Finding my shovel and digging inClever Manka, · Categories: Manka's Posts
So. Best Lives! How’s everyone doing with that? Yeah. Me, too.
My inclination and ability to put together thoughts and essays for this site were already damaged by my general health for the past few months. The U.S. election results threw what was left of them completely out the window. It’s difficult enough to even consider topics but, once I find something that I might pull together into a cohesive essay, my brain shuts down. It felt like a physical switch flipping to OFF. I allowed despair to silence me.
My hopes of modifying my life (changing my job, working less, allowing my body the rest it needs) aren’t just on the back burner — they’ve been moved off the stove. I am not comfortable leaving a well-paying gig (before it’s eliminated from the state budget, anyway) when I fear a nation-wide financial crisis because our federal government will soon be modeling itself on my state’s disastrous tax policies. I might have ideals, but I’m still a realist.
I created this place in the spirit of living my best life, and it’s a good thing to be reminded that one’s best life isn’t always motivated or influenced solely by internal factors. The outside world has an enormous impact on the reality of structuring my best life. I have privilege as a white, non-disabled, cis person who can be taken for straight if I keep my mouth shut. I currently have a well-paying job. My partner is a white man with all the perks attached to that (in which I share significantly, thanks, hon). I cannot live my life in a vacuum, though, so it is necessary for me to revise my options for a Best Life.
I was already frustrated by the required patience of waiting on my body to respond to treatment. Then I was presented with the obstacle of how I can possibly live a Best Life under the circumstances of the current political climate. After a two-week-long pity party, I ran across this Open Letter to White Liberal Feminists.
By all means, use whatever mechanism you require to move through the stages of grief as you bury your false idol of faux feminist solidarity. You must now do the intensive work to heal your troubled soul. And after you have come to terms with your own guilt, embarrassment, and pain, I encourage you to run with your newfound perspective. There is a terrifyingly beautiful lineage of black resilience—seasoned by black suffering—that you might turn to for hope.
It helped me comprehend something I had only vaguely realized the day after the U.S. presidential election. I am feeling the sudden impact of this horrifying event because I’ve been sheltered. There are so many people who’ve been living an enormously oppressed existence their entire lives and have thrived, excelled, and overcome despite the system designed to kill them and their spirit. I am resolved to listen to them and learn from them. And I refuse to be incapacitated by despair.
Instead of allowing a vague notion of My Someday Best Life to motivate me, I am structuring my thoughts and actions on what I can do now. What can I do today, in spite of my physical limitations and emotional exhaustion?
I’m donating money to local groups, people, and places (exceptions are the ACLU, SPLC, Standing Rock Water Protectors, and Planned Parenthood). This is my alternative to the instinct of indulging in retail therapy (I did do a bit of that, too, though, with a giant bottle of only moderately-ridiculously-expensive vanilla because supposedly prices are going up soon and also fuck yeah Penzey’s). I’m also working with a local contact to find at least four disadvantaged teens who are interested in subscriptions to Teen Vogue because Teen Vogue has been tearing it the fuck up lately and if I can help spread that sort of journalism with a side dose of fashion, count me in.
I’ve been more aggressive about finding and posting “how to help” stuff on Tumblr. The tag goes back to the early days of Ferguson, so there’s some outdated stuff near the end. I’ll be adding to it liberally (ha ha ha) in the coming months. It’s a small thing, and smacks of armchair activism, but sedentary activism is all I’ve got right now.
I renewed my personal goal of pissing off at least one white man every day. This might seem to be in conflict with my recent commitment to the Bridge part of Defend-Resist-Bridge, but I think they mesh quite nicely. I am fed up with the notion of civility being rooted in silence, and my vow of acting as a bridge doesn’t mean I must suffer people rudely stomping on me.
I’m serious about re-learning Spanish and I contacted a faculty member here for options. If you have suggestions, please share them. I’m very good at learning by rote and repetition. If I still had my old textbooks and flashcards, I’d be digging those out. Since I don’t, I’m open to alternatives.
I’m making one phone call a day to various offices, mostly to businesses and local law enforcement or public offices. I’ve stopped contacting national legislative offices. Either they’ve already heard my opinion, or they aren’t going to change their stance, or (in the case of most of my state’s legislators and representatives) both. Some people have the stamina to continue badgering those people, and I am grateful they exist and are continuing those fights. If you don’t have a resource for whom to call about what, check out Pantsuit Nation. My local group posts regular updates on issues, some of them with phone scripts to make it even easier.
They’re small things, yes, but better for me than inaction born of fear and hopelessness.
The Burgomaster occasionally muses what if we’re in the Matrix? what if this life isn’t real? what if we’re a program running for someone’s amusement or experiment? I’ve never found interest in that conversation because knowing the answer wouldn’t change my actions or beliefs. If I am a character in a story, I want to be a character that I like and respect. I might not live to see the happy ending of this story. There might not be what I would consider a happy ending. But I am resolved to be someone that I want to read about. And for now, that must be my way of living my best life. Living a life that might make me angry, frightened, uncomfortable, and tired. But never ashamed, never acquiescent, and never silent.
Clever Manka is your site host. She didn’t expect to be engaged in ditch-digging at this point in her life, but she refuses to drown in a hole.