I am going to try to be honest and accurate and even-handed where I can. So I will start from my own personal context: This presidential election did not go as I wished it to go. From the beginning I was a Hilary Clinton supporter. I made calls for her. I drove from my state, New York, where she was assured of winning, to Pennsylvania, where she wasn't, to volunteer for her campaign. I walked door to door. And then she lost.
That's one part.
Certainly, I've worked for candidates who have lost before, and it's always painful to some degree, but I have (in the past) moved on fairly smoothly. But this time, well, like I said, my state is New York. My city is New York, too. And I knew too much, for too long, about the other candidate. He's been an unpleasant feature of this city for a long, long time. Add to that his campaign. I was already a supporter of the other side. But on top of policies I disagreed with, the campaign piled racism, xenophobia, misogyny, his mockery of a disabled reporter—all of it, for so many months, and it is still bitter in my mouth.
Yesterday I got a call from the drugstore where I rent a mailbox to receive packages and snail mail for this blog, saying I had a package. Usually this means a new book for me to consider writing about, so when Aragorn Son of Arathorn brought it home, I was happy.
And then I opened it.
Oh wait, did you notice?
Yes, I looked. I had to look.
I know kids need to learn about this stuff. Somehow. But it was painful to see her there. It was—is—painful to wonder how they were planning to grapple changing the name from "America's First Ladies" for Bill Clinton, and then they didn't have to. I know this is the least of it—the least of everything. I know that it's been reported that Ivanka Trump is officially going to be occupying the first lady's traditional East Wing offices. I know that in ways I can't fully understand, this was how people felt about President Obama. Still, it is painful.
Meanwhile, I am re-re-re-reading Master and Commander, and it is taking me off somewhere else. Aragorn has found comfort in the darkest of fiction, lots of Kafka and The Plague in Shakespeare's London. It is, somewhere, my belief that the only way through things like this is to overdose on empathy, to get a firm and clear-eyed grip on everyone's humanity. I have not figured out my way there yet.
I hope you all—every one of you—is reading something wonderful.