Hmm Weekly for October 13, 2020

Election Day Is on a Tuesday but You Don't Have to Vote on a Tuesday

Hmm Weekly for October 13, 2020

Photo by Erin Waldren


How Did You Sleep Last Night?

By Lori Teresa Yearwood

BEFORE DONALD TRUMP became president of the United States, before COVID-19, before Michael Waldren says he continually worried about “the inevitable collapse of the world,” bedtime was actually soothing.

Back then, Waldren, who lives in Long Beach, California, could go to bed later in the evening, assured that he was going to sleep through the night. Back then, he didn’t have to drink wine or beer or take sleeping supplements to calm his mind.

“Now my days are non stop. From the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, there is no room for me,” says Waldren, who is 39. “Falling into bed is about embracing the only portion of the day that I own.”

Waldren is a Los Angeles attorney who represents low-income domestic violence victims. His wife is an emergency-room doctor. Because of the pandemic, the couple is homeschooling their two children, ages 4 and 7, and Waldren is working mostly from home, where the family has put him in charge of cooking, laundry, and bedtime stories.

Sometimes, by his own bedtime, Waldren is so tired he can’t muster the strength to brush his teeth. On those days, he says: “I rinse my mouth out with mouthwash and collapse into bed.”

At first, sleep comes hard and fast. But it generally lasts only 3 to 4 hours. After that, Waldren says, the rest of the night belongs to the part of his mind that insists on preparing for the next day’s challenging case or the anticipation of a difficult opposing counsel.

The stakes are high, especially right now in the midst of the pandemic, as this is a time when domestic violence victims have fewer resources than ever. Domestic violence shelters are receiving less funding in tight financial times, and homelessness is increasing.

Desperate client calls and texts come through at all times of the night. Sometimes prosecutors won’t prosecute the abusers because they don’t want to send perpetrators to the Men’s Central Jail—where the odds of contracting COVID-19 are extremely high.

“I stew and I fester,” Waldren says. “And I ask myself: ‘Dear God, when will it ever end?’”

Perhaps the most surreal part of his life is working around his children at home, where he sequesters himself in a corner office away from them, so as not to expose them to the trauma inherent in his career. “But it still happens,” he says. “I will be reading a declaration about a child’s biological father abusing him/her and my own child will be tugging at my pants leg, trying to show me a drawing.”

When he awakens after those first three or four hours of sleep—somewhere around 2 a.m.—Waldren says he often ends up scrolling through his phone for the latest bad news. On Monday he read an article in the New York Times headlined: California Republican Party Admits it Placed Misleading Ballot Boxes Around State. That was enough “tangential trauma” to keep him up for the rest of the morning, Waldren says.

Coffee kept him awake the rest of the day, for a while. But then, he says, it did what it does at such high and continual doses: it “over caffeinated me and gassed me out” and kept him from sleeping more than a couple of hours a day for four or five days straight.

Waldren’s bedtime is at 9 or 9:30 p.m. But his children wake up at the non-negotiable time of 6 a.m. Then, he says, he thinks the same thought he always seems to think these days: “I don’t know how much worse it can get. But every day, we get some form of new worse.’”

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

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By Joe MacLeod

The Mr. Wrong column is presented by Hmm Weekly.

Go Get a Flu Shot 2020

YES, I KNOW there is a great pestilence upon the land, but also: It’s Cold & Flu Season! Yes, the regular corona-  (and rhino-) viruses and the regular flu! Super boring! Go wash your hands, and then get a Flu Shot.

This is already a thing, I know, the 20 Seconds of Hand-Washing, but I kinda think people (like me) are leaning into the MASKS and sorta de-emphasizing, in their brains (my brain), the part about how you should also just go and Wash Your Hands, but also-also, we’re absorbing the idea that The Flu is a walk in the park compared to the Death Virus. The Influenza is still out there, a non-Novel thing that kills and incapacitates! Get a fucking Flu Shot, as soon as possible. In my neighborhood you can get a Flu Shot at the Supermarket! Because you need one like you need groceries!

I sorta understand that feeling of how if you beat the Current Important Virus, you feel kinda Indestructible, I have that Delusional feeling! I have to tell myself, hey man, I don’t care what you THINK you beat, if you go and get The Flu, that could A.) Kill you, B.) Soften you up for the Pandemic, and most importantly, 3.) Get other people sick with some bullshit!

Prophylaxis-wise, I got my Flu Shot the other day, when I was getting a Doctor to check out my elbow. It turns out I have the “Tennis Elbow,” which, I never played a game of Tennis in my life, but after I got my Elbow Diagnosis, I got my Flu Shot, and I told ‘em to go ahead and stick me in the arm that already hurt. It’s nice to have input on one’s Health Care!

Later, on my Doctor's Recommendation, I went to The Pharmacy and bought a goddamn Strap for my elbow to create pressure to stop the [something Doctor words] on where [more Doctor words] inserts and instead having it do [Doctor words, again, I dunno] near the “belly” of the muscle-thing that is giving me the “Tennis” pain. I remember “belly” because I could stand to lose a few, in places other than my arm, but anyway, looka this part of the label on my new Strap:

“Little League Elbow”?!? Jeez, how much pressure are we putting on The Children, we got ‘em out there developing an Elbow? I decided since I really don’t shoot golf (other than Mini—or “Putt-Putt,” if you will), and I don’t play Tennis, I am gonna rep Little League Elbow, and that will be my Cause, to eradicate the Elbow, but meanwhile, go wash your hands, and get a Flu Shot on the way, or we’re all doomed to a recursive pestilence-herd. Which goes back to me telling you to get a Flu Shot so that I don’t get it, because that shit doesn’t always come straight at you, sometimes there’s a different strain or something, but the shot helps you fight it. Fight!

Another reason I personally need to be On Guard against getting a little complacent about How Bad Things Are is that the Scientists are working on ways to destroy the Current Virus, and I feel good about that, look at this Medical Science news!

They are infecting the COVID-19 into tobacco plants! A death-dealing Cigarette Manufacturer is doing life-saving research with their Death Plant! Medical Science!

I hope that goes OK, you know? Do you think they will try to develop a Tobacco Delivery System for The Cure?

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THIS DEP’T. IS supposed to be about sandwiches, but meanwhile, we continue our presentation of select recipes from the leviathan and encyclopedic 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, Principal of the Boston Cooking-School, and a selection of items from


Semi-solid Foods comprise the gruels. When made from corn or oatmeal they are-heat-producing, and should never be given when inflammatory symptoms are present. Imperial Granum makes a delicious gruel, which has largely superseded the more common kinds. It is quickly made, and unless expense must be considered is generally to be preferred.

Cracker Gruel.
1/2 Boston cracker.
1/4 teaspoon salt.
1 cup milk.

Scald milk, and add cracker rolled and sifted. Cook five minutes in double boiler. Season.

Imperial Granum.
1 tablespoon Imperial Granum.
1/2 cup boiling water.
1/2 cup scalded milk. Salt.
Cold water.

Mix Granum with cold water to form a thin paste. Add to milk and water, and cook fifteen minutes in double boiler, then season. Increase the proportion of milk to the needs of the patient.

Clam Water.
Wash and scrub one and one-half dozen clams. Cook in covered kettle with three tablespoons water until shells open. Remove clams, strain liquor through double cheese cloth. Serve hot or as a frappé.

We continue to avow that we will get back to sandwiches soon, but in the meantime, if you create one of the above items, kindly send a picture to

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