What to do (when you don’t know what to do)

14561806_1766597463607730_1868566332904046592_n

Love & Rage enamel pin from catxbone

I had just barely arrived in Austin, TX for our vacation, when I woke up to the news that we were to have a President Trump. Lying in bed, I felt that one-two gut punch of shock and disbelief, followed up by a greasy, queasy dread that has wrapped its way around my spine, and where it still resides today, every second. Even though I was traveling with a group of people who I know would perfectly, completely understand my feelings…at 8am on November 9th, I locked myself in the bathroom and sobbed for 10 minutes straight.

I’m not one for political discourse. I never have been. I hold my beliefs closely and I don’t talk about them. I don’t engage with people or debate them. I don’t know if that’s just because I am a quiet person and I don’t talk with anyone about much of anything, or if it’s more to do with me keeping my mouth shut about things I don’t know very much about. It’s hard to say something stupid if you don’t say anything at all, right?

I’ve been thinking about this all week long as we traversed the streets of Austin agonizing over an indigestion caused more, I think, by the current state of events than all the tacos and barbecue that I was somehow still managing to eat. I don’t think this “keep your mouth shut” policy has served me well in the past and I fear that that it is not going to do much for me going forward either.  On the evening before we returned home, my youngest sister asked me if I was going to be writing about any of this mess on my blog; “I don’t know”, I dithered hesitantly, “I mean, I don’t even know what I’d say?”

She told me that, in the blogs she reads, no one is saying anything about any of this -the election, the candidates, their personal fears or hopes regarding the results–no one, she says, brings it up at all. Now, I don’t know whether these blogs are beauty or food or fashion or craft-related, and who are we to dictate what someone else writes on their own blog, anyway, right? And that maybe by veering from their normal content, or sharing feelings on strong subject matter, these bloggers fear they might lose readers and followers.  I thought about it, and asked her, as a frequent reader of these blogs, what is it that she would like to read, what is it that she wants these bloggers and writers and content producers to say?

“Something,” she replied. “Anything.”

And with that in mind, I am telling you–you, as someone who reads this blog and who may be interested in my thoughts–that I am feeling heartbroken, disillusioned (and terribly, stupidly naive for it), and desperately frightened. Though I do mostly write about fashion and fripperies and light-hearted nonsense here on my blog, perhaps it helps you to know that I think about other things as well, even if I do not give them voice here. To be perfectly honest, I have a great fear of talking/writing about why I am so distressed and alarmed right now. That maybe I am not saying these things properly, that I am not using the right words. That what I am trying to say is less valid, because I don’t have as much experience articulating them.

I am frightened and angry. This horrid man, this vulgar, racist, misogynist, corrupt candidate, was not the president I wanted.  And if I feel that way, if I can hardly see through the tears in my eyes or speak through the now permanent lump in my throat–what about my friends who do not have access to the same privileges that I do, as a mostly middle-class, cis white woman? What about my non-binary friends or my POC friends or otherwise-marginalized friends? You’re no doubt terrified and furious and I’m not so blind that I don’t know that you always have been and this is nothing different. Except now I am starting to feel it, more, too. (Even now my pulse rate is quickening with anxiety talking about this. Am I saying any of this right? I love my friends and don’t want to think that I’m hurting them on top of everything else they are already going through, with my guilty white lady talk.)

Honestly, I don’t think about this blog as something with “followers”. You guys are friends. I am not writing for countless random eyeballs; I am writing mostly for me; either to amuse myself or to get something nebulous out of my head and into tangible words, to try to make sense of it. Either exercises or an exorcism, I guess. Otherwise, I write for folks who already know me on some level, or for someone out in the ether to stumble across, and say “oh, yes, yes, I relate to that, and now I know there is someone who feels like this, too!”

I am not worried about losing readers and followers, much in the same sense that I am not concerned with gaining any. That’s not why this space is here.

One reason it is here, though, is that I know you folks–my friends and loved ones–are reading. And listening. And thinking.  And I’d love to know your thoughts on this. I don’t want to be a nuisance person who worries and frets without making a move to do something positive. What do you do, when you don’t know what to do? What are you folks doing to contribute, to help, to move forward? If you are comfortable doing so, please share and talk to me/us here about it. I have to believe I am not the only one who is looking for some suggestions here.

Where to start? There is so much I don’t know. I don’t even know how much it is that I don’t know. I know I have a lot of work to do, and I have to start somewhere. Why not with  education? First and foremost of myself. I’m tired of feeling afraid that I am too clueless to contribute, and if there is one thing I know I can do, and do it well, is read and learn. I’m also not too bad at collecting, organizing and disseminating information; here are some links I have found, though, post-election.

I hope to check back in and revisit this soon. I have a lot to learn, and even more to do.

Okay, Fine. Here’s What You Should Do Post-Election.

Concrete Suggestions in Preparation for January 2017’s change in American government

Love and Amplification

Intervention and De-escalation

The Stop Trump Reading List: Arm Your Mind With These 16 Books

I love you we’re dead meat

Samantha Bee Helps Us Through All the Stages of Grief

Holy Fuck The Election

Syllabus For White People To Educate Themselves

A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support

The Creeping Museum’s list of folks creating art to raise money for a good cause

Make Pence Sad Again: Professor Jack pledges that for the next four years (at least) he will donate profits from his nerdbooks to organizations that make Mike Pence sad

Beloved poet and dear friend Sonya Vatomsky is donating all proceeds from sales of their book, Salt is For Curing, to Planned Parenthood for the month of November

8 Comments on What to do (when you don’t know what to do)

  1. Pamela
    November 16, 2016 at 6:04 pm (4 years ago)

    I have been clinically depressed since the election. I thank the people I see on FB starting support groups with things you can do to help. I keep hoping this is a bad dream and I will wake up.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie
    November 16, 2016 at 6:20 pm (4 years ago)

    If any good comes of this, hopefully more people (like yourself) will engage. Enngage in the government that is promised to us in the Constitution. As a cis white woman…do what you can to protest those that aren’t. Protect *others*. Support, march, protest, volunteer, be strong. Don’t let all of this Normalize. Folks are getting fatigued by all of this already and it’s only been a week! I’m afraid most everyone I know irl has given up already. Be aware, stay aware, stay informed, do what you can to keep others inforned. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Thank you for this post. It means alot.

    Reply
  3. Minna
    November 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Besides setting up monthly donations to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and some other organizations, I’m looking at taking self defense classes, and maybe also mediation training.

    Mostly in the immediate aftermath, I’ve been trying to get out more and talk with friends and family about how we feel and what we plan to do. It’s helped.

    Reply
  4. Jennifer
    November 17, 2016 at 2:26 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you for this post, it was very eloquently said. Every morning since the election, I wake up with a sense of dread, like you do when someone’s died and it takes you a moment to remember why you feel awful. I plan on donating to the ACLU and some of the organizations you linked to. Also, I’m going to subscribe to the NY Times (apparently Trump sees them as his nemesis) as well as Mother Jones (admittedly left-wing, but does some good investigative journalism.)

    Reply
  5. Melissa
    November 18, 2016 at 5:05 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you so much for writing this. I think if people don’t discuss their fears and hopes around this, there’s no way we move forward.

    Reply
  6. Regina
    November 18, 2016 at 8:34 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you for writing this. I also normally avoid talking politics, but this past year I have been a compulsive irate maniac. It wasn’t until after this election’s terrible results that I realized how much fear was driving me. So much hinged on this one decision that less than half of Americans participated in, and less than half of that ultimately decided.

    In the near future I may no longer have control over my body. People I know and love might have to register in a database. My jewish friend’s grandmother has been dropping hints about fleeing to Israel.

    I also feel heartbroken and disillusioned. I hate how aware I now am of all the quiet hopes I had been harboring.

    Out of stress, I have fallen into my long time comfort read Sunshine by Robin McKinley (which is beautifully relevant) and this quote by the main character has really resonated: “I hadn’t thought I had any—did I mean innocence?—to lose … I didn’t know you could go on finding out you’d had stuff by losing it. This didn’t seem like a very good method to me.” It captures how absurd the hope created by eight years of Obama feels right now. I feel like I took so much for granted. And yet, (as the book goes on to say) sometimes you have help.

    A few things have helped:
    binge eating 50% off Halloween candy
    painting signs and protesting
    calling my representatives
    music
    reading blog posts like this one

    Reply
  7. Idolon
    November 19, 2016 at 5:50 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you for writing this, even though it was difficult.

    I know exactly how you feel; I’ve been depressed, anxious and terrified too. Indeed, I don’t think I’ve felt this sad since my mother passed away.

    I have found it really weird though that a lot of goths/alternative culture people I follow on social media aren’t talking about it. It’s making me paranoid that they are secretly Trump supporters, although I figure that’s unlikely. Anyone who falls outside the (now extremely narrow) mainstream is at risk and I sincerely hope that we can all support and protect each other in this uncertain future.

    Reply
  8. Sarah Holian
    November 19, 2016 at 5:54 pm (4 years ago)

    Thanks for this. I recently came across your blog and it has rapidly become one of my absolute favourites. I felt so grateful to go to my job as a nurse at a women’s surgery center that Wednesday after the election knowing that I would soon be surrounded by like minded individuals horrified by what we were witness to. I couldn’t speak to anyone without my eyes welling up with tears, I’m still fighting the ‘Trump lump’ in my throat that makes swallowing difficult. All I know is that we cannot be silent as others around us will be bullied and shamed. I will get up and go to work every day fighting for women’s rights. I will ensure that all women have access to control their reproductive freedom.
    Thank you for this, your blog is absolutely beautiful and I appreciate you

    Reply

Leave a Reply