If you aren't scared, check your pulse.
On Monday, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in their first presidential debate. It was incredibly clear. While Clinton spoke about her experience with diplomacy and her plans for action, Trump stuttered and talked about not paying taxes. He lost, lost, lost.
Unless you are the 61% of people living in Florida who think that he won.
Right now according to 538.com, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump in the polls, but it isn't by nearly enough. Hillary is at 62.2% to Trump's 37.7%. I don't understand how it's possible ... and then I hear stuff like Florida's take on the debate. And then I understand. And that's when my hopelessness comes in.
I see that number and my stomach starts to tie itself into the same knots that overtake it every single time I fly somewhere. Panic.
It's a terror that I have to bite back. It makes me want to scream, if only because maybe then I won't feel so trapped in this insane reality. It's the terror that comes from knowing something is so completely out of your control.
On a plane, that panic makes sense. You're in a tube of metal careening through the sky. You could plummet to earth in the blink of an eye and there's nothing you could do to change that.
I shouldn't feel that way just walking down the street existing, but I do.
I watch the news and it's just another day with another shooting. It's another day with another chance a man like Donald Trump could be given actual power. And when I go to sleep, and it feels like we're all buckled in and screaming ready for the cabin to hit the earth littering it with body parts and fragments of sharp metal.
I think I need to start avoiding the news. It used to just make me anxious, but now I've clearly gone past that. I get nauseated when I pass a TV screen. I start to sweat when I log into Facebook.
I feel this way because I know exactly what I'm going to find when I wake up in the morning: more racism, more sexism, and of course, more people dead because of gun violence.
Because I'm a writer, I have the luxury of being able to transform my words into prose. I mostly believe that this is how I can make positive change in the world. If I do the research, if I share the statistics, if I use logic and reason, if I appeal to the better angels of our humanity, if I can change the way just one person thinks that I'm doing my part.
I don't feel that way today.
Instead? I'm hollowed out. Wrecked. Useless. Ashamed. Embarrassed. In riotous disbelief.
A day passes and there is another shooting. A day passes and nothing else fucking changes. We make signs, we make memes, we share videos taken, we protest, we call for action, and nothing changes. Nothing at all.
All of this death and all of this violence is starting to feel like it's been government sanctioned, hell, it feels like we the people are down with it. If we weren't why would we even still be allowing it to happen?
A judge in Massachusetts recently found that black men have reason to start running when they see police. That's on the books now, that's legal precedent in our country in 2016. Instead of doing the hard work of assessing the systemic racism that is effecting the police force, our judges are now forced to pen legal work-arounds: of course a black man runs when he sees a police officer. A police officer has come to mean death and not protection in their eyes. Hell, it means that even in my eyes and about as white as they come.
Here is the part of this piece where I call for peace and where I call for us to put down arms and pick up each other.
But I can't really do that.
It feels rote. Finding soft easy words of conclusion seems like cheating. The truth of the matter is that we are all living on the brink of death and chaos, and I don't have a cute, hopeful alternative to share today.