The Morning After the Election

From 11/9/2016


At this moment I’m at the office, catching up after spending yesterday working as an election judge in my ward in Chicago. During breaks, and when I eat my lunch, I read updates from friends on Facebook, check Tumblr for news and analysis shared by the folks I follow, and on Twitter I retweet tweets about the day that just was.

I am a college educated Asian white collar worker living in Chicago. Chicago is, like New York City where I grew up, is a very blue city in a very blue state. I don’t feel immediately fearful, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Especially since Illinois is sending Tammy Duckworth to the Senate.

But I have a lot of loved ones who have very real fears about what may happen as soon as Trump assumes office, and the GOP-controlled Congress intends to do when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. A family with three children, two of whom need the ACA to pay for comprehensive mental health care. My parents both rely on Medicare, and my younger brother, who has private insurance through his employer, does still require the financial assistance of Medicaid to pay for kidney dialysis.

I am having many feelings, maybe too many, about the number of women, the number of White women who voted for Trump. I’m not nearly smart or thoughtful enough to unpack that at this moment. I reckon that when that day comes, it will not be a good one. Maybe that’s unfair but I’ve been a woman of color in the United States. If there’s anybody who knows about what unfair is, it’s definitely me.

When it comes to taking action and next steps, I’ve already begun. Working as an election judge was an eye opening and empowering experience for me. I would encourage more citizens to do it, if only to see what politics looks like at the very local level, and understand the importance of civic engagement all the time, not just during campaign season.

At the moment, I’m gonna get back to my job, continue to make (possibly inappropriate) jokes with my brother because humor is how I cope when I’m not stress-eating, and send notes to my precinct captain, alderman, mayor (yes, it’s Rahm Emanuel, but better or worse he’s what I’ve got to work with), state representatives, congressmen, Senator-Elect Tammy Motherfuckin’ Duckworth and Senator Dick Durbin to thank them for the service and ask one very important question:

What’s next?

This is unbelievable to me still, and it shouldn’t be. The country showed its face yesterday, and I could not turn away. I was at a bar with friends when the votes were being counted, and felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: He’s going to win. He’s really going to win. I can’t believe he’s going to win. I got uncomfortably drunk (sorry Sean), went to bed, and woke up to a terrible dream.

I am white and middle-class and college-educated. I grew up in cities, I live in a city now. My family is liberal — we butt heads on some things, but politically we are more or less on the same blue spectrum. My boyfriend’s family is similarly minded. Trump is not nor has ever been my America, but he is America. My white face and tech job and close circle of like-minded friends have let me shove this thought to the side, under the rug; the inconvenient truth that a significant and voting portion of the country does not think like me, and does not share my values.

My boyfriend has health insurance for the first time in forever. My friends and family are queer, Muslim, people of color. I really like having control of my reproductive freedom, it’s pretty sweet. There is more, a lot more, but I can’t think about it or I won’t move. I am trying not to be alarmist, but I am afraid. There’s a cold pit in my stomach when I think about what’s next. I am scared for the future.

I donated to Planned Parenthood. I reached out to my loved ones. Miss Spoken will continue to be a safe space for women, trans people, and their stories. We know what you’re saying is important, we’re here for it, and we will always believe you. We’ll provide that space, you provide the voices, and we will listen.

That’s a start, I guess. I don’t know how to change hearts and minds, or educate people (and maybe that’s not the answer), I’m bad at intentional uncomfortable conversations (I think that is part of the answer). But I’ll do it. We’ll do it. We have to. It’s going to be a long, shitty four years, and there is so much work to be done.


We’re Saying Simple Sentences

Miss Spoken is two! Girls generally talk earlier, and we’re no exception. We’re not just girls now either, though lady live lit still has a catchy ring and I’m keeping it. We haven’t expanded so much as recognized that we always planned to include trans and non-binary performers, and hope to continue in that vein.

But yeah. Two years of themes and stories by non-dudes. When we had our first show, I don’t think we had a two-year plan for the series, or even a six-month plan. I thought I might move to LA. Carly thought she might be pregnant. One of those thoughts turned out to be true. I’m still here and so is Roan, who’d probably have better luck getting a script: seriously he’s really, really cute and Carly says he’s kind of an asshole, sounds like Hollywood material.

Two years ago, we sat in Garcia’s with our mutual friend Jasmine, who’d heard a similar idea from us: a show with a different theme every month. Girly topics. Maybe all girls. We talked and ate basket after basket of free chips, and by the end had agreed to do it. And so Miss Spoken was born, salty and boozy and feminine.

We’re still here, a ladylike (lol) presence among the multitude of other live lit shows. We feel what we felt then: having all non-dudes is not exclusionary, but expansive: people and stories often dismissed by society as unimportant, frivolous, or literally not real have a place where they’re given weight. We hear you, our audience hears you, you are funny and sad and real. In the current cultural climate, where women endure horrific harassment for talking about a fucking video game, the U.S. trails in maternity leave, and political groups threaten to take away rights enjoyed by your grandmother, your stories are more important than ever.

We also like to talk about boobs. We plan to continue that in the coming year, and hope you will join us.

Blow Bill Blow

Minnesota summers are hot, and when I was 12 my parents’ bedroom was the only place in our apartment with air conditioning. I’d taken to hiding out there whenever I could. I’d watch sitcoms or Xena on the television next to their bed or read whatever I found around the house when I ran out of books. This happened often. I was a fast reader, and didn’t have a ton of friends. 

One bored afternoon that whatever was Time. I didn’t usually go for that but I was desperate, and by desperate I mean lazy: I’d plowed through all the old issues of Funny Times and Mad, and the boxes of books in the basement seemed very far away.

The cover showed a pretty, dark-haired woman with red lipstick hugging the President. Only his back was visible, a long gray suit jacket topped by white hair. The crowd surrounding them was smiling and laughing, but the Special Report seal and title (“Why She Turned…What He Can Do”) let me know something scandalous lurked between the pages. I was intrigued. 

I was about two pages in when my mom opened the door. She shut it quickly so the precious cold wouldn’t escape, then plopped next to me on the bed.

“What’re you up to, kid?”

“Reading.” I showed her the cover.

She made a face.

“How much do you know about what’s going on?”

I shrugged.

“Okay. I’m going to tell you what it’s all about.”

I closed the magazine.

“A young woman was dumb and slept with the President. She kept a bowl of condoms by her bed. I don’t know what she was thinking. He was dumb. They were dumb. They fooled around and did some things with a cigar. There was a dress with a stain on it. Then he lied about it. Now it’s getting blown up by a punitive asshole named Kenneth Starr.”

I stared at her, trying to find a good reply. She had hit most of the points I was curious about, except:

“Are they going to impeach him?”

She snorted.  “No.”

I nodded, relieved.

“He was a good President. He was just an idiot.”

Later, I searched through tiny clear drawers for a pin from years back. I found it: a large square, smooth and shiny, showing Bill Clinton playing a saxophone on a red, white and blue background. It was from his 1992 election. Blow Bill Blow, it said along the bottom.

I picked it up, looked at the trash can by my desk.

“He was a good President. He was just an idiot.”

I propped the pin on my dresser, close to the front.