Monday, December 5, 2016

The Fall of America

I know most of you who visit here probably feel the same way about the cast of freaks that Drumpf is assembling as his Cabinet. I don't know about ya'll, but I fall hard to sleep each night after reading a bit more of a novel (reading is my only constant and even in times of extreme stress, I can read a damn novel), and when I wake up I'm generally in a positive mood (this, even though I am generally also wakened by Sophie having a seizure) as long as it's daylight. These days, though, since the Buffoon was elected by the Buffoonizens, it takes about one minute and sometimes less, for me to remember. At first it's a vague thread of something, what is it again, and then it's Oh, yeah and then it's confirmed by some godawful new story of dark-houred tweets with a hostile foreign country or a thin-skinned response to being mocked on a television show or the appointment of a confirmed racist as the chief lawyer or a climate change denier in charge of the environment or a creationist in charge of education. Throw in the bottle blondes and the Stepford wife and daughter, and then the nightmare that is the day begins, again.


Let's change the subject for a moment.

I've never been very good at building things or dealing with the spatial. I get lost, literally, every single time I park my car in a parking lot, and at least once or twice a day if I'm traveling anywhere other than, let's say, ten square miles.

When I took an aptitude test back in the dark ages of the last millennium, when I was still in my teens, I scored off the charts for a test called Ideaphoria, where you had to write as much as you could about anything in five or so minutes. Granted, I was probably doing something similar to here which is allowing my brain to just meander and wander and muse and peruse, my fingers quick at the keys. I am made of words, I guess. Back then, when I was asked to put together in my mind geometric figures using as guide these one-dimensional drawings with dotted lines for folds -- well -- I could not do even one. I stared at those things with my tiny little mother mind™ to be and just watched them, floating in the universe. What fresh hell was it?

I remember these things periodically, as well as how bad I am at sports, when I watch my sons. Where did these creatures come from? I think, more often than not. I used to call Henry the Lego Genius because of his uncanny ability to put together complex sets with only the most cursory check of the directions. Since Oliver is severely dyslexic, he never looks at signs or reads directions, much less books, yet is able to navigate his way through any city after being in it for half an hour. I'm not kidding. He's been doing this since he was about two years old. It'd be creepy if it weren't perfect for someone like me who turns left when I'm supposed to go right, every time. 

I saw one of those Christmas trees made from books the other day on the internets and decided that I wanted to do it. I thought it might cheer me up from the Drumpfian nightmare and at the very least distract me. I gathered about 100 books of various sizes and thicknesses and piled them on the dining room floor. Then I watched the video about five hundred times and made about three hundred attempts to construct even the first layer. I'm actually pretty patient, even when I get lost or become very confused.

HENRY and OLIVER! I screamed.

They were back in their room playing some godforsaken video game with incredible skill, I'm sure, but they obliged me and came into the dining room. After expressing incredulity and scorn for what I was doing, their general default, they decided to humor me. Henry got down on the floor and began building the tree without even looking at the internets, while his brother criticized him and cracked jokes.

Whenever I attempted to place a book on the growing tree, I was admonished for not doing it right. What is wrong with you? Oliver asked me, more than once, and I admonished him for being disrespectful of his old mama.

Save the pretty Penguins for the top! I cried at some point and directed Henry to place the beloved novels in front and the books about cars and magical places that I'll never visit to the back.

When Henry got to placing The Idiot on the pile, he expressed disbelief that this was really the title of a book. I expressed disbelief that he'd never heard of Dostoyevsky despite being in school for the last fifteen years, including a semester of Advanced Placement Literature. Not to mention that I carried him inside of my uterus for 42 weeks, after which he was pulled from me, nursed for fourteen weeks from my body and then was cared for every single day for the next eighteen years. He rolled his eyes at me and then said, Look, Oliver, it's a book about you.

Good thing he's so good-looking.

I might not be able to find my way to my car or even your house, and I'm also having a hard time figuring out how to navigate the fact that despite grabbing women's pussies (that might be the first time I've typed out that word) and mocking a disabled person, Drumpf is the leader of the free world. God, I've always hated that expression.

I sure have read a lot of books, though, and I remember every single one of them. I realize that that doesn't make one whit of difference in the world at this point except for in a tiny subset of the general population. It feels somewhat familiar as I can remember that being smart or intellectual was entirely uncool during middle school at the hoity toity prep school I attended in Atlanta, Georgia. It was much better to be pretty and rich than to have your crooked nose with rose-tinted glasses perched on them, buried in Great Expectations. If I close my eyes, I can be right back there, and now I don't even have to close my eyes. I'm pretty certain that most of those classmates, with the exception of a few, are thrilled to finally have a president who won't come for their guns or rip babies out of their wives' wombs. That we have a racist for Attorney General, a climate change denier for the environment, an orthopedic surgeon for Health and Human Services who hates the Affordable Care Act and loves the private insurance industry, a billionaire who doesn't give a shit about public schools for education and now, a neurosurgeon to handle housing and urban development -- well -- what more is there to say? If there's any human I distrust more than a neurosurgeon, it's an evangelical neurosurgeon. As I told my friend C who was lamenting the latest white cop getting off after shooting an unarmed black man in the back, it's not going to get better, and it's probably going to get worse. I suggested that the racist attorney general could instruct his law enforcement to sprinkle crack on felled dead black men, after which the evangelical neurosurgeon could remove their brains in some deserted housing project that he's emptied and give them to the orthopedic health and human services dude to run research on white exceptionalism for Drumpf and his chief strategist.

Shit. Where was I?

At one point, after checking my phone for news and feeling the lurch, again, of nightmare, I grabbed my yellowed old copy of Allen Ginsberg's The Fall of America before it got buried under the pretty Penguin classics. I made sure that Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country and Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass were front and center. Ginsberg went on the top. I can almost hear the cries of the death of Christmas, can't you?


  1. Beautiful. The tree and the books and the words you wrote. Just beautiful. Oh! And those boys. What a great job they did!

  2. That's pretty cool. Allen Ginsberg did an opera with Philip Glass centered aorund "The Fall of America", with plenty of anti-J. Edgar Hoover nd Reagan stuff in there for good measure. I've listened to it, among other albums, when political times get rough.

    Although this sort of of feels like it's going to be Nixon, Reagan, and Bush II on steroids, doesn't it?

    I'm not sure if the 2 month wait makes it better or worse.

  3. Dark. Very Dark. Thank you for slipping in some wit and wisdom here. Otherwise, I couldn't bear it. I'm having terrible dreams these days -- all frenetic destruction of buildings, cities, human bodies. It's good motivation for going to the gym, however, to work out my mind and body and feel the cleansing sweat trickle down the middle of my back. When I'm all wrung out, it's quiet for awhile.

  4. I did laugh at Henry's comment to Oliver. So there is that. And I do like your book tree. As I was reading I was thinking could try that. My husband and I have at least 1000 book between us. But then I thought better of it. It would take work and I am without teenagers to force labour. And I would rather just watch Wentworth. Again.

    Fucking Trump. Last night I had another panic attack on top of the anxiety I am already carrying. I wish I could wake up from this nightmare. I'm pretty sure that's the denial stage. Or is it bargaining? How can a star of a reality show become president? I guess if Arnold Schwartzeneger can become a politician anyone can. But why does it have to be the assholes? I guess it is because the people that voted these men in thought, "Hey! I recognize that name!" It's how Alan Alda can sell life insurance. Or George Foreman sells fucking grills.

    I'm rambling. I'm home sick with a cold. I probably could have gone to work but some days you just need to stay at home.

  5. It's a Kafkaesque nightmare that just won't go away. I mean, seriously, it is so very bizarre that I am actually having trouble believing it's really happening. I'm teetering on saying that it is genuine madness, that it's all madness and we're not getting it. We think that it's horrible, frightening, shocking - but really it's madness. No, that's too much. Right?

  6. Thank you for cheering me up in the middle with the backstory of how you and the boys constructed the tree. I spent two hours calling my (Florida, Republican) congressmen about the nominees (and the appointees, for that matter. I feel like it's a lost cause but at the same time I HAVE to keep trying.

  7. I love your book tree, and the sweet slice of family life with the brothers constructing it. You have sweet boys. You also captured so well the feeling I have on waking each morning, the moment when it clicks back into place that yes, this national nightmare is really happening, and the low grade dread at the back of everything. I keep waiting for the plot twist that will save us all, but I suppose that only means I still haven't made it out of denial. All we have left is our vigilance. And humor. And creativity. And love. Your post is all of that.

  8. Not just the death of Christmas, but the WAR ON CHRISTMAS!!!!

    I love this post. You entertained me all the way through, despite that fact that the events you're describing are fundamentally terrifying. Making lemonade out of lemons, I guess.

    I've never heard of building a Christmas tree in this way. When you first started describing it, I thought it was going to be one of those horrible craft projects where books get cut up or fanned out and sprinkled with glitter, and I was thinking, "Elizabeth! How COULD you?!" But I should have known better. :)

  9. This made me laugh. I love your tree. And your sons. We must get together before the world ends.

  10. I love the tree.

    Miss Katie has an amazing sense of direction, strangely enough. Her sister however, not really sure how my middle daughter gets around. GPS I'm thinking.

  11. I once had to have the garage guy drive me around in his little garbage cart to find my car. I wasn't even EMBARRASSED.
    The book tree is so wonderful. Thanks for everything you said. I KNOW. I wake up to my bird feeders and the sun coming up and I think, ah, a good day and then....
    BTW, I'm reading David France's book How To Survive a Plague about the history of the AIDS epidemic and I'm inspired. Reagan ignored it, Mayor Koch ignored it and a small group of very sick and dying gay men insisted that they be heard. It's a story of courage and strength and fear and love. In spite of the hatred and bigotry and damn lies, they prevailed. We will too because we have to. We're on the right side of history.

    Love, Beth

  12. Beautiful - and now I know what my 11 yr old's project will be today!

    Speaking of brains, I was just telling someone that I started watching the Walking Dead again after a many year hiatus. Preparation for the end times, n'all.



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