It’s a confusing time for your white American woman of a certain age and class (somewhere in the upper middle, anxiously hanging on.) Here are some things running through my mind in this particular time.
My next door neighbor is weed-wacking my across-the-street neighbor’s yard, as I walk towards home with the labradoodle Milo. It’s a bazillion degrees out and two bazillion percent humidity, and honey, I moved north to escape this kind of semi-tropical shit I grew up with in Washington, DC. And here it is.
Will my next-door neighbor weed-wack my yard next? I almost hope so, because I sure as hell won’t, but also I fear it; even as I know that if he doesn’t, it will only be because he has forebearance, and not because our yard is weed free. In particular, the patch that runs between my house and his is a riot, and I feel terribly guilty not weeding it. I fully intend to weed it. I could do it, a few minutes a day, but we’re in the middle of a heat spell. I realize this hasn’t stopped my neighbor from putting on his straw fedora and sweating through his t-shirt, but it has stopped me.
There are some recent asylum-seeking immigrants detained at the Albany County Jail, and some may be children and all should not be in a prison or jail and I’m beside myself.
Also, I looked at my knees today. That was a mistake. I wore a skort to work out at the gym and there they were, my knees, looking exactly their age.
We are supposed to wear white to protest the detainees and #familyseparationpolicy. My white jeans are shot, and also too heavy to wear in the heat. So, am I supposed to go shopping before I protest? Or can I wear another color?
Trump may be re-elected and this is so upsetting that I want to leave the country. This gives me a deeper insight into the bravery of all those who do leave their known environments and I wonder if I have what it takes. I think working out is probably a good idea, in case we need to walk to Canada and leave our things behind. In Canada, temperatures will be favorable for pants most of the year, which will be a plus. (Knees.)
The highlights in my hair are a little too streaky and stripey and I worry that it looks awful and fake. You don’t really want people commenting, Oh, I like your hair color. You just want them to say, You look great. Did you do something? So then you can say, Oh, no, it’s just a good night’s sleep is all.
I bought a book called How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks For Big Success in Relationships. I immediately flipped to number 92, of course, and now I’m encouraging people to gravitate towards me by showing them my wrists, the soft undersides of them, and palms, never my knuckles. Wrists and palms. I don’t really get it, but I suppose showing wrists and palms denotes openness, a subliminal message of willingness to embrace. Perhaps not literally, but perhaps literally.
We have a RESIST HOPE LOVE CHANGE yard sign in our yard. Our neighbors down the block, a widower with twin daughters and his new wife just put in a really serious sign: Martin Niemöller
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Interesting tidbit about this quotation, which has been modified over the years to start with Muslims and Communists and other groups. Niemöller was calling out those Germans complicit through inaction in the mistreatment of others, but he was an anti-semite until the war.
So the good news is that people can change their attitudes, or at least counter them with appropriate behavior. The bad news is it took ovens and six million deaths of mostly Jews, with a bunch of Catholics and homosexuals and others thrown in, to change his mind.
The college student is in Rome for the weekend and I want to be in Europe. She’ll be returning to her internship at CERN via overnight bus, which sounds like hell. I really want to be in Europe but we bought a bed instead. I guess that was optimistic: sleep might actually be a possibility, and it will be hard to carry across the border. (More pushups?)
Another neighbor slash friend told me that the family on the main road by us who has a sign saying in English, Spanish, Arabic, and something else I don’t recognize that all are welcome had their mailbox demolished twice. This is scary.
Someone has chomped off the tops of all my turtlehead and now the back garden is destroyed. I know it’s not the bunnies, who have nibbled everything at ankle-level. I know who it is. The deer. Very annoying. On the plus side, I saw an opossum in the yard, which means fewer ticks.
Someone spray-painted anti-semitic graffiti on a building near the rail trail in town. The town supervisor went out and painted over it himself. That was, you know, very nice of him, but really brought the tenor of the times into my bones with a chill.
There is a lot of upset and confusion around, but my daily concerns continue unabated. Why do I have ridges on my nails? I forgot to ask my docter at my annual physical, so I asked Mo, who was giving me my summer pedicure. Is it some sort of vitamin deficiency? I hate to say it, said Mo, But it’s just, you know, getting older. Oh, I said. Just part of the whole drying up and turning into a dessicated locust shell called aging? Yeah, she said.
So that’s great. Another thing to work on accepting. Some things you just have to accept, otherwise you make yourself miserable.
Some things you should never accept, though. The other day, the Fourth of July, to be exact, the husband and I made a sign and went to stand on a street corner with about a dozen other people. Women, of course, as this political movement has fallen under the umbrella of women’s work, for the most part, the husband excepted on this day. Keep Families Together. Families Belong Together. It’s Not Illegal to Seek Asylum. And ours, Make America Humane Again. People mostly honked and waved and gave us friendly hoots as they drove by. Thumbs ups were common and heartening. There were the one or two cars full of white men in caps who yelled at us that we were losers and should go home. We kept standing. Some of the other women yelled back at the naysayers. We all waved at the supporters. In between chatting with a mom in her 60s and her two daughters, who were up from the city, I thought about who might argue with the word “again” on our sign. Idle thoughts about getting gunned down presented themselves. Happy Fourth of July in America the beautiful.
I’ve taken out books from the library on developing charisma, conversational skills, and making people like me. I can’t help think there is some connection between the political situation and my curiousity. I’m hoping that this represents that ever-wise Stephen Covey habit of focusing on my circle of influence. It might just be an all-too-human tendency towards self-centeredness. I turn my wrists and palms upward and outward, hoping to draw something to me that will give answers.