Stepping in some cat puke one morning, feeling that very particular cold squish of lumpy semi-solid between my bare toes, I am reminded that the slow, remorseless descent called November is now well underway. It’s 5:35 a.m., and the house will be wrapped in lurid, frigid darkness for hours yet. One has to ballast with a certain kind of grimness in order to get up and move about and get things done on these kinds of mornings. Even then, the brain will misfire; more than once I’ve caught myself putting a mug away in the refrigerator.
A woman is having a fit in traffic. At least I think she’s having a fit — two lanes over, I pull up even to watch her head and hands thrash, her face twist and contort. But she seems to be in control of her driving, as she starts to execute a right-hand turn. Also she seems to be talking to someone. Is she prone to tics or spasms, or just really animated on the phone? But then I get the left-turning signal and have to go.
A fat little cowboy wearing a Queen’s APPLIED SCIENCE jacket is walking too slow in front of me, but the recently plowed sidewalk is too narrow for me to go around. He keeps making this wheezing noise as he walks, like a leaking Michelin man. Up the street a woman has pulled over to yell at a man and his dog.
There is a cyclist on the unlit end of Bath Road at 6:35 p.m. at night. Between Kingston and Amherstview. Outside is like outer space, and it is very cold. The cyclist is on a narrow-tired, ten-speed bike. He is wearing all black. Even his backpack is black. He could not be better kitted-out for suicide-by-car.
A guy at work gets a certificate from management for his birthday. This is worse than getting nothing. In fact, some kind of tailor-made insult would at least show more in terms of effort and creativity. Even a post-it note with somebody’s bum drawn on it. Happy Birthday — guess whose bum! A laser-printed certificate on bond paper is a corporate non-object. An anti-object.
Certificate Guy keeps having meetings with clients, meetings with clients, meetings with clients. Meanwhile, I regard clients as radioactive monsters. In my mind, just talking to them could lead to some kind of molecular-level brain decay. They are things full of teeth and need and stories about that book they’re going to write some day.
A woman in my office talks about her Second Life birthday — the anniversary of the day she registered. She says the name for this but suddenly my ears stop working. Is the building on fire?
We watch The Reckless Moment. James Mason is crooked but young and handsome and affecting an Irish accent. Joan Bennett is robotic and smokes too much. And married. Still, somehow, incredibly, James Mason is swayed from the shady path by her irresistible sexy goodness? All the charisma seems to be on his side.
Don Cherry tries to make a point about poppies but inadvertently winds up disparaging immigrants. He is quickly and unceremoniously fired. He’s very old. He’s been saying the wrong kind of thing for a long time. The dismissal feels a bit like an out-of-tune piano being pushed off a ledge. This seems to happen a lot, in sportscasting (see: Steve Lyons, Hugh Douglas, Don Imus, or Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder).
Some people in Alberta want to separate; they call it Wexit. Okey dokey. In the spirit of fairness, I have the same reaction that I do to Quebec separation: when are they going? What non-binary name are they going to call themselves? I like Sasberta or Alsaska. Or Gas Station.
Dishonest/despicable/deranged people continue to exist, no matter how better/right we think we are or what faces we make. Okey dokey. It’s a struggle. Even occasional bitching feels like a slip, a source of regret. To be honest, I think everyone should stop bitching about it. All of it. Nothing is going to get fixed, no one will ever change, nobody cares, and everyone already stopped listening long ago. It’s fine!
These thoughts burn brightest when I hear people complain about the current state of politics. With Trump, in particular, watchers are incredulous, and seem to think that the situation must change or break simply from the obvious wrongness of it, and its internal contradictions, and that somehow corruption or injustice will self-destruct from the sheer force of public and/or legal condemnation. It will not. Bad guys are working from another playbook. Often they don’t even see themselves as bad guys. Often they have many fans, and lies are just part of the game. It’s an alternate reality, like wrestling, or drinking at lunch.
The Confederacy had to be utterly ruined by Union armies marching everywhere like ransacking ants before it would finally give up the ghost. Great heaps of dead Germans had to be assembled, and their country overrun from both ends, before der Führer blew his brains out and his cadre said kaput. At Cynoscephalae, the Romans systematically butchered an entire Greek army in order to convince Philip V of Macedon that his days of making meaningful decisions were over. The Mongols were experts at this kind of thing, ending every difference of opinion with devastation, death and miles of new slaves (they killed about forty million Chinese just to make more pasture for their horses). The Japanese needed not one but two demonstrations of the awesome power of the atomic bomb before their emperor could admit the war was lost, and the Battle of Vienna needed the largest cavalry charge in history to finally twink out Ottoman dreams of world dominion. And so on.
These were not arguments. There was not some gravity of moral force that decided things. Instead, an idea was crushed. The people you don’t like will not change. Instead, there will be some tipping point in history that makes them go away. The examples above are military but economic, demographic and ecological forces work just as well. The Ponzi scheme collapses, the Dutch Tulip Bubble bursts, Boss Tweed dies in prison, the Dust Bowl and black blizzards of the 1930’s expose certain bad ideas about farming, spraying twenty million gallons of Agent Orange on human beings is revealed (surprise!) to be evil, the Western Roman Empire falls apart because there are too many desperate people trying to get in, Enron goes bankrupt, Gawker gets sued out of existence, European viruses devastate the New World, WeWork collapses under its own bullshit … and so on. Things will change. And probably they will get much, much worse before they get better. That’s history.
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… even a car registration has the capacity to be everything to everyone.