly Americans and The New Gladiator Sport. I live, I guess, technically in a border state, but no Canadians come sneaking in across Lake Erie in milk jug barges or packed under fake-bottomed boats. I understand only from reading and watching news reports the concerns and issues that a burgeoning illegal immigrant population brings with it to a true border state community, its economy, and the government's resources. It has to be incredibly stressful in myriad ways. But what happened in Murrieta, California, made me so profoundly sick and ashamed. Three buses loaded with Central American women and children--all illegal immigrants--were met and turned away by protesters there. Over 100 angry, sign-carrying United States citizens swarmed the buses and shouted, among other things, "USA! USA! USA!" As I watched this on television, right before I left for my trip out of the USA, I had a churning mix of emotions. I knew the children inside those buses were already afraid, tired, and probably hungry and thirsty, too. This was not their fault, and it was not fair, as things often never are for children. I was shocked that such anger and hatred could be focused on women and children, and that it could turn so wildly afield: some posters were about Obama, some protesters interviewed rambled on about other political agendas. Finally, I was angry and ashamed. That chant, that cheer! I remembered it being so deafening during the USA/USSR hockey game at Lake Placid. It is supposed to be a cheer of pride, a cheer of support and national spirit. I felt such outrage that it had been co-opted for something so threatening, so ugly, so primitive. All I could think of was Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery." I honestly felt sick. How dare they? They do have a right to assemble, to speak freely. But they tarnish us all.
3. Guns, Guns, and More Guns. Unlike the paid politicians in Washington, D.C., who I am loathe now to call Our Representatives, my feelings never stop being wounded by news reports of shootings, bursts of gun violence such as Chicago's bloody Independence Day Weekend, and here in the Cleveland area, the sight of mothers so bowed down by profound grief that they literally cannot walk behind their child's casket. After Newtown failed to move these morons, I got very wide-eyed with the knowledge that those in government saw The American People as disposable or trivial, whereas their own Ideologies and Bank Balances were not. It has been difficult to live with the idea that, and this is not to be immodest or overly simplistic, Stupid and Sometimes Evil Idiots are in charge, and I cannot expect anything from them, ever. Something is terribly wrong when a heap of dead (American) elementary children and their teachers are an insufficient catalyst for change. Show me an unarmed nation, a gun-controlled nation with a high rate of gun violence akin to ours. Show me the graves of their dead schoolchildren. Show me their "good guys with guns." They're like Starbucks, the NRA. Everywhere, yet never enough.
Speaking of Starbucks, they've even infiltrated Niagara-on-the-Lake. So irritating. Can't a nice, independent coffee place open up there? No, apparently not. At least this Starbucks is in a completely closed building, though. No windows at all, and the door is always shut, although as we walk nearby, it opens about eleventy thousand times per half hour. Sigh. People. Many, many times, they get what they ask for, I suppose.
Rick just sent me a text message. Tough re-entry day back at work, he said. Isn't it terrible how Real Life ruins any Vacation, whether it's physical, mental, or spiritual? As I try to maintain my Zen--Post-Canadian Holiday Type--I think I'll ignore The Ugly today. And do my level best not to contribute to it.