On the day that The Don assumed occupancy of the Oval Office, there was a distinct and heavy vibe in the air. What it was I will not hazard to guess; but I have felt nothing like it since September 11, 2001: when we all felt palpable change, not for the better, sweeping by overhead. Understand that it wasn’t a sense of personal depression or sadness. I have had many days of those things in the intervening years, and this was not a feeling that came from inside my own experience. The George Lucas fans out there would best understand it as “a profound disturbance in The Force.”
It arrives just as we hit the two-thirds mark in what for me has been a remarkably oppressive winter; by which I mean an ordinarily cold and snowy winter that has been made harder to bear by All The Other Crap that’s been coming down.
Most especially, the illness of my all-time favorite pussyquat, my beloved Hunny, who contracted an Ear Infection that arrived with all the symptoms of a stroke, and every indication that I might actually be losing her. I spent nearly two weeks sleeping on the downstairs couch, usually fully dressed, just so I could keep an eye on her during the long winter nights. She was too sick to stray very far from her quat bed in front of the gas fire, getting up only to eat — which in itself was more than distressing to me, as she could not even sit up without falling over on her side… usually accompanied by a little cry.
The vets were convinced that it was nothing more serious than an Ear Infection long before I was. Right now in my life the worst thing that could possibly happen to me would be to lose my little Hunny: and I could not dismiss the possibility that this is what was happening. For seven days I drowned myself in vodka, until I saw real evidence that she was not moving away from me, but slowly turning around and coming back.
It really was “just” an ear infection, and quite gradually, over the better part of December and all of January, she has recovered to her old cheery self, and is sleeping with me again every night, curled up against my face just like a Teddy Bear.
And so I’ve bounced back as well — but in the Dark Days of Mid December the DuckHaus felt less like a Sanctum and more like a tomb.
Then The Don happened. This was more like a wet blanket being thrown over the whole planet. Facebook became a dark and bitter place, and even when I left the house the people I encountered were sullen and mute. The air was thick with bitter gloom. My business, never exactly thriving, came to a screeching halt.
I’m not even convinced that The Don’s supporters were entirely happy. In interviews with people on the mall, those who had come to watch the inauguration, not to protest it, seemed more defensive than exuberant. I compare that overwhelming heaviness in the air to the face of the man who caused it: on Inauguration Day, the national feeling was heavy, puffy, dim-eyed and frowning under its umbrellas.
Around the same time, my Hunny was having a relapse. She had come so far, only to take several steps backward to start shaking her head, tripping and stumbling over her own feet again. When I called the vet, she said that it was normal for quats to have a Bad Day while recovering from an infection like this.
And sure enough, the next day Hunny bounced back, better than ever.
So here is what I am telling myself: the nation, no matter what side of the political fence you sit on, has picked up a serious infection. It’s not something that can be healed overnight. The cure is long and will require patience. Trite as it seems, I’m going for “we’ve hit a bump in the road and we’ll get past it.” That seems to be the only attitude to take at this stage.
That tangibly real bad vibe that’s in the air? It’s temporary. Tough to deal with in the moment, but temporary. I’d say that we can’t let one egomaniacal blowhard knock the wind out of our sails, but that’s a cliche, too. I keep on pressing ahead with my new projects because it’s a sign of hope, and because it’s the only thing to do, the only way I know how to get through a day without breaking down in despair. When the air is this thick, you cling to whatever you’ve got, and just try to breathe normally until it begins to clear up.
In BORDERLANDS 2, an insanely addictive computer game set in a beautifully realized open science-fictional world, there is an annoying and easily defeated little character called “King Wee Wee.” Especially given recent news insights, this seems to me a more than perfect name for our temporary Butthead-In-Chief. So from now on, I’m calling The Don “King Wee Wee.” Just so you know.