Mourn, Then Get Mad, Then Get Busy

One of the ways to combat anxiety, I find, is to do things. To be productive, to engage in routine, to be proactive. And, right now, I expect a number of us are feeling very anxious about this election — I want to be hopeful that President Troll is just trolling all the people who voted for him, but looking at his proposed cabinet and staff, maybe not so much. We mourned the loss, we feel the anger, we’ve got anxiety pouring out of us like a cascade of fire ants, and so for me, at least, it’s helpful to think about what we do next. How do we proceed? What actions can we take to improve this, ourselves, our people?

This is a list, below, designed to help with exactly that.

It is a wildly, woefully incomplete list and so I politely ask that you add to it.

Use the comments. Be polite.

Shitbirds will be drowned in a washtub, their carcasses neatly disposed of in the salt oubliette.

Let’s begin.

1. Talk to people. Nothing wrong with just talking to people. Vent your frustrations. Grieve together. Talk about stuff that has nothing to do with any of this. It feels cleansing to talk and there is huge value in not feeling alone. Though what we’re dealing with is far from normal, we still want to feel normal, and communication is normal.

2. Help somebody. We feel helped when we help others. Again, help people talk through this. Be there for them in whatever way they need to be. Listen. Express compassion. Right now, every marginalized person and under-served individual is afraid. They saw a vote pass that very cleanly expressed what they are up against. Some kids are afraid of being deported. Some people are afraid their sexuality once again puts them off the roster of human rights. Women are now seeing a president who treats them like sexual objects to be used, discarded, judged, and dismantled. Children see a president whose actions embody the opposite of what they’re taught to be. They need your help. They need your ear.

3. Give money and/or time to vital organizations likely to be harmed or who will be fighting this fight. Planned Parenthod needs your help. The ACLU has promised to fight, and will use your money to do so. Actually, fuck it, here’s a good list to get you started. That list includes but is not limited to: the NAACP, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, RAINN, etc. You can also volunteer on behalf of these organizations.

4. Give money to political candidates. The 2018 race is going to be an essential one to countermand the new administration’s depredations. Right now, they’ve got the run of the table and balance is needed, and that means, it’s time to put money into those Democratic candidates who will be defending their seats and who maybe be running then. (Obviously, we’re not oracles, so I don’t know who will be running, but it’s something to keep an eye on.)

5. Contact your legislators. No matter their political affiliation, it is vital you engage with them and contact your representatives and ask they fight for the things you consider vital. Do not do this once, but regularly. Keep that pressure up. Ask them to fight for the things most Americans want fixed or supported: climate change, gun control, and so forth.

6. Escape. Escape means whatever it means. Maybe it means watching Netflix for a couple days straight. Maybe it means, go take a short trip. Maybe it means moving. I know there is is a real sense here that moving away is tantamount to cowardice, but fuck that — you do what you gotta do. The world is greater than just America — it always has been, it always will be. This sudden political and social shift is an existential threat for some people. Overnight this became a world where some of the worst of us are emboldened to racist or sexist violence, just as it was with Brexit. This is happening and it’s okay to get away. (Note, too, I understand that this level of escape is only available to those of privilege. Most people can’t just fuck off at the snap of their fingers. But some can, and will, and again, you do what you gotta.) Point is, practice self-care however you must, in whatever way feels good and right to do so.

7. Protest. Protests have been epic. They send a message. Alone they don’t do much, but combined with more dedicated and direction action, they create momentum for causes. Dissent is vital, and public displays of that dissent send a message to the world that we are not, as a country, who we just elected.

8. Stop reading and sharing fake news. Everybody is good at building the echo chamber. That’s not unique to progressives. But we do need to start cleaning our own house of blind, bad news sites — USUncut and their ilk who spread fakey headlines without actual news to support them. If we are going to do this thing, we need to do it with clear eyes, and not be deluded. Time to stop huffing our own vapors.

9. Stop eating our own. Progressives, when comfortable, often go after other progressives for not passing the liberal purity tests. We do this with a positive goal of whetting ourselves to a sharper, more elegant point — but sometimes it also serves as letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, and the results of this election are a pretty good example of how that looks and what can result from it. That’s not to say we cannot improve one another, can’t help to still sharpen those viewpoints and help each other be better — but you don’t go stomping after mice when there’s a bear trying to break down your door. Stop the bear, get the mice later. The mice are not an existential threat. Unless they have hantavirus, I guess. This metaphor is way out of hand, so let’s just eject from it now.

10. Engage with loved ones. You got family, so engage with them. Be close to loved ones. And by loved ones, I mean the family you choose, not necessarily the family to which you were born. Some of you have cut off family members, and again, you gotta do what you gotta do if they’re poisonous to you or your kids. Life is messy and we have to endure viewpoints not our own, but if there’s a real problem or real damage, pick a different family and hold them close.

11. Make art. Some folks suggested to me that there’s more important shit going on, and that art is, I dunno, some glib luxury, but it’s not. Art can be protest. Stories change the world. Music, theater, visual art, novels, poetry, it can all be subversive, it can all add value. And it has personal value. It can be therapeutic. It can be a way to express your ideas. Make art. Art harder. Art the hardest you ever done arted, motherfuckers.

12. Learn self-defense. I’m not being over-dramatic when I say that attacks against marginalized people are likely to increase, as they did in the wake of Brexit. Even if you believe that every Trump voter is not racist, sexist, whatever — it is the reality that some very bad people feel very empowered by this election, and they are likely to take it out on people. Maybe you, or people you love. Learning self-defense is not a bad idea. That’s in no way saying that if you don’t learn it, you are somehow responsible for what happens to you — the only ones responsible are those who try to hurt you. You are not responsible for harm or hate brought against you. If you can learn how to defend yourself, then do.

13. Learn self-sustainability. I’m not saying it’s time to go full-bore doomsday prepper, but learning how to take care of yourself has value — both therapeutically and practically speaking. Nothing wrong with learning how to grow a garden, or sew clothes, or pickle vegetables. You don’t have to learn how to gut and clean a deer. But also, hey, it’s a skill. I don’t think we’re going to see America turn into The Road or anything, but with climate change likely off the table as an issue we’re going to address in the near-future, hey, it’s not a bad idea to figure out a handful of survival skills, even minor ones. Start composting. Start recycling. Create less waste. It’s good for the soul, good for the society, and should the shit actually hit the fan, nnyeeaaah maybe it’s not the worst idea to be a little tiny bit prepared.

14. Vote with your dollar. In every hellish cyberpunk future, MEGACORPZ RULE THE WORLD. That’s extreme, but it’s fair to say now that companies are able to exert political pressure in ways that you do not. That’s unfortunate and gross but it does mean that you can direct your spending in responsible ways. This isn’t always easy to suss out, but spending your money ethically has value. This can be tricky, because often ethical companies are more expensive. The value is there, though, and can pay you back in larger ways if they exert political pressure. Or, even without political pressure, supporting green energy companies is better than buying into those who create more waste and pollution. You can also exert pressure on companies to do better without money — social media campaigns, protests, so forth.

15. Get encrypted. To quote John Rogers the other night on Twitter: get TOR, get Signal, get a VPN, two-factor authentication on your emails. Behold the Diaspora Foundation.

16. Help improve social media. Not only do we need to report fake news, but we also need to hold our social media accountable for the harassment that goes on there. It will only get worse from here. Twitter needs to handle its shit, or it needs to shut down. True too of any social media. And in general, social media can be a wonderful place, it can be endearing and it can connect us. But also don’t be afraid to escape from it from time to time, for a short while, for a long while, for the next four years.

17. Help improve old-fashioned media, too (and subscribe to an actual newspaper). The TV news media did us no favors, here. They normalized the abnormal candidate and criminalized the upstanding candidate. We criticize “the media” for not having been more on point here, but the newspaper industry was way the fuck on point. Put some dollars toward a newspaper. Old-fashioned, I know, but we need real journalism, not entertainment masked as news.

18. Hold onto hope and love. Hard to do, and not really a meaningful action item, but we’ve done more with a lot less, and even 20 years ago, the mainstream values we hold dear now were considered radical and extreme. We lost ground with this election, but you’re still here, the sun is still up, the sky is still blue, and you’re drawing breath. The game of inches continues. Love will save us if we let it.

19.  Eat some ice cream. No, it won’t change the world, but it tastes good, and sometimes we need a taste of something good. And if you can’t eat ice cream, just find something that tastes good figuratively or literally and enjoy it. Savor it.

20. Vote. Vote in 2018. Vote in 2020. Remember what’s happening now, remember what happened the other night, watch what happens, and hold it close. Let that fire burn. If you’re one of the people who didn’t vote because you thought these candidates were equal, this is on you, in part. But come back in 2018 and 2020 to fix what you helped to break.

111 comments

  • @michael underwood As one of my favorite authors once said, “Typos happen. That doesn’t make it ok” Which basically boils down to, at least to me, you’re human. Go back and fix’em:) Also, with the utmost respect, Can I please ask that authors stop using the election as an excuse not to write*? I’ve heard from various sources that this is permiating the sf/f community lately and this is when we need your voices the most! (see #11)
    *Especially those under contract

    • I went out this weekend to my favorite local capuccino/sweets joint, immersed myself in oldies music (like 1920s oldies) and wrote for nearly 2 days straight. But we can’t all work at the same pace. It took me days to recover. This is my way of coping. Not everyone is there yet.

  • Thank you. Thank YOU. THANK you. Yours have been the posts that have kept me sane and relatively grounded while working through all the emotions of the past couple days. My husband and I have two boys from Guatemala, one of whom asked me if they will have to go back there to live…because they are fearful of the future! But your posts have grounded me and spurred me to action…action toward the future, action for all of my children, action for my boys who don’t look like me, action for my girls who don’t deserve to hear disgusting words from our president’s mouth, action for ALL the children who are part of ALL our lives. Instead of hiding and being angry, we will take a couple of days, eat some ice cream and Netflix binge…and then get some damned work done so this doesn’t happen again. Thanks for your posts. They are inspirational.

  • I’m 19 this year, and this election was my very first time voting. Seeing Trump win despite the best efforts of me and everyone I know has been horribly disheartening, especially as an LGBTQ person. We’re brought up believing that we can trust in the fairness and justness of democracy, and then things like this happens, and it becomes obvious just how much of a joke it all is.

  • Spoken like someone who is closing the barn door after the horses escaped. Seems like everyone here is suffering from epic servings low self esteem & politically correct whininess. Besides voting for the worst candidate that the Dems could anoint (trust me, as a Republican, if Sanders was running, I would’ve voted Democrat for the first time in 35 years) what else did you do to convince the undecided? More importantly, what did you do to convince everyone who DIDN’T LIVE IN AN URBAN CENTER to vote for your candidate? Even though your candidate will get the popular vote, her popular vote came from urban centers, not the rest of the state. It’s those areas where she had an epic fail. Perhaps if she, and to a lesser extent, everyone here didn’t everything for granted, things would be different.

    And no, I didn’t vote for D.T., I voted for a non-major 3rd party candidate.

    P.S., instead of worrying about DC, perhaps you should start worrying about the local/state politicians who flew under your radar in your state, won re-election (mostly) and thus can continue the same destructive economic/social policies that drives your state deep in the red (like CT).

    Tell me something Chuck, do you even know what it’s like to have normal real day-to-fay issues like some of the average commentators here? When’s the last time you had to worry how to make ends meet with one paycheck for a family of four? When’s the last time your employer demonized you and attempted to balance its fiscal screw-ups on your back on a continuing basis?

    • “Tell me something Chuck, do you even know what it’s like to have normal real day-to-fay issues like some of the average commentators here? When’s the last time you had to worry how to make ends meet with one paycheck for a family of four? When’s the last time your employer demonized you and attempted to balance its fiscal screw-ups on your back on a continuing basis?”

      Oh, shut up. I’m a writer, dumbass. Doing fine now, but working freelance is the farthest thing from stable. You think I never worked a 40-hour-a-week job? I did that AND I held a writing career as a second job. I don’t live in an urban center and, drum roll please, my battleground county still went for Clinton.

      Do me a favor, go find somewhere else, yeah? Take your comments about whining and political correctness somewhere else.

      — c.

    • “And no, I didn’t vote for D.T., I voted for a non-major 3rd party candidate.”

      Then congratulations. Hillary wasn’t a perfect candidate by any means, but FFS. Drumpf’s buddy Newt Gingrich wants to bring back HUAC! How many of our friends and neighbors do you think could be imprisoned if something like that happens?

      All you 3rd party voters were SO concerned with not wanting to sacrifice your personal integrity that you’ve sentenced us all to a clown car administration of craziness. You owned your vote, now you get to own the consequences of it.

  • Jack and others are doing a good job of responding to the legitimate concerns Des Torres raises. I especially want to underscore the point that whatever needs to be done, Trump is not the one likely to do it. In fact, why should he change a system he benefits from every day? This is the sad part, that people hoping for a champion bought this bridge (excuse the mixed metaphor).
    And if we really wanted a change election, what has it availed us to send almost EXACTLY the same House and Senate back to Washington to continue doing exactly what they’ve been doing lo these many years–promoting precisely the policies that have put Mr. Des Torres into this predicament. It is really hard to imagine that Ryan and McConnell will agree to stifle free trade, given that they surely have multiple investments in transnational corporations for whom free trade is practically a condition of existence. Nor will they for a minute consider regulating the banks, whose cavalier attitudes as global citizens were hugely responsible for the last recession and can easily cause another–that will not affect Trump, Ryan, or McConnell one whit.
    Going after free trade will raise many prices in this country. Will it save enough jobs that people here will be able to pay those prices? That remains to be seen. For sure, Ryan and McConnell and the armies that have been re-elected to support them will not be raising the minimum wage.
    We all suffer from the dream of the magical warrior with the flaming sword who will sweep in and make politics
    easy with one clean sweep. I’m afraid the Sanders people bought into this dream fairly heavily, and I guess we did to some extent with the promise of Obama. Obama’s struggles should tell us once again that politics is really, really hard and needs much effort. The irony, of course, is that the corporations who control so much of our world make sure that most people are working way too hard to have time to speak out. So Des Torres has found time to speak out. Let’s take his effort as an example for us all.

  • November 11, 2016 at 10:06 AM // Reply

    Thank you Chuck. I was thinking along the same lines. I’m devastated by the results of the election. I’ve decided to read more books again, and stop watching so much news. I’m turning all this gritty sand into art. Chuck I appreciate your words. Margret Attwood was right about your blog being a great place for writers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Many of us are listening and enjoy your point of view.

  • This is so good I want to post it to my Facebook page. I am so stupid I can’t find the Facebook share link on the article (Hint: I am really new to Facebook. Was under rock previously.)
    Can I get a hand on this? Feel free to also make fun; I deserve it.

  • If there is anything positive that has come from this fucked up election cycle, it’s that I now believe I can run for office and win. I’ve always wanted too, but assumed my past would get in the way. Now? Not so much. It’s not like my past is horrible, but I’ve had a few public intoxication moments. Now, I have as good of a chance as any goody-two-shoes in North Texas.

  • Along with #6, I started using this Chrome Filter that removes Trump stories from the Internet. You can adjust the settings from mild to vindictive, or shut it off completely.

    http://trumpfilter.com/

    I’m not advocating complete and utter apathy or ignorance of what the soon-to-be-Trump administration will be up to. In the days to come I’ll be watching their policies and decision-making closely like most other people. But I also need a certain level of filter just to stay sane and go on with my life. Otherwise I may succumb to fear and anger, and that hasn’t done anybody much good. I have to make my art, live my life, and preserve all that is good in the world, because what else is there?

    Thanks for sharing this. Mourn, get mad, get busy is about the process I’m going through right now.

  • Hay Guys, why be so vehement at the very, very, end of the due process. How many have really listened at the civic level and voted with as much passion for the up and comers, cause thats where leaders are born and raised in the way they should go. Is it not the responsibility of the everyman, woman, to give real input at that level, to monitor, guide the newly called to service, and remain informed through voice and vote. Could it be we were too complacent, too busy, or “Oh, I did that stuff in college.” Is it possible, that is mostly why we got, what we got. Do we not share some of the responsibility? We gotta get into the game really early, ( should never, never have gotten to the Monopoly stage.) A republic, thrives on the early input of it’s people, we have been given a templet, the highest Law of the Land, and No, it’s not Starbucks. There is much work to be done, yes, do give, give first in your obvious sphere of influence, arms length. It’s kinda late, as an angry mob, where 60% don’t know the three branches of government, and these are students on University steps, flailing hot Lattes. Poor babies, they know not what they do.

  • I agree with all of these — would also add (eating some ice cream notwithstanding) that extreme self care is called for —- really nutritious wholesome food and a good amount of sleep and luxuries like a massage or facial and getting great baths/showers and putting on clothes that you love and getting out of the house and seeing people you like and maybe some kind of movie or play that will help you smile and laugh again
    ……….. enjoying what you can enjoy —- it is not easy to pull up and out of the kind of funk i feel but i know that those things help (having lived through everything from the jfk 11/22 to this week)…….

  • Love Chuck’s list. My short additions:

    1. Build as much of a solid savings account as you can. Seriously begin to siphon off a latte here and a movie there and actively move that five- to twenty bucks into a savings account. If the economy tanks or your prescriptions increase by $20, you’ll have some reserves by 2018.

    2. Exercise, eat right, stay healthy. All mood-enhancers.

    3. In the very short run, SLEEP. Sleep-deprivation causes melancholy. Find time this weekend to catch up on lost sleep. Major mood improvement almost guaranteed.

    4. *Part* of why we ended up with a pop culture president is because we overvalue frivolity as a community of 330 million. Consider the message you send to the folks who provide information when you *only* click on “14 Secrets That the Producers of Seinfeld Hid from the Public” and “He Caught His Wife – What Happened Next Will Stun You”. I recognize that it’s a slippery slope to start judging art, writing, etc. We cope with our day how we cope. We read what we read. We feel good by what makes us feel good. We do us. I think if we balance it, though, with a demand for serious news/information, we change the discourse. :) Click on, tweet, forward something super serious every day, like exercise.

  • Please let me add that we need to review the material taught to our children in the schools and supplement that information with a more rounded world view. For instance, the history taught int the schools is so truncated that it can barely be called instructive. Point them to more information. Encourage our children to read by us reading in front of them. Limit video gameplay. Teach our children to research an issue on the internet. We should all discuss the day’s issues at the dinner table, and demonstrate to our children that we need not be afraid of differing opinions especially if we are well informed. Educating the generations that will be responsible for cleaning up our messes is our responsibility so let’s make sure we do it well.

  • Thank you Chuck! These recent blog posts have been keeping me sane. I’m one of those who has not been able to create since the election (I’m a writer and illustrator) because I’ve been in shock and dismay at trump getting elected, but today, Friday, I’m gonna try to get back in the saddle.

  • Stop, look and listen. Stop buying into all the crap you’re reading on the internet. Look around see what is really going on, which is a lot of nothing because nothing has changed at this point. Listen to what people are saying, but make up your own mind. Don’t buy into any hive mind.

    The bottom line here is that a lot of people are knee-jerk reacting to campaign B.S. He won a popularity contest to get to the chair. Now he has to play a very complex game with all the cards stacked against him to get anything he wants to do, done. Entrenched politicians with allies that know how to work the system verses one guy that is basically fighting on his own because he’s the outsider. Either he’ll be Rocky and go fifteen rounds for everything he wants to change or he’ll have to figure out how to play a game that takes years to master in a very short time. He’s got a serious uphill battle either way.

    Learn how our government works. Its a check and balance system. One of the most powerful checks and a seriously powerful balancing force is the general public. The court system, even congress. All these groups can bring anything Trump does to a halt.

    Stop wasting your time doing stupid crap like blocking highways and burning cars, you’re just making yourselves look bad, and secondly your making the rest of America look bad. Read what your posting. Some of it crap is toxic and seriously unproductive, much of the rest was just plain a waste of time.

    Seriously, can people in this country start acting like adults instead of spoiled, entitled, brats?

    • My husband wants us to go to a protest today, and I thought long and hard about it. If we believe in democracy, well, the people have spoken. Protesting Trump won’t stop him from being President, nor should it.

      But we are going to go, and here’s why. We don’t agree with what he says he believes in, how he’s behaved, how he treats people and (now, most importantly) who he says he’ll appoint to key government positions and what he will do in his presidency. A clear message has to be sent that a huge proportion of the country (over half of voting adults!) disagrees with him and is watching him and will hold him accountable now that he works for us.

      I agree that burning cars, or fighting with police is counter-productive. But there is a message to be sent here. The populace has a few ways of being heard. Gatherings and protests are one of them. Fail to exert your rights, and they can be taken away.

    • Rod says: One of the most powerful checks and a seriously powerful balancing force is the general public.

      And that’s what these protests are. I don’t condone destruction of property or blocking roads. Seriously, how are protesters going to feel when someone’s ambulance can’t get through? That said, protesting itself is not only NOT wrong, but it is sometimes the best way to be that balancing force you mentioned. If I say to you, “Martin Luther King” are you really going to say you don’t recall any images of him protesting? It’s part of the deal. We get to speak up. We have to speak up. They have to *see* that people are speaking up. A bunch of tweets isn’t gonna get it. It’s unrealistic, if not idealistic, to live in a free, democratic society and not expect people to use that freedom in the times of crisis, presumably why we have those freedoms in the first place.

      I do agree with you, though, that it’s not going to be quite as easy as Trump thinks. On the other hand, he has the nuclear codes. He doesn’t need any on-the-job training to learn how to use them. SCARY.

    • The civil rights protests under Dr. King blocked highways. The colonists who rebelled against King George destroyed property. Funny how quickly we forget those things when we try to pretend current protesters are really behaving badly, instead of just saying things we don’t like.

      And if you think that checks and balances are a magical solution, grow up and learn some history. A review of Andrew Jackson’s administration is a good starting point.

  • As an outsider (Canada) watching the election process and then all the turmoil afterwards, I think the biggest issue is finding out why all those non-voters didn’t feel it was important to vote and get them voting in the future. It’s an odd thing to me why people don’t want to vote for their own futures, their own rights, their own President. I’m a U.S. citizen and made sure I voted even though I’m not living there. Women especially should be certain to vote and encouraged to vote in future elections since we worked so damn hard to be certain that women are “allowed” to vote. I’m old so I still know that women’s rights can be snatched away at any minute because I’ve seen a lot of them only come into existence during my lifetime.

    I was too stunned to write for a day or two but now I’m back in the saddle. If I don’t write, I don’t eat.

    I have to say, I had to chuckle at the dude who thinks that best-selling authors don’t understand how “real people” live. Hell, Stephen King started in a trailer park. J.K. Rowling was a single mom writing Potter in coffee shops with her kid in a stroller. And though I don’t know what Chuck’s current living situation is from his successes, I can assure his fans and readers of this blog, he’s a regular guy as I’ve met him a few times over the years. Not Mr. Ivory Tower looking down on all of us as he pontificates his views on his own blog! lol.

    Thanks, Chuck, for this list of how people can get their shit together!

  • November 12, 2016 at 7:10 PM // Reply

    Thank you for this. I needed the comfort I received from reading your words. It has been a grieving time, but sharing with my writer friends or any friend has been healing and so healthy for me. Bless us all.
    JW

  • Thank you so much, Chuck. I’ve been spinning my wheels for the last few days (my family is in every single target group for the nut-cases on the right, except Muslim and people already assume I’m muslim because I’m brown). This gives me a list to concretize and beats the f- out of just panicking. Thanks.

  • Great list – I’d add resist normalization of Trump with everything you have. He’s not a normal candidate, this was not a normal election or result, and he takes office in clear violation of the will of the people as expressed by the popular vote. That MATTERS. But you have to keep it in people’s minds, or other, false narratives will start to take over.

  • Thank you for this. I just finished reading “Zeroes”, the first of your work I’ve read (browsing the library shelves is a wonderful way to find wonderful books), and I thought I’d come over and see what else you had to say. I found this post, and it was just what I needed to see right now. Personally, I’m still at angry, but I’m starting to think about the things I can do to make it better. What you’ve written here has helped.

  • Here’s another one: When buying gifts, consider supporting Appalachian artists. Appalachia is one of the most economically depressed regions of the country and home to some of the “forgotten people,” many of whom felt abandoned. Here is the link to a guild of 900 Appalachian artisans with an online store of their work: http://www.southernhighlandguild.org/

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