I listened to Gov. Inslee’s latest presser yesterday – briefly, anyway. Things are easing up ever-so-slowly, and ever-so-oddly:
Good, ok, outdoor recreation is getting the go-ahead, albeit rather cautiously. They are still prohibiting overnight stays anywhere, but at least it’s ok to – wait, what does that say? Golf? I actually heard that part of the presser, and have been waiting for the confused outrage. Hunting and fishing are controversial in the best of times, but they’re utilitarian and meaningful activities that people – even those who wouldn’t do them – are generally able to stomach and understand. Golf is purely fun (for those who like to do it), and frankly little more than an excuse for 5 hours of day drinking. It isn’t even exercise, so it is difficult to imagine the justification for green-lighting it in a time when sitting on a park bench was briefly verboten, and is still strongly discouraged. I can only assume there was some kind of irresistible political pressure that came from The Golf Alliance of Washington, who Inslee credited in his presentation. The slime trails glisten in the sun.
I read a comment that lamented the rather male-centered nature of the allowable activities, as if sexism is playing a part in the return to normal. Having graduated from college just last year, I know how common it is to hear, concerning equality and civil rights, the flat stupid claim that “we’re no better off today than we were 100 years ago.” Some people will even bleat that we’re worse off, and that we’ve gone backwards; these are either 19 year-old girls with really big glasses and even bigger girlfriends, or 6-figure tenured female professors with a “partner” at home whom you can be sure doesn’t hunt, fish, or golf. Anyway, I know we won’t be back to normal without irrational complaints of injustice, so I read this as a good sign.
The wind must have been pushing out to sea last night, because I could barely hear the ferry’s engine as it idled. So I went inside, and listening to nothing but tinnitus and the ticking clock, I finished with The Whale. It was 10:57. I think I felt compelled to note the time so precisely because Ishmael wouldn’t have had it any other way. That last 100 pages or so were harsh and tense and frantic. With 60 left it was nigh my usual (loosely held) bed time, but there was no way that I was going to put off the finishing until the next day. I note one of the novel’s lessons being the power and contagiousness of obsession, wherein a dubious crew and openly rebellious Starbuck can’t help but pursue the whale beyond all reason, even amidst thoughts of mutiny, though the purpose was never their own. I wonder if that’s applicable somehow, today, in these trying times.
I know that a college class would quickly turn the brown and black characters in the book into some crime committed by Melville, but it’s clear he meant their mysticism, religiosity, and faith to be read as compliments, as indispensable qualities for a man to carry into combat, as an example for the less constant white members of the Pequod’s crew to follow. The soothsaying Fedallah especially; Ahab’s soul ultimately lashed to his own prophecies, as we are all tied fast to the body of our own surging, foaming, gliding, raging destiny, when our doubts are not there to hinder (or protect) us.
Of course, in college, using faith as a compliment is a crime all by itself, so Melville is fairly dragged to the depths before he even pushes off.
News has arrived that my favorite writing spot will be re-opening soon, though only for takeout. It looks like some new pick-up windows have been installed. I love their donuts and other pastries, but I love the people who work there, too. The Original Bakery (I call it the OGB) has been around since 1936 and Bernie, the short man who owns the place, is in there baking away in his white, V-neck t-shirt and an apron at obscene hours. They’re a low-key, somewhat dilapidated little oasis a half-mile or so from my house. I need it to come all the way back so that I can sit there and write while snacking on butterhorns and sugared rings, and on Thursdays the glorious glazed buttermilk knots. For now it is enough to know that they are not going under – they’ve been completely silent since the beginning of the restrictions, and I worried that because of their size and age they’d decide that this was time to close the doors forever. I rejoice.
— Don’t use the ladies’ tees, Comrade Citizen! —