“Alexa, play Elaine Stritch singing ‘I’m Still Here’ from Follies.”
I stand in the bedroom, in a white shirt and my black yoga tights, and belt out the last stanza with Ms. Stritch:
I’ve run the gamut, A to Z
Three cheers and dammit, c’est la vie
I got through all of last year, and I’m here
Lord knows, at least I was there, and I’m here
Look who’s here, I’m still here!
Alexa is the voice-activated, artificially intelligent speaker of the Amazon Echo, a sleek, nine-inch-tall, black silo of information. My high-tech gal pal ordered it on Amazon Prime. If Apple’s Siri had a sassier, smarter, younger sister, it would be Alexa—and Siri would try to fork-stab her in the thigh.
When the audacity of hope turned into the rapacity of hype, the “P for Post” of my Post Trump Stress Disorder became the “P for Permanent” in my PTSD. I had to change my self-care regimen.
Everyone is into self-care these days, which is a good thing because soon there will be no actual health care or Medicare. Instead of asking your doctor—wait, what, you have a doctor?—you’ll ask yourself, “Is my asthma acting up or am I just somatizing my grief?” Again.
My healing progress through the weeks since the rejection election can be verified by my Alexa account. I got the log of my activities with a FOIA request to everybody’s homey, Comey. He feels so bad about what happened. It verified my progress: from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” under the covers the day after the election; to Bonnie Raitt’s “I Will Not Be Broken” at about Day 14 of America Held Hostage; to “I’m Still Here,” mid-December.
In the sleep-deprived, foggy interior what-iffery monologues that looped in my head post-election, I kept hearing my inside voice ask, “Do you renounce Trump? And all his works? And all his empty promises?” It had a familiar cadence. It took me a couple of days to realize that it was a paraphrase of the three questions asked at baptism. “Do you renounce Satan?” I do. “And all his works?” I do. “And all his empty promises?” I do renounce them.
I am a renunciate. I do renounce Hair Trump as the white head on an angry pustule of sexism, racism, militarism, anti-environmentalism, religious fundamentalism, and totalitarian capitalism. He is not a birther. He is a dirther. For him, there is never enough money, fame, or attention. Never enough to distract from his fear of dying. Of course, he wants to build a wall. Next stop: a pyramid. He is a deather.
“Alexa, play Pussy Riot.” Her artificially sweet voice purrs, “ ‘Pussy Riot’ by KMFDM” and this heavy-metal, head-banging, hair-thrashing, throat-searing, furious scream of a song starts. Because I have old ears, I have no idea what they’re saying but I have thrown my neck out playing air-guitar. They inspired me to write my new theme song on GarageBand: “Let’s Get Together and Break Things.”
It’s Pussy Riot time because it’s Penis Riot time. It’s Big Daddy Time worldwide. Russia’s Putin. Syria’s Assad. Turkey’s Erdoğan. The Philippines Duterte. India’s Modi. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. U.S.A.’s Trump. Wait, wait there’s more.
“Alexa, play the last stanza of Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Daddy.’ ”
There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.
“Alexa, is this all a bad dream?” Trick question, but she replies, “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question I heard.” So I asked my dear partner the same question. She said, “It’s not a dream, but great art has always been made during fascist times.”
We will all put our shoulder to the wheel. Educators, lawyers, comics. The paying attention is miserable. He is a dead serious, impractical joke. But I am focused, determined, and calm. The names have changed but this is just more of the same old, same old patriarchy, the Zombie Apocalypse Edition. I’m still here.
Kate “Not Fake Comedy” Clinton is a humorist.