I’d really love to be writing about comics right now but I can’t. I’d love to take a in-depth look at Donny Cates’ Crossover title from Image that will be on stands on Wednesday but my thoughts are elsewhere.
So this is what you’re getting.
“I smell blood and an era of prominent madmen.” W.H. Auden
A large part of having graduated from college with a degree in English (literature, my grammar is for shit) is that I have a brain that’s full of half-remembered quotes from books I barely recall reading two decades ago. Shockingly, a lot of that doesn’t come into play when explaining a simple interest loan to someone over the phone while working in a call center in your early 20s.
A poet of some note, one of Auden’s most famous works was, fittingly for the purposes of this column, The Age of Anxiety. That was just a happy accident I discovered when looking Auden up to credit him for the quote I used above.
If you happened to read last week’s column, I mentioned in passing that I had to go to the dentist last Wednesday to fix a chipped tooth. Well, as luck would have it, one tooth became four due to the fact that I’ve been clenching my jaw so hard while I sleep I could probably pull a boat anchor with my mouth. I also suspect I’ve been unconsciously making a fist while I sleep due to the dull ache in my hand. Very cool when 90% of your day involves using a keyboard to type.
As I write this the polls in my area are about an hour and a half from closing. Don’t worry, I got my vote in almost first thing Tuesday morning so this column is largely going to be a postmortem of the last four terrible years in America.
I’m going to get fairly graphic here, but only to illustrate how I’ve felt in the since November 2016. On Election Day that year I had gone out and voted for Clinton, it was surreal that she was going up against a TV personality who, prior to then, was only famous for putting his name all over stuff and coming up with a lame catchphrase. On the surface I may seem like a relatively calm and monotone individual to the casual observer, but I am inherently a nervous person with historically twitchy guts (inherited from my parents).
I made it an early night back then after checking the early polls and not liking how the numbers were going. The next morning I awoke around 4 am (as is my custom), checked Twitter and then some more trusted news sources and then promptly shit blood.
Now, I know that you as a reader are probably dying to know exactly how much I expelled. Did I rocket myself off the toilet like I had opened the elevator doors at the Overlook Hotel? It was thankfully a small amount and my personal threat level hovered around, “That’s concerning. Better keep an eye on that.”
The next thing that happened was that I received a text from a friend of mine who is a touring musician. He was overseas and had voted absentee while on tour and knowing that I would be up early (as is my custom) simply texted “Dude, what the fuck?”
That’s been the last four years. Nervous guts and a constant state of, “Dude, what the fuck?”
To put it mildly, the last week has been difficult. On top of THE ELECTION I’m currently looking for a new place to live so it’s been non-stop jaw clenching and nervous shits. On a completely trivial level I couldn’t even enjoy Halloween this year and on a macro level I thought about the last four years and how the country has been in free fall because of one man’s complete inability to govern, to listen to reason, or to even be a remotely decent human being. It’s been really eye-opening to see people in my community that have completely abandoned all logic and reason to follow a bullshitter peddling racist fairytales.
However, it has made it easier to know your enemy. I use the term in the broadest sense of the word, of course since these are people that are actively opposed or hostile to…well, common decency. I also find it strange that these people use the rhetoric being spewed to justify their bad behavior.
Last week I was getting a hair cut and my
barber stylist (these roots don’t stay this shade of chestnut on their own) mentioned that they were going to be voting to keep the current regime in power and the look I gave over the top of my mask must have been fairly telling because they were pretty sheepish about their admission. I opted to “Lebowski” my way out of the discussion with a “well, that’s just your opinion, man…” and left it at that. Mostly because I didn’t want to start shit with someone holding clippers so close to my head and secondly because there’s no amount of factual data I could have spewed at that moment that would have strayed them from their chose path.
(I would have thought that them being unable to work for four months due to a pandemic the current administration COULD HAVE prevented/minimized would have been a good reason to vote blue…but I digress.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the 250,000-plus Americans that died. Right now it feels like going outside to shop is akin to the game we used to play with lawn darts as kids. The one where you throw the dart as high as you can in the air and then run around to avoid being hit by it. So far, the dart has missed me…but it’s getting closer. A good friend of mine lost his mother to it. Another lost his aunt and had to attend her funeral via Zoom.
My parents cannot safely go to see their grandchild because both of them are in high risk categories. My father had to go to the ER on three different occasions over the summer (for other medical issues) and each time he went in, I couldn’t see him for the duration of his stay.
Lastly, I think a lot about my grandmother who passed on October 10th. She spent the last seven months of her life in virtual isolation due to her assisted living facility being on lockdown. She suffered from dementia, yes, but any modicum of comfort my father or his siblings could have offered was stolen from her…and it didn’t have to be that way. We’re going to bury her on Friday in a small graveside service attended only by immediate family after which we’ll all go our separate ways because it’s not safe to gather indoors just yet.
I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or over the next several weeks. I know how I voted and how both my parents voted. This was the first election my father has voted in that I can remember and that gives me a sliver of hope that decent people like him have finally had enough and can no longer sit idly by while so many terrible things happened over the last four years.
This was all preventable. I’ve done my part to prevent it and I’m at peace with that much. There’s still going to be work to do.