Piss and vinegar


Why, yes I am. Thanks for noticing.

This election has made a lot of us face some hard truths about our country and ourselves. I suppose the fact that Trump won (not the popular vote, of course) is the most sobering one for the 47.8 percent of Americans who supported Hillary Clinton. I can’t really give any more of my precious time or tears to Trump. I have too much work to do on myself.

I’m not who you think I am.  Perhaps I never was.

Maybe I was always really a radical trapped inside the exterior of the good girl and moderately sensible shoes. I just cared (note past tense) way too much about pleasing people to fully express my truths. That’s one reason I didn’t come out until I was well into my 30’s. I was afraid people wouldn’t like me and most of all, I did not want to disappoint my parents. They, of course, were not at all surprised that I was gay and only cared for my happiness and well-being but I still deeply regret all those years of not being fully known to them.

So for most of my sixty years I have operated under the adage that my dear departed daddy used to often tell me, “You can catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” I don’t know why it never occurred to me to ask my father the obvious question all those years ago. Why the hell would you want to catch flies?


Exit polls reveal that voters prefer savory over sweet.And 3rd party voters prefer arsenic.

Yes, I know the phrase means you can attract more friends by being nice than by being rude. It just doesn’t apply to voters. Voters like vinegar. Bitter, stinging sour vinegar. Sort of like the taste that I have had in my mouth since November 8th.

Ironic isn’t it, since we liberals so glommed on to Michelle Obama’s passionate cry at the Democratic Convention back in July -“When they go low, we go high.” I know I clung to it like a personal floatation device – fully knowing that we had the moral high ground in this election. We repeated it on social media when Trump supporters would post vile commentary like, “Lock her up!” or “Drain the swamp”. I even shouted it at the first rally that Hillary  and Michelle appeared together at in my hometown a few weeks before the election.


And then they win.

That rally was the day before FBI Director Comey released his letter, the October Surprise (i.e. Tsunami) – an unprecedented move 10 days before a presidential election. You remember – the one that pollsters and the media said had a very “marginal” effect on voters. At least that’s what they said before the election. Then after a lot of Wednesday morning quarterbacking, many of them proclaimed that it probably had a bigger effect than they had measured. Ya think? If there are any swamps to be drained, I hope Trump starts with the pollsters. Bye, Nate Silver. We are never ever getting back together.

I don’t know if that’s the main reason Hillary lost the election. I know I’ve read at least 1,412 theories on the subject, and I’m done agonizing over it. Bottom line: Trump was elected Lord of the Flies and now we have to put on our big girl panties and grab him and his minions by the balls to make sure that we don’t let an already great America go back.

As I often do in times of moral uncertainty, I turned to the words of Harvey Milk who said, “I have tasted freedom. I will not give up that which I have tasted.”

Oh. Hell. No.

I am flat-out worn out from being the good girl for so long. Oh, I’ve spoken out before  on issues near and dear to my heart – LGBT civil rights, HIV/AIDS stigma, Amendment One and HB2. But I’ve never really boldly crossed that “honey” line. I’ve bit my tongue over the years with some family, friends and colleagues when they’ve made comments that offend me and my ideals. God forbid I be accused of being a humorless liberal or too politically correct. Not me, people like me. They really, really like me.

Fair warning to all – my Sally Field phase is over. I’m acquiring a taste for vinegar. Vinegar gets shit done. Simma down, now. I’m not looking for a fight with anyone on either side but I’m sure as hell not going to default to sweet talking my way out of any either. I’m too old and there’s too much at stake.


That would be nice but it’s no longer a deal breaker for me.

47.3% of voters may have booked passage on the Titanic but I see that iceberg ahead and I’m going to use my voice as the biggest baddest foghorn you’ve ever heard.

I’m angry and I’m going to fight tooth and nail for the America that I believe in – the America that is good and kind and loving – the America not hell-bent on preserving the white status quo – the America that is not afraid of someone being different – the America that celebrates being different.

I started to get a queasy feeling in my stomach the Sunday before the election. My wife and I drove over to Buena Vista, an upscale neighborhood in Winston-Salem, where we like to walk when the weather is nice. The streets are lined with gorgeous trees and there are sidewalks – it’s a great walking neighborhood and the houses there are big and beautiful and apparently, home to an awful lot of people who voted for Trump – at least if yard signs are any indication.


True story.

I find it hard to believe that these folks were simply voting for change because it sure looks like they’ve been doing pretty darn well for a while. Just an observation.

The “R” word has been thrown around a lot this election cycle. No, not all Trump voters are racists but Charles Gaba, founder of ACASingups.net, nailed it in one short not so sweet tweet when he said, “Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker. End of story.”

Yes, there was lot of Flying the W this election and I’m not talking about the Cubs. White Makes Right could have been another big seller for Trump hat vendors this year.

Author Toni Morrison gives a blistering view on this ugly reality  in an essay this week in The New Yorker. You can read it here but here’s a stiff shot of it:

The comfort of being “naturally better than,” of not having to struggle or demand civil treatment, is hard to give up. The confidence that you will not be watched in a department store, that you are the preferred customer in high-end restaurants—these social inflections, belonging to whiteness, are greedily relished.

So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.


Why we can’t have nice things.

I don’t want to be angry for four years because I still believe down deep in my bones in kindness as “the only thing that matters” as the wonderful poet Namoi Shihab Nye writes in her poem of the same name.

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

What you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.

The electoral map certainly highlighted a lot of desolation and I think we all lost a lot last Tuesday. Maybe now it’s finally time to think about all of this through a different prism than the red state/blue state one. I’m not crazy about purple either. I might suggest something like a burnt sienna as we navigate our new country in search of kindness.


An Ariel view of the new electoral map.

But this is where my work is. I know I cannot dismiss all Trump voters as racist and a threat against me and my wife as gay Americans.. I would lose some family members and a few good friends if that was my moral litmus test.

I know I have to stop thinking of that man standing in front of me at Starbucks – the older white man with the big belly that is taking up the whole counter while he fixes his coffee – more cream, a shake of vanilla – while the rest of us wait – as my enemy because I think he looks like a Republican.


I promise to do better. Tomorrow.

No, that’s on me to do better. But I will no longer go with the “honey” approach. I will speak the truth as I know it. I will be respectful and civil but I will no longer stop at the line that I drew for myself so many years ago when I bought into the good girl scenario.

The results of this election made me recall something a dear friend said to me years ago in the context of a professional dilemma I was experiencing. I was opting for the path of least resistance and staying on the high road in the situation. My friend said, “Addison, taking the high road is great but sometimes you can wind up in a ditch.”

Many of us have felt like we’ve been in a ditch this past week or so – or maybe even more like road kill. Anyway, there’s no AAA to pull us coastal elites out of this one. It’s on us and we better get started.

You can sleep while I drive.


We’ve got a long way to go. Pack snacks.










Margin call


Getting my steps in today.

“If you aspire to write, put aside all the niceties and sureties about what art should be and write something that makes the scales fall from our eyes.” The Paris Review, November 9, 2016 

It has been almost 12 hours since America elected it’s 45th president and I can still barely move. It is almost 3 in the afternoon and I haven’t yet brushed my teeth. I haven’t been outside but beyond my window, I hear dogs barking, the banging of trash cans, moving cars – just the normal sounds of life.

But today is anything but normal. I am 60 years old and I have a gut full of despair and fear unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I hate my state and I no longer recognize the country I live in. Breaking News: Love doesn’t Trump hate in the Electoral College.

Spare me your cheerful memes and posts about moving on and the sun coming out tomorrow. It is tomorrow in an America I no longer feel safe in. I am a liberal gay woman and if I were a stock account, there would be a margin call on me today.

I went to bed around 1:30 or so last night before the race was called. I took an Advil PM that didn’t seem to dent my emotional vertigo. I got up when my wife’s alarm went off and went out to sit on the couch in my living room. I did not turn the TV on. I was almost catatonic.

My best friend called me shortly after my wife left for work. I wasn’t going to answer. I didn’t think I could make words but her picture came up on my iPhone and I could not ignore her sweet face. I think I said hello but it didn’t really matter. We both just cried softly. That was pretty much our entire conversation.


Gotta pick up.

She did manage to make me smile for the first time in many hours when she said, “On the third ring, I thought you weren’t going to answer.” She knows me well.

Then I watched Hillary’s concession speech. When she came out on the stage and her staff and friends in the room stood and applauded loudly, I did, too. Right there in my living room in my pajamas. And I cried. Hard. I cried for Hillary because she’s too strong to cry for herself – at least in public. And I cried for myself and all the dreams I had wrapped up in this moment. I cried for Pearl, my 90-year-old friend who was certain that she had lived long enough to see the first woman become president of the United States. And I cried for all my friends who are mothers with young children who have to try to explain how this happened to their sons and most especially, their daughters.


Lennie (left) and her wife Pearl have seen – and made – a lot of history in their 50 plus years together.

I surely don’t have a clue. I can’t even make any sense of it myself.

My friend Susan is a columnist for my local paper and the mother of two daughters. She wrote a brilliant piece in today’s paper, What do you tell your daughter today.

Susan’s 15-year-old daughter felt worried that some of her rights would be taken away by the new president whose track record with women is well, disgusting.. She said she would tell her daughter that “women still have to work twice as hard as men to achieve the same status” and that she may be called “shrill,” or “bitchy” for wielding power in the same way men do. And she said, and this is the best part, “I will tell her to do it anyway, boldly and unapologetically.” My friend Susan is one beautifully Nasty Woman.

Facebook has been like a wailing wall today and it’s good to mourn in public with others. Words like “gutted” and “unmoored” and “devastated”  appeared in a lot of posts. There have been those on the other side, too, but it has been so empowering to use the “unfriend” feature today. It’s rather silly anyway to think that I could actually be “friends” with someone who voted for such a rude misogynist – a rude misogynist who BRAGS about being a rude misogynist.

I suppose we will never bridge the great divides in our country if we don’t actually ever sit down and talk to folks on the other side but I’m simply not in the mood for diplomacy today. I deleted a handful of friends from high school –most of whom never left the small town we grew up in. Maybe they never met a Muslim or a black person or a person with a disability –or a gay person except for me. Maybe they simply don’t care. I just know I have to tend to me right now before I set out to fight another day and reading their negative commentary is not helpful.

I have heard from lots of friends through FB, text and email. And my dear sister who is 3,000 miles away has tried through sheer force of will to take some of my pain away. She is hurting, too, but her empathy for me has been palpable. Her love for me is bigly.

Perspective is everything and a dear friend who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer gave me a good dose of it. She texted me a Bible verse someone had sent her today. I’m Episcopalian and not so up on the Bible but this passage from 1 Peter 5:8-9 was right on time:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

I certainly felt that collective suffering today and I was grateful to grieve with my family of believers – people who know what Hillary told us today  – “to never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”


I will always be with her.

But I still want to rant and weep and scream to the heavens. I want it to be okay and I know that it won’t be for a very long time. And I know I have to just be uncomfortable with that.

My wife just texted me that she was picking up comfort food for dinner – for us, that means Mongolian tofu. Yes, we’re elite liberals. And we’ll have some wine on a school night and we will watch a relaxing Netflix series about a serial killer being chased by Gillian Anderson.

Suddenly, I feel better already.

As my friend Chris said so succinctly this afternoon, “I know I will move forward, just not the fuck today.”


I won’t stop believing that young Alice and her mom Ann will see that glass ceiling break.