The Darkest Timeline: Day 71

I lost what little belief I had in time traveling heroes today. If they were real, they would have done something about the Darkest Timeline by now.

It’s been a while since I’ve revisited the Darkest Timeline here on my blog. The big picture got too overwhelming to turn into >1000 words every few days. I’ve been trying to focus on my small life with its small victories instead.

My internship and my website helped me land a full-time writing job that I’ll be starting on February 1st. (a decent salary! benefits! vacation time!) I’m moving into my new apartment with Jim (relationship milestone! adulting!) on January 31st. I’m finally playing quidditch inside Spartan Stadium on February 4th. (It’s gonna be a busy week.) I’m blogging at least twice a week and my 52 in 52 challenge is coming along well. I got my first pitch accepted and I hope to see it in print soon.

In any other timeline, these would be thrilling developments. Considering how down I was only a few months ago about the trajectory of my life and career, I should be over the moon over how much things have changed for the better.

I did a good job of ignoring things for a while. This week came around put that to an end by battering down the fortress of small accomplishments I was trying to build around myself.

The funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities is on the chopping block. That’s .002 percent of the national budget, so it’s less a cost cutting move and more of a plot by a strongman to silence the dissenting voices of artists. He wants to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Or, y’know, make Big Bird and friends turn a profit to earn their keep. Between Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, that’s how I learned English. Then I grew up to get a degree in it, not exactly the most profit making enterprise. Oops?

Speaking of learning, I doubt the Betsy DeVos hearings will stop her from being approved by a Congress eager to rubber-stamp whoever whatever President Trump (ugh, that’s the first time I’ve ever had to type that) puts before them. There goes any hope I had for going back into a career in education for the next few years. (I’m really starting to like this whole “getting paid to write stuff” thing better, anyway.) What the hell kind of schools are my nieces going to enter when the time comes?

Then today happened. Donald Trump is now the President of the United States. I didn’t watch, but not watching doesn’t make Trump not-President. I did read Vox’s annotated version, though. It was same Trump, different day. Divisive rhetoric, a dystopian vision of an America that was actually improving. The Big Lie that a large-enough-for-the-Electoral-College minority of Americans bought.

The past eight years made me believe in MLK’s conviction that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. How could I not? I voted for the first black president after voting for the first woman nominated by a major party. We made a huge step forward in making sure all Americans have access to healthcare. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a stopgap measure at best, was finally repealed. Any two consenting adults can be married. A woman won the popular vote in a presidential election. There was a lot left undone, but the slow progress we made was still progress.

I am still desperately clinging to that conviction. I have to believe that this step back we’ve taken—no, this catastrophic fall—is the last, desperate gasp of a dying idea of America. Most of us don’t believe in that, if the popular vote counts for anything.

I still reject the idea of making America great again. Our greatness is in progress, in what’s ahead of us, not in the whitewashed past. This isn’t his America or your America or their America, this is our America. No one man alone can fix it.

But can we do it together? Yes we can.

I’m waking up at the start of the end of the world,
But its feeling just like every other morning before,
Now I wonder what my life is going to mean if it’s gone,
The cars are moving like a half a mile an hour
And I started staring at the passengers who’re waving goodbye
Can you tell me what was ever really special about me all this time?

The Electoral College votes today. The last chance for a time traveller to come along and save us from Trump and the Darkest Timeline. I have my hopes… but they’re far outweighed by my doubts.

Holidays coming. Job interview today. Side hustles going strong. Trying to be optimistic about my smaller picture, even if the big picture looks bleak. 2017 could easily be my year.

What’s that? A Russian ambassador was shot in Turkey?

Time to blast apocalyptic pop music. Comment/tweet/holler at me with your suggestions for a #DarkestTimeline soundtrack.

The Darkest Timeline: Day 30

It’s been a month since Election Day. A month since we broke away from sanity and branched off into the Darkest Timeline.

Yep, I’ll let that sink in for a moment. You good? No? Don’t worry, I’m not, either.

Trying to keep up with every off-the-cuff tweet, international dustup, and terrifying cabinet appointment is beyond the scope of my blog. Consider this my post-apocalyptic log instead.

I’m still bouncing between the anger and depression stages of grief. There’s no ability to engage in denial because I work in the media. It’s not like I can bury my sorrows in my work because Trump is a big part of my job. My second-most popular article is about Ben Carson selling his house; you don’t think people would care about a soporifically-voiced surgeon turned failed presidential candidate if Hillary won, do you?

While the Electoral College has yet to convene, hoping that enough electors revolt and elect Clinton is delusion on the level of Sanders supporters spending the summer saying that superdelegates don’t vote until July 25th. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it’s probable or even likely.

Here’s what I think will happen, in order of how likely it’ll come to pass.

  • Within the first year of his administration, Trump steps down much as Sarah Palin did when she resigned as Governor of Alaska. He’ll say he can serve the country out of office better than by being constrained by the office, but really it will be him being unable to handle the intense scrutiny of being president.
  • Within the first year of his administration, Trump will be impeached, probably because the conflict of interest will be TOO DAMN HIGH.
  • Trump somehow manages to last all four years.

I’m not making these audacious predictions from a place of hope. If this clusterfuck of a month has taught us anything, it’s that the President-Elect had no idea how much work goes into being President before stumbling into office. He’s used to being the kind of executive that rules unquestioned with a big mouth and an iron first. Being chief executive of the United States comes with far more restrictions than he realized, and already he’s chafing at it.

He has no real interest in separating himself from the gilded brand he’s built, either. He’s gotten so used to running his empire through his children that he’s somehow managed to have them run his business and have them on his transition committee. Because that’s not a conflict of interest at all. But it’s the little things, too, like the Secret Service being used to help sell condos in Trump Tower.

One day before the Darkest Timeline, I refused to accept the idea that I’d live in President Trump’s America. One month later, I’m writing what will be, at best, an “I told you so!” blog post.

I guess I’ve reached the acceptance stage of grief. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to blindly accept whatever happens; it just means that I’ve finally accepted that a Bad Thing happened. If my grief is behind me, then I have to figure out how to fight and push forward.

The Darkest Timeline: Day 7

At this time a week ago, I still thought Hillary Clinton was going to be president. I told my students as much, because while everyone else was watching the trainwreck was last week’s election results, I was trying to teach my students Portuguese adjectives have to be pluralized alongside their verb.

I say trying, because this is what really happened:

Unholy Terrors.jpg

As much as my kids needed to be doing more writing, that’s not the way I wanted it to do it. It was a punishment. Learning should never be a punishment. I put work into making my lessons interesting. I loved Portuguese school and I want my students to, too. (Or if they don’t love it, at least they don’t hate it and can say a few words to their grandparents.)

The one good thing about throwing out my lesson plan last week is that I can use it today. That’s not to say that I’m not doing any planning for today. If anything, this has been the hardest time I’ve ever had preparing for a class. Breaking down grammar is easy; breaking down what happened last week is harder.

Luckily for me, I’ve been watching, listening to, and reading about how other teachers, parents, and Responsible Adults™ have tried to explain what happened last week to the children they’re responsible for. (Reza Aslan and Jessica Jackley’s op-ed is the best of the bunch.) Another thing I lucked out on is that these kids have teachers, parents, and Responsible Adults™ they see more than just once a week that have already helped them cope with this world we didn’t realize we were living in.

They’re going to ask about it, though. These are kids that talked about moving to Portugal if Trump won, not realizing what that meant. (I’m going to make an appointment to get my Portuguese passport, so I can’t say that I blame them.) They didn’t understand how he had gotten this far. He was mean. He said nasty things. Depending on who you ask, the things he said about Hispanics and Latinos were pointed at us as Portuguese people. It was scary that it was close but they all wanted Hillary to win.

I hate to say it, but I think my job today is to address that a bad thing happened, that it’s up to all of us to be better that the man who won the Electoral College, and then to move on to pluralizing adjectives.

I only have an hour a week with them. There’s only so much I can do.

The Darkest Timeline: Day 5

Not much to say today. Been doing a lot of thinking instead.

Dumbledore might have had his problems, but these words of his have never spoken to me as strongly as they do now.

Things went wrong. Maybe I was wrong. How can I be better? How can I make things better for those around me? Shouldn’t I get my own head screwed on straight first?

Time to sleep, think about the choices we’re going to be expected to make, and get ready for Week 2 of the Darkest Timeline.

The Darkest Timeline: Day 2

The last time I posted here, my biggest fear was that Hillary Clinton would barely squeak out a win, crippling her ability to be as effective a president as she could be. I was steeling myself for a historic presidency that would be tainted by latent misogyny and Republican obstructionism.

Welp, at least we don’t need to worry about Republican obstructionism anymore?

Tuesday morning, I jumped out of bed early. I walked around the block to my neighborhood polling place. I had tears in my eyes as I thought the ballot I turned in would help make Hillary Clinton, one of my role models, the first female President of the United States.

Wednesday morning, I stayed in bed. I woke up hoping for a miracle. I broke down and wept in anguish as I watched Hillary Clinton, the most qualified candidate to run for the Oval Office, concede to the least qualified candidate in history. I had to hear one of my heroes tell me, the little girls of the country, and the first female president of the United States (wherever she may be), that we deserve every opportunity.

Welcome to the darkest timeline. Apparently that last statement is no longer obvious. Hillary Clinton needed to tell us that before she becomes a footnote of history.

I wish I could say that her grace and dignity should an example to us all. I can’t, though. I resent it. My country decided that an imperfect woman was an unacceptable choice when the other option was an incredibly flawed man. She lost because she was held to a higher standard while he was held to no standards of decency at all. To add insult to injury, she had to lose with grace.

(Am I boiling this down to a simple question of gender? Yes. But I’m just calling it as I see it from my admittedly limited perspective. It got Trump elected, so the least it can do for me is get some traffic to my blog.)

It’s Thursday morning now. I’m back on my morning commute, trying to ignore the fact that I definitely heard another rider say Viva Trump! I’m trying to get these thoughts down now because they are important. I can’t allow myself to forget this feeling of rejection.

As a straight cis woman of European descent, I am one chromosome away from being at the apex of privilege in America. I recognize this. So while I feel rejected by half of my country, at least no one wants to deport me, take away my right to marry, or stop and frisk me. My pussy might be up for grabs, but I guess I’m lucky that my reproductive rights are locked down by the copper IUD I got two years ago. It’ll last as long as any foreseeable Trump/Pence presidency, at least.

Not that the idea of waiting until I’m nearly 40 to have kids thrills me. My sister has to face the unbearable choice of raising her beautiful twin girls in a country that doesn’t believe in their infinite potential, or packing it up and going back to the country our parents left because America was supposed to be the land of opportunity.

I’m wondering if it’s better to leave or to stay and stick it out here. It felt like a no-brainer on Monday when Trump was unthinkable. There was no way it could happen, and if it did, there was no way I could tolerate it.

It did happen. It’s Day 2 of the darkest timeline. Now I have to figure out if I’m the kind of coward who can’t stick to her guns, or the type of coward that runs away when things get too hard.

Stay tuned.