Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I am tired of crying-An American Tale

I am tired of crying.

I am.  I have absolutely had it.  I have cried more frequently and more ferociously in the past 6 years than I have in my entire life, and my tears have fallen with a furious speed followed by the deepest sounds of despair I have ever known myself to emit; the sounds an animal makes when in intense pain.  I have been face down on my bed countless times, pounding my fists like a toddler while my eye makeup stains the sheets.  I have screamed into my pillow on my lunch hour until my throat was hoarse, and then I have calmly driven back to the office for the rest of the day.  I have clutched the shower curtain and sobbed loudly into the rushing water as a start to my day, my week, my month, and my year.  I have collapsed to the floor of my apartment in every room and watched as tears fell to the hardwood floor and filled the cracks of the floorboards.  I have ruined many white t-shirts.

I have passed cars on the highway and looked over to see people staring, probably wondering how I could possibly drive safe while talking to myself and sobbing hysterically.  I have stayed holed up in my apartment for the entire weekend, without taking a shower or opening the shades, crying for a full day and then starting again when I wake.  I have sat in silence and wept as I watched the television, read, or perused the internet.  I have cancelled plans with friends and family because I felt that they did not deserve to be bombarded by my need to rehash over and over again the fate of the country, often resolving in the shedding of a few tears.  I have gone through more tissues than a day care center does in an entire enrollment period.  I have stopped crying, only to start again almost immediately.

I should take a moment to warn you before you go any further that this diary contains no links or fancy pictures. I don't have a story to tell that is any more exciting or pertinent than anyone else.  I am relatively young, and my knowledge base of politics and world history is somewhat limited, but I am trying my best to further my education.  I don't pretend to be smarter than I am, and I know my place.  I contribute wherever and whenever I can, and I also sit back and take notes as others do it better than I could hope to.  I listen.  I watch.  And yes, I cry.

I was born in 1979 to a couple made up of a first generation father and a native NJ mother.  My dad moved to New Jersey from Poland at the age of 16, and juggled learning the language, graduating high school, and helping to support his mother by working 35 hours a week at a gas station.  My mother was Irish, and her family had lived in Northern NJ for decades.  My parents met before my father was drafted for the Vietnam War.  She waited for word from him, and upon his arrival home, they took a cross country trip in a trailer.  My father eventually asked her to marry him, and 2 years after a small ceremony in front of the justice of the peace I came into this world.  

I was the first born, and I was soon blessed with a sister and later a brother.  I watched as mom and dad worked hard to keep us as close as we all could be, although my mother and father both worked full time for as long as I can remember.  When I was old enough for day care, my mother had the brilliant idea to get a job as a secretary in a day care center so my sister and I could be close to her all day.  The fee was discounted, and we felt almost like we had a stay at home mom.  My mother then got a night job so she could get her college degree.  The birth of my brother changed her plans, and she eventually got a state job in a school system in a wealthy suburb of NJ, 20 minutes away from our home.  The benefits were wonderful for a mother of three married to a blue collar man without health insurance, and 17 years later, she is still there.  27 years later, my mom is still one of my best friends.

My father is my biggest inspiration.  My father was left alone in Poland for almost a full year, charged with maintaining a farm and finally selling the house, the barn, the property, and the livestock.  He worked hard his entire life to provide for his family, and even now at 60 years old, my father never turns down the option of overtime.  To save money, he fixes all of our cars in the dark after 12 hour workdays, and my mother has never once called a plumber, an electrician, or a carpenter.  My father had me get a job at age 16, and by the time I was 17 I had two jobs every single summer.  I learned how to save and spend wisely, and I was dependable and responsible.  My father has taught me more than my $60,000 all student loan education could ever hope to teach me.  My father is my rock.

My family has taught me values, and they have shown me the benefit of caring for the earth and its people. I appreciate nature, and I embrace all cultures and walks of life. But there have been dark days, as you all know. And no matter how strong you are, or how you were raised, or how much money you make, or how much stuff you have-the dark days we have seen under this administration deserve to be handled with tears.

On September 11, 2001, I was on my way into the city for my second day at a new job.  Seated on the bus, I watched outside as the cars drove by me and I listened to the other passengers' cell phone conversations.  I was reading Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins, and I was content.  Suddenly, someone on the bus pointed out that one of the towers was on fire.  The entire bus watched as a black dot careened into the other tower.  The bus driver turned on the radio, and the news of the Pentagon being hit was being broadcast.  We were the fourth bus to be turned away at the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel.  I went home, realized that the landlines as well as the cell phone lines were down, and I drove to see my parents at work.  I cried with my mom, and then I cried with my dad.  I cried for 4 weeks, feeling impotent and helpless.  I still cry.

I moved to Virginia less than a year later; I needed a fresh start.  I was living in a farmhouse without a toilet or running water for 8 months.  I didn't have heat or an air conditioner, but I had a television and a computer.  I watched as we went to war with Iraq.  I watched and listened as bombs flew and soldiers died.  I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more.  And yes-I still cry.

I moved to the city of Richmond, and I settled into a cozy apartment with my dog, my cat, and the love of my life.  I got intensely involved in the excitement of Howard Dean and his desire to change America.  I watched the news and read the paper, and I found friends and acquaintances with the same interests.  I followed the campaign and the primary, and yes; I cried when Howard Dean left the race.  

I eagerly worked for John Kerry, and I watched the RNC and the DNC with wide eyes and anticipation.  For moths, the 2004 election consumed me.  I happily worked Election Day, and I raced home to crack open the wine, boil the pasta, and watch as John Kerry took back the country.  By 12 am, I was drunk, hysterical, and calling out of work through email.  I cried so hard that even after a day off, my face was swollen.  I was despondent for weeks, and I barely left the apartment.  And of course, I do still cry over the fate of that day.

I watched the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina in disbelief, wondering if I had woken up in a country that wasn't America.  For months after the hurricanes, I searched through the internet for updates on the missing children, pets, and family members.  I cried in shock as more and more media outlets let the story die down; but there are still missing people, I screamed at the TV through my hysteria.  I cried, and I screamed, and I pounded my fists.  No one heard me, and yes-I do still cry.

Now I sit and I watch as more innocents die in more areas of the world, and I continue to cry.  I crumble tissues, and shake my head as I wonder aloud when things will improve.  I see footage from every place faced with hardship, and I cry.  I catch a speech by Al Gore on C-Span, begging the world to help nurture the environment back to life, and I cry.  I listen to people spew ignorance and hate in public and private places, and I go home later to cry over what I witnessed and heard.  I watch as people refuse to sign up to vote, and I shake my head as they ignore political activism and claim that the blah blah blah county fair/public event is no place for political action.  I cry for their lack of interest in our country's political journey.  I don't doubt for a minute that this administration will continue to be the source for my tissue stockpile.

Although living the life I live and surrounding myself with a passion for politics has turned me into a sniveling mess, I will continue to immerse myself in the field.  Why?  Well, because someone has to.  America is in dire need of answers to many questions, and I cannot stand by and pretend that everything is wonderful, peachy-keen, hunky-dory, the cat's meow.  I will continue to learn, I will continue to fight, and yes-I will continue to cry.

This is a rant; I have probably lost many of you along the way.  I write this because it is an American Tale; it is my American Tale.  I was born here, raised here, I went to school here, and I work here.  My opinion and my feelings are as important as every one else's, but lately it doesn't seem like it.  My tears are falling, and my country doesn't acknowledge it. I wonder through my tears when the day will come that my voice will be heard. I wonder when someone will notice those Americans barely getting by and shedding tears the entire way.  

I wonder when things will improve, and as they don't, I shuffle to my bed, curl up with my dog, and I weep for my country-again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm tired of crying over a selfish lover.
ok, now i feel dumb...

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Jones said...

very beautiful. more American's should be like you.

12:10 AM  

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