What Are We Doing to Stay Sane?

by Belle Waring on February 17, 2017

Plain People of Crooked Timber: we’re not, you great idiot. We do ordinary things for up to fifteen minutes at a time and then suddenly the reality of the political situation comes rushing back to us and our forehead prickles with cold sweat and our heart bangs like Charlie Watts is going at it in a particularly vigorous live version of “Bitch,” or something. OK, no, you’ve got us, Belle Waring, it’s drinking.
Me: that’s nice for you probably sometimes but I picked the wrong life to stop drinking (apparently). Solange makes a lot of good suggestions in the following song, but starts with the obvious: “I tried to drink it away…”

This song is so good it will keep you sane for over four minutes.
Plain People of Crooked Timber: we love you but you have terrible taste in music, Belle Waring. Oh wait, damn, that song is great. We reserve the right to hate future songs, however, and we still have questions about your judgment.
Me: I don’t know that that’s so nice. What am I doing to stay sane, you didn’t particularly ask? Listening to music, that’s good, and hiking in the desert, and beading, and making a needlepoint of the opening screen of Super Mario Bros for Violet, and playing Animal Crossing, and having migraines. Can’t care about the body politic when you’ve got the old Boethius hat on, can you? However, I do not recommend this terrifying mighty distractive tool to anyone not currently serving in the Trump administration. That dead-eyed D-List-Goebbels/Pee Wee Herman guy, frex; he could be trying to puke out a headache right now and I’d feel fine with that. I had a nice neurologist inject my head with deadly botulin toxin on Monday afternoon and you must all do a save-Tinkerbell clapping thing for me whereby you wish very hard that this start to work soon. It very well should might better! So, what are you, the Plain People of Crooked Timber, doing to stay sane slowly inch away from the precipice of panicked madness? It’s ok if you’re huffing paint; no hate.

UPDATE: other things, called to mind by ozma and the Solange song: playing with adorable children; going alternately in the insanely hot hot tub and then the cold pool; changing my hair, which has been pastel blue, and then lavender, with white in between (needed prep) about 6 times each.



ozma 02.17.17 at 3:57 am

Live music, nature documentaries, weird cult movies that are visually arresting, hiking, long brisk walks in the cold, trampoline park, busy things with other people where you have to pay a lot of attention to them (anything intensely grabbing attention), any kind of art (I understand the purpose of art in a new way), suspense movies or suspenseful TV shows, holding babies, spending time with little kids, fretting over my children’s education or other developmental process, hot baths (very underrated), cleaning the house, smoking a bowl with my friends who smoke, any kind of very festive gathering, wandering the aisles of the grocery store, stressful but trivial activities like budgeting, comparing perfumes in the department store, planning trips, making emigration plans.


Layman 02.17.17 at 4:44 am

Red wine in generous doses. It doesn’t really work on the staying sane thing, but it’s nice while it lasts.


JakeB 02.17.17 at 5:29 am

Feeling so enraged at certain lazy co-workers that I forget to be enraged at the government. The principle of the counter-irritant, essentially. Although I had to forgo a visit to the gym to do weights last night out of fear that I might simply explode.


JanieM 02.17.17 at 5:44 am

Clapping away for you, Belle….


William Timberman 02.17.17 at 6:54 am

1. Turn off the TV. (I did this 15 years ago, and I feel just fine. Really.)
2. Don’t do Facebook. Or Twitter. Or WeChat, SnapChat, or iMessage.
3. If the phone number isn’t in your contacts list, reject the call. If the caller doesn’t leave a message, block the caller.
4. Likewise with E-mail messages — use the blacklist, that’s what it’s there for. If your father or mother, or aunt Josephine, or the in-laws are addicted to forwarding those messages from the New World Order Institute telling everyone How We’re Making America Great Again!, straight to the blacklist. Find out about what your uncles, aunts, and cousins are up to these days some other way. (If you absolutely have to.)
5. Absolutely, positively do NOT read The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Vox, Democracy Now!, Hullabaloo, The Intercept, Dean Baker, or Brad DeLong.
6. Inhale the silence.
7. Drink.


Pavel 02.17.17 at 7:14 am

Contributing to the resistance. It’s the only thing that makes this somewhat bearable.

If you’re enraged, channel that rage into whatever form of activism you can. All emigration is inside the nuclear blast radius. There is nowhere to run.


faustusnotes 02.17.17 at 8:30 am

I’m roleplaying.

A few years ago I was in a World of Darkness campaign set in a near-future dystopia with John McCain as president of the USA. Which is proof that our grimdark role-playing worlds are more uplifting than reality.

Also I’m trying to see the car crash as a long humorous out-take, rather than reality.


Neville Morley 02.17.17 at 9:04 am

Making salami, sausages and that sort of thing. Very therapeutic to focus on practical things, with added bonus that such skills will be invaluable in the post-apocalypse wasteland.


casmilus 02.17.17 at 9:05 am

80s US indie rock. Husker Du, Big Black, Butthole Surfers. Much of that stuff is about Trump voters anyway, so it’s not exactly escapism.


joel hanes 02.17.17 at 10:45 am

We must tend our gardens.

Whatever the sources of joy in our lives, now is a time to pay attention, for right mindfulness.

Can’t fix the world. Can’t fix the nation by ourselves.
Maybe can fix the City Council, or get that Republican asshole in Congress taken down.
Certainly can plant something that might grow.


JPL 02.17.17 at 10:49 am

Music! I loved the song. Really nice.

As I usually like to do, I would like to post some nice antidotal music, but I was distracted by one of your phrases, which I quite liked. What puzzles me is that the people who voted for Trump and who screamed their primal fears at his rallies actually LIKE that dick-voiced dead-eyed D-list Goebbles, they like Trump and they would like Putin even more. Even now, after not having a clue about what’s been going on, or even if they’ve seen a bit of it but without comprehending its significance, they will go out to Trump’s rally and when he tells them “Look, I’m getting rid of all the Mexicans!” they will again scream primally. What’s with these people? That’s what puzzles me. Even the Russians are having second thoughts. The will of the voters is not absolute; there are some things some voters fervently want that are not good things to want, shouldn’t be allowed as political appeals, and translated as goals for national policy are illegitimate, unethical and not to be accepted. Well, it’s up to the civil society to make very clear that these things will not be accepted; it’s a time for the artists. (Wake up, artists, this is your time!)


ZM 02.17.17 at 11:12 am

1. I am hoping that the media I read is exaggerating the bad things about Trump, which I think is at least possible given my experience with the media printing lies and puff pieces about a bunch of indie bands since 1996 who have stalked me since 1998 and written songs about being in organised crime sex and drugs rings without a single journalist printing anything about it, and when I group emails to the media about it, they continue publishing inaccurate articles anyhow.

2. I am also trying to plan out my anti-anti-Trump-compilation-record group email to the media, complaining about said indie bands making anti-Trump records and putting the Women’s March all over their social media, while they continue stalking me and refuse to own up to anything they have done for the last 20 years.

I think the email should emphasise that any anti-Trump-compilation-records should feature artists who actually care about social justice issues and don’t stalk women and don’t lie about their lives and work for 20 years, and don’t act like fascists where they all lie to protect one another like a bunch of sticks tied up.

Someone compiling a list of artists for such a record, should do basic background checks, although this is hampered by the media printing lies about these people for 20 years. Even if someone did a background check, if they weren’t on my group email list they wouldn’t find anything on the internet but inaccurate puff pieces, which might lead them to think such artists would be suitable for anti-Trump-compilation-records.

Return to 1. Hope the media is deliberately exaggerating bad things about Trump like they deliberately printed inaccurate puff pieces about indie bands for 20 years and don’t print retractions when I email them.

Also bake, drink tea, listen to non-indie music, go walking, look at pictures of animals on Facebook.


oldster 02.17.17 at 11:46 am

calling my reps, almost every day.

I call my disgrace of a Republican Congressman and ask his aides, politely, to tell the Congressman this or that for me. I’m getting to know them by name.

I call my excellent Democratic Senators and tell their staffers to keep fighting, tooth and nail. They are grateful for support.

The power structure is on their side, but the morale and momentum are on our side. We’re going to turn this around and get our country back from the Russians.


oldster 02.17.17 at 11:47 am

And by the way, Belle, did you listen to those soul remixes that I pointed to in your last post?

They will give you joy.


Lee A. Arnold 02.17.17 at 12:39 pm

I take it all in, watch and read as much as I can, including the circus of moral degradation, try to predict what is going to happen next, and correct my premises when a prediction isn’t verified. And I am getting better! Social science without theory, it’s an art.


Lee A. Arnold 02.17.17 at 12:41 pm

Also, every few months, all the whiskey in Lynchburg Tennessee couldn’t ever hit the spot:


John Garrett 02.17.17 at 3:24 pm

Watch it intensify.
Prepare to be arrested.
Get arrested.


Yankee 02.17.17 at 3:57 pm

Faith that things are not only bigger and more complicated than I imagine, they are bigger and more complicated than I could ever possibly imagine (cribbed from … Murray Leinster?). And my companion puppy dog who has strong needs for association and brings tennis balls and other necessities to me when I get too knotted up.


rootlesscosmo 02.17.17 at 5:02 pm

What Timberman said, except I read the NY Times, except only the Arts and Business sections and the obits and the crossword and sometimes the New York metro area news. (Frankie No died! Does this mean I can get a table at Rao’s?) Watching Ronnie “The Rocket” O’Sullivan play snooker via YouTube. Giving money to/raising money for the usual lefty causes. Feeling smug about being old (though gloomy about my grandkids.)


JimV 02.17.17 at 5:39 pm

What am I doing to stay sane?

Objection, your honor. Opposing counsel’s question cites a fact which is not in evidence.

Under Nixon, Reagan, G.W. Bush, and now it has seemed obvious to me that many of my countrypersons made a glaringly-irrational choice. I must finally consider that I might be the irrational one. Not that I plan to change, but that the question might be slanted. Further evidence: I plan to keep on trying all the stuff that didn’t work under Nixon, Reagan, etc..


Anderson 02.17.17 at 7:05 pm

which has been pastel blue, and then lavender, with white in between (needed prep) about 6 times each

Pics or it didn’t happen!


J-D 02.17.17 at 8:39 pm


Faith that things are not only bigger and more complicated than I imagine, they are bigger and more complicated than I could ever possibly imagine (cribbed from … Murray Leinster?).

That seems like a variation of something JBS Haldane wrote in Possible Worlds, first published in 1927: ‘I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.’


Doug K 02.17.17 at 10:45 pm

a friend got the botulism treatment for migraine, says it has worked wonderfully.. hope it does for you..

My senators and congressman on speed dial, have a nice chat with the staffers a couple of times a week.
Marching whenever and wherever opportunity offers. I’m not sure the marches do any good, but at least I would not feel so all alone in the crowds marching. Marched with the women in Denver, going to march for Trump’s tax returns April 15 and march for science 22nd.
My R Congressman fled in dismay and disarray from the ACA-repeal protestors at his last town hall. He proudly announced a ‘listening tour’ but turns out he’ll only be listening to the people he invites to private meetings. There is going to be a town hall meeting to which he is invited – probably will not show, but we’ll all write him letters and deliver them by hand next day.
My therapy spaniel has been very good to me.
Go fishing, before defunding the EPA allows all the fish to be poisoned for profit.
Switched from decent Scotch to rotgut in 1.75l bottles, can’t afford the decent stuff at the rate I’m pinting it down now.


divelly 02.18.17 at 1:30 am

Family gathered at a Brazilian Meat house for Xmas.
Son in law a social worker in an old folk’s home.
Cousin a shrink.
Wife a retired RN who did half her work life in a geriatric ward at a state hospital (great stories about the criminally insane ward!))
All came independently to the same insight.
The Donald is demented-Alzheimer’s or something.


William Berry 02.18.17 at 1:32 am

@Doug K:

Clan McGregor, dude. Well Scotch of champions!

@William Timberman:

I read those sites and watch those shows (Democracy Now!, and also streaming Maddow and Hayes on Roku) all the time. Probably why my anti-depressants aren’t working so well.


Alan White 02.18.17 at 1:37 am


Thanks for this. My check cleared today from my insurance co-pays on my ER trip that I thought might be a heart attack–but I later self-diagnosed as my first panic attack–due to the Trumpster. And my $100 contribution to the ACLU cleared too. My $150 to Planned Parenthood went through a few days ago. More to come.

I’m facing a near-but-generous academic retirement with no close family for heirs. My estate thereafter will be a middle finger to everything Trump.


divelly 02.18.17 at 1:38 am

Doug K.
Come on over.
My son manages/owns a $$$$ restaurant and is bribed by salesman-case of lobster,case of Scotch-no problemo.
Got me a bottle of MacC 30 YO for my 70 B’day.
He charges $300 a pop.


divelly 02.18.17 at 1:47 am

So Scotch:
JW Black.
If it’s good enough for Patton and Hitchens…
Yes $$ but you only live once.
The Famous Grouse is the best seller in Scotland.
Grant’s is OK.
JW Red is for alley drinking.
Bottom shelf Scotch?
Drink Vodka.


Alan White 02.18.17 at 2:20 am

Oh I forgot the most important word of all in relation to this thread:



dr ngo 02.18.17 at 6:35 am

Joseph “Erap” Estrada, President of the Philippines until he was rousted from office in 2001 (and then convicted and eventually pardoned, the story goes on and on) reputedly drank only JW Blue during his halcyon years. Like many in similar positions, he seems to have assumed that the most expensive was automatically the best, and Blue cost much more than Black, so it must taste better.

I wouldn’t know.


dr ngo 02.18.17 at 6:36 am

Alan White:

I’ll see your Laphroaig and raise you Lagavulin.


Val 02.18.17 at 11:43 am

I went on a march today, it was against Trump and Turnbull (our Australian PM). It was opposing the refugee deal, the one that Trump got angry with Turnbull about. The key message was to stop messing about with stupid deals, close the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru and bring the refugees here.

Australia has had a policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers for over 20 years and it’s been getting worse and more cruel all that time. I’ve been going to marches and rallies for so many years now and sometimes I think I can’t bear it any longer, that I’m going to have to do something seriously illegal and get put in jail over it.

Anyway I didn’t really feel like going today, none of my friends were going and it was a bit wet, but I went anyway. The rally and march weren’t very large, but they had a small brass band, and we sang, to the tune of ‘When the saints go marching in’:

Just close the camps
And bring them here
To seek asylum’s not a crime
Just close the camps
And bring them here
Just close the camps and bring them here

I hope you hear it in your heads. Thank you, New Orleans and Louis Armstrong.

When I was marching against Tony Abbott in 2014, for much of that time there were banners in the streets of Melbourne for Les Miserables, and I used to hear another song in my head – ‘Do you hear the people sing’

It’s a bit corny, I guess, but it gives you strength. So I’d say go to marches, go to rallies, do all the things you’re doing, march with the band if there is one, and sing.

Singing does you so much good, even if it’s just in your head.


CDT 02.18.17 at 5:00 pm

Belle, if you are still in AZ and up to it, I recommend the Sedona West Fork hike. Or spring training, now gearing up. Or the C Steele b and b at Aravaipa Canyon.


nastywoman 02.18.17 at 8:12 pm

‘Singing does you so much good,’

For the baby in the White House



Dave Maier 02.19.17 at 12:17 am

No drinking for me! Instead, I am blowing my inheritance on insanely expensive machines (and/or computer programs) whose sole purpose is to make very weird noises indeed. (They also have great names, like the Xaoc Kamieniec I just got.) I can see it now: thirty years from now, they’ll be throwing me out on the street, not a penny to my name, with my Kyma Pacarana clutched in my withered old hands.

I am also clapping in the recommended save-Tinkerbell-stylee. It better work!


Val 02.19.17 at 2:53 am

nastywoman @ 34
Super cute baby in that video. I haven’t read any biographies of Trump but perhaps they talk about what his babyhood was like and ‘what went wrong’? I usually think about these things as sociological phenomenon but the baby’s experience reflects the society (and clas/gender/race etc of course), plus individual family circumstances thrown in. Maybe thinking back on how T’s experiences as a baby shaped him is something people might do ‘when all this is over’ (hopefully not too far in the future).

I used to sing that lullaby to my kids. A few years ago I went and got some singing lessons so people wouldn’t laugh at me when I sang in public – still don’t think I’m that good but I don’t worry about it so much!


Pavel 02.19.17 at 6:41 am

Need more protest songs (this thread is seriously lacking protest songs):


JPL 02.19.17 at 11:38 am

This song has a very specific meaning, but it has a wider significance that is very mysterious and beautiful. It’s a long struggle, people.


Val 02.19.17 at 9:33 pm

@ 37 “Need more protest songs”
@38 “It’s a long struggle, people”

Well then (sorry if it’s got an ad and if I still can’t embed it!)



Val 02.19.17 at 9:34 pm

How do you embed videos? Thought I was doing it right but I never can!

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