On Democracy, Empathy, and Understanding After the 2016 Election

I am a white woman with a college education and a job. I voted for Hillary because I thought her policies would be in the best interest of moving America forward without making strides backward. I have family and friends who voted for Trump. I do not think that they are unkind, hateful people.

Yet I have also seen unkind, hateful people use Trump’s victory as an excuse to commit injustices against others who are different, who are women, who are Muslims, who are immigrants, who are transgendered, who simply voted differently than them. That, I will never condone.

It’s true, I have a hard time understanding how people could vote for Trump. I do not believe that his policies take precedence over how he advocates treating others. Civil liberties are very important to me, and I won’t be swayed by demagogues who use fear to rile people up. I understand his policies are tempting to some, but to me, they’re not worth the cost.

I think the statement “All Trump supporters are racist and misogynistic” is not true, but I would like to know how Trump supporters reconcile the fact that there is a large subset of those supporters who do things like thisthis, and this. (I encourage everyone to be aware of the hate crimes that are being documented on Shaun King’s Twitter in just the first 24 hours of Trump’s election victory) I would like to know what you plan to do to address this, because I have students, kids, who are affected by this hate and violence.

I want Trump to succeed in making America a better place. I would love to see term limits imposed on Congress. I would love to see jobs return to this country, factory jobs too. But at what cost? Can Trump really deliver on the things he has promised? Can any politician? I can only hope that Trump is more competent (or can at least hire competent people) than he appeared on the campaign trail.

Yes, I’m embarrassed that he’s our president-elect. I’d like to think that policies and tangible results are more important than character, but I can’t say character isn’t important at all. What kind of example are we setting for kids? I’ve had students tell me that they’ve said or done something unkind because they saw a celebrity or Youtube star do it and thought it would be ok; how will it look when they can point to the President as a justification for this behavior? How can I feel like the President cares for my interest, when he apparently has no regard for half the population when he has no problem “grab[bing] them by the pussy”? I’m hoping I’m wrong, but can you understand why I’m a little hesitant to trust him?

Yes, I am apprehensive about my future. I don’t believe that an ultra-conservatism government aligns with my ideals or what best benefits me. I don’t believe in a conservative-leaning Supreme Court or corporate-aligned leaders with their own agendas should be in positions of power. I’m worried about my friends’ safety and rights; they’ve already been met with hate and resistance. I hope my worry is misplaced. I hope people will treat others with respect and dignity. I hope judges will interpret the law fairly, not impose their beliefs on others. I hope corporations in power will not be as corrupt as politicians in power.

I’m not saying Hillary was perfect. She has had controversy, but what politician hasn’t? Don’t tell me that Donald Trump is exempt. But Clinton had experience where I don’t feel Donald Trump does. Some of the policies he presented during the campaign I agree with, but many of his “policies” were empty ideas. “We will bring back companies to America and give jobs to Americans!” Yes! That’d be great! But how exactly do you plan to do that? Plans to withdraw from NAFTA and impose tariffs on businesses who want to ship jobs overseas won’t necessarily bring lost jobs back. I’m all for a businessman to shake up politics, but Trump isn’t who I would’ve picked; I don’t feel that he is qualified. I hope I am wrong.

I will respect our government. I believe we all want to work for a better world. I am coming to the table with an open mind. We can disagree on what the best approach may be. Both Democrats and Republicans could stand to do more listening to the other side, to different opinions, to practicing empathy. But the moment ANYONE disregards listening, civilized discussion, and trying to work towards common prosperity and decency aside to spout racist, xenophobic, misogynistic hate, you no longer have my respect.

Democrats and Republicans: I ask that you try to listen to people who have different views that you. I ask that you not jump to conclusions or attack people. I ask that you have keep an open mind and try to learn something. I ask that you be critical of the media to which you listen. I ask that you try to find sources of information that are not biased, or at least try to get both sides of any story.

I also ask that you not make generalizations about me. Telling liberals to “stop crying because things aren’t politically correct and go get a job!” (Yes, I’ve seen it around Facebook) is just as bad as me telling “you rednecks to stop waving your Confederate flags and go get an education!” There’s too much hypocrisy in the world as it is.

Let’s be better than hatred.

If We Were Having Coffee…

coffee

Oftentimes I wish I could sit down with you and have a chat over coffee. It’s funny, how many of you I feel like I know from years online, yet have never met in person. It doesn’t dampen the friendship or connection any less, and in fact, there are times I’m excited to share news with someone in particular, realizing that they’re technically an “internet friend” in the process.

So for those of you I can’t meet for coffee this afternoon due to geographical constraints, and for those of you who are new around here and may not know me all that well, let’s sit down and have a “chat” over coffee. Even if it is in our own respective cities.

(Jamie of The Perpetual Page-Turner introduced me to this idea and I fell in love with it from the start!)

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you how I’m keeping a consistent journal for the first time since middle school and how it’s helping me cope with hard thoughts, mental confusion, and difficult decisions. The only “rule” I set was to write something at least once a month. It doesn’t have to be pretty or polished. While it’s nice to have a way to capture memories and moments that are important to me, it’s also freeing to have a place to stream-of-conscious write. The latter has been helping me with any anxiety and stress that’s crept up lately.

If we were having coffee… I’d show you all of the cute pictures of my dog on my phone. She’s technically my boyfriend’s dog, but I love her like my own.

bailey dog

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you about my decision to go “back to school” and learn front-end development on my own. I did a stint as a Computer Science major in college but calculus kicked my butt. I’ve been taking some online classes, though, and realized how much I love working with HTML and CSS, Javascript, and all of the cool new things the internet can do since I last built a website with <table></table> in high school! It’s one of those things that I just get a completely invigorating feeling of accomplishment, working through challenges, and I haven’t felt that rush in a long time.

If we were having coffee… I’d vent to you about my frustrations with the public education system. I’m not ready to talk about my experience quite yet, but it still irks me to see and hear some of the perceptions of teachers and distorted expectations of public education that pervades our society. Ugh.

If we were having coffee… I’d tell you about all of the exciting changes my new job in marketing has brought! For the first time ever, my hours are flexible and not governed by kids’ schedules. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want! I can drink more coffee! I don’t have to pack lunch! All of these things excite me (especially the meatballs from Emporio that Marissa and I lunch-date at frequently), but it is a change. I’m still adjusting to not being in the realm of public education, but I’m infinitely happier working where I’m encouraged to grow as a person and as an employee in a meaningful way. I’ve made a lot of incredible connections through my job, and have had some pretty incredible opportunities come my way. I’m excited to see where this takes me!

If we were having coffee… I’d admit that I haven’t been reading much the past few months. With all of the construction in the house, my schedule’s been disrupted. I am glad that I get some reading time on the bus during my commute, but am still trying to find a way to not get sick when I read on the bus. Advice?

If we were having coffee… I’d also admit that I don’t really care that I fell off of the blogging planet. I was fed up with the blogosphere for the longest time, feeling pressured to monetize my life and tried to rationalize the competing ideas of blogging about useful, value-oriented, evergreen posts and LiveJournal-type personal stories. I think I do want to stay active in the blog world, but not necessarily in the way that the culture’s been going lately. I’m ironing out the kinks and trying to figure out my own path. Eventually.

If we were having coffee… I’d show you a preview of the editing site I’m building. I’ve been working with some clients over the past year to build some more experience in non-fiction, and realized that My Life as a Teacup is not a good place for an editing company. So, ta-da! It’s called Red Ink Editing! The site’s not live yet, since I’ve been determined to build the whole thing from scratch myself, learning more about coding along the way, but you can follow along on Twitter and via @redinkediting on Instagram, & bookmark the site if you want to polish up your NaNoWriMo novel down the road!

If we were having coffee… I’d ask you to please not spoil The Walking Dead! I somehow survived not hearing any spoilers about the new season, despite only being on Season 4. I’m working on catching up ASAP!

What are you up to these days? If you want to comment or send me an email and chat, I’d love to hear from you!

The Force Awakens (After 16 Years of Waiting For a Good Star Wars Movie)

*Spoiler free

I sat there, clutching the armrests of the chair with a deathgrip that could pull the most stubborn stuffed animal from the depths of the claw machine. The skin on my arms was pimpled, hairs standing at attention, and the butterflies in my stomach zooming around at an intensity that rivaled the jitters from drinking a fourth cup of coffee. By the time the gold font scrolled up the screen and the John Williams score kicked in, I was 100% invested.

I’m sure some people will judge me for showing more excitement at the premier of Star Wars Episode VII than at, well, pretty much anything (I’m fairly confident that I won’t be as excitedly nervous and breath-taken at my own wedding.)

star wars han leia chewbacca

Even though I don’t tend to write about pop culture or movies, I would be remiss to not share my feelings on The Force Awakens. Not just because it’s on par with my love for Harry Potter (fun fact: while Harry Potter wins my personal award for favorite books/series, Star Wars wins favorite movies by far) but because Star Wars has been a part of my life since I made a habit of watching A New Hope, taped from the local cable station, every other weekend growing up. Literally. Twice a month, over, say, about 8 years, meant I had seen A New Hope approximately 192 times by the time I hit middle school.

Without giving anything away, The Force Awakens brought back the spirit that the original movies did, without a doubt.

The story itself is adventuresome, it’s fun; and the characters are charming and endearing in their own ways. While there’s humor to be found in the original trilogy (see here), The Force Awakens is laden with moments of honest laughter as opposed to the dry, political drama of the prequels. I have so many questions — so many thrilling, I-can’t-wait-to-see-where-this-is-headed questions — and I haven’t been this excited for a movie in years.

It wasn’t perfect: there were some moments I felt were lagging as a story, or ones that felt inauthentic or just could’ve been fleshed out better. In appreciation of keeping these parts spoiler free for those who still need to see it, I’m not going to discuss that now (feel free to email me if you’d like to discuss, however!), but it’s worth mentioning that even with it’s faults, The Force Awakens is a much more fitting addition to the universe than the early 00s prequels.

Are the Star Wars movies my go to example when teaching archetypes or relaying the cycle of the hero’s journey as it pertains to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth? Certainly. Do the originals hold a spot in the accolades of classic cinema? You bet. Do I really just have fond memories watching The Empire Strikes Back with my Dad growing up?

Absolutely.

Link Love

link-love

There’s something to be said for a slow morning. I thrive on waking up leisurely, still early, and sitting down to coffee and the news. Here are some links to help you start your morning out slowly this Sunday…

♥ An important grammar PSA for the holidays: how to pluralize your last name for Christmas cards. Stray apostrophes truly hurt.
♥ Responding to Tragedy, France Turns to Hemingway. This is (one reason) why we read, folks.
♥ Need a book recommendation? The Penguin Hotline is here for you!
♥ This is what a handwritten novel by Neil Gaiman looks like…
The Goodreads 2015 Choice Award results are in! What do you think?
♥ The NFL’s Unofficial Librarian: The Andrew Luck Book Club
11 smells that are slowly disappearing  — fascinating! And kind of sad.
Day-to-Day Life as a (Female!) BioWare Writer
Part I: The Life and Slow Death of a Former Pennsylvania Steel Town
♥ This printable reading journal is adorable!
Gifts for English majors

What fun links have you found lately?

Link Love

link-love

This week’s links don’t make for terribly light reading, but they’re ideas I find tremendously interesting, ranging from what makes good literature to new approaches in the digital humanities. Take a moment today and, even if you just read one link below, explore something new.

How income disparity affects romantic relationships
♥ Sara shares some tips for how to read more books
♥ If you line up these page markers correctly, they can create whole scenes! Godzilla strolling through rainbow-laden Tokyo? Yes please!
Inside Amazon’s first physical bookstore 
What makes good writing? I don’t know that I have the answer, but it’s something I think about with every review I write.
Shakespeare and the Suffragettes
♥ I don’t post too many long-form scholarly articles, or in this case, books. But Hacking the Academy: New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching from Digital Humanities aligns with what I focused on in college, and is such an important look at our state of print consumption today.

P.S. Did you see that I’m back on Youtube!?

What fun links have you found lately?