Hmm Weekly for November 10, 2020

Please consult the revised CDC guidance for Tuesdays

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS DEP’T.

How Did You Sleep Last Night?

By Lori Teresa Yearwood

FOR THE FIRST time in four years, 64-year-old Colleen Foley of Minnesota got a great night’s sleep—“ten solid hours,” the Minnesota resident said, relief flooding into her voice. 

That was November 7, the day major media organizations announced the results of the presidential election. Joe Biden had won 290 electoral votes and become the new president-elect. Donald Trump had won 217 electoral votes. Though Georgia and North Carolina’s results had not been settled, Biden’s win was official, the Associated Press announced.

Four days later, Foley’s calm had all but evaporated, as Trump refused to concede the election.

Now the articles Foley is reading feature national newspaper columnists wondering about what had been previously inconceivable to Foley: Would Trump try to appoint electors to ignore the election results and vote for Trump instead?

“My couple of days of thinking, ‘Biden’s got this,’ have gone away," Foley said. “Because now, though I’m confident Biden won the vote, I know that Trump is going to create hell on earth for us—it’s going to be complete and total chaos.

Foley, a retired insurance liability claims specialist, is back to waking up throughout the night, pacing through her home and scrolling through her phone for newspaper accounts about the threat to democracy in this country and rising COVID -19 infections and deaths.

“I try to be careful,” Foley said. “I always mask up. I’m not as worried about myself but I’m worried about my stepmom, who is 81 and living in assisted living.”

There have been more than 242,000 deaths and 10 million reported COVID-19 cases in the United States since the start of the world-wide pandemic in March, according to an online graphic that is produced and updated by the New York Times and that Foley tracks daily.

Foley lives in a tidy, one-story, three bedroom home in a suburb about 20 minutes away from Minneapolis. She surrounds herself with ways to enjoy life. There’s a water fountain on a deck filled with begonias and impatiens that bloom in the spring; she has five rescue dogs, two cats and a 30-year-old Arabian horse, Sticky, who she boards at a barn.

Every day, she works out at a fitness center, and six days a week, she visits Sticky at the barn. These activities bring tranquility while she engages in them, she told me. But  within a few hours later, the anxiety about the fate of the country returns.

“Last night I didn’t sleep well at all,” Foley said on November 11. “I tried to go to bed early and get some good rest but I ended up doomscrolling on my phone. I probably got a block of about five hours of good sleep—the rest was just getting up and down. I should have smoked some weed.”

Instead, she obsessed about the potential of a civil war in America.

“I don’t know what form it will take on in these modern times,” Foley said.  “But the people who are backing this crazy lunatic aren’t backing down either. I'm just confounded by what is happening in this country.”

For the first time in her life, Foley, a woman who supports strict gun control laws, is considering buying a pistol.

“I was talking to my sister the other day and we were like: ‘Do we need to get a gun?,’ Foley said.

“I mean, did you ever think that we would be here today? It’s bizarre to think that we may have to fight against our own fellow countrymen.”

Foley’s chronic insomnia started in 2016, the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, she said.

“On the first day Trump took office, my daughter went to school and some of the other kids were asking her: ‘When are you going to get back on the boat?’ ” Foley said. 

Foley adopted her daughter, Emily Foley at 13 months, from China, raising the toddler single handedly while working full time—always vigilant about her child’s mental and physical well being in a country known for its history of racism.

So when Foley heard Trump speak demeaningly about immigrants—before as well as after the election—Foley’s anxiety skyrocketed. She reassured her daughter that she had the necessary paperwork to stay in the country—that she was, indeed, safe.

But then came the Unite the Right rally in  2017 in Charlottesville, Virgina, and the killing by a white supremacist of a woman who was counterprotesting there. From Foley's perspective, Trump made “a call to arms for the supremacists," saying that there were "very fine people on both sides." 

Shortly after that, Foley booked an appointment with a psychiatrist for prescription medicine to help her sleep, she said.

“I would fall asleep and have these lengthy, horrible nightmares,” Foley said. "I would go to bed early but easily stay up until 3 or 4 a.m.”

Foley has protested and marched against the Trump administration three times: once in a women’s march in St. Paul, once at an immigration rally in Minneapolis and again at an anti-gun rally in St. Paul. Still, the original dosage for her sleeping medication needed to be doubled before it began to touch the helplessness and uncertainty that she felt, Foley said.

“I would like to be able to wean myself off them slowly as things become more stable,” Foley said. “Hopefully that will happen when Trump is gone and Biden can wrap his arms around the severe COVID pandemic and try to unite the country, because we are so divided right now.”

“How Did You Sleep Last Night?” is an ongoing series.

Another Week, Another Hmm Weekly

GOOD MORNING! This is the latest HMM WEEKLY, successor publication to HMM DAILY, distributed via SUBSTACK, a newsletter delivery and reading platform.

We offer paid subscriptions for full access to HMM WEEKLY posts, with intermittent postings available free as we see fit.

Get 20% off forever

We urge you to spread the word about HMM WEEKLY, and we encourage you to correspond with us! Email hmmweekly@substack.com. Thank you for reading.

PUBLIC WORKS DEP’T.

THE CELEBRATION WAS a collective effort. We had drifted out of our apartment, my younger son and I. The news and the first wave of yelling and banging and honking from outside had caught me before I'd showered, so I threw on a clean shirt and yesterday's pants and headed downstairs. The immediate street and the avenue were quiet and ordinary, but instinct sent me uptown, and as Amsterdam converged on Broadway the noise and the bodies gathered.

We crossed the downtown lanes of Broadway and set up on the pointy end of the median in the three-way intersection with 71st Street, next to Sherman Square, long ago famous as Needle Park. People were dancing there—not crowded, still socially distanced—to music carrying across from the opposite pointy end. Someone waved a Pride flag; a woman stood on a bench and danced, holding a bottle of wine or champagne.

People whooped and various things clattered but what bound it all together was the honking. The light would change, and a new wave of traffic would come in the downtown or uptown or crosstown lanes, three different angles for four different directions, and someone would come through honking: taxis, a beer truck, a hummus truck, an old BMW, livery vehicles. MTA buses and rental box trucks. They leaned on their horns for one long blast or volleyed out a staccato series or beat out a rhythm. A Postal Service truck rolled across 71st Street, honking all the way, and the people on every corner went wild for it.

Block by block or neighborhood by neighborhood, New York can congratulate itself on its variety more than it deserves, but the traffic in motion carried all the people. Drivers or passengers exulted from beat-up working vehicles and gleaming top-down Mini Coopers. They waved or flashed V fingers or made thumbs-up; fists were pumped or thrust out and up in a power salute. They filmed the people on the sidewalks and the people on the sidewalks filmed them back. Someone in the back seat of a Subaru blew an old vuvuzela out the window. Cyclists took their hands off the handlebars. Any idea seemed just fine.

Everyone was on the lookout for everyone else's happiness. Things would subside a little, and then a new individual burst of enthusiasm would whip it up anew, and no one could guess where it might come from. A guy on Citi Bike pedaled by and screamed "YEAH!!!" through his mask, and that set it all off again. A tuned-up Honda Civic came through slowly, the driver—barely out of his teens, if that—revving the engine to a steady blasting roar. Any other day it would have been antisocial behavior.

A woman in a hot pink top and matching shoes stopped at a red light, hopped out of the driver's seat, and danced in the street with the door hanging open. A woman trailing a trans-rights flag looped around and around the crosswalks. An SUV went by uptown with a woman hanging out the sunroof.

The noise went on and on. Were we celebrating our American democracy? Seven times in the eight elections of my adult life, I've cast my ballot for the person who got the most votes, but I've only voted for the person who became president four times. Five. Now it's five. Why were we out in the street? We were out there so we could see and hear each other. There we were.

PUBLIC WORKS DEP’T. II

SATURDAY NIGHT WE went across the street from my house to the park and I brought all my leftover Fourth of July fireworks. I let some friends know it was gonna happen so we had a thin and spaced out group of spectators. A neighbor walked up and asked one of my friends “Why are those guys shooting off fireworks?” Then that person’s wife came out and said we needed to stop shooting off fireworks because she had a child she was trying to put to bed. Eventually we stopped.

THOUGHT DEP’T.

Do you have a thought? Send it to hmmweekly@hmmweekly.com.

VISUAL CONSCIOUSNESS DEP’T.

A quick flip through the newspapers

YOU CAN FOLLOW hmmweeklygram on Instagram.

REMINDER DEP’T.

THE SOPHIST is here to tell you why you're right. Send your questions to AskTheSophist@hmmweekly.com, and get the answers you want.

SANDWICH RECIPES DEP’T.

WE ARE PLEASED to present select recipes from the 1923 edition of The Calorie Cook Book, by Mary Dickerson Donahey. “A bright, interesting and valuable Cook Book, with economical recipes giving value of foods in Calories and naming foods rich in Vitamins.”

Cold Bacon Sandwiches
Mixture 300 Calories
3 strips bacon
2 tbs. mayonnaise
1/2 small sour pickle

Broil or bake the bacon very crisp and dry. Break it into small bits when it is cold and add, with the pickle, cut very fine, to the mayonnaise. Green olives, or bits of paprika or green pepper, are good instead of the pickle, or they may all be used together.

Cartwheel Sandwiches
200 Calories each
6 rounds white bread
6 rounds Boston brown bread
6 salted filberts
Butter
Orange marmalade

Cut the white bread a little thicker than for an ordinary sandwich, and cut each slice round with a cooky cutter, saving the scraps for the bread crumb jar. Spread these rounds with butter and then with orange marmalade. It will be best to chop the sections of orange and grape fruit in the marmalade first, so it will spread on smoothly and look well, not jagged. Cut the Boston brown bread with a much smaller cooky cutter, place a round in the center of the spread white bread, and then down the middle of each bit of brown bread a nice round salted filbert, or hazel nut, as they are more generally called.

Hot Cheese Sandwiches
555 Calories without bread
1/2 pt. milk
1 heap. tsp. flour
1 tsp. butter
1 cup diced York state cheese
Salt and paprika

Cream the flour and butter together and add gradually to the milk, then put in the cheese and salt and paprika to taste. Cook the mixture in a double boiler until it is thick. Turn out in a flat square pan and let it cool. When cold cut it in slices, lay each slice on buttered bread and put in the toaster and brown, or if you prefer it, in the oven to bake. Better than plain cheese sandwiches.

If you decide to prepare and enjoy one of the above items, kindly send a picture to us at hmmweekly@substack.com.

HMM WEEKLY IS written by Tom Scocca, editor, and Joe MacCheese, creative director.
If you enjoy Hmm Weekly, please let a friend know about it! If you're reading this because someone forwarded it to you, we invite you to sign up for a copy of your own right now.
Thanks for reading, and any time you want, email us at hmmweekly@substack.com.