Week 1

 

I’m struggling with feelings of shame around not doing enough. This is a constant for me – and for many, though I think working parents deal with particularly pernicious flavors of it – and it’s exacerbated by the burning need to DO SOMETHING in response to the election.

How do I get outside my bubble (workplace, profession, neighborhood, city, friend group) to be a part of change? How can I engage with things outside my bubble authentically, without constantly feeling like (or being) a white savior? How can I be active in helping prevent (or undo) the damage that has been wrought by millions of people like me and voted in support of things I find horrifying and incomprehensible?

I can speak out about the things that I know personally, but that isn’t enough, not now. Reproductive rights, women’s rights – these are small but important pieces of all of the things that are at stake. There are many more things that I care about than am knowledgeable about – social justice, access to education, the nuances of healthcare policy – and many, many more beyond that.

But then I also have a family and a job. A little son who demands my attention from the moment we wake until I leave for work, and from the moment I walk in the door until he goes to sleep. 3-4 hours/day with my child. 9-10 hours/day at work and commuting. 1-2 hours/day with my partner. An hour or so for exercise and self-care. Sleep, still broken by a child who wakes up 3-5 times/night needing my comforting attention. But everyone has these things, some with more support and flexibility, many with less.

I don’t know. I’m anxious and afraid. I need help getting outside my shell and my bubble. I’m working on figuring out what in my life can go – for now, for awhile, for a long time – to make room for what needs to happen. I need help giving myself permission to do what I can, knowing that there will always be more to be done.

Where Do We Go From Here?

A month ago today, I emerged from the finisher’s area of my first marathon in a daze. I squatted down next to a vehicle and had an ugly, jagged, rough cry. The race had taken everything out of me, particularly the last five miles, and the tears of pain and exhaustion and depletion came from some place raw and hidden, a secret store of emotions that I didn’t know I contained.

I imagine that’s what a lot of us felt like last night, as the forecasts and our associated hopes fell through the floor, or this morning, as we woke to the reality of an America all too familiar to many.

I laid in bed this morning between my partner and our son, tears streaming down my face as I remembered the optimism and energy of the previous day, the overwhelming hope embodied in the wave of posts to Pantsuit Nation. People voting for the first time or the last.People casting votes alongside adult children or ailing parents. People flying home from all over to vote because absentee ballots didn’t arrive in time.  People casting votes they never anticipated, either due to the impossibility of a serious female candidate, or because that candidate represented a party whose values were so far off from those the voter previously held. People voting for inclusion, for tolerance, for progress, for unity, for a better country – or even just for a less bad one.

We didn’t get that.

This morning I wiped away my tears, and then I read my son the book about seeds that he requested upon waking. I made coffee. I did the dishes and put away the laundry. I put on makeup. I went to work and facilitated a meeting about statistics. I took down signs advertising events in the past. These were things I could do.

I don’t have to take a quiz to know that my love language is acts of service. But in the face of this, it’s hard to know what to do. I’m so small. I’m only one person. It’s a very familiar feeling.

So many of us are feeling so much fear and uncertainty today – for ourselves, for our loved ones, for those with less privilege or power, for our country. For women and minorities, for immigrants and the disabled, for those who rely on social programs that could be eliminated, for those whose families could no longer be recognized, for operation of a free press, for the right to practice any religion, for the health of our planet. My family has much less to fear than many, and so we owe it to others to do more, share more, help more, understand more, love more – I just don’t know where to start.

I want to challenge you to do as I’m doing right now – to list one concrete thing you can do to keep our country, your state, your city, your neighborhood, your street, your family, and yourself moving forward. And then let’s keep each other accountable, just as we’ll work together to keep our new government accountable.

Inauguration-y

I know that all of you are dying to know if we’re going to the Inauguration or not.  To be honest, I’m not sure!

DC is supposed to be just totally effing nutty in the next few days. We found out today that our friends Aggie and Jason will be driving down from Chicago after getting tickets at the Very Last Minute.  We’ve fielded at least one other inquiry about sleeping on our floor.  I can’t imagine what my friends who actually live in the city are hearing!  We heard on the radio that the market for renting out your apt for the inauguration kind of went bust – which is consolation for not doing the same thing ourselves, I guess.

I’m off work on Tuesday as a result of the inauguration – GW is closed because of its proximity to all kinds of important DC things.  The campus advisory email that went out today sounded terribly alarmist, warning members of the GW community to make sure they had cash (to avoid long lines at ATMs), to carry their GW IDs at all times when on campus, and that absolutely no one would be allowed to sleep in their offices this weekend.  I’m not sure how they’re going to enforce that last one but hey – not my problem!  I’ll be sleeping in my own bed!

The actual festivities will be going down on a day with a projected high of 32, and a low of 7.  Now, with all those people on the Mall, the body heat alone should be enough to bump it up a few degrees – but that’s pretty cold to voluntarily stand outside for hours on end with a million and a half of your best friends.  Logistically speaking, I’m not really sure how this is going to work.  Metro can’t manage to keep the escalators at Foggy Bottom running on a normal day – how’s it going to work with three times the normal population of DC swarming in for one day?

All of these things add up to my mixed feelings about trying to see some of the festivities on Tuesday.  I’m beyond thrilled about what will be taking place – the historic event, the inauguration of a president for whom I campaigned, donated money, and sent up many an anxious prayer – I’m just not sure if I want to go down to the Mall to celebrate it, or if I’d rather celebrate from my couch, glass of champagne in hand.

Either way, it’s a momentous occasion, and I’m awfully excited about it.

Election Blues

Whatever your political persuasion, I hope that by now you realize that this is a critically important election, and that your vote is important.  I voted in person absentee last week, which was tremendously exciting!  The election judges said that they’d had 50-100 people through in the previous hour – which is pretty remarkable, given that it was still two weeks before the election, and it was the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday.

It’s been exciting living in a swing state this year, though it looks pretty clear which way VA will be swinging this time around.  We’ve had at least two canvassers come by when we were home, and SB has gotten LOTS of calls from the Obama campaign looking for volunteers.  The other side’s been leaving us alone, and that’s just fine with me, though I did laugh at the little dog at the farmers’ market wearing a McCainine shirt.

Last weekend we decided to do our part to support Obama and spent some time phone-banking at an Arlington volunteer center.  I hate – HATE – cold-calling, but I sucked it up and war-dialed 90 people in an hour and a half.  Of that 90 people, I actually spoke with maybe 10 – but SB had better luck, and on the whole it was a rewarding experience.  Towards the end of our shift, the vice chair of the DNC and MANDY PATINKIN showed up to thank the volunteers, which was super random but also a neat surprise:

Mandy Patinkin!

But seriously, folks.  Go vote on Tuesday.  It’s really, really important.  And then let’s stop talking about the election because while I’m excited, I’m also really sick of it.

miscellaneous

A couple of thoughts.

Again, this wireless network thing rock rock rocks. Except that the one at Green Street appears to be much more volatile than the one at Za’s. So much for the getting coffee and checking my email lunch break. I’ve been here 10 minutes and have moved tables once. How annoying.

Yay for Johnny Depp and his Oscar nomination. Tasty. Actually, yay for all the Oscar nominees. I’ve seen more nominated films/people this year than last, and I feel pretty good about that.

I can’t imagine the courage it must take to campaign for President, especially when you’re one of many candidates and far from the front runner – and that’s just competing for your party’s place on the ballot. I know upsets occur, but still. At that point you’re either extremely passionate and convicted – or a masochist.

More snow last night. It’s lovely, except when you have to drive and/or walk in it. I’m thinking about stew for dinner, then reading on the couch. Oh, and 24. Of course 24.