Winter is coming…

It has been three months to the day since my last blog post – the longest gap I’ve ever taken since I started writing it over four years ago. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say – I’ve had PLENTY to say, perhaps too much. And so I’ve been biding my time as I try to form coherent thoughts.

I have been beyond upset and outraged at the dumpster fire that America has become in only three weeks. What Trump has done so far does not affect me personally, but so what? I think that is what saddens me most – the complete lack of empathy from so many people. As long as their precious lives are not impacted, then you know, whatever.

But that’s not how I roll.

I don’t care if it doesn’t directly impact me. If it’s wrong, if people are being oppressed, if rights are being trampled, if laws are being broken, I am sure as hell going to say something. Shake your heads and laugh at me, call me a “snowflake” or a “libtard”, tell me I should get over it all you want – doesn’t matter. I truly don’t understand how so many people can just look the other way right now. Caring about others doesn’t make me a snowflake, it makes me a good person.

I don’t have any kids and I’m not a teacher, yet I worked tirelessly against Betsy DeVos’ confirmation. Because I care about all children and teachers whether I know them or not. And I saw many of my teacher friends get really involved and engaged in the effort to oppose DeVos.

But what about the issues that don’t directly affect your job? Will those same people, for instance, oppose the dismantling of the ACA because without it people like me (a freelancer with pre-existing conditions) will have no options for affordable health insurance. Teachers have health insurance and repealing the ACA won’t have a huge impact on you  – so, will you just sit back and say “not my problem” or will you remain engaged? I fought for you, will you fight for me?  I’ll be very interested to see how that plays out.

I am truly heartened by the expat community here in Europe who are actively engaged, despite the miles between them and their home country. We are speaking up and speaking out. We are making phone calls, and donating money and marching. And even though we do not live in the United States anymore, WE VOTE!

Yesterday, one of my Paris friends added me to newly formed Facebook group called “The Resistance Abroad”. Amazing! Just because we are far away, does not mean that we aren’t ready to fight, that we won’t remain engaged and informed and action-oriented – that we won’t do whatever it takes to make a difference and take our country (yes, it still is our country) back.

Call us snowflakes if you like, but, as I saw in a meme recently, know this:

WINTER IS COMING.

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Apocalypse Now…

Okay, maybe “Apocalypse Now” is overstating the situation a bit, but not by much. And also – FUCK!

The thoughts have been swirling around my head at the speed of light since Tuesday night and breaking them down into cohesive, cogent sentences is proving illusive. But “FUCK!” pretty much covers it, I think.

I was going to do a long, detailed post about everything that is wrong about what happened on Tuesday, but I realize, with most of my readers at least, I am preaching to the choir and those facts don’t need to be reiterated here when others have written far more eloquently about them.

But I do still have a few things to say, however incoherently…

First off, I am so effing lucky to be an expat. Later today, I get to fly back to Ireland – a country that has its own problems, sure (repeal the 8th!) but at least they didn’t elect a Cheetoh as leader of the free world.

I also realize that I am witnessing these events from a place of privilege. I’m a straight, highly educated, white, upper middle class woman. Okay, that last one is a tick against me but still, if I am scared what must other, more marginalized folks, be feeling right now? I want to give them all a hug. I want to tell them that it’s all going to be okay – even if I have serious doubts about that.

To quote my BFF-in-my-own-mind Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.” So…

Muslims – I love you.

LGBTQ people– I love you.

Immigrants – I love you.

Women – I love you.

People of color – I love you.

Hispanic people – I love you.

Poor people – I love you.

And I will do whatever I can to fight for you during what I fear is going to be a very dark time.

You (we) are the ones who can make America great again.

Not Donald Trump.

Expat or Immigrant?

A couple days ago I read an article about the difference between an expat and an immigrant and it really got me thinking. I wrote a post three years ago about the immigrant experience versus the expat experience, inspired by my visit to the Titanic Museum in Belfast but that was more about the immigrant experience in the time of my grandparents – before the advent of the the internet and all its connectivity.

As mentioned in my previous post and in the online article, an expatriate is defined as “a person who lives outside their native country” while an immigrant is defined as “a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.” Not much of a difference. But even historically, expats have had positive qualities attributed to them while immigrants were labeled as uneducated, undesirable and worse.

And now today, in the age of Brexit and that human cantaloupe running for President of the United States, it feels like more than ever, “immigrant” is a four-letter word. I, as an expat, have been told I am brave, that I should be commended for pursuing my dreams, that any country would be lucky to have me. While immigrants from places like Mexico, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Poland are accused of being criminals and terrorists, and assumed to be uneducated, lazy and looking for a handout.

Why am I considered different? I guess because I’m a white, highly educated, professional who comes from an upper middle class family in a country not considered “undesirable”.

Let’s break that down, shall we?

  • I’m white – so the eff what? Skin color is not an indicator of character. I know lots of caucasians who are disgusting excuses for human beings, hiding behind the privilege that their skin pigment affords them.
  • Highly educated – yes, I am. I’m very lucky. And you know what? A large percentage of these immigrants everyone is so scared of are more educated than I am. Doctors, engineers, professors and the like are among those fleeing the war in Syria. And those from countries like Afghanistan, where education is harder to come by? Something tells me they that the education they get in their new country is not going to be wasted, but appreciated.
  • Professional – yeah, whatever. I make cartoons, big deal.
  • Upper Middle Class – here I am, lucky again that I wasn’t born into poverty. Which means that my parents could afford to get me a good education, which made me the professional I am today. Domino effect, anyone?
  • My Country – ugh. That sorry excuse for an Oompa Loompa is making it really hard to be proud of where I come from. America is losing its stance in the world, and honestly, I’m not entirely sure this is still a positive.

I’m not quite certain what my point is with all of this and I apologize if this post is less coherent than usual. I guess I’m just so troubled by the images I see of the suffering of these immigrants, not to mention the words and actions of those filled with nothing but hate and racism toward fellow human beings, that I needed to say something.

I feel the need to acknowledge that I am living the expat experience, not the immigrant experience and I am aware of the privilege, deserved or otherwise, that it gives me.

The World Turned Upside Down…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard that the UK has voted to leave the EU. To say I am gutted is an understatement. I am also so angry that I can barely form coherent thoughts.  I therefore want to apologize ahead of time for what will most likely be an inarticulate, curse-laden post. You have been warned.

So, the Brexit. Let me try to summarize how I am feeling:

  • First of all, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. I’m mean seriously – fuck.
  • A majority of people over the age of 65 voted to leave. To which I say, fuck you old people. You’ve just royally screwed the younger generations because you want to return to the good old days. Today’s youth are the ones who are going to have to actually live with the decision you made. The prospects for those grandkids you dote over just got decidedly more dismal. Well done.
  • However, turn-out in areas with a higher percentage of young people was lower than in other areas. So, to those 18-24 year olds who didn’t feel the need to vote – this is what you get. If you didn’t vote, you have no one to blame but yourself.
  • We are now seeing all over the TV and internet news people with “bregret” (can we seriously stop with the cutesy names?) – those who didn’t actually realize what a leave vote would mean for them and their country but voted to leave anyway. For fuck’s sake, do your homework people.
  • And then there are the protest voters. Those who voted to leave as a protest because they didn’t think that enough people would vote leave for it to actually win. Seriously?! YOUR VOTE COUNTS! To all those “Bernie or Bust” people out there, please learn from this. A protest vote from you could very well be the reason President Trump gets sworn in next January.
  • The British Pound, not surprisingly, has tanked. I am currently paid in sterling and in the past two days have suffered a €10,000 cut in my salary. Same job, same responsibilities, same hours, A LOT less money. Fuck you very much.
  • The amount of racism and bigotry that I have seen displayed since Thursday is truly astonishing, and scary. This vote was about xenophobia more than anything and that makes me want to weep.
  • I am an immigrant. And to those who say to me “Well, we don’t mean you when we say we want to keep the foreigners out”, I say “Fuck you.”  I am an immigrant. I am a foreigner. If you don’t want “them”, you don’t want me.
  • I once thought I would like to give living in the UK a try. Not anymore. Why would I want to live in a place that is going backwards? Sorry, London – we could have had a beautiful thing, but it’s not going to happen now. I’m holding out hope for Edinburgh though, as the one good thing to come of this debacle could be Scottish independence.
  • Donald Trump and Sarah Palin both rejoiced that the leave vote won. Need I say more?
  • We are now living in a post-factual world. The actual truth doesn’t appear to matter to many people any more. They hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. Seriously, when did FACT become a four letter word.
  • If this can happen in the UK, then Trump can win in the US. Come on, America – now is your chance to show the UK that, despite their fancy accents, you really are the smarter of the two. Don’t blow it.
  • Fuck.

Trump Change…

I arrived in Dublin in November 2012 – the day before the Presidential election to be exact. And I learned very quickly that asking someone who they voted for isn’t considered rude, as it is in America – it’s just making conversation. Not surprisingly, it was definitely a popular topic of conversation as soon as anyone heard my accent. Taxi drivers, hotel clerks, waiters – everyone was very interested in who this American had voted for. And I was happy enough to engage in the conversation. Being a staunch Obama supporter and knowing that the Irish generally feel quite positive about him, I didn’t think I was in danger of getting into any fierce political arguments.

Now another American Presidential election is upon us. And, here in Ireland, both friends and strangers alike are keen to talk to me about it again. But this time, instead of inquiring about who I am supporting they pretty much just want to know – WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?! The election has gone in a direction that no one predicted. The entire world seems to have been blind-sided – and you all know why.

Trump.

In much the same way non-Americans ask me to explain “why” each time there is a mass shooting back home, they now ask me to explain “why” each time Trump opens his stupid mouth and says something that, up until a few months ago, would have been unbelievable. And my answer is the same. I have no effing clue. I can no more explain why a scary number of Americans love Trump than I can explain why those same Americans love guns.

It has been very interesting (in the same way a car wreck is interesting) to watch the rise of Trump from a distance. Even six short months ago, it all seemed like a joke. Sure, Trump was running but there’s no way people could be stupid enough to believe his racist, sexist, mono-syllabic bullshit. Now, he is all but guaranteed to be the Republican nominee. WTF? This is scary. And not just for America, but for the world.

Because, whether the rest of the world likes it or not, the person who is President of the United States is a matter of importance and significance to everyone, not just Americans.

And Trump as President would be a scary, scary proposition for the entire world. This is the man who promises to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep all the rapists out. This is the man who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States. This is the man who advocates war crimes. And, oh yeah, he apparently has a big penis.

Please do not ask this expat to explain what is going on in her country because she can’t. I have no words of explanation for this. I cannot begin to understand how this has happened. Or what could happen.

I cannot even fathom an America where Donald Trump is President. I have no idea what that America would be, but it certainly would no longer be my America.