This is a time of vacillation, of wondering if there is still hope, of a loss in self-confidence: you begin to doubt yourself as never before.
Everywhere you look, a vicious, take-no-prisoners minority rules.
Norms are discarded, the lies are many, and the future looks bleak.
Should you resist, even if your chances of making a comeback are unpromising?
Already, you find yourself making excuses.
You learn to accept what you think of as temporary setbacks — so many of them unforced errors — that morph into permanent, irrevocable defeat.
You cannot believe that people like [insert name of favorite bogeyman or woman here] is winning the game, while people like [insert name of favorite guru or feel-good leader here] seem hopelessly out of date, their words, ideas, and plans for a better world inadequate to stem the time of misery.
You briefly turn to [insert name of preferred religion or prophet here] but the answers seem cloudy.
You read [insert name of serious philosopher or impartial cultural observer here] and the answers get even cloudier.
You go to places where the Enlightened Ones [insert the names of your favorite eremites here] once reflected, but the stones they sat on remain silent.
You look around you, and the faces of other people make you sick.
You look in the mirror, and you consider — but only for a moment — doing the [insert last name of favorite suicidal here].
You turn to [insert name of favorite mind-altering substance here], but it’s no use. That doesn’t last; the pain not worth the gain.
You look at who has advanced into the Round of 16 in the 2018 World Cup, and you weep.
With each misdirection, with each feint, with each turning of the screw of their meticulously planned long game, you wince.
There is no justice in this world, you conclude.
How could you have been so blind?
But wait… did you step up and insist on wearing the captain’s arm band?
Losses are inevitable, that is true.
But did it have to be so complete? And did it have to be to them?
To such inferiors?
All is hopeless, and whatever is good in life only transient — you conclude, gloomily.
You console yourself with empty phrase making.
Many centuries ago, you read somewhere, the Pharaohs thought they could build invulnerable fortresses to protect their eternal souls.
They were wrong; the thieves got in while the smell of funerary incense was still in the air of just-sealed royal tombs.
You consider the overall situation, seeking a rationalization, some way to live with it.
It’s not that you are a coward.
It’s just that now is not the time, especially with everything lined up against you.
You can deal with all this later, when the odds are more in your favor.
After all, it’s no so bad.
There will be other days.
Plus, you have other fish to fry, and much to lose.
After all, in the end, everyone is a loser, one way or another.
Kennedy was a frenemy. His was the deciding conservative voice on a slew of unjust 5-4 decisions which have largely gutted the Liberal cause in the United States, to the lasting joy of Senator Turtle Neck.
Kennedy the Vacillator shall not be missed, even though he’s likely to be replaced by a sinister die-hard right wing creep who will cement the slide into illegitimacy of the nation’s highest courts, particularly if the 85-year-old Ginsberg suddenly keels over while reading a brief, and is replaced by another Tea Party dork.
I’ll spare you the speechifying.
Suffice it to say, if you are a Liberal living in America, you are either (a) planning on actively “joining the resistance” and voting the Dem ticket on Nov 6th, or (b) keeping your head down, because you’re in no position to make waves, or (c) seriously thinking of getting the hell out while you are still young enough to do so.
If you fall into the last category, and are not a young tech whiz who can get a high paying job in Paris, London, or Amsterdam faster than you can say collusion, then you are probably asking yourself the following questions:
I don’t have enough money off Social Security and my pension and savings to live comfortably on the Riviera, so what are my options?
Where is English widely spoken, but Trumpsters few and far between?
Where is it that I can kick back and enjoy the good life in a safe, warm (but not too warm!) place, in a country that offers the advantages of proximity?
Where is it that I can sit on a pleasant beach and not constantly be hassled by pimps and touts?
Where is it that I can walk securely at night, possibly alone, without having to always be “situationally aware,” as the travel industry euphemism goes?
Where is it that I can watch TV but not have to endure endless reruns of Viva Zapata dubbed in Spanish?
Now anyone who follows this blog knows that I just spent 7 months on the Red Sea in Gouna, Egypt.
Gouna is wonderful, but I am not sure it is ideal as a winter haven, particularly for Americans; yet from a (would be) writer’s viewpoint, it supplies endless material to inspire one to write a novel along the lines of Joseph O’Neill’s The Dog, which is about desert golf veterans (actually it’s not, but I like the bad pun anyway) flailing away in a wickedly amusing version of Dubai.
So where to go? What to do?
How to deal with this latest assault on all that is decent?
My wife just told me that one of her customers is considering Belize.
Isn’t it dangerous there? I mean aren’t all these problems at the US southern border due largely to the lack of safety in Latin America?
Aren’t places like CIA-sundered Guatemala, which shares a border with tiny Belize, and Belize City itself very dangerous places?
Hurricanes aside (which I am used to, living in FLA), is an apparent YouTube paradise, such as Ambergris Caye, affordable to a writerly (would be, I must emphasize, again, would be) Liberal of modest means?
So I looked into it and found this, and this. And this too. Dang! And what about the prevalence of the Sargasso situation? Are the beaches and waterways clogged?
Has anyone even thought of writing a book about it? Anyone at all?
(With my apologies to Jean Rhys on that one.)
They say the tragedy of being late to your own funeral is almost too much to bear. Actually, I’ve never heard anyone say that, but it sounds profound.
Ever the modest one, I used to think I only had to worry about Naipul. This was many years ago. Too many to count, really. Then along came books like Netherland and writers like Teju Cole and I became infinitely more depressed.
I once visited Anguilla with my wife, well before the casinos and money launderers showed up. We stayed at friend of a friend’s place called the Seahorse Inn. It was owned and run by a young Canadian woman who liked to bathe topless in her private spot along Rendezvous bay.
But Ronny was tired of island life.
Her boyfriend had recently been arrested for drug smuggling, and was languishing in the slammer at St Kitt’s. There were rumors that the Seahorse had been purchased with square grouper profits, and there was an aura throughout the small island of the rum soaked life of infidelity and shady strangers. I loved it. But Ronnie wanted 400K for the place.
I was 45, and had a good job in Manhattan. So did my wife. Should we chuck it all, and move there?
Would we, too, eventually contract island fever? The boredom of endless sunsets and becoming an innkeeper to a stream of witless tourists. I thought about it, while smoking a Cuban cigar one evening, because that is what Che did. I considered all the possibilities. I could write, here, on Ronnie’s beautiful wooden verandah overlooking the sea, with the island of Saba in the distance rising.
At last, I would pen a fine novel, my first, at last, the meaning and purpose of my loathsome life finally discovered. Perhaps it would turn out to be a scintillating comic masterpiece based on the English Invasion of Anguilla in ’69.
It would be satirically droll, yet ever so deep, an indelible cross between Amis the Elder and Naipul himself, with a wee dram of Lowryesque Captain Morgan episodes thrown in for good measure — to show that this was a literary work of substance, and not a mere comedy of errors lifted from old newspaper clippings.
I would become famous, and one day return as a conqueror to my native Stafford and give amusingly erudite talks throughout England about amoral British expats living aimlessly under the Caribbean sun. This just before I was eligible to win, and in point of fact did scoop up both the Man Book and the NBA in the same calendar year — the only writer to ever accomplish this, years before the Booker succumbed to the capitalist literary hegemony of those bloody Yanks.
None of this happened.
Instead, a dentist from Vermont bought the place, and we returned to our house in Connecticut. The following year, a massive hurricane descended upon Anguilla, and destroyed much of the Seahorse. After that, the Anguilla we knew was no more.
Now where were we…?
Oh yes: Justice Kennedy.
All I can say is that you can’t hitch through life, without being expected to pay some kind of price along the way.
Every since I returned to the US, following a 7-month stay in beautiful Gouna, Egypt, it’s been one thing after another.
The list is endless, and it’s only been 2 months. And now this.
I truly feel bad for Liberal America today.
We once freely enjoyed what so many around the world would give almost anything to have — freedom from tyranny — and then somehow we relinquished it, partly because enough of us thought voting for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or Bernie was a good idea, and partly because enough stayed home, because we thought there was no difference between The Donald and Hillary.
[The ban is] “harrowing” and “motivated by hostility and animus toward the Muslim faith.” ~ from Justice Sotomayor’s blistering dissent
And now, as the country lurches forward on the path to becoming a full-fledged, white racist theocracy, with pronounced Fascist tonalities- — a government of unjust laws and unfairly conducted elections and stacked courts that tilt the pinball machine — we suddenly realize the consequences of what we’ve allowed to happen: America has become nearly everything it once said it stood against. and abandoned almost everything that set it apart from the rest of the world.
It looks pretty hopeless right now.
For your sakes, I really hope you remember to do the right thing on Nov 6.
As for me (and my better half), well, looks like it’s time to hang out with Sandy… again. Impending exit visas will soon be on the way.
They say living well is the best revenge.
They ain’t lying.
As they say in Gouna, who needs this a’raf?
PS: to faithful readers of LeavingAmerika.com, I’m working onsomething at the moment, which I have to finish by the end of July. So there will not be much by way of posts in the month ahead, as I really do have to focus on watching the World Cup, sorry, completing this exciting project.