Ongoing resistance

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A long narrow spiderweb in a corner that's been frosted over with ice, making it look thick and furry and white.
A fuzzy frosted spiderweb captured by Bridget Sicchio   

This week

I dug up some notes I made to myself around the time of Trump's inauguration. I was primed to march and write and call, to make clear that I oppose everything this man and his party stand for. I also wondered how long that fire could possibly burn in me. Whether it was sustainable to act from a place of dissent, rather than hope or possibility, for months on end. 

Now that we're on the cusp of the next inauguration, my fear seems misplaced. Of course I was able to sustain my dissent, to keep saying no, for four years. There is so much clarity in resistance when the world is bad and the people in power are bragging about making it even worse. 

But what about when there are different people in power... and things are still really, really bad? In the end-of-2020 newsletter, I included an intention that one of you submitted: to hold Joe Biden accountable. A reader replied to me, “I think you meant trump and his family and stooges.” I get it. I, too, want Trump and his apologists and enablers held accountable for what they’ve done and who they’ve hurt. But that is—and always was—a narrow resistance mindset. A crystal-clear mindset, though. A motivating one. 


Remember the ancient days of early 2017, when people were flooding their representatives with demands? Three thousand messages a day, in some cases. A 900 percent increase over the previous year's calls. I’m working to summon the same fire now that this particular bad man is no longer president. I want to believe that energy does not come from anti-Trump resistance alone. That I can be just as motivated by evolution. That I can be one of many people flooding streets and inboxes in service of possibility, too, even in this different moment. Because there is still so much to remake.

I'm reading
Why do we keep telling ourselves the same stories about this country? The capitol rioters acted not out of economic desperation, but out of their belief in their inviolable right to rule. We can’t prosecute our way out of a fascist movement, and the last thing we need is another war on terror. On Stacey Abrams and the persistent problem of leaning too heavily on Black women. What was Donald Trump's twitter—and what is Twitter really for? How colonialism remade the entire material and intellectual world of the British empire, especially its most elite university. Are we seeing more queer experience on television — or are we just getting gay stories for straight allies? A critical look at Bridgerton. How Zora Neale Hurston posthumously saved the Florida town she called home. (It prompted me to reread Alice Walker's 1975 essay, "Looking for Zora.") The deaths of tribal elders are causing a cultural crisis in Native communities. How will you actually know when it’s your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine? After a woman accused her father of sexual abuse, her parents' attempt to discredit her created a defense for countless sex offenders. Dietitians push for standards that take a wider range of cultures into account. Cooking for people in assisted living facilities. Sampling the many "relaxation drinks" on the market. The pandemic is ruining our bodies... or maybe it's the canned cheese.

Sea shanty
Some people on the internet have gotten very into sea shanties lately. (If it's not stuck in your head already, check out the Wellerman song, brought to you by an ad hoc TikTok chorus.) This was also the week I learned about shipworm sex. And so, with a generous assist from marijuana and social isolation, I was inspired to write a shanty about a different kind of se(a)men. 

1. Read this article about shipworms.
2. Listen to the Wellerman song at least once, at which point it will likely be stuck in your head.
3. Then sing the following lyrics to yourself, to the Wellerman tune:

There once was a shipworm orrrgy
In the hulls of boats in the shallow sea
A white cloud blew, the bow dipped down
O blow, my bivalves, blow

Soon may the feathery worms
Jettison all their gobs of sperm
One day, when the siphonin' is done
They'll take their leave and go

They grew quite large beneath the decks
Then formed great knots, which is their sex
The scientist called all hands and swore
He'd film it on GoPro

Soon may the feathery worms
Jettison all their gobs of sperm
One day, when the siphonin' is done
They'll take their leave and go

The clams all groped competitively
The miasma made it hard to see
A genderless pseudocopulation
Was raging down below

Soon may the feathery worms
Jettison all their gobs of sperm
One day, when the siphonin' is done
They'll take their leave and go 

I'm sorry / you're welcome. I hope this inspires a raft of shanties about marine wildlife.

Pie charts will return next week, to everyone's great relief. If this sea shanty about shipworm pseudocopulation prompted you to cancel your paying membership, I completely understand. 

I’m looking & listening
Martin Luther King Jr summarizes US history. The lies the U.S. tells itself about race. A robot dances to Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey On The Moon." On CYG, we're talking books with Gish Jen and Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. 

GIF of elderly woman from Titanic saying "It's been 84 years"
Me reflecting on 2021 so far

I endorse
Marking Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (it's today, though widely celebrated Monday) by making a commitment to an ongoing action. One day of "service work" is really different than deciding to invest in your community. Think about the issues you care about, and google for a local group working on them. Bail reform? Housing justice? Raising the minimum wage? Trust me that there is at least one person doing this work in your corner of the world, and they'd love for you to join them—not just on Monday, but for the rest of the year. 

Also: The US federal government has been on an execution spree. You can sign the petition to demand the "pro-life" leaders of this country halt the planned killing of Dustin Higgs.

The Classifieds

Want to write your memoirs, but don’t know where to start? Stop feeling overwhelmed and start writing in this free Outline Your Memoir workshop.
Yes, the concept of building a brand is gross. Until you build one with your book and see what can happen. The podcast Build Your Brand with a Book is appropriately named and hosted by NYT bestselling author/TEDx speaker Anna David and you should only listen if making a living from your creative work appeals.
Learn how to integrate an inclusive feminist praxis into your business + client practice so you can minimise harm and better serve your community.

It's easy to leave sexuality out of your yearly vision board & plans. Make 2021 Your Best Sexual Year Yet with an intentional Sexual New Years Ritual.

Postcard subscriptions! What could be more fun? Basically nothing. Receive a mix of amazing cards each month from The Postcard Maven, stamps included!

JOB ALERT: We're hiring the first senior designer of a new web product team at Exploding Kittens. Your work will have a direct and immediate impact in the world of game discovery and publishing. Experienced designers of all backgrounds encouraged to apply.

These sell out, so buy early! 
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This newsletter is a resistance shanty.
Forward it to someone you harmonize with.

Ann Friedman

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PO Box 26932 | Los Angeles, CA 90026
© 2021

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