Amid listlessness, listening to an internal call to action

I am listening to the rain on the roof, a soothing sound. But I did not want rain in June. Weather, as wishes, are like horses, after all; gloom and air pressure changes notwithstanding.

I am still working on my outline for DRAGON GIRL, so not much writing news to report. I have completed my character profiles and now I’m working on a blueprint for my inciting incident, plot points and character plot arcs. Then I will get into the meat of the first draft. I’m trying to be more methodical about this story than usual, given that it is going to be a longer one than usual. Maybe I am going overkill on it, but I am hoping this will make the actual writing process flow easier.

My yarn came, but the needle that was included with the kit seems much too small for the project. They gave me a 16-inch needle for 113 stitches. A 36-inch needle, as was called for in the pattern, seems much more reasonable. I emailed Yarnspirations to complain about the discrepancy between the pattern and the kit, and ordered the correct one from Amazon. I did not want to pay the same cost of the needle in shipping. This is one thing I don’t like about online shopping. I am less likely to return items if I must mail them back. The yarn is a beautiful deep teal color, however. I will knit my scarf instead this weekend, since I still want to keep my hands busy, and practice my guitar. I am learning a couple more chords now, if my fingers can hold up.

I have decided I would also like to cook more. It is healthier than baking, and I have a zillion unread cookbooks to work through. I usually let my boyfriend handle the cooking. He used to own a restaurant, so he’s way better at it than I am. But I find it relaxing, and I would like to improve. You can only get better with practice.

I spent some time weeding in the garden before it started raining in earnest, my hands in the wet dirt. It is that time of the season when the weeds start to take hold and can easily overtake the plot if you don’t maintain them. For awhile it seems like they won’t be much of a problem, until all of a sudden when they invade, like a hostile takeover. We are getting three more small zucchinis, some chard and some lettuce that will be harvestable. I hope to pick some chard for my bird, as that is his favorite treat.

I have also researched ways of getting involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and how to stand up for racial justice. I was always interested in this issue; as early as junior high school I devoured books about slavery, the Holocaust, Native Americans and other genocides in an effort to understand the impossible darkness of human nature that led to these events. It just didn’t compute to me how humans could treat each other so inhumanely, and I wanted to understand it, the terrifying depth of it. I felt it was my duty to understand it, even though it was uncomfortable and hard. But some things you can’t learn from books.

I suppose I never got involved before because I didn’t feel it was my place. I felt an immense sense of white guilt but I did not want to take the mantle of the White Savior. White people are often told by social justice activists to either sit down and shut up, or that white silence is complicity. So which is the best balance? I want to listen to black people and amplify their voices; I don’t want to speak for them or over them, because that is most certainly not my place. But I can also no longer beg apathy. Everyone involved in the system is complicit in systemic racism and it takes the work of everyone, especially white people, to uproot it.

One way I have been doing this is by continuing to read books by black authors and learn more about the history of racial justice. I am examining my own attitudes about media like “Gone with the Wind.” I don’t like cancel culture or censorship, but I think it’s important to contextualize art like this and understand how painful it can be. It’s not about being offended by everything. It’s about learning history so that we don’t repeat it.

This morning I signed up for the email newsletter run by Jenn Hoffman, the Americans of Conscience weekly action checklist. She provides ways to get involved at the legislative level by writing and communicating with your elected officials. The first email I got was this worksheet, so for full accountability purposes I’ll post my answers in my blog.

1. What are your top priorities

  1. Which issues matter most to you? Ideally, choose at least one issue that doesn’t affect you personally. (I am for also criminal justice reform and housing and homelessness issues but since those affect me personally, here are my three choices otherwise.)
  1. Racial justice
    2. Climate change
    3. Health care for all

      b. What will you do to support these issues (calls, postcards, protests, donations)?

I have signed up to volunteer with Unite Oregon. I don’t know what I can do for them remotely or what I feel ready to commit to, so this is more of an exploratory move. I have also signed up for the email newsletters and Facebook groups from SURJ, Indivisible Oregon, and the Sierra Club. Again, I don’t know what I can do or what I will have time for, so it’s almost more a way of staying informed about what I can do than anything else. I am also considering a regular donation to ACLU. Additionally, I would like to write postcards and emails to Congresspeople. That is something I can do that doesn’t require a regular commitment or a financial contribution.

2. Identify why they matter.

Why do the issues above matter to you more than others? What values do you have that inform your priorities? 

Racial justice matters to me because I am angry after watching the accumulation of evidence of police brutality against people of color and seeing how deep systemic racism in our country runs. Every institution is affected by it. Why are black Americans more likely to be affected by COVID-19? Systemic racism. We have a president now who dog whistles to racists, holding his rally on Juneteenth and then changing it at the last minute to seem like a savior. I am angry, frustrated and I want change and justice.

Climate change matters to me because I see our world burning with an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters and a planet that is unequipped to handle the population we have amassed on it with the modern tools at our disposal. I care about the environment and our planet and there are things we can do as humans who live here to slow the spread of climate change. It kills me that we can prevent loss of life and we stand by and do nothing.

Health care, especially single payer health care, matters to me because health care is a human right. It is one of the institutions affected by systemic racism and class inequity and no one should struggle to get care when they’re sick because they cannot afford it.

3. Create a self-care plan: Self nourishment is a crucial part of civic engagement because it helps you maintain long-term resourcefulness. Use this worksheet to create a plan.

Self care is always what gets me when I have tried to become an activist in the past. I get very depressed and enmired in hopelessness when it seems as if progress is slow in coming. I have decided to start doing my morning pages again and I ordered a new journal for a fresh start. I also need to keep up with my exercise, my daily walks and my yoga, and get enough sleep. Staying creative is something that helps my mental health as well, whether it is writing or playing music or getting crafty. I am also starting a bullet journal again because I need to hold myself accountable. I never had social appointments in the Before Times, and I don’t now, but my appointments now are activism appointments and keeping up with my goals.

Additionally, I am attending church again. I go to the UCC church because I appreciate their progressive inclusiveness. They do evening Complines and Sunday church services via Facebook Live. Spirituality helps my mental health.

4. Find out who to contact: 

Look up name, address, email and phone of the following:

House rep: Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Kurt Schrader

Senator 1: Sen. Ron Wyden

Senator 2:  Sen. Jeff Merkley

Governor: Kate Brown

State legislator 1: Sara Gelser

State legislator 2: Dan Rayfield

State elections office: https://www.co.benton.or.us/elections

Local election official: Ward Nine Corvallis City Councilor Andrew Struthers

5. Get ready to write and thank.

a. Get a pile of postcards (or sheets of 110lb cardstock to make your own)

b. Stock up on stamps: Get a book or two of postcard stamps.

(I have not done this yet but it is on the schedule.)

6. Schedule time in your calendar to be active.

Write in times to take action. FYI, the AoC Checklist comes out on Sunday morning.

(This is why my bullet journal will hold me accountable.)

7. Have a conversation with beloved others about the actions you want to take. 

If you want to do your actions with others, be sure to invite them.

(I’m telling my blog. It’s kind of like telling everyone else!)

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to this weekend. No more malaise. Time for action.

//

Support my creative work? Donate $1 to my tip jars: http://www.venmo.com/denise-ruttan or http://www.ko-fi.com/fieldofstars

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