Friday, November 24, 2017

No Thank You

Hail To The Chief!

So yesterday we expressed gratitude for – well, you name it.  We gathered as families, or tribes, or volunteers, or the homeless and ate too much, joked and bitched about Trump, and generally tried to carry on with our own particular traditions against a reality where “tradition” has often come to mean the periodic Xbox or PlayStation upgrade.  And, in good conscience, even though we live in the Ice-Cap-Melt Age and the Era of Permanent War, many of us should be grateful for all we have. Rest assured, I am.

But this isn’t about that. I prefer to think that the day after Thanksgiving is the appropriate time to ponder those things for which we are not grateful.
I can’t give thanks for the guy in the White House. Oh sure, he provides hours of punch lines for comedians and other social critics, and who among us doesn’t relish learning what his latest gaff is and how, once again, he embarrassed himself and the United States?  Ironically, Trump and his co-conspirators have mobilized and united progressives and activists and there appears to be a unique solidarity on the Left that hasn’t been around since the heady days of the March on Washington or the Poor Peoples’ Campaign.  

But still …. 
The man is a dangerous menace.  Although the resistance may be strong and growing, the Far Right also has come together and geared up for what many on the right see as a race war, long predicted, fantasized about, and coveted by white supremacists who believe violence is the final solution for their many grievances.  They’re full of shit, of course, but there’s no doubt that Trump and Trumpism have unleashed dogs of hate and fear. No thank you.

“Paranoia strikes deep, and it starts when you’re always afraid.” 

I can’t be grateful for the massive changes to my hometown stirred up by myopic politicians and greedy developers.  I’ve become a stranger in the neighborhood where I’ve lived for more than thirty-five years. I'm out-of-place, looking over my shoulder, worried about unknown faces and unusual gatherings,  I get nervous about the next house that will be sold on my block and what will be built in its place when it's been scraped. Grotesque slot houses and ugly Blade Runner housing projects have replaced graceful single-family brick and frame homes.  Families with generations of connections to the community, and to each other, have been displaced by more wealthy and oblivious colonists who have no concept of the area’s rich history, or the culture that's been erased by snobbish coffee shops, over-priced foodie restaurants, and tony beer joints.  And these newcomers know what is happening and what they are part of, and many don’t care.  For example, this advertising campaign appeared this week in one of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the changes. No thank you. 

The coffee chain issued a lame apology.  Protests and a boycott have been announced,

I'm Only As Old As I Feel; Some Days I Feel Ancient

Finally, and this is strictly a personal hang-up, I’m not grateful for my inability to “age gracefully," as they say.  In a few months I turn seventy – which is not as old as turning seventy in 1918, or as young as that will be in 2118, but there were days in 2017 when my body couldn’t keep up with my mind, and other days when my mind tripped all over itself.  
I know, I know, growing old is preferable to the alternative and, believe me, I strive to live as fully and completely as possible.  I’m working on a new book, which should be published in about a year.  I just had one of my short stories published and I’ve got two others in the 2018 pipeline.  I’ve made several recent presentations about my writing on college campuses and to various book clubs and at numerous literary events, and more are scheduled. Flo and I travel and socialize.  We regularly use the exercise facilities at our local rec center.  We take time out for yoga and happy hours.  We’re enjoying retirement together, and the fact that I can say I am “together” with a special person is critical to my overall satisfaction with and enjoyment of this stage in my life.  So, yeah, it’s good. 

But  still ... I turn seventy in a few months.


Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in 2016 and was a finalist for the Shamus Award in the Original Paperback category sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America.  He is hard at work on his next Chicano Noir crime novel. 


Jose Carrillo said...

Orale, Bro- I'm 85 years old, glad to be alive, I play my musical instruments every day and I'm improving; I live by the belief that the best is yet to come!

Herlinda said...

Well said, Manuel, you can put thoughts to words in a way I understand and agree. Am glad I know you and will wait for your next book!

Manuel Ramos said...

Thank you Herlinda and Jose -- keep on truckin'