Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pernicious Illusions

For the last week the topic of conversation out here in rl has been John McCain's pick of Palin for Vice-President. I think if there is a better indication that people are bored with Barak Obama, it's that after his big moment in the Democratic National Convention, more people are talking about what it means that the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee has a Down's Syndrome child, and a pregnant daughter, unmarried, 17 year old daughter.

It's about well, celebrity. Which means it is about nothing. Or maybe Nothing.

That huge Nothing which is at the center of people's lives, and where they need, somehow, some kind of permission to talk about the obvious comings and goings of life. People have sex, pregnancies occur, and from these come children. Sometimes the parents have it together before, sometimes. Well. Not.

I remember a day in my dorm room in undergraduate, my room mate confessed she had just found out a shattering secret. She was half way to tears.

Her parents weren't married when she was conceived.

I looked at her. I think my eyes through my glasses must have been very serious. But inside. I didn't get it. I really didn't get it. But then snap, I did. Here we were, two little miss perfects, and one of us had found out that her parents weren't quite. We were in that room, in that particular college, precisely because we'd always been on the straight and narrow. Papers? Fresh off a laser printer. Homework? Ditto. Exams? Aced, with perfect penmanship on the essays and neatly filled in black circles. Desk? Clean. Shoes? Shiny.

If there was a rule, we didn't just follow it, we exemplified it. The two of us had joked early in our time together how often teachers had pointed in our direction and said "Now if just like..." We were the just like dorm room mates. Whose dorm room was orderly and spotless. Well until not long after this. She began drinking. She began inviting people who were not really friends to drink. I found her the day before Christmas break passed out on her bed, at 6am, last paper late, and due by 8 am. She'd finished her paper, it was in neat binder. With a beer stain. I woke her up and we made a scurrying search through the local 24 hour stores to find a new one. It was an awful swirling bluish thing. We bound it outside the profs office. Giggling. No I mean that nervous kind of "god are we bad." giggling. I was covering my mouth from embarrassment. She got marks off, first in her academic career, for spelling errors.

There was, in her case, no downward spiral. But from there on in she picked one class to get a "B" in, which in our college meant showing up and passing the exams, and opening up a great deal. Breaking a few rules no longer seemed like a dragon would uncoil from the ocean and drag her in.

And that's my thought on Palin. It's that her political persona is that the rules are unforgiving, in that way that American Christianism is. But her personal life is just all over the place. Her party sells the idea that if rules are iron clad and enforced with whatever means necessary, that they will stamp out perfectly little moppets. Her reality is that she's got a family and a life.

If feminism means anything, it is that we should be able to choose our lives, and live them. That's really all we are asking for. The ability to choose our lives, and live them. Palin has chosen her life. She wants a big familiy and a celebrity politics career. She's been willing to do some nasty things to get there I am sure. You don't go from fixing domestic disturbance complaints in a city that is the butt of jokes... you know like: God you are going to be lucky to get into Nome College as an ice sculpture major after this... to being on the Vice-Presidential ticket without taking big bucks from some bad people. That's her life. She should live her life. But it shouldn't be that you have to come from a family that basically runs your small town to be able to do it. And you shouldn't tell other people to follow rules you don't, in order to duplicate your choices. Palin's life his her life. I wish she'd stop trying to legislate it to be my life.

I'm not interested living in a freezer and having five kids, while emptying my brain of everything beautiful and noble. kk I confess, I know more about eye shadow, base, lip gloss and so on that perhaps is healthy for a human brain. She was a beauty queen, I was on stage. I know what that means, I know how hard she had to work.

But it seems that she doesn't know what it is like to live outside the bubble of being favored. Her whole career is bouncing from one being groomed to another. And while she tells everyone, both politically and otherwise, to follow the rules, she takes free passes for her self. She fires people for political reasons. She stands next to a Senator under indictment, after running on being clean government. She's really popular in a state for cutting taxes... and grabbing ear marks. Other people, always pay, Sarah Palin's, dinner check.

And that's what I resent. There are rules that Sarah wants for us, and there are the rules that Sarah wants for herself, and they aren't the same rules. There is Sarah Palin wanting to live her own life. And there is Sarah Palin not wanting me to live mine. Sarah Palin should live her own life. She should not get a chance to force me to live her life. Or more honestly, the life that she would have lived if she had followed all the rules.

My room mate, crying so long ago about being "a bastard daughter," taught me how destructive these pernicious illusions are.


  1. A pleasure, as usual. And here is my favorite source on Ms. Palin:

  2. Personally, I don't think it's about boredom with Barack Obama. I do think we are subject to the whims of the news cycle and, hmmm, this has been such* a soap opera.