On Friday and Saturday I had a blog post percolating in my brain. I was going for almost-upbeat.
I don’t know, man. The news has been depressing lately. I think that Donald Trump is a terrible person, and the fact that he is a major contender for the presidency is terrifying to me. I’m a history girl, so the shades-of-Weimar Republic, seriously proto-fascist vibe feels undeniable to me.
It was already depressing that so many people in the country support him in general. But now it’s gotten to the point that people I actually know, some of them people I like, support him. It’s actively upsetting. When I hear about someone new who is supporting Trump, it’s like I start going through the stages of grief about that person, like it’s a personal loss thrown in with my general malaise about American culture.
There was also news of a couple of local creepers in our school district who were taking photos and videos of girls, including at least one of a girl younger than my girls. And somehow no one at the school or police saw fit to give us a head’s up that anything at all was going on.
And then, jeez, that rape case and the ridiculous sentence and the complete lack of empathy for the woman by the judge and this guy and his parents. Holy crap. It’s insane. I’ve got two girls who will be navigating in this crazy-ass environment where clueless boys grow up learning about sex from porn and girls are blamed and humiliated after being victimized. That is also pretty terrifying.
So the other day Cute W and I were talking about some current event or other, and somewhere in mid-sentence I just kind of lapsed into silence. And then I started again, “I guess I’m feeling. . .” and in the pause before I said what I was feeling, Cute W started laughing. Because he knew what I was feeling. Something along the lines of “in despair about the human race.” There are days when I’m feeling upbeat and he’s haunted by the spectre of global warming or whatever. We can tag team our optimism and pessimism. I am fortunate that I am married to a man who is a feminist. On these upsetting issues, he is firmly on my side. And we are fortunate, together, to have a marriage that has carried on long enough, and I’d argue well enough, that one of us can trail off and the other can guess, “Oh, I see this, she’s getting into a bit of a funk about the general direction that the human race is taking lately.” Not just that, but his recognition of exactly what I’m going to say before I’m going to say is comical enough to make him laugh. And that makes me laugh. If, in fact, we are headed to hell in a handbasket, it is some small comfort that we’re going there together.
Later that day, I saw the first of many of these signs:
Ah. This, too, was like a balm to my fretful soul. Thank you, New York State Council of Churches. Each time I see one of these, it’s like a hope-for-humanity booster shot that I truly appreciate.
. . . Or that’s what I was going to write on Saturday, except I didn’t quite get around to it. And by Sunday morning it was back to humanity heading off a cliff again.
We were busy all morning (more on that later), so I was only really catching up on Orlando by Sunday afternoon. Awful. And then, it’s amazing how people can react to the same horrifying situation in such completely different ways. Like Trump gloating that this is some sort of validation of his beliefs. A high school friend on Facebook said something about how Orlando had nothing to do with guns and everything to do with Obama’s lack of concern about Americans and refusal to eradicate Isis from the planet which would be easy if he just wanted to do it, which apparently he doesn’t. I had previously tried to gently engage her on the Trump issue, but I was like, no. I can’t. I just have to “unfollow” this person for my own mental health.
But, I don’t know about you, but the Tony awards felt like a marvelously cathartic event for this precise situation. I was in a few plays growing up, but I was never what you’d call a full-on “theater person.” They are a special breed. I loved, especially, the geekily joyful enthusiasm with which all of these successful actors improv’d (or pseudo-improv’d, but it was casual enough) their way through various classic musical numbers, both in James Corden’s carpool karaoke and in the live performances outside the theater. That is what theater geeks totally do as, you know, 14- and 15-year-olds, and it was just lovely to see the huge stars carry on the tradition. I was pretty much weeping on-and-off throughout the show.
This morning I headed to my exercise class at the JCC. Turns out, it was yet another Jewish holiday. But usually when it’s a Jewish holiday I’ve forgotten about, the parking lot’s empty, the door’s locked, and there’s a flyer on the door reminding me of what’s going on. For some reason, this time, I saw that the parking lot was empty, but the doors were open, lights were on, and it looked like someone had just been in an open office. But there was no flyer hanging up and the place was a ghost town. Intellectually I knew it must be a holiday, but I couldn’t help thinking that it everyone had evacuated because of a bomb threat. Or possibly it was the apocalypse. I felt a little bit like bursting into tears.
So, so much for almost-upbeat. I’ll try harder next time, I promise. For now, I’m going to go sign some more gun-control petitions. And maybe see if I can find some kitten videos or something.