The first full week under President Biden and life undergoes an immediate improvement: save for a few articles about the drop in membership at Mar-a-Lago, there are hardly any pictures of himself on the covers. The daily rush of anger is gone, leaving in its place a feeling of hangover, bitter and flat, and a feeling of not knowing quite what to do.
The answer, at home, is to find other things to be angry about. I’m not talking about the cowardly failure of Republicans to endorse impeachment or, from afar, the spectacle of Boris Johnson trying to sound contrite. As always, frustration and uncertainty make their way through indirect means, and on Monday morning, like every Monday morning, it all comes down to my turbulent relationship with my printer.
For years, these spirals of rage occurred roughly once every few years on the unfortunate occasion of having to print a manuscript. Then came the pandemic and with it the demands of remote learning. Now, at least once a week, I keep cursing the machine while I compose, in my head, a small volume on anger management called What I Talk About When I Talk About Printers.
Briefly: I dispensed with the color cartridges, got the tiny black and white laser jet that everyone said would change my life and still haunts me, this week, sucking on printed pages back to the mechanism and printing new pages on top of them.
“Jesus Christ, the true Christ,” I shout, with five minutes on the clock and half the day’s worksheets unprinted.
“$ 20!” call a child from the next room. Why can’t Elon Musk, instead of lounging around unnecessary space travel, go where he’s needed and do something with printers?
“Oh my God, have you seen Fauci?” Everyone says so. The face of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Infectious Diseases in the United States and a man whose expressions, for the past 12 months, have shown a daily mirror of the torture of the Trump presidency, is suddenly everywhere , smiling. It’s like he’s doing a victory tour, speaking science, enjoying the light of an administration that isn’t run by an idiot.
For a moment, I allow myself the fantasy that Fauci and Biden can save us, before I go online to chat live with my insurers and remember where I am. The new president may defeat Covid, but it seems unlikely that he will solve the problem of American healthcare, something I think about as I am told that I am responsible for most of a $ 1,600 bill related to a short trip to the hospital. last summer. There is, he says, a $ 100 limit on outpatient visits; had I been admitted and incurred more charges, my insurers would have met them. As things are, I am alone. “Also,” the agent writes, “the hospital you visited was off-network, so we don’t cover 20%.”
This is the typical emergency medicine experience in the US: An ambulance trip to an ER, before which you are supposed to somehow find out if the ER is in-network and, if not, call 911 and ask for a different provider.
“Oh I see hahahahaha,” I write, the hysteria rising and he needs a human-to-human moment. “I have very sad thoughts about how health care works in this country, but of course it is not his fault.”
With democracy restored, it’s time to read something lighter on my nightstand. I’m reading Avid Reader, Robert Gottlieb’s publishing memoirs in his heyday in New York and it’s divine; full of bitch and luvvie-ish anecdotes about the good and good of Gottlieb’s list in Knopf. Here’s good old Lauren Bacall, who couldn’t manage to write her memoirs at home, so Gottlieb lent her an office, which she dutifully went to every day to file like a pro. Here’s the vileness of Roald Dahl, who, according to Gottlieb’s account, was so disgusting to Knopf’s junior staff that, after a particularly monstrous letter from Dahl detailing all sorts of unreasonable demands, Gottlieb tricked him into inviting him to walk (did); the same goes for Salman Rushdie, whom Gottlieb accuses of behaving “atrociously”, especially during the fatwa. Among the stars are unreliable agents, lifelong best friends and many summers with people who have homes in Italy.
There’s only one thing I’m sorry for; It’s one thing to confirm my suspicions about Dahl or Rushdie, quite another to try to ruin Katharine Hepburn. The two got together to work on a book about the making of The African Queen, during which Hepburn, Gottlieb writes, was thoroughly professional. However, observing her socially, he concludes that she was vain, irritable, flashy and prone to tantrums. One day, a mutual friend informs Gottlieb that Hepburn invited her to dinner with Michael Jackson, which they both see as “yet another symptom of Kate’s vulgar and pathetic desperation to keep up and in the spotlight.” . Imperious – OK; vain, it goes with the territory. But vulgar? Never! I wont allow it.
I’m trying to organize an opinion on GameStop, but like I do every few years when a great investment story comes up, I just get depressed because I didn’t buy any stocks. In this particular tale, it is difficult to know who to support, or rather, who to boo; the evil hedge funds, who were left with multi-million dollar exposures after brave traders raised the stock price and thwarted their short operations. Or, wait, should we hate day traders for dragging the market into a state of volatility, which will end up hitting us all at 401K?
I have no idea. There is an interesting aspect to this story, which is the hatred of finance people in general and hedge funders in particular, it seems to have reached such a popular peak that it may finally start to affect hiring. For decades, legions of savvy graduates have been drawn into finance, giving up more traditionally high-status and socially useful careers. This year is different; With the pandemic on the rise, Fauci a national savior, and doctors on the front lines rightly applauded as heroes, applications in the US for medical school, that previously desirable profession that ambitious 22-year-olds perceive recently as scruffy and underpaid, they are increasing.
It is the second and last in-person day of the week for children at school, where, while art and music are suspended, physical education continues. It won’t take them to medical school, but persistent sports chauvinism makes me insist that they enjoy physical education, or at least don’t abjectly hate it.
“Hooray! It’s physical education!” Says one of my 6-year-olds, conscientiously following the script.
“Hurrah!” I say.
“I love physical education!”
She looks at me mischievously. “Physical Education is my favorite subject”.
“Okay, let’s not lose our minds.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism