In the 8th grade I was afraid that my mom’s microwave would attack me in the middle of the night. I wish this was an exaggeration but it’s not. While most 8th grade girls worried about puberty and climbing the social ladder that is middle school…I spent most of 8th grade petrified that on December 31st, 1999 my microwave (or worst the rice cooker) was going to go ape-shit on me due to Y2K hysteria and countless predictions that the world as we knew it was going to end because Technology was on the attack.
The year was 1999 and I was 13 years old in my last year of middle school. I was obsessed with the show Roswell (a teen romance between an Alien and human), I had an embarrassing haircut that was part mullet part curl fest and my best friend was this nerdy boy named [Sam] who was both incredibly smart and dumb at the same time. We used to hang out all the time despite the fact that we had nothing in common except that middle school was unkind to us physically (re: part mullet part curl fest) and emotionally (because we were both loners and nerds struggling to connect to our peers).
At the time he was one of the only friends I had in middle school because I was new and from New York and everyone assumed I was a bad seed because my accent was weird. Except [Sam], who was kind and funny and liked having me around because it meant he had someone to eat lunch and walk the hallways with.
[Sam’s] dad worked for an IT company and in 1999 once rumors about Y2K spread he was scared that his dad would lose his job if technology was this obsolete thing. While that year and decade pre-dated smart phones and our current expansive and frightening technological reality, in 1999 we were all still aware that we relied heavily on technology. Even if by technology you mean AOL chat-rooms and web-tv. At the time, we did not have a computer in our home but we figured the Y2k bug would affect electricity as well as basic appliances, not just computers. So when word spread that a simple error over some 00’s could shut shit down permanently…we were scared.
Just the other day I had a mini breakdown when my internet was down for all of 5 seconds. My internet of course is connected to everything which meant I couldn’t surf the web on my phone, watch Netflix and play games on my Chrome book or stream Spotify on my ipod. With the internet down there was a brief moment of complete and utter “life is over. I am disconnected from everything. who am I?” before the amazing bars of wifi appeared again on my phone and I disappeared back into my internet heavy life. Because this is my life now it’s strange to think that even in 1999 with our limited knowledge of the interwebs, everyone was aware enough to know that a shutdown of technology could be disastrous.
When the Y2k craze began I was aware enough to know that it could affect more than just my ability to visit Roswell fan sites . Y2K sounded scary because it was described as the end of life as we knew it. My obsession and fear of microwaves on the attack was birthed from this doomsday prediction that the media of course perpetuated. My brother and I watched an hour long special about Y2K and in that show they played out different alternatives for what could happen on December 31st. Only one of the alternatives was “absolutely nothing” while the other scenarios included; alien invasions, year long black-out/power outages and what scared my brother and I the most “Technology on the Attack”.
In one scenario an actor is standing in their kitchen warming up food in the microwave minutes before Midnight on December 31st. As the clock strikes 12, the microwave goes absolutely crazy (along with every other device in the actors apartment) and starts to destroy everything in sight. I have never been so scared in my whole entire life watching various appliances come to life and go ham on this poor guy. I had nightmares for days after seeing this and it didn’t help that the person I went to to assuage these fears was [Sam] whose dad worked in IT.
Anytime I would ask him what the probability was that we were screwed come December 31st, he’d say pretty high and then list the non-nonsensical reasons why we were doomed.He seemed most concerned that his dad would lose his job and they would be forced to live like savages in the dystopian world that would soon follow. I was afraid my mom’s microwave would attack me on midnight along with the other appliances, and to this day I find myself apologizing to inanimate objects when i bump into this…just…in…case.
Of course on January 1st 2000, when we all woke up to our normal lives (and no deaths were reported from malfunctioning appliances) I felt stupid for having worried so much but was of course relieved that my fears did not come to life.
Unfortunately, that same fear and hysteria of Y2k has returned ten fold this year in the form of this presidential election and I can’t believe I had to endure the same panic stricken, anxiety filled sense of doom of 1999 all over again. 2016 has been a fucking weird year and I am faced with oddly the same anxieties that I had 17 years ago “Is the world going to end when the clock strikes 12” “are we heading into the dark ages” “is my microwave going to kill me” but instead of having a series of things to worry about, I just worry about one big old thing that some how combines all of my fears into one. One big old orange faced thing…one big old racist, sexist, misogynist thing and I am scared shit-less and this time around I don’t have a nerdy boy friend to awkwardly hug in the hallways to assuage those fears.
This election is killing me. Just killing me and while I am not going politicize this blog with who I am voting for (and I’d respect if you not politicize my blog or the comments with who you are voting for), I must stress who I am not voting for because that candidate goes against everything that I am and strive to be as an American, as a woman and as a person of color. But even if all of those attributes did not apply to me, I would still not vote for that candidate because his ability to dehumanize Americans, women and P.O.C, still stands against everything I am as a kind and decent human being.
But i can’t help but correlate the Y2K hysteria with this current election season. The last few months have been filled with uncertainty and doomsday predictions that put 1999 to shame. Just today, I listened to another newscaster spell out the various scenarios that could happen tomorrow AND honestly after listening to her dismal predictions (that either way there is going to be a huge group of American’s upset about the outcome) I would actually prefer being attacked by a microwave on November 8th, 2016 than wake up on November 9th in an America driven by hate and fear.
I’ve voted in every presidential election since I was 18 years old but this is actually the first election where I am voting in New York. This election, for many reasons, feels monumental to me and could go down as one of the more important elections of my lifetime that unfortunately has little to do with the history that could be made tomorrow.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that I am a “left-wing” liberal so you may already by turned off by my views on the Election. I get it, I really do. I believe in all rights for all people regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation. I identity as a feminist not because I am a woman but because I believe in equal rights. I know that all lives matter but I recognize and pay attention when black lives ( matter) and LGBTQ lives (matter )and blue lives (matter) and Muslim lives (matter) need to take precedence because of injustice.
I attend Pride parade every year, I believe in equal pay for women but also paid maternity leave for the mama bears out there wanting to have a family and a career. I am all for stricter gun laws and that private citizens should not have access to military arsenal. I believe that women’s reproductive choices should be hers and hers alone. I care about the environment (a lot) and I think if someone wants to go to college in this country they should not have to sell their first born to Sallie Mae to obtain a degree only to spend post college years struggling to get a entry level job and pay back loans with astronomical interest rates.
So, I get it….for many reasons I am probably not the demographic for the conservative brothers and sisters but this doesn’t mean I am against conservatism. This doesn’t mean that I don’t respect people who hold different values then my own. I can look past party lines and will always put my country first because outside of my own gender and race, outside of my own self identification, I am above all else an American. So while I may not agree with some things that the rest of the country holds dear I try not to judge harshly against views that are different then mine unless those views are racist, sexist, misogynist or discriminatory.
So there is no amount of rhetoric that can convince me that the abhorrent words and actions of one candidate is better for the America I love and believe in.
But I am freaked the fucked out about tomorrow as if it were December 31st, 1999 all over again because apparently this is something that people need to convinced about. The outcome of tomorrow feels calamitous and bleak and I honestly would rather have an alien invasion, attacking toasters and the complete and utter shut down of the inter-webs than 4-8 years of his presidency. It is not about him not representing my “left-wing” liberal lifestyle, it’s about the ugly and divisive nature of his campaign. He does not represent the America I know or believe in. He is not the face of the America we fought years to become.
Because if I can be honest, I am not just offended by his campaign mainly because he openly insults women and minorities and communities of different faiths. I am not just offended by his campaign because in high school I was told by a guidance counselor that I shouldn’t apply to college because “my people” didn’t succeed in collegiate settings and that maybe I should consider working at like a “Walmart or something”. I am not just offended because as a women I have been told that I was not attractive enough to want things in life like happiness and success.
I am offended by his campaign because I do not have to be a left wing liberal or a right wing conservative or a blue collar worker or a Wall Street elite in order to take great offense to comments that dehumanize America and the human beings who call her home (by birth or by choice)
I am offended as an American voting in this election for all the people in this country who are at risk of losing their basic right to pursue the American dream because of this divisive language that rejects progress and compromise. Outside of my own race, gender and religion I am offended as an American when he reduces all African Americans to “inner city dwelling thugs” with no hope or promise of a better future. As an American I am offended by his statements that reduces Mexican’s to rapists and murders. As an American I am offended by statements that categorize Muslims as terrorist bent on destroying American lives.
No matter what party line I’ve chosen to straddle or self identifying group I am a part of…I am above all a person with a moral compass who wants all people in this country to have equal opportunities to succeed and thrive. I have heard people say this wouldn’t even be a race if Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders were running. I have heard people say they will move out of this county if that candidate wins. But some of us can’t leave, some of us do not have the resources, or the money or the privilege to jump ship. And I recognize that my vote tomorrow is not about party it is about morality and my attempt to prevent something we cannot come back from unscathed.
I am not nor will I ever be with him. I believe with my whole heart that we are more unified and stronger together than apart. I believe in unity and moving forward and repairing the cracks made deeper and uglier by this election. I believe that we will make history tomorrow and that they day after tomorrow and the day after that tomorrow we will move forward stronger and better. I can’t imagine waking up on November 9th, 2016 in any America other than that one but I can’t ignore the other scenario. I have to consider and prepare for even that scenario as the days have become hours until Election Day. It’s a scenario I pray will never come to light but i’d be ignorant to ignore it as one.
On December 31st, 1999 I remember sleeping through New Years Eve because if something bad did happen, I wanted to be safe in bed and unaware. By then we were all pretty freaked out about what could happen at midnight. I of course imagined the worst. I thought the clock would strike midnight and the opening scene of Terminator was going to be my new reality and because of this fear I just wanted December 31st to be over with so I could figure out how to adapt next: be it in a technology-less world or a return to normalcy. Because of this, I went to bed early and stared at the ceiling as my mom and brother counted down the seconds until midnight. I held my breath. I prayed to God and Mother Nature and Buddha. I prayed that if something bad did happen that my family and I would be safe and find a way to rebuild in a post-apocalyptic world. I prayed that the microwave would not kill me. I prayed for a long time on that one.
And while I don’t quite remember the relief I felt on January 1st, 2000, I know that I will remember the relief that can only be experienced on November 9th, 2016. That this nightmare will be over, that our basic goodness and humanness will prevail tomorrow and that even though we might not be the same America as yesterday we will be a stronger America together.