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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hell on Wheels (Surviving I-40)

commuting

My commute to work used to be five minutes door to door – maybe seven if I hit all the lights red. Today my commute on a good day is 45 minutes and on a bad day, well, I don’t even want to talk about that.

I moved to Winston Salem almost two years ago to live with the woman who would become my wife. My job is in Greensboro and hers is in Winston Salem so someone was going to have to “suck it up” as she said. And that would be me.

joy

Who wouldn’t drive 72.2 miles round trip to see this smile every day?

Alas, the things we do for love.

Now I’m basically spending 7.5 hours a work week in my car and to survive I have had to be very intentional and creative about how I spend this time. So I thought I would share my mad commuter skills with you. No, they’re not for everyone but they have helped to keep me relatively sane with moderate road rage for almost two years.

  1. NPR – This is a natural. Everyone on WFDD, my NPR station of choice, has very calm voices, which is really nice, especially at 7:20 AM when I leave my house. I love the mix of local news and the national big picture. And I could listen to Sylvia Poggioli read the phone book. The only problem with NPR was that Inpr (1) was often hearing the same stories twice – once in the morning and then again in the evening. And I was becoming one of those public radio nerds that begins cocktail party conversations with, “I heard on NPR…” That is only charming or interesting the first five times.
  2. SiriusXM radio – This is essential because it gives you tons of options. Although I do not personally own any flannel items of clothing and I do carry a purse, as in a real handbag, I confess to being the stereotypical lesbian when it comes to sports, especially football. So during football season Mike and Mike in the Morning on the ESPN station is my escort for the drive into work.
Mike-Mike1

These are my Mikes.

For the uninitiated, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic are two dudes that sit around talking about sports for four hours every weekday morning. My wife cares more about the mating patterns of boll weevils than she does sports, so it’s fun to have my own in-car water cooler to hang around, especially on Monday mornings after big games.

After football season is over, my tolerance for that much testosterone wears thin and I’m on to something else.

news and notes

My pals Mario and Julia and some green guy.

Like Entertainment Weekly’s (yes, the magazine) station. It’s a bit like eating a Pop Tart – it has no intellectual nutritional value but it surely is tasty. My favorite show is on late in the afternoon, News and Notes with Julia Cunningham and Mario Correa. It’s basically a straight woman and her GBF talking about pop culture and you’re eavesdropping. It can be really delicious at times, especially when they’re busting on Mariah Carey or the latest episode of The Bachelor.

In my fantasy – spending so much time in my car is also conducive to day dreaming – my bestie Carla and I have our own show, Bookends, just like this blog and we dish endlessly on really important things like who would be our celebrity besties – Amy Adams and Ina Garten, and who would not – Gwyneth and Reese Witherspoon. Oh, and “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips would be our show’s theme song. #staytuned

  1. Audio books – This can be hit or miss and for me it’s more about the reader than the book. Sissy Spacek reading To Kill a Mockingbird has been my absolute favorite. Funny, since I had read the book and seen the film several times, but she brought the story alive again and created an entirely new experience for me. I’ve had a few stinkers, too, notably Frances Mayes’ latest, Under Magnolia . I loved her voice on Under the Tuscan Sun but this one was a monotone snooze fest not recommended for interstate driving.
  2. Foreign language CDs – Last summer I listened to Pimsleur’s Introductory Italian and that certainly keep me entertained for weeks. I wouldn’t say that I learned Italian but I could ask directions when in Rome.pent-learn-french-in-your-car-language-course-cd

My wife and I are going to Paris in September, so I’ll start listening to those CDs tout suite.

  1. Silence – That’s my default on drive homes when I’m suffering from sensory bombardment and I just don’t want to hear anything but the humming of my Soul. Oh, yeah, that’s my car, a Kia Soul. And lately, on these quiet drives, I’ve started taking photos. Calm down, I’m not endangering myself or others – I’m only snapping when the car is stopped and posting later. I’m liking this practice and thinking about incorporating it into an App that would make me a fortune. Roadstergram, anyone?

    The Soulmobile.

    The Soulmobile

The list could go on – pod casts, music, singing, writing out loud, etc. but this is enough for now. I don’t know how long I can keep this up and I feel like a weenie for complaining – my good friend, Rowe, has been commuting from Greensboro to Raleigh for years – without a peep.

He’s clearly a better person than I am. I know he’s a better driver.

Anyway, today the sun is shining, traffic is a breeze, and Mario and Julia are trashing Jennifer Lopez’s latest bad movie.

It is well with my Soul.

sunrise

Commute with a view. Photo credit: The driver