The day after Trump was elected, it was sunny in Los Angeles, with a high in the mid-90s, typical for November in Southern California, besides some unusual precipitation causing small, highly concentrated floods throughout the day. Mostly of the eyelids and cheeks. In slow traffic on Sunset Boulevard, a driver heard Obama respectfully surrender on the radio, and a strangled sobbing came forth. In the waiting room at the dentist, a patient welled up. Seeing the tooth business continue totally unfettered by this tragedy was sickening.
I started crying at the sight of the blank page when I opened my computer to write. That brought the storm out of me. Hard, liquid sobbing, for a long while. And loud, so the dog came into the room and curled up at the foot of the bed, shooting me a worried look now and then.
I think I cried at the blank page because the grief is so fresh and tangled up, it's inexpressible. Fear, guilt, powerlessness, anger, confusion. I turn to my friends, my media, and my leaders, and I'm told this must be a wake-up call, a catalyst for serious action. I reblog. I agree. I cry, because concretely I don't know what they mean. I'm still just sitting around on a Saturday. The sun is out and the birds are in the trees, doing bird stuff. I don't want to call them stupid, or racist, but I'm pretty sure now is not the time for that kind of dillydallying.
For expert guidance, I called up Christine Garcia, a brilliant woman who wore a sharp gray pantsuit on Election Day and is a clinical psychologist at UCSF's Department of Psychiatry. Below, I paraphrase and illustrate some of the things she told me: what conscious action could look like, and how to hold anger and summon empathy at the same time.