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Last week, I watched an angry white mob storm the heart of our nation’s capital in an attempt to subvert the will of millions of voters. These people came armed, not just with weapons, but with an innate sense of entitlement endowed by their skin color, a certainty swimming in their blood that they could livestream what they were doing with no fear of repercussion. I watched in horror and fury as the foundation of our fragile democracy trembled beneath thousands of angry footfalls, unsure if it would hold after the last four tumultuous years.

In the wake of this failed insurrection, I watched dozens of public figures proclaim that we are better than this as a country, that this is not who we are. There were social media posts aplenty making similar pronouncements, such that they became a persistent drumbeat that was impossible to ignore. Unfortunately, these hearty arguments and entreaties were little more than feel good bullshit. …


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What can I say about 2020 that hasn’t already been growled between gritted teeth by someone, somewhere on this planet? It’s certainly been a year that defies simplistic definitions. A time warp. A lengthy, shimmering interlude between one moment and the next. A dumpster fire. An extended period of forced, yet not altogether unpleasant calm. A struggle. A hazy, indeterminate dream state. A nightmare. Never ending. Lightning fast. Upheaval incarnate.

In other words, it’s been one hell of a year.

Living through a global pandemic wasn’t something I had on my Bingo card last New Year’s Eve, and the year I thought I was strutting into on January 1st, 2020 didn’t even begin to resemble the year I’m looking back on during this final day of December. But the one thing I’m left with at the end of this strange 12 months is just how damned lucky I am. I did more than live through a year that saw close to 350,000 Americans die and millions more lose their livelihoods. I was able to spend 2020 quarantining with the people I care about most in the world while working full time in the safe, comfy cocoon of my own home. I didn’t struggle with food insecurity. I didn’t worry about being evicted in the middle of a health crisis. …


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I’m pretty anxious about the upcoming election. That’s both the understatement of the century and an accurate description of my current state of being. I spend my day ping ponging between nausea-laced despair and regular despair — despair zero: all of the flavor without any of the pesky calories. If I’m awake, I’m worrying about a few hundred things at once, each one enormous, the cacophony beating along the inside of my skull.

And, yet, I still feel hopeful for some reason.

This is despite being a Black woman at this moment in America.

This is despite all evidence to the contrary. …


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First, let’s set the table.

Yes, I am that person that interjects with white women whenever someone mentions that it’s been 100 years since women gained the ability to vote. And if I don’t interject, I’m definitely thinking it. That might cause some folks to roll their eyes, but that doesn’t make my clarification any less true. We can celebrate an achievement while also pointing out how that same achievement fell well short of enfranchising the diverse range of women that lived in America in 1920.

History is a funny thing, isn’t it? Especially in this country. Instead of learning from it, we stubbornly choose to sand down its rough edges in order to draw our collective gaze to the loveliest smoothed over parts, completely avoiding the dry rot underneath that just keeps spreading. Maybe it’s because human beings are the kinds of creatures that crave rich narratives with beginnings, middles, and (happy) ends. Sweeping tales of heroes and heroines, all white, with the occasional person of color in a supporting role. …


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In 1776, a group of wealthy white men officially declared independence from a tyrannical monarchy. This collective of learned individuals stated boldly:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness.

More than 200 years later, many of us are still waiting for the full realization of this cherished ideal, our ears straining to hear freedom ringing from sea to shining sea. The great American fairy tale — that we were all in chains until the Declaration of Independence and the triumphant end of the Revolutionary War, which solidified the creation of this nation — always fails to mention that the United States was constructed to exclude most people from this pursuit of life, liberty, etcetera. Black people remained slaves. Indigenous people had no place in white society. All women were excluded, and only select white women could benefit from the power wielded by their landowning husbands or fathers. …


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Words come easily for me. They always have. No matter what’s happening in my life, no matter how upset, furious, or forlorn I am, if I sit down in front of the computer or a sheet of blank paper, the words come. And there’s release in that flow of words, a siphoning off of pressure, of pent up emotion, that has comforted me since I was a young girl scribbling in my journal. This release of words makes gathering my thoughts possible. I can sharpen them into a point and then attack whatever’s ultimately upsetting me. Or I can turn them into a lullaby sweet enough to neutralize the chaos in my head and usher in blessed peace. …


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Carly in her element. Lizards and squirrels beware.

A few days ago, I stood above my 14 year old rat terrier Carly as we waited on the veterinarian to come with the series of syringes that would end her life. While she looked up at me with absolute trust, completely oblivious to what was to come, I struggled to reconcile my love for her with the sense of deep betrayal I felt running parallel to that love, because I knew what was about to happen, and I had chosen it. She had no way of knowing why we’d left the house to take a short drive to the emergency vet, less than two miles away. She trusted me, because in our long history together, I’d never done anything to hurt her. But this was the best thing, I told myself repeatedly, even as I feared it might not be. She was in pain. She wasn’t going to get better. This was the right thing. The only humane option. But was it really? …


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I’m not leaving the house much anymore, so figured I’d start a blog series to share snippets from my oh-so-interesting-life-in-quarantine. My (lack of) exploits, thoughts, struggles, and, most importantly, snack choices. What better way to be alone, together than to provide these in depth peeks into my life that no one asked for!

Full disclosure: as an introvert, much of my regular life mirrors what would strictly be defined as quarantine conditions. My ideal day involves rising early, going for a run, listening to a podcast until I sit down at my computer to read articles while drinking several cups of coffee, having a small lunch while researching or doing some work in complete silence (my dog lightly snoring in her fluffy bed positioned within petting distance of my desk). Once I’m finished working for the evening and the end of my ideal day creeps nearer on sleepy feet, I have something delicious to eat for dinner, read or watch TV for the remainder of the night, and then hop into bed with my aforementioned snuggly dog. Did you notice that my ideal day involves never speaking to another human being? Yeah. …


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As someone who writes and talks about race, racism, and white supremacy a lot, I’m used to pushback whenever I point out our racist institutions or racist behavior in individuals. And as a black woman working in mostly progressive spaces, I’m also used to the constant stream of microaggressions and casual racism within our ranks. Occasionally, the racism isn’t so casual at all, but those instances are somewhat rare. What’s not rare is the automatic response whenever I or another person of color dares to point out racist behavior in some of the white folks dwelling in these so-called progressive spaces. A torrent of defensiveness is unleashed at the mere suggestion that the white person in question needs to correct their conduct. This reaction is almost always amplified to outrageous levels because, on the whole, progressives believe themselves to be completely ‘woke’. …


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I’d like to speak to my fellow introverts first.

Fam, this is our time. We’ve been preparing for this our entire lives through diligent preemptive social distancing. All those evenings and weekends spent in your own magnificent company. The texts and phone calls from friends that you left unanswered, lest someone try to lure you out of your house. The doors that stayed locked even after someone knocked. The legion of excuses you employed to keep from accepting invitations to social engagements. I already know you have all the reading materials, comfy blankets, caffeinated beverages, snacks, and snuggly animals that you’ll need to get to the other side of this crisis. …

About

Tess Martin

I’m a writer, runner, functional introvert, and herder of cats. Find me at www.theundercoverintrovert.com or on Facebook @ theundercoverintrovert.

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