This Week’s Reads (1/27/2017)

I don’t have a lot of extra cycles this week. I was in Atlanta last weekend at a conference doing conference things (meetings! attending presentations! carrying too much stuff around!), sharing meals and drinks with friends and colleagues that I don’t see often enough, and participating in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women (more on that later). Reentry after these whirlwind trips is always hard, but it’s been particularly overwhelming this week, when several work projects have come together at the same time while (it feels like) our country has imploded around us. I’ve alternated between trying to read all the news and make all the phone calls – and feeling so exhausted and demoralized by any one piece of news that I just want to put my head in the sand and tune out for the next four years. But I can’t do that.

I spent Tuesday morning teleworking from our car dealership – just routine service stuff – and the sign on the TV made me feel a little more sane, as did some of the below links. Right now it’s really hard to know how to direct our energy, where we can do the most good, or what news we should trust. It seems like the best thing we can do is keep leaning on each other as we find our way through.

Don’t shame the first steps of a resistance –
Oh boy, did I need to read this. I’ve already talked about feeling shame about not doing enough before the election. This has been compounded by shaming in various online spaces from more active or established activists.We can and should all do better. Every event, movement, organization, and individual can be more inclusive. “But endless social media critiques with no commitment to diving into that struggle for the kind of movement we want is not a serious approach.”

After Women’s March, Longtime Chicago Activists Answer ‘What Next?’ – Chicagoist
Reflections and ideas for action from Chicago-area activists

How To Mobilize Your Election Fear & Anger Into Action In Chicago – Chicagoist
This is from November, but it’s worth a reread for Chicago-area folks. Lots of links to organizations that can use your help.

Ways To Take Effective Action Following The Magnificent Women’s March – Gothamist
Specific action items for leveraging the nascent movement embodied in the Women’s March

Trump’s executive order on Obamacare, explained by two health policy experts – Vox
This gives me at least a little hope that the repeal of the ACA, if it happens, won’t be as catastrophic as feared. (It will still be bad.)

Chicago To Trump: Go F*ck Yourself
“Chicago isn’t perfect. We have a dickhead for mayor, horribly crooked cops, an insane murder rate, and over 100 years of institutionalized racism that is literally embedded in the city’s infrastructure, but threatening the city with armed soldiers is a historically bad idea. Just the fact that a city built by immigrants and full of refugees, transplants, hipsters, and olds could unite to tell the highest elected official in the country to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut is proof that something good is happening.”


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.

The right stuff | Salon

The right stuff | Salon: “Be good to yourself. Hire smart, stable people who can tell you things you need to know and not copy Bob Woodward. Keep some Republicans around. You’re the man. You make us proud. You let us get to know you. You have the gift of speaking clearly and forcefully, whole sentences and paragraphs, while thinking at the same time, a good gift. You don’t need a staff of writers to create a persona for you. You need engineers. Problem solvers. You’re inheriting a raft of them.”

6 November 2008

My parents and I are of radically different political persuasions, but in this election season, my mom and I have found two things we can agree on:

  1. These campaigns were way too (damn) long.  We propose a 12 month cap on campaigning – just like how when we were kids, my siblings and I weren’t allowed to talk about our birthdays until one month before the actual month of our birth – so the candidates should not be allowed to talk about their candidacy until 12 months before the election.  Not 12 months before the primary.  Not 12 minutes after the election is called for the opposition.  12 months from election day.
  2. Stress eating is a by-product of election season.  Both of us resorted to stress eating in the last few days, and both of us realized that we just had to accept it and move on, because stress eating was going to continue to happen.  Mom has moved on to pity eating, but we both know that it’s time to stop.

Not being able to talk about politics or political things with my family can be very difficult, but I’m glad that in the last few years, we’ve reached a sort of middle ground where we can talk about politics at a meta level, even if we can’t talk about the actual issues.

5 November 2008

To wake up and find that it’s real – it’s really real – was so amazing.  I went about my day buoyed by the news, feeling secretly and warmed by the results.  Prop 8, on the other hand, remains heart-breaking, but for right now I’m so, so happy.

A lot of people said that it seemed like as soon as the race was won, it was safe to talk about race again – as if it had been off the table when Obama was up against a white man.  Keem said she felt like making a big deal out of the racial politics is detracting (and also distracting us) from one man’s amazing achievement, and from the terrific leader he is and will be.  For all the wonderful things I read celebrating his accomplishment on behalf of all African-Americans, I also worry that Obama the African-American will become an idol for those who want to see him as the culmination of centuries of racial struggle – rather than being allowed to be the flawed human man he is.

In an email to a friend this morning I mentioned that what I find so appealing about Obama – apart from all the great political stuff, of course – is his humanity.  One of the articles I read today talked about an African-American woman saying that her boys finally had someone to look up to – someone to be the embodiment of the things Martin Luther King Jr dreamed of.  I feel like the Obama we’ve been allowed to know over the past few years – the man who promised his kids a new puppy last night in front of the entire nation – is the sort of man that all of us should look up to.

3 November 2008

It was loud – VERY LOUD – at Buzz tonight, where we went to escape the constant political chatter and stress and anxiety.  I do not and never have understood why acoustic musicians who play coffeeshops INSIST on being SO FLIPPIN’ LOUD.  It not only is unpleasant – it also negatively affects the sound of your music.  Listen and learn, folks.  I wanted to stay and cross-stitch, but it was too loud, and I was getting a headache again.

At 5:30, Bill came over to my cubicle to ask how I was holding up in anticipation of tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s election day, you know?  You might have heard?  Maybe?  Four years ago I declared November 3rd NaVoPreDa, and said that Obama ‘had me at hello’.  Four years later I’m voting for him again – except this time in a swing state, and this time for president.  I can hardly believe it.

I am so anxious, and so tired, and so hopeful.  I know that things won’t change overnight, and I know that Obama won’t – can’t – fix everything, but I’m excited to give him the chance to start.  Please let’s not fuck this one up.  We need hope too badly.

Voting Day!

Today I was Democratic voter #131 at our polling place – the fitness center down the street. It kind of felt like voting in a hockey rink, which was exciting in and of itself. Shane had a peek at the log, and the ratio was approximately 10:1 Democratic to Republican.

It took me two hours to get home tonight in the cold and freezing rain – 20 minutes to go four blocks in DC alone. Fortunately, when I got home there was really great news – Virginia for Obama, hooray! Fingers crossed that the rest of the year continues to look up.

Collop Monday

I’m very disappointed that I didn’t manage to celebrate Shrove Monday or Collop Monday, as fine a holiday for eating bacon as any. Shane and I will attempt compensate tonight by eating lots of pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.

On an unrelated note, if you are somewhere that allows you to vote in the primaries today, please do so! It’s very important and also your civic duty! If you want to investigate some of the claims before you go to the polls, one of my librarian colleagues recommends FactCheck, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Regardless of how this goes in the Senate, the results look good for the Democrats, and spirits are much better in my household than the last few elections. I’m with Jason in terms of the lack of readily accessible information on the candidates, though. SB spent some time yesterday doing research, so he was much better informed than I was. I feel like a poor citizen – and a poor librarian – for not doing better research. I voted in the races for which I had opinions, I abstained on others, and I wore my sticker with pride.