Staunchly, vol. 78: Thanksgiving on the Bayou


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We are tear-gassing children now!
Let’s back up. Pleasantries: I hope you had a lovely turkey holiday, full of velvety carbs, bottomless pinot, and minimal family outbursts. I also hope you took the time to figure out from which Native American nation the land you were celebrating on was stolen. I celebrated Thanksgiving in Disneyland (more on that later—or, if you’re reading this through Junior High, in the full issue of Staunchly), on land that originally belonged to the Tongva—a tribe that is recognized by the state of California but not the federal government, despite being the most well-established tribe in the Los Angeles Basin.
We have a responsibility to learn (and learn again) the trauma behind our traditions. To stay in constant conversation with the wounds America has left behind in pursuit of its own mythologized version of itself. To remember that everything this country has gotten it has gotten by its teeth.

We have this responsibility so that when the news of border agents using tear-gas on migrant families and children seeking asylum reaches us, we won’t waste time being shocked. As if this isn’t the America we know. Because this is exactly the America we know. This is America at work. Firing on all cylinders. 
We are tear-gassing children now!
Except there is no now. There is only always.
The sooner we reckon with this the sooner we can fight against it:

Tear-gassing brown children is as American as apple pie.

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Slain Chicago doctor broke off engagement with her killer weeks before deadly Mercy Hospital shooting by Meredith Colias-pete, Lolly Bowean, Ese Olumhense, and Anna Spoerre (Chicago Tribune)


How the Senate’s Structure Upholds White Male Dominance by Kylie Cheung (Feministing)
This is basic stuff but a good reminder of all that liberals are up against in our efforts to build a diverse, progressive coalition. tl;dr: our government was built by and for old rural white men so it’s a real uphill battle to say the least.
Trans Woman Was Beaten in ICE Custody Before Death, Autopsy Finds by Scott Bixby,
Betsy Woodruff (The Daily Beast)

“She journeyed thousands of miles fleeing persecution and torture at home only to be met with neglect and torture in this country’s for-profit human cages.”

Another horrific story to add to the pile of horrific stories we keep hearing of migrants in ICE custody. This one is about Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died in a privately run detention facility at the border after receiving inadequate and negligent medical care. Her death was earlier this year, but we now know that she was beaten in ICE custody. Hernández Rodriguez was seeking asylum in the US after fleeing Honduras, where she survived a brutal gang rape by four members of MS-13. Don’t bother looking: there’s no silver lining here. 


I went to Disneyland for Thanksgiving. Let me explain.
If I value my mental health, which I intermittently do, dining with my family on Thanksgiving is not an option for me. So naturally: Disneyland.

I have a habit of doing big, logistically strange things—a one-day solo drive to the Grand Canyon the weekend after my night in the emergency psych ward, for example—when I’m feeling trapped or lost, especially if that feeling is in any way related to my family. The expansiveness of a wild idea is often enough to make me feel better, freer, and quickly. Sometimes all it takes to regain a sense of control is to make the big, small; the improbable, probable. To do something intentionally disorienting and in that way orient myself.  
Disneyland on Thanksgiving is disorienting. I expected that. Stressed families, decently long lines, the mere fact of being 40 miles southeast of my family’s table. But it was also shockingly delightful. My friend Tanya and I managed to make a fun and easy day of it. We hit all the best rides (Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Thunder Mountain twice). I took a low-dose edible. We played games, ate varied, international snacks (Dole Whip, churros, “Bengal Barbecue”), and enjoyed a proper Thanksgiving Dinner at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, amid blue light and hanging lanterns and the distant harmonies of animatronic buccaneers singing “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).” It was perfect.
I guess the point of all this is: don’t put yourself in unhappy, potentially traumatic, situations out of obligation. Allow yourself to have a working definition of “family.” And probably, go to Disneyland. 

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This weekend, I binged all of The Little Drummer Girl, the BBC/AMC miniseries directed by Park Chan-wook, based on the John le Carré spy thriller of the same name. I loved it. Admittedly, I’m not the best critic here; I love le Carré (I almost got a tattoo inspired by The Spy Who Came In From The Cold—I still might!), but I’m not too strict or picky about the film and TV adaptations of his work. I just want more of these stories, and good enough is fine for me. The denser the better! And this one is dense, and long, and a bit too stylized. But it’s visually stunning, fills the space in my heart left by The Americans, and features a knockout performance by Florence Pugh. Oh and Alexander Skarsgard plays an Israeli. Sure! Fine. Whatever. 

Credit: AMC

Credit: AMC