Do you hear what I hear?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Truth.

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 (http://repix.it)

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

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Under Pressure

tumblr_lpagfwP7zq1qzdzbuo1_500I’ve been a slack blogger lately. And I feel guilty about it.

Since we launched Bookends on August 1, I am ashamed to admit I’ve only posted one piece. One. That’s embarrassing.

I’m starting to feel what Addison defines as “blog pressure” – the overwhelming feeling that I’m not blogging enough. I do this a lot in my life – I carry with me this constant pressure and stress that I need to be doing more and doing better than I am. This idea of “I’m not doing enough _____” translates to most areas of my life – not just blogging. It’s not difficult for me to fill in the blank. I’m not doing enough yoga, reading for pleasure, spending quality time with friends, writing, eating more leafy greens, sleeping, exercising, flossing.

It’s hard being me.

What’s kept me from blogging is not a lack of writing material but a lack of time.

Let me introduce to you Exhibit A. Continue reading

Tag – you’re it

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I’ve been tagged. And I’m honored to be “it!”

Thank you, Jacinta White, for tagging me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. For those of you unacquainted with the concept, it’s kind of like a chain letter, but without the threat of something earth-shattering happening to me if I don’t send it to at least 10 friends. This is much more fun and with zero guilt involved.

Here’s how it works: You get tagged, you answer some thoughtful questions about writing and then tag two other bloggers who then repeat the cycle.

On August 21, check out the fashionable and talented Robin Reetz and my witty co-blogger Addison Ore to learn about their writing process. And for the record, this is not a shameless plug to promote Bookends, but an opportunity to highlight Addison as a writer. She can hold her own. Honest.

So here we go … Some thoughts on writing.

What are you working on?  
Right now, I’m working on trying to make writing part of my daily life again. One way I’m doing that is through this blog with my dear friend Addison. I thought partnering with her on this creative venture would be like having an exercise buddy – someone to hold you accountable and keep you motivated.

December 2009 331How does your work differ from others of its genre?  
I write from my heart. Most of my writing is creative nonfiction, a genre I’m drawn to because of its raw nature and honesty and its ability to emotionally connect with others; that’s always my goal. I want people to feel things deeply. There’s power in sharing the personal. It can inspire others to share their experiences and spark a dialogue. At the end of the day, we all crave human connection and writing provides a perfect vehicle to satisfy that craving.

Why do you write what you do?  
I write because it makes me appreciate life. It helps me pay attention to the details. It allows me to express myself in ways that I otherwise couldn’t. I write simply because I have the desire. I have a bit of an obsession with wanting to record the world around me because I don’t ever want to forget how the sky looked that one summer in Ohio or what my grandmother’s hand felt like in mine.

How does your writing process work? 
I’m one of those people who has trouble shutting their brain off. I’m constantly processing and analyzing. I search for meaning every day in my life, which serves as my pipeline for writing material. I live inside my head a lot, so I keep a journal to help me empty my brain and process things on paper. I also keep several notebooks that I free-write in. I find my writing flows easier from me when I put pen to paper as opposed to hammering away on a keyboard. I sometimes play soft music in the background while I write (right now I’m listening to the “Amelie” soundtrack) and I usually have a warm beverage nearby. Writing prompts are my best friend. They’re often my go-to when I need to wake up my brain or just feel compelled to write but don’t have a particular topic in mind. Writing prompts often lead me to something larger and take me to a place I never expected to go.

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The beginning

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It began with an idea.

Let’s start a blog.

When I posed the possibility to Addison over lunch one day in June, tears began to tremble in her eyes. Behind those tears was excitement, happiness and the reigniting of a passion that has been dormant in both of us for too long: writing.

A little more than one year ago, I left a 13-year-career in newspaper journalism for a new career in public relations in higher education. I needed less stress in my life and more stability, and a job that didn’t occupy my head space 24-7. It was not an easy decision — my Type A personality weighed the pros and cons heavily. But I do not regret the choice I made. I knew in my heart it was the right thing for me.

What I do miss about journalism, however, was writing a column and having an audience who shared in my experiences. That column was my creative outlet and gave me an opportunity to connect with others on matters of the heart.

And I know Addison misses her column, too. She used to write monthly for the same magazine I was editor of. But when the company cut the magazine’s freelance budget, the community columnists were the first to go – a decision I did not agree with but had to carry out. Addison was heartbroken, and so was I.

Nearly two years has since passed, and although we have both moved on in our professional lives, neither of us has lost our desire to write. In fact, I think it’s only grown stronger. But we needed an audience and a platform to share our stories.

Now, with our blog, Bookends, we have both.

For the past two months, we’ve been giddy with excitement, brainstorming over wine and frothy beers on what to name the blog, choosing design templates that reflect us and scribbling words in our notebooks again. It feels good.

We do not know where this blog will take us, but we are excited about the possibilities and most of all grateful to those who want to follow us on our journey, connect, share or engage.

With open hearts,

Carla and Addy