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Disenchanted?

My ex asked me to send him a sad song, and tell him why I like it. I chose “Disenchanted” by My Chemical Romance:

The lyrics are here. Below is the email I sent him.

Dearly Beloved,

Whenever anyone asks me why I love a particular song, I’m never quite sure what to say. There’s no way to explain why I love a particular song, without explaining what music means to me. For me, growing up with a guitar player for a father, music has an intensely biographical, central, and singular place in my life.

You (more than) once admonished me not to be so egocentric… Not to assume that everyone thinks like me, feels like me, wants what I want, believes in the things that I believe in, or knows what I know. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that you emailed me a similar admonition, when I explained that I had been mistreated because through my actions, I had provided permission for my mistreatment.

I don’t pretend to know what music means to other people. I no longer assume that it means to them what it means to me.

For me, there are distinct periods of musical meaning in my life. When I was little, music was this amazing thing that my father could do, and I couldn’t figure out how he knew how to do it. I would watch his hands, and I couldn’t figure out how he could make them do what they did, and how that made his guitar sound like it sounded.

As I grew up, and my mental musical library grew more and more vast, music became this magical force: It could change my energy level. It could change my mood. In three minutes, it could start a narrative in my brain that my imagination took over and embellished for days on end. It could make me feel like I had been a part of something I had never encountered.

Then, around the time I hit puberty, music took a sharp turn for me. Suddenly, lyrics that I knew by heart, and sang when no one was listening without ever really understanding what I was singing, made perfect personal sense to me. The intensity of the longing for romantic love stopped being something I observed from the outside, and became something that I felt on the inside.

Around the same time, I discovered 1970s Arena Rock. I know that most people write off this kind of music as corporate schlock.

Fuck most people.

That music – created by unconventional and often unattractive performers – showed me the existence of a world that weirdos like me could call home. Here, finally, was that fabled but elusive subspecies: My clique.

I watched these performers stride the stage as objects of devotion and adoration, and I suddenly had hope that someday my weirdness might elevate me, instead of dooming me.

My school experience was one of being ostracized, hated, verbally abused, and physically attacked for no good reason. It got so bad that my family considered an early retirement from the military for my father, so that he could go to work at a prison in Huntsville, and move me somewhere safer.

I’m sure you already know the story, but I don’t know if I ever admitted to you how guilty I felt about the things my family had to go through because of me… How guilty I felt about the things the kids I babysat had to go through because of me… How guilty I felt about refusing to stop acting like myself, about refusing to just go along to get along.

I made a decision that didn’t just affect me. I stubbornly persisted in being myself. I wasn’t interested in pretending during my real life just to survive. I believed that would be no life at all, so I permitted the people around me to suffer, when I absolutely had a choice to try to help stop it.

I took a leap of faith that my present situation was not my permanent destiny. The music that I loved underpinned that faith in a big way.

[Here is where my egocentricity kicks back in, and I tell you what the song that I love means.]

The song “Disenchanted” is the plaintive wail (of a male singer, who I believe is equally capable of authentically delivering an emotionally sad lyric as a female singer) of someone just like me.

Whether he found the music, the music found him, or they found each other, he was home. He was part of a clique now, full of other people who understood him. Like me, he elevated the famous members of his emotional homeland to hero status. Like me, he egocentrically assumed that they were just like him, and shared his deepest desires and values. He believed that their music was meaningful, and that it had something important to say about life, including his own.

Somewhere along the line, it all changed. He started to see them as capitalists very different than himself. He started to believe that they didn’t mean any of it, and that they were pretending… Just going along to get rich.

He suffered a crisis of faith, and had a decision to make: Do you give up the thing you love, just because you no longer believe that it loves you back, or even knows what love is? Or do you hang on tooth and nail to the thing you love, and refuse to surrender it to heartbreak, wounded pride, and cynicism?

Is love a personal issue? Does the love you feel belong only to you, no matter what happens? Or is love a shared experience that can be ended by the unilateral action of one of the parties?

This is why I keep riding you to watch the movie “Adaptation.”

adaptation_2

In the end, it tries to answer this question… A question for which there is no answer, other than the one that any given person decides for herself.

I have decided.

Not disenchanted,
Lady TheoloGOP

If you’ve read this far, you’ve earned the live version:

UPDATE: February 1, 2018 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!)
My Chemical Romance is gonna hate this, but I love it, and you can’t stop me. (That’s the whole point.)

alfie_aerosmith

Written by The Late Janet Boyle’s friend Tammy, from The “Just Push Play” Tour.

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Socialist Cool: Bernie and Millennials

One of our greatest living documentarians, Michael Moore, gave us “Capitalism: A Love Story” – a memoir of the America he grew up in, where “The Era of Big Government” was really “The Era of Big Middle Class.” The film was Moore’s remembrance of things past. Imagine an America where a (secretly Socialist?) Republican President governs a country with a top marginal tax rate of 90%, unions are growing in membership and strength, productivity gains produce rising incomes, rising incomes produce rising standards of living, (if all else fails) one full-time minimum wage job will at least keep your family out of poverty, and the public policy preferences of the many-in-the-middle matter in the halls of power more than the policy demands of the very-few-at-the-tippity-top.

This was America before The Powell Memo, The Laffer Curve, Trickle-Down Voodoo Reaganomics, Citizens United (and the dark money it, and other Supreme Court decisions, consecrated), and growing numbers of American workers living lives of panicked mathematical and professional desperation defined by both eroding purchasing power in the economy, and disappearing bargaining power on the job.

It may sound fanciful, but such a nation once existed. It was not perfect (Moore was born in 1954, at the beginning of our modern civil rights and social justice movements), but for Americans who were able to work for a paycheck and cast a ballot, it was better in important ways than what we have now.

I am a GenX-er.
Moore is older than me.
Millennials are younger than me.

In this presidential campaign, many things have made me want to throw random objects at my TV (or digital) screen, but none more than the professed amazement by the mainstream media at the phenomenon of American Millennials finding hope in the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.

I am not a Millennial, so I can’t speak for them… But I do believe I understand them.

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, and I think young people like the principle of Democracy. Millennials have never lived under a system of Democratic Capitalism. The trickle-down travesty that defines the economic reality of their lives is the nasty result of a political environment that is anti-democratic by design.

Bernie claims that we are living in an oligarchy, but only because we are.

Yes, America still holds elections.
Yes, America still polls the public on policy issues to determine their wishes.
Yes, America ignores both, and dances to the tune of the oligarchs.
(If that’s democracy, then I’m not a fan.)

Who are these oligarchs? Their nicknames are legion: The donor class, the job-creators, billionaire backers, lawyers and lobbyists, and an alphabet soup of “think tanks” who serve their masters by thinking every day, all day long, how to improve the lives of the fabulously wealthy.

The Great Untetherings are also legion. Metrics that used to move together don’t anymore. The balancing of interests has gone haywire. The see-saw of American life is functioning more like hamster wheel, and is picking up speed in only one direction:

The wealthy buy influence.
Politicians make the wealthy wealthier.
The wealthy spend their increased wealth buying more influence…
… and so on, until we’re all sick at heart.

No, The Great Untetherings are not ruining America for everybody, just for the vast, overwhelming majority of us…

[THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. I’M NOT DONE. I THINK.]

 

 

 

 

#ThingsHillaryNeverSaid: Talking Points from a Progressive Nobody (“Before I Take Your Questions…”)

Before I take your questions, I would like to address the press who are gathered here, as well as those who are not.

I know that you are here to do your job – a job that supports and provides for you, and those who rely on you. I respect that utterly.

I choose to believe that you also are here practicing your profession, and that you wish to uphold its highest standards. I am also aware that, like many American workers, you may be feeling insecure about your future in the evolving media landscape. You may be feeling pressured by imperatives that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with why you chose journalism as your career, or how you personally feel you should best practice your profession.

I believe that you chose your career path because you believed – as I believe – that The Press is central to American democracy, that journalists are not only essential, but that the enormous power you wield to shape the content and direction of our national discussions – and to provide the factual basis for those conversations to be honest and informed – can make our nation better, stronger, and more just.

As you cover my campaign, and every other campaign for the Presidency or any other elected office, I rely on you to appreciate the role you fulfill not only for us candidates, but for every American who counts on you.

We talk about what you want to talk about.
We answer the questions you want answered.
We debate the issues you find important.
We dance to your tune.

When you are at your best, it’s a great song. When you are at your worst, it makes Americans turn away from you, from us, and most tragically, from the ballot box that is their most precious right… Their right to rule.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” The voice of The People is The Voice of God.

We need to hear that voice. We need you, The Press, to shape a conversation that makes Americans want to speak, and to be heard. We need you to amplify their urgent concerns. If you won’t, you are just “a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

And now, I’d be happy to take your questions.

The Fat Lady

When I was little, before I started kindergarten, my mom took my sister and me to the PX:

  • In Texas at the time, kindergarten was a luxury for which a family paid handsomely, unless they were willing to leave their child in the tender care of religious instructors.
  • For military families, The PX is the “Post Exchange.” (The Commissary is for food. The PX is for the good stuff.)
  • Uniformed military personnel have priority at The Commissary and The PX. If they are in line behind you, they are actually entitled to be in front of you.

I honestly don’t remember what we were shopping for, and it doesn’t matter. When we finished shopping, we got into line. A lady got into line behind us. She was in uniform – and I knew that meant she should go before us – but more interestingly, I noticed that she was fat.

She was extremely, undeniably fat. In fact, she was fatter than any lady I had ever seen before. She was weird-fat.

My older sister was distracted, and as the baby of the family, I took my opportunity. I was very proud of myself for having deduced these facts all by myself. I turned to my mother, and blandly announced something like, “Mom. She’s in uniform. She needs to go first. Plus, just look at her. She’s… different.” [At the age of four, Southern manners had already established a beachhead in my brain. I knew how to use euphemisms.]

My mother grabbed me with more force than normal, and marched me to the walkway, away from prying eyes, leaving my sister to hold our place in line.

She bent down to me, staring intensely into my eyes. “Don’t ever say that again. That’s wrong,” she furiously hissed.

“What? Why? But, she is! What…?” I stammered.

“She is no different than you and me. We are no better than she is. Do you understand me?” my mother demanded.

“What are you talking about?” I begged, pointing back to the checkout line for emphasis. “She’s fat, Mom… Look!”

I can honestly say, there are few moments that stand out from my early childhood, but this is one of them. My mom froze for a moment, and I could actually SEE her thinking. She took a VERY long beat, turned back to me, and calmly explained:

“She is not fat. She is going to have a baby very soon. That’s her baby, inside her, and it’s almost ready to be born. That big tummy is not her. That’s her baby inside of her. Do you understand what I am saying to you?”

I looked back at the lovely lady in uniform in the line, and tried to imagine that humongous stomach as a person. It seemed ridiculously far-fetched, but I was willing to take my mom’s word for it.

“A baby? Really? When? Now?”

As I remember it, my mom hugged me, and explained it would probably not happen that soon, but that you could never tell. I was right. We should definitely let her go first in line.

========================================

I was around four years old when I went shopping with my mom.

The story was just a funny family anecdote until I was in the fifth grade, and it happened again. For real this time.

You see, at The PX, my mom was concerned that I thought the lady in line behind us was different because she was black… not because she was fat (pregnant).

My parents – who are awesome beyond the bounds of all expectation – never gave me the race stuff. To anyone raised with it, I cannot explain being raised without it. My best analogy is, imagine a world where curly and straight hair were germane differentiations… Where they were incredibly powerful sociopolitical identifiers. Now imagine that your parents taught you that hair was just hair.

[SIDEBAR: My hair is kinkier than… well, anything!]

========================================

When I was 10, wanted to ask Aklilu to my first school dance. He was not only smarter than anyone I had ever met, but he was nice, and he was a fantastic friend. [I believe in modern parlance, this is referred to as a “triple-threat.”]

The Principal called my parents to explain that this simply could not be tolerated, this potential interracial abomination. [Pre-pubescent 10-year-olds dancing to FM radio hits? SCANDAL!]

I was 10 years old. He was my best and most-admired friend. I’m not saying that if I were 16, I wouldn’t have leapt on him like a firefighter on a flaming victim. I’m just saying… I was ten. It wasn’t in the cards.

My parents explained the denial to me, but it was quite a different conversation than the one my mother had with me when I was four:

“Aklilu’s no different than you and me. We are no better than he is, but they can’t see that. You can’t go together. Do you understand what I am saying to you?”

========================================

Dear Reader, I didn’t understand then, and I didn’t pretend to. I was plenty pissed, and I believe I made that clear the way a 10-year old does to her parents.

I’m still pissed now.

If Aklilu ever found me, I would find a way to make that dance-date-that-never-was a dance date that he would never forget.

I could do it.

ASK ANYONE.

“Don’t Skip The Vote” Lyrics

auntsam_2
I can’t sing. At all. Can you? How about your group? Your campaign staff or volunteers? I wanna make this happen in the most adorable, awesome, viral way possible. I’d love it if zillions of people would get in on this. But I will settle for one really awesome version!

Audio or video… sing a line, a verse, the chorus, or the whole thing… Sing holding a sign supporting your candidate or issue… wearing a costume… my lyrics or your own… I’ll take what I can get…

TWEET ME @TheoloGOP
The Original: The Hues Corporation – “Rock The Boat” [1974]
The Original Hues Corporation Video: http://youtu.be/WPwOHtlNjjI
Robert Stansbury’s () Backing Track:
http://www.respectperfection.com/Dont_Skip_The_Vote.mp3

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS:
The Karaoke Video (not perfect, some singing): http://youtu.be/eQXivABOkPk
More Karaoke Files (audio & video for purchase): 
http://www.karaoke-version.com/mp3-backingtrack/the-hues-corporation/rock-the-boat.html

My Parody Lyrics:

So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion

To skip the vote, don’t skip the vote, baby
November 4th, don’t let the vote slip by
November 4th, don’t skip the vote baby
November Fou-oo-oo-oo-ourth!

Ever since America began
She’s counted on her thinking citizens
To save her from some straight-up lunacy
To rescue her from darkness and advance democracy

Your vote can make the difference for everyone
Nothing matters right now more than Midterm…
PARTICIPATION!

So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion

To skip the vote, don’t skip the vote, baby
November 4th, don’t let the vote slip by
November 4th, don’t skip the vote baby
November Fou-oo-oo-oo-ourth!

Two years into Obama’s second term
Republicans have vowed to destroy everything he’s done
It’s time for you to do what you need to do.
Get Barack’s back, get in that booth, see what you started through!

Your vote can make the difference for everyone
Nothing matters right now more than Midterm…
PARTICIPATION!

So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion

So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion

To skip the vote, don’t skip the vote, baby
November 4th, don’t let the vote slip by
November 4th, don’t skip the vote baby
November 4th, don’t let the vote slip by

November 4th!
November 4th!

Vote on November 4th, y’all!
Vote on November 4th, y’all!
Vote on November 4th, y’all!

Vote, yeah!
Vote, yeah!
Vote, yeah!
Baby!

Vote, yeah!
Vote, yeah!
Baby!

November 4th!
November 4th!

November 4th!
November 4th!

November 4th!
November 4th!

November 4th!
November 4th!

(et cetera)

FUCK THE POLICE: My Personal Story

When I was away at college, I was injured. Long story. But the short of it is that my calf was severed horizontally, through the tendon to the bone. I was not expected to walk again (but I eventually did). Once I recovered enough to be up and on crutches, I went shopping one night — just a few groceries, since I had to hang a bag around my neck to carry anything. I got home, and went up the stairs to my apartment.

[SIDEBAR: Going up stairs on crutches is a snap. Going down is the challenge.]

I put away the groceries, and made queso in the microwave. I put the chips and queso in my neck-bag, and went to my room to watch TV and eat on my bed.

I heard a knock on the door. This was around the time that my roommates got home from work, so I assumed one of them had forgotten their keys. I grabbed my crutches, and made good time to the door. I opened it, and on the other side was a man. The look in his eyes instantly terrified me. I tried to shut the door quickly, but on my crutches, I had no leverage. He forced his way in, and grabbed me around my neck from behind. He levered me so that my feet did not touch the floor, and moved right toward my bedroom.

I believe to this day that he saw me get home, saw my vulnerable state, and waited for my bedroom light to come on to make his move.

As he turned the corner into the hall towards my bedroom, I grabbed the door frame’s molding. It was a stupid idea. He kept on going, and I tore off all of my fingernails. He went through my bedroom door, and threw us both down on the bed together. When he did, the very hot queso flew up onto both of us. Understand: Below the point where my leg was severed, I had no feeling. The nerves were all cut. Plus, I was scared to death. I knew my skin was being burned, but I didn’t feel it.

He, on the other hand, was NOT terrified, and did. He back handed me across the face, said something profane, and ran away.

I didn’t have my crutches, so I dragged myself on my stomach (way faster than a three-legged crawl) to the front door and locked it.

I got up on my crutches that were lying there.

I went to my room.

I moved the food.

I stripped the bed.

I started laundry.

I ran a bath.

I got in the bath (except for my leg.)

Not long after, I was sitting in the tub crying quietly when my first roommate got home. I don’t know what she saw, but she KNEW. She started banging on the door, screaming for me to let her in. I wouldn’t. She grabbed a coat hanger and jimmied the lock. She got in. She got it out of me. She said she was calling the police. I said not to. She did.

Three officers responded — two men, and a woman. My roommate knew how I was raised. She knew if the cops came, I would be too polite to refuse to answer their questions. I told them everything.

One of the male officers (top dog, a Detective) who was taking notes ended our conversation by explaining to me that:

1) There is no such thing as “attempted rape.”

2) I let him in. Not really “breaking and entering.”

3) One backhand across the face is not the kind of thing that merits an assault charge.

4) If they did catch him, they’d never be able to make anything “stick.”

… and on and on. Lots of word salad, with one point: Don’t file an official report. It’s not worth the trouble. Nothing will come of it.

“Okay, Hon?”

As sorry as I felt for myself in that moment (and it was plenty sorry), I felt worse for the female officer sitting next to him. The look on her face… I’m not a mind reader, but she looked like she was in physical pain. She actually openly grimaced a few times. She looked straight into my eyes a few times, too, as if she was screaming at me, “I’M SORRY! I CAN’T DO ANYTHING! PLEASE DON’T HATE ME!”

I didn’t hate her then. I don’t hate her now. He was a Detective. She wasn’t. It wasn’t her show.

The one time in my life that I really needed to be protected and served, I feel that I got screwed.

You know what’s been going on lately.

Yesterday, I said it for the first time in my life, and I meant it.

FUCK THE POLICE.

Thoughts on Killing, and on Death: A Plea

I would like to try, if I can, to change your frame on death. There is a very high probability that you believe in the supernatural – a Supreme Being and an afterlife.

I would never ask you to stop believing, but I would like you to consider the implications of killing if neither a Supreme Being nor an afterlife exists.

What if taking a human life ends a person forever? What if you are not simply stopping the body, but also erasing forever everything that person ever was, or ever could be? What if everything they had ever been, done, felt, learned, planned and hoped for stopped when their body stopped?

What if there was no soul to survive?

Everyone makes mistakes, and accidents do happen… But what if there is no cosmic justice? What if there is no god to mete out that justice or to correct human error? What if death is an end, and not a transition?

For those of us who do not believe in the supernatural, killing and death are serious. They are final.

For those who do believe, I beg you to consider the implications if you are mistaken.

Thank you for reading this.