“So Now What? Twenty Short November Reflections” by Leanne Grabel

1. There have been two times in my life when I couldn’t eat due to complete and total upset. The first time had to do with disease–I mean, waiting for a dire [or not] diagnosis. [I’ll spare you.] The second time was Tuesday night when it appeared Biden might actually lose the election. I had made a celebratory and totally unhealthy meal–gluten-free fried [I never fry] chicken and Halloween candy brownies, which are brownies with chopped up fun-sized Halloween candy within. My husband bought six bags of fun-sized candy and there were no, that is zero, nada, not a trick or treater to be seen. But I couldn’t eat. PTSD from the trauma of election night 2016.

2. That was a week ago. As I write this, it’s Monday. Half of American voters think we’re moving on with Joe & Kamala. And half of American voters think we’re not. Yes half. Seventy million people.

3. Do you know it would take 81 days of non-stop counting to count the Trump voters? I did the math. That puts us into the end of February.

4. And do you know if all the Trump supporters in America held hands, the line would reach around the world at the equator almost three times? I did the math.

5. That’s a crapload of people.

6. So now what are we going to do?

7. Personally, I want to retire my outrage, which has pretty much ruled my psyche for all these four years. Daily. And I want to retire my meanness–my clenched-faced, lip-curled, snotty-assed snark machine. I’m good at mean. Mean was the theme of our family culture. But it’s old. My mean is so old. I’m going to buy it a condo in Boca. That’s what I’ll do.

8. So I’m going to retire these drawings for the moment. The most outraged and the meanest. And I’m going to stop sending snark to Matt Gaetz, even though the guy is craven.

9. But I do have a few questions before I give up my negativity. For instance, why do so many people love a scumbag with not a scruple to his name? And why do so many people love a fascist? Didn’t we already decide 50 years ago that the macho man was dead? Is that the problem? Emasculated men yearning for a bully? And I’m curious to know how this administration’s depravity was explained to children. Hunh?

10. I want to thank Heather Cox Richardson for massaging our nerves with her sane, historical perspective that provided comfort. And for this: “For my part, I believe that the way to defang this cabal is by rejecting its lies and returning fact-based argument to the center of our national conversations.”  

11. Fox News? Are they moving towards truth? Or will they continue to poison our culture like bad bleach?

12. I want to thank the cartoonists, the comedians and, in particular, the meme makers.  We have laughed and laughed. Art matters. Humanity without it is lost. Humanity without science is lost. Humanity without education is lost. Humanity without respect for the mind and imagination is dead.

13. America almost died.

14. A hopeful Rebecca Solnit said: “When you stand on the ground of truth and justice, let others find their way to you. If you stand firm, many will in the end. Not everyone will; that does not change what truth and justice are.”

15. So how do we come together? I asked my 2000 “friends” on one dreaded social platform [with a cute picture of a thoughtful-looking dog] what we should do next. How might we come together. [See “How We Come Together in America” below.]

16. But can we come together after so much poison? With so many haters? I know. THERE ARE VERY FINE HATERS ON BOTH SIDES. But, bottom line, because of the incessant and insidious lying mastered by the new Party of Trump, it’s a difficult ballgame on a playing field so mushy, it’s nearly impossible for the players to find footing.

17. But we did win. These craven* [oops] GOP suckers can scream as much as they want, but the results of the election are not going to change.

18. And if they overturn the results of the election, well, it negates the Senate races also. Sorry, Mitch and Lindsey.

*craven has taken over unprecedented in my 2020 vocabulary

How We Come Together in America

(Their words, not mine.)

First you have to want to.

Then you have a meeting.

Bring donuts.

Bring chips.

Gotta cure the virus first.

Gotta listen.

Gotta cure the virus first.

Gotta think. Gotta work.

Gotta listen.

Then you can get a pen pal…from Arkansas.

But you gotta take care of the basic needs.

First.

Gotta take care of the basic needs.

Then everyone won’t be so scared.

And mad.

Bring food.

Donuts.

Chips.

Share food.

Ask questions.

Breathe before responding.

Don’t judge.

Ask more questions.

Be nice.

[Even if they’re not.]

Be nice.

Dance

Listen.

Go high.

Imagine justice.

Seek justice.

No retribution.

Seek justice.

Do not assume negative intent.

Try to understand.

Don’t erase their humanity.

Tax the rich.

Feed the poor.

House the poor.

Bring donuts.

19. I did order some aviator sunglasses.

20. And I’m going to try to be like this little tree. Blazing with hope. We can do it.

✶✶✶✶

Leanne in Lei

Leanne Grabel is a writer, illustrator, performer, and retired special education teacher. Grabel is the 2020 recipient of Soapstone’s Bread and Roses Award for contributions to women’s literature in the Pacific Northwest. In love with mixing genres, Grabel has written and produced numerous spoken word–based multi-media shows, including The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression and Anger: The Musical. Her poetry books include Lonesome & Very Quarrelsome Heroes; Short Poems by a Short Person; Badgirls (a collection of flash non-fiction & a theater piece); and Gold Shoes, a collection of graphic prose poems. Grabel has just completed Tainted Illustrated, a stretched graphic memoir that was serialized in the OPIATE, and is finishing a collection of illustrated flash memoir My Husband’s Eyebrows. She and her husband Steve Sander are the founders of Café Lena, Portland’s legendary poetry hub of the ’90s. ACM publishes Grabel’s work the second Thursday of the month.