Whatever your views on any particular policy or the personality of either candidate, it’s worth observing that one party’s convention portrayed America as a crisis-laden hellscape that can only be salvaged by the lone, personal action of a billionaire savior, the details of which he’ll tell you later. The other party’s convention portrayed America as strong and exceptional and a place where anything is possible for anyone because, even if we don’t have the answers to every question, we will certainly succeed by virtue of our shared values as Americans.
I will never be starry-eyed for any politician and I’m under no illusions that Hillary Clinton ever has been or ever will be on the side of righteousness on every single matter. She, like anyone who has risen to her level of power, is flawed and compromised in some pretty important ways.
But, setting your persona views of her aside, ask yourself which vision of America, in past elections, you preferred. Ask yourself which vision is more appealing to you and speaks to our better nature. Ask yourself which world you’d rather live in, whether the promise of each respective vision is fulfilled or if, as often happens, we fall short of achieving it.
Personally, I’d rather aim high, for the light, hoping that we can succeed collectively and risk falling short than wallow in darkness in the hopes that some self-proclaimed superman rescues us from all that he tells us we should fear.
Some people take vacations to see the sights. This week my fiancee Allison and I saw some sights during our four-day trip to New York but the most important part was the food.
Allison was diagnosed with Celiac disease a couple of years ago. Living gluten free is doable but it certainly limits one’s options when dining out. And even the places that do have options – and there are more and more each day, thankfully – tend to ghettoize them in tiny, specialized menus which are often stashed away someplace in the host’s stand. “They’re in here someplace,” they’ll say, as they rifle through the children’s menus, the happy hour inserts, the cab vouchers and all of the other items most restaurants are happy to provide but which aren’t used quite as often and, unfortunately, aren’t always afforded the same level of respect.
That can be a little annoying, but at least they’re trying and, increasingly, succeeding in accommodating those with Celiac. Lots of people, unfortunately, including even some people in the bar and restaurant business, continue to be downright hostile to folks with Celiac, acting as if they chose their disease out of a desire to be trendy as opposed to suffering from an autoimmune disorder.
In light of all of that, our time dining in New York was fantastic. It’s a city with an embarrassment of culinary riches as it is, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to gluten free dining our options were abundant, the experience was inclusive and welcoming, the food was delicious and, at times, bordered on the transcendent.
Thanks, New York for having so many options. Thanks Don Antonio, Colors, Senza Gluten, Egg Shop, By The Way Bakery, Taquetoria, Friedman’s and Le Bernardin for having such fantastic food. And thanks to all of the other places we couldn’t make it to but will the next time.
Donald Trump has spent over a year mainlining white supremacy and courting its adherents, vilifying entire religions and nations, openly promising to violate laws and to suspend Constitutional protections with respect to his political enemies and, at every turn, showing that he is utterly unprepared on any issue of substance. What’s more, he’s expressed pride in those things, citing them as strengths of his campaign, not disqualifying weaknesses.
While there has been no shortage of criticism of the man, all of those things have been normalized to some extent and presented by the media as a legitimate set of politics and values in our two-party system, given more or less equal time, treatment and footing as any other political campaign might receive. At no time has anyone of serious stature, be it a news anchor, a network president, an editor of a major daily or, for the most part, political leaders in a position to do so and without a compromising political bias, stood up and said “this is wrong, he and his campaign are evil and the normal conventions of discussing him are not applicable.” Instead, he’s been described as “controversial!” and “provocative!” and “his opponents counter that …”
Last night his wife gave a speech that was clearly plagiarized. I understand that is wrong and that it speaks to the ineptness and brazen mendacity of the Trump campaign, as does the disingenuous defensiveness his campaign is showing this morning as it mounts a damage control operation. But it is both troubling and sad to me that it is this – plagiarism – and not the shocking violation of morality and human decency Trump has exhibited for over a year, that has the pundits freaking out today. Freaking out so much that it has totally eclipsed the fact that Steve King, a sitting Congressman, gave an openly racist speech on the stage at a national political convention yesterday. A speech made “acceptable” by Trump’s rhetoric and his utter lack of values. Another bit of shocking ugliness that is now normalized because, according to the media, that sort of thing is something that is felt by a lot of voters so, hey, who are we to judge?
But plagiarism is something that shocks people in the media. That’s something that upsets them and which offends them on a personal level because it affects their daily activities. That’s moving the needle of outrage in ways Trump’s marginalization and outright attack on religious, ethnic and racial minorities and his disdain for the very tenets of civil society and the rule of law does not. Because, for the most part, those things don’t affect the class of folks who become influential members of the media. Those things affect other people.
I hope this plagiarism thing derails Trump’s campaign in a permanent fashion and that it inspires influential voices to stop speaking about it as if it’s merely any other sort of political campaign. But I’m saddened that this hasn’t happened long before now.
It’s fun when the police call you at 2:46 AM because they drove by, saw your garage door was left open and your lights on and knocked on the door to make sure everything was ok and no one answered the door.
In other news; I left my garage door open, my son left his bedroom light on and I can sleep through the doorbell better than I can sleep through the phone ringing. Oh, and the police somehow know my cell number.
The weirdest thing about traveling as a single dad with kids is that people want to pin medals on you for simply being a parent.
“Is it just you?” a woman asked me while eating dinner at Yosemite the other night, wondering if it’s possible that I’m on a vacation with kids without their mother around.
“Yep,” I said.
“Oh, my, well isn’t that wonderful!” she beamed. As if it was some sort of major accomplishment that I left my home with my kids.
And that’s before you realize how easy my kids are to travel with. They’re 12 and almost 11, and are basically self-sufficient beings, requiring little if any work to mind. Once you can say “you two hang here, I’ll be back in 15 minutes,” the hard part is over. In the past week – and for basically the last year or so – I’ve said that at swimming pools, hotel rooms, baggage carousels, restaurants and national parks with zero anxiety attaching. They’re mature and responsible and they’re at a pretty manageable age. Yet, to some, I’m Father of the Year for daring to leave the house without their mom or a nanny or a grandparent to help me. God, what a curve dads are graded on!
It’s somewhat embarrassing, actually. It always has been, both when traveling or when simply doing other dad things like shopping or taking them to the movies or going to school functions or what have you. It’s especially embarrassing in light of what I saw yesterday.
We were on the shuttle bus from Badger Pass to Glacier Point in Yosemite. On the bus was a woman with six kids, ranging in age from 11 down to maybe 18 months. They weren’t the best behaved kids I’ve ever seen. Some of them were kind of wild and crazy and hard to deal with. The woman was pretty zen about it all, though, neither leaning too far into letting them be free range monsters nor going too far into some frazzled “I MUST rein in my kids!” mode. She did what she could and rode out what she couldn’t control. The bus ride would end. The day would end. No sense in freaking out too much.
I ended up talking to her for a while. She’s from Modesto and came up to Yosemite on a day trip. Her husband had to work and this seemed like a good way to pass a long hot day with the kids, especially once she realized that her one-year pass for the national parks expired this weekend. She home schools them too, and she figured she could shoehorn in some science lessons for the older ones out of this somehow. If some wildness on the bus was the price to pay for it, so be it.
No one thought to give her pats on the back for simply being a mom the way people give me pats on the back for simply being a dad. Indeed, I’m guessing more people were judging her harshly for the behavior of some of her kids rather than marveling at how much energy and patience it takes for a woman to bring six kids with her on a long ride to a national park by herself. I didn’t go out of my way to pat her on the back either – it would’ve been condescending to do that, I felt – but I did talk to her for a while about kids and travel and the views from Glacier Point and stuff. She probably gets a lot of “Six kids?! Oh, my!” talk from people. Based on my own experience, just talking to another grownup about grownup stuff is better than any sort of praise you get for dealing with your kids. Which is your goddamn job, thank you very much.
Later in the evening Anna, Carlo and I were sitting at a picnic table at Half Dome Village eating our dinner. The table could hold five or six and it was crowded, and eventually a woman came up to our table and asked if there were three spots available for her, her husband and daughter. “Sure,” I said. “Oh, thank you,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if you were holding this for your wife.” I told her that it was just us and that they were welcome to sit down. We made some small talk about where we were from, what we had done on our trips and things like that.
Then, a few minutes later, she made a point to tell me how great a dad I was for traveling with my kids without a woman to help me.