American Dreams, Australian Dreamers

September 10, 2008 at 7:16 am (Uncategorized)

I had a rather chilling email exchange with my American friend Rosy yesterday. She said she was having quite a surreal day, which included having members of the Parents’ Association at her boys’ school raving to her about how much they just love Sarah Palin. I thought, oh well, that doesn’t mean they’ll vote Republican, and emailed Rosy back asking ‘So what’s the overall vibe in New Jersey?’ Let’s just say Obama has his work cut out for him. As I emailed Rosy, I just keep falling into the trap of thinking it’s such a no-brainer, then I have to remind myself that Americans have a demonstrated history of electing a… no-brainer. It was one thing to elect George the first time (oh that’s right – they didn’t), but it was something else entirely to re-elect him free and clear the second time round. Now they’ve got no one to blame but themselves, hanging chad or no hanging chad. Just look at the House that George built: what a disaster. What a disgrace. And now it seems that there may be another majority out there across America that wants more of the same. Could that be possible? Really? Even as I sit here trying to comprehend that surprising, disturbing new perspective, care of an American friend who’s actually there talking to people about it, my brain simply rejects it. Not computing. It sends a signal back that reads WRONG WAY GO BACK.

And yet Rosy tells me she gets into arguments with the other mothers because she doesn’t want her boys to be taught Creationism in school… you know the one: the earth’s history only extends about 5,000 years, and other unforgettable hits.  Scary. That is scary. S-c-a-r-y. I didn’t know what to say to Rosy except that, wow, if John Howard had won the Australian federal election last November, I really would have lost some basic faith in my country, and if the Americans choose the McCain/Palin combo come this November, I’m really going to lose some basic faith in theirs. I so hope it doesn’t come to that – and I can’t believe it will. Although it will be the Americans who decide, the rest of the world will be watching with great interest, because there are consequences for us all.

To get rid of the prickly feeling that’s crawling up my arms just thinking about the current US President’s lack of competence in the top job, I’m going to change topics now and tell you that I went to a luncheon at the State Library of NSW today for the Society of Women Writers NSW. I found out about it via the NSW Writers’ Centre e-newsletter. Joining the Writers’ Centre and now the Varuna Alumni and perhaps the SWW is all part of my on-going effort to become part of that elusive community of writers I keep telling you about. It’s not often I miss something I’ve never known, but in this case I have been yearning for that sense of community very clearly and very insistently for quite some time. I am actively engaged in hunting wabbits, I mean, writers (settle down, Jenny, it’s all right. The bunnies are all okay). And I found some more today (plus I won a lucky door prize! How’s that for a warm welcome?! I never win the raffle!). 

I was one of the youngest in the room by an average of several decades or more. There are several logical reasons for this, commonsensical reasons you don’t need me to spell out to you, but it was interesting all the same, especially because the invited speaker was my age, not theirs. That was Traci Harding, a very successful fantasy/sci-fi writer who has books sitting on the bestseller lists as we speak. I don’t have an interest in her genre, it’s just not to my taste (and yes I have tried) in the same way Heavy Metal is not to my taste, or whiskey, or tiny little dogs that look like rats, or, um, shorts: all things that are perfectly brilliant for the millions of people off enjoying them (although in the case of shorts, I really think some people ought to give it a bit more thought and a twirl in front of the mirror before committing themselves), just not terribly appealing to me. But I liked her very much; she was fascinating. A dyslexic, Harding can’t spell and failed English in school. She was also told to stop daydreaming. What a rich and satisfying experience it must be for her to have doggedly followed her dreams against all the nay-sayers (and there are plenty of those in this world, as we all know) and come out so far ahead. The last thing she said (and she spoke very well off the cuff, which is not easy to do and is often done very poorly by people who really ought to prepare) endeared her to me for all time (actually, that happened back when she said she has no fear anymore; that’s certainly something I keep striving towards), because you could feel her just blurting it out, a completely genuine, emotional response, and it was that people shouldn’t ever let anything or anyone get in the way of their dreams, that an individual’s dreams are so important, one of the most precious things in life, and that if anyone ever tries to kill your dreams, then “they don’t love you.” And I think that’s probably just about right (thanks again and always for all that love).

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4 Comments

  1. Jenny said,

    You’re right. Daily my fear of an American political disaster builds. Incomprehensible but entirely possible. Word is that the Republican momentum is buiding and that Palin is as appealing to many women as Hilary. Go figure?

  2. couchtrip said,

    Agree with you re the US election – am feeling quite despondent about it. I also thought Obama was a shoe-in for sure but it’s slowly dawning on me that 1/3 of Americans are self-declared rednecks (according to an informative article on the BBC website) and so it’s very unlikely they’ll elect Obama and Biden. Sad but apparently true. BTW, glad you’re finding a community of writers to connect with. I have that same feeling about psychologists – I know there are good ones out there that want to be part of a group, it just takes finding them. But I disagree about anxiety. I don’t think it ever goes away. It’s just about living with it (and turning down the volume). Pete

  3. doctordi said,

    Yeah, I just do NOT get that, Jenny. How – HOW??? – can anyone who was planning to vote for Hillary now be thinking of voting for Sarah Palin? I thought it was such a transparent, really kind of crass move on the part of the Republicans, along the “Just how stupid do they think voters are?!” lines, and yet I spent quite a long time online once Palin was confirmed, reading comments from Joe on the street, and it was shocking. There was a weeeeird sentiment Llew and I both picked up on, which was ‘McCain 08, Clinton 2012.’ Are they for real??!! It does not make ANY sense.

    Pete/couchtrip: nice to see you back again. What I don’t understand about this is that as far as I’m concerned, nothing short of the American Dream is at stake in this election, and if Obama and Biden don’t win, that’s it for the mythology that has propelled America and sustained it and made it great. That whole myth is kaput if they elect McCain and Palin. There’s no way to reconcile the American Dream with the American Reality if McCain and Palin become the next leaders of the ‘Free World,’ and I think the America of all that glorious, inspirational rhetoric will come tumbling down. It’s a horrible thought, and it depresses me. Anxiety? Anxiety… not sure what you mean… Oh, fear? I just mean that striving to be fearless is very productive and freeing. I don’t think I’ll ever be without my private fears, but I think confronting fear transforms not just the fear itself but the person who nurses it. Creatively, I have certainly endeavoured to face my fear of what ‘other people will think of me’ if I search for the greatest honesty in my writing that I am capable of. That’s all I meant.

  4. doctordi said,

    My friend Michael directed me to some images taken at the Republican Convention, which he found posted on http://www.englishfailblog.com.
    These were two actual pro-McCain posters:
    ‘THE MAVRICK’

    ‘McKEIN TANK FOR YOU SOPPORT’

    And on FOX NEWS, as they awaited Barack Obama’s acceptance of the Democratic Presidential Nomination, this ran at the bottom of the screen in the text stream:
    ‘WAITING FOR BARACK OBAMA TO EXCEPT THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION.’

    This does not bring me any comfort.

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