Bumper stickers, oversized mugs, and other matters of virtually no importance whatsoever
I almost put lotion on my toothbrush tonight.
That’s how tired.
So forgive me, reader, my ramblings, meanderings, trivialities.
I’m in bed, drinking tea, and listening to Cowboy Junkies.
My ankles hurt.
I am smiling about an interaction I had today with a student, a boy, who called me “Grub-Hub.” When I laughed, he turned in his seat, laughing with me, and we made eye contact and we were laughing together, and it was a little moment of soul-recognition in the chaos of another Tuesday in middle school in America. Which reminds me of the impetus for this post: a bumper sticker on the car behind me while I drove home today, “Let’s Go Brandon.” If you don’t know what this means, why someone would have a bumper sticker that said such a vague thing, then you can stop reading here an go on to live a rich and full life. If you don’t know what this means, and have decided to continue reading, it is Trumper code for “fuck Joe Biden.” The origin is not worth explaining, but can easily be Googled. Recently, a pilot on a Southwest flight pushed off with a “Let’s Go Brandon” salute to passengers, many of whom gasped in astonishment. Far as I’m concerned, a pilot who is going to spout some Trumper nonsense might as well just come out and say what I’d be thinking, “From the flight deck, your captain, here to let you know I am an irredeemably, unrepentantly, mindbogglingly horrible person. Have a nice flight!” And that’s immediately how I felt when I saw the “Let’s Go Brandon!” bumper sticker on the car in front of me: Okay. Yeah. I’m driving behind a horrible person. Noted. I guess Trump bumperstickers are useful in that they alert other drivers to the following probable facts:
1) The driver has a gun.
2) The driver voted for Trump twice, and
3) the driver is an unbelievable asshole, at best.
It’s not as though “Let’s Go Brandon” is some oblique, thoughtful critique of Biden’s presidency — it’s the usual mean-spirited, ham-fisted, red-faced, slobberage we have come to accept as “normal” from the American Right. Moreover, I would like the record to show I never once purchased a bumper sticker that said “Fuck Trump.” I said this all. the. time. but I didn’t go out and put a bumper sticker on my fucking car to announce my angsty feels to the general public. As a rule, I am anti-bumper sticker on cars. I prefer bumper stickers on walls/water bottles/computers. I feel it is impolite to assault the general public with our political, religious, and philosophical positions vis-a-vis the ass of a car.
You want to know my political affiliations? Have a conversation with me.
Cowards can say whatever they want on a bumper sticker, on a Facebook post, on Twitter. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then you’re a coward. If you would say it to someone’s face, you’re probably an asshole.
You want to talk to me about politics? Let’s start by analyzing systems. Let’s start with colonialism. Let’s have us a nice analysis of Class in America.
Save the heated talk about individuals & their respective foolish personalities for happy hour. Where you will not find me because I don’t drink booze anymore. Still.
I’m still not drinking. Somedays I have no fucking idea why I bother denying myself a glass of wine, and then I remember the way it was between me and alcohol for all those years. I remember that between me and alcohol nothing would ever change or be right. And I remind myself how much easier it is to live in my body, in my life, in my soul without the corrosive specter of alcohol. What a burden that was. What an awful burden, and I am grateful today to be rid of it. I write this mostly to remind myself why I don’t “partake.” I write this because I am in a high stress profession, during a high stress time in my life, during a high stress time in my nation, and I need to remind myself why I don’t pour myself a novelty sized glass of Merlot which brings me, cleanly, to the subject of over sized drinkware. I don’t like this. I don’t like extra large drinkware. 1) I like to have a free hand whilst beveraging and 2) large glasses lead to lukewarm liquid. I like my consumable liquids to be either hot or cold. Never in-between. Bread, crackers, chips, certain cheese, and most confections can be room-temp, but liquid foods should never be. Liquids for drinking should be hot or cold.
While a practicing alcoholic, I violated this personal virtue many times and drank alcohol that was lukewarm. Drinking lukewarm beer is perhaps the thinnest of the metaphorical awnings I hit and fell through, but it’s one I’m willing to confess on a blog.
In one of my classes, I’m teaching a Baldwin quote that contains the expression “break faith with one another.” My students and I have spent a good deal on this phrase (we’re working on “close reading”) — what does it mean to “break faith”? What happens when we “break faith”? According to Baldwin? According to us? Today, some of my students and I talked about how we are, in fact, the same people we were at five years of age. This subject came about after a student read an incredibly moving original poem about losing touch with one’s “self.”
“I didn’t jump bodies at five,” I said. “Did you?”
They laughed because middle schoolers have a healthy appreciation for the absurd. Then we talked about how it’s sometimes hard to know who to trust because, inside, we are just, as one student put it, “tall five year olds.” Inside, we’re all still vulnerable to criticism, destructible by judgement, new and uncertain to experience as we were when we were small in our bodies and timelines.
When someone “breaks faith” with us, it still hurts. No matter how “tall” we grow. And in this recovery business — recovery from my drinking problem, recovery from my spiritual problem, recovery from my chronic health issues, I’ve met lots of folks who purport to know the answers. Some do, in fact, seem to have some of the answers. And a lot more, when even gently probed, are revealed to know little more than I do about sobriety, cancer, connection to God, though they profess to know some magical formula containing all of the capital T-truths about how to “do” this life.
But here’s the weird thing — once I decided to quit drinking, lean into God a little more, speak my necessary truths, trust my “gut” — life has gotten a little easier to cope with. A lot easier to cope with. I can’t remember the last time I cried because I was “angry” or cried because I was “frustrated” or cried because I was “so lost.” I mean, I still get angry, frustrated, and am in a near perpetual state of “lost,” but I have just learned, a little better how to let these feelings come and go without letting them own me. As it turns out, nothing “owns” me. God “owns” me, but it’s not really like that at all. Only I own myself, and all this time, time I spent sad or drinking or both, I was thinking I was owned, that I wasn’t free. And while I know there are a great many health benefits from abstaining from alcohol, I’m here to tell you is that the best part (at least in my experience) about breaking up with booze was how this break up allowed me to see that I am, in fact, freer than I had previously thought. Just got a few . . . fetters, that’s all.
Sometimes, toward the end of a school day, when the kids are getting super squirrelly and the technology is on the fritz, and I grabbed-the-wrong-damn-stack-of-papers-off-my-desk, and Pull-your-mask-up-please! and my feet are hurting and my phone says I’ve missed like 8 thousand calls from the Cancer Center, and now a kid is putting hand sanitizer on a rubber bat (as in rabies, not baseball) . . . sometimes, I start to freak out a little. Sometimes I think, “God damn, I would love a drink tonight!” And then I straighten. Realign everything inside myself. Smile under my mask. And know that I will be okay in this moment because I am doing my best in good faith, and I personally believe that the energy expended in acting on our best efforts in good faith nurtures not only ourselves, but others, even if the others are dumping globs of hand sanitizer on leftover Halloween decorations . . .
Someone, maybe it was Sarah, said to me, early in The Plague, “I don’t like living in Historical Times.”
I still often think about this, how weirdly aware I am, you are, we are
every day that we’re living through history, the kind that will be documented, debated, and discussed for centuries to come.
And I agree, still, as I did then, with whomever said, “I do not like living in Historical Times.”
I do not like living through Historical Times.
Was there ever a documented “age” that was uneventful?
I feel like the Bronze Age was pretty fucking dull.
Like no one ever wishes they could “go back” to the Bronze Age, do they.
Isn’t that because nothing happened in the Bronze Age? Didn’t everyone just go to work for like three hours a day, eat home grown french fries and cheese, drink wine forever without consequence, smoke things, worship shit, have some babies, wrap them up, teach them how to stab shit, break shit, live to be about 100, at which point you just click off like a light, and nothing else really happened during the Bronze Age, right? Not even a meteor shower, and certainly not a fucking plague.
If there ever was a time like this, I’m fairly certain it probably wasn’t the Bronze Age. I don’t even know what the fuck I’m talking about with “Bronze Age” — could I Google it? Yeah. Will I? Maybe later. I’m not a “History Doctor” (which, frankly, is what I think Historians should start calling themselves).
Mighty fulla opinions tonight for a woman past the age of cultural relevance.
Mighty fulla opinions tonight for a dyke who hasn’t touched a drink in over 240 days.
Mighy fulla opinions tonight for an English Doctor who really just plays one, in the classroom, five days a week.