a pall

It hangs. Quiet yet unnerving by it’s very presence. It has been gathering since before the election. Now, post-election, it sits thick and palpable. There have been palls before. I recall the one that hung after Reagan was shot and when the space shuttle exploded. It could be argued that the pall that gripped the world with the tragedy of 9/11 still hangs a bit… a good 15 years after the fact. The first I …

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and then the morning arrived…

image from http://http://uk.pcmag.com

image from http://uk.pcmag.com

… to a great gnashing of teeth, the pulling of hair, the tearing of garments and mounds of mournful wailing. This was soon followed by finger pointing and the start of the blame game. At least, that is what greeted me on Facebook this morning. I suspect this will go on for the next several more weeks.

I’m not making light of it… believe me. I totally understand the despair felt by this segment of the citizenry. But please remember this also happened 8 years ago with a different segment of the population. I only know this because I have friends on pretty much all sides of the political spectrum… it’s a perk of being an independent. That’s perspective, eh?

The winning candidate was not one I would have chosen either for very many reasons that would be moot to go into now. I can also say that for a fact, he wasn’t the choice of many friends who sway to his side of the aisle either. I also have friends who did vote for him but I chose not to hold it against them… because it was their right to vote for whomever they chose – that’s democracy.

At this point I realize some of you reading this might be entertaining the slight urge to smear runny dog-shit on my face the next time you see me. I urge you to read on… at least before acting on that.

You see, I first arrived in this land while the 1980 election cycle was playing out. I’ve lived through five different presidential administrations. I thought some were better than others and mistakes were made by each and every one.

In that time, I have observed:

  • That political discourse has gone from “a gentleman’s disagreement” to “hateful vitriol” from both sides of the aisle. And when the subject is broached in conversation, both sides of supporters will fiercely claim. “They started it first!” or “Ours is not as bad as theirs!” Really?!
  • That political divisions have also devolved into the ugly side of team sports mentality where winning now means the annihilation via smears of one’s opponent instead of the sound excellence of the argument… which hopefully leads to a compromised solution to the issue. Is it any wonder very little gets accomplished?
  • That political engagement by the citizenry occurs mostly on social media via memes, insults, and various forms of “armchair activism”… none of which accomplishes any change in the real world. Sure, on occasion an issue will arise and gain popular momentum to spur on actual (boots on the ground) activism and even accomplish changes to the law of the land. My point being there is more armchair activism than actual engagement.

If it is one thing I know it is that the price for a democratic society is both vigilance and engagement. Yes, as a system it is messy, unwieldy and often times mind numbingly slow. There are more stops than starts, ebbs and flows… but that’s democracy… it is a process… and it is never ending.

Many have forgotten that fact which sadly seems to have led to a sense of instant entitlement. Perhaps the instant gratification from the speed afforded us by technology has had something to do with it… or perhaps it is living in a longer stretch of better times? I don’t know.

And on vigilance… many were surprised by the voting turnout by those who have felt disenfranchised for far too long. Have short memories made us forget the clues provided by the tea party or occupy movements not too long ago? I don’t know.

What I do know is this… it is a speech I would give during the first class of the school year when I was teaching:

“When I was growing up halfway around the world, I always heard about equality and opportunity in America. When I got here I learned that opportunity wasn’t handed to you – but you could create it for yourself. And on equality… the only time you really are equal is when you are in school. Every time you don’t do the work or sluff off you are making yourself less equal than someone who has. Knowledge provides you with more choices.”

It is something I still believe.

True, this election is very different because unlike the five administrations I lived through before, this individual has had no record of public service. Should be interesting to say the least.

In all the time I’ve been here (and as recently as last night) I have heard the phrase, “this great American experiment” bandied about. I think we can all agree (and if those who voted him are to be honest with themselves) this experiment is about to get a rigorous workout.

There has been a lot of fear and projection of what may lie ahead. Let’s see how and if the system holds together.

cha cha cha

That was a private joke my Dad and I shared. I think I was ten or so when it first emerged. Like most private jokes, it didn’t make much sense to anyone else but us. It happened at mass one nondescript Sunday when he caught me smiling in  the middle of a call and response section between the priest and the congregation. Then, during a sung prayer I was struggling to restrain the guffaws that …

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we shared a birthday

In fact, I’m pretty sure this picture by Cynthia Cooper was taken when we were out celebrating several years ago. We met in college. Both of us ensconced in the theatre department where we did shows together. We even shared the stage at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington DC for ACTF in a production of “The Taming of the Shrew” – he played “Petruchio” and I “Gremio”. Over the years we would …

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and then we say, “but… “

Over the last few years I have become acutely aware that my generation has reached the stage when we are not only burying our parents but also each other. This is neither good nor bad… it just is. Death is a fact of life. The older we get, the more prevalent the occurrence. The younger years of immortality delusion has faded. Replaced soberly by the knowledge that any meet up with a member of my …

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buying to use… and don’t

So, you’re rummaging through piles to find that one thing you’re sure you have. Along the way you run across at least three things you forgot you had. Fact is, those three items are still encased in their original packaging… along with the original sales slip… from (insert number here) years ago. You think to yourself, “Oh yeah… I got that at (insert store/location here) when I wanted to (insert flimsy reason here.)” You set …

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the curry alchemist

My grandmother and my 8 year old self walked through the bustling Pudu (wet) Market one morning. By any measure, this place was and will always be an assault on the senses. The hustle and bustle, the noise, the smells incoming from all directions. This was a “Granny visit” spanning 4 days. This also meant that I got to accompany her on shopping adventures… and today the destination was this market only a short bus …

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taste fix

The durian, rambutan and jackfruit (pictured in order above) re-entered my life last week… and happily so. They were acquired on a foray to check out the new Asia Supermarket that recently opened nearby. “Lucky me!”, I thought to myself as I plonked them into my shopping basket, barely containing my glee at the acquisition. Here were fruits that I grew up devouring back in Malaysia. Unusual fruits to the western palate, to say the …

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