Tickled pink

sister sign.jpg


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


The message was delivered. Loud and clear.


That about covers it.


That’s what she said.


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.


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. 


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.


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.



The future is female.



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

Do you hear what I hear?


The Scream

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

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

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


Limiting myself to just one glass a day.

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

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

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


Who needs term limits?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Resistance, my friends.

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

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

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

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



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

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

Pray for peace, people, everywhere.

And pass the cookies.

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

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