Just moments ago, I noticed my dear friend posted on Facebook and used the phrase “political fatigue.”
Damn, if that doesn’t sum up everything, every which way and immediate.
I just finished taking a political science exam and writing out my own thoughts for an essay about the Iron Triangle. To be honest, I didn’t even know this term existed. When I took political science the first time, it was 1997. My book was hardback and we didn’t write opinion pieces. We read. Took notes. Read more. Took tests. I failed every bit of that class (and not for lack of attendance, much like my step aerobics class). I did go. I sat in tiny wooden desks (I’m not even kidding) and they had tops that resembled a painter’s palette. Okay, it might have been a bit longer than that, but not by much.
In 1997, I was studying to be a history teacher. Total passion. My first roommate in college was a sorority girl who showed up, shook my hand and then promptly told me she was moving in with her boyfriend. She left a forwarding number should her parents call. She had sandy brown hair and wore smart looking outfits- fitted jeans and t-shirts that had capped sleeves. I remember specifically the yellow shirt she had on because the stitches at the top puckered, which reminded me of flowers.
I never saw her again.
So I was free to lay about this tiny cell of a room and read all day and all night. The walls of my dorm were cinderblock and painted white. The floor was brown tile, similar to that in my junior high school. The bed was terrible and plastic.
No, I wasn’t in prison, I promise.
We didn’t even have an elevator. That wasn’t an issue until my second year, when I lived on the fifth floor. The only perk of living up there was the bathroom was sprawling and there was a claw foot tub. I know, how Sylvia Plath of the University. Only once did I see anyone in the tub and it was unfortunate. I stumbled down the hall one morning to shower, which was early for me, considering I worked third shift at a gas station/murder mart. As I kicked open the door with my foot, shampoo under one arm, loofa in the other, there was Jen, sprawled out in all her bathing glory. She was nice. Always trying to get me to go out and do things with some of the other girls. I did go once. Jen drove an old Mustang. The year escapes me, but it was the model that is most desired. And it was red. My thighs stuck to the black pleather seats. There was no air. We drove for hours on back roads and I couldn’t wait to get home and read.
That’s all I did. Read and smoke cigarettes in my room.
Napoleon. Henry VIII. Mary Queen of Scots. Jefferson. Bukowski. Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee. Cleopatra.
On and on.
Nights and nights.
Yet, the political science stuff was lost on me. How was it that I could read an entire novel on Napoleon, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open for three pages about Congress? I failed that class. Twice.
And here I am now, twenty years later, taking it again. Struggling to keep my eyes open reading about Congress, the Iron Triangle, Federalists. The only difference now, is that I can open my computer and Google anything I have a question on. I can hold my phone up and say, “Okay Google, tell me what’s the big deal about …” and my phone tells me!
Twenty years ago, I had to drag my ass into the library and hope to God there was someone at a table who could give me a run down on the next three chapters (there never was). This time around is different. Aside from the fact that I’m twenty years older, I also “get it.” I’ve voted. I’ve screamed at the tv. I’ve paid attention to local elections and state elections. On top of the reading and papers, there are also weekly discussions. I’ll spare you the grim details, but today, I just about came up out of my chair when I noticed the reoccuring theme:
A good chunk of my classmates didn’t vote because they didn’t think it would matter.
THIS IS EXACTLY WHY IT MATTERS!
I did manage to keep my emotions in check, but did bring it up with a few classmates who had mentioned the above. I mean, you didn’t vote? AT ALL? We are in a political science class! I just… words escape me really.
So, before I start to rage out again, I will say that I’m pretty sure I just passed this last exam and I’m still working on some responses for my classmates discussion topics. Which brings me to the point of political fatigue: I’m over it. It’s shoved down our throats every waking hour of the day. It’s splattered across the web. Social media is the devil- splitting families, friends and lovers due to their beliefs.
And here I am, taking a political science class.
God help me.
Just four more weeks.