10 Easy Steps: How to survive Thanksgiving (without talking about Trump or DAPL)

I’m heading into Trump Territory to eat turkey with my family in a few hours.

I voted for HRC and I support resistance to fossil fuels in most cases. North Dakota went something like 70/30 for Trump and people are decided about the protests: “Those outsiders are stirring up trouble and they gots to go.” Add the recent alt-right victories and people are coming unhinged. Some of the social media comments even advocate for killing these protestors. Really. Look for yourself. They won’t be too hard to find. They are pretty much applauded for taking this hard stance.

After posting my thoughts on the violence of Sunday night’s tactics toward water protectors, as they like to be called, I was treated to an appetizer course in what lies in store for me six hours down the road.

I do not want to spend my holiday arguing politics or pipelines.

Here’s a list. I’m writing it more for myself than for anyone else:

  1. Come bearing gifts. Bring a bottle of wine, a pie, or hot-dish to your mother/aunt/uncle/brother. In my case, it will definitely be wine. And beer.
  2. When the pipeline issue surfaces, and it will, do not under any circumstances, make it your responsibility to inform or argue the points of the water protectors.

    Instead, ask how this can all be resolved.

    What most locals want is for these people to leave. Well, how is that wish to be granted?

    Hint* The so-called rioters aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They believe passionately in their cause.

  3. It’s not a black and white issue. There are idiots on both sides. There are also people who have the best intentions on both sides. (By sides, I am referring to police and protesters, and those who support them.) Deescalate the situation by acknowledging that there are jerks on both sides.
  4. Do not try to argue the cause for the protesters. I repeat, do not try to argue their cause. It is up to them to do that themselves. And it will just raise your blood pressure.
  5. Play Cards Against Humanity. Yeah. With your mom. It’ll be fun. Get the wine.
  6. Watch Elf. Or Home Alone. Or one of those stop-motion Christmas movies.
  7. Don’t talk about Broadway.
  8. Pray that Trump will just let us all enjoy our holiday and stay the hell off of Twitter for the next week. At least until we have to go back to work next Monday. For the love of God.
  9. Pretend that Donald Trump does not exist. Just for a few days. We owe it to ourselves to take a trip back to that alternate reality we lived in before Election Night.

  10. Don’t forget. All the troubles of the world will still be there next week. So, if you’re like me and you feel like you’re heading into a war-zone (because you kind of are actually), prepare yourself to relax, avoid, and deescalate. You may feel passionately about these things. That’s okay. You still can. Remember that you love these people. They’re your family.

Does it seem like my mantra is to avoid? Well, it is and it isn’t. Like, I said, these issues aren’t going anywhere, but I really don’t want to spend my break trying to convince people to see things my way. I don’t want to hear their opinions. I know what they are. I’ve been watching. I don’t need anybody to repeat talking points for me. I just want to enjoy my couple of days off. Sorry not sorry?

I might head down to Standing Rock to witness what is happening there. If I do, I’ll probably blog about it.

My first blog post.

Again. And I hate writing the first one. It’s the same reason I haven’t been able to make any art lately.

There are too many things to say, too many things to paint, too many things to be.

My indecisiveness has plagued me at every stage of life since I was given the ability to decide things. I could blame this on a lack of confidence in my choices. I don’t know where I come from, but I’m either contrarian in nature or just a product of a Lutheran upbringing taken to heart despite a very conservative home state. (Yes, those things contradict each other imho.) Either way, I find myself second-guessing many of my impulses. I could attribute that to humility, level-headedness (haha), or checks and balances, but it’s probably more like fear. Like, a what if I do what I want to and then everyone can say they told me so when I fail kind of fear.

This has led to a lot of compromises in life.

And who knows? Maybe it has saved me from utter failure and hard times.

It leaves me feeling like every choice I make is a door closed on another, so I think I’ve postponed a lot of choices in my life. And I tend to remain not entirely committed to others. And it’s also stopped me from pursuing a lot of things. I sometimes feel frozen. Stalled. Writer’s blocked in life. Like every commitment is furthering my life path in a direction I can never return from. And it is! But, so what? What’s my hang up? This is what it’s like for everybody, right?

Even journaling. I almost didn’t start this post because it could have been about anything. I could have written a post about ideas for the future of American politics, nostalgia for the landscape of my childhood, the struggles and rewards of being a public educator. Or I could have become overwhelmed and written about nothing.

I guess what I need is discipline. Discipline to just move in any direction, rather than sitting and thinking about how many different directions there are, and trying to pick the perfect one. The paradox of choice?

It’s the same feeling I get when there are 29 different shampoos to choose from.

Overwhelmed. Shampoo doesn’t matter but how I spend my leisure and work, where I live, who I surround myself with: these things do. What I create matters, but it doesn’t matter that much. I think the point is to get messy and have fun and forget about the judgment of the world completely. I know you can’t create art in a vacuum, but maybe, yeah, you kind of can. And maybe I need to shut out the noise and really look inward.

My soul isn’t a vacuum, right? If anything it’s a bridge.

So if you read this, thanks. I’ll be trying to do more of it.