You probably noticed it’s been quiet around here. I wrote my last post two days before the inauguration, anxious to see what that and the weekend would bring. It did not disappoint — in the best and the worst of ways — and I think we can all agree it’s been quite a ride since then. (I imagine it as that awful spinning tea cups ride at Disneyland; the one in which I usually want to exit within 30 seconds of it starting and it inevitably makes me barf).
Given past posts — and said tea cups — it shouldn’t come as a shock that I don’t support and am alarmed by the vast majority of the new administration’s actions. I’ve been struggling with how to talk about it here in a way that could really encapsulate the myriad problems and nuances in a way that was informative, exhaustive, and meaningful. But it almost feels like so much is happening each day that it’s a Sisyphean task. So instead, I thought I’d talk about what I’ve been doing in downtime the last couple of weeks, both to keep up with the madness and try to stay sane at the same time. If you find yourself in the same boat, maybe some of the below will prove useful, illuminating, or just plain make you feel better. And even if you are on the other side of the aisle…well, first I extend a hand to you, because frankly we’re never going to move forward as a country if we keep turning our backs on (or screaming over) each other. And second, I hope these resources will be helpful for you too. These are scary, uncertain times for everybody. In the spirit of providing a place for community, I’m also including a few questions with each item, because I’d like to hear from you and hear how you’re doing, and my hope is the comments could perhaps inspire each of us who are reading in turn.
I’m staying informed
As exhausting as it is, and as often as I end up gobsmacked with the next headline, I’m still reading the paper first thing in the morning, as well as each evening. I like to subscribe to the New York Times (their mobile site is great!), but recently, I’ve also been checking in on the Washington Post. In between, I inevitably end up reading thought pieces that are posted to Facebook (this one I read yesterday from Medium is well cited and very interesting, albeit upsetting; this one is for when you have more time and is the counterpart to the video I linked to at the beginning of this post). And I have actually found myself looking at more conservative sites like Fox News, and The National Review. I think it’s important to understand what conservative news is leading with, and note the differences in tone and perspectives. I largely don’t agree with either, but I still like knowing. And occasionally, it’s refreshing to see both liberal and conservative voices aligning. Let’s discuss. What are you doing to stay informed? Where do you like to get your news from? Has it been overwhelming you?
I’m staying mindful
There comes a point when I just can’t read anymore, or whatever news network we’ve turned on is recycling the same damn talking points over and over. It does nothing for anyone, except to ratchet up anxiety (wait, just me?). So once I realize I’ve seen the same talking heads espousing the same viewpoints for at least the second time; or the Times has not, in fact, updated their home page with any late breaking news in the last 5 minutes, I am remembering to get the hell up off the couch, go take a shower, turn on some music, pick up a book, or yes, even indulge with something we’ve DVRed (I highly recommend the new Masterpiece series Victoria; it’s like Downton Abbey meets The Crown). Going out for a walk is always a breath of fresh air too — literally and figuratively. Let’s discuss. How are you staying sane, with the constant inundation of news stories, change, and the general climate of the country right now?
I’m using my voice where I can
The first time I ever contacted a congressperson was when I was a freshman in college. At that point, I was still registered to vote in the state of Texas, and sent a letter to my representative opposing a bill that was in the state legislature that would prevent gays and lesbians from adopting children (oh my god, I know). I received a letter back, and its language at the time for some reason felt dismissive (I can’t remember the exact circumstances, with all the years in between). As a wise, old 18 year old, I felt very discouraged. So I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that the second time I contacted an elected official was only last week. And it took me a while to get through! Hearteningly, I phoned district offices for our California senators located all over the state trying to reach someone, and nearly every single one said “mailbox full,” or that the lines were busy and there was no one to take the call. The only place I got through was at an office in San Diego! You’ve probably heard over and over again that getting in touch with your representatives matters. I’m hoping it does, so I’m calling.
I was talking to my mom last night and lamenting that with what money we are able to donate, it just doesn’t “do it” for me. “I feel like I’m trying absolve myself of something by giving money, but I still feel really helpless,” I told her. In her spare time, my mom has been a volunteer for much of her life, and her passion for giving back to her community is one of the things I admire most about her. She’s retired now, but she told me, “I’m basically back to working 3 days a week.” (But it’s actually 5, because in addition to volunteering 3 days per week, nearly full time, at a local grassroots organization working on state-level issues in Texas, for well over ten years, she has volunteered another 2 days per week at a milk bank that distributes breast milk to preemmies in central Texas.) Hot damn, y’all — if my 60-something year old mother can get out there and give so much of her time, so can I. After the election, I reached out to my local Planned Parenthood organization about volunteering, but never heard back. I think activism is popular here in the Bay Area, and as funny as it sounds, it’s harder to find volunteer jobs at larger organizations right now. But she encouraged me to keep looking and calling around, maybe even looking for organizations that are trying to affect change in other parts of the state. With that said, if you are a Californian and know of any organizations looking for volunteers, please let me know. I’m on the hunt.
Let’s discuss. Have you called any of your congresspeople yet? How did it go? Have you also recently become more active in corresponding with your elected representatives? Any causes you have become involved with? How else are you using your voice?
I’m noting resources that can impact
Here are a few interesting resources and tips I’ve recently come across:
Attend local Town Halls — This former congressman says that letters and calls help a little, but what impacts congressmen and women the most is when you interact with them in person. This current congressman from Virginia would appear to agree.
Amazon Smile — I almost forgot about this until recently! Did you know if you shop from smile.amazon.com, you can designate a charity to receive a percentage of your sale? The ACLU has many local chapters listed…just saying. But regardless, there are SO many charities involved, and it’s an easy way to give back while stocking up on toothpaste or whatever. Here’s more info about how Amazon Smile works.
Let’s discuss. What other resources are you digging right now? Could be resources that help you stay informed, provide ways to give back, get involved, etc. Please share!
That’s all for now. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and for checking in. I hope to hear from you down below in the comments — and please, it should go without saying as it is always the rule here, but let’s keep things kind and civil.
P.S. – Neil DeGrasse Tyson still wins!