Well, here we are. This month has been a blur of Election-fatigue and Turkey-fatigue. I think my husband and I have gone through the five stages of Election results grief multiple times by now, and have just entered mild acceptance/recovery mode. This means a lot of bubble baths, long hugs, comfort food (our version: slow-cooker tortilla soup, abundant gluten-free/sugar-free zucchini muffins, olive oil popcorn, cheese) and WINE.
It also means a lot of DIY projects, including:
- Learning to play LET IT GO on my Uke (fitting, eh?)
- Distressing my jeans (voila! trendy new jeans!)
- Making bath bombs (pretty crumbly and not very fizzy at the moment)
- Building terrariums (reading directions AFTER making them is not exactly useful)
- Cleaning like Marie Kondo (which I tend to do incessantly in times of stress or overwhelm)
On the Friday of election week, I moped about the apartment, between bouts of anxiety and sniffles, wondering what to do. Besides what I had been doing. First I posted articles incessantly on Facebook (only to denounce the platform moments later). Then I called our congress people and the DOJ (yes, you can do that). And then donated (more) to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. And posted more on Facebook. But it still felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
To channel my frustrations, I started researching things to physically do in our (new-ish) community in the Bay Area. Small actions that I could take to direct my angst somewhere besides Facebook. After much internet searching, I found a great website called Hands On Bay Area that provides a calendar of volunteer opportunities, with multiple activities ranging from meal prep for the homeless, to gardening, to sorting clothes to help low-income people find jobs.
My husband got home from work, and over our dinner prep, he mentioned (completely independently and in the midst of his own frustration that day) he had also been looking for local volunteer opportunities (and had found an awesome program to help African-American girls ages 7-17 learn to code*!)
We ended up finding a night that week we were both free and signed up to volunteer at the SF AIDS Society. DATE NIGHT! Woo! We weren’t exactly sure what we’d be doing, but we were happy to help in whatever way was deemed useful. We ended up packing containers of clean needles while learning about the people that might need them. We then rolled balls of copper Brillo Pads that looked a bit like Christmas ornaments, which help filter crack cocaine. (Also-new DIY rose-gold tree adornment ideas? DONE.)
Our fearless leader, Kristin, hair full of the most awesome range of aqua colors I’ve ever seen, filled us in on stories of people she’s helped, and her day picking up dirty needles around the city dressed as a Hazardous Waste Bin (can I have that job, please?). She informed us her mom had been a drug abuser during her youth, leading to her involvement in helping other addicts after college. We met an inspiring young gal from Indiana who was taking a gap year before college, traveling with a group of students who are volunteering daily all over the US and India, who wants to join the Peace Corps.
That’s what hope looks like.
We came home with a new perspective on drug addiction, grateful to know that the containers we packed could potentially save a life. Or help prevent the spread of HIV or Hepatitis C.
Small actions. And Empathy. Which is really the word of the hour.
The night ended in takeout Thai and my husband staying up till 1am coding (it’s all Greek to me!), but we still managed to enjoy a bottle of our favorite “cheap” wine which we fondly call “Goat Wine,” delightfully priced at $4.99. We are big-time supporters of many local wine clubs, but we are also young and attempting to save money (and want to go on a Honeymoon before we’re 60). So sometimes a $4.99 bottle from Trader Joes wins! We’ve tried and failed to find another bottle as decent for the price. Read about Goat Wine here.
Our “Goat Wine” was a perfect way to end the evening. I fell asleep feeling utterly grateful next to my (already snoozing) husband. Small actions and Empathy. That’s all we can do, for now. And to look forward to the next opportunity to do something for small for others, again, together. Cumulating in Goat Wine.
*my husband codes for a living. (And also for fun.)