The morning after

It wasn’t really that bad, was it?

So, it’s the day after. The day after the most historical transfer of power in our democracy. This morning, i was having the music to “The Morning After” by Maureen McGovern (from the Poseidon Adventure, which I remember mainly because Shelley Winters was in it and she did a swim scene to save the survivors and comics used that as mean-spirited joke fodder for months…fat women are not supposed to be heroes, or show their fat legs to the camera, or look vaguely competent. But I digress.). Anyhow, the song was a little sappy, or at least the lyrics were, but it hit a 70s trip switch in my brain, which is unfortunate since I don’t quite know how to turn it off. That period of time in my life is when I figured out that fat girls get no respect, even when they save the sorry asses of people who can’t do what we can do. Shelley Winters shoulda let ’em all drown. But once again, I digress.

Now that my 1972 temper tantrum is done, the only reason “The Morning After” came to mind is when I began to write this, it was the morning after one of the most historical, yet anxiety-ridden, moments in our nation’s political history. It’s now a little past morning, and well beyond a Hostess cupcake, a Rice Krispies treat, some tuna salad on crackers, and grapes, but the fact remains that a new President and Vice-President are in office now. This inauguration was fraught with dissent, division, and questioning nearly every aspect of the American experiment. In the days leading up to yesterday’s transfer of power, we saw a veritable zombie apocalypse that sought to prevent the peaceful transfer of power between the outgoing President and the incoming administration – no concession of power by the defeated incumbent, futile legal challenges that went on for months, an attempted coup d’etat, and generally very bad behavior by some of the nation’s legislators and executives. Holding an inaugural event on virtually the same spot as the recent coup attempt gave necessary pause and raised anxiety for many. Fortunately, security provisions were more than adequate, further insurgency failed to materialize, and nothing occurred to block the successful transfer of power to a new Presidential administration.

Most of us have seen a series of inaugurations in our lifetime, but this inauguration was anything but ordinary. First, the outgoing commander-in-chief refused to attend. That hasn’t been done in more than a century. Civil decorum usually dictates that outgoing leaders graciously welcome the victor, extend offers of assistance, and wish them well. Not this time, kiddies. Issues of national security and continuity of government not withstanding, the nation was faced with a nearly comical display of a a defeated septaugenarian visibly pouting, attempting to distract attention from the victor’s assumption of power, and flying away in a military helicopter to his own farewell celebration. That was amusing enough, especially since the music playing loudly on his departure was a song popular several years ago – “House of the Rising Sun”. I almost spit out my coffee because the lyrics relate a tale of a wayward you at a New Orleans brothel, and were hilariously double-entendre for the occasion…doesn’t anybody check that kind of stuff? As the helicopter’s sound faded away, pan cameras Stage Left to a doorway at the Capitol, enter the incoming President, also a septaugenarian, who has been waiting for the other guy to leave the stage (figuratively).

Then, fast forward to septaugenarian #1, who is now at his permanent departure point for the big ole jet airliner that’s gonna carry him so far away (to Florida) and … more music. This time, it’s “Gloria” by Laura Brannigan, and the lyrics are even more hilarious (if you replace the name Gloria with the departing guy’s name) , at least for my warped mind …

don’t you think you’re fallin’?
If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody callin’?
You don’t have to answer
Leave them hangin’ on the line, oh oh oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number (Gloria)
I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you’ve been living under (Gloria)
But you really don’t remember, was it something that they said

And then…for the parting shot…the final song playing is “YMACA” by the Village People. This one was almost too much, it HAD to be someone’s idea of a really bad joke:

Young man there’s no need to feel down
I said young man pick yourself off the ground
I said young man ’cause your in a new town
There’s no need to be unhappy
Young man there’s a place you can go
I said young man when you’re short on your dough
You can stay there and I’m sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

And…not to mention “YMCA” is something of a GLBT national anthem. My goodness. So finally. The sulking one uttered a few words, telling people he loved them or something, and that it shouldn’t be long before he is with them again, and *poof* off he goes.

Now, back to septaugenarian #2, where we’re still focused. It was HIS inauguration, after all. He’s the oldest President to be taking the oath of office for a first term. He’s been an elected official for nearly half a century. His running mate Kamala Harris is the first woman, first woman of color, first person of African descent, first person of East Asian descent to EVER hold the office of Vice President. She wore purple, as a tribute to Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black person to be a major party candidate for President. Purple was her campaign color in her bid for the Democratic nomination in 1972. So, the incoming Vice-President was very intentional about her fashion choice, which gave me great joy. I remember Shirley Chisholm in the 70s, and she was one of my first heroes. I had the opportunity to see her speak in person one Martin Luther King Day in the 80s, and I remember very clearly her calling out the Black community, urging us to continue fighting to achieve equity, parity, liberation. She likened the community to sleeping dragons, with such great power but … asleep. If awakened and realizing the full power inherent in such a great multitude, we would be frightening indeed.

Some days, it seems as though not much has changed, but mama said there’d be days like this. I suppose it could be worse. We’ve seen worse. Much, much worse. Like anybody else, I am guardedly optimistic about the new political landscape that is now reality. I am overjoyed that we don’t have to look forward to four more years of being represented by someone who most assuredly did not have my best interests at heart. Someone who seemed to deny every cell of my being, every core value that I hold, every notion of faith and decency to which I aspire. The cognitive disconnect was becoming too unwieldy, too uncomfortable. Every fiber of my being was finding it to be an increasingly insurmountable climb to reach acceptance of the state of affairs. I found that many of us were becoming desensitized and numbed to the daily barrage of confusing disinformation, misinformation, absent information, and then all of the regular tragedies and catastrophes that constitute normal churn of 7 million humans on the planet. Too. much. I have been numb before, when life was overwhelming and my coping skills were inadequate, or nonexistent. Finding yourself numb is a maddening and horrifying sensation…you know that you should be having sensation, but there is none. Your brain cannot grasp how and why it feels nothing when there is a stimulus, and the cognitive disconnect on a long term basis can drive one quite insane. This is why kids cut themselves, to see if they can feel something and prove they’re alive. So, I understand why we’re all just a little bit nuts right now, why we’re trying to cut ourselves in a very real sense, to see if we can still bleed, to see if we can still feel something, because we know something’s happening and our brains are telling us that it should hurt, but … it doesn’t. So, hey y’all – watch THIS!

Today is the first full day of a new President and a new Vice-President. Congress is working (I hope) to confirm cabinet appointments (such an amusing term for the leaders who function closest to the President). I remarked just recently that no matter what one thinks about these officials, whether you voted for them or not, whether you approve of them or not, you have to admit the damned house is on fire. Our house is on fire. And these are the people who are running into the blazing structure, like fire fighters always do, while all the rest of us are running out. We need to stay behind the fire line, unless we’re going to do something to help. Even then, no firefighter benefits from an armchair quarterback or someone whose only experience in the high-risk endeavor of fire fighting is their ride on the fire truck when they were seven. We all have an opinion. I have several of them, at any given moment, and they are ALL very important. However. They are usually important mainly to me, unless someone has asked for them. So. Most of the time, the best and most merciful thing I can do for everyone concerned is…keep my mouth shut and post my erudite thoughts on social media. Then have a snack, talk to my dog, and play a mindless computer game. By then, something else will have occurred, and I will forget what the hell it was I so urgently needed to say. On to the next one.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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