Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday.
I’m in a position where I feel like there’s a fair bit of news that’s going to happen, but none of it has happened yet, so I don’t actually have a ton to write about this week. This is gonna be a short one. That said, I’m going to focus on a handful of things I’m currently feeling grateful for:
My job, even when it’s stressful, is really great. I have never felt so affirmed in a work environment as I do at this job, and there’s a sense of stability that comes with that feeling that’s really necessary right now. The fact that my husband is out of work and we’re still doing okay financially is mind-blowing to me.
I’m in a new songwriting class that started on Saturday, and I’m very excited for it. It’s a small group, just 4-5 students, which always makes for an interesting session. This week I’m struggling with the assignment, but even as I feel like songwriting is an impossible endeavor, I’m still looking forward to class and feeling motivated to keep trying, so that’s exciting.
Hello, dear readers! I woke up this morning completely convinced it was Friday (despite the fact that I took Monday off from work), but have since figured out that it is, in fact, Thursday, so here we are.
My parents came to visit last weekend, and that was nice. We all stayed masked except when we ate, which felt a little strange – it was also the first time we had anyone besides us in our apartment since March, so that was also a little strange. But it was nice. My dad hung curtain rods for us, so now after a year of living in this apartment without window coverings, we finally have curtains!
It feels very dreamy and ethereal in here right now, and I’m into it.
We went for a walk around the neighborhood, which was also nice-but-strange, as between the late summer heat and the pandemic I had been inside most of the time lately.
My parents also brought me a couple of boxes of my old stuff that were still taking up space at their house. One box had blankets and stuffed animals and “baby’s first year” things in it, and the other had yearbooks and bibles and some other miscellaneous stuff:
I haven’t dug too deeply into this box yet. It’s a little surreal seeing those yearbook photos. It often feels like those years happened to someone else (I’m working through that in therapy these days). But I’m looking forward to taking my time and remembering some parts of my history that have been lost for a while.
I hope all of you are hanging in there. It’s been a hard week, between Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing and the total lack of consequences for the officers who killed Breonna Taylor, to say nothing of the upcoming election and a president who’s increasingly blatant about his desire to be a dictator. Be gentle with yourselves, and also, let’s put that sorrow and rage to good use.
Hello, friends! I’ve been struggling to think about what to write this week, but the obvious answer is this: if you live in the United States, as I do, you (hopefully) know that the time has arrived to make your voice heard in politics. Election day is next Tuesday, November 6. In many places, early voting is already taking place.
I know it might seem like your voice doesn’t matter. I know voting can be overwhelming (and downright scary – I admittedly did not vote in the midterm election that happened just before I changed my name and got a new ID, because I was scared of what would happen if I brought myself to the polls and tried to vote under a name I wasn’t really using anymore). It can be hard to know who you’re voting for an why, particularly in a midterm. But if you’re able to, I am asking that you please, please, please get to your polling place or an early voting site. News aggregator theSkimm put together this helpful guide about why voting in this midterm election is so important. Please read it (or give it a listen here).
Additionally, here are some resources I have found incredibly helpful in figuring out my ballot:
BallotReady.org is my favorite. They have information on the platforms of basically every candidate who has a platform. And to fill in the gaps…
VoteForJudges.org has information on all the judges on your ballot that are up for retention – recommendations from various bar associations. This is super important to pay attention to – don’t just skip or blaze past this section of your ballot!
If you, like me, are in Cook County, here are some bonus resources:
InjusticeWatch.org has additional info on judges, taking into consideration more factors that just the bar association recommendations.
Friends, it’s been a week. And while I try to largely focus on the silver lining on this blog, I need to be honest with you – this week, there are several things I’m feeling scared about.
The obvious one, on a US-national politics scale, is that it’s looking likely that Brett Kavanaugh (who’s been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and who is clearly temperamentally unfit for the job) will be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. It’s horrifying. (John Oliver’s take on all this is on point and wonderful. Long, but worth the watch.)
In local-to-me news, two men in my neighborhood were shot in the head with the same weapon over the last few days. One was an older gay man walking his dog around 10am, and the other was an orthodox Jewish man walking near the lake late in the evening. Yes, I live in Chicago, but this feels different from past instances of gun violence in our neighborhood, which have historically been either gang-related or connected to muggings. There’s no telling at this point if these homicides were specific hate crimes or the result of a more generally misanthropic hate, but I admit I’m worried about how gay I might look walking down the street.
The world is often a terrifying place these days. I’m trying to look for bright spots to push back the dark. So here are some happy things that happened this week:
We went with friends to see Cameron Esposito on Friday. It was exactly what we all needed.
A couple we’re friends with had their baby on Saturday, which has inspired me to knit some baby things. They knit up so quickly!
I went to the dentist. This is generally not a happy statement, but it was the first time I’d been since moving to Chicago six years ago. No cavities in these teeth!
I’d love to hear how you’re pushing back the darkness this week, friends. (Or if you’re not, I’d love to know what I can do to sit with you in the dark a while.) Hang in there.
Happy New Year, readers! The adventure(?) that was 2017 has ended, and 2018 has begun. Last year was a rough one on a global level, but while my generalized anxiety reached new heights, I can’t say it was a terrible year for me personally. Sure, I didn’t knit as much as I usually do and I spent a lot of the year feeling an overwhelmingly hopeless sense of doom…but I also strengthened some really meaningful friendships, went to Song School, wrote 20 new songs…and I survived. A lot of pieces of my life that felt chaotic and unsettled for a long time have calmed down significantly, to the point where I feel like I’m coming out of survival/energy conservation mode and into a place where I can DO things.
Which brings me to the point of this first post of 2018. I don’t do a lot with concrete resolutions, but I’ve liked the idea that I’ve seen of choosing a word with which to frame the new year. My word for 2018: Action. I am still sussing out exactly what that means for my year, but I know it means a few things for sure:
Taking better care of my mental health, particularly in terms of anxiety. I am back in therapy with a new therapist, and my goal is to work on finding better coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with the anxiety that has become a constant under the current political administration in the U.S. I’ve identified some triggers and some key areas where I shut down, and while I know this will be hard work, I am at a point where I feel like I can do it.
Taking better care of myself physically. I’ve started physical therapy for my right knee, which has been acting up since Thanksgiving, and as long as I keep up with the exercises, it really does help. Today I’m going to the doctor to follow up on some high blood pressure results from the last time I was there. I have a few other longstanding issues that I want to work on, too (chronic pain, follow-up on some issues I had before we moved to Chicago that should probably be checked out).
Being more politically active. I want to call congresspeople, and be involved in local politics somehow, and stay outraged and stay active. Because this nightmare of an administration isn’t going away on its own. I can’t do everything, I can’t fix it all, but what little bit is in my control, I feel like I need to follow through on.
The brilliant S. Bear Bergman wrote a really wonderful bit about this in his Ask Bear column this week, and you should read it here if you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed here at the start of 2018. Here’s to tackling this new year “bird by bird” (to quote Anne Lamott), or “one penguin at a time” (to quote Bear’s article). We can only do what we can do. For myself, that means better self-care and more external action. Inertia is hard to overcome, but it’s time.
Yesterday was a rough news day here in the US, particularly for those of us who are trans, as we learned of 45’s intention to ban transgender people from serving in the military, ostensibly because our healthcare costs are too much of a burden.
First off, this is bullshit for a lot of reasons. 45 spends more on his trips to Mar-A-Lago than the military would spend on trans healthcare. The military spent ten times more on Viagra in 2014 than the high end of estimates of what healthcare for trans service members would cost. Estimating generously, trans healthcare would take up, at most 0.14% of the military’s healthcare budget. (Teen Vogue, who are delightfully leading the charge in the media revolution, aggregated some of this great info [which I also saw several other places] here.)
I’ll be honest: I think we spend entirely too much money on the military (or at least that we spend the money in the wrong way, when we focus on warmongering rather than caring for veterans in the aftermath of what we’ve put them through). But I’m afraid for the 10,000+ trans folks currently serving in the military. I’m afraid for trans veterans. And I’m afraid for trans folks in general, military aside.
Because, here’s the thing: arguing that trans healthcare is too much of a burden for the bloated military budget to handle is only a short hop away from arguing that trans healthcare is too costly, period. As we watch Congress attempt to systematically dismantle the ACA and take healthcare away from millions of Americans, it’s not hard to imagine the GOP using this as a further selling point with their base. Because of the systemic oppression faced by trans people (particularly trans people of color), trans folks already often struggle to obtain and afford affirming healthcare. This is only going to make it harder.
Trans people are not a burden. Treating us as human beings and affirming our identities is not a burden. But as I look at 45 and his fear- and hate-mongering, I find myself wishing that I could be a burden on his conscience. Sadly, to do that, he would need a conscience.
It’s been another week, and there’s been more awful things going on in the world. According to the Washington Post Fact-Checker, every single day of the current regime has brought with it a slew of lies (and these are just from the Dorito-in-Chief himself). Which is unsurprising, but, you know, horrifying. It’s also been in the upper 50s-60s Fahrenheit. In Chicago (and it was in Minnesota, too, when we were there over the weekend). In February. But don’t worry, our government no longer believes that climate change is real, so it’s fine, right? (Deep breaths, deep breaths…)
Still, life goes on (for now), so I’m trying to make the most of it. Here are some of the things that have made life a little more manageable in the past week:
On the recommendation of S. Bear Bergman, who decided he wanted to be able to get some news to start his day without getting inundated by it on Facebook first thing in the morning, I subscribed to theSkimm. It’s a little email digest that hits your inbox first thing each weekday morning and gives you some of the major news items of the previous day. It’s helped me feel like I’m in the loop without feeling the need to start my day off miserable by reading everything on social media, and that’s been really helpful.
I’ve been writing a lot. Much of this had to do with this week’s assignment from my songwriting class (part of which stipulated that we sat down and freewrote for half an hour three days in a row). A lot of what I wrote for the assignment had to do with Liberty and Justice and how we’re failing to honor those values that we tend to think of as being core to what America is. It was cathartic, even if I feel like the end product fell a little short of where I wanted it to.
I’ve picked up embroidery again, for the first time in about a decade. (When I was recovering from getting my wisdom teeth out in high school, my mother sat me down with an embroidery hoop, a tea towel, a pattern, and some thread to keep me entertained and out of trouble. I picked it up a couple of times after that, and always enjoyed it, but didn’t take any of that stuff with me when I moved to Chicago.) I bought a dozen handkerchiefs and some iron-on transfers and am enjoying how fast it is, particularly compared to knitting. (Not that I have any intention to give up knitting, but the instant gratification is a nice change of pace sometimes.) Here’s my first finished object:
a little green leaf embroidered onto a white handkerchief corner
So tell me, friends, what are you doing to make things bearable for yourselves these days?
I’m exhausted. It’s been less than two weeks since our new president was sworn into office, and the whole time has been a never-ending deluge of bad news. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next handful of years with this ever-present knot in my stomach (not to mention the knots in my neck and shoulders and elsewhere in my body).
I’m struggling to find balance. I want to stay informed, about the resistance and the things we’re resisting. And I want to help spread information around. But I feel like I’m so inundated with information every time I open Facebook or go pretty much anywhere else on the internet that I just end up paralyzed.
I feel guilty about this mental paralysis, too. Because I recognize that I have a lot of privilege, and the ability to take time to feel paralyzed and not act is, in itself, a privilege. Yes, I struggle with anxiety and I’m Bipolar and deal with chronic pain, and those all have an impact on my ability to react to things productively. But I wish I was doing a better job, and I know that wishing doesn’t count for much, really.
The sheer number of different destructive things this new administration is doing is, to put it mildly, overwhelming. I know that I’m only likely to be able to stay on top of two or three issues at once, but I care about all of them, dammit, and they’re all related, really, because they’re all human issues. Picking a place to focus feels like I’m letting down whatever group I didn’t pick, and there are few things that get under my skin like feeling as though I’m a disappointment.
It’s been an anxious week. I got some good news on a personal front (that isn’t official enough to fully announce here yet, sorry), but the time leading up to that news was extraordinarily stressful. And the actions of the Dorito-in-Chief in his first week in office have been nothing short of horrifying.
I’m struggling to balance my intake and output of news-related information on social media, as well as the effect of that input and output on my mental health and general ability to function in my daily life. As a white dude, I have immense amounts of privilege that I want to leverage for good. To do that, I need to stay informed, and use my voice in the hope that I can help to inform other people. However, I also deal with chronic pain, anxiety, and the joys of being Bipolar, which means that the deluge of horrible news can be particularly paralyzing.
I don’t have answers for this yet, but I’m looking for them. I’m taking steps to get my life more organized, and am trying to exercise other methods of anxiety mitigation as well. Despite the fact that the last week has been more than a bit of a political dumpster fire, I’m determined to do what I can to make 2017 a year of forming better habits and breaking out of unhealthy patterns. I’ve struggled in the past to do this for my own sake, but I’m hoping the sense of urgency I feel now to reach out and create change in the world around me helps to propel me on to greater success.
There’s no point in lying and saying I’m super hopeful, because I’m not. I’m struggling with some pretty crushing despair and questioning where we’ll be as a nation in four years, or if we’ll be anywhere at all. But I’m clinging desperately to the hope that this is a wake-up call for a lot of people, not just for me, and to the belief that We The People are stronger than any attempt at autocracy.
Hang in there, folks. And stay alive. Sometimes that’s the greatest revolutionary act we’re capable of.
Well, folks, it appears it really is happening. Tomorrow, a thin-skinned, grossly underqualified, misogynistic, xenophobic nightmare is being inaugurated as President of the United States of America. I’m terrified, and I have relatively little to fear. I have spent a large portion of 2017 in denial. I have not been good at getting off my ass and doing anything about the growing nausea and terror within me.
I plan to join the Women’s March in Chicago this weekend. I’m overwhelmed by the idea of marching with that many other people, but I’m going to do it anyway. And after that? I’m going to look for ways to get involved in local political movements, because that is where you and I have the most power.
If you’re feeling hopeless and paralyzed, I get it. I’m struggling with the same feelings, and it’s really, really hard to push past that. But we owe it to ourselves, and to our fellow human beings, to try. It may feel like the apocalypse is imminent, but all signs point to this being a reality that’s going to be here for a while, so we need to do what we can to keep fighting. I’ve decided that giving up is not an option.
I’ve seen a bunch of helpful and empowering articles and videos around the internet the past few days. Here are a handful of them: