Archive for November, 2016

Survival Strategies In A Modern World

Election night, I started the evening sharing beers with a couple Canadians currently biking down to Mexico, talking the ins and outs of our electoral process as hope slowly crystallized into despair. I don’t know how many beers I had. I wasn’t really keeping track. Perhaps your memory did funny things on Tuesday night too. Let’s just say not that many, but enough. And I thought for sure I’d get home and pour a glass of whiskey or have another beer or 6. But as I sat there I didn’t. I couldn’t even get up. I sat on my couch, and read until I cried, and repeated that cycle a few times. My friends and I texted entirely too late for us normally, but we were up because how could any of us sleep? How was anything ever going to be normal again for so many of us? I channeled my despair into a few cohesive thoughts; I had so much more to say, but life is not fair and I knew no matter what I had work to do the next day. Eventually, I slept.

The next morning, I had a little bit more to say. I found the words that had been percolating which I just couldn’t find the night before. I spent a lot of energy wondering about what I had just challenged myself to do: What am I going to do better? How am I going to give more? How am I going to do more? The first thing I did was go to the ACLU and donate. We are going to need them more than ever in the coming days. It wasn’t much. But it was something. It was a first step. What’s the next one? How can I give more, not just to them, but to so many other worthy organizations? What sacrifices can I make as someone who knows she has plenty more to give?

I thought about my budget. I thought about my needs and my wants. I am glad I have a passport that accurately reflects who I am, especially now, but the idea of travel seems more anxiety-inducing than anything right now. I’ve rarely felt comfortable flying as an openly transgender woman the past few years; that was before our nation elected a bigot whose Vice President-elect would rather will trans folks out of existence than treat us with any modicum of compassion. You’ll have to excuse me if the thought of air travel fills me with trepidation now. And while that will certainly free up some money, I had already talked about doing that in 2017. Perhaps I was subconsciously preparing myself for this reality.

I could go to fewer shows. But let’s be real, they are going to be more essential than ever. PWR BTTM delivered a fierce statement Wednesday night, and it was amazing to just be in a room with so many LGBTQ folks. I may be more mindful of the shows I go to, though most bands I see seem to be composed of like-minded folks. It was gutting to hear how hard it was for the bands to get up on stage the past couple days and yet so affirming to see them play despite all of that. Because in times like this, that’s what we need. So I may work to ensure I’m supporting more socially conscious efforts, but now more than ever, we need to support artists, as many of them will be directly affected as who they are in addition to being musicians.

I could give up alcohol. And finally, I found something that is both tangible and necessary. I found something that I do spend a decent amount of money on. I need to eat, but I don’t need to drink. Looking at the amount of money I’ve spent at breweries and bars in the past year, that would be more than enough to free up plenty of money for other causes. That’s not even including the cash that I spend that never hits the budget as anything more than cash. So that is what I must do. That is where that money is. And as much as I love supporting local brewers and bars, they are not going to miss my money. In fact, I think plenty of other folks will be lining up to help them with that. I cannot blame them.

So that’s what I am going to do. I’m done with drinking. Or at least done spending money on it. However the mechanics of it are much easier if I just avoid drinking alcohol altogether for the time being. So that’s what I will do. The reality of a Trump presidency got me to do something I never thought I would. I doubt this is the last time I will have that thought. I need to start taking care of myself better. Some of that starts with paying down my own bills so I am prepared for whatever is next. Because who knows what that looks like? If I can do that while also helping out worthy causes like Planned Parenthood or Southern Poverty Law Center, even better. This is something that more than allows me to do that. In addition, it frees me up a bit to give my time, to take better care of myself physically. It’s a lot easier to volunteer at an event if you aren’t hungover, I’ve found.

Beyond all that, I cannot afford to approach the next few years without a clear head. For my own safety. Even in San Francisco, I fear things are about to take a dark turn. The bitter irony of Trump campaigning on the lie of making our dangerous cities safe again is his win makes them unsafe for so many of us. He has emboldened bigots, and if you don’t think they are here, even in a place that overwhelmingly supported (mostly) liberal policies and politicians, I have some news for you. Voting for someone with a D next to their name doesn’t magically remove hate from your heart. I currently do a lot of things by myself; I’m going to have to think about that a lot harder. And if I keep going out there as I plan to, as myself, unashamed of who I am, I am going to need to be at my best. Be that a stronger buddy system, or more awareness, now is not the time to simply wish things will be better. Now is the time to practice so we are prepared.

As much as I want to not think about the next few years, I cannot afford to forget them. I need to be at my best, and as much as I fear it is going to hurt to read, to listen, to watch what comes next, I cannot afford to look away. We must remember. We must burn this into our memories. We must not forget. Perhaps you can entertain notions that things will not so be bad; I have to entertain the opposite. I will keep looking at what I must change. This is an easy sacrifice, and a necessary one. I may, before long, have to give up much more than just the things I want. I don’t want to think about any of this. But as I keep saying, I cannot afford not to. That doesn’t mean I’m going to dwell on it though. What’s done is done. For better as some folks seem to believe or for worse as so many of us fear, Trump will be our next President. We don’t get a different set of facts here. It’s time to start doing better today what I want to keep doing tomorrow. I encourage you to ask yourselves the same questions. Perhaps you won’t arrive at the same place as me; perhaps you find the only thing that makes the next few years tenable is a good whiskey. That’s neither right nor wrong. You have to make the decisions that work for you, though some of us have much more flexibility in that regard. I am making the decision that makes the most sense for me at the time. I’m not going to stop hanging out with my friends. I need y’all now more than ever. All that’s changing is what’s in the glass. I’ll share a drink with you again when we have something to celebrate. Until then? There’s work to do.

In The Morning Light

Thanks for everyone who has reached out, public or private. But after a night of a lot of thinking, and crying, and sleeping, I remember that I will probably be fine. Perversely my company’s stock is doing more than okay this morning (I guess everyone forgot about all those fake accounts?), I have a job that isn’t going anywhere unless the entire global structure collapses (gonna lean towards no on that front in the light of morning, but I guess we’ll find out), and though we passed a couple odious measures here in San Francisco (really Q?), I still live in San Francisco, which, right or wrong, is still seen as a bastion of certain ideals that I do not think will crumble overnight.

But not everyone will be fine. Not everyone feels that way this morning. That’s okay. Support them but don’t tell them they have to be at some point this morning if they are not. This is gonna take a long time for some folks to sort out. For my part, it’s time to redouble those efforts. Get involved at the local level. Groups like Transgender Law Center and the SF LGBT Center will become more essential. It’s time to start putting more money and effort into those groups. I get not everyone can, but I know that’s something tangible I can do, and I ask you to also look at what groups and organizations you can support, especially if they center their work at those in the most vulnerable intersections of our society.

And I will be okay because have my relative privileges. To my fellow folks who don’t feel that way, or know they won’t be, I need to use those to help them. Specifically when it comes to trans folks, remind your trans friends they are loved, sure, but if you want to provide more salient kind of help, also remind them now would be a good time to make sure they update as many legal docs as they possibly can, because who knows what’s next? Help them with things like that if you can because they are going to need it.

Support those that are different. Speak up for LGBTQ folks, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, folks with disabilities, and so many more. Speak truth to injustice even when it seems no one wants to listen. Fight what comes next.

If you can, get involved on the local level in other ways too. It’s hard to think about 2018 now, but we must. This is when we can start building toward that in our communities. The fight to support each other starts at that level.

It’s odd to approach this with equanimity. I guess that is just how I process stuff. But don’t confuse that with complacency. Also, I’m not really walking back how I feel about Trump supporters. I am not sure exactly how to interact with them at this moment, not sure if I’ll ever know how to interact with them, and while some may say we need bridgebuilding, I am also tired of being asked to meet people halfway who never take a step forward. Remember that’s what is being asked of so many folks. At some point, I’m sure I’ll figure out how to deal with that as well, but how do I meet people who refuse to acknowledge my existence is just as valid as theirs? Certainly I will have to continue to interact with people who did. I am just not sure exactly how yet.

Find your support. Find your people. We are going to need each other. I know a lot of us probably cried last night; don’t forget to laugh too. It’s a weird time to be looking for joy and silver linings, but I love y’all. That didn’t change last night. In fact, in many ways, it galvanized it. Y’all are family. And even in the darkest times, we need to lift each other up. We’re gonna need each other to do the work ahead. I am not here to say you need to start doing that today; take your time. But know I am here to help when you are ready.

 
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