Where Have All the Ballots Gone . . .

No, I haven’t written in over seven months. I penned something just before the impeachment, which now seems like a ridiculous exercise from a bygone era. It’s the usual problem. I become so outraged by the latest travesty that I have exorcise my demons on the keypad. But when I finally get to my computer to unload, the insult has gone into hiding. You know, it’s vanished to make room for the next insult, and the next one, and the next one, until I’m too demoralized and disoriented to remember which travesty I was upset about. I’ll tell you what else is disorienting. The migraine that tortured my head for five days. The one that started pulsating after RBG’s death. Three days over the right eyebrow, one day over the left, and then a vestibular plant right in the middle of the head. I had to hold on to the bed so it would stop spinning. The bed, I mean.

Yes, I grieved this remarkable woman’s death, but I grieved her legacy even more. And then I grieved over the predictable shit show to come. It’s been much worse than I expected. I anticipated maniacal glee from Trump, McConnell, Barr, and the sycophants, but the rest of the lot?  Complete senatorial acquiescence? (With the exception of Murkowski and Collins, whose gestures are empty at this point.) I was foolish to cling to any notion of honor. But yada, yada, I could go on for days about the ugliness of the Supreme Court and election battles, etc. Our democracy is at stake, the American experiment is failing, blah, blah. I’ve been paralyzed over the power grabs and the prospect of a Trumpian future for days–despite the vertigo.

So I’ve discussed/disgust/snarled about all this ramming of the nominees, and the voter suppression ahead, with my husband, who is accustomed to my histrionics. But I haven’t been histrionic. I predicted how all of this mess was going to play out almost a week ago. I’ve managed my expectations too much to wig out. Any hysteria over this nightmare has morphed into a calm paranoia.  And I don’t care what he says, or the Wall Street Journal, or even Nate Silver. We do have something to fear.

And no, it’s not Trump, the autocrat baby, refusing to leave. He’ll be forced out kicking and screaming if he’s shown the door. We have the military for that. And Bill Maher. No, what keeps me up at night are the ballots. It won’t matter if Biden wins in a landslide if the landslide can’t be counted. And I’m not being simplistic. We received a letter from Florida the other day that took over five weeks to arrive. Five weeks. (Hats off to DeJoy, he knew what he was doing.)  I don’t care what the cut-off is, if people start mailing their ballots this very second, what guarantees they’ll arrive in time to be processed? “Ballots that are postmarked by Election Day will count, if received within six and nine days of the election.” (NPR) Nine days? What about within three weeks of the election? Or five weeks like our letter?

CNN reports, “But beyond Trump’s rhetoric, his campaign and Republicans at the state and local level are moving to make it more difficult for voters to cast a ballot, more difficult for states to count votes and more likely that tallies will be challenged in the courts — with a particular focus on mail-in voting.”

Every vote must be counted—no matter how delayed–if we’re going to be beat this man. God knows he’s pulling every dirty trick he can to win. I don’t want the ballots, like the insults, to go into hiding.

Lizzie Borden, That Beach

Well, I made it here.  I love everything about the beach except for the salt, sand, and sun. The place is paid for though, through May. I’m going to take advantage of it, and lock myself inside, and work intensely, and not frolic in the ocean, and not take long walks in the sand. (Unless, of course, I’m looking for my marbles.)

Now, as far as taste and comfort are concerned I prefer historic homes, dark colors, and creepy corners. I don’t like light or airy anything. (Except for sundresses.)  I suffer from insomnia, dog ears, and acute photosensitivity. I lug my own linens and pillows with me everywhere I go because of my chemical sensitivities. I would much rather smell ten bowel movements than a bottle of powder-scented Tide. (Which is good because my son has bowel disease.) I bring a fan or noisemaker with me everywhere because it helps me sleep. And I hate anything coarse or scratchy, like percale sheets or designer shirt tags.

My arrival here last night was a bit coarse. When I pulled into the carport the first thing I did was look down and curse the ground. There were no stepping stones to the wooden staircase so I sloshed through the sandy muck in new sandals to reach the stairs. I shouldn’t have carried a suitcase, computer, and groceries all at the same time. When I finally found the correct key to enter the house I could tell immediately that the interior had been freshly painted.  “Oh my God,” I whispered out loud. “Shit!”  I could already feel a headache making its way into my skull. I flew with everything in my arms to the second floor.  It was hot and stubbornly cheery but at least it didn’t smell like Kilz.

Right now I’m writing from a boat-themed guest bedroom.  I can see out into the kitchen, which is conveniently located on this floor. It’s actually cozy and intimate up here despite the bright blues and greens. And I can hear the waves drone near my window.  I’m looking forward to an uneventful, well-rested, productive five days. And I won’t make the same mistake I did last night of turning on the TV before dinner.  It was set on Lifetime.  This didn’t bother me because I’ve never been interested in cheesy lady channels. But I didn’t change the station.

A program had just started about Lizzie Borden starring Christina Ricci. I like her, (Christina, not Lizzie) and I was certainly familiar with the grisly story.  I slowly became affixed to my multi-striped, bamboo chair. It’s odd because I hate blood and gore.  But I love history and good costuming, and Ricci was excellent.  Kind of like Wednesday Adams with an axe. I binged on five shows in a row. Five. I didn’t even get up to go to the bathroom, and I have a notoriously small bladder. I was ashamed of myself because I’d escaped to the beach to recharge and get creative. All I was doing was eating tortilla chips and applauding someone else’s bloody creativity.

When I went to bed last night I didn’t.  Maybe because I wasn’t sinking into a marshmallow hotel mattress with a room service menu on the nightstand. I was trying to sleep in a strange house with fifty bedrooms, after watching fifty episodes of Lizzie Borden. I was so skittish I had to leave the lights on. And when I actually did doze off I kept dreaming the impossible dream. You know, the nightmare kind where you can’t escape.

I was punished for my bad judgment when I woke up this morning to scalding light burning into my eyeballs.  Sunshine had managed to find my eyelids through the cracks of the plastic blinds.  Blind being the operative word. I stumbled into several walls trying to find the kitchen through the slits of my hands.  I finally found my sunglasses on the table. The kitchen was white-washed too.  Will I ever be able to work in this sunny, solar surround sound? You bet.