I tried really hard to be a good little bleeding heart liberal and find empathy for the other side. Be sensitive to classism, they said. Think outside your echochamber social media bubble. We have to try to analyze the hate before we dissolve it with love.
In fact, I haven’t written much of anything in…months, because I’ve been processing this year and how to use my voice in the appropriate way for the current political climate.
Blah, blah, fucking blah.
All of that is incredibly easy to say and do from skyscrapers atop local coffee shops, struggling for understanding of a blue jean and Budweiser culture so far removed from your life. But guys, I am in the fucking trenches. I moved back to my hometown in Mike Pence’s ‘murica last year, and I am drowning in bigotry and $400 blow up santa decorations on the same trailer park lawns that sported Trump signs a couple months ago.
The hopelessness here is real, and contagious. And I have to tell you about it, now, or I’m going to suffocate in the gutter of some suburban street with a stupid fucking exotic tree name. Ask anyone in my personal life that has to put up with my emotional bullshit when every other week I’m hatching a plan to get the fuck out of here and move to a real city again with like-minded people. It pulls you under so hard and fast here that you don’t even fucking realize it until you’re donning a beige sweater in the aisle of a hardware store where you just opened a credit line to buy more shit than you can fit in your minivan and tow it back home to set it up for a few weeks and then cram it all into clearanced storage containers in your shed until you decide to donate it about the same time you’ve finally paid off the interest.
I don’t have a minivan anymore, though. So thank sweet fucking baby jesus for that. Being painted as a single mom charity case and then an ungrateful bitch for accepting said free vomit-stained minivan and then trading it towards a safe new SUV is another story, though. Small town pettiness becomes big screen drama here, in case you weren’t aware. But the literacy rate is also pretty low, so as long as I keep my pretty little mouth shut, surviving this place unscathed remains a possibility.
Every single corner has a church or a bar, and if there’s nothing on the corner, it’s because it’s a long strip of useless highway, littered with chain restaurants, thrift shops, stop lights, and 45mph speed limit signs. Walmart is a weekend activity and ranch dressing is a side dish. Used car lots (like every other God-fearing business) close on Sundays, so that socially awkward shoppers can stroll through aisles of shiny new metal to transport them to and from their miserable jobs, without being made to feel inferior by pushy sales-folk.
I wore white furry house slippers to the grocery store last week, and I didn’t give a fuck. No one else gave a fuck either, because they were fancier than any of the triple x camouflage fashion in comparison.
There’s no secret that I hate it here. I have uprooted my life twice just to leave behind these grey, polluted skies and miles of electric wires strung between telephone poles. Make no mistake, I will do it again. But I’ve also come to face the hard truth that I can’t leave yet. Like I said last month, “we must stay” and not run. I have run away from here too many times, and it doesn’t get me where I want to be, because I will always carry with me that I was once unwelcome somewhere.
So fuck that feeling. And while I’m shuttling off my kids to public schools that park prayer buses on the playground and pledge allegiance under God, and absorbing the deliciously trashy culture in order to dissect how I became the woman I am and spill out all the words into hundreds of pages with a spine — fuck your light up reindeer lawn ornaments. Seriously. Fuck your stupid stick figure family with the santa hats and pipe cleaner car antlers too. Do you seriously keep that shit in a box all year to display it on your fucking Kia for a month?
Fuck your boycotting Starbucks, and fuck your Jesus is the Reason for the Season marquee above your favorite trans-fat laden locally-owned donut shop. Fuck your cheap beer in plastic cups because sins are for Saturdays and holiday gatherings are for soggy casserole dishes and uncomfortable small talk with aunts you’re trying not to offend.
I live here too. And I don’t believe in your God. I grew up here too. So I’m not worried about fucking up my children by creating seasonal memories with them that have nothing to do with mysterious elves on shelves. In fact, I’d argue that they’re being fucked up more by learning to pen letters to a fake old man about their deepest material desires and plastering it on the fridge as a reminder of the parental expectations set in society.
Except my kids missed that day of class, because the baby stayed up until 2am and when the alarm went off we couldn’t peel our warm bodies apart to drag their half-asleep snot-noses down to the bus stop in zero degree weather. At least I got to avoid another call from the principal when my “squirrelly little girl” would inevitably tell her kindergarten class that saint nick isn’t real.
If I had more patience than selfishness, I swear I’d homeschool again. Or if every alternative education group in this area wasn’t about shoving the holy scripture down the throats of our heavenly sheltered offspring. And if the thought of chitchatting in a mommy’s playdate in the basement rec room of some church didn’t make me walk a thin line between nausea and needing a shot of anything double barrel.
Two days left until winter break, though. Two weeks left of frantic crowds honking at eachother and wasting away in lines for scented candles and stupid ass toys. Who knows how much time is left until I’ve found my fill of dark inspiration and hopefully closure in this forgotten little slice of the bible belt.
But it won’t matter, because liberals underestimated the midwest, forgetting that intelligence and tolerance are almost entirely exclusive from the ability to form and act on an opinion. Now they think they won a war that never even fucking existed.
NOBODY CARES IF YOU PUT CHRIST BACK IN XMAS.
Repeat after me: There is no war on Christmas.
Nobody can take you seriously if you’re fucking killing eachother in stampedes outside of Best Buy, hours after stuffing your faces full of antibiotic-stuffed Turkey and storing mashed potatoes under your neck rolls for safe keeping. And for what? A kitchen appliance that some corporation marketed to you on your television that keeps your simple mind company every night.
You have to respect yourself to demand respect. There is no respect for the “holiday season” as a religious holiday because based on the actions of the majority, it simply isn’t one anymore (nevermind the origin of Christmas and it’s traditions stemming from Pagan roots).
The people you think are waging a war against your savior are the ones celebrating the season with the warmth and humanity that he sought to teach. There is not a single person who can simultaneously proclaim “We do not believe in Jesus or Santa” and also “We prefer to spend our winter drowning in the commercialism of $75 fake wreaths and mountains of debt for gifts no one needs.” That person does not exist. The imaginary character only serves as an imaginary blame for the guilt held in the hearts of Christians who buy iPads trying to fill the empty bottomless pit in their soul they can’t admit isn’t satisfied by the church, justifying their purchases because they’ve worked hard to afford them, at their middle class hourly wage jobs for an entire year, like they were taught to do. That idea of a person needs to exist for blame, because it must be assumed that those polluting the “christmas spirit” with materialism must also be attacking the religious aspects of it.
In reality, nobody fucking cares whether you celebrate with twinkly lights strung around a dead tree or sacrificing your firstborn to a plastic nativity scene. Nobody cares if you want snowflakes on your biodegradable latte cup instead of a solid color because it represents some sort of moral commitment in your life. Nobody cares if the President of the Secular United States signs the sentiments of his family to yours with an inclusive greeting rather than dedicating the interaction to the name of a celestial being. Live and let live, accept and respect the beliefs of others, right?
You know who cares?
The same people not wanting to remove In God We Trust from the paper we ALL exchange and assign monetary value to. The same people not wanting Under God removed from the pledge we take to the respected flag that is meant to represent ALL of us. The same people who want to deport anyone who doesn’t fit the mold of a pasty white blob with a third grade vocabulary. The same middle aged woman who shouts the n-word at a teenage boy through her broken meth teeth and the window of a truck waving the confederate flag. The same man figuratively patting me on the head in regards to my reproductive choices while spouting some bullshit story about his farmland childhood as an example of why, as a female, I can’t eat pussy and also be a good human being raising other, smaller, good human beings.
The same Trump supporters shouting that they need safe spaces and that they are allowed to have differing opinions, oblivious to the difference that their “opinions” actually hurt the lives of other real humans. The same blue collar every day Americans I’ve tried so hard since the election to be sensitive towards, because I understand why the middle of the country has built up this desperate need for change that climaxed in voting for someone so “unpresidented”. I get it, I do.
My grave mistake, however, was forgetting that it takes two to tango. It’s not about thinking the left is intellectually superior, it’s about the right thinking the left is morally inferior. Liberals can’t win this by “conquering the divide” alone and forcing empathy for people who hate their very existence. These people, the War on Christmas people, trust me, these people do not give a fuck about uniting our country unless that means the half that’s “wrong” surrenders to whitewashing, gender inequality, and praying the gay away. They do not care to play nice. It is not a fair fight when we are fighting for their equal right to believe and live, while they are fighting for their belief that their lives matter more than ours.
But that’s ok, because working as a team has never really been one of my exceptional or outstanding qualities. Instead, what I have to say is ‘fuck you — and I matter’. I am here. I am an American, also. I am not living in a bubble, and I see you crystal clear. I just choose to ignore your hate and attempts to force uniformity.
I choose to stay, and I choose to be outspoken. That’s a scary thing to say these days, it seems. Above all, I choose to write and photograph my way out.
The war on humanity is real. The war against freedom and choice is real. The war against anyone who isn’t a white Christian male in the 1% is real. The “War on Christmas” is not fucking real.
Would it be entirely impossible to learn to love your God enough so that you can still love others who do not?
Hashtag #worldpeace, or some other useless liberal internet bullshit, right?
Stick that in my stocking, please, Santa baby. And maybe a ’54 convertible too, while you’re at it, for when I finish writing my book and blow this shitty little town one more time for somewhere sunny on the coast. Posiblemente en la playa del Carmen. Fuck.
Oh, and happy holidays if you made it through this without unsubscribing. If I don’t get another chance to say it, I hope the rest of your December days are stress-free and filled with so much love.