I joined in the Women's March on January 21—along with millions of other people around the world—here in Augusta, where an amazing 10,000 people showed up.
I brought E and Z with me—their first demonstration. They weren't too thrilled about it (especially Z, who had stayed up till midnight reading and was tired and grouchy), but I made them Warrior Cat hats to wear, and that helped a little. ("Why is everyone wearing cat hats?" "Because cats believe in equal rights.")
Other than my own cranky kids, the energy there was so positive. It was literally the first time I felt good since November 8.
My faith in humanity was restored a little bit.
But now the question on everyone's mind is: Now What? After months of despondency we've been reenergized. We've seen that we are far from being alone in our horror for the events taking place in our country. But what do we do with that energy? With that solidarity?
I don't know the answer to that question, but I can tell you what I've been doing and thinking about:
- Staying informed. Honestly, it feels like someone's set up an industrial-strength fan behind a massive pile of manure and we have to decide which pieces of shit to dodge, to deflect, and to just let hit us. I'm trying to keep focused on the big picture (a few well-respected news analysts help with this) and also what's going on locally, where I may be able to have the greatest effect.
- Trying not to get overwhelmed. I just have to cut myself off of Facebook, Daily Kos, the internet in general for chunks at a time. I am considering a short media blackout (which negates my first point, but feels like it might be necessary for my mental health).
- Taking care of myself. Yes, the world is going to hell in a hand basket, but that doesn't mean I can't take the occasional bubble bath, do 10 minutes of morning yoga, give myself sparkly stickers on my own writing (oh, yeah, that's a thing), and drink smoothies.
- Contacting the hell out of my legislators. In Maine we have a so-called "moderate" republican senator. Many would argue that her moderate cred is a sham. Ahem. But I, on a total whim, made it my mission to message her every single day until I get a reasonable response on her bid to overturn the ACA. Of course I haven't been able to stick to the ACA focus (see fan blowing shit metaphor above), and have been taking her to task (and giving credit where credit is due) on many, many other issues. I've also written my rep and the other senator to thank them on a couple of issues. I post my letters on FB, where I think you can read them if you search #senatorcollins, #susancollins, or #senatorsusancollins. I'm kind of hoping we'll start a movement of daily, publicly posted letters to legislators. A friend has suggested I make a bid to blog for one of our daily papers and I'm considering it; I'm just afraid they'll make me conform to some set of standards (like capitalizing republican or not referring to a certain person as "your president"—both of which I've taken on as small, possibly petty, acts of resistance). Yes, I know everyone says calling is more effective, and I've done that as well—though not daily. I find it incredibly frustrating—the busy signals, the voicemail full boxes, the smug people who answer the phone, if in fact you reach a person. And I'm much better able to articulate my thoughts on paper.
- Writing letters to the editor. I've sent out two so far, neither of which has been published (yet), but I plan to make it a weekly ritual.
- Attending rallies. I went to a second rally this past weekend, which was intended to draw attention to multiple issues and convince the above-mentioned senator to return to Maine for a town hall meeting. The energy there was different than at the previous week's rally—still positive (as in articulating a positive alternative to what's taking place in Washington), but less of a feel-good love-in and more focused, intense, and occasionally angry.
- Focusing my energy. There is sooooo much happening now—so many terrible things to oppose but also so much good resistance. I need to take the time to research exactly where and how to expend my energy, both for the greatest effect and to prevent burnout. Initially my plan was to focus on climate change. That got derailed by the push to overturn the ACA. And now that we're in constitutional crisis mode, I feel like energy needs to go toward the big picture (see again the giant fan blowing shit). I'm not sure how I will figure out what makes the most sense for me—there are some local/state issues I want to weigh in on, completely separate from fascism taking over the US. Is it whistling while Rome burns to do so, or do we think globally, act locally? I honestly don't know. It goes back to the first step—stay informed. Parse out the real from the BS. Look for places where my skills (e.g., writing) and knowledge (e.g., environmental regulation) are needed. And hang the f*ck on. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.