The boat launch went fine, thanks for asking. It was freezing — mid-40s — but ah well. The marina is under new ownership, and have deprived the main guy who handles this, Pete, of his assistant, so I had to be there. But no major mishaps.
While Pete and I were pulling the mast this way and that so Alan could attach the shrouds, we talked a little bit about this phase of life. (We’re all the same age, give or take.) He said he and his wife had unloaded a big house on a very nice street, and were now living aboard their boat at the same marina, and liking it more than they ever thought they would.
A big part of it, he emphasized, was “getting rid of all our shit.”
I thought of this while some of you were talking in comments about your own shit, or your parental shit, or all the other shit that gets dumped on you as you age. Pete said nothing felt as good as personal shit-liquidation, selling all the furniture and gewgaws and collectibles and other stuff that once seemed so important. Watching it go out of the house during the estate sale, he said, was liberating. “You don’t know how tied down you are until you get rid of it,” he said.
Caitlin Flanagan, a writer I often find myself at odds with, watched “Nomadland” recently and came up with this observation:
The make-or-break moment for the viewer is right at the top; if you’re the kind of brute who doesn’t enjoy watching a woman in late middle age poke around her storage unit, you should take your leave. Personally, I could have watched an entire movie on that subject alone. You spend your whole life accumulating things, and then they end up in a storage unit, slowly losing their charge of sentiment and memory and transforming into a bunch of junk. Fern is there to pick out what she will bring with her on the journey. In the end, she chooses the least practical thing of all: a box of china, white with a pattern of red leaves on the rim. That’s not the last of that china I’ll be seeing, I thought to myself, and I was spot-on.
Since Alan stopped working, I’ve been on my own smaller-scale shit-liquidation purge, and I’m making progress. Last week I dragged pretty much all my Fort Wayne ephemera to the curb, including all my newspaper clips and, comically, my journalism awards. I saved some photographs, but will probably go through those and pitch a lot of them, too.
But some things cry not yet. The doll bed I played with as a child and Kate, not so much — I can’t get rid of it yet. Some of her crib bedding, ditto. A couple of her favorite stuffed animals.
And god, so many books. Books are one of those things you’re supposed to be happy to purge, but after I cleaned up the basement enough to make it my pandemic gym, I shelved and dusted all the books down there and thought: Can’t get rid of these. I love many of them too much. But on the same shelf are many 78 RPM records from Alan’s dad’s collection, and god knows why we still have those.
For the next move, I guess we’ll grapple with all of this. For now, I’ll settle for slimming down.
Speaking of female writers I often find myself at odds with, do you know how much it pains me to say, “Mona Charen is right?” A lot. And yet:
Today, we stand on the precipice of the House Republican conference ratifying this attempt to subvert American democracy. They are poised to punish Liz Cheney for saying this simple truth: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” In her place, they will elevate Iago in heels, Elise Stefanik, whose claim to leadership consists entirely of her operatic Trump followership.
Let’s be clear: The substitution of Stefanik for Cheney is a tocsin, signaling that the Republican party will no longer be bound by law or custom. In 2020, many Republican office holders, including the otherwise invertebrate Pence, held the line. They did not submit false slates of electors. They did not decertify votes. They did not “find” phantom fraud. But the party has been schooled since then. It has learned that the base—which is deluded by the likes of Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin—believes the lies and demands that Republicans fight. As my colleague Amanda Carpenter put it, the 2024 mantra is going to be “Steal It Back.”
If Cheney must be axed because she will not lie, then what will happen if Republicans take control of Congress in 2022 and are called upon to certify the Electoral College in 2024? How many Raffenspergers will there be? How many will insist, as Pence did, that they must do what the Constitution demands? How many will preserve any semblance of the rule of law and the primacy of truth?
Well, if we have to flee, I hope Canada will take us. If not, Mexico is warmer and has livelier food. And there’s always Europe, although I don’t think they can accommodate that many refugees. Maybe we’ll stay here and be the resistance. Works for me.
Happy Wednesday. A pic in parting, as another boating season begins: