Voting is not hard, but it's not necessarily the easiest of things to do. We are hard-wired to conserve energy, and going out of our way to vote takes a bit of effort. It's easier when an effort is routine - like brushing teeth or chores; or when there's a palpable and quick positive response, like a paycheck or a grade; or if there's immediate avoidance of a negative response, like a scolding or arrest. It is harder when we can't readily see the importance of our effort.
If you've ever played on a sports team or in an orchestra, you know how intrinsic your part is to the success of the whole. Even in the sea of strings, every violin adds to the strength, power, and poignancy of the music. Even if the listener can't identify your alto line, your presence in the choir has been written into the score because your unidentifiable contribution is of utmost importance to the impact.
Voting requires all of us to add our unidentifiable singular voice to the choir for the benefit of the whole. That is the foundational concept of a democratic nation.
Voting is a gift to us from those from before who overcame their own hard-wired impulse for inertia. Every vote -- even those who had the right since the beginning of this nation -- was hard-earned through some kind of revolutionary battle. Our forefathers and foremothers overcame their own impulse for inertia because the desire for freedom for themselves and future unknown generations was greater than their individual impulse to conserve energy. Our forebears understood that it would take effort to have a say in the rules and people that govern their individual lives. Freedom was worth the effort of interrupting their daily schedule. Those forebears in demographics that had less historical power had to sustain the effort to battle their own inertia longer than the original American revolutionaries. But regardless of demographic, because of the efforts of our forefathers and foremothers, none of us today has to battle the United Kingdom or argue with the Supreme Court to gain the right.
We, this week, have a much smaller task. We do not have to fight for the right to vote. We just have to know our values, weigh them against the values of the candidates running, show up at the polls, and cast our ballots.
The US, as a whole, doesn't encourage us to vote. It would, of course, be easier if we could vote online from the comfort of our homes -- imagine if it was as easy as voting on The Voice. Some states have introduced more accessible methods, and some states have made it harder, but either way, we each have the obligation to follow through on the gift that history has given us.
Your personal schedule will be interrupted. You will have to read the ballot, pay attention, and assess it critically against your values. You will have to disregard the advertisements, which utilize advertising psychology and attempt to sway your emotions, and rationally assess what's at stake. To do this, you will have to find the right voter guide to help you with your selections. You will likely need to drive out of your way, or take a bus, or walk, enter an unfamiliar building, and interact with strangers. You might need to leave work early, or figure out what to do with the kids.
Every day of your life you overcome the impulse for inertia. You can do it now, too.
Elections only come around every so often, like mammograms, or colonoscopies, or a visit from the in-laws (or the outlaws). Unlike the former, voting will cause no discomfort to your physical body. Unlike the latter, it doesn't drink all your beer.
And on the way home, with your I Voted sticker proudly displayed on your lapel, you can go out of your way once more -- this time to pick up a sweet reward for your efforts. Go on, eat that doughnut. You deserve it.
Thank you for voting.
New Years Reckoning
So much churns and rises to the surface during the night. A few days ago, I sat with my coffee and journal as I do most mornings, trying to capture my waking thoughts. As usual, only after my inner compass steadied could I turn my gaze to the headlines and other people's stories. Though I am enamored with the world, I don't know what magnets may swing too near my needle as I sleep so nearly every morning I do this scan of my inner horizon, as if it's an object on my nightstand, to ensure true north is where I left it the night before. If I can engage the first half hour of the morning with my pen steadied over the page, I rein in some otherwise missed understanding of the world. I write, listen to the hum of the refrigerator or the chatter of finches across the street, and sip my coffee. Sometimes, when there's little to sort out, I just write about the refrigerator and the finch. I aim for at least three pages of anything, and no matter what I write, mornings like that start out well.
The break of a new year is much the same. As one year's clepsammia thins, I hold my inner compass to the events of the previous twelve months. How does my living measure with the map I envision for my life? Have I lived aligned with my values? When the hourglass inverts, I face the future and envision how to rebalance lopsidedness from the previous year and further build on past progress.
As I began to write my way across the transition from 2017 into 2018, though, I noticed a distinctly uncommon wobble in my journaling. My compass seemed to be spinning. When I asked What did I do with my time? I felt unmoored, and then understood: The November before, not to over-play a broken record, had named the loser of the popular vote the winner of our last presidential election. Though I believe people can change, I don't think Trump will, and I didn't buy some commentators' hopes that his election season manner would temper after his swearing in. Instead, the weight of all the injustices ever wrought against women -- the silencing, the harassing, the violence, the unfair narratives, the pay gap -- pushed at my back and pummeled me through the gates of that new year. I had crossed threshold with a heady mix of anger, fear of the unknown, and a whopper of an election hangover.
Between the election of '16 and the swearing in last January, with my usual New Year's reckoning, I somberly acknowledged that the creative and professional plans I had thought would be my focus of 2017 had been based on an election outcome much different from what came to pass. Instead, I saw, 2017 would be not a year of embarking on new journeys, but on rehashing tired arguments for why, dammit, women need access to reproductive care; why, dammit, people for whom skin color has been the primary correlating factor for economic disparity should benefit from affirmative action; why gender expression or sexual orientation should make no damn difference when it comes to employment, military service, marriage, bathroom access, safety, or equal rights of any kind; why health care, particularly for the very old and very young and very sick and very poor -- and every child, like ours, with Type 1 Diabetes -- should be, in every civilized and wealthy society, guaranteed, accessible, and affordable; why we must be aggressive and progressive against industries that exacerbate climate change; why we must be diplomatic in our foreign relations; why we must encourage and support advancements in science, the arts, and education; and why, dammit, the individuals we choose as representatives should represent us at our best, not just for political reasons, but because, for god's sake, the children are listening.
This week, as I tried to clarify my retrospective of 2017 in order to create my vision for 2018, I saw too well that the past year, instead of moving forward, had been spent going back over the leaks in the boat we'd already built and had thought was airtight. That was the wobble. It came from the gravitas and boredom of battles re-waged. It came from tamping down celebrations; pulling back recording projects; setting aside money for the ACLU and NARAL and other organizations with other letter combinations; and delaying creation of new books in order to have time to consume more articles analyzing what had caused this great ship to dip, and how to simultaneously bail out the water and repair the leak before we all go down.
You many think I'm being overly dramatic, but that's part of what I love about you and me: we are not identically the same in our passions. And sometimes we are.
Still, the point is that 2017 has ended. To honor it, Darby and I chilled a bottle of prosecco and holed up in his recording studio to reclaim what was left of the new year. We staked out the final hours and marked them as our own, getting back to making music and writing stories.
We finished the year like that, never getting to the Prosecco, and woke up on January 1 to continue our work, which is on the Bliss Drops record that we first started over a year ago. Never mind the past. Through this New Years Eve and Day, we picked up where we left off before the election fiasco of 2016, with what is called "the Guru mantra," a Sanskrit chant that I've put to melody and chords, and which Darby has dressed up in groove. Gu = darkness. Ru = remover. Seems a fitting way to start anew: removing the darkness to bring in clarity, truth, healing, and joy.
"By reciting this mantra with a sincere heart," activist, musician, writer, and yoga teacher Sharon Gannon writes, "you will see that the power that enlightens is all around you at all times. [...] The guru is your own self, the inner guiding light."
To you, dear reader, I wish a very happy 2018, filled with love, joy, good health, creative inspiration, and the light of truth so that you may see more clearly in the darkness.
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru devo Maheshwara, Guru sakshat, param Brahma, tasmai shri guravay namaha
Brahma is the force, or guru, of creation; Vishnu, that of preservation; devo Maheshwara is behind the trials that transform us. There is a remover of darkness nearby (Guru Sakshat) and one beyond the beyond (param Brahma). I make my offering (tasmai) to the beautiful (shri) remover of my darkness, my own ignorance; I honor that guru with my life (namaha).
Yet another ad for another t-shirt with another feminist or empowerment statement has popped up in my newsfeed, and again I find myself considering buying it. I haven't plunked down any money, because I'm not generally one for t-shirts or, for that matter, clothes shopping, but this has become an almost daily consideration. Today I wondered how my personal style would change if I actually got all those shirts and wore a different one each day. I don't know if my office would allow it, but maybe. It seems that there are enough ads to keep me in new shirts for at least half a month, and I like to think the profits support the cause. I could always throw a sweater on for work.
Today this t-shirt consideration led me to a realization that the grief many of us felt on November 9th, and have continued to feel beyond, was not only grief over the loss of our preferred candidate, our outgoing administration, our country as we saw it, or democratic values as a whole. Those are all huge. The political is very personal. Maybe moreso for some than others, depending on where we each fall on the nonlinear privilege spectrum. But everyone breathes. Everyone needs clean water.
Today, as I looked at another Superwoman graphic hashtagged with RESIST, I realized that there was another grief we have individually and collectively been feeling: the grief over the loss of who we were before. When we woke on November 9th, subconsciously but without a doubt, we must have known we would be fundamentally changed because of the election outcome. Change, the philosophers, yogis, and psychologists tell us, is the death of something. Even in the best of changing circumstances, we feel a certain amount of fear, sadness, anxiety. But this is not the best of circumstances, and the election outcome has long term implications. The country has changed, and, passive or active, we have changed with it.
Looking back on the last few months, I now see the death of us as we were. Conversations are different. Not once since the election have I sat with a friend and not talked politics. Not once has Darby and I skipped a recap of the news at the end of the day or first thing in the morning. We've all witnessed and/or experienced wonderful things in the past few months - babies, marriages, publications, travel, beauty somewhere somehow. Yet, the beauty almost seems like it's "despite." It's apparent in the things we post, buy, talk about, dream about, the way we answer the question "How are you?". Something fundamental died; something fundamental has grown in its place. Maybe we're all still adjusting to it, and reluctantly at that, just as we would with the death of anything we are not ready to let go. Who are those people who post so many negative news stories? Who are those people who wear t-shirts?
This morning, at 2:44, the northern hemisphere tipped into winter. Later, when we woke, Darby whispered, "Do you hear the rain?" The drops here are so soft, but with no hope for snow, rain is our favorite. They are often just a misting, no louder than a snail's movement. I tried to listen, but my thoughts were too loud for such a gentle sound.
I'd woken early, as I do lately, and had been thinking about my book manuscript and the writer Abigail Thomas, because last weekend I was in Portland, OR for Lidia Yuknavich's writing workshop and had gone straight from PDX to Powell's City of Books, bought Abigail Thomas's newest, along with a bunch of other things (note: always travel to Powell's with a suitcase and room to spare), and then woke at 4 a.m. each day of the workshop to work on the fifth round of my manuscript revisions before Lidia's sessions began. After the weekend workshop ended, on the flight home, I started the new Thomas and remembered that her book Safekeeping had been the one, nearly three years ago, that tipped me into writing the particular manuscript I spent the weekend revising. Reading Safekeeping had helped me figure out a way to write my own material, which became a book, and which is titled, for now, Shiva: a memoir concerto. In the drafts since then, I'd forgotten all about Safekeeping and how it had been my portal. Then, yesterday, while back at home and cleaning out some computer files, I stumbled upon the first draft of my book, the one I'd started right after reading Safekeeping. It was like bumping into a three-years-younger Arielle. I was still in my thirties, I'd barely begun my MFA program. Now I can't hear the rain outside on this winter solstice because I'm in a weird time capsule conversation with my younger self, my current self, Abigail Thomas, and Lidia Yuknavich. You can see why it's loud in here.
But this morning is the winter solstice, and with the mention of rain my thoughts shifted. Darkness, literal or figurative, reveals things not otherwise visible. The moon, the stars, the shadow-self. It is a dark time in American history. A childhood friend, whose family fled from Moscow in the 1980s, has been writing on social media lately about her sense of loss coming out of the election and the electors' vote this week, her loss of trust and faith in America, in Americans, in our democracy. It doesn't take a Russian-born to say it, to know that's how many of us are feeling. And it's small comfort that the majority of voters share our values when the loser is the winner of the presidential office, and the winner has no platform to unite us.
America has taken a strange turn: we are steering toward icebergs. Allied international leaders growl sternly: danger, stay. The ACLU has taken to full-page letters forewarning prosecution. Already, in this new American darkness, we are seeing parts of ourselves that we weren't able to see in the light of an Obama administration. We don't want darkness, and we mean it wholeheartedly. But like the solstices of winter and summer, dark and light cycle in and out. And in the dark, we see stars.
In the Harry Potter books, when Voldemort gains strength and the Death Eaters emerge from their hiding holes emboldened to flaunt their racist, xenophobic bigotry, Harry and his friends unite as a secret Dumbledore's army. Dumbledore has left the scene and knows nothing about the D.A. Without their wise leader, Harry reluctantly teaches his comrades how to fight against wrong. He has no experience teaching, they have no experience fighting. They are children, after all, but they lead the defense against the dark forces of evil. Now, as the eloquent, wise, educated Obama family and administration leave their post, many of us feel poorly prepared for the fights that we face. But as Harry and his friends find themselves fighting against wrongs they might previously have turned away from, you and I are now faced with our core values, passions, strengths, and, hopefully, we will re-discover the power of a group when it is willing to come together.
At the end of Lidia's workshop, one of the editors at Connotation Press asked some of us to record on video a minute or two about some uplifting or optimistic aspect of this current political climate. I wanted to participate, but in the end I made some excuse and walked away. Any positivity seemed pollyanna. I didn't feel that I had any new perspective to share. The next day is when I stumbled on the old computer files, and this morning is when I woke in dialogue with my younger self. We live moving forward in time, our past with us but invisible like stars in daylight, filed away in drawers we rarely open. What I might have said for the video is that maybe it was time for dark to remind us of our deepest, oldest mores, the ones beyond our daily living, that guide our every rule. Maybe it was time to start fighting for them, not just for the greater revolution, but for our own personal evolution.
Here we are, the longest night of the year. Hello, darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again. Let's get quiet for a minute, still. We are made of stars and dinosaur bones, heartbreak, and the strange ever-temporariness of time. This is an era of darkness: there is no fighting that fact. While here, we must strain our eyes to see what wasn't apparent before. Turn them inward. Turn them outward. We must point the telescope beyond the horizons we thought we knew, build fires of passion, burn whatever we must to warm this chill, give socks and soup to the hungry and homeless, send letters and money to those on the front lines, listen to stories at the campfires, invite strangers in, and hold on tightly, tightly, tightly to the ones we love.
I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about three things:
First, the Yoga & Creativity Retreat is next month! We moved to a larger estate -- a gorgeous spot in Ojai, CA, perfect for a weekend of yoga, campfires, introspection, and delicious meals -- which opened up a few spots. Darby and I have been creating this retreat for a long time, but it's taken on new levels of importance since the national election outcome. We cannot think of a better time to join together for reflection, community, and creative inspiration. We'd love for you to join us January 20-22 in Ojai to practice yoga and create new visions for 2017. Other than location, the original plans are all the same: four yoga sessions; several creativity workshops; a wine tasting on Friday night; time for writing, optional massages, or hikes on Saturday; and a campfire circle on Saturday night. The poet Mary Oliver asks, Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? In Ojai we will ask, What is it we each plan to do with our one wild and precious 2017? Every year is a new gift, and 2017 will surely hold its own surprising beauty.
Second, my little piece about stepmothering and pie (with recipe), "How to Make an Apple Pie," has finally been published by From Sac, a print journal in Sacramento. If you're up there, keep your eyes peeled on the news stands. You can also purchase a copy here. It's over 200 pages of stories and photographs, and only $12. I hope you'll support the independent press.
Lastly, during my MFA work, I was honored to be selected to serve as Editor-in-chief of Lunch Ticket, a well-known and well-loved literary and art journal. The new issue, Winter/Spring 2016, was published last week, and then I passed the baton to the new editor. Do check out that issue - I am proud of the whole staff that pulled it together and love every piece that we published. Here, also, is my final Word From the Editor.
Wishing you love and light throughout the holiday season,
The new Winter/Spring 2017 issue of Lunch Ticket came out a few days ago, and the next day I stepped down from my post as editor-in-chief and passed the baton to my successor. Still, after months of working on pulling together this issue, I'm not ready to walk away. There're so many fantastic interviews, poems, essays, translations, short stories... Start here with my Word from the Editor and then pop over to the magazine:
I began drafting this essay at the end of the presidential election season, in light of what many of us thought would be a landmark historical moment: the United States’ election of our first woman president. On November 8, as we are all too aware, despite winning the popular vote by (as of this writing) over two million, the Electoral College results tallied in favor of her opponent. Spurred by a campaign rhetoric that relied on a cornerstone of violence, fear, and hatred, the president-elect continues to provoke considerable domestic and international criticism. Shocked by what this outcome revealed—that nearly half of voters responded positively to his rhetoric—, many say that it appears we have two Americas, red and blue. Like warring tribes, we’ve now turned away from each other and returned to our camps, separated by a modern Mason-Dixon line in the divided states of America. We curl up with our own news sources, revel in our own truths. The fissure is too deep, we say, and so draw a line that relieves us of reconciling our differences, scrutinizing root causes, or compromising our values.
Fissure is just one analogy to describe the state of the (dis)union. We could, instead, look at our picture of this country and say that part of our view was obscured. As political theorist Andrew Robinson writes, “Any particular way of seeing illuminates some aspects of an object and obscures others.” With our sights set on equality, community, and eco-conservatism, we now realize that we missed a large segment of the picture. Feminist scholar Julie Jung calls this synecdochic understanding: using part of something to represent the whole. As it turns out, many of us—including every major newspaper and pollster—were looking at the U.S. through this device. The election results lifted the shroud. Now we’re squirming in discomfort about two new sources of awareness: that which was underneath the shroud and the shroud itself. As long as there’s a shroud, the former cannot be helped. But we should question why we didn’t investigate our blind spots, why we overlooked the shroud.
Often writers think of revision as a task grudgingly—or happily—undertaken to perfect our work. We reread our words seeking moments of disconnect for the bits that don’t seem to belong, and we assess their worthiness to the story. We want our work to make sense, so we seek a narrative arc. If something doesn’t propel the narrative or make consistent sense for a character, it falls to the cutting room floor. Smooth out the wrinkles, wash out the stains, turn in the essay, get an A.
But what if we revised revision? What if instead of smoothing out the wrinkles, we held them to a magnifying glass? In this approach, so-called flaws would not to be brushed away but, rather, probed. As writers, artists, and activists, can we approach our work so that revising—that process of looking closely at our work for moments of disconnect—is not a process of glossing over but of examining more closely? Instead of manipulating truth in service of a smooth narrative, we should examine our motives for creating a smooth narrative to begin with. In this light, revision becomes not an act of making something flawless but, rather, making it more whole. As Annie Dillard writes in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, “Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. . . This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon.”
Given this approach to revision, what cultural material have we rushed to brush away before truly exploring? In our attempts to move toward equality and understanding, it’s now apparent that we’ve not fully attended to the underlying bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobic ills that this election season oozed to the surface. We have a country half-peopled by those who either resonate with or can overlook narratives of distrust and resentment for “the other.” Although it feels for many that we’ve now taken six decades’ worth of steps back, perhaps the reason we need to do so is because our progressive vision glossed over too many foundational cracks. While we were moving forward, half the country planned a revolt. If we’re committed to walking our talk of inclusion, then we need to hunker down in this new climate to revise our understanding of the United States and build something more tenable.
It was with these thoughts that I have been turning the pages of our tenth issue, which is my last as editor. It appears to me that what we’ve put together here is a multi-layered, multi-genre conversation about gaps in cultural narratives, moments of disconnect or desire for connection, and an attempt to, as Dillard wrote, stalk the gaps. If anything, the eighty-two pieces in this Winter/Spring 2017 issue, from interviews to art to new and translated work in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, point to the value and necessity of open discourse, of reading the white space between words along with the words themselves.
In her interview for our Lunch Special, Maggie Nelson says “every draft is slathered with self-deceptions,” which we must examine in order to get to honesty. In a separate interview, artist Harry Dodge responds to Nelson’s The Argonauts by reminding us that “any piece of art, whether nonfiction or otherwise, is a construction” and asks “whether language is able to do the work of describing fluidity, or anything really.” In his interview, poet Fred Moten talks about how writing should not suppress what he calls the monstrous, the strange, the radically disruptive fundamental aspects of life. And Susan Southard says of Nagasaki, a braided nonfiction narrative about the U.S. bombing in WWII, “I felt it was so important to bring [the survivors], still hidden from view in our country, into visibility.”
This theme of visibility is stitched throughout the issue. We could say the stitches are like sutures, repairing cultural wounds, but the stitches are also like hand-sewn needlepoint, each threaded with its own palette, in its own frame, its own unique picture. Gabo Prize winner Jim Pascual Agustin’s poem Danica Mae is about the recent mass killings in The Philippines. Diana Woods Memorial Prize winner Sarah Pape’s CNF piece Eternal Father & The Other Army brings to light a nuanced experience of depression. Call to Arms, Marine Lieutenant Lisbeth Prifogle’s featured essay, is about the need for publishing “stories that could alleviate the fear, isolation, depression, and anxiety of joining the old world after a deployment.” Grace Lynne’s featured art collection, The Exploration Series, seeks to show “Black culture in a new light, and open people up to a side of my culture that they haven’t seen.”
I could, without reservation, list every single one of the eighty-two pieces in this issue. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking, mind-expanding collection, and an honor to publish this one as my last. After three issues as editor, this is a bittersweet goodbye as I now step away from the journal. My studies in the Antioch MFA program and, recently, as a Post-MFA in Pedagogy student are nearly complete, and Lunch Ticket has and always will be student-run. My work leading the editorial and production staff, reading our submissions, developing relationships with our writers and artists, and connecting with literary and art lovers who come to our pages has been humbling, inspiring, and invaluable for my personal growth as a writer and as a woman in this world. Thank you for being here, for sharing your stories, for reading ours.
And take good care,
Editor-in-chief, Lunch Ticket
Is Anybody Sleeping?
Six nights since the election. Is anyone actually sleeping through the night?
I'm awake again, this time from a dream of standing at a border of some sorts with Madeleine Albright. We're waiting to be let in so we can return to our homes, but when I finally get to mine, a humble room in a ghetto just beyond the flag-waving supporters of the new administration, it's infested with millions of bugs and spiders of all kinds.
Do those who voted for him understand yet that the protests are not because we lost a democratic election, but because in this election we may have lost democracy itself? I keep wondering , those for voted for him, in what grade did you study Europe's fall to WWII? Did you learn about it at all?
People, support your news sources. Donate to your local NPR. Pay for an online subscription to the reputable newspaper of your choice. We must ensure freedom of the press, especially in light of the Steve Bannon selection as Chief Strategist.
Retreating from the World
Six months ago when Darby and I planned to run off to a yoga retreat the second weekend of November, we had no idea how much we'd need the reprieve from the city on this particular weekend. All the emotions from last week's election - the despair, the rage - are still with me. Now, though, they've softened from a weekend of breaking bread with a group of compassionate, creative people, sleeping in a tiny cabin in the woods, and unplugging from media storms and news updates.
Something shattered last week. For weeks, for months, we thought it would be a glass ceiling. It turns out it was something else entirely, and things feel very fractured, very much in pieces. Many of us are not only grieving the loss of what we almost had -- and that loss is great -- but now we are also gaping wide-mouthed at the mammoth clean-up job we hadn't seen coming. Many of the values so many of us hold dear have slipped, and how far we can't yet say.
But at the yoga retreat I remembered a story from years ago, and that reminded me of a simple lesson that my kidlets learned back in their horse riding lessons: Where you look is where you'll go.
I have no delusions about our new president-elect. He spent the past year telling us who he is and what he stands for, and it is the exact antithesis of everything I would want in a president. But I don't want to assume that half the nation voted for him out of malice. I don't want to focus on the hate and fear. If I rubberneck those values, I'll either crash into the folks who are on the road with me or end up U-turning and joining the other pack. When I look around at my fellow travelers, the ones committed to the direction of social progress and positive change, I see fierce intelligence, compassionate justice-fighters, inspiring artists. They are kind people, people who believe that lifting others up will help us all rise.
This weekend helped me remember to keep looking forward. Oh yes, I'll keep a scrutinous eye on the new administration. But I'm not going to rubberneck the election or speculate on whether what I hate in the president-elect is what those who voted for him love. Where you look is where you'll go. I want to go to a place where diversity is celebrated, there is equity and equality for all, we care and try to keep safe the most vulnerable among us, and we protect our natural resources. From now on, that's where I'm putting my attention.
Wednesday's Child is full of Woe
My Tuesday excitement turned to sadness on Wednesday, which turned to anger on Thursday. The initial sadness was debilitating so when the anger came, I welcomed the charge: Energy drives action, and action brings progress and change.
Now it's Friday, and I'm continuing to observe my thoughts and emotions as they morph. Perhaps it was Darby's uncontrolled laughter last night as, while reading the latest Bill Bryson book, he tried to share a humorous passage but was laughing too hard to get out the words. Laughter-tears fell from the corners of his eyes, and I laid my head on his belly and let the convulsions break up my tension. Then I put on a Leonard Cohen playlist, and this morning I found myself singing.
Or maybe it's because while Darby was reading the Bryson, I was editing this week's Lunch Ticket blog. It's a collection of brief post-election feelings from many on the LT team. We on LT have exchanged dozens of emails this week, both before and after the election, and already, like me, emotions are shifting. This collection serves as a snapshot in time. As I read their words last night, I found my nerves calming. I hope you find the same solace.
Wednesday's children were full of woe,
and Thursday's children were livid,
but Friday's children will rock the vote
for the world we want to live in.
Read it here: http://lunchticket.org/wednesdays-children/
The Day after the Day after
Three days ago I woke thinking, "Today is the day we elect our first woman president." Yesterday I woke thinking, "I do not want to live in this world." Today I woke thinking, "It's time for me to get to work."
While driving the little one to school this morning, we made a list of things we are grateful for. Tears For Fears came on the radio -- [the radio station that we've noted (like so many others) plays 10 male-fronted bands for every 1 female-fronted band] -- and she wrote it down, because it made us happy. "So glad we've almost made it / So sad they had to fade it / Everybody wants to rule the world."
I am so glad we almost made it. And I am so, so sad that we didn't. But everybody wants to rule the world, and we need to take better care with our democratic process and our participation in bringing about the change we wish to see in the world so that any schmuck with an ivory tower and a mysterious tax evasion record who, for sport, incites violence and gives the middle finger to all the values we hold dear is not elected the president of the most powerful nation in the world. We need to take better care of the things and concepts we value and the people and places that are most vulnerable to short-sighted, power-hungry demagogues.
I'm not done crying, but I've found my fire. If the good that comes out of this is that we all get off our asses and more actively engage in righting the wrongs of our culture, of living in our values, of leading with our hearts AND our minds, then it still sucks that it took this American tragedy to kick us into gear.
But obviously we needed it.
The Day after the Election
On a day when I can barely construct a sentence much less think about writing a whole book, my mentor calls me and reminds me that I have already written a book, that I need to get it published, and that I need to get started on the second one because I am a good writer and a good teacher and I need a book on my CV for when I'm ready to start my university faculty job search.
It took me a moment to understand what he was saying. Then I remembered -- I am writer, and I have already started on the second book, and if my anger over this election (that is triggering a lifetime of angers about cultural injustices) stops me from doing this work and achieving my dreams, I am playing right into the hands that hold the glass ceiling over us, the hands of the ones who whistle when we walk by, say we're too emotional to get anything done, say we have nothing worthwhile to say anyway. The ones who cheer us on when we're "attractive" and talk over us when we're "confrontational," "shrill," or "nagging." The ones who say "women's lit" is different from "literature," "women issue memoirs" don't sell, who publish bylines by men far outside the gender ratio. The ones who tell us we can't be astronauts or president or musicians. The ones who burn us at the stake or drown us or just suffocate us with a patriarchal pack of lies that, at this point, is about as thinly veiled as the emperor's clothes.
I won't get any writing done today. I'm far too agitated. But tomorrow or Friday or next week or in December, I am going to strap on my jet pack and use this fire to blast me through that oppressive roof to that star I keep wishing on.