Day 3: surviving our new reality

I started writing this on Day 2. New ideas come up and I tweak the post. I realize I work at a school and so bad words are now ****. It’s so very stupid but nothing about this week makes sense to me. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross needs to come back from the grave and give us the five stages of post-election insanity. Recovery must include puppies. Anyhow, here’s what I have today:

If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you know that for me, the hardest part of Tuesday night was being a parent. I felt an obligation to my children to hold it together, to not despair, to not cry (too much), and to make them feel safe. “Everything is going to be okay,” I said weakly. Then just before heading to bed, I checked in on Facebook one last time and saw that my oldest had written an open letter to Hillary, in an attempt to make sense of things and let HRC know that we love her. If you haven’t already, go ahead and read it and someone please pass it on to Hillary herself. We got you, Hillz. We got you.

Having decided that my daughters will clearly survive this and not think less of themselves as women and of their opportunities in this country, it’s time to address some other issues and emotions, not the least of which are grief, fear, and anger. (Aren’t you super excited to read the rest of this post?)

The grief is profound. I think specifically I feel it most as a woman, not as an American. I’m incredibly sad for our country but understand, as much as anyone can love someone they don’t know, I love Hillary. My post on Tuesday spoke of how she reminds me of my late mother. I felt good listening to Hillary be smart. I was happy to see her happy. She wanted what I wanted for my fellow man, but unlike me, she was willing to enter the lion’s den to remove that thorn he had in his paw. I thought as a country we were going to give her that chance. We didn’t and now I don’t get to see her or listen to her much anymore. Neither will my daughters be inspired daily by her specific and excellent example of working hard to be the smartest person in the room for the purpose of serving others. I know she didn’t die, but she will also not be living on our televisions or news feeds or social media like she’s been this past year. That breaks my heart and the crying hasn’t stopped yet. I know the tears are okay, but they’re also exhausting. We’re very, very tired.

The fear is just plain weird. Many have compared their feelings after Tuesday night to the way they felt after 9-11. For me, it’s similar to the way I felt after the ’94 Northridge earthquake. My nerves are frayed, so I’m okay one minute but then there’s an aftershock—when the words “president” and “Trump” are used in the same sentence—and I’m back to this uneasy feeling, afraid but without a way to explain. I step gingerly. Is the old white guy in the elevator next to me a Trump supporter? Why did he do this to me? Why does he hate me? Does he have a knife? You see, I can’t articulate it. I’m a white woman. He didn’t do this to me; he doesn’t hate me. He hates my friends. There’s no knife, but I feel like I’ve been stabbed.

The anger is strenuous. My three coping mechanisms are running, writing, and talking. In Alcoholics Anonymous, if there is success, it is due in large part to “one drunk talking to another.” So if you have a minute, and you voted for Hillary, let’s talk. We may end up foaming at the mouth, and yanking large chunks of hair out of our scalp, but it’s worth it. There goes some stress.

But I am angry! My top two targets right now (among a thousand others) are Comey and white people who voted for Trump, with the latter taking a slight lead. Have you no decency?! “He wasn’t my first choice. I don’t agree with a lot of what he says but—“ Oh, **** you! You don’t get to say that. You let hate trump love. You don’t get to qualify your vote for a man who ridiculed Serge Kovaleski, the disabled reporter for the New York Times. You can’t make excuses for a man who said he grabs women by the pussy. Good God, I’m not going into the list again. You voted him in. It’s done.

But dammit, DO NOT TELL ME HOW I GET TO GRIEVE. Do not judge my anger! Do not tell me the protests are pointless! Will you give me at least five minutes or two to four years to ****ing grieve! Who cares if we want to burn a few things? They’re our things! Can you imagine if Clinton won the electoral college but Trump won the popular vote?! Your basket of deplorables would protest with guns, would shout words and phrases like “cunt,” “nigger,” “Jew-S-A”, and “lock the bitch up!” People would be killed. Hard to hear? You have no idea.

You voted for ignorance, you voted for nativism, you voted for fear and loathing. “No, no. I voted for change.” Bull ****. You voted for the opposite. You voted for the old white guy who will surround himself with other old white guys. “I voted for the future of the Supreme Court. I’m pro-life.” Crap hooey. Roe v. Wade isn’t going to be overturned. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg is going to live for at least another four years.

“I voted for misogyny, for racism, for pussy-grabbing, for xenophobia. I voted because he’s a celebrity and I love famous people. I voted because deep down, even though I said I was voting for Clinton, what I really want is more of my own kind around. Enough with this melting pot thing someone said at some point. Is that like fondue?” There you go.

But you know what? Somehow, down the road, this is going to be okay. I don’t know what “okay” looks like and I don’t know when and how it arrives, but one idea is that the old white guys are going to stop breathing before two years are up and those millenials and Gen Z folks we’ve all been dissing are going to rise up and conquer (if they haven’t yet been taught by their Trump-supporting parents to fear others and hate). For many of their generation, their America is diverse and inclusive. They and their friends speak with accents, smell of curry, wear headscarves, pierce their tongues, shave their heads, have transgender friends, straight friends, gay friends, black/Latino/Muslim friends, listen to rap, don penny-loafers ironically, rip their jeans, dye their hair blue, believe in revolution, argue, binge-watch, stream, Snap Chat, snap gum, or none of the above. They mostly question everything that matters, and ignore that which doesn’t, like tattoos or whom to marry. And in 2018, I believe most of them will vote for love.

So yeah, the ’94 earthquake. Collectively, I think Los Angeles gained a million pounds back then. We sought comfort in food and stayed inside, glued to our televisions for mindless entertainment, and our families for perceived security. We told stories of where we were when the earth started shaking and held onto each other in case it did again. Tuesday night and all day Wednesday, my friends and co-workers, my children, the parents at Miss T’s school—heck, even my husband came home early—we all reached out with hugs, with tears, with concern. Many, even those who had been in New York when the twin towers fell, said it was worse for them on a personal level. We had done this to ourselves.

There is great relief knowing that many more Americans chose Hillary than Trump. Let’s hold onto that. We must. For those of you who voted correctly but are living in a red state, have you been to California? Come visit and then consider staying. Most of us are incredibly welcoming. We’ll find room. You can join us in signing our new Cal-Exit thing, and dream about seceding from the union.

“But we have to learn to live together.” Oh **** you again. Of course we’re going to live together. Some might move to Canada but most of us are staying put. But make no mistake. If you voted for Trump and I know that, we are not friends if we ever were. Life really is too short. Oh, don’t get your panties in a wad. Should a man in a Trump t-shirt have a heart attack beside me, or get hit by a car while I’m driving by, I’m going to stop and take care of him. I just don’t have to visit him in the hospital after. We don’t have to be friends. But our family will continue to lead a moral life. We will continue to choose love over hate regardless of who is involved.

Also in Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a belief that one must hit their bottom before they can begin recovery. Perhaps Trump is America’s bottom. He’s back at Twitter again and do you know I’m an eternal optimist? Here’s a scenario to consider:

While it is clear now that a candidate can do or say anything short of murder and still become president (That “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue” thing didn’t actually happen, did it?), the same cannot be said about actually being president. There are all kinds of figurative landmines that Trump will likely step on in and out of the White House. In two years, enough Americans will show up to vote in the midterms, we will take back control of congress, and quickly begin impeachment proceedings. The Monica Lewinsky scandal will pale in comparison to what Trump will do. I just hope it’s as benign to the American people as Bill Clinton’s transgression was. Mike Pence will take over and we will rise again two years after that and crush him. I don’t know with whom but I expect our stable of choices will be thoroughbreds and that will matter.

One last piece of advice: after the darkest periods in my life, the singular thing that assured me without a doubt that all would be okay, was laughter. Wednesday night, I watched “Bridesmaids.” I am currently reading Maria Semple’s new book, Today Will Be Different. Consider doing the same.

Take the weekend to cry some more, hug some more, walk around like a blithering idiot. If you have to burn something, make sure it’s yours and not someone else’s and then make sure there’s a hose around to put it out. Don’t be stupid. Bake cookies. Go for a run. Come Monday, let’s start talking about the practical path forward. After hitting bottom, let’s strategize on a 12-step program for America.

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  1. says

    Oh Geez JoAnn!! Thank you once again for saying what is in my heart but what I couldn’t articulate. My daughter wrote something on FB, too. On her own, in her own angry but beautiful words. If nothing else, we get to see that our daughters get it and that they are strong, compassionate young women who will carry on.

  2. Antonia Galindo says

    I love your writing JoAnn…and a special thanks in this edition for writing what I have been holding in my heart and haven’t written. Thanks for being such a good person with strong values and a solid true north when it comes to goodness, mutual respect and hope for our country…no…our humanity.

  3. Mary Anne says

    He was not our choice and yet he is the choice over Hillary for many. I need to understand why. I know good, intelligent, caring people who voted for him and while I can’t fathom it, I know they are not hateful or ignorant or racist. I am at a loss but my husband reminded me that many of the times our country (and the world) has had leaps of progress in recognizing we are ALL one people, regardless of our differences in skin color, religion, sexuality or political beliefs, it is often preceded by a very uncomfortable time. I am thinking this is pretty uncomfortable and so great change is on the horizon. Thank you for writing this.

  4. Mary Webster Thomas says

    Still in total disbelief. I shudder every single time I hear the words “Trump” and “President” in the same sentence. I am hopeful that terrible things won’t happen. But is that actually hope? Saw the stats today about voting. Over 46% of eligible Americans didn’t vote. I hope they never make the same mistake again. So, about “hope”. Can it be negative? As in, I hope Trump voters live to regret their votes. And yet, I hope that our country will come together and we will all heal. I hope my anger will subside soon. For you and your family, JoAnn, know that we are grieving too. It has been a death for me. In many ways, it’s been a death of hope.

    • Jo says

      Thanks Mary. Yes, Wednesday morning it felt like someone died, or it felt like the worst break-up ever, which for me, was the same thing. I guess hope can be many things. I think our emotions now can be anything. You can feel it first, then take action after. Hang in there. Let’s hope this really is our bottom. God, it has to be.

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