My last post came from a place of pessimism, but that isn’t the full story. If I want to be truthful, I need to write about the flipside, the things which are keeping me active and keeping me going. Most of all, it’s the people I’ve met–wonderfully stubborn, gutsy people who don’t give up and continue fighting. They have reminded me of the way I used to care and the way I still care.

More than that, the groups I’ve become involved with aren’t just idealistic, they’re also pragmatic and they bring results. Change happens. Some examples of what has become reality: The Bus Project is responsible for Oregon’s shiny new motor voter law, which makes sure that anyone with a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote–this at a time when voter rights are suppressed in other parts of the country. They have also pioneered the Fresh Start Initiative, which expunges minor marijuana-related infractions from criminal records. Because if marijuana is now legal in Oregon anyway, what’s the point of these incidents haunting individuals for years to come? This initiative not only passed the Oregon legislature–Representative Earl Blumenauer is now planning to turn it into a U.S. Congress bill.

Meanwhile, I’ve been spending even more time with the awesome folks at Oregon Climate, who are working to implement an innovative carbon fee & dividend plan. They had a bill in both the House and Senate in our last state legislative session, and have succeeded in passing multiple carbon pricing city council resolutions. Pretty impressive when you realize that they started out as a couple of friends talking about climate change in their living room.

And since I’m giving a shoutout to worthwhile organizations anyway, let me mention the Oregon Working Families Party and Fair Shot Oregon, both advocating for a $15 minimum wage. Thanks to them, the minimum wage issue is expected to be on the ballot in 2016.

I can tune out all the nonsense that is being spouted in national politics when I focus on the activists getting stuff accomplished locally. Local political engagement is hard work, and it doesn’t get the glamour or the media attention that the nationwide spectacle does, but it’s where things really get done. It’s more than worth the time and effort.

Finally, this post is a bit of an apology along with an explanation. My involvement with these local organizations is the reason for my posts becoming more infrequent lately. Between my full time day job and my spare time political activities, my schedule has become a little squeezed. I’m definitely not giving up on the blog, because I love writing, but may not be here as frequently as I have before. Sorry and a very grateful thank you to the people who have continued to visit 😉

Oh dear.  I am starting to feel way too giddy and optimistic about the election.  I seriously need to calm myself down, or for someone to talk me back up onto the ledge, so to speak.  Yes, Mitt’s campaign is a mess right now.  Yeah, Barack is leading in the polls.  But so much could still happen between now and November.  It’s like I’m already excited about Santa, but Halloween could still be really horrible this year.

It’s difficult not to be optimistic when you look at what Mitt is doing.  He seems as uninspiring as John Kerry was back in 2004.  I would suggest a celebrity spokesperson, but we all know how the Clint Eastwood thing turned out.   But real problems could still arise.  My lovely home continent of Europe could do me the disfavor of imploding completely and dragging the world economy back down into the hole with it.  A war or a terrorist attack could happen.

So that dance of joy I’m doing in my bedroom, I need to STOP IT.  I need to SIT DOWN.  Then I need to remember to contribute to the Obama campaign again, and of course to vote.  Hopefully our optimism will be justified, but we can’t have the victory party yet.  (Although I’m sort of buying the party hats already.)

Something that’s been difficult for me to get used to since coming to the States has been all that boundless optimism.  Not that optimism is a bad thing, not at all.  But in America it gets a little over the top.  It seems there’s always another inspirational story of the person who just lost her home and job, lost both her legs in a car accident and was diagnosed with a terminal illness, but still managed to crawl her way through a Marathon using only her arms to pull herself along, with a big smile on her face.  Even though she was homeless, she still managed to collect enough donations to participate!  And the key phrase in these tales:  “And she never complained.”

Well, maybe she should have complained.  I’m just saying.  Of course endless bitching doesn’t do anything for you, but it’s human to complain when you’re in a bad situation.  It’s a bit Stepford Wife-like to go through it with a fake smile plastered on.  It gets even worse when this concept is used in the “We are the 49%” context.  Remember that website—it was supposed to be the conservative response to the “whining”of Occupy Wall Street, and it was filled with stories like “I have to work 3 jobs just to survive, I get no health benefits and I sleep in a garage.  And I never complain, you wimps!”  Well, again, you *should* complain.  If you’re getting screwed over by the society you live in and you don’t complain, you’re not an optimist, you’re a doormat.  Not to mention that if the things which are happening around you are dishonest and morally wrong, not to complain is to comply with whatever is going on.  If I were a cynical European (heh), I could even say that the optimism myth is used to keep people passive…nahhh, right?  “No matter how much they’re stomping on you, act happy!  Smile!”

Okay, so I should add that my attitude toward American optimism is not that completely…well, pessimistic.  Some of my difficulties come from the way I was raised.  When I was a little girl and my parents would get together with their friends, their favorite activity, besides chain-smoking through the night, was that of making witty quips about the meaninglessness of life, and how it always ends in disaster.  It’s not that they were gloomy—they would spend plenty of time laughing at the absurd joke that was human existence.  I guess you can’t blame them for doing so in the drabness of the Soviet bloc, but this kind of cynicism is a general Euro-habit.  I’m automatically suspicious of too much positive thinking…there *can’t* be a happy ending to all of this.

I’m not saying this was a good way to grow up, and I like how determined Americans are, how they believe they can achieve greatness and that no matter what obstacles are thrown in their path, if they put in their best effort, they can overcome them.  That is the good side of American optimism, and a quality I admire.  I just hate to see the powerful using the innate optimism of this country’s citizens to hoodwink them.  I like Americans too much to watch this happen to them…without complaining about it.

So this is it, 2012.  This is the year when it will all end for us, or we will all get elevated to a higher level of consciousness.  I’ve heard some interpret the Mayan calendar to say that this is when “He will come”.  And of course, the Presidential election will save or end America as we know it.

So here’s to 2012 being the year of something I sorely lack in my own life – the Year of Certainty.  It will once and for all become clear who and what is right in this world.  God’s existence will be proven or disproven, especially if the year includes His arrival.  Scientists will find the God particle and we will understand why the Universe is here.  The election results, whichever way they go, will make America a great country again.  Either the free market or socialism will give everyone prosperity, security, and a job.  I will finally know what I want to do with my life.  

But naturally, none of this will happen.  Instead of coming to a swift, graceful end, our existence will continue to plod on.  There will be nobody returning to us from the clouds, and nobody at our door.  My heart will veer wildly from spirituality to cynicism, depending on how much pain it is in at a given moment.   Those damned quarks and anti-quarks will keep doing their own thing.  And I’ll keep working at an insurance company because I can’t come up with anything better to do.

Still, I wish everyone a happy doubtful and dithering 2012.  To those of you who already have the miracle of Certainty and who know that you are always correct about everything, I envy you.  For the rest of us, may the decorations on our tree be funky, our cups of chocolate mint tea steaming hot, our dogs and cats cuddly on our laps, and our blogs controversial.  Happy Holidays!