2022 and Beyond

As we enter into the third year of the COVID pandemic, I’m optimistic.  

Did you know the flu epidemic/pandemic in the early 20th century lasted two years and perhaps beyond into a fourth wave? 

What makes us think we’d be any different?  Besides our vaccines, we have a lot more ways to get close and get infected.

Never leaving the house again

It’s so easy to think the horrible will never end, the future is bleak and that it won’t EVER be as good as it was.

When I catch myself going down this rabbit hole I’m reminded of what the late, great Stephen Sondheim lyricized in the vastly underrated Merrily We Roll Along.

…That’s what everybody does

Blame the way it is on the way it was

On the way it never ever was…

On a lighter metaphor, movies were not supposed to exist once television was born and theatre, well, that would soon be spoken as widely as Latin.

The Tao of Moira

So much for prophecy.

Movies are still here but the way we access them have changed.  The same with theatre.  And television.  And music.

Who remembers DVDs, VCRs, eight tracks, tape decks and…radio?

I mean, radio as a primary art form that’s on the front page or brain of anything?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

But on that latter point, who listens to PODCASTS?  

New Pod from a Chair Episodes coming soon!

You are so no better than your great grandparents.

Social media is not the revolutionary means to the end of the world but the evolution of a world where change knows no end.

Yeats famously prophesized in a 1919 poem, the center cannot hold and we’re still here. 

This despite the fact that phrase was pilfered and rephrased by any number of 1960s social revolutionaries who saw the end coming, and was recently used as the title of the Netflix doc on the life of writer Joan Didion, The Center Will Not Hold.

RIP Joan

Totalitarian reign and pushback.  They leave Afghanistan, we desert Afghanistan. Our weapons of mass destruction, they lied about weapons of mass destruction, our existence teeters on the brink of mass destruction.

This is not to minimize any one of the above issues or their many cousins that are nipping at the heels of all of our destructions.

It is simply to remember that despite all of these changes certain core issues and ways of humanity are ALWAYS the same. 

It’s simply the players, scenery and mode of import that makes it feel different.  To US.

I imagine this is what both Sondheim AND Betty White knew well before their ends.

We’ll miss you girl

On that note, it’s hard to lose our beloved elders, isn’t it?  But by anyone’s measure, living to 91 and 99 is almost more than we can ask given the realities of human frailty.  Yet, we never get enough of people we love, like and admire from afar and near.

This is a particularly heart ripping truth when it comes to our closest friends, family and loved ones. 

Death can be random and cruel, particularly when it comes to the young, but it’s also rote and predictable.  It’s always been the way of the world.  We can extend life a bit but THAT will also NEVER change.

At least as far as we know. 

That is, unless you have Irishman level de-aging tech available to you

Which brings us back to the exciting but scary part that has so many of us freaking out about 2022; what we DON’T know.

Which is….A LOT.

My late second Mom, an avid reader, once told me when I was feeling hopeless and down that life was like a great book, you never know what will happen when you turn the page. 

Expect the unexpected, weather the storm of horribleness and celebrate every second of luck and good fortune that will inevitably come your way.

This, if you have a field

If this sounds like a Forest Gumpism, a movie I could never stomach, it doesn’t to me.  Her advice wasn’t akin to life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get, even though it might be read this way now.  Rather than being about the randomness of life, I took it as the certainty that a good piece of story will always deliver to you; the ups and downs, the inescapable heartache and the always to be counted on moments of joy.

Though perhaps, for me, it was simply the book/story metaphor.  I could relate a lot more to that than some stupid container of processed sugar able to undo you or reward you beyond your wildest dreams depending on what road you decided to paw.

OK but pizza might work

It could have also been the messenger. 

My second Mom, meaning my stepmom – a parental figure who only becomes such by coincidence of marriage but can truly emerge as a lot more than that depending on who they and you are – was not a habitual advice giver and problem solver.  Though always, she was honest.  Some would say to a fault.

So when she took the time to challenge me with a metaphor of what life truly was (and would be) it compelled me to listen.  And woke me up from my malaise in an instant.

I think this idea is what sustains me through so many problematic moments, both personal and societal.

OK, but also pizza

That the secret is that not one of us, the most talented or smartest or even both that any human can be, will solve any of these issues on our own.  Nor are we likely to even manage to get through them.

We depend on each other.  Not only the people we love and trust but on all of those charlatans who we loathe. 

The best of them show us the way to survive and grow.  The worst of them try and seduce us into drowning in their bile and cynicism.

Except this guy. F*** this guy.

Not that I haven’t been known to be a cynic or offered my own bile out into the world, dressed up and spewed out as wisdom at times.

It takes a long time, often a lifetime, to become wise enough to understand what is being offered (and why) from each source and to move forward in the best way possible.  And I believe the most difficult part of this is recognizing that you – yourself – can be quite an unreliable narrator. 

They (Note: Whoever THEY are) say trust yourself, but that doesn’t always work.  When you suspect you – yourself – are not to be trusted you need to turn to people like your second Mom, one among a small handful of someone elses that we all need to cultivate, that inner circle of truth, and then decide what the best options are.

You can’t sit all alone in your room and figure it all out yourself.  That’s myopic and creepy and just plain dumb.  And it will NEVER get you through 2022 in any sort of meaningful or even pleasing way.

Deep thoughts

Once I realized this small fact and made it into a strategy, I became more optimistic.

A group effort with you at the helm but never as sole narrator and dictator, benevolent though you might think you are.

No ONE of us is to be entirely trusted.   But together, with the benefits of our small group (Note: Which doesn’t mean isolating from the thoughts and logic of the rest of the world at large), we will see a way forward.

Through 2022 and into plots twists and turns we never could have imagined or pulled off by ourselves.

“Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” – Jennifer Hudson from SING

We Need a Hero

Omicron sounds like a Marvel villain, doesn’t it?  Something like:

INT. HILLTOP HIDEAWAY – NIGHT

OMICRON, ageless, sits on a chair at a glass desk faced away from us, staring straight through a wall of windows at the luxurious skyline.   Then suddenly —

He swings around.  A tightly fitted black synthetic fabric covers his face and entire body, except for a pair of shiny white leather gloves on his hands petting a white cat sitting on his lap.

Twist mustache, purrrrfect

His hands slide up and down the cat almost seductively until he slowly rises, raising the cat high in the air in a moment of victory.

Then he brings it down to his shoulders, where it wraps itself around his neck and rests comfortably, like the powerful and immovable amulet of horror it will soon turn out to be.

Okay, maybe that was more 1960s Bond than Marvel but you get the idea. 

And, sorry to demonize the cat.

Of course, you can demonize anyone and anything these days and get away with it.  Ask Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-CO). 

This is a good start

In the last few years she’s gone to fundraisers around the country with some D-list shtick about hijab-wearing, Somalian born Rep. Ilhan Omhar (D- Minn) being a terrorist, joking she feels safe in an airport or elevator or wherever else she slithers as long as her fellow congresswoman is not there wearing a backpack.

There was a time when this kind of thing would have ended your career instead of making you a headliner.  But there’s an old expression a lobbyist ex-boyfriend once shared with me about this:  Bedfellows make strange politics.

Meaning if you lay down with pigs long enough, before long you’ll grow to love the mud, muck and manure.  In fact, it might even turn into your life’s blood.

Nope, never

Ask aspiring Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).  He sees Rep. B’s Islamaphobic remarks, as well as the hard right wing racist taunts from the likes of Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) and Madison Cawthorne (R-NC) as merely a messaging problem rather than the unearthing of a gaggle of mice and cockroaches bent on eating their way through the support beam barely holding up what little structural foundation remains of his party. (Note:  That would be the Republican party, or as he likes to sometimes refer to it, the party of Lincoln.  The latter would be the man who freed the Civil War slaves, the same one that several noted psychics claim to have literally seen turning over in his grave in the last few years)

Not that I’m partial or anything. 

Reality check

But once we get into people like Rep. Cawthorn, who says his trip to the Fuhrer’s vacation home (Note: That would be Hitler’s pied-a-terre) was a memorable sojourn that was on his bucket list, all bets are off.

I mean, there is no prose purple enough you can use to describe that.  Hence, the Omicron excerpt above.  With more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases and 1000 plus deaths in the U.S. daily, the latter stat almost solely among the unvaccinated despite a vast surplus of vaccine, the rest of us have now become the unwitting cast, crew and extras of a new, live and ongoing superhero film missing one basic and very crucial element – a superhero.

All bat signal, no bat

Which brings us to the Supreme Court.  That once hallowed last chance savior body has this week taken up an anti-woman’s right to choose case from Mississippi that will likely end the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that gives all women the blanket federal right to seek an abortion up to 24 weeks into their pregnancy.

But in her questioning, Justice Amy Coney Barrett (Note: Whose confirmation in the during the last days of the Trump presidency was celebrated in a massive COVID-19 virus super spreader event at the White House) reasoned that pregnancy and parenthood are not part of the same burden.  In fact, she posed the idea that as long as women could give their babies up to the state for adoption, the right to terminate a pregnancy could at least be almost cut in half, or curtailed even further.

Because why shouldn’t an underage girl raped by a family member who is too scared to come forward in her first trimester be forced to have her baby?  Can’t she, like, just leave it at the firehouse as girls used to do in the old days?

It literally takes your breath away

Granted, this is my incendiary language and not hers.  But it’s essentially accurate when you read through her questioning.  See, Justice Barrett, 49, has seven children, two of whom are adopted, and a fundamentalist’s view of religious doctrine.  So much so that she once held the title of handmaiden at a small and very conservative Christian group called People of Praise. 

Not a fount of choice to be had there. 

Nope. That’s it. Moving to Canada.

Now, far be it for me to take away anyone’s freedom to live their life in their own kind of personal hell, I mean, dogma.  They are free to think of me as a sinner and try to own me as the self-admitted lib that I am, just as I am free to think of them as the misguided, willfully ignorant idiots that I know them to be.

But I’m just at the point of proclaiming what they are all NOT free to do is to refuse a vaccine against a disease that threatens the survival of life as we know it.  If you can drink a Coke, eat fast food, get your kid a small pox and polio vaccine before they enter school, you can sure as f-k be required to get this f-kin shot. 

I mean, I’ve gotten THREE so far and listen to me here.  Don’t I sound normal???

And I’d get three more shots if I had to!

Not to mention, shouldn’t there be at least an intelligence test you have to take before you get to serve in Congress or the executive branch?  (Note: Can you imagine who wouldn’t make the cut?).  How about a few geniuses get together and concoct a 2020 plus racism test that disqualifies you from serving if you score below a certain number?  The same for the basic tents of democracy (Note: Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly) with essay questions on each so you can’t just pass by memorizing a bunch of laws.

I’d volunteer to grade them because…who else could I trust?

Red pens are ready!

Now I’m just joking, but only barely.  More than ever, this feels like the part of the film where either a hero or extraordinary power swoops in and saves us or we decide to save ourselves by standing up to the likes of the Omicrons.

Whether they’re wearing robes or abusing their elected offices with stupidity.

I’m by no means suggesting storming the Capitol.   Rather, spending some more time standing up to them in strategic discourse and civil disobedience.

As well as crawling through broken glass to cast your vote and make yourself heard.

Bonnie Tyler – “Holding Out for a Hero”