I’ve heard the saying “That sucks” for years without really being sure of what it meant. Now I think I know.
— STEPHEN KING, “THE STAND”
It’s Day 30, and I am not writing about Day 29, because the days are running together, like “Groundhog Day”, and I feel like Bill Murray. Every day the same. A repeat. Dreaming weird things.
Here’s a photo of Day 29, just so I can remember the day. A meal that kept me alive for the several years I spent as a student. Before beef came close to the price of shrimp.
So now it’s actually Day 30.
And I woke to gray cloudy skies and much-needed rain, only to discover water seeping up from the ground into the floor in my office. Which used to be the garage in this house, built in the very early 1950s. Crazy pattern of wetness, with a spot near the outside door and a puddle near the wall closest to the kitchen. No relationship to the dishwasher or the washing machine, both abutting the room where my treasured books rest on pseudo wooden shelves from WalMart and Home Dept. The hand-knotted rug I bought in Morocco now smells like a wet dog and weighs many times its normal weight, so saturated it is with what appears to be clean water.
The carpet still feels like wet sand, what you’d find at a beach, despite the ceiling fan above my head, valiantly churning out air, hopefully drying the wool.
It could have been worse. Maybe it will be, the roots of the enormous mulberry trees just outside the door seeking water in the months-long drought we’ve had here in north Florida.
So much going on these last few days. Presidential meltdowns, disavowals of culpability, a show of the power of voting despite U.S. Supreme Court attempts at voter suppression in Wisconsin, all these things set my mind thinking.
For distraction, I began watching the adaptation of Philip Roth’s Plot Against America, first published in 2004, prescient in its thesis, and chilling in its portrayal of people too willing to believe in the possibility of good in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
A working-class Jewish family in New Jersey watches the political rise of aviator-hero and xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh, as he becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism. This six-part re-imagining of history is based on the Philip Roth novel of the same name.
Many people saw Charles A. Lindbergh as a hero, but his actions as an “American Firster” belie that. His wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wrote beautiful, poetic prose, but also could be said to be tainted with many of the same attitudes as her husband. But still she managed to think deeply and acknowledged her erroneous thinking about “America First.”
In Gift from the Sea, reflecting on her life as a mother and a wife and a woman, she wrote:
What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channeled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible, I cannot shed my responsiblities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life.
People like Anne Morrow Lindbergh viewed the world through a certain lens of privilege – her father, Dwight Morrow, became the ambassador to Mexico from 1927 – 1930, appointed by U.S president Calvin Coolidge. Morrow instigated a number of interesting actions, some surrounding issues of oil in Mexico. And art, since he arranged for Mexican artist Diego Rivera to paint scenes from Mexican history in the Palace of Cortés in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
It turns out that my attempts at distraction – watching The Plot Against America – only served to remind me of the present day!
I dreamed last night of going to a place like a McDonald’s. All the people were scrunched up against each other in line.
Am I wishing and dreaming of a closer future?
So dinner on Day 30 required nothing more than some chopped spring onions, fresh parsley, and some frozen chicken curry soup, sided with naan and whole milk plain yogurt. And a dollop of harissa for good measure.
Stay well. Stay safe. Stay home, if you can.