Monday, November 14, 2016

Farewell to Hillary Clinton, Satanist

Well, I could have spent my morning more profitably, it has to be said, starting shortly before 3 AM, when I awoke from a restless sleep.

It’s been that way since the election: the dreams have turned dark and anxious. Two days ago, I dreamt I was back working the job I held four years ago, in a town 20 miles or so from San Juan. Getting there in the morning was a breeze: it was returning that held the terror. After all, if for some reason the little público (or minivan) didn’t come in the morning, it was a sure sign that I was meant to go home, call my supervisor, leave a message on her machine, and then return to the pleasures of bed and sleep.

But getting back to Old San Juan from the country outside of Caguas was a dicey affair. There was the yellow bus, the last one of which was supposed to depart at 5:30 from Caguas. But it was never quite that simple: at times, the bus suffered a mishap. It could be anything: a flat tire, a mysterious engine fire, ennui, or a chronic feeling of being misunderstood and underappreciated. Or maybe it had rained, which could be troublesome, since the bus leaked from the roof. And that meant that those not-in-the know would sit down in a very wet seat, and then have steady drips fall upon you.

So it was my habit to catch the second to last bus. That meant sneaking out of the  building before five PM (management was supposed to leave at 5:30) and then standing at the bus stop—should have been easy, right? In fact, it was unnerving, since I was standing essentially on the shoulder of a highway. It induced a sort of melancholy terror: I stood craning my head, peering for the flash of yellow to appear around the bend. The cars roared past me, in good weather it was only the constant, seemingly-amplified, whoosh and the fog of exhaust that I breathed in. But in bad weather, there was always the likelihood that I would be splashed, usually by someone driving a Mercedes-Benz minivan. So rainy days involved a complex scanning for the bus, scrutinizing which driver was likely to be indifferent to or perhaps enjoy drenching a gringo waiting for the bus, and jumping back when necessary. It wasn’t uncommon for the bus to be arriving right behind the speeding Mercedes-Benz minivan, which meant that everyone on the bus then enjoyed the sight of me getting drenched. I would step into the bus accompanied by gales of laughter, commentary, the odd sympathetic comment, and suggestions. I would bow sheepishly: the driver would turn up the air conditioning.

I tell you all this because two nights ago, I dreamt that I was back there, at that bus stop and did the bus come? It may have, but it wasn’t the right bus, or I got off at the wrong stop, and then I had to try to get back, so I took another bus, which of course got me further off track…..

I woke in a sweat, since I had determined to get off at some stop or other, and then had my bag spill out all of its contents, which rolled under seats. And so there I was, trying to collect things, on my knees, and shouting to the bus driver—a deaf-mute—to wait until I could get out….

Right—so I told all this to Jeanne, my sister-in-law, who told me that my brother, too, is having bad dreams. In fact, everybody is having lousy dreams, since Donald Trump is wasting no time putting his boot-stamp on the nation. We now have a white supremacist leading the transition team, and the promise of an anti-abortion Supreme Court justice. Oh, and then we’ll get right down to the business of overturning Obamacare, Medicare, Social Security, lowering taxes on the rich, and turning what used to be a democracy into a police state.

So my sister-in-law had 14 people over on the night of the election, and there they were, chilling the champagne, when….

…so everybody was in shock, and now is probably a great time for me to visit New York, since there must be quite a lot of very good champagne at my brother’s house.

Both my brother and sister-in-law are in shock: they also joined 15,000 like-minded souls in protesting a few days later. They did it because they read The New York Times, and so they can ponder curious policy statement, such as the fact that a substantial portion of the American public hates Obamacare. And that’s strange, because a large majority of that same American public strongly supports the Affordable Care Act. And given the fact that the two things are the same….

So they missed the big story, and I might have too, if a very nice woman who was very good to me at that job I lost hadn’t posted it in Facebook. So had my brother bothered to call me before that march, I could have told him: yes, Hillary is a Satanist. At least, that’s what my friend’s post said, though curiously, the mainstream news…. But that’s hardly surprising, since we know that The New York Times is also infested by Satanists, so you can be sure that my friend’s post was the real deal. 

Well, well—terrible news, but at least Satanism doesn’t run on party lines, since George H. W. Bush is also a Satanist. Or at least a pederast, and how far away can that be from Satanism?  

I could tell you this all definitively if I weren’t in the Internet-darkest corner of the café, since the corner is also the Pandora-deafest. And since Pandora’s box has opened to Puerto Rican Christmas carols—I’ve chosen silence over Internet. But it really doesn’t matter, because you, Dear Reader, can easily travel down those conspiracy lanes.

And who’s to know, since I myself may unwittingly have gone down a few of those highways myself. A friend posted on Facebook that the exit polls in a number of states—including my home state of Wisconsin—reported immediately after the voters left the polling stations reported a Clinton win. But then, the exit polls got changed, to reflect the “actual” results. And those results, need I tell you? Well, if you believe them, then you’d believe anything! Such as Hillary being a Satanist!

Ooops, wait….

So I’m really not doing so well, since my sleep is filled with missing busses, and my mornings are filled with nightmares more real and also more terrifying. Which is why I had to turn to Marina  Abramovich, about whom I knew nothing, but you know the odd thing about YouTube? Like the most seasoned teacher, like the most trusted friend, YouTube reads your mood and your inclinations, and always gives you the clip you need to watch. And though I knew I wasn’t doing well—I mean, how bad is it if you can’t get off a bus?—I really didn’t think I was that far gone.

So here she is, in her Russian mystic best, and what did I need to learn?

Well, it was the only thing I did all morning, but now I know! Whee! And so will you, if you care to delve into the ultimate reality, the reality so much more real, lasting, eternal, luminescent, sublime, ethereal and visceral and spiritual and materialist…

Yes, you too can know….

…how to drink a glass of water!


Friday, November 11, 2016


It’s the usual thing: I’m used to it by now. I’ve lost half a dozen cherished pets. My father died in 1993; my mother in 2010. So I know grief, having done it wearyingly often. But now it’s different. You know when that kitten first destroys the toilet paper that the day will come when you will take him to the vet. Not for his first shots, but for his last. You will be crying, and trying not to show your husband that you are. He, as well, is sniffling heavily. The veterinarian will inject the drug, and your cat will breathe one last breath. And then, he will be no more.

You’ve had time to get ready, of course. And that morning, when your cat could barely stand on his feet, when he was groggy, when he had stopped urinating…well, you knew it was time. Always before, getting the cat into the carrier was a struggle. Your husband grabbed the cat. You snuck into the back bedroom and opened the carrier. Then, as quickly as possible, your husband zoomed into the bedroom, and shoved the howling cat in. You zipped up the case as you husband retreated to the bathroom: the cat had scratched him badly. Oh, and he cannot stand the sight of blood.

He wants to take the bus, since it’s 75 cents, after all. But there will be the usual kids screaming on their way to school, or a drunk singing as out of tune as he is loud. So you tell him that you’ll pick up the cab fare—you, out of a job, but hey, this is your cat….

On the way there, the cat start to meow, and then your husband puts his face to the mesh and peers into the carrier. He calls the cat his special name, and you choke back the tears, knowing that you will only hear that name only a few more times. It will be the only thing said on that ride, since what else is there to say?

You’ve called ahead, and they know you at the vet. So there’s almost no waiting, since they want this over almost as much as you. So there you are, in the examination room, and you’ve taken the cat out of the carrier, now, since you only have him for a few minutes more, and he’s scared. And now the cat has buried his head in your husband’s armpit, and your husband is stroking the cat and reassuring him, and you are thinking that all of your life, all you’ve ever done is lose people and pets. It’s not true, of course, but it feels true, since grief is its own country. And when you’re travelling through that landscape, there is no other land imaginable.

The vet will come in, look quickly at you and your husband, and then turn to the cat. Should we try one last treatment? Perhaps if the cat stays overnight, gets intravenous fluids….


Overnight means that he’ll be alone, in a cage, and there are dogs, so how loud will it be? If the cat is frightened now, how will he be at three in the morning? This cat who has slept next to your husband almost all of his life?

Of course, the cat is 15-years old. So you might have another week, for which you’ll have paid 500 bucks or so. But you know: the kidneys are shot, the liver is shot, and it’s only a matter of time. Your husband looks at you, since he cannot—absolutely cannot—pronounce the death sentence to this cat. He is, after all, the cat we rescued as a kitten from the top of a tire of a parked car.

“I think it’s time,” you say. And you look at the vet and will him—he is going to back you up.

“I would support that decision,” he says. 15-years old? No kidneys? No liver? Of course, he’s going to support that decision.

Your husband nods, and the vet goes to get the drugs. First the tranquilizer. The cat relaxes, and then it time for the drug to stop the heart. And it’s just as it was when your mother died: death is both so real and so absent. You want to get away: you want to pay the obscene bill, and get the hell out of there.

You know the routine: your only challenge is to get through the rest of the day. Work, housework, essential calls—all those can wait.

If you can make it through the first day—and of course you can—then you set your sights on a week. After that, a month, then three months, then half a year. If it’s a pet, you’ll mostly be over it. If it’s a parent, a spouse, a brother or sister, you’ll still be mourning. You’ll cry in the morning, then get up and go to work, where you’ll tell everybody you’re just fine.

So I know the routine. I know every ravine and crag of that land called Grief. What didn’t I know?

That this time, it would be for my country.

Which is why I’ve decided to tell the people who voted for Trump to go to hell. Yes, I got through eight years of Ronald Reagan. I got through eight years of George W. Bush. And I was able—even for those atrocious presidents—to agree. You win some, you lose some: chin up, get over it.

But now?

This was not an election: this was about whether the core values and systems of my country would remain intact. Or whether a man of unknown but very probable demagoguery would sweep it all away. And no—it isn’t looking good. Ponder, for a moment, the interesting fact that St. Paul, Minnesota, is providing emotional support for schoolchildren in the public schools. This from my cousin Angela, who reports that her kids are worried about a classmate from Somalia. And then, of course, the report of a gay man badly bashed by a beer bottle. Or what about the 88 reports of people being bullied?

Can’t we state the obvious? For most of a year now, we have seen a bully: a man who admits to groping women, a man who mocks a veteran’s family, a man who…

…do I have to go on?

In short, we have elected a bully, and now, who can be surprised at what we are seeing? I stopped posting months ago on Facebook about Trump or Clinton: the dialogue was way too toxic. Are there good people who voted for Trump? Absolutely: I know two or three of them, and there are probably many more of my friends who voted for Trump, but have not said so.

But now, isn’t it time to move forward, shake hands, agree on what we can agree on, and move on?

That’s what we’re being told.

And that’s what I could do every other election.

This time, though, I can’t. I’m going to have to mourn, and mourn privately, as I have so often. I’ll go on, and I’ll fight those fights that come my way. I will be a gracious loser. May I also say that it important to be…

…a gracious winner?