First of all, we all need to admit that Donald Trump is losing this election.
Even he knows it. This man has gotten up on his hind legs in front of scads of people and told us all that he is planning on losing, because he doesn’t know how to govern. That was the week he called himself a cheerleader for the country, lying to us about Coronavirus to keep our spirits up. I must remind you: the only time being a cheerleader is a qualification for being elected is when you’re running for homecoming queen.
Likewise, winners don’t threaten to assault people at polling places, and they don’t need to tell everyone that the results will be fake if they lose. …
In which I blow up my own neutrality
I have tried, very hard, to keep this page non-political, at least in the capital-P US electoral politics sense. I know it’s a cliche by now, but I really do still have friends (and family!) on both sides, and I don’t ever want anyone to not be able to read my work.
This morning, I read the news, and then the Heather Cox Richardson recap of the news, again, one more time before the election, and I can’t do that anymore.
So thank you, Aunt Wanda, for the grits, and the hugs, and the insight. I hope you’ll talk to me again after the election, one way or the other. …
Ten years from now, I will describe this year as painful, exhausting, and intermittently terrifying. Hopefully, I will be describing it that way. I plan to be alive 10 years from now, even though just lately the 1930s-Germany cosplay makes me pretty nervous.
The thing our country reminds me of most this year is my house, during high school. I grew up in rural Ohio and we didn’t have internet — the web was new, and very expensive. …
This morning, at 7 am on a Sunday, I emptied two drawers and threw out 100 chopsticks because I wanted to make a pie.
I don’t have a lot of time during the work week, this time of year, but I often have solitude on weekends — I can’t sleep in, and my wife can; my son’s schedule is still all over the place, but no matter how late or early he’s up I can almost guarantee he won’t be here when I am insomniac on weekend mornings.
And yesterday I made one of our semi-monthly shopping trips alone, and I was seduced by the plump ripeness of Door County cherries, pregnant with flavor and just in season. And I bought three quarts, both the sweet yellow-red ones and the dark rich Bing. …
A story from the pandemic.
This story was presented as the sermon for the James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation on May 5, 2020.
Last year, in August, I wrote an essay about my grown son, who was leaving for college the next day. It talked about how, in leaving, he would have time and space to find his place, spread his wings, and a bunch of other really normative cliches about growing up.
And for six months, it was true!
He came back, in fall and especially over the winter break, a changed person — a strong, grown human, who had interesting thoughts about the early days of Christianity and new skills in carpentry and a beautiful tenor singing voice. I know college isn’t a great fit for everyone, but I could see it doing wonders for him. He was polite, he was pleasant, he fixed the leg of my broken couch and made delicious meals. …
I wake at night now
Sometimes just to watch you sleep
It’s not easy
To lie there without a peep
I’m glad you’re resting
And I’m jealous as all hell
But if this is the way I’m getting older, then oh well
I’m so tired
Just from holding up the sky
You could help me
If it weren’t so goddam high
You’ve your burdens
Goddess knows that I’ve got mine
And if we pull together facing forward we’ll be fine
And I remember how we loved one time and you would listen to me
I’d lie to you about my life and you would see right through me
We didn’t heed the function or the substance or the form
So I still hope for a miracle, or maybe just a…
We met two days ago. Why are we doing this again?
The notification feels like a pinprick, and after six weeks of this, I’m a balloon. We are all stuck here — forever? — with our spouses and children and roommates and pets. We are all stuck here alone. We are stuck here with the work. We are very, very excited about our biweekly grocery trip.
I know you want to make sure we’re doing the work. Maybe you don’t know: at this point, the work is all there is. If we don’t do the work, we will have to ask our college students why they’re not finishing their report instead of playing fortnite or make lunch for everyone out of our depleted pantries or help our third graders with their math homework or check what stock market volatility has done to our 401K. After the past five weeks, no one wants that. We don’t want to look. …
Baby, I’ve been here before.
I weighed myself at the gym on Tuesday, and it was the same.
I shouldn’t be surprised — my trainer, if I told him, wouldn’t be surprised. I told him back at the beginning that it would be an actual miracle if I lost any substantial amount of weight. He said “We’ll see,” but I don’t think he’ll care if I never lose anything as long as I keep coming in, keep getting stronger, and keep paying him for sessions.
I probably will keep doing those things.
My blonde, model-thin, 20-year-old nutritionist from don’t be fat class, which is what I call the weight-loss study I’ve been in for the past ten months, would not be surprised. I have told her and all her colleagues that I’ve been this weight, this actual weight or maybe five pounds to either side of it, for the past 10 years or more. …
First, be from somewhere shameful.
You must make sure you are from someplace run down, broke and broken, unwanted and unwieldy and unwell. Most of the time it is dirty. Your home town must be an embarrassing fact that few people know, or if it is a big place, they must not know which part of it you’re from.
It is not a secret, exactly. It is quiet. You were probably unloved there, persecuted, fearful, abused. You were almost certainly poor.
You are not poor now. You are striving to be less poor with each passing day.
Many of the people you grew up with are poor. Even your family may be poor, even your siblings. This is better. You will understand them less and less as you get older. It will be easier to drift apart. …