Boy, 2016, it's been some year.
We've had some big changes in our house, and, gawd help us, some big changes in our country.
The ascendancy of Trump changes everything. It changes how I look at my
fellow citizens, 24% of whom voted for a known sexual predator, a
self-professed racist, and a reasonably incompetent and demonstrably
amoral businessman. It changes my assumption that I knew what "long"
meant when Theodore Parker said "The arc of the moral universe is long,
but it bends toward justice." It changes my complacency about social
and political involvement.
I could write for days, months, on the effects we're already seeing from the 2016 election. I might, but right now I'm still processing this. Trying to get my feet under me, trying to understand, trying to figure out how to be most effective and support those who are already feeling this seismal shift in our national expression of democracy.
I. Can't. Even.
So, I'll sequester that for a bit, and think more immediately.
The biggest change for us personally this year is that Firelord accepted an early retirement package last spring. His high tech employer was reducing their workforce and he qualified for early retirement. That was way better then those who simply were laid-off. (He came in one Monday morning and some really excellent engineers were missing. That certainly didn't encourage him to stay.) We felt the timing was good, we have some savings, the Affordable Care Act meant that we could be insured even if we didn't have an employer's group policy. Firelord could have some time with our last 2 boys before they leave home for good, give some time to the local Maker Space, think about starting his own business or consulting firm. I could work on my own pursuits a little more. (You know, after I figured out what my own pursuits might be after all these years of sublimating my personal energy.) Maybe we could get our house clean. (Shhh.. let a girl have her little fantasies)
Then last Tuesday happened. He-who-must-not-be-named did what so many of us thought was laughable, dangerous, impossible. Today's paper exclaims his new cabinet choices.
I know there are others with bigger more immediate worries. Compared to our Muslim friends, our black friends and family, our LGBTQ friends and family, we're privileged. Privileged enough that I sat my boys down and gave each of them another Mama Talk. We talked about using their privilege for good, the dangers to society (and to their souls) of being a bystander, and how we can safely support each other when we're calling out the forms of bullying. I hate that I had to do that, I'm ashamed it took so long. I'm proud that they felt they already knew that. I'm proud/sad/frightened that Hot Dog chose to wear a safety pin to his pubic school orchestra today.
I know we're privileged, insulated by our class and my husband's white skin and my ability to (mostly) pass.
Which isn't to say that we're aren't personally affected by this. Most immediately we no longer can depend on being able to get health insurance when the COBRA runs out. Stage III cancer is one hell of a pre-existing condition. The next time I need cancer treatment it could wipe us out.
We are now looking for ways to make this work. We'd have to make some serious bank to cover medical costs if we don't have insurance. Can we do that? Do we try to start the family business Firelord has in mind? Does one of us need to go back and work for "the man"? Which one? Do I go back to grad school so that I can work (finally) as an engineer? Dare I write more? Keep up with my volunteer work?
And can you imagine navigating these changes if you are a person of color in this country? If you're brown and fellow citizens are shouting at your children to "Go back"? If your black child comes home from school shaking because a child in her class called her a "nigger"? These things are happening to people I personally know.
So today I'll remember to be grateful for my 1st world problem of how to get and keep medical insurance, and I'll think about how we can change this country to truly include everyone wholeheartedly.