It’s Thanksgiving in the US today. The last two years, I’ve posted about my discomfort with this holiday. White colonialism isn’t really a thing I’m into celebrating, particularly when it hasn’t ended and we continue to refuse to own up to that.
This year, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and how they relate.
My initial thought was, “oh, what contrast there is between a day that’s ostensibly about gratitude and the very next day that is all about capitalism and the acquisition of stuff.” And then I thought about it some more, and realized that there’s not a lot of actual difference between the two days at all.
Thanksgiving is the holiday where we pay lip service to gratitude and ignore our history of colonialism and the slaughter and displacement of Indigenous people, all fueled by greed. On Black Friday, we have our external demonstration that our values haven’t changed.
People literally die on Black Friday in their quest to get a good deal on stuff they probably don’t need. Let’s put that another way: People literally kill other human beings over stuff they probably don’t need on Black Friday. And we don’t do anything about it. If anything, the craze gets worse every year. Which seems to be the quintessential America way of dealing with preventable tragedy. (See also: the 95 mass shootings that have happened in the US since 1982.)
I don’t want to pay lip service to gratitude; I don’t want to do it one day a year, and I certainly don’t want to save it for a holiday that’s built on lies. I want to be grateful every damn day. To that end, I’ve been trying for the past couple of months to list three things I’m grateful for every morning when I get up and every night before I go to bed. I want to keep an attitude of “thanksgiving” every day of the year.
Part of being grateful is sharing what we’ve got when we recognize we have more than we need. There are links in both of the blog posts linked in the first line of this post to organizations that I’ve suggested donating to on past Thanksgivings; here a few more:
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute
Greater Chicago Food Depository
Chicago Community Bond Fund
Transgender Law Center
I’ve been trying to get through each day by way of to do lists the past couple of weeks. Often, they go something like this:
- Organize request list at work
- Do songwriting homework
- Look for new therapist to help with anxiety management
- Remember to eat actual meals (like a normal person)
I’m trying to stay on top of things at work (because I just accepted a promotion that takes me from direct user support into project management), and that’s a struggle. I’m also trying to stay on top of my social media engagement and news intake (because I don’t want to be paralyzed by the deluge of horror coming out of D.C. these days), and that’s a struggle, too. Self-care fits in there somewhere, which isn’t any easier than the rest of it.
I’m tired. This level of anxiety isn’t sustainable. I’m doing everything I know how to do in order to manage it, but I’ve never had such a prolonged, physical reaction to anxiety before.
And I’m not just anxious. I’m also increasingly angry. I have always had a strong, ingrained sense of justice and fair play (Hufflepuff FTW!), and this administration of rich white folks walking all over every marginalized group they can reach is maddening. I will never understand why it’s considered okay to sacrifice people in the name of profit. I will especially never understand the people who are supporting this and still claiming they have the moral high ground, but that’s perhaps a post for another day.
I would love to hear what all of you out there in the great wide world of the interwebs are doing to manage your own anxiety and anger, or even better, how you’re channeling it.
I’m exhausted. It’s been less than two weeks since our new president was sworn into office, and the whole time has been a never-ending deluge of bad news. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next handful of years with this ever-present knot in my stomach (not to mention the knots in my neck and shoulders and elsewhere in my body).
I’m struggling to find balance. I want to stay informed, about the resistance and the things we’re resisting. And I want to help spread information around. But I feel like I’m so inundated with information every time I open Facebook or go pretty much anywhere else on the internet that I just end up paralyzed.
I feel guilty about this mental paralysis, too. Because I recognize that I have a lot of privilege, and the ability to take time to feel paralyzed and not act is, in itself, a privilege. Yes, I struggle with anxiety and I’m Bipolar and deal with chronic pain, and those all have an impact on my ability to react to things productively. But I wish I was doing a better job, and I know that wishing doesn’t count for much, really.
The sheer number of different destructive things this new administration is doing is, to put it mildly, overwhelming. I know that I’m only likely to be able to stay on top of two or three issues at once, but I care about all of them, dammit, and they’re all related, really, because they’re all human issues. Picking a place to focus feels like I’m letting down whatever group I didn’t pick, and there are few things that get under my skin like feeling as though I’m a disappointment.
I added this article to the end of last week’s post, but I feel like I need to keep rereading it to keep from going completely mad, so I’m sharing it with you all again: How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind.
Sorry for the late post today, folks; it’s been a bit of a nutty week, and I kind of lost track of what day it was.
- New England was great. The weather was beautiful, the scenery was lovely, I bought some gorgeous local yarn, I got to eat a lobster for the first time in my life, and I checked three new states off my list of places I’ve visited. There were a few hiccups along the way (including a horrifying moment where I brushed something off my cheek only to discover that IT WAS A JUMPING SPIDER), but for the most part, it was a really nice weekend away.
- I’m pretty annoyed with my country right now. Yeah, tomorrow is Independence Day and patriotism abounds, but the recent SCOTUS decisions allowing corporations to deny women’s health coverage on religious grounds and overturning the abortion clinic buffer zone law in Massachusetts are beyond maddening. The Hobby Lobby case in particular is causing all sorts of problems, and is going to keep causing them: If a corporation can deny health coverage on religious grounds, it’s not a great leap to allow them to discriminate against certain groups of people in their hiring practices, either.
- Aside from that frustration, though, I’m getting back to a better mental place. I’m still on the low end of this Bipolar cycle, but I’m not struggling as much to focus as I was last week. I feel like I’m actually accomplishing things at work. Things feel a little less hopeless than they did two weeks ago.
- On Monday, there were some pretty outrageous storms in Chicago. At one point, we had an enormous flash of lightning and immediate crash of thunder directly over our building (there was a lot of jumping and swearing in our apartment, and a car alarm outside started going off, it was that loud). Our internet went out. It’s not back yet. After two calls to our ISP, it looked like the problem was the router, so I ordered a new one and had it rushed to our house. I discovered when attempting to set it up last night, however, that it’s actually the modem that’s not working: the ISP can see the modem is connected, and they can reset it, but nothing comes through on our end. It is a little embarrassing how frustrating this has been. Being limited to internet just on my phone makes me cranky, apparently.
- Due to an unexpected change in her plans, my best friend will now be visiting us this weekend! I am unbelievably excited. We don’t see nearly enough of this human, and in fact yesterday we were bemoaning the fact that it had been too long since the last time we hung out with her. It is rare to find a friend I can have over without feeling pressured to entertain, and I am excited for a weekend of low-pressure hangouts with one of my favorite people in all the world.