On Bern-ing…

On Bern-ing…
Note: I’d like to preface this by saying that I’ve never written anything like this before and I am not doing it with any malicious intent, nor am I looking to bully anyone who feels differently than me. Please, if you choose to respond, keep my intentions in mind.

First, listen (loud).

I first took interest in the presidential election circus when I was 16 years old; too young to vote, too old to ignore the madness. I remember staying up late on a school night with “Kerry” written on my cheeks, cheering every time he had a victory over George W. Bush. I remember being hopeful for change, for something new, something that aligned with all of these fresh new ideas in my young mind. When he lost, I felt defeated. I hugged my friends as they hung their heads and I tried to be positive. Only four more years. That’s what everyone says, right?

Four years passed, I was old enough to vote. And you have no idea how excited I was to vote. I made the pilgrimage on that November Tuesday from the north Bronx to Long island because it was my goddamn right as an American. Even though the entire concept of the electoral college had confounded me for my entire educational experience, I wanted to exercise my minute, minuscule wage of power. So I rocked the vote like MTV told me to, and I wore the stickers, and I let myself get really, really excited about another presidential candidate. And he won. And that was so cool and I was so damn pumped. I remained pumped for four years. Then he ran for re-election and I voted for him again and I watched the poll results with a battalion of butterflies battling inside my ribcage. And he won again and we celebrated over cold beers at one of my favorite bars (hi Good Co, still miss you). We felt like maybe the world wasn’t as screwed up as we thought it was.

I thought, this is politics, huh?

It’s not so bad, if you’re winning.

A lot of people complain that Bernie Sanders supporters are obnoxious. As one of them, I might agree. But there’s a reason for it. More often than not, I begin to talk about him with the sense that whoever’s listening is writing me off as a tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist, but I’m okay with it. I continuously lambaste the media for not giving Bernie nearly as much press coverage as the other candidates even when his rallies in New York City pull in more people than can fit into Madison Square Garden. And if there’s any coverage at all, it’s saying that Bernie’s got a snowball’s chance in hell to win the bid. There’s plenty of rea$on$ for that.

(Here is where I might link you to a bunch of credible YouTube videos that further prove the media bias where they brush him off as nothing but a little thorn in the side of the Clinton campaign, but I’m not going to do that. You’re welcome.)

I like him because he’s Bernie. Because he has wild white hair and a thick Brooklyn accent, even after years of living in Vermont. His family came to America to escape persecution, he grew up relatively poor, he was lucky enough to attend college, his eyes were open. That last part is the most important, for Bernie Sanders and for me, and for you, too. One of the first things I learned about Bernie was his involvement in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. For me, growing up, the Civil Rights movement was the single most important human rights movement in American history, in reaction to the significant, disgusting, unfathomable wrongs occurring within our country for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Do I want a president with the same ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Yes. Yes, I do. Because we still need help.

I’m going to be brutally honest with you: I like Bernie because he excites me. My ears perk up at the mention of his name, the sight of his gap-toothed smile makes me, in turn, break out in a smile. When he talks, I just want to listen. (Sidenote: have you heard him say “quagmire“?) So much in this country, in this world is broken, but he makes me feel like it’s not irreparable, and that’s all I can ask for. There are countless running jokes about how you can’t trust politicians, how they change masks to suit their needs (not naming names or anything…), but Bernie’s had that same determined look on his face since he got into the game. Hell, since he was writing for his college newspaper. People ragged on John Kerry for being a flip-flopper, and even though I supported him, I saw their point. But when I look at Bernie, he’s standing on a solid foundation of ideals and beliefs that he’s been standing on since the 1970’s and I take comfort in that. I take comfort in how passionately he cares about us, as a nation, fixing what is broken, of righting what has been so, so, so wrong. We deserve better, you know?

I never understood campaign finances. It always made me angry to know that the candidates with the most money were the ones more likely to win. I think the anger and resentment comes from the fact that I grew up relatively poor (and I say this as a person basically living paycheck to paycheck to this day, thanks Sallie Mae!) with very little financial help to be the girl on top. Insofar as going to lacrosse camp to be a starter on the JV team, or taking SAT prep classes to get into a better college, or even just getting a math tutor because, lord, trigonometry, no. Money helps. Money talks. Money wins. The best lacrosse teams in high school were always from the schools with the wealthiest demographic. To me, it made perfect sense. They had the resources, they had the facilities, their programs had been around for decades and decades, of course they would kick our butts, we’d only just started five years prior. (I didn’t realize until I started writing this paragraph what a fitting analogy my high school lacrosse program would be for this post but, thanks Lady Mustangs! Sorry not sorry I quit after sophomore year! Viva la revolución!) My point being, the money shouldn’t matter so much. But it does.

Listen, there’s nothing that exhausts me more than old white dudes in positions of power. But when I look at my alternatives, I’ll stick with this old white dude because he’s the candidate with the most progressive ideas, the one who doesn’t deny climate change, the one who cares about the 99%, the one with the lowest bottom line on his tax return, the one who isn’t a demagogue, the one who doesn’t incite hate and hostility, the one who is not the Zodiac Killer (because Ted Cruz is not not the Zodiac Killer). When he says revolution, I want to be a part of it because I believe in it. Because I believe in the possibility of a world where everyone gets a fair shake. So hey, Gloria Steinem, kiss my butt! While guys are 100000% more attractive if they’re feeling the Bern, I’m not looking to *meet boys* by way of my presidential candidate (what even?). Yeah, feminism!

I’ll occasionally wear Bernie’s face on my t-shirt, my heart on my sleeve, wax optimistic and I won’t apologize for any of it. I’ll fight the good fight with the belief that all of our voices matter and we’ll be counted.

My eyes are open, we deserve better.

xLB

empathy and the city

First, click.

This evening I was changing from the M to the G at Court Square. This entails a rush between two separate ends of a train station. In the morning, there is a moving walkway that goes from the G to the E/M, but evenings, we are left to our own devices. We must walk. We must hustle.

On this particular evening, I found myself with a bit more pep in my step, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the mounting headache, or that my day had started so incredibly early that all I wanted to do was get home at a decent hour and maybe go directly to bed. It could have been that I wanted to try to beat a new roommate back to the apartment, a roommate who does not understand how valuable it is for me to be able to relax on the couch alone to watch an episode of Jeopardy over my pathetic single-girl dinner. Whatever it was, it had me weaving quickly in between strangers, trying to anticipate whether or not they might veer right so I could step left.

I came up on a man who was very clearly elderly. He walked a bit slower, he had long white hair and a ball cap on. As I stepped around him to hustle past, I glanced down and noticed that his shoe was untied. A silent siren went off in my head. Tell him! Tell this man his shoe lace is untied! But I didn’t! Because I was in a rush. Because in New York we are constantly in a rush.

And so I moved on past him and I ran down the steps because I thought the train was leaving. It wasn’t. I grabbed a seat and hugged my bag to my chest and I worried about the man and his untied shoe.

But lo and behold, look who’s come onto the subway car to sit right beside me? That same man.

I sat with my eyes ahead, and I tried to will away my headache, and I hoped and hoped that he had stopped to tie his shoe. I didn’t check, I don’t know why. Would it have been odd to point out that his shoe was untied, as we sat together in an unmoving train car? And so we carried on this way, sitting in close proximity, my peripheral vision giving me the perfect angle to see his fingers rubbing together in what I had supposed to be an anxious sort of way. Because in New York we are constantly in a state of anxiety.

As the train lingered on through Queens and into Greenpoint, I had my hopes set on getting off at the same stop as this man. I could check his laces and give him the mental a-okay to go on his way. But at Nassau Avenue, he pushed out of his seat and walked to the door, and my eyes fell to the floor where his shoelace remained untied and his feet shuffled and my heart jumped into my throat hoping no one would step on the rogue lace. I swallowed back my self-hate for the moment as I tried to find him through the closing door. I kept willing him to stop and tie his shoe. Please, please, please. But I’d lost him. Perhaps because he’d knelt down to fix his shoe?

And there he was again, the lag in his reappearance in the train car window just long enough for someone to have retied their shoelace. I felt a little wave of relief, but I felt a lot of sadness. We continued on, further into Williamsburg, and my eyes were stinging with fresh tears. It was something so simple as telling someone their shoe was untied, and yet I didn’t have the time. Right? I didn’t have the time to be kind to a stranger. That’s what it all came down to. And it really broke my heart.