Pins and needles

Today as I was leaving my appointment, my therapist said, “Oh don’t forget that!” and motioned to a button on her couch that had fallen off my purse. It was my Hillary Clinton button, one from a pack that I purchased from her website early in primary season. I quickly grabbed it and stuck it back in place.

On election day, hours before our country got the terrible news that Donald Trump won the majority of the electoral college votes, I got the wonderful news that my cancer is in remission. I woke up yesterday filled with purpose – I am still here and I will keep fighting. My grief is channeled into preparing for battle. Beyonce’s Lemonade is my soundtrack, stoking my anger and empowering me to keep running.

Right now I am speaking out and sharing my conviction to side with love and tolerance and equality. For the future, I am researching organizations to support – on a national level, those that will be attacking unjust laws and policies and in my own community, those that will help those who suffer from the fights we lose. I do not have all the answers, so I am going to listen and learn. I want to hear from different voices, so in 2017 I will not read any books by white men, instead turning my attention towards writers who are women, people of color, and LGBTQ. And I am going to proudly keep my Hillary buttons on my purse and knitting bag and coat. They may fall off, but I am going to pick them up and pin them back on as many times as it takes to get through these 4 years.

12 thoughts on “Pins and needles

  1. Your post has struck a chord with me. You see, on election day, 2012, I got the results of the first set of blood tests that would eventually confirm that I have Multiple Myeloma. Though I did not have confirmation from the doctor (official….) about this, I knew what I was looking at, and I had a pretty good idea of what my next few years were going to look like. However, I thought….that’s OK. Mitt Romney will win….
    but he didn’t.
    Barack Obama did, and as a direct result of that, I had to retire early, find another way to pay for my cancer treatment (because of course my insurance had dropped everybody and gone out of business, leaving me with Obamacare…which, though it WOULD have taken me, would also have cost more per month than I made to pay the premiums, so I had to go on Social Security early and apply for Medical, which put me into Medicare…it was a mess). ANYway, I didn’t mourn even though his election really affected me personally, not just philosophically. I didn’t promise not to read anything by people who I thought MIGHT share Obama’s vision of the nation. I didn’t go out and insist upon grief counseling because Obama won again. I didn’t go into a major depression.
    Well, I’m not a huge fan of Donald Trump, but I’m slightly less put off by him than I am by Hillary (STEAL THE FURNITURE!) Clinton. So I voted for him, even though a California vote for Trump was a spit in the ocean. I voted to keep my griping rights.
    ANYway, I voted for Romney, and when he lost I just dug in and did what I needed to do. I got the chemo. I lost my teeth, my hair and had to have cataract surgery. I had a bone marrow transplant. I’m still taking chemo and will until this ‘gets’ me. I’m OK with it.
    I am concerned for you, though. You WRITE that you ‘want to hear from different voices…’ and then you decide that you will honor that want by refusing to hear from different voices. How ‘different’ are the voices you choose to learn from, if you make absolutely certain that they all agree with you BEFORE you open the book?
    Anyway, congratulations for your remission. I wish you at least as much luck with your treatment as I have had with mine, and I hope that you get the miracle…that cure. I hope, most of all, that you will take your time and do with it what the folks on your side of the political and philosophical aisle keep CLAIMING that you do…and obviously don’t…that is, listen to folks who have a different POV from yours. You see, Hillary may have lost the popular vote, by less than the population of the valley in which I live, which makes that popular vote a statistical dead heat, but the fact is, HALF THE NATION DIDN"T WANT HER.
    I am not a racist or a bigot (shoot, I MARRIED an African American!) I am not ‘anti-gay or anti anything else. I still voted against Hillary Clinton and I am very glad that she lost. Are you so very certain that everybody who voted against her is a racist, a bigot and anti-feminism?
    Because we aren’t. Perhaps among those ‘different voices,’ you would like to listen to the folks who voted against her to see what we REALLY were thinking?

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    1. Hi Diana,
      I am very sorry to hear about your health. It’s not fair that anyone has to go through that.
      I disagree with your characterization of what I wrote. I said I want to hear from writers who are women, POC, and LGBTQ. Those people will not necessarily agree with me – most white women, voted for Trump so I know for a fact that statistically most female authors do not.
      Also, I am not sure if you are unclear on the facts or if it was a typo, but in fact Hillary won the popular vote – by 1.5 million at current count. You are correct that half the nation didn’t want her. I disagree with those voters and I am expressing that. I am allowed to voice that even if my view is the minority.
      I know that everyone who voted against her voted for a candidate who openly espoused racist, bigoted and anti-feminist views.

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  2. Sorry, yes, that WAS a typo. I meant to write that Hillary had won the popular vote by less than the population of the valley in which I live.
    Oops….
    And I, like you, am in REMISSION! (yahoo!)
    Looking over the post I wrote, I see that I was coming ‘off’ a bit more confrontational than I actually intended. Yeah, I ‘went through’ a lot, but doesn’t everybody at some time or other?
    Yeah, I lost my hair. It grew back…and for awhile it was so very pretty; soft, very curly and very, very white. I miss my chemo-curls. Now it’s fairly long, back to red (sort of) and as thick as it ever was.
    Yeah, I lost my teeth and had to get dentures. Let me tell you: I have an absolutely BEAUTIFUL smile now, something I’ve not been able to do for many years.
    Yeah, I needed cataract surgery. I’ve always had very poor vision…and now I can count the feathers on a flying eagle. It’s a whole new world. So I need reading glasses? (shrug) They’re cheap and you can find some really fun ones.
    Yeah, MM is not (at the moment) curable. It will ‘get’ me…eventually…but I’m 67 and MM patients now can easily have 15 to 20 years of good life quality. So I ‘go’ when I’m 80 rather than the family standard of 95 or higher. I somehow don’t think that’s all that big a problem.
    I just believe that we all need to really look at what the ‘other side’ is thinking and saying. Yeah, Trump is a loudmouth. I’m willing to give him a chance. I was willing to give Obama a chance.
    Here’s the deal, though: I’m a ‘by their fruits" sort of person. I don’t get a great buzz over what people SAY, so much…’open mouth, insert foot’ seems to be fairly standard. However, it is VERY true that Trump pays his female employees the same as he does his male ones,and always has: that he has hired women far more often than any other CEO, and puts them in very responsible positions with real power…and lets them get on with the job. He has a personal tendency to mouth off, but Hillary actively supported HER husband in destroying the lives of the women her husband abused, did indeed attempt to steal almost everything in the White House when they left (and was forced to give it back), DOES have a history of incompetence and fraud.
    I am nervous about Trump; I think that he may have started this thing because he wanted the US presidency as a trophy in his personal ‘I love me" case…but now he has to actually do the job. His personal history is that he generally succeeds…and that he’s willing to work with others who don’t agree with him.
    I don’t think Hillary would have done that. We’ll see.
    I think…for me…that the whole thing comes down to ‘political correctness,’ which is a term that literally sends horror chills down my back; I start to think ""1984," "Brave New World," "Fahrenheit 451," "The Iron Heel," even "The Time Machine," all of which are works that describe dystopian futures that involve the refusal of the powers that be to accept difference even as they claim to be inclusive. Newspeak. It scares me. So…I happen to love reading Margaret Atwood (I read "A Handmaid’s Tale" before the feminists found her) and many other authors who don’t follow the same intellectual and philosophical path I do. I will continue to love reading them.
    I hope that you will also leave room in your reading time for works written by those who don’t fit into the acceptable groups; the list of books I just wrote, after all, were each and every single one written by white men.

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    1. Remission is wonderful place to be, isn’t it?
      You seem really hung up on my personal reading list for one year. In our society, white men have the loudest voices in the room. I get lots of exposure to their works and have for my entire life. So I am carving out a space for the many other kinds of voices out there in the books I read in my leisure time for 2017. I will still read articles by them, I will listen to news they report, I will converse with them. I wonder why you are so off-put by this idea that you’ve now written two comments longer than my original blog post.

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      1. Oh, It’s not your personal reading list…or rather, it is, in a way. What it was, for me, is your statement that you would refuse to read any books by white men because you wanted to hear ‘different voices.’ I’ll admit that it struck me as…hmmn.
        OK, I sometimes participate in religious debate forums. On one of those, recently, an evangelical Christian wrote that she would never read anything that was critical of her beliefs, because Jesus wouldn’t like it. Within a day, however, she was telling someone of another faith that HE should ‘open himself to different points of view (namely, hers…) and not restrict himself only to ‘anti-Christian" sources. You post reminded me of that evangelical. "Different voices" have always been out there to read; I have read a bunch of ’em, and enjoy them. They teach me even as they infuriate me.
        I guess what I thought, when I saw your post, was that ‘here is someone who is more concerned about the writer than the writing…" which is why I gave you a list of VERY dystopian writings, many of which are beloved by progressives and those with a liberal bent, but which were written by (whisper this) white men. One of the most right wing reactionary writers I know of…so far out there that even I have problems chewing it…is Ayn Rand, who was very definitely a woman. It’s not about the category someone fits in; ‘white,’ ‘male,’ ‘female,’ ‘gay,’ ‘black,’ ‘Hispanic," "Asian," ‘Native American," ‘Catholic, "Mormon," "Evangelical Christian," "Atheist," "Buddhist.."
        It’s about how ‘different voices" are those voices which are different from YOU.
        As for me, please excuse my verbosity. I’m a retired literature teacher. I love books and I love writers of books, exploring all the different views there are. I just found it–bemusing–that in today’s culture, where ‘white men’ are absolutely NOT the ‘loudest voices in the room,’ but are rather the folks whose works the ‘in’ group hides under their pillows so that nobody will see them reading them. I’m the teacher who had to fight THREE separate school boards to keep from having "Huckleberry Finn," probably the most powerful anti-slavery book ever written, banned. I’m the old lady who looks back upon four generations of college students (at least) who all defined ‘different voices" as "anybody who writes stuff I already agree with."
        It’s my last ‘shout in the wilderness," I guess. Anyway, that’s why I’m ‘so put off by this." You did hit a hot button. I’m not saying that you should ignore all those ‘different voices’ and concentrate on the ‘white male." I’m saying that nothing ever changes, and nobody seems to be REALLY willing to listen to the ‘different voice."

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      2. It is disappointing that you continue to reply to me based on your own assumptions rather than my own words. I know I will not be able to convince you because you are not going to listen to me. So I am going to bow out from this conversation.

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  3. I’ve been consciously avoiding reading white men for about a year and a half – a few sneak in, but by deliberately seeking books by women and writers of colour, I’ve opened myself to a vast array of books that I might never have come across otherwise.

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    1. I am so glad to hear about your experience. I haven’t heard from anyone who regrets exposing the choice and I am looking forward to being exposed to things I don’t even know I haven’t learned yet.

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  4. I just wanted to thank you for this powerful reflection. I am a woman of color and I often feel that I stick out in the world of crafting. I am grateful that you’re mindfully seeking out marginalized voices. Congratulations on being in remission! Keep up the good fight.

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    1. Thank you!
      Yeah, even within just the world of crafting the narrative you see the most is how neat it is that even young white people do it. And their work is neat. But so is the work of so many different hands that isn’t celebrated the same way. So we’ll have to find it and celebrate it ourselves.

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  5. Christina,This is my first time reading your blog. I’ve kept up with your regular posts on Rav’s front page for some time and just checked out your blog. How wonderful that your cancer is in remission!!
    I stopped here to read this post and the comments because I was so taken by the picture of these buttons (which I had not previously seen). I will say up-front: Hillary was my candidate, she was even my candidate eight years ago when, what I had hoped for was 8 years of Hillary followed by 8 years of Barack. It’s a shame that they didn’t work together better, as I think he could’ve been a better president had he first gotten some governing experience behind the scenes. But all that is behind us now.
    In reading the responses made by Ms Newman to your declaration to read the voices of the disenfranchised and those "other" than white men for the next year, I am disheartened. As a writing professor, I also have a fair amount of literature study in my background and in the courses I have taught. Her attempts to "enlighten" you that white men are actually "other" voices for you vis a vis your progressive bias is both insulting and patronizing. White mail voices have defined our culture as Americans for 200 years. Gods forbid we dismantle the status quo!
    Lastly, while we are speaking of mischaracterization, I am sick to death of reading the conservative vilification of the Clintons. I am an Arkansan. I grew up here. My father worked with Hillary on multiple boards. Bill recognized my father and always spoke with him when they met. I have taught at the Clinton School for Public Service. I know the Clintons to be hardworking for all those who have no voice and I sincerely hope that they continue to do so.
    Beautiful and inspiring post, Christina. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, I am so relieved to enjoy this reprieve.
      I have been surprised to find how many people dislike the idea of my reading list for next year. It has been a lesson in how pervasive and effective the patriarchy’s message has been.

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