Pledge for a Frantic Activist


So I called some senators. I knitted a hat. I’ve marched, signed petitions, and typed a jillion angry emojiis on Facebook. I can’t keep up with the news, real or fake. It all feels like Whack-a-Mole politics. Idioms that used to be metaphoric are now literal: my head is spinning. I feel sick to my stomach. I’m so angry I can’t see straight.

I’ve become a frantic activist. A Franticivist.

At the same time, life is marching on as well. There’s the personal—lunches to pack and little people to take care of. There’s the professional: ballet classes to teach, submissions to read for a storytelling series, and a revision deadline for my memoir.

Something has to change. I can’t just ignore what’s happening in the world but I can’t neglect what needs to be accomplished in my personal life. Moreover, the phone calls and postcards are important, but I have a gut feeling that this is not the best way for me to make a difference. So, inspired by this article How To Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind, here’s what I’m going to do. Because the franticivsm is going to be the death of me.

I used to get my news from the New York Times and the Daily Show. Now I get it from Lit HubTheir daily newsletter is a compilation of articles from around the web that keeps me informed. The diversity of voices and demographics is comprehensive with a variety of women, WOC, and prominent writers from all over the world, all are intelligent without being shrill or reactive. Lit Hub is where I first saw this article by Rebecca Solnit and this one from Roxane Gay.

Last weekend I had to explain to my nine-year-old daughter why it’s called a pussy hat. Which meant we had to talk about personal space, innuendo, and what it means “take a word back.” We talked about the N-word and how words hurt. This story goes beyond pink hats. This is about finding a voice and using it. I want my daughter to take for granted that she can speak up. It starts with me putting that story down on paper.

Just before the inauguration I attended this Litquake event at the San Francisco Public Library in which writers such as Sarah Lapido Manyika responded to the current administration. As with reading intelligent commentary from authors I admire, listening to their words made me feel connected to a larger community. Online click-bait often makes me feel anxious and panicked but listening to nuanced analysis and opinions was inspiring. For those in the SF Bay Area, litseen provides a comprehensive calendar of where to go and who you’ll hear.

Currently on my plate is an event at Kaleidoscope Coffee with the Write on Mamas and Michelle Gonzales. The theme is Plan B: Now What Do We Do? I’m also reading submissions for the San Francisco production for Listen To Your Mother in which ten percent of all ticket proceeds will go benefit a local nonprofit that benefits women and children. This is my opportunity to amplify the voices and stories that I think need to be heard. It doesn’t all have to be about politics. Compassion starts when someone else’s experience resonates with you. Now with the current political climate, I’m seeing that people (writers, cafe owners, librarians) are actively on the lookout for events and many have a community calendar already. There’s a lot of energy to be harnessed around creating a lit event.

This is a plan that I think can help me feel engaged, informed, and pro-active without feeling overwhelmed and frantic. But this could change. I know that new opportunities will present themselves and that might involve taking different actions. Until then, I’m going to cozy up with a copy of RAD Women Worldwide for an extra dose of Yes, We Can.

10 thoughts on “Pledge for a Frantic Activist

  1. You’re a whirlwind of activity that never ceases to amaze me. If you can raise children to be thoughtful, responsible, socially conscious citizens, that’s accomplishing a lot right there. You’re a great model for them and for the rest of us trying to keep up with you.

    • Aw, shucks. Thanks, Harriet. I think in my former life I might have been a hummingbird. One who never learned how to clean the house or shower. Buys me a lot of time. 🙂

  2. Jilanne Hoffmann

    Yes, what Harriet said. You are a whirlwind. I think you’re accomplishing quite a bit with what you do already. That said. Make sure you maintain your sanity. Cheers!

  3. I spent the morning at a Social Justice Symposium. After deciding to skip the afternoon sessions, I turned on my phone and read your extremely timely and cogent post. I have spent so much time being active that I’ve barely paid my bills, done my 1099s for tax season, made dinner. (Or readied my submissions for WoM and LTYM, but that avoidance truly IS normal, not the normal we’re not supposed to get used to.) I felt elated leaving the Symposium, then read your post with a smile. Since another thing I haven’t been doing is seeing all the movies I want to see before the Oscars, I went to see the overrated La-La Land. Escaping the resistance in order to get back to it!

    • You are refueling in order to help the Resistance! I want to take my daughter to see Hidden Figures.

      Can’t wait to read your WoM and LTYM essays!

  4. Phoebe Bode

    This is one of those posts that one needs to read through and on another day, click on one of those sites that spoke to you. I printed out Mirah Curzer’s advice. That’s as far as I got today. Tomorrow I’ll read your post again, and click on the next site.
    You have given us quite a bit advice and a plan so we won’t become frantic or stressed out. We’re no good to our family, our country, ourselves if we become sizzled.
    I like how you break it down for us in chunks.
    You’re awesome.

  5. Mary Jo

    So thoughtful and well said. It’s overwhelming at times and hard to know where to turn next. Good advice.

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