Tonight, I am Forever Proud of my Country

Yesterday, this happened on campus:

This happened on Facebook:

Seventeen-year-old that I’m Facebook friends with for some unknown reason: I hope you like your sister cus in about 4 years you will be able to marry her, because if it’s true love then who should be able to stop it… Americas logic.

Holly: This post makes me sick. You’re entitled to your opinion and your vote, of course, but the comparison you’re making is a terrible one. Same sex marriage has no connection with incestuous marriage.  They are NOT the same and it is NOT accurate to claim that allowing one will lead to allowing another. Maybe this is your idea of a joke, but even if that’s what it is, it’s these kinds of jokes that lead to ignorance and hatred.

I know, I know; I shouldn’t have let my anger get the best of me.  I should have been mature and realized that it’s the Internet, and that people say stupid things, and that it’s best not to get into an argument when you’re not face-to-face with someone.  But holy cow that kid made me mad.  And I couldn’t let it slide, not when he was so very out of line.  The conversation continued for several more posts, with him atrociously insulting LGBTQ, and me trying desperately (and sometimes failing) to keep my replies civil.

But everything was all right in the end, because then this happened:

(Obama won)

And this:

(The Voter ID Amendment failed)

And this:

(The MN Marriage Amendment failed)

I have never been prouder to be a Minnesotan, and to be an American.

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Election Eve

Four years and four months ago, I arrived in Rome, Italy with my Girl Scout troop.  I was seventeen years old, had never been out of the country before, and was suddenly being led from terminal to terminal by my troop leaders, flanked by my equally bewildered friends.  What stands out in the blur of sensible rolling suitcases and duty-free shops is a certain train station we spent an hour in, waiting for our hotel bus to arrive.  We leaned against the grimy tile, too tired to gush or take pictures.  Suddenly, a passerby, hearing our accents, flung both arms into the air:  “Barack Obama!  Barack Obama!”  he shouted, his Italian accent thick, his voice jubilant and echoing.

Four years and one day ago, I was a senior in high school.  I was old enough to vote by two months, and did so early in the morning, just after the polls opened.  Although my small town was (and is) primarily conservative, I wore my Obama t-shirt to school, and tried to ignore the raised eyebrows aimed at me throughout the day.  I watched the election on TV that night, watched the blue spread across the country.  And then I wrote the following blog post:

HOPE is a Four Letter Word

A quote I heard on the news right after Obama was announced as the winner, “Tonight I am forever proud of my country.” That’s how I feel. I’m just very proud to be an American (cue in patriotic theme music).

These results are especially cool because I voted. For Obama. About three and a half hours ago. I remember back in fifth grade when I went to this tiny private school, my friend Mara figured out that for the 2008 election I would be the only one in the class old enough to vote. I remember feeling really special, but not really understanding what it meant to vote. It’s just a very strange feeling to have an event predicted when you were eleven actually coming to pass.

Already on facebook the bashings have started. I’m not really surprised, but I just think it’s so sad. You know, if McCain had won, I would have been disappointed, but I wouldn’t have sat there and pouted about it and insulted him. I (hopefully) would have learned to respect him as the leader of my country and I would have prayed that he bring about the change America desperately needs.

Anyway, I guess that there are always Debbie Downers, and some of them will probably come around, or at least keep their negative crap to themselves. We can only hope.

Not very well-written, but the sentiment is one I hope will repeat in my post tomorrow: I want to be proud of my country and my state.  I want to enter the workforce a committed, protected citizen.  I want to run through train stations yelling, “Barack Obama!  Barack Obama!”   I want my LGBTQ friends to be shown acceptance and justice, not hatred and discrimination.  I want Voter I.D., which will spend excessive amounts of money battling a ‘problem’ that doesn’t actually exist, to be off the docket forever.

I also wouldn’t mind going back to Italy.

Bring President Obama to Morris

My darling little sister, who goes to school at the University of Wisconsin Madison, got to see President Obama speak today.

As in, after the debates last night, he and his suited minions boarded a plane and flew to Wisconsin so that my sister could wait in line for eight hours and then stand mere feet from him as he delivered a speech.

As in, love you Amy, but you weren’t the one who voted for him in 2008 (I’m disregarding the fact that you were at the time fifteen).

Why doesn’t Obama come to Morris?

Probably because it’s in the middle of Nowhere Western Minnesota, and because we have 1800 students, as opposed to 43,000.

But that’s just my guess.

Stress-Relieving Chocolate Hamsters

Here’s what we do in M6 when the Mondays get us down:

1.  We hold Feezap, the tumor-afflicted hamster who still manages at least 1,000 wheel reps a night.  Feezap is small, grey, and unassuming.  I try to give him a smile and an affectionate “Bye Feez” when I pass his cage on my way to class, but sometimes I forget.  Tonight, Feez, after crawling around my hand for a while, gave my finger a sniff and then gnawed on it for a few seconds, until he was satisfied that all of the blueberry lemon hand soap had dissolved between his tiny teeth.

2.  We make devil’s food instant pudding, and do our best to ignore the powdery taste that inevitably lingers in instant puddings.   It is chocolate, after all.

3.  Finally, we go into our rooms, shut the door, and sit down at our desks.  We stare at our bulletin boards for a few minutes, blankly taking in the Obama Inaugural, the Beatles Rubber Soul, the Support the U buttons that we pinned up on earlier, more earnest days.  Our readings have been printed.  There is no excuse for Twitter, for Facebook, for IMDB (me), for CollegeHumor (Maddie).  Taking a few cleansing breaths, we set off into Studying, into the land where nobody dies except for Richard the Lionheart and historical figures like that.  It’s bright in Studying, and not unpleasant in the least.  We’re enlightened here, we’re intelligent and brave.  If only it wasn’t such a struggle to get through.

A Train Education, Part Two

This afternoon I picked ten burrs off my dog/wannabe swamp renegade.  I went on another run, and it once again didn’t kill me (wonders never cease).  I also received my first Spring Semester textbook in the mail.  It’s titled “Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.” World History is sure going to be interesting.

Having done all of these things, I am finally ready to continue the train saga from yesterday.

Part two begins when The New Zealander I Met on a Train asks me about politics.

I reacted with some inner panic.  I’ve never been one to be informed about politics, and I’ve always been sensitive about it.  After all, what kind of person doesn’t know what’s going on in her own country?  What kind of person doesn’t take interest in the people making decisions that directly impact her life?  Me, I guess.  And it’s not that I don’t care about politics, it’s just that I see politics as an exclusive club, one that I can’t enter because I’ve just been on the outside for too long.  I don’t know the secret club lingo, I don’t know the handshake, and I’m afraid to say anything that will betray my ignorance.

“What do you think about Obama?” The man asked me.

“I voted for him in 2008.  And I think that he’s doing the best he can.  I think that he’s still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, and that he should be given another chance.”

“But Obama’s terrible!”  The man exclaimed.  “He hasn’t done anything he promised to do!”

“But…” I sputtered desperately for some intelligent reply.  There was something about Medicare.  And the War In Iraq.  Weren’t the troops coming home?  Or were more being sent out?

“He caught Osama bin Laden,” I pronounced triumphantly, hoping we could at least agree on that and be done with it.

“Oh, Osama’s been dead for years.  Ask anyone on the street.  I have friends from the Middle East, and they say everyone knows that Obama just dug up old news because he needed to be a hero.”

“Who do you think should be elected then?”

“Do you know anything about Ron Paul?”

And so, I spent two hours on a train learning, from a non-American, all about American politics.  The man explained the Federal Reserve System to me.  He explained that much of  America’s money is in Europe, and that we’ve got to get it back if we ever want to end the recession.  He explained that our Founding Fathers had warned about putting our money elsewhere.  He explained Ron Paul’s plan to bring back the gold standard.  He explained that unless things change, politicians will continue to cater to four large banks that can pull the entire nation into a depression with the curl of a finger.  He explained what “too big to fail” means.  He wrote down websites for me to visit and books for me to read.

When the train reached its final destination, the man stood, said that it was nice to meet me, and walked swiftly down the aisle.

I imagine that he’s a regular nomad these days; hopping trains filled with uninformed American students, and, in his Peter Jackson voice, doling out career advice and political illumination in one subtle swoop.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not writing this post to toot Ron Paul’s horn, or to throw Obama under the bus.  I’m simply writing about that one time on a train to Amsterdam when I met a man from New Zealand, and he told me an awful lot of things I’ve been dwelling on ever since.

Sir, if you’re out there, I should tell you that my name is Holly.  I now read the Huffington Post every day, I want to be an English professor, and I’m undecided about my 2012 vote.