I wrote last week: “Write about your post-American-election world – and let us know we are not alone. If I receive at least three pieces in my personal email: email@example.com, I will illustrate next week’s Breakthrough with a photo of Jack, the new and very very busy ginger kitten.” Thanks to Lis Venetiou, Cin Norris, and Lynette Sheppard…meet Hurricane Jack:
When I feel anger it flows through my arms and comes straight from my chest. I feel taller when I’m angry. Bigger. Slightly reckless. There has been so much to be angry about.
I listen to NPR. Parts of the country exhaling slowly as Biden makes plans to take the helm in January. Finally, a rational human being who cares about others will be in charge of this pandemic which has killed so many of us and shrunk our lives. Eliminated privacy with q-tips up our noses and daily questions about our health in order to gauge how it impacts others. The pandemic that has been delivering kidney punches to our financial lives and put so many out of work, strained the rest of us and there doesn’t seem to be an end in site. Angry? That doesn’t even cover it.
I’ve been reading Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me and her unflinching look at how men abuse, manipulate, and oppress women made me grateful and spooked. So much of sexism I’ve subsumed just like everyone else. Kamala Harris. Is there hope for us? Is there a voice for women? Can our country ever fully heal when so so many people are still so angry?
Anger doesn’t scare me nearly as much as righteousness does. When people become righteous they stop listening to reason. They cling to their beliefs like a shield. They block all other points of view and shut down. Anger flows. Anger moves. Anger gets us off the couch and into the street to support those we love. Anger gets us going. Anger signals that someone or some law or some institution or some group that represents any of those things is not respecting us. Not treating us as a human being.
But anger is not meant to be controlled or contained. It’s like radioactive material in my veins when I feel it. When I hold it in, when I belittle it or minimize it or let someone else tell me that I’m overreacting and am too sensitive, too emotional, then it coils up inside me and takes hold. Takes hold of me in a way that clogs my throat. That blocks my gut and clouds my vision. It lies in wait until someone crosses a line again and then it unfurls. Joins in with the new anger and blasts out of me in the pitch of my voice, in the projection of my words, in my own righteousness.
How many lines have I crossed? Within myself but also of others and those I love. When has my righteousness caused anger in those around me. Being unaware is no excuse.
On NPR I heard a woman they interviewed in Georgia say that her fear now is that people will relax since Biden is president. They’ll take his win to mean that everything is okay and they can go back to their lives. It was clear to me, that she meant they can go back to their privileged lives. Pretend that we live in a post-racial, post-gendered world when we don’t. I side with Roxanne Gay’s article that the problems we have existed before Trump even if he turned up the heat and made everything terrifying for the last four years. That it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
What does that look like? Is it possible to partner with anger? The older I get the more willing I am to feel my feelings as they come up instead of scheduling them for a time when I’m alone or less busy.
We are not through the storm yet. Anyone who says differently is lying to themselves. I didn’t feel a huge sweeping sense of relief when it was clear beyond clear that Biden would be president. The shock of the morning after election day rattled me deep enough to remain in my bones. I do not recognize my country with its swath of red, with its tolerance of a man who is so bereft of morals, of courage, of any shred of goodness.
Anger is bubbling beneath my surface and I need to let it out. But right now I just feel tired.
***** Cin Norris: For one glorious moment, I could breathe. That light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t a train after all, and I wouldn’t have to wait four more years for an end to the madness. My wife and I were enjoying breakfast at a sun-drenched patio table hosted by a local restaurant when I heard that Joe was declared the winner by AP news. I was almost lightheaded with the oxygen that rushed in with the news.
That fact that Trump would not concede came as no surprise. Neither did the lawsuits. (From the man that brought you “we only have this many covid cases because we keep testing” comes “I’m only losing because they keep counting votes”.) The pro-Trump protesters chanting “Stop the count”? Whatever.
Then they started (continued?) to get violent, and it occurred to me that the only thing that inspires people to madness more than a charismatic dictator is a charismatic martyr.
My baseline level of anxiety is higher than most, and the last four years have fine-tuned it into an exquisite instrument of emotional pain. I’ll blame my continuing fear on PTSD, med non-compliance, news addiction, and a touch of witchy foretelling passed down my maternal line; but I have a bad feeling that we haven’t seen the last of Trump. Or more importantly—his zealots. That was a lot of red on that electoral map, you know what I mean?
My advice to myself has been to not make Joe’s task any harder. Be polite, and if I can’t do that (a very rare occurrence- ha!) be quiet. Harm none. Remember that no one can take my cats, my wife, or my guns, and that here in sleepy Flagstaff, I’m probably as safe as it gets as long as I don’t borrow trouble. I’d never do that, either.
****** Lynette Sheppard
Cooking Up Endorphins
Cooking as relaxation. I never understood women who said that they cooked to relax. I’d read books where the heroine would rush into the kitchen at the first sign of crisis, to relax by throwing together a five course meal. From scratch. WTF?
I’m a pretty good cook, but I’ve been a nervous cook. I found all that measuring, combining, and timing anxiety-producing. I never experimented when company came for dinner; I always fell back on meals that I knew would be successful. Even then, I was a little jittery.
Enter Covid and lockdown. I started to cook. And bake. I poured flour and yeast into my two-year-old, never-used bread machine. I sauteed, roasted, and crock-potted. I haunted cooking blogs and signed up for the recipes that now jam my email inbox. And I finally got it.
The mere acts of chopping, sifting, kneading calmed me. Instead of worry about results, I found I could ease into these simple tasks. Such focus kept me from worst case scenario spinouts about the future: what if, what if, what if? I had to pay attention.
This kitchen witchery gave me an even more important gift: a sense of control. Cooking seemed one thing that I could control from start to finish in a world that seemed off-axis and wobbly. It’s helped keep me sane during insane times.
It feels miraculous to cook for pure enjoyment and release. I hope this is a change I can hold onto. For now, I’m off to try my hand at pumpkin ginger scones.
To write about this post-American election world, I will not be as optimistic as others might. In this post election time, reality is being subsumed by narcissistic short-sighted chatter. What we can see with our eyes, we’re told, isn’t real.
Elections, the bodies of men and women, climate change. All of these we’re told are not what they empirically are.
Those that feel the election “isn’t over” want desperately to support their status quo – the goals of the republican party – and so they deny the mathematical reality of the election count. The same people support a racist misogynist in his nationalistic and detrimental efforts to divide and foment hate in this country. They will not be going away when that man does. They will remain, and if I’m right, will become stronger and more angry, leading to a civil war, either of great proportion or of great length of time. Actually, we’ve been at this civil war for some time now, but many don’t believe the proof right before their eyes.
Those that tell us men are women, and vice versa, want desperately to feel that their subjective feelings (not biological reality) are reality. The new president elect and vice president elect are both willing to kowtow to the trans/queer ideology. They’re willing to reject what doctors verified (not assigned) at birth, that the child was either a female or a male. This disconnect from reality is resulting in women and girls (as per-fucking-usual!) becoming less safe. How? By allowing natal males who say they’re women, to live next to women and their children in domestic violence shelters. By allowing natal males to be transferred from men’s prisons to women’s prisons. By changing the language of female bodies to no longer mean female bodies. I do not have a “front hole” I have a vagina, to name just one example. The changes to language are not being made by a general consensus, but by a fervent few who want desperately to legitimize their point of view, women and girls be dammed.
There are those that will not believe the climate is and has been changing due to human impact. Most people don’t want to get rid of electricity, paper towels, cars, and dinner delivery to name just a few modern-era conveniences. Those that DO believe that humans are changing the planet, do not understand that not only their lifestyles, but their very lives may be causing the destruction. Populations that exist now can never be sustainable, especitally at this rate of industrial, or any type, of civilization. Why are we being fed a diet of lies about renewable energy that is just as destructive as fossil fuel, in that it is supporting the consumptive culture that currently exists? We can see with our eyes the consequences of all three of these topics, yet, are being told that we’re incorrect in our observations. Who, then, is the real “woke”? Who is walking this world with eyes open wanting to see things how they are, so we might start from a place of reality and work from there?