Keeping up with Our Small Surreal World

it's a small world ride signMy older sister Kathy has always loved the “It’s a Small World After All” ride at Disney World. Every time we’ve gone to the theme park she gets giddy while she’s standing in line for the ride, gesticulating with gusto, talking in between squealing giggles like she’s transported her emotional self back to age 11. When we’re locked into our slow-moving seats the waterworks starts for her, somewhere between the smiling children from Holland and the colorful children from Africa. For me the ride is three notches above the moldy animatronics of Chuck E. Cheese, but for Kathy, it’s a gateway to our connectedness on Planet Earth. Every. Single. Time. For one quadriplegic rider at DisneyLand, however, getting stuck on the ride for eight hours was enough to sue the company. I don’t think even my dear Kathy would want to be subjected to the ear worm for eight hours straight. Everyone else got off of the broken ride, but Disney had no evacuation procedures in place for individuals with mobility issues. And whoever thought that sending Mickey and Minnie Mouse over to him to perform while he was stuck has lost their sense of perspective.

I find life like a broken, singing roller coaster a lot of the time, these days anyway. Is my family in town this week? Are we hosting a guest? Do I have a deadline to meet? Has the baby discovered a new activity that could destroy our house? Is the car still working? Fortunately for us there’s not a single simple tune playing in the background through all of this, nor a series of wooden Stepfordesque children smiling an endless smile in our general direction.

Arizona is afraid of transgender urine, and so wants to enact a law that even “softened,” would be a systemic barrier to any gender nonconforming person’s ability to use a public or private facility when they need one. So much for small government. Liberal judges on the United States Supreme Court question whether they should institute marriage equality across the nation because another landmark case, Roe v. Wade, moved the country “too far, too fast.” So let’s ignore this revisionist history and presume that everything would be great for contemporary reproductive rights if we’d just let women face illegal abortions for another several years, and use it as a battering ram against marriage equality? So while the progressive Left considers not pushing for marriage equality, GOP representatives are getting on board?

I don’t recognize a lot of what’s going on these days. Maybe it’s because President Obama is droning the hell out of the Middle East well beyond what George W. Bush ever perpetrated. Or deporting more undocumented individuals than his predecessor, while calling for immigration reform. Or hearing that we’re all carrying far more student loan debt than ever before, in an economy where many graduates don’t find work that helps them pay those loans off–once upon a time, student loans were supposed to be paid out in ten years after graduation. California just passed a law this week for “faculty free” colleges where students could earn credits simply by passing examinations. What is it that college is for, again? New law colleges are popping up like dandelions even though there are not enough jobs out there for each year’s 54,000 new graduates–and 85 percent of those student loans are more than $100,000 for each newly trained attorney. So listen up, kids: don’t go to law school. Go become a nurse instead.

That’s the answer to the roller coaster, I suppose, and in the US, it always has been. Find the trend. Did you fight in World War II? Well, we’ve got some cheap housing for you, and we’ll pay for you to go to college, welcome to 1947! Here in 2013 we roll differently–all government assistance is evil, even to you veterans of our two most recent wars. There are some local programs for you to find new careers (cough cough NURSING cough cough), so beware schools where tuition is high but they’re not placing their graduates in adequate jobs. Gay and want to get married? Enjoy services in one of the ten states (or DC) where that is now legal. Need to terminate a pregnancy? Stay away from the deep South and North Dakota. Trans and need to use a restroom?

Bring a glass jar with you if you’re in Arizona. Enjoy the ride!

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Categories: Pop Culture

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