I’m generally not on people’s speed dial for pep talks. And yet there she was, popping the question: “Things are going to get better, right?” My friend needed to hear some hope.
“Well,” I said. “I don’t really know.”
Her voice grew emphatic. “It has to. It just does. Last semester was so awful. I don’t know if I can go through that again.”
She was obviously talking about the pandemic. It owns a penthouse in everyone’s mind, and it’s not vacating anytime soon. To her insistence I replied: “I mean, it doesn’t have to get better…”
Her voice was starting to tremble. So I did my best to calm her down. “Look, I don’t know if it’s going to get better. I just know we’ll get more used to it. We’ll get better at handling things. We don’t have a choice.” …
The news keeps getting worse.
The more we learn about January’s savage attack on the capitol, the darker it gets. An angry mob wasn’t just chanting to hang the vice president. They’d actually built a gallows.
Some of our own lawmakers didn’t just try to live-tweet the locations of their political opponents. They gave militias and hate groups reconnaissance tours of the building, to make sure they’d know exactly where to go. And most recently, members of congress like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are coming forward to explain just how narrowly they escaped being kidnapped and murdered by armed extremists.
Others had to choose between hiding in “secure rooms” with mask-less covidiots, or taking their chances on their own. Even now, in the wake of this deadly incident, we have politicians refusing to surrender their weapons and holding standoffs against capitol police. …
He was an eager student who started waiting outside my office every afternoon. Sometimes he hung around for hours, talking to anyone who’d listen. Eventually, you couldn’t warm up your coffee without getting the latest updates on his epic personal struggles.
He usually talked about how much he hated his family, and how betrayed he felt by them. When he was done, he apologized for wasting your time. That would eat up another ten minutes of your day.
You wanted to say something, but you had no idea what. You were so busy with your own problems…
Maybe if someone had listened to him, it would’ve made a difference. Then again, he had a way of latching onto you. The more you gave, the more he wanted. It felt eerie. …
Growing up in Georgia, you learn a lot about the first civil war. My 8th grade history teacher spent months on it. He drew every major battle on the board and made us memorize them.
We started with the First Battle of Bull Run.
It’s sometimes called “the picnic battle,” because civilians and politicians actually rode out to watch. They brought food. They were looking forward to a good ol’ Yankee ass whoopin’. According to Kat Eschner of Smithsonian Magazine, “many Americans believed the conflict would be short and relatively bloodless.” Instead, it ended with five thousand causalities. By then it was pretty clear how wrong everyone had been, and how carelessly they’d acted. …
In case you haven’t noticed lately, there’s a lot of Americans out there who don’t know how to deal with their anger.
They can’t channel it into anything but violence and outrage, and it’s one of the main reasons we’re in such a dumpster fire. Meanwhile, everyone seems to be trying to solve our problems with more.
You can find videos of the D.C. rioters on social media leading up to the January 6 disaster. They’re doing what you’d expect, ranting into their smartphones while driving, so consumed by rage they can barely keep their eyes on the road. If that weren’t bad enough, we’re circulating those videos and rewarding them with our own fury. …
One of my cousins thinks he’s going to buy a beach house with ten thousand dollars he inherited. He lives with his mom, unemployed. “I know what it’s like to be a struggling parent,” he tells me.
He doesn’t have kids.
He has a dog.
Someone has always taken care of my cousin. Nobody has the heart to tell him he’ll never, ever get that beach house he keeps talking about.
He’ll figure it out one of these days.
When that happens, he’ll get angry. Maybe he’ll storm a building to punish a government he blames for selling him a lie. Or maybe he’ll just stay home and cheer the next group that does. …
Now is the time.
Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock did it. Democrats have taken control of the U.S. Senate. The odds were against us, but we managed to pull it off. They deserve a drink and a short celebration.
So do we all. Then we need to get to work.
Let’s not get too comfortable. There’s too much at stake. Nobody can afford to relax and pretend like things will get “back to normal.” They won’t. Normal is gone. We’re living in a time of abnormal. As plenty of smart people have already pointed out, normal is what led to the current mess we’re in. …
“There’s just something not right about this election.” That’s what my relatives say. They’re life-long Republicans, the kind of people who cry and pray over school shootings. They voted for Trump, twice.
They won’t admit it.
They remain strategically silent because they know it might cost them access to their grand kids. It’s not about difference of opinion or shared values anymore. We simply don’t know if we can trust their judgment in the world that’s coming, or the one that might already be here.
If you want a dose of reality, consider that while 61 percent of Americans accept the election results, 72 percent of Republicans don’t. …
“So, we were little daredevils yesterday.” That’s how my in-laws phrased it, going to dinner at a crowded restaurant last weekend. “It felt so good to get out of the house,” they said.
It was the only reason they called.
They just wanted to let us know how they—two seniors with preexisting conditions — sat in a restaurant for two hours during the height of a pandemic. They did this after I sent them both a pack of the best disposable masks you can find on the market.
They did it after we told them about our plans to move closer to home, precisely to build a support network that could help us all weather disasters like this in the future. …
It’s a new year, but nothing has changed.
Sure, it was fun to watch Anderson Cooper do tequila shots with Andy Cohen and describe 2020 as “fecal.”
It was almost cathartic.
Now that’s over. What’s left is a sinister truth beneath our efforts to treat 2021 like a fresh start. As another slew of YouTube ads hits us with promises to transform our lives, we’re secretly terrified of what this year has in store. Maybe we need to be honest, and stop trying to pretend.
Let’s face it, we’re scared.
Let’s get back to the real world for a minute. Ambulances are lined up outside hospitals. They’re filling parking lots. Nurses are describing the peaks of exhaustion they work through. …