Coping Habits of Certain Ordinary Americans During an Impending (or Maybe Not) Regime Takeover

By Lisa M. O’Neill and Debbie Weingarten

Consider all escape routes.

Go through the drive-thru. A lot. Who has time to think about nutrition when tomorrow might not come? Temporary comfort is what you need. Consider which fast food will give you the most staying power should your town be blasted off the face of the earth or all forms of transportation become suddenly obsolete. When you now must walk for hundreds of miles in search of drinkable water.

Don’t underestimate the power of compulsive eyebrow plucking in stressful situations like a maybe-regime-takeover and/or apocalypse. It’s totally reasonable to use this time to perfect the cat eye — especially considering that you will definitely need a YouTube tutorial, and it’s highly unlikely that will exist after all of this shit goes down. Eyeliner will probably not be here after the apocalypse, but tweezers will, if you remember to bury them in a hole in your backyard and come back for them when it’s safe.

Do relaxing yoga poses while reading Donald Trump’s latest Tweet storms. Try to read them upside down to see if they make more sense.

Attend a friend’s birthday dinner the day after the FBI Director was unceremoniously fired by the president — historically unprecedented, “a constitutional crisis.” Over vegetarian fare made by Hare Krishnas, talk about the merits and drawbacks of Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale — is the depiction of violence against women actually trauma porn? does the story perpetuate white supremacy with its inattention to intersectionality and lack of consciousness of the history of slavery in this country? — while you secretly wonder how you would look in a white bonnet, could you still be pretty with one eye?

Google stuff. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know. Before the Internet disappears.

Shop online. Because what you really need now is a Dolly Parton screenprint from an Etsy artist in Madison telling you about a cup of ambition — not a time machine back to October 2016. Consider who might be making cute 50’s-style summer dresses with time machines printed on them. Think of Modcloth. Cry, because you remember they’re now owned by Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart most likely helped get us into this mess.

Realize it’s been a year since you cleaned your bathtub grout. Since you’re just waiting for your phone to ding with New York Times breaking news, you have ample time to notice the disgustingness growing all over your unkempt house. Try not to feel bad, even though you work from home and you should theoretically have more time to clean it — it’s been a rough year. But you’ll want to get a handle on that shit as best you can now. Wield your sturdiest scrub brush, remember to get in the cracks.

Visit your neighborhood coffeeshop and order an Americano. Sip your coffee, slowly and calmly, while looking around at the other people sipping their coffee, slowly and calmly, while in your mind you are shouting: WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING? IS DEMOCRACY OVER? IS THIS THE END OF THE WORLD?

Try to remember all of the things Survivor taught you. Like, you are definitely going to need a tarp.

Make a time capsule. Throw in everything that seems important right now: your copy of 1984 and Walden and Kindred and The Road, photographs of your family and friends B.T. (before Trump), your Hillary Clinton button, that little vile of your own baby teeth your mom gave you. Your thinking is going to be a little wonky at a time like this, so don’t worry too much about what you’re putting in there. You’re documenting this precarious time in human history. The Space People will understand.

Sip your coffee. IS THIS THE END OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT? WHO IS WATCHING THE NUCLEAR BUTTONS?

Nap.

Try not to grind your teeth while you nap. You’ll need those suckers to chew through woodland creatures like deer and squirrels.

Go online and find out how to get a Costco membership. They have samples, after all, and Vitamixes, and things like bottled water and duct tape in bulk. Also, you could probably survive for a moderate amount of time inside the massive cinderblock building, so the $110.00 annual membership fee, plus applicable sales tax, seems worth it.

Imagine Donald Trump in handcuffs. Imagine Donald Trump in handcuffs. Imagine Donald Trump in handcuffs. Imagine Donald Trump in handcuffs.

Get outraged about things that intensely matter to you but, in the long game, really don’t matter. Like, for example, the atrocious idea ABC had to re-do Dirty Dancing. You can’t re-do Patrick Swayze. This will stave off the fear that soon the more subtle fascist state you are living in will be an obvious fascist state. Where streaming services and Dirty Dancing DVDs no longer exist. Neither does dancing.

Lie on the ground. Optional: cry.

Drive your kids to school like it’s just an ordinary day. Shoot the shit about end of year gifts for the teachers like the world isn’t about to fucking end. When other parents ask you about potty-training progress, act normal. Say something witty like, “Honestly, he will probably go to college in diapers.” Then say, ”I’m considering taking all diapers away cold turkey in preparation for the apocalypse, because I am not willing to make diapers out of found objects in the forest.” Wink a little. If they wink back, it means you’ve found a comrade and you should swap escape maps.

Refresh your Twitter feed. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. See? It’s almost like meditation. Or like being at a spa.

Call your parents and siblings and make contingency plans. You are used to the headache of plan-making with family, afterall — all those years of negotiating around significant others for Thanksgiving. This time, it’s more like: Where’s the nearest underground bunker? Whose car can get the farthest on the least amount of gas? Do we know anyone with a boat? Is your passport good? Mexico or Canada?

Act like attending to your routine matters. Wave to your neighbor and sweep your patio bricks. Get your tires rotated. Cross to-dos off your list. Laundry. Check. Post office. Check. Dishes. Check. Fellowship application for next year. Check. Of course there will be a next year.


Debbie Weingarten is a freelance writer based in Tucson, Arizona. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Longreads, Guernica, Vela, Aeon, The Development Set, The Establishment, Terrain.org, and others, as well as the 2016 Best of Food Writing anthology. She is a regular features contributor for Edible Baja Arizona and a writing partner for the Female Farmer Project.

Lisa O’Neill is a freelance writer based in Tucson, Arizona who writes about pop culture, politics, and social justice issues. Her work has appeared in Salon, Bustle, GOOD, Good Housekeeping, The Feminist Wire, and Diagram, among others. She is a regular features contributor for Edible Baja Arizona.