They call it urge surfing.
I call it swimming against the Gulf Stream
In the dead of night.
While little has the power to shock these days, 45’s evisceration of climate change rules still horrifies. Here in America, it’s a matter when-not-if we’ll start donning face masks to walk the dog. Also, when-not-if we’ll look back with something like fondness for such a quaint inconvenience as a face mask. This week marks yet another threshold moment we’ll someday read in history books about humankind’s relationship with its home.
Sweet notion, isn’t it? That we’ll have books? That anyone’s left to write them?
I understand that we need to fight back. Win at least one chamber of Congress. Jail another white supremacist or two, block the next attempt to gut the ACA, block the cops in riot gear with our cameras and bodies.
What I don’t understand is why we still insist on paper plates.
Every day I wake up to a checklist panting in my face. Every day for my entire adult life. I never considered questioning it. Bottomless need? Multiplying demands? Expect only this, nothing less, certainly nothing different. Tasks on the to-do list comprise a responsible life.
Wake up and get to work, Smirk.
Oi vey, what a wretched way to start each day.
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
– Audre Lorde
I buy the house for the future. Political variables do not enter into the equation. Of course the system will stay healthy enough to sustain my son and me. Housing markets rise and fall. Financial markets swing from bear to bull. Social security may last or disappear. Through all this, my house is insurance. The same is true of my education, my work experience, my retirement savings, my kid’s college fund. The road will have its bumps but we’ll be okay, more or less.
(But for how long?)
My decision fails take into consideration that truth is only assumption and that nothing is fixed.
Now a fear takes root, a fear bigger and more eclipsing than any I’ve ever experienced. Inside this fear swim all the possibilities of a much darker future. Inside this fear dawns a recognition of the fragility of my security.
Privilege, as it happens, will not protect me.
The professor wears plaid clogs. She strides into the conference room, bold black and gray swimming around feet sheathed in silver-threaded socks. I tell her I like her style. She tells me that every time she hits a professional milestone, she buys herself shoes. She can stand in her closet and scan the trajectory of her career: her first publication shoes, her first edited volume shoes. The plaid clogs? Tenure-track shoes.
“What’s next?” I ask.
“Full professor, going up next year.”
“Have you scoped out the shoes?”
She shakes her head. “Oh no, that would jinx it.” Then she grins. “Which is a total lie. There are these boots,” she sort of moans. “Boots and a whole new outfit to go with them.”
This concept mystifies me. One friend picks out a fancy purse for every promotion or raise. Coach, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton. Another takes herself on a cruise. I clap along but something rankles. We’re dogs now? We get cookies for every well-timed wiggle?
No more food bans. I’m finished with their flimsy pretense of protection. It’s like crawling into a tent to shield yourself from a lightning storm. You’re as vulnerable as a vole naked in a meadow, but you choose to believe that half millimeter of nylon will hold back the sky.
I’ve banned cookies from my diet for so many years now, I’ve lost count. Alcohol, just as long. I’ve tried banning breakfast cereal, meat, and ice cream. I’ve recently banned wheat. I say I feel great. Part of me does.
Meanwhile, the deeper and more integrated me — the me that’s more than parts — recognizes that there’s something seriously nuts about cramming myself into an ever narrowing range of acceptable foods.
We are at the midpoint of our nine days together. On the first night, I arranged to pick up my son’s little buddy from down the hall to join us for the free Seldom Scene bluegrass concert at a local park. Bug snarled and fussed while I packed up watermelon and blankets. Then at the show, the banjo twanged, the audience swayed. Bug and his buddy rounded up a half dozen other kids and played soccer in a clearing until the trees twinkled with lightning bugs. He rode home flushed and grinning.
Yesterday morning, when packing up to go to the Spark!Lab at the Smithsonian, Bug fought until he cried. Then on the train, he thrummed with questions and leaned forward in his seat peering out the front window down the dark tracks. At the museum, he spent 2-1/2 solid hours building laser mazes, a sonar rover, a helmet with night vision and echolocation.