Sunday, June 21, 2020

Big Apocalypse Energy is my New Aesthetic

Wow guys. 

It's been a long time since I've written an actual full blog post. I guess I just haven't felt very inspired to sit down and journal my thoughts; with everyone's attention span in quarantine being five seconds long--including mine--it's easier to just fume in a pithy tweet, push send, and be on my way, which when you think about it doesn't leave much time for self-reflection, and is probably even a little bit Trumpy.

But ever since mid-March, when we went into COVID-19 lockdown, I've felt a weird combination of doom-and-gloom apocalypse mixed with a new inspired energy to get shit done in this world. Sometimes I feel like a keyboard warrior, but then I remind myself of the real things I've done this year, including working on my own world view and my place in the world.

Leveraging Privilege: A guiding theme for me since last December has been both recognizing and using my privilege--primarily my skin privilege and my education. The way I use my law degree is a big part of that. I've been involved in some cool cases: a class action lawsuit to keep the Pioneers' Home rates reasonable, which helped catalyze legislation that did just that. I worked on election reform and education reform ballot measures, both of which may be on the general election ballot this year. The election measure, in particular, will be monumental if it passes. I helped on the legal side of the recall effort. Both the recall and the election reform measure were upheld in the Alaska Supreme Court. I wrote an article on ballot measures for the election symposium issue of the Alaska Law Review and I am looking forward to publishing my first piece of legal "scholarship" since law school. I try to be responsive when people call me with legal questions or issues, listen to what they say, and guide them in a helpful direction. My new full-time job as a municipal attorney for a mid-sized rural city is rewarding and interesting, though I still miss my former colleagues at the State every day. 

Listening to Math and Science: When the pandemic first started, my cousin who is a biomedical engineer and working on the vaccine told me: "It’s going to be at least 18 months before anything is normal again. They're not really saying that because everyone would riot but that's the reality." So I've adjusted my sense of time to accept that life isn't getting back to "normal" any time soon. It's been so cool watching my brain and girl-crush, Dr. Anne Zink, who is my exact age (!) lead the state through this pandemic, despite the sad politicization of public health. I'm wearing masks in public because it's the kind and scientifically right thing to do.

Black Lives Matter: I'm choosing to engage more actively in racial justice movements because I am more conscious than ever of how my skin privilege has always infused every aspect of my life--from the microcosm of viewing police as protectors (which they always have been to me) to educating myself on the larger issues of reparations and mass incarceration, and sharing what I learn as widely as possible.

Books, Books, Books: Both in my book club and out of it, I am reading a lot more--I always have a book going, and friends and family have really opened my eyes to some great fiction and nonfiction, especially by BIPOC and on issues of race and equality. My goal in reading is to escape and keep my mind sharp but also to self-educate, listen, and attempt good ally-ship devoid of ego. Which means making mistakes, absorbing criticism, and self-correcting without self-defensiveness.

Friends & Family. I've been pretty focused, too, on trying to help friends and family through this pandemic and its fallout. I am so grateful that the beginning of COVID coincided with the start of a new job for me, and with no travel or entertainment, I've been in a better position to donate resources to friends, families, and causes I believe in. I've been trying to be more present for my children and make sure they maintain their connections, and have been incredibly indebted to their amazing dad who is with them all day while I am at work and is much better with kids than I will ever be. I've tried to be in better touch with friends, even though my daily groove is auto-pilot and I fail at this plenty of times. I extracted my parents from Zombie Land NYC and they're in Juneau for the summer thanks to a generous house-sitting gig offered by some dear friends.

Exercise. I've had a fucked up relationship with exercise ever since I was a teenager. I looked at it as a way to excel at sports and lose weight and nothing more. But I've been exercising almost every day since the pandemic started, and even though I still hate every second of it, I have to admit I feel good afterwards and it's helping my mental health a lot more than I thought it would. I still eat garbage, however.

Time and Voice Preservation: I've always said that our time and voices are our two most valuable assets. The way we use our time and the way we use our voices are also the things we can most control. OHM self-promotion has a purpose beyond narcissism, which is authentic humor and advocacy. We all have control over how we use our time. I choose to use it writing, reading, and doing real work in the world that tries to further the things I think are important both in my intimate sphere and in the world at large. I try to use my voice to do the same--litigating free speech claims as a plaintiff with the ACLU to hopefully gain broader speech protections to government workers and minimize fear and corruption in government. And, knowing that silence is not now and never will be an option, saying what I think needs to be said out loud without arguing about it and trying to convince anyone else of my rectitude. I don't get mired down in "the comments" for that reason. I try not to look outward at what others are doing or not doing. I try to be inner-directed as much as possible, though it's always a challenge.

Faith. I'm not religious, though I am ethnically Jewish and fully recognize that the Nazis would have come hard for me 80 years ago. That also drives my actions. I am spiritual, though, and I do have faith that the world can and will be better. I always come back to my favorite line from the Talmud:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
You are not obligated to complete the work.
But neither are you free to abandon it.