TOWOIT #233: What Happened Day

September 12, 2017… Day 236

Today, they arrived: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Unbelievable, by Katy Tur (who covered the Trump campaign for NBC).

In the under-the-radar, “actually-I’m-not-that-crazy-about-Bernie” corners of the leftwing Internet, there’s a buzz of energy surrounding the release of What Happened. What people don’t understand about the women and men who supported Hillary is that the book’s release has turbocharged their commitment to what they were already committed to and talking about. Most immediately, with everybody’s eyes on 2018, those topics are voting rights, voter enfranchisement, voter registration, and voter turnout. Because they are about that action.

I have a deliberate schedule to follow for the next year to maintain my work, classwork, writing, sanity and health. There’s sleep hygiene involved, there’s deliverable dates for finishing book chapters. There are final exams and there are important dates when the big boss is in town. There’s family stuff too. And a boyfriend. But now I know I need to work activism back in more than it has been, because when the election happened I considered every marginalized young person as my young person and I felt responsibility to do my best on their behalf. And I still have to do that.

I also know though, that I have to write like hell. Even when I’m tired and I don’t feel like it. Because I said yes to writing in order to run headlong in the direction of my innate abilities and inclinations. Activism and organizing are not in the direction of my innate abilities and inclinations. They’re the opposite, and I’m going to do some of that stuff anyway. But saying yes to writing will curb my time and energy for activism. So all writing has to be Hell Yes writing. There can be no dilly-dallying in this matter. No dawdling. No equivocating.

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(this decaf Americano is having a dangerous placebo effect on me)

I have barely begun to look at either of these books, but I’m already energized.

Hillary Clinton’s and Katy Tur’s author’s notes start out similarly. In What Happened, Hillary writes, “This is my story of what happened.” In Unbelievable, Katy writes, “This is a true story. It is also my story, which makes it a work of memory.”

Flip to the beginning of the next section a few pages later, and Hillary writes, “Deep breath. Feel the air fill my lungs.” It is Trump’s inauguration day, January 20, 2017.

Flip a couple pages to the beginning of Katy’s next section, and she writes, “I’m about to throw up.” It’s late on election night — November 8, 2016 — and a fellow reporter has just told her that Trump is going to continue to do rallies. Victory rallies.

These women felt it in their bodies. That’s the way I felt it — a lot of us did. It was a body blow. We were holding our breaths, waiting for an abuser-figure to finally fade away after a long year of Trump on television, Trump on the radio, Trump invading our nightmares. And instead we knew he would be everywhere, in everything. For years. And not just on television. He would be fucking with our very worlds.

And that’s why I want to hear what Hillary Clinton and Katy Tur have to say about what happened last year.

TOWOIT #231

September 8, 2017… Day 232

Yesterday I experienced something that was like this for me: I was reading a deliciously well-written essay on my phone, while standing at a busy bus stop, and then suddenly a friend of mine, who is a black man, was standing RIGHT in front of me, inside my personal bubble, nostrils flared, sort of sputtering, and I was just like “What happened?” But then his bus came and he walked away and got on the bus, making an angry dismissive gesture with his arms.

What HE experienced was that he received a bunch of racist guff at the bus stop, that I had no idea was happening because I was looking at my phone and tuning everything else out.

The next day he filled me in. He said that it was loud and prolonged and he could not BELIEVE that I didn’t pick up on any of it. He got out of a car next to the bus stop and some white guys started yelling at him that it was a “bus only” lane. He was like, “Yeah, but there are no buses here right now, so what’s your problem?” And everyone else was just standing around either looking at him blankly and/or joining in on giving him attitude. Meanwhile, a white uber driver came up and dropped off white uber passengers at the same exact place and the people still hassling my friend didn’t say anything to the uber people.

I apologized for being physically there but not THERE for him. After venting for a while longer, he said, “I mean, I know, I know, I’m the one who is the fish out of water here in Seattle, I’m supposed to adapt–” and I said, “No! What happened is bullshit and your feelings are valid!” I don’t know, that’s all I could think of to say. That, and I’d do better next time.

Shortly after that convo, I left for a weekend of “glamping” at a Girl Scouts campground with mostly white women, mostly from Seattle. It was a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts and I went with my book club. It’s a feminist group, and I thought maybe we’d talk about sexism out there. My head had been all abuzz about misogyny all week, maybe because everyone is working over time again to tell Hillary Clinton to sit down and shut up. And people on the left AND the right are starting to give Kamala Harris the Hillary Clinton treatment, just in case she gets any BIG IDEAS about 2020. And Betsy DeVos is making it easier to be a rapist on campus again. And sexism is everywhere in my every day life, confronting me and needling me.

But no. Once I was out in the woods with all of these liberal Seattle (pre-dominantly) white women, NO ONE was talking about sexism or Hillary Clinton, because all that anyone wanted to talk about was racism. If they did talk about feminism, it was painstakingly intersectional. Ta-nehisi Coates and Ijeoma Oluo were the names on everyone’s lips. DACA was a top concern. Everyone was onto themselves and their own latent prejudices. Everyone was trying to figure out what more they could do to fight racism. It felt strikingly different than similar pre-election gatherings would have been.

There’s still lots of room to criticize us white women as a demographic group. We have problems. We have blind spots and ways we’re obnoxious and entitled and clueless and privileged. We didn’t just stop being all those things. I’m not mad when black people talk about how white women voted Trump in and why white women are culpable. I’m just mad when white men pick that up from them and use it against us too. Which they do. All the time. Anything they can get their hands on, it seems.

Hillary Clinton’s book arrives in the mail on the 12th (I hope! It better!) and so does Katy Tur’s.

TOWOIT #136

June 1, 2017… Day 133

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Palate cleanser for this steaming shit pile of a day: Hillary Clinton was lovely this afternoon, in a warm, hour-long conversation at the Book Expo in NYC. Among many other things, she talked about her love for Nancy Drew books when she was a girl.

The disgustingly hyped and teased announcement in the Rose Garden was today. There was a band playing. I didn’t watch that garbage. 

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Meanwhile, the country continues to be racist as hell:

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A black friend of mine was working her job in a shop in downtown Seattle yesterday and a white man saw her through the window, opened the door and yelled “F___ YOU, N____ !!” Just out of the blue. Just to yell at her.

In my sister’s primarily Mexican & Filipino neighborhood in California, white supremacists from somewhere else drive through looking for Black Lives Matter signs in yards and windows. They come back again and again once a house is identified, shouting at and threatening anyone they see in the yard or driveway or porch. The people she knows who have been targeted are white like she is. She’s afraid to put up a Black Lives Matter sign because she’s the only white person in her household — and if they’ll harass and intimidate white people with BLM signs, what would they do when a dark-skinned Mexican-Filipino man is the one associated with the sign?

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And then there’s Russia, other bullshit, and a Twitter dig from none other than sweet, square Ken Jennings. 

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TOWOIT #71

March 28, 2017… Day 68

On the day Sally Yates was supposed to testify but didn’t, Hillary was back on stage in a black leather jacket over a floral collar shirt. While giving a talk about women in diplomacy (or something like that), she stood up for two black women in the public eye– the reporter April Ryan and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Why did she have to do that? Just white Republican guys being assholes.

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Bill O’Reilly said Maxine Waters’s “James Brown wig” was too distracting for him to be able to hear what she was saying–as she spoke earnestly about democracy. Sean Spicer told April Ryan to stop shaking her head at him. But the worst I thought was right before that, when he said “I’m sorry if that disgusts you” for no reason. April Ryan felt bad that her fellow reporters didn’t speak up for her, and that makes me sad.

I listened to the c-span briefing live and Sean Spicer leaves abruptly after talking to April, with many people yelling after him for follow-up questions. After he left the room, one man said “REALLY?!… ok…” And someone else said, “April got him mad” and the first guy said, “Oh yeah. He just runs, man.”

Maxine Waters told Chris Hayes tonight that she could not be intimidated and wasn’t going anywhere.

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The House Ways and Means committee killed another resolution that called for President Trump’s tax returns. Representative Bill Pascrell from Patterson, New Jersey was full of fire, thunder, and righteous indignation. I never heard of him before, and I appreciated him greatly. Suzan Del Bene from Washington piped up in the debate, and deposited a rather demure statement in support of Pascrell and his resolution. But she came across as rather a real person–like if I were a congresswoman, I might speak like her and with less sturm und drang. But who knows, I might be a real barn-burner. I especially appreciated the committee members who cited the protests in Russia as all the more reason we need to promote transparency and democratic institutions. At the end of the debate, they vote on whether or not to pass the resolution along with disapproval. The Republican ayes are so anemic and mumbled. Then the Democratic NOs ring out so forcefully, several times louder. It means something, though they knew the vote would split down party lines and they would lose. It still means something.

Trump joined the House Republicans in taking away Internet privacy protections. I know from my job, that this is seen as quite a revenue opportunity.

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It was a sad day for the whole world, and all the things living on it. Trump rolled back initiatives to fight climate change.

Obama’s record is being erased. Hope for our species to continue in functioning societies is also being erased. Yeah, I’m sure someone survives after climate change really hits — but not most of us. And not with civil societies intact. It’s the biggest health issue, the biggest social justice issue that there is. It’s the biggest economic inequality issue. It’s the biggest foreign relations issue, the biggest national security issue, and the biggest issue for families with children.

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With Sean Spicer’s lies and Devin Nunes obstructing his own committee’s investigation of Russia ties to the White House, and the Republicans just spinning and spinning and spinning to protect Donald Trump — it feels to me again like they will get away with all this. Maybe because I had hope, briefly, I feel nauseated again today, revisiting the grief of just after the election.

The lion’s share of that grief was NOT specifically about Hillary Clinton’s loss. That was sad enough on its own, but was dwarfed by the bigger picture. For Bernie Bros and Republicans, it is all still about Hillary. That came up today online with her back in the public eye again. And it has always hurt to have the sexism of leftist guys nipping at our ankles in hard times. We can’t count on all our brothers. I work hard to overcome this thought that was ingrained in me by my childhood circumstances: that men hate women and children. This election is hurtling me back through time to re-fight all these old battles for my emotional health and wholeness. Anyway, when it comes to Bernie Bros of various intensities — I have to be allies with them, but I don’t have to forget or forgive.

By the way, I’ve noticed that some male Bernie supporters love to say that the Clinton campaign invented and propagated the term Bernie Bro. Naturally, the lived experiences of real live female Democrats online can’t be seen as real.

OK, but enough white feminist tears for one day. People got real problems. I heard a story on NPR about how people are withdrawing from food stamp programs (even if their children are American citizens) because they are afraid of the government. There was a story in the New Yorker about how kids are afraid to go to school after an ICE raid.

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Side note — this is a good illustration why maybe you should just use numerals in your text. Maybe it’s not classy? Who knows, just do it!

 

BREXIT BEGINS.

 

Questions the reporters asked Sean Spicer today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #71