Waiting and Reckoning

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ROCK PAPER RADIO is a dispatch for misfits & unlikely optimists by your favorite hapa haole, beet-pickling, public radio nerd. It’s a weekly email newsletter that shares three curiosities every Thursday - something to hold on to, something to read, and something to listen to. Themes include but are not limited to: rebel violinists, immortal jellyfish, revolution. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.
This is one of my my favorite photos of my friend Erik from our photoshoot to accompany his Seattle Story Project essay. I see reflection and reckoning in this picture. I also see calm and letting go. Let’s all do some of that right now. Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, October 31, 2020.


Has Trump’s demanding that states simply not count the legal votes of thousands of American citizens distracted you from the fact that at least 26 women* have accused the Pussy Grabber in Chief of sexual assault? Never fear! Here’s your reminder that in addition to being a fascist, the impeached President of the United States of America is also a predator.

Sure, this chaotic election has showed us that over 68 million Americans cast their vote for misogyny, racism, and reality TV. But it’s also showed us that almost 4 million MORE Americans did not. As of this writing, Biden has nearly 73 million votes, the most votes for a US presidential candidate ever**.

Can you tell I’m trying to hold on to some sense of unlikely optimism? It’s sickening, but not surprising, that this race is close at all. On election night, as the results trickled in, my wife and I swung from rage to I’m-not-angry-I’m-just-disappointed, like the old moms we are.

One thing that’s been helping me through, is remembering that for all of the bugaboo boys Trump has emboldened with his hate, there are millions more who have been inspired to reflect, learn, and actively support a movement of empathy and civic engagement that’s been building across America over the last four years.

One of those people is Erik Molano, my friend and the author of my first Seattle Story Project endeavor. Erik’s essay, I thought I was a model activist. Then #MeToo called me out., is a vulnerable deep dive into the reckoning he’s been swimming in since a woman he didn’t realize he had harmed spoke out in the early days of the #MeToo movement.

In these last moments of this ridiculous election, machismo is swelling and ranting with new fervor. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know there’s good people everywhere regardless of whether or not decency triumphs over evil this round (evil being the Electoral College). Hold on to the good ones. Read and share the stories of people working to be better. And if you have a brave story to tell too, reach out to me.


If the cacophony of yelling/weeping/groaning that’s been echoing from sea to shining sea since Election Day is starting to be a bit much, perhaps you’d like to take a listen to this 7-minute Escape to the sounds of nature bonus story from KUOW’s The Wild podcast.

I recommend listening to it outside in Seattle style - with your dog while wearing a fleece and drinking an IPA. Let Chris Morgan’s calm but awed voice tell you in his warm British accent about the Pacific Northwest’s perfect ecosystem for black birds. Listen to those birds call out in the forest with the ocean in the background. Listen to rain drip from pine needles. Listen to the natural world that will, with a leader in charge who believes in science, go on long after this election cycle has passed.


Although the Blue Wave didn’t wash over the 2020 election like it did in the midterms, there was another wave that did, and it was rainbow-colored. Nine openly LGBTQ candidates, including four candidates of color, have won their bids for the US House of Representatives. According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, that’s a record-breaking number of queers in the House.

Newly elected Ohio sheriff Charmaine McGuffey is also part of that rainbow wave. Ahead of the defeat of her Republican opponent on Tuesday, McGuffey crushed Jim Neil in the Democratic primary with 70% of the vote. Why is this victory extra sweet? Three years ago McGuffey was fired by Neil from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, in part, she alleges, because she is an out lesbian. On her motivation to run, McGuffey said, “He fired me. So after about a year or so of contemplating, I decided I can do a better job than him.” Congrats to Sheriff McGuffey. We’re wishing her the best in her efforts to reshape what it means to protect and serve.



That’s a wrap for issue 15, friends. Remember to drink water, log off sometimes, and urge your friends to join our misfit fam by subscribing to ROCK PAPER RADIO. The final states are going to announce soon and then eventually, hopefully on this January 20th, the virus in the White House is going to disappear. Like a miracle—it will disappear. It could get worse before it gets better. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.

See you next Thursday.


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*From Business Insider, Sept 2020: “At least 26 women accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including assault, since the 1970s.”

**From the Associated Press: “With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 71 million votes, the most in history.”

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