Garden Gnomes

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Spooky blurry pic of my guard toads. 

No, this isn’t about my delusions about my garden statuary. Just a cutesy title. Click-bait-ish, even.

That’s what counts these days, clicks. Right? Not content or accuracy or sense or anything remotely with any merit. Quantity of clicks! A bit cynical? No!

The bugs slowly eat my poor pumpkin alive. They’ve killed one plant, are working on the other one which persists in sending out a long arm with blossoms on it. No round small greenish balls forming…not one. Just leaves, blossoms and bugs.

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Poor punkins! But still trying. 

Is there anything better than watching a pumpkin grow, mature, turn orange? No! There isn’t. My pumpkins rather mirror my life at present. All efforts consumed slowly by bugs that don’t seem to notice whatever is thrown at them. Or even care when you flick them off or smush them. There’s more bugs alive than bugs smushed. I can do some sort of math. Is it entirely sad I am comparing my life to how my pumpkins are doing? Probably.

But, bright spot. The herbs thrive. Sage, thyme, dill, lemon balm, oregano. Rosemary! I mean doing well and having a ball. A bumblebee even visited my lemon balm. I remember my mother petting one, how she told me you can pet them, they get so mad! But they don’t turn and sting you. You just stroke their furry, fuzzy backs, they grumble and lumber to the next bloom. There used to be more of them. And not one hummingbird. They used to show up, even though I don’t have that feeder out so many have out to tempt the teensy birds. It seems the winged wonders had become legends and myths in my yard.

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Go, zukes, go!

Another bright spot. A dear friend of mine from way back when has a wedding to attend in Beaverton. Ah, she can spare an hour or two for lunch as she buzzes through. She’s got kids, a tiny dog, a husband with her and it’s good. It’s so good to see her again. We talk as if we lived next door to each other, not several states apart. The wedding is for her son, a son I used to babysit when he was very very small. Yeah. I’m an elderly dog lady, it’s official. Maybe an elderly garden lady? An elderly pumpkin sadsack?

I have books for sale. Go buy them. I wrote them. House on Clark Boulevard and Oregon Gothic. When other books will arrive, I just don’t know.

I also combined my watching of Bohemian Rhapsody and not even getting an interview for an on-call job. Freddy Mercury’s Sister. It blurted out of me, I tidied it up and have sent it off to…well, see what happens.

Because gardening and writing are pretty much the same thing.

Stop, wait.

It’s a lot of waiting and bugs eating your work. Sometimes there’s a grand harvest of two zukes! Sometimes the stuff you ignored and didn’t think was that good just thrives away among the weeds and rocks. [I’m looking at you directly, thyme patch.]

Sometimes the yard bunnies munch your veggies to nubs–That’s when submissions get lost or you didn’t read the rules which stated, in six point font, that your story has to be 800 words on dino-human love triangles and you sent them a four thousand word opus on rodeos in space.

I tried to keep to one subject or at least link a bunch of ramblings to a single image/thing. Plus plug my writing.

I plan to spend September plugging my writing. As considering the garbage-y cowering state of my country right now fills me with actual road rage. If that makes sense.

That surge of DIE MOTHERFUCKER DIE to the granny who wobbles into the road ahead of you, then drives twenty miles below the speed limit. As you test to see if your brakes actually work or not. Good thing you weren’t bopping away to throbbing bubble gum music or distracted because you just spilled your pumpkin spice latte all over your dog. Yeah, that kinda WTF R U STOOOPID insta-rage.

Oh don’t worry. Political rants will explode here like the whitebro outrage over some MeToo thread. Don’t even worry about that, dearies. 

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My single dill plant, what a champion. 
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Extreme closeup of rocks! 
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Some Pose and Some Thoughts

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Indya Moore as Angel. 

“Houses are homes to all the little boys and girls who never had one, and they keep coming every day just as sure as the sun rises.” – Pray Tell, 1987

 

Pose covers an area I didn’t know existed. Where transgender people oversee a house full of their ‘children’. They live together, support each other and ready themselves for balls. Where competitions are held, prizes given, for various categories. Costumes, wigs, poses, dances…with an announcer giving running commentary and judges judging by holding up cards with numbers. It’s set in the late eighties, early nineties at the height of the AIDS crisis, exacerbated by Reagan and by general ignorance and fear of this disease. This is before Rent came out. This is during Madonna’s Vogue period…and I get to learn where she got the inspiration for that song. It’s from the people who run the balls and compete in them. The vogue-ing, so to speak, became a craze that showcased this private world and seemed to promise acceptance and even love for the people others found frightening or laughable.

So, if you have no idea this show is even on, go watch it. It’s entertaining, heart-breaking and a look into the actual history of America during Reagan and Bush. A reminder that we have arrived far from that time and yet need to ensure our progress forward with the LGTBQ community [sorry if I am behind on recent labels being used here] continues. I am not gay, but I can sympathize and want the best for others not like me. My empathy exists yet. It’s rather how I ache for what’s going on at the border with those seeking an end to what’s going on in their own countries. The horrors that made them become refugees. Because I can and do understand why they’d leave.

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From left to right. Hailie Sahar, Indya Moore, Dominque Jackson, Angelica Ross and Mj Rodriguez. 

As I did work in Honduras for a bit. I saw firsthand what it was like there. I watched soldiers with guns bigger than they were guarding the banks. Military presence. Scary ass military presence. I saw how women and children were treated. Badly. Women had no recourse if abused or under threat or raped. None. No shelters, the police would laugh in their faces or deliver them back home to the very men who were beating the shit out of them. Their families, staunch Christians all, would look down on a woman wishing to leave such a situation. Abortion? Yeah, no. Birth control? Eh. I told a father in a teacher meeting that his daughter could be doing a bit better. I said this cavalierly. I expected such a common thing to say would have the consequence of dad going home and making sure his daughter did her homework…and instead, he went home, took off his belt and beat the shit out of this fourth grader. I mean left bruises, welts and cuts kind of beating. Because of some careless words I said.

So yes, I get why people are fleeing Honduras and Guatemala and other places in Central America. San Pedro Sula is the murder capital of the world. Go look that up. I never felt unsafe in China. I traveled around there by myself and felt fine. I never feared I’d get hurt or killed. Honduras scared me. I admit it. Not just the giant bugs, but how flimsy my doors were. If anything happened, I was on my own.

A man known to us teachers followed me home one night, drunk and raving. And I got myself into my house, without being raped. I was shaken. I told what happened to my fellow teachers, and that’s where it ended. He was told to leave me alone, by two of the other teachers, and…no local cops. I’d have been laughed at or worse, told I should have enjoyed the attention.

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Billy Porter as Pray Tell.

Pose. Before I jump into my brief time failing utterly in Honduras.

What this show does so well is reveal the humanity of people we’ve been taught to think of as subhuman or demons or laughable clowns. The drag queens. The transgenders. The queers. The gays. The…all the other names here. Yes, the campiness is there, the over the top performances, the volatile personalities rubbing against each other, sometimes literally. But we get to see the vulnerability, the heartache, the losses. We get to see young kids kicked out of their homes and taken in by these mothers who run the various houses. We get to see the every day struggle of being who you are when the world tells you you should be dead or hidden away. The sheer courage it takes to step out of your door each day.

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Janet Mock. From zimbio.

It’s written by people like Janet Mock. It’s written from some other perspective than straight people imagining what this world is like and getting most of it wrong. Women have had to endure centuries of men writing about them as if they were fragile idiots or gold-seeking harpies. Or even that women don’t matter at all in the scheme of things or across the webs of history itself. Women writers were few and far between. And to get published, they also had to follow the formulas. Or write anonymously or under a male non de plume. This is a whole post by itself, of course.

Pose, before I get distracted!

I happened to catch the very first episode of season one last year. It was fantastic. The acting hit it out of the ball park. The storytelling. The shadow over these people called AIDS. The excessive consumerism era that was the late eighties. The community presented who seemed every nationality out there, not just 99% glow in the dark white, 1% ‘other than white’. Representation does matter. It matters and oh boy, does Pose go for it here. They also use transgender actors.

I also enjoy how the second season focuses more on the houses, the mothers and the people in their care, their friendships, fights, relationships in general. 

If you’ve not seen this show, go watch it. If you don’t know why the AIDS epidemic was made worse by Reagan, go watch this. Or go look it up. Others have showcased this one, such as the Normal Heart and Angels in America. Pose takes us on the every day, tiny journeys of regular folk who just happen to be gay or ‘other’. Who struggled with how to pay for the expensive drugs. How the doctors and people of this small community would gather the bottles of meds to give out to those who needed them and couldn’t get them…from the bedsides of the dead. The looking out for one another.

On losing your friends to this disease and on watching society around you shrug at these deaths as if ‘those people’ deserved to be forgotten as quickly as possible. It’s such an ugly ugly aspect of America. And gives us a basis for the hatred and fear going on now about, well, those who are different or not straight white Christian males.

Pose is also funny. It’s uplifting, you cheer at the victories of these various characters. You watch actual journeys taking place as people learn from their mistakes and make new mistakes instead of the old mistakes over and over. You watch families form and stay strong together or break apart, but come back together. And you see love in all ways, from romantic to friend to family. The love that doesn’t judge or ask that you be anything but who you actually are. Pose says we all matter. Even those on the outskirts. Those in the shadows. Those wandering about homeless, selling their bodies because their families kicked them out of the house for being different or not what that family could accept or endure under their roof. Those of one gender dressing as another gender. Those who…yeah. All the people who had to and still have to pretend they’re ‘normal’ so they don’t get hurt or murdered for who they are. Or lose a job. Or be denied rights. Or be denied medical care. Or be denied that last visit from someone they love as they lay dying in a hospital.

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Display about Hart Island, showing the unmarked graves. Notice the date. 

One of the most gut-wrenching moments of this stellar show was the visit out to Hart Island, to the unmarked graves of those who had succumbed to the infections or maladies let in by HIV. The unclaimed corpses shipped to basically a leper graveyard as society proclaimed such deaths meant nothing at all and were probably deserved. A reminder that if the government had allowed the CDC to look into all this, a lot of people would have been helped and remedies against this discovered that much quicker. They don’t care about us—it’s what you hear a lot on this show.

Another soul-shattering episode showcased the murder and funeral of a main character, who had gone to make money by prostituting herself at a run down motel famous for seedy hook ups. Her battered, dead body is discovered. We get reminded that transgender people are often at risk of being killed. Even here in America. And we also got to see Candy, the one murdered, say her goodbyes to the people she loved and fought with. We got some closure and damn, something so hokey should not have worked as well as it did. Damn. 

But Pose showcases why you should care. Why it’s important to care about those in the margins and that, hey, those in the margins are not clowns or there for our amusement or scorn…they are, yeah…people. Pose gets it right so often. Those we’ve been taught are the ‘other’ or too strange to attempt to understand are people. Who love and work and hunger and cry and laugh and do everything people do. And oh my god, do we need to be reminded of that in this goddamn present time.

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From Pose. Mj Rodriguez as Blanca. 

From Pose, Season One, Episode Four– Fever. Janet Mock, writer

Blanca: You should have heard them talking, like not knowing is an okay thing.

Pray Tell: They’re young.

Blanca: That’s my point. They don’t know shit about shit. It’s my job to teach them. What’s the point in being their mother if I can’t teach them to do to protect them from the one thing we all know is comin’.

Pray: Then tell them to be careful.

Blanca: They’re kids! Most of the grown men we know aren’t careful. They gotta get checked and not just for their sake. They need to know so they don’t hurt nobody else.

Pray: I stopped getting tested.

Blanca: What?

Pray: After Custus got sick and I saw how the AZT made him sicker. He’s not the first. I know about five people where the drugs killed them before the virus did.

Blanca: You don’t know that.

Pray: I know that Ronald Reagan will not say the word AIDS. Health insurance will not cover any treatment. The world wants us dead. They don’t think this is a plague. They think it’s some sort of divine justice or Darwin’s answer for sodomy.

Trophy

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Vale, Oregon.

Hello again. 

I spent the entire day yesterday making sure I WOULD NOT FORGET THE LYRICS. 

Night of the local talent show. I have that notion I should not go. Just not show. Hello, chronic depression. Don’t be around all those people, stay home, stay home. 

Instead, I chose some somewhat dressy clothes. My shiny mauve tank top paired with a slinky purple jacket. over black pants. Hot and uncomfortable clothing is a must when performing. But the weather decided to scratch up a sort of rainy-ish day. It rained three whole drops. That’s so good for Eastern Oregon, you have no idea. 

I slapped some ancient makeup on my face and even today, my ears remain swollen and leaking pus from the earrings I had in for about five minutes. I’m allergic, have not been wearing earrings lately and my ears let me know it! But the point is– I got ready. I got gussied up. 

Off to the event. I ran over my song– Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen song. I decided to do it a capella, didn’t try to find a track or someone to plunk it out on an instrument for me. As I mentioned in Talent Show, the post before this one, I ran across a blurb about this event quite late. And hey, what a challenge to sing that song a capella. Right? Right! Except people are not impressed with a capella, no matter what might be propagandized and featured. Unless it’s a group of people making mouth noises that sound like instruments while someone sings out front. [Pentatonix, for example] 

Now, in my group, was a comedian, a piano player who did America the Beautiful and a woman who wrote her own song and played it while strumming a guitar. I. Didn’t. Stand. A. Chance. Of getting the big prize or even a little one. That was my hot take. A local fave funny lady, a local fave guitar plucker and a local fave piano pounder. And some gal who sings or something.

No, she just sings. Doesn’t strum a guitar or wait for a track to play. Nope. Just sings, ya say? She stayed on key the whole time. But no guitar or piano. Doesn’t she have friends? Is she one of us? Who is that? I don’t know that last name…She was on key, at least. 

The kids got through their routines and numbers. Not all of them were cute. I applauded. Speechifying about the foundation hosting the event, which is fine. It’s positive and uplifting and seems to paint Vale as some sort of arts progressive…I can’t even finish that sentence. Anyway!

WE’RE THE REDDEST CORNER OF OREGON, FOR THE LOVE OF FLAGS, JESUS AND GUNZ!

Back to the talent show!

The teens get through their sets. I really liked the boy who did La Vie En Rose, while backing himself on guitar. He liked my singing, so I’ll give him a shout out. He had this high sweet clear tenor. Just gorgeous for the most part. I’ve been watching Glee, again. Shhh. Stop giggling in my general direction. That high schooler reminded me of Kurt Hummel’s falsetto a bit. Kris Colfer is that actor? Okay!

On to my group. 

We all four manage to do our selections. Nobody really flubs up the entire evening, by the way. I was really proud of everyone. [I’m patting myself on the back here most of all.]

So I get up there. I let down my hair from the scrunchie I keep it in, as it’s long, hot and hot. Did I mention how hot my hair is if I leave it down? I TAKE THE STAGE. The hot lights. The nerves making me feel I can’t get a full breath. Then just performing. Letting that song flow out as it wishes. Hearing my voice hit every corner and cranny of that old theatre.

Don’t oversing it! Don’t show off! Control, baby! Control that big belty beast! Almost done! Don’t turn into Janis Joplin, do not do that!! This song needs that quiet brokenness to it…be a quiet broken singer or something! Control it, baby! That’s it. Almost done. There ya go. Take that bow. Is that a kid singing the chorus? I done okay! I didn’t suck! I. Didn’t. Suck!

Remembering the last movie I saw there was the Color Purple, with, oddly, my grandmother. Or was it? Cause memory is a tricksy bitch. 

So glad when it was done, and I didn’t have to worry anymore about REMEMBERING THE WORDS and NOT FUCKING UP. Hallelujah, indeedy. 

On to the prize portion of the show. 

Each person who participated got a sack full of stuff. Goodies donated from local merchants. And there were trophies. Nine of them for the three age groups. 

So the adults get called up, after the other groups get awarded their places and such. A hundred bucks for first place, by the way. 

I am awarded third place. The lady who did the quick story bit doesn’t place. I feel so odd. You really didn’t think you’d beat a song about a dead mother and a patriotic song, did you, says the woman running this. A version of that, but much nicer. For a second, yeah, I did think that…and then it went away because I know my town. She also, this woman running all this, said I sure had a set of pipes on me. Ah! I do. I can sing. Probably a lot better than I have ever written. Which is just me being a bitter hag and not having any belief in my writing abilities right now…yep.

After all, to take entire blame for something that doesn’t need an apology tour– I did just throw a song together and sang it a capella. I didn’t bother to try and find a track or someone to back me up.

I actually know a piano player who might have tinkled out the song for me as I warbled and burbled out front a bit. I’m sure we could have hammered out a three minute version easy-peasy. But. That’s really complicated that way. And…hey, resolving any of that would be so, like, adult or something. Eh!

I won’t go into small town politics or how they play a role in who gets what in a small town. 

To sum up, I wore an outfit that was too hot for this time of year and makeup that made my eyes itch. I also got through my song without falling off the tiny stage or forgetting the words. I got third place. I got a gift card to two local coffee places and a sack of stuff. I participated in a local event. I did something artsy! 

I GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE. 

Thank you all for reading about my brief foray into the world of local talent shows. I never ever do community events. As I am horrifically shy, cash poor at present and pathologically allergic to others. Can’t stand crowds. But performing in front of one, that’s nothin’. Mingling afterward…HELP HELP HELP. 

 

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Talent Show

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Present day Rex Theatre, Vale, Oregon. From Flickr

The local paper had a blurb about, yes, a talent show. Hey, I have some of that. 

It’s to be held at the Rex Theatre, the 105 year old building that used to show actual movies back in my childhood. I saw my very first flick there, with my grandmother. Charlotte’s Web, the cartoon with Debbie Reynolds voicing Charlotte. Now. I was about five or so. My grandmother bought me some candy, which was in a paper sack. Loud was not even the word for how I rattled that thing taking out this treat or that one. And I amused the entire audience who were now watching me instead of the movie at that point by asking–“What’s on the other channel, grandma?”

I’ve been a virtual hermit lately. Years now. Have not been going out or being around people. 

The blurb said you could show up, register. Do a dress rehearsal, then perform for cash and prizes the next night. Four age brackets. So you don’t have to go up against five year olds in tutus. Cause. You’re gonna lose. Let’s be honest. 

I found this out a day before. The oddest HEY GO DO THAT YOU CAN SING notion wiggled in my guts, wormed up to my brain, grew worm babies that slithered outward into that HEY PICK A SONG YOU CAN DO A CAPELLA.

Pick a song. Hey, you! Pick a song!

How am I to resist worm babies adorably chanting PICK A SONG? Yeah, no, you can’t. 

At first, I went with May I Suggest, by way of Red Molly. As it’s sung a capella. Or without accompanying music, for those who might not know that term. When it’s just the voice. The lyrics, however, refused to stick in my noggin. If I had a few more days instead of, hey, need to perform this tonight and then really perform the crap out of it the next day…I’d have stuck with it. I was ‘getting there’ but it was shaky, shaky, oh so shaky. 

I finally settled on an old chestnut– Hallelujah. I went and watched/listened to the  k. d. lang version, which she KILLS. In a good way. Oh such a good way. There are eight million and sixteen verses to that song, by the way. I picked three verses and the famous chorus. I actually managed to get the lyrics down. 

So I thought. Damn it. 

I had one flub in my rehearsal. But other than that, it went okay. I was pleased. I didn’t embarrass the ever-living crap out of myself in my own hometown. 

Tiny town, stuff like that sticks around longer than forever. 

I forgot a single line, but I won’t tonight. I have all day to cement the words into my misty water-colored memory. Ha ha ha. 

I won’t go into fellow performers. They all got up on that teeny stage and got through their selections. And it is fun, it’s supposed to be fun. 

I have not performed in front of others for a long, long time. Let alone sang in public. My voice, rusty as all get out, didn’t croak out in the middle or let me down. I had been singing all day so I was warmed up, there’s that to consider before I put down Voice Did Not Betray Me in the list of positives. I also didn’t eat or drink anything but water. Yes, I have actual protocols and such when I perform. 

So, we’ll see how this goes tonight. I will learn that last set of lyrics if it kills me. And I also have to remember to just sing it…don’t show off, don’t do anything but just sing it. Let it flow forth, be gorgeous, be subdued, be honest and raw…just let it flow forth. Don’t add to what I already did. Except remembering all the words. 

I got out of the house. I did something positive, for me. It’s artsy and fun and scary. Getting up in front of a big audience [and this event usually does draw a standing room only crowd] is always a crapshoot. Live theatre! You never know. Be prepared. 

Anyway! Back to reality now. Hot weather, bad hair and just what is that stuck to the floor. Dang dogs. 

Obscene

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After spending nearly four years drumming up every racist dogwhistle known and then some, Trumpie is being touted as the healer who will bring this nation together over the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton and I’ll include it, Californa’s Garlic Festival.

It’s obscene.

He’s campaigned, is campaigning now, on the fear of the other. That ‘illegals’ are here to burn American to the ground. To bring in rampant gangs who will rape and murder and hand out drugs like free samples at Costco.

MS-13 started here in Los Angeles, by the way.

Build the Wall is one of the campaign rallying cries at the more and more scary rallies being held full of red-hatted dewy-eyed sycophants and often, paid seat-fillers.

Send Her Back was chanted about a recent dust up with a Muslim woman who represents a district in Minnesota.

There are actual concentration camps on the southern border, full of brown people, some of whom are dying or already dead. And that’s only the ones we hear about. As those places are kept under strict control. And those people kept in those places kept from communicating with anyone, even lawyers who should even now be processing their paperwork, getting them their due process.

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Obscene. As is Trumpie being offered as some sort of comforting presence.

It’s rather like Hitler offering comfort and prayers to the Jews he’s just ordered gassed. It’s that level of jaw-dropping what the actual fuckery.

It’s a scene from some obscure absurdist play where the one who just had you murdered gives the eulogy while smirking and jerking off. Obscene doesn’t seem a strong enough word or concept for this attempt at turning Trump into some sort of sympathy-giver.

You can’t praise the very one who ramped up the hate. Praise them as some sort of newly reformed do-gooder when the same ole shit leaks out. When actions never ever match words. That’s even in the Bible. Known by your fruits. It’s famous. What fruits are Trumpie harvesting, y’all?

He’s not THE SINGLE cause feeding all this hate, paranoia, violence and mass death-dealing, sure. But he is a symptom and an inciting agent in the racism run amuck right now. He didn’t single-handedly blah blah blah. You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it.

However, he is getting normalized. This is all starting to be made to feel ‘normal’. The bar has been set so low there might as well not be a bar at all measuring the lowest level of decency or competence to even cause a blip on a screen somewhere.

Been said before, a lot. Still true. Horrifically true. Obscenely true.

I keep waiting for the ‘news’ to denounce all of this soundly. The Trump Train going off the rails like that great scene in the Fugitive. The one where Harrison Ford galumps ahead of a train plowing through the earth like a grounded dragon.

I keep waiting for major news networks to call shenanigans in no uncertain terms. I mean really put a foot down, use plain words.

Unfit to be president.

Garbage Human Being that needs to be a foot note in history.

Fuck this nonsense, and fuck you, you fucking fuck—I’d love to see that splashed across the NY Times or the Los Angeles Time or the Seattle Times. Love it!

Obscene Man Shits Himself As Country Prepares To Send His Ass To Outer Space—The Salt Lake Tribune.

 

Followed by—

Cloroxing of the White House might takes years, says Elizabeth Warren and many others in between loud bursts of cheering and heartfelt sobbing—The Chicago Tribune.

THOSE ARE FAKE HEADLINES, BADLY WRITTEN FAKE HEADLINES. M’kay? 

I find I am losing whatever elegance and grace I once had in dealing with anything. I feel always in crisis. I know others are going through this, shouting into the vacuum. Singing to the choir. Time for whatever is next. No matter how hard or awful. This cannot continue, this state of affairs.

Because it’s obscene.

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