How To Go On

I am facedown on the floor, folks, and I don’t feel like I’m getting up anytime soon. This week is gutting. This year is gutting. It’s relentless. It hasn’t felt so hard to hold onto hope in a long time.

But there is so much further we could fall. There are yawning caverns beneath our feet, just waiting.

Don’t set your sights on 2020. You can’t wait that long. We can’t wait that long. You need to start fighting now, as soon as you can manage it.

That’s the key, though: as soon as you can manage it.

Take the time you need to deal with your grief and anxiety, with your disappointment. Take the time to understand what’s most important to you and where you need to focus your energy. Ask for help if you need it. I needed it. I’ll need it again, repeatedly, for a long time. I’ll keep asking.

Take some time to reflect. Take some time to read about other people’s resistance and their advice for you, like these steps on how to survive autocracy. Most importantly, take time to relax and focus on the good in your life. To enjoy yourself, a book, a movie, a sitcom. Go see a Star War. I’m going to see several! Read some fiction, write some. Listen to a poem outside in the sun. Take a nap instead of checking the news. Take care of yourself first. You are important. You are needed. We don’t want to go on without you.

Talk to people you trust about why you’re scared. Put your safety first, but don’t hide behind your desire for comfort if you’re already safe. There are so many people who aren’t going to be safe for long and they need us to fight for them.

And when you feel like you’re ready, start here:

Do whatever you need to strengthen your own situation first. Are you part of a vulnerable population? Do you need to make sure you have your documentation in order in case your gender or marriage is no longer recognized? In case your citizenship is no longer recognized? In case your immigration status is scrutinized, or your religion, or your affiliations? Could you lose access to healthcare? Are there alternatives? Things you can do now to guard against future catastrophe? There are so many people and organizations who are ready now to help you. If you need help finding them, tell me and I’ll help you.

What can you do for others now? Not next week, not next year. What is the first step you can take, right now, from where you are? Write it down, then do it, then cross it off. Then you can figure out the next one. Right now, you only need to worry about your very next step.

What organizations in your immediate area will need your help to protect people? Reach out to them now. Many will be overwhelmed by support that will trickle away in the next few months as passions subside and the natural human instinct to seek reassurance and normalize horror starts to take over. Set a calendar reminder to reach out again in three months. And again in six. Find places that could use you and make a commitment to be there. Set up donations if you can afford it.

Talk to your friends and family and coworkers. Do you know how many people don’t actually know what’s at stake? It’s a lot. It’s a surprising amount of a lot. Find common ground, if you can. Educate, if you can. Sometimes you can’t, and that’s okay, too. You aren’t required to try to change anyone. You aren’t required to try to change even one.

Who is running your city, county, and state after this election? Get their names. Get their contact info. Throw it in a Google doc. Start asking them how they’re going to work for you. Start telling them to vote for and write legislation for the things you want. Do it as soon as you feel like you can.

Who is going to represent you in Congress now? Get their names. Get their contact info. Tell them what you want them to do. Tell them what you won’t support them doing. Not sure what to say? Find an advocacy group that deals with the issues that concern you and ask them. Most will already have sample letters or emails or phone scripts you can use.

Still not sure what to do? This Twitter thread lays out the mechanics of effective communication with your elected officials.

Who is running for election in 2017? 2018? (NOTE: All of the House of Representatives is up for election in 2018. ALL 435 VOTING SEATS OF IT. Along with 33 Senate seats.) We need to start organizing and pushing and working now to get the people we want into those offices so they can protect and promote the policies we want.

Here are all the Democratic Party branches in every state, Puerto Rico, DC, and abroad. That’s who we need to push to lead the fight. I’m sorry if you still believe there’s someone else who can do it. There isn’t. The Democrats have a larger coalition than anyone else. The Libertarians can’t do it. The Green Party can’t do it. The Worker’s Party can’t do it. Bernie can’t do it. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Keith Ellison, and every other next-hope you have can’t do it.

But you can. We can. Let’s go.

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Hamilton, Necessity, and hidden truths

It’s National Parks Week, and this summer will mark the 100th anniversary of the congressional act that created them. Admission to most parks is free through this weekend! Maybe there’s one near you? Short trips and mini-breaks are a priority for me this year, and for the first time in a long time there’s a tangible list of places I feel compelled to see and could actually afford.

We took a road trip to western Pennsylvania last weekend to visit Fallingwater (more than you probably want on that in a bit). It’s about a five hour drive from home with gas and food stops, which is an excellent road trip distance. You may already know this: that’s a perfect length of time to make your unwilling passenger listen to all of Hamilton. (Twice, if you’re lucky.) Not only that, but they can listen to you get real nerdy about the sublimity of a show that loves hip hop and history as much as it hates the original Cranky Old Fingerwagging Fusspot John Adams. Everybody wins! If everybody is into showtunes, Leslie Odom, Jr, and lyrical jokes at the expense of Thomas Jefferson’s staggering hypocrisy, that is.

Continue reading Hamilton, Necessity, and hidden truths

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Phone anxiety but you want to be heard? Try this.

With Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for SCOTUS today, I think it’s important to call the Senate Judiciary Committee to remind them, as Twitter puts it, to #DoYourJob. To let the vacancy remain open until after next February would be an egregious breach of their duty to their constituents and the nation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t write out what I wanted to say before a staffer answered the phone. Something resembling words came out of my mouth, but they weren’t all that coherent.

If you think that might happen to you, feel free to use this, which resembles what I wanted to say:

Hi, I’m calling to ask the committee to do its job and work with President Obama to confirm his Supreme Court nominee.

For what it’s worth, the staffer who answered my call said three things (“Good afternoon, Senate Judiciary Committee,” “thank you, I will pass the message on,” and “have a good afternoon.”) and no more. They did not ask for my name or number or constituency, and the whole call took 32 seconds according to my phone log.

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MORE: the year ahead, and cataloging reviews

If self-improvement is a journey rather than a goal, why reset the starting line every year? Last year was pretty good for me. I would like to be better at various things. I would like to want to be better at various other things. I would like not to be discouraged by examining what I haven’t yet achieved. Nothing does that faster than staring at a list of things of desires and seeing how few can be crossed off.

Last year I kept challenging myself to push through a fear of failure. Like Shonda Rhimes! A year of YES! Because I am vulgar, it was more of a year of FUCK IT LET’S GO.

Continue reading MORE: the year ahead, and cataloging reviews

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Better Living Through List-making

There’s a lot of satisfaction in making a list of things you can cross off. Or so people tell me! I don’t make those kinds of lists, because I forget they exist before anything reaches a cross-off-able state.

I also don’t think much of New Year’s resolutions. Nothing about the arbitrary turning of one year to the next makes me likely to stick to a new diet, habit, or lifestyle. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Time off work ushers in the kind of ludicrous optimism that leads to pledges like: no caffeine, no food after 6pm, no TV ever. I’ve known myself long enough to know not a single specific resolution is ever going to stick.

Instead, what I’m planning to do in the new year is step up what I’m already doing.

Continue reading Better Living Through List-making

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