Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Keep Your Democracy Handy By


"Handy by."

It's a Down-East Maine colloquialism and I've adopted it for my own. I grew up in the metropolitan Washington D.C. area and we were short on colloquialisms. Nobody stayed put long enough to whomp up anything regional. There should've been a way to work dead 'possums and Congressmen into the same phrase, but mostly we didn't get too colorful.

"Handy by" just means "handy." Like you'd want to keep your ice saw down cellah, handy by, in case a weasel gets frozen to your shed again. It only makes sense to keep things handy by. Right where you'd need them. That's why, in your better households, you don't keep your cheese by the toilet and your toilet paper in the fridge.

I've been able to instill good habits just by keeping things handy by. My dental health improved tremendously when I took the floss out of the bathroom and put it by my writing desk. I'm there a lot, and I'm not always visibly doing anything. There's always time to floss.

So I was inspired last week when we got a call to arms. We are supposed to fire off postcards to our congressmen or call them on the phone.  They're our servants: ideally, they should know what we think, and I've been meaning to get in the habit. Specifically, this time, it was suggested that because Presidential Advisatrix Kellyanne Conway didn't think there was any "point" to the Women's March, we should pop her a line to help her out.

Overflow crowd at Sen. Jeff Merkley's town hall meeting
Well, it was late at night, and I opened up a new word document, greased up the keyboard, and started hammering. Turns out that late at night and two beers in, I can get kind of loose and flingy with the verbiage. I'm not much of a phone person, but words I can do. I have lots of words. The best words. I have an entire armory of the little suckers and a bandolier in my brain and I'm capable, three beers in, of going fully-automatic, too. The keyboard started blazing.

When you start listing the reasons you're resisting the new regime, it's hard to stop. There's the dismantling of the health care system and the attacks on reproductive rights and the beginnings of a new police state and the abandonment of NATO and the courting of Putin and the renewed dedication to a fossil fuel industry that should have been on the way out decades ago and the contempt for science and facts and the pussy grabbing and seriously what the hell is it with that hair and the dissemination of propaganda and the elevation of Nazis and the refusal to release tax returns and the attacks on the media and the toxic xenophobia and that America-First horse crap and the destruction of the environment and a president with the nuclear codes plus the disposition and self-control of a cranky infant and the racist dog whistling and the demonization of Muslims and just how did we manage to make Kim Jong-Un look statesmanlike already and the...

...momentary pause to fetch the fourth beer, back in the seat...still with me, Kellyanne, sugar?...And another thing...

Well. I have a tiny little .005 Micron art pen, but by the time you jam all that onto a postcard it looks more like a barcode. I ended up printing it out and folding it into a regular envelope proper and resolved to be more succinct the next time.

I'm under no illusions anyone is going to pluck my letter out of the pile and have a look, and then get on the horn and say hold off on that deregulation, Murr's made a pretty good point here, but this is still our democracy and our public servants should hear from us. According to congressional staffers, written mail and phone calls really can have an effect. I have lots of beer and a full bandolier, and I can shoot words onto postcards all night long. Assuming I have postcards.

But I know how this works.  I might think about flossing my teeth ten times a day, but I won't do it unless the floss is right there, handy by. And I can promise myself I'll write to my congressmen (or, more likely, yours) but odds are it's not going to happen unless I keep postcards. So I went to the post office. And I got a fistful of pre-stamped postcards, with lots of room on the back. And I put them in the drawer of my computer desk. I can hear them rustling about and squeaking "pick me, pick me!" They're right there. Handy by. Ayuh.

Fire one!

You can do it too. Here are Ten Actions For The First Hundred Days.


43 comments:

  1. I have always found it easier to write with some alcohol in me, too. Usually, it's pretty good stuff and needs little editing. (I have always heard, write drunk, but edit sober, so I must not be the only one.) When I used to write/draw fanfic, I found the best system was to write in the morning with a glass of wine, and draw in the evening entirely sober. (Drawing while drunk, it seems, turns out crap. At least it did for me.)

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    1. I'm not sure drinking improves my writing, but it can disinhibitize it a bit. That's when I get in trouble challenging trolls, for instance, which I would never bother to do sober.

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  2. Always assuming serpents can read. Somehow if I imagine the garden of Eden, the snake always has KA's face. Something about being able to twist words and say "alternative facts" with a straight face.

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    1. That's a tough face, innit? I don't like to disparage people on account of their looks but this group is testing me on that principle. Bannon looks like the guy you quit talking to when he's telling you how mussh he loooves you so you can be far away when he starts throwing punches.

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  3. Keeping postcards handy by seems like a great idea. I want to come out your way, sit down with Dave, feed you some beer and see what happens. Maybe you'll come up with the words to completely undo Kim Jong-Trump.

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  4. Good idea and I have been meaning to do that. Getting a batch of postcards. Then making up some pre-addressed labels to dozens of folks.

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    1. Ooo! Pre-addressed! That's even handier-by.

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  5. No kidding. It's gotta be done. Four years is a long time at my age but where this is a will there's a way.....!

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    1. It's just one thing. But it's a good habit to get into. One thing those marches did was help us realize how many of us there are, and that we can have power. It's too easy to be miserable and despondent but think One Person Can't Do Anything.

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  6. And if, after all that, the world still goes to hell in a hand cart, we can always put the toilet paper back in the fridge.

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    1. For some reason you reminded me I still haven't set up my Earthquake Kit.

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  7. As long as writing words into a possible void doesn't take the edge off and make a person complacent, it sure doesn't hurt to do it. I'm not sure how much your congressional staffers know about the OTHER side's propensity to read and listen, though. I hope your words haven't been wasted, Murr! I can't believe what that Kellyanne has been able to say without cracking herself up.

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    1. I'm kind of wondering about her. She's not an idiot, so unlike her boss she has to know she's full of shit, and I wonder if there will come a day she bails out.

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  8. Fantastic post! We can turn this thing around by 2018 if we stay motivated. If we slip into apathy we are cooked.

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    1. Well I'm pumped. And thanks for the opportunity to peruse your blog. I like it!

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  9. Bought envelopes and postcards today. Now to figure out which things to write about --your list is great, my my handwriting is too large to fit all of that in.
    One of my reps is Tom Price. Won't bother with him.

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    1. The advice is to stick to one emphatic subject because your opinion will be tallied. When your reps start flailing in multiple areas, use multiple post cards! And thank the ones that you support. Tom Price is now in the cabinet, right? So who gets his seat?

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    2. We have primaries coming up to replace him and our Indivisible group is supporting the same Democrat that John Lewis is supporting.

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  10. Gonna get me some postcards & stamps & keep them handy by!!

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    1. The prestamped suckers from the post office are really pretty. A nice tree.

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  11. I have written and sent emails but phone calling always gets me a busy signal. I am resisting Trump and stand against what he is doing. I had a friend tell me RESISTANCE IS FUTILE (the Borg in Star Trek would say that) and I said LIKE HELL.

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    1. Resistance is required. Claims of futility = surrender.

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  12. A question I'm posing is this: What should we do, how far should we push our senators, for example, to go with this if, 1. they, like my guy, Tester from Montana, are from a red state, and 2. are up for re-election in 2 years, at the mid-terms.
    I assume you know that unfortunately most of the seats coming up for contest are democrats, not the republicans.
    Bad luck, but it has to be considered.
    How far to we push them? Or, do we want them there in three years, or do we want to go all out now?
    A toughie.

    My tests are not cooperating with my expectations. Wish they'd just fall in line like the GOP is doing.

    Cheers,
    Mike

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    1. Hmm. Yes. I don't know, but I think expressing yourself is paramount. Let your congressman decide how important your vote is, but if he has to make a tough decision, give him wind for his sails.

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  13. I've never heard 'handy by', but I have heard 'handy like' and 'right handy'. my mum always said 'keep it near'
    Good on you for writing the letter and I'm sure you'll make similar use of all those postcards. Just keep sending them, soon enough one or three are bound to get read.

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    1. I think they mostly get read, or lightly scanned rather, and a tally kept.

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  14. That middle paragraph though...as Monty Python would say "That's what I'm all about! You saw him repressing me, didn't you?" I just can't with the Black History Month comments yesterday...and the tax returns! OMG, I can't...

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    1. Frederick Douglass. OMG. Kind of curious what happened on that phone call to Australia, too.

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  15. I've been keeping 5calls.org up on my browser window, handy by for those moments when I don't want to do whatever else I should be doing. They make it easy.
    Excellent words, as usual, Ms. Murr. Miss you.

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    1. We miss you too. I don't know 5calls.org. Going to check now!

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  16. I'm 71, have lived in Maine my entire life, but have never once heard anyone say "handy by." Handy, yes. Handy by, no. But I loved this post and your writing style. I have a stack of unused USPS postcards from some faculty project when I was a high school teacher. It's time I dusted them off and kept them handy!

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    1. All right, hang on, we need someone from Maine to come in and back me up here. This is serious!

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  17. Writing thank you cards to the congressional peeps we support is an EXCELLENT idea! I just got a handful of postage-paid cards at a rally, and that's what I'll use them for! They have a beautiful spray of flowers for the "stamp"; looks like a woodblock print.

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    1. Mine looks like a woodblock print too, but it's a tree. I wonder if they have more than one kind?

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  18. Another inspired by your handy-by post here, Murr; just picked up 20 prepaid postcards. Probably will be just the start ...

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    1. Next: we will breach the terrifying phone-call barrier! Onward!

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  19. We're not all that keen on our Prime Minister, TURNBAll, but when the White House press dork couldn't pronounce his name twice, I had a fleeting moment of sympathy then went back to disliking both.
    His first name is Malcolm, aka Malcontent, Malware, Malwart, you get the drift.
    And I don't even drink.

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    1. I've been looking into him. Sorry that I hadn't before, but it's not like us Americans to give a shit about other countries. Anyway, he sounds like a piece of work unto his own self. I think there needs to be a bit more resistance all around!

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  20. Strange/moon = turning/cheese.
    You're supposed to hate
    with vitriol! the Don
    living in Seattle.
    HooRayGun! sez RonRaygun.
    You git 10 points...
    and a free-pass around the jail
    where the whorizontal lemmings live.

    Cya Upstairs someday...
    God bless your indelible soul.

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  21. Strange/moon = turning/cheese.
    You're supposed to hate
    with vitriol! the Don
    living in Seattle.
    HooRayGun! sez RonRaygun.
    You git 10 points...
    and a free-pass around the jail
    where the whorizontal lemmings live.

    Cya Upstairs someday...
    God bless your indelible soul.

    ReplyDelete