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[Editor’s Note: Still couldn’t do it. My experiment in purge writing, stream of consciousness writing was intended to be unvarnished, uncensored, just write what bubbles up as a means to try and capture where 2020 left me. We were all left somewhere with our thoughts and mine were crazy. I might guess everyone’s 2020 thoughts were a mix of despair, frustration, anger, confusion, fear, bravery. Thing is, while I spewed forth with whatever came to my head, and left those comments unread and unedited (until I thought better of it), they aren’t a fair picture of how I have reacted to 2020. Not in full. In legitimate ways those are truly ideas and judgments that pass through my head, but I–we all–work hard to edit before going public with innermost thoughts for good reason. They can be hurtful. They can be a young, untempered reaction to life, but not our wiser, learned reaction to life. We all have judgments, but we know enough to keep them to ourselves and allow the people around us, many of whom we love, the space to be who they are. We don’t tell people what to think. We don’t, even on our worst days, expect people to fall in line with our own ideas. I am so pained by so much of what I wrote last night. Been a rough day. So, I’m editing again. The first time was just to remove the f-words. This time through, editing out the judgmental. I’ll speak my own truth but keep my nose out of others’. Except elected officials, who I’ll always call out.]

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About seven hours until 2020 is a wrap. Not that we’ll wake up tomorrow in a new and better world, but we are surely off to a promising start. But, man, what a messed up year, and what a messed up country we are living in.

And… of course… so much to be grateful for. We didn’t die of Covid. We (Jim and I) actually don’t have anyone close to us who did. We didn’t suffer financially, we didn’t lose a business. We won a presidential election (resoundingly, I might add). And, best of all, Peter is in a good place — thriving, happy, challenged, fulfilled…not to mention deeply loved.

For all the downtime we’ve had this year, time to think (worry, stress, bonk our collective heads)… I am at a loss to try and tie a neat bow around 2020, let alone even begin to get my hands around this tragic year.. this horrible, shocking, heartbreakingly tragic year.

I’ll leave it to historians to write thoughtfully and coherently about 2020. I’m just gonna plop down by the fire (I’m already here), with a hot mug of glogg (head’s already spinning) and do a little stream of consciousness writing because I feel like I want to note some of what’s impressed and impacted me (y mi familia) but I’ll never write about the end of 2020 if I have to be succinct and articulate. So… just thoughts… disjointed, random… a slightly inebriated data dump.

Here goes.

I shudder for 2020. I shudder for us. The reign of Donald Trump is almost over. Feel sorry for him? I’ve gone there. There’s plenty to feel sorry for, his life is a tragedy. But anyone whose vile, evil behavior affects this many people, who behaves without any regard for anyone but himself, who behaves without morals, whose instincts and decisions hurt as many people as his do.. sorry. He has hurt too many, the planet, has risked the future of our children, the entire world. It’s unfathomable how much power he’s had, how irresponsibly he’s wielded it, and again, how much very real damage he has caused in service to himself, alone.

And will continue to cause. And I continue to be shocked by how people — 72 million — continue to support him after all we’ve seen in the last five years. And because they do, their elected representatives have followed. With few exceptions, and motivated by their desire to hang on to power, way too many congress people have climbed aboard his crazy train. They can’t buck him, because: Twitter. Because: their reelection. They are beholden. Can’t shake him now. Didn’t stand up five years ago, didn’t stand up at any point along the way. Can’t stand up now. They belong to him and he is theirs forever.

It’s a fascinating dynamic. Except that it’s dangerous and runs counter to everything we ever thought our country stood for. It’d be fascinating except that it’s leading to deeper chasms between us — a country cleanly and maybe irrevocably divided. He can only thrive in a divided world where enemy lines are clearly drawn, so divide us he will. He did. The damage is deep. And congress has been all too willing to go along. Trapped in the grips of a sociopath of their own encouraging.

I don’t feel like writing more about that. I just resent it. I resent that he claimed the flag, claimed patriotism and all the while burned our country down. And on his way out, he has no problem continuing the destruction. Because it was never about the United States. It was never about us, the people (democrats, certainly). It was only about having the power, occupying the most powerful office in the world. He never cared about the job, only about attaining the highest most powerful position on the planet.

And how did we allow that to happen? (Not we.) Given the obvious damage he’s caused, how does congress continue to go along? I will NEVER, EVER understand how this fealty continued, especially once it became clear to even the republicans, how unfathomably unfit he is and how dangerous he is to our collective well-being, to our democracy, to all of civilization. No exaggeration.

Again. I just can’t comprehend. I try to write about it. I can’t.. I continue to be gobsmacked by the cynicism, by their fear of losing power. All I have been able to do is be anxious and stunned and scared. All that comes out is blog post after blog post is this. I’m aware… I search for words; I don’t have them. I can’t muster anything on the page as horrific as he is, so my posts are redundant, circular and increasingly panicked. I give myself nightmares.

So that’s been one of the major stories of 2020, and of course all four years of this indecent, immoral presidency. I am so relieved that he lost. And while I know he’s not going away — will continue to hold a weak congress hostage to his madness — at least he’s not president. At least he’s not president. At least he’s not president.

I don’t know what fresh hell will greet us in 2021. Whatever sources from Trump’s Twitter account will be awful is all I’m sure of. I do know he’ll cling desperately to the spotlight — because he’s a madman and lost at sea without the attention — and continue to make our lives hell. But at least he’s not president.

We worked hard for this. As did tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people across the country. I haven’t totaled it up officially (it’s on my list) but let’s just say the presidential election inspired a world record of activism in me. A good thing, I suppose. And a convenient focus in a year when we couldn’t go out, couldn’t travel, couldn’t partake of normal recreation and activities… so might as well have upped the activism level to a 10. Though, pandemic or not, I/we were already there. Our group had already been meeting, marching, writing, calling and registering voters like crazy, well before the pandemic. But wow, what a great focus during a locked-down, reduced-activity year.

So when I finally go through my tallies of calls, post cards, money donated, etc, it will be amazing.

Fires. Our planet’s dying. Irresponsible people are killing us, our trees, our oceans, our animals and fishes. It is painful. We have lost so much ground under Trump. What is wrong with people? How can we even begin to address the magnitude of the challenge without leadership in the US? Much has been lost, the fires are epic and not letting up. Fire storms are a fact of California life. The fear, N-95s, stench and ash-covered cars is now a months-long experience. Every year.

Uprisings around racial injustice were the most hopeful and inspiring thing that happened in our country this year. The pain is deep. The injustices, inequities profound. No human can forgive our history or abide its impacts. It’s way past time. I have been so moved and so encouraged by our multi-racial, fierce, compassionate youth. Their time in the saddle cannot come soon enough.

The year was more than anger. I recognize I’m way over the top angry. Angry at our leaders for their lack of principles, for their weakness; angry at injustices; angry at the devastation. It’s all a gut punch. Wrenching, frustrating, despairing.

I’m embarrassed by my anger, chagrined that I haven’t found a way to moderate it, or put it in a constructive box. Embarrassed that I haven’t learned how to keep political drama, for example, from entering my bloodstream and taking over my life. Yes… I admit — and hope to learn how to deal better with it — that I’ve allowed myself to become obsessed. I realize it’s tiring at best, bad for my health at worst, and somewhere in between puts my relationships with family (including Jim!) and friends at risk. The politics of the last four years have been toxic. I totally realize. I’ve allowed my reaction to all of this to affect my day to day life. Bad me. A smarter me would have perspective and a more reasoned, temperate reaction to the relentless torrent of crazy. For one thing, it’s out of my control.

Must stop swearing. Hey, maybe that will be a new year’s resolution! It would be such a good one, even an easy one, and such a symbolic move from anger and toxicity –> peace and sanguinity. This idea is growing on me by the second.

Desperate to be beyond this style of “leadership.” Eager to be bored by politics. Liberated by normalcy. Confident in our leaders’ competency. Free of swearing.

In other news.

2020 infused me with love and admiration for Peter. Not to overstate this. I mean, he’s only 22 with a whole life of judgment errors and bad decisions ahead of him. But 2020 saw him graduate from UCSD, having had, as far as we observed, a productive, fun time during his four years at college. He’s started a whole new life at University of Michigan. During a pandemic. He figured out the whole move, got himself there, had fun along the way, got himself a place, met people, began a good working relationship with his major professor whom he already respects, dove into challenging research that inspires him, spends his time delving deep into related subjects just for fun, registered and voted in a new state (!), did some political action of his own, wardrobed himself with winter gear, and, lately, has Zoomed with us nearly every day (well, only since the semester ended and many in his cohort left town). The Michigan part’s been an impressive exactly-five months.

The point? The world can just go to hell in a hand basket, but the kiddo at the center of my life, the biggest hunk of my heart, right up there with Jimzerolly, is happy. Full stop.

Hell, Jim is happy too. Mr. Grasshopper is just happily fiddling along, even as his Mr. Ant self works smart and brings home the bacon. Is that too much fable-izing and metaphor mixing? His balance, steady-as-she-goes, even-keeled, engaged-but-unfazed-by-political-madness self, is an anchor in my life. He just works in his garage, builds things, takes naps, eats well, stairmasters happily along. All is well.

Yet another positive in an otherwise negative 2020.

Twenty-twenty was other stuff, not all bad. Just a few months into our remodeled space, we started dealing with the landscaping. I’ve written about that plenty, so will just summarize by saying it’s a relief to see that underway with easily countable remaining tasks. I’m shocked we (I) entered into the project with no real sense of its expense (not shocked, actually). But the relief of being able to see the end of the entire 2-3 years of remodeling projects is significant. (And it’s worth noting that this all began with the simple idea of enclosing our back porch in order to provide a sunny and light place to sit–a place to read and write and gaze out to the garden (which was nice enough as it was). Then we thought, well, if the space was conditioned, we could move the piano into it, freeing some space in the living room. Then, as long as we were adding 12′ of space onto the living room, we may as well extend the entire west side of the house and garage by 12’… that would give us a laundry room/pantry/project room AND a huge garage annex for storage. And as long as we were going to be suffering remodel chaos, this would make it a good time to do that bathroom remodel, which we decided to get out of the way first. And, ultimately all that west wall expansion necessitated some backyard changes, which turned into an entire backyard landscaping plan, so why not the front yard? And did I mention that as long as we were adding a new roof over the additional space we may as well re-roof the entire house, and it was surely time to replace the solar panels. And re-side the entire house. And, of course, re-paint it. Oh and add two new fences in the backyard, and a new custom wood garage door to boot. Holy hell, is that all?)

Easy to see why it’s a relief to see the end of this project. And that happened in 2020…. though will trail a wee into 2021 before all is said and done.

I’m freaking out about covid. I’ve been respectful of it from the get go. Followed guidelines from the moment issued. I was, however, a bit cavalier about the prospect of getting it. I’ve been certain that, if I were to contract the virus, I’d be in the vast majority of people who get through it, either with manageable symptoms or even none at all. That’d be in keeping with my history of not ever getting stuff. Now, as thousands and thousands across the country are dying per day and California is in a state of emergency with zero percent hospital vacancy and infection rates off the charts, I’m terrified. I feel like staying put, not going out at all–or just barely–and totally 100% safely, until I get my second vaccine shot. Which, who knows when that will be? The first probably won’t happen for months, yet.

Inside time’s been a little bit good for inside pastimes. I’m on only my second jigsaw puzzle, haven’t completed even a single book (though made progress on a few). I started my blog up again, though that happened just prior to the pandemic, and it’s been a great platform (says me) for ranting and panicking.. both in great supply these past 9 months. And I did bake two loaves of bread!

My time, as I said earlier, has been largely spent on political activism… a by-the-numbers summary of which I’ve yet to pull together. Since March, the SisterDistrict/IndivisibleYolo Zoom meetings alone added up to at least a solid part time job. The SD/IY communication team tasks and special event organizing was substantial. The time spent on Kelly’s campaign–even after I stepped down as that communications team’s lead–was also substantial. And that’s before we get to the time writing postcards, making calls, sending texts, delivering lawn signs, doing lit drops. Doesn’t count the rallies, vigils, protests, marches and even an election victory dance celebration in Central Park (at distance).

Outside of political work, Zoom events included Peter’s graduation from UCSD, his graduation family party, two dance parties, too-many-to-count concerts, several lectures, two conferences, one pub quiz, a poetry reading, two family Thanksgiving gatherings, three family Christmas gatherings, Jim’s appearance as an expert witness in Yolo County Superior Court, several phonebank trainings (oops, that’s political), two book club events, several candidate fundraisers (also political), and just countless long, leisurely Zoom hangouts with Peter. What.Would.We.Do.Without.Zoom??!!

Maybe my other standout activity during this pandemic would be my cooking revival. That, too, I’ll eventually quantify, but based on the last time I counted, and the cooking that’s transpired since, I’d say I tried close to, if not exceeding, 100 new recipes. Jim and I definitely got into a rhythm with my meal planning, his shopping, my cooking, his cleaning, our evaluation of dishes … it’s been a fantastic run. I’ve enjoyed each and every minute of cooking, refamiliarizing myself with the kitchen, eating ….. and gained, funnily enough, just about 19 pounds. The Covid-19 they call it. Well, maybe 20.

If one were to put the best possible spin on a horrible year, I’d focus on the creative Zooming, the cooking, the home projects, the endless walks. But overriding all of this is the reality of death. Unnecessary death and suffering. I place, as I’ve written numerous times, all the blame on Trump. All of it. He alone botched it up. Leaders gotta lead and he did not. People would have died from the virus, no question. But he failed to lead, failed to rally the country, confused the messaging, failed to organize a concerted, thoughtful, effective response. Led sheeps to slaughter. It is unconscionable, like all of his cowardly, self-serving, intentionally divisive acts. He is either shockingly ignorant and over his head, or unfathomably immoral. Or both. It was breathtaking to follow the news each day.

His unequivocal loss in the election is a reassuring development. It gives me great hope. The fact we still have posturing congress members playing games with Biden’s victory gives me an ulcer. That we will still have to deal with this monster and all that he has created makes me sick. The election was not stolen from him; he has stolen from our country more than we will ever recover. He has damaged us.

He is 2020. But he is going to be gone from the WH. We are almost done with his foul, tragic presidency. And with him gone, with multiple vaccines in circulation, with new leadership, with a renewed and humane set of values in our incoming, diverse, smart leadership, we may regain something after all of this. There is so much to rebuild and then build upon. We will be much better off going forward than we are now. There is that…. even as it’s just so stunningly overwhelming. But I’m grateful we are starting this next year in this much better place, rather than the alternative.

And look at that, I’m longer-winded than even Heather Cox Richardson. At least she’s interesting!

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I only took a few pics down by the creek today, and one downtown, so slim pickins, but I gotta end with at least one photo, so how’s this for things looking up?

Happy New Year, beloveds.