…Also known as trying not to be crippled by the futility of simply not knowing what’s coming next.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

This morning my little boy inched to the edge of the three-meter diving board and stared down at his swim teacher treading water below. He looked at me, then glanced back down at the water. He paused, backed up six inches to signal a no-go. Then he adjusted his goggles, inhaled a pair of deep breaths, took two giant steps forward and leapt off the board. There he was, suspended in midair for what seemed like ever, then splashed down in the water, right into his instructor’s waiting arms. They swam together to the side of the pool and he popped out with the biggest smile I’d ever seen. He was trembling with excitement.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said pointing back to the board.

“Do you want to go back and do it again?”

“Um, maybe next time.”

He was rewarded with a lollipop for the effort. We changed in the locker room and loaded up the car. I turned on NPR and heard a story about what our president did on the internet this morning.

My bubble of summer morning zen by the community college pool burst before I could even get the car in gear. The notions of grandeur for my son pulling a Triple Lindy in the 2032 Games immediately vanished into that feeling of helplessness and desperation most Americans are now treated to multiple times a week. The only comfort I can divine is we are all careening down this unrecognizable mountain road in a runaway bus with no brakes as an avalanche bears down on us—together.

I don’t know why it should surprise (or shock) me but for whatever reason Trump’s latest tweetvomit really struck a chord with me like THIS FUCKING IS REALLY (STILL) happening.

I’m so mortified/embarrassed/worried about living here that all I do in my spare time is troll the internet for farm villas in the French countryside which would make an ideal hiding spot for my family till this blows over …if it blows over.

At this point, I feel we’re collectively living in that movie scene where the door is slowly shutting and the heroes are running to get out …only there’s 300 million-plus of us who need to squeeze into that small space.

Even the tiny magic and all-out good that can happen during the day—the kids and moms and dads and teachers at the swimming lesson, the soothing lap of the water, the occasional piercing laugh bouncing off the metal benches—is always offset by the nagging feeling of impending doom at the hands of not only the worst leader, but worst person, this nation has ever produced.

Once home, I got on Twitter to see the damage myself, which set me down a typical mini rabbit hole that usually ends in feeling even worse about this regime’s autocratic notions, the lies, the chiding, the damaging-beyond-repair treatment of the necessary government agencies and media which have kept this thing afloat through crisis after crisis for 240 years. Add to it the scapegoating of already marginalized populations and the notion that good old-fashioned deck stacking of the other branches of government plus the courts thanks to voter suppression should ensure the evil puffy albino gargoyle gatekeepers will remain in power till the fiery, bitter and plausibly nearly here end.

The deal is, whether he means to or not, while Trump is distracting with his cruelty, misogyny, ineptitude and solipsism, the dismantling of our democracy is happening from the inside out in real time. We’re busy ghostriding this nation right off a cliff with this chewed up piece of 300-pound anger gum in charge.

The minute something happens: an attack, a natural disaster, some kind of revolt, an economic collapse—we’re totally totally totally fucked and it’s going to be fucking chaos because the backbone of workers, thinkers and administrators that prop this country up refuse to work for this regime and/or have been dismissed from it. And those who are charged with being its watchdogs are growing ever weaker as a growing cohort in this country seems to be buying into the notion that their hard work is fake.

So there’s increasingly no there there to support us when trouble invariably knocks. And it will, surely, because we’re weak, helpless and angry—a divided nation of people who can’t seem to figure out that shoving aside empathy, compassion and kindness in favor of anger, greed, spite and misinformation is not a winning formula.

…And those who can do something about it now, thus far aren’t.

But then I thought about it a little more, especially after Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to defend those morning tweets by quoting Metallica, saying the president “fights fire with fire”. If what she means by that is he douses everything in his path with gasoline, lights a match and walks away, then sure—she’s right. And here we are trapped in a room watching the smoke creep from underneath the door.

…Next week is the 4th of July, then it’s back to the pool the week after that. I hope it’s still around. I hope I can see my son dive off the board again. I wish I could guarantee him that things will be the same in two weeks, that there will be a next time. But I can’t. That would be a lie. Everything seems to be catching up to us at once.

The country I grew up in where civility, safety and personal freedoms were always protected foremost by the highest office in the land is gone.

And that is heartbreaking.

Andrew J. Pridgen helps run sister site Goner Party and is the author of the novella “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.

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