A Choice Between Schmucks Isn’t Much of a Choice

gty_donald_trump_hillary_clinton_sk_150619_16x9_992So, we have a presidential election coming up, and I for one, am dreading the outcome.

Anyone with a television set or a Facebook account knows, we’ve got ourselves a real scummy, dirty, lowdown, hit-below-the-belt contest here. I myself set off a controversy on Facebook about Donald Trump yesterday and that sh*t storm is still raging strong even at this moment.

One thing I noticed right away from enraged commentators was the assumption that because I think Trump is a sexist wart on America’s ass, I’m naturally a Hillary supporter. Let’s be clear. I am not. To me, Hillary is the same kind of politician we’ve been stocking our government with for decades – deceitful, manipulative, and elitist-like. She’s got people telling her what our issues are, but while she knows it, she doesn’t understand it. The middle class is disappearing – that’s us, not her. And it shows her lack of understanding every time she attempts to make a connection with us, the voters. She’s parroting what she has heard; she’s never lived it though.

I haven’t even once been surprised that she has leaked damaging videos about her opponent, hidden emails from the public eye, and lied, lied, lied about anything and everything. To me, she’s politics as usual. For the record, I hate her politics.

I’m not genuinely surprised by Trump’s ability to have caught our attention, either. My opinion, for the little it’s worth, is that Donald Trump has some experiences in his life that make me think he speaks our language. By we, I mean the normal, middle to lower middle classes of America. He’s a shitty businessman, so he does actually know how it feels to have something repossessed. He has had to defend himself in court numerous times against people who want to take what belongs to him. He’s a card carrying pro-gun, pro meat eating, pro beautiful women, red blooded American man. He feels like one of us; not one of them.

What has surprised me is the vehemence of the Trump supporters. I’ve long been a people watcher, and one thing I do know. When you are determined to be loyal to someone who keeps f**king up, you end up getting angry, frustrated, and defensive when people keep pointing to some things you yourself don’t feel comfortable about. You make excuses, or try to give reasonable explanations for bad behavior. I know. I was married to a meth addict.

I like that Trump has been able to pinpoint some of our frustrations, but I don’t find his proposed solutions comforting. A lot of them don’t seem realistic, and some of them are downright alarming. I’m not saying that this guy is the devil. I’m saying I don’t think his world view is large enough to make good decisions.

What I don’t like is that somehow, we Americans are losing our ability to allow each other to disagree with each other civilly and gracefully. My very best friend here in Austin, Exodus, doesn’t agree with me politically, and it doesn’t matter to either of us at all. Audra and I don’t agree religiously, but we still love each other.

Humans rarely examine the pathways that led to an opinion in themselves, but I have. I found that our brains process so much intricate information in seconds. Over time, we accumulate information that enables us to form an opinion about something, and we usually just go with it. The truth is, we should be respectful with other people’s viewpoints, especially if we disagree. No one can learn anything from each other if defenses are up, information is not delivered politely, or an attitude is copped that says you are stupid because you don’t agree with me. We all have something to learn from one another.

We’re going to end up with a shitty president. That’s clear. Let’s not end up with less friends, less sharing of information, or less tolerance, too.

Nursing Home Romances and Critics Who Wear Hijabs

oldhandsinlove-b102366ee923ca3e0ed6fc7e2bfd09627ca0b226-s300-c85Life has been cracking me up a little bit lately.

First, my sister Alexa called to tell me our mother, who as been in a nursing home since a massive stroke a decade ago, found herself a boyfriend. It was the last thing I would ever have expected to hear about Mom. On top of that, he’s the resident bad boy.

For several weeks over the summer, Alexa was out of the country at a family wedding. In those few short weeks, Mom fell in love with another wheelchair bound man, snuck a cigarette with him inside the nursing home, met for movie time at unscheduled hours late at night, and has totally become like a sneaky teenaged girl. Alexa has one kid, and it’s a preteen boy. She started off the conversation by telling me my mother was out of control. It was hilarious. Mom eats her meals with him in the dining hall, and holds hands with him while they watch tv. Personally, I find the whole affair adorable, and surprisingly, hopeful. I have always wondered about Mom’s quality of life in a place like that. Now, I feel a bit better about it.

Rebekkah, my daughter, has found her stride at the University of Texas. Her best homie is a girl we’ll call Athena, and she wears a hijab. I had no idea what that was until today.

Behold, a hijab:


If you guys weren’t aware, Austin just loves its food trucks. You can’t throw a rock without hitting one around here, and they congregate en masse around UT. Athena, a Middle East native, chose to eat a falafel —  defined as a  deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas,fava beans, or both — and found it unauthentic and poorly textured. She and Rebekkah had a small discussion about the dissatisfying falafel, and the matter was quickly forgotten about …by Rebekkah. A few days later, though, Athena told Rebekkah that she had gone on Yelp and reviewed the Mediterranean Food Truck.

“I gave it 3 stars, ” she told Bek, going on to read her review aloud, ” ‘I ordered a falafel but the texture was all wrong. It’s supposed to be crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside. My friend ordered the <insert whatever weird food Bekkie told me she ate here>. She said it was good, but I doubt it.”

The harshness of the review surprised Rebekkah because, of course, people who wear hijabs aren’t harsh or leave Yelp reviews.

“Sometimes,” Athena said, ” I like to play the critic.”

Alexa went to Morocco over the summer. Turns out, she wasn’t prepared for the heat. She told me it gets to be 120 degrees over there, and there weren’t any air conditioners where she was. I won’t go into the many hilarious things she told me, except when she and her husband finally got to a hotel where there was air conditioning, she asked the front desk if they’d bring her a fan. We like the air to be moving around us.

When they finally arrived with her fan, this is what they brought her:


It’s been kind of fun around here lately.

I’m happy tonight.

~ Bird