Outrage and a Possible Farewell

When I wrote Medousa, I wrote it, in large part, to express outrage that this woman had suffered sexual assault and rape, and was stripped of her very humanity because of it. In addition, the beginning of the novel depicts Medousa losing her family at the age of five. I had thought I was simply depicting the brutality of that time and age. I had thought that I was depicting how conquerors treated the vanquished. A brutal, semi-mythical past.

I had no idea that what I was writing about would be a commentary on contemporary America.

It is not enough that that Thing we put into the White House should be looting the government, enriching himself and his coterie. It is not enough that he is driving away our allies of longstanding, and is embracing tyrannical dictators. It is not enough that he lies as easily as he breathes. It is not enough that he is a semi-literate imbecile with no real understanding of the intricacies of his job, or the dignity of the office he now defiles. Now, he is tearing families apart. He is destroying children. And the Republican party is aiding and abetting him in doing so.

I have seen arguments online that compare Trump to Hitler, and his regime to the rise of the Third Reich. Others have decried such a comparison, invoking Godwin’s Law, or declaiming that there’s a difference between exterminating millions with industrial efficiency, and separating families attempting illegal entry to the country.

But Nazi Germany did not start with extermination camps. They had to build up to that. The Nazis appealed to the common people who felt that opportunity had passed them by. That they were downtrodden and defeated. That they were being treated unfairly by the other nations of Europe. The Nazis proclaimed that they could make Germany great again. That they would rise up, and push back against the other nations of the world that oppressed them. They claimed the role of victim, but promised that they would rise above their tormentors, victorious. And then they found groups to scapegoat.

Is that not what is happening here in America? We are rising up against those supposed allies who keep us down. We have targeted immigrants and liberals. Voting districts are gerrymandered. Voter rolls are purged. Courts are stacked with judges friendly to the Orange Tiberius. The press is the enemy of the people, and only the outlet that vomits out State propaganda is to be trusted. The idea of Truth, and what is true, and how we can even know what is true, has been so battered, that like Pontius Pilate, we now wonder, “What is Truth?”

I am tired. We are traveling down the same path as Germany in the 1920s and ’30s. Corporate interests have succeeded the rights of the individual. Wealth is hoarded at the very top. We have selected our enemies– Immigrants…Muslims…People of color…Anyone who is not white, and not CIS-normative. They use religion to proclaim the righteousness of their cause. They use violence to enforce it. Our police forces are now, by and large, thugs with badges who are able to summarily execute suspects in the streets for misdemeanors, without consequence to themselves. I.C.E. has become our Gestapo.

And I see no way to stem the tide of evil we have unleashed upon ourselves. Voting will not work, because they have tampered effectively with the process, and when things don’t go their way, they will simply ignore the process and do what they please. Rising up will not work, because they control the military and all its might. What can we do? I’m afraid I do not know how to hope anymore.

And these people claim to be devout, and righteous, and to love God. But they somehow conveniently ignore:

“And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

“Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”

“Rob not the weak, because he is weak, Neither crush the poor in the gate;”

“Thy princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Every one loveth bribes, And followeth after rewards; They judge not the fatherless, Neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.”

“They are waxen fat, they are become sleek; Yea, they overpass in deeds of wickedness; They plead not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, That they might make it to prosper; And the right of the needy do they not judge.”

“O house of David, thus saith the LORD: Execute justice in the morning, And deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, Lest My fury go forth like fire, And burn that none can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings.”

“[He] hath wronged the poor and needy, hath taken by robbery, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination….”

“In thee have they made light of father and mother; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger; in thee have they wronged the fatherless and the widow.”

“And a stranger shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

“And a stranger shalt thou not oppress; for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

“Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.”

I almost wish I were still religious, to believe that there might come help from somewhere beyond us.

Trump’s party is running actual Nazis and White-Supremacists on various tickets around the country. The SCOTUS seat stolen from Obama’s nominee is now being given to a right-wing ideologue who, in the past, has expressed the idea that a sitting president cannot be indicted for any crimes. With the Mueller investigation ongoing, Trump has all but ensured that he will never be brought to book. He is destabilizing our alliances and our treaty obligations. He is looting the treasury. America is now no more than a banana republic, fast sliding into Fascism.

I am luckier than many, in that I have the resources to escape before they come for me. And that brings me to the what I had really wanted to write about this week:

As I may or may not have written previously, I had taken a position with a company called Vanguard, servicing variable annuities. I was not particularly good at certain parts of my job, and I was put on a “Performance Improvement Program” back in January of this year. Although I did make a lot of progress over the next six months, I didn’t come along quite quickly enough to be able to retain my position.

However, as it turned out, I had connected with a couple of friends with whom I used to work when I lived in Taiwan some twenty years ago. They are partnering with a group in Zhejiang province, China to open a school. Since we had worked together before, they invited me to join them once more, like old times.

This was quite auspicious, to say the least. Many times over the past eighteen years, I’ve wondered why the frell I ever left Taiwan in the first place (That’s a tale for another blog post). The offer comes at just the right time. There are however, certain logistical challenges that must be met.

In order to return to China, I need to sell my house. On the one hand, I am a terrible housekeeper, and I hate yardwork. So it’s probably not a bad thing to give it up. On the other hand, the house belonged to my grandparents, and over the years of my childhood, with all its upheavals and uncertainties, this house was always a constant. It was essentially where I grew up.

Now, one option would be to bring the house and its property up to  rental quality, and have a property manager take care of things for me. The other would be to sell the house as is to a “house flipper” and be done with the connection altogether. Now, at this point in the deliberations, the problem becomes one of timing.

You see, selling the house outright would eliminate a huge amount of debt and relieve me of the burden of property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Of course, what with the condition the house is currently in, it may not leave me with very much money left over. On the other hand, once I get to Ningbo and begin working, I will have a decent salary, and will be able to easily cover many of my expenses, and have the property gradually improved over the course of the next couple of years, and then have tenants in after that to help defray the costs of owning the house.

I need to decide if I stand to save more money in the end by keeping the property or selling it. And if I do begin to prep the property for rental, I could always decide to sell later, when it might fetch a better price.

But the major challenge in this entire exercise is now timing. The school semester in China begins in August. At the very latest, I need to be there by the second week of August. This gives me very little time to sell the house, if I’m going to sell, and very little time to pack what I want to keep, and move it into storage. Even if I decide to keep the property for eventual rental, I have to get my things out as soon as I possibly can.

At the time of this writing, I have three quarters of my books packed, almost all of my DVDs and CDs packed as well, and I have selected which bits of furniture I will also keep– a few small book cases, a couple of end tables, and a few chairs. Possibly a bed. I am awaiting my passport, which I recently submitted for renewal (I did see the State Department cashed my check, already); and once I receive it back, I have to run up to New York to the Chinese consulate to apply for an entry visa. When I have my passport and visa ready, I will then need to get my plane ticket.

And of course, in the meanwhile, I will need to move my things into storage (I purchased a storage locker about five miles from my home a couple of weeks ago).

Timing! Timing! Logistics!

I am feeling overwhelmed, as it is essentially only me. Fortunately, I do have a very good friend who will be coming over to help me move my things into storage. But it still feels like an impossibly huge task to complete in the allotted time. I am trying to keep things on a even keel by concentrating on just one thing at a time. For example, “Today, I shall pack only books!” Or, “Today, I shall pack the dishes and cookware!” And so on.

And there are so many things to remember besides; I need to set up a forwarding address for my mail, and see to it that my address gets updated. I will need to cancel my phone service, but when I do, I will be cut off from the folks I need to stay in touch with in China until I go.  Also, I will need to sell my car; but once I do, then I will have to make sure I have a way to get to the airport. And then, of course, once I pack out of the house, whether for sale or rent, where will I sleep until my flight?

I know that things will be wonderful once I get to China. But getting there is proving to be extremely stressful.

If a lot of people would buy my book, and then rate and review it on Amazon and GoodReads, it might help me feel a little bit better.


About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a high school ESOL teacher, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in Beijing's Dongcheng district
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