As I'm writing this, I have about 35 days until I return to Moscow. I'm on roughly the same countdown schedule as Bush's hyped transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government. My book project must be finished by then -- so when Bush's people tell us that "things are likely to get worse before the June 30th handover," I know what they're talking about.
But there's a huge difference, one that keeps my spirits up and gives me hope. After June 30th, I'll be back in Mother Russia, living a life again. What Bush's goons are failing to tell Americans is that for them, nothing at all will change or improve after June 30th. The handover of sovereignty isn't going to solve anything in Iraq, and in all likelihood the uprising and violence will only grow worse (at which point they'll say everything will improve after the national elections in 2005). Closer to home, not a single American's life is going to improve after June 30th. They'll still be as max'd-out, miserable, stressed, obese and bipolar as they were on June 29th.
What if I had to stay here in the U.S.? That's a thought that sends a chill up my rectum. What if I couldn't go back to Moscow? What about all the poor saps -- 285 million of 'em at last count -- who are trapped inside of America with no hot air balloon to take them over the Canadian border? How can anyone survive here?
My evil Mexican-American friend Ricky Ramirez developed a philosophy that has helped him survive in America. He calls his program "Embrace The Pain."
"The fuckin problem with people here is that they can't face reality, you know?" he says. "They can't be honest with themselves and just admit how totally fuckin horrible their lives are, how shitty their marriages are. Instead of just admitting, 'I'm a failure, my wife is a fuckin whore and I'm embarrassed to be seen in public with my loser children,' they just fuckin lie to themselves. It's like they're trying to hold off a fuckin disaster, when the disaster has already hit, man! The mudslide is already sweeping them into the fuckin lake, and they're goin, 'Yeah, everything's great.' No, dude, it's not great. You're fuckin dead. D-E-D, dead. You died when you turned 25, so fuckin deal, Jack.
"What I've learned is that you don't try to run from the pain, because life is fuckin pain. It's impossible to avoid, man. Okay fine, I'm a fuckin investment banker, corporate finance. The pain is unbelievable, you have no idea the assholes I deal with. They're the lowest, skymiest pigs on the face of the earth. But I tried quitting, man. Cuz I thought maybe, you know, I could just work in fuckin construction, not worry about money, not stress and freak out. I'm a fuckin Mexican, man, we're good at manual labor. I was digging pipe trenches at good hours, started bakin out every day, watchin Law & Order reruns, shootin hoops. Then I had to deal with a different pain. My family started losin respect for me. My girlfriend, she didn't think I was a man. I didn't have money to do the shit I like to do. You know, I like buying expensive shit, nice clothes, a nice car, so that I can show it off to all the gueros and say, 'Hey, you! You fuckin middle-class guero! Guess what? I'm richer than you, dumb-fuck! Where'd you get your clothes? Banana Republic? Ha! You get that shit on sale? You shop around for good prices? I get my threads at Barney's! I'm not a middle-class fuck like you, whitey. I'm a rich beaner! Ha-ha! You know those tax cuts Bush passed? They took money out of your Made in China pocket and put it into my Made in Italy pocket! Get it? Ha-ha!"
"I thought you were going to tell me about 'Embrace The Pain,'" I said.
"You're not listenin to me, Ames. When I quit banking, I didn't have enough fuckin money to laugh at other people who were poorer than me. I had to get all nice. That's what happens when you don't have enough money, man. You have to be fuckin nice to people."