Yesterday, I worked on my post-Apocalyptic novel for quite a while; I will post a first-page excerpt far below. It just so happened that I was starting that project as Trump was elected. Like many of you I was in denial, severely shocked, utterly terrified, and mourning the death of my country. That lasted a few hours before I arose to face my family and really consider what kind of person I wanted to be in this fascist regime.
I thought hard about what message I wanted to put forward. People are already agitated, so I decided to talk about a vision for a new America. One that is possible with jobs, healthcare, housing, in short the desire that drove people to vote for Trump. Is this utopia possible? Yes. Is it possible under Trump? Hell No!
I didn't get heavy on the political economy and destruction of our unsustainable economic system, but I ask you, if people can't work, how will they buy any goods? How can an economy function that way? These questions are real that we, too, face in my family with one income in an expensive urban setting.
I believe Adam, yes that Adam, my awesome editor, summarized the current political and economic situation best out of all the Facebook posts I have been reading:
"Apocalypse" comes from the word for "Revelation," which literally means "to reveal" or "to remove the veil." The structures that hide the fundamental history and contradictions of our country are breaking down. The capitalist system has reached its limits. We will see clearer soon. It will get uglier. But a new world is on the other side. What kind is up to us."
Throughout yesterday morning, I also had to think about my students. Our discussing these difficult topics was not even a question. It's what we do almost on a daily basis.
But before I went into work, I found myself reassuring parents at my son's school. I smiled at them and heard their angst.
At church, I was hugging people and just listening to their fears. Faith they already have, but I urged them to stay strong, and organize. I told them my vision, and they agreed. They are Christians after all.
What did get to me was how the children were responding; some of the grades had to attend Mass that day, which was so necessary. In describing their feelings, after the priest asked them how they were doing, they used adjectives like: scared, confused, disappointed, happy for him, sad.
Then, I went to work. I talked to my colleagues, and we comforted each other. But, again, I listened and listened some more. I shared my vision and urged them to take heart. We will overcome together because we must.
Then, a student came to my office, in tears, anguished, fearful. I listened and we talked, real talk. We also listened to speeches on my phone. More tears. But a glimmer of hope was there after sharing our visions of what is possible.
Then onto teach class. Both bodies of students really wanted to address the cataclysm that was that election. We discussed the political process and the flaws in it, and their fears. People were again crying, angry, angry, so angry, afraid. Afraid for their undocumented relatives. Afraid for themselves. But in all the discussion, more hope.
The students are organizing and more than just protests. They are going to Standing Rock. They went downtown (though I urged them to be safe).
They are awake, and there is hope in that critical consciousness, that class consciousness that could pull us out of this devastating moment in history.
That was my day yesterday, and it was a great day to be a professor. It was a great day to be a human being. It was a wonderful day to be a mother and wife. It was a great day to be on the right side of justice and history.
Below is an excerpt on my novel. It is coming along OK, but I am going to do what a good writer should, since it is still a draft. I am going to plan out the chapters and characters more. The conflict, struggles, and resolutions also need to be fine tuned. I am also toying with the idea of offering both points of view, alternatively. After all, I already have the other point of view, which is Alan's world view. I am writing this novel for the third time. This time, it's flowing better.
Enjoy. And here's to a vision of a truly democratic America where everyone has a house, healthcare, education, in short, life free from fascism and repression and economic devastation. #FightForward
My mother hands me an old gallon container; this one is grey without a filter. I look out the window and see no Red Guards on the street. No Guards means no Harvest, most of the time.
“Now,” says my mother, as if I haven’t been doing this run since I was six years old, “Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t stay out in the sun too long. If you hear the sirens, run to the old bunker. Just last week, Mrs. Lopez’s boy was harvested right before he got to his safe spot. You can’t hide here during harvest.”
“Mom,” I sigh looking at her weary face. She is leaner than I remember with faded green eyes and perpetual orange stains on her hands and face from the processing plant. Her hair is a knot over her head with nothing holding it tight but a wispy strand of her own graying hair. I want to give her a biting remark, but instead I smile and say, “Don’t worry Mom. I’m the fastest runner in my class and besides, there was just a harvest yesterday.”
Mom hesitates like she wants to tell me something, but even plant workers are not supposed to talk about their trade.
“Just be careful,” she gives me an unusually long hug, “Remember-“
I clamp my hand over her mouth like I used to as a toddler and say in a robotic tone, “ ‘Be productive. Be accountable. Be safe.’” I take my hand off her worried face, “I got the red ribbon again this month. I will be safe.” It’s true. I have gotten the red ribbon award for being productive, accountable, and never getting wounds in combat.
I step out into the harsh glaring sun wearing a large Panama hat. Panama was once a country, and that is all they tell us in school. I walk confidently because running is not allowed, but I manage to walk 3.5 miles an hour like I have purpose, when my only purpose is to get clean water.
Half way down the street, my heart freezes. The sirens begin softly, like an old song you can’t forget, and then the sound rises to a near immobilizing pitch. I run, making sure not to drop the gallon. I wonder where everyone is or if someone got an underground notice I didn’t. I crash hard into an old man. It’s the homeless man who has been avoiding harvest since I was a little girl: Old Hope. He’s too old to be processed, but I always wondered what they did with spare meat. I hope I never find out.
For a moment, we both have the same impulse. Though I am only twelve, I am strong and lethal. I have learned fifteen ways of killing someone, two with my bare hands. I could maim him or at least stun him, so he will be left behind. But instead, we both get up and run in opposite directions. I guess we are not productive citizens after all. I head down Victory Road toward the retiree compound. She will be waiting for me, my old friend.
Dr. Jesú Estrada,