Dog Days

My daughter has been asking me if we can get a dog since she was a toddler. I took her trick or treating when she was four—she was dressed as Tinkerbell—and she realized that even better than houses with candy, are houses with dogs, or houses that at least have a cat. We have candy at home, but what we don’t have at our boring-ass place is any pets whatsoever. After the third house, she stopped saying “trick or treat” and started asking, “Do you have any pets?”

At one house, an older woman came to the door and acted as if she has been waiting her whole life for someone to ask this question. She let my daughter come inside to find her cat, Catfish. I stood by the curb under the yellow light of the street lamp and waited, wondering, what is the correct amount of time to let your tiny daughter go into a stranger’s house at night to find a cat? Eventually, I went inside and found Tinkerbell under the kitchen table with Catfish. The next house, my daughter saw a dog toy barely appearing above the blades of grass—in the dark—and she started running to the door, “Can I pet your dog?”

Since I have understood her love of animals from this early age, when she would ask me if we can get a dog, I would tell her that she can get a dog when she moves out of my house. It was not that I did not want to fulfill her dreams, but I would look at our lives and note that neither one of my kids could even remember to flush the toilet. It did not seem like we were ready for a pet.

Then we found ourselves in the black hole of a pandemic. We went from school drop offs, appointments, meetings, lessons, and events to this odd little group of shut-ins, some of us adjusting better than others. For my daughter, we transitioned from “Let’s look at art schools!” to “Maybe if you could just walk to the mailbox and back today?”

She is in middle school, and she went from being an elementary school girl to a young woman, while trapped at home with just me and her brother. We started going to therapy and after a few meetings the therapist asked to speak to me privately. She very carefully told me that my daughter is lonely.

No shit.

She suggested that I try to do things with her. I told her that after this session, we were going to the grocery store together and that yesterday we went to get coffee. In my head, I was thinking that these choices were better than some of my childhood outings, like to pick up women at the dive bar with my dad or to sit on a curb for four to six hours braiding Bahia grass while my mother and stepfather worked on an old boat—that we never actually sailed. The therapist smiled and looked down at her hands folded simply in her lap, then back at me, “What about things she likes to do?”

It was not long after this session that I decided we should consider getting a dog. Within about a month—after corresponding with some area shelters—we met a yellow lab mix named Bella. She dashed to greet each of the kids and then me, the room overflowing with awes and squeals of laughter, and then she promptly crawled up on the bench between my two kids and turned around as if to say, look at your three beautiful children. We took her home that same day.

Within the first few hours, Bella did a quick scan of our household members and realized that I am the only one who knows how to drive a car and to flush the toilets. She was attached to me right away, even though I am not the kindest or the most playful option, and even though I am not the one who leaves my dishes on the coffee table or drops ice cubes from the freezer and just walks away.

My daughter started taking her on walks, even out past the mailbox, and my son formed a connection with her that is endearing. He has never asked me for a dog, maybe because he was born with wisdom beyond his years and must have known that it would take an apocalypse for me to agree to this.  Bella is one thing that brings us all together. We all love her and take care of her, and after being asked multiple times, the kids pitch in to do their share, just as long as after I go in and have a talk with them I shut their door, and “Can you get Bella out of here?”

Bella sleeps in the bed with me, with her head on the other pillow. I hope that when I find my next boyfriend he likes to sleep curled up at the foot of the bed. Bella also goes with me to the bathroom and stares at me the entire time, which seemed odd until I realized I do the same to her. She must have learned this by watching me. She also watches me exercise, occasionally trotting over to stick her nose in my face, are you dying? We go for long walks on the beach and enjoy fine dining.

Bella thinks I am smart, capable, and has the mistaken impression that I am in charge, something my kids have never been naïve enough to believe.

Yoga buddy.

Trump Mania

The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump commences today in the Senate. Make America Impeach Again!

CNN released a report that some of the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th did not even vote in the 2020 election, unlike me who voted as many times as possible, mostly in Georgia. The men and women who chanted “Stop the Steal” as they broke down the door to the symbol of American democracy—a democracy that gives them the freedom to dress like militant toddlers—were fighting for an election result they helped cause. This ironic addition is more than just a footnote.  These men and women are fangirls of Donald Trump, not political activists who went to extreme measures to incite change. Their hero said, “Go to the Capitol!” And they went. They believed that former reality television star, Donald Trump was going to save them from an America that has become increasingly equal and open-minded.

Extremist experts quoted by CNN note that this is not surprising behavior because it corresponds with a distrust in government and the election process. However, this could give these radicals too much credit, mistaking ignorance for extremism and cult-like devotion for political passion. The insurrectionists are super fans of a megalomaniac who started chirping about the fraudulence of the election process before the early voting process even began. Looking back at this election, celebrities played an important part, using social media to spread messages about the importance of voting and having a voting plan, and having celebrities like Oprah personally call citizens to tell them to vote, which is probably the most disappointing message one could receive after answering the phone and realizing Oprah is on the other end.

Using a different strategy, Donald Trump told his fans that elections are stupid anyway. Trump was lamenting against the inherent fraud in our voting process even before the 2016 election, preparing for a loss. His strategy was to preemptively whine, “It’s not fair!”, which is ironic because the stronghold of his platform is that the American systems are completely fair, and we should stop catering to the needs of lazy people and instead should punish and prosecute them for crimes like standing in a parking lot or being born. Fair means working hard, inheriting money, or finding a rich sugar daddy with a short life expectancy. Families who are unable to feed their kids or pay for their chemo are getting what they deserve, and it is only fair to reward the people who work hard or were born white. However, what is not fair is the voting system in America, especially if we allow everyone to do it.

Trump continually argued that the election was going to be unfair, and his supporters listened. In early 2020 as the pandemic spread its dark shadow across the country, states began to look for ways to make voting safer, including voting by mail. Trump immediately tweeted that mail-in voting (the method he uses to vote) was rampant with fraud.

Trump supporter reads tweet and immediately gets tattooed on hand: Don’t vote by mail either #MAGA.

As states continued to count legitimate votes from mail-in and absentee ballots, they were overwhelmingly for Biden. Trump’s claims of a corrupt system, likely not meant to keep his supporters from voting, was an attempt to poke holes in the system so when he lost he had already set up that the game is rigged. His supporters took it literally. They are bad improv partners, like when my dad used to yell for my mom to get the oregano off the counter, and she would say we don’t have any oregano, just all that weed you left next to the toaster.   

People with a high number of social media followers are called influencers for a reason—because they have the power to get their fans to buy products, support causes, buy tickets to outrageous imaginary concerts in the Caribbean, or to pillage the United States Capitol. Trump’s supporters arrived in DC in early January like fans packing a stadium parking lot at a Kenny Chesney concert—just with more guns and more flamboyant outfits. It seems offensive to extremists from other parts of the world. We have been living in a bunker for six years isolated from our families and these people just left their modest duplexes, grabbed their most racist hoodie, flew to DC, and checked into the Holiday Inn. Free breakfast! They didn’t have to spend years training in harsh conditions, like South Florida.

At this time, there are more than 200 people in custody for the siege on the Capitol. People who want to portray themselves as revolutionaries and patriots, even though some did not even vote. Also, if this was about politics and ideologies and making America great again, again, they might remember that more than anything, America was founded as a rejection of the monarchy. Looking back, we should have been concerned by citizens erecting Trump signs that can be seen from space or chants about the Trump family serving in succession. Maybe we should have listened to Trump when he bragged that he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and not lose supporters. He could also probably convince his supporters to move to a compound in Waco, Texas or to wear matching Nikes.

The fandom of Donald Trump is not about politics or making America great, but about blind devotion to a man who seems to get everything he wants—and everything they want—with little effort or skill. He rules by exclamation point, and his fans go wild! 

The siege on the Capitol on January 6th was a social media event planned by then president Donald Trump. The marketing was years in the making and culminated with a live event near the White House. Fans picked out their favorite costumes and Trump merch, packed up their arsenal of weapons, loaded up their pick-up trucks, and went to the show.

OH MAGA that is really him. I am going to faint.

When Trump told them to go to the Capitol, some fans may have thought he was going with them, like when Jon Bon Jovi used to run the audience. I touched him! Later, maybe there would be a backstage meet and greet where everyone can drink Diet Cokes, eat Big Macs, and use the “N” word openly. Again!

The people who sieged the Capitol committed violent crimes and should be properly prosecuted.  They followed the orders of a man they idolize. They would do anything for him, and they believe that Trump was there to make this country a better place for them, just like it was for their white grandparents. Trump’s statement about shooting someone on 5th Avenue is evidence that he knew the power he had over his supporters. He knew that they are impressionable and that many lack the ability to determine fact from fiction, and then he enforced that concept through glaslighting about fake news. Trump groomed these men and women over time, playing to their specific fears.

Are you a disenfranchised white guy or are you married to one? Are you afraid that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to harvest all your organs and give them to illegal immigrants from Puerto Rico? Do all your nightmares end with meeting your new foreman, Dontavious? If yes, then Donald Trump is for you! You don’t even have to vote! Just tweet angry messages, preferably while driving. With Trump as your co-pilot, you will eventually be lead to the marble steps of our Capitol. Take a selfie! Terrorize elderly statesmen! And accomplish nothing. When you get to your jail cell, you can put up a poster of your hero swinging a golf club. And maybe, if we are all lucky, he will be coming to a jail cell near you!