January 19, 2017… Day T-minus-1
Radio alarm brought me tidings or Andrew Puzder, Department of Labor appointee. I also heard snippets of one of his “bikinis and burger” ads for Carl’s Jr. It’s a dull, sludgy morning, but I am not in touch with any particular existential dread or worry. Just dull and sludgy. It’s the last day before Trump’s inauguration. The fact bounces off me and falls to the floor.
I listen to a bunch of podcasts at work. I like a certain mirth, a certain dark sobriety beneath the mirth, a certain sense of genuine friendship between co-hosts. I like occasional wild laughter, but I don’t like it to be laugh-a-minute. I like understated sincerity. I don’t want anyone to try too hard. They’ve gotta be smart people who have ZERO need to *seem* smart. That’s what I look for as much as subject matter.
The podcast I made myself listen to today, which I did not enjoy at all, was Ezra Klein alone, talking to guest Elizabeth Kolbert about how screwed we all already are about climate change. It was depressing. I didn’t want to listen. It gave me a flashback to something I’ve thought of several times since the election. Last lecture before going home for Christmas, December 1996, when I was an 18 year old freshman. Our ecology professor explained step by step how there was no point in fighting it, climate change was on track to get us all. We should just enjoy civilization while it lasted because we were all doomed. I was so stricken, a quietness descended that lasted almost 24 hours, on my whole lonely plane trip home. I thought, “should I even go back to school?” All I could think of was holing up in a cabin in the woods. So anyway, that was no way to talk to the youth.
A schoolmate from home, Janine Gibbons, painted this portrait of her daughter and posted it on Facebook today. She encouraged us to share it, print it, put it out in the world for the marches on Saturday. The marches, plural. Something like 600 of them, around the world. I admire this friend. She didn’t grow up in a liberal, literary, comfy haven like I did. She came to her positions the roundabout way, on her own. She is also a fearless artist and entrepreneur, and I covet the earrings she designs.
Today was saying goodbye to Obama day, and the love hit me in the early afternoon. We’re so busy armoring ourselves emotionally for tomorrow, we can forget to feel our feelings. Well, I don’t forget to feel my feelings–I don’t want to feel them. The Obamas are uncomfortable to think about.
Three different mom friends told me they thought the logistics of the women’s march was just going to be too much for them this weekend.
In the afternoon, I call the office of a Republican State Senator Mark Schoesler. He was on video telling a reporter “None of your business” when he was asked when the Republicans would bring forth a plan to fund education. I tell him that I noticed, and that I consider the free press as an important part of a functioning democracy. That what the reporter was asking was, in fact, the business of all of us.
When I got home after work, I got a piece of actual mail today, a letter from my aunt. She will be marching in her town. She turned 70 recently. The card was written in the smooth, confident writing of a former school teacher. She said she’d knitted pussy hats for herself, all her sisters, and her mom. She didn’t think her mom could march, but they were seeing about parking her somewhere in her pussy hat. My aunt said she realized the hats were ridiculous, but she hadn’t been able to stop knitting. She said she knew the march probably wouldn’t do any good but all the same, she felt “fierce delight” at the prospect of marching in protest. Her name for Trump is “Tweety.”
Reading my aunt’s letter, I feel fierce solidarity with her, fierce gratitude. Once again, love cracks through the protective dullness. Once again, I have the sensation that we are all holding hands as we sweep toward a terrible fall. I feel the sweep toward danger, but I also feel the hands I’m holding, the hands holding me.