TOWOIT #258: Manacles Monday

October 30, 2017… Day 284

Sarah Huckabee Sanders wore fuchsia today and so did I !

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Obviously a world of Halloween-costuming regrets is hitting me now. I failed to realize my true destiny. It was to be SHS, in all her glory. ALTHOUGH, it might have been like a less-flattering version of the time Phil in my office dressed up as Don Draper and nobody realized he was wearing a costume.

Well, we are paying this woman’s salary to lie to us. And with that salary, she has availed herself of these sleeves:

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Sarah Huck, Sarah Huck. I tell guys on Twitter to stop being jackasses when they make fun of your clothing. And then you do THIS?

It’s ok. Even now, I will defend your marine invertebrate swaddlements.

Here are the questions Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked today:

Continue reading TOWOIT #258: Manacles Monday

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 #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 #230

September 7, 2017… Day 231

My cousin in Florida is preparing her bedroom closet as her hideaway during Irma. Food, water, flashlights, batteries. Hopefully some comic books to keep spirits high. Maybe that description just made me think of Calvin & Hobbes. Or maybe it’s just me acting Calvin&Hobbesian by putting three novels in my backpack for camping this weekend. “We can stay out here for weeks!” I’m a little concerned about the fires because they seem to be everywhere, just outside city limits. My friends-who-know-what-they’re-doing are not concerned though.

I stared at this photo for a long time, trying to gauge the distance and the casualness.

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TOWOIT #229

September 6, 2017… Day 230

Today is Irma day. The U.S. Virgin Islands got shellacked. We won’t know until the morning how bad it is — by the time the storm moved on, it was dark and the power was out. Everyone is staying hunkered through the night. I’ve been listening to the radio at night, to voices from around the Caribbean, wherever they could get in touch with someone.

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One meteorologist laid Irma on top of Ohio to show how big it is.

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Hurricane categories only go to 5, but there was talk of creating a category 6 for Irma. Either that or that was just Alex Jones being weird — it’s been a big day.

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I think we should get used to weather graphics. There’s going to be a lot of these before tribalism and/or AI takes over. Then everything will be on a strictly need-to-know basis.

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I didn’t get what Trump did when he agreed to Schumer and Pelosi’s plan instead of McConnell and Ryan’s plan. I didn’t get it. I needed the internet to create a digestible bolus for me.

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Meanwhile, the DACA fight continues.

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The Internet chased its own tail about the forthcoming Clinton book. Everyone’s a pundit.

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There’s so much to dislike about this string of words. It can be so easily deconstructed. It’s not even worth doing it. These are a dime a dozen. It was posted publicly by a Bernie supporter in response to a woman who said something positive about Hillary, so I’m not going to bother to blur this stinker’s name.

Other odds and ends:

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A lot else is happening but it’s past my bedtime and I need to live to fight another day.

Watch out, Florida.

I love you, Puerto Rico.

I’ll check in on you tomorrow, St. Thomas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #228

September 5, 2017… Day 229

So much of the country is hurting, between DACA, Harvey, Irma, and this:

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Wild fire map courtesy of OregonLive, which does a nice job with this. It’s interactive and frequently updated.

Ash and smoke in Seattle. People of all walks of life are stricken over DACA — even in these days of people being generally stricken, this stands out. I heard university student bodies were walking off campuses and merging with other student bodies, aggregating like slime mold. Good.

I’m so sick of the Trump administration, I’ve even lost my appetite for the White House Press Briefings. And you know I love watching those.

Sessions grinned today, talking about rolling back DACA. His eyes glittered merrily.

My community organizer friend conscientiously avoids daily national news coverage because it makes her too miserable — in a way, she’s become an escape for me too, because we text most days and she only wants to talk about very personalized, local things. I try not to bring up Trump (too often) out of respect for her embargo. But today she cropped up out of the blue with commentary on how evil DACA is. It probably affects people she works with, and maybe even members of her extended family. You can keep your head down (doing good, important work in her case), but that Trump/Sessions stench will come to you.

I don’t know what more to say right now. My Western Oregon friends are really hurting in a way I can understand, being from the Tongass National Forest myself. Sometimes what gives us hope, comfort, and perspective is the same thing that’s going up in flames (or getting logged, strip-mined, or sold out from under us).

I am grateful for the fellowship I have in my life.

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For instance, 16 years ago, this beautiful journalist and I were feckless editorial assistants sharing one cubicle in midtown Manhattan, snort-laughing the day away. We rang in the new year together. We protested the invasion of Iraq together. If one of our moms visited, she would have to take us both out to lunch. We’ve long since gone our separate ways and she’s not on social media much, but I still read her articles in the Intercept, and I love that that’s her husband who retweeted her. (P.S. her parents brought her here from Colombia and she didn’t start learning English until kindergarten.)

 

TOWOIT #223: Love and Trouble

August 31, 2017… Day 224

I got carried away and wrote three blog posts for one day.

4:45 am: Morning Edition makes me cry in the shower again

The radio takes on a different quality, early in the morning, when you’re alone and brewing coffee and it’s dark outside.

On NPR this morning, they ran a story about a reporter in Houston driving a woman named Angie back to the home she was evacuated from when the flood waters got near it. They ran into some water in the road that the reporter’s car couldn’t handle, but a Latino man in a big jacked-up truck came along and drove them the rest of the way. The Latino man talked about how in Houston during the flood, it has been everyone helping everyone—it hasn’t been about white, black and brown.

For a reason that I missed, the reporter and the other man went in to look around inside the house while Angie waited outside for them. They came back out and told her everything was dry. She’d been especially worried about her clothes, but they were fine. The water had come up to her doorstep but no further. The men had snapped pictures of the rooms to show her they were dry. As they drove away, the woman looked through the photos. She had a low, raspy voice and you heard her say—sort of to herself—“I know my house is junky, but…” and then she just trailed off.

When that recorded story ended, the reporter and the host talked briefly about how Angie was one of the lucky ones.

Although I was emotionally affected by the story, I thought “This is fine. It was a happy ending. I didn’t just see a video of a wet dog afraid to be rescued, or a senior citizen stranded in waist-deep water, or a baby floating in a storage tub. I’m fine.”

Then those tricky bastards at NPR played the first several bars of “The Water is Wide.”

The version they played was instrumental but unfortunately I knew the words. So then I was crying into my coffee, followed by crying in the shower. All the way to the bus stop, I was still humming the tune, thinking about Houston folks and sniffling.

If you don’t know that song, the verse I know goes like this:

The water is wide… I cannot cross over

Neither have I wings to fly

Give me a boat that can carry two

And both shall row, my love and I

 

6:25 am: Love and Trouble 

On the bus to work I read Claire Dederer’s Love and Trouble. I was on the chapter that’s a letter to Roman Polanski, telling him what it’s like to be a 13-year-old girl. At one point she asks Polanski if he only sees holes everywhere. We have to point out, because people don’t get it automatically, that a girl is not an object. It’s devastating.

Dederer takes into account the idea that Roman Polanski was a tortured genius, that the 1970s were a weird time. She’s as generous as she can be, but you couldn’t read her paragraphs out loud without tasting piss in your mouth. All the feelings she packs into that chapter—they are what saturate everything now. Rape culture and misogyny are lain bare, retroactive, stinking everything up. It’s in the Oval Office. Every day Gallup tells you what percentage of your compatriots are cool with it, although it’s really more. 53% of white women voted for it. It’s stinking up the Democratic party too.

The founders of the start-up Witchsy invented a male co-founder (hilariously named Keith Mann) to correspond with people who were brushing them off. My social media feeds are full of women I know talking about how real it is — the disrespect, the brush-off, the battle to be recognized as a viable professional. It discouraged me more than usual. I’m turning 40 next year, and I want to take risks and move toward freelancing and my own creative projects. I want to Be Excellent. How clever will I have to be, and how bright will I have to burn, to compensate for my gathering invisibility, for my high voice, for my eyes welling up sometimes when I’m frustrated, for having a woman’s name and being a woman? Because I honestly don’t know if I’m up to that level of witchcraft. (It is worse for women who aren’t white like I am.)

When I was an ecology student 20 years ago, our professor’s wife—also an ecologist—told a group of us women students that the field was changing, turning female. We beamed—sounds great! She scowled. “Oh no, don’t get excited,” she said. “All that means is that ecology will be devalued, trashed, dismissed… and the pay will go down.”

At work, I’m on the outer administrative edges of a prolonged bureaucratic snafu involving a woman my boss is trying to bring onto our team from another team. I don’t know the details myself, but there’s been some thorniness that’s above my paygrade.

Today I wrote up a statement announcing that she would be joining us, and then I took it to her. I asked her if she thought it represented her well, if she was happy with the tone and the details provided. My boss was a little surprised that I’d done that since he’d signed off on it already. I said, without thinking, “I want her to feel a sense of control over her situation, and I want her to know we respect her.”

This has something to do with us being women. And something to do with Trump.

Everything is related and it’s exhausting.  

 

12:00 pm: One of the lucky ones 

At the White House Press Briefing today, the reporters returned again and again to just two themes: Are undocumented immigrants in Houston really going to be ok? Can their safety from ICE at shelters really be ensured? And what about the 800,000 young people in this country who are protected by DACA to study, live, and work in this country despite their immigration status? What is happening with DACA?

Fox News reported earlier in the day that Trump had already decided to kill DACA—something he’s been teasing and flirting with all week. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s stonewalling took on a new cruelty as she refused to confirm or deny or give any real answers. The repetition of the reporters’ questions was like bells tolling, in my mind. These were the humane questions. These were the urgent questions. These were the questions of conscience. This wasn’t grandstanding for TV. Don’t jerk people around about this. There’s no such thing as other people’s kids.

Tom Bossert from Homeland Security was at the briefing too. Tom often seems like a decent person in these situations, but he works for Trump so he’s made his bed. He took two Skype questions from Houston. These Skype questions—new with the Trump administration—have been a handy way to run down the clock on the reporters in the room. The Skype calls often feature cheesy, over-eager personalities from right-leaning outlets who praise Trump and then ask a pompous-sounding question that comes across as either extremely ideological or extremely pork barrel-ish.

Today it was two white guys from Houston, at separate outlets. They were both unshaven, haggard. The first guy was from Fox and he kind of leaned in and barked a question at the camera about the reservoir infrastructure and the army corps of engineers. His craggy head took up most of the screen when he leaned in, and he didn’t care. The second journalist seemed a bit shell-shocked that he had put himself on national television in bad greasy hat hair and a short-sleeved Under Armour shirt. His question was also about the immediate safety and survival for the people of Houston. Both those guys looked like they were sleeping at the station.

After the older guy’s question, Tom Bossert signed off with him by saying, “—and I hope your house hasn’t been affected.” It sounded so inadequate. That was the end of that call, the guy was effectively hung up on right at that point, so who knows about his house. But the guy’s life is probably scrambled. And he’s one of the lucky ones.

TOWOIT #221

August 29, 2017… Day 222

I love Twitter. I follow so many interesting people, especially reporters. But it’s all getting to be too much. The constant scanning and refreshing. The threads, the dipping in and out of bombshell reports, think pieces, and explainers. I have to put myself a little farther behind the flow of Twitter, start absorbing more things by listening to the radio and podcasts while I’m cooking or cleaning or walking or updating spreadsheets. Start consuming news in digest form. Miss some headlines. Miss some hot takes. Be a few hours or even a few days late on new developments.

After the election, I was like “throw all long-term personal goals out the window, hunker down, shelter in place, and shovel all discretionary funds and some of the savings toward non-profits full of professionals who can try to do something somehow to alleviate the sufferings and indignities of marginalized people in this administration. Bear witness, pay attention, watch, wait, look for opportunities to do something. But most of all, DO NOT LOOK AWAY.”

A few months of our national shit show seems to have hastened whatever mid-life crisis was already coming down the pike. Suddenly I’m taking classes, making big decisions, taking risks, starting projects, trying to change myself into a better version of myself, trying to expand.

It’s partly just the impostors everywhere. If Donald Trump can be President, I can accomplish A FEW of my fairly modest and sadly neglected life goals. I MEAN COME ON.

Also, there’s the sensation of impending doom. Authoritarianism. Climate change. Blah blah blah.

Also, there’s the hope that a bigger version of myself will have better ideas, more energy —  in some as-yet unknown way. This is probably bullshit in the same way that couples think maybe that extra baby they’re having will be the brilliant scientist that makes a crucial breakthrough, so it’s ok to people the earth further. Probably won’t even be a scientist. Your special scientist dream baby will probably just be average and befuddled like the rest of us, maybe even afraid of math! But you never know.

Also, there’s the feeling that other people who were already living their artistic dreams when Trump showed up have societal approval to make their art as if they are living the resistance through their craft or whatever BS you want to say about it — but for some reason I have to be a stooge in my cubicle tithing until it hurts? I’m going to make stuff too. I have things to say too, damnit.

So anyway, I’m too hooked on Twitter. I love it but I hate it. The time just slips away and disappears. I’m going to try to listen to national news and podcasts and just keep my eyes open for what I can see in my own city. Like what’s happening HERE. Not just have my head buried in the phone for every second of every bus ride, watching left-wingers battle each other to death via tweet.

(P.S. follow me @lilwould, obviously)

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TOWOIT #220

August 28, 2017… Day 221

I’ve mostly just been watching Harvey and Houston stuff. I picked away at my day job and then my personal writing project afterward, and I listened to some grisly podcasts that focused on Arpaio’s deeds. But mostly I just watched what was happening in Texas.

A woman is rescuing bats that are stuck under bridges and starting to drown as the water reaches them. Other people are rescuing dogs. Most people are rescuing humans. I’m really worried about all the people in their houses.

Over the weekend, I exchanged a few words with a man in Houston I don’t know at all–I found his tweet by scrolling through the Twitter hashtag, #HoustonFlood. He’s stuck in an apartment building in downtown Houston. He tweeted a video of cars beneath his window, stuck in the rising water, lights still on, people still inside. “People are dumb,” he says matter of factly, and then pans over to a big dog beside him, who is also watching out the window. He seems to have been addressing the dog, not his human Twitter audience.

I replied to the tweet to ask if he and the dog were still doing all right. He responded yesterday with information. And then tonight, out of the blue, he gave me another update. Still doing all right, and they were the lucky ones.

Here’s a thing that a U.S. president said:

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I’m tired of living inside a quirky comic book about a troublingly daft future.

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TOWOIT #213

August 21, 2017… Day 214

The most charming part of the eclipse in Seattle today:

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The eclipse was good for us today. I made a pinhole projector out of a cereal box. My friend at work made eclipse sandwich cookies–a round flat chocolate cookie and a larger yellow butter cookie, pasted together with marzipan. A bunch of us stood in a parking lot near the office and watched the eclipse with other downtown people. I had a head full of bees, and cracked more jokes than usual. A surprising number of them landed, but then everyone was a little giddy. It’s hard to separate the celebration giggles from the true humor responses sometimes.

Trump is going to talk about Afghanistan soon.

Catching up on yesterday’s Twitter.

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This is brilliant to me:

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I’m sure there’s a way to work in the solar eclipse to that illustration (hood as eclipse viewer?).

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TOWOIT #212: Don’t @ Me, Bro

August 20, 2017… Day 213

So who is really the Tweeter-in-Chief? I looked at each day in the last few months that Obama tweeted. I added up his total number of likes for that day, and then divided it by the number of tweets. Most days he just tweeted once, but a couple days he tweeted two or three times. Then I did the same for Trump — just on the days Obama tweeted (to make it manageable to do this quickly and cleanly).

Trump sent a lot more tweets on those days, but look at his average like-per-tweet compared to Obama:

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I added trend lines to show that Obama’s tweets seem to be getting more popular, while Trump’s stay about the same.

Now, if you think that’s not really fair because Trump sent SO many more tweets on each of those days… let’s look at the TOTAL number of likes Obama and Trump got each day, regardless of whether it came from one tweet (Obama usually) or 4-16 tweets (Trump).

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Again, Obama in blue smokes Trump much of the time. Most notably, with the three tweets he sent just last week after Charlottesville — that outlier dot in the upper right.

I harvested these numbers early in the morning on Saturday, August 19 when I couldn’t sleep after the football game (so they could have changed a little since then). I don’t know about you, but a little data-entry and Excel graphing is often just what the doctor ordered.

 

 

TOWOIT #211

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August 19, 2017… Day 212

On Friday I was invited to a Seahawks pre-season game, last minute, with some women from work. I have worked with them for years but haven’t been too tight with them. They’re 10-15 years older than me and really funny. They are put-together, caustic, fun, a little drinky. So I was honored and I said yes.

I told my mom and she said, “I thought we were boycotting the NFL because of head injuries and they won’t give Colin Kaepernick a job.” My mom loves watching football and I think yelling “Run, you son of a bitch!” at the TV is an important form of therapy for her. I said, “I know, I feel like a hypocrite.” But I’d only ever watched the game on TV, never in the stadium, so it was an adventure and an opportunity.

“I thought we were boycotting the NFL because of head injuries and they won’t give Colin Kaepernick a job.”

When I got to the pub where we’d be pre-funcing, the women (who are all white, like me) were chatting at a round table with two black men. “Oh,” I thought, “We have gentleman friends along!” Actually my co-workers were just cleverly poaching the table as the men seemed to be leaving soon. It was a bit of a “we’re all suddenly best friends” situation though, super jocular between the men and women. Everyone teased me for having no Seahawks gear on.

We were in the hallway on our way to the stands when the anthem played. I couldn’t see anything. A clump of people were just standing with hands over their hearts, waiting to proceed to their seats. I wondered if anyone sat down with Michael Bennett. I wanted to ask someone when I sat down. I didn’t want to ask the group of black men seated directly behind us, because I didn’t want to seem like a nosey parker white lady about it. I didn’t want to ask the white guy sitting to my left, because I didn’t want him to think–even for a second–that I was inviting white disapproval of black protest.

A cop who had been shot raised the 12th Man flag. I knew about him from the news. The stadium swelled with heroic orchestral music and the crowd was rapturous. The camera swung around behind him and displayed the crowd below him — thousands of people at his feet, roaring applause. There were fireworks. It was thrilling on a visceral level, but then again–team spirit is a close cousin to tribalism, nationalism, and mob mentality. I thought, “I guess we’ll still all have a nice time doing this when the bill of rights is gone.”

“I guess we’ll still have a nice time doing this when the Bill of Rights is gone”

We watched the game and had fun. The seats were wonderful. My companions joked a lot with the row of black men behind them and then an older white woman in front of us turned around and said, “Could you quiet down? All I can hear is your talking!!” She scowled at us. We were collectively a little too drunk to take criticism well. I whispered to the woman next to me, “I’m such a people-pleaser that this is killing me” and she guffawed. The woman on the other side of her said too loudly, “Well fuck you, lady, it’s not the symphony.”

A beer vendor in a silly hat passed by in the aisle. He looked really familiar. We smiled at each other. I saw him again when the women and I were making a herd-like run to the ladies room. He said, “Hey, we know each other!” But we still couldn’t figure it out. He asked me if I was part of the glass-blowing world. I wasn’t. I asked him if he’d lived in Alaska. He hadn’t.

After the game, the women and I went to another bar to get something to eat. The bartender and the waiters, the clientele, the decor — it all reminded me of working at a steak and seafood place in Juneau in a windowless cave inside an old art deco hotel. The conversations between us four women turned deeper and more serious. There were workplace rifts, hurts, slights, and burdens that I never knew about. We were eating these delicious teriyaki steak skewers and slowing down and drinking water. We were almost speaking baldly about real gender issues.

But a man to the left of me at the bar inserted himself into the conversation. A couple of the women were still feeling mischievous enough that they bantered back with him. This was a guy who bragged about the size of the diamond in his wife’s engagement ring, as he was flirting with my co-worker. He bragged about knowing a lot about whiskey. He bragged about knowing at least three different well-placed merchants who could get you a very high quality this or a very premium that. He bragged about the steak he was eating. The TV was right above us, and the Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll came on. The sound was off. “Look at that broken nose,” said one woman. “It looks good,” said another. One of them looked at the guy next to me and said “You have a broken nose. Like Daniel Craig!” There was then some friendly one-upsmanship about James Bond trivia. I said something casually about how a woman Bond would be fun, and the man said, “NO. James Bond is a man. That’s the way that it is. People are trying too hard to change society. Everything is fine the way it is!” I already thought he was a serious blowhard up to that point, but the vehemence with which he turned a lighthearted conversation on Bond trivia to an indictment of meddling feminists — well, I had his number.

“No. James Bond is a man. That’s the way it is.”

So then Michael Bennett came on the TV screen. He was wearing a camouflage shirt and his beard and hair were a little longer and less-kempt than I remembered seeing them. The reporters were probably asking him about why he sat down, but I couldn’t read his lips. I still didn’t know if anyone had joined him. The man next to me said, “So what do you guys think about–” (Don’t say it! I thought) “–Michael Bennett sitting down during the anthem?” One of my companions said, “You know what? It is what it is.” She said it a bit curtly, like she didn’t want to talk about it. In that moment I was a little  disappointed in that reply, but it turned out to be the least disappointing thing in the conversation.

The man went on to say that HE was in the military, HE had been around the world twice, HE had been in Afghanistan, HE was a firefighter now. And the flag was sacred cloth, and America paid those football players’ salaries. And the women I was with seemed to be just nodding along and letting him run with it. “My grandfather was a marine, so I get it,” said one. And the man said, “I’ve had to deal with some unsavory characters and I just want to tell them to go fuck themselves.” At this point I looked at my watch, stood up, turned to the man and said, “I support Michael Bennett 100% and I’d like to tell you to go fuck yourself.” I turned to the women and said, “I’ll see you all on Monday!” waved cheerily, and left.

“My grandfather was a Marine, so I get it”

This crap, this crap one week after Charlottesville. I was livid. I was vibrating on an unholy frequency. This is White America.

At the bus stop, a young black man approached me, saying he needed $20 for something. He interrupted his pitch to say, “Oh, you have the prettiest smile.” He had a lisp and was smaller than I was. He was really young. He had a southern accent and said he came to Seattle from Lynchburg, Tennessee. The Confederacy, I thought. I readily handed over a $20. This looks like white guilt, but I’m sorry you had to put up with so much crap, kid. I didn’t care if I was being scammed, right then. I just wanted to feel slightly less gross by doing a good turn for someone.

Michael Bennett is from a military family. Michael Bennett gets all of that the-flag-is-sacred-cloth stuff. He gets it. How hard is it — how hard is it really — to just imagine that you, as a white person, do not understand what black people go through in this country. That you just don’t get it. That there are things worth sitting down during the anthem for. That it is ok to see that. I wished I’d had the presence of mind to say some of that, any of that.

I was halfway home on the bus when I realized I was still clutching the big white linen napkin from the restaurant. It was smeared with teriyaki sauce from the skewers, which I had not eaten in a ladylike manner. I looked ridiculous.

The next day, Saturday, I was rattled and jangled still. I mentioned what happened to a white friend and she said I seemed awfully angry lately — that maybe I should consider getting help with my anger issues and how I react to people. Maybe I was too dialed in to politics, she gently suggested.

I don’t want to get less angry. Another friend of mine is a woman of color, is married to an immigrant from Mexico, has a little girl, and has spent her whole professional life as a community organizer among low-income people of color — SHE can look away from the news if it helps her. SHE can avoid the added hurt and anger that the headlines and Donald Trump’s face give her. SHE can be unaware of what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and cite self-care as the reason. But I’m a white woman who works in the financial industry. I damn well better pay attention to what’s happening. And if that means crackling with bad feelings, then that’s just what it means.

“I’m a white woman who works in the financial industry. I damn well better pay attention to what’s happening.”

On Saturday, the Boston counter-protest marches dwarfed the white supremacist rally. My white neighbor, sitting on her stoop, told me frankly that she would spend the rest of her life rooting out hidden racist tendencies in her brain, and dismantling institutional racism however she could. A (normally) annoyingly zen white yoga teacher friend put our entire Trump-voting hometown on blast in an uncharacteristically angry Facebook post. “This post seems shaming,” commented one person. “Yeah. That’s because it is shaming,” he replied.

On Saturday, I learned that no one sat down with Michael Bennett. But a white team-mate, Justin Britt, had hung back and stood right next to Bennett, with his hand on Bennett’s shoulder. It was a show of support. A frustrating display in some ways — why not just also sit down, Justin? — but it was something, it was not nothing. I hope.

On Saturday, I finally remembered where I knew that white guy who was selling beers at the game. It was at a day-long anti-racism workshop in the spring. He was called out for something by a young Latina and an older white woman sprang to his defense. No, no, he calmly said, gesturing that the white woman stand down. He didn’t come there to not be called out. He came there to learn.

 

Update: When I saw the women on Monday, they didn’t seem bothered at all by my abrupt style of exiting, and said that the guy was a creep and they hoped not to run into him again.

TOWOIT #209: Juggalos vs. Proud Boys

August 17, 2017… Day 210

**Promotional Nepotism Break**

My dearly beloved, who is a good person, a booster, a staid friend, a man who works quietly behind the scenes, an all-around unsung hero and the person who always shows up with a big car to help people move… THAT guy has a modest little Kickstarter going for a nifty illustrated fan-zine that brings together several of the coolest independent comics artists on the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver,BC corridor. I would like for him to have big success. In return for how he handled (handles) my voluble and recurring post-election storms with kindness and true emotional support, I now must do all I can to put eyes on his Kickstarter so that his quirky, arty, toilet-themed, sumptuously illustrated movie review book will see the light of day. Here’s the link.

HERE’s one of the rewards (designed by Brandon Graham aka @royalboiler):

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*** And we now return to our regularly scheduled program, Nightmare World with Lil ***

 

This August 16, 1973 would also make a great enamel pin:

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All across the media and the Internet, people are talking like this is a real turning point for the Trump Administration. Not the kind they used to talk about, the pivot, but a kind from which there’s no turning back for Trump. His ghostwriter for Art of the Deal thinks Trump will resign by the end of the year.

But I’ll believe it when it happens. Too many unbelievable things already happened to get us here. Plus, last night Rachel Maddow made vague intimations of the first signs of something maybe going awry with the Mueller investigation. And there’s always the threat of a big distracting war. So I’m not holding my breath.

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I’m just waiting to see what happens when the Juggalos march on Washington and come across the Proud Boys next month.

Speaking of which, a warning just came into my Facebook timeline, all the way from Japan:

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Thank you and goodnight.

 

 

 

 

 

TOWOIT #208

August 16, 2017… Day 209

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Just checked again, and this tweet now has 3.8 million likes:

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Side note. Forgot to say yesterday, in all the commotion–I really appreciate how the women on Hellbent (Sarah Lerner and Devon Handy) model the behavior of white non-fragility. They have a weekly feature where they say what Maxine Waters has been up to and award someone a Maxine Waters Badassery Award (or some such name). And a black woman wrote in and said that this was fetishizing Congresswoman Waters and this was forcing her into this position where she had to be this magical negro that replenishes others’ spirits, etc. etc. And Sarah and Devon were just like “Wow, that made us both really uncomfortable because we recognized the truth in it.” And they ditched that feature. They said they would still talk about Maxine Waters from time to time but they wouldn’t frame it in the same way anymore. And that was that.

I knew there was an element of truth to the criticism right away, because remember how I said that Hellbent reminded me of Baby Geniuses, which is why I like it so much? Well, Baby Geniuses has a weekly feature called Chunch Chat… in which Emily & Lisa hilariously and adorably check in on Martha Stewart’s pony, Banchunch. I don’t think I need to say more.

I too admire Maxine Waters, and I too will take more care with how I talk about her.

P.S. it’s a few hours later now and the Barack Obama tweet is up to 4.0 million likes. The tweet from Twitter–pointing out that Obama’s tweet is the most-liked tweet ever–is itself up to 284,000 likes.