When will things feel okay? (Spoiler: Not today!)

Since the last time I wrote I’ve had so many ideas about things I would like to write about – hikes I completed last year, a reading list for living in authoritarian times, our DIY holiday gifts, visiting Southern Oregon, the non-linear march of time and personal growth, maybe even poetry (!!!) – and yet every time I have attempted to sit down and actually write I become consumed with anxiety.

Is this what the next four years will be like? Will I ever feel comfortable creating something personal and not strictly political again? How is the whole country not suffering from severe anxiety right now? Why do certain people I am close with seem completely fine with this terrifying turn of events? What is going to happen to all of us? When will things feel okay?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. (Uh, except the last two. The answers to the last two questions seem to be “die” and “never” but dwelling on that doesn’t exactly quell the anxiety, ya know?)

I also still don’t have the energy to write a substantial blog post. Here are some words written by people I admire instead. I hope you enjoy them and I also hope that soon I feel compelled to write my own words again. Fingers crossed.

WARNING: Abortion’s Deadly DIY Past Could Soon Become Its Future, by Rebecca Traister for New York Magazine

Rebecca Traister wrote this for the print edition of New York Magazine last week and it’s so good and so depressing. Part of what I really liked about this article is that it felt useful to show to people who potentially “don’t get” why people with uteruses are so terrified and furious right now, and I also really loved that it was a deep dive into the history of abortion as well as a (rough) blue print for its future.

When I ask what the game plan should be now, Wattleton laughs a little grimly. “Honey, I don’t know what to tell you. It would be lovely to say we’ve got some fancy new bullet to hit this with. But really it is just hard, backbreaking political work. You have to gird your loins for the battles ahead, because that is what they are going to be: battles. But look, we defeated [Reagan’s 1987 anti-abortion Supreme Court nominee] Robert Bork. Supreme Court nominations can be defeated. Frankly, I am baffled by people who say, ‘What are we going to do?’ What are we going to do? We’re going to fight.”

An open letter to Trump from the US press corps, by Kyle Pope for Columbia Journalism Review

I hope that what is outlined in this letter is the reality that comes to pass, because if the press corps follows through on this work then we will all be a little bit safer and a little bit more well informed as the Trump administration attempts (I was going to write “slowly attempts” but I actually have no idea how slow it will be and history indicates it actually might be quite quick!) to harm us and kill us and take away our rights and gaslight us about it all the whole time!

We believe there is an objective truth, and we will hold you to that. When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly. Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions; the fact that you or someone on your team said them is newsworthy, but so is the fact that they don’t stand up to scrutiny. Both aspects should receive equal weight.

New Organizer of Women’s March on Portland: “Let Me Educate You, So We Can Move Forward Together in Fighting Trump Supporters”, by Rachel Monahan for Willamette Week

As you probably know, the Women’s March is happening this Saturday, January 21st. The main march will be happening in DC, but there are marches happening in cities all over the country. If you live in Portland (or even if you don’t!), I think you should read about Margaret Jacobsen (who is the new organizer of Portland’s march), why choosing a new organizer was necessary, and how white people can show up as real allies as opposed to talking down to and over women of color.

WW: What should people learn from the last week’s friction?

MJ: I would love for them to learn that people are done pandering to whiteness. And that if we’re going to be part of something, we actually have to be included in the planning. You don’t just get to bring people of color in and check it off your list.

I want people to learn from this how it is possible to take something that isn’t inclusive and make it so. It’s really important to me to have an example. We don’t have to settle for what Portland has given us and expected us to be.

Madonna’s Spring Awakening, by Roxane Gay for Harper’s Bazaar

I’ve been trying to find at least one positive thing to read on the internet every day since the election. It’s so easy to only read things that (are important but also) make me want to cry or rage or just despair but I do believe the key to keeping joy in my life, in all of our lives, is to continue actively seeking it, even when it’s fucking difficult. I read something somewhere recently about how hard we are all going to have to work to keep joy in our lives over the next four years. I did not save that link and I do not remember where I read it so you will have to take my word for it or Google it yourself because I don’t feel like it. The point is, even though it is easy and also necessary to read a lot of mostly depressing shit right now, we also deserve to read uplifting inspiring rad as fuck feminist shit. And if ROXANE GAY INTERVIEWING MADONNA doesn’t uplift and inspire you, I really don’t know what to tell you. This whole interview is full of delicious tidbits and the best part is, per Roxane Gay’s twitter, Madonna requested Roxane to do the interview! Truly, every thing about this is a joy.

RG: What beyond art gives you that kind of drive to keep doing what you do?

M: Wanting to inspire people. Wanting to touch people’s hearts to get them to look at life in a different way. To be a part of evolution, because, for me, it’s either you’re part of creation or you’re part of destruction. It’s inexplicable; it’s like breathing, and I can’t imagine not doing it. That is one of the arguments I would get into with my ex-husband, who used to say to me, “But why do you have to do this again? Why do you have to make another record? Why do you have to go on tour? Why do you have to make a movie?” And I’m like, “Why do I have to explain myself?” I feel like that’s a very sexist thing to say.

RG: Yes. Because nobody asks men that.

M: Does somebody ask Steven Spielberg why he’s still making movies? Hasn’t he had enough success? Hasn’t he made enough money? Hasn’t he made a name for himself? Did somebody go to Pablo Picasso and say, “Okay, you’re 80 years old. Haven’t you painted enough paintings?” No. I’m so tired of that question. I just don’t understand it. I’ll stop doing everything that I do when I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ll stop when I run out of ideas. I’ll stop when you fucking kill me. How about that?

Big Rumpus News, by Marisa Siegel for The Rumpus

In the spirit of seeking out joy and positive news, here is some info that made me squeal out loud in my empty room with glee and delight! I guess this is maybe only exciting if you are interested in the “literary world” or if you are a big Rumpus fan, but on the other hand, when is it ever not appropriate to celebrate a matriarchy?! Right exactly, that’s what I thought. Rejoice, one and all!

The next four years will surely test us all. Likewise, taking on the task of running a business—yes, there is a business to this literary world we love—and trying to keep a small, independent literary website alive will surely test me. I hope you’ll join me in trying my very best to make a difference. To keep the importance of storytelling and poetry and craft vibrant at a time when those in power will be doing anything but.

Let’s keep writing like motherfuckers, and keep fighting like motherfuckers.

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