Everything you do, everything I do, has political implications. Let me walk you through a few of them.
My political decisions this average Friday begin when I roll out of bed and stand, bleary-eyed, staring at my dresser. Fridays are casual dress days at my workplace, so I have my choice of T-shirts and jeans. Kathy C (names changed to protect the innocent) has been tweaking my nose about being too shy to greet people, and it'd be fun to tweak back, so I want to wear my ThinkGeek "You read my T-shirt. That's enough social interaction for one day" tee. I can't find it, though, so I consider my "Church of Castiel" tee before deciding not enough people at work are likely to know Supernatural for it to be worth it. I have, however, found my "HI" tee, which works for the original plan of amusing Kathy C. I pair it with a denim skirt and silver earrings.
Already I've made four political decisions. One, to wear estadounidense-made clothing and jewelry; the Hawaii shirt says on the tag that it was made in the USA of imported fabric, and the earrings were made by an Etsy member in California. Two, to wear clothing made in Bangladesh, undoubtedly by people making a few dollars a day, and three, to wear clothing bought at Goodwill; that's where the skirt came from. I didn't think to check the skirt's origin when I bought it. I don't know if I would have bought it had I known. Probably. My "Church of Castiel" tee was made in Pakistan.
Four, and this is the only one that looks from the outside like a political decision, to support peace in the Middle East. The earrings say "peace", "שָׁלוֹם", "سَلاَم".
(No one comments on the earrings all day.)
In the bathroom I make more political decisions. One is to buck notions of feminine beauty by declining to wear makeup. I'm so accustomed to making this decision that I don't even keep makeup in the bathroom. I do shave my underarms regularly, and that is a political decision as well. Beauty standards continue to have power over me. Also, I have my period. I don't go for the environmentally friendly Diva Cup or what have you, since I haven't even got the hang of tampons, nor do I use cloths to absorb the flow, though I could, since we have a stash of 'bubble cloths' (formerly cloth diapers, now used for everything under the sun). No, it's disposable pads, for cheapness and convenience. I can stash two more pads in my purse and be set for the day.
I've overslept, so I don't have time for my usual morning routine of watching the previous evening's Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert while I check my email and newsreaders and play Echo Bazaar. These political decisions are obvious as such, because the blogs I follow on Google Reader and Dreamwidth tend to be liberal or progressive by U.S. standards, as Maddow and Stewart are and Colbert pretends not to be. ("Reality has a well-known liberal bias.") Echo Bazaar is political as well: "There are people walking around with the faces of squid—squid—and you have the nerve to ask me my gender?" is one of the gender options at the start of the game, and gender affects game play not at all; people of any gender can seduce people of either gender or both. The NPCs are racially diverse and the PC is whatever race one chooses, as the PC is only ever seen in silhouette. Contrast, for example, Sryth, where there are only two genders available and it's just assumed that the character is white. I haven't played enough Sryth to know whether sexuality comes into play.
I keep meaning to include yoga in my morning routine, but that runs into a few problems. One, I'm sleepy in the mornings. Two, is it cultural appropriation, perhaps with a side of veiled racism? Three, I have orthostatic hypotension, and attempting a sun salutation tends to leave me dizzy. I don't care to spend another six hours in the emergency room while they work out that it was just low blood pressure that caused me to pass out in the first place.
Last night's leftovers were all claimed by my brother, not that I liked it all that much anyway, and I don't have any lunches stashed in the fridge, so I grab a Maruchan Ramen microwavable meal and hop in the car. Locavore food it ain't; Maruchan has three manufacturing plants, two in California and one in Virginia, and there's no way of knowing which produced this meal. The relevant point is, it only cost me a dollar ten. I'd rather be eating spaghetti and tomato sauce from the night before last, partly because it tastes better and partly because the tomatoes were picked about ten minutes before they were cooked, but none of that survived the stampeding hordes otherwise known as my siblings.
As I drive to work, I stop at the Royal Farms for an iced vanilla latte. It comes in a glass bottle I never recycle, because I know of no recycle bins at work for anything other than paper products. (Bobbi Jo says we work in a paperless office, and we all laugh. I go through half a ream a day, and that's just what's getting express-mailed out to our customers.) I feel guilty about not recycling, because it's that much more unnecessarily in a landfill, but not guilty enough to switch to the much cheaper and much less appealing coffee that lives in a pot by my desk, nor guilty enough to learn how to operate a coffee pot myself so I can make my own iced lattes.
I note that the Valero and the Royal Farms both have gas at $3.659 a gallon, and my car is under half a tank with more than fifty dollars in my checking account. I'll get gas on the way home.
At work, the only political decision I make is whether to speak up when Bobbi Jo gripes that night shift only fills up the printers because they want the Box Tops. (General Mills puts Box Tops for Education on everything, boxes and otherwise, including the paper that goes in our printers, and pays schools something like five or ten cents for every Box Top the school mails to General Mills.) I don't say anything, mostly because someone distracts her with a question before I've formulated mine, but next time there will by FSM be a discussion, or at least a rant session, about why US schools are funded so poorly that they have to collect Box Tops in order to pay for necessities.
Working where I do, though, might be a political decision in itself, were it not for the fact that it was literally the only place I could find willing to hire someone with my pathetic résumé: I work for the state government. To quote Ann Coulter: "No, it's worse than not having a job, having a government job, because you have somebody doing something nobody wants, taxpayers pay for it, and they can never get rid of them." Well, I'm easily gotten rid of, because I'm not a full-time employee (though I have full-time hours), but somebody has to do my job. I stuff envelopes all day long, and people pay quite a bit to file or to get copies of the papers that go in those envelopes. But I'm part of a revenue-generating division that operates, I'm told, "like a business", so I suspect I'm not who Coulter is railing against. I would explain why the various functions of local, state, and federal government are in fact vital, but that's beyond the scope of this essay.
Before heading home, I call the local contemporary hits station with a request for the five o'clock free-for-all: Lady Gaga's "Born This Way". That's political too, given the song's pro-queer message, but it's also that I love the song. The DJ doesn't play it, though, having played Gaga too recently, and I consider asking for Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" again. I hang up without making a second request, since I asked for that Katy Perry song yesterday.
I consider heading out to the mall Waldenbooks, since it's closing, but decide against it. Borders, going out of business or otherwise, is part of the force causing independent bookstores to shut down, and I therefore shouldn't support Borders. I've also already spent my book budget for the month.
I consider also heading to Walmart. I'm running low on candy, and this Walmart has eight Reese's or small Kit Kats or small Hershey's Dark for a dollar. But, well, Walmart. They discriminate against their female employees, no matter what Justice Scalia thinks; they purchase from manufacturers who pay their employees a few dollars a day at most. And Hershey. Reese's and Kit Kats are made by Hershey, which company does little to purchase fair-trade chocolate. The cacao that went into the Kit Kat I ate as I type this was probably grown by child laborers. I could eat something made by Nestlé instead, but they have a history of unethically sourced beans, not to mention a history of aggressively marketing formula over breastmilk in developing countries where there's neither the funds nor the facilities to sterilize—leading to who knows how many dead babies.
I do visit the AC Moore, because I'm running low on glass pearls and other sparkly things to make into shinies for my Etsy store. I don't even think to check the origin of the sparklies I buy, and that too is a political decision. (They're all made in China. Every last one.)
When I approach the Royal Farms, I see that gas is at $3.639. Score! I turn into the station, hoping the Valero won't be at $3.629; I find out in a few minutes that it's not (and on Sunday that the Royal Farms and Valero are both at $3.599; I can't win). I prefer the Royal Farms to the Valero, because Valero is a Fortune 500 oil company and Royal Farms is a local convenience store chain usually with gas stations attached, and supporting Royal Farms over Valero gives me the illusion of supporting small business over Big Oil. It's an illusion because gasoline is a fungible commodity. For all I know, the gas I buy at Royal Farms was processed by ExxonMobil from oil bought from Saudi Arabia.
At home, it's time for weekend chores. Mine is cleaning bathrooms. Joy. Vinegar for the easy surfaces. Windex for the mirrors and toilet bowl cleaner for the toilets and calcium-lime-and-rust remover for the bathtub, not that I bother with the bathtub today because the only way anyone will know I've cleaned the bathtub is if I knock over the shampoo rack trying to clean behind it. All three claim on the label to be environmentally friendly products, but FSM alone knows what gets into the water when I rinse them away. And I scrub with paper towels, not bubble cloths, because it's not worth my time to figure out which laundry basket has bubble cloths.
As Montgomery Gentry says, I'm a product of the 'me' generation. I want what I want when I want it and I don't give care what it takes to get me what I want. I want to wear cheap clothing, I want to eat cheap chocolate, I want to use cheap jewelry supplies, so I buy inexpensive clothing and jewelry supplies and chocolate without caring about the human cost. Without even looking to see if there is a human cost. I collect General Mills Box Tops to send in to my sister's elementary school in lieu of actually donating to that school or finding a way to make sure the school is properly funded without donations. I have to get to work, so I buy gasoline, and I have no way of knowing whether the money from that purchase funds wars. I'm not sure I have a right to care, there, because I pay taxes, and I know damn well that money funds wars. I make a silent statement that I support peace in the Middle East instead of doing anything that promotes peace in the Middle East. I'd rather hurt the planet than find somewhere to recycle a damn bottle.
Half of it comes down to the almighty dollar and how few almighty dollars I have. The rest boils down to, I just. Don't. Care.
I could care. I should care. I would care, if it didn't inconvenience me to do so.
This is what it is to be an American.
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