Hi, everyone. I've taken a couple of days to soak in the much-needed good news that the Army Corps of Engineers declined an easement, effectively halting DAPL work, at least temporarily - make no mistake, this is a significant victory, but not a long-term one. I've just heard that tribal leader Dave Archambault III has asked non-Sioux protesters to leave for the winter, as tribe elders and representatives meet with the Corps of Engineers and (hopefully) Sunoco and ETP.

There is still a lot of work for us in the Standing Rock diaspora to do. ETP/Sunoco has pledged to ignore the COE and in fact are indicating that they will merge into one conglomerate, pipeline investor and fossil fuel advocate Donald Trump is assuming the presidency, and Senate Majority Leader Paul Ryan has made it clear he's just biding his time until Trump is elected so he can instate a fossil fuel-centric infrastructure plan.

Bearing all this in mind, I'm pushing forward with the documentation project with a renewed sense of mission and urgency. This week, as I continue adding material, I'll make pages specifically for:

  • Ways to Donate - Please don't think the war is won - that's the easiest way to lose it. The indigenous tribes will still be camping through the winter, many people currently processing through the Morton County legal system will still need help, and the many media projects documenting the struggle will still need to be funded. I'm currently digging up as many as I can find and encouraging you to give as you can afford this winter.
  • Online Collective Presences - These will include camp resources, legal support groups, and other collective action groups. 
  • First-Person Accounts - This will be perhaps the most personally rewarding work for me. I hope to eventually get a patchwork quilt of voices, drawn from social media, collectives, and my own interviews.
  • Journalistic Accounts, by Source - This is another important function I'd like to work toward: sorting and analyzing editorial stances and biases in covering the development of the Sanding Rock movement this year. This will of course be a long with worthy process.

I'm currently assembling a team to help me out, as this will obviously be a lot of work. Feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested, and I'll continue to update as we progress.

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you drop the kids off at school, then sit down to write, then listen to your Pathos-Laden Running Playlist on iTunes while rubbing your bum knee, or maybe your Extended Eulogies Playlist while trying to remember the worst parts of your life, then go to the coffee house and write some more, check your email and look for updates on the Standing Rock movement, maybe come home and masturbate, drop off some mail or take out the trash or do the dishes, then pick up your children from school and bring them home, get them snacks and have them do homework and play until they inevitably get in a fight, which you try to remember is an inevitable part of their working out of boundaries and not any conscious imposition on you and your space, and make dinner while listening to WNYC or your Heavy Rotation Playlist, then set the table and wait for your wife to arrive home, kiss her and look at the floor when you remember you forgot to give your children baths or check your oldest daughter’s homework or take down and fold the clothes from the drying rack above the radiator, then try not to take it personally when your four-year-old calls the dinner you made disgusting or mercifully just says Yuck, and do the dishes after dinner while your wife speeds your children through showers and reads to them, grab a beer from the fridge or a whiskey from the cupboard, and sit on the couch and don’t think about anything at all—just stare into the space you’ve made for yourself and these people, and remember that this is exactly the life that you wanted.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

Many of you who know me, know that I spent some time with the water protectors at Standing Rock earlier this month. I've really struggled since returning home to contextualize the struggle and my own place within it, finally coming to this conclusion: I am a writer, and my primary function should to document. To that end, I'm developing what I'm tentatively calling a digital oral history. I'm not sure exactly how this will end up, but my general intention right now is to collect as many different voices as I can, and organize the voices contextually as I go. I'll be updating regularly, and will indicate recently added material. You can find the tab in the menu above, or click here

My first addition is Voices of Standing Rock, a project of the Iktče Wičháša Oyáte, or Common Man Collective, of Standing Rock. Their interviews are elucidating and personal, including both indigenous voices and the extended family of non-indigenous friends. They are a crowdfunded enterprise, so if you are looking for a good cause to donate to, you can do that here via YouCaring.

 

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you watch Repo Man in 2016 and it makes you feel old and depressed, not because the movie is over 30 years old and you are over 40 years old but because you see in it the horrific life cycle of satire: From skewering Reagan-era materialism in the early Eighties, to object of slacker satire in the late Eighties (e.g. "Maybe he went to see the Circle Jerks" from “Where the Hell Is Bill?”) to “cult classic” of the Nineties whose viewers only watch it to repeat key lines and enact favorite scenes to its present place at the back end of HBOGo after perhaps the most ubiquitous symbol of Eighties materialism has just been elected president.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When people talk and you don’t hear ideas, or sentences, or even syllables, you just hear sounds as they evanesce into air—a conversation in a movie foreshadowing a plot point that takes you by surprise every time you watch it; your children asking you if you’re hard of hearing, to which you always reply “What?”; the new chair of your department saying, with a hint of sympathy, that she told you about next week’s meeting last month; and you know if you just read the words—closed captioning, a scribbled note, an office memo—you’ll remember it when you’re 70. But it won’t matter when you’re 70, just like it doesn’t matter the minute someone realizes yet again that either you are hard of hearing or you weren’t paying attention, and they’ll look at you like you are in fact 70, and you’ll feel some circular satisfaction at how it all worked out. At least that’s how you’ll try to explain it.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you decide to drive from Brooklyn to North Dakota with a friend to join the water protectors at Standing Rock, and a childhood friend posts on Facebook his estimate of how many gallons of crude oil your trip will take to justify the need for the pipeline you’re ostensibly protesting, and your first night in your cheap tent is so bone-achingly cold that even four layers and a heavy sleeping bag can’t keep you from shaking constantly, and you finally go into your car, turn it on, and promptly fall asleep until your friend wakes you up at 3am banging on the window and saying, “They’re gonna need the whole pipeline just to give you a good night’s sleep!” Turn off the engine and watch the morning sun rise in a corner of the hilltops, until the sun turns off and you realize that’s not the sun, it’s the bright light of workers on the pipeline toiling through the night. Then listen at 5am to a series of large trucks barreling down the camp entrance and a megaphoned voice yelling, “It’s a great morning! Time for some peaceful protest! We’ve been up for three hours, how about you?” and see the people camped next to you turn on their truck and a bright spotlight shines out the back of it as they prepare their fire, and hear someone shout, “Turn that off! People’s trying to pray! Show some respect!” from a camp on the other side of you. It should not be lost on you that this person is probably also yelling at you, since you are the one who’s been running your car all night. This is what the camp orientation leaders meant when they said your privilege is getting in the way.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

I HAVE A SNEAKING SUSPICION YOU WOULD ALSO SAY, "STOP CRYING. IT'S ONLY CANCER."

DON'T EVEN SAY THINGS ARE GOING TO GO ON AS USUAL. SO FAR, THE MAN YOU ELECTED HAS DESIGNATED A RAVING CLIMATE CHANGE CONTRARIAN TO HEAD THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY'S TRANSITION TEAM, MADE A WHITE SUPREMACIST HIS CHIEF STRATEGIST, AND MADE A FRINGE SENATOR WHO EVEN REAGAN SAW AS TOO RACIST TO BE HIS ATTORNEY GENERAL. IN A NUTSHELL, HE'S APPOINTING PEOPLE TO DESTROY THE INSTITUTIONS THEY HEAD. AND WE'RE JUST A WEEK OUT OF THE ELECTION.

AND STOP WITH THIS BULLSHIT ABOUT GOD BEING IN CONTROL AND SEEING MORE THAN WE DO. 1) THERE MOST LIKELY IS NO GOD. SORRY. 2) DONALD TRUMP WOULD AGREE WITH ME ON POINT #1, IF HE WERE TO ACTUALLY GIVE IT ANY THOUGHT BEYOND HOW IT WOULD GET YOU TO VOTE FOR HIM. 3) IF THERE WAS A GOD AND THAT GOD IMPOSED DONALD TRUMP ON OUR COUNTRY, THEN GOD HATES THE U.S.A.

THIS WAS NOT "JUST AN ELECTION," THOUGH IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE ONLY ELECTION IN WHICH YOU ACTUALLY VOTED. AND DON'T SAY YOU VOTED FOR OBAMA THE LAST ELECTION, OR TRUMP'S ELECTION IS NO WORSE THAN OBAMA'S. YOU JUST VOTED FOR THE LEAST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE OF OUR LIFETIME, IF NOT AMERICAN HISTORY. IF YOU THINK THAT'S A GOOD THING, I INVITE YOU TO HAVE THE PERSON IN SEAT 6C (OR WHATEVER SEAT, YOU CAN CHOOSE) NAVIGATE THE PLANE ON YOUR NEXT FLIGHT. IF YOU SEE OUR COUNTRY'S GOVERNMENT AS THAT PLANE AND YOU WANT IT TO CRASH, THEN YOU ARE THE PERSON IN SEAT 6C NAVIGATING THE PLANE.

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you think of the What-If’s particular to your own small existence: What if your mother hadn’t divorced her abusive husband when you were sixteen after he beat her unconscious with a chair? What if you hadn’t decided to cram for the ACT your senior year to make up for a wasted high school education that left you ranked 347th in a senior class of 659 students? What if you’d decided to continue sorting Cool Whip lids at Packer Plastics the summer after your senior year instead of late-enrolling at a community college? What if you’d somehow remained sane when the girl you loved from your hometown broke up with you when you’d returned home from college to settle down with her after your senior year? What if your friends hadn’t found a four-plex building in Sunnyside, Queens and paid your share of the first month’s rent so you could move to New York City with $200 in your pocket and no job? What about every temp job you took, every girl you dated, every night you went out with people you barely knew and ended the night with other people you barely knew—each of these was a flashpoint, a direction your life could have taken but mostly didn’t. That’s when you feel how monumentally lucky you are to be husband and father to possibly the poorest family in Park Slope.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When, after many conversations about Woolf and Hemingway and DFW and Plath, you stepped off the map and over the bluff, catching one fleeting glimpse of the unknowable before ceasing to know anything at all and leaving our department with an empty chair, and when I got the news via email from the provost and for days afterward expected to wake up from that dream where someone important to you dies, only I never woke up, and now I’ve reverse-engineered this dream so that you are alive and we’re walking the city together or you’re laughing about some interdepartmental silliness, and then I wake up and instead of the relief that comes upon waking from the death-dream I face anew the ever-expanding space between these words and their antecedent.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you watch the election returns roll in for hours and slowly come to a realization: not that your country is about to shift in direction, but that it never changed course. Go ahead and post things to social media like “Wow. We are all fucked,” and “It’s impossible to overestimate the mistake we just made,” listen for the echoes, and then sit with the knowledge that the vast majority of your country places scant value on the work you wish to do or the things you want to say, but instead is most concerned with the periodic self-renewal of voting into office someone opposite the person currently in office. Then get back to your work, for there is a lot of it to do.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

So, a week has passed. It seems like much, much longer. I went to Standing Rock, and my country has a new president. I just finished writing a piece about my trip, and now I have to think on this new, ugly reality.

Ah, well. More Sneaky Feels starting tomorrow, and I promise you'll be reading about me and Standing Rock soon.

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AuthorJohn Proctor

Thanks to my colleague and teaching partner Nayma Qayum, I'll be discussing this recent piece from The Atlantic with my classes today as we begin our section on persuasive writing, with a focus shifted toward argumentation-as-understanding. Tomorrow I will vote, and the day after that I will be heading out to Standing Rock with Bill Housworth, an ardent Trump supporter who is also one of my oldest friends. We'll undoubtedly argue constantly and joyfully, as only people who understand each other as people can argue, when we're not too busy finding common ground in the mutual work we're doing and our shared heritage. It's going to be a very good week.

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you lie sleepless in bed at 3am while your husband snores, turning yourself over and away from him until he bolts upright and yells “No!” or “Sure!” or “I know,” and you turn to face him and he falls backward onto his pillow and continues nursing the sleep he’s stealing from you—you wait for him to say something in his sleep that will reveal himself to you, and think about the previous evening’s conversation when you expressed your confusion at this new project of his, writing down thoughts that seem random to you in this shallow, overdone “That Feeling When” style while avoiding work on actual books and essays that you see as his main work and, perhaps more importantly, publishing for strangers these feelings that he doesn’t express even to you, you who have given your life over to this man who sometimes seems determined to keep himself a stranger to you. You want to sleep next to someone who tells his secrets to you and only you, whether asleep or awake. But all you get is the relentless nasal whine of his snoring and his vague, periodic exclamations, while you wait anxiously for morning to come.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you ask your wife if she’s driving to work and she just looks at you and asks, “Why would I drive to Times Square?” and you stand in silence, knowing this is one of an increasing number of uncomfortable moments when you realize your brain is misfiring, that you had thought she was going to Westchester County even though she’s been working at Times Square all week, and you spend this moment inside your wife’s head, where you feel her imagining a time twenty or so years in the future when she can’t even have a conversation with you, the same way you can hardly have a conversation with your own mother because her mind sometimes can’t recall the ages or even the names of your children or a conversation you had with her the previous week. You want to tell your wife that this won’t happen, that you are in control of your mind whereas your mother’s mind ceased to develop and grow since she had you when she was seventeen years old, but instead you say, “Yeah, I know,” and wait for this moment to pass, for this look of annoyance and confusion to leave your wife’s face, and hope to put as much time as possible between this and the next such moment.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor

When you decide to start a group at the bar you own promoting education and involvement in social issues and invite the local Black Lives Matter chapter, feeling perhaps a certain responsibility as a white man to your black wife and the daughter you both share, and also a responsibility to educate your white friends, acquaintances, and bar patrons—perhaps even some lingering feeling as an ex-convict yourself has led to a certain empathy for the plight of the black man in the American penal system—so you start inviting them to come out and contribute at these meetings. One of your patrons, a white woman in her mid-sixties, says during the meeting that she feels uninformed on the topic and would like clarification, and the head of the BLM chapter tells her to hit that Google and come back at him, don’t bring that safe space opinion in here, and you break in and ask him why he’s got to be that way, she’s only trying to understand, and he tells you to stop trying to bring up a bunch of Uncle Toms, and you don’t really know what that means so you tell him he shouldn’t talk to a lady and an elder like that, and he tells you to stop being so hetero/cis-normative, and by now you have no idea what this young man is saying, and you feel old and stupid in front of your college daughter, who then spends the rest of the week defending you on social media, where the local BLM and Police Scanner movements have encouraged their members to boycott your bar due to its racist owner. You want, more than anything, to hide and watch the Cubs, and you regret already your decision to join Facebook a month ago.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

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AuthorJohn Proctor