Why does this week feel like the End Times? (Rant Part 1 of Many)

I’ve been thinking about the Women’s March a lot this week – not just because people are still uploading their pictures or because estimated totals are still rolling in (although, yeah, those signs are amazing and I just can’t believe so many humans attended). But because this week has sucked (personally and professionally for me as well as politically for basically everyone). And the March memories have been a comfort me.

We are 8 days into Trump’s presidency and shit is already hitting the fan (I guess whether you agree with that statement depends on your political beliefs and whether you were or were not hoping he would follow through on a single campaign promise but it seems like even people who supported him before are upset now so it feels universal):

  • Those goddamn cabinet nominees. UHG. They all feel like the kind of suggestions you get in a meeting where someone says “There are no bad ideas” and then someone jokingly yells out what is clearly a terrible idea but it gets written down to prove a point. He seems to be choosing people to run departments specifically based on whether they have previously made public statements about wishing they could dismantle that department.
  • The environment is maybe the thing I’m the most worried about at the moment. Because in two years (at the midterms) or four years (at the next presidential election) it may be too late to reverse whatever damage is done to the environment and climate change will be severe and irreversible. He’s already approved work to resume on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone Pipeline and, again, it’s day 8.
  • Women’s rights – by reinstating the global gag rule he’s rolling back women’s rights and medical safety across the globe. His VP spoke at the March for Life. And it’s clear he’s made other groups who are hoping to put an end to a woman’s right to choose feel safe introducing legitimately illegal legislation. Of course, it’s Texas  which already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world trying to make abortion a felony.
  • Alternative goddamn facts are a thing now.
  • He did not, as many had irrationally believed, forget about the wall.

(This list is already too short and out of date and I started it YESTERDAY)

But somehow I’m optimistic. Terrified but optimistic. There are SO MANY of us. And if we work together I have a hard time believing there’s anything we couldn’t accomplish (barring nuclear war or the heat-death of the universe). I am hopeful that we can at least start turning that around at the midterm elections.

I was just so heartened from so many different groups marching together, talking to each other, and supporting each other even when they didn’t agree on all points.

*** I find it crucial to note that I have also seen the same misunderstanding pop up a lot in response to the marches, something vaguely along the lines of “I wanted to go but I’m Pro-Life and knew I wouldn’t be welcome even though I believe everyone should be able to do whatever is best for themselves.”

A) First and foremost Pro-Life people were welcome at any of the marches. The only thing I’ve read is that they were taken off the list of hosts for one.

B) What you are describing is Pro-Choice. Pro-Life is when you don’t think that anyone should be able to get an abortion no matter what. Pro-Choice is when you think everyone should be able to decide for themselves even if you personally would never choose to have an abortion. Because that is your choice and no one else’s. ***

Texas Book Festival (2013)

Capitol building during the Texas Book Festival

Capitol building during the Texas Book Festival

So, this year was my first experience volunteering at the Texas Book Festival. It’s basically book nerd heaven.

I’ve gone to a couple of panels before basically on accident (for example: last year I went on a zombie walk – which is exactly what it sounds like, everyone dresses up like zombies and then does the zombie limp through town – and we passed some of the tents downtown and I sat in on a couple of readings). This year was way, way better.

I volunteered to be an author escort for pretty much every available shift without having any idea what to expect. It turned out to be, based on my preferences, to be the best thing to do. There were a lot of volunteers whose job it was to sit in a particular room and just make sure people left when a talk was over and generally acted well, or who walked a specific area of the Capitol helping people find stuff. Being an author escort meant that authors had to talk to me! I led them to places and since they are all reasonable humans they all made awkward small talk with me. It was pretty awesome. It also took up less time than the other duties since once an author had reached their last destination I was done with my shift. So in any given 4+ hour shift, I really only had about an hour worth of responsibilities. I also moved around a lot so I never felt like it would be a convenient time to nap.

So I got to sit in on a lot more talks than I was expecting! And wander around in the tents a bunch – I think I looked about a million books. And most of them were beautiful. I even got to see the Penguin Book Truck. Which is a work of social media marketing genius (also probably super convenient for book festivals) because people take pictures of it constantly and then put them everywhere (for example, what I am doing right now).

Penguin Book Truck

Penguin Book Truck

Miracle of all miracles, I managed not to spend all my money on books. But I definitely wanted to. Especially on this awesome collection of classics that I’m still obsessing over.

Beautiful Books

Beautiful Books

Anyways, while I wasn’t shopping for books I don’t need, can’t afford and have no place to house, I met Jeff Guinn and Lawrence Wright and then got to see their panel, Cults of Personality, where they discussed the similarities between Charles Manson and L Ron Hubbard (there are a lot). Apparently Charles Manson actually studied Scientology for a while and used some of its tactics on his followers. The world is a weird, weird place.

I also met Gordon Korman who you may not know unless you read a lot of middle grade books or are a child. But he’s ridiculously nice and he apparently published his first book when he was 17. Proving that I am, in fact, failing at life. And has been publishing books pretty continuously since then on top of that.

What I’m really saying here is that the Texas Book Festival is amazing and if you didn’t go this year, you should definitely go next year. And volunteer if you’d like to meet authors who will have no choice but to talk to you – sometimes for as much as an hour!