Moods come and go, and are often subject to actual events in your life. It is good to keep this transience in mind when a painful mood is oppressing you, when it feels like a particularly hard emotion will keep you in its grip forever. Moods feel irrefutable, but the ones produced by raging stress often start succumbing to reason after a good night’s sleep. It’s hard to keep this in mind while the emotion is strong, when it’s hard to even get to sleep, but I think practice may help.
Sekhnet and I recently saved the lives of five tiny feral kittens. They’d been dropped in Sekhnet’s garden by a shrewd mother cat, a cat we didn’t know, who abandoned them to the care of the provider of the neighborhood’s best cat buffet. Once Sekhnet inadvertently allowed one of them to eat. The good looking little cat caught her eye before he left.
The next day the tiny alpha kitten was back, demanding food on behalf of himself and his four larger siblings. He simply would not take no for an answer.
After Alpha made his successful appeal, the others followed. Sekhnet got a good shot of three of his four bothers and sisters, coming out of their hiding place and marching toward the feeding area.
That day they all began eating two hearty meals a day in the garden, exploring and hanging out all over the place, much to the disgust of the five adult feral cats who already lived on, and had fought for control of, that turf. Here they are, led by tiny, indomitable Alpha Mouse, in the male pear tree. Naturally he was the first one up the tree. He’s looking down on them in this shot.
The disorienting pandemic lockdown was on and we took on the saving of these five tiny lives as a kind of mission. Over the years we’d watched dozens of feral cats and kittens we got to know live short, often brutal lives, many of our favorites living only a couple of months. We decided we’d try our best to save these five.
Sekhnet fed and played with them a bit in the garden every day. She took many great photos of the little beauties. I would go out and sit with them late at night, little Alpha didn’t mind being picked up, would sit calmly on my lap from the beginning. They all learned to chase the little cat cookies I’d toss them and eventually to eat them out of our hands. Once the first couple were fairly tame (Alpha’s brother Beta followed in the little leader’s footsteps) Sekhnet designed an ingenious trap, scooped them all up at once and brought them inside where they lived in a large comfortable cage she’d found online. We then set about getting the others used to being picked up and petted. They all took to it quickly.
They were surprisingly happy with the cage, which had several levels and a little workout area where they could take turns pounding a couple of light speed bags. We took them out and handled them one at a time, petted them, won them over, made them all pets. In the end we brought them to a great adoption center we finally found and every one of them was soon adopted as a pet. Naturally Alpha was the first to be adopted, after a very short stay at the shelter, his first day out of quarantine, I think. The rest were all quickly adopted in the days that followed.
We’d done a good deed, we knew we couldn’t keep them around, our plan from the start was to get them adopted to have good lives but we were emotionally devastated that first night, after our friend rented a van and helped us transport them to the shelter in Freeport. They had all come to trust us, and were affectionate and playful, and incredibly cute. We’d grown very attached to having them around. Then they were gone. The house seemed so empty. We cried looking at their many portraits and film clips that first night.
But here is the point I want to make. The pain, though intense, did not last long. By the next day it was much easier, within two days easier still. The good deed we’d done lingered, the painful goodbye to them didn’t. It is something worth remembering when you feel heartbroken sometimes. Painful feelings truly do pass, sometimes surprisingly quickly.
I think of our horror (mine and Sekhnet’s, millions of others were delighted) on election night, at how close the vote was, at the real chance that America’s long experiment in democracy was finally and definitively at an end. At least five million MORE of our countrymen had come out to vote a second time for the most deliberately divisive, untruthful, vindictive, angry, litigious president this nation has ever had. Women, it emerged, had voted for Trump in larger numbers in 2020 than 2016! Women! Hispanic (desculpe me, Latinx) votes seem to have put him over the top in Texas and Florida. The real possibility that this raging winner could win the election and triumphantly rule as lawlessly as he sees fit set Sekhnet to sobbing into her ginger beer. I felt sick too, could not get to sleep.
In the days before the election, as the pandemic continued to rage out of control in most of the country, and new records for infections and deaths were broken day after day, the president confidently (and lyingly) declared victory over the disease that was killing record numbers in the states he won. Mission Accomplished! His maskless crowds roared their approval. On election night the agitated depression we felt was impossible to refute. It was based on the unwanted truth that we are living in a nightmare where the stubbornly reinforced, aggressive stupidity of millions of our fellow citizens, proud “values voters,” impervious to evidence even if it comes up and chokes their family members to death, is unfathomable.
The day after Election Day, as the incoming vote totals were being disputed by a president who had already strongly suggested he was declaring victory, even as he announced his intention to dispute his loss in the 6-3 Supreme Court he’d created, the media (the lying media, die Lügenpresse) was quietly publishing items like these. No longer really headlines, as much as wistful reminders:
I think bitterly that if Trump’s pandemic plan had really worked, letting the pandemic kill millions of “Democrat” voters of color in “Democrat” cities, cutting off needed financial aid to the increasingly large numbers of poor to create mass desperation and massive crime sprees, riots, looting and the need for Bill Barr’s Bureau of Prisons and ICE forces to violently clamp down on “Democrat” cities, (perhaps deploying even the military itself under the Insurrection Act,) he could have proved his wildest “law and order” theory about antifa and anarchy and black rights groups, killed and locked up enough of his enemies to actually win the Electoral College, even if he again lost the “popular vote” by millions. His open conspiracy with political supporter and mega-donor Louis DeJoy, who openly sabotaged the delivery of predominantly Democratic votes, alone, could have won him the election. It could still, unlikely as it now appears.
As the vote counting continues, Trump insisting that counting in areas he leads but is in danger of losing must be halted immediately while demanding recounts in states he has already lost (fair is fair), it looks less and less likely that the president has a path to 270. As my cousin wrote me from the great state of Georgia today:
It’s too close, but I think the only way Trump gets to 270 is if he loses 50 lbs.
My point in all this — as Biden gets closer and closer to the 270 needed to win, as horrific as it is that almost 70,000,000 Americans seem to have voted for Donald Trump — and a majority of white women! (maybe the misogynists have a point…) as Trump’s path to the 6-3 Supreme Court seems more and more far-fetched — today feels much different than Tuesday evening.
Biden is far from my idea of an inspirational president, the Democratic party is not anyone’s idea of a meaningful political opposition party. One side radically employs any means necessary to maintain power and force its minority views on the majority of country — and that side is not the corporate Democrats. The Democratic party, as a party, is about as committed to the economic status quo as the Republican party always was. Still, Joe Biden is not Donald Trump — the main reason maybe 75,000,000 of us will have ended up voting for him.
Once he is sworn in, hopefully with a 50-50 Senate where Kamala Harris will be the tie-breaker (though even that modest goal of flipping four Senate seats likely won’t be achieved) we will have to set up committees of correspondence, organize, mobilize, stay in the streets, be smart in messaging, push, push, push. We will still be pushing a reluctant centrist against the dogged resistance of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham — and every single elected and appointed member of their unified, radical party– as sickening as that thought is.
We need to stay positive and proactive, of course. If we push hard enough, you never know. The midterm primaries in 2022 may even feature meaningful Democratic party debates about how to avoid rapidly approaching fatal Climate Catastrophe. The escalating danger of global warming is even further down the page today than the new record COVID numbers, though the threats are equally dangerous. We don’t have much time to fix any of this, and four years have just been worse than just wasted — we need to ride President Biden like the affable, probably well-intentioned donkey he is.
My point though: it feels better today to be an American (for a bare majority of us), and much more hopeful, than it did two days ago.