Rather than celebrate a normal Newsday Tuesday, this will be a Special Edition:
What better way to celebrate the State of the Union Address and Mrs. Obama’s sparkling blue dress than to talk about NPR and The Story with Dick Gordan.
Let me start by saying, I prefer a man who sings to run my country:
And if he’s going to sing something, it better damn well be Al Green.
Just ten minutes ago I was thanking the Arby’s Drive-thru attendant for being happy. I was listening to the soothing voice of Dick Gordan, like someone reading a historical text book (maybe with the passion of a Battle) and thinking about the show he was hosting. Gordon was talking to Eli Saslow, a reporter, who spent time in the White House mail room where 20,000 letters circle through a day. With these letters, the President receives only ten to his night chamber. However, something interesting said was that he receives letters in the same proportions that they came in that day. For instance, if 60% of the letters were negative, he gets six negative letters. If 20% are about Occupy then he receives 2 Occupy letters.
I can just picture the President with his hidden pocket glasses, blushing them off with his own breath and a handkerchief. His wife beside him reading a beach novel filled with lust and romance and he’s paging through these letters. The day’s residue on his fingers is rubbing against your pen marks, your left-handed smudges, your extra curly e’s from years in a sorority. The President is licking his thumb to turn to the next page of your thoughts, your concerns, your passion for a nation that your tree built, strong as an oak. The President is reading lines to his wife, letting it echo through the hallways beyond their bedroom and the small crevices in the door knobs that hold peoples breaths as they knock.
In a time when Republican’s are debating; changing their minds on foreign policy, blaming media for their own adultery, refusing to hand out their tax statements, and years ago sending out newsletters with a racist conscience (I do appreciate you, Ron Paul, but I had to insert this) – what are we asking of our President? What do those letters say?
Hear some here at The Story. Buy the Ten Letters book here.
In an effort to find myself in the lost people, here is my written-in-fifteen, letter to the President. (It isn’t perfect – I have literally written this during the State of the Union Address).
Dear Mr. Obama and wonderful volunteer in the White House mail room,
I feel like I’m writing to Santa Clause, some man deep in the arctic, so far away from the struggle I face to manage my bank account post-college. I suppose I’m the 99% (I have supported their cause, haven’t I)? Graduating from college in something I love, which you have recommended in college speeches all over the country – and now I have this blog, where I talk about books and fantasies and characters that are drinking themselves into shadows and hugging each other until their ribs turn inwards toward their hearts.
I am a girl who’s grandfather built a home on a Ford Plant salary. I am a girl who’s father was unable to walk on the same side of the street as his black friends who were fighting for the same country he was. I am the daughter of a teen mom who raised a guitarist who practices law. I am a girl safe in her house with a twin bed and decorative lamps, and plants, far too many pairs of earrings and enough cushion to not worry, and to paint instead.
And yet, the woman in Brueggers who calls me “Hon” after asking what I’d like, what kind of cheese, if a drink is necessary, does not have this cushion. She is scrounging through drawers for barrettes and old shampoo. She is running on crackers, and stiff, pale noodles for ten cents at Food Lion. Do I feel like I’m struggling with her? Sometimes. Sometimes when I realize that money from my savings should be moved to supplement my need for gas for my forty minute commute to a teen center where I don’t receive benefits. (But I have a savings, don’t I)? Sometimes when I realize if by twenty-six, I’m not full-time, no insurance company will take me with my pre-existing disease. (But I have running shoes, and fruits to eat, don’t I)? Sometimes when I see the same homeless man on the corner rubbing his palms together -forcing warmth – I feel so away from the problems, and the solutions. I am riding into his neighborhood where teens are getting shot at in the streets and dip behind houses or metal fences with little to no protection to save themselves. I’m doing my best to feel together with those in mansions and those with only a suitcase.
I feel like this seeking out of togetherness we have recently seen in the US should be shown in our government institution. We are united (and have been since September 11th more than ever) and yet our government can’t seem to agree on anything. Obama, you are speaking about out-sourcing, about tax reforms, about signing things right away…and Boehner – sitting behind you licking his lips and patting his bright blue tie thinking about what his wife intends to make for a late dinner is refusing to clap. He is smug and blinking. He will not stand to ovate you. We will not come together until you come together.
Not only do I want you to sing, but I want you to yell your ideas to the brother next to you, to the sister with the gun shot wound in her head who is speaking full sentences in commercials. I want you to sing and dance for this country, to stand out in the cold with Occupy in a scarf and torn gloves. I want you to eat a deli sandwich from the man who’s been on that street since a piece of candy cost 2 cents and came with an allowance and a walk. I want you to lead everyone of us to a job with benefits that won’t count us out because our metabolism is too slow, or our cholesterol too high.
The last thing I want, and undeniably the most important is that my teens (in Southeast Raleigh) and other “low-income” neighborhoods where students are “at-risk” and not expected to do more than almost graduate high school, get better educations and better teachers. I’m sick of hearing about boredom, and F’s are for “Fun.” I’m sick of my teens hoping that one day they’re going to the NBA, or the NFL because the education system is failing them. And I am sick, so sick, of magnet schools putting low-income, and racial minorities in their “other” building where they have limited, to no access to the magnet classes. Send my teens to art, to computer class, to an exciting lesson on grammar where they learn to talk to professionals and not to their text message screen. Send them to literature, to books that stop wars because people find similarities between themselves and a boy in a borough of Brooklyn, a GRIT in Alabama, a business man in Asia, or an aborigine in Australia. Send them to librarians who carry books instead of computers, who read every character in a different voice, and introduce to students who may not ever be read to at home, to the world of fantasy and dreams. Give students a right to dream (about an education and not a sports field), give them a right to make it.
For the next week, or month, or however long you have until your mind wanders, when you look at someone in the street think of your similarities rather than your differences. Tell yourself you walk in the same style, you have the same small hands, you have the same recyclable coffee cup in your hand. Let’s model a united stance that we want to see in our government so that education can become a number one, job creation and entrepreneurship can become a number one, letting gay people love one another in a signed union become number one, women’s control over their own bodies become number one, feeding the people of America become a number one, letting everyone afford healthcare become number one, fight global warming and create new ways to foster environmentally safe energy to become number one. Let us save the polar beers, and the people. Let us, like Brian, be proud to be working in the industry of the future rather than an industry that is dead.
John McCain so badly wants to smile, but he can’t because he has a Republican stick up his ass. (Pardon that interruption). While I can agree with anyone who says this speech is politically motivated for another four years, I still think the people of America need to hear it. I stand up and clap. I am twenty-four, not balding, and will never wear my grandmother’s suits, but I can understand what a man at a podium in a tie is saying, and I hope my dreams (that excellent teachers gave me the right to) will one day happen by being less politically motivated and more people motivated.
Here is my favorite #SOTU tweet from @michelleerin “I’m hungry and have nothing to eat. I’m going to blame this on Congress.”
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.