(18) …and justice for all cities

June Renew: Day 18

Weight: IDK I’m in D.C.

I spent 24-hours in our nation’s capital. Just a quick three-hour train trip away. I would havce stayed longer, but inflation is a bitch these days. They printed too much money there in Washington, and now we’re all feeling the effects. Either way, I knew I was going to have a nice time, as I always do anywhere I go, but I was definitely taken aback by a few things. I was expecting an eerie vibe all throughout the place, but I didn’t. It was calming and rich with history. I felt like everything had a purpose everywhere I went. All the very important people lining up in the very important buildings, ready to make something out of nothing but negotiations and legislations.

The first thing I saw after emerging from the Union Station was the Capitol building. Where it all went down. Where it still goes down, as they just don’t seem to want to let that 45-minute cringe riot go. I decided not to go to my hotel room just yet, so I tooled around a bit, walking toward the Capitol, the sight of so much and not enough. I just sat in front of it for a bit, struck by the majesty of such a magnificent structure. I even walked up to place my palm on the marble, just to make sure it was real. It wasn’t hard for me to toss out all my preconceptions about what a swamp it all is, It was just a nice place to be.

The coof™ rules are still said to be in effect, but just on public transportation. I took two Lyfts while I was there and the drivers didn’t mind seeing my naked face. Like I said yesterday, I am d-o-n-e. But one would think in a place like D.C. those rules would still be lingering. And yet, they’re not. I went to one of the Smithsonian art museums today and it was still optional. All of it got me thinking about New York City and the problem with it. What makes it so special that it still needs to put Covid at the forefront of everything? I saw just swells of tourists all over the place today. The line for the National Archives was so long I didn’t bother waiting to go in. D.C. right now is what New York thinks it is, but simply isn’t. All I saw was people who just want to enjoy what the city (well, district) could offer. New York has every opportunity to do so and they’re blowing it. If the American spirit can find a home in the core of the ‘problem,’ then what is my city’s problem here?

I do think if circumstances brought me to D.C., I could definitely hang there. I’d spend a lot more time outside for sure. According to my co-worker who I met up with down there, I picked a great weekend to go. The weather was just perfect, and there was an incredible breeze everywhere I went. But she did warn that in the summer it gets, quote, “swampy,” to which I had to resist the obvious joke. I can handle a little heat. I’ve long stopped caring about being a sweaty, sticky mess. So maybe one day I’ll get to be at the political helm of the country. Maybe I can make it better. I like to think my arrival there was so earth-shattering, it caused Joe Biden to topple off his bike. Too soon?

step right up

I see a lot of discussion online lately about not being able to grasp what’s real. I’ve definitely echoed that sentiment before. The news that breaks each passing day has shown us that reality can sometimes become a parody of itself. It’s hard to believe we’re seeing these things with our very own eyes, even if it’s only viewed through the funhouse mirror of the internet. Why, just today, a Times reporter posted a photo of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, showing three flags at half-staff, in remembrance of former Secretary of State Madeliene Albright. We see an American flag in the middle, a Navy flag nearest to us, and a McDonald’s flag to the right of Old Glory. Just equally flying in the breeze. Right in out in front. Good ol’ Mickey D’s. God bless the U.S.A. I didn’t even realize fast food was available to Gitmo detainees, but I guess there’s always something new to learn here on the Circus Planet.

Things like this just look so wrong at face value, and more of them are popping up each day. We’re witnessing a freak show we didn’t buy tickets for, and it’s just disappointing how many suckers were still born out of it. But the illusion of ‘The Good Guys’ is slipping fast. And I think a lot of people may end up feeling betrayed when they take their final curtain call. Not me, though. I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I snuck in through the back tent flap a long time ago, so I could peek at what the ringmasters were planning. And I found a lot of backstage acts who’ve got some stories to tell.

Some things I don’t believe. Others I could see happening. But some are starting to make perfect sense to me. Things that I don’t want to be true. Like Wag the Dog is no longer a fiction. Or a famous actor is donning a mask to play the president on TV. The role of a lifetime. I’d genuinely feel sad if that one was real. But I can suspend my disbelief for a bit because I know we’re not getting the whole story from those within the halls of power. The one releasing the snake-oil fliers to an unsuspecting yet willing audience. I don’t believe their lines or lies, so I drift elsewhere, looking for an attraction who will maybe tell me the truth for once. Or at least a truth I can believe in. Because when there’s a carnival barker for each and every one of Earth’s attractions, I may as well post up at the most satisfying show.

I don’t particularly care if someone doesn’t believe my crazy theories. They don’t hurt you in any way, shape, or form. It can be my reality until something comes along to disprove what I think. Unlike a lot of knuckleheads running the current reality show, I don’t mind admitting it when I’m proven wrong. And so far, no one has been able to do that. But that’s probably because no one has asked me to prove any of my theories true. I’m not one to so easily share, so I can sit comfortably in the audience, watching the performers act like they’re not trying to hoodwink an entire generation. I don’t expect you to throw down at my booth either, but I’d love it if you gave me a shot and hear why I’ve chosen to play the game this way. Listen to me long enough and maybe I’ll spit out your fortune. Or grant you a few prize tickets the next time you come see me. Any scenario seems plausible to me, because turnover happens quick underneath my big top.

Maybe just the belief in something makes it real. We don’t always need to see it in person to have evidence of its existence. I have not seen the face of God Himself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel His presence. Whether it’s a light breeze, a gorgeous vista, the sights and sounds of the yearly town festival, He’s there. And I feel this is His Earth to defend. Maybe it’s been that way this whole time. But we’re all starting to see that it’s a place where the villains can’t run the show anymore. For years, they’ve found ways to keep us down and tired, caged and whipped. Brought out into the spotlight and forced to perform, to tear away our humanity and give into the degeneracy. But now, thanks to what I believe is His realness, the people have found ways to say “no.” They’ve grown tired of this and are ready for the ride to end. And I don’t think we’re going to let the traveling circus pack up and leave town so easily this time around.

I believe the show is ending soon. The ringleaders have used up their entire bag of tricks, and the shackles that kept us on the edge of our seats have finally broken off. It’s all happening as we speak. Because that’s what my reality is showing me; a once-well choreographed gig coming apart at the seams. I’ve always believed it, no matter how many people dismissed me as crazy. But that was my choice. I bought this ticket a long time ago. It’s good for one admittance into finding the ride of my life. Only I have to slog through a mile of elephant manure to get it.

Oh well. This is just my own little one-woman show. I’ll find new ways to clown around and keep you entertained. That is, until someone steps right up and wants to make a duet out of it. Because, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, humans of all ages…

The real show is about to begin.

anchors aweigh

There’s nowhere for me to turn. There’s no course I can chart that comes with an endpoint. Even if I did find a harbor, I fear no one would offer me safe haven if I asked. I am completely alone in all this primordial ooze.

And yet, I don’t feel lonely. Why is that?

Nothing is sticking in the old world anymore. We’ve exhausted all our options and tried everything we possibly could. The tactics the people once fell for are now being questioned at an alarming rate. And the powers that be can’t stand that it’s happening. They’ve sailed through life without a care in the world because they know the next move in order to stay on top. What I hope is happening is they’ve run out of third and fourth moves ahead, and they’re now just living incident to incident. It’ll get so overwhelming that there will be nowhere left for them to flee. The Hell they’ve created will end up swallowing them whole, sending them back to whatever depths they came from.

All of it is inevitable. You can see the signals from space at this point. And there’s a lingering stillness in the air which I fear is the eye of the storm. We have to batten down for one final shit-monsoon before we can emerge squeaky clean on the other side.

At least that’s what I hope. I’ve been wrong before, it seems. I have trouble telling what’s real and what’s not these days. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that. It all seems so futile, so unrelatable and weird, having to watch things unfold as they happen with no one who can turn the wheel and get us back on course.

It’s looking more and more like the only ones who can steer us toward the promised land are the people themselves. We won’t be truly free if we’re allowing others to make our choices for us. Unfortunately, I think that’s happening more than it’s not these days. And I just don’t know if it’s going to last forever. Usually I make hopeful predictions about the future but I’m pulling the brakes on that and instead finding comfort where I’m forced to tread water.

Either way, the end is coming soon. And I think if I felt lonely as I stand at the ship’s bow, then we’d be in trouble. It’s not that way. I’m just letting the spray of the sea wash over me, until the fog clears and I finally see land again. It’ll happen as long as I fix a position on my compass. I don’t have to have a plan. How can I when absolutely anything is possible in current year 2021?

reality bites, but sometimes it smells

I’ve come out the other side of the sickness. It’s gone. I’m feeling much better. Even an EUA at-home covid test showed me that. But that’s barely FDA-approved, so can I really trust it, folks? Let me know, I’m still waiting on what all the reality experts have to tell me about what I’m currently seeing. And feeling.

Just not smelling.

I still can’t smell anything. I lost it about a week ago. One day I woke up and it was just gone. I don’t know if any of you have ever lost your sense of smell, but it’s not pleasant. Food doesn’t taste as good, especially sweets. I have no idea how fresh my ingredients are. I don’t know if my garbage smells, if I’ve got body odor, if New York City streets still smell like pee. It’s one of those things you don’t realize how much you’ll miss until it’s gone. And right now, there’s absolutely no sign that it’s even coming back.

All in all, I was sick for about six days, then on the mend for another seven. My company required I stay home for ten days and could come back anytime after, as long as I felt better. And one day it happened. I woke up feeling great and was back in the office the next day. I did what I needed to do, and it was time to get back to the real world. But as I left my apartment Thursday morning, the only thing I couldn’t get past was the smell. Or lack there of. I couldn’t smell the city. The asphalt. The dew hanging in the air. Fall’s official arrival to New York City. Not being able to inhale my city’s scent made me feel like I didn’t belong there. Like I was just part of the scenery. Reality couldn’t include me no matter how much I wished it would.

Regardless, I spent a little time outside this weekend. Brought my laptop to the Hudson River, which had no scent, but was still nice to look at. My breakfast was unsatisfying and had no taste, so I decided to eat out for lunch. When I made it to my dessert that had absolutely no taste, I had a thought: What if my sense of smell never returns? My sniffer is just broken for the rest of my life? That’s an actual possibility for someone who has contracted the virus. Many of the people I know who’ve had it either never lost the sense, or eventually got it back. But me? Something keeps telling me I might not be that lucky. I keep picturing all sorts of scenarios that could play out if I officially lost my sense of smell: I’ll go to the beach without bringing home the scent of the sea. I’ll make pasta sauce for Sunday dinner and not smell it simmering. My husband has to explain to our children why “mom can’t smell so good.”

Am I just being paranoid? Probably a little. But I have to acknowledge what’s currently going on with me. If I expect everyone else to “live in reality,” then I have to do the same. And that’s just not becoming as much of a burden as it once was.

It’s not like this comes without struggles. There was a part of me that felt resentment as I watched people walking around with masks on. Perfectly healthy people blocking their smell receptors all because of some once-acknowledged reality that a mask is the only thing that will protect you. They were willingly muting their senses because there’s the perception of performing some kind of civic duty. It just doesn’t make sense to me at this point in time. Be grateful you’re, one, alive, and two, have the luxury of smelling something, even if it’s just a whiff of Garbage Island. It just made me so angry to be a witness to it. But I’m trying to chalk it up as a little bit of culture shock after two weeks inside. It just looked like a lot of sick people were walking around, masking up so their diseases don’t escape, or larp-ing as medical professionals who actually need PPE to protect them on duty.

This isn’t to say I think masks are entirely useless. For a period of time, I had to take my own precautions. I put two masks on my face and gloves on my hands anytime I had to leave my apartment. My bell didn’t work a few times when the delivery guys came, so I made sure I was suited up before going downstairs. Even if I was just going to the garbage chute, I slapped that cloth over my face. I was sick. Presently sick. And it just made good sense to do my due diligence. I wasn’t going to risk anyone else’s health while I was not feeling healthy myself. How am I to know how another person would react to the virus should they catch it? I’m not about to have getting someone else sick on my conscience, so I did what I had to do. And I actually felt good about it while doing it.

But that is not my reality anymore. I’m just wondering what’s lingering in the air to make it everyone else’s.

There’s a lot of talk online about what is “real.” I find it kind of haughty when people have to announce they’re a “realist.” As if they’re the gatekeepers about what’s really going on, like that’s some attainable feat. They’re the experts in all things correct with no hint of ever being wrong. I just can’t operate like that. I’m human. While I’d love to always know what’s coming around the corner like some oracle, I’m forced to reserve the benefit of the doubt over absolutely everything I believe. I can’t run head-first into all my conspiracy theories without pumping the brakes on what I want to be on record saying. And as I’m trying to sniff out my path, I’m watching the powers that be going on record and saying things that I can determine as categorically false. Things that even the most ill-informed among us will know it’s nothing but the scent of the gaslight. A supply chain backlog does not mean the federal government is operating as it should. Food and gas prices going up does not in fact mean the economy is rebounding. Our current wide-open border is always how things go down there. Come on, man. I can smell the bullshit even without being actually able to smell it.

I keep hoping there’ll be the one thing that happens where we all end up on each other’s side. I picture some kind of news story where we report on something so utterly indefensible, the people can’t help but unite around condemning it. I will entirely admit this is my idealism talking, but sometimes I like thinking that I’m living in a world where reality could become stranger than fiction. It could happen at any moment. And I want to take a deep breath, plug my nose, and dive head-first into the swampiest bit of it. I want to hear all the stories of what was once considered inconceivable, only for it to play out right in front of our eyes. I’ll follow the scent until I get to the heart of it. And if we have to cut it out in order to crush it forever, then that’s what we’ll do. But we’ll do it as a united front, not a spore scattering in the wind, causing all of our allergies to act up.

This is the worst time of year for me to lose my sense of smell. Autumn in New York is a magical time. There’s no feeling like it. One day you wake up and that presence is in the air. The seasons roll over and click into place. It’s the only time the city smells like nature. Leaves and grass all ride on a slight chill that pleasantly tickles the nostrils the first morning you leave your apartment. It’s always something I’ve looked forward to as a New Yorker. And I have to live without that reality this year. Sigh. Oh well. Maybe by this time next year we won’t be thinking about all the other stuff I mentioned. The story I’ve been waiting for will have come out by then. Our own October Surprise. We won’t have to worry about repeating history’s mistakes, we’ll just be in the moment, living in a reality that’s comfortable for everyone one arth. Our well-oiled machines can keep all our senses functioning until the day we step into the next plane of existence.

It all sounds nice. I’m sure it’ll look nice. Feel nice. We’ll speak of it nicely one day. I’m just waiting on catching a whiff of that reality being possible. I’m finally hopeful for it. After all, I woke up one day and felt healthy again. Maybe my sense of smell will do the same.