Been hearing a lot lately from Europeans grateful as hell they don’t live in the US — talk of bigwigs like Boris Johnson renouncing his U.S. citizenship over tax bills from the states, in spite of never having lived there; gaffs at incredible student debt, astronomical medical charges and the general way the United States milks its citizens as cash cows as soon as they reach proverbial adulthood (though, like a patronizing, overprotective parent, won’t trust them with a drink til three years later.)
My distaste, as a citizen, has only grown since I left four years ago. Though not ungrateful for the luxury my citizenship has afforded me — ease of travel with my passport, for instance, or the ease of obtaining a new iPhone every two years under my family’s costly mobile contract, or the high-quality education that ironically led me to escape the holy land of capitalism in the first place — I still feel more emburdened by the things that define Americanness, the debt intended to enslave me, the brute sense of entitlement that follows like a stray dog until you learn to strangle it off, the intuitive affront at things deemed less civilized, that which is dirty, that which is poor; the social obligation to pretend to be nice until you’ve gotten what you want out of someone, to bend over backwards for the customer who, under sacred capitalist doctrine, is always right.
Capitalism has founded a culture based on for-profit falsities, people taught to swindle as a means to an end — a pasted-on smile and a high-pitched “How are you today?!” that, as we all know, is never intended to invite an honest answer. Like most of my friends without affluent parents, I’ve spent years sucking sacred customer dick in the service industry, tolerating patronizing verbal abuses of all those Good Christians who, you never know, might just be having a bad day — so don’t take it personal (if you do, you’ll be fired or worse — sued for inflicting emotional distress.) It pains me to envision forcing myself back into that industry; never again could I felate a customer for the sake of my job unless I go into literal prostitution, which pays better anyway. Fire me for self-defense or a refusal to bullshit, if you must. I’ll find another shit job, there are millions like it out there. That life is a mere mirage of living.
Then there’s the debt. My humble 22 grand used to be enough to keep me awake at night, until I decided it was a social tool to oppress and subdue me (which it is.)
Consider Noam Chomsky’s take:
“Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think. Tuition fee increases are a “disciplinary technique,” and, by the time students graduate, they are not only loaded with debt, but have also internalized the “disciplinarian culture.” This makes them efficient components of the consumer economy.”
I sought an education and was charged an inhuman amount as punishment. I do not, have never agreed with this system but have had no choice but to consent — rape at gunpoint is still rape. Seeking education is not a crime; a society which values its citizens and its future must encourage education and install incentives to seek it out, not punitive consequences. The USA has made its priorities quite clear, and they do not coincide with my own. At the risk of sounding like a cocky piece of shit, nothing is more valuable to me than my time, my youth, my vivacity — I refuse to devote the years of my 20’s, all this vigor and passion and potential, slaving away on the corporate ladder, or behind the sales counter deep-throating spoiled white people just to pay down my interest fees. They can tack the debt on me, but they don’t own my hide. Hit me with the consequences, USA. Threaten me with total financial ruin — the way I see it, with all this debt I’m already there. My years are mine. If I am so free, as a citizen of this Great Nation, then free I shall be and far I shall roam, unburdened by chains, financial or otherwise. The debt’s not going anywhere, so I’ll worry about it later on. Right now, I’ve got other priorities (marrying a charming, wealthy Canadian is relatively high on the list. Canada HMU.)
though he may watch you just that way
with narrowed eyes, a bitten lip
the taste of metal, scent of sweat
though he may say it perfectly
I want to make you bleed —
leave him sleeping.
though he may twist you
pin the hands and bite and growl
gouge you out just so
though he may tell you
you are my only need —
leave him sleeping.
when he tells you you are wrong
but does the same himself
when he tells you not to hurt
but draws the blood himself
when he tells you pretty lies
but keeps the truth for himself
leave him sleeping.
and when you hear her crying
though hidden she may be
clutching at your arms, your teeth, your brain
and begging listen — listen please,
don’t go forth unblinking, turn and
see her, take her with you
but leave him sleeping
leave him sleeping
leave him be.
three girls who couldn’t be alone: some dirty seething tracks in our family line that crumpled us and hooked us on the backs of conquerers for survival. you say I am a free woman but you wonder when the husband’s coming (as we know those tend to wait just around the corner.) the free woman now in the family and finally I have eyes to see, a life spent hiding my head (despite its size) between the thighs of creature comforts to distract from the very illness of just waking. you say I’m independent but depending can keep a person breathing for a while longer if the tank’s still got juice and the tracks don’t run too deep. only me to rely on: a bottle of iodine and a whole lot of gauze to get me through another night as creature comforts just don’t cut it anymore. time better spent on a threadbare single mattress with a hand in your pants and a distant memory of central heating. look out there, see those mountains? men go trekking there alone and do it fine and well. I’d go but it’s too risky for a woman alone so I’ll just keep to this mattress and cooking for one and wearing my underwear inside out because laundry can’t be done for another two weeks (shower wash on a dime with your feet while standing and hang-dry on a flammable heater.) even the best of laundry machines don’t always get the job done, you can’t erase a bleach stain or pretend you weren’t bleeding. the iron stays with you and so do the scars.