Post-Birthday Reality

[image: selfie of a me, a smiling white woman and
my happy teen son Leo, with sunlight streaming
from behind. I am wearing a black t-shirt that
reads "WTF?" In white block letters.]
Leo's 16th birthday made November 9th bearable. He was so excited. There were birthday pancakes for breakfast. There were cake and kazoos and singing happy birthday at school. There was enough joy to distract from the horror of the 2016 U.S. presidential election results.

[image: Leo about to blow out the candle on
a gold sheetcake birthday cake
in a darkened room.]
Mostly we were distracted with cake! There were supposed to be cupcakes, but I was shopping as the election results started to descend into the Abyss, and so was too addled to remember to buy the cupcake papers on the list I was holding in my hand. So, sheet cake. Leo certainly didn't mind. I even made one of the cakes metallic gold, as you can kind of see in the photo.

[image: Leo on a trampoline, with his arms
upraised, looking happy and ferocious.]
Underneath the happiness (so much happiness! trampolines!), << this is how I felt all day. When I wasn't imploding. Because that's what I do, I implode. I'm an imploder.

Our birthday boy, meanwhile, was so gloriously tired by the glorious birthday he'd been talking about for months that he had no interest in opening presents when he got home. Which you have to respect. Go Leo. Love you, Dude. Glad you had the day you wanted, and thank you for giving us a reason to celebrate.

So let's get back to the election itself. I have to be honest with you: on the night itself, I had a rum-and-coke at around 10:30 PM, because once things became truly grim, my only wish was to go to sleep. I had not truly believed this reality could happen, even though I was trying to be cautious and circumspect, and had been reminding people that Nate Silver's model got Brexit wrong.

The day of the campaign, during my I-need-to-stay-healthy-for-my-family hike, my path was blocked by a huge gopher snake. It was at least four feet long, and was completely stretched across the path. I am not scared of snakes, so I gently touched its tail with my foot in the hopes it would slither away and I wouldn't have to jump over it. But no, it refused to moved, and just looked at me, flickering its tongue, telling me to fuck off, it didn't care, it was probably digesting its lunch in the sun, and I could move on, or not. I got chills down my back as I stoped over it, wondering if it was a callous obstructionist omen. Now I think maybe it was. And the panic over this new reality keeps startling me awake at night.

Iz has been pissed but calmly determined in the election aftermath, but I had to talk down Mali. She asked me who I was worried about, and I said, "you." I had to remind her what Pence's hateful stances mean for her, and what his running mate's hateful stances will likely mean for her brother. And then, after she opined about possible solutions, telling her that no, we do not and cannot advocate assassination. We do not solve problems with violence. We have to respect the will of the people even if the President-elect didn't actually capture the popular vote. (At the same time, Iz was pelting us from college with Electoral College grievances.)

I worry how our youngest will react to any enabled hate at her middle school. Last week she was lucky not to receive harsher consequences for her physical, erm, chastisement of a boy who called a friend of hers a slur. I worry that she will unleash martial arts-trained fury at this kind of emboldenment:
[video: various people and images recounting discrimination-based post-election hate crimes.]

I told her it's absolutely necessary to stand up. I said that if she sees anyone intimidating anyone else for  being a girl, LGBT, an immigrant, undocumented, disabled, then she has to say something. She cannot let it slide. (She took a beat, then replied, "That's my whole school.") I said that she has to  speak up, and tell the hater, "no." And then see if she can get the victim away, to a safe place. I said we cannot ever let hate slide.

What can you do? Donate to orgs that stand up for people the President-elect will target. Work with ASAN to support and buttress Medicaid. Get educated, do not get complacent, boost the signals that need boosting. Take care of people who need help taking care of themselves. And don't be lulled into complacency or collaboration, because as a German friend of mine noted, thinking that the stressors and roadblocks of governing would temper the Nazi Party was what actually enable the Nazis to gain total power. And it happened very quickly.

[image: black-and-white cat seen from the
side, snuggling in my lap.]
I'd be interested to hear what actions you've been taking. I've been agitating on social media to the best of my abilities. I've also been spending lot of time cuddling with Twist, our one-year-old puppy-cat. It's almost amusing that, one month ago when we got his FIP diagnosis, I thought  having a terminally ill cat was the end of the world. (Though Twist was only given one to three months, he has perked up considerably and even gained back some weight; guess he's too young to have used up many of his lives).

Me, I'm leaving for Mexico for the weekend. Not as a reaction, but because this trip was planned for months, by a kind friend, who knows we've had a stress-bomb year. We'll be in the very chill Valle de Guadalupe, where many folks live trans-border lifestyles. Really wondering how much more difficult that's going to be, now. Will see what people have to say, and report back.

Take care of yourselves.

*This post was mostly written on my phone, and as Blogger.com, openly warns not to do that, I hope the formatting is not too wonky. But I'm not bringing my damn laptop on vacation.


Change: Dislike

Leo will be sixteen in two days -- or on, as I like to say, the day after The Apocalypse. He was also born two days after the 2000 election, while the Dubya/Gore contest was still ... contested. I remember the anxiety of not knowing who the President would be -- it's a miracle my milk came in -- so it's a damn good thing I'm not giving birth this week. (Wait -- maybe election anxiety causes autism? I'll have to tell Emily about that one.)

Meanwhile, I'm crossing all my fingers and toes, and voting as hard as I can for Hillary Clinton. Who actually cares about autistic people in the present and the future, as evidenced by her actually having an autism plan. As opposed to her opponent, who is the embodied eructation of willful ignorance, arrogance, and cluelessness. And who I hope loses, humiliatingly, even though he doesn't seem to be able to grasp when he's being humiliated. Because I want us to be able to get back to talking about creating a better world, instead of worrying about reality show bullies wielding real-world nuclear codes.

Leo and Victor when Leo was teeny.
[image: young white boy with short brown hair
hugging a young Latino man with shaved black hair.]
Regardless, change is hard. Really hard. We are going through an extra-strong dose of hard right now: Leo's beloved bro/physical trainer/respite aide Victor, who has been with Leo since he was little, has moved on to a different position that works better for his family. Which is totally understandable. But really hard. He and Leo were and are best buds.

Leo and Victor Yesterday.
[image: white teen boy with short curly brown hair
hugging a Latino man with shaved black hair.]
Which doesn't always happen. Leo has had a lot of people work with him who just didn't get him, and he sensed that and pushed back at them, and they left. It happens a lot, and not just to our family. Finding people who intuitively get individuals, and also understand working with autistic people, that's a specific subset.

It will be OK. Leo will be OK. Change happens, and he doesn't like it and and neither do we, but we were lucky that Leo got to have Victor in his life as long as he did. Leo and Victor have always had a strong sense of bro-hood, which was delightful to observe and always made me feel so happy for my dude and grateful to Victor. Still, much sadness.

Hector, Leo, and Victor
[image: Teen white soccer player with short brown hair
between two smiling Latino men wearing sunglasses.]
And, since Victor is the coolest and nicest person imaginable, he already brought in and trained a replacement for himself: Hector. Victor has assured us that Hector is his double in nearly all ways -- professional background, competence, chill. Leo has already started clicking with Hector during soccer, so hopefully their transition together will be an smooth one.

Fingers and green straws crossed. Also, no more change any time soon please.