Sunday, November 13, 2016

clouds lined in pink / we don’t need no stinkin’ respect / and a link to part two

Quiet again. A mild November. Nights are cold. Frosty in the morning. Thirty degrees. Clouds lined in pink.

What a team!

I fling the mouse into the field, and the mouse twirls through the air like a wheel, like a kite, like a cartoon.

Elliott caught him, leaping onto the counter to do so. It is early one morning before the sun is up and we are supposed to be quiet, easing into our day, sipping tea, musing about the tasks ahead. But there is this mouse about. And Elliott was the one to see. He was on and off the counter so quick. When I saw what he had in his mouth I did a hairpin turn from strict admonishment to soft, loving praise.

No wonder he gets confused.

I open the door thinking that Elliott will walk outside, dispose of the mouse, properly.

Silly me.

I close the door, return to the sofa. Elliott has moved with Mouse to a hidden corner of the kitchen.

Then Josie gets a notion: something’s up. He wiggles out from under the blanket, hops off the sofa, trots into the kitchen, heads toward the bathroom, stops, veers over toward Elliott.

I see a wagging tail.

The mouse darts into view, the middle of the kitchen, Josie right behind. With his mouth, Josie picks up the mouse, drops him, picks up the mouse, drops him. It looks like Mouse is trying to get under the stove. I put on gloves, go into the kitchen, pick up Mouse by his poor long tail. His fur is a sodden mess. I carry him outside, fling him into the field.

What a team!

All week reading a challenging book, a novel, that seems to be about madness, but whose madness? Early on I read this sentence and go back and read it again, and again, a few times:
Sometimes in a fit of a certain indefinable something, I ask myself: Since there’s such a connection between solitude and madness, how can one know whether human beings, in their opaqueness and pettiness, didn’t succeed in driving mad all of Creation, saturated and disgusted with their stupidity?
– Elie Wiesel, A Mad Desire to Dance
But what I want to get back to is the prickly pickle pods.

A black day, such a black day, despite sunshine, breezes. A dread that I was dreading has arrived. Six days of the nicest, most satisfying, thought-provoking, marvel-making happiness did I know and now this: sorrow. I did not know that sorrow is what it would be. But right now sorrow is what it is and it curbs every other emotion that sneaks in, rises up, including dread. Dread is fear, and fear—irrational fear—is so dangerous. It is part of what brought us here. I prefer my sorrow to dread and will wear it on my sleeve.

I finally realize: what a joke is our presidency.

So quiet, again.

And those prickly pickle pods.

But I don’t know if I will be able to concentrate today, be able to get any work done. I will have to try. It is not that big of a shock, is it, the power of disrespect? Or—I don’t know what to call it. Growing up I learned to be respectful of others not by doctrine or religious teaching, not through my public school education, but by my parents’ example. That is the best I can come up with, with how I know that respect for others is valuable. And I remember while still fairly young being surprised whenever a grown-up—a relative or maybe a friend of my parents—spoke disrespectfully of others. Perhaps it was just an offhand comment or a racist joke, but I noticed, and I questioned, internally, and at least once I questioned openly. And that is not really like me, to speak up, to open myself to potential conflict, but perhaps at that time I was still too young to know how ill-equipped I am to handle the barbs and jibes and disrespect of others. The mocking. The bullying. Well, are we to be respectful of others or not? I think yes—I can see the benefit. But I know, especially today, there are few in this country and among my neighbors who feel the same way. And that I am questioning the value of being respectful—I mean, why the fuck be respectful of openly misanthropic people who use belittlement of others to puff themselves up?—I mean, should it worry me? Or is it time to kick this respect bullshit in its ass because I don’t think I could ever respect a man like donald john trump who spoke his mind month after month, showing us in no uncertain terms exactly who he is and the deep lack of respect he has for so many, and now he wants me to respect him? He wants to be my president? Tell me—what has he done to earn it? What has he done to earn it? It seems to me he has done everything possible to earn my disrespect. But there’s this, the greater problem. How to live in this place that so richly rewards those who so deeply and openly disrespect others?

There are so many strands of prickly pickle pods that I was not seeing until all the leaves fell from the dogwood. Now I see them. A few weeks ago a friend sent me a link to an article that explains what the heck these things are. The scientific name, Echinocystis lobata, can be translated to “lobed hedgehog bladder.” Now, there. That’s kind of fun.

But I know I will keep my faith, as will others. And there will be some consolation that, in fact, millions more people voted for some candidate other than donald john trump. I guess the system was rigged in his favor. Yes, I will keep my faith and so will others. And, if nothing else, for a little while we may be spared the blaming and whining we’ve heard so much of of late. Wah wah wah. Nobody pays attention to me. We’ll sue their ass! Unfortunately, I imagine the fear-mongering will continue. There is so much to fear. For one, all those people you have no respect for.

I want to know why it is OK to be openly racist. I want to know why it is OK to denigrate women. I want to know—and this, especially, I want to know—why is it OK to grab the crotch of a woman you don’t know, give it a squeeze, boast of it, be proud of it? Because the last time I checked, more than 59 million people in this country—
in this country—were OK with that. Our president-elect is OK with that. And you’re afraid of the rest of the world?

part two: a walk along the river


  1. Ugh. It's all just so awful. I just learned about Donald's son's trophy hunting in other countries. Elephants, cheetahs and other beautiful creatures. I am sick at heart.

    Here's what I wrote about it:

    I think that somehow we just have to work harder at shining a good light and being the opposite of them. And, I hope Trump gets caught for something illegal and ends up in prison. If he hasn't done anything that will land him in jail yet, I'm sure he will. :(

    1. Amen. And thanks for sharing the link -- great piece of writing.

  2. Thanks, Leslie. You captured the range of emotions we feel and "Hell, no, I won't give him respect," that we are feeling. He has not earned it. Looking for ways to make more difference in our own communities...and wearing our safety pins (a very small symbol) to let folks know we want everyone to feel safe in our country...even though I don't recognize a country that can elect someone who has said and done all these things.

    1. Although I have always had the same convictions, and I followed the campaign, and I knew Trump could win, the emotions that have hit since his election and their absolute strength -- it keeps taking me by surprise. I had sleepless nights due to all that baseball, and now sleepless nights because of this. Somehow I think a lot of us are bound to be better people for it. Thanks for your comment.

    2. This helped...a bit.

    3. During last night's sleeplessness that was great! I also read two of his columns from earlier this year -- One about the Tennessee lawmaker giving away AK-47s as door prizes and the other about our state's proposed beggar legislation - fine them $100. One must find the humor in all this while not forgetting the seriousness.