‘I work in the woods and I don’t socialize,’ says one Alaskan whose grandfather died fishing at sea and whose uncle was mauled by a bear
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Calling all Lewis Carroll fans!
Last spring, the Idaho legislature made the news when several anti-mask lawmakers did away with all mask mandates, got COVID, then decided to recess for three weeks and return to their hometowns, bringing their COVID cooties with them.
I channeled my rage into satire as I always do, and wrote this ridiculous press release as nonsensical as the legislation itself. It was initially rejected by McSweeney’s, but Rejected Writers reached out and asked if they could publish it today. It’s not timely anymore, but still relevant.
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Fear Not the Jabberwocky that Hast Ran Rampant Throughout the Capitol Building and Is Likely Coming to Your Small Town
A COVID-19 outbreak in the Idaho Legislature has sidelined lawmakers for more than two weeks as they try to get infections under control… Top Republicans have repeatedly declined to implement basic public health measures such as a mask mandate or the requirement that members physically distance themselves from others.
–NPR, March 19, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Boise, Idaho —
Callooh! Callay! Rejoice, o’ citizens of Idaho! With vorpal swords in hand, your lawmakers snicker-snacked all mandates requiring face coverings! Free your faces, o’ beamish citizens! Be oppressed no more with mimsy rules that only serve to gyre and gimble in the wabe!
We freed our state’s Capitol from frumious face coverings—and by association, head leashes, burlap bags, and cages—although we may have burbled our best defense against the bastions of wild Jabberwockies now running rampant through our halls. We did not foresee that our eliminating mask mandates would make it difficult to capture and contain the wild beasts.
We’re also not sure how the infestation of Jubjub birds appeared. Or how by flaunting their frumious tail feathers they ended up breeding with the Jabberwocks, creating an even stronger, wilder, and hornier species of Jabberwocky. Fear not! We are sure that this problem we created will solve itself, as free markets solve all problems.
Your lawmakers voted to recess for several weeks, which will allow for them to relocate the Jabberwocks before the creatures’ eyes of flame set the Capitol’s drapes on fire. The beasts with the claws that catch will be immediately transported to smaller towns with less medical infrastructure.
Remember to thank your manxome legislator for eliminating the mask requirement when they come galumphing through your town, Jabberwock in tow. You will recognize these slithy toves by their animals who are setting fire to everything. The horny beasts with the jaws that bite will likely not be wearing a leash, as Jabberwocks are creatures of God, and all beasts born on American soil are, by nature, free, equal, and beamish. Remember, it is this freedom that makes this country so frabjous.
Some mimsy Democratic leaders will say “beware of the Jabberwock”. Rubbish! Outgrabe! So what if it likes to reproduce and multiply quickly? Deaths from Jabberwockies have dropped in the past month, which clearly indicates that it is no longer necessary to keep them on a leash.
A balanced government with brillig boundaries does not force its citizens to cover their faces against their will. It does not stick its uffish necks in places it does not belong, like community safety.
Oh slithy liberals, whiffling like such Borogoves! Do they not tire of their constant gyre and gimble?
Our manxome lawmakers now have several weeks to go home, sit at their favorite Tumtum tree, and think about what to do with these freerange Jabberwocks. In the meantime, of course, they will be paid per diem rates to cover their normal session-related living expenses, and our press secretary will issue public statements as nonsensical as our legislation.
Let us rejoice today! Let us galumph! Callooh! Callay!
Do you have a child going back to in-person school next week? Are they too young to be vaccinated? Is your city, town, or village in the red for COVID cases? Do you feel like The Weeknd from the Superbowl halftime show when he was trapped in the box with blinking lights and a bunch of zombies wearing diamond masks and couldn’t find his way out?
If you answered yes, then rest assured, our school is implementing all sorts of protocols to ensure that your child’s transition to in-person school goes seamlessly.
Prior to sending your child to school, we are asking families to answer the Daily Screening Questions:
· Could you, would you, in a box?*
· Would you, could you, wearing socks?
· Could you, would you, wash your hands?
· Would you, could you, wear some pants?
· Could you, would you, wear a mask?
· Would you, could you, wear a sumo wrestler suit, ten-foot yardstick hat, or a hoop skirt à la Gone with the Wind in order to ensure social distancing protocols?
*box equipped with breathing holes
In order to mitigate transmission of Covid-19, students will be expected to sit passively at their desks and listen to the teacher lecture without moving, talking, singing, laughing, or expelling cooties in any way. Children who need to be constantly reminded to socially distance will be tied to their desks. We all have to do our part to flatten the curve.
School staff will bleach the shit out of everything twenty times a day. As I type, I am spraying Windex into the air right meow!
Regular hand washing and sanitizing will occur before/after eating and will be conducted to “Please Don’t Stand So Close To Me” by the Police.
If your child is feeling a little fever coming on, then we will promptly direct them to the cafeteria to sample some of our unpleasant lunch foods. If they manage to eat their meal without vomiting, then we know they have lost all sense of taste and smell and probably have Covid.
Please leave musical instruments at home as we will not be super-spraying Covid into the stratosphere through a brass tube anymore.
Unfortunately, we cannot let students share art supplies, so we got rid of Art Class. But now we have FART Class! That’s right, farting is an essential part of encouraging mask wearing and social distancing. Flatulence flattens the curve. Windows open, six feet apart! It’s going to be GREAT! No, the bleach has NOT gotten to me.
We simply cannot wait to welcome your child back to school. It’s going to be so fun to have live, three-dimensional humans in our classroom again! So pass those farting animals this way!
We must address your new campaign “No Copulation without Vaccination.” Does it please you to know that you have left the entire population of Athens as hard and thick as the columns of the Parthenon?
You have stated that if your husbands want the missionary, they must first Moderna. No phuck without Pfizer. No johnson without Johnson & Johnson.
We take issue with your “injections or erections” slogan. We still have to passive-aggressively hang our noses out of masks indoors, so what’s the point?
I mean, the odds of our dying from the vaccine are approximately .0008%. If someone gave you a bag of 130,000 condoms and said that one of those condoms was poisonous, would you still wear one? Probably not. And if someone said 129,999 of those condoms would prevent death from coronavirus, would you still wear one? Also, nope!
You cannot force us blue-blooded, blue-balled men to put something in our bodies. Clearly you have NO idea what that feels like! Nothing shall enter into our pure, sovereign bodies other than beer, ketchup, and an occasional Tucker Carlson fantasy.
We refuse to live our lives in fear. Unless it’s fear of Antifa, mistaking a drag queen for a hot chick, or sticking our whangdoodles in a large bottom that could create the illusion of our having a small penis.
Also, we hate shots. Unless it’s the kind that makes us feel brave. And we know you’re thinking it, so we’re just going to come clean on this one — nope, we cannot masturbate. The punishment for masturbation is a swift boat trip down the river Styx in Hades.
So for the love of Zeus, please creak those hinges wide! Let us flood your cisterns so that our aqueducts may run, and the phallus may reign supreme again!
Please, tell me how you are winning at pandemic parenting!
I am so happy you are living your best COVID life! Meanwhile I’m just up here, hanging out in a cold rainforest, trying to flatten the curve! Read NOW on Greener Pastures!
I wrote a funny piece in response to the mask burning rally in Boise, Idaho that occurred over the weekend. I am so grateful to the Belladonnas for once again publishing my piece and letting me kick it with the cool girls!
Thanks for reading!
Yesterday I took a slow, needed walk in the woods. It was slow because my eight-year-old walked behind me drinking his apple cider the whole way. (That was the only way I was able to get him to walk in the woods with me.)
It was much needed, because I have been dealing with all sorts of change/decision/anxiety-related fatigue this last week.
Problems no less weighty than:
How do I form a bubble cohort for my kids during the dark, wet, cold days of fall/winter that stretch on forever in Juneau, Alaska?
How do I keep my kids from experiencing the same kind of isolation trauma that was inflicted on me in elementary school and informed my entire life, that molded me to the adult I am who still deals with such demons?
How do I educate and care for my kids while working? How do I teach Spanish to middle schoolers over a strictly online platform?
How do I find a bubble that is small enough I don’t get sick (I’m high risk) and don’t expose my children to long-term health heart and lung damage?
You know, small, petty stuff.
While John Muir-ing through the stormy, windy trees under the slight pitter-patter of raindrops, I started sensing the bears lurking under the broad fans of devils club leaves. Without a dog, and just me and my eight-year-old (forgot bear spray—bad mom), we wouldn’t stand much chance against a black bear. Due to the wind storm, we were the only souls on this trail. And my poor little son with his stick—not much of weapon. I started oodey-ooping loudly into the forest.
I was also watching the trees closely, swaying strongly in the gale force winds, just in case one decided to come down on us.
In any new world—whether in nature or another culture—the only choice is to adapt. As the tree bends in the wind so it will not break, so must I. So I try to adapt by sensing with all senses— most importantly, my sixth sense, intuition.
With my senses on heightened alert in that forest, the most remarkable thing happened. I started getting tingles up and down my spine. The constant heightened state of awareness felt akin to that feeling of being high on drugs. It felt as if I was using more brain power. My body was washed in a feeling of wisdom and truth that hued green and the red like the inside of spruce trees.
But in the calm of the green woods and exhale of the warm wind, I did not feel fear. Instead, I felt a tingling under the skin that bloomed into my arms and legs and vibrated at the end of my fingertips, fluttering into my heart and lungs, and culminated into my head almost to the point where I could spill tears and cry out Oh my goddess, I feel alive!
How I wish that we as a culture we could vibrate at this level at this energy. To slow down, look, listen, breathe, and feel. To feel time more palpably than ever before. It’s like adding years to your life. But, of course, this totally goes against our goal-, action-oriented culture, geared towards rapidity and efficiency.
The best way to experience the wilderness is to have no clock, except for daylight. No destination, no goal of miles or calories burned. The only goal being to take in the green, wet, wild world around you.
The same could be said for travel. No goal, no check list. Feel the world with all your senses. Slow, stop, look, listen.
Feel the vibrations.
His hair is the same color as the bark of spruce
Art by Sharry Wright, Game of Clue Covid edition 2020
Humans have been naughty to the earth, and earth has sent us to our rooms. If my blog posts could get as many shares as the coronavirus, I’d be stylin’.
The house next to my daughter’s kindergarten teacher has put up signs saying THE END IS NEAR and REPENT OR GO TO HELL. Under those a smaller sign reads Glacier Walk B&B. If I can avoid either of the first two, I’m totally going to stay there one day.
The spiders have come out of hiding, and so have the people. It’s like the Fourth of July around here, except without parades. Even the most reclusive are reemerging, sometimes as The Dude in bathrobe and beards, sometimes as Mad Max in Burning Man goggles and Manic Panic hair.
My apocalyptic look consists of a blazer and penguin jammies—business on top, party on the bottom. Perfect for the endless Zoom meetings. I drape a wildly patterned scarf over my head and across my bespectacled face. Twisting curls of scarf dangle down on both sides like a Hasidic Jew.
The scarf keeps unraveling, but I can’t touch it because my fingers have just touched the handle on the school door. By the time I leave school, my scarf has unraveled so much it has fallen off my head and wrapped itself around my throat, practically cutting off the air. This is the whole reason I am trying to avoid the coronavirus in the first place.
When the mask I ordered from Euphoria Festival Wear came, I figured I could finally nail this quarantine thing. I strap it on, and feeling like a boss dystopian fairy, march my sexy mask to the grocery store.
My breath fogs up my glasses, and soon I can’t see anything. When I take the glasses off to clear them up, my mask starts slipping. I heard you aren’t supposed to touch your mask with germy fingers, so I put the glasses on my head to pull out the hand sanitizer, causing my glasses to fall on the grimy floor.
When I bend over to pick up my glasses, my mask falls off. Here I am, juggling mask, glasses, sanitizer, and groceries like a Rube Goldberg Pandemic machine of what not to do, struggling to remember which hand is the contaminated one, which one is clean, and I still can’t see because I’m blind as a bat with coronavirus.
So much for protocol, and so much for quarantine chic.
. . .
About the artist:
Sharry Wright started making collages two years ago as a poetry exercise. “I was trying to write a group of poems as collages,” she says, “using a collaging method to generate them— and thought I’d try some collages that might work as visual poems. Instead, I ended up with these tiny flash fiction stories about my family, and lately with a pandemic theme.”
You can view more of her work on her Instagram page, link here.
Sandra Cisneros says that “poets are in the professions of transforming grief into light.”
On some level, we all feel grief. In Eastern medicine, they believe that grief settles in the lungs. I have asthma, so I find this particularly interesting. I wonder how grief has affected my lungs, and how poetry could possibly help excavate stuck grief.
Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, so perhaps we need to pay attention to the connection of grief and lungs. I wonder how poetry could help us excavate our own grief. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all clear our lungs and heart from grief, and transform it into something beautiful and tangible?
Poetry– metaphor, truth– help us do that.
Photo by Karim Manjra on Unsplash
The Alaska State Folk Festival was canceled this year, but weird is still alive. Wednesday, April 15, would normally mark the day that Collette Costa and her band the High Costa Livin’ would bring down the house on the Folk Fest main stage with back up dancers, Off the Hook Honeys, throwing down the moves.
Coronavirus tried but could not break our hearts this year, because we still got to do our set (albeit with social distancing restrictions and some sexy masks and gloves).
Here is some of the magic that you missed this year. And I got to mark being a Honey off my bucket list!