You control the stupids, not the other way around

Last week I was all set to write about my five months in captivity, ie, on Covid lockdown. Like everyone I was in search of words to describe this most unprecedented experience. Then Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate and the stupids roamed the land, led by what my brother calls the creature in the white house. They howled and snarled and snapped and I wrote about Black women’s ancient familiarity with white men’s ugly hatred. Then came the stupidity hurled the following day at Mrs. Obama and Eva Longoria, and I prepared to write about that. Then I stopped myself with the thought that I’d be an idiot if I wrote about it every time one of the midget brains said or did something stupid and evil because they’re always saying and doing stupid, evil things–because they’re not saying or doing anything useful or productive or constructive. Ergo they do stupid. Stupid is easy. It requires no thought. Neither should safely avoiding Covid: Wear a mask. Most of us do because it makes sense. It’s logical–as much as anything is logical in this bizarre and crazy time. Covid could not have been imagined by those of us who don’t write speculative fiction, but it’s here and it’s forging change within us. The most significant one for me is the sense of uncertainty about almost everything and the anxiety that causes. I live in LA but I’m from the East Coast and most of my family and my oldest and closest friends are there. When will I see them again? I’ve got a 90-year old cousin in an assisted living facility. Will I see her again? On the plus side, a few of my besties and I have talked more in the past few months than we have in years. We check on each other, and after assuring ourselves that we’re well and healthy, we talk–about everything! And we laugh. A lot. It’s cathartic. I feel good for days after one of these talks, as I do when I talk with my brother about our cousin and how she’s faring–how excited he is that she still knows who he is, though she sometimes is vague about remembering her own brother. And as we hunker down and deal with the brutal heat of LA in August, and the wildfires that rage in Northern California, I wonder: Will be be able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas? (Picture me shrugging.) Will we be able to vacation next summer? (Even bigger shrug.) I deal with this new reality day by day, like everyone else, but I’ll say this: I got better at it once I was able to define for myself what was happening inside me. The huge, vast uncertainty and the anxiety it produced frightened and angered me, paralyzed me. I almost seriously considered calling my publisher to say that I couldn’t finish the book I was working on because I was frightened and angry and paralyzed. Then I took another look at myself: I’m a writer. A damn lucky one. I do what a love and I’m published by women I admire and respect and I want to keep doing it…for a long, long time. So on the rare occasions when I must leave my home, I don mask and gloves and wrap myself in the gratitude I feel because I’m still standing and I refuse to be felled by stupid.

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