Illusions

I wish we didnt have so many screens. Or any screens. I think its making everyone depressed. Or maybe its just me. I want to go back to the forest. To sleep under the pines and feel the wind pass over my face. Now its all walls and ceilings. They are meant to keep us in. To separate civility from chaos. It makes us forget what we are. Be wary of the illusion. The ducks play in the water all day because they can.

IMG_5357.JPG

Advertisements

Under Construction

I’m struggling.

I left New Zealand 27 days ago and now I’m staying in the spare bedroom at my Mom’s house in Virginia.

I made a desk from two saw horses and a door I found in her garage and I’m reading through my journals. I thought I was going to be able to write something from all of this. I wanted to write a book or a series of short stories but this is hard. There is too much. I can’t process this. My brain is weak and I can’t get the big picture. I want to smoke weed to help guide me, but I need to pass a pre-employment drug screen so I can get a menial job because I’m in America.

I’m not even close to when the good stuff started. When I left the hostel and started traveling with the Irish girls and the California girl and the guy from Uruguay and the Kiwi busker we picked up. We would camp out and play music and get dirty and swim in the rivers and eat cous cous and vegetables. But I’m not there yet. Baby steps. Crawl before you can walk, right, Chris?

I’m sorry I haven’t updated my blog in a long time but I’m working on it, OK? This is going to take some time. The word document I wrote from my final month in New Zealand, when I was hitch hiking and camping and communing with nature, is 65 pages single-spaced. Most of it is word vomiting but with a bit of refinement, I believe that vomit can be turned into gold. But I’m not even close to cracking into that document. I’m at the point right now where I start to read my journals and take notes and find themes and I end up with even more hand written notes and that is just making even more work to do and then I have to stand up and walk around the house and look in the fridge even though I’m not hungry and then I go back to my “desk” and I can’t control the demon inside of me that opens up Facebook and the Reddit and then I check my e-mail but nothing has changed.

IMG_2167.JPG

I know what I need to do, what I need to write and what I need to focus on but I don’t want to say it until it is done. I feel the compulsion to read everything I’ve written in chronological order and not just jump to the good parts because I don’t know what I will have missed. And then my guitars distract me and then my Mom gets home from work.

Meanwhile, I’m broke and I need to get a job so I can buy a car and move somewhere new because I don’t want to stay here.

At first I was hesitant about Virginia. Then I watched the Washington Nationals play baseball. It’s like nothing has changed. F.P. still says, “And there goes the no-hitter” at the first hit and Bob still says, “SEE, YOU, LATER!” when we get a home run. I sat down and watched my first game in two years and I felt a sense of belonging and community with my hometown. The team has barely changed. Life goes on. I can be happy here for the summer but this is a means to an end. The Drifter in me needs to stay on the move.

Don’t fret, loyal readers, Stories From A Drifter is still running. The resident Drifter is just working out this whole life thing and trying to live while also trying to re-live the past and show people what I have experienced. I have changed. I am different than I was two years ago. Even one year ago. My year in Australia revolved around working. My year in New Zealand was about learning and growing and being a soul rebel, soul adventurer, soul capturer. I’m here. I’m working on it. I promise (eek!) something good will come. But I can’t say when.

Everything was so easy in New Zealand. I had my rucksack on my back and my guitar in my hand and all I had to do was stick out my thumb and after a few minutes or a few hours I would summon a car. Some kind soul would give me teleportation, conversation and positive vibrations and then I would end up at the next campsite, pitch my tent, eat my oats and breathe the air. Constant high speed Internet, cable television and hot showers didn’t distract life in New Zealand. Life was simple over there. I was a wild animal. We all are.

Ahh, it feels good to write.

One Democracy, Please

He talks in his Democratic National Committee voice as if he still writes press releases for the Governor of New York.

“Our Candidate…” he keeps repeating, referring to Hillary Clinton.

“What about Bernie?” I ask.

He scoffs. He says he doesn’t have a chance. Hillary has the money and the establishment support.

My Dad has worked in politics, public and private sector, for over 25 years. In November, he came to New Zealand to visit me. The sandflies are nipping at our ankles as we drink beer and wine at a campsite in Marahau after hiking a portion of Abel Tasman track.

“But the only thing that matter is who gets the most votes,” I say. “We live in a democracy. It doesn’t matter who has the most money.”

His experience tells him otherwise.

My idealism and optimism in young Americans gives me confidence.

Bernie doesn’t exist in his mind. Just as he doesn’t exist in the minds of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the 359 superdelegates, according to the AP, already pledged to Hillary.

A few days before the Iowa Caucus, Serena and I are taking a luxury day away from the free campsite — where you have to bring your own toilet paper — to shower and use power, Internet and the kitchen at the Queenstown Holiday Park.

I’m devouring the New York Times. I try to explain what it all means and how Iowa is the first state to hold a primary, but it’s not a primary it’s a caucus and it makes no sense and Iowa is not a representative sample of America so why does it matter anyway.

Trump leads the polls amongst the Republicans. Hillary is ahead of Bernie by just a few points. I pull up Real Clear Politics and see that Hillary’s lead has been shrinking over the past week.

She doesn’t understand.

“So Bernie and Hillary are in the same party?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say.

“Do they like…” she can’t find the words.

“Work together?” I ask.

“Yeah,” she says.

“Not really. They have really different ideas,” I say.

She doesn’t understand.

She explains the party system In Ireland. If you vote for a politician you basically vote for their political party. She supports Sinn Fein, which just recently became a feasible political party and is overcoming its status as a terrorist group and IRA connections. It’s funny how the world is changing. With Justin Trudeau recently winning in Canada and Jeremy Corbyn winning in the UK

“Well there are only two political parties in America,” I say.

She is shocked.

As she should be. As we all should be.

New Zealand is where we met for the first time as equals. I am no longer the son who he kicked out of his house and he is no longer the father that I depend on. We are two free men talking and drinking and enjoying each other’s company.

“I like talking about this with you because I have ideas, but you have a lifetime of experience,” I say.

He tells me Obama lost all credibility in his first 18 months in office. He didn’t fight hard enough. Too many concessions to the Republicans who only had one word to say: No.

He says we need a new leader in the next few years. Obama destroyed the Democratic Party.

What he doesn’t understand is that the “new” leader we need is a 74-year-old socialist from Brooklyn.

Hillary says she will protect and continue Obama’s legacy.

Why?

What was Obama’s campaign all about? Change. Why would he want his predecessor to stop the change? I want us to go further. We can’t stay like this.

The United States of America is not a democracy.

When one is elected as President of the United States that should be taken as a referendum. Take the power and do something with it.

(President George W. Bush doesn’t count. He didn’t win the popular vote. And, wow, that brings me to another point. I have to distinguish which President Bush I am referring to. I don’t want to have to distinguish which President Clinton I am referring to. I don’t want dynasties in America. Two families shouldn’t be President for 24 plus years. Didn’t we, like, fight really hard to separate ourselves from Kings and Queens and ruling families?)

I don’t like the status quo. I want more change. Let’s keep going.

Why don’t we spend more money on education and health care than we do on “defense” which is code for pouring endless money into the wallets of private contractors who benefit from the military industrial complex? And I’m really tired of reading about drone strikes killing civilians.

I want money spent at home so Americans aren’t living in poverty. I don’t want money spent on the latest technology that kills people who have brown skin and live in deserts in the Middle East. Sorry, I mean protecting democracy around the world and keeping Americans safe. Silly me.

And it’s all in the name of fighting terrorism. Who is the terrorist in this scenario? The poor teenager who’s village was bombed and his family killed and then joins a group of “freedom fighters” who drive up in a pick-up truck and offer him a new life? Is he a terrorist? Or is the terrorist the most powerful country in the world that makes innocent people live in fear and if they die they are deemed enemy combatants because history is written by those who have power.

No more of this bullshit.

Hillary is a hawk. I want a dove. I want peace and prosperity for Americans.

Phew. Sorry about that. Where was I?

I can’t help thinking about the conversation I had with my father as I am hitting refresh on my laptop watching the Iowa Caucus results trickle in at the Queenstown Public Library.

Bernie didn’t win. Hillary has 49.9 percent to Bernie’s 49.6. Hillary didn’t win.

They both leave Iowa with the same number of delegates. Iowa is not a winner-takes-all state. What a strange system.

Now the establishment Democrats are scared. Even though it’s just Iowa, they see that Bernie has people power. The most important type of power in what is supposed to be a democracy.

I check Reddit and read about Iowans saying their precincts ran out of voter registration forms. New voters means Bernie wins. Young voters means Bernie wins.

From my years as a Political Science student, writing research papers and opinion columns for the school paper, reading news, watching news, working as a Congressional intern, a media watchdog intern, trade association intern, think tank communications temp, and working on the campaign of the Governor of Virginia, I’ve learned that enthusiasm determines elections.

Certain people — older, whiter, and more conservative — always vote. Other people — younger, darker, and more liberal — usually don’t vote.

Obama won his elections because young people and minorities were very enthusiastic about this intelligent and charismatic young black man who was running for President. He was different and exciting.

Right now in America, young people are excited about Bernie Sanders. They are excited because he has a lot of revolutionary ideas that will take America away from being owned by the moneyed interests and instead transform the country into a beautiful thing: A True Democracy.

That’s what socialism is. Democracy. It means people working together instead of competing against each other. In unchecked capitalism, there are winners — which we always hear about — but there are many more losers. We don’t talk about the losers.

How strange this must be to Australians who are required to vote or else face a fine.

The United States of America is not a democracy.

Republicans want to take us even further away from democracy. They call for voter ID laws and scream and yell baseless claims of voter fraud on their media outlets. And more furtively they disenfranchise voters via redistricting and gerrymandering.

Oh look. Ted Cruz won the Iowa Caucus. That doesn’t mean anything. He can’t win a general election. We have come too far. He wants to shut down the government. He wants to have a 10 percent flat tax rate and he wants to abolish the IRS and make everyone pay taxes on a postcard.

Wow, so simple!

Is it any surprise that people who don’t have a college education are more likely to support Ted Cruz? Of course uneducated people are going to vote for Ted Cruz. All they know is their own insulated existence and they don’t have the critical thinking abilities to filter out what Fox News and Rush Limbaugh spouts from their spitting, seething, hate filled lips.

When they hear a 10 percent flat tax rate they think they will save a few thousand dollars every year. But what they might not understand is that the top marginal tax rate used to be 94 percent in 1944 and then down to a comfortable 70 percent until 1981. After deductions the millionaires and billionaires would pay a much lower rate but that shows how much we have changed since Reagan began to deregulate and favor the rich.

If the super-rich pay a 10 percent tax rate, then United States of America would lose an incredible amount of revenue. We can’t just cut spending. America is people. Some people are poor. Some people can’t support themselves because the system is rigged.

I understand that a lot of people out there like Hillary and don’t appreciate this divisive Democratic Party that is similar to the debate between the Tea Party Republicans and Chamber of Commerce Republicans.

Yes, I read, An All-Caps Explosion of Feelings Regarding the Liberal Backlash Against Hillary Clinton, which several of my female Facebook friends have shared.

You say that Hillary has to be a part of the establishment because she’s a woman and she has no choice. I don’t care. This isn’t about Hillary. I don’t care about Hillary or your feelings, even if you are yelling.

I care about America. I care about the future of America and I know that Bernie Sanders has the ideas that will take us in the right direction.

I’m voting for the candidate who represents my beliefs. I don’t care how hard Hillary has worked to be here or how she has to act a certain way because she’s a woman. I agree with Bernie much, much more often than I agree with Hillary.

And I really don’t give a fuck about what the media and the establishment tells us is possible.

Let us decide what is possible. Let young people decide what is possible. Let the voters decide what is possible.

This is a democracy, right?

Real Life

oh my god

why did you send it to me

because I want to hike the appalachian trail

 yes, I would love to do it one day

i want to do it after graduation. what do you think about that?

maybe

 why

thats a big expedition

yea what else are you gonna do with your life?

i mean get a job that starts 2 months after i graduate

thats boring, taking a break from real life is healthy

what job do you want?

teaching duh, what the fuck do you think im going to school for

hahha i know

that job can wait though

its not going anywhere

i want to live

ill live when i have the money to live or the will not to care

for now

i care

so

im going to play to that

ok

i think it would be a great way to open the final chakra

that ties you to worldly possessions

the way i see it

if you start a job right after college

you probably wont have a chance to do something like this ever again

because once you start a job, you get locked down

 yes

so

why not do it right after graduation

debt?

money?

because i have a fucking student loan to pay off now

another example of America turning us into zombies

slaves

no choice but to keep grinding

sometimes i tire of your declarations

i know

sometimes

talking with you is exhausting

 

[ https://bitchgetablog.wordpress.com/ ]

Sick and Tired

I’ve never known someone who was a victim of an American mass shooting until today.

I turned on Radio New Zealand this morning just in time for the headlines. I was shocked to hear that two TV journalists were murdered during a live interview in my home state of Virginia. As the morning dragged on, I heard the name of one of the victims, Alison Parker. A wave of sadness washed over me.

Alison Parker was a news editor for the James Madison University newspaper, The Breeze. She was the first news editor I worked with.

It’s not like I had a close relationship with Alison — I never really put any effort into building relationships or being friendly when I was in college — but I remember her always being bubbly and cheerful during the weekly news writers meetings. She was driven and motivated.

And now she’s gone.

I’m sick and tired of the constant stream of tragic shootings. I’m not sure if Americans know this, but our mass shootings are the one piece of news that are ALWAYS broadcasted throughout the world.

On my flight from Sydney to Auckland there was one television broadcast for the entire flight, instead of individual monitors. The first program was SKY News. The first story was the mass shooting of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

This was on June 19, the exact day that Vester Lee Flanagan claimed he put down a deposit for a gun in reaction to that shooting. I wonder how many crazed attackers this shooting has inspired. It was live on air, giving Flanagan a new level of infamy for others to strive for.

I’m fucking embarrassed to be an American. We are the only developed country in the world that has this problem. Alison Parker was an amazing person and journalist. Now she’s gone because American politicians are afraid of upsetting the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby. She’s gone because American politicians are more interested in tax cuts for the wealthy “job creators” than providing adequate funding for mental health facilities.

As bad as it sounds, this is the first shooting that has made me feel genuine sadness. Americans have become desensitized to mass shootings, but this one is different for me. I’ve talked to her and emailed her. She edited my news reporting on the JMU governing board. She was murdered on live television.

Alison Parker and Aaron Ward, Rest in Peace.