I commit to writing every day. Not like in the Artist’s Way, which I think I still own. Wow, I just went and found it, opened to the beribboned page 48, and found this: “Crazymakers are expert blamers…Crazymakers create dramas but seldom where they belong…Crazymakers hate order…” On this day, Julia Cameron’s words leap off the page, and you know, it was just a lark that I used today’s prompt “A life of art” and figured I would talk about the folly of my attempts at morning pages. For months, I created three pages of drivel as adjudged by the older Catherine Tripp upon review of her journals. Just lists of things to do, and random musings. Same thing with writing daily blogs – nobody’s life is that interesting. So for me, dedicated spurts are the best, but I kept The Artist’s Way and boy, did it deliver timely advice. On this day, when Toadies on Capitol Hill are objecting to the certification of the electoral college. On this day, when the Senate has just been evacuated, tear gas loosed inside to counter mobs waving Trump 2020 flags. I did start my day on Facebook Live Feeds countering trolls. After listening to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at long last ask his fellow Republicans to stop contesting the election, I kept posting his words – that “the doubt was incited without evidence”. Never thought I’d hear Senator McConnell do anything but agree with Orange 45. The maelstrom was eminently avoidable but for the ego and fear of a cadre of Pro Oppressives. I think the reason they are holding on to power with such fervor means that they must have done terrible things that will be exposed. We start with our Southern Border and the internment camps built around it where motherless children are still being held against their will. And I will end this daily write with Julia Cameron’s advice: “If you are involved in a tortured tango with a crazy maker, stop dancing to his/her tune.”
America arrives at the doors of 2021 and we say:
Welcome to the United States of Intolerance,
we will not be inviting love in the door.
Signs of support for one party or another
will be vandalized on the street where you live.
We will stop calling these warring factions “parties”.
It’s us against them, when the world reopens.
Knowing that shouting through spittle did not take a break,
we log on, click like, swap clever memes in closed groups
that do not invite love in the door.
manifest in a cult of personality.
manifest in tearful farewells.
I try not to swirl my thoughts like a mist on a wand
I don’t have a magic jar to store them in
and Hogwarts is closed due to Covid.
Stage lights on,
the Go-alongs to Get-alongs are hard to see
in their tawdry costumes of frayed lace and pre-washed denim.
Stage lights off,
House lights up,
their pancake makeup streaked with tears,
the players awaken only to be ignored
by these United States of Intolerance
as they sing in venues filled with echoes
“Life is a cabaret, old chum, come to the cabaret”
The players will invite love in the door
and the masked audiences will file in
forgetting neither evil nor goodness
when the world reopens.
What made you awful isn’t over yet. Here in the United States, until a new President is sworn in, the Reign of Error continues unabated. The sycophants suggesting Martial Law cannot even spell it. Pardons are being handed out like kisses at the world’s most expensive kissing booth – and this kiss comes with a lick of plague. Over fifty countries still ban incoming U. S. travelers, and you know, given how irresponsible my fellow citizens have acted throughout the length of your reign, 2020, who can blame them?
2020, you have blurred the line between natural disaster and man-made disaster. Humankind has suffered plagues before, has suffered floods and famines and fires before, suffered earthquakes and hurricanes before, just not everywhere and all at once. It’s like we were saddled up and tied like kids on a maniacal pony ride where uniformed personnel are ordered to pick out dark riders, set them on fire and shoot their pony. Is a plague of locusts a natural disaster or did we flush them out, like Wuhan bats? Are wildfires in the hundreds a natural disaster or did the West Coast move the water too far towards the cities? Even now, the future is not clear, and hindsight is not 20/20.
2020, you were a locomotive, truly loco, at top speed, heedless and careless. Every person, every place, every thing was standing in harm’s way. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men marched in circles, firing shots at protestors and shouting curses instead of giving life-saving shots to doctors and nurses.
2020, your toxic nature lingers, even and unto the day we take back the White House from Humpty Dumpty and we free all the king’s horses and arrest all the king’s men. Those of us who worked hard and paid our taxes and wrote checks to Democratic challengers, we will tear down the wall that Humpty Dumpty sat upon, scrape up the shells, the whites and the yolks and compost the mess.
These days, I loop between incredulous and compassionate – so much suffering, so much innovative kindnesses, “Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean, come let me love you…” I press the play button in my head, and all day, I’m a John Denver recording. Blessing or curse, you choose.
The likelihood that life will resume a normal path is akin to a storm in the desert, and oceans are never sleepy, there is always life underwater, always currents, always movement.
In my dreams, I wander through big hotel lobbies and elevator banks, and long hush-carpeted hallways, all the grimy basement entrances and dreary lobby restaurants looking dowdy between patrons. I don’t know why my mind wanders there, sometimes I shop at the dress boutiques, but always, they are too lacey and too frilly and too small, no matter how far back I push into the maximum markdown areas. When I exit, which is always a trial, it’s a multi-story city scape with mirrored surfaces and inscrutable high-rises. And I can’t hail a cab, or the currency I am carrying is from the wrong country, but I always have a plane to catch and I always wake up wondering if it took off without me. I suffer from lost-o-phobia I guess. Not consciously, but I do prefer printing out the map and directions and tracing it out with my fingers – GPS is not all it’s cracked up to be on an island in the middle of the Pacific. It adds to there being so much to double-check before departing the house. And this year, businesses and landmarks are dropping out of sight, but still show up on conglomerating websites that never check their data. Hours of operation are totally unreliable – people want to work, but lockdowns and months of unemployment make it hard to lure customer-facing workers back to non-shuttered locations. Maybe the empty lobbies and dowdy restaurants are simply a vision of the future, and lost-o-phobia comes out at night to show me that I am afraid all the familiar places will be echo chambers and dust collectors when I do venture out. And the currency thing – well at last count something like 100+ countries would not allow American citizens to land on their soil. So there’s that. That I think I’m going to tour Scotland next year, that I think I will see wildlife in Kenya, but that all depends on plague numbers, and they keep going up, and what if I land in the wrong country and cannot get home? Maybe I am not crazy, maybe I am just being honest with my subconscious, that pitiless vixen.
On this day, my get up and go
Got up and went.
Yoked to my own ambition
I plod forward
Horns down, hooves solid, just pull.
But I look out the window where
The pink trunks of Queen Emma lilies
gleam in the daily dose of sunshine
meted out by the goddesses of Hawaii
I am thinking in paragraphs
bumping into an indent
One more tab in
and the plodding thought
lands like a cow pie
So I start again
these fields of imagination
aren’t going to plow themselves.
It’s just a Christmas tree,
just some goofy colorful ornaments
stockings on hooks
Santas on stands
These tall doors don’t accommodate wreaths
Just a couple sparkly outdoor ornaments
Just a little printed message
carved out and painted silver
Just a sparkly J and an O and a Y
to greet the oh-so-occasional visitors
But it is a bit of cheer
kept in bins, out in the garage
and every year, we decide
whether to decorate or hunker down
This year passed, filled with curses and lies
This year past, of all the years
Sprouted hope like mung beans in the fridge
Just in time to turn the tide
and I decorate
with a J and an O and a Y
at the front door.
Piles of papers, some financial, some literary, some household related, I sigh and walk away. I mean the state the world is in here in November of 2020. Thinking all this would serve as inspiration, that writing it out would help. Instead, I find myself wanting to go to Strawberry Fields where “nothing is real, and there’s nothing to get hung about”, but I am hung. Spiritual leaders advocate letting go, accepting change, embracing impermanence. Our ancestors came across the ocean, bought a farm, and stayed there – had ten kids, taught them animal husbandry, awakening in the pearly grays of dawns to begin work. Hard work. Every 50 years or so some great invention would increase efficiencies. News came in handwritten letters that arrived a month after they had been written. And each stroke of the pen had thought behind it. Not like typing. Not like posting on social media. And they stayed where they were planted. This, this global pandemic, this resurgence of oppressive regimes, this fire hose of information, scarcely any of it reliable – they experienced some of this. But not at this pace, not at warp speed. My grandfather served in two World Wars, you know, and it messed him up, he killed himself at 54 years old. Would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder if anybody was admitting it. Back then, to have such a disease was shameful. I wonder if my DNA is haunted down to the last helix, and I’m bitching about quarantines. Everything changes, I know this, down to my bones, I know this. But I am comfortable here. Physically comfortable. We saved up for retirement, we made plans. Gaia laughs. Ok, I am cancelling the pity party, and keeping up the submissions to the contests. And Zooming with my friends. Attitude of gratitude, let’s all dance like nobody’s watching, because, really, nobody is.
Let me tell you about Barack Obama and how the hateful opposition sneeringly lengthened his name to Barack Hussein Obama while simultaneously shortening Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third into “Jeff”. Not one, but two Confederate Army officers honored by his parents, embedded in his name. Trying so hard to please his boss, the Great Divider, no draconian policies were good enough or mean enough if investigations proceeded however well justified.
This is something not up for grabs, my voice, my vote, my vagina. Scandal upon scandal, vie for venal victory, and former friends shrug and call us Socialists, a would-be epithet I shall embrace. If my Libertarian, dyed in the wool capitalism can be called socialism, well doesn’t that just open the flood gates to Upside Down World? And I really don’t think asserting that “the sun’ll come up tomorrow” can convince the Flat Earth Society that they need to shut the fuck up. My mail-in ballot was received and I assume counted, but there rises the specter of hanging chads, and maybe the Chads and Chips and Chucks should be hung, by the raised collars of their sporty shirts.
Authoritarian Regime after Regime – how many more? And Frank Zappa sings in my head that “It can’t happen here, ‘cause I’ve been checkin’ it out…Suzie Creamcheese, this is the voice of your conscience speaking”…
In the deep South, women dress in hoop skirts and sing the praises of the of their plantation museums, like anything about the Antebellum South is worthy of praise. Docents guide visitors through the Grand House, clippety clopping down the tree lined drive in dainty carriages they arrive at the lovingly restored mansions and only in some plantations, the ones I visited, are the slave cabins preserved.
In retrospect, breaking up the Divided States, letting the Confederacy spin off (good riddance) into a separate nation, imagining a different outcome, where there is no Electoral College, where winners of the popular vote just fucking win. A stalemate in an earlier war, agreeing to go our separate ways and Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman lived long active lives, where John Brown’s body and those of his murdered sons never did molder in the grave. Passengers on the Underground Railroad making it to freedom funding the rebellion, burning down the mansions and putting up plaques honoring the laborers. From a safe distance pointing to the Mason/Dixon line and saying “There’s evil in them thar hills”.
This is what we don’t know – the flowers picked, you girls gone to husbands, young men gone to soldier, every one – when will they every learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?It’s just all so repetitive, all so sickening, all so backwards. Hate is always propaganda and propaganda is always hate, and power corrupts absolutely. Chin Shr Huang Di ate mercury for immortality. Mao Ze Dong ate opium balls and let syphilis drive him mad, and the Four Olds were attacked and destroyed by blinded followers. Stalin brutally murdered his opponents, Rome begat Caligula, Hitler begat the Final Solution and these are DEAD dictators. Former President Trump cozies up to today’s bloodthirsty power mad megalomaniacs and here’s where Russia fits in – when democracies band together, invasion and annexations become harder to pull off. Bullies are right now licking their wounds – injuries sustained by the mere hint of disagreement, by the unforgiveable sin of dissent. They set about to silence voters where voting IS allowed, and to simply jail those of lesser means. Gaia, they are so brittle, resentful of a beautiful autumn day in early November when we threw a rock at the wall of sycophants surrounding the Emperor with no clothes. On the inside of the wall, he is striding purposefully in imaginary finery. Emerging weeks later, he dons a perfectly tailored coat and shuffles down the ramp to a guilt laden obscurity.
On this day, November 4, 2020, I am vacillating, so shook up, my limbs are vibrating. The polls have been closed for less than a day, and our fractured alliance of states are counting ballots at wildly different rates. So much voter suppression, outright sabotage of the Post Office, and really, it’s all coming from the cult of personality. Speaking of disenfranchising makes me sound like Mary fuckin’ Poppins because the sheer magnitude of the raw power grabs of 2020 does not have enough adjectives, it strains my vocabulary.
Super Cali Fragile istic sounds like a Chamber of Commerce tag line gone wrong. Those eminence greasies would never admit that California was, is, fragile. Acquiescing to the ugly rule of Viagra popping losers, oh Gaia, I hate the patriarchy SO much! My pen drips disappointment on the page. Last night, I paced, looping, feet shuffling, grabbing items and putting them somewhere else, a strong fingered pull to order, to some semblance of control in a world careening to destruction.
No more “snowflakes” in California, people, the wildfires burnt them out of the sky. History is looping, I am adrift in a foreign land, driving at dusk in a sundown town, the posse locking and loading , pickup trucks revving, ready to attack us Hippie Peace Freaks. As the muffled disagreements within the European Union break it apart, so too our shady alliances with closeted misogynists are put on display, as they seek to break apart equality and justice.
Blue wave hits low tide and the Red Death strides across each beach, drowning hope in the color of blood. Olly olly oxen free to trample, to stampede, to crush, to destroy.
Fellow Americans, my ass. Pro oppression, pro corruption, anti-choice Thugs. Ugh. They are laughing at our Blue Wave memes. Wearing pearls not bring Ruth Bader Ginsberg back. Selling, them and other jewelry and donating the proceeds…I dunno. Already sifted out unwanted baubles and gave them away. Hoop earrings and face masks get tangled up in each other and necklaces attract kitten chomps, so definitely don’t need that many.
Throw in the towel? Or flip the Senate? Craven and depraved leadership, the ones blocking five hundred or so bills passed by the House, the GOP (Gaggle of Peckerheads) sits on them, shits on them, and I’m not ever going to say “The American People” that overused phrase – because there is no such thing. It’s us against the misogynists and oh for fucks’ sake, us against actual people who actually believe slavery was not that bad. Leaves me praying for the Black Madonna to experience a Virgin Birth and this Savior weaves a story of a return to kindness. Types it out and posts it as he says it so some poorly qualified apostles can’t misquote and twist the meaning this time around.
I pledge allegiance to the facts and United States of Compassion, and to the Republic we used to have, no one nation, no one god, with Liberty and Justice for all.
I used to ask my mom, in the five years or so before her passing, “Tell me about something beautiful today.” You know, just to break up the litany of malfunctioning body parts. Now that I am in my 60’s I’ve noticed how so many of my conversations veer towards doctors and procedures, prescriptions and pulled muscles, I have to then ask myself – tell the story of something beautiful, something heartwarming, some act of kindness that you witnessed today. It seems especially hard this year, 2020, a time filled with curses and lies. A maelstrom of trends colliding and crashing as the Earth strikes back.
Envisioning the scenario before us, all over the planet, people shudder. Our differences, in color, in gender, in poverty, in wealth, in education, in ego, in endless combinations of faiths, are rivening the species.
Civil unrest (and I mean that literally – peaceful, civil protests every night) remind us that all is not well. A broken economy, proletariats and bourgeoisie, or as the children these days put it, some people are just booshie. Earth is rearing up, in fury, the four elements wind water fire and rock are getting flung at us humans. The news dwells gleefully on the craven con men, parsing nonsensical pronouncements from on high in only one country, this one. Seldom mentioning the struggles and triumphs of populations elsewhere. Blasphemous me, I can’t help but see that blind faith in one book, in one origin myth, leads inexorably towards blind faith in men who say they have the answers.
Education through visual storytelling, can be, and is instantaneously disseminated. So that’s Trend One. Live moving images widely available within seconds of violence having been perpetrated, sometimes while it is actually happening “in real time” – think about that – real time. Not fake time. We hear the sounds of pleading, and see the images of a white uniformed man calmly murdering a handcuffed black man; released before editing or tampering can take place. Instantaneous publication is a double-edged sword. No context, and we viewers have to string together outrage after outrage, so we can pile up enough to build a case for killing racism before it kills another innocent American. But we knew, all of us, we knew. American history from the textbooks glorifies war, buries the contributions of women and people of color. Still and to this day we gloss over the horrific crimes, the blood spilled, the moral stains on our national conscience. What do we tell our kids? Tell the truth honey, and I won’t be mad. Lying about what you did is so much worse than breaking a vase. The child can clean up the scattered shards but broken trust bows to no broom. Genocide bad. Detention camps for would be immigrants – bad. De-humanizing other humans – bad. Even after the specific crimes cease, pretending they didn’t happen invites the wound to fester. We know this.
Trend Two is the “Drawbridge Up” mentality at national borders everywhere (Brexit). Emigrants reviled, asylum seekers punished at home and abroad – Britain for the British, Syria for the Syrians, Southerners for Secession (wait, is this still festering?) coded eugenics for the modern age. Ukraine for the Russians or shall we say the taking, ban the Muslims, stop trading with the Chinese – hegemony and manifest destiny remain the golden goals. Autocracy blossoms where reason fears to tread.
Trend Three is the stark transfer of wealth, the rich and powerful are not pretending to share anymore. What a relief that must be for them. Sneering that $600 dollars a week will make the recipients lazy, while ignoring the fact that $600 million dollars a week will make the recipients crazy – for more. Philanthropy demands results now, a measurable improvement for rich men to brag about. I run with the Big Dogs and trip them when I can. I navigate the abyss with malice aforethought. Time is money. In my youth, I decided that the biggest difference between economic classes of people was the value of time. The rich could look seven years into the future and see a doctorate paying off. Delayed gratification meant to me that no matter what my means (or income) I must always live below it, in good years and in bad. Feeding today’s urge with yesterday’s money would leave me flat. On Halloween, I would put my candy away (some in the freezer) and would still be eating it in December. This drove my brother and sister crazy, and then, just as that ran out, there was the candy from our Christmas stockings – I very slowly consumed that candy too. Betcha dollars to donuts you know somebody like that, you know the ones who did not spend their dollars on donuts.
Trend Four is the abrupt cessation of businesses worldwide. Global supply chains broken, idling ships and planes and trucks and automobiles. The blind rush to accumulate treasure halted so we look around, see our co-habitators (some call them our germ bubbles) and hear the children these days, listening to them learn in the new worldscape of empty cubicles as we eschew recycled air and highrises. Empty classrooms, shuttered restaurants and department store bankruptcies are just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath what we can see, the frozen misery of the unemployed lurks and waits for the Ship of State to collide. Like flies caught in amber, they cannot escape, and there is a mad captain at the helm.
Trend Five is fire and flood. All worse than ever – excluding the Jurassic and perhaps the Pleistocene eras, we do indeed have Weather Weirding. Climate crisis and all this continues even while highways and streets empty and the air clears over cities that haven’t seen stars for fifty years. All that improvement wiped out by wildfire smoke in the skies that hangs in the air for weeks.
Trend Six is the emboldening of hate-based -isms. Hostility by proxy, these electronic texts typed by pundits and nobodies deliver messages of venom and bitter jealousy. Words provided by the vitriol-spewing former reality show stars whose towering destructive anger has their parents, even in their golden years, cowering in fear. Traitors who blithely accept this disgusting behavior, they can go live with the consequences. Perhaps those who run, hurling insults and invective as they flee, perhaps they glimpsed the red-hot edges, not completely hidden, of a roiling anger, lighting torches for a Sherman’s March through a Narcissistic Landscape. Behind my eyes, below the surface, they are just a thin layer away from magma level rage. I really do not understand the unreasoning fear of people stepping outside of strict gender roles. The meaning of Roe v. Wade is right there in the angry puffed faces of the misogynists fighting for Spermatozoan Sacredness. Here’s my wish for them, those anti-choice thugs, those Viagra-popping losers, that they cannot orgasm unless a woman comes first. Forever and ever.
At least the Pandemic has led late night talk show hosts to don more unisex clothing. Now it’s hoodies and polo shirts and sometimes even denim, whereas before it was Suit and Tie, button down long sleeved shirt, socks and shiny shoes. Always the Suit and Tie, Suit and Tie, lose the socks – how about some flip-flops? How about wearing false eyelashes, plucking your hairy eyebrows, donning an off-the-shoulder gown or blouse, just once, just once, break the damn code – wear a puffy shirt, cargo pants, a skirt – anything to show you understand how restricting those dress codes truly are. Underneath that thin veneer of “showing respect by dressing in a suit” you must realize it perpetrates stereotypes, right? That “dress code” doesn’t really apply to both men and women does it? Pantsuit Nation is still trying to normalize that mode of dress, yet the condescension continues, apace. And the outright persecution of cross-dressing queens and transgender humans – what the hell did they ever do to the Boogaloo Boys – and take off those Hawaiian shirts and put down those tiki torches – you’re making your mama ashamed. How does a transgender person taking a poop going to harm your precious perceptions? I mean, is your pecker so small that gender roles must be shriveled as well? Put on a nice summer dress, boys, and feel free to browse the cosmetics aisles – make up for everyone! Sequins all around! The Patriarchy is not working out for anyone.
So, gird your loins, people, this election is something the compassionate among us need to win.