On… Humanwire

Like you – like everyone – I’ve been deeply affected and shaken by the events in Syria, the millions of refugees fleeing death and destruction, the images of children drowning in the Med or covered in blood, and most recently the horrendous events in Aleppo. My friends and I were constantly talking about it – do we just keep giving money to Doctors Without Borders and UNICEF? What about the families that might fall through the cracks? How do you know you’re REALLY helping? How can I let these people know that the world cares about them, that they matter? How many more times can I start weeping uncontrollably while reading the news, and then go to Amazon and click-buy something for my children who have never known a single night of fear or hunger, before I go insane?

And then I found out about Humanwire, from a friend of a friend in Colorado.

Humanwire is a registered charity that establishes direct contact with the refugees you’re helping, so you can see the impact that your donation has (check out these Facebook stories) – and Humanwire itself takes 0% of the money you donate. There’s total transparency: it’s kind of cutting out the charity middleman.

You choose the refugee family that you want to help, read their stories, see their photos, decide how much money to raise (“leading a campaign”) and you see how the money you raise for them gets them food, clothes, school for their children, medical care, heating over the winter… It takes 60 seconds to sign up.

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My friends Anna, Joanna, Lucy, Alex and I have pledged to lead campaigns together. So we’ll work together and support each other while we raise money, and hopefully, help many more families this way than we could alone.

These are real people. These are some of the stories. Each story is heartbreaking and horrible. These people urgently need help. This is the campaign we chose, and as soon as we raise the target, we’re choosing another one. Sustained support on a case-by-case basis.

Anyway, I wanted to write about this, because it’s Christmas, and as much as we’re all complaining about 2016 being a terrible year, it’s much much worse for these families. So please, join us. Do it alone or with your family or with your friends, sign up, lead a campaign, and help a family who has no one and nothing else. The only way through this is together, and you can genuinely make a difference. The refugees are chosen on a case-by-case basis, and are extensively vetted beforehand. These are families, particularly women and children and babies, who need us.

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This is a letter from the founder of Humanwire:

Thank you for taking the time to visit Humanwire. My name is Andrew and this site is the result of my frustration with the war in Syria.

As of October 19, 2015, The United Nations has officially registered 4,180,631 Syrians with the greatest concentrations in Lebanon and Turkey. In order to support this large number of people, the UN requires $4.5B but has only raised $1.8B to date [1].

The UN’s World Food Program, the largest agency in the world for fighting hunger slashed its food allowances for each refugee in Jordan in August 2015 in half down to just $14 per month. Food allowances for refugees in Lebanon per person remain a steady $13.50 per month [2].

The UN Inter Agency noted in September of 2015 that “the spike in Syrian refugees arriving in Europe, including from Syria directly, is mainly due to the loss of hope that a political solution will soon be found to end the war as well as to steadily deteriorating living conditions in exile, triggered by the humanitarian funding shortfall, felt by refugees in the region” [3]

In Sept 2015, The UN High Commissioner for Refugees was quoted as saying: “Our income in 2015 will be around 10% less than in 2014. The global humanitarian community is not broken – as a whole they are more effective than ever before. But we are financially broke.” [4].

If you read between the lines, the funding is stretched too thin and the level of support on an individual basis has become too insignificant for any one person to sustain.

I first got interested in the Syrian crisis because my wife Rima is of Syrian descent and so now is our two-year-old son Freddy. Rima grew up in Lebanon which borders Syria to the west and every time we visit family in Beirut and around the country, the effects of the refugee crisis are impossible to miss.

We live in Boulder, Colorado, regularly voted as the top city in America for living standards and when I think about the conditions of people who are fleeing persecution and war, I can’t help but question my humanity.

Lebanon, the extra friendly and once small home to 4 million people, now has 5 million almost overnight. In Lebanon, there are no formal refugee camps. There are some makeshift camps and others simply roam the country.

The influx has effected everyone in Lebanon from the bottom-up. Opportunities for work for the Lebanese which were already scarce have evaporated while social resources have been overwhelmed beyond compare.

Most refugees from Syria do not want to go to America or Canada, and most don’t want to go to Europe, either. Given the opportunity to go safely, the vast majority would just prefer to go home.

People are being born into homeless lives due to other people’s wars and growing up knowing nothing else. Young adults once happily enrolled in quality education with big dreams of becoming engineers and astronauts are being deprived of the dreams so many others have freely.

Have you given any money? Maybe even $5? I hadn’t.

Why? Why?! I spent countless hours reading news stories about it. I saw UN advertisements on every page of the internet with children distressed in boats. My credit card details would autofill in the form with one touch and yet I didn’t.

There is something about sending money into the void that is disconnected, as if there was a missed opportunity when you want to do more than just give money. Even when you trust the organization you are giving to, and even when your contribution is effective, the relationship between the contributor and the charity has not evolved much, you just send in your money which goes into a pool, hope for the best, and basically that’s it for your part. By sending your money to the charity which acts as the intermediary, you never actually get a true connection. Not even a tangible smile is exchanged.

What would happen if you removed the intermediate, or reduced its role by setting the charity organization aside to facilitate a direct connection between the donor and the recipient? That is the purpose of Humanwire.

When I first traveled to Lebanon, it was not easy because I was unfamiliar with Arab culture. Even with Rima and her loving family, it took a few trips to begin to understand people’s intentions due to the culture being so different, I thought. Now when I look back on it, I think its funny because the Arab people are just as friendly and loving as anyone I’ve ever encountered. People in Lebanon in particular are a lot like Westerners. They have many of the same interests, the same concerns and the same ways of living.

There is a cultural gap that need not exist, I’m sure of it. With today’s ability to connect around the world, this is the time for people everywhere to come together.

More than 43 million people worldwide are now forcibly displaced as a result of conflict and persecution [5]. Half of all refugees in the world are children 17 and under, most of which have lost family, home, school and friends. Humanwire is your opportunity go beyond providing mere sustainability, this is the time to take a stand and bridge the culture gap.

 

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On… tweens

I rarely talk about work on this blog, mostly because it kind of feels like boasting or complaining and both of those things make me feel like an asshole. The truth is that it’s always going pretty well, but pretty slow. HOLY SHIT IT IS SLOW. In October I pitched and sold two TV shows – one to Universal Studios with Hazy Mills, and one to Warner Bros Studios with Alloy Entertainment. Both are sharp, funny half-hours about flawed women (or as I call them, people). We’re going out to cable networks in January, so cross your fingers for me.

In the meantime, I am writing a tween comedy for a very cool production company, which is SO fun and escapist (i.e., exactly what we all need right now). Anyway, I’ve been regressing (which wasn’t awfully hard, as you’ll imagine) and remembering what it feels like to be 12, and thinking about my favorite books and movies about 12/13-year-olds.

Here are my top three books:

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Anne Of Green Gables (all the way through to Rilla Of Ingleside)

I had paragraphs of these books memorized, actually memorized, and I still have the entire set. Oh, how I loved Anne.

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Emily Of New Moon

But I loved Emily more. Like Anne, and in fact like most heroines in books about 12-year-olds set in the time before electricity (my genre of choice at that point in my life), she’s a bookish orphan. Holy shit, I loved me a bookish orphan.

From memory, I think her mother was long dead (their mothers are always long dead) and her Dad dies of TB early in the first book, and she’s sent to live with an austere maiden aunt. (See: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.) After that she tries to be a writer for like three books. I read a lot of books about girls who wanted to be writers, despite having fuck-all ambition in that direction myself at that point. I want to be an ACTRESS. All caps.

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The Babysitters Club

The only thing better than an orphan holding a candle was the goddamn Babysitters Club. Kirsty, Mary-Anne, Claudia, Stacey and Dawn. The COOLEST. I wanted to be creative Claudia, but I knew I was good girl Mary-Anne. Stacey was obviously too cool to even talk to me, Kirsty was into sport so that was never going to happen, and Dawn was dull AF.

And my top three movies:

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The Parent Trap

For me, the Hayley Mills version, always and forever, amen.

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My Girl

Oh God. The bees.

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The Man In The Moon

I loved this, although all I remember about it now is a kiss in the rain, and something about a tractor. And the guy in it went on to star in one of my most favorite ever movies, Dazed And Confused, and then Mallrats, or maybe that was his twin and he was the one in Party Of Five? And one of them ended up a crack addict. Allegedly.

 




 

 

 

 

 

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On… stocking fillers

I still get a Christmas stocking. I know, it’s SO lame.

The year that I got married, my mother announced: ‘that’s it, you’re an adult, I’m not making you a Christmas stocking anymore’. I was outraged (“WHAT NEXT? YOU WON’T TAKE BITES OUT OF THE COOKIES FOR SANTA AND THE CARROTS FOR RUDOLPH EITHER? MY GOD, WOMAN”) but then Fox joyfully manfully reluctantly just took over.

So, to help Fox, and because if I want it, you might want it too and it might help your long-suffering stocking-maker, here are some ideas…

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A sample pack of scents from LuckyScent. I am a crazed perfume obsessive but in a cautious geeky way, which means I occasionally buy vintage formulations from eBay and Etsy, but I deep-dive research them for months first, on Fragrantica / Basenotes / Luca Turin’s A-Z of Perfumes (which is a GREAT book, by the way). I love vintage perfumes the way that my Dad loved vintage cars. He would read vintage car magazines as though he was studying for a test. These LuckyScent samples are all new scents from small perfume houses that seem to be interesting beyond the tiresome ‘oh, let’s throw some oud in a bottle’ standard. I am sure my sniffy glands (technical term) will be delighted.

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And to balance out all those newfangled smells, Michelle by Balenciaga. I’m deeply in love with two other old Balenciagas, Quadrille and Le Dix, and I am confident Michelle is just as special (despite the teenage-babysitter-in-the-80s name). Vintage Balenciaga scents smell good, just deeply interesting and sexy and female and more-ish, in a million ways I can’t even begin to compare to the average sugary-vanilla-sparkling-grapefruit monstrosity perfume companies try to make us buy these days. What’s that? I sound like a crochety old biddy? SPEAK LOUDER. TALK INTO MY EAR HORN. HAVE SOME DANISH BUTTER COOKIES FROM THE TIN.

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Shashi Tassel Earrings. I am terrible at wearing jewellery, but whenever I see a woman in great chandelier earrings I think ‘dash it, I must try harder’.

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Moonglow by Michael Chabon. His book The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier and Clay was so breathtakingly good that it made my heart beat faster with joy that it existed.

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Cadbury’s Roses Chocolates. I am tres nostalgic for them lately. They’re British and cheap and delicious.

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Boggle, because I like it. A few years ago I went to a Female Boggle Night (we probably named it something snappier than that, I can’t remember), and one of said females – Anna – was so extraordinarily brilliant at it, I still think about it. She was seeing words like ‘pulchritude’ where all i could see was ‘put’. I’m not kidding. When she started playing, the ‘AH-HOOOOOO’ chorus to ‘Werewolves of London‘ came on, like Tom Cruise shooting pool in Color Of Money.

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And lastly, The Perfume Collector: A Novel, because it looks like lovely escapist fun. And right now, anything that makes me not think about the state of the world is pretty damn welcome.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On…. ugh

This is so interesting, and important, to read, that I’m just going to copy and paste here in full, so you don’t need to click.

Via The Atlantic, by Marianne Cooper.

In early December, Amazon Video announced that it would not be renewing its new series Good Girls Revolt for a second season. The show, inspired by veteran journalist Lynn Povich’s book, told the story of the landmark sex discrimination lawsuit she and 45 other women filed against Newsweek in 1970. Good Girls Revolt captures the cultural awakening of that time period and centers on a group of young women who, despite doing work similar to that of their male coworkers, are paid less and are relegated to the title “researchers,” while their male colleagues are “reporters,” getting all the credit and bylines. The first season chronicles the women organizing to sue their employer, “News of the Week,” to be treated fairly. The show received a lot of positive buzz, a 4.5 star rating from over 18,000 viewers, and was selected by Newsweek as one of the best of 2016, but that wasn’t enough for Amazon, apparently. Just five weeks after it premiered, Amazon Video cancelled it.

The show’s cancellation came on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s electoral defeat, an event that provided, one might have thought, a ready-made marketing opportunity for a show about women fighting for gender equality. Roy Price, who heads Amazon Video, seems not to have seen things that way. According to several reports, Price didn’t personally like the show and didn’t watch it himself. When asked how many women were involved in the decision not to renew the series, Dana Calvo, the creator of the show, publicly said that no women were involved in the decision. Another source close to the show, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, confirmed that no women were on the leadership team that decided not to renew.

When I asked Amazon about the decision and whether any women were involved in making it, Joe Lewis, the head of comedy and drama series development at Amazon Video, said in an email that the show was cancelled because it “wasn’t performing at the level we had hoped for—either in total viewership or completion rates.” He did not respond to my question about whether any women had been present when the decision was made. (According to reports, Sony Pictures Television is now shopping the show to other networks and fans are cheering them on via a hashtag, #SaveGoodGirlsRevolt.)

Of course, it’s possible that even with plenty of women in the room, the result could have been the same. If a show isn’t hitting pre-determined metrics, there are sound business reasons to cancel it. Yet, even if Good Girls Revolt missed expectations (which is disputed), when making decisions about shows it’s important “not to get lost in the weeds of the data,” as Roy Price himself has stated. Just as important is the ability to read the cultural tea leaves to be able to foresee which shows will map on to the national zeitgeist. And that’s where the homogeneity of the decision-makers becomes relevant, as a room full of men is going to read the culture differently than a group that looks more like all of America. As the cancellation of Good Girls Revolt shows, men-only decision-making committees can misread the cultural moment in spectacular fashion.

The failure of companies to put women consumers at the center of their R&D or business strategy is common. A classic example is that it wasn’t until a few years ago that carmakers began regularly testing female crash dummies in drivers’ seats. For 30 years, it was just assumed that using male crash test dummies would suffice, even though women are typically smaller than men and the smaller a person is the less force they can tolerate in a crash. That cars were not tested to be safe for female bodies helps to explain why women are killed and injured in car accidents at disproportionately higher rates than men. It’s because women were not included in the analysis—at all.

In a recent Merrill Lynch report on women’s growing economic and consumer power, Jackie VanderBurg, a managing director at U.S. Trust noted that including women could have been a big business win for a car company. She said, “A company that had taken the initiative to use female test dummies earlier could have differentiated itself by showing a concern for women’s safety.”

There are many other cases of companies missing an opportunity to think about women in their work, and missing out on business as a result. When men are the default consumer or patient, the results can range from annoying to life-threatening for women, from speech-recognition technology that more readilyunderstands male voices than female voices to pharmaceutical drugs that had to be pulled due to negative health impacts that hurt women significantly more than men.

One reason that women get left out of the equation is that very often there are few women in the rooms where plans are formulated, marketing campaigns created, technologies designed, and decisions made. This is especially true at the most senior levels. Sometimes, as with the decision by Roy Price at Amazon video, there are no women involved at all.

This is true even among companies that make and market products directly to women. An analysis of the 19 largest companies that focus on women (cosmetics, department stores, women’s clothing, certain consumer goods etc.) found that only one company has a senior leadership team that is majority women (J.C. Penny’s) and only one company has a board of directors that is majority women (Avon).

This was certainly the case for many years at Kimberly-Clark. In 2009, among employees at Kimberly-Clark who were director level or higher, only 17 percent were women. In contrast, 85 percent of their consumers were women. So it was up to a largely male-led team to figure out how to market tampons, maxi-pads, and diapers. According to Jillian Berman a business writer at the Huffington Post, “that translated into ads featuring blue liquids dumped on sanitary napkins, and portraying ecstatic women clad in all-white dancing and frolicking, apparently while menstruating. That’s a scenario approximately no woman has ever related to.”

In recent years, Kimberly-Clark has focused on hiring more women and has made tremendous progress. Sue Dodsworth, the company’s global diversity officer who drove the turnaround, reported that in 2014 women made up a third or more of senior-level managers (sadly, a relatively high percent, by corporate standards). Kimberly-Clark now has a different marketing campaign, U by Kotex, that makes fun of those old commercials. It has recently launched a new campaign called The Period Projects, which aims to change the way women talk about and experience their periods.

Hollywood studios should take notice. While women make up half the population, half of moviegoers, and half of graduates from top film schools, they only comprise 20 percent of the executive positions in large media companies. They are even less common behind the camera: Women make up only 3 percent of film directors and 12 percent of directors of streaming shows. For every one woman screenwriter, there are 2.5 male screenwriters. Other research has found that when women are in executive roles in film, they pull more women into work throughout a project. For example, on broadcast shows without any women executives, women made up only 6 percent of the writers. But on shows with at least one woman executive, women made up 32 percent of the writers.

All of this matters—for the stories that get told, the characters that get put on screen, the decisions that get made, and the profits that are earned or lost. It just may be the case that when a white male studio executive decides he doesn’t like a show, say one about a pivotal moment in women’s history, his sentiments might not be shared by women or people from other underrepresented groups. One has to wonder if Amazon video’s decision about Good Girls Revolt may have been different if even one woman was in the room.

It’s ironic that with no women in the room, Roy Price decided to axe a show about women who were fighting against just that—against men having complete ownership and control over the media. It has been many decades since Lynn Povich and her female colleagues sued Newsweek, and yet there is so little distance between the world in the show and the world that controlled the show’s fate.

This tendency for white men to disproportionately control editorial decision making—to use their particular experience and taste as a proxy for everyone else’s experience and taste—can have real consequences for brands and bottom lines. This is especially true as our society becomes increasingly diverse and multicultural.

In the words of advertising titan Cindy Gallop, “There’s a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously.” But companies and brands will fail to do so if women aren’t taken seriously as employees first.

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On… a Christmas wish list

Well gang, you don’t need little old moi to tell you brilliant things to buy for the people you love. (Go here or here for that.) Instead, I’ll tell you what’s on my own wish list, because I am totes self-involved like that, and because you can forward it straight to your loved ones and say ‘THIS’ (or you can forward it straight to your best friend and say ‘dear God, she must be smoking meth’).

Now, two warnings: 1. I am kind of into looking like Albert’s mother in Bye Bye Birdie lately, my meth habit has nothing to do with it and 2. this is a wish list, so it veers on the expensive side, though IRL I am uncommonly devoted to TopShop and secondhand things from Etsy and this place.

Let’s dive in with:

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A fake fur coat. Importantly, this one is not TOO leopardy. Leopard is hard to wear as a blonde. It quickly veers into hookerishness.

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A pair of burgundy men’s shoes for looking smart with my new smart fake fur coat.

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A candle that smells like a fireplace because I don’t have a fireplace and probably never will.

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A brown suede bag that I can kick around because I’m a grubby little thing like that.

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A pair of seriously battered boots with which to kick the above bag around. When I was 14, on vacation in the middle of nowhere in Western Australia, I bought a pair of steel-capped men’s tan suede workbooks, two sizes too big, from a thrift shop. I wore them until I was 21. I never did up the laces. When I remind my mother about them she says ‘oh God darling, I wanted to burn them so much’. I’m actually surprised that she didn’t. This is the woman who, one day, when I was about 17 and studying, wearing my favorite hole-y grey t-shirt, came up behind me with A PAIR OF SCISSORS and CUT THE TSHIRT IN HALF RIGHT OFF MY BACK so I had to throw it out. (Yeah, my mother is pretty awesome.)

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The nicest shampoo ever. I actually already have this, but I have nearly run out. It is REVOLUTIONARY. I swear. Why would I lie to you? Yes, it’s insanely expensive but you only need to use a teaspoon a week so, you know, that works out (she says with a vague wave of her hand). I used to use it with that WEN conditioner until I read something about it making women go bald and I switched to this faster than you can say ‘mostly because I like the bottle’.

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A soft plummy red-brown lipstick. Not matte. But not sticky gloss either. Somewhere in between.

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A lovely strawberry red blush so the aforementioned plummy brown lipstick doesn’t make you look like you just got transported back in time to 1996. (Although I wish I could be, just for a night. In fact, I wrote a movie about that very premise, and sold it to New Regency, but that’s a different story altogether.)

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Miss Dior Originale perfume, because my Dad gave it to me when I was 12, and sometimes it’s just exactly what I want to smell like. I just ran out, and every morning I think ‘oh I want to smell like Miss Dior Originale today and I can’t why is my life so hard woe is me’. NB: Don’t forget the ‘Originale’ on the end of the name. This isn’t the Miss Dior that they sell in Sephora and whatnot, even though it looks almost exactly like it. It’s harder to track down. But soooo worth it.

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A moisturizer with lactic acid. Yes, it feels like tiny bees stinging you for a minute or two. But it also makes your skin look like a Vermeer painting the next day. I used to use Noreva Alphacid KM, which is an AMAZING lactic acid moisturizer that costs like nine Euros in France, but it’s impossible to get in the USA (I almost bought it on eBay via Bulgaria a few weeks ago, then sense intervened). If Santa doesn’t provide, I may just bite this bullet on this one myself, as I’ve been using samples and OH it is good… although it’s so insanely overpriced I will give it the evil eye for a few more months first. Skin care is so expensive these days that I walk around Sephora shouting YOU’RE NOT MADE OF FUCKING UNICORN HORNS YOU KNOW and then they ask me to leave. (Okay, that is a lie, but it could be true.)

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A green hat. I like green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On… music

How about some comfort music? Listen to these in order:

Turin Brakes – Save Me

Mazzy Star – Fade Into You.

The Doves – There Goes The Fear

White Town – Your Woman

The Breeders – Cannonball

Liam Lynch – United States of Whatever

East 17 – Deep (NO JUST GO WITH IT TRUST ME)

Gorillaz – Dare

Simian – La Breeze

Paolo Nutini – New Shoes

Lonely Island – Jizz In My Pants

Feeling better?

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On… hanging in there

Okay, gang. The psychological pain is bad. I know. You’re probably not sleeping. You might have chest palpitations, like, a lot. For anyone with a brain, a sense of moral decency, and a conscience, it’s genuinely painful to imagine that this lovely country is now led by all the very very worst values. It’s shameful.

I actually wrote a whole other blog post about my horror about the election, and how the results simply don’t reflect the thoughtful, open-minded, open-hearted, empathetic, brilliant, highly moral and exceptionally kind Americans that we’ve met in the past four years. But then I deleted it because, you know, I was pretty pissed off, and that’s not always a good time to write. Then I didn’t know if it was wiser to shut up, or braver to speak up… But every time that I’ve read something about refusing to normalize this rhetoric, about standing together, I felt a thrill of powerful optimism run through me. And I figured the least I can do is offer you guys something powerfully optimistic, too.

Honestly, I’m trying to figure out how to survive right now, just like everyone else is, without going absolutely crazy with worry and rage. My brain is on an exhausting what can I DO what can I DO what can I DO loop, and then every now and again something deep inside says dude, you can’t be this anxious all the time or you’ll have a fucking heart attack. I’m profoundly glad that my kids are too young to understand the election.

So here’s what I’m trying to do: first, act, then, relax, then persevere.

My lovely friend Joanna has a blog that had a great post on what to do now (her blog is generally a very calming, kind thoughtful place to hang out). There are also great suggestions here. And here. And here. And here. We give money to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Emily’s List and Fund Texas Choice. Volunteering is another great way to help some of the people who will be the most in danger of persecution by the new administration. Bonus: giving your time and energy to someone else, without expectation of anything back, really calms your brain down. I don’t know why it works that way, but it just does. I joined New York Cares, a New York City volunteer group that’s sort of an umbrella for dozens of charities, about three years ago. Volunteering is not entirely altruistic – to misquote Friends, there is no such thing as altruism because helping other people makes you feel good. Volunteering helped me with grief; gave me an escape from the intense writing/baby cycle that has been my life for the past five years, and was emotionally rewarding and satisfying in ways I never expected.

The barriers to volunteering are, I think, mostly mental: you don’t know what it’ll be like. What if the people are mean? What if it’s depressing? What if it’s stressful? What if I’m no good at it? What if I don’t have time and have to let them down? Can’t I just give money? And all I can say is – it is lovely. People are warm and funny, sometimes a little weird, but fuck it, I’m probably kind of weird, too, and so are you. It’s not depressing, if anything, it affirms my belief (so battered by the election results) that people are essentially good and kind. I mostly volunteer with underprivileged children and Arab-American immigrants; my husband volunteers with a charity for the homeless – he drives a van around NYC every Wednesday night, handing out food to the homeless. In the last week I’ve also signed up here, to be a child advocate to unaccompanied immigrant children who have to navigate the US court system alone. (Seriously, that’s how it works here. WTF.)

Now, give your poor psyche a break.

Stop reading everything. No, really, I mean it. Don’t get me wrong – I am not going to put my head in the sand – I want to be informed, I want to read the news, and I will read analysis by smart, measured, thoughtful people… but so many ‘news’ sites are opinion sites angling for clickbait. Those articles are designed to elicit a reaction (panic, fear, rage) so you email them to your friends and they get more clicks. That’s how they make money. They are emotional self-harm: reading them is the equivalent of taking a pen knife to your arms. No one knows what’s going to happen. That is scary, but it is also reassuring.

Exercise. I go to ToneHouse, and I love it, even though it is getting harder and harder (no SERIOUSLY it is getting so fucking hard). Meditate if you can, I can’t, but my mother and sister love it. Do yoga. Again, not my bag, I know it should be, particularly since my mother is a teacher, but it’s just not my wheelhouse.

Listen to Hamilton very loudly. Fox and I were unbelieeeeeevably lucky to see Hamilton back in May. It’s really as exceptional, as touching and funny and brilliant, as everyone says. And it reminds me, every time, about the democratic optimism that this country was founded on. Also, I feel fucking cool, in the lamest way, when I realize I know all the words to the songs.

After you’ve finished Hamilton, then watch the following shows, because a) they’re brilliant and b) there’s no rape (we have a rape-free viewing policy in this apartment. Here’s my reasoning: rape is never entertainment. End of reasoning). Many of these I’ve ranted joyfully about before, but they’re worth recommending again:

Younger

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Timeless (seriously, this show is popcorn fun and has at least three genuinely funny lines in each episode)

Brothers & Sisters (strangely hasn’t aged)

The West Wing (also strangely hasn’t aged)

Grace & Frankie

Divorce

Bad Behavior (it’s a little darker than my average bear, but it’s also rape-free!)

Catastrophe (we’ve covered this in previous sessions)

Fleabag (sigh of envy: SUCH a perfect show)

UnReal (both the female leads are psychotic in the best and most relatable way, and I don’t know how the creators didn’t get the ‘more likeable!’ note that I always get for my female leads, even though every leading man on television is an total fucking sociopath, whoops sorry wrong soapbox)

Difficult People (season two is better than season one)

Outlander (hummina hummina)

You’re The Worst

VEEP

Divorce

Silicon Valley (although I have a whole speech about how Silicon Valley, Ballers and Vice-Principals are all essentially the same fucking show about man-boys competing with each other, and meanwhile, will HBO make three shows at a time about women, will it, fuck, and no, Divorce came out after VEEP ended, whoops sorry, wrong soapbox again)

And most of all, watch RuPaul’s Drag Race. My sister and I watched it last night and it truly, truly made us laugh.

This is what I keep telling myself at 2am: Don’t despair. Most people are good. The vast majority of Americans voted for her, or didn’t vote at all, and frankly, the way he snaked through the electoral college is so fucking sketchy that I hope some Jason Bourne/Woodward and Bernstein type-person is currently tracing a giant hacking scandal straight to Russia. Next time, or sooner if possible, the lovely people who make up the majority of this country will get a president who deserves them.

And I also keep telling myself: Don’t shrug. Don’t accept it. Don’t normalize it and rationalize it and say ‘hey, I guess all those people who voted for him can’t be bad, I mean, they must have had their reasons’. No. We are human, we want everything to be okay… but it is not okay. So never accept that voting for a failed businessman who sexually attacks people and calls them rapists and wants to deport or incarcerate people on the basis of their religion and ridicules handicapped people and lies about everything – everything! – is okay. It is an outrage. But you can’t think about it all the time, either. Because you’ll be miserable.

I also, somehow, think about the people who emerged as the heroes, all around the world, during WW2, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, during abolition… People who spoke up for everyone, who were patient and strong and wise and vigilant. They protected the people who needed protecting, they fought the bullies who needed fighting. Now it’s our turn.

Lastly, a quote from a Bill Murray interview. “You have to hope that (good things) happen to you. That’s Pandora’s box, right? She opens up the box, and all the nightmares fly out. And slams the lid shut, like, “Oops,” and opens it one more time, and hope pops out of the box. That’s the only thing we really, surely have, is hope. You hope that you can be alive, that things will happen to you that you’ll actually witness, that you’ll participate in. Rather than life just rolling over you, and you wake up and it’s Thursday, and what happened to Monday? Whatever the best part of my life has been, has been as a result of that remembering. Who hasn’t woken up thinking, “God, nothing good has come to me in a while,” right? When I feel like I’m stuck, I do something — not like I’m Mother Teresa or anything, but there’s someone that’s forgotten about in your life, all the time. Someone that could use an “Attaboy” or a “How you doin’ out there.” It’s that sort of scene, that remembering that we die alone. We’re born alone. We do need each other. It’s lonely to really effectively live your life, and anyone you can get help from or give help to, that’s part of your obligation.”

 

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