What I’m Doing
By Claire Sexton
UUWF Vice President/Funding Programs
I awoke on November 9 as if from a bad dream, my young son had made a mess that I wasn’t ready to deal with, and I’d stayed up late the night before trying to comprehend what was going on.
The nightmare has deepened as time goes by. Things that have helped me include SNL that week; I’m a big fan of Dave Chappelle and was so happy to see him back in the public eye. I played the cold open — Kate McKinnon dressed as Hilary and playing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on loop — for a few days, trying to get “Sister Suffragette” from Mary Poppins out of my head.
Since then I’ve made a document with all my legislators’ phone numbers for their DC/Austin and home offices, and called most of them about one piece of legislation or another. I did Paul Ryan’s survey about whether I support the ACA and left a detailed message about how I (a freelancer) and my husband (a student) would not have insurance if it were not for the ACA. That my husband was able to have surgery this summer only because of our subsidized plan. That only our young son would be covered by Medicaid if it were not for the ACA.
Since moving back to Texas, I’ve gotten to know my Texas rep a bit as he is a supporter of the arts and has been on hand to talk about arts advocacy. So I didn’t hesitate to call his office the week before Thanksgiving and talk about a law that has been pre-filed in the Texas House of Representatives, which requires hospitals to cremate or inter fetal tissue from miscarriages or abortions. I told the staffer how I thought it was an onerous thing to make people in overtaxed hospitals do, as well as for the woman (from whose body the fetal tissue came) in what is surely a difficult time of life.
She was super helpful, making sure I knew it was early to be registering opinions and that Doc Anderson usually does vote for “those kinds of things.” She shared that the Rep who introduced it was a bit of a surprise but that he’s a committee chair so it may have more legs this time around.
Yesterday, I learned that a version of this rule is definitely going to be enacted, although through some other process. I first heard via a Texas friend posting an article, and now it’s making the rounds among my pro-choice friends who are in other places. TERRIBLE. Will be doing more calling about that soon.
Another thing that helps is that I have a great family that lifts me up; I’m so thankful for them. My husband, young son, and I traveled to southeast Louisiana to meet up with my mom’s side of the family. That my grandfather couldn’t make it was a bit of a disappointment, but that did make it a much easier trip. That side of the family, with Grandad as the exception, is on the liberal end of the political spectrum. There wasn’t much talk of the president-elect over the holiday weekend, and when he came up in discussion we commiserated on our disappointment and moved on quickly. It was such a pleasure to be in the warm embrace of the family just then, and have an unspoken agreement that Ivanka’s dad was not worth our precious time together.
The group has never done a Thanksgiving together before. We’d had a couple Christmases and lots of summertime river trips. I have mixed feelings about the holiday, and it’s sure not cheap or easy to travel around that time, but as I posted early on that Thursday morning:
In Louisiana where we met up with the majority of my mom’s side of the family, from Florida, Georgia, California, and other parts of Texas. I am immensely grateful to be with all of them. Charlie got to play all evening with his second cousin Cliff, then he crashed out with his other second cousin Olivia. We’ve got a Turducken ready to go in the oven and I’m sitting on a porch overlooking a foggy bayou watching the birds while everyone else sleeps. All is not right with the world, but my little world right now is pretty A-OK.
I’m back home in the “real world” again and it still feels surreal. Things have changed even since then. More disappointing news about cabinet appointees. Learning that a big group of veterans is arriving or on their way to stand with Standing Rock and be protectors of the water protectors, including a fond friend from high school. End-of-year fundraising appeals everywhere I turn, all for organizations I love but can’t afford to support on a nonprofit freelancer’s “salary.”
The list is long, and I keep adding items, checking them off slowly, and moving to the next thing I can do. I’m so glad to be a part of the UUWF Board. Knowing some of the members for only a few months and meeting them in person for the first time just this past October, and knowing others since I was a teenager. Being with the group is another kind of warm embrace. In person or in spirit or email — our discussions are inspiring, talking about how to best support women, how best to fight institutional, intersectional oppressions in the U.S. (and, let’s face it, in our Unitarian Universalist communities). I want to strengthen women and remind them, remind you, that it’s OK to be vulnerable and flawed too.