A Bunch of Short Reflections
NOTE: In this piece, Donald Trump will be called Agent Orange and COVID-19 will be called CV19.
1. I hope this is the last piece I ever write about the CV19 Pandemic. I’m so sick of it. Aren’t you? It was three months ago, a whole season ago, March 10, that my husband came home from work and said his co-worker’s ex-wife had nursed a sick vet [who eventually died of what turned out to be this strange virus CoVid19]. And the new rules began–the isolating, distancing, masking, gloving, picking up and taking out, spraying bleachy water on everything. Of note, no one in this story ever got tested–except the guy who died who had underlying conditions.
2. Last week my elder of two daughters said she needed me to babysit her daughter so she and her husband could sign papers for the property they are buying about 25 miles outside of Portland. We’d all been careful with the distancing all these three months, so I said yes. That first hug with little Ophelia was delicious for both of us. She kept telling me all morning she loved me. Then, an hour after I left their house, Ophelia started running a fever. It was her first fever in all of her 2-1/2 years. Can you believe it? The timing? My catastrophic thinking began envisioning complete family annihilation due to Ophelia, who, of course, is also one of our main founts of joy.
3. CV19 is such a bully. I hate bullies. I hate how they prey on the vulnerable–like Agent Orange does. I’m so sick of Agent Orange, who has a carnage tooth like I have a sweet tooth. He gobbles up humans and animals, rivers, minerals and air. It doesn’t matter. And if he gets caught with, say, woman blood on his face, he says it’s veal, and blames the next guy, and gets away with it, and goes golfing.
4. And we haters stumble and stutter in his backwind, holding our noses.
5. And he thinks he is strong and winning. And he brags about it.
6. We still can’t believe there’s nothing there at all but ugly. We feel woozy in his rank backwind.
7. So I got lucky in May. I detached for a second. We got a puppy. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We call her Ruthie. She is almost all-consuming. And please pass the Band-Aids. My arms are so scratched up, I look like a meth addict full of sores. But, of course, she’s as cute as sprouts and smells like new, like you to you.
8. Of course my detachment didn’t last long. The Bully in the White House kept dumping all over us. I had to engage.
9. On May 1, the CV19 death count reached 65,000, more than all the Americans killed in the Vietnam War. But the media seemed fatigued with the virus story and was moving on–except MSNBC, who spoke of nothing else. Agent Orange urged states to open, no matter what the scientists said, and praised the posses of bullies who showed up at the state houses with big guns and smug faces.
10. The scientists called the opening a big mistake.
11. And neither Agent Orange or Mike Dense wore a mask–even at the Mayo Clinic, breaking hospital policy. Dense was the only person on the entire Mayo Clinic campus without a mask. There are 63,000 employees at the Mayo Clinic.
12. Why? It’s just so hard to figure out the mentality of these fake Christians.
13. On May 2, Agent Orange removed Christi Grimm, the Inspector General for the Dept of Health & Human Services, because she was noticing and documenting the lack of medical supplies and testing delays in America.
14. On May 3, we lit a Yahrzheit candle for our dog Bailey who had died one year ago at 15, breaking all of our hearts.
15. Full focus on Ruthie. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our 15-week-old triple golden doodle, shown here, bowing for justice. And I apologize for naming a pet after a living Jew. It’s against the rules.
16. On May 4, the anti-Biden pounce-and-smear campaign began bigtime–but failed to catch fire–perhaps because of the ostentatious hypocrisy considering the accusations against Trump from, among others–Jessica Leeds, Kristin Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple McDowell, Karena Virginia, Mindy McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jennifer Murphy, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Cassandra Searle, and E Jean Carroll. All women alleged unwanted groping and sexual harassment by Agent Orange.
17. That first week of May, the GOP continued to contend that it might be a good thing to kill off society’s weakest members with the virus, and White supremacists celebrated the deaths of minorities, calling for supporters to purposely infect minorities with the virus. It’s a goddamned horror movie. Your expectation that infected saliva may be purposely spit in your face–because you saw it in a horror movie once–could actually happen.
18. On May 4, Agent Orange demoted Dr. Rick Bright, immunologist in charge of BARDA, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, for being bright and having ethics. Bright refused to spend money on developing hydroxychloroquine, the manufacturers of which are in the Agent Orange family trust. Bright said he warned leadership at the Dept of Health and Human Services in January about CV19, but he was ignored and then ostracized. Throughout February, Bright peppered administration with memos, begging them to secure equipment to prepare for CV19. But Bright was removed from his post.
19. On May 10, Mother’s Day, my masked family socialized distantly in our backyard. The new puppy Ruthie kept jumping on Ophelia and knocking her down. Ophelia’s disappointment over this, and all of our longing for normalcy, like hugging and cuddling, was palpable in the air.
20. My Mother’s Day present was a bike tune-up. But the bike guys, Matt and Dylan (of course), found a crack in the neck of my bike frame that could break at any time at great expense to my health. They said they could make me a new bike out of my old bike, and it could have a gold chain and cherry red fenders–if I wanted. But they said they were six times as busy as they’d ever been. I’m still waiting for my bike.
21. In mid-May, Agent Orange started tweeting lies about the reliability of mail-in voting. As an Oregonian, who has voted by mail for two decades, I was doubly enraged. There have been like 12 fraudulent ballots in Oregon in 20 years. I posted that FACT about a dozen times. And then Twitter took up the gauntlet, and publicly scolded the Liar in Chief, who appears to have no shame, by posting links to the real information about mail-in voting next to his lies.
22. And then, of course, Agent Orange waged war against Twitter, although that story faded away like a landscape out the back window of a station wagon.
23. On May 17, my baby daughter turned 30. And we had a car parade. And the children ran naked through a fountain at a Christian school in the neighborhood.
24. On May 21, a pandemic haiku.
THINGS I LEARNED DURING THE PANDEMIC OF 2020
My lips sweat when masked.
My outrage has no limits.
Even the kind hate.
25. On May 22, Agent Orange said he didn’t wear a mask because he didn’t want the press to see him wearing a mask. What? To be badass? To show everyone he can break all the rules and get away with it? What?
26. I don’t get how these fake Christians think.
27. Poor people have to be badass to survive.
28. But poor people hardly ever get away with it.
29. Fake Christians seem to always get away with it.
30. On May 24, Agent Orange said places of worship must open–as if he were a religious man, as if he were the White man’s savior. Sweet Jesus. What a Load.
31. On May 23, popularity polls showed nothing has changed for DT. He has the same poll numbers he’s always had–after everything we’ve been through.
32. On May 25, Memorial Day, I emailed the GOP Chair of Bexar County in Texas, who had told a crowd of Texans that the CV19 was a Democratic hoax [STILL!], instructing them to take off their masks, stop the social distancing, and gather closely together. I told her she was fat. And that, I heard explained by Dr. Cate on Real Time with Bill Maher, viruses love fat cells–so, we’d probably be memorializing her next year, same time, same place. Ba Boom.
33. On May 26, Agent Orange called Hillary a skank. A skank? What a horrible word. Who says that? And he called Stacey Abrams fat–and made fun of Nancy Pelosi’s teeth and face. That’s our president. I tweeted him back and called him a skank. [No. I can NOT believe I’m sending Tweets to the President of the United States calling him a skank.]
34. On May 27, in order to distract the American people from his ineptitude, Agent Orange publicly charged Joe Scarborough w/murder. The case had already been solved and the husband of the victim, who died of a cardiac arrhythmia, begged him publicly to stop spreading lies.
37. On May 28, Minneapolis, and then America, and then the world erupted after George Floyd was murdered brutally in front of our eyes by a WHITE thug in a cop uniform.
38. On May 31, America began to shatter and burn, and Trump hid [but said he didn’t] in the White House bunker–as if he would be the one we’d want to save.
39. On May 31, Agent Orange tweeted to the governors of America that they needed to dominate their streets or else the whole world would laugh at them.
40. I tried to think of a metaphor for the enormity of my rancor for this man, but all I could think of were profanities and scatalogical terms. [Where’s George Carlin when we need him?]
41. On June 1, Agent Orange pushed his way through a crowd of peaceful protestors with his Posse of Zombies from Hell, to pose in front of a beautiful, historic church, armed with an upside-down Bible–as if he were a religious man. As if he were a White savior.
42. Even the shiny, placid pastor was heard to say, “What the fuck?”
43. And then the police in Buffalo pushed an old White man to the ground and cracked his head open.
44. And Agent Orange started talking about kneeling and the flag and patriotism all over again, trying to start a fire about patriotism and kissing flags.
45. But even Roger Goodell grew a pair, retrieved his soul, began to see and think and came out for kneeling, came out for justice.
46. General Mattis, John Kelly and Senator Murkowski all came out and accused Agent Orange of defying the Constitution and “acting like Hitler.”
47. And as we were all snorting, Agent Orange signed an executive order permitting government agencies to waive environmental laws in order to speed up development, citing an economic “emergency” caused by the pandemic, following an executive order two weeks ago, telling agencies they could simply ignore regulations so as not to burden the economy.
48. And while we were snorting, 89 former defense officials added their voices to an op-ed in the Washington Post declaring, “We are alarmed at how the president is betraying his oath to the Constitution.”
49. Today, Saturday, June 6, my kindest friend in the whole world repeated, “I just cannot believe how much I fucking hate him.”
50. Ditto. Only 143 days to go.
51. And the stock market is going up.
Leanne Grabel, MEd, is a writer, illustrator, performer & retired special education teacher. Grabel will be the 2020 recipient of Soapstone’s Bread and Roses Award for contributions to women’s literature in the Pacific Northwest. Grabel teaches graphic flash memoir to adults in arts and senior centers throughout the Pacific Northwest. In love with mixing genres, she has written and produced numerous spoken-word multi-media shows, including The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression, and Anger: The Musical.” er poetry books include Lonesome & Very Quarrelsome Heroes; Short Poems by a Short Person; Badgirls (a collection of flash non-fiction & a theater piece); and Gold Shoes, a collection of graphic prose poems. Grabel has just completed Tainted Illustrated, an illustrated stretched memoir, which is being serialized in THE OPIATE. She and her husband Steve Sander are the founders of Café Lena, Portland’s legendary poetry hub of the ’90s. ACM publishes Grabel’s work the second Thursday of the month.