I’ve been a social liberal from the time I became aware of politics, and I feel the tide in me turning. Sometimes, I hear myself saying things that I’m not sure I believe, things that are so far-fetched from my usual extremist liberalism that I’m forced to do a double take and wonder if it’s really my voice that I’m hearing. A liberal arts education isn’t necessary when you’re upper class. Or fuck those countries going through natural disasters; we’ve helped a lot, now we should concentrate on our own problems. Or affirmative action is unjust and discriminatory.
That last one, I’ve been conflicted about since my report on affirmative action in my People, Power & Politics class seven years ago. The rest, though, ring pretty true to me. My background as a tree-hugging, public interest research group board director and unyielding advocate/activist for minority/female empowerment throws these statements into the land of “Are You Serious?” I mean, it’s me we’re talking about here. The woman who has tirelessly campaigned for women’s rights and against injustices toward women; the woman who made it a point to seek opportunities to teach disadvantaged youths because I (still) firmly believe that they need and deserve help reaching their goals; the woman who, for crying out loud, wrote an article five years ago called “Why You’re Evil if You’re a Social Conservative”!
My premise for that article was that conservatives are haves who see the world as “us” and “them”; this leads the have-nots to have less, and that’s just plain wrong. Now, I’m starting to wonder what’s really wrong about seeing the world as “us” vs. “them”, and whether or not my previous stance was caused solely by virtue of my lower class. As a single mom who has plans on transcending her middle class upbringing, I am torn. I feel the need to horde as many resources as possible for my son and I, and yet I know that doing so is somewhat selfish. “Do what you need to do to take care of you and yours,” my friends tell me me. I’m inclined to agree.
I started writing this post about a month ago, when my life was on an upswing. I thought I had a reliable and trustworthy boyfriend; I thought the health of my loved ones was indisputably well; and I thought I was only a few weeks away from finishing my first semester of nursing school on the Dean’s List. I saw only rainbows and butterflies, and got rather uppity in my outlook. I’m not gonna lie; this happens from time to time. Life throws me a bone and I act like I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and a diaper full of brightly-colored daisies. When I get that way, when I feel privileged, I’m more prone to siding with “the man” than with the “little guy”. (I have a feeling this pseudo-elitist streak comes from my dad, but that’s another post altogether.)
Now my world has come crashing down, and my perspective is somewhat different. Although I’m not quite ready to get into specifics, suffice it to say that it appears as though Rob wasn’t the man I thought he was; my mom might be really sick; and not only have my grades faltered, but they may not matter, seeing as I’m thisclose to having to start from square one at my current school (it’s a long story, which I’ll get into when I talk about my problems with Rob). Looking up from the bottom of Mt. Olympus, it’s clear that I never belonged at its peak in the first place.
Admittedly, my first reaction to all of this was to spark up some bud and drown myself in a haze while the nanny took care of Riley. But this is the Philippines, and I could be sentenced to death for smoking weed. So instead I had my fill of White Castle and Black Bat (which thankfully equaled 1 tumbler and half a stoge) on the balcony as I watched the sun set, the sparrows (or swallows?) whip their wings, and my tears recede into my lacrymal ducts (SEE! I did learn something in anatomy & physiology class!).
My brother, perhaps sensing that I was in need of a lot of love, brought Riley to me and said, “He wants to play with you.”
This, coming from my brother aka Riley’s favorite person in the house, made me skeptical. “Me? How do you know he wants to play with me?” I asked.
“He doesn’t want to play with me or Cecil,” my brother replied matter-of-factly as he placed my baby in my arms.
Despite all of the gripes I have about my brother, I will always love him for lying to me last night.
I had a conversation with Jess a while ago about education, which is where the initial excerpt came from. In response to that conversation, and because I wasn’t able to put into proper words my complete feelings, I wrote a lengthy essay on the subject of liberal arts education and its place in higher education, which I was going to post here. I know I should talk about my breakup, where it came from and why it happened, but I just can’t bring myself to dive into those feelings right now.
Still, I feel the need to continue blogging, even though I’m not quite ready to share the big things that are happening in my life. I feel like I might be silenced altogether if I back away now. But all of my words feel trite. All of my feelings lap at only the surface of what I’m going through. Even though I give hints and peeks into the swirling chaos of my emotions, I just can’t commit to the kind of no-holds-barred access I usually give via blogging. I feel so many emotions right now, and the fact that most of them are positive (minus the ones about my mom’s health) throws me for a loop. I can’t quite put my finger on anything that feels remotely tangible, or remotely real to me. Just Riley.