Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why I'm Going to Keep Writing About Baby Names When the World is Crashing Down Around Me

Hello, readers.

I use exclamation points a lot. I get very excited about name origins and nicknames. But this week, I'm having trouble bringing myself to end a sentence with even a period or ellipses. A lot of thoughts just trail off, spoken or written.

Like many of my fellow Americans (more than half of the country, according to the popular vote), I woke up on Wednesday with the combination of shock, sadness, and anger weighing me down. It took a lot of energy yesterday and today to get out of bed, get dressed, and go to work. My emotions are on a roller coaster - from low points where I contemplate self-medicating for four years, to high points where I feel physically ready to yell, fight, and win against 50 million people single-handedly. I have depression so I'm used to a bit of emotional turbulence. But no amount of Cymbalta can take the edge off our dire situation.

On Facebook and Tumblr, I'm constantly commenting, sharing, and signal-boosting political articles -How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action and 20+ Resources to Help You Process After the Election of Donald Trump among them. Through the stream (or tidal wave) of political articles, I've been catching more common posts, like "Happy Birthday to my mom!" or "10 Kittens Wearing Bow Ties You Must See." Part of me recoiled - how can we pretend the unthinkable didn't happen? But then I talked to my loved ones.

My best friends told me they loved me, and we shared thoughts and articles and jokes. My mom reminded me about the power of meditation and the importance of self-care - "you cannot pour from an empty vessel." My sister made me laugh - she's good at that. My dad insisted that fear and the unknown can be worse than reality, that our government and our people can work through terrible divides. My Ethan - partner, boyfriend, bestest friend, foil - got me out of bed two days in a row, let me cry into his shoulder, shared inspiring articles with me, and already has plans to lead the country into a better future.

Suddenly, those 50 million people shrunk in size compared to the strength, courage, and love of those I care about. The act of choosing to be happy - to take in positive media, to reach out to family and friends, to refuse to be defeated - those are radical acts.

Names make me happy. And here's another thing about them - there are thousands of name origins. Every name I click on in research reminds me of past immigrant populations - from every continent and every country, who came here and made a life and spread their culture. I see Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish names on the rise; I see Aztec and Tagalog and Polish names popping up on lists and discussed in forums. Through racist immigration quotas, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow laws, multiple waves of feminism, the AIDS crisis, and countless wars, Americans have been naming their children radically and uniquely, celebrating their heritage and their heroes. We have over 130 years of name data supporting the trend towards diversity and inclusion, and the next four years won't destroy that.

So I'm going to get excited about Kythe - a Scottish name I heard for the first time yesterday. I'm going to get excited about Suzume, and Mei, and Yael, and Itzel, and Priya, and Artem, and Genevieve, and Seraphina, and Joao, and Sofia, and Amihan, and Emily.

And I'm going to use exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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