I shared some other thoughts on Facebook, but I have more I’d like to put here. Unfortunately they’re of an equally somber nature. I had hoped to do a funner post in between the last one and my election one, but timing didn’t work out.
For background information, I and the other Fulbrighters got invited to attend the Shenyang consulate’s election party. Viewing this as a once in a life time event (and after the results I certainly hope it was) we shuffled around our classes and took a night train down to Shenyang. Got treated to breakfast at the Shangri-La hotel (five stars) and damn was it good. Beautiful western/Chinese buffet. I had a salad with smoked salmon!
The event was pretty cool, they had a bunch of activities about American culture, CNN on big screens, and were giving away tons of free stuff. I got a a swagtastic bag and great hardcover book detailing the history of U.S.-China relations (in Chinese).
Now on to the sad part. When it became clear the party was taking a decided turn for the somber, I kind of just started shutting down. Besides a few expletives, I kept calm as I slowly died inside, maybe that’s how the Foreign Service Officers (who are forbidden from broadcasting their views in public) remained so calm as they realized they would have to be representing this government for the next four years. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t. I think this is just how I react to crisis. Shut it down. I wanted to be strong, to stay positive. Even today when some tears finally came, I forced myself to wait until in between classes. I wanted to fight through the terror that Wednesday instilled in me and be the better person. I’ve decided that that’s not healthy though. If you’re familiar with shiva, traditional Jewish mourning, I’m taking a similar mindset here. Grief is not something to be neglected lest if erode you, nor is it to be wallowed in. It should be given it’s proper time. I hope that by taking these 24 hours or so to feel terrified and sad and dead I’ll be able to be more proactive going forward. And I think it’s working. But still I feel powerless to fight the fear, mine and others’, that the election caused.
I was ready to heed Hillary’s call to give Trump a chance to lead, but given his first 100-day plan I say he lost that chance already. Appointing a climate change denier as head of the EPA, and many other actions have lost him whatever potential I thought he had.
Which is why I’m so conflicted right now. I feel the hate, I feel the dissappointment, and if I were in the states I might very well be at the protests. If more Democrats had turned out, I think Hillary could have won. But I don’t think violence and the rejection of our system is the answer. Planned Parenthood is safe. Trump can’t actually do a lot of what he threatens to do. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a vile man and I think he’s going to do irreparable damage to our environment and international image, but rejecting the legitimacy of his win is not the answer in my opinion. I have the option of remaining an expat and riding the presidency out, but mom’s argument against private schools came back to me. The parents with the money to send their kids to private school out of a desire to get them a better education are the very ones with the ability and motivation to affect change. If they pull out of the public school system it’s never going to get better. Simple as that. So as a relatively strong ability to affect change, and an obligation to serve in the government whether I want to or not, I feel a duty to return to the States after Fulbright and do what I can. What form that takes remains to be see, but it will hopefully do something positive.
On the plus side, after 48+ hours has been an at least adequate shiva. We’ve gotten our first big dumping of snow and it’s helped the healing process. Because China doesn’t ice its roads, the whole city kinda turns into an ice rink. Major roads and sidewalks are chipped clean by people with long-handled chisels, but if you stick to the side streets you can commute on ice skates. You kinda do already, cus practically the entire city is black ice, which makes texting and walking so perilous no one does it. Spent this Friday decorating a Christmas tree with some lovely Russian hot chocolate. Peppermint schnapps are the most important ingredient. You wouldn’t think it, but a snowy, dreary, freezing Soviet landscape is great for one’s mood. It also means you don’t have to refrigerate your beer :D.
Another thing that brought a smile to my face was the tea trip on Thursday. While I’m not taking the normal one-on-two pronunciation drill, I asked to go along with them on this activity, cus I love it. It was justa trip to a teashop where we watched a tea performance, drank tea, and relaxed. The change that those two hours made in my mood was amazing. I’ll talk more about it in the next post, hope the pics will brighten the mood. 🙂