Author: Jennifer Clark (page 3 of 3)

Two-Thing Monday

I had intended to research and write a post while the baby napped this afternoon. I did a quick Google, read two sites that did exactly what I was hoping to do with my post, and then gave in to the pressure to finish the cleaning project in the dining room.

My dining room is a lot less cluttered now, and if we ever find the money for a wood stove, the space is ready for it.

You do not, however, get a well researched and argued piece about how to read news stories skeptically. If you would like that, I found this piece from the American Press Institute that gives you six questions to help evaluate a news source.

Mondays are hard days for me to gather my thoughts. They are the days when I get the chores done and play with the baby. Mondays are days off, but not days of rest.

Two thoughts for this Monday:

One of my friends posted Kali Holloway’s essay, “Stop Asking Me To Empathize with the White Working Class” and asked for comments.

Before the election, I read this article on Cracked (I know! See above about evaluating news sources; turns out Cracked has some actual news! Or, at least, thought-provoking opinion) that attempts to explain Trump’s appeal to a certain segment of the white working-class population. And I definitely think that there is something to the idea that this population feels unheard and left behind. And that sucks, and something needs to be done about it.

But I confess that my initial response to that segment of the population was closer to Holloway’s.

What I struggle with is how to talk to that population in a way that they can hear the message that things are changing and they will be better for changing, too. Just telling them they’re racist and wrong and other people have it worse leads to things like President Trump. At the same time, we as a nation have to face some hard truths about who we are and how we got here, and racism is a big part of that.

I am definitely feeling the burden and the obligation as a white woman to do something about the 53% of us who voted for Trump.

Which leads me to thought #2. I was invited to a brand new, unformed and unfocused chapter of a fledgling activist organization for Litchfield County. I am excited to have a potential tangible way to actually DO something right now. Based on the demographics of Litchfield County, it is likely to be comprised of mainly white women, so this is an opportunity to see how we as a demographic can start to do better.

A Non-Linear Progression

Today was a hard day. My morning diet of Facebook and Gmail was especially difficult to view. But I couldn’t stop.

The manic energy of my Facebook feed is reassuring. Almost everyone I know is worried about the future, scared of future policies, and trying to figure out how to combat them. This is good. This energy is a good sign that maybe, just maybe, we won’t let the country slide into autocracy.

But it’s exhausting.

I had expected today to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow to be better than today, etc. until the world felt somewhat normal again. But grief doesn’t move in a linear progression.

Again, I had seven or twelve topics I thought I might address today — it’s manic out there, I tell you — but I think it’s important to document the process through the grief. So, instead, I offer just one article today. Masha Gessen writes in the New York Review of Books “Autocracy: Rules for Survival.” This article really helped to focus my manic energy today as I floundered from topic to topic, issue to issue, feeling to feeling.

My favorite bit:

But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.

Day 2

I thought today I would focus on what Trump plans to accomplish in his first 100 days. I heard something about it on my local NPR station after I dropped off the baby this morning. Let me write about that, I thought.

And then I looked it up. Whoa. That is a lot to tackle. I can’t do that in one blog post.

And then a friend posted a link to a White House petition on Facebook. The petition calls to reject Myron Ebell as head of Trump’s EPA transition team.

Here’s how White House petitions work: Anyone can create a petition on the White House’s website. If the petition amasses 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the President’s office has to respond to it.

I admit, I’m not really sure what President Obama can do about President-Elect Trump’s proposed transition team, but it is a way to get some attention.

Scientific American has a really good story about why Myron Ebell is a really terrifying choice to lead anything having to do with the environment. In a nutshell, he’s an outspoken climate change denier who wears that label as a badge of honor. We as a species are at a really critical crossroads in terms of human-caused climate change. Four years of policy that contributes to climate change rather than attempting to mitigate it could have a devastating effect on our future. If you think I’m exagerating, check out this chart of global temperatures since the beginning of Earth to see how quickly we can have an effect.

Then, because I don’t often spend my energy on environmental concerns (not that I ignore them, but I’ve been focused most recently on social justice issues, specifically on racial justice issues), I decided to make that the day’s theme and to place a call to the White House about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

If you don’t know about the DAPL, there are plenty of resources to get background. What’s most concerning to me, however, is that the police are using military tactics like pepper spray and dogs on the demonstrators. Those camped out on Standing Rock land are preparing to hunker down for the winter.

I had a vision today of those protesters being mowed down by bulldozers or bullets or napalm when President Trump gets tired of them.

So I called the White House for the first time ever. The White House has a comment line: 202-456-1111. Anyone can call and make a comment on anything. I asked if they wanted my name, and was told no, we don’t collect personal information. So I told the volunteer who answered that I was calling to urge President Obama to find a peaceful solution to the conflict before Trump takes office.

And I might call again tomorrow. I called at lunch time and had to wait on hold for a little while, but I was able to continue working while I waited.

That’s what I did today to combat the despair. And I think it helped a little bit.

Election Disaster 2016

In the weeks leading up to Nov. 8, 2016, I felt a vague sense of dread. Maybe vague is the wrong word. Omnipresent is more accurate. Despite all the people I know who denounced Trump, despite all the articles posted on Facebook explaining why he was the wrong choice, despite the growing excitement around electing the first woman president, I felt, in the back of my chest, that we were all wrong and that Trump would win.

And he did.

The wound is so fresh. Less than 16 hours old. I have not even begun to come to terms with it. Yesterday I was giddy with excitement, taking my two daughters to the poles to witness history. Today I watched my daughter’s face crumple when I told her the results, watched her come to terms with this reality, watched the fear grow on her face as she worried about whether her Mexican classmate would be able to continue to attend her school.

But in these past few weeks, even as that feeling of dread grew, so did my resolve to not stand by and watch history unfold. I am not going to sit on the sidelines, a well-behaved woman. I am going to be loud, I am going to march, I am going to make this world a better place.

I don’t have a plan yet. I have lots of ideas bouncing around my head. And I’m trying to capture them in an effort to fight back the waves of depression when they come.

I am trying to find a way to use my talents for the cause. I can write. I can research. I can learn. I can pull ideas together and explain and present them and help others to understand.

I don’t know exactly what shape this will take. Some ideas:

1. Data security, Signal and other ways to encrypt your life
2. Legislative updates and breakdowns and explanations: How will what our elected officials do impact our daily lives?
3. Maker/Homesteading skills: Tutorials and ideas to do for yourself
4. Acts of kindness, love, and heroism: finding things to celebrate in every day life
5. Local community: Make a difference on a grassroots level

The election is lost, but the fight has just begun.

Blood from a Stone

Or a baby, as the case may be.

Today I had the inevitable but no less traumatizing experience of holding my baby down while phlebotomists attempted to fill impossibly large vials from her impossibly tiny veins. She struggled and she screamed and she kicked off her shoe. And I wanted to tell them to stop, but I didn’t, because these tests are important.

I couldn’t even think how to comfort her. I thought about singing, but I couldn’t remember the words–or the tune. I resorted to shhh…shhh…shhh… and resting my cheek on her head.

Phlebotomist 1 told me that she was upset about being held more than anything. She said this as she wiggled the needle in my baby’s arm and Phlebotomist 2 and I failed to hold her still.

It’s 12 hours later and I’m still reliving the moment. And kicking myself for not making them stop sooner on that first attempt that was obviously not bearing fruit.

I never have the right words in the moment. My brain doesn’t respond quickly. I need time to think and to process. Now I can imagine telling them to stop. At that moment, I did have the thought, but I didn’t want to risk having to come back another day and try again. To put her through this torture a second time.

I hate that I doubt myself in the moment. I hate that I don’t react quickly enough.

I wish I could find a stock answer that acknowledges the circumstances and also allows me the space and time I need to formulate an authentic response.

Two Weeks Later

That first post annoys me, now. I read another January 1st blog that was nearly identical. Why does anyone start a blog if they have nothing to say?

Life is moving along at a grind. Sick babies and overwork and not enough money. But the bills are paid for the month and the baby’s hair is getting long and there are cupcakes in the kitchen.

And snow! I love that we finally have snow. I don’t like the bitter cold and the wind whipping through the 100-year-old windows in my living room, but I love the cold.

This fall, I came across the Norwegian idea of koselig. The closest translation is cozy, but it’s a feeling of closeness with friends and family and hunkering down against the winter, making your own warmth.

I’m trying, this winter, to cultivate koselig. When the worry about money and health and being stuck inside gets too thick, I put on fuzzy socks, light a candle, and snuggle my family.

I can’t say the worry never wins, but I have been able to beat it back at times.

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