OK, so that last column wasn’t my last column. I didn’t get what I wanted for my birthday. We still don’t have a woman president. Apparently it’s too soon. Even Saint Mother Theresa couldn’t get the job. She used a private email server named God.
The way I remember election night, everything seemed to go downhill after the election of Illinois’s new Sen. Tammy Duckworth. Then it was a Duck Dynasty downer all night long. The next mourning I was in a fetal position under the covers, moaning, “Alexa, play Bonnie Raitt’s ‘I Will Not Be Broken.’” All day I received your birthday wishes/condolences.
The mourning couldn’t last long. I had some rewriting to do.
Work has gotten me through many crises — Reagan, AIDS, the Bush stolen election, 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, economic collapse.
Two nights after 11/9, I had a show at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC. That night all the comics ahead of me said they would leave the political jokes to me. Thanksabunch came early this year. I started my set the same way I did after Reagan was inaugurated in 1981. I put my head back and screamed. I invited them to join me. After their first scream, I said, “Do it again.” After the second, I played a dead-voiced dominatrix, “I can’t hear you.” During the third sustained, bench-clearing brawl of a primal scream, I wondered what it sounded like out on 23rd Street.
Like many of you I had been looking forward to beginning to deal with my PTSD – Post Trump Stress Disorder. I wanted to stop thinking everyone was an idiot. I hated hating people. I was tired of sneering at Trump women, “Why do you hate yourself so much?” But Post is now Permanent.
In our house we have not watched television, read the paper or listened to NPR since election night. One of my triggers is CNN’s white slab of a John King fingering his wailing wall, while Wolf howls, “We’ve got some important breaking news.” Info-nuggets seep through. That basket of deplorables was actually a cabinetful. Jeff Sessions as attorney general? Egad. I am pretending it’s Leslie Jordan.
My neighborhood is a locked-down, no-fly zone. Except for police helicopters, all night long. It’s not the wall, but the area is walled off. We can’t sit still long enough to shelter at home, so we’ve joined the protests at Columbus Circle, site of one of Trump’s many erections throughout town. I wonder as I scream into the night how many protesters actually door-knocked, phone-banked or even voted. But whatever. Now they are feeling the burn.
Here’s some things.
Don’t isolate. Friday night of the Zombie Apocalypse I went with friends to New York City’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. I figured the Jews knew how to get through times like these. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum forcefully reminded us that “never again” means “never again.” Earlier that day she and three other rabbis had stood vigil outside a mosque during Friday Muslim prayers to show their solidarity.
The next day, I went to emcee/sit shiva at the Democracy Alliance conference in D.C. I visited the brilliant new African American Museum of History and Culture. Their long, courageous struggle against brutal odds contextualized our current moment of struggle. Donald Trump is merely the white head on the fatherlode of white racism.
Second thing, don’t medicate. Unless it’s food in your reactivated potluck groups. Start one for heaven’s sake. Sometimes food is love in a good way. Call an emergency dinner meeting of your friends. In our next book group we were supposed to discuss “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande. Because we are all feeling mortally fragile, we’ve decided instead to spend the time checking in with each other and talking about the way forward.
We’re all bringing different dishes to the table. I have mine. Abolish the Electoral College. It’s like Trump U. Two times in 16 years it has left us in huge debt. Abolish electronic voting. Before the mid-term elections. Start now to take back the Senate in 2018. During mass deportations and compiling lists of Muslims, the Teahaddists are going to pinkwash their treachery by using their love of the white Gs, maybe the Ls, what are the Bs and definitely not the Ts to show what compassionate humans they are. Swallow a prism; shit a rainbow.
Third thing. For your own sake, don’t tell me it’s not going to be as bad as I think. Too late. And don’t ruin the surprise, but for the holidays I’m having cloisonné uzi pins made for each study group member.
Kate Clinton is a longtime humorist. She writes regularly for the Blade.