Woody Guthrie New Year’s resolutions . Photo from the internet
Day 53. What Would Woody Do?
We’re not going to have to figure out how to resist Trump and his cronies by ourselves. We can always look back at the strategies women and men have used to get through difficult times before. One of my favorites is Woody Gutherie’s “New Years Rulin’s.” Taking number 17 and 33 to heart.
Photo of no beginning, no end by Ed Wolf.
Day 54. Happy You Near!
Photo of intensive care sign from the internet
Day 56. Hope vs Despair
The wheel of the year has turned. November and December felt like a barrier against January and what is coming next. I’m feeling the roller-coaster, the up and down, the easy breath and then the tightening, waiting for what will unfold next, hoping it’s not the worst, despairing that it will be. How do I stay here, now, and not run too far ahead into worrisome expectation which drains and distracts? I remember a patient on the AIDS unit named Kevin, admitted with PCP, the devastating AIDS-related pneumonia that still kills so many. His breathing weakened and he was rushed into Intensive Care and put on a ventilator. Day after day, week after week, he lay there unconscious while the doctors tried Septra and Pentamidine to help him live. Finally, almost 6 weeks later, they moved him back to the AIDS ward. We all hoped for signs that he’d make it. I was putting balm on his cracked lips one morning when he suddenly opened his eyes and looked at me. “Please,” he whispered. I couldn’t believe he was back and leaned over to hear him better. “Please,” he whispered again, “do you have a cigarette?”
Photo of Joan Rivers by Ed Wolf
Day 58. WWJRS
Inauguration Day of His Awfulness approaches. I light a candle in the cold dark night and call out to our Ancestors for guidance, support and wisdom. I wait. It seems that no one is there until, through the ether, from the Other Side, I hear her loud and clear. It’s Joan Rivers and she has something to say.
“My darlings, don’t get too verklempt about Donald. He’s so dumb he couldn’t count to 21 unless he was naked. He gives narcissism a bad name. The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. Once he gets into the White House, there’ll be Hell toupee. Hair Hitler! Oh come on! Donald Trump’s favorite chapter in the Bible is Chapter 11 and he actually is going to make America great again by destroying the Republican Party. If minorities have the race card and women have the gender card, what do the deplorables have? The Trump Card! Oh come on! If you’re not outraged you’re not paying attention! Listen, the Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love Donald Trump; it's just that he’s going to need a lot more supervision. Now get to work!”
Street artist photo by Ed Wolf
Day 60. The Street Artist
A few days after the election an artist set up his easel in a busy intersection near my apartment. The painting has evolved slowly due to the cold and rain. I look over his shoulder when I pass by, not wanting to interrupt him. Yesterday he said hello and I stopped. I tell him I’ve walked through this intersection a thousand times but he’s got me seeing the beauty of it; the contrast of light and shadow in the street, the clouds floating above the barbershop, the green hill in the distance. He says it’s all about what the artist decides to include. I look into the painting again as he points out that there are no signs, no cars, no people. “This is my perspective,” he says. “I decide what’s important in the world I’m creating.”
Photo of a cigarette in the rain by Ed Wolf
Day 62. Self-care
January 9, 2017. Two months have passed since the election. I see and hear the warnings for what is coming, coming soon, a dangerous storm on the horizon, like the one that’s here in Northern California. The rivers and creeks are rising, sandbags are being placed, the supermarket aisles are packed, people storing up, getting ready, the power going out. How high will the river get today? And then the day after? Twenty-nine years ago today, deep into the AIDS epidemic and Ronald Reagan, working on the AIDS unit, life-saving HIV treatment still years away, friends, colleagues, coworkers dying, my partner moving out. January 9, 1988, so dark and cold and rainy; I knew I had to do something big, something that would be just for me to make it through that day. I placed one of my cigarettes in the rain and watched it, as the day progressed, disintegrate and disappear: I never smoked one again. I look around me, in the here and now, and look for something else to put outside.
Obama walking away. Photo from the internet
Day 64. Not because you must
We ask no promise of you,
no oaths bound up in words,
more than the earth, when summer's through,
asks vows of parting birds.
We only trust, as earth must trust,
seeing the birds grow far and black,
that someday, not because you must,
you will come back. - Anonymous