I don't know if the world has always felt this dire, or if I'm just now realizing how scary things are because I am learning so much these days. Paying attention and listening. I'm guessing that it's always been a terrible time to open your eyes, but a lot of hate is boiling to the surface (the top of the Facebook feeds?) and it's harder than ever for me to compartmentalize.
On a much MUCH smaller scale, this summer has been really weird for my family. Our move has been delayed, we're staying in temporary housing, our things are in storage. We have arranged for, canceled, and rescheduled our utilities/cable/contractors in what seems like an endless loop. We were going to spend much of July working on our house to make it clean and livable- that's been pushed back a month. Small potatoes compared to the horror of this election/social justice in our country right now, but being out of our routines, sleeping on the floor, uncertainty, and having our things (MY BOOKS) packed away has been difficult. The preschoolers are adjusting better than I am.
Last summer felt drastically different. I went on a couple of trips sans kids and worked on my novel a ton and day drank and decorated my office. I'm not sure if the national narrative was as rough- it could have been, but I wasn't paying attention. Donald Trump was a joke. I was carefree. I bought an instant camera and spent whole afternoons ordering clothes for my sister's wedding. It was nice. But it wasn't lasting. The fall was all parties, weekends away, celebrations. I turned 30 and realized I was at a place full of comfort- no stretch. So 2016 became the year change. It's kind of sucked to have my year of putting my family through lots of change happen at the same time as a universe of shit is hitting the fan about the way non-white cis people are treated in this country, buuuuuut this is another lesson in the life course titled Hi Ashlie, This World Does Not Revolve Around You.
This year I have tried to balance my place in the national narrative (privileged white woman who needs to listen and signal boost voices more intelligent/ignored than mine, fat woman who needs to loudly celebrate her body regardless of how uncomfortable it makes anyone), my voice on the internet (blogging, Book Riot, and especially on Facebook where there are average characters from your real life insisting ALL LIVES MATTER and getting annoyed when you come down hard on the side of social justice), my place in my family (matriarch, so act it, lady- pull yourself together, spend out on a good mattress, and buckle down to change your address with the post office for the 17th time this summer), my place in my community (you're lucky as hell to have these people, you're lucky as hell to have these people), and my own self-care needs (alone time, alone time, alone time). Throughout a lot of roller coaster situations within my family and as I'm witnessing the horror of the way humans are often treated in my very own country, keeping these roles in mind has been mildly helpful.
There is a quote that I am paraphrasing (butchering) about years that ask questions and years that give answers. This is a year that is asking a question, and that question is WTF?, but I do not think this is the beginning of the apocalypse. It's a time for people who feel a little bit weird about what they see and hear to solidify their stance and vocalize it. You don't have to pick a fight with every great aunt in the world, but you should know how you feel and know how to say it. (As Hamilton would chide us- if you stand for nothing, what'll you fall for? OOH) If you are someone who is in the habit of speaking out against injustice, don't forget to give yourself breaks, because being told you are a stupid idiot for your views (no matter what they are) wears you down.
The world is not hopeless, because Michelle Obama slayed last night, and also because YOU are in it, and you are part of what makes it better. That's corny but it's true. Yeah, this has been a summer of suck, but we are the only damn things that will improve it. Be Your Own Lady challenge: tell me one thing about this summer (or 2016 in general) that has been really, really good. Let's change the narrative.