Sam Gimbel

Tech, Beer, and Strange Thoughts.

Things we don't have time for post Charlottesville, ranked

10.

Questions about "how we got here" and how it could have been avoided. People have been trying to tell you for years.

9.

Memes created from the violent, racist response of the president of our country.

8.

Debating the merit of hearing "all sides."

7.

Analyzing at what level biology plays a part in the gendering of the workplace.

6.

Tolerating the ongoing hateful, enabling behavior of trump voters who only voted for him due to "economic anxiety."

5.

Being silent.

4.

Allowing nazis and white supremacists to exist on American soil.

3.

Cable news.

2.

Rationalizing the developments of the last month as being part of an upcoming "pivot" in the current administration's policies because there's no way it could get worse and then of course it does because there's actually a very big difference between high-level contextual analysis and blind denial of the facts.

1.

Apparently, keeping tabs on the Russia investigation, the threat of nuclear war with North Korea, the imminent implosion of the ACA due to lack of funding, the ever-spiraling of the opioid crisis, the continuing ICE raids on peaceful and law-abiding undocumented immigrants, separating children from their parents and creating a vacuum of incoming hard working, innovative, strong minds from other countries, the attack on the civil rights act by the justice department, the 20th hottest year we've experienced in a row and the clear scientific consensus behind its anthropogenic causes, the travel ban on legal immigrants from seven nations in the middle east, the ongoing and unending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the lack of a 2018 strategy for a hobbled and neoliberal-laden democratic party unwilling to accept the strong policy guidance of a new generation of economic contributors or perhaps unable to accept due to the nature of the party's donors, and the MTA's summer lifetime of hell.

The Turning Point

The news coming out of Charlottesville is not surprising. The violence is horrifying, the danger real, but the news should not be unexpected. If you'll recall, many Americans warned that electing Donald Trump could have this effect. David Duke celebrated his victory and the ethos of nationalist pride he resurrected with his campaign. And here we are: one dead. One person dead at the hands of American nazis, and many more injured and intimidated. Racists who are embarrassed by their appearance on television but defend the merit of their movement in the same breath. White supremacists who devalue the lives of anyone who isn't white. Terrorists who have never experienced true oppression or seen what discrimination looks like. And the president of the united states defended them.

These white terror advocates are our own doing: it matters not the reason why you voted for Trump. If you did, you're responsible for the emboldening of the KKK and the white nationalist movement. Own it, because it's time to make it right. For those who saw the threat coming, this is still your burden to bear. For those who experience this type of intimidation on a daily basis, in Charlottesville or elsewhere, I am sorry. This is not new to you, and so many did not listen when you said it existed. We're waking up now. I hope it's not too little, too late.

The first shot has been fired. Take your head out of the sand, it's time to pay attention now. All those warnings, those calls to resist, those were not a drill. No one knew when this breaking point would come, but it's here. We can't walk it back. Wake up and do something.

You can start here:

Whatever you choose to do, remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr:

White Moderates

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.

30 Ain't Shit.

Really. It's a lot better than that. But it took self-reflection, therapy, antidepressants, and amazing friends to realize this.

The Myth, The Pain

At age twelve, 30 was a myth. At age 15, it represented the oldest a person could be. At age 20, it was a threat. At age 25, an inevitability and the source of all fear, should I not accomplish all I could by that ominous day.

At age 29, fear became doubt. To me, turning 30 seemed a poor marker of adulthood and an awful predictor of success. Changing ages this time would be the same as last year: one more revolution around the sun, one more year wondering if the veil of chronic anxiety would lift.

When you've been battling something since age seven, milestones are momentary: a glimpse of who you are in a loved one's face, a day that unfolds just so and rewards you with a minute or two of satisfaction before that voice returns to tell you it could have been better. My anxiety is a reaction to the chronic fatigue and anhedonia of omnipresent depression, and my "fight" against it will always rage. Because slowing down means being alone with demons you're not yet equipped to reckon with. Because not "performing" leads not to feelings of disappointment but to an acute deluge of self-hate so strong it threatens to overwhelm the imperative to keep breathing. Because a single misspoken word to or from a loving friend leads to rage instead of empathy.

Solipsistically, I assumed this is how everyone feels. Selfishly, I wondered why friends and relatives feel the need to usher in 30 as a boon and a challenge instead of an albatross. I was lost, confused, and offended by this impending marker of maturity. I'm to be harder on myself at 30 than I am at 29 when I don't have enough spoons to get home at the end of the day without collapsing? In light of my perpetually heavy affect, viewing 30 as anything other than another day seemed insane.

The Realization

In October, everything changed. Literally everything. It started when I realized I couldn't give Clark the focus it deserves to flourish. Starting my own company has been the most challenging thing I've ever done, but nothing has been harder than looking myself in the mirror and knowing the man looking back didn't have the energy to provide my team with momentum and inspiration. These amazing humans trust me, left jobs for me, believed me when I said we'd build something transformative and positive for the world. And until October I felt like I was phoning it in even in moments of smashing success.

And then I got into a huge fight with the woman I've been with for over six years. She didn't deserve it. Neither did I, really. It was something stupid, but boiled down to:

Her: "I need you to do X"

Me: "I want to, but I can't."

Six years, two cats, countless days of shared travel, experience, laughter, and love, and I'm crushed under the weight of not having enough energy?

I realized that without change, turning 30 was going to be another unmet expectation, an ephemeral moment leading to decades of regret. I owed it to myself and those around me to find a way to coexist with my depression and anxiety. So I went to work.

The Work

Irony is realizing you've been too hard on yourself in every way except as it pertains to finding effective coping mechanisms. One session in talk therapy uncovered this fact, so I kept going. I sought out antidepressants and began physical therapy for my knee so I could get back to running, my favorite meditation. The work is a daily effort, but I've kept with it. I don't see progress on a daily basis, and I've had to change my outlook in order to do work that sometimes feels counterproductive.

I started listening to the way I talk to myself. I began bargaining with myself to give up control. I decided to let my friends show me what I was worth and started listening to the way I interpreted the words they said to me. I decided to rely on other people and open up to the possibility of rejection in the process. I decided to celebrate my 30th birthday. I asked my girlfriend and two other friends to plan a party, and it was nothing short of life-changing.

Not Pictured: Many other loved ones.
Five breweries, one scavenger hunt, dozens of loving, happy people, and one completely amazed me.

The Change

We padded softly over the newly fallen snow. "Where are we going?" I asked, repeatedly. "You'll see," they responded, coyly. We eventually arrived at Gun Hill Brewery, our first stop, and friends began arriving. They surrounded me with their positivity for the next twelve hours and for the first time I was in a place where I could enjoy it.

I have never felt more loved. I have never felt more energetically happy to be alive. The outpouring of support and community I felt was completely new. Last saturday was the first time I was ever able to to grok the depth to which interpersonal connection affects the human soul. In my 30 years it's only been since November that I've felt that my energy level comes close to matching my ambition for activity. It's only been in the last week that I've realized how platonic love really works. These last few months have marked the first time I've felt unadorned hope for the future. Irony of new hope in the face of the rise of American Fascism aside, the man I see in the mirror now more closely resembles the man others see when they look at me.

It was a small change: in every moment, your body provides your brain with feedback. With the right amount of energy, each moment reinforces your capacity to get to the next moment. Without it, each moment is a question of survival. I only know this because in October, my capacity began increasing and it's still growing. It's such an omnipresent factor in life, a low-level change that affects each action I take. It's a supremely enjoyable relief.

The effects are myriad: I feel equipped to have conversations, so I no longer feel anxious about how long they'll last. I feel able to do the tasks in front of me, so I no longer ruminate over which ones I won't get to. I feel the desire to speak with other people, so I no longer question why they speak to me at all. I see the micro-desires in my own affect when speaking with people I love, so I no longer wonder why people want to have a relationship with me. I see other people succeeding and failing, over and over, day after day, so I no longer feel that a failure on Monday means certain doom on Tuesday.

In short, I'm building a foundation, and people are noticing. My girlfriend has commented on my reasonableness and go-get-'em attitude. Clark is growing rapidly, and it's no longer a fight to stay focused (instead, I fight to push the envelope on what we can do as a team). Friends (I hope, you tell me!) notice my willingness to connect. I feel my rage decreasing, my empathy increasing, and my future brightening. The anxiety is still there. The depression is still a part of my life. Both will probably never disappear. We all have our struggles, and it's never as simple as a cure or "getting better." You always owe it to yourself to try, as hard as that may be. Pick a milestone that's meaningful or make a milestone meaningful by creating it. Either way, if you're suffering, find a way to make change in your life a priority. Changing yourself will change your world, too.

This is just the beginning of the journey, but 30 is going to be great.

For Those Who Still Suffer

It took so much to get to where I am today, most of it attributable to pure luck. I'm lucky to be high-functioning despite my mental issues. I'm lucky to live in New York and have a great education and to have broken into a career that I'm suited for both in skill and demographic (i'm a white dude in tech–bit of a cliché, really). And more than that, I am lucky enough to have health insurance. It's a human right we can no longer take for granted, and I can't stress the privilege I have by merit of finding funding for the hard work I've put into Clark.

Even if you have the support you need it's not a given that you'll find success in your first attempt to manage your demons. Please, keep trying. Something will work, but what does may surprise you. For me, it was a medication, a new diet, two doctors, and waking up every day to do what I love. Don't give up. And when people tell you not to be so hard on yourself, try to listen. They don't see what you see when you look in the mirror, but they still see the real you.

If you're in crisis now, don't wait. Get in touch with Crisis Text Line by texting HELLO to 741741. Help is closer than you think.

Trump the Shapeshifter

Disclaimer: I am a white guy. I know and accept that I am always coming to the table from a place of privilege. What follows is a call to the most privileged among us to act. It is not a prescription of what marginalized peoples should do. Feedback and corrections are welcome.

Saying that Trump means different things to different people may be the understatement of the century. To many including myself, he is a dangerous demagogue hell-bent on destroying the social progress enjoyed by millions of minorities and marginalized populations. To others, he's the lesser of two evils, a bombastic but harmless outsider whose new perspective will bring needed change to economically depressed communities nationwide. To still others, he's justification for hate and hateful acts.

All this from one man. Trump shows a different face to every audience, adjusting his message accordingly. In rust belt states, his rallies contained little of the racist rhetoric about deporting Muslims en masse that he included in southern states. For the cameras, he provided sensationalist fodder that obfuscated the policy messages he was delivering at his less hateful rallies. We responded to the hateful messages we saw, ignoring the growing coalition of voters who saw someone else. The news told us one thing, but people were feeling another, culminating in his victory this past Tuesday.

He faked us out. A man once sued for racial discrimination and currently under investigation for fraud managed to confuse and misdirect both the institutional left and the media. And all of us who depended on that information must now suffer with the knowledge that he will likely change his platform again.

The evidence is already piling up: Building a Mexican border wall and repealing Obamacare, two oft-repeated policy tenets, are on the chopping block. In a true surprise, Trump laid out a plan to expand student debt repayment protections. None of this lines up with the platform he outlined in his campaign, and there are signs he'll evolve his platform again. If you're a party Republican, you're horrified. And if you're a Trump detractor, you should be too.

These policy shape-shifts will define the struggle over the next four years and determine whether Trumpism–and Trump himself–are here to stay. By obfuscating a truly heinous first 100-day plan with common-sense affordances to the voters who elected him, he is strengthening his coalition and casting even more doubt on the institutional left. These are tangible, relief-inducing policy shifts that, if executed, will reflect poorly on the political establishment. It's a reality we must now accept, and despite the danger it poses, it's a masterful plan that should not be underestimated.

These observations are shocking. The political machine of both parties is crumbling, but the financial forces that fueled them are not. Notably, the corporate support for both parties will be redirected to future candidates who are able to get these kinds of results. The RNC may be losing its luster, the apparatus of voter suppression and control it has implemented over the last several decades is easily repurposed by powerful men like Trump, or worse. His toothless policy positions reflect his political naiveté, but the damage he has done could easily be wielded by someone more savvy, and likely more evil.

The fear felt by racial and cultural minorities in the wake of this election is very real and very well-founded. There is a lot of hate being unleashed due to the endorsement Trump's win gave to hate groups nationwide. And while many white people are waking up to an imperative to fight for the rights of women's bodies, black bodies, gay bodies, and the social institutions that support them, this is in large part because we feel threatened, too. There's more at stake than the bodies of today, though. As Trump's policies shift and change, he is likely to placate–or even win over–the faithful on the left simply by pulling back from his extremist views, putting the next generation of minorities in jeopardy, too. People whose bodies are at risk will see through the lies, but will I? Will you?

This is a fight for the most privileged: It's a fight against confusion and against lies, and it starts by turning off the news and getting out of your bubble. We are all seeing filtered information. We are all victims of a tightly controlled, highly sensationalized media machine that fed us exactly what Trump wanted us to hear. We are all being lied to, and if we want to pave the way for the world we know our most vulnerable deserve, we must win this battle.

Here's the awful, heart-wrenching, nigh-impossible (and easy-for-you-to-say, white guy!) part. Without the support of people who voted for Trump, we cannot win. They are [mostly] not the enemy. As a whole, they rubber-stamped a platform of hate and violence. As individuals, their net impact was racist, misogynist, homophobic, and against their best interests. As a collection of cultural groups, they are highly divided from those of us in urban settings. But if we fail to find common ground, we will fail to turn the tide. These voters summarily rejected the corporatist and imperialist leanings of both parties. We cannot rely on the Democratic party to reject neoliberalism, and until they do, winning will remain elusive. Without a platform that espouses the type of sweeping change Trump offered, the Democrats have no chance in 2020. And it's up to progressives to lead that reform, starting with understanding and recognizing what we have in common with rust-belt Trump voters.

Let me clarify something, though: we cannot normalize hate. We cannot "wait and see," and we cannot "give Trump a chance." We are angry, and we will stay that way. It's not OK to feel OK. We will fight and we will not yield, and we will not forget. But it's also not OK to think we have all the answers, or pretend that Hillary Clinton was our savior. We have to find a way to honor her historic run for president while condemning the cronyism and corporatism that led to her downfall. We need to call out the sexism that contributed to her loss while holding her campaign accountable for the hubris that lost us Michigan and Wisconsin. We need to elevate the positive social policies that Obama passed while recognizing he had a net negative effect on the world's political stability.

In short, we need to be aware of our own place in this struggle. Marginalized people have an exponentially harder time in the world than I do, and we can't expect them to lead yet another charge. It's on the most privileged to provide a pathway to bring in those duped by Trump while continuing to condemn those who were motivated by hate. It's on us to educate and shine a light on the impact their actions had so we can avoid this ever happening again. It's on us to call out policy shape-shifting and provide context to help people get out of their bubble. And most importantly, it's on us to amplify and channel the perspective of marginalized groups and defend safe spaces against the onslaught of normalized hate.

It's OK to grieve. I certainly still am. It's been less than a week since our world was upended. But when you're ready, we must come together to reject the shape-shifter. So much is at stake, and we can't afford to lose.

What's To Come

part 1 of 2

For many, a Trump win was unthinkable. But, as always, there are exceptions: in the immediate aftermath of his unprecedented win, the first signs of "surprise? really?" came from my LGBT, black, and activist friends. Their reciprocal disbelief stems from the knowledge that we've always been a racist nation. For the rest of us, we're only just discovering how willing our fellow citizens are to embrace bigotry and hatred.

There's a huge amount of fear in the air in New York City right now: Just as the Democratic party is reeling from a loss of power, so is this city. Long the voice of leftist culture and a haven for the disadvantaged, New York will endure. Hundreds of years of precedent tell us that, despite the hatred between the Hudson and the Sierra Nevadas, the coasts of America remain safe for free expression. We will protect the quality of life of our poor and our weak, imperfectly, as always.

But what of the rest of us? The juxtaposition of Hillary's popular vote win with an electoral map soaked in red symbolizes the local struggle already faced by many. It's a herald of emboldened bigotry to come. It's a clarion call to those of us who felt mollified by Obama's benign but imperfect rule. It's time to stand up. There is no other option: if we desire an equal, equitable country, we must fight.

There are less than 70 days until Trump's inauguration. Until the promised repeal of Obamacare, the promised deportation of millions. That's your deadline. Get to it. The stakes have never been this high.