i don’t know about posting this, but it helped me, so maybe it will help you

This is a thing I started writing a while ago that never got finished. It felt less important, or less urgent, or too depressing. Instead I’ve been writing West Wing fan fiction and existential hockey dread and the start of a weird romance novel about fake Nate Silver. Yeah, that last thing was a weird life choice, I don’t even know, I’ll probably be embarrassed about telling you that tomorrow, but there will be a lot things to worry about tomorrow. I’m taking the GRE on Thursday. I’m going to have to ask for letters of recommendation really soon. When I get anxious I physically make myself sick. The goal is to get to the end of the week without throwing up. I’m crying while I write this because I talked to my best friend on the phone and she was so kind to me, and I wish the rest of the world could be that kind.

So here is our big thesis, the thing I’m holding onto right now, the part I wrote last month:

A Trump presidency would not be the end of the world. It would be terrible, but we would have to keep going. No matter what happens, we will have to keep struggling.

As the election cycle has dragged on there has been an increase in apocalyptic rhetoric coming from liberals. The horror of a Trump presidency has been built into a final defeat, the end of everything. There’s been a pervasive sense that it would be the worst thing to ever happen, and nothing we could ever recover from.

Bullshit. This sort of catastrophizing doesn’t do anyone any good.

I grew up under the Bush regime, and have felt disenfranchised from politics as long as I can remember. I grew up in a radical progressive community. Everyone i knew was always protesting something. The war, road construction that cut down old trees, there was always something wrong with the world, with the government. I remember being very young and going along, agreeing with this as much as i could. I was raised a part of the legacy of radicalism.

I still feel disenfranchised with a liberal democrat in office. Better, because Obama seems like a cool dude, and Hillary is certainly a better choice than an actual fascist. but we still need to protest. We still need to move politicians towards really caring about people instead of politics. There was an interview on Politically Reactive, I think it was with Shaun King talking about Black Lives Matter and how in Obama’s second term activism did more to move him, that there needs to be people in office who listen, and people in the streets shouting about what’s happening.

Even electing a competent mostly benevolent commander in chief doesn’t mean we could shut up, or trust the government.

Imagine the activism that comes from a Trump presidency. Imagine the protests. Imagine the punk rock albums. American Idiot changed my whole life. Like, think about The Great Depression by Defiance, Ohio. Fucking killer album. Imagine the liberal television fantasy administration. Imagine the Colbert clips. He’d kill it. I don’t want to live in that world, but I know that no matter the outcome of the election we will still make a world. It will be scary, and hard, but we can do it. We can keep going.

Beautiful things come out of struggle. Think of protest music, and punk rock, and god, Regan did terrible things for the country, but we have American Hardcore as a result. We have ACT UP, and A Normal Heart, and Angels in America. I would rather have my godfather to have lived, but those are some great plays. Whatever happens we will make noise, and make art, and do what we can to make the world a better place in any small way.

We can do all that with Hillary as president too, and it will probably be easier, because the arts will be at least slightly better funded. But we need to remember that a Trump presidency is not the end of the world.

It would not be an opportunity to give up. It would be a reason to get louder and bolder than ever. It isn’t an incitement I want to live through, but if it comes to that, I’ll be here, fighting back with words and art and everything I have.

I worry that Hillary were to win liberals would get comfortable. It would be easy to back away, say, “Thank god it’s a Democrat,” and not question how she handles surveillance and cyber warfare and drone warfare. Is the way Trump would handle this be worse? Absolutely, yes, but we’ll fight him on that.

That’s what I wrote last month. Now that doesn’t seem as serious of a concern. I would be happy to say, “Thank god it’s a Democrat,” because I would be happy to not be crying tonight.

When I talked to my best friend on the phone, appalled that Minnesota was too close to call, she reminded me that we have Keith Ellison, the first muslim in congress, was re-elected tonight. His son went to my high school, and I believe in him. Ilhan Omar was elected the first Somali-American legislator tonight, in the district next to mine, where my best friend lives. We have Al Franken, who used to write for SNL, then was inspired to carry on Paul Wellstone’s legacy by becoming a politician. We have Guante, who’s an activist and an inspiration, who came into the bookstore where I volunteer today and asked about consigning his book. I follow the former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak on twitter and sometimes he writes haikus.There are people I believe in who are going to continue to do good things.

I got sick of the MSNBC and switched over The Daily Show, and Trevor Noah and Keegan-Michael Key are talking about how they’re going to have to figure out how to satirize this. Right now it’s hard because it’s all very emotional, but they’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out, when we get over the shock.

I’ll take the GRE on Thursday, and I’ll do well on the useful parts and horrid on the math, and that should be good enough. I’ll find a way to ask for letters of recommendation. I’ll get in somewhere, I hope. Want to hear the backup life plan for if I don’t get into grad school, that so far only my girlfriend has heard? She doesn’t think it’s a great plan, and it isn’t, but I needed to have a fallback to have a direction in my life. If I don’t get into grad school I’m going to try stand up comedy. That’s a pretty good joke right there.

I’m not crying anymore, for a moment at least. Tomorrow is going to suck. Thursday is going to suck. I have to work Friday, and that will suck. The Wild play the Flyers on Saturday, and I expect that to suck. Lots of things are terrible all of the time. Lots of things are not terrible. There are books to read, and movies, and good tv shows. Living well is the best revenge. Do everything you can for people who are hurting. Do everything you can to make the world better. Be kind. Fight back. Survive.

This isn’t the end of the world if we don’t let it be the end of the world. Don’t accept the apocalypse. Keep going.

That’s all I have for tonight. Writing this made me feel better enough that I’ll be able to fall asleep as well as I ever can. That’s still pretty poorly, but that’s fine, I’ll still wake up in the morning.

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War of the Foxes by Richard Siken

Richard Siken’s second collection of poems is centered around the idea of painting. Many poems are titled the way paintings would be, and give some description of what the painting might contain, in spirit if not form. He’s using painting as a way to examine self expression, looking at a painting as a way to tell a story, to convey an emotion. It adds another beyond the emotions and stories within Siken’s poems. Siken’s visual language is made less abstract, existing not just as an image in a poem, but as an imagined painting. Adding the act of painting to a poem reminds the reader that the poem is crafted out of a similar impulse. It adds a meta element and a degree of distance at times. The images he creates are lush and precise. I love the way he reads language. I read things to myself, and then read it out loud, because hearing the words in the air adds another dimension. There are poems about war, and about relationships, and about art. There are a lot of birds. It’s marvelous. Siken is absolutely one of my favorite contemporary poets, and this volume was excellent. It’s less violent and bloody than Crush, while still having a strong heartbeat.

The Signal and the Noise : Why Most Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t by Nate Silver

I am a little bit obsessed with Nate Silver, but I feel that’s pretty par for the course for America 2016. I think he occupies this really interesting space. He’s a journalist, but a data journalist, and this gives him this extra layer of trust or at least impenetrability. He actively isn’t a pundit, but he’s someone who gets listened to like one. People don’t really get called public intellectuals anymore, but that might be what he is.

He’s also gay, in a very quiet way. He’s a notable gay person who the world seems able to talk about without bringing up his sexuality, which is super interesting. I generally trust someone more if I know they’re gay, which adds a whole other layer to the constantly refreshing 538 life. I listen to the 538 elections podcast too, and Nate Silver is just? I’m trying to think of a way that I can explain this that doesn’t make me sound really weird, but that might not be possible right now, which I am going to blame on the election, but that’s probably just who I am as a human being. But the point is that someday I am going to write a paper about Nate Silver as a public figure, unless Emma stops me (Emma please stop me).

His book is not really about any of the things I find fascinating. It’s still a very interesting book! It’s about how we make predictions, and how we could make better predictions. He draws from tons of really interesting real world examples. He looks at the housing crisis, and baseball, and politics, and sports betting, and poker, and earthquakes, and weather forecasting. I learned a lot about prediction from this book, but also about like, random other stuff too. It’s a book that makes you feel smarter, and encourages you to think better.

I found his argument to be persuasive and well laid out, and I also appreciated the general tone of the book, which believes that we’re capable of learning how to make better choices, and understand the world better than we do now. For all that he talks about terrorism and global warming, it still felt like an optimist book. Maybe I’m just weird?

Anyway, if after the election you feel like there isn’t enough Nate Silver in your life then maybe you should read this book, it was pretty neat.

House

This movie was just crazy and beautiful and I loved it so fucking much. I saw a trailer for it, and it looked really silly, and it is, but it’s really poignant too. I laughed a ton, but I also had Feelings.

It’s a Japanese movie, made in 1977, and while it’s a very fun genre piece, it was also made as commentary on the atomic bomb. The set up is simple and goofy — a group of young friends go visit one girl’s aunts. Then increasingly strange things happen. I’m not going to spoil it, but it gets really weird really quick and I love it. It’s gory, but only in a silly way. It’s gross, but always while being fun. My friend was very happy there weren’t any jump scares. It’s a perfect horror movie for wimps who like strange things.

It is so very strange. The special effects are so absurd. They aren’t advanced at all, but the director goes all out. He does things that I’ve never seen before, that I’m pretty sure aren’t supposed to be done, that conventional logic says are bad ideas. But somehow it works. It isn’t a so-bad-it’s-good situation, it’s an honest to god work of art, but parts are very campy. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which makes the slightly more serious moments hit even harder.

It’s an incredible movie, and I want to watch it again, and read about it, and write about it at length. It really knocked my socks off.

Rain the Color Blue With a Little Red In It


This was super fun. The Trylon showed it last month as part of the ongoing Sound Unseen series, which features films that involve music. This was a remake of Prince’s Purple Rain, set in Africa. It’s in Tamajeq, which does not have a word for purple, hence the title. It’s super great. The way it translated the story into a different setting was so spot on. It’s very much it’s own thing, and my friend who had never seen Purple Rain had a great time watching it, but I also had a really great time seeing how it followed the different beats of the original. The music was incredible. Mdou Moctar is in the Prince role, and he’s a great guitar player, and really good at looking cool on stage. I went in knowing nothing about this sort of music, or the scene the story is set in, but it does a great job explaining what the world is like, and why Moctar’s music is special.

Since Prince died, echoes of him have been all over Minneapolis as the Cities mourn one of our idols. It’s really incredible to see how far his influence has traveled, and what his story can mean to people so far away. It’s a super great movie, and I’d recommend it to fans of Prince, people who like good music, and people who like sweet movies about following your creative dreams.

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

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China Mieville is one of my favorite authors because he consistently writes books with interesting ideas. He’s good at taking different pieces and putting them together in novel ways. In this book his magpie tendencies are well in evidence.

It’s set in 1950, in a version of a Nazi occupied Paris. A decade earlier something called the s-bomb went off. Exactly what that was is a central mystery in the novel, but its effect was to let loose a plague of surrealism in the city. Poems and artwork has come alive, and is roaming free. There are also demons, conjured by the Nazi’s to battle the manifs, as the surrealist manifestations are called. There’s a long appendix at the end to help source all of the different references. Looking up everything mentioned in this book would probably be a pretty good introduction to the surrealist cannon.

The plot is about a young surrealist and a spy taking pictures of the city and trying to learn what’s going on. It’s a fine adventure story, with an excellent twist at the end. I wouldn’t say it’s Mieville’s best work, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It creates a really rich world, and has some interesting politics. If you’re a fan of Mieville or surrealism, check it out.

(spoiler for the afterward)

At the end of the book, Mieville lays out a story about how he was contacted by a former college, a historian, and set up to meet an old man. This old man told an incredible story, which is the novel we just read. It’s a very interesting gambit, fascinating whether we believe that’s the true origin of the novel or just a cunning framing device. I thought this added an interesting wrinkle to the story, but wonder if it may have had more impact if placed at the beginning of the book instead of the end. I wonder what it would have been like to experience the novel with the idea that someone had told Mieville this story in my head, instead of working to put what I had just read into a different context. It would be an interesting experiment to assign this book for a class, and have half the students read the afterward first, and half read it at the end, and see if they viewed the novel differently

Among Others by Jo Walton

I loved this book. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s about Mori, a young girl whose world just changed dramatically. There was an accent where twin sister died, and she was injured as well. Unable to live with her mother’s family any longer, she gets sent to a father she never knew, and from there onto a boarding school. She can’t live with her mother, because her mother is an evil witch.

Or at least she might be. The book is told as a series of diary entries, and it isn’t clear whether or not our narrator is reliable. She either has a very active imagination, or it’s a remarkable work of magical realism.

This is what magical realism actually is, not the urban fantasy that so often gets pointed to. The magic is treated with such matter of factness. Of course there are fairies, and her mother is a witch. There could be other explanations, but it might as well be magic.

It’s a very genre savvy novel. Mori is a huge science fiction and fantasy geek. These books are her refuge from the real world. The novel is set in the late seventies, and we see her read her way through the best of new wave science fiction. It references authors I love, and makes me want to go read others, who I’m sure must be good since they’re mentioned in this book. There was one part about not wanting to die because there was a book she hadn’t finished yet, which was just so perfect. That’s so much of my whole life philosophy. I really don’t get how other people don’t see that as enough incentive for staying alive. There are so many books, and tv shows, and movies, and comics, and records.

Stay alive so you can read this book, it’s really incredible. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful. There’s a family story, and a quest, and just enough romance. It has really interesting things to say about the power of fiction, and about disability. It’s a brilliant magic book and I loved it.