Category Archives: Uncategorized
As my state of residence ushers in Phase 3 of reopening the economy amidst signs that we are flattening the COVID-19 curve, I am bracing myself for a surge in cases later this month. Most of the globe fully expects a second wave come this fall. So, this potential bump in virus spread is a fairly new development.
Just mere weeks ago as I write this, many of us left-leaning persons watched in disgust as people, the majority right-leaning, protested against the governors’ mandates to shelter-in-place. We were horrified as they stormed the castles, many of them carrying firearms, and shoulder-to-shoulder while bare-faced, as they decried the over-reaching government that kept them from going to church, eating at restaurants, drinking at bars, and even getting haircuts. Gasp! Keep the baskets full of vulnerables at home so that the rest of us can LIVE. Essentially, infringing their Constitutional rights to move freely. They got in the faces of public officials when there is a pandemic that attacks the respiratory system. And they expect us to trust that they will heed the CDC guidelines and be responsible citizens? We should be grateful that our government is looking out for our safety. We are trying to prevent a virus that is killing innocent people. How dare they risk setting us back and destroying all the sacrifices we’ve all made to keep the virus from spreading?
President Trump supported the protesters.
Just a mere two weeks ago, yet another innocent black man was wrongfully accused, detained, then died in police custody. This was especially heinous due to the brutality of the murder (yes, it was murder). George Floyd was suffocated in medieval, torturous fashion. He was literally pressed to death with knees on his neck and along his body as helpless onlookers yelled at the cops to let him go. The Internet provided the world free access to a snuff film that we watched over and over again. The faces of the smug officer and the lifeless victim are permanently singed in our minds. The video was so irrefutably damning and vivid that one can even see the urine that streamed out of George Floyd’s bladder when he became unresponsive. It should be a slam dunk case for the courts. The outrage over this busted through the political divide. Republicans and Democrats, for the most part, agreed on something.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the country took to the streets in protest, mostly unarmed. Many of them, if not all, left-leaning. The police department is too powerful and not held accountable, and is infected with systemic racism. They are supposed to serve and protect, yet they fail miserably over and over again, and they are now being called to the carpet. This government is over-reaching and infringing on Constitutional rights to move freely, not to mention a slew of other Amendments. Black people can’t do something as mundane as go to a store to buy a pack of cigarettes without the risk of being killed for it. This protest is essential in saving the lives of black people and driving the point home that, yes, black lives matter [too]. What started as a peaceful protest turned violent in places because of instigating fringe groups and criminals taking the opportunity to damage property and loot. Some of it was a symbolic and literal destruction of the oppressive system, some was just for the fuck of it. That was counterproductive and nearly drowned out the message that (still) needs to be heard. After 400 years of racism, this country has had enough. This is a message of such importance that the pandemic became secondary. Even though many protesters wore masks, social distancing was an impossibility. The collective voice resonates more strongly the larger the group is. It would be even louder if those voices carried arms, but that is antithetical to their view. That shift in priorities did not go unnoticed by more, let’s say, passive observers. How dare they risk setting our economy back and destroying all the sacrifices we’ve all made to keep the virus from spreading?
President Trump condemned the protesters. Called all of them thugs. Gassed them out of his way, even. Leave it to Trump to tip his base-pandering hand with literal and symbolic racist responses to protests against racism.
Fascinating. I admit a frustration with people whining about haircuts, et al. I am grateful that the local governments are looking out for us where the federal one is asleep at the wheel. They lay down ground rules because a lot of people can’t be trusted with personal responsibility, much less concern for other citizens. How can we NOT have a commanding government when a large part of the population refuses to even protect themselves? This pandemic is awful and we all have to make sacrifices, but crying about it doesn’t make it go away. It can actually make it worse since a virus could be transmitted through their infantile tears and the spittle from screaming in everyone’s faces. These patriot wannabes may need a Civics lesson. Their rights don’t go beyond their noses. They demand the right to move freely, and even unfettered from the recommended protocols to mitigate virus spread. The government can’t tell them what to do, but what they fail to realize is they can be punished if they hurt others. You can go over the speed limit, and possibly get away with it. If you are caught, you will be fined. If you kill someone in the process, you will go to jail. Go ahead, don’t practice said protocols. If you infect other people through your defiance, prepare to pay the price.
Besides, this is not a permanent condition. This too shall pass. Also, it is a face mask, not a burka or a funeral shroud. It is just a way to help ensure your rights stay where they belong.
Still, these protesters have a point. The government is really too powerful, and we elect and pay them to serve us, not to order us around. Do they have to risk spreading the virus to make that point, though?
I could say that if it wasn’t for my high-risk husband, I would be out there protesting against racism. I could say that I am sitting this one out because I want to do my part in controlling the spread of COVID-19. While both truth, peaceful assembly is just not my thing. I protest through the arts. I am an armchair activist, I suppose.
That said, I fully support railing against the lack of police accountability, and the racism that, unlike viruses, has no vaccine to prevent its spread, much less a cure. How can we have a government that doesn’t protect its people equally when a large part of the population refuses to even protect themselves? Do they have to risk spreading the virus to make that point, though?
The answer to that question in both cases is, yes and no. Yes, because now more than ever, the government needs strong checks and balances, and the citizens that elected them have a responsibility to put them in their place. This is a time of reckoning, and failing infrastructures need to be knocked down and rebuilt. No, because everything is crumbling around us because of this pandemic. Congregations of people, be it through peaceful assembly, religious services, or any gatherings, put us at risk. The virus doesn’t care about the Constitution. It is programmed to survive and propagate. We need to get over ourselves. This is not about you or me. It is about us.
We have a conflict of interests, and it should be okay to acknowledge that and recognize that there is not an eloquent solution. One size does not fit all and there should be no us versus them. Yet, we don’t relent, because we have to win. So much winning, yet, nothing but losing. Our ideologies are so steadfast that we refuse to bend against them, even if it is against our own best interest. We demand to move freely, even if it means catching a virus that could take away our ability to move, and possibly permanently. We demand the police be abolished, even if it means we have no way to be protected from anything or anyone that means us harm. The tears and spit in these protests are just as transmissible, regardless of the cause fought. Even the blood of patriots can carry the virus and infect. The goose and the gander defend one while judging the other for ultimately doing the same thing.
The left criticizes armed and unarmed people who risk virus spread to protest for their Constitutional rights. The right criticizes the unarmed left who risk virus spread to protest for equal human rights. It is, in a word, hypocritical. There are no degrees in hypocrisy, nor does it matter which cause is more important. Both sides played judge and jury, and neither has the right.
If it isn’t obvious, I am a hypocrite, as well. I complain about churches that defy the government mandates, but in the same breath, I support whatever it takes to plunge the vaccine needle into the jugular of all racists. Herd immunity is essential to Make America Great Altogether. It goes beyond ideology for me. It is visceral. If our Great country didn’t treat people of color like shit, we wouldn’t have to make a choice between evils in order to stop the injustice. News flash! We aren’t that great.
I just wish the protesters on the left exercised their Second Amendment rights along with their First. It would really tell the government who is boss. Just like some of the first protesters did to demand their haircuts. Guess what? They are getting them now, and without curfews or property damage. That is a whole different subject, though. It seems like the ongoing protests against racism are making some headway, albeit less quickly and effectively. Still, between the two movements, our governments (at least locally) are starting to pick up on the hints that they need to shape up or ship out.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to hunker down and isolate myself against the next wave.
“Fake News” Flash: Orange Lives Don’t Matter
We have a little problem in this country, nay, world, with racism. Somehow, after Rome burned to the ground or Pompeii was destroyed by a volcano, white people rose from the ashes as the superior Phoenix of skin color. Or something to that effect. Throughout history, whites slaughtered the reds, enslaved the blacks, made fun of the yellows, gassed the olives, and ousted browns. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So much hate and violence has been perpetrated by white people over something as mundane as a skin color outside of their own. Ironically, white is the combination of all colors and a mix of races. Which means, yes, the colors they spat on over the centuries are ones that are woven into their DNA and epidermis. They must hate themselves. At the very least, they are jealous that other races, for the most part, are decisive about their visage. They must be green with envy, which is a skin color similar to a certain olive-toned Messiah they worship. How can someone be that noble and pure? It is like he was designed in a lab by intelligent persons.
Be that as it may, color is a relative thing. It exists on a spectrum, and the intensity depends on what it is placed against. As complimentary opposites, red and green tones together make both look more intense. Does that mean positioning a Native American against a Semite makes one appear more threatening and the other dirtier? More to the point, are they more hateful?
As we evolve as a society and become more integrated, Jewish can be lumped in as white dudes, and Elizabeth Warren is Native American . . . ish. It leaves us with the conundrum of judging the person by character when our ancestors have told us otherwise. Yet, we still do let a person’s skin color drive our perceptions. Which begs the question. That’s it. One does not follow that with an actual question. Whether we mean to or not, we draw conclusions about swaths of people based on specious assumptions.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is a science prodigy with advanced degrees in multiple disciplines, and Jessica Simpson thought tuna was aquatic chicken. Pair the two, and the contrast is even more stark. One is as dark as a singularity, while the other is a snowflake in freshly fallen snow. The contrast in intelligence goes without saying.
That is enough exposition building up to a larger point, which I will get to momentarily. Racial prejudice is a tricky concept with no empirical evidence to support justifying its existence. Dr. Tyson agrees with the Big Bang Theory to explain how the universe started. Is there a Big Bang equivalent for racial prejudice? How did any other skin color, except for the aforementioned technicolor dreamskin, become abnormal? Was it always? If there is science that supports the idea that we are at fault for what we are born as, I haven’t seen it.
Oh wait, there are psychopaths and pedophiles. They came out that way, and we hate them regardless if they keep their impulses in check. Because, the real threat is there that they can hurt innocent people just because their brains aren’t wire properly. I guess skin color can be offensive and hurtful, as well. The blackness is such an eyesore, eh?
Here is a thought experiment. If a woman is told by both a light-skinned black man and a white man who just emerged from his daily tanning bed session, that she needs to leash her dog, who would she feel more offended by? If she calls 911 to report that she is being threatened by an African American man, who do you think she is referring to?
More to the point, which man is more responsible for the way he looks, and which for her behavior? There is more justification in judging a man who risks his health in order to look black, than a black man whose father was Neil deGrasse Tyson and mother was Jessica Simpson. Not to mention, the woman who judges both of them.
Which leads me to my (hopefully) obvious point. Judging by race is stupid. Judging by skin color is blind. Judging by individual character is smart. It is that simple.
The only skin color we should be racist against is orange. Orange should be the color we rail against. Orange is narcissistic, malignant, opportunistic, deceitful, manipulative, ignorant . . a rainbow of negative traits in one, unnaturally colored blob. Orange is not born that way, so there is no guilt in blaming the innocent. Orange is made in a lab, and enabled. Move over White Privilege. Orange is in the White House.
Orange is already identified by plenty of richly deserved pejoratives, so we are set there. I am partial to the one I created, Orange Orc. He emerges from his lair wielding a golf club and a bible, pounding on his chest while he blabbers nonsense as orcs are want to do. Even though orcs of lore avoid light, this one will stare straight into the sun. Let’s face it, like Tolkien’s creatures, the Orange Orc looks slimy and smelly. Those lips, like they were fashioned by the livers of his gullible prey. Sad!
Get out of our country, ya’ freak! You aren’t wanted here.
If there really were any justice, the skin color truly warranting discrimination would be artificial orange.
Twenty Seconds Later
I am not enjoying my life right now.
I’ll just start off with that. Cut to the chase, because, I don’t know how much time I have.
None of us do.
Why waste it with words that, at best, are distracting? Communication is the key; do not mince words, nor leave openings for interpretation, inference, or misinformation. And especially in our fine MAGA country.
That said, this might get wordy.
I started writing this to Radiohead’s best album (in my opinion), A Moon Shaped Pool. The first song, the great “Burn the Witch” has an especially apt line:
“ . . . it’s a low-flying panic attack.”
Yep, that is where I am right now, where millions of people are. Our collective nervous system is working overtime firing off the hormones that stoke the fight, flight, or freeze response. If we stay put, we don’t know the magnitude of the beast we aim to fight. If we choose flight, well, where to go? So, do we do nothing at all?
Ships are not docking. Planes are grounding. Trains might not leave the depot. Public events are being cancelled. Schools, and even the borders, are closing.
And so it goes.
I’m talking about the Coronavirus—specifically, its latest strain, COVID-19. I don’t know about you, but I just call it “The Virus” for brevity.
It’s not like we are being kept completely in the dark. The media is trying their darndest to keep us informed. They are burning the midnight oil to report what this perplexing bug is up to. They turn the mantle over to the scientists to give us the facts while the reported cases increase exponentially, and the mortality rate rises. The statistics are getting more alarming, and all we can be definitively told at this point is to take simple mitigating measures.
Don’t touch your face, disinfect surfaces, cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow. And the pièce de résistance? Wash your hands frequently for at least twenty seconds. Lather up while singing “Happy Birthday” two times should do the trick. Why not put a cheerful spin on killing the killer before it kills anyone else?
And Twenty Seconds Later . . . I am still freaking the fuck out.
It would be poetic for me to add that I am typing on my keyboard with dried, bloodied hands. That is an exaggeration, as I’ve been wearing nitrile surgical gloves during the day. It is much safer for me to wash gloved hands than furiously scrub my own sensitive skin raw, which would make me more vulnerable to infection. At this point, I don’t care if I look ridiculous.
So, why the panic? The amount of cases as of this writing is only, ONLY in the low six-figures, with several thousand fatalities. That is only, ONLY a bit over 3%. Not too shabby, eh? We’ve encountered worse. More people died from AIDS-related illnesses than will be expected with this virus. Why is COVID-19 getting so much attention, enough to give millions around the globe incentive to modify their daily lives? I can’t speak for other countries, but I certainly can assess the reasons for panic in the U.S. of A.
Stupidity. Incompetence. Avarice. They work together, synergistically. Like Snap, Crackle, and Pop, they are the essential ingredients of the fortified cereal that is a global pandemic.
Stupidity is ignorance with the ability to know better, but ignoring it. A culture should know better than to throw wild animals in cages, stack them on top of each other, and let them fester in their own feces and filth. People should know better than to prepare and consume food around said filth.
Incompetence is just stupidity in practice. And there are many incompetent people. Stupid people who ignore the facts. Stupid people who defend other stupid people. Stupid people who can’t control themselves. Stupid people who can’t be bothered with modifying their behavior, even just temporarily. Stupid people who buy disposable masks en masse hoping it will protect them, despite all the evidence presented to the contrary. Stupid people who build forts with packages of toilet paper.
A government should know better than to punitively silence its experts from voicing the consequences of ignorant acts. A government should know better than to place importance of their party over its people. A government should know better than to feed its citizens falsehoods in the hope that panic will be assuaged and the money will continue to flow into coffers, pockets, and PACs. Avarice “Trumps” ethics.
People should have known better than to vote that government into power in the first place. Yes, I am talking about you, Trump voters.
In fairness, it was either him or the other shitty candidate. Many of the ones who chose death by fried chicken grease are experiencing some serious buyer’s remorse. Good. We all make mistakes, and it is important to acknowledge them. If Mr. POTUS got that memo, he discarded it as he does anything that contains words strung into coherent sentences. It wouldn’t matter since the pathological narcissist is incapable of admitting to anything except how wonderful he is. Who knew our supreme leader is literally Supreme? >>insert sarcastic, long-suffering sigh here<<
In case some of you are still clinging to your party and its specious ideas above all else, allow me to point out a few essential aspects of his leadership style. They might be covered in Art of the Deal, but I would have to read it to confirm. That is a hard pass for me.
Blame everyone but yourself, especially if they don’t worship you. Admittedly, Trump didn’t cause the spread of this virus, but he certainly isn’t contributing to stemming its flow. That would require effort that he just cannot expend. Despite never sleeping, as the force of nature that he is, he just doesn’t have the energy or bandwidth. It would severely cut into his Twitter time and YUUUGE rallies where he can blame Obama, et al, for the policies that make his job so much more difficult.
Throw your minions under the bus, but most importantly, keep your hands clean while you do it. Poor Mike Pence. This is probably not what he signed on for when he agreed to be his Vice President. Why would Trump put a guy in charge who is well known for bungling a major public health crisis as governor? Simple, Trump is smart enough to see we are on the brink of a shit storm, and he needs to put a patsy front and center when it all hits the fan.
The man—VP Pence—leading this charge, does not believe in evolution, the precise theory that explains why this virus is propagating. He is probably silently cursing himself during his nightly self-flagellation, begging his lord and savior for forgiveness because he is helping save his country when it deserves to burn in Hell for allowing vile homosexuals to marry. Prove me wrong. Have you ever seen him without a shirt on? I strongly suspect we’d be greeted to a fleshy canvas of scars and fresh welts. Bet me. Until he disrobes for our country, the state of his torso is the Schrödinger’s Cat of religious mortification.
Remarkably, he is taking his new role under the bus very seriously. It is too soon to say he is doing a heck of a job, Pency, but he actually seems to be putting forth a valiant effort, complete with admitting his own mistakes along the way. Whatever else his motivation, he is pretty intelligent and knows that this is not the hill he wants his political career to die on. We’ll take it. Still, his efforts could be for naught if his boss keeps flapping his gums. Which leads me to the main play in Trump’s rulebook.
Pander to your glassy-eyed base, and by default, lie. The quantity of Trump’s lies during his three years as president are into the five figures. Yes, there are people out there whose job it is to keep a running total. What would motivate him to stop lying now, since it seems to be working for him? The man certainly seems impervious to consequence. Like an orange Energizer bunny, he keeps lying. No matter how many times he’s contradicted and how defiantly he crosses his arms in response, the pattern will continue. And whom do you think his followers believe in the face of all evidence to the contrary?
The virus is a Democrat hoax? Of course! Fake News? Nailed it! It’s just another flu and will die off in the spring? Whew! The virus is contained? Yay! Wishful thinking? Nah! The Emperor has what now? Uhh. . .? We’re blind? Fuck you!
You can’t cure stupid, ignorance is bliss until the truth bites you in the ass, and greed is anything but good.
And so it goes.
If anyone is wondering why there is a panic, it might be because we don’t trust our government. Nor do we trust those who would re-elect that government. Just a thought. Our hope is that there will be light come November. And Trump will go mad, see the error of his ways, and love his other daughter Tiffany. Oh, the audacity.
Until then, I’ll make like Lady MacBeth, and continue to wash my hands of the whole, bloody mess.
She Was My Sunshine
“I’m sorry, I should have warned you.”
My mother and I walked into my father’s hospice room; the third day of his agonizingly slow descent into eternal rest. I could not reconcile the image of my once stalwart father, who used to carry me around on his shoulders just for the fun of it, withering away slowly on his death bed. He looked so frail, so vulnerable, so . . . not my dad. I staggered to the window seat, dropped down, and cried.
My mom busied herself with opening the draperies to let in the sunlight. The window view was quite idyllic. A mere pane of glass divided two worlds—one full of happiness and life, the other sorrow and death. The beauty of the scene was painful. How can I enjoy it juxtaposed to my reality? I am losing my dad, my hero.
“Why can’t I cry?” my mom asked after I regained composure and stood up.
Huh. Good question. She cried non-stop when our family dog died, and she even cried when I confessed as a young adult that I hated myself. You know I think you’re wonderful, right? Why is it that the prospect of losing her life-partner, her high school sweetheart, doesn’t instill in her the same response?
“Maybe you are in self-preservation mode. You don’t cry because you feel you don’t have time to cry. There’s too much to do, and you have all these responsibilities squarely on your shoulders.” I really wanted to answer her question, and that explanation seemed as plausible as they come. She is a mother, she’s used to being strong.
She silently pondered that. “When this is all over, then, you’ll let yourself cry. I’m sure of it.” She nodded, mollified.
“Come on, ma!” I turned in surprise at the bed. The utterance of exasperation had a familiar note. How many times was I the cause of his annoyance?
“He’s been talking. I don’t know if he’s dreaming, reliving memories, or. . . .” A nurse walked in. “Good morning, Nola! How are you?”
“Oh fine. And yourself?” My mom, always so friendly.
“Good! Rudy’s been active today. I was singing to him earlier, and he sang along with me. Watch this.” She straightened his sheets as she demonstrated.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are gray.
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
“. . . sunshine away.” His mouth moved, accompanying her with a childlike lilt on the last line. It was a far cry from his steady baritone he used for singing along with The Blues Brothers soundtrack, as well as hymns at Sunday church services.
“Aww, that is so cute! Okay, I’ll be back in a bit.” The nurse rushed out. How is she able to be so upbeat and bright while working day in and day out in a place people go to die? There are no happy endings in her job.
And why did that song come up, and how did he remember it when the months that led up to his last days in hospice, he was losing his memories, along with his reasons to live? I wasn’t sure he knew I was his daughter towards the end, much less have the ability to remember a country tune from a bygone era.
I don’t know what compelled me, but I wanted that moment with him, too. I leaned over him, and softly sang the chorus in his ear.
“. . . sunshine away.” He didn’t know his daughter, and maybe not even himself, anymore. Yet, I felt closer to him, my stoic, Germanic father, than I ever had.
Mom turned away, and started crying. She grabbed a tissue to wipe her eyes and blow her nose.
“I am so sorry, mom,” I hurried over to her and hugged her as the tears streamed down my face. I inherited my sympathetic crying reflex from her.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” I felt selfish for creating that moment with no regard for how it might make her feel, but then found a silver lining. “See, you can cry.”
“I guess I’m normal,” she said as she sniffled and dried her face.
“You always were, mom.”
* * *
My mom died a year after my father; 378 days later, to be exact. I called her to follow up on plans we made for that Saturday. She was in bed, and blamed her shortness of breath and difficulty with talking on pulling a muscle from vomiting. Probably just the flu. Okay, mom. Go to the doctor tomorrow, and I’ll come out this weekend. Oh, that would be great, goodbye.
I didn’t tell her I love her. Four hours later, I got the call from the hospital. It took me over an hour to get there, and I made mental plans during the cab ride to stay at her house and take care of her. They wouldn’t tell me on the phone that she had already died. I guess they don’t do that.
The doctor did not recommend an autopsy. Her age and probable pneumonia led to heart failure, most likely. I want the definitive, not speculation, especially when it involves those I love. I had the feelings of her other children—my sister and brother—to consider besides my own, so, I didn’t push it. To this day, I can’t help but wonder if losing her first and only love, the one she spent nearly 60 years of her life with, had something to do with it. How can a broken heart be detected, much less treated?
She lost her husband long before he was turned into ash. His body deteriorated along with his mind; his death wasn’t a surprise. His suffering was over, as hers should be. This was her time to build a new life, and for the first time, really focus on herself. I thought she was coping well. Her social calendar was full, and she was always ready to talk when I called. She was so hard to get off the phone!
She was such a sincere person that she could never make it as an actress. She put on a brave and happy face, but she fooled no one . . . except me.
I found out afterwards that she seemed profoundly sad, and could not find her place in the world without her husband; a hole which could never be filled again. How did I miss it?
After five years, it does me no good to ponder that question, nor blame myself for her death in any way. As Lucille Ball said, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” Sage words.
That said, I don’t regret what I did with my father. In my selfish pursuit for a personal moment with him, I created a deeper bond with my mom. That was a moment we shared that no one else may completely understand. Neither of us could listen to that song without crying. Every time I heard it, I couldn’t wait to tell her. There was sadness, but also joy in the memory that I could relive with her.
I heard it again, just recently. I could feel my throat tighten upon recognition of that familiar I IV V chord progression. I had to leave the room. I didn’t tell anyone about it, until right here.
She was my sunshine, but not my only sunshine. The skies became a bit grayer when her sunshine was taken away.
Even though I didn’t tell her I loved her one last time, I think she knew how much I did.
Sturm und Drang: The Breakfast of Trumpions
I tend to keep a low profile when I walk around the city. I am not a recreational urban stroller. I just want to get to my destination as quickly as possible, unimpeded. But damned if those annoying “you got a minute for ABC . . . XYZ?” kids try to get my attention when I least want it. Every. Time. Nothing I do—or don’t do—dissuades them from their cutesy attempts to squeeze out a minute from me I don’t have (I gave them said minute once; it is more like five). I’ve tried a polite dissent, resting bitch face, or veering not so subtly out of their path. Nothing works.
It happened, yet again, today. As I let the grumbling, snotty response to my cold shoulder fade in my wake, I realized what has been eating at me since November 9, 2016: Liberals are really pissing me off.
What makes this realization noteworthy is that up until after Election Day, I identified as a Liberal. I still do in many ways. I have more than a minute for Gay Rights, Planned Parenthood, et cetera. The crises that make organizations like Human Rights Campaign dump these poor saps onto the streets to obnoxiously beg for support are the things that keep me up at night. I not only give a minute, I devote hours of my day thinking and writing about them. Admittedly, I am just a mere armchair activist, but still, these human rights issues are a large concern. I honestly don’t know what we can do about them outside of continuing to fight for them.
In deference to my Liberal brethren who might be reading and working themselves up into a lather, I assure you, I am with you. Overall, we are on the right side of history. It astounds me how polarized people can be on a simple concept like an individual’s basic humanity. Sadly, the world will remain divided and our efforts will be for naught, particularly if we continue on our current trajectory. What I am suggesting is that there are some things that could use some . . . tweaking, perhaps?
That was my attempt at political correctness—a tactic that makes the left particularly annoying (more on that later). I shall be blunt. Many (not all) Liberals need to get over their sanctimonious martyrdom and actually do something that is substantive. So says the aforementioned armchair activist.
I make this declaration with the acknowledgement that I’ve been guilty of sanctimony and victimhood, as well. I drew on my own “grab ‘em by the pussy” experiences like a baby to her bottle. When Donald Trump was elected, I cried inconsolably. I was prone to acting like what the right refers to as a “Libtard” or “Snowflake.” In turn, I swung my broad, ad hominem brush at “Clownservatives” and “Republicunts” who hate the world, thus making our country anything but great. Logical fallacies aside, there are plenty on both sides of the political aisle that have earned those pejoratives. For the purpose of this article, I focus on Liberals.
These past few months, I’ve taken a step back, or more like, been catapulted to the middle. This change was one of necessity. As I was sobbing while leaving the house the morning after the election, my dear husband with his lovingly brutal honesty, banged on the echo chamber until I crawled out to escape the cacophony. With one pin poke (more like an hour-long lecture) he popped the Liberal bubble that cocooned me for the past decade.
To be fair, I had already previously been laying the groundwork for the transformation into an Independent butterfly. I was just in serious denial. I suspected Trump—once a moderate—was pulling a long, elaborate con. I abandoned it without doing my homework. Quite frankly, the pack, us-versus-them mentality made it much easier to just hate the man and see Hillary Clinton as the better candidate, while secretly wishing something would happen to both of them so that Bernie Sanders could saunter in and save the day. I held my nose when I voted for Clinton; I just couldn’t join the fray and be #imwithher. Yet, I thought she was at least the lesser of evils. With that, I’ll start with Lesson 1.
The Drumpfer has some clothes
My darling husband showed me what he’d been researching the past year. Aha! It makes sense now. Trump has been planning this most of his career. Even just ten years ago, he cozied up to the Democrats and made contributions to the DNC, Planned Parenthood, et cetera. He was chummy with the Clintons, in fact. When the Democrats didn’t take him seriously for his Presidential aspirations, he played the Republican and flimflammed the alt-right while galvanizing disenfranchised, rural Americans. He did whatever it took to get elected. He is determined to be the BEST President, so he throws the GOP parties to make them drunk with their majority power. He’ll punish the Democrats for a while until he needs them for his agenda. Then the Republicans may well be nursing their hangovers while he butchers some of their sacred cows. Yay! It is all just bread and circuses, faking us out until we are all forced to eat our spinach because our own divine bovines died off. Classic narcissistic businessman, him.
Try telling that to Liberals. “Oh, tsk tsk, Diane. You give him too much credit. He’s a moron, insane, and didn’t even want the job. He is going to destroy us. You’ll learn.” I’m not ready to abandon the Long Con theory, but I admit it is being thrown into question. Quite frankly, he’s doing some very scary things right out of the gate. We must keep a watchful eye on his administration, and always be vigilant. What I ask is that Liberals do not succumb to what Conservatives so maddeningly did with Obama: don’t hate everything Trump does because of his vexing skin color, no offense to orangutans. There is more to it than that, of course. We can disagree with his agenda, but not throw the baby (hands) out with the bathwater. Look back at old footage of him; he was quite fluent and astute. The way he speaks and carries on these days is a tactic to get attention, and demonstrates his low opinion of our country’s collective intelligence. We all seize voraciously on every little tweet, word, and action, so his disdain is not without merit.
Democrats have been screwed over twice because of the Electoral College. I understand the frustration, but am not inclined to move to abolish something just because I didn’t get what I want. Our Forefathers set us up as a Constitutional Republic, not a pure Democracy. Why? Because it elects representatives to protect our collective Constitutional rights and interests. Electing the candidate with the popular vote sounds simple and fair, but it isn’t. He won, based on the Republic vote. It is a mystery how he was viewed as being in the best interests of the majority of the population, but there you have it. Let’s look at our own party’s hubris for selling their souls in blind desire to elect the first woman President and getting the Clintons back in the White House, and our own over-confidence that there was no way she could lose to Trump. She did, so Liberals, including myself, are to blame for that. We sowed, therefore we must reap.
There are still many arguments supporting that he should not be in the White House, and he’s already wrought considerable havoc. Not to mention he set a dangerous precedent with his con job, one that surpasses the usual empty promises that abound in politics. Is it that easy to get elected? The validity of Hitler comparisons is debatable, but with our gullibility, we could actually elect a malevolent primary psychopath who is astute enough to follow the pathway that Trump paved, and take us down it to a much worse Hell than is histrionically being railed about now.
Regardless, Trump is our President; give it time. The Democrats will get their party. Between the short times either party is pleased, both Republicans and Democrats will share a discontent with their “esteemed” leader who dares to give us our democracy, good and hard. What brings rivals together for a mutual cause? The enemy of my enemy. We actually may cross party lines and work together. Won’t that be swell?
That is the last you’ll hear from me about this particular topic, except if/when I can deliver between mouthfuls of spinach, a richly deserved, “I told you so.” That is, if he doesn’t get impeached or kicked out of office first.
Shot through the bleeding heart
This is a topic that has stuck in my craw for several years. There are many Liberals, such as the wonderful Dan Savage, who believe that the Second Amendment should be abolished. I used to be anti-gun, and still am afraid of them. When mass shootings started getting more bandwidth (they were always there, but are covered more now because of the instant and powerful reach of the Internet), I realized I needed to educate myself on guns and actually decide what my view on them should be. I didn’t land where I expected.
Guns are bad and need to be controlled because they lead to gun violence. This mantra begs the question, as it is fundamentally flawed for several reasons. First off, it is like saying marijuana is a gateway drug. Demonizing guns speaks to a complete lack of understanding why our Forefather’s wrote the Second Amendment. The intent was to give the citizens of our Republic—again, not Democracy, Republic—the right to protect themselves. It isn’t to shoot each other willy-nilly, nor even to make machinegun bacon, but to protect the people from all threats that menace them, especially a tyrannical government.
Second, referring to the problem as “gun violence” muddies the water the same way as calling all pit bulls vicious. Criminals abuse guns to the point that they’ve lost that Constitutional right to keep and bear them, and that is a problem. The thing about rights is that they are there until they are abused, and because of that, do not extend beyond our noses. We have the right to our nose, but not if we chop it off. It will in turn spite our face. Criminals infringe on our rights, but reactionary obtuseness results in everyone losing out. How can we rightfully protect ourselves from harm when everyone is disarmed except for those who are out to hurt us? The answer is, we can’t.
Third, anything we try to attack and control through restriction, like the War on Drugs, is bound to backfire and lead to more violent responses. Think of it as homeopathy: Like heals like. The more law-abiding citizens that are responsibly armed, i.e., with proper training, the bigger deterrent for criminals to, well, fuck with us. Make sense?
Fourth, the foundation of the anti-gun view was built with a double standard. If the Second Amendment is bad, then the other 26 should be thrown into question. Are you ready for that? As a recent example, the GOP voted to remove the requirement of the Social Security Administration to provide to the NICS database the list of people who require a caretaker of their finances, so that those recipients of aid for their fiduciary well being are prohibited from obtaining firearms. The left claims it will arm severely mentally ill people, which will lead to shootouts in “crazy town.” This is reactionary, as it assumes the worst intentions of the “evil party.” While there may be financial incentives from the NRA, the spirit of it is to allow the people, who’ve done nothing to lose their rights, due process like everyone else. The ACLU agrees, and thus is ironically on the same side. Isn’t that covered in the Fifth Amendment, due process and all? If not, then look at the all-encompassing Ninth that covers any rights not otherwise specified.
It is interesting—by interesting, I mean hypocritical—that those who rally against stigmatizing mental health stop short when it comes to owning a firearm. The same goes for military Veterans, who were identically affected by a similarly disarming mandate. The government readily armed them to fight for our country, but that would make it near impossible for them to protect themselves in their own homes, simply because they chose to seek out someone to help them pay their bills accurately. It is a smoking bullet hole stigmata right in the middle of the forehead.
Who claims to have a reasonable approach to “sensible gun laws” but has been rightfully accused of wanting to restrict Second Amendment rights? Hillary Clinton, and it is what makes her appealing to the left. However, she is a hated, targeted woman by many. How do you think the Secret Service protects her, with their fists? Of course not. Does anyone see her complaining about that? Of course not. More hypocrisy.
Unfortunately, these points hit a dense, peace-loving hemp wall. Anti-gun Liberals should direct their fear to where it belongs, which is to the drain they are going down along with their stubborn, circular arguments.
I will end it with this. Trump is pro-Second Amendment, but his abuse of every piece of the First Amendment is in a word, frightening. The defense of the First Amendment is predicated on our rights in the Second Amendment. We can’t defend ourselves with words and signs if we are silenced. Buck up, Liberals, and stop shooting yourself in the foot. If there is ever a time that we need to ensure the government fears its people, it is now.
Protest the protester
Our First Amendment rights allow for protest, and Dems and Libs are exercising that right, most definitely of late. Protests are a way to get our collective voice heard, and our Forefathers were right in including that as a respected way to get the attention of our government.
The obvious challenge is keeping it peaceful. The larger the crowd, the greater chance of it getting out of hand. Did you know the majority of violent protests come from Liberal/left-wing causes? Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, as well as numerous other rallies against unjustified shootings, collapsed in on itself. Threats, fights, shootings, and rape, all happened on the supposedly anti-violent left’s watch. Why is it acceptable for Liberals to rip off their tie-dye peace and love shirts and become Social Justice Warriors, but not Conservatives? Feeling justified doesn’t cut it. It is subjective, especially from the perspective of those who don’t agree with you. Last anyone checked in the Constitution, nothing but peaceful assembly is protected.
That said, props for keeping the Women’s March reasonably civilized. It didn’t cause substantive change—yet—but the overwhelming turnout and solidarity sent a powerful warning shot across the bow: We are here, and we aren’t going away.
That’s the spirit! Keep it up. Commitment and tenacity are needed during these uncertain times. Just don’t overdo it. Think before you pick up that protest sign, lest it amount to nothing but tuned out cries of wolf. In addition, be selective on the where and when. It can backfire and cause a lot of resentment.
Yes, it rather sucks that Trump is our President. Millions of people were heartbroken, as well as outraged. Citizens swarmed city streets post-Election Day, delivering a loud and clear message: Not Our President. That’s great; the Administration-elect and possibly, those who voted for him heard them, also loud and clear. That includes the people who were stuck in their cars while thwarted from their commute home. I wonder how many of them voted for Clinton. Does it matter? They were thrust in the middle of the protest, whether they wanted to be or not.
The plea from the Hamilton cast to Mike Pence is another example. It was a great message, but delivered under poor, unfair circumstances. I hate Pence, too, but he was there on a night off to enjoy theatre. He handled it with aplomb (unlike his boss), but do you really think he changed his view? The people who should heed the cry, didn’t. When I tried to explain that to Liberals, I was attacked for it. Therein lies the rub: If you constantly eat your own, chewing them up and spitting them out because they don’t believe exactly as you do, you’re going to be on your own.
The problem is that, outside of the emotional catharsis, many protests do nothing to benefit the greater good. Those who need to listen to what is said under these circumstances, don’t. That is where the title of this treatise comes in. All this Storm and Stress, all the complaining, does little benefit outside of feed the people who really hate this peace, love, and acceptance thing and want to vilify it. We piss in their cornflakes, and they eat it up.
Behind the veil
The largest, long-term threat is Climate Change. The science is in on that. Why can’t the right see that? It is because they are willfully stupid and ignorant about it, be it for religious or financial reasons. They will be the death of us.
How do you think they feel when it comes to Islamic Terrorism? It must be maddening that Liberals refuse to even call it that, much less fully acknowledge that it is the largest, immediate threat. How can we even have a dialectic on something when we won’t agree what to call it? Blame the left and their insane drive to be politically correct. They will be the death of us. Sound familiar?
But no! Islam is a peaceful religion. How dare you?
That’s the thing. Crack open a Koran, it is none-too peaceful. That is where the Conservatives are correct. Where they are terribly mistaken, and hypocritical even, is claiming that Catholicism and Christianity are above reproach. There is rampant child molestation, not to mention historical corruption in the Papacy. As for Christianity, check out Revelations, and if you have the urge, read the Lost Books of the Bible. Jesus had quite the itchy trigger finger.
Incidentally, if the Jesus that Conservatives know and love were alive today, they’d hate his Liberal, possibly schizophrenic, tree-hugging, toga-wearing, (and probably pot-smoking) hippy ass. I digress.
As an atheist, I believe religion is a scourge on the world, and the salt of the earth are salting the earth as long as they hold onto these specious belief systems. It causes more problems than it platitudinously claims to solve. That said, our Forefathers’ aimed to protect the people from the government establishing or infringing upon religion. Having friends from many faiths, while I don’t agree with them, I will defend their right to do whatever makes them happy. If they don’t interfere with my right to not practice religion, I certainly will not interfere with their right to practice religion.
The extreme view looks to violate Muslims’ rights in order to protect their own interests. I am not talking about those from other countries. If they are not U.S. citizens, they do not have Constitutional rights, much less claim to the First Amendment. Our country is not obligated to let anyone in, even if under duress, we just do because it was established as “The American Way.” In many circumstances, aiding others is the right thing to do; there is great disagreement on how that should be accomplished. The prejudice against Islamic Americans who are on our side and our way of life, regardless if they immigrated legally or were born here, is detrimental. It is up to everyone, not just Liberals, to protect them. They are our allies against terrorism. Memo: Please see earlier section on ways to protect our rights, re: Second Amendment.
The cultures from which most Muslims arise put women beneath them and persecute homosexuals; violence against them is part of Sharia law. Who leaps over eggshells to defend them, despite their culture’s tendency towards shaming women, destroying them with honor killings, and throwing homosexuals off rooftops? The same Liberals who protest for women’s and LGBTQ equal rights. Oh moral and cultural relativism, they are such sticky wickets.
The other side of the Liberty coin is that there are many people who are part of larger groups that want to destroy us. They aren’t just in other countries; they are hiding in plain sight on our homeland. We must look out for ourselves. That does not mean that we should fear offending anyone. Just like domestic terrorists can refer to themselves as Christians doing God’s work, groups like ISIL can claim the same for Allah. It really doesn’t discredit the respective religions; religion does a bang-up job of that just by merely existing.
Again, for the most part, Liberals are on the right side of history. We should love and accept everyone who is just trying to be themselves. Therein lies another rub: Not everyone will return the gesture. It is naïve to think otherwise.
It could be argued that the travel ban protests might have been more than cathartic. The courts overruled the ban. I suspect they were going in that direction anyway; the people just got there first. I’ll give the spirit of those protests kudos, with exceptions.
“We are all Muslims now!” read some protest signs. Really? No, we aren’t. Once again, Liberals overstate by co-opting victimhood along with those who really can lay claim to the abuse. There are many ways to get the point across without striking a Jesus Christ pose (apologies to Soundgarden). No need for melodrama.
Then, there is the photograph of Muslims praying on makeshift mats from signs picketers placed on the floor for them. That is laying it on a wee bit thick, don’t you think? Would Christians protect atheists’ rights by offering their Bibles so that they can intellectually eviscerate them, in support of their lack of faith? I think not. Don’t try so hard to appear to be all-accepting; there is always going to be something that you won’t find acceptable.
We can be together, but still apart. That goes for race, gender, or sexual orientation. Religion. Politics! We all have noses with which to measure the extent of our rights. Don’t block, unfriend, or demand to be unfriended on social media. That is silly at best, and definitely divisive. Don’t claim the moral or ethical high ground. Look for news that upsets confirmation bias. Bust out of that echo chamber. Listen, learn, just as you expect the same in return. As Bruce Lee said in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “Take everything in, extract what is useful, discard what is not.” Success in that hinges on discarding the assumption that everything you believe in is useful.
We Can Be Zeroes
Now it’s time to close our eyes
Now it’s time to say goodbye
Now it’s time to face the lie
That we’d never cry
David Bowie, “What’s Really Happening?”
The unexpected death of the iconic David Bowie on January 10, 2016 was a shocking blow to much of the world. More than a week has passed, yet news and social media sites are still flooded with eulogies, tributes, and other commemorative pieces about the legendary artist.
Amidst all the tragedy and death in the world, this one seems more difficult to accept. Many of us were born when Bowie already released his classic, Space Oddity. It is hard to comprehend he is gone when he was always there. Truth be told, imagining a world without him in it is a challenge, because a small part of us assumed he was immortal.
His death reminds us that even appearing bigger than life, he is just like us—a mere speck of dust in endless void of space. It is a sobering thought. We get solace from having heroes, ones we can revere and rely upon. We could look up to the heavens, and the Starman would be there. How can such a dynamic force that had such a positive impact on the world just one day cease to be? Simply, we are all mortal. In an Orwellian way, some of us are “more mortal” than others.
I am comforted by the collective sorrow. Misery loves company, after all. More to the point, I am less embarrassed that I cried for the passing of someone I never met, because I am not alone in my feelings. Still, my response is surprising to me. Even though I am a fan and as an artist and musician myself, greatly appreciate his unique genius. However, he was never my favorite. I always assumed I would reserve this type of emotional investment for my songwriting heroes—Neil Young, Sting, Joni Mitchell, Shawn Phillips, and Tori Amos. My connection is strong with them for various reasons, and, they have helped shape me into the artist I am and still am striving to be.
Then why did his death cause me so much distress? Like with all celebrity deaths, we make it about ourselves. From water cooler conversations to social media postings, it is about our own responses. It is a way to connect to someone we don’t know and to something we have yet to experience for ourselves. The mere concept of death is terrifying to us. There is a mystery in the unknown, of course. Even more so, there is that fear we would be gone and promptly forgotten. It is troubling enough to acknowledge that we are mortal in body, but we cannot accept that we could be mortal in influence, as well. Celebrities are immortalized in a way most of us can’t be through memories, photographs, film, et cetera. Canonizing the dead is a natural impulse, even more so when someone in the public eye dies. We want immortality to be true, any way we can get it. We can’t help ourselves.
That said, it isn’t the main reason Bowie’s death causes me so much dissonance. I had to take a long, brutal look at myself and figure out why this death affected me and was distinctly about me.
Bowie died of liver cancer. I am a cancer survivor. Pluck! There’s a succulent piece of low-hanging fruit from that Tree of Knowledge. I could accept that obvious connection, nosh on the apple, and leave it at that. Of course it upsets me, I know what he went through because I experienced it myself. I empathize.
If only it were that easy. It is one component, yes, but not the core reason. Get it? Apple—core. Anyway, here goes.
The past two years, starting with my entry into the mid-forties demographic, I’ve looked back on my life a lot, even more so than looking around in the present or to the future. Like the various Dickensian ghosts, it is all scary. For the sake of brevity, I will just say that I am filled with regret. Regret that I didn’t travel more, make more friends, and basically lived too safely. I avoided the path I was drawn to because it was intimidating. Why should I risk trying and failing at being a professional musician when the four-year college with a degree in accounting is right there? Since Bowie released his first album in his early twenties, he eschewed conservative ideals and did what he wanted to do during his formative years—ones that have long passed me by.
I can say with utmost certainty that regret, like jealousy, is a useless waste of energy. Just learn from past mistakes, live in the present, and keep your eye on the future. Right? It is easier said than done. The challenge with me is that my resolve is in short supply. I am a sprinter. I get an idea and take off with it, but run out of gas very shortly before I can achieve much. I don’t have the endurance for a marathon, literally and figuratively. My successes are small and far between, because I use up the majority of my reserves trying to keep myself motivated. Do you know who probably had plenty of resolve and motivation, considering how prolific and successful he was? Bowie.
I started the New Year recovering from an injury. A bulging disc in my neck caused incapacitating pain for several weeks. I was miserable. I couldn’t work out, draw, paint, play guitar, or write. I could do none of the things that I enjoyed. The two weeks for holiday that I reserved to accomplish so much were a complete bust. At least, I was willing to accept that I was physically unable to do anything productive. I wonder if Bowie ever experienced something similar to that.
I was equally unproductive during my battle with cancer. I did two quick drawings, and that was it. I didn’t write, and barely played any music. What did I do with those four months off from work while at home, day in and day out? There is no point in listing specifics. I was fighting for my life; I had no energy to focus on building a body of work for some legacy that no one would see anyway.
Do you know who co-wrote a musical, wrote, and recorded an album, all while battling cancer and accepting that he would ultimately lose that fight?
Damn it, Ziggy. Damn you to space! You make me look and feel bad for myself. I am the Zero to your Hero. How dare you?
Is it possible to be so in command of your life that despite the odds, you still write your own ending? I didn’t think it was possible, yet, Bowie showed that it is. He took something that was out of his control—terminal cancer—and like the maestro he was, orchestrated his dwindling time on Earth brilliantly. From the release of his album on his birthday to his peaceful death two days later, Major Tom was not only the pilot of his rocket ship; he was “Ground Control.”
This isn’t a life-changing revelation. I almost died, damn it. If that didn’t galvanize me, what would? I could carry a lightning bolt as my talisman and focus the rest of my life on becoming immortal in whatever way possible. Or . . . not.
This is not a closed-ended treatise. I have a long road ahead of me still. Not as long as I want it to be, given I am ostensibly halfway through my life already. I trust I will continue to stumble along the way, just like I always do. I hope I will leave more indelible footprints in my path. Until I shuffle off this mortal coil, I still might compose my own symphony that will resonate and continue to be heard when my voice is forever silenced.
I’ll end this with another lyric from his song, What’s Really Happening? I’ve had it on a loop the past week. It seems fitting.
All the clouds are made of glass
And they’re slowly sinking
Falling like the shattered past
Were we built to last?
Defending the death of Dexter
That was an alliteration I couldn’t resist. I could call it homage to the originator of the book series, Jeff Lindsay. But I won’t. He alliterates ad nauseam in his book titles, as well as in Dexter’s voiceovers in a misguided attempt at making the character likeable, e.g. “dear darling Dexter.” Good gracious God. All he succeeds in doing is annoying the reader—at least, this reader. Jeff Lindsay is a hack who happened upon a promising idea, and then crapped on it after the first book. Yeah, I get it. Angel-no relation-Batista is not a winged being from the heavens. Say it once, and then move on!
Needless to say, the television series surpassed the books from the very first episode. Even the worst season was by far better than Linday’s best book. I have it on good authority considering I read the first five. I have heard they go even further downhill from there. Usually, derivative works are lower in quality, such as the recent Great Gatsby, if not on par with, as was the case in Jaws.
Every episode was entertaining and riveting. The acting was all first-rate, and the evolution of the two main characters in Dexter and Deb were brilliantly portrayed by Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter, respectively. All the supporting and guest actors did an excellent job, as well. Who can forget John Lithgow as the Trinity Killer from Season 4, arguably their best season? Anyone who didn’t come away from witnessing that performance and recognize his acting genius needs a time-out on Dexter’s table. I kid. The only season I was disappointed with was the following, season 5. I felt Julia Stiles was miscast and out of her element. I could not suspend disbelief that she would be driven to murder, and could even help Dexter dump body parts and act like they were making conversation while cooking dinner together. If you ask me, and you probably won’t, Claire Danes would have made a more convincing Lumen. She has the required frailty masked by steely resolve to make that character believable.
Do not read any further if you have not watched the series finale of Dexter, by the way. The “death” in my title is symbolic, i.e., the ending of the series.
Or is it. . . ?
My husband and I are both writers, and we can usually sniff out plot turns before they happen—him more so than I. Neither of us had any idea how this series would end. We both knew that it wouldn’t end well for at least one of the characters. It turned out that it ended badly for all of them. I won’t discuss the whole season. It is only the final episode that left me an emotional mess.
The show’s writers took Vonnegut’s advice to be mean to their characters and ran with it. All the key players were victimized by Dexter, in some shape or form. And for that, Dexter had to die . . . in some shape or form.
When Deb was shot in the penultimate episode, it was the gun on the wall (pun intended) that a happy ending was not to be expected. Deb was injured picking up where Dexter felt he should leave off. He did not kill the Brain Surgeon—the season’s nemesis—because he realized he didn’t need to anymore and decided to go by the book and have him arrested and prosecuted. Is that character redemption I see? Not so fast! Dexter left Hannah and Harrison (another alliteration!) in their efforts to flee the country to be by Deb’s side when he got the call that she had been shot. Are you sure that isn’t character redemption? Scoff! That would be too easy.
I suspected even more so that something tragic would happen when the doctor told Dexter that everything went well in surgery. Context is important, because nothing goes well in that show, so it should not be assumed that it was just a plot device to add a little drama. A massive stroke from a blood clot left Deb brain-dead. It heralded the return of Dexter’s Dark Passenger, so the Brain Surgeon had to die. While doing a GSR test on Daniel Vogel in jail, he set it up so that Vogel, a.k.a. Oliver Saxon, would attack him, thus justifying Dexter killing him. Batista and Quinn, distraught by the loss of a detective and lover, respectively, viewed the video playback. It was apparent that they saw it for what it was—a premeditated murder in the guise of self-defense. After a few obvious questions from Batista, they declared the incident justifiable homicide. On the surface, it appeared to be sloppy writing to do away with some loose ends in the plot. But in actuality, it was showing another side to the detectives—more Batista in this case—demonstrating that sometimes ethics are situational. And some people have to die. So says “the code.”
Like he did to Camilla Figg in season 3, he felt it his duty to euthanize Deb. And that he did. I was shaking, trying to keep it together, when he held her hand and emotionally whispered “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He turned off the machine, disconnected the tube and wires, and listened for her breath to cease. “I love you,” were his last words. That is when I did a face-plant into my husband’s lap. My eyes are welling up just recalling that scene. I was devastated.
There was only one convincing path for Dexter to take at the loss of his moral compass in Deb, for which he felt responsible. He could have met up with Hannah and Harrison and lived his life the way Deb would have wanted him to. That would have been trite, out of character, and despite our desire for some semblance of a happy ending, unrealistic. He spoke one last time to Hannah and Harrison, leaving the possibility he would see them again. Then he threw the phone into the ocean to cast away any temptation to meet up with and eventually destroy them the way he did everyone he was close to. After that, he buried Deb in the same place he did his victims, as if she died at his hand, as well. But with her, he demonstrated his love and respect by keeping her whole and uncovered. Her face dissolved as it sank into the ocean’s depths in a symbolic disposal of the mask he wore for so many years.
He drove into the eye of the hurricane, and the wreckage of his boat was found the next day. The assumption was that he died, and in a way, he did. The façade, the emotional growth, as well as any possibility for more connections with humanity, died. Whether he intended to kill himself or fake his death is left for the viewer to decide. Regardless, he made a supreme sacrifice. The last scene showed him as what appeared to be a lumberjack, possibly in the upper Northwest. The cold, dark atmosphere was a stark contrast to Miami’s sunny warmth. He had a full beard, either as a disguise or perhaps to indicate that he no longer cared to maintain a carefully cultivated clean-cut and unthreatening appearance. His father’s image and voice were conspicuously absent. He sat down at a desk, and stared at nothing. His face with that mask fully removed, revealed the monster he always knew himself to be. This was the real Dexter, laid bare for the viewers to see. It was disturbing.
No one was redeemed, no one was happy. Joey Quinn became an honorable cop again during the season, and got the girl in the end. Then, she was cruelly taken away. What will happen to him? Hannah is left with Harrison. Will she be a good mother to him? Will she raise him to be a good, law-abiding person, or will he follow in her or his father’s footsteps?
What will become of Dexter? Did he mean it that he would see Harrison again? If so, would it be from afar? Dexter will continue killing, there is no doubt. But, did “the code” get buried along with the mask and moral compass, at the bottom of the ocean? There are so many questions that have a plethora of possible answers. Six Feet Under ended perfectly by giving closure to the key characters. It fit the theme and spirit of the show. The characters were surrounded by death, so too they must die eventually. The same goes for Dexter. Many fans are angry about the finale. Either they let their emotions cloud their judgment or they just didn’t get it.
On a final note, Jennifer Carpenter must at least get nominated for an Emmy. She has been overlooked for too long. Michael C. Hall should be nominated again, and actually win this time. It would be the appropriate closure to honor a terrific artistic work.