These times are troubled, these times are tough
There’s more to come but you can’t give up
Why don’t you shake a tail for peace and love?
I’m so sad that Janet Weiss left the band. If I had seen Sleater-Kinney as a teen, I am absolutely certain I would have become a drummer. My favorite spot to stand at their shows was anywhere with a clear view of Janet’s wild, precise, powerful drumming, her black bob shaking back and forth with the beat.
Obviously, S-K existed before Janet, and they may continue on without her. But this feels like Pixies-without-Kim-Deal territory again. Something vital is lost.
I went to last night’s 49th Ward aldermanic debate between Joe Moore and Maria Hadden. I guess I was expecting it to be a little dull and rambling, like most other political events in the ward (where every well-meaning old white person has to stand up and give their bona fides about how “I met Dr. King once and so I know . . . .” before asking a nine-part question). Instead, it was an efficient debate between two starkly different Democrats, expertly moderated by a League of Women Voters member (and former high school German teacher) who knew her stuff and was up for no shenanigans, and well attended by an engaged audience of neighbors who behaved themselves. The questions, thankfully, were submitted on index cards.
The gist: Moore acted like he just deserved to be reelected. He said three separate times that he could just retire and take his pension and get a big-money private sector job, but he just loves the ward so much. His big issues were school choice and more cops, which he brought up every chance he could. He stammered frequently and seemed generally unprepared and tone deaf.
Hadden, on the other hand, was polished and direct. She had facts and stats in her arsenal and creative answers to questions about how to end poverty in the ward, keep housing affordable, and fund schools equitably. She came out against the new cop academy and the Lincoln Yards TIF (which she called “Parking Meters 2.0” for the speed and lack of transparency with which it’s being shoved through City Council before Rahm Emanuel leaves office), and actually mentioned people of color and people with disabilities as being important constituents in the ward whose concerns should be considered (imagine that!).
The final question came from a 4th grader who wanted to know how the alderman would make CPS school lunches better. It was a cute question, but Hadden took it seriously and pointed out that what was keeping schools from having healthier food and vegetarian options was the city’s contract with Aramark. Moore, weirdly, boasted about how he was able to get the schools to offer breakfast, too (“You know that shitty food you hate, kids? I got you more of it! You’re welcome”).
I dreamed I was at work, editing a document in Word that kept making noises somehow. I kept zooming in on the text to see where the noise was coming from. I woke up to the neighbors’ fireworks and looked at the clock, and that’s how I knew it was midnight.
What can be said about 2018 except that it went by very quickly for a shitty year that felt like it was never going to end? You know, because of The Everything. The Overwhelm. The Unrelenting Horrorscreams of living in this now with these people in charge.
I spent the year feeling like I should be doing more, then tallying up what I was doing—the phone calls, the postcard parties, the donations, the bowlathon, the fundraising, the election protection—and I still felt isolated, depressed, exhausted, convinced I wasn’t doing my share.
Saying it was a hard year feels selfish. All things considered, I’m doing better than a lot of people. And at least I can get regular therapy for the depression and anxiety that have been breaking my spirit like it’s their job (it is. They’re very good at it, and I think maybe they got promoted or something this year because they’re showing some admirable hustle).
I wanted to put a regular year-end Top 10 list together, but I realized that I probably haven’t even seen 10 movies in the theater this year, or 10 concerts, or even 10 plays, which is rare. I spent a lot of time alone indoors, declining invitations and indulging the worst parts of my introversion (I did kick the shit out of my Goodreads challenge this year, though—woo!). I quit Facebook, deleted my Tumblr, removed all my old Rubbernun sites, ditched Twitter (for a while) but check in sporadically because it’s weird being THAT disconnected but every time I look at Twitter, I can feel my depression getting worse—like a hand reaching into my ribcage and dragging me down. But there’s also WeRateDogs, so.
I just spent a lot of time in my head this year. It was not a wise decision.
When I did do stuff, I liked these things. Maybe you will also like them.
Superchunk. I like Superchunk every year, but they put out a fantastic album in 2018 about the aftermath of the 2016 election and the importance of not giving in to despair. Their set at Riot Fest rocked my face off (and I don’t blame them for the skull-shattering migraine that followed. I blame the sun. And whoever decided to face a stage into the setting sun on a hot September day. Because why? Why would anyone do that?). Plus I got to perform some of those songs myself—figuring out the bass parts and everything—with the Merge Records Ensemble class at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Weekly classes and the occasional performance with a group of friends and good musicians helped pull me out of myself this year. Learning an instrument in my dotage is a gift that keeps on giving, people.
I read some great books this year: Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers (devastating. It absolutely gutted me); Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ When They Call You a Terrorist (research for work, because I got to interview her, but it was gripping and lovely and everyone should read it); Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties; George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo (it’s from last year, but I listened to the audiobook this year and loved it all over again); Ben Passmore’s Your Black Friend (read this, white people).