Am I sounding like an alarmist? Maybe. But as I said many times before, if you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch. Here in New Jersey voting is already underway, and I dropped by ballot in the voting box supplied by my county, at the county library, last Sunday. All voting in NJ is by mail, though you can still vote in person if you want at the polls. Since all registered voters got ballots in the mail, voting in person is provisional, as it’ll be check against the paper ballots. Am I worried? No. This is not new technology. Voting by mail has been done for absentee voting and by people in the military for decades. See, it’s not voter fraud that bother me. It’s what can happen if people don’t vote at all. Don’t say you’re not part of the system. If you’re living in the U.S., if you’re paying taxes, your are. Make your voice heard. VOTE!
I love it when the back-to-school planning committees are held on Zoom. If it’s so safe, then why not meet in the usual meeting rooms with ass-to-ass seating, bad ventilation, and everybody spitting out their usual contention? Yes, children have a lower frequency of falling ill from the virus, but as usual, the some people seem to think that schools (and Higher Ed), run on autopilot. Education is not only about learning–it’s about teaching too. And believe it or not, teachers are real people who can catch viruses. And file lawsuits, too. I’m happy I work for an institution that believes in science, has pushed the Fall semester to remote, and values the health of all its employees and students. That’s pure Jersey.
As I look at the state of the world, as we huddle in our houses and take to the streets, you wonder whether all this upheaval will just make the world give up and explode. How much stress can it take? How much turmoil can it endure? Apparently a lot, because amid all this trouble and strife, a good part of the Earth is thriving. Pollution levels in the air have dropped, and the sky has never been bluer as flights have dropped. Animals are coming out of the woods and into formally populated areas, as people stay inside and stay out of their way. Water is running clear, such as in Venice, Italy where they now can see fish in their canals. For the present, our quarantine has made it a bit easier for nature. For humans–not so much.
Animals kill for food. People kill out of rage or hate or jealousy or indifference. Our capacity for cruelty seems to know no limits. But people can and will only take so much. There are some who seem to forget this country was seeded by revolution. Change is in our DNA. We are a country of the people, by the people, for the people, and these people want change, and are willing to wade into a pandemic to achieve it, to march toward a more perfect Union.
Change is one scary motherfucker. But it is inevitable.
Here in the Northeast and little over an hour away from New York City, it’s a bright clear, late-summer day, much like the kind of day it was eighteen years ago. The memorials came and went this morning, and increasingly, as I meet with my students, there are less who actually remember, even more who not more than infants, if they were even born yet. But I remember. I remember the sign flashed on Route One and the Turnpike that said All roads to New York City are closed. I remember frantically trying to get in touch with my sister who lived there in those pre-cell phone days, the message on my landline …all circuits to New York City are busy. Try again later. I remember the jets flying overhead from the Air Force base three miles from my home, their deafening sound filling the air for hours. I remember seeing the buildings fall. I remember the shock and then the silence. And then just numb.
But I also remember the resilience. The camaraderie. The sense of pride. The flags everywhere because there was no Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives. There was just Americans. And from all that wreckage, we as one people, were never prouder to be one. It didn’t last, of course. The finger-pointing and the ugly reactions to anyone who looked too different came all to quickly. But for a while there, a terrible tragedy brought us all together. Then, as now, I sincerely hope we wouldn’t need another to accomplish the same thing.
It’s now 6:47 PM and it’s black as midnight outside and the sun isn’t supposed to set for over an hour and a half. We just went through a tornado warning, and they’ve now issued a tornado watch, until 8:00 PM. Outside it’s all lightning and thunder and pouring cats and dogs, the rain coming down in sheets. There’s flash-flood warnings (my garage is probably already flooded) and if a tornado doesn’t strike, we’re to watch out for straight line winds. The photo you see just above was taken yesterday of a waterspout off the coast of New Jersey, and after an 80 degree day, tonight it’s going down to fifty-nine. WTF is going on with the weather in New Jersey?
Jeez, if I wanted weather like this I would’ve moved to Iowa.
I believe this is the third State of Emergency that my state of New Jersey has had this winter. Why? It’s snowing. In inches. Not feet. As I look outside my window at a little past 1:00 PM, there’s barely an inch on the ground, and the snowmageddon was called before eleven. Seriously, why not wait until there’s at least a foot on the ground, but then that’s not even going to happen. We’re supposed to get between two-and-four inches, and then it’s going to turn to rain. Tomorrow the high’s supposed to be fifty-six. Sheesh. What’s happening to my state. Talk about a bunch of snowflakes.