What I’m reading lately…Still working on The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro; I do not want this story to end. This book and Alice’s rabbit hole seem to fit the year to a tee, and I want to make it last. I have added a daily seasoning of The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times to my readings in The New Yorker. All of this non-fiction/news is still in my bubble but is written in moderation…which I’ll dive into a little more here in a moment.
What I’m listening to lately…Miranda Lambert’s new album, Leonard Cohen in little slivers (sure, want it darker occasionally), and…the Hamilton Mixtape. This Hamilton thing has been a blessing compounded on a blessing; first there is the history itself, then the book written on the history (a wry wonder of a thing that brings old to a surface of new), and then a musical written by a rhythm based on the book, and then a mixtape produced by a love based on the musical. The marketing folks are releasing the album in pieces; every time a new track drops I am back at square one, learning the whole picture, learning more about myself, loving life a little better.
What I’m watching…I started The Crown on Netflix. The first couple of episodes were rough going (I struggle with the baser side of bodily functions in movies and television), but I’ve powered through and am head over heels for the history. The current episode I’m on is talking about the record smog that hit London in December of 1952 and…I’m fascinated with the thinly-veiled comparison to the climate change denial of today.
Which brings me to the meat and potatoes of this Thanksgiving post.
This election was hard on the lot of us, wasn’t it? Some of us got into it, others of us just counted the days until it was over. And then it was over.
Something in that win immediately created an ending for me. I was tired of smoothing over wrinkles. I was tired of making myself available in a world of screens where I worked so hard to be available to everyone and where I was still lonely. So I backed up a little. I put Facebook away. I find I can’t get away from Twitter or Instagram, but it’s easier to find something hopeful there. And I read and write a lot more.
Alienation. I was raised on a farm in the Midwest where the overwhelming literature was Reader’s Digest condensed books and Good Housekeeping magazines. I have a mistrust of intellectual elites and a mistrust of the cultural opposite of intellectual elites. I love things in moderation, and things created in moderation. I love food with flavor profiles beyond sugar and salt, but when the McRib comes back in town I have to have at least one. I rest in the middle of a cultural road where both sides are the dictionary definition of extreme.
I voted for Clinton because she wasn’t Trump when the candidate I really wanted is still in the White House. I was willing to settle for Bernie, but Clinton was better than Trump. I fell in love with Obama, and still love him, because he was a writer first. I fell in love with his writing first; the first black President was just icing on the cake to me. If voting for him and supporting him means that I’m an elitist, then I’m an elitist. A writer in the White House was my dream come true, even if they don’t always have the best qualities for leadership (the working alone, the measured approaches sometimes too slow for critics to accept as progress). I imagine that an entertainer in the White House is a dream come true for others (Reagan, and now Trump). I had eight years of possibility and hope. That’s gotta last me. And that explanation has to last me. If I’m alienated for the next four to eight years, then that’s a definition of a culture shift I refused to see. That’s my fault. That’s what I live with.
Do I find Trump in bad taste? Yes. I find him in bad taste because of his wild mood swings, his lack of humility, his shape-shifting opinions. I am fully tired of his extremes. He is all sugar, all salt, in a world of diabetics and heart disease. He serves as a great fix for the moment, an instant gratification, a McRib 24/7. He serves as a fix once in a great while, but his extremism poisons me, and how he got here poisons us all. I need my vegetables. I need ice cream with hints of vanilla and cocoa. I need pumpkin pie that tastes like pumpkin and spice, not sugar and lard.
On the flip side, I don’t want to be criticized for how I love what I love. If I’m crossing a T wrong or dotting an I with a heart, I get to have that foundation. If my contribution isn’t intellectual enough, then maybe we can assume I’m erring on the side of compassion instead. I’m a safe zone. If it’s no longer safe to wear a safety pin, I won’t; but don’t be surprised if I question other trends or keep them. My goal is life in moderation, so not too much in the head, not to much in the gut reaction.
Good taste isn’t elite. It’s moderate. It’s not normalization. It’s balance. I’m grateful for any good taste I can find.
Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃🙏🏻