Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It's the Sleep I Miss

I sort of joke that I haven't had a good night of sleep since Wells Fargo laid me off.

It's not necessarily an incorrect statement. Something broke in my mind where I'm in a constant state of survival mode. Always trying to pursue this relaxation that I'm beginning to think doesn't exist.

I mean, I probably sleep a good night 3-4 nights a week. It's usually when I've taken a Melatonin pill, or it's the weekend and I have nothing to wake up early for, or I've had a beer or two, or a really hard workout.

With the holidays though, I've not been working out. I've not had any weekends where I don't have to wake up and do something. I've had a ton of extra stress to think about.

Between 3-4 am every day, I wake up. Usually because I have to go to the bathroom, but sometimes I just sort of jolt awake.

I'll sort of re-position myself and try to go to sleep again. But for the rest of the night I'm thinking about work, or thinking about the errand I need to run. I toss and turn. I get up and walk around for a few minutes. Come back to bed, rollover.

And the morning sun, now coming up earlier and earlier it seems, shines directly at the window next to my side of the bed. It doesn't matter we have blinds and curtains, the light shines through like something from Poltergeist. I squeeze my eyes shut as hard as I can, pretending that the sun isn't there yet.

I used to go to the other room and sleep on the couch, but since the wall has been taking so long (another thing I often think about at 3 am) I can't sleep well in there because the litter box smell is too much for me.

So the only thing I can do, is sleep on my stomach and put a pillow on top of my head. It drowns out the sounds of Sal's fan, the humidifier, and shuts the light off.

This was the only way I could sleep when I had a broken leg. (I can't sleep on my back at all) But now, I can only sleep on my stomach for 20-30 minutes before my back and neck start hurting.

And I can't look at my watch. If I see what time it is, my brain does the math and constantly repeats, "GO TO SLEEP, ONLY 3 MORE HOURS TO SLEEP, GET AT IT."

And the next thing I know, it's 7 and I sleepily climb out of bed, ready to work.

I'm hoping this is just temporary while the holiday stress is hitting me. I don't like relying on Melatonin pills to get a good nights sleep.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Country That Doesn't Want You

I've been soaking in the reactions since the election. It's exhausting.

The mud throwing calling Trump supporters racist and misogynistic were covering my Facebook page the first two days. Many of these posts were reaching to find swastikas near pro-Trump messages on walls or a few idiots beating the shit out of Muslims and telling them to go home. It was damning people for voting for this orange asshole.

Now, the Trump supporters who are tired of being called racist have been fighting back in disgusting ways. I've seen people say things like, "The KKK hasn't been involved in a violent incident in 20 years. Black Lives Matter have been involved in violence this year." I've seen a lot of people saying, "stop crying pussies." Someone even told my wife that racism no longer exists and tried to quote the Civil Rights act of 1964 to her.

I've largely stayed out of the discussion because honestly, I'm tired and I don't want to respond with emotion.

But I've read. I've been sitting back and trying to figure out what the hell is going on with our country.

And I have no answers.

I do know however that my wife has gotten little sleep and wakes up depressed every day since the election.

I know my Pakistani friend has gone quiet on social media since the election.

I know my gay and lesbian friends have been starting fights on Facebook daily because they have gotten so close to having equal rights with everyone else only to have everything ripped away time and time again..

The black, Bosnian, and Asian members of my community all feel the need to arm themselves because they no longer believe in the police force that is supposed to protect them.

And even though I'll never understand fully, I understand. We will continue to be a divided nation for the next four years.

For everyone that has posted about the cry-baby libtards and said, "Welcome to how 2008 was for me" I don't think you are understanding what the Trump presidency actually means to these people. (Also, in 2008, Republicans still controlled many parts of the government)

My wife is constantly dealing with men talking down to her, assuming she knows nothing about men things like cars, assuming she is draped in pink dresses while she cooks dinner for her man. It happens constantly. In the grocery store, at work, and even our neighbor refuses to talk to her about anything and instead will give her messages to give to me.

My Pakistani friend is called terrorist weekly. He can't go out for a drink without someone making a terrible joke about how he is probably the one with a bomb strapped to him. He's working twice as hard to hold the same jobs that half as talented peers hold.

My gay friends fear bringing their long term, adult consenting, significant others around their families because of the off-hand comments about those "liberal faggots" from their uncles.

Most people that voted for Trump are not racist or misogynistic. But, Trump getting voted in is affirmation that they would rather this person who is absolutely racist and misogynistic be president, rather than Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein.

These people I'm talking about essentially have seen half of their country say, "I care about getting rid of Obamacare more than I care about your equality." It's lonely, isolating, and depressing to wake up every day and feel like you country doesn't want you.

I try to envision Obama saying all white males are rapists and they should be registered and possibly deported back to Germany / Britain. And then envisioning people cheering him getting into office.

It would be very hard to get out of bed in the morning.

So I understand friends. I understand why you wake up pissed off daily. You've worked hard for the American dream and it was pulled farther away from you with this election.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Post Election Reactions - It's a long one

This morning I woke up to emails from friends in Britain sympathizing with me. They warned of hate crimes they saw after Brexit because actual racist people saw this as affirmation that their country hated foreigners. They felt they could act out. My friends still mourn the loss of their country's personality. 

A message came from Axel in Germany telling Sal and I that we could come live in his apartment to escape the wave of conflicting ideals in America and that most of Germany is terrified of a Trump presidency. 

A co-worker from Canada IM'ed me this morning, quipping that their immigration site went down from the amount of people wanting to see what it took, but that we should seriously consider moving to Canada because they have good beer, better hockey, and awesome cities. 

I'm sure Americans all over heard similar stories from foreign friends. Back in May, CNN searched for countries openly endorsing a Trump presidency. Time Magazine found that Trump has alienated much of Europe. They found the likes of Sri Lanka, China, Russia, Zimbabwe were among the countries where Trump was popular and literally the rest of the world didn't want him to come to power.

I'd love to join the droves of people that always say, "I'm heading to Canada." But that's not the answer. 

After seeing Missouri almost completely voted against everything that I did, I thought, maybe Sal and I pick up our bags and move to a more moderate or blue state. 

But I love my country and my city. (I hate my state) Me leaving doesn't solve anything. It just takes another voice away from what is now the opposition voice. 

I was never going to be 100% happy as no one should be with who our leaders are. There should be some ideal you don't agree with. Blindly following a party is a terrible way to run a political system.

I have socialist tendencies that I know are a pipe dream that can never exist. I'd love to have a nationalized health service, free or reduced higher education costs, gay marriage, easy access to women's services, real work toward solving oncoming global disasters such as global warming, limited resources, exploding populations. 

As someone that knows what it's like to pay 60% of your salary to medical bills and student loans, I would gladly pay 30% in taxes to pay for higher education and have a nationalized health service. 

Is it because I support all of that? Not necessarily, but I do think as long as what you're doing doesn't affect me, I shouldn't tell you not to do it. 

Breaking it down poll by poll

President Trump vs Clinton vs Johnson vs Stein

This was a tough one to swallow. As I said before, we had some terrible candidates to choose from. 

I had hoped for a couple things. 

The third parties would get enough votes to be taken seriously next election. They did not. 

Clinton would win if for no other reason than we stay the course for now. The past 8 years have been constantly getting better for Sal and I. We've been able to get a house, we've been promoted and given raises, many of our friends have gotten married and bought houses, we have gay friends that feel comfortable coming out, women have made great strides in equality in the workplace. 

It was a huge positive swing from where we were, 25 and scared of our future at the end of Bush's presidency.

It's not fair to break down Trump supporters as racist and sexist. I know most of them are not. A lot of votes weren't pro-Trump, they were anti-Hillary.

There are a lot of people in the rust belt that have seen factories leave their small towns for Mexico and China. They grasp at this version of America where they have a fair chance at a living wage, wave American flags along parade routes, and know their neighbors. Instead, they feel stuck in these small towns that are dying because industry left. 

But I did hope Trump would shake the foundation of the Republican party. I was hoping long time supporters would take a good long look at what it had become. 

I had hoped that Evangelicals would see Trump as a walking character of vice and someone who doesn't appreciate the sanctity of marriage. He's a man that's been divorced multiple times, has openly admitted to adulterous activity, and encouraged former wife Marla Maples to get an abortion. He's the embodiment of greed, lust, gluttony, pride, and wrath. 

I had hoped the moderate Republicans would be repulsed by his anti-semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican rhetoric. They'd look at his economic policies and realize the deficit he would bring if unchallenged to do what he pleased. They would call for their party to reign it in a bit.  

But here we are. The popular vote was barely skewed in Clinton's favor, but the electoral college system put Trump in power. It's a system that we know the rules for and try to play to it. And this time, Trump won. 

Democrats now have to look in the mirror and figure out how they were beaten by a guy that was barely supported by his own party. They have to figure out if it was worth skewing the primary for Hillary.

Sal came barreling up the stairs to wake me up at 2 am when they announced it, frantic and almost in tears. All the progress we thought we were making. All of the hope and the things we loved about the Obama presidency, all of it is being handed to Trump. 

Not only is it being handed to Trump, but unless his party challenges him, he has almost no opposition. There's not a Republican President, Senate, House, Governor majority, State Senate, and State House and probably Supreme Court. 

This is not something to celebrate. No party should ever gain that much power. It disrupts all of our checks and balances. 

US Senator - Kander vs Blunt

Kander was sort of a dream Democratic candidate. He was moderate, good looking, served in the military, and was taking on a lame duck when Missouri could use some change. Missouri has been in a terrible financial situation, rank 32nd in education, and got a C- in our transportation and infrastructure

I thought this would be where we saw the most likely change. But it not to be. 

Governor - Koster vs Greitens

I didn't really have anything to say about Koster. I was picking him because Greitens and his supporters just seemed like terrible people. Every time I picked up the phone or read one of his flyers it was just very machismo and "you gonna try to take our guns pussy? I'll punch you in your face." So I voted Koster, mostly to be against Greitens. 

State Treasurer - Baker vs Schmidt

I actually voted Republican on this one. Schmidt had more experience and better economic policies. This is the only election my candidate won.

Tobacco Taxes

Both of these as written makes it sound like a good thing. Increase the tax on tobacco by a certain amount and it goes to schools and roads and such. 

But there's something shady here. Tobacco companies were the ones supporting these. Places like the American Cancer Association, American Lung Association, Cancer-Free Kids Association all opposed it. It's the way the amendment was written. It basically seems like this will be a way for Tobacco companies to get good press and more money. 

I voted against both of these. They both passed. 

Voter ID

On it's face, I support this one. But with the caveat that it's easier to get IDs. This amendment as written is going to create another hurdle for people to vote and the people it's going to affect the most are the poor and hourly workers. Ones that may not have a drivers license. They are going to see that they have to pay for a non-drivers license and get it updated every few years and basically say, "It's not worth it."

I voted against this measure.

Campaign contribution limits

This was a tough one for me. I went back and forth. I hate how much money plays into politics nowadays. I would love to strangle it out. 

But it also said it would cost the state a lot of money per year to enact this law. Money that if Missouri history holds true will come from roads and education. 

Ultimately I voted yes on this, hoping that the change it will force in future years may ultimately balance out the price. 

Sales Tax Limits

This was a hard one. Do we start taxing labor industries such as hair stylists, massage parlors, etc.? The income for those workers is already pretty low for something that costs so much. 

But, inevitably marijuana will be legal. (It's going to be everywhere in the next 10 years) This would also allow Missouri to tax marijuana growers and dealers and boost the state income by a ton. Income we are desperate for. 

I voted against this measure only because Missouri hasn't even entertained Medical marijuana, so figured we could revisit this in the future. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

How did we get here and can we just blow it up and start over?

It's less than a week before election 2016. Most people know who they are voting for... begrudgingly.

It was only 8 years ago when we were choosing between a young Barack Obama on a platform of hope and and John McCain, a man with tons of experience who ultimately would've done a great job as president.

And yet, we spewed hate. We thought we had it bad. We thought the other guy was the worst. We thought we had a lot of complain about.

Now we have four of the most unlikeable candidates in history. If one party put forth even a halfway decent candidate, they would've run away with the election by now. If Obama or Bush were running against their opposing candidate in this election, either would easily win with 70% of the vote.

But instead, everyone is using the phase, "lesser evil" a lot.

We have Jill Stein with the Green party who has in the past been against getting vaccinations. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian who can't seem to name a single world leader. Both of which have economic plans that economic think tanks believe would send our national debt skyrocketing beyond anything we've ever seen.

We have Hillary Clinton, one of the most experienced career politicians, first woman candidate for president, sworn enemy of the conservative right for decades. Despite her mostly favorable approval rating as Secretary of State, she now has a 57% disapproval rating.

Clinton has friends on Wall Street, the sworn enemy of the people since 2008. She takes donations from companies with less than smooth pasts. People love to shout about her emails, all while having the word Bengaazzzziiii on their lips just ready for the right moment to pounce.

We have Donald Trump, a presidential candidate joke from as early as the 80's. A man who also has a 57% disapproval rating.

People love to shout that his followers are racist reading jokes about "grabbing women by the pussy." (Sorry grandma, it's a direct quote that's not easy to soften up)

Clinton is being investigated by the FBI for her handling of emails. Trump is due in court on rape charges of a 13-year-old girl and racketeering charges. This is the best we could come up with?

We have accusations of FBI directors using their power to change an election. We have physical violence threatened to votes. All while people are denying climate change when it's 86 degrees in November and a large group of people believe the Earth is flat.

Where did we go wrong? Why is there so much hate and divisiveness in the world when we really need to come together because fresh water and fuel are starting to run low, robots are seriously going to replace 70% of us in the job force, we're on the verge of another world war, and the population continues to grow despite all of these warnings that we are dooming ourselves.

Ultimately, the losing party might win in the end. Either party losing this election is going to have to take a long hard look at themselves, figure out how they got here, and start changing things. The winning party may get a seat or two in the Supreme Court, but with these approval ratings right now, any decent candidate in 2020 is going to unseat the president.

I guess my only advice for this election is not to just vote party lines, but take the ISideWith quiz. It's non-biased and asks a ton of questions to help you figure out which candidate is actually for you.

And if you don't feel like going through that, maybe just write in Chewbacca. He's loyal, honest, and will rip the arms off of any country that tries to take us on.