Like so many of us, I am a sea of emotions this morning, but I feel that, before anything else, I should explain the origin of this Orb Cycle. If you follow Nicole Cliffe, who was one of the founder/editors of The Toast (RIP), on social media, you’ll already know that she recently bought a fancy Dior bracelet on consignment and then had an unexpected seizure (among other calamities), after which Twitter was quick to place blame on the obviously cursed Orb.
I have no explanation for why I felt so called to draw fan-fiction about this event (except the aforementioned SEA of EMOTIONS and also my OWN DARK PREOCCUPATIONS), but now you know. (She doesn’t even have the bracelet anymore, this guy does, but I drew this comic before that happened, and I can’t resist a good curse story.) Ok!
I have had complicated feelings about the midterms this year, after watching the systematic dismantling of so much that I hold vital and dear (protections for immigrants and minorities! Nation Parks! Healthcare! etc!). I wanted a major Democratic victory, but I have so much lingering scar tissue from 2016 that I could not bring myself to engage with much banter or speculation about it online. I donated, I participated, I encouraged others to vote, but I knew that if I invested as deeply in talking about the election—if I let myself publicly hope or expect—I might be crushed down just as hard as I was last time, and I honestly wasn’t sure I could withstand it.
I’m not proud of that. It’s not a position of strength. But I have never been so wrecked an humiliated and afraid as I was after the election in 2016, and my view of humanity has not much improved in the interim. Hope seemed feeble; work seemed better. And holding myself a little apart was what I had to do.
There is a lot to celebrate about last night, which went about how I expected it to. I’m glad Democrats took the house. I’m sad, but unsurprised, that we didn’t take the Senate. There were important victories in voting rights, Kris Kobach lost his job, Scott Walker was voted out. Lots of villains gone, though many remain. The first Native American woman will take her place in Congress (and if you, like me, wonder how it’s possible for her to be the first, colonialism is a hell of a drug!), and my friend Erin Zwiener won her race for Texas House District 45, a fact which brings me immense personal joy. Here in Arizona, we flipped a House seat (yay!) and the Senate race is still too close to call.
I guess I’m surprised that I feel so…the same. Even while recognizing that things have changed, good and bad, I don’t feel markedly different about the political landscape, today, than I did a week ago. It’s still fraught and broken in so many ways, I’m still afraid for where we are as a country, though I am also very proud of the many people who are up and fighting for decency, respect, and, uh, lack of murdering non-white/trans/immigrant/poor people—among other issues I am still baffled to see so many people on the other side of.
Yesterday I followed the news, and I ate a giant meatball sub, I ate pad thai, I had a glass of mezcal, I visited the Oracle of Los Angeles when she came to the Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art to do a ceremony. (I also walked around the current MOCA exhibition on mysticism, spirituality, and the occult, which I highly recommend.) In essence, I was trying to remind myself of my physical and spiritual presence on Earth, in a continuum that includes but is not fully described by the current political reality. I know we need to be engaged in what’s happening, and believe me, I am.
But for one day, when the die had been cast, I needed to go inside to a deeper well. I needed to sit in a darkened room, or under a tree in the dappled light, or under the stars, or in a library, or in the many-roomed maze of my own imagination, and remember that the spirit is not circumscribed by politics, division, or any piece of specificity that comes from a single moment.
I don’t know why I’m trying to explain any of this, as if I needed dispensation. I guess I’m just saying: I see you all. The active. The powerful. The exhausted. The frightened. Those with momentum and those left behind. I’ve been and continue to be in all those places. And I just want to tell you: we’re going to keep going. I don’t know if it will be ok, or what kind of ok it will be, but we’re going to keep going as best as we can, and we’re going to take our pleasure and power where we can find it.
Oh hey. And! I will be at the Portland Book Festival this weekend! I’ll be doing a Pop-Up event at the Portland Art Museum on Saturday 11/10 from 11-11:15am, and then a panel, same day & also at the museum in the Miller Gallery, from 12:45-1:45pm.
I’m especially jazzed about this panel, “Allegiance: Art, Love, and Migration,” which includes Wendy Chen & Ali Fitzgerald, and will be moderated by Sarah Bowlin. We’ll be talking about community, migration, identity, inheritance, loss, and more—through the lens of fiction, graphic memoir, and poetry. It will be amazing.
Please join me/us for any of those events, if you’re around! The whole festival will be great.