songs-that-calm-my-soulIt’s been a while since I really blogged. Honestly, I’m still in shock about the election, and the government that’s being built. I’m afraid for people I love. I’m frustrated and confused by others. To cope, I’ve been listening to a lot of calm music. A lot of it isn’t happy music, but it has a soothing quality to it that forces my heartbeat to slow down. Here’s a sampling, for anyone interested:

Eponine – Penny and Sparrow
Low, How A Rose E’er Blooming – Penny and Sparrow
New Ceremony (Acoustic Version) – Dry the River
Husk – Dry the River
When It’s Cold I’d Like To Die – Moby
Comes and Goes (In Waves) – Greg Laswell
Closer – Johnnyswim
Stars – Jay Nash
Light – Jon Bryant
You Speak – Audrey Assad
How To Breathe – Matthew Mayfield
Sarah’s Prayer – Eden’s Bridge
Pull The Stars Down – Lucie Silvas

 

What I’m Reading Now: The Buddha in the Attic

The leaves of the trees continued to turn in the wind. The rivers continued to flow. Insects hummed in the grass as always. Crows cawed. The sky did not fall. No President changed his mind. Mitsuko’s favorite black hen clucked once and laid a warm brown egg. A green plum fell early from a tree. Our dogs ran after with balls in their mouths, eager for one last toss, and for once, we had to turn them away. Go home. Neighbors peered out at us through the windows. Cars honked. Strangers stared. A boy on a bicycle waved. A startled cat dove under a bed in one of our houses as looters began to break down the front door. Curtains ripped. Glass shattered. Wedding dishes smashed to the floor. And we knew it would only be a matter of time until all traces of us were gone.

Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic is short. It’s 129 pages. I read it in one sitting, on the couch, in the evening. It has a very unusual structure that some people really hated or found distracting, but I loved it. It’s first-person plural. We. It’s so important to the voice of the book, because it is a book about the shared experience of being a “picture bride,” a Japanese woman sent to America to start a new life with a husband she’s only seen in a picture. That being said, the experiences are very different, and the book accounts for that with contradictory statements, one after another. It’s almost like a list, but a lyrical one. In just a few sentences, Otsuka is able to paint an incredibly vivid picture of dozens of different perspectives. Sometimes the woman comes to America and finds out the man in the picture isn’t even her husband. Sometimes it is, but the picture was taken two decades before. The husbands are gentle, violent, awkward, loving, cruel. The women have to take jobs as maids to white women who don’t like Hispanic, black, or Chinese maids. Sometimes they become prostitutes. Sometimes they are farmers.

The book is divided into 8 sections, with titles like, “Babies,” and “The Children.” It explores how when the first American-born children get older, they reject their Japanese heritage, forget the language, and change their names. Then comes the chapter, “Traitors.” I knew it was coming. How could it not? But I wasn’t prepared.

Men start to disappear only days after Pearl Harbor. There are rumors of a list of names, but no one knows how it works. Wealthy Japanese men are taken alongside dirt-poor field hands. Wives start to pack bags and leave them by the door so when a husband is taken, he has a change of clothes. Chinese people get beaten up because people think they’re Japanese. Japanese families start to burn everything that would identify them as Japanese, but they can’t burn their faces. And none of it matters in the end. They are ordered to leave.

“Extraordinary circumstances,” is what the government says.

And I look around, I listen to the rhetoric going on now about Muslims, and it’s all too familiar. It’s happening again. It hasn’t even been that long, and we’re already surrendering to fear. Don’t watch silently.

This Is Not Normal

It has been a week since Donald Trump became the president-elect. In that week, protests have erupted across the country, hate crimes are rising, people are making plans to move to Canada or Mexico, women are looking to get IUDs, couples are getting married, and division has arguably never been more blatant or destructive in this election cycle.

I’ve heard the endless mantra of “We need to be united.”  First of all, it’s really difficult to be united when the president-elect is a person who built his entire campaign on dividing people. It was always us vs. them, “them” being any group that Trump thought a particular audience was afraid of. When I hear, “We need to be united,” I’m really hearing, “Get in line.” I’m hearing, “Conform.” Now, I know that President Obama has said to be unified, and I’m not sure what exactly he means by that, but I know that his role is a unique one. When I hear “unify” from someone random on Facebook, that’s when I’m hearing, “Stop criticizing Trump and Trump supporters.”

That’s not what unity is. Unity is not when one side of a divided pair shuts up, while the other gets to run the show. Frankly, I don’t know how we can be unified right now, because it’s like our values are on total opposite sides of the spectrum. A Trump presidency looks like it’s going to be about restricting women’s rights, gutting healthcare, demonizing Muslims and Mexicans, restricting LGBTQ rights, denying climate change, and so on. What can we unify around? People who voted for Trump are either racist, are willing to tolerate racism, or deny that a Trump presidency is even racist at all. The same goes for sexism. Freedom of religion seems it will only apply to Christianity. Good healthcare is not nationally recognized as a basic human right. WHERE IS THE COMMON GROUND?

People are also saying, “Protests didn’t happen when Obama became president, so accept it and move on.” Okay, so people weren’t necessarily flooding the streets like they are now, but for his entire presidency, they were questioning whether he was born in the United States. That’s definitely a form of protesting the election results. For 8-freaking-years. Also, after every election, there are groups that don’t want to accept the results. It’s just what humans do when something happens they don’t like. However, there is a big difference between the national reaction to Obama and Trump, because TRUMP IS NOT A NORMAL PRESIDENT. I’ve heard the word “normalization” a lot recently with Trump coverage, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The media is normalizing Trump and treating him like he’s just your run-of-the-mill president-elect. Yes, he’s a bit of an outsider, but there’s a silence about just how outside-the-norm he is. What do I mean by that? Here are just a handful of reasons:

The typical “accept and move on” response to the peaceful transition of power following an election does not work in the situation America finds itself in. That’s why we’re having these protests. It is the peoples’ way of shouting, “This is not normal.” Eventually, the protests will stop, but we will need to keep shouting through our actions and activism during Trump’s entire presidency. Even when good things happen, we can’t forget that this is not normal.

Because once we start believing it is normal, America, as we know and love her, is dead.

 

The Day After

I’m still in shock. I don’t want to read any articles, watch any videos, or do anything that would allow my mind to accept this as reality.

But I have to. We all have to. Trevor Noah put it best: “Feel discouraged and upset, but don’t let it turn into fear, because fear is what Trump uses.”

Trump won because of fear. Fear is the enemy of love.

Even though it seems like we’re doomed, it’s not really over. Love can still win. Our job now is to protect those who suffer under a Trump presidency, including those who voted for him. That’s what loves does.

God give us strength.

The Most Memorable Quotes from the 1st Debate

Secretary Clinton

I can only say that I’m certainly relieved that my late father never did business with you.

Too many young African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent offenses, and it’s just a fact that if you’re a young African-American man, and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated. We’ve got to address the systemic racism in our criminal justice system. We cannot just say “law and order.”

I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.

Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities and nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.

Donald Trump

My father gave me a very small loan in 1975.

I will release my tax returns against my lawyers’ wishes when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release.

I have a son, he’s 10 years old. He has computers, he’s so good with these computers it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable.

Hillary is hitting me with tremendous commercials. Some of it is entertainment, some of it—somebody who has been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell. I said very tough things to her and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her. But you want to know the truth. I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary and to her family and I said to myself, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice. But she’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. They’re untrue and they’re misrepresentations and I will tell you this, Lester, it’s not nice and I don’t deserve that.

If you think I’ve been biased in the quotes, you should go back and watch the debate. These were truly the most memorable. It’s not my fault that “memorable” for Trump tends to mean “bizarre.”

 

Describe Yourself w/ 3 Fictional Characters

screenshot-2016-09-21-at-5-30-34-pm

 

Lisa Simpson (from “The Simspons”): Obsessed with learning, but also creative/Has trouble making friends/Feels like an outsider

Elizabeth Bennett (from Pride & Prejudice): Independent/Judges people harshly, and isn’t always right/Witty

Meg Murry (from A Wrinkle in Time): Awkward, self-conscious/A bit of an “oddball”/Smart/Stubborn