Wednesday’s Children

Dear Lunch Ticket Readers,

On Fridays, Lunch Ticket always publishes an original blog, written by someone from the blog team. We try to blend the idiosyncratic with the universal. We talk about how we live and write. Today, in the aftermath of the election, in lieu of our usual one-author essay, the blog is a chorus. What we have always known is more true than ever: that there is no single story. And the process of this polyphony has brought us hope.

Writing, like all communication, is a way forward. So we proceed together. One word after another. After another. After another.

–Mary Birnbaum, Lunch Ticket Blog Editor

 

Diana Odasso (Managing Editor):

When President Obama was elected in 2008, I watched as three deer leapt across a field in the violet fog. And while I was full of joy over the election of the first black president, I realized then that the world of men existed apart from the world of nature. The world had cleaved, as if these two events could not occur at the same time. A deer. A president. Maybe joy is a vanity that sits up high, looking down and judging. A deer jumps, prideful as my heart, and I know that we are separate.

And yet now, on the eve of a Trump presidency, our sorrow digs deep in the rut. We are of this earth. We are the whale choked by plastic. The blind mountain goat stumbling off the cliff. The dog skinned alive in the marketplace. In our agony, we eat the world and smash ourselves against the wall of time. If only we were the true Ouroboros, the worm born of itself and from itself, the regenerative worm. I wish we were. All I know is that today we pay a great price. I wonder if there will be a time when we will no longer be revived, when the earth will no longer hold up our bones, when it will finally release them to time.

 

Sherrye Henry Jr. (Proof Edit Manager):

My life has fallen apart a few times. Well—really only twice, or possibly only once, if you count as one all the years from depression to divorce to facing an addiction. What was it that Hemingway said about tragedy—How does it happen? Gradually, and then all at once. It feels like the shock of a moment but then, when you can lift your head off the bathroom floor long enough to look back on it all, you can say, Huh. Guess this has been coming on for a while now; all that time spent thinking I had my shit pretty well sewed up and here it is, right under my belly. Its stink crawling up my nose. And then you lay your head back down and say, Hey, give me a few more moments, will you? I see them now, all my stupidities and blindness and brokenness, but it’s going to take a while for me to get up, clean myself up, put the pieces back together that are worth saving. Discard all the rest—or no, save them; put them on the bathroom shelf, next to the pain relievers and the makeup and shaving balms, so that when you close the mirrored door all you’re left looking at is yourself.

So I guess you can see where this is going. If we haven’t suffered a full-scale national tragedy, we’re crawling on the pieces of our body-politic, our noses pressed into our own capacity for violence and stupidity and addiction. We the People are broken. We’ll need to lie here for a few moments, to take in its stink, its spectacular reminders of our own humanity. Then we’ll get up, clean up, pick up the very best parts of ourselves: our kindness, compassion, courage to create radical acts of hope and change. Put the rest right where we can see them every day: reminders of the people we truly want to be.

 

Angela Bullock (Blogger):

My husband was not very close with his mother. But her sudden death late last year rocked his world. Twice since the election he has said: “Honey, this is worse than Mom’s death. She was in such pain. And now I’m grateful she’s in a better place—but this.” And just now during our phone call he confessed, “I’m having difficulty being around the white men in the office.”

My husband, the gentlest person I know.

It’s just that when fifty-nine million Americans choose to vote for the person who leads with vulgarity, legitimizes misogyny, and is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, we are stopped in our tracks. It rocked our world.

We thought—I thought—we were making progress. Perhaps we are. Perhaps this event is simply part of the journey.

I am watching our leaders closely: The grace with which Clinton conceded, the grace with which Obama rallied the country to come together, the grace with which the Obamas have welcomed the Trumps to the White House, and I take my lead from their example.

I am sad, very sad but not angry. I will not allow myself to act from a place of fear or malice.  I will strive to understand and attempt to follow the example of grace.

 

Heather Hewson (Art Editor):


unnamed

 

Josh Roark (Web Manager):

I watched the news on election night with a deep ache. I cannot believe that this weak man, full of hate and fear and ugly ignorance, has been chosen by so many to represent who we are as Americans to the world. I am so sorry for all the people of color whom I love, the LGBT community, the Muslim community. I have grown to know and love you and I am so sorry that you will now live in this fear for the next four years.

I am so sorry that this country did not understand your fear. I am so sorry that so many white people do not take your well-being as a priority. I am so ashamed that this country did not understand the fear my wife feels when she hears that over half the population is aligned with the KKK. Four more years of this pain. I am truly sorry I did not do more to speak out.

This man, Trump, does not represent white men in this country. He represents weak men. He does not represent Christians. He represents men of the world stunted in perpetual adolescence. There is not a shred of gospel-spirit in the way he sees the world, there is no humility, there is no grace, there is no loving power.

I hurt and my whole body aches tonight, but I know that this will be worked to the good. All of us, the white men and the Christians who did not do enough to speak out, we must all do more. The next four years will demand it of us. We must not let cynicism or comfort rule our hearts, because we let so many people down, so many people who will stay awake tonight afraid for their safety tomorrow.

We are all injured tonight, whether we see it or not. How we respond to the injury will define the future of this country. Let us be assertive in our love, and active in our defense of the downtrodden. I pray to be a better person tomorrow than I was this past year.

 

Juliann Emmons Allison (Blogger, MARCOMM Manager):

I woke up crying. It wasn’t a dream.

I remember my sister taking her daughter, my niece, to the polls with her for the first time. She told her, We live in a country with the first African American President and we could elect the first female President. I remember feeling shocked, saddened, and enraged as I watched the map turn red as the election results rolled in. I was confident of a Hillary Clinton victory because she is eminently qualified for the presidency and she ran a strong campaign. . . . I was confident because I thought there were more Americans who believe in progress and equality than there were Americans who were racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, and homophobic. [1]

I pick up my phone, see the text my mother sent last night. Mr. Trump won. The American working class has spoken, she gloats. I cannot understand how any woman, how anyone who cares about women, could have voted for Trump. More than half of white women voted for the man who bragged about committing sexual assault on tape. [2]

My sister posts, I’ll respect the office, though I won’t respect the man. I respond, I cannot. The statistic fifty-three percent of white women voted for Trump rattles me, re-echoes in my mind. Trump has spent more than thirty years in the public eye reducing women to their sexual attributes. My mother texts: Give him a chance.

Trump preyed on ignorance, sexism, racism, homophobia, Anti-Islamism, and fear. Another text from my mother: We’re not stupid. Maybe we, the working people, know best what we need. I don’t understand. She’s an accountant and mother of five daughters, grandmother of fifteen granddaughters. My brother shares a derogatory Chelsea Clinton meme on the same thread. I block him.

Fifty-three percent of white women, white women like me, voted for Trump. So did my coauthor, who assures me, You and I don’t agree on everything, but I want you to know that I consider you a dear friend and invaluable colleague. He says Trump allowed Jews like him to golf at his club. Do you want to take up golf? Or is Trump’s friendship with Netanyahu more important than ours?

He’s a very smart man. He’ll listen to people, appoint great people, my mother texts. Give him a chance. I’m not interested in a misogynist, no matter whom he listens to.

My sister texts, Sorry, mom, I agree with Juliann. Trump selects a climate criminal for EPA. Smart man, indeed.

Fifty three percent. This country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population. [3] A Hijabi friend is accosted in the bank by a man who says, It’s okay now to say you’re a bad person, and you won’t get away with terrorism anymore. White women. White girls tell my son’s black female friend to sit in the back of the bus. They voted for Trump. A Latina student tells me she’s afraid. I’m undocumented.

Over fifty percent of white women were in the voting booth voting for fascism, rape culture, and just flat out ignorance. . . . Talking about #ImWithHer, but laying up with him. I mean, color me unsurprised, but that is the real scandal. [4] I am sick, disappointed, irate. I run alone, even though it’s dark, confining myself to well-lit sidewalks near home. It’s what women do, because of men like Trump.

 

Meredith Arena (Creative Nonfiction and Art Assistant Editor):

These words: Donald Trump won the presidency are what I find when I check my phone at three a.m.

I consider the dimensions of this, as it expands in my mind and chest. I picture the map of the United States, staining red. I try to picture those voters, nodding at home, gnawing their teeth, (putting their children to bed?). I picture a blank page. I think about Mexico and Black Lives Matter. I think about the video of Eric Garner and imagine Donald Trump nodding in approval. I scroll people’s outraged Facebook posts. I think about people who are incarcerated. I read about the children who will cry when they wake up tomorrow. I imagine an increase in violence against black, brown, trans, queer, and immigrant bodies.

I feel us panicking. This isn’t the right response, but the sheets feel scratchy and my love feels dusty in the corners. There is no room for clutter or shock. My whiteness and middle-classness have always meant that I could hide if I chose to.

(I consider waking my partner and suggesting we get married. In the morning, we both mention it.)

I picture doomsday as well as Utopian scenarios from science fiction.

I wonder how we will continue.

I wonder what “we” looks like.

I think about the people who could not vote due to the stripping down of the Voting Rights Act.

Of course, my silence is part of why all of this happened—which is odd because I feel so powerless—and I know why. Silence=Death.

In January, what becomes of my health insurance, the right to have a safe abortion, and most of all our peace treaties, our environmental agreements? We might once again be a country that promotes and utilizes nuclear warfare. We might create a new refugee crisis and tear apart families.

It isn’t shock I feel. It is a fear that bores into my chest, widening my compassion for those who have always suffered at the menacing hands of this country.

The dimensions of this are still unknown, expanding.

Opening our chests and our limitless capacity to love one another.

 

Levi Rogers (Blogger, Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor):

For the past month I’ve had various ideas swirling around my head for a dystopian novel set in an alternate reality where Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. On Tuesday night, that was no longer an alternate reality, but reality itself. When the news broke at one a.m. Mountain Time, I was half asleep on the couch and everything took on a surreal, dream-like state. I had been expecting to awaken the next morning with the first woman in history having been elected president of the United States, but instead I scrolled through the newsfeed on my phone in numb disbelief. A narcissistic charlatan flew into the White House on the backs of disaffected white voters. I was sad and angry and felt quite hopeless as to what to do next. Generally, it is the role of the artist to disrupt the status quo, but what does the artist do when the status quo is disrupted to the point of collapse?

 

Zoe Siegel (Amuse-Bouche Editor):

Today I am speechless. Fog overwhelms my brain and paralyzes my thoughts. This cannot be, this cannot be. I am catastrophizing—there’s no way my country’s president-elect is as filled with hate as he has led on. There’s no way that he will allow and encourage the hate and fear that powered his campaign. I cannot fathom a future where this is not the case. And yet, in less than twenty-four hours, I have read about a Muslim woman who was threatened and assaulted in Walmart. I read about a black woman who was verbally assaulted and threatened with a firearm at a gas station. I read about a woman being openly harassed at Starbucks for using ASL to talk to her deaf friend, who was called a retard. I walked past two strange men outside of my apartment after dark. My safety felt compromised, as it always does, and I averted my eyes, as I always do. With my hands full, I tried to retrieve my key to unlock the gate surrounding my apartment complex. One of these strange men, a resident whom I’ve never met or even seen, noticed my struggle and offered to open the gate for me. I was taken aback. I almost did not accept. I could do it on my own. But today I am faced with a new reality and an unknown future. I will take all the kindness that I can get. I will gratefully accept every sliver of hope.

 

Doni Shepard (Poetry Editor):

Each and every Wednesday evening I walk into my therapist’s office, sit down on her fluffy green armchair, adjust the array of pillows and take a deep breath. Tonight, of all nights, I cannot begin to explain how desperately I clung to the idea that I may find solace in the comfort of that chair.

Last night was a blur. Without cable television, I spent the evening checking my phone. Refresh, repeat, rest. Breathe. “This isn’t happening,” I thought to myself. “There’s still hope, this can turn around. It has to.” I tried with everything I could muster to understand what was going on. As hours passed the fear manifested itself in tears, in a shaking so deep that my body began to ache from the stirring.

Maybe before last night the idea of this man as our president seemed so far-fetched that I hadn’t comprehended the impending effects. I couldn’t feel its presence so apparent that it would strip my stability. Watching Donald Trump win the election last night, as a trauma survivor, was an experience nearly indescribable. In the peak of my anxious state I repeated the words to myself: “Shame, shame, shame.”

Growing up, I remember being taught that presidents were the highest level of greatness that one could ever aspire for. Last night in a reflection of the man who will take office January 20, 2017, I relived trauma. In a drunk-like state of anxiety, I replayed the way men have made me feel less than, unattractive, unheard, unwarranted. The way my father made comments about the way I looked, with an eye too keen for a parent. The ways in which psychological abuse has left me questioning truth.

Tonight my therapist described our collective experience as grief. I admit how recognizable this pain is. I don’t have the answers right now. All I can do is remember that I am human. We are human. We are valid and we must move through this grief united.

 

Jane-Rebecca Cannarella (Flash Co-Editor):

For weeks I’d been hearing projections that Clinton was going to win. With this assurance, women around the country breathed a sigh of relief and approached the day with confidence.

At two a.m. I was awakened. “Reebies. It’s over.” I went into the kitchen and started to incoherently scream. After, I posted an infuriated update on Facebook lambasting the people that voted for this demagogue.

I spent the morning puking until green bile coated the water in the toilet. At work, women were gathered in the bathrooms to hug and comfort one another. In 2016, we’re hiding in the bathrooms.

Later, a relative sent me a Facebook message telling me to control myself and to watch my language. That pretty much sums up this election, doesn’t it? A man intimidated by righteous anger telling a woman to control herself to make things easier for him. I responded back, “No.”

I’m not letting my anger dictate my life. My friends and I (people of all races, backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations) sent texts all day: “Did you eat today?” “Are you hydrated?” “Do you need to talk?” “I’m home if you need to come over.” “I love you like family.”

I fell asleep to the heartbeat buzzing of my phone, filled with groups of texts from people organizing, expressing love, emphasizing self-care, and committing themselves to doing the hard work that faces us. Today, despite my rage spiral, I updated my social media accounts with the following:

Yesterday was for crying and incoherent rage.

Today is for reaching out to people and asking how to be an ally.

Today is for creating safe spaces for the most vulnerable.

Today is for making art that agitates.

Anything that y’all need—I’m here. I’m committed to the fight.

 

Katelyn Keating (Blogger, Creative Nonfiction Co-Editor):

I can slip off to Canada and leave all this behind. We have a house in B.C. and Canadian Permanent Resident status until 2019, with enough time to renew to 2024… if we leave now. I’ll settle into my yellow house with my skylight view across the green-black ocean strait to the snow-white Olympic Mountains of my home country and let this tempest-tossed nightmare fall off me.

The discussion I had with my husband, as hope became despair Tuesday night: We can run from this. I woke Wednesday asking if I’m strong enough to fight instead.

Tuesday, I voted in a swing state. My vote mattered. Wearing my pantsuit with my Woman Card tucked in my blazer pocket, I stood over my ballot and didn’t cry. I smiled. I wanted to write words of hope today because I’d been affirmed by democracy’s embrace as a nasty woman. Now I shudder in my white skin.

I’m not his white. I wish to shed my skin, this snakeskin.

But consider my skin as camouflage. I have no children to mourn for on this day. I am a straight white cis married able atheist woman with Mayflower blood standing blue where red brought hate to bear. Where red burned us. I am camouflaged by this bounty of privilege. In this skin, I can infiltrate. This skin can shield the targeted, those who yearn to breathe free.

I came to language to wield words like a torch. I can slip off to Canada as a whisper, or I can stand and fight for earth, people, animals. I want to shine light into darkness: “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame / Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name / Mother of Exiles.”

I want to fight.

 

 

Notes from Juliann Emmons Allison:

[1] Roxane Gay: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/the-audacity-of-hopelessness

[2] L.V. Anderson: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/11/09/white_women_sold_out_the_sisterhood_and_the_world_by_voting_for_trump.html

[3] John Pavlovitz: http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/09/heres-why-we-grieve-today/?utm_campaign=coschedule&utm_source=facebook_page&utm_medium=John%20Pavlovitz&utm_content=Here%27s%20Why%20We%20Grieve%20Today

[4] Crunkadelic: http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/2016/11/09/get-your-people/