My poor little blog has been dormant for almost a year now, but I guess this is what it takes to wake up.
I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year, after my first failure in Year 11 last year. I failed because I stopped writing after my seven-week-old daughter spiked a fever on Day 3, which meant I abandoned all my plans and spent the day in the ER, feeling helpless and terrified as they pierced her brand-new skin with needles to take her blood, held her down to X-ray her lungs, and stuck suction tubes down her nose.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted, understandably. Rose, we found out later, had caught parainfluenza virus, likely from her brother, which is common and not a big deal at all, as long as you’re not a seven-week-old newborn who hasn’t yet had any immunizations. I spent the next week up every two hours, trying desperately to get my girl to drink milk or at least Pedialyte, to avoid dehydration.
Some things trump writing, but only for a time.
I didn’t work on my novel Tuesday evening. I still had 1300 words to go to meet quota, but I just couldn’t write about this fantasy world where the biggest problems were two star-crossed lovers who desperately wanted to be with each other.
But I also couldn’t not write. So I wrote a letter to my children.
8 November 2016
Dear Pippin & Rose,
I’m supposed to be working on my NaNoWriMo novel right now, but I just can’t. I don’t know how to write when the world seems so precarious. I should say, I don’t know how to write anything other than how I’m feeling. I think it’s important — vital even — to write and make art and find hope when the world seems like it might be crumbling.
I have to believe that everything will be OK, no matter how this election ends up. But I do think it’s important for you both to know, for posterity, that your parents stood on the right side of history tonight. We voted for hope and progress and empathy, and that’s what we’ll keep seeking. No matter what.
But tomorrow isn’t here yet, and tonight I’m scared. You’re both asleep and have no idea what’s going on in the world, and I’m thankful that you get to be innocent for a while longer. I worry about a country that was a paragon of hope and optimism finding itself on the precipice of electing a demagogue, a fascist, a man who has built his empire on the backs of others who deserved better. He is quite literally the opposite of everything I could ever ask for in a president, and I cannot understand how so many can stand behind him. It is a wake-up call for us here: there is still so much work to do.
It’s always good to look for lessons, to find out what we can learn from a situation, whether it’s gone our way or not. And here, I’ve seen ignorance, much of it willful, turn people’s eyes and even hearts to a demagogue. History has shown us it can happen, but we did not know it could happen here. So what do we take from that?
My loves, please think critically. Always question your assumptions. Always look for the other side. Always try to find the story behind how something came to be. Recognize propaganda for what it is, good or bad, and learn to see the facts through the emotions. Propaganda is a tool, nothing more, but in the hands of the hateful or ill-informed, it is dangerous.
My loves, please find empathy. Humans are multi-faceted. Read broadly. Reading cultivates empathy. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Ask them how they came to where they are, and look for a glimmer of yourselves in their stories. Offer grace and mercy, and accept them when they’re given to you.
My loves, do your best to stand on the right side of history. Be kind. Offer help. Be generous when you can, and sometimes when you can’t. Consider both the many and the few, and try to do the best you can for all.
My loves, take care of each other. Protect each other. Trust each other. Never lose sight of each other. Your mama and daddy love you, but you two also share a unique bond that only you can cultivate. I see how you play with each other, how you get frustrated with each other, and how, ultimately, above all, you love each other. Keep doing that.
I do not know what tomorrow holds, or what will come after that, but I know this: I love you both an unfathomable amount, and so does your daddy. That means a lot in this world. So whatever comes, we’ll be here with you, together, holding you close, and hoping for a better world for us all, but mostly for you.
More than half the country’s voters vote against this, and yet here we are. We have work to do, and it’s more important than ever that we do it. Yesterday, after a night spent having panic attacks instead of sleeping, I let myself feel everything I needed to feel. I let myself be depressed. I managed to eat a piece of toast but mainly just drank tea all day.
Yesterday, when I went to bed at 6:45 p.m. (because self-care is important), I didn’t know if I would pick up my NaNoWriMo novel again. I didn’t know if I could.
And then this morning, I woke up, and I felt the fire burning again. I made coffee, and I WROTE.
I wrote about those star-crossed lovers because passion is important. Love is important. Art is important. How we treat each other, even when — especially when — we disagree, is important. Finding common ground is important, but also letting people feel how they need to goddamn feel for a moment is important. Honest and earnest discourse is important. Speaking is important, but so is listening. These are things I’m writing about as well as living, as long as I have the opportunity.
The world has not ended. It has challenged us to rise up and do better by one another. Now more than ever, my friends, we have work to do. Let’s go.