As the winter comes to an end it was long it was cold and it was a mess. When I think of the word mess it can refer to many things from the state of cleanliness to the state of being. When I look back on my time in Nashville I will say it was a "hot mess." True it was hotter than hell here and I found the summers unbearable, but I moved here in a way that I regret now and did not actually have a sense of purpose or direction which contributed to some of my frustration and confusion, and lastly it refers to the people here as they are one hot mess of a community.
I tried, I did. I look at every attempt to join and in turn build community and while I am not a social person and make friends easily I was at least willing to try and perhaps fall back on the belief of Southern Hospitality to enable me to finally do so. I failed and it was not from lack of trying it was from lack of knowledge that there is no such thing as hospitality it is a legend, an urban myth, an anathema.
This past month once again the schools are the focus of what, where, when, how and why I am exhausted from dealing with the idiocy. And no I don't think it is better in many other places but I do know that the coasts spend more time (not money however) at least superficially caring about education and information than here in the South. I am exhausted from the lying which I realize is much more second nature than hospitality as that is what they think is hospitable - lying. They lie without even realizing it is second nature. Much of it has to do with ignorance and rather than admit they made a mistake, don't know or actually don't even care they lie. And when you want to see what it is like just turn on the TV, open a newspaper, or read Twitter to see what it is like when you spend any amount of time monitoring Trump's bullshit. At least his is laughable but to hear it endlessly from the great unwashed it takes a toll. There is nothing remotely entertaining about it in the least.
The embattled Director of Nashville Public Schools has decided that race and money play into his failures as a director and in turn he means his race and the lack of money he needs to implement his plans. He fails to mention how he misspent the money he did have and in turn is sure that it is about race on that as well. Meanwhile to acknowledge how Tennessee handles race the schools had varying exercises in race that included marking water fountains "white" and "colored" only. Another had students go home to imagine what it was like to have slaves and a Charter School closed due to a violation of safety rules displacing 150 students and irony it was located in a Church and its population largely if not exclusively faces of color. Way to end Black History Month. This is not the first time dumping occurs by charters onto public schools as they do this around testing time to rig the scores but this was a big dump. And you wonder why I call the schools dumpsters? And of course the hysteria over Abortion continues now making it illegal if a fetal heartbeat is detected and the never ending anti Gay legislation that this week was about revoking the right for Gay individuals to marry but that is just added to the one that wants to make it illegal for them to adopt. That led to a newcomer "job creator" and "white collar" Alliance Bernstein to actually get into the fight. They are "not from here" but they will learn soon enough to not rock the boat.
So now lets talk about money the most important talk in the South. The economy is winning right? For whom or what or how is again another issue of debate. Low end store Charlotte Russe is adding its name to the list of closures, along with Payless Shoes, some Family Dollar stores (you know its bad when they are closing up shops but then again they own every type/form of dollar stores so they literally compete with themselves). Abercrombie and Fitch are closing some stores, along with Gap, JC Penny and Victoria's Secret will join the list. Gymboree is done and filed for bankruptcy. Chicos, White House Black Market (remember when Michelle Obama used to wear their clothes) will join the list of closures as we begin to end the first quarter of the year. All of this on the heels of the largest trade deficit in history! Trump loves to take credit for bullshit let's see how he does on this one.
With the Lordstown GM plant closed as of yesterday there is a great deal of anger, confusion and frustration with those who had made their lives and livelihoods a center around that industry. They were able to provide for their families with minimal education and training and in turn survived working all during economic turndowns and other issues that plagued the auto industry. Somehow they are still clinging to hope and prayer that it will be figured out and that someone or thing will rescue them.
The Washington Post profiled the community and in turn the loss of the plant and its affects on workers, their morale and what it means for their future. Only one man seemed to grasp the need to be open, to be retrained, to diversify and to find work by piecemeal together employment. He was the only one who seemed to get this "I work hard bullshit" that is often offered as a justification for being ignorant. The best part was that he was Black and maybe that resilience and lack of reliance on others was a reflection of his race and his personal experiences as a Black man although it was not discussed in the piece it could not go ignored. The comment section which veered into over 1000 was rife with political debate but a great deal of it focused on the seeming unwillingness by the now former staff to retrain, to learn new skills and to try to adapt. Work hard sure but learn hard no. These are the people who came of age in the 1980's when education funding declined and in turn they still had a reasonable connection to their cultural and regional history that enabled them to function and remain in place with some ups and downs but without the ability to access knowledge, the ceasing of unions and their role in fighting for such basics as retraining and other tools to enable workers to gain education this is what we have - stupid Americans who are angry and marginalized and vote for Trump.
Amazon is the new angel that most Americans see as the Gabriel who will rescue them from poverty and social isolation. They are sure that the jobs will allow them to be productive, to work hard and to of course attain the markings of what success for the working class defines as such - home ownership, a car, and other basic necessities. Well good plan to not plan on that. That mantra that college graduates make more means what exactly and unless you actually know first had one who managed to climb out of the hole and build a career on their own two feet it is akin to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The reality is that we actually refer to Kylie Jenner as "self made" in the same manner Donald Trump claims to be. But we want to believe Mulder!
One of the many comments I read at the end of the article discussed what it was like to grow up in that type of community and be disdained for wanting more and in turn how it was like to go home and still be thought of as a black sheep or traitor for getting an education and being successful. When you read the article it was almost a resignation that they had little to actually show for their hard work and now were going to become like those they had mocked or derided as lazy, relying on government handouts aka the "Welfare Queen." Again what the training fails to do is provide those mental health resources that are able to work with individuals who have little confidence and even less "grit" to realize their potential in which to at least try. But the reality is that until you face the truth you will get nothing but lies as lying is easy it makes you feel better. It absolves you of blame and responsibility. I get it. I really do living here in Nashville. The endless lying and bullshit is exhausting on the receiving end if you know it but most don't so it is the balm to heal the wound.
Winter leaves a lot of coldness in the air and the warm air of spring is often a balm to soothe the spirit. I just rely on spirits now and everyday wait for the coming of fall to exit this shithole called Nashville.