Scrapbook for a Year and a Day

Dear fellow 2020 survivors:

On January 19, 2020, my 101 year-old father (Dee Molenaar, a well-known mountaineer) died. Two days later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States – in a town 40 minutes to the south of my home. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered the next month, and George Floyd was killed a few months later. We watched as our friends went insane with QAnon conspiracies; our president ordered peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could hold a Bible in front of a church; and white supremacists marched in our streets waving Nazi banners and Confederate battle flags. Then – because 2020 wasn’t done with us, yet – murder hornets were found in the United States – this time in a place 40 minutes to the north of my home. And on January 6th our country was turned upside down and our democracy almost shaken out of its bag.

In an effort to process Dad’s passing, and the year that followed, I began combing through news stories, Facebook posts, and my own blog. I found moments that made me laugh out loud, and others that were gut-wrenching for me. I found moments that had me shaking my head – wondering what the hell had happened to my country – and other moments that inspired me and made me proud to be an American. At some point during this process, I realized I was creating a book.The book, A Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, consists of news stories, personal anecdotes, essays, poems, and observations of what we all lived through in 2020.

I divided the book up by months – starting with January 2020 and ending with January 2021. At the end of the chapter for January 2020, I brought in comments by some of my friends about the passing of my father. This is my introduction to some of the characters the readers will be seeing throughout the book. One of the characters is my life-long friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines later in the year when he cast his electoral vote for Biden-Harris after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Another character is a friend (whom I refer to as “Letitia W.”) who became deeply involved in QAnon conspiracies and ended up in D.C. on January 6th. A third friend is Paul Swortz, who the readers later see as one of the veterans protecting the BLM protesters in Portland.

I’m editing now – trying to comb out all the the little typos and misspellings and duplicate words and omitted words – my fellow writers will all be able to relate to that. But I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to here.

Looking forward to seeing what 2021 bring us!
Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here’s some photos from 2020…

Okay. Here Goes…

Reply to a friend who tagged me in a comment –

I’m guessing that any dialogue we have about this is just going to be frustrating and futile for both of us. I love you – but I do not agree with your assessment of Mr. Trump’s abilities to lead this country. If you’re really interested, here is my response –

Yes, I’m glad Trump used 35 million in Justice Department grants to help aid human trafficking victims – but I think we need to be clear that this wasn’t his personal money – this was actually OUR money – as tax payers – that he used for this. (As we don’t know if Trump has ever paid taxes because he refuses to show us his tax returns – it might be assumed that he, personally, contributed NOTHING to helping these victims.) You mentioned Bill Clinton – I did not vote for Bill Clinton the second time he ran for president because he struck me as dishonest (I voted for Ralph Nader). Trump has shown me he is dishonest, also – time and again his actions and words have proven this.

Mr. Trump could care less about protecting women – he is himself a sex predator. He has bragged about entering the rooms of teenage beauty contestants as they dress. He has bragged about “grabbing pussy.” He has been accused of rape and sexual harassment by dozens of women – and no, there is no excuse for any of this. I wonder if all those who shrug Trump’s behavior off as “locker room” antics would be shrugging it off if Mr. Trump were Black. If a Black man had bragged about “grabbing pussy” and entering the rooms of teenage beauty contestants – if a Black man had been accused of sexual harassment by dozens of women – would it be shrugged off?

How anyone who is against sex trafficking can support Mr. Trump is beyond my understanding. Mr. Trump is not an honorable man. If he has some secret to ending sex trafficking then he should have let us all know about it long ago so the sex trafficking would end. You have been totally focused on this one thing – sex trafficking – for months now. And sex trafficking is evil – of course! – but what about the children separated from their mothers and still locked in cages?! What about Mr. Trump’s mocking of the disabled?! What about the disrespect he’s shown to our veterans?! What about the money he stole from his charity to use for himself?! What about the way he sent in military police to push aside peaceful protesters so he could hold a Bible in front of a church that didn’t want him there?!

Mr. Trump is not worthy to lead this nation.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell