Do you hear what I hear?


The Scream

“I have passed through the initial five stages of grief: Denial anger bargaining depression and acceptance. Now I am in fascination–cobra hypnosis, newly apoplectic every day by the latest. I believe I have actually keened within recent memory. At this rate, i may have a flickering tic in my eye by sundown.” ~ Anne Lamott in a recent post-election Facebook post

As usual, author Anne Lamott writes what’s in my head only it sounds almost lyrical instead of the ALL CAPS RAGE AND DESPAIR that marinates inside me these days. Oh, and my eye tic has manifested as a pain in my right arm. No, not the heart attack kind of arm pain. It hurts the most when I undo my bra. Sorry, if that’s too much information from this nasty woman. My doctor, Web MD, says that this could indicate stress in the rotator cuff muscles. My symptoms started shortly after FBI Director James Comey released his now infamous letter to Congress regarding Hillary Clinton’s damn emails 10 days before the election. Coincidence?  I think not. Case closed.

Lamott also writes about stress eating during these troubling times. I have no doubt that Weight Watchers will be inundated with an influx of chubby liberals come January. Carbs are one of our sole/soul comforts these days. If it weren’t so unbelievably frightening, it would be funny. Lamott prefers Oreos and Cheerios. I feel for her because her options are limited. She’s been in recovery for over 30 years, so wine is not a viable option for her. By the way, did you know that Aldi’s carries some decent wine? What? A friend told me – just putting it out there.


Limiting myself to just one glass a day.

I ran into a dear and much admired colleague right after the election. I was leaving a professional function as she was pulling into the parking lot. She put her window down and we lamented together about the results and she picked up a McDonald’s cheeseburger sitting on the passenger seat next to her, took a big bite and garbled, “Look, I’m stress eating!” She’s a very petite and trim woman which made the whole thing even more amusing to me.

I’m trying to practice good self-care so I’m pretty much in a news blackout, which I guess is not really that different from the actual campaign, right? There was so little news about policies and issues. It was Reality TV at its very worst and it helped elect the least qualified presidential candidate in the history of our great nation. We were punked. Bigly. Faux news is the new news. (I just got one of those shooting pains in my shoulder.)

So I’m under a TV blackout except for every liberal’s lifeline these days. Yes, on the eighth day, God created Netflix. And it was good. And ironically, the show saving me in this post-apocalyptic election world is one about a monarchy – The Crown. If you’re reading my blog, you’re most likely watching The Crown, too, but for those in the royal dark, the series is about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s a fascinating behind the scenes look at her marriage to Price Phillip and her relationship with Prime Minister Winston Churchill. And it’s a glorious diversion from the reality of the Park Avenue president-elect only without as much gilded furniture.


Who needs term limits?

I haven’t been able to give up social media but I’ve made my Facebook world a kinder, gentler place. And for the record, I think “unfriending” is a misnomer. We can be friends in REAL life and not be “friends” on Facebook because in real life, I might not ever know that you get your news from Breitbart or that you really think that all Muslims should be deported. Another irony – people are more their real selves behind a keyboard than in actual conversation. Social media is like HD TV – it makes all your warts and blemishes that much bigger.

And honestly, it makes it easier for me and my wife to worship with you at church if I don’t know that you supported a ticket that opposes our marriage. What I don’t know can’t hurt my heart. And spare me the “how can we ever find unity if we don’t talk about our differences” crap. Tell me what I should have said to a friend I have known since the 7th grade when she accused Michelle Obama of being a “race baiter” because she talked about the White House being built by slaves. There is no middle ground to find on scorched earth.

I haven’t slept through the night since the Cubs won the Word Series. Granted, that was a short night since the game didn’t end until after 1 AM. I’m not much for drugs but Tylenol PM has been my constant companion. But even with my version of the little blue pill, I still wake up at 2 AM and immediately start worrying about so many of the things I care about. Many – most actually – of the folks closest to me are feeling the same way and while often comforting, it can be an exhausting burden, too – trying to be present to their pain while holding my own.

My best friend from college is a chaplain in California at a large urban hospital. She is a woman and she is gay and she is Muslim. Damn, there goes my shoulder again. She’s struggling and she has to be available to everyone she encounters in her work – there can be no “others” in her day. She has observed that it is only white people who ask her if she’s okay – because she doesn’t seem “like herself”.  She’s come up with a brilliant response. She tells people that she is “soul sick”.  And there ain’t enough chicken soup in the world for this kind of sick.

I’ve been going to the movies – always a balm for me. I can highly recommend Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fantasy is so superior to reality these days. And I just want to pinch Eddie Redmayne’s ginger cheek. Spoiler alert: Love really does trump hate in this movie.

But I made the mistake of going to Costco the other day. How can it be time for Christmas again already? The decorations made me feel disoriented – like going into a Christmas shop on the boardwalk when you’re at the beach in July. They seemed garish and out-of-place. Bell ringers are out now, too. I have plenty of valid issues regarding the Salvation Army so I’m never excited to hear those bells, but this year, the tone sounds almost ominous to me. It’s a tolling, not a ring.

A few days ago, my mourning changed to anger – white hot anger about what has happened in our country. My shift was not subtle. It came the moment I read who Trump had appointed as his chief strategist – Steve “Darkness is good” Bannon. Let’s be clear – the term “alt-right” should only ever be used with the word DELETE. Even Sarah Palin knew that if you put lipstick on a Nazi, it’s still a Nazi.

Yep. That was my tipping point. That day I signed up for the Women’s March on Washington – the Saturday following Not My President’s inauguration. Initially, I didn’t think I had it in me – to be in our nation’s capital at such a deplorable time. The last time I marched in Washington was 23 years ago for gay rights. That march changed my life in immeasurable ways. It made me feel empowered to live my life out loud. I hope this march empowers every woman, man and child there to go home and speak up for all of those that this new regime would diminish if given carte blanche. Hell, I might even burn my bra since I may not be able to clasp it anymore by then.


Resistance, my friends.

Jonathan Capehart, a gay black journalist, had a great piece in the Washington Post last week about the palpable fear that many of us are experiencing post-election. A fear that some of our friends – mostly white, mostly male, mostly monied – don’t feel – the fear of being targeted under the new administration. Capehart sums it up here really well: “But here’s what our well-meaning friends, especially those who have not felt the sting of discrimination or even otherness, need to understand. President-elect Trump has made promises that represent a threat to real lives and livelihoods. Some are unconstitutional. All are immoral.”

So, yeah, we others are kind of worked up over all of this. But we still enjoy your pictures of puppies.

Truth be told, it’s all Hillary’s fault that I’m going to the march. Damn her. A week after the election she honored a long-standing speaking engagement at a celebration for the Children’s Defense Fund, a cause near and dear to her broken heart. And God bless her – she showed up looking like – well, me, a few days after the election – no make up, regular going to the grocery store hair and a weary looking face. Twitterverse went wild with commentary – someone saying Hillary had “no more fucks to give” and another speculating that she was raising a middle finger to patriarchy. Whatever, I’m still with her. And it wasn’t how she looked but what she said that kicked my sorry ass.

“I know this isn’t easy, I know that over the past week, a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was. The divisions laid bare by this election run deep, but please listen to me when I say this. America is worth it. Our children are worth it. Believe in our country, fight for our values and never, ever give up.”



I don’t have super powers like Hillary but I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.

So in January, I will march but what about those damn holidays before us?

Pray for peace, people, everywhere.

And pass the cookies.

Made with Repix (

I’m still with her and our power’s turned on.

No sweat

i feel pretty when I sweat

Said me, never.

You have my blog mate and best friend Carla to blame for this post. We met a few Saturday mornings ago for coffee. Three and half hours later, we had covered everything from bone broth, her new obsession, to The Gilmore Girls revival. In between, I told her about some recent blows to my ego I had recently experienced at my gym.

bff coffee meme


Now you need a little back story. I adore Carla and it’s not that easy. She’s 24 years younger than me and she’s stunningly beautiful. And she’s skinny. I told you it wasn’t easy. Carla is the type of woman (perhaps not really human) who has never had a problem with her weight. She is the reason skinny jeans were invented. Are you getting the picture?



My beautiful bestie Carla. (Photo by Andrew Brown)

I love Carla’s laugh – it’s surprisingly robust for such a slender woman. And often when she laughs she can’t speak and she’ll sort of double over and wipe tears from her eyes. This was her reaction when I shared my gym woes with her that morning. When she finally caught her breath, she said, “You have to blog about this.”

So here we are.

When I stopped commuting for my former job in January, I gave up my gym membership in Greensboro because it just didn’t make sense. I live in Winston-Salem and it’s about a 40 minute drive. Like I need another excuse to not go to the gym.

I decided to give Planet Fitness a look because I kept seeing their commercials – “No Gymtimidation” is one of their tag lines. That sounded promising to me so I checked out the location just a few miles from my condo. I was prepared to not like it. My gym in Greensboro was really nice – so nice it was called The Club. And it sort of felt like a country club – nice leather chairs in the lobby, classy art on the walls and lots of shiny machines.

no critics

I can do this math.

Well, if my old gym was Whole Foods, Planet Fitness is Aldi’s. It has everything that I could possibly need – just without any frills. The staff was super friendly and the price was right. I joined and as part of my membership, I was given a free appointment with a personal trainer.

I’ve never been keen on a trainer. I don’t respond well to being told what to do (understatement) and I really don’t want to have to talk to anyone while I’m working out. In fact, I wish they would make all gyms a “no talking” zone. It’s just awkward, right? At my former fancy gym I would often run into my friend, Bruce. I’ve known him for years and I really like him – except that he looks like a GQ model ALL the time – even when he’s exercising. Seriously, he makes Adonis look like a sloth. And his hair looks perfect even after his workout.

ain't nobody got time for that


Invariably, I would be on the cross trainer looking like a sweaty troll and he would saunter up with his gorgeous smile and that chiseled hair and start talking to me. I would take my earbuds out and try to speak without gasping like I had a collapsed lung and have a civilized conversation with him. To this day he doesn’t know that even though my lips were moving, I was really just focusing on not falling off my machine.

When I arrived to meet my personal trainer, I was led into a room where four other women were seated around a table. Well, my “free” appointment turned out to be a group one. I really didn’t mind – the other ladies were nice – and older than me. Score. We made a little small talk and then our trainer walked in. That’s when things got real.

She was a no-nonsense young woman who looked like she could have been in the Marines. She started talking and barked, “Write this down.” We had pencils and paper at our seats and the first thing she said was, “Abs begin in the kitchen, not the gym.” This confused me but I was a little gymtimidated so I didn’t argue and I wrote it down. She went on to explain the connection between nutrition and exercise and then asked each of us what our personal goals were.

abs meme

Abs are apparently no laughing matter.

Goals? Jeez, I just signed up for some regular exercise, I wasn’t thinking about the meaning of life. Fortunately, I did not go first so I had time to scramble up an answer. I think I said something like, “Improve my stamina.” I don’t know why I said that – it’s not like I’m going to be climbing Everest or anything. Anyway, she nodded and seemed to think that my goal was worthy. She then showed us where to file our fitness plan so that we could record our reps (gym speak) each time we came in. I guess my file is still there – I haven’t pulled it. Again, I like the solo approach to exercise.

My first few times at The Planet (my homage to the coffee shop in The L Word that just makes me smile) I was very much aware that this was not The Club. First, there were a lot of older people there – yes, older than me. And I didn’t see anyone in a matching gym ensemble. I saw a lot of run of the mill schlubs like me. Score again.

I saw sweatpants – the bulky gray kind that you wear when you’re feeling puny and you’re going to be on the couch all day watching a Sex and the City marathon. I saw a lot of socks – not shorty gym socks – regular socks, even black ones. I saw some street shoes paired with shorts and a tank top. The more I saw, the more I liked. I knew this was a place where I could feel comfortable. I had found the gym version of the Island of Misfit Toys.

misfit toys

Me and my pals at Planet Fitness. Werk it Girl!

Planet Fitness bills itself as the “No Judgement Zone” and I felt a little snarky because I judged them for putting that extra “e” in judgement. For the record, the AP Stylebook recommends judgment – no e. But I’m not here to crunch vowels.

panet fitness 2

Two Es or not two Es?

Planet Fitness should add another tag line to their marketing – No Narcissism. Yesterday, I saw an elderly woman with an oxygen tank riding a recumbent bike. And there are a couple of regulars who have clearly had strokes, walking with canes or walkers, but they’re out there most days just trying to keep busy moving. These aren’t the kind of people who are going to bore the enamel off your teeth by posting on Facebook about how many steps they got on their Fitbits today. Nope, and I find these folks to be heroically inspiring.

dodge ball

Fitness can be funny.

Now certainly there are some bona fide buff bods here working out but they are more the exception than the rule. On an average day it looks like a grown up version of the Audio Visual Club from high school. And I like it. Don’t confuse that with liking exercise. My favorite part of my workout is when it is over and I can feel virtuous and maybe a little smug. I know it’s good for me – like flossing – but I don’t enjoy it. I enjoy going to the movies. I enjoy sipping an iced macchiato. I enjoy taking a long walk in November and hearing the crunching of leaves under my feet.

exercise 2 meme

That said, I’m pretty proud of myself. This summer I’ve been going to the gym five days a week. Maybe it’s the turning 60 voice in my head: Move it or lose it! Or maybe it’s just that I do appreciate some discipline in my life and the satisfaction of doing something I said I was going to do.

So I actually have built up my stamina and I was beginning to feel like I had some gym cred. And then one day a few weeks ago, while I’m pumping madly on the cross trainer, a man – a man visibly older than me – walks up and stands beside my machine. I could feel his presence and I turned to look at him and took out my earbuds and he exclaimed, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I thought you were my wife. She’s built like you.” It’s times like these when I’m grateful for my 25 plus years in fundraising. I seem to always default to speaking to strangers like potential donors. I smiled at him and said, “Well, I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Meanwhile my inside voice was saying, “Don’t you dare look around to see what his wife looks like.” And you know what? I didn’t. I just figured no good could come from that.

A few days later I had recovered from that bruise and was feeling strong again after completing my 50 minute workout and was wiping down my machine when a woman behind me on a treadmill said, “Excuse me, can I talk to you?” My inside voice was saying, “Yeah, no” but my fundraiser voice said cheerfully, “Sure.” She then proceeded to tell me that she noticed that I had been sweating a lot on the back of my T-shirt. Really? Hello, that’s why they call it working out! She then began to tell me about something that another woman had shared with her in the locker room. Wait for it – the sweat belt. Yes, it’s a thing. She went on to explain that you wear it around your waist under your shirt while you’re working out and it increases your amount of sweating. Okay, why would anyone want to sweat more? She explained that it helps reduce inches from your waist. I played along like I was truly interested and then she did the unthinkable. She actually lifted her shirt up to show me her belt that she had just gotten a few days ago.

sweat belt

Behold the sweat belt. Because who wouldn’t want to work out in a girdle?

I managed to say something like “thanks for sharing” and made a bee line for the front door. Okay, and maybe when I got home I might have Googled “sweat belt” just for kicks. Wow. My search pulled up over 12,400,000 sites related to the sweat belt. That’s a lot of sweat and apparently a lot of mixed reviews on whether the belt is a good thing or not. Yes, it makes you sweat more and perhaps momentarily lose some inches that are most likely related to water weight but some critics suggest that it prevents your abdominal muscles from fully engaging, thus limiting the amount of calories you are burning.

Some of the sweat belts even come with a special “sweat gel” that when applied to your waist is supposed to make you sweat even more than just wearing the belt. In a word, gross.

glistening like a pig

When my dear wife got home from work that day, I told her about my Close Encounter of the Sweat Belt Kind and she just laughed cheerfully and said that I shouldn’t take it personally – that my gym mate was just sharing some information. My wife is a much nicer person than me. She also has a very flat stomach so I’m not sure she could exactly walk in my waist on this matter. Nonetheless, I took her advice and tried to forget about the whole thing.

So guess who I ran into a few days later at the gym? Yep, my sweat belt stalker. She tapped my shoulder while I was working out and asked earnestly, “Did you get a sweat belt?” I was so over it all by then but I managed to smile at her and said, “I don’t really think it’s for me. I don’t really like sweating.” She looked at me with a bit of disappointment and yes, judgement, and said, “Okay, but it’s really working for me.”

I’m sincerely happy for her but I think I just have to go with my gut on this one.


addy post workout

My favorite part of working out – The End!  (Photo by Addison Ore)