Category Archives: Rants and Laments

The Gilded Age with Hangers

Can I eat this? Will I survive eating this?

Rihanna in her pregnant glory, aglitter. Hillary Rodham Clinton in a toned-down red satin gown with famous women embroidered along the hem. Say their names: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt. Blake Lively makes a satiny ascent, waterfalls of silk trailing behind her.

And the men! My favorite was the one who looked like a pirate — tall black boots, a string holding up his pants. I can’t think of his name. The young man with lavender hair and ruffled collar was yummy too — setting off discussions about male manicures.

At the very moment Glenn Close exploded onto the red carpet in day-glo pink, someone in the hallowed halls of justice leaked a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Can I eat dissonance? Will I survive this? Will our daughters?

Repeat after me: a Christo-fascist state. Learn to say it. We now have a court that isn’t even political, it’s fucking religious.

Instead of calling right-wing stunts “performative nonsense,” how about calling them acts of terrorism? Wiping out two districts of Black voters in Florida, letting billions of dollars of food rot at the border just to make his opponent look bad, creating criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions.

I want to go back to an era when watching guests at the Met Gala is an exercise in petty judgment. Who looks fabulous, who looks ridiculous, where do we find the best cleavage and the ritziest jewels?

There wasn’t time for anyone to design a gown out of wire hangers. There wasn’t time for women to attach bloody ribbons to their lace.

If justice exists in the sky, can we coach her to come lower, to re-establish domains in Appalachia, in Houston, Miami, and the Ozarks? The fact that they surrounded the pillared halls of justice with fencing this morning tells you something.

But maybe we should skip the pink hats this time and work the phones instead. Waltham, the next town over, is sponsoring a protest tonight and I feel tired just thinking about it. I’ve been to two there already — one in support of releasing the Mueller Report and I can’t remember the other.

She can’t remember all the protests she went to under trump’s reign.

Can our hunger for justice outweigh every roadblock? Can it blow like Hurricane Andrew, taking out entire neighborhoods of anti-women strategies and policies, moods and feelings? I hope maintaining majorities in the House and Senate isn’t too much to ask for.

I turned twenty in Dublin. At the time, contraception was illegal there, abortion was outlawed, of course, and homophobia institutionalized. How Catholic, I thought. How medieval. Never in a million years did I think the day would come when Ireland was more progressive than America.

And what about the now-fully-ensconced Justices’ lies before Congress — and yes, that’s Justices’ with an “s apostrophe” because three of them lied to get their seats. Oh yes, Roe is established precedent. Oh yes, we follow precedent.

Riz Ahmed — that’s the actor’s name. One booted foot on the step above, crotch to the camera — pure, natural swagger. Unlike that other pirate, bloated and lacking his eyeliner. I can’t even absorb the story about the latter, but it infiltrates everywhere. The formerly gorgeous Johnny Depp looking like a bad batch of muffins in a suit. That dumb pony tail.

We all get old, but did we have to witness a time when our daughters have fewer rights than we did? I was in high school in 1973, on the verge of so much bed-hopping — maniacal about birth control as I was careless about everything else. I was spared the need for a procedure, but almost everyone I knew in college — or let’s say 2/3’s of everyone I knew — had a pregnancy terminated. Safely. Not without trauma, mind, but none of what was difficult arose from infection or fear of dying.

The Gilded Age was the Met Gala’s theme this year. The idea of robber barons is particularly hard to take at this moment in history. Five white American men possess more wealth than the bottom 60%. Or is it 80%? I don’t know — ask Robert Reich. Whatever it is, it’s obscene.

But we want our celebrities. Sparkling stilettos and borrowed diamonds on bodies lovely and distant, unattainable and yet, due to the nature of film, also somehow ours. Belonging to us.

Is God punishing us? If so, for what crime? What sin?

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PS I cannot figure out how to turn off comments for a single post so let’s just act as though I have? The topic has already taken enough out of me for now.

shopping and moaning

This week I obsessed about how none of the bundled-up Ukrainians seem to wear gloves. I scanned scene after scene to confirm. How can that be, I wondered.

And I thought about the things they carried. What was in those backpacks, those little, utilitarian sacks meant to hold lunches and shoes while commuting?

A passport. An extra pair of pajamas and underwear, maybe, but not spare pants or sweaters because they’re too bulky. Perhaps a toothbrush. Definitely a charging cord.

Not: photo albums, collections of ironware pitchers or Christmas cacti, not books or quilts or heirloom dishes. Not even room enough for a week’s worth of diapers.

And then, dinner done, TV off, we went shopping. It was almost desperate, this need to get out of the house and we had the excuse of five March birthdays.

What do I even get sons in their 20’s?

We went to the new Marshalls, which was moved across the street to make way for yet more development. I hadn’t been in it yet and more to the point, I’ve scarcely shopped at all since March two years ago.

While parking, we speculated that we’d be the only mask-wearers in the joint but were wrong. Every single shopper and every single worker wore a mask.

I had cashmere scarves in mind, forgetting that that’s not how you shop at Marshall’s.

I didn’t have time to dwell in disappointment (socks again, really?) because over near the men’s hoodies, a young adult had parked himself and issued moan after moan after moan. A keening sound, full-throated and loud, really loud. It was the sound you’d make finding your cat dead on the side of the road or after learning your mother had lost her battle with cancer.

He repeated his moans, like a foghorn. A small woman I took to be his mother stood nearby slapping hangers from left to right, impervious.

My mind went two ways.

The first was to regret going out. Good god! What made me think I’d enjoy going where there would be people, stale air, and crap merchandise? And, did I mention — people? I wasn’t sure I could take it.

You could hear him all the way over in housewares. You could hear him near shoes and underwear. You could not escape his lament.

The second way my mind went was to hear his moans as the mournful cries of the world. Perhaps, I thought, he moans for all of us. Perhaps he serves as a beacon of sorrow, speaking what we all feel and cannot express.

They were talking about him as we checked out. He must be having a bad day.

 

 

A storm, 4 WTFs, and my tribe

A storm. “Isn’t it just a blizzard?” asked a friend who’s seen a few more New England winters than I have.

No, they’re bomb cyclones. And they’ve got names now too. I think this one is Kevin or some shit.

Worse, weather people now refer to the process of a storm rapidly gaining strength as bomb-o-genesis, which in my view sounds more like a rock band, a decadent dessert, or a sex toy.

WTF Number 1: What’s with littering masks people? Walk in any direction for a small distance around here and you’re bound to encounter 5-6-7 discarded masks. WTF?

WTF Number 2: I’ve been taking a statin for a number of years and I had to learn about the perils of grapefruit juice from a blogging friend in Maine? WTF doctors? (Thanks for the heads up, Joanne).

WTF Number 3: Local news coverage about safety offered this tip should you fall through the ice: “Use your ice pick and rope to pull yourself out.” WHAT. THE. FUCK?

We walked around Crystal Lake this morning. K wanted to make part of the circuit on the ice but I was too nervous, especially after hearing eerie boing-pong sounds coming from under the ice. Plus, I left my ice pick and rope at home.

Now for my tribe comment — the Irish tribe in case you’re wondering (Ancestry puts me at 98%). It’s not often that I sing out “that’s my tribe” with head held high.

Case in point, the last time I flew home from LA, three guys from Southie sitting in the row behind me spent the final hour of the flight both refusing to wear their masks properly (despite repeated requests from airline staff) and arguing about who was driving whom home. “That’s my tribe,” I thought wearily.

But twice recently watching Maddow’s coverage of stubborn and valiant fisherfolk from County Cork, I called out, “That’s my tribe!” County Cork is even where my maternal grandmother hails from.

If you haven’t heard the story, Russia is planning military exercises off the southwest coast of Ireland. The fishermen of that area intend to head their way and “fish as usual, as is their right.” In a season of handwringing over Russian aggression, I love this scrappy and pugnacious response. And true to the Irish penchant for understatement, the daring offensive is being framed as being about the mackerel and all.

* * *

Short version of WTF Number 4 is the radical right. I put it at the end here so you can skip it if you want but I include it as testimony. It all is so unbelievable.

WTF Number 4: Green M&M’s are no longer sexy enough for Tucker Carlson? Newt Gingrich has crawled out from whatever rock he’s been hiding under to do a Giuliani impression of “lock them up?” Susan Collins is so glad there will be time to deliberate over the next SCOTUS pick since it is such an incredibly important decision? McConnell asks that the Democrats not pick someone “radical” (um, hello Handmaid? Hello beer-lauding blackout-Justice who has recently extolled the SCOTUS previously overturning precedent while failing to mention, of course, that each of those previous times was to expand rights, not take them away?)

The white underwing

I happed upon this image just before a writing session. Here’s most of what I wrote.

Up, anxious, sitting on the pot. Above the bathroom curtain’s ruffle, I can see a section of the night sky. A wedge of moon travels above Linshaw’s roof and into the netted shadows of their massive copper beech.

That tree, part sentinel, part cautionary tale, is hundreds of years old. It was a sapling during the small pox epidemic of the late 1700’s. It grabbed sky in one direction and earth in the other when the Fugitive Slave Act was passed. Horses and a stream wandered nearby.

The beech was bigger yet at the Emancipation Proclamation. By the time of the Spanish flu perhaps the twin trunks had established themselves.

The white planked house is old too, but not nearly as old as the tree. I like to think that old Abraham Jackson sited the foundation with due regard for the tree, a tree which was still in its youth but already punctuating his property with its mighty grace.

The moon in her delicate variety is older yet, so old that a different scale of time is required. The coal-to-diamond scale. The asteroid-encounter scale.

All I can think about during my brief viewing of the night sky is how insular I’ve become. A life apart from the wonder of puddles and their up-side-down worlds. Apart from trout and hummingbirds. Apart from the cleansing sweep of cold night air in the lungs.

Oh I go outside, but my walks with the dog are more like mail delivery than adventure. Making the rounds. A chance to take stock of all the closed blinds and to wonder why so few structures ever show any signs of life.

When I lived on the other side of the state in the Berkshires all I had to do was raise my head off the pillow and gaze out my eastern window to be transported. Sheep’s Heaven Mountain. The mountain’s name whispered: time passes, time passes. Not that long ago the wooded hill was bare and dotted with sheep.

Here the horizon is rooved. One neighbor painted their house a bright yellow this year. At first I wondered about their choice but today I look out and its yolky warmth is welcome in all the grey.

All the grey can dull the senses. Maybe that’s why the news photo of a snowy owl in Washington, DC captivated me this morning. She’d made her way south from her usual haunts. She could be yet another signal of the drastic climate change we’re all so busily — in one way or another — trying to ignore.

But when I spy her fluffed up against the cold atop a statue of Themis, a figure representing freedom and justice, I like to think she stands for something else. That she augurs change. I like to think that when she lifts her wings and reveals their white undersides, we are meant to notice and in noticing, act.

I don’t believe the arc of the moral universe necessarily bends toward justice. There are too many ways we can fail. But this bird perched on the head of a goddess carrying the sword of justice lets me think we have a chance. A chance to make things right. A chance to live up to our promise and to atone for our sins. Not because I say so, but because a solitary owl, mysterious and commanding, has told me so.

one week out RANT

May I be peaceful. May I be free of inner and outer harm. May our nation be peaceful. May our nation be free of inner and outer harm.

On the fateful night, although not the decisive night, one friend plans to zoom with her Quaker community, another to block out all media. I say with a barking laugh: “Oh, it’s ice cream and Steve Kornacki for me!” Last time, I stayed awake. I drew a map of Florida and prayed over it. I saw the dismal, bleak, heartbreaking result before dawn, which by the way was not shocking because ever since a certain lanky G-man had made a catastrophic announcement about emails, I’d been sick to my stomach. Part of me knew already. Could not be shocked. Is it a good and decent sign that no such sick feeling attends these final days? Flutters of panic, passing visions of chaos in Pennsylvania, but no stomach ache.

Even with one of the Orange Buffoon’s Supreme Court appointments practically quoting the propaganda machine in an anti-democratic voting rights decision favoring republicans, I don’t feel sick yet. (There’s Gorsuch parroting Fox News about the need to have results on Election Night, adding “or soon thereafter,” just to sound lawyerly).

Isn’t it awful that “anti-democratic republican position” is now a redundancy? One Party Minority Rule is their game — and not a good solo party, either, but a regressive one with allegiances to business that will wreck the environment, with Federalist Society reasoning that tries to mask their sexism and racism, but can’t. Bye, bye voting rights! Bye, bye legal contraception (and you thought just abortion was on the line?) Bye, bye legal same sex marriage. Due process will have three months to fall during the next President’s 180-day Commission, that is, if we win and win big.

If we win and win big, the centrist party will have to turn a fire hose back on the other side of the aisle. We wont’ stand for less! All legal, of course, and perfectly Constitutional — “balancing” to “packing.” But really, why take it sitting down, with our heads in our hands?

Here’s the thing — AND IT’S NO SMALL THING — the right wing will revile whatever we do — even the centrist politician’s tip-toeing along, touting the virtues of incremental change — so we might as well be bold and decisive. Which is not to say I’m about to put a rose in my twitter moniker.

She makes calls to Wisconsin, another to North Carolina. The friend from Cleveland shares the podcast about white suburban women changing their minds (not my mind, mind). I gave a chunk of money to secureblue (again!) because who can say NO to President Obama? Also: made a gift to a Wisconsin voting advocacy group, because: Gorsuch. NO MORE MAIL!

Because a certain handmaid on a balcony stands ready to proselytize in jihadist extremes from our highest court. There she was in black with a tight smile, I’m guessing her only kind of smile, and pearls, standing next to the fat orange transgressive machine of destruction. Posing for Reality President TV. Will we be free of the beige, racist eunuch of a son-in-law, who’s speciality, for all I can make out, is failure? Well, and maybe crimes against humanity. Will we be rid of the Goya-posing reconstructed daughter that Daddy would’ve liked to fuck both before and after her many surgeries? Please say yes. Rid of them. Gone. Please say yes.

May those with sense be ready with a replacement health care plan, Supreme Court work-around built in. Then let the minority (may they be a minority!) bring 50-60 — or WAS IT 70? — bills to try and repeal THAT. McConnell closes up what some have called “the most expensive lunch club in DC” until November 9. Can you imagine being so cravenas to advance his justices with lightning speed and leave Americans in need hanging? Seriously, (and Mr. Necrotic Hands did more than take a fall, by the way), he knows his Stupid Prick of a leader is about to go down. He knows he himself hasn’t got much longer. Else he might not have taken such an inglorious and hypocritical approach to the Supreme Court vacancy. He’s grossly miscalculated, says one. It’ll backfire, many assert and I want to believe them.

Meanwhile, there’s joy at the polls. Trucks with music, activists with pizza. The moon is waxing. The leaves are falling. Babies are being born, dogs walked, prayers uttered. May they go down in flames. May the defeat be so decisive that not even the machinations of a certain MIA TOAD attorney general can pervert it.

May I be peaceful. May I be free of inner and out harm. May our nation be peaceful. May our nation be free of inner and outer harm.

—- * —-

Notes :
Collage made with dianaphoto app and includes a paper collage made while in Italy (the Buddhist monk — probably from National Geographic) and an image of Mahershala Ali (probably from Vanity Fair). Prayer is from Buddhist tradition. Lanky G-man is of course, James Comey; the recent SCOTUS opinion concerned whether Wisconsin could count ballots post-marked before Nov. 3, but arriving some days later. The answer was no; the miscalculation of McConnell’s was explored in a long thread on twitter by @realhoarse and the thread is here.

Joy at the polls — you’ve probably seen