TOWOIT #254

October 19, 2017… Day 273

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John Kelly came to the White House Press Briefing today. It was sad on so many, many levels.

He walked everyone through what happens when someone dies in the armed services. He said this about the Congresswoman who was riding in the car with the widow and the mother in Florida:

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

(“Women were sacred” was a really weird, WTF moment for me.)

He only took questions from reporters who knew someone who had died. Here are the three questions he took:

  • Well, thank you, General Kelly. First of all, we have a great deal of respect — Semper Fi — for everything that you’ve ever done. But if we could take this a bit further. Why were they in Niger? We were told they weren’t in armored vehicles and there was no air cover. So what are the specifics about this particular incident? And why were we there? And why are we there?
  • General, thank you for being here today and thank you for your service and for your family’s sacrifice. There has been some talk about the timetable of the release of the statement about the — I think at that point it was three soldiers who were killed in Niger. Can you walk us through the timetable of the release of that information? And what part did the fact that a beacon was pinging during that time have to do with the release of the statement? And were you concerned that divulging information early might jeopardize the soldiers’ attempt to be (inaudible)?
  • General, when you talk about Niger, sir, what does your intelligence tell you about the Russian connection with them? And the stories that are coming out now, they’re —

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TOWOIT #253

October 18, 2017… Day 272

While watching Jeff Sessions on C-span today, I got a little weirded out that there were twelve pale disembodied hands tapping away behind him in the frame.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders also came out of her cuckoo clock today, and so shall I.

I had local activism stuff planned for after work today but instead I came home and executed a Wednesday collapse. And washed dishes. And did homework for one of my classes. I’d forgotten my wallet and phone charger at home when I left before the crack of dawn, and I was lugging all this shit around with me on the bus, and a rain and windstorm started up and then my throat was getting sore, and — I struggled for awhile to be that really stalwart person who would just make everything happen — in the end I came home. I’m glad because the storm is making the roads actually perilous now.

So, I don’t have the real life resistance stuff to write about today. Other women (and it does seem to be mostly women) are getting together and doing things and fostering community and being stalwart. Thank you to them.

Meanwhile, here’s what they asked Sarah Sanders at the White House Press Briefing:

Continue reading TOWOIT #253

TOWOIT #252

October 12, 2017… Day 266

Honestly, I don’t know what day it is anymore.

  1. I love Roxane Gay more all the time
  2. Bernie is the opening speaker for the Women’s Convention (???)
  3. Life starts at conception now
  4. We’re not in UNESCO anymore
  5. FEMA can’t stay in Puerto Rico forever, you know
  6. Something something terrible headline about healthcare executive order
  7. John Kelly is not quitting today.

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Here’s questions that reporters asked him at the jokesy briefing:

Continue reading TOWOIT #252

TOWOIT #251

October 10, 2017… Day 264

I like that days are elapsing between posts. It’s as if some part of my brain is sleeping through this administration, though that isn’t true.

The Trump-related news has just descended into nonsense. I mean, even by Trumpian standards. Ivana (not Ivanka) and Melania are arguing over who is the legitimate first lady. Trump is calling Republican Senator Bob Corker “little Bob Corker” and Corker is referring to the White House as “an adult daycare.” Trump challenged his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson to an IQ test duel after Tillerson was quoted as calling Trump “a fucking moron.” The VP is flying to Indiana to sit at an NFL game for a few minutes and then stalk out when some of the players kneeled during the anthem–a planned stunt that Trump immediately took credit for via Twitter, undercutting any hope Mike Pence had of seeming sincere. Trump keeps calling Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man.” We’re all gonna die.

The FBI has listed “black identity extremists” as a group to watch. I don’t even know what to say about this and about Mike Pence walking out of a football game as a pre-planned stunt, or about white nationalists showing back up in Charlottesville, or about Jemele Hill getting suspended from ESPN for speaking openly about racism.

I don’t know what to say about Harvey Weinstein and the carnival of sexism and misogyny we’re enjoying in this country. What a typical, typical, creepy ass.

I do know that murmurings of trouble in the Seattle Black Lives Matter group(s) has percolated to the top of social media again. There is a male-dominated group that is shutting out a female-led group. The women say the men highjacked the local movement and who knows what they do with the funds they raise. The men are posting about a new march. They have a very shouty, guilting way of appealing to Seattle people to go to the march and give money — their online tone is a strange combination of bossy and disorganized. I am fine with activists being amateurs but knowing that they and the women have run afoul of each other, and knowing from having attended several BLM marches here that something was going on… well, I don’t know. I don’t want to reward sexist assholes. If this last election cycle taught me anything at all, it’s that black women are the ones who have their heads on straight if anyone does in this country.

A friend emailed from Canada saying that news of the Trump administration is really getting to her, and she was so glad not to be living in the U.S. She then apologized for being “insensitive” but I didn’t think she needed to apologize. I’m so glad she’s in Canada. I’m glad there’s a Canada. I need other places to be faring better than we are.

Here’s some good news: The Republican of Governor of Alaska declared yesterday Indigenous People’s Day (NOT Columbus Day).

Here are the questions reporters asked Sarah Sanders at the press briefing today, in which she suggested that maybe the press should try getting a sense of humor:

Continue reading TOWOIT #251

TOWOIT #250

October 7, 2017… Day 261

Hello coevals, coreligionists, coerced coearthlings. It’s just been a quiet, cooped up day of reading, writing, editing, and gazing upon Twitter. The sort of day that starts out exhilarating in its unformatted solitude and winds up a bit dull and lonely.

What better balm for my soul than to cut out bits and pieces of Twitter that capture how crazed this moment feels and how radiantly angry all ciswomen, transwomen and non-female owners of ovaries should be these days?

I mean, I’m not saying it’s good to be angry. If you have a way to transmogrify your anger, then by all means… FUCKING DO IT.

But honor your anger. At the very least don’t beat yourself up for it.

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TOWOIT #249: The Calm Before

October 6, 2017… Day 260

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The guys I work with think Rex Tillerson is a good, smart guy. Everyone’s waiting to see if Rex Tillerson leaves or gets fired.

Today a friend of mine, a straight white male upper-middle-class Republican said to me, “I’m pissed that Trump’s approval rating has bounced back up — who the fuck are these people who support him?” I wish more people could be like this friend. Personally comfortable but capable of not towing the party/tribal line.

Another friend told me she is waiting to get in with a therapist for the first time in her life. She still has to work out scheduling and insurance. She’d made up a weird excuse to not go to a friend’s funeral last weekend. After that, she’d realized that she can’t live in Trump’s America and do things like go to funerals. She was crumbling, she said. She’s a woman of color who works with at-risk young people.

My hometown went 76% for Trump. There are tons of decent-paying blue collar jobs there. It’s a prosperous, bustling little town. But the white male despair syndrome is happening there. My male schoolmates are dying, one by one by one. All this year. Not waking up. Dropping dead. Found under a dock. Overdose. We lost another one yesterday.

Las Vegas was earlier this week, this same week. It feels like last year. Yesterday I had to listen to a roomful of guys talk seriously about gun stocks. It’ll always be too soon to talk about political solutions, but I guess it’s never too early to talk about making some money. The meeting had already gone on too long at that point, and the room had already been feeling too small.

My sister wrote this today, after seeing the New Yorker cover: Black bullets silhouetted against red, with a name written in white on each bullet. They point every which way.

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I feel the same way. I don’t know if she’ll delete the post soon. Since after all, a lot of her social media friends are from our aforementioned hometown.

I am doing ok. I have been busy with classes and work. I’ve become a person who makes decaf coffee in a real coffeemaker in the evenings now, and puts heavy cream in.

I’m busy enough that I’m missing the first few waves of takes, but I still secretly listen to the White House Press Briefings in my cubicle, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders deigns to grace the podium.

Here’s what the reporters asked her today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #249: The Calm Before

TOWOIT #247

October 2, 2017… Day 256

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My white woman friend from high school put on her Facebook page today, after the shooting in Las Vegas, that it was time to take a hard look at toxic white masculinity and all the ways we give white men a pass and all the ways we white people need to take a hard, hard look at ourselves. She was pilloried in the comments by her friends and acquaintances who told her things like “we can’t have peace if we continue to generalize.” It was mostly white women leaping to white men’s defense.

Even after my friend came in and said, “I’m married to a white man, my father is a white man, I know that there are wonderful white men. I shouldn’t have to say ‘not all white men,'” a white man came on and said that he didn’t find it “flattering” to be lumped in with white men who do bad things and he could say a few things about “moody menstruating women” but he was holding his tongue. She told him that moody menstruating women don’t run the government and they don’t shoot into crowds and they didn’t come up with slavery.

She then sent me a message full of screen caps of texts from other people who wrote things to her privately like, “It’s breaking my heart to see how racist and full of hate you are” or “I’m just trying to stop you from destroying your children.”

I’m really proud of my friend. She texted the woman back, “I stand by my comments.”

This is what I wrote on Facebook this morning:

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And I was thinking about that barbaric national religion when the Trumps and the Pences came out of the White House like wooden figures out of a cuckoo clock. They bowed their heads and folded their hands in front of themselves in one perfectly synchronized movement. Some bells bonged. They turned on their heels and silently walked back through the double doors which closed behind them.

It was creepy as fuck.

And so was Trump’s tweet this morning: “warmest condolences” was just a couple jots to the left of an auto-generated customer service message congratulating a person for purchasing a kitchen appliance.

I almost deleted my Facebook post this morning a few minutes after I put it up, because I’m friends with work people. I’m glad I left it in. They know where the unfollow button is.

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #246

October 1, 2017… Day 255

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The passage of time is shrinking the number of Trump supporters who we might have generously assumed were just thoughtless and infected by unexamined latent racism and were sort of incidentally ok with racism. None of that is great but it was what it was. As that pool shrinks, there’s a growing number of people that you now HAVE to consider real goddamn dyed-in-the-wool overt racist bastards. And it’s horrifying.

I just kept adding to this bulleted list over the course of my morning:

  • Woke up to video of masked Spanish police hurling regular-looking people down a stairwell for trying to vote in the Catalan referendum.
  • Trump went hard last night and this morning about how everyone must stand for the national anthem. Or what? We get thrown down a stairwell? Remember that guy who got sentenced to death because we he went back to fixing his bicycle too soon after some kind of official procession had passed in the road?
  • Hugh Hefner laid to rest next to Marilyn Monroe, which makes me want to vomit.
  • Trump’s tweets about Puerto Rico… see vomit, vomit, more vomit
  • CHIP went over a cliff — 9 million children losing health coverage
  • Trump’s tweets about North Korea — just, what the fuck, man.

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This is my weight since November 8. Every line represents a pound. The dotted blue line is a 30-day moving average. So you can see that at first I was so upset by the election that I could barely eat and my weight dropped. And then wow, boy, could I ever eat. Stress eat. Cheese and carbs like nobody’s business. And then around May, I was like, “Trump’s not going to be the reason I can’t fit into my favorite clothes and have achy knees.” So I stopped stress eating and now I am starting to normalize. The other thing I like about this chart is that you can track my menstrual cycle and midcycle pizza attacks from peak to peak. Bloating. It’s just data.

These are the questions that were asked at Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s latest press briefing, which was on Thursday (today is Sunday). Gary Cohn and Tom Bossert were there too.

Continue reading TOWOIT #246

TOWOIT #245: Big water. Ocean water.

September 30, 2017… Day 254

I’ve been writing here less, so now I have to type into Google, “Number of days since January 20” so I know how to start off the blog post.

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I’ve just been thinking about Puerto Rico every day. I don’t even know what to say about Trump. Still finding new lows. We just have to pray that we figure out how to come back from this. His comments about the San Juan mayor this morning, just… I really don’t even know what to say. Lin-Manuel Miranda — basically the sweetest, most positive light on the Internet — told Trump he was going straight to hell this morning.

The whiteness of this country is rotten to its very core. I’m not trying to be all white-guilty, it’s just really hard to know how else to react when Donald Trump is slapping us in the face with toxic whiteness every day. It really feels like being whomped upside the head by a slimy dead fish with every tweet and every statement. An actual dead fish. Like, you have sea lice in your hair afterward.

I started the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary, but only got twenty minutes in so far. That was enough to get a refresher course on French colonialism. The moral grossness of colonialism was made pretty obvious. That was on my mind when watching the news coverage of Puerto Rico reeling from the hurricane and the disastrously slow and disorganized federal recovery efforts.

A recent poll showed that half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. I appreciate people like Rachel Maddow harping on the fact that Puerto Rico (and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are part of the U.S. On the other side of that, we have to also remember and acknowledge that the U.S. is, has been, and will be colonial towards these islands. God.

This led to a note to self: find out more about the Duwamish people. When I think about the Duwamish, I tend to think about the river as a geographical body that has this whole industrial and ecological history. I like knowing about that stuff. The man I’m writing a book about built a boat in a Duwamish river shipyard in 1909.

But at several protests since the election, the organizers have begun by acknowledging that we were on Duwamish land, and that we were protesting with the blessing of Duwamish leaders. The women’s march in Seattle began with indigenous women. I don’t want this to be only lip service, or us non-Native women patting ourselves on the back for virtue signaling. But stating that we are on Duwamish land is one of those obvious, necessary statements like “Black Lives Matter.” We need those kinds of statements more than ever now. I am sorry that I glossed over them before, because they were badly needed before too.

The U.S. is colonial toward its entire underlying landmass. It’s the kind of thing you know, but comfortably ignore, because you are comfortable. That’s all part of whiteness: the gift that keeps on giving.

So when I say, “I hope we can come back from this” about Trump, I realize that we have a lot more than Trump to come back from.

That’s all I have for right now.

Don’t say we aren’t doing:

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Don’t forget this moment:

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TOWOIT #244

September 26, 2017… Day 250

This morning I had my earbuds in and was listening to a long news story about North Korea, the start of the Korean war, and what could happen to South Korea. A few times, I glanced over at my coworker, who I sort of treat as a little brother but also lean on emotionally sometimes. He came from South Korea with his mom when he was 6. His grandpa, who still lives in Seoul, grew up in North Korea until he was a teenager, when he moved south and was separated from his family.

I was interrupted from my listening and thinking when another coworker popped up at my side and said in a stage whisper, “Have you been watching Ken Burns’s Vietnam documentary on PBS?” I hadn’t been, but was meaning to. I’ll have to now. Sissi, wide-eyed, dropped an unusual amount of personal vulnerability on me in a short amount of time this morning at my desk.

Her parents and older sister left Vietnam by boat in 1975 and after spending time in a refugee camp in Guam, were sponsored by Lutherans in Washington State (where she was born). She and her parents had never talked about Vietnam or the war. Her parents had come down from the north to the south when they were young. Sissi said she was 36 years old and learning so much for the first time from the documentary. When she was growing up with white kids in Olympia, she hadn’t wanted to know anything. She didn’t want to be different. And it was the attitude of her parents too—this is a new beginning, the past is painful, don’t look back. But now Sissi thought she’d sit down with her mom and ask her questions, and she’d record the conversation if her mom would let her. Her eyes got glassy and mine did too, just listening to her and thinking about mothers and daughters.

I thought about some of my friends’ dads back home, and how we didn’t learn much about that war either. It seemed like a fresh wound. It felt like we actively weren’t talking about it, but it was still present. Later I learned that Alaska has the highest number of Vietnam vets per capita—a desire for space and peace, was the conjectured reason. In high school we did have some WWII sailors come in to our classroom to talk about the war—the grandfathers of my friends. Afterward, their grown baby boomer children were startled to hear how much their fathers would say out loud to the high school kids that they had never said before. And how much they hadn’t known about their dads and the war.

Now in a town like my hometown, a lot of white (and Native, and Filipino) people are upset about football players kneeling to protest racism and police brutality. I have been fuming for days about people wearing patriotism like a mask over their anti-black racism and not being self-aware enough to even know they are doing it. But I think their feelings about the flag and the anthem are sincere, too. I think their patriotism and their discomfort at black men protesting are so intertwined that it will take a delicate surgery to separate them. I don’t know how many of them will volunteer for a procedure like that. Maybe they will just wrap themselves up in the flag because it feels better.

I hope some of those people are watching Ken Burns’s documentary on the Vietnam War. I think it will have cross-over appeal for Republicans and Democrats, as a work of military history. I hope it brings up some conversations in white homes the way it looks like it will for my friend Sissi. I don’t know if it is too presumptuous for me to hope this, as someone who is not a combat vet, but I hope somehow through conversation and storytelling and reflection that there is some sort of catharsis that allows greater self-awareness.

A Facebook friend from home who often bridges the gap between left and right — she is from a logging family, loves guns, is often not politically correct — has been standing up for the players who kneel. She also posed this question on Facebook: What will people who are boycotting the NFL now do with all of that extra time and money? Will they work to end veteran homelessness? A few women took her up on her gambit and said why yes, maybe they would do just that. That was not a bad idea at all, they said.

When you think of all the time, money, and energy that people put into football—it could be a strange, unexpected gift to have it back for something else. Maybe people who really do stay away will feel empty without the tribalism and camaraderie and suspense of the game. And maybe they will find something else and maybe that something will be healing.

TOWOIT #243: Taking the Knee

September 25, 2017… Day 249

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(NBC’s Hallie Jackson to Sarah Huckabee Sanders today)

I just heard that Susan Collins is the third Republican no vote (along with McCain and Paul) on the latest attempt at repealing the ACA. This is a huge relief. I still hold out hope for Lisa Murkowski to declare herself a no, because I like to believe that Alaskan women are pragmatic and non-craven, even when they are Republicans. Not you, Sarah.

Puerto Rico is in bad shape and I’m keeping that in mind even as I join the collective groan/whoop/eyeroll/head-shake/knee-taking/soliloquizing/solidarity of the NFL and NBA and other sports organizations after Trump sniped wildly at them for his own racist purposes all weekend.

I am still in disbelief that this man is president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s repeated vociferous defense of his comments on protesters (sons of bitches) is just as amazing.

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Questions they asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders about taking the knee today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #243: Taking the Knee