Life in an Oddly Shaped District

Welcome to my congressional district, baby. It’s a mishmash of two old money cities (St. Charles and Geneva); three rustbelt cities in the process of getting gentrified (Aurora, Batavia, Geneva); small farming communities, and towns swept up in the never-ending sprawl of the suburbs. I’m in the southern third in a community that exemplifies the rural white mentality.

We ended up in the soybean field when Hubby had his midlife crisis. He decided that he wanted to build a house. Any lots near his place of work were astronomical. We found the land just before the building boom took off in the mid-’90s when the county of our residence was declared one of the hottest places to live. The influx of residents who moved out here from suburbs closer to the city did so to get some space from their fellows. Or in some cases, to get away from “bad influences” (read: diversifying populations), sycophants with the rural white voter base already out here.

Currently, we are represented by Randy Hultgren, poster boy for the guns and Jesus crowd. He’s taken NRA money. He promotes himself as a pipeline to the federal government. However, that only applies if you agree with him. The rest of us contacting his office get canned emails; rude or clueless staffers who have told constituents to check Google or the website for his position on issues; and conference call town halls inconveniently scheduled at times when most people are carpooling, eating dinner, or attending their children’s school activities. He’s also made appearances with no notice at big box home improvement stores to shake hands et. al. Oh, and let’s not forget the day when a group of peaceful protesters with questions about changes to the Affordable Care Act were greeted by a locked office door. Very well, then. They returned to the parking lot to hold up their signs. Once out there, they saw eyes and fingers parting the blinds in the office windows.

Personally, I gave up calling Rep. Hultgren’s office a long time ago after a staffer named Brian hung up on me when I expressed concern about health care issues. However, I have been retweeting items on Twitter with little reminders that this is how history will remember him and does he really want to be on the wrong side of it?

Evidently, apathy rules his day. This week has been especially frustrating concerning the children being separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and Texas. One of my local friends who’s more active than I am in politics called his office to ask about his position.

She was told that he hadn’t said anything about it and didn’t know if he had an opinion on it one way or another.

I should also mention that Rep. Hultgren is co-chair of this the human rights commission.

The last few days I’ve tweeted him relentlessly about the children’s concentration camps. Not just him, but the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the UN, Amnesty International…you get the picture.

Where the hell is Obi-Wan Kenobi when you need him?

Or maybe we don’t. Maybe we need to take a deep breath and regroup, then start working for a candidate who really cares about her constituents. Should statistics and chance favor us, we should be under the leadership of Lauren Underwood  in November. She’s an RN with political experience as a senior advisor at the Department of Health and Human Services appointed by President Obama. She helped implement the Affordable Care Act as well as working on disaster management and prevention programs.

Somehow, after the last eighteen months, Ms. Underwood’s disaster management skills seem especially applicable.

Awakening in the Nuclear Era

 

Image from Today

 

Yesterday morning, I went to yoga. Afterwards, I stopped at Wal-Mart to grab a couple of pairs of new jeans, then went home and had a bowl of clam chowder for lunch. Afterwards, Oakley and I went shopping for his food for the week or so, then we took a ride on the back roads winding through the currently bare farmland under the crystal blue sky. We tried to walk, but there was just enough wind to make the elements uncomfortable. On the way home, Oakley and I made a stop at a drive through for coffee (me) and an ice water (for him).

A gloriously ordinary Saturday.

As we drove around, I bounced back and forth between WCPT (progressive talk) running the highlights of the past week and a couple of music stations. Once home, we tuned into “America’s Test Kitchen” as we usually do on Saturday. I didn’t hear about this false alarm until fairly late in the day.

My stomach lurched in a way it hadn’t since I was in high school and college. I came of age during the Reagan years with the whisper of the siren lurking in the back ground, wondering daily if today would be the day that the final war started. The better part of those years were spent wondering if I was going to live long enough to graduate and why bother with school work if in the end we were going to to be vaporized into oblivion.

At the time, an insidious group called Young Life, one aimed at “saving” teenagers (it’s Campus Crusade for Christ Junior) began infiltrating my high school with messages about the end of days and the Rapture and Aramgeddon.

Between their interpretations of a book I had little use for and living with an alcoholic WWII veteran parent long steeped in USA right or wrong, my anxiety ratcheted up to a level where I was frozen in real time. I stopped doing anything of real substance, mostly spent as much time in my room as I could dreaming of better days, if possible.

Somehow I still pulled off a high enough GPA to get accepted into college and enough financial aid to do so.

Maybe I was supposed to live.

I started planning; I started dreaming of a future for myself. Granted it was the one that young women in the 1980s were supposed to have, but it was a dream, anyway. I wanted a stable home, a family, and all the rest of the things that I was brainwashed into thinking would make me happy.

Things between the US and the then USSR sort of relaxed until my junior year in college.  Events included a passenger airliner shot down for crossing into USSR air space. That was followed by a lot of saber rattling between Washington and Moscow.

Maybe not.

I shut down again. Would I not live to get out of college? What was the point?

In desperation I ended up engaged to an Air Force NCO who ended up being a dumpster fire of a partner.* He didn’t help at all by going into details on what would happen if we did get nuked ; he subscribe to end of the world cult thinking; he played head and heart games on a daily basis including the ever popular “if you loved me you would______” (insert soul destroying action here) while I searched for jobs near the bases he was likely to be transferred to for his last posting.

Suddenly, the tensions relaxed again between Ron and Yuri. Sergeant Dumpster Fire dumped me after demanding that I marry him within 48 hours  or our love was going to die (thanks to the Mystery that it did). Eventually the job, the home, et al  fell into place of their own accord.

For a long time, the threat of nuclear war was a non-issue, but now with the Dotard in Chief playing “mine is bigger than yours” with the not-the-most-stable-meal-on-the-shelf Dear Leader coupled with a vice president who subscribes to the zombie death cult interpretation of Christianity and would love to have himself and his fellows raptured away before the bombs drop, it’s been thrust to the forefront.

Again.

My prayer is that the “football,” the briefcase with the codes, gets kept very far away from the Oval Office until we can get someone more stable and wise in there. My hope is that Congress gets overturned this fall–if we live that long.

In the meantime in addition to letting Senators Duckworth and Durbin know my thoughts while working to get Rep. Hultgren out of office, I will get involved with peace groups as best I can from here in the hinterlands.

As all this shakes out, I will do yoga, enjoy my new jeans, and walk Oakley.

 

*To my family and friends who read this: I lack the words to convey the regret that I feel for the pain and grief I caused you by letting myself get manipulated into this relationship. “I’m sorry” doesn’t begin to cover the regret and remorse. I don’t know if I can ever really forgive myself, either, for the part of my life wasted on this person or for the damage done to other relationships.

Strange Days, Indeed

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image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

In the smaller, personal word, I laid a bird to rest this morning. A thunk reverberated through the dinette and family room. He laid on the back step with glassy unfocused eyes staring at the sky. I think he might have been an immature cardinal based on the coloring, still mostly white but with bright orange-red feathers sprouting through.  With the help of a plastic bag, I transported the remains to the northeast corner of the property, then gently laid him on the ground. “May you rest and may you fly free,” I said. May it be so.

Now we wait the long wait for the vets’ office to return the second call. Oakley was a little restless last night. He finally found a cool spot near the fan and dozed off, or so I thought. By some act of grace, Hubby was up early. Oakley wasn’t snoring in front of the fan. Hubby went downstairs to find Oakley panting and pacing by the back door. Hubby woke me up so I could take him out. Out we were in the nick of time. It was bad enough that Oakley  is staying home from day care today. I called the vets’ for an antidiarrheal and an antibiotic used in extreme scenarios. The former is ready. Somehow, the request for the latter didn’t get filled.

Before that, Hubby had to wake me up at 1:30 this morning. Whatever I was dreaming about caused me to yell in my sleep. He gently woke me up. Usually, that’s the end of the story. But my brain took off on me. I never really went back to sleep. That was the second night in a row.

The not-so-personal world has ratcheted up the nuttiness to new levels

I struggle not to attach meaning to the deceased bird, the bad dreams, the upset tummy, or the incoming full moon. But after the last few days of news, I wonder. Tensions between law enforcement and minorities simmer as they did back in 1967-68 as I remember. We had Dallas, near St. Louis, St. Paul in the last week. The national conventions lie just ahead. Demonstrations will be held, I’m sure. May they be peaceful on all sides.

Another round of potentially severe storms hovers on the horizon for this afternoon. I took Oakley out about an hour ago. Hot sun plus mugginess plus a cool breeze indicates instability. We watch and wait.

Hopefully, the storms through the power of the water and the energy generated will provide a cleansing for the world. Or at least our little corner of it.

One Weird-A**ed Week Later….

This was a weird a**ed week if there ever was one. Here’s hoping that next week is a little calmer.

Monday, Hubby returned to his mom’s house near Detroit for another round of work to get it ready to go on the market. He drove right into the aftermath of a storm that dropped five inches of rain in a ridiculously short amount of time. Any other day, it would have taken him five or six hours to get there. Not this time. Road closures due to flooding pushed him pretty far out of the way, and it took closer to eight or nine hours. When he finally pulled up in front of the house, he noticed that all the neighbors were outside. To a home, everyone had at least three inches of water in their basements. Even his mom’s, even after the money spent on new water lines last summer to avoid this nonsense.

Monday also brought the news about Robin Williams. If you don’t know, please Google it–I am one story away from losing composure again. The outpouring of stories of his kindness (work on behalf of the homeless, supporting differently abled athletes, always ready to say “hi” to a fan) have not failed to amaze me. I hope that he and Christopher Reeve have caught up with each other.

Tuesday, still processing Robin and talking Hubby through his angst over the house. Wednesday brought the news of Lauren Bacall’s passage. Sad, but not of the magnitude of Robin’s passing. I always liked her. Even in my childhood, I had a deep voice, deep enough to mess with telemarketers who thought that I was my father, and hearing her made me feel better about it.

Sometime this week, a shooting of an unarmed young man in a St. Louis suburb lead to peaceful demonstrations that spun into riots when local law enforcement decided to play G.I. Joe and pull out unnecessary heavy artillery. Journalists were harassed as well. It took pulling the locals off the case and sending in the state highway patrol to regain order. Hopefully, all investigations will go smoothly and swiftly.

Things started leveling out yesterday. I made a run to a local drive through for a gyros. Oakley was with me. He found the whole drive through concept fascinating: Mom yells into a speaker, then we pull around the corner to a window  and they hand her a box with food? COOL! He had the same look on his face as he gets when we go to day care or for walks with his aunties on Saturday.

Today I went on a spontaneous breakfast with a friend. I’m still full, even midafternoon. That was a fantastic omelette, and hopefully a sign of a better, calmer week ahead.