How’s your coup? It’s January 17. In three days we will have a new president. Tomorrow is MLK day in observance. I’ve been ingesting too much news; blasting too much on Twitter— railing against the fascist movement that gained a foothold on our fragile democracy. I’ve giggled at the videos of Trumpanzees being stopped at airports and championed the folks who located and arrested them.
It’s taking me many false starts to write you. Writing feels like an impossible slog and there’s way too much to process. I’ve sat in silence on the floor with 2 noise machines giving me the desert wind I need to go deeper. The thing is, surely I will hate this after I post it and also, I’m breaking my own nonfiction rule: don’t write with the blade still dripping with guts. But let’s face facts: our guts have been raw for four years and are fresh as the blood stains on the floor of the Capital.
One unlikely gift of the pandemic is the extravagance of beautiful, inspiring newsletters by writers I already love: Like this: From the Desk of Austin Kleon and Sasha Frere-Jones musical mixes and melancholic photos. I also love this stunning writer, July Westhale who offers astrology readings and accountability writing coach for $20/week (yes, I hired her). I admit, Twitter rage-a-thons and memes have been a source of joy lately. It’s not that I’m into being cheery in a time of acute suffering. It’s that I admire the courage it takes to insist on beauty, no matter what.
Toni Morrison says it better:
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important to not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”
I’m going to attempt beauty while writing about ugliness.
I take messy accidental self portraits. I am going to be posting them.
On January 6th, I stood in my underwear and flipped on the news to keep me company while I scrubbed fried egg residue off dishes. I recognized Pence’s silver barbie hair cemented in place and heard a woman’s voice: Pelosi at the podium. I figured the electoral confirmation process was going to be endless, boring. Then again, I watched the entire Kavanaugh hearing as well as last year’s whole impeachment. I can still hear the young woman in the elevator telling senator Jeff Flake “look at me.”
I recall Professor Ford’s face and her calm and credible account. You remember the the word beer. I have always hated beer but never more than after the Kavanaugh hearing. You remember how he raped her.
And after all of that, I heard all of the Republican “nays” like a fist in the mouth. I pulled over and cried after Susan Collins voted “nay” as if a part of me was still naive enough to believe that a person born with a vagina could never say “nay.” That was one swift kick to the gut of every person in America who has ever been assaulted.
On Jan 6th though, it was hard to comprehend what was taking place. I flipped back from CNN to MSNBC because the camera lost footing for a minute or two. It was like patter of boots on a bar floor; and the crack of knuckles right before onlookers scatter. It was damn confusing is what I’m trying to say. Suits appeared and spirited Pelosi and Pence away. I froze, holding a dirty sponge, as footage of the violent fascist mob was shown, and I scanned the crowd for my father’s face.
My father is a Q-anon guy. I am on an email thread with him and his Q-anon friends and have been for a couple years. I think this is his way of communicating with me, his sex worker, liberal-as-they-get daughter. I generally dismiss these emails and memes as structurally and logically stupid—because they are. But the videos are getting more polished and official looking, and my father has become increasingly hostile. For the past few years, he watched Fox News until his eyes bled. Now he’s graduated to Newsmax.
The men in the fascist mob are not all old. A disconcerting amount of them are exactly my age and so many are much younger. I am finally willing and ready to write about the fact that my own father reminds me of kooky Rudy Giuliani. He’s a lawyer so he’s not stupid. My dad believes in lizard people. And I scanned the crowd looking for his face and then I began looking for his guns.