You know how you have a blog and you want to write on the job but then things happen and you don’t write for many many months and when you come back you feel like you have to write a long explanation of everything that has happened since your last update?
One of my biggest issues with our current socio/political environment is just how f*cking fast everything happens. I’m working on a few larger stories but in the meantime on this here blog? Even the crickets have gotten bored and moved on.
This, as you all already know, really bugs me. I’m super active on Twitter but when it comes to sitting down and taking the time to type out more than 140 characters at a time? Somehow that never ends up happening. I mean, if I’m writing I might miss a breaking development! There are, like, half a dozen a day now! I have to keep up!
Okay, look: I know I really don’t. And I’m working on cutting the cable news cord a little bit at a time. It’s sort of like trying to cut through a super well-done steak with a plastic spoon but I’m trying.
…I feel like there could be a super witty marrying of that simile and the spoon theory but I probably won’t think of it until about an hour after I hit publish on this.
Last night I realized that, like so many projects I take on, I am making all this way harder than it needs to be. I’m stressing out about creating original content on Twitter. And original content on Medium. And original content here.
WTF, Self. Why not just work once, post thrice?
One of my current favorite Twitterers (Tweeters?) is @AlexandraErin (and if you’re not following her you really need to fix that. She’s amazing). She writes primarily on Twitter, creating these awesome threads full of insight and information. Sometimes she writes long-form too but she’s very open about her preference for Twitter.
I spend most my time on Twitter too, but I’m also very conscious of the fact that Twitter is not everybody’s jam. So, I’m going to try something out for the next couple of weeks: I’m going to try creating posts out of the things I tweet. Sometimes it will be pretty basic, like what you’re about to see. Other times I might add some context, summation, long-form friendly stuff. I don’t really know yet. Let’s see how this goes first. Ready?
Here is my Twitter coverage of today’s White House Daily Briefing via Storify because I wanted to try that out and see how it went.
The day after the (fully funded within 24 hours holy crap thank you!) fundraiser launched, I went over to my new landlord’s office and signed my lease. The day after that I moved in!
Thing The Second: The New Place
The new place is four-ish blocks from my old place so I didn’t move far, but this new apartment is worlds different than the old apartment:
Building is far more secure: key fobs, on-site security, etc.
It’s around 200 sq ft bigger (a change that has been a surprisingly tricky adjustment).
I finally have a view! Instead of looking directly into my neighbor’s living room (old place) now I look out at Marquam Hill (where OHSU lives). My apartment gets natural light! I don’t have to leave my apartment to see the sky anymore!
Instead of hoarding quarters, the laundry room in this building accepts debit cards and the machines will text me when they’re done. The laundry room has easily three times as many machines, too.
The building has its own gym for residents! I have big plans to use it. Y’know, later.
Regular bathtub! Claw footed tubs are gorgeous but getting into and out of them when you’re short? I do not miss it.
SO MANY ELECTRICAL OUTLETS. My old apartment had five electrical outlets, total. I have more than that in my new kitchen.
Radiator instead of tiny forced air heater. I don’t have to use it much because the building is well insulated so I stay pretty warm (I’m wondering how this will pan out in summer).
Full sized refrigerator and stove/oven! The foodies will be disappointed to learn it’s electric and not gas, but meh. I can make more than three cookies at a time!
Price-wise, I’m not paying that much more for the new place than I was for the old place. The difference works out to about $50ish, depending on how the utility costs shake out.
None of this would have been possible without all your help. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you for helping me get out of what turned out to be a not great place and into somewhere safer and better. And that brings me to the very best thing about this new place.
I loved my old apartment. I really did. It was a weird old building and my apartment definitely had its share of quirks and I think that’s part of the reason I loved it there. Probably the biggest reason I loved that weird tiny place so much is because I worked hard and saved up and found it/afforded it all by myself. I’d never been able to do that before and accomplishing that goal made me feel really proud of myself.
I’m going to love this new place more. Not because it is so much better, amenity-wise, but because when I look around this space, I see you. Which sounds cheesy, but stick with me. My living here is a direct result of an amazing and supportive community having my back. It is literal and physical proof that I’m not and don’t have to be my own little self-sustaining island. This is something that I’ve known for a while now, but as someone who with a brain that likes to tell some really mean lies? Being able to see proof that my brain is lying? Is a really big deal.
So, again: Thank You. Times a millionty billionty googleplexes infinity squared. Forever and ever, amen.
2016 is over and I feel like I should be super happy about that, but I can’t quite let my guard down just yet. While I’m not a horror movie fan, I’ve seen enough to know that this is likely the part of the movie where everybody gets all giddy because they’re “finally safe” just before the monster pops back up for one last ultra-gruesome murder. I guess the good news is that usually after that happens everybody gets serious and kick ass and, unless the movie makers have hopes of a franchise (which, let’s face it, most do), go flipping nuts in their zeal to kill the monster. They go full scorched earth on its ass and while I don’t want to lose anybody or anything else to one of the worst years ever, I do kind of want to kick last year’s ass in a big way.
Starting with this blog post.
Just kidding. It’s New Year’s Day. I’m tired. And in the middle of doing laundry. And I’m hungry. But it is the tradition among those of us who make things or aspire to make things that we take some time on this day to talk about what we did last year and what we want to do in the following year. So, without further ado…
(Every time I say that, the Looney Tunes theme plays in my head.)
Let’s talk about 2016.
2016 was an epic poonado of a year. We lost so many and so much. Every loss hurt more than the last. I’m not going to list them all here because we’re all well versed in our losses and rehashing them here won’t help anybody.
Plus, 2016 did have some goodness in it. Beautiful art was created and hilarious jokes were told. Relationships were started. People I love got married. People I love got engaged. People I love created new people to love.
After almost a decade apart, I got to spend time with both of my older brothers this year and good conversations and adventures were had.
I did some merch. I went to some shows. I saw a few movies. I read a bunch of books and discovered some new authors to follow. I went back to school (very part time).
And though I lost many heroes, I found some new ones too.
Probably most importantly this year, I finally found…my calling? My purpose? I guess? It seems super weird to call it that. But it kind of fits. In less pretentious terms, I got fed up with the major media outlets totally fubarring their election and policy coverage and decided to do it my own darned self. I did this primarily on twitter though I did manage to eke out a few blog and Facebook posts along the way. And you all helped support this sloooooooow ongoing shift from “if it pays me I will write it” to “I’m a political writer and independent journalist.”
So. That’s 2016. It was a rotten year in so many ways, but it’s important to remember that some wonderful stuff happened too.
So. 2017. What’s Next?
My biggest hope for 2017 is that there is more good than bad. The challenge here is absolutely going to be remembering that “good” does not always look simple or happy or even make us smile. This year “good” is going to be ugly. It will look a lot like fighting. And shouting. And demanding. And sometimes it will feel terrible and it will hurt. We’ll have to remind ourselves over and over again that Stephen Sondheim is right: Nice is different than good.
For my part, I’m hoping to contribute more. And because I think we should all play to our strengths when we’re figuring out how best to defeat the dark side, for me that means more words on pages. It means using the time I spent mired in “the other side” to inform and educate and not just shoving those memories down and hoping to forget them. It means getting comfortable with my discomfort. That part is going to suck, but it will be worth it. Hopefully.
Personally? Yes, I did make resolutions thank you for asking. I don’t always make them but this year I thought it might be a good idea.
Around this time last month, I was having a really rough go of it. Like, the worst depressive episode I’d had in over a year levels of rough. Like, on the verge of not being able to take care of myself rough. Literally all I could do was sit on my couch, cry, and obsessively watch social media. I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t work and, yeah. It was bad.
Normally a few days of not being able to work shouldn’t be that big a disaster, but because the run up to the election had been so hectic and I’ve been so bad about finding a way to reliably fund this whole independent political writing/journalism thing…let’s just say the situation was Dire.
If you’ve known me for more than five minutes you likely know that I am not good at asking for help. I have almost a pathological aversion to it. This is not hyperbole. I have friends who will back me up on this.
But last month, there weren’t any other options. So, I asked. And then I cried a lot and called myself a bunch of terrible names because I’m supposed to be able to take care of myself all time no matter what. Forever and ever amen.
Before I could finish my laundry list of terrible names and reasons why I suck, though, you all started responding and the responses were overwhelming. So many people pitched in to help me and to let me know that I was cared for and supported. And the responses kept coming. So, I cried some more but for a wholly different reason.
I should have written this sooner but I wanted to take a moment to say a Great. Big. THANK YOU. Thank you to everybody who responded and for every way you responded. Even a month later, I’m overwhelmed by how quickly you jumped to help me and I will forever be grateful to you for it.
When I was married, I lived in a world where it was repeated to me over and over again that “there is no such thing as rape if you’re in a relationship.” Where it was totally acceptable to roll down the car window and bark at women you found unattractive. Where it was totally okay to shove your hand down your wife’s shirt, grab her breast (hard enough to leave bruises), and then, while not letting go, make jokes about her breast size to her father in law. Where gaslighting and emotional torture were perfectly acceptable methods to get one’s way or to blow off some steam. It was a world in which women were obligated to serve men and if a man had to get his own whatever (dinner, drink, tv remote, whatevs) then it was up to that man to put that woman “in her place” even if it took physical violence to do so (the refrain of “beat her if you have to” still shows up in nightmares sometimes).
Growing up, like every other kid/teen/college student who is remotely different, I was bullied ferociously. I had tables shoved into me, hair pulled, hit with broom handles during gym class (it was a weird game that required us to use brooms. I’ll tell you about it some other time), called names, told repeatedly that I was ugly, stupid, weird, unlovable, better off dead. And, for a while after Schindler’s List (my last name is one of the names on the list) came out, the teasing ramped up to include swastikas drawn on my locker, kids calling me Jesus Killer, and other assorted bull shittery.
So, y’know, I’m no stranger to being treated badly. I know how it feels to have someone else deny your very humanity and treat doing so like a game.
This election feels worse than all those experiences combined.
It has been a week since Donald J Trump was elected to be the next President of the United States. I feel like the fog that has been smothering me might finally be starting to lift, but everything still really really hurts, and feels really really scary in a way that is all too familiar.
First, I have to say this: The people who are upset and hurting over the election results are not reacting this way simply because their candidate lost. The images you see splashed across the news and the think pieces you’re reading do not come from something that simple or someplace that petty.
We’re hurting and afraid because we know what’s coming. It has already started. We tried to tell you what would be coming and you—those of you who voted for him—cheered him on.
I know that not every vote for Trump was enthusiastic, but by casting that vote not only are you mindfully endorsing all his rhetoric, you are complicit in every action he takes because you gave him your permission to take it.
Right now, your impulse might be to argue. You might want to get mad at me and say “I don’t support everything he said or everything he did!” But here’s the thing: you don’t get to just vote for the parts of the candidate you like. You vote for that person as a whole, flaws and all.
In the first couple of flurried days after the election when pundits were desperately scrambling for anything positive to say, I heard a lot of “well only 50% of the 50% of the country that actually voted cast their ballots for Trump, so that’s only a quarter of the population that wants him.” That? Is just a nice way of saying that 75% of the population either didn’t want to or didn’t care enough to help make sure that Hillary won.
Maybe you were someone who voted for a third party or wrote someone in. Too bad. By not doing everything you could to make sure Trump didn’t win—even if it meant voting for someone who didn’t tingle your fee-fees in exactly the right way—you helped him win. Grudgingly, sure, but some of the blame is yours too.
Perhaps you were one of the nearly 50% of the population who didn’t vote at all. “Not my fault, I didn’t even vote!” Well, if you were able to vote and simply chose not to or couldn’t be bothered? Fuck you.
75% of my country looked at Donald Trump’s platform and deemed it acceptable. 75% of my country voted against inclusivity, against diversity, against equal rights, against the environment, against education, against science. 75% of my country voted in favor of or doesn’t care about discrimination, torture, ideological ware far, national isolation, hate, walls, and even potentially nuclear war. 75% of my country is would rather I died (for no other reasons than I was born with a vagina and don’t wear a cross around my neck) than maybe sometimes have to hear someone speak a language that isn’t English.
I am alive today partly because I knew that there were people in the world who had my back. I knew that there were people out there who loved me no matter what. There were places in the world where I knew that I would be totally and completely safe. When things were bad I’d think about these people and these places and the comfort that came from that would help me get from one day to the next.
Some of those people and some of the inhabitants of those places are among that 75%. I’m having a hard time figuring out how to process that. I don’t believe for a second that voting for Trump means that they love me any less. But I’m also having a hard time believing that I will be truly safe when I am with them, no matter what. Right now, it feels like when push comes to shove, they’d be more likely to hurt me than help me and that feeling sucks.
Every day since the election, I’ve felt like I was back in my marriage but now there’s an extra layer of abandonment tossed in there on top.
Look, I know that I am not the center of the universe and that being this navel-gazey is a little gross. I know that in time I’ll find my fight and my stubbornness will rise again (and lo, my stubbornness is MIGHTY). I’ll figure out what to do because, despite how I feel right now, I know I am not alone and that even though I’m feeling low, there is a strong support system filled with people who will hold me up when I need it.
Maybe most importantly, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way and that I will need to be battle ready very soon.
But today? Today I’m still scared to go further than the front steps of my building.
It’s not what you think. I mean, sure, the drudgery of hearing about all of the lies and the shouting about why Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate and how pundits are trying to explain away all of the Trump BS that has happened over the last week with “But Hillary deleted emails and her pantsuits are terrible!” as if they were remotely comparable can really wear on a person’s soul.
Oh my god, what a run-on. Oh well, leaving it there in the interest of getting something posted for a change. You’re welcome!
And, yes, speaking as a person with a broken brain, having that constant negativity droning on all day has certainly exacerbated my broken brain in weird and unexpected ways. So you’ve got me there.
But the real reason having the news on all day has turned out to be a really bad idea?
It keeps me from writing. I know. DUH.
I thought it was word burnout after churning out content for my day job. But that’s not it.
Then I thought the reason I wasn’t writing was because it was one of the side effects of my aforementioned exacerbated broken brain.
Then the other night as I was playing Threes into the wee hours, it hit me: I’m not writing because I can’t keep up.
It can seem like 24/7 news doesn’t really say anything new all that often. They talk about the same topics ad nauseum just with different pundits. And this is, technically, true.
But! Those pundits are constantly saying different things! And the things they say give me ideas! I cannot keep up with those ideas. Obviously no reasonable person would expect a one woman operation like mine to keep up with a fully staffed national news network, but I am not the most reasonable person when it comes to me.
So, basically the news says very little that is newsworthy but also is constantly saying things that I think are newsworthy. It’s Schrodinger’s News. And having it on all day made me feel like I have to keep up. And having to keep up kept me stuck in my head thinking up new ideas instead of, y’know, writing anything down. Or typing it into scrolling-challenged iWriter (seriously, wtf is wrong with this thing?).
But you know what? I don’t have to keep up with or try to compete with that fully staffed national news network. The whole point of this is to do things MY way because I don’t like the way they’re doing them.
And that is why, today, I taped this up on my wall:
The important part of this, for me, is to remember that I don’t have to have to try to be the indie version of MSNBC. They’re great at what they do. Hopefully, if I let myself do this my way, I’ll be great at what I do, too.
And if not? That’s okay. I’m still awesome at Twitter.
It’s day three of waking up and, in spite of getting many more hours of sleep than I had planned, I am physically exhausted. All of my limbs are heavy and it takes all of my strength to curl up and pull my comforter over my head. I need to get up and get moving and get work done but I can’t. I just…can’t. And I don’t understand why.
Except I do. I just don’t like what I’m realizing that I know: that my body is remembering, even if I do my best to make my brain forget.
It’s 2011. I’m standing in the hallway and my husband is screaming at me, red-faced, neck veins bulging, “If you ever hold anything against me ever again I won’t stop at hitting the wall!”
I’m trying not to cry because crying is “manipulative” and will only make things worse.
“I don’t know what that means,” I say as calmly as I am able.
“You always do this!” He yells. “I do something and you say it hurts you and I’m sick of it! You’re just trying to make me feel bad! I’m not hurting you at all! You just want to hurt me!”
“I don’t want to hurt you.” I whisper, looking down at the floor, making myself seem as submissive as possible and hating myself for it.
“Yes you do! Are you calling me a liar? Who do you think you are to call me a liar. You lie all the time!”
“I’m not…I don’t…I don’t understand what’s happening.” I say in the smallest voice I can manage.
“Yes you do! You did this on purpose! You always start fights for no reason because you hate me! I know you do! You wish I was dead!”
“There you go, accusing me of lying again! I hate this! You’re such a fucking bitch! I wish I could beat the shit out of you but you’d probably just turn me in even though you deserve it!”
He starts pounding his fist against the wall, leaving little smudges on the paint. He stomps away, continuing pound the wall with his fist as he goes, screaming “I wish this was you!”
It’s only after he slams the door behind him and I hear the tires of his car squeal as he speeds out of the parking lot that I let myself start to cry.
This “fight” had started because I’d asked him if I could take his cereal bowl into the kitchen. The last time it had been mostly empty when I grabbed it and he had yelled at me for being inconsiderate. This time I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t start a fight.
Later he’ll tell me that everything was my fault, that he had just been sitting there, happily fishing away the afternoon on World of Warcraft, and that I had barged in and attacked him. That I had accused him of never taking care of himself and that I started drama for no reason.
“You have to stop doing that,” he’ll say perfectly calmly. “You’re really ruining our marriage.”
My head hangs even though I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t done any of the things he said I did or used the tones he said I used. I’d even practiced asking for the cereal bowl a few times to myself in the kitchen to make sure I got the tone exactly right: meek but still happy to serve.
“I know. I’m sorry. I’ll be better.” I say, hating myself but not being able to stop myself.
This is gaslighting.
It wasn’t until after we’d split (a few months after this incident) that I first heard of gaslighting and looked it up. When I finished reading about it, I burst into maybe the ugliest cry I’ve ever cried because finally finally there was a word for what had happened to me. It was a real thing. It was abusive. I wasn’t crazy. I was right.
Every day someone somewhere jokes about Donald Trump gaslighting the country. They point to his insistence that he hasn’t said things he has absolutely said. They talk about his rewriting of history, of accusing Hillary Clinton, the press, every person who doesn’t display the proper level of adulation, of things that are demonstrably false.
In a way they’re right. In a way, the entire spectre of politics is a bit gaslight-y. Politicians try to convince us they’re better than their opponents. They spin and exaggerate claims of their own greatness and their opponents’ weaknesses. This is the way of campaigns. As much as I love her, and as hard as she tries, even Secretary Clinton is not immune to the use of hyperbole.
But I worry that our willingness to toss around words like “gaslighting” will trivialize what is a very real and very traumatic form of abuse. And what people are calling “gaslighting” isn’t quite the same thing. There is a fine line between just straight up lying and what someone does when they gaslight someone else. When someone is gaslighting someone else, they are actively trying to make their victim question their own reality, their own emotions, their memories. Lying on the other hand…well, um…Trump. This is one of the reasons I get so mad at current coverage. People are so quick to call what Trump is doing “gaslighting” and so hesitant to call it “lying.” Why? Because “gaslighting” is cool and trendy? Because trust me. It really isn’t.
And, if we’re being totally honest (and why not), I worry that everyone is right, that the Trump campaign really is trying to gaslight the entire country–and it’s working. Have you heard some of his supporters? Do you know how their brains work? Because I do.
One of the reasons that I am so completely opposed to and horrified by Donald Trump is that he reminds me of my ex-husband and the family I used to be married into, particularly my ex-father-in-law. I have zero doubts that all of them are ardent Trump supporters now. Trust me when I tell you, people like that should not be in charge.
When Trump really starts ranting and railing, when he’s yelling slurs more than he is trying to speak, when he’s ratcheting up the hatred and vitriol of the crowd, I have to actively remind myself that I am not back there. I am not having to force myself to smile politely while my father in law yells and pounds his fists and drops n-bombs like they’re cheap confetti. In the beginning I would try to argue back, but…well, you saw Trump’s performance in the debate: proven wrong, yell about a totally different subject and insist that’s what you had been talking about the whole time.
I know that I should be talking about the debate today, but this has been on my mind for a while. I’ll try to write about the debate tomorrow after, God help me, I watch it again from an analysis place instead of a reactionary place.