10 Days After The Morning After

It hasn’t been easy and I’m not exactly sure when it will be. The fresh hell of the aftermath isn’t getting stale. Each day’s announcements of appointments and statements just re-open any wounds that could possibly be closing, re-traumatizing with incessant reminders that this is no Orwellian nightmare. It is real.

So, what’s to be done? Here’s where I’m at:

What’s Working

Reading — I’ve read three novels so far to put myself into other stories. It’s a temporary solution to be sure, but it’s helping.

Not Reading — I skim headlines and actually read very few articles. Some I save to my Pocket.com list for later, like the long interview of President Obama by The New Yorker’s David Remnick. I’m not reading or saving analyses of the election: who didn’t vote, why the polls were wrong, who’s to blame, was the Clinton campaign poorly managed, should the Electoral College be abolished, is CNN a force for good or evil. Too soon. Not ready.

Work — I’m lucky to work at a place that focuses on social justice and environmental conservation. First, because we’re actually trying to identify strategies to help those movements in this new reality. It makes me feel like I’m doing something useful. I truly hope I am. And second because we’ve made space to voice our concerns and fears to one another. People who don’t have this space in their workplaces best understand why I value it in mine.

Meditation, surprisingly — I’ve always wanted to and I’ve tried to find the right vehicle for it. Luckily, now when I most needed it, I found Calm.com. It’s helping to relax me and teaching me a lot.

Planning to act like a Dane — While Snopes tells me that the Danes did not actually don the yellow star during the German occupation of Denmark, there was great resistance that saved all but 500 of the country’s 7000 Jews from being deported. So I’ve decided that when they come for the Muslims in my city, I will register along with many other people who believe in pluralism and justice. Hopefully this time Snopes will report “true” when asked whether a mass of citizens did the equivalent of wearing the yellow star.

Stepping up — I was asked to serve on the executive committee of my LGBTQ synagogue and might have declined before November 9th. But now I am stepping up my commitment to my community. That includes my work on the SAGE board on behalf of LGBT elders and my true acts of alliance with the transgender and immigrant communities.

What’s Still Too Hard

Riding through that part of Manhattan — the other day I took a ride share service to an appointment and the car got caught up in what has become the ever-present traffic jam on Fifth Avenue in the Fifties. It was too hard to see the barricades, the heavy police presence and the media. A painful reminder.

Talking to Trump voters — During the campaign, I read everything I could get my hands on about the anger of the white working class. I was shocked at the incidence of white women my age who were killing themselves with drugs, alcohol and suicide at alarming rates. I truly wanted to understand. But now I just can’t. Maybe it’s too soon, but there’s still too much anger and disbelief that they thought they were voting for positive change.

Especially when they are in my family — One such post-election conversation was enough for a lifetime.

I don’t know if this all qualifies as grieving or something else. I do know that most of the time I am a mess. But while at some point I will have to accept this, I will never, ever normalize it. It is nothing remotely like a typical change in leadership that is part of the American system. It is something much more insidious. No wonder that Sinclair Lewis’ novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” is sold out.

I do know that I need to take better care to ward off depression with exercise and healthy eating, two things that the approaching holidays make especially difficult. So I’ve set my sights on January 1 for all that. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep doing What’s Working and try with all my might to avoid What’s Still Too Hard.

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