Folks in my town were notified of a boiled water advisory yesterday afternoon because of a water main break. This was actually excellent timing for me, because I’d already done my cooking in the morning, with a new slow cooker recipe for beef stew. I’d also prepped a new bread recipe, which claimed to be the easiest ever. It was, in fact, pretty dang easy, and all that was left to do was the baking, no water required.
Between the early dinner prep and checking off various other items on my list, I decided that I deserved a little break, so I was puttering around when I came across this post: Would You Have Sex With Donald Trump If He Dropped Out of the Race Immediately Afterwards? Which is incredibly stupid, of course, but I was laughing out loud reading various answers, which ranged from a reluctant willingness to “throw myself on this grenade for my country” to refusals based on pure revulsion to suggestions that while Trump’s a no-go, swapping in Cruz might be a possibility. The whole thing is funny-not funny, gallows humor.
And I started thinking that it almost feels like we could all be characters living in a dystopian novel. You know, the main plot would be in some hellish future ten or twenty years from now, and there’d be flashbacks entirely composed of 2016 Facebook status updates and links to articles that we exchanged with like-minded people in our spare time, blithely assuming that somehow everything would be okay, after all. And in this context the quotes warning about neo-fascism, declarations that everyone deserves access to free, clean water, and even long-atrophied debates with somebody’s cranky old uncle, would seem poignant and bittersweet, quaint little protests forgotten like so much detritus crushed under the boots of whatever apocalyptic force swept through next. Like how Chinese kids don’t even know about that young man standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square. In other words, I was having a little freak-out.
I consoled myself that, if we do, in fact, end up living in some sort of future dystopia, at least I have valuable skills like the ability to bake bread and boil water. No, I don’t know how to hot-wire a car or skin squirrels, but I guess a nice loaf of bread is a good start:
And my plan was to leave this post on that upbeat note, but then I was reading to J at bedtime. She’s almost done with Steve Osborne’s The Job: True Tales From the Life of a New York City Cop. He was one of the Savannah Book Festival authors, and the girls have been playing tug-o’-war with our single copy of the book ever since. When J first start reading, I asked what she thought, and her assessment was wholly accurate: “Really good. But there are a lot more swear words than I expected.” Anyway, she’s almost done with the book, which I’m psyched about, because then the girls can stop fighting over it. But last night, J was deep into his retelling of 9/11. I was interested, but it was not a good read-aloud for me, and when I got to the part about how everyone posted all of those flyers for their “missing” people, I had to bow out and let J read on her own. I remember seeing those flyers and smelling those smells and still thinking that they were going to find a pocket of survivors, and reading the story is plenty for J without having her mom start crying about it. But also, my earlier freak-out resurfaced, and I started thinking, “Jeez, I’ve already lived through a dystopian* book. And we just got through it. And I don’t want to do it again, but we might have to.” And I remembered how I’d thought, back on September 12, 2001 or so, that the old people who’d just died were lucky that they’d missed it, and they didn’t have to know about the awfulness. Will my kids someday think back to this era like it’s the good old days? And then I wallowed a little in nostalgia for now with the #ObamaandKids photos hashtag.
Anyway, I don’t know if it was the new stew (tasty), the new bread (a trifle dense and under-done), possible water contamination, or just my general malaise, but I spent the rest of the night throwing up.
*Okay, okay, and I think of “dystopia” as a whole, well-established society, but dictionary.com starts the definition with “a society characterized by human misery,” which is how it felt on the morning of September 11th, no matter how much I try to remind myself to heed Mr. Rogers and look for the helpers.