“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
So there’s been a lot of drama in this year’s campaign. I mean, there’s drama in every campaign but none more so than when the incumbent is on the end of their second term so it’s basically Open Season.
It’s open season on the policies of the candidates -that’s fair, they are offering their wares for us to scrutinise and peruse and haggle over.
It’s open season on the personalities of the candidates – they’re public figures, they’re wanting us to know and trust them and that means, yes, probing them. Politely.
It’s NOT open season on the supporters of the candidates, on any side, for any reason.
I know why you’re doing it, and I forgive you. All of you.
Because not so long ago, I was you.
In 2004, Bush was letting slip the farm animals of war, and I was out there campaigning hard for my Democratic candidate.
I was scared. Terrified. Bush was talking about attacking countries where I had (and still have) family. Any day I was expecting to hear that soldiers and bombs would be heading for my grandparents, my aunts and cousins.
The fear drove me a little crazy. I got angry. I got in a lot of arguments. Loud, nasty ones. I spent way too much time on the internet getting into it with people I didn’t even know, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without finding insulting graffiti about “Demon cats” (how you get that from “Democrats” I have no idea) and once I was even verbally assaulted by a military wife on the bus. This woman was frothing, absolutely red-faced with rage at my tiny, weak-ass self sitting there with my “No Blood for Oil” lapel pin on. She demanded the driver put me off the bus for “offending her.” He didn’t. As I got off the bus, I told her I hoped her husband came home safe. It was all I could do in the face of such hatred. She hated me, and I refused to hate her back.
I’m going to ask you to try to do the same thing now.
I want you to look at someone who you disagree with politically, and forgive them, and forgive yourself.
Because the way through this horror-show of an election cycle is NOT with nasty internet comments, nor is it with harassing superdelegates*. Nor is it with pr0n-spamming pages you personally disagree with so they can be banned from Facebook, or harassing the other candidate’s supporters as they’re going to a rally.
*(This is different from actually campaigning for their votes at a convention, by the way. Just so you know. There’s protocol there. Doing it outside a convention is iffy as heck.)
At the end of the day, someone will win, someone will lose, and either way, the show goes on, and our part in it as supporters will end.
I get it. You’re scared. We’re ALL scared..
First I’m gonna talk to the Bernie Bros.
I’m calling you out specifically because you have lost your goddamn minds, and I’m here to try to help you get them back before you do something you can’t undo.
Remember at the top of this post, I said I was you once?
You know where being scared, angry, hostile, etc got me?
It got me so depressed I couldn’t move for days on end.
It got me on a downward spiral that didn’t lift till I found something else to focus on, something else to give me hope. That took a long goddamn time, let me tell you. Having hope beaten out of you by life…it makes you really hesitant to hope again.
And that’s the thing. Right now, Bernie’s giving you hope and it’s like a drug. (Lean in, Hillary people – this applies to you too, because we all need a hit of hope now and then.)
I know his heart’s in the right place because it’s been in the same place for decades now. But you have to understand that the world does not live and die on the back of one single candidate, one single election. This country has had great leaders and shitty leaders, and mostly a lot of “meh” leaders, and it has survived. And this country is evolving, and a lot of progress has been made. Politics is not a game you play once and win forever, it’s an endless tug of war with two really excitable puppies who never, ever stop trying to get that rope so you may as well get used to that now.
I’m not saying to give up though. I’m saying…the fate of the world rests on so much more than the shoulders of one politician. If you learned anything from Bernie, it’s that we don’t succeed unless we work together. And that applies to everything.
I feel that fear too. In the night, I feel it like ice in my veins. I find myself wondering if my relatives will be safe, if my newly-won rights as a gay person will be stripped away again. I worry about my trans friends’ safety, I worry about the Earth being bruised by fracking. I worry, and I get angry, and I find myself pacing and gritting my teeth and making my blood pressure go through the ceiling because god how can they be so stupid they’re going to kill us all-
And then I breathe.
And remember that there things I can do, from my own little corner, that will help. I can read the adventures of my friend who helps homeless people get into safe places, I can find hungry people and feed them, I can help someone.
Like Donna Noble said, “You don’t have to save the whole town…just someone.”
I know Bernie is your hero.
But giving in to your fear and anger is not the answer.
Being your own hero is. Being the kind of person Bernie would admire and respect is.
Because if you let the fear win, then next comes anger, then comes suffering.
I mean c’mon, you all saw Star Wars, we all did.
Now I want to talk to the Hillary supporters.
If you’re a Hillary supporter, you’re probably scared of Trump, and you’re scared that Sanders will somehow spoil things for Hillary.
First – you’re not Hillary’s strategists. THEY are the ones paid to worry about how she’s polling here vs there, to schedule her rallies and talking points and stain their trousers when they look at her numbers vs Trump’s. Let them do their jobs. (You aren’t getting their paychecks, are you?)
Second – you, and I, and all the other people who lean Democratic, should not give Trump the gift of our fear. He doesn’t deserve it. We survived Reagan, 12 years of Bushes – we can survive this, too! Trump is a fucking clownshoe! He can’t even sell MEAT to omnivores! He couldn’t keep a casino open in Atlantic City, when that’s basically the only reason to GO to Atlantic City! He’s an asshole, but he’s an impotent, useless, incompetent asshole who we can easily hamstring if we get a blue Congress again. So don’t fear him! He isn’t worthy! Besides, even if he did win, he’ll probably quit as soon as he realises they won’t let him paint the White House gold or write TRUMP all over it.
Third – leave the Bernie supporters alone. I know this is a difficult one, because of the Bernie Bros. But they are not representative of all the supporters, and Bernie has told them to heck off more than once.
The thing is….the Bernie Bros are the most terrified of all, because they’re either very young and emotional and have no idea how to stay sane on a campaign, OR they’re older, angrier and have no fucks to give. Either way, you’re not going to get them to come round by arguing, namecalling, etc. Compassion is the only thing that can get the poison out. Compassion for you, for the Bernie Bros, and absofuckinglutely for…
The Trump Supporters.
Yep. Your turn.
God, I am so sorry. You wanted change, you wanted better for your kids, and you got this guy. This guy who literally is the opposite of what you need.
Your schools are suffering, your kids are struggling, your jobs are disappearing, your taxes aren’t going to public benefits because your politicians are wasting your money on stupid shit. Your land is getting fracked to pieces, your houses are falling into sinkholes, and you’re being told that this guy can make it all better.
He can’t even sell fucking meat. He can’t even. He gets to waste gobs of money and then declare bankruptcy, meanwhile you can’t even get a loan without going to a payday loan shark place that will fuck you over to the tune of 400% interest. You believe so hard in an American dream that all this guy had to do was come in and say “American Dream!” and he had you because you had the least hope of all, but when you get sick you’ll still have to crowdfund your medical bills because he doesn’t believe in healthcare for everyone.
You believe in pulling yourself up by the bootstraps even though you can’t afford boots anymore because they sent the jobs to China so you ended up working minimum wage somewhere and food stamps don’t pay for boots, and you resent having to be on food stamps so you scream at the government to make yourself feel better. They told you it was every man for himself so if the man next door was suffering it must have been his own fault so no help for him. They told you that if That Guy could get to the top then You Can Too, as long as you support him and others like him, eventually it’ll be Your Turn.
It will never be Your Turn because the system isn’t built that way. Ever play Monopoly? Ever notice how the board has an odd number of pieces on each side? That’s deliberate. It makes it so that the moves fall into repeating patterns. Whoever starts winning first will keep winning. Everyone else is completely screwed.
It happens in the real world economy too, which is why no matter what they tell you, it will never be Your Turn.
They depend on you believing the lie.
And all you get for it is busted schools, dirty water, and food stamps that don’t even cover half a month for a family’s needs, not to mention the judging stares from other shoppers when they see you’re paying with that card, and they might even start a fight with you, and they definitely won’t care that you’re working 60 hours a week in a shit job just to make ends almost-meet as long as you don’t get sick because there’s no sick leave at your job. And then they tell you that it’s the immigrant’s fault so you go smack the brown guy around but for all you know he was born here too and is working the same long hours to feed his own family. And if he is an immigrant then he’s an outsider who does not even have the power or inclination to ruin your country because he is keeping his head down and trying to fit in because he doesn’t want to get beat up. The immigrant is a scapegoat to keep you from seeing who’s really screwing you over. You already know who they are.
I’m not sure what to say except that you deserve so much better, so much more, and this orange shitcano isn’t gonna give it to you. Trump is using you and he will turn on you as soon as he gets what he wants, and you deserve better. And I’m sorry.
It’s almost 2 am and I’m running out of words. So…
Be kind to each other. No matter what. No matter who you vote for, no matter who they vote for, just be kind.
Politics isn’t everything. It’s just one very highly ritualised and structured way for human beings to achieve things together, but it isn’t the only way, and our need to work together for greater good doesn’t begin or end with election year.
The phone in Ray’s pocket lights up, and he pulls it out.
Target approaching – 2 minutes.
He crouches deeper into the potted plant on the balcony he’s commandeered for this purpose. One of those weird c-shaped balconies you only find on big chain hotels, usually facing the pool. This one’s in a corner, so it’s a little misshapen and thus a perfect hiding place.
Below him, people in swimsuits lounge on folding chairs, borrowed towels, and in the human stew of the spa. A group of people in elaborate costumes pose on the decorative bridge while others take pictures. Some kind of sci-fi convention going on, apparently. Damn geeks.
His target isn’t with the swimmers or the costumed lunatics, so he turns his scope away from them to scan the other areas.
A young man, sitting on a rattan chair in the shade. He’s talking on his phone. He puts it away and his head drops into his hands.
Ray scans the rest of the pool area. The geeks show no signs of departing, in fact, more are joining them. And the young man is getting up to leave, tears smearing his face.
Normally Ray doesn’t think too hard about who his target is, but nothing about this scenario is adding up. A daylight kill in a public space? No easy escape route? Hell, this gun doesn’t even have the right kind of rounds for a discreet kill.
The whole thing reeks, frankly, and for a moment Ray considers just bagging the mission and skipping town.
But then the young man looks up at his hiding place. Straight into Ray’s eyes.
He takes his finger off the trigger, and lowers the gun.
They meet in the lobby.
“Why?” the young man asks.
“I don’t know,” Ray admits. “I just do what I’m told.”
“Yeah, I know that feeling.” The young man laughs, but it’s a wrung-out sound, like he doesn’t quite mean it. “My life kinda fell apart this last week.”
“Tell me about it.”
The young man looks Ray up and down. Sees the bug-out bag and the black sunglasses. “Take off your shades.”
“You’re here to kill me, and you wanna talk feelings. Least you can do is show me your face.”
They come off.
Ray stares at his target. A lean, almost feminine man, the kind of man that Ray would’ve beaten up in high school. The kind of man who could eat everything and never put on a pound.
The thought of eating makes Ray’s stomach twist.
“Listen,” he says. “I was up that balcony for a long time, and I’m fucking starving.”
The young man picks up a scrap of ribbon from the sidewalk, presumably abandoned by one of the other guests. One side is cut in little zig-zags, like those big scissors everyone’s grandmother seemed to have back in the day.
“These fucking things are all over the place,” he says, tossing it aside.
“Yeah. Everyone here is wearing big strings of them, I dunno. I guess it’s a game geeks play, or something. Anyway.”
“I’m really not too hungry right now,” the young man says. “I mean…” his eyes drift back to Ray’s bag, “I wasn’t really thinking about my last meal, you know?”
Ray sighs. “You don’t have to eat. Just talk.”
“What, you want me to ease your conscience before you blow my brains out? Help you live with your decision?”
“Then what do you want?”
Ray turns, jerks his thumb towards the sliding glass doors of the lobby. “I want to go in there. I want to order the biggest, stupidest dessert they have, and I want to know what’s so bad in your life that you’re still standing here with me instead of running away with a load in your pants.”
The young man nods. “All right.”
2 hours later
Andrew is sitting on the front patio of the hotel, watching the rented cars go by. Waiting.
He still doesn’t know if he’s marked, if Ray had friends, if this whole cake-and-catharsis thing was just some psychological ploy to get him to stay right here on this exact spot, waiting for the yelp of a silencer, for the bullet. But the only sounds are coming from the nerds and the taxis.
Someone next to him leans over the railing and tosses handfuls of small fluttering things to the people below before running away, laughing.
One of them lands at Andrew’s feet, and he picks it up. It’s another one of those ribbon things. It’s sticky on one side, and on the other it reads “Cake or Death?”
Andrew starts to laugh.
This was a Terrible Minds challenge, inspired by the title “They Sat Outside Eating Cake” and the LAX Marriott.
I found this online and it feels like everything right now:
My background on this isn’t “going to a rally or two.” I have followed the Clintons for many years. I thought Bill did a lot of things right as President.(He also did a lot of things very, very wrong.) And I loved young, fiery, “Universal Health Care is possible” Hillary.
I also worked on a Presidential campaign in 2003 and 2004. I’m not telling you which one, but I can tell you I’ve been a DINO ever since.
After that, I went to college and got a BA in Political Science, and during that time, I also worked on a US Representative’s campaign.
So I’ve been here a while is what I’m saying and you never really stop being a wonk no matter how far you try to stay away from it all, and I’ve watched Hillary morph from a long-haired radical spitfire to a well-heeled hawk who talks like every other damn politician ever. And it makes me so, so sad.
But I would still vote for her if she was the last one standing, because Trump. *throws up in mouth*
Except there’s been a major obstacle to me being able to handle the thought of a Hillary presidency.
I’m not a well person. Never have been. I’m physically and mentally ill, and the treatment is not cheap. I could not afford ANY of this treatment without the ACA.
And when pressed on it, all I ever heard Hillary say was “No, we can’t have single payer, Bernie, it’s too expensive.”
So I went digging. I wanted to ask Hillary, “What CAN we have?”
Because I worry about losing my coverage. I worry about losing my health that I have fought so hard to get back. (I’m such a selfish millennial, right? WRONG. I’m 37. That’s Generation X.) I literally just had a big fat anxiety cry about it because that is how worried I am.
I learned that her plan isn’t horrible. It’s patching some holes in a boat that, thanks to Congressional interference, left the dock with big gaping holes. I don’t have exact cost figures for implementing her planned changes, because a lot of them are incremental- such as increasing subsidies for low income families to buy insurance, etc – and the question of “who WILL pay for it if not the patient?” is unanswerable at this moment. Only time would tell the exact savings/costs, similar to how it took a year or two for people to see that the ACA was in fact saving money because it capped the amount insurers could increase their premiums by each year. Premiums went up, but not as high as the insurers wanted them to.
Those patches would not endanger my healthcare, in fact, they would give more people – children, especially – access to this level of care. Which is good.
Her plan is not gonna be cheap either. And in a campaign where the main criticism of her opponent’s plan is that it’s “free stuff” – well let’s just drop that fucking act right now, ok? This stuff isn’t free. NOTHING IS FREE EXCEPT AIR AND THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT HOW TO CHARGE US FOR IT YET.
There is no healthcare reform, major, minor, or diminished, that will be remotely close to “free.” Because it’s an investment in our infrastructure, it will be brick-shittingly expensive. Period. The difference is going to be in who is shitting the bricks. Right now it’s us.
Fun fact: The amount our nation spends on private healthcare is almost the same amount changing over to Bernie’s single-payer plan would be. We’re already paying for it, we’re just not GETTING it. We spend over 3 Trillion ANNUALLY for this busted-ass system. Single-payer would be – at least in the Sanders variation – 1.5 Trillion a year.
Hillary’s? I’m not sure, since a lot of it involves cost-shifting and incremental changes so those take time to add up, you know? But it’s based on modifying an existing structure that is still expensive.
The fact that Hillary’s take on healthcare will be expensive is not surprising or damning in the least, since it involves basically bribing the poorest states to Take The Damn Medicare Expansion. Bribes have been offered for far less noble things. But where’s the money going to come from?
You can see I’m not demonising her, right? I’m just asking the questions. I would love to hear reassuring answers. I’m very analytical when it comes to this stuff. Give me numbers!
I’m more familiar with Bernie’s plan because 1, I’m a supporter and 2, I’ve heard it before from other candidates who tried and failed to make single payer go. And in both cases the math was on their side even if the support wasn’t. A big investment now to save trillions later. Very FDR, when you think about it.
And incremental change is seductive too, especially when dealing with obstructionists. Sugar up that medicine and try your damnedest to get the airplane into the hangar, you’ll be there all night if you have to.
So to sum up: Both plans need money.
Who controls the money? Who put the holes in the boat?
Who voted to repeal the ACA dozens of times?
Who’s gonna kill insurance reform(whether in the form of ACA repair OR single-payer overhaul) first chance they get?
Instead of sniping and throwing memes at each other about how “dumb” Bernie supporters are or how “evil” Hillary is, can we maybe get together over the trash fire that this election has become, toast some marshmallows, and agree to vote out these bastards in Congress?
Seriously. If you want the next President to have a shot at getting ANYTHING done, you gotta look at Congress too.
Here’s a breakdown of who’s up for reelection this year. Go find yours and show up to your polling station on Election Day with a garbage bag*, ’cause it’s time to take out the trash.
*Don’t actually bring a bag in, I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules.
**Unless you vote absentee, then you can do whatever you want. Stuff it with compost and name it Mitch McConnell or something.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/02/02/annual-u-s-healthcare-spending-hits-3-8-trillion/#5be5f20f313d (another 2014 with a slightly different calculation)
So it turns out there’s a name for the evil that lurks in my lungs, and it is asthmatic bronchitis, also known as “Here, have an inhaler even though you’re not officially asthmatic.”
Which means mmm, delicious albuterol! And also an eventual prop for my Osgood cosplay, because you gotta think positive.
In a few weeks I get to see the Immunologist which sounds scary but isn’t, because they also do allergy / asthma things and they’re gonna try to find out why I’m allergic to so many things and why every God Damn Time I start a fitness program I get horribly sick somehow. It’s like the Universe wants me to stay fat and stuck on the couch watching MST3K all day. Don’t get me wrong, I totally could, as long as they’re all Joel episodes. But this evil germ also kept me so laid up for 2 weeks that I ended up stuck to the couch binge-watching Hell’s Kitchen. And then I got tempted by the open casting call for MasterChef. And then I actually watched MasterChef and thought “wow, what a god-awful bougie trash fire of a show.” (I’ve been reading a lot of Holly Wood articles lately, and her vocab is infectious.) Suffice to say MasterChef can go fuck itself, especially Christina and her hipster bakery. Bitch sells “Cereal Milk” – milk with cereal powder in it for 5 bucks a bottle. THE HELL?
But for now I must leave you with this thing of absolute perfection from the glorious Kate Beaton. As someone who’s been the victim of gaslighting before, I absolutely agree with Alice’s response and will be using it in future if someone tries to pull that crap on me again.
If you want to see more of Kate’s work (and you do, you SO do, just trust me) it can be found right here:
Sarah Jane Smith didn’t die on Earth in any of the invasions, or the wars, or even that time when the oceans turned to oobleck. They lost a lot of wildlife that day.
Sarah Jane hitched a ride off-planet with Luke. He’d found a way at last, and was ready to return to his stars.
Mr. Smith was donated to Torchwood III, with their caveat that the music be muted permanently. Mr. Smith was less than pleased by this, but opted to comply rather than find out if Jack really could send him to Silicon Hell.
Sarah Jane found a nice quiet planet, where nobody had ever heard of Time Lords or Daleks, and they valued stories as much as currency. She soon found herself the wealthiest woman in the village.
Luke found someone on his travels, and before she knew it, her little house was filled with grandchildren.
Some became journalists like her, storytellers, truth-tellers.
Some became space travelers.
Some had children of their own and sent those children out into the universe.
But Sarah’s favorite was the youngest, a tow-headed little boy named John. She’d been blindsided when Luke brought her to the incubator. He’d come early, his frantic heart working too fast, and they’d nearly lost him twice in the first week.
Sarah didn’t see the tubes and bandages poking out of him. She was lost in his big blue eyes. So much stubbornness in such a new soul.
“What do you think?” Luke asked.
“I think he’s going to be just fine,” Sarah said.
Of course he wasn’t, not right away, but when his siblings were out playing sports or taking field trips, he’d follow her around in the garden, dragging his little wagon behind him. She called him her little helper, and hoped that he was there because he wanted to be, and not because he was still too fragile to join his siblings.
One day he surprised her by reciting the Latin names of every plant in the herb patch. After that, Sarah didn’t worry anymore.
He’d heard her stories of course, and he knew there was a metal dog in her room. It didn’t work very well, but he saved up his allowance and ordered some parts from an off-world catalog.
The years passed by, and Sarah Jane grew older. Even on this planet, time marched on. Now she sat inside by the window, watching John as he moved around the garden, a protesting K9 in tow.
“You’re going to break him if you’re not careful, and I’ll never get another one,” Sarah said. “He’s just not made for dirt.”
John thought about this, and placed another order.
Now Sarah Jane couldn’t stop laughing when she saw K9 rumbling up and down the paths on his balloon wheels, but she had to admit, it did work. And K9 wasn’t complaining about his shock absorbers either. Not when he could complain to his new master about the pronunciation of plant names.
John eventually learned everything K9 knew, and it still wasn’t enough. He started collecting seeds from banks all over the galaxy and made the garden even bigger. Now there were plants from extinct planets, heirlooms from millennia ago, sacred plants from walled monastic gardens, and he left his fragility behind in the dirt.
The plants spoke to him, told him what they were for, and he listened. Soon bottles and trays of leaves, roots, tinctures and powders filled the shed, his room, the kitchen, every available space. K9 proved invaluable at analysing the concoctions to make sure they weren’t poisonous.
It started with tea, of course, as he had been raised with the notion that tea was essential. The wriggling blood-red root was an absolute nightmare to harvest, but once boiled, it produced compounds that could rival any painkiller on the market. Plus, it tasted like sweet oranges. It was his science fair project, and he took the first prize.
It ends with tea, too, when the day comes that Sarah Jane can no longer get out of bed. She’s in her 130s now, and this is twice what she’d expected, so she’s happy. All her other relatives had died in their 60s from things like cancer and emphysema so she’s happy that, at least once, the curse was broken.
But still, a century-plus is more than a body like hers was ever made for, and the last day arrives with the smell of petrichor and honeysuckle wafting in through the windows, her cup of Darjeeling by her side, unfinished, as John strokes her hair.
K9 droops. “Goodbye, Mistress.”
Now John is at university, a good one too – the same one K9’s original master trained at, and he finds himself a fully qualified physician in just a few years. He doesn’t forget his garden, though. Even more new plants follow him home from school, more new medicines follow him back to the classroom.
After graduation, he buys a shop. The walls are lined with bottles and jars, salves and powders. Every week, shuttles arrive from other worlds, full of patients of all species and races. Some of them are sickened by disease, others by side effects of the medicines they got elsewhere, and every one of them leaves feeling better than when they came in.
Today’s a slow day in the shop, so he and K9 play chess. K9 always wins.
He wonders if it was the same for K9’s old master, the one Sarah called her best friend.
“Well, when you consider that he’s got every possible move programmed in, it’s not really a fair fight, is it?” a voice says.
John looks up. There, peering over the counter, is a tall man, rake-thin, with wild silver curls and a manic grin. K9’s antennae twirl urgently.
“Can I help you?” John asks.
“I’m here to see the doctor,” the thin man says.
“Yes, of course! I’m forgetting my manners. Sorry. Doctor John Smith,” John says, holding out his hand, and they shake.
The thin man raises an eyebrow. “That’s usually my line.”
And suddenly John understands why his dog is so distressed.
“It’s you,” he says.
“Yes. Me. Unless you think I’m someone else, in which case-”
“No, I know who you are,” John says. “My grandmother told me all about you. It’s nice to finally meet you, Doctor.”
The Doctor peers at John for a long moment, then scowls.
“I don’t suppose your, ah, grandmother-”
John shakes his head. “19 years now.”
“Right,” the Doctor says, then abruptly wraps John in a tight hug. “I think you should know I’m not a hugger.”
“No, of course not,” John says into a mouthful of woolen lapel.
“Thank you for looking after my Sarah Jane.”
Sunlight creeps across the sky, pricks through the dense branches of the evergreens above to alight on the back of your neck.
Vellus hair stands to worried attention there as the rest of the organism jumps several bands on the terror scale. Fear is definitely a rusted orange hue. The color of squinting against the summer sun. There is no brightness left in this light, it has travelled from the deep past to reclaim you.
You close your eyes.
Inside, the quake begins. The house screams.
You’ve long since given up on the the notion of having new things, nice things. The walls are bare, the furniture basic. The quakes destroy everything beautiful. You may as well just stay at zero.
The carpet is a post-beige morass of shades of dirt. The parts of it you can see, anyway.
In the corners are cobwebs so old the spiders have declared them historic landmarks.
Something in the refrigerator is having a very loud birthday party.
A single token of a once-happy time rots in the corner bookcase, and the floor continues to shake.
The sun breaks through the dangling vertical blinds where one of the flaps has snapped off and you feel it now, it burns through you until all you can feel is suffocating heat and the smell of baked black spores –
You let the breath go out of you, the one you didn’t know you were holding.
Step towards the door to close the blinds and your foot gives way on something white and chalk-slick, and you can smell bread – not real bread, but the chemical soup that comes in a bottle marked Scent of Bakery #3 and now the phone is ringing with rejection, rejection, rejection and somewhere upstairs the men are fighting.
You land on your backside in the beanbag chair that never had quite enough beans in it, and on the outside, your backside stings with the memory.
And the sun beats down, even through the roof; this house has been pried open like a soup can and the sun is inside, the heat is coming from inside the house, the air is plasma, the sun will never leave you, even as your last breakfast does.
Outside the happy little sprouts taunt you, saying, but Sun is good, Sun is love, Sun is life, look at us.
Sun is pain. Sun is fear. Sun is dread.
Sun reaches out with its fingers to pull you back to the soup can house, to keep you locked in there forever.
Sun is older than all of your hiding places.
Sun is patient, so patient.
And everywhere Sun touches you, you scream. You will always scream.
It occurred to me that my Facebook, while handy, is not public. So I’m putting my best stuff up here.
First row, L-R: “Tiny Ten”(cotton, knit, fun fur, microsuede, I made everything but the shoes) and “Day of the Doctor’ ornament(plastic, polymer clay, paint.)
Second row, L-R: “Trubel” (from Grimm – my only non-Who fanart at the moment), “Rassilon’s Study”(clay and ink), “Attack Eyebrows”(image and ornament made by me.)
Third row, L-R: “Rehearsal”(gel ink),”My Sarah Jane”(ink), “The Noblest Donna”(ink.)
“You motherfucker,” the art student says, grabbing the book by its two covers and flexing them.
Her hands are strong with anger, and the spine begins to wrinkle and crack.
Inside, the first leaf comes loose and falls to the pavement.
“Amazing,” the others say. “Gorgeous.” “You’re such an amazing artist.” “I want one.”
The sketchpad goes round the table slowly, as nobody wants to let it go. Finally it gets to her, and she flips it open.
It’s good. It’s really, really good. The lines are sharp and clean, there’s not a dot out of place. It’s so detailed she wonders how he did it. Was it the pens? The smooth vellum? What is his trick? She’s been drawing since she could hold a crayon. She’s the one who picked up watercolors on her first try in third grade and painted a kitten so well the teacher hung it up in the front of the classroom. She’s the one who that boy in junior year paid to do his art homework. It was only a quarter, and she didn’t do it again. She is the artist. She is the one who draws! Not this emaciated Keanu Reeves knockoff with his big fancy pad and his matched Rapidographs, no!
She finally has her own set of Rapidographs. Maybe now it will come. Maybe the lines will cooperate. A lot of trees fall in her quest to get better. To get better than him.
She visits him, looks at his rough drafts.
Oh double-fuck with fuck sauce! They’re like Mozart, barely a pencil line or smear of pink eraser dandruff.
Seriously, who even does that? A loose pencil sketch, then a final inking? What is he, a goddamn wizard?
She goes back to the beginning, studying line and shadow, making a small mountain of crumpled rejects. The light table in class becomes her new best friend as she draws and retraces and erases and retraces, splicing together the best of the rejects to make finished compositions, and seethes.
I’ll be better than you, she vows. Just you watch.
The book comes out at long last, a self-published brick of black outlines of angels and spirits from around the world. It’s beautiful and infuriating, and she buys three copies.
He stops drawing angels, starts drawing dragons and samurai warriors and – oddly – vegetables. He shows her one of his works in progress, a rotund samurai with traditional armor and sword raised high over his head.
She keeps drawing, tiny lines nested inside tiny lines, with pens so fine-tipped they can only be used for a few hours before their tips blow out and become useless.
She finds out she is actually pretty good at scratchboard and watercolor, and wins a t-shirt contest. She discovers Art Nouveau and Edward Gorey, and then her teacher assigns her a project about Japan.
The art book is a doorstop, the kind of coffee table book that could be a coffee table all by itself, and she lugs it home.
Just for fun, she looks through the feudal section, and a familiar face leaps out at her.
The book is now in quarters, in eighths, in confetti. The recycle bin is full, but she jams the pieces in anyway.
The samurai in the book was laughing at her, as was the angel on the bridge and everyone else in the coloring book.
Laughing at her because all those years she’d been trying to live up to the skills of a god damn tracer.
But she’s a better artist for it, so it was all worth it, right?