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America is seeing more change than just new president

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On Wednesday morning I was privileged enough to drive my brother to school.

(I do feel as though I was somewhat of a failure, however. As I skidded off to enjoy a day at home sweet DLHS, I realized I had forgotten to shout, "Make good choices!" out the window of the eggplant-hued four-runner my parents allow me to steal away every so often, which not only embarrasses Montana in front of anyone else arriving, but certainly ingrains in his angst-ridden adolescent mind a moral code of conduct. My lapse has haunted me all week; I'm a terrible sister.)

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As we were approaching the middle school, my brother nodded toward the front windshield and commented, "That car reminds me of that one cell phone..."

How technologically-obsessed have we become? Montana sees a car and, instead of commenting on how cute it is (like I would) or how it must accelerate from 0 to 60 in record speed (like a few guys I know might), he relates it to a cell phone.

Oh, America!

When my mom commented on the new jeans I was wearing that day, and I asked her how she liked them, her gaze turned pointedly to the ragged knees, torn to the point where all you could see was, indeed, my knees. Yeah, they're new. Wore 'em for the first time that day. You know what they call jeans pre-destroyed to that caliber? "Distressed."

Yep, that's how freaked out we are in this country. Even our pants have anxiety. Converse are short on sleep. Sweatpants are coming down with sinus infections and sweater vests are snapping at their friends without realizing it. (Can you tell I'm an exhausted musical cast member? Subtlety isn't really my thing.)

When channel-surfing with my brother on election night (same thing on every channel!), we stopped on a commercial for a new version of Monopoly. It appeared to me more or less the same as the one we've been playing with since before my math skills were adequate to dare be the banker, except for that, in this snazzy fresh-off-patent-pending-status version, there is no need for a banker.

Instead, Mom, Dad, little brother and cute-girl-actress-whose-parents-control-her-paycheck all get credit cards, because the Parker boys have teamed up with Visa and sold their souls to America's inevitable indebtedness, which get swiped through a calculator-looking-majigger, which tallies your funds or lack-thereof while doing my calculus homework, as far as my understanding of the commercials can tell.

Thank God we don't have to count bills or see physical evidence of coughing up our hard-earned (or dealt out) cash to purchase Marvin Gardens with its leaky toilets or cheap Mediterranean Avenue with its underfed roaches.

Really? I mean...really? Oh, America...

The sweet little kid in the commercials has a bit about how she likes being able to do this fast or that fast, and now her favorite board game can be super efficient, too! This is wonderful, because when I sit down to spend some "old-fashioned" quality time with my family, I hope it'll be over soon so I can get back to my microwave meal in front of the television while I skim through a chapter for government.

(Note: My brother has informed me that Life has an automated-money version, too. Life, minus the effort it takes to count. Given the name of the game, it's actually rather fitting. I'm feeling more cynical by the moment.)

One morning this past week, as I was trekking from my parking spot -- approximately 16 days away from the front doors of the high school -- I passed a car with a Ouija board in the back seat. My first thought (after remembering how mine once told my friend that she'd die at 66) was that it was almost nice that some people still play games that are still sold in their original form.

And then I started to wonder if virtual Ouija plans are in process. I see the ads already: "Is actually moving your hands with the little plastic indicator too much physical exertion? Would you rather not have to think about spelling while contacting demonic spirits? Now you don't have to! Just ask your question into the included microphone which is wired into the spirit realm, and our new software will verbally respond! Great for birthdays, Halloween, and Arbor Day! Get yours now!"

You can hear the cheesy announcer voice, yes?

Yeah. America.

On Tuesday, I cast my first vote for president. Except for that I didn't because I won't be 18 until 20 days prior to Mr. Obama's swearing-in ceremony. But I did watch his and McCain's speeches on YouTube.

Beyond the fact that both made me cry, somewhere between McCain's hushing of his crowd's boos and Obama's thanking me personally for rejecting my generation's apathy and getting involved with the campaign, I realized that I do love America.

Only in our country can two men who've spent the past ridiculously-long-amount-of-time shooting each other down in TV advertisements and town hall debates speak peaceably of one another in their respective defeat and victory.

Only here can I get a letter in the mail from Sarah Palin that starts with "my friend..." and an e-mail from the president-elect in the same day.

I've never been patriotic, and if I get to school and realize I'm wearing red, white, and blue in the same ensemble, my chances of going home sick are substantial, but something got to me when watching them speak. Now, hear me out: I'm not going to trade the Les Miz lyrics in my head for the National Anthem or come to class dressed in an American flag.

Still...I realized how incredibly thrilled I am to live where we do, and to experience democracy in elections, and to see a nearly tied race and realize that our votes do count, and to watch a mother of five rise into the political arena, and to watch it all be mocked on national television without fear, and to hear politicians speak not only eloquently, but, I believe, honestly.

I'm not much for baseball, but I can eat half a pan of apple pie in a sitting. I won't pledge myself to a piece of fabric mounted on the wall, but I believe in hearing everybody's voice.

Moneyless Monopoly disturbs me to the umpteenth degree, but hearing hopes for the breakdown of partisan politics and a few ideals about manifesting change strike me with American sentiments I didn't know I had. Maybe we've got something good going on here.

Thressa Johnson is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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