McCarthy Conservation County Park. Photo by Madelon Wise.

I had just come home from a hike with my dog on January 7.

I hopped on Twitter to say Hi and a friend sent me a DM saying, “Get a live stream going and watch them certify the votes now.”

So I turned on ABC News (The news source that my streaming apps allows me to see live.). And I saw trashy white people in camouflage, military-grade weapons strapped to their bodies, breaking windows and storming our Capitol building. I sat here all afternoon, riveted to the television and wanting to crawl out of my skin in terror. I flash back to those images constantly — particularly in the wake of the insane denial and lack of accountability from the people that we know were culpable in this atrocity.

Five months have passed and it is still not clear to me what justice, if any, we will seeing emerging from this nightmare. To my knowledge, not one person has been charged with insurrection. Please correct me if I have this wrong.

In the meantime, I, like most of us, am trying my best to negotiate this new reality. Yes, I am very grateful that Biden is President. I certainly don’t think he will deliver all that I want, but my God, people, we almost lost our democracy. And it is only hanging by a thread.

Yes, I am fully vaccinated and I am profoundly grateful to Biden for that. But how to negotiate this? What does this really mean when such a significant portion of our population continues to deny Covid and suddenly it is not just a small fringe of ignorant, selfish idiots who are anti-vax. What does it mean when my grandchildren are not protected and one of them is immunocompromised? I can hang out with my old women friends and we can cackle, but none of this is normal.

And under all of this insanity, the country lurches forward with making voting impossible and treating women as nothing more than vessels for breeding. Palestinians are murdered while they worship, and all that is as usual.

So yeah, I take it personally when people are rude, aggressive, dismissive, and lacking in accountability. Cruelty is endemic. I agree with Umair Hague when he says that our society is sociopathic. I have long thought that about the city where I live, but I think the vampire may be right about the whole country.

Last week, I finally cried in response to all the cruelty. I have learned to keep my emotions tamped down to such an extent that crying has been impossible. I fear my grief because I feel that if I open to it, I will fall into a deep pit of such deep-seated despair, I may never emerge again.

But last week I cried. I cried so hard, I made myself sick. How frightening to feel that out of control — to feel even a bit of the lingering trauma from 4 years of being ruled by a fascist. What if I remain this sobbing pile of hurt?

I have great respect for grief. And I am not sure how acknowledge a grief so profound.

I try to take comfort in the words of the late Stephen Levine meditation teacher, poet, and psychopomp to the dying:

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Gardening grandma riddled with radical biophilia in the nice Midwest. Animism. Permaculture. Social Justice. Beauty. Dogs. Photography.