Tickled pink

sister sign.jpg

Truth.

Would you like almonds or pistachios?

When you overhear a question like that, you know you are most likely in the company of women. And that’s exactly where I found myself at 3 AM last Saturday morning – on a bus with 49 other nasty women headed to the Women’s March on Washington.

I love women. We are nesters and that was ever so evident as I watched folks getting on our bus. Everyone carried at least two bags or a tote and a cooler. We brought pillows and blankets and enough food and water to last until Valentine’s Day. There was no room in the overhead bins. And this was a day trip.

Protesting requires protein and a lot of chocolate and we were prepared. I imagined the same scenario if it had been a bus of all men and I giggled out loud. I asked my seat mate and best friend Carla what her husband would have brought for the trip. She laughed and said, “His wallet.”

Irony never ceases to amuse me.

I initially had no intention of being on this bus. I was absolutely gutted by Hillary Clinton’s defeat (See Electoral College flunks out) and marching felt futile. And then the slow drip of disturbing post-election information came out – FBI Director Comey’s overreach, the verification of Russian interference and a general array of suspicious shenanigans.

In short, I got mad as hell and decided I needed to go to the march to rant and rave.

Cue the irony. I did go but I did not march and I did not rant. Instead, I stood in place, literally, with 500,000 of my new best friends at the biggest, most gentle block party protest in our nation’s history.

I’ll return to irony in a bit but let me go back to the bus for now. Carla was on board for the march from day one and only had second thoughts on inauguration day when she saw some scenes of windows being broken in DC. She called me on her lunch hour and in an only half kidding voice said, “I’m scared.”

I told her not to worry because this was a march for women organized by women and that it would be peaceful. Turns out I was more right than I had imagined. I just love it when that happens. DC police reported not one*arrest on Saturday. *not an alternative fact

When Carla spotted me on the bus on Saturday she practically squealed with delight and we hugged like two 13 year-olds away from our parents for a groovy field trip. I love Carla’s enthusiasm for everything – life, love and food. And she brought some good food. Breakfast was butternut squash pancakes with almond butter. The men’s bus would have had Pop-Tarts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

We sat behind my dear friends Lori and Sue. They are globetrotters and are the kind of travel partners you want – easy going, fun and resourceful. And they are really good with directions – the kind of couple who would do really well on The Amazing Race.

The only drag about a bus full of women is that when you make a stop for the rest room well, you’re going to be there a while. And we were – but it was okay because almost everyone else in line was heading to the same place we were. And everyone was surprisingly cheerful and energetic for 5 AM. We were nasty women on a mission.

We went from bus to Metro train as we headed to L’Enfant Plaza and the start of the march. Saturday was the second largest recorded ridership in Metro history – over a million trips, second only to Barrack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. I found myself nostril to nostril with a lovely woman from Canada. She was in her mid-60’s and told me she and her husband had come down from Toronto on Thursday to be a part of the march. I was humbled by how much she knew about US politics. I thanked her for coming and she said, quite solemnly, “What happens in your country affects the whole world.”

O Canada.

metro

Only one way to go.

One of the most moving moments of the day was when we reached our final destination, riding the long escalator up to ground level and turning to see the sea of humanity. It was breathtaking and I forgot all about the fact that I wouldn’t pee again for seven hours. Democracy requires some sacrifice.

Back to irony. We didn’t march because no one really did. There simply was no room. There was one point early on in the day when we tried to get close to a monitor to watch the celebrity speakers that we literally could not move – not even a toe. That’s when Carla popped one of the Xanax she had brought for the trip. It was a good call and she probably could have gotten big bucks for the other two she had in her pocket.

Sidebar: Carla was the best march buddy. She brought two of everything – one for her, one for me. Peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, granola bars and fingerless gloves. We were on the Protest Ark.

march-group

I’ve got all my sisters with me. Me, Hillary, Carla, Lori, Sydney and Sue. (Left to right.)

So we gave up on getting close to the main stage and slinked our way back to an area that was a wee bit more open. We looked like kindergarteners crossing the street in a rope line – we held hands and went single file. Our pixie friend Sydney was with us and she makes Hobbits look tall so we really had to keep a close handle on her. It was actually kind of sweet – most folks were ambulating this way – holding on to each other for dear life.

Yes, that was a metaphor – literally and figuratively.

Pinkapalooza, there were posses of pussyhats! Everyone was wearing them – women, for sure, but lots of men and lots of children. Oh my God, there were baby pussyhats!  Sadly, I had several offers from friends to make me one but my head is bigger than Oprah’s – true story – and I would have looked like I was wearing a pink duffel bag on my head.

I know there has been a lot of negative chatter about the pussyhats and the conversational use of the word ‘pussy’. Really? I mean, really? For some reason I keep hearing Billy Joel in my head.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it

Nope. You don’t get to play the role of the offended because women are now wielding the same words that the president has used. I will take it upon myself to speak for the Nasty Nation and say, “We ain’t got time for that.”

The Pussyhat Project began in Los Angeles shortly after Trump’s victory when two friends decided that women needed a platform to make their voices heard. As Jayna Zweiman, one of the women behind the project explained, “It’s reappropriating the word ‘pussy’ in a positive way. It’s a pussyhat – one word. This is a project about women supporting women.”

aerial-view

An aerial view of the march. That’s a lot of pussyhats.

The impact of the hats was even greater when I saw the amazing aerial views the next day when I watched clips from the march online. We grabbed back and it was spectacular!

To compensate for no pussyhat, I brought along my “pocket” Hillary – the pantsuited action figure my sister gave me for my birthday last August. She was my constant companion for the weeks leading up to the election. I took her everywhere – out to dinner, to the Chicago Marathon, you name it. And I couldn’t bear to pack her away after the election – I even put her out with my collection of Santas for Christmas.

pocket-hillary

I’m still with her.

There was no way in hell I was going to that march without Hillary. I tucked her in my shirt pocket and I can’t tell you how many people noticed her and even asked to take a picture with her. In the mob at our first stop, I didn’t realize that she had fallen out of my pocket. A young African-American woman leaned into me and said sweetly, “You dropped your Hillary.” That was the kind of day it was. People just being kind to each other.

So we never really heard the A list speakers but we did get to take in all of the fantastic signs. They were so freaking clever! I really do hope that someone puts together a coffee table book of some of the signs as a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood or the ACLU. I would buy one in a hot minute. And I was thrilled to read the other day that the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History sent curatorial teams out to collect signs and art post-march in Washington.

I’m not going to lie to you – there were a lot of vagina signs. Wow. Some people are really good artists and/or gynecologists. “I am not Ovary-reacting” and “Viva la Vulva” were a couple of my favorites in this genre. There were numerous tributes to Hillary which I found quite touching. And there were many just flat-out hilarious signs like “Melania, Blink Twice if You Need Help” and “We Shall Overcomb”.

In short, the signs were as unique and diverse as all the beautiful people who were there.

pussy-poster

The message was delivered. Loud and clear.

patriarchy

That about covers it.

viva-la-vulva

That’s what she said.

hillary-poster

Hillary was everywhere.

I think I was most moved by the number of older women I saw at the march. Women in their late 70s and even older. These women thought that they would finally see a woman elected president in their lifetime. Their dream dashed, they came out to be heard and seen. And I’m here to tell you – attending a big march like that is not easy. It’s not like a cocktail party where you can just drop in for an hour or so. There is no drive by democracy. Our group was on a bus for 12 hours, on our feet for about seven and oh yeah, the not peeing thing. It’s not a day to be comfortable and that’s the point.

old-ladies

Mad props to these goddesses.

Anyway, I wanted to gently pet each and every one of these wise owls as they passed by me.

Cell service was obliterated by the massive usage so we were out of the loop with what was happening all around the country and the world. When we made it back to our metro stop for our bus pickup, we were all on our phones looking at the marches in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Rome, New Zealand and are you kidding me Antarctica? I had no idea that this would be a global day of protest and that’s when it hit me – the world is watching. 

fairbanks

Women’s March, Frozen Edition. Fairbanks, Alaska.

Oh, and I never got to rant either. I was too damn happy and exhilarated to be with so many good folks. It was the best I had felt since November 8th and I left DC with a big basket of hope.

hope

Do you hear the people sing?

The bus ride home was very quiet. We were nasty tired. Carla slept for a good bit of the trip, her head resting on my shoulder. I’m old enough to be her mother but she never makes me feel that way. She is a thoroughly modern and independent woman and this was her first real foray into political protest. I know it won’t be her last and it was very special to share the day with her.

I couldn’t sleep and I really didn’t want to. I love the odd but gentle intimacy of being with strangers at a time they are usually home in bed sleeping. There is a vulnerability in the darkness that is almost palpable. I heard breathing and snoring and a few whispered conversations. I felt like the night watchwoman, protective of these women, many of whom I had never met until this march. I wanted them to remain well long after this day was done.

I’ve always taken comfort in the adage “safety in numbers” and if that hypothesis holds true, judging by last Saturday, we’re going to be okay.

You can bet your sweet pussyhat on it.

 

baby-marcher

The future is female.

 

bus-group-photo

My badass bus mates. We’ve still got a lot of fight left in us!

Advertisements

Making waves

tsunami

January 20th, 2017. What could go wrong?

The Impossible is an absolutely gripping film from 2012 about one family’s experience in the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. One minute they are enjoying a Christmas vacation at a lush resort, the next they are literally swept away into total chaos and destruction.

I thought about this film in the middle of the night when I could not sleep – 24 hours before Donald Trump’s inauguration. Probably just a coincidence.

Wrong!

Last night as I was stone cold awake, I had a physical sensation that felt very familiar to me but I couldn’t quite nail it. Then it came to me – that feeling you have in the middle of the night before you or a loved one are having surgery. You know – that anxious feeling where you tell yourself that there is nothing to worry about and everything will be okay. And then somehow it is 4 AM and you still haven’t gone to sleep.

The devastation of November 8th feels far away from me today. It is no longer unfathomable to me that Hillary Clinton was not elected president. You’ve all seen the various autopsies and any combination of causes – FBI Director Comey, Russian hacking, fake news, misogyny, patriarchy, a flawed campaign and high unfavorability ratings – can explain her defeat.

Don’t get me wrong – I will mourn Hillary’s loss for the rest of my life but today it’s a fresh pink scar and not an open wound as it was for those first awful weeks. A fearful dread now hangs over me (and approximately 65,844,953 others) as we feel the rumbles of the electoral tsunami creeping ever closer.

I started watching some news again the first of the year. My dear wife likes to watch the Today show as she’s getting ready for work. We have developed some new safety protocols – the main one being that if Kellyanne Conway appears on-screen, she is to hit the off button immediately. For the record, we have that same rule in effect when Sarah McLachlan’s  Arms of the Angels PSA comes on, too. No Kellyanne. No sick kittens. The human spirit can only absorb so much pain.

sarah-mcclachlan

Just say no!

I find myself crying more easily and more often these days. The Obamas, damn them, certainly haven’t helped matters. It seems as if every day one of them gives us another reason to weep but their grace, humanity and humility have helped make me believe for a little while that everything really will be okay.

My biggest breakdown to date came right before Thanksgiving when I was still deep in the throes of my election depression and avoiding all media. I just happened to be surfing for Sex and the City reruns (they always make me feel better) when I caught the White House ceremony when President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 recipients, including Ellen DeGeneres.

paula-poundstone-tweet

Twitter continues to save me on a daily basis.

It was the faces that killed me. Obama’s face – so genuine and respectful – and the faces of the recipients – all of them superstars in their fields – but so absolutely gobsmacked by receiving this award from this president. Tom Hanks, Robert DeNiro, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Bruce Freaking Springsteen – all of them with enough hardware to fill an armory – all deeply moved by the honor.  Ellen flat-out ugly cried, bless her heart. And I ugly cried right along with her when President Obama told us that we should never forget how much courage was required for her to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago, noting that she “pushed our country in the direction of justice.”

I pray there’s no turning back now.

 

ellen-ugly-cry

Ellen’s award-winning ugly cry.

The White House released a YouTube video recently in which many famous and not so famous folks share how they have been inspired by the Obamas.  In the video, noted feminist Gloria Steinem says, “It was the first time in my life when I felt like the White House belonged to everyone.” I know that feeling, too. In 2011, I was invited to the White House for a LGBT reception in celebration of PRIDE month. I don’t care how cool you think you are, being a guest at the White House is a pretty heady experience.

addy-white-house

I’ll always regret that the most qualified Clinton never made it to the Oval. That’s me in the White House, 2011.

I remember going to D.C. for the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation in the spring of 1993. It was an empowering and life changing event for me as I heard speaker after speaker talk about taking our place at the table. It was too much for me to imagine back then that table would one day include one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I cried again the week before Christmas when my friend Gina posted a picture of her partner Marco becoming an American citizen. Marco is a handsome and charming Italian (redundant) and my wife and I both fell madly in love with him when we met him at my best friend Carla’s (Gina’s sister) wedding four years ago.

Marco and Gina are both brilliant mathematicians – those rare folks who actually used algebra after high school. They are that groovy couple who do the unimaginable and make math look hot. Anyway, I knew Marco had been studying for his citizenship exam but when I saw his sweet mug on Facebook with Gina’s caption, “One of our newest citizens!” – well, I lost it.

I told her that I wanted our country to be deserving of Marco’s beautiful smile. It’s like that bumper sticker says: I want to be the person my dog thinks I am.

marco-2

Marco. Making America more beautiful.

His beaming face and the special red, white and blue tie he had purchased for the occasion just gutted me. I thought about so many people joking – sort of – about moving to Canada post-election. Such a disconnect from how gleeful Marco looks in Gina’s photograph. The Obamas made me feel like our country was deserving of that smile.

I’ll be back in our nation’s capital this weekend for another historic march – this time the Women’s March on Washington, the day after the inauguration. A lot has happened in those 24 years since my last march, especially in terms of LGBT rights. I’m legally married to the person I love and entitled to all the rights associated with that piece of paper.

Back then, I was still anxious about being completely out. This march, I’m most anxious about finding a Don’s Johns that isn’t completely gross.

And I’m not just marching for myself this time.

I’m marching for a thousand and one important reasons. Correction – make that 1002, counting Marco.

Ciao, Bellas! Ciao, Obamas!

obamas-goodbye

The First Family. I’ll even miss their dogs.

.

Do you hear what I hear?

the_scream-1

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.

betty-white

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.

the-crown

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.

mockingjay

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.”

tweet

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.

Piss and vinegar

unnamed

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?

honeyfly

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.

go-high-bumper-sticker

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.

sally-field

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.

unnamed-1

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.

unnamed-3

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.

unnamed-2

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.

trump-meme

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.

road-long-way-to-go

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shit just got real

black-lives

 

Maybe there’s a God above

But all I’ve learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who out drew ya

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night

It’s not somebody who’s seen the light

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

~ Lyrics from Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen died yesterday and this Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year continues.

Funny. I thought losing my job would be the worst thing that happened this year.

Not even close. Losing my country is a hell of lot worse.

I thought Wednesday morning would be my low point but just like all those worthless tracking polls, I seriously miscalculated. Yesterday was worse. Reality is setting in. President-elect Trump.

I have tried to avoid all television (thank you Baby Jesus for Netflix) – even MSNBC, that bastion of liberal news. Nope. I can’t even take Rachel Maddow. It’s too much like looking in the mirror – I can see the pain on her face. I know I should avoid social media, too, but it is comforting to mourn with others. I know there has been a lot of hate chatter on Facebook but I weeded my FB garden of most of that so my feed is mostly filled with folks who feel an awful lot like me these days. In other words, awful.

Get over it. Move on. I hear you but I’m not there yet. Not even close. This wasn’t like my favorite team losing the big game or not getting the house I put an offer on. This was a rejection of almost everything I’ve spent most of my adult life working for – equality – for women, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS, people with disabilities – you get it, people.

Yesterday there were several disturbing stories circulating on mainstream and social media about post-election bullying and intimidation that seemed to be empowered by Trump’s election. Students in a middle school in Detroit chanted “Build the wall” to Latino students who were seen crying. Some of these incidents cut close to home. In Durham, a wall was spray painted “Black Lives Don’t Matter and Neither Does Your Votes.” The Ku Klux Kan announced a Trump victory parade in Pelham, near the Virginia border. And very near my home in Winston-Salem, a lesbian couple with children came home to find a sign on their door that said, “Lesbian Bitches You Are Sick Get Out Of Our Neighborhood – Trump Train.”

lesbian-sign

A sign of the times.

So this wasn’t from some “libtard” website – this really happened to people I really know.

And just an hour ago my sister told me that one of her oldest friends, a woman who grew up right next door to us in our little hometown of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was riding her bike this morning on a path in Boston when a man wearing a Make America Great Sign and holding a bullhorn pulled right in front of her and screamed in the bullhorn: Have you read Hillary’s emails? She almost fell off her bike. This happened today in Boston. Boston! Not Podunk, USA.

So forgive me if I’m not ready to move on just yet. On Tuesday, our nation empowered this dangerous extremist behavior by electing a man who ran on a platform of misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and racism. No one should be surprised or shocked.  What we saw during the campaign is exactly what we are getting in this new America.

Is this the change some of you were looking for? Not so great if you ask me. And sadly, anyone who is “different than” may pay dearly for any of your buyer’s remorse. (See moral bankruptcy.)

I’m not naïve enough to think that if Hillary had been elected everything would be sunshine and roses in America today. No, it would probably be even more dangerous had she won since Trump had already planted the seeds for a contested election. It’s irrelevant anyway because this toxic genie was let out of the bottle when  Republican voters made him their nominee for the most powerful office in the land.

There have been some really well written pieces about post-election grieving but I came across one of the best on The Huffington Post website yesterday – I am Sitting Shiva for America written by Vanessa Zoltan, a chaplain at Harvard University.  Shiva is the Jewish practice of grief. It is a seven-day mourning period where family members gather in one home to receive visitors. Zoltan is sitting shiva for a lot of beliefs that died in the wee early hours of Wednesday.

You can read her blog here but here’s a bit of it:

shiva

We’re going to need more than seven days, folks.

I will take action. And man oh man, will I. But for a week I am going to wear my, “Nasty Woman” shirt because while sitting shiva you are not supposed to change your clothes. And for this week I am going to refuse— patently refuse hope. Hope (for me. I am only speaking for myself) this early will be a denial of all that has been lost. Hope this early will be because it’s easier than being mad and reckoning with all that is lost (hope for environmental policy reform, peace for millions of my fellow-countrymen who now fear being deported, what I believed the American experiment stood for, friendships that I can no longer take seriously because of their vote, and on and on).

I wish I could sit with her.

I did sort of sit shiva yesterday with a dear friend from Israel. She’s been an American citizen for about 10 years and voted for Obama twice and was a Hillary supporter. She’s my age but she’s always had a very maternal aura with me – loving and nurturing.  She’s a mother and a grandmother and she’s my Jewish sister/mother. She knew I was hurting and she took both of my hands in hers and looked me straight in the eyes and said, in her marvelous accent, “Everything will be okay.” And when we said goodbye, she said she was going to kiss me like her mother used to kiss her – a series of very rapid pecks on the check. She smothered me with those kisses and told me she loved me.

And it was the safest I have felt since early Wednesday morning.

On my drive back home from seeing her – about 40 minutes in the car – my phone “pinged’’ several times – notifications of messages coming in. (Chill, I did not text and drive.) I often listen to MSNBC in the car on my XM radio but since that’s radioactive now, I turned to old faithful – NPR. Don’t you know they were doing a story on the election. I’m glad I didn’t shut it off immediately because it was an interesting piece about a couple in Massachusetts. The wife is an attorney who voted for Hillary and the husband is a fireman who voted for Trump. They, like most of America, are trying to find some peace in all of this carnage. They didn’t have any pearls of wisdom to share and honestly, at one point, it sounded like the wife wanted to sock the husband. Anyway, it made me feel less lonely for a few minutes.

When I got home I looked at my phone. I had a FB inbox message from one of my dearest friends in the world – a gay man who I have loved for 20 years. We have the most wonderful “odd couple” relationship and we’ve always said that if we weren’t both gay, we would have made a great couple. We both are yellow dog Democrats who love sports and sarcasm. Yep, we’re a match made in Provincetown. Anyway, he has been beyond inconsolable this week and thought getting together for dinner would be good medicine for us all. Only he said it in his uniquely charming way that seems to almost always make me laugh and tear up at the same time. He wrote, “I love you so much and this shit show is reminding me to take stock of the things in my life that are important and you are high on that list.”

jeff-and-addy

My gay husband, Jeff.

Now you see why I adore him. And he’s right – it’s time to be with people who nurture and restore us.

 

The next FB inbox message was from a friend who is a young mother of two pretty fantastic daughters. She always takes her girls to vote with her and they were all super excited about the historical prospect of voting for the first woman president this year. When she told her girls on Wednesday morning that Hillary lost, they both cried. Her youngest daughter then immediately asked her about marriage equality. I told you these girls are fantastic.

“Will the marriages for everyone stop, Mommy?” Gulp. Then this little supershero said, “If they do, I will make beautiful art and I will give people marriages.” Sign me up.

My friend shared all of this with me to reassure me that as she said “love seeds are planted everywhere and our family plans on increasing the active ways we love others.” Gee, I wonder why those girls are so fantastic. (Their dad is pretty great, too.) She closed her message with some words that actually penetrated the veil of despair that I have been wearing since early Wednesday morning. She wrote, “You are loved. We will stand by you.”

Maybe all the hallelujahs aren’t broken. I’m clinging to them today.

 

chowning-girls

These two make me feel less scared for my country’s future. And they may officiate my next wedding.