Top Cottage was the little retreat FDR had built for himself, but only used a bit. He had a few folks up there, a king and queen, sat with Winston Churchill and talked about the bomb. Then he died. FDR. Though Churchill died, too, I’m sad to say.
They both could be assholes. Complete assholes. No doubt.
Not the type of assholes who lose all control of their faculties and blather to the public like confused toddlers.
How could we be confronted with Nazis again?
May 8, 1945, V-E Day.
I went down to protest near T Tower last night. I am working with my anxiety, I said to myself, walking through Rockefeller Center, and then decided to take half an ativan. Manhattan. Rush hour. Protest. It was asking a lot of my nervous system. I allowed myself.
At 53rd and 5th, I was welcomed into the barricade by someone in a day-glo vest. Then someone else offered me a poster board, and a marker. I wrote on my pink poster. We listened, cheering at the right moments, yelling the things we yell now. It was supposed to be a protest in support of immigrants, but then the president defended Nazis, and the signs reflected either a focus on the already agreed upon issue, or a general anger.
A Jewish woman next to me said, “I’m afraid the media will make it look like we’re all like that,” she gestured to some T supporters waving an Israeli flag. She turned over her sign and wrote on the back, another sentiment about immigrants.
I thought about how DT said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue. He was in his building, and we were all on 5th Avenue chanting against him.
A reporter came by and interviewed the guy next to me. The guy was a playwright, said his parents were immigrants. I agreed to be interviewed, too. The woman next to me was interviewed, explaining her passionate connection between what had happened to Jews then, and what was happening now.
The protest ended and we went to our subways like pool balls to pockets.
I didn’t really feel better, but I didn’t feel worse.
I had to walk twelve blocks to Grand Central. I got a train home. I meditated. I ate pizza and salad. I did some yoga for sore legs. It felt good.
What do we do when Nazis march? Where is Indiana Jones?
FDR had a cocktail. He worked on his stamp collection. He worried about his house catching on fire. I mean his actual house.
The person who went to Top Cottage, only a month ago, seems like someone else now. Every month now it’s like, “Was I ever so young?” That I lived in the United States of no one had ever said “Grab ’em by the pussy” on tape and been elected president nonetheless? That I lived in the United States of It’s Fine To Attack Veterans When You Yourself Have Never Been to War. Or the United States of People of Mexican Descent Can’t Be Judges.
I got home today and had a cocktail, since that was what FDR would have done.
I then began itching, on the side of my left hand, on my knee, on the back of my shoulder, on my elbow. I am bitten up though I hardly went outside today. Just to and from buses and trains, and a little walking around campus.
I got my Hydrocortisone cream, 1% with aloe, and smeared it on each place that itched.
Not so very long ago (was I ever so young?) I eschewed any treatment for bug bites. I would put ice on them, or pinch them for a second. Why spend money on temporary relief?
There’s a lot to be said for temporary relief.
I was the only white person in my office today, and the only white person on the bus. You ride this bus, Nazis! I thought.
I’m not sure bus-riding is an answer.
We protect the speech of “I think this,” but we do not protect “I’m gonna kill you.” Right? “I’m gonna kill you” is illegal. It’s enough. We draw lines.
Stamp collection. For me, stamp collection is “Call the Midwife,” the socialist wonderland where even the tragedies are deeply meaningful and never forgotten.
Seventy-two years. That’s how long it’s been. What is inside? What stays? People’s general affection for one another, people want to like each other, until they have gone without a lot, or suffered a lot. Rare exceptions.
Commitment to forward progress, developing wider and wider groups of people willing to defend the racially oppressed, people with “weird” religions, people who can’t afford school, people who won’t express their sexuality the “right” way, or their gender the “right” way. People who like to be in Times Square, or in the Ozarks, naked as the day they were born. People who don’t learn quickly, or in the usual way. People who don’t, for whatever reason, have penises. People who don’t speak English. People who can’t afford health insurance.
We are working on taking care of all these people, being responsible to each other, for each other, in awesome defiance of a president who, even with a Jewish daughter, can’t restrain himself from siding with anti-Semites.
Forward. Resting. Ignoring no celebration. Forward another seventy-two.
And don’t forget to make your V-T Day plans.
We’ll write musicals about this.