Don’t Stop Giving A Damn: The Resistance Movement

For many of us every day since Trump’s electoral college election (remember, Clinton won the majority) has been worse than the last. This presidency has already proven to be criminal, hateful and dangerous. Although each passing day brings with it a new threat to American freedoms and values, we must remind ourselves that resistance in not futile. Now more than ever we need to be radical participants of our flailing democracy because if the 2016 election taught us anything, it’s that nothing is inevitable.

Maybe you have marched and protested like myself and millions of others but are left thinking “Now what?”. The truth is that no one has any idea what will happen next but we should not let uncertainty deter us from staying in this fight. Do not stop giving a damn because it all matters!

Keep It Up

Sign a petition, donate money to a cause being negatively impacted, be vocal online, host a call-a-thon (call congress, senators and the WH), stay informed even when it’s all bad news, protest, knock on doors, register voters. Whatever you can do, do it and do not become disheartened. Look to radical change makers for inspiration. Every movement takes work, time and emotional energy. The second we get comfortable, we lose.

Be A Unifier

Lets look to what unifies us, otherwise we are no better than the Trump trolls. No matter who you are, what you look like, where you come from, what you do or what you believe in, we will all be negatively impacted under this regime. So, let us not be sidetracked by unproductive narratives usually built up by popular media and perpetuated by short sighted citizens. To some extent being short sighted is what got the Democratic party to this unfortunate mess. Dems didn’t take the threats seriously, we didn’t campaign as hard as we needed to in the states we needed to the most, we were soft and lackadaisical when it came to Trump, until it was too late.

Be Prepared

Look at history and be honest with yourselves about the very real, very scary possibilities that lie ahead. Be ready to be trolled, to be ignored, to be hung up on, to be dismissed, to be silenced , to be told your efforts are useless. Be ready to be pepper sprayed, arrested, beaten, interrogated, or even  spied on , because we do not know what will happen but we can be confident that it will be difficult and even dangerous.

Here are some Resistance resources:

IndivisibleThe website allows you to enter your zip code and connect with like-minded people in your community.

Knock Every Door: Volunteer-led canvasses to organize communities against Trump. Sign up to canvass where you live and invite your friends to get involved, especially if you live in a county that flipped from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.

Swing Left: Find your closest Swing District and join its team to learn about actionable opportunities to support progressives—and defeat Republicans—in that district, no matter where you live.

Run for Something This organization, launched January 20, is committed to recruiting and supporting millennials running for down-ballot offices.

Movement Match A quiz to help match newly hatched activists with the right organization.

WTFjusthappenedtoday: Matt Kiser, a tech writer by day, launched a side project chronicling “the daily shock and awe in Trump’s America.” The goal of whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com, according to the site’s “about” page, “is to capture the most important news in a digestible form.”

Sleeping Giants Get involved with a Twitter group called Sleeping Giants. Their strategy is simple: Make sure that corporations are aware of the kind of content that appears alongside their ads. This New York Times story offers more detail about the campaign.

A Life In Death

This short story was part of the Short Fiction Winter Writing contest 2016 for ShortFictionbreak.com. The assigned theme was “between two worlds”. 

“I’m glad you got back safe. You guys didn’t have to help with the move.” Lauren said over the phone as she walked through her empty apartment.

“Don’t be ridiculous, of course we did! Anyway, let us know how your first day goes. We are proud of you!” her mother said before hanging up.

 After an exhaustive month-long interview process Lauren was going to begin her new job at a tech-start up in Manhattan. She was glad for this important step in her career and happy to be in New York, but like all of her successes, joy was undercut by an inescapable sense of obligation imparted by her high achieving and high earning family.

Prior to them coming to New York to help her move it had been a few months since she’d been around her family. She forgot the hold they had on her

“You’re a little bloated dear. Are you watching what you eat?” Her mother commented at brunch yesterday. So Lauren hadn’t eaten a bite. Opting for champagne and cigarettes instead. She forgot about that resigned, pathetic feeling that washes over her when she acquiesced.

With her parents back in Illinois and only two weeks left before starting her new job, she was going to enjoy herself.

Nina was the first person Lauren called as soon as she accepted the job offer. They made plans to meet and Lauren had been looking forward to it for weeks. Nina and Lauren went to Bowdoin together. They had mutual college friends in New York, but as they grew older were more distant with them than with each other.

“Did I tell you how happy I ‘am that you’re finally here?” Nina said as she gave Lauren a tight hug. Nina wore a fashionable jumpsuit with heels. She looked effortlessly elegant and stood out in the casual bar they decided on.

“I bumped into my ex, Alan yesterday.” Lauren said as she put down her glass of wine.

“He’s insufferable!” Nina rolled her eyes. Lauren always got the impression that Nina never liked Alan, or anyone else she dated.

“He seemed okay. I mean, pompous as ever but nice enough.” Lauren said. 

“He works at the Times now. Did he mention that? Nina asked.

“He sure did!” Lauren said with a laugh. Was Nina making fun of Alan out of possessive jealousy?

She quickly changed the subject. “Another bottle?” Asked Nina.

“Yes!” Lauren was glad for their friendship. She would’ve had to make an effort to reconnect with the Bowdoin group and she couldn’t stand the thought. Half of them were snobs and the others who didn’t come from highly educated wealthy backgrounds were working hard to impress one another.

Almost through their second bottle, Lauren returned from the restroom to find Nina leaning over the bar, chatting with the bartender. Lauren wanted to leave just then.

“I think I’m gonna head back. It’s been a long day for me.”

“Everything okay?” Asked Nina.

“Just tired.” Lauren responded with a quick smile.

Nina went to grab her wallet and Lauren stopped her.

“This was fun.” Lauren whispered to Nina as she hugged her goodbye. Her hair smelled lovely. Lemon verbena.

Nina was everything to Lauren. For years she struggled between envying and admiring her. Until she came to terms that she had been in love with her. Now that they were in the same city, the proximity made her nervous.

“Quit romanticizing the friendship.” Lauren would constantly remind herself.

Nina wouldn’t ever want Lauren the way she wanted her to. A few physical encounters during your college years don’t mean love. Exposing her true feelings to Nina could end badly and besides, what would her family think? 

She thought she would have grown to be free of her family’s expectations by now, yet there she was, doing precisely what they wanted. Lauren had stopped hoping for an untethered future. The melancholy she often felt was now insouciance.

Back at her new building Lauren gave a friendly wave to the doorman and took the elevator to the seventh floor. Lauren struggled to open her apartment door. The exhaustion of the weekend-long move coupled with wine made her clumsy. A man, one of her new neighbors perhaps, walked by and asked if she was okay.

“Just new to the building. Have to get used to this door.” She responded without looking up from the lock.

He came back toward Lauren but she didn’t turn to face him in time. She was struck on the head with something metallic. There was a flash of light followed by searing pain.

When she finally came to, she saw faces hovering over her. A couple was screaming. She felt footsteps through the hall moving quickly away. The woman held Lauren saying. “It’s okay, we’re going to get help.” Lauren was tired. The brightly lit hallway became warm around her and then it fell away to a cloudy sky pierced by tree limbs.

She was in her family’s backyard. It was raining hard but it quickly stopped and the sun lit up the grass and dried it instantly. What was happening?  She saw herself as a toddler. She held a little girl in her arms.

“Who are you going to be now?” the tiny child asked.

How can a toddler speak so clearly? “I don’t know.” Lauren answered.

Lauren pulled the child closer to her. She was smaller now, an infant. She had to protect her.

The ground under them rose up over the house and Lauren heard an ice cream truck jingle growing louder. “I want to go hear the music! I want to follow it” Said the baby in her arms.

The land beneath them became a slide that brought them back down to the yard but now her family was there posing for the annual Christmas card photo. They wouldn’t catch the truck in time now.

“You are late Lauren!” Scolded her mother, grabbing Lauren hard by the arm causing the baby to fall away. She couldn’t catch her, she was gone.

Lauren was weeping, on her hands and knees looking for the baby that fell and vanished. Distracted in her search she then crawled directly into a city bench, banging her forehead on the cold metal. She looked up to see Nina sitting on the bench with the bartender she was flirting with that night. He had his arm around her. She held up her left hand to show off a ring.

“We’re married.” She said, looking down at Lauren.

“But I want to be with you Nina.” Lauren’s muddy hands held on to Nina’s. She waited for her to respond. Nothing.

A voice came out of nowhere. “Yes, it’s too late. Who are you going to be now?”

“I’m not sure, I’m not sure!” Lauren screamed back.

Lauren’s body felt hot. Her clothing was melting away but it didn’t hurt her. Then there was nothing but the sounds of the hospital room.

Nina went to see her soon after the police took her statement. Lauren had been unconscious but breathing on her own.

“The assailant was likely planning to kidnap her after he knocked her out.” Said the policeman. “Luckily, the doorman tackled the guy when he tried to run away.”

“It’s a miracle you were there at the right moment.” Said Nina as she embraced the couple who had made the 911 call.

Lauren regained consciousness after eight days. A family came to visit but she didn’t know who they were. Lauren felt badly for upsetting them when she declined to go to their home and recover. She asked them for space and time. Lauren thought “Maybe one day I’ll come to see them as my family.”

The doctor told her family to respect Lauren’s wishes and that rushing things could be detrimental.

When Nina came to visit, Lauren lit up.

“Do you know who I ‘am?” she was nervous for Lauren’s response.

“I know I love you. I didn’t want you to marry the man from the bench.” Lauren was still a little confused.

“Oh I’m not married.”  Said Nina with a laugh.

“Well I’m glad.” Lauren smiled, and then cleared her dry throat.

“Nina, the only thing I’m certain of is that I love you. That has to mean something. Otherwise why would my brain wipe out almost everything else except you?”

Nina was smiling, her eyes shiny. She held Lauren’s hand, and looked up and sighed.

“You always held back. You never told me, though I hoped you felt the same.” Nina confessed. 

“I won’t hold back anymore, I promise you.” 

Nina placed her hands on Lauren’s face. She bent forward and kissed her softly.

The day she left the hospital to live with Nina, Lauren saw a small child following her in the hall. She stopped and told the girl “I think I know who I’ll be now.” the child smiled and skipped away toward a minstrel tune. An ice cream truck in the cold of December.

 

 

 

 

Mirror

Everyone’s a walking mirror that doesn’t know what we reflect until we see a reflection unlike our own.

Weak people fear lives that don’t resemble their own. The weak manifest fear as hate and to manage the terror they push away the people that are too different for them to bother to understand because when you surround yourself with your one category of human and only that one category, you get the illusion that you are significant and enduringly so.

Is there anything more egotistical and sad?

With the ever growing rash of violence, hate and racism in the US a feeling of extreme divisiveness has taken hold of our societal psyche. Shootings, campus rapes and racial profiling combined with the toxicity of Trumps presidential campaign have cast a shadow on my soul. I know I’m not alone in this,  yet with each day I feel as though my sentiments on the current state of our society become increasingly outlying.

I live near a public city elementary school. Every morning on my walk to work I pass the school. I see parents dropping off their children. Out of a shiny new Lexus a boy hops out quickly with a short wave goodbye. An East African mother with two small kids walks them to the entrance of the building. A dad who looks way too young to be the father of his six year old daughter hugs her goodbye. Around the corner of the school the special needs bus is greeted by the teachers of the children who are spilling out onto the concrete ramp that leads to their class room. These kids always seem absolutely thrilled to be arriving at school, all smiles and bouncy laughter. Families, kids and teachers of all races and economic situations join every day. They do the same things at the same time at that same school. Different people all simply trying to start off their days right. This ritual I witness each morning reminds me that we are all just trying to get by and the differences we perceive are often times superficial. We all wake up in the morning and face ourselves in front of a mirror we just have to stare back intently to see our humanity reflected in all of those around us.