Years ago, I read about some study on crying, comparing how frequently women cry compared to men. I think the number back then was six times per month for women compared to only once a month for men. I remember that at the time, immediately on hearing the stats, I scoffed. Big. time. WTF, people. There is no way I cry that much in 30 days. And in typical fashion, Bubbey stepped right in to challenge my reaction: “You definitely cry six or more times per month. You cry just watching things on tv!” Say what? That shit doesn’t count!!! Ok fine, if watching something on tv counts, then fine. Yes, sometimes I get emotional when triggered.
Fast forward to now, and well fuck, last week was a rough one. I must have doubled the monthly average. My trigger(s)? Four days of the fricking Democratic National Convention. Admittedly, since my days at FMF (when I was just a young pup in my 20s) I’ve def stepped back A LOT from politics. When I was at FMF, I was all in: I wrote for the organization’s daily news wire; I crafted letters that constituents emailed to their elected officials; I petitioned in front of the Capitol calling for greater access to emergency contraception and broader abortion rights… I was in it hard. But those days, every time I saw my parents, we argued (mostly about how damaging Republicans were for women and minorities). I was angry every. damn. day, and I was always fighting with someone about something (Johnny was also living with John and me at the time). I even had heated email exchanges with haters who wrote into the organization, complaining about my advocacy emails and other stances to which they disagreed. Back then, I cared so much that it exhausted me. After I left FMF and we moved to China in 2003, I realized just how much I needed that break and distance. Now that I’m forty though, I’ve realized that I’ve shifted to the opposite extreme, to the point of not even wanting to debate politics with friends.
So last week, I watched most of the big DNC speeches… So many of them moved and inspired me. I’d been comfortable in my stepping away and in NOT engaging, but as I listened to Michelle Obama and Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and so many others, a part of me couldn’t help but feel ashamed by my inaction and lack of participation. Our voices DO matter. And change happens powerfully when people who have less at stake join in supporting and advocating for people who have everything at stake. So how do I re-enter this treacherous zone without losing my shit? I honestly don’t know. But after I got over feeling disappointed in myself (yet again), I decided that I need to start volunteering again. Last time when I was unemployed for an extended period, I helped the local job center with training and computer lab support. When I lived in China, I used to volunteer with animal rescue orgs. When I lived back East, I taught English to adult immigrants. What happened to that person who cared AND acted?
So I contacted the local day labor center to learn more about volunteer opps with teaching and tech assistance. Even though this isn’t a direct way of defeating Trump in the upcoming campaign, I’m going to view it as a beneficial first step towards reconnecting with things that matter to me.
Meanwhile, some interesting articles I’ve read:
Re: Hillary Clinton for President. Sexism is REAL.
Reconciling the differing roles of spouse vs. daughter: Melania and Ivanka
A reminder to be less judgey