Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Peace Islands: Coping, Week Two

It's now been two weeks in this new weird world. I started tutoring part time in a writing center. This is the type of job I would have once found fulfilling, but my first day working one-on-one with students left me hopeless. How will these students ever learn how to write? We spend fifty minutes together, and that's only enough time to revise the introduction paragraph. This guy can't focus. This girl doesn't understand articles. At home I blobbed into the couch. What's the point? If half the country is garbage, if it takes people three failing grades to make it out of English 100, if I enjoy pizza date night, but I shove the huge cardboard box in the dumpster. Why are we walking as if everything hasn't been exposed as slop. "This isn't you," reminded Puhg.

As a professor of a city college, I have access to the wellness center, which means free counseling. I called yesterday to see if I could get an appointment. I was offered 9 AM today. My counselor wore a hijab. She asked how I was, "I'm sad," I said, "about the election." She said, "You're not the only one." I've heard normalizing pain doesn't usually help, but in this case, it did. She kept reminding me "More than half of the country feels like you." That encouraged me in two ways. One, at least half the country isn't trash and two, we'd be 100% trash if I (and all people like me) gave up.

We talked about how she was feeling because I asked. Because she's Muslim. And she seemed happy. It was really helpful to hear her experience. A) She did not follow the election. As a non-citizen she couldn't vote and so preferred to not get wrapped up in all the hate Tr*mp was spewing. I don't think ignorance is the answer, but sometimes we must focus on other progressive things besides politics. B) She feels empathy with the US because she is from Turkey. She fled to avoid Erdogan--Turkish Tr*mp (she says). But he's much worse. Not like "it could be worse" is a valid argument, but it can make a person at least attempt gratitude. C) She says she's never been treated poorly as a Muslim. She recognizes she is in Chicago and there are places she probably shouldn't go in America, but as of now, here, people are really nice to her.

She told me I'm not the first person to express hopelessness about the future. She gave me the visual of "peace islands." Maybe the world seems bad. Maybe it is even mostly bad, but there are places of peace, and we should expand those, instead of letting them fall into the sea. I can buy that for today. Tomorrow I might ask, "But what's the point of making peace islands bigger anyway?" But today, okay.

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