Sidewalk samba

sun pic

I’m fascinated by the concept of the alter ego – the idea of being the opposite of your “normal” personality. I’ve often said that my alter ego would be a Rockette – it really doesn’t matter which one. I’ve always considered the Rockettes to be the 8th Wonder of the World and well, the costumes, the high kicks, the Christmas Spectacular! I am, at  best, a pedestrian, albeit enthusiastic, dancer. Oh well, a girl can dream.

24xp-rockettes-2-master675

This week I’ve been thinking that if my alter ego were a song it would be The Girl from Ipanema, that sexy, seductive Brazilian bossa nova tune. It has long been one of my favorites – the classic Astrud Gilberto version and, of course, the Frank Sinatra rendition. I love the bouncy first lines – “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking.” You can see her, can’t you?

astrid gilbreto

Here’s where the alter ego part comes in for me. Tall? I’m 5’7” – not short, but only tall when I’m standing by my friend Jerri who is 4’11” with her boots on. Tan? I am loath to admit that I spent many a summer’s day in my youth baking in the sun with – don’t make me say it…No. Sunscreen. The memory of it actually makes me nauseous but today, I am a ginger vampire and while I don’t actually burst into flames when exposed to the sun, summer sightings of me outdoors are as rare as Big Foot.  Young? Shut up. That leaves lovely. I’m not fishing for compliments here. I have a moderately healthy ego and on my good days I’m pretty okay with the face I see in the mirror – especially in low-wattage.

So back to that girl on the beach. To me the song is much more than just an ode to a beautiful woman – it’s the definitive theme song for summer. It’s a warm breeze, it’s sand under your feet, the beat of the ocean. Just add a cold Brahma beer. It’s the rhythm of summer – sultry and sexy.

Oh, by the way, I hate summer. I think I may have buried the lead here. Let me explain. Even though I was born and raised in Virginia and have lived in North Carolina for over twenty years, I can’t stand summer. Heat and humidity are the bane of my existence as a Southerner – okay, those two things and the NC legislature.

So, you’re probably wondering why I have been waxing sentimental over a summer song for most of this post. Well, a funny thing happened to me this week – this gloriously wonderful week of cool morning temps and low humidity – I fell in love with summer. Our affair has lasted four days. Hey, that’s almost as long as Kim Kardashian’s first marriage. Sadly, the meter is running on this fling – the weekend forecast looks seasonally oppressive.

But oh, how I have savored these days. I’ve taken a long walk each morning through my favorite Winston-Salem community – Ardmore. It’s a charming historic neighborhood distinguished by classic bungalows, sidewalks and lots of big trees.

ardmore porch

I’m not a traditionally outdoorsy person – I don’t camp or anything crazy like that – but I do really enjoy being outside in nature – it’s just not usually possible for me to do that in the summer here in the Dismal Swamp.

But this week I got a Get Out of Summer Free Card and everything was different – my glasses had a new prescription – my vision sharper and more defined. I saw tiny dew drops – glassy bubbles sitting on top of all the yards. My senses were keener – the green, wet smell of freshly cut grass took me back to “helping” my dad mow the lawn with a plastic lawnmower when I was a little girl. I heard the joyful jingling of dog collars sounding like chimes as four-legged creatures enjoyed their morning exercise, too.

I hardly recognized myself. I was outside in late June and I was giddy. I think I could have walked to Greensboro (30 miles). The first day I found myself looking around at the other people I passed – to see if they were noticing it, too. I feared I had just conjured up 43% humidity in my head but they all looked really happy, too. Each subsequent day, I’ve opened the front door and slowly poked my head out like a turtle – was it safe? Day 2, I was pleasantly surprised and by today, I just figured I was being punked – we could not possibly have had four days in a row of a summer that was delightful.

I can’t stand too much of a good thing – it’s a serious character flaw – and I knew this jaunty jig was almost up – so this morning, I hit Girl from Ipanema on my iPhone playlist and I strutted down the sidewalks of Ardmore like Gisele Bundchen on the runway. And for those three minutes, I was tall and tan and young and lovely. And I didn’t hate summer.

giselerio-olympics-opening-_webf

Don’t look for me outside again until sometime in September. In the meantime, I’ll be inside my climate controlled condo practicing my high kicks.

bigfoot shadow.jpg

patio addy

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Sidewalk samba

sun pic

Ardmore morning.

I’m fascinated by the concept of the alter ego – the idea of being the opposite of your “normal” personality. I’ve often said that my alter ego would be a Rockette – it really doesn’t matter which one. I’ve always considered the Rockettes to be the 8th Wonder of the World and well, the costumes, the high kicks, the Christmas Spectacular! I am, at  best, a pedestrian, albeit enthusiastic, dancer. Oh well, a girl can dream.

24xp-rockettes-2-master675

Career goals. Photo credit: The NY Times

This week I’ve been thinking that if my alter ego were a song it would be The Girl from Ipanema, that sexy, seductive Brazilian bossa nova tune. It has long been one of my favorites – the classic Astrud Gilberto version and, of course, the Frank Sinatra rendition. I love the bouncy first lines – “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking.” You can see her, can’t you?

astrid gilbreto

The sound of summer.

Here’s where the alter ego part comes in for me. Tall? I’m 5’7” – not short, but only tall when I’m standing by my friend Jerri who is 4’11” with her boots on. Tan? I am loath to admit that I spent many a summer’s day in my youth baking in the sun with – don’t make me say it…No. Sunscreen. The memory of it actually makes me nauseous but today, I am a ginger vampire and while I don’t actually burst into flames when exposed to the sun, summer sightings of me outdoors are as rare as Big Foot. Young? Shut up. That leaves lovely. I’m not fishing for compliments here. I have a moderately healthy ego and on my good days I’m pretty okay with the face I see in the mirror – especially in low-wattage.

So back to that girl on the beach. To me the song is much more than just an ode to a beautiful woman – it’s the definitive theme song for summer. It’s a warm breeze, it’s sand under your feet, the beat of the ocean. Just add a cold Brahma beer. It’s the rhythm of summer – sultry and sexy.

Oh, by the way, I hate summer. I think I may have buried the lead here. Let me explain. Even though I was born and raised in Virginia and have lived in North Carolina for over twenty years, I can’t stand summer. Heat and humidity are the bane of my existence as a Southerner – okay, those two things and the NC legislature.

So, you’re probably wondering why I have been waxing sentimental over a summer song for most of this post. Well, a funny thing happened to me this week – this gloriously wonderful week of cool morning temps and low humidity – I fell in love with summer. Our affair has lasted four days. Hey, that’s almost as long as Kim Kardashian’s first marriage. Sadly, the meter is running on this fling – the weekend forecast looks seasonally oppressive.

But oh, how I have savored these days. I’ve taken a long walk each morning through my favorite Winston-Salem community – Ardmore. It’s a charming historic neighborhood distinguished by classic bungalows, sidewalks and lots of big trees.

ardmore porch

Ardmore was made for summer porch sitting – at least this week.

I’m not a traditionally outdoorsy person – I don’t camp or anything crazy like that – but I do really enjoy being outside in nature – it’s just not usually possible for me to do that in the summer here in the Dismal Swamp.

But this week I got a Get Out of Summer Free Card and everything was different – my glasses had a new prescription – my vision sharper and more defined. I saw tiny dew drops – glassy bubbles sitting on top of all the yards. My senses were keener – the green, wet smell of freshly cut grass took me back to “helping” my dad mow the lawn with a plastic lawnmower when I was a little girl. I heard the joyful jingling of dog collars sounding like chimes as four-legged creatures enjoyed their morning exercise, too.

I hardly recognized myself. I was outside in late June and I was giddy. I think I could have walked to Greensboro (30 miles). The first day I found myself looking around at the other people I passed – to see if they were noticing it, too. I feared I had just conjured up 43% humidity in my head but they all looked really happy, too. Each subsequent day, I’ve opened the front door and slowly poked my head out like a turtle – was it safe? Day 2, I was pleasantly surprised and by today, I just figured I was being punked – we could not possibly have had four days in a row of a summer that was delightful.

I can’t stand too much of a good thing – it’s a serious character flaw – and I knew this jaunty jig was almost up – so this morning, I hit Girl from Ipanema on my iPhone playlist and I strutted down the sidewalks of Ardmore like Gisele Bundchen on the runway. And for those three minutes, I was tall and tan and young and lovely. And I didn’t hate summer.

giselerio-olympics-opening-_webf

When she walks, she’s like a samba.  Photo credit: NBC Olympics

Don’t look for me outside again until sometime in September. In the meantime, I’ll be inside my climate controlled condo practicing my high kicks.

bigfoot shadow.jpg

Bigfoot was here.

patio addy

My affair with summer is over but I’ll always have our song in my heart.

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.