Much has already been written about the disappointed superfans and QAnon followers left rudderless after former President Trump exited the White House with nary an executed Satanist pedophile or vice president, no mass arrests and no overturning of the election. But diehard worshippers and disgruntled Proud Boys are not the only ones suddenly adrift as "My Way" played against the pulse of helicopter blades.
Many of us spent the last four years in adrenal overdrive, doomscrolling into the wee hours and waking to fight-or-flight signals pinging around our brains like pinballs with our first glimpse of the news. The pandemic wound us even tighter and the siege on the Capitol threw our engines into anxiety/rage gears even marginalized people didn't know we had. If you watched the inauguration with your molars locked together, worried Lady Gaga's giant dove brooch might be rigged to explode, or that at any moment an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist might vanish the whole scene like a sand painting, you're not alone. Let's tackle some common adjustment issues.
I've started sleeping six, even seven hours a night. It's super disorienting.
Lying down and actually falling asleep now feels like some form of narcolepsy. Why aren't you staring at the ceiling, wondering if your right to marry, serve in the military or use the appropriate bathroom will be invalidated, or if your aunt will be able to re-enter the country after traveling overseas? Why aren't you waking up in an icy sweat, panicking over whether your health insurance will be repealed? Waking up rested doesn't have to freak you out or throw off your clock. Change up your bedtime routine with a little aromatherapy by spritzing Lysol on your pillow to remind you we're still battling a mutating virus. Breathe deep and before you know it, you'll bolt upright in bed, panting from a stress dream about wading into unmasked crowds. That's a good one.
Marching was my cardio. What do I do now?
Ah, yes. With brunch and sleeping in put aside for carrying signs and shouting mostly in unison, it was easy to get in shape protesting each fresh horror, whether it was family separation, gun violence or the administration's rush toward ecological disaster. The pandemic put a damper on gatherings but many still masked up in support of Black Lives Matter. Those marches sometimes included fleeing pepper balls and sprints away from drivers gunning their engines. So what now? Well, you could walk for literally no reason. It may feel unnatural at first but if you chant quietly to yourself, you get used to it. And last we checked, police use of deadly force against BIPOC hadn't magically ended, we're still careening toward global ecological disaster and migrant families have yet to be reunited, so best to keep your marching muscles toned.
I can still feel Jared Kushner's cursed Victorian doll eyes on me.
We all feel it. It lingers.
I think I'm permanently acclimated to chaos.
While the new administration is still run by fallible humans, there's going to be some whiplash after the constant fusillade to which your synapses have become accustomed. Over the last four to five years, your brain has established as a kind of baseline the spectacle of advisers like Omarosa and the My Pillow guy, hair color dripping down Rudy Giuliani's temples like an unattended fraud-scented candle, scandals involving porn actors, televised sedition and white supremacists waving their flags in the Capitol rotunda. Now your poor, taxed melon has to come down from all that adrenaline. In terms of what your shock and horror receptors are used to, it's like swapping out back-to-back speedballs for Tab. Try keeping a disaster movie playing in the background as you go through your day, slowly weaning yourself until you only need to watch the White House explode or glaciers level the Eastern Seaboard a couple times a day to feel on an even keel.
Is being anti-Trump ... my personality now?
Maybe! But is it really the man, or is it the broad acceptance of greed, corruption, racism, political opportunism, misogyny, homophobia and very bad dancing? Because that's just having principles and the world still needs people actively working against whatever evil is about to burst forth from Stephen Miller's forehead and reminding straight people what the song "Y.M.C.A." is actually about.
Flip all those things you're against into who and what you stand for — see what that looks like. Those people and ideals will need defending, and maybe now that you can catch your breath and eat a sandwich in peace, that will feel less like an emergency response and more like you. Well, the you forever trapped under Kushner's glassy gaze, anyway.
Yeah, that's never going away.
Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her) is the arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at 442-1400, extension 320, or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.