Misfit Toys: A Plot Hole

We started playing Christmas music at the store recently. Though it feels a bit early, the music has been welcomed since it replaced the crappy eurohouse elevator music combo that usually plays. So I’ve been greatful to have music I … Continue reading

Art Vibes

Since the recent developments in the political climate, I’ve found myself reducing my social network use. Not at all surprising, because I think most of us have since all the arguments are circular, hateful, and certainly overdone. If you haven’t … Continue reading

To Be American

I was recently remenicing about some past travels abroad and thinking a great deal about the election (as has everyone of course, since it’s practically being force fed to us by every media outlet). I recalled when I was in London, England for a short time. It was for nine days with my aunt, who had once lived there and wanted to share the experience with me. I soaked in everything I could. Shocked by the amount of culture shock I experienced in such a short time. Missing the bits of my heart that I had left scattered in every museum, taxi, and resturant and the little bits I had placed into the hands of those I had met so breifly, but wanted to keep close to me forever. 

In my short travel aboard I realized that there are a great deal of stereotypes about Americans. I had spent an evening at the bar of my hotel while my aunt rested and during that time I had realized (since the bartender had been kind to point it out) I was being made fun of by some French girls for wearing jeans in a five star hotel. I thought nothing of it. Mostly because I grew up in little rural USA where jeans were kind of a go-to attire for everywhere…including the bar. 

“Typical American.” They had uttered. 

I didn’t speak in response, mostly because I didn’t care that much. I was comfortable and it was nearly 11pm. They were lucky I hadn’t come out in PJs. Still, it makes me wonder what it means to be a “typical American.” What does that even mean? Is there really anyone who is actually “typical” and with what an odd personality I am, I can’t say that I’d even come close to being identified as “typical” by any stretch or corruption of the word. 

As I just came off spending a weekend at the Wayzgoose with others I realized the diversity of the nation I live in. It’s not usual for small town Wisconsin to have so many minorities and accents around, much less the combination of accent from citizens and international visitors alike. Still, the words “typical American” whispered in my ear with inquiry when I realized how many visitors were in fact foreign, and I wondered, out of curiosity, what they would define someone who is “typical American.” 

In my mind I envision an average Joe white male in his mid fifties. Probably a farmer or factory worker. Tired. A little gruff, but well meaningly so, and probably a little ignorant. Dissatisfied with the “way things are going” as technology and modernization replace some of his usual daily processes. Set in his ways. Loud and proud even when wrong. Stubborn. A little outdated in much of his thinking, and certainly a little prejudice. 

I don’t think of myself as “typical American.” I like to read. Think deeply about the things that surround my life. I like to expand my world and thinking. I befriend people who think in complete opposition to myself. I hate TV. I spend a lot of time researching random questions I ask myself. I suppose I google things a lot, but most of the world does that now too. I make art. I like steampunk stuff. I letterpress print every Thursday and often do freelance graphic design in my spare time. I go to church. I realize I’m ignorant, but I rely on feedback to help me better myself and the world I live in. I own a home. I have a job that sucks sometimes and doesn’t suck others. It pays bills. Perhaps that’s the typical part? But the rest of the world must be full of jobs that suck and bring dissatisfying results too? So what makes a “typical American” in a world that seems to have some pretty “typical” issues like poverty, health issues, personal issues and so on? What made my nationality so “typical” in the first place? 

I have no answer, other than my usual workdview that has lead me to believe that with all our differences, there is a great deal within humanity that makes us very much the same. Consistently inconsistent. Perfectly imperfect. A combination of redundancies and paradoxes. Constantly contradicting ourselves and repeating our mistakes in a bumbling whirlwind of emotions. Like lines on a page telling a story that would have too many bits and pieces, but still being conducted in words, and somehow still managing to be a story. 

Right to Vote

I couldn’t help but feel extremely prejudice afterward. Embarrassed with myself though I hadn’t even said or done anything, but it was all in my head buzzing around like a fly near a pile of shit, as are many of my embarrassing moments. Though, I felt that I should have known better about it. Like I should be better informed about that kind of situation. Like I ought to by some kind of social unimind that’s telapathically embedded into my already corrupted and defective brain. 

It was the Primaries. I had just walked out of the booth when I saw the group come in. As they sauntered in slowly, some in a daze and clearly not very present, and some very hyper asking lots of questions and seemingly not very interested in the present task, I felt myself tense up with anxiety. A million questions ran through my head as I wondered about it. Clearly, they were all special needs individuals. Clearly they were all American citizens, but as I walked away from the voting booth and to my car, I wondered if they were going to let them vote…like…all of them. 

I grew up with a mother who worked with special needs individuals. She was an educator and often worked with both children and adults. Most of he people she worked with were mentally disabled (not sure if that is the politically correct term, but at the time that’s what they were referred to as and that’s the term I grew up with), and only some were also physically disabled. I grew up around those kinds of people and interacted with them regularly. Of course as I grew older and built my own friendships I didn’t really have very many special needs friends, or at least, any that had severe mental disabilities. A few had physical disabilities, but most of them were fairly cognitive. Though, as I saw the group as I was leaving the primary election booth, I worried about their state of mind. I recalled some of the more severely mentally  handicapped individuals my mother taught. I suppose as American citizens they had the same right to vote as I did, but I wondered how that worked…and if there were some kind of limitations or if they got some kind of help with voting. Did the ballots looked different? Did someone come in the booth to help them? Or did they let the individuals “vote” without expecting them to actually have valid ballots?

Today I was speaking with one of the volunteers at the museum about voting. She said she had contacted a writer to encourage his readership to vote, and he had replied that he wouldn’t think of doing it, because he knew there were plenty of people who read his writing that had “no place voting based on ignorance alone” as he put it. I expressed to her how I had dealt with the thoughts and feelings of seeing the special needs individuals at the polling place. How I had wondered, in my own ignorance, how they were expected to vote. We briefly discussed possibilities that only a few had enough knowledge to know what’s going on and perhaps the caretakers couldn’t leave the others behind. We speculated perhaps it was the caretakers that were voting an not the rest of the group at all? Perhaps, they just let the severely handicapped ones try, without the deep expectation that they would have valid ballots? Whatever the case, it made me wonder a great deal about this election. What extra lengths an individual had to go through if they had a disability, like being blind, deaf, or had mental cognitivity issues? What effect would that have on the election if at all? Did those individuals I saw that day actually vote? Were there actually people out there, who didn’t have any place voting? Would someone who is of a mental disability of some kind qualify if severely so? 

Even more upsetting I worried about the ethics. Are there people out there being used for the specific (abusive) perpose of being a body that can vote? I suppose that kind of evil exists in the world. I suppose that people will often teach their sons and daughters to vote like them just to have another box checked for the candidate. Still, I can’t help but speculate and question the situation…and I certainly find myself distressed as I think about it. 

I don’t expect to have these questions answered. I realize this is an extremely touchy subject. I realize that most people don’t want to know about this kind of thing if it hasn’t touched their lives. All I know is this election is extremely controversial in and of its self, and that I saw something that left me with a great deal of emotions and made me realize my own personal ignorance. I don’t want anyone to be denied the right to vote, but at the same time, how do we deal with a public that clearly doesn’t have the cognitivity to vote?