Saturday, January 21, 2017

Today we march

I haven't found a way to channel my anxiety productively so that I can continue to write here in a "normal" way, whatever a "normal" way would be. I am pulled, pulled, pulled towards news. It's not even intrigue at this point. And it's not about learning something that will help me understand, as Wally wrote in his letter to Trump, "Why? Why? Why? Why?" I'm not actually reading through articles anymore, the way I did obsessively immediately post-election, clinging to any sliver of insight anyone could give me about how/why/WTF/Are-you-f&cking-kidding-me/Did-that-really-just-happen? Ezra Klein or Damon Young or Joy Reid or even just an anonymous comment on Babble article, begging for anyone's voice to cut through the primal scream, to rise with reason and a narrative frame to contain the collective shriek of horror.

This current compulsion comes from the ridiculous hope that in the past five seconds something has drastically changed and I can let out the breath I've been holding since about 10 PM on November 8 then I'll be able to relax and get on with things. So I frantically flip through my favorite papers and sites searching for that headline that means, oh, wait, hold on, it's not actually as apocalyptically horrible as we thought! The Republicans are in-fighting like crazy! They're tearing themselves apart. Or they have nothing to replace Obamacare and people are catching on. Or the Russian probe turned up something final and devastating and there is absolutely no way out. 

I don't think this through logically--I haven't even articulated it until just now--but I think that fear/hope drives me to this distraction. Thinking--just give me that hit of--this is not apocalypse (I know Obama said it's not, but he tends to be optimistic)--and I can go back and focus on my work. 

I have a Word document labelled, "What we can do." I put links to my favorite articles and action plans. I collect the Twitter handles to new movements. I copy in contact names of organizers. It's overwhelming. It's disorganized. It feels scattered. @flippable @swingleft @indivisiblenation @yourdailyaction The ACLU. ADL. Southern Poverty Law Center. Every day there is something new, and I think, no, not something new. We have to consolidate! We already have all the local splinter groups. I start a google doc trying to streamline and connect and tie these things together. It feels futile much of the time. 

I am having trouble re-gaining focus in writing, and without it, as I've mentioned on this blog before, I have trouble focusing on real life, too. I see this past week in glimpses:

Explaining to Wally that we are not on the Affordable Care Act but millions are. 
Wally pleading, tears in his eyes about the repeal. "People won't actually die will they? Kids won't die?" 

Me pausing. The instinct to brush it away and smile. To say something comforting about how they won't die but it will be hard. But then me going ahead with the true answer: yes, people will die if they lose their insurance.

Petra and I still belting out "Away in a Manger" on the way to school. 

Dancing wildly in the livingroom to "It's gonna be okay" by The Piano Guys.

Petra asking, when I gave her my fleece on the way to school (on a day I overshot the global warming effect, and it was actually like a little, teeny, eensey bit chilly mid-January in NYC) "But what about you? You need a coat, too?" 

Working on my middle grade novel. Seeing the illustrations for Test Your Toddler. Running again, finally, realizing this pattern is not good, where I run again, finally, and then that's it, just the one time. Listening to NPR in the morning. Packing lunches. Grocery shopping. Fury at Amazon (which I'm still boycotting) or their new fresh delivery service. Can't you be happy with selling everything under the sun at prices that literally destroy your suppliers? You have to have more? You just can't stand it that any other company can continue a hold on whatever remaining crumbs of non-online or box-store retail are left? You have to have everything? You have to be a goddamn empire? There are other people in the world. Three year olds understand this.

Making zucchini noodles and realizing that an entire meal of zucchini strips and peas plus parmesan is just not even remotely filling enough!

Making signs for the march. Asking everyone in my path if they are going to the march. Trying to organize everyone for the march and people getting mad at me because of the chaos of the logistics. 

Wally galloping with his friends after Kung Fu all in their giant black ballooning pants down the street in the rain through the palm trees of the flower district.

My neighbor wondering if the woman she told me for sure had voted for Trump, and whom, ever since then, I have not been able to look in the eye, maybe had not voted for Trump because now she was talking on Facebook about the #pussyproject and then me feeling terrible that I'd told others she voted for Trump. (And for whoever says - that' awful. Voting is private. In this case I have to say, not when you vote for a bigoted, neo-nazi supported, Russian puppet fascist who poses an existential threat to women, minorities, immigrants, those in the LGBTQ community, school children, and any in fact any living organizing on the rapidly heating up planet called earth. Nope, then you have to be outed. You are just wrong. That's it. You're wrong. You're morally wrong. You are on the wrong side of history. You knew who this man was, and you still gave him the nuclear codes. Wrong.)

The images are swirling around. And I'm losing--I've already lost--I mean to say, I haven't regained focus. Flipping and flitting around in desperation for a headline/morphine drip is not helping anyone.

I need to turn away and stay focused or I'm just part of the problem, the overload, the hyper-stimulation, the bite-size headline addiction. 

I need to think about the children across the country and the world today, sprawled on the floor drawing pictures of two women holding hands. 

I need to think about the @MomsDemandAction women in their t-shirts smiling on the 4 AM bus down to DC. 

I need to think about the grandparents, maybe supposed to be on vacation now, tired, the ones who decades ago walked in the anti-war marches, at the civil rights demonstrations, who saw freedom advance and now, tired, and terrified for their grand-children, are lacing up their shoes again this morning, gearing up for an exhausting day of crowds they maybe have barely the energy to face.

I need to think about the exhausted moms who, on their one morning off (morning! hah! one hour on one morning) are packing up sandwiches and hand sanitizer and filling up water bottles. 

I need to think about all the men who, instead of "Women's March? Why would I go to a Women's March?" said "Sign me up" the minute they heard about it.

All the recent immigrants whose lives have been threatened, who now know many of their own neighbors hate them, who will be there in the streets, practicing this sacred American tradition, protected by the first Amendment. 

All the African American women who voted for the white woman (93%) who was largely abandoned by her own demographic (white women favored the man who called them pigs by 53%). Those African American women, twice excluded their entire lives from privilege, who have always had to struggle, who have never known a day without struggle, who can somehow manage to keep faith again and join again to seek freedom for all people. 

All the members of the LGBTQ community who are seeing the equal rights they finally, finally achieved under threat, who are wondering what they will tell their children who have grown up saying, "Of course two men can marry."

All those who have a much tougher task today than we New Yorkers do, those who join small, shaky marches in deep red states, who will hold signs of freedom in the face of their haters, who will accept stares of derision and insults and threats as they refuse to hate their enemies.

All those who have never joined a march in their lives. Those who are excited and a little nervous and unsure, but who will leave their cozy homes and join the crowded, crazy streets of Manhattan or Detroit or Sarasota or Concord, NH or Paris or San Francisco or Raleigh. 

To keep my eye on the caravan of busses stretching out on the highways to the nations capitol, filled with MLK's "infinite hope." 

To all the children who woke up yesterday, like mine, in tears, because Obama--the only president they've ever known, the one they know their parents adored beyond words, whose parents would, as my father put it yesterday, follow over a cliff--is leaving.

That anger--my knee-jerk reaction to so much of what is going on, to an Education Secretary who is hell-bent on destroying public education, to an EPA director who is anti-environmental regulations--gets me no where. It's not a good example for the kids. It's not healthy. It's not productive.

I don't need my "What we can do" document today.

Today we join together. We say no to fascism and hatred. We protect the most vulnerable.  

What can we do today?

Today we march. 


Taking a break from crazy crowds near Trump Tower



My parents marching in Florida - "Feminism: Back by Popular Demand"


5 comments:

  1. She's hard to figure out - even though she voted for Stein (supposedly), she defends Trump & Melania on FB all the time...and it looks like she just thought the hat was cute...

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  2. Oh God that typifies so many people...well, if people are willing to put on the hat b/c it's cute, guess we should go with that...

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  3. I can't even tell you how much I needed these words this morning.

    Here we are, post-march, but I am spiraling, continuously sucked into the online vortex of news and social media. The uplifting, hope-filled photos from around the globe of the millions of us marching in solidarity kept me buoyant all weekend. I was eager to post my own photos from the march in NYC. The exhilarating energy of that day felt like a reclamation of the hope I lost on November 9.

    But being plugged in means I've watched it devolve into "why are people even marching?" And now, those first three executive orders, his middle finger to the marchers.

    I have volunteered, I have posted, I have marched. But I have not written. And this morning I thought, I MUST write. It is the only way to step outside of the madness and back inside myself.

    I feel furious with people who are trying to walk a neutral line right now, almost as furious as I feel with those Trump voters. "Nope, then you have to be outed. You are just wrong. That's it. You're wrong. You're morally wrong. You are on the wrong side of history. You knew who this man was, and you still gave him the nuclear codes. Wrong." EXACTLY THIS. There is only one way to cross the aisle, and that's to wake up and come over to the side of truth and facts. We're here with our pussy hats and goodwill, waiting to welcome the disillusioned.

    On a milder note, we're still singing Christmas songs too. A refrain from a magical time we can't seem to give up, which feels so symbolic right now.

    I love the photos of your gang marching in NYC and your parents in Florida marching alone a sandy path!

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  4. I posted a comment before and lost it somehow when I hit publish. I will try to resay how much this resonates. Your spinning matches mine, and so many others. We will keep fighting, marching, reading, writing, and loving. This is scary shit. Thank you for voicing your fear. It helps me feel less alone.

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  5. Thank you both for these generous comments.

    I am spiraling too Sarah. Totally agree the "exhilarating energy...felt like a reclamation of the hope"

    I too feel furious with those trying to walk a neutral line. It's beyond irresponsible at this point. It's truly reckless.

    It's true, those Xmas songs do feel like they hold that hope alive, but it's funny to remember we first sang them this year after our hopes were dashed on 11/9.

    The best photos so far are from Haines, Alaska - have you seen those? Battling fierce wind and snow.

    Amie, thank you for helping me feel less alone. That's what we can keep holding onto in these weeks and months and years of marching and writing and fighting ahead.

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