Not that my life is perfect, but this is what it would look like if it was.
Tag Archives: My Life
Don’t tell me that I live in a bubble.
If I lived in a bubble, I might believe that Muslims were some terrifying alien Other that I see on Fox TV, coming to blow up my family and put the bits under Sharia Law, instead of being the co-workers who shared their Friday night Ramadan meal; or the man with the Halal cart, immigrant entrepreneur with a small business, living the American dream, taking a break to bow toward Mecca; or the neighbor walking her daughter to practice, with a soccer ball and a hijab.
If I lived in a bubble, I might believe that all blacks and Hispanics are like those rampaging animals I see on Fox News: welfare queens, young bucks, living in the cities, smashing windows, looting stores, selling drugs, living off the hard work of people like me. Except for the ones who live in my town, dress exactly like I do, act exactly like I do, agree with everything I say. They’re One Of The Good Ones, and they’re how I know I’m not racist.
If I lived in a bubble I might believe that there’s only one way to be a man, and that it’s been the same way since forever.
Or that 97% of the scientists in the world are just pretending to be terrified by climate change as part of a Chinese conspiracy.
I might believe that it infringes on my freedom of religion for an old woman to have the right to be at the side of the love of her life as the last few minutes of fifty years count down to the beeping of a heart monitor. I might believe that I’m being persecuted if the law requires me to serve gay customers at my bakery or florist shop, and doesn’t allow me to turn them away like my grandparents turned black people away from the lunch counter; or that them damn queers have special rights if they can’t be fired or evicted just for what they are. I might believe that The Gay is a thing that can be cured – or that needs to be.
I might think that three children, siblings, adopted out of foster care as a group so the family could stay together, should be taken away from the men they call “Daddy and Papa” because all gays are child molesters.
I might believe that impoverished, dying small towns (but hardworking and white!) whose industry left a generation ago were paying the bills for the vast and thriving cities, instead of the other way around.
I might even believe that whites, straights, Christians, and men are the only people still oppressed in America, because I have no perspective on pain.
I could live in a bubble if I wanted to. I’m white, straight, male, middle-aged and middle-class.
I could collect my white-collar paycheck, enjoy my white-collar tax cut, cash in on my stock options while the market is high. I could go to Broadway shows and movies at Alamo Drafthouse, eat meals at fine steakhouses during Restaurant Week, go to little places in Chinatown where the locals go, and not give a shit about the wider world unless and until it came for me.
Do I live in a bubble? I don’t live in the neighborhoods where poverty and despair fill the air like the smell of garbage. Where the criminals are the only ones with any money, and the City lets the streets crumble. No, I follow close on the leading edge of gentrification, and when people like me move into a neighborhood, the City starts to care.
That’s the bubble I live in. But it’s a bigger bubble than the one you live in, with a lot more people in it who are not like me. So don’t tell me that I live in a bubble just because my bubble isn’t the same as yours.
Not Real America
It pisses me off when I hear people talking about New York City as if it’s not part of Real America. Hell, lots of people actually use the name as shorthand for “Not Real America”: “Maybe they do things that way in New York City, but not around here.”
Here’s the thing: as of 2015, New York City had a population of 8,550,405 people. As of 2016, the United States has a population of 323,127,513. Do a quick calculation, and that gives you 2.65% of the total population of the United States. In just that one city. Nearly three out of every hundred Americans live in New York City, and those Americans are a true cross-section of this country. Every race, creed, color, country of origin, gender and sexuality that calls America home lives in this City. We are Real America.
Two Surprise Attacks
I have in mind two surprise attacks: Pearl Harbor and D-Day.
D-Day was just the first step in a larger plan. On D-Day itself, many units had objectives to capture roads, bridges and towns that were instrumental to the overall invasion. By the next day, the beachheads had become supply depots, moving troops, vehicles, fuel and materiel into the breach in Fortress Europe.
Pearl Harbor caused terrible damage (though less than it could have, by purest luck), but it had no plan for follow-up, and in the end it only enraged and mobilized the enemy: awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.
Trump and his cronies wanted their first few weeks in the White House to be D-Day. But when you kick out the only guy who knows anything about actually running a government (however corrupt he might have been), refuse to attend briefings, issue proclamations as if the judicial and legislative branches (or even the affected departments) have no input as to whether or not your will be done, and generally fly by the seat of your Nazi Chief Adviser’s pants, you don’t get D-Day. You get Pearl Harbor.
A little over two weeks ago, I wore this pin to the Women’s March on New York.
It wasn’t just a fancier variation on the iconic safety pin, though it was also that.
When I went to the Women’s March, I was worried there might be trouble: police crackdowns, counter protesters, provocateurs…who knows? So I wore this pin for…luck isn’t the right word. Not nearly strong enough. This pin is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to magic.
I bought this pin back in college when my then-girlfriend passed out for no reason we could discover while we were walking across one of the lawns. I gave it to her to watch over her in my stead while she was in the hospital being examined. Nothing was found, and she never had the problem again.
Some time later, we loaned the angel to a girl in our dorm whose brother back in Romania had been in a car accident, and all she could do was worry and weep. We gave her the angel and told her that it was good luck. A few days later, she gave it back, no longer worried and weeping. Her brother would be all right.
Some time after that, a girl from our dorm was raped at a frat party. We loaned her the pin, and…she slept a little better. She said it felt like we were watching over her and it kept some of the nightmares away. Sometimes even magic can only do so much.
There have been others. And it always seemed to work. So when I say that pin is magic, I mean that it’s a ward. It’s protection. And if this angel is a guardian angel, as it seems to be, then it seems to watch over women.
It worked again on the day of the March, though of course we were never in actual danger that I know of. There are logical explanations for all of the other good things that happened, too. I’m still going to wear this pin to every future protest I attend. May the angel protect the women around me; their enemy is in power.
I got a bit of a shock when I opened the mail yesterday: I was being charged a little over $1,000 for some tests that my doctor had ordered during my yearly physical a few weeks ago.
I didn’t panic. For one thing, I knew it had to be a mistake. I’ve never been charged for tests associated with my yearly physical before. For another, well, if it turned out that my insurance coverage really had changed that much when I the company re-negotiated this year, I could cover it.
Fortunately, that turned out to not be the case. I made a few phone calls, and it turned out that the doctor’s office had made an ever-so-tiny mistake with the billing. A box not checked, a form not filed, something like that. The insurance company got in touch, the situation got resolved, and no more thousand dollar bill.
It was an enormous relief, but in my relief, I got to thinking: what about the people who don’t know how to navigate the system, even to the rudimentary degree I did? What about people who aren’t taken seriously, or who can’t speak the language well enough to make their problem understood? Why, they’d be stuck with the thousand dollar bill. This is how the poor get poorer.
And of course, that’s leaving out the people who don’t have insurance at all. Chances are good that they wouldn’t have gone to the doctor in the first place. That’s how the poor get dead.