We often talk about how time speeds up as we grow older. It's true. Almost every morning when I brush my teeth, I look in the mirror and think, “Didn't I do this just a few minutes ago?” It feels that way.
Quite the opposite last week. After the election results were in, it felt like each day would never end. It must be lunch time, I would think, glance at the clock and see that it was 10:30AM. The next time I had that thought and checked the time, it was 10:45AM. And so on all throughout the week, like trudging through waist-deep mud.
Lifelong media maven that I am – both professionally and personally – I let go of most of it, particularly television news channels because I cannot bear to see or hear that person who is now president-elect.
I do not expect that to change much in the coming months and years and I have plenty of practice. In the two terms of the Bush II administration, I became adept at automatically pushing the mute button when his visage appeared.
That doesn't mean I haven't kept up – mostly via print media - just enough news to know how regime change is moving along in both official circles and among the public.
Along the way, I ran into some interesting thinkers who are grappling with options for those who oppose the new order in government and which I will share with you soon.
Today, however, some scattered notes and thoughts from the past week.
THE TGB CONVERSATION
What an extraordinary outcry from dozens of you last Friday – a record number of blog comments and Facebook likes.
There is a lot of shared pain, confusion and disbelief among us and I was grateful, reading it all, that somehow TGB has become a safe haven for people who reject the bigotry, misogyny, hate and authoritarianism that is the bedrock of the administration that will take power in January.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN
There was an unusually high number of email unsubscribes from TGB on Friday and through the weekend.
The email distribution service I use offers several choices of reasons for people who unsubscribe to let me know why they are leaving and the most popular in this case was “Offensive, strongly disagree or disapprove.”
Some others - apparently lacking the courage of their conviction – chose “Other or will not disclose.”
However, there is a satisfying number of new subscribers too who, I hope, will soon be joining our conversation.
TWO GOOD PROTEST SUGGESTIONS
The Republican party will soon control it all - the White House, both houses of Congress, a majority at the Supreme Court before long and, as of this election, in 24 states, both the governorship and the legislature.
It is a total takeover and that requires response. I'll be talking a lot about what we can do in days and weeks to come but today, two small things from your comments.
ASTERISK *. Last Friday, a couple of people asked what SFV stood for in my post. It is an acronym for “short-fingered vulgarian” which is my favorite epithet for the Republican candidate to come out of the campaign.
I thought I might use it in place of the president-elect's and eventual president's name which I now will not say or write. But several of you used the asterisk a la Doonesbury and that, I think, is a better idea for this blog: * in place of the name.
SAFETY PINS. Several of you on Friday mentioned safety pins and I have not left the house without one on my jacket, sweater, lapel, etc. since then.
If you are unfamiliar with this protest, it began in Britain last June when people who disagreed with the Brexit vote began wearing safety pins to show solidarity with immigrants and people of color who were victims of racist attacks, and now Americans have adopted it.
(On Saturday morning, MSNBC host Joy Reid took off her safety pin to give to an obviously pleased Michael Moore.)
That same day, I bought a box of safety pins and in addition to always wearing one, I keep a few with me to pass out when people ask what it means. This is a good thing for all of us to do – think of it as today's POW bracelet, a symbol to call attention.
THE ELDER VOTE
There are a zillion ways to slice and dice the electorate. By political affiliation. Gender. Income. Education. Issues. Ethnicity. Religion. Special interests. And, ahem, age.
Pundits and reporters have attributed the outcome of Tuesday's vote to these divisions and others too. As with all previous elections since I made ageing my daily work, elders as a group have again embarrassed: 53 percent of people 45 and older voted for *. Here's the graph:
We must not forget this – that old people bear some of the responsibility for the fix our country finds itself in. Maybe if more of my age cohort had voted differently we wouldn't be where we are now, facing what is likely to be an unfortunate future for all age groups.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
The last time I felt this strongly about working for change was in the 1960s during the civil rights and women's movements. Like many of you, I marched and petitioned and canvassed and in my case, produced a lot of radio shows to help spread the word.
It's half a century later now and I can't do as much in person as before nor can some other elders due to waning energy, illness, disability and other normal changes of age.
But this time we have a powerful and effective new tool that did not exist 50 years ago: the internet. That is a great advantage. It widens of the field of activists and while we will rely greatly on younger people to show up in person, old people can help too. Watch this space for more to come.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is beside himself with glee at this election. He has wanted to privatize Medicare and Social Security for as long as he has been in Congress and this is his best chance yet.
It is likely he will make his first attempt at about two minutes after the inauguration ceremony ends on 20 January so we need to be prepared and we'll be discussing that here soon.
With Republican control of every lever of government now, we must be vigilant and ready to move quickly all the time.
Breathe. It is the healthiest thing we each can do for ourselves and just in time, The New York Times is on it:
”Studies have found...that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.
“'Breathing is massively practical,' says Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and author of the book Breathe, to be published in December. 'It’s meditation for people who can’t meditate.'”
You can find the story and several simple breathing techniques here but for those of you who do not subscribe to The Times and have used up your monthly allotment of stories, here is the most basic technique:
- Sitting upright or lying down, place your hands on your belly.
- Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of five.
- Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
- Work your way up to practicing this pattern for 10 to 20 minutes a day.
ONE MORE THING
When Time Goes By began 15 years ago, the intention was - and still is - to explore growing old in all its aspects and it has hardly deviated in all that time. But now, an event of this magnitude needs regular attention too.
In no way am I abandoning the original mission – just expanding it to include what I believe is a national, even international emergency. This is a great time to be a white male; not so much everyone else and I cannot ignore that. So TGB will handle both of these issues now.