Category Archives: education

The Exceptional Stranger.

The gurney is hard, the fluorescence above it humming. Nubbing legs dangle over the side of the frame, an IV port pinching the tender skin on top of my hand every time I forget not to move it. A single, nearly square corkboard on the wall beside holds a smattering of 9×12 memos, one of them hot pink. I stare at that one, mesmerized. How many among this newest crop of strangers will have seen their memo, that day, and would they be ready for the moment of my death?

The half hour preceding, high drama. Arrival, gasping with terror, the creeping itch encircling my face and crawling between my bosom, around, under my arms and across my back, and then the rear of the tongue rising to meet the pharynx, daring to close entirely, heart racing, skin clamming, the lights, lights so icy bright, the smell, always the smell of sterility.

These are the minutes over which nobody has any control. The roughly twenty odd ones after the puncture of Epinephrin and IV push of Benadryl, during which our father, Time, the only sure indicator of ongoing life vs. cardiovascular collapse. And, after four of these in one year, again left alone by strangers in the ER bay to ponder the outcome, mind attached to body gradually succumbs to the antidote of semi-coma.

Strangers. At the moment of theoretical death.

This is the realm of the anaphylactic.

Unlike those stricken with terminal illness or even massive stroke, the anaphylactic cannot feature the luxury of familiar faces, phone calls, cards and letters, even bedside caregivers who’ll call us by our name. If we’re lucky as well as fastidious, we’ll carry with us the proper packet of antihistamine or the Epi-pen, provided we are also completely able and willing to inspect every ingredient contained in every appetizer, entree, salad, and dessert offered by anyone beyond the scope of our own, protected kitchens.

Were we to be anybody outside of our actual selves, we might observe the scene at the neighboring table on a Friday evening – server, hunched over the menu, squeezing a pencil, forehead pinching, corners of the mouth twitching neurolinguistically to mask cursing annoyance, fixated guest rattling on about oils and additives next to a bewildered date mentally reviling why he’d been so determined to know this woman.

We’d not have been able to enjoy our own meal, what with the server hastening off to the chef’s lair to consult, report back, consult again, report back, smile assuredly, take the order, bring the order, take it back, the date leaning in toward the anxious female, arms folded across the table’s edge, eyes sucking into his head behind a smile stretched to its breaking point.

We might have left the restaurant with a social checklist ticking across our own foreheads. We’d have recognized the woman from having seen her on the various pages, she with her dubious references to multiple former lives. We’d have concluded many things. Clearly a narcissist, judging by the texture of her dark hair and the angle of her nose the spoiled daughter of he who sold back room numbers, she would just have to be spending everyone else’s time in public grasping for singular attention. Yes; siphoning the entire room of its last particle of energy, in her own mind she would be exceptional.

Exceptionality. The curse of the oblivious.

Cosmopolitan life renders a certain mass anonymity. When merely dozens are displaced by hundreds of thousands, that which is distinguishing fades from immediate view. Blending is both habit and practice; that which doesn’t easily finds enough of its own kind to forge new criteria for acceptability. By contrast, in small towns anything or anyone who is unavoidably different can become quickly pigeonholed, marked, recognized, and not in a good way. Traits borne by these are subconsciously dismissed as, ultimately, forms of weakness. Exceptionality becomes a force which both pulls and pushes, and that against itself.

The coronavirus has at once rendered every civilized center, regardless of size, homologous. All are flanked according to appropriate distance, masks obviating familiarity, no one a stand out by either class or station.

All, that is, except we anaphylactics. Our fears are inextricably distinguishing. Virus, or vaccine; we face the threat, of death, whether we do or we don’t. Statistically a tiny minority, exceptionality neither our excuse nor our defense, we remain the stranger.

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© 2/26/21 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part, including translation without written permission from the author. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for your respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

The Vested.

*Author’s Note: Having just completed a final edit on what I thought was [my] definitive piece on tonight’s event, herewith another. It must be the Klondike bar and the two Snicker’s ice creams, still coursing through each synapse. Notwithstanding the caffeinated drive, it’s time.

Who are these people?

They, who turn out in droves – unmasked, roaring, nearly hysterical in their devotion to the man who rails right back in their faces, spewing half or fully fleshed lies never fact checked by any of them, declaring himself their saviour, glory hallelujah, his version of the truth still marching on?

The people. Yes. Who are they?

To my eyes, having either been or worked among every class and station – from floor mopper to dishwasher to short order cook; to server, to clerk, to merchant; machinist, to shop owner, to skilled craftsman; engineer, to architect, to executive; instructor, to clinician, to professor; researcher, to documentarian, to published reviewer; performer, to producer, to artist and visionary…Donald Trump’s people are found to populate three, distinct yet not unrelated groups: a.) the indefatigable Evangelical Christian Right; b.) those of largely deferred intellect who have devoted their lives to the assembly line, and b.) those of incredible, accumulated wealth – who hire them.

Of these groups, taken together, the latter two are inextricably bound; one cannot exist without the other. And, unlike the former ECR, neither is exclusive to any particular race or creed.

What of the military-industrial complex imagined by, who was it, Harry Truman? The birth of the assembly line bred more than endlessly produced mass quantity; it evolved an entire mentality, committed to vapid, repetitive motion for hours at a time, five days per week, every week of every year, minus earned vacation time the breadth of one of them. Only the rare creative had a mind capable of escaping the task into the realm of imagination, perhaps to reserve what scant energy remained at day’s end to apply such pursuits.

The moment, if one can be isolated, is pivotal; every American who covets their job on that line, in that factory, at that counter, and every elite from upper management who seeks to protect a glorious lifestyle comparatively unburdened by the weight of taxation – whether earned honorably, or bestowed – has an interest. A vested interest, heavily invested, that shall not be moved.

No movement, no progression – toward evolving away from assembly line drudgery to supplanting artificial intelligence – engenders anything but abject fear. Fear, of utter loss – their only productive identity melded to and branded by the very work to which they have sacrificed their lives.

The notion that total upheaval of the internal structure of that military-industrial complex, to: a.) accommodate solar and wind power; b.) displace fossil fuels, and c.) replace product materials with the biodegradable and non-toxic can be realized through re-training and upgrading is met with ferocious resistance. Why?

Mentality is entrenched. Re-structuring systems does not a new mentality make. That which is unfamiliar is a perceived threat. Add to that equation the aging of the relevant population and you have a flank of refusal. The door is barred. Rather than endure the rigors of metamorphosis, the shop would rather shut.

The path, therefore, of least resistance is provided for them all. His name is Donald J Trump. No matter that his primary motive is self serving; in a twist of unavoidable irony, his megalomania serves the need of a massive throng, a culture of stubbornness borne of the security of familiarity and acute absence of vision. They who stand at the conveyor from sun up to the horn at day’s end, and those who own them, get to keep that to which they have become accustomed. Any revelation pertaining to the degree to which their actions poison or otherwise destroy the very earth under their feet or the water which sustains them is summarily dismissed, if only because it doesn’t fit their narrative of honorable employment and income.

If leadership for the people by the people shall not perish from the Earth, hadn’t it better be immersed in creating an awakening toward possibility rather than the sting of fright? How people feel, even to those whose emotional response, whose inner life, has been dulled to the point of distant memory, is still a vital aspect on the road toward human health and sustainability.

But, such a leader had better recognize the magnitude and importance of the task at hand, because Donald Trump has captured how the entrenched define their personal worth and provided an apparent path for its continued realization. No matter that he is a dishonest businessman, a shrewd manipulator of systems, and an arrogant ass; he validates those who lack the intellectual reach to imagine a life beyond the one they hold as close to their vests as the next shallow breath they take.

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Click on the link below, to hear best selling author, Thomas Friedman, declare the names of the states already IN TRANSITION to alternative fuels and address whether there are jobs for the “thick-fingered” worker:

https://youtu.be/1xetRCiIOPU

© 10/21/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Sharing permitted by blog link, exclusively. Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Johnny One Note.

Remember Johnny One Note?

He was tone deaf. When he sang, his voice only had one pitch. He couldn’t move up, or down, with the notes in the melody.

Our President is tone deaf.

To him, it’s China — China’s economic power, over us, over the jostle for pre-eminence in the world. Trump saw China as our biggest threat to restoring and maintaining economic standing, and that’s why he still blames China for the 200,000 deaths of Americans. And, his supporters are right there with him singing that same, monotonous song.

I sat, last evening, fairly well stunned by many things. How intelligent people of any persuasion could support this President. How self-centered blindness prevents realization and acknowledgement. How it is that our judicial system caves to power, the insidious kind as well as the violent.

But, I also sat — as I do, now — and considered the stories, from those who have Armenian and Romanian friends who talk about rationed goods and services in the socialist countries of their memory. I contemplate the American workers, those who actually have skills, who use their hands – as I do – but, to build machines without which our country could neither sustain itself nor continue interacting with the rest of the world. To these Americans, the fear of the threats to social security and pensions and Medicare, sources of financial security older Americans have worked their entire lives to earn, is real. And, they rise up in defense of such security — as well they should.

I am among them.

And, then, I wonder why we elect Presidents who lack a well rounded mindset. You know, the kind who stump on one policy issue, preaching a selective gospel. They warp the picture that should provide for every American, especially those who have tried to fight against social injustice and who lead honest, productive, responsible lives.

Perhaps this man who completely repulses so many of us with his slippery movements, his vulgar mouth, his outed lies, his utterly selfish posturing, and his dismissal of individual life as “virtually nothing”, should have run for a seat on the GOP’s economic advisorship instead of the highest office in the land. Nobody can argue the economic gains his administration produced prior to the pandemic. That’s his one note. And, he sang it well.

But, his single pitch is far from a beautiful song. It’s not music. At all.

200,000+ Americans are now dead — more still dying. That’s what we got, in exchange. What a tragic transaction. What a gravely bad deal.

Now, how utterly unacceptable is our present situation. How dangerously divided are our people. How aggressively reactive our throngs. How combative the prevailing postures of those parading in our streets. We aren’t a unified country; we’re a provoked population, on the brink of deadly confrontation. It’s called war.

Who can save us from this apparently inevitable reality? Joe Biden? His character is also not above reproach. Video and audio evidence tell his tale. Party politics has its insidious agenda, and monied corruption has infiltrated all of it — including he, and his own.

I am just as fearful of a globalist mentality seizing my rights and possessions as any other hardworking American. Surely, we are all desperate for an honorable, honest, and well-rounded representative of every mind and heart who was born and bred here.

Jimmy Carter. Somebody call him. Get his word. We need another like him, right now.

Because right now is all we’ve got.

Sing it.

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© 9/24/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Feel free to share, but with acknowledgement to the author. Thanks.

Originally published as ” Why Our Politics Is More Than A One Note Song” at Medium.com