nonplussed means something else

1/22/08

We’re sitting atop a mountain here at Mammoth, waiting out a pretty good snowstorm for a day of skiing tomorrow, as we take a very rare two days away from Lucy. I know many parents feel the inexorable need to get away from the baby/toddler vibe every few months, and I totally get it, but Tessa and I have never had that jones. It’s an interesting thing when we actually do it – we slip comfortably back into our 2-person fightin’ unit almost immediately upon leaving, but there is also the concomitant longing for the sweet li’l Punkinpants.

Normally, I don’t write anything when we take these trips (or get my family members to do it, as Michelle did wonderfully yesterday) but the news is so bad in almost every corner of this country, that I wanted to make a little sounding board to see if any of you were feeling despondent, you know, in the general sense.

If the stock market loses 500 points in a day, it’s a crash – but if it loses 1,580 points in three weeks, what do you call it? The housing market is a disaster for anyone not living in LA, NYC or the moon. Iraq is still a bloodbath – nothing can possibly improve while that cruel monkey is in the White House, and the two hopes for the future – Obama and Clinton – won’t stop arguing about irrelevant horseshit.

I understand the irony of saying these things, all the poetry and hypocrisy, while on top of a resort mountain. And I confess I used to have a schadenfreude about bad news in America, as it made me feel better having been right about George M.F. Bush. As each successive horror of his Presidency was unleashed on those who voted for him, I would say, like Lady Montague, “give them the gout! give them the stone!” Those days have long passed. It is all too close to the jugular now, and besides, we want to raise kids in whatever resurrection we can muster.

I remember the summer of 1986, the bright beaches, crazy colors and exceptional pop music. I recall the fall of 1992, when it looked like Bill Clinton would be elected, and how those of us in college felt so hopeful. I sure as hell remember the spring of 1996 and the summer of 1999, and how the internet was going to change everything, how technology would surely save us, and how the tide of money lapped into the living rooms of even our least-organized compatriots.

Now we live in darker days, cocooning, anaerobic, unconnected. Sure, on a day-to-day basis, there is always room for joy and occasional ecstasy, but I think we all know how this era will be remembered. The mathematicians say that tomorrow, January 24 is always the most depressing day of the year. Dare I ask if the country gets better starting Friday?