My Latest Cake

This is for Elliot’s kindergarten teacher. It’s her birthday. She likes chocolate, dark chocolate, cherries and flowers. Behold: an explosion of her favorites. I may have gone a touch overboard with this one, but I REALLY like his teacher. I hope she likes it! The class also came together and got her an Amazon gift card as well as some orchids and roses. Teachers deserve as much love as possible.

cake

Kids, Man. Kids.

We had a wonderfully calm thanksgiving together as a family. Toby cooked up an amazing feast. I baked some pies. It was relaxing and easy. We did not discuss politics because Toby and I are in agreement and the kids would rather play Minecraft or beat each other up with pool noodles made to look like lightsabers. Toby and I played chess. We built a fire and wore sweat pants. It was easy, which is exactly what we wanted.

On Friday, we decided to visit my parents. I have always been very close to my immediate family. We travel together. My parents visit us every week. They take care of the kids. My mother was at the birth of my first child, for goodness sake. My brothers live in other cities, but we stay in touch. (Although, my youngest brother is no longer speaking to me, but hopefully that blows over because I like him.) Anyway, we have always been very close. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, life is short. So we decided to visit and NOT discuss politics and instead just hang out.

The drive is not long. They live in South Jersey. It’s about an hour and half drive down the Garden State Parkway.

Right after we start off Toby says, “Boys, it’s SUPER important that you don’t bring up Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton with grandma and grandpa. Just don’t. We are going to play and have fun and NOT discuss Trump. Do you understand?”

They all nod in agreement. Even the two-year-old—the kid who loves blurting out Trump’s name at the strangest moments because he always gets a hilarious reaction—even Walter nods in agreement but not before yelling, “DONALD TRUMP!”

Elliot continues, “Donald Trump is ugly, stupid and has a big butt!”

They all giggle.

“Seriously, boys. NO TRUMP TALK.”

“OK. We promise.” Elliot says.

A few exits later, Emory spots a car with a TRUMP bumpersticker. He says, “I can’t believe he wants to build a wall around Mexico!”

Elliot yells, “I KNOW! Donald Trump is so stupid!”

Walter screams, “DONALD TRUMP!”

All three of them giggle again.

Toby repeats himself, “Boys it is SUPER important that you NOT bring up Trump during our visit. We don’t want to talk politics. Let’s just have a good time and not bring up Trump. Ok? Can you guys promise that? No Donald Trump?”

They all nod. “We promise.”

About 30 minutes later, we pull up to my parents’ house. My father is sitting outside waiting for us. The boys are SO excited to see their grandparents; they can’t wait to get out of the car and run in and totally destroy their home. My father walks up to the car to help Elliot out of his car seat. As soon as he opens the door, Elliot yells, “I’M MAD AT YOU, GRANDPA! YOU VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP!”

My Family

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for a lot of people in my life. So I am going to take a moment and give thanks to my family. I love these positively bizarre creatures.

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We’re Not Sore Losers

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Yes, I did just quote Nietzsche. I know. Pretty lame way to start a post. What is this, freshman philosophy class? But I can’t get this quote out of my head. And I think I finally figured out why. Bear with me.

I’ve taken some abuse over the last several days as nearly everyone in my immediate family—as well as my extended family—are Trump supporters. Facebook has been positively brutal lately. I posted a rather longwinded post there a few days ago, and the shit hit the proverbial fan. Thing is, it wasn’t even that outrageous or personal. It was kind of hopeful, actually. But, because tensions are high and egos are involved, it got ugly fast.

Let’s see, I unfriended two members of my extended family and unfollowed nearly everyone else. I canceled Thanksgiving this year. We are going to stay put and make our own meal. But it sucks. The whole thing sucks. And a few family members have said, “Get over it! Life is short. Don’t let this get in the way!” And they’re right. And it won’t get in the way forever. But for now? I, like many others, just need time.

Here’s the deal: I know most of my family members aren’t racist. Some are. That’s just the truth. But most aren’t. They are afraid of certain things; afraid of what they don’t understand. But they aren’t bad people. I would wager to say most people aren’t bad people. Most people are good. And most Trump supporters aren’t racist. But, and here’s the catch: they supported a racist, bigoted, misogynistic person. They supported a racist, bigoted, misogynistic person who then went on to appoint an anti-semite as his chief strategist. They supported a man whose pick for Vice President is pretty terrifying if you’re a woman.

And that’s the part I think many of us are having trouble coming to terms with. People we care very deeply about—people who care for us—stood behind a person who legitimized intolerance and hate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that between November 9th and November 14th, 437 incidents of hateful intimidation and harassment have been collected. Some may say, “Well, the SPLC never collected incidents of hate like this before.” To which I might respond, “Well, the SPLC never had a reason to collect incidents of hate like this before.”

A common theme I see from Trump supporters is that Hillary Clinton supporters are acting like sore losers and crybabies (actual words used). We are told that we are spending too much time whining and not enough time supporting our now president-elect. We’re not being hopeful enough. We are being told to suck it up. What’s done is done. We have to accept it because the system is the system and he won fair and square. But that’s not really what’s happening here. It’s not about our inability to accept the outcome of who won. That’s not what’s causing this nagging headache I have had sitting behind my eyes since last Wednesday. That’s not what’s making me feel a coldness I haven’t felt in a long, long time.

I have accepted the reality: Trump is going to be our next president. I get that. He won fair and square and I’ve accepted that. But ultimately, I’m not upset that you won and I lost, I’m upset that from now on, I can’t overlook who you stood behind.

Do Something That Scares You

I attended a town hall meeting last night. I even got up to speak. I am not one to do such a thing. Throw myself into a room full of people I’ve never met and then stand at a podium and talk into a microphone? Hell no. Not me.

But I went. I overcame that fear and I went.

There were a handful of us from the public, but most everyone else held some type of office. It was pretty empty overall. Three of us from the public got up to speak. I went last.

I’m not going to reiterate everything I said, but I will say that I left even more inspired. Every single member of my local government lent me their ear. They made direct eye contact with me. Every single one of them spoke directly to me. They listened.

I implore you, go to your town hall meetings. Get the know the people who represent you. Ask them questions. Tell them your fears, your worries. Tell them what you would like to see changed. Tell them what they’re doing correctly. Tell them what they could do better. Thank them. And if they’re NOT doing what you want, tell them that. And then when the time comes, vote for someone else.

We need to become more active on a local level. I learned that from Bernie Sanders.

I know so little about what’s going on around me. It’s truly embarrassing. And it’s all my fault. I take responsibility for it. Democrats typically have terrible turnouts when it comes to local elections. We need to show up and we need to know who it is we’re showing up to vote for. I have been so bad at this. No more.

If you’re liberal and you live in a conservative town, go to your town halls. Demystify the fear you have of “the other”. If you’re a conservative, sit across the table with someone who is liberal. Other than a few very heated topics (abortion, gun ownership, etc.) we are also very similar. We have the same fears; we have the same concerns; we have the same basic needs.

Get off Facebook and actually TALK to people. More importantly, listen.

Do something that scares you.

What I did last night scared the shit out of me. I even told them as much. I started off by saying, “I’ll make this brief because, quite frankly, this terrifies me. Public speaking terrifies me. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I simply can’t remain quiet anymore. I need to get involved. I need you to help me.”

Today I’m going to call my local representative and ask that he NOT allow Bannon to hold any position at the White House. I can’t undo a Trump win, but I might have a say in whether a racist, antisemite works at the White House. I implore you to do the same. Here is the entire directory of the House of Representatives.

Don’t normalize this.

Use your voice.

Did You Vote For Trump?

How are you justifying Trump having appointed a racist, antisemite as his White House chief strategist? I am sincerely trying to figure out how anyone can still overlook what’s happening here. Stop normalizing this. It’s not normal. This is wrong on SO MANY levels.

Maybe he’s bluffing. Maybe he suggested Bannon knowing everyone would freak out and then he’ll actually say, “OK! Fine! I won’t appoint Bannon, I’m going to ask Ted Nugent to do it instead.”

Trump supporters keep writing on Facebook, “Don’t worry! Nothing bad is going to happen to you! No one is going to get hurt. He’s not going to do all the things he says he’s going to do! STOP WORRYING.”

In short: No. Fuck that.

Our nation is moving backwards.

My son’s 60-year-old piano teacher said, “Don’t they realize that we worked so hard as women to fight for the rights we have today? The ones they are currently trying to take away? We worked so hard for this! This is heartbreaking to watch.”

There are so many things about this that are heartbreaking. I go from being hopeful and excited to change things, to wanting to crawl into bed and pretend this is all one big nightmare.

I’m trying to make sense of this. But it feels like madness.

Why did you vote for him? What do you think he’s going to do for you?

One person said during one of the many several heated discussions I witnessed, “Stop whining. Let’s see what happens. Let see if the GOP can fix this.” They were referring to the state of the nation.

But, fix what?

What exactly do you think the Trump Administration is going to fix? Are they going to appoint the most conservative judges we’ve ever had to the Supreme Court? Are they going to make abortions illegal? Overturn Roe vs Wade? Deport a bunch of people, breaking up families? Are they going to take away the healthcare SO MANY of my friends and neighbors currently use, the healthcare Toby and I plan to use next year? Are they going to fix our relationship with Russia? (HA HA.) Are they going to destroy the EPA and make it so future generations suffer greatly?

What do you want the GOP to fix exactly?

I’m desperate to understand.

But you know what I’m starting to think? I’m starting to think that there are a growing number of Trump supporters who are starting to feel a little nervous. Because you simply can’t justify this anymore. You can’t normalize this anymore. You can’t have voted for this guy, still claim to not be racist/anti-woman/etc, and then watch it all unfold without some protest. Nope. I think you’re telling all of us not to worry because deep inside, you’re scared shitless. You’re afraid you made a terrible mistake.

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Edited to add: what he said 

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Let’s Start a Parade.

I went for a run this morning. I’ve been doing that a lot more lately because I think running can cure almost anything. When I feel like the light is closing in on me, I go for a run. It restarts me.

I live in a very liberal town. I think something like 90% of us voted for Clinton. And so many were Bernie supporters before that. It’s as blue as blue can be. But on Wednesday morning I realized that I also live in a bubble. We are so closed off from a great deal of America. (Facebook reminds me of this.)

Anyway, lately I’ve been running through the downtown areas. A number of local businesses have allowed their patrons to write on the windows. The town is being coated in positive messages, colorful murals and displays are popping up everywhere. It’s quite lovely. Messages of hope, love and acceptance. And I’ve stopped to take in as many of these as possible. They make me smile.

I love my town. But I do live in a bubble.

On Friday we hosted a meeting. Families I have met and some I’ve never met attended. It was a big deal for me. But I’m trying to become more active, inclusive and less fearful. I’m trying to do things that make me uncomfortable.

So we made this come together. And as the grownups discussed what we could do to help and how we might act, our children created artwork to send to Hillary Clinton. I set up a table full of art supplies, covered it in a paper tablecloth and let them do whatever they wished. At the end of the evening, I was left with a crazy colorful tablecloth. Here is a small part of it:

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That said, kids have been a true inspiration for me lately. I think we can learn a lot from our children. So I’ve been trying to pay better attention to them.

Toward the end of my run today, as I neared my house, I saw a little girl drawing with chalk on the sidewalk outside of her home. She was maybe 7. I saw what she was writing and asked if I could take a picture of her words. I thought it was perfectly innocent—because it was perfectly innocent (more so than I realized, actually). It combined three words that were used quite a lot during the election, only not in the same order. (I am not going to say the phrase because I promised her mother I wouldn’t—more on that later). Anyway, I thought it was beautiful. I find a lot of the little things beautiful these days. And so I took a picture.

About 10 minutes later, as I pulled out of my driveway to go meet Corie for coffee, I saw two grownups outside that very same house. A woman was using the same chalk to cover it up. (Later, it would be erased entirely.) She made eye contact with me, flashing a worried look. I moved on. It was strange, to say the least.

I brought it up to Corie while we watched our kids cover themselves in leaves on the playground. I told her about the picture, showed it to her and then mentioned that the family didn’t seem too pleased with the drawing and the fact that I had taken a picture. That’s when Corie said, “Weird, those words were from the first grade vocabulary lesson.”

A few hours later, home again, a house full of kids. One of the boys visiting, a boy I absolutely adore, said, “Something happened today! But my dad told me not to tell you! There is someone who is concerned about something! But I promised I wouldn’t say anything!”

He was so worried!

I brought it up to Toby who suggested I just be direct and write to his father. So I did. I emailed his dad asking, “If there is anything wrong, please let me know. We adore your family and I would like to make whatever it is better.”

Turns out, the mother of the little girl stopped by his house and asked why I may have taken the picture. She knew we were friends and thought she’d find out more because it made her nervous. She was even more concerned with what I might do with the picture. So Walter and I walked over to set her mind at ease.

It was true: her daughter really was innocently practicing her first grade vocabulary words using sidewalk chalk, words that could mean something out of context given the recent election but didn’t mean anything at all. It was a strange coincidence. And a touch funny.

I laughed and said, “It’s kind of hilarious.”

“I would have found it hilarious last week. But this week? Everything has changed. Are you on Facebook?” She continued. “Because it’s gotten really ugly lately. And I am just so nervous these days.”

FACEBOOK.

Because Facebook has become the great divide. I’ve watched family members, once close, unfriend one another. I have seen fights break out between friends. There is so much emotion. So much anger. So much misunderstanding. No one is actually reading anything anymore. No minds are being changed. No one is learning anything, everyone is just one big raw bundle of nerves, ready to react. It’s become a massive echo chamber.

I reassured her I would never post the picture on Facebook and that I understood why she was so nervous and that I was so sorry I was the cause of that. And then I told her I would delete the pictures, just as she had done with her daughter’s chalk drawing.

This election season has been absolutely brutal. And it ended in the most explosive manner imaginable—with a Trump presidency. But the dust will eventually settle again and we will get up off the ground, brush ourselves off and make a go of it again. We have to.

Keep making art. Keep writing. Keep talking. Keep drawing in sidewalk chalk. Don’t erase anything. Keep writing on windows. Keep giving hugs, handshakes and lending an ear. Do something that makes you uncomfortable.

Or, as my dear friend Corie would say, “Let’s start a parade.”

What I’ve Been Reading

Independent:

Hillary Clinton is on course to receive more votes than any other US presidential candidate in history except Barack Obama – despite losing Tuesday’s election to Donald Trump.

The New York Times:

Bernie Sanders: Where the Democrats Go From Here

The Atlantic:

Clinton’s Popular-Vote Lead Will Grow, and Grow, and Grow

The Guardian:

My beef over Hillary Clinton’s loss is with liberal feminists, young and old

USA Today:

People are crying: It’s not because they lost a race

The Hill:

KKK to hold parade in North Carolina celebrating Trump victory

 

MSN:

Mike Pence might worry me the most: (although, we’re not sure who Trump may appoint yet, but if he’s seriously considering Bannon, I feel like throwing up.)  “We’ll see Roe vs. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

“While we’re choosing a president for the next four years, this next president will make decisions that will impact our Supreme Court for the next 40,” he said. “… Go tell your neighbors and your friends, for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of sanctity of life, for the sake of our Second Amendment, for the sake of all our other God-given liberties, we must insure the next president appointing justices to the Supreme Court is Donald Trump.”

The Washington Post: 

Moscow had contacts with Trump team during campaign, Russian diplomat says

The New York Times:

2016 Election Thank You Notes

6. All our media friends. Thank you for preserving reportorial balance. You balanced Donald Trump’s proposal that the military execute the innocent families of terrorists, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced pot-stirring racist lies about President Obama’s birth, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced a religious test at our borders, torture by our military, jokes about assassination, unfounded claims of a rigged election, boasts about groping and paradoxical threats to sue anyone who confirmed the boasts, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced endorsement of nuclear proliferation, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced tirelessly, indefatigably; you balanced, you balanced, and then you balanced some more. And for that — we thank you. And thank you all for following Les Moonves’s principled lead when he said Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.”

Ready to Run NJ:

Campaign training for women.

Oh, and last but not least: This. Because I am a lover of science fiction and at times, I like to escape this world and move into another one, even if it’s in outer space and the end of life on earth is the catalyst.

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Please note: I am going to be posting more political stuff here. I hope people don’t mind. I’ll continue to write personal shit here as well, but I can’t deny that this election is on my mind. I am worried. I’m hopeful and inspired but I am also very worried. I’d take it to Facebook, but Facebook has become intolerable lately and some people seem to be at war with one another. I can’t go there anymore. It’s an echo chamber; no one is listening to anyone anymore. You know that scene from the movie Poltergeist where they open the door and all the toys and furniture are floating around the room in a state of chaos? That’s sort of how Facebook looks to me right now. So I’m going to stop opening the door for a while. 

Third Party Voters and the Protest Vote

I keep coming here to write and then I stop because I can’t seem to formulate much of a coherent thought. But I do wish to point something out.

Over the last several months, many people have been begging third party voters to do the right thing. Get over your protest vote and do the right thing. Hold your nose and do the right thing. Exercise your protest vote when we’re not facing a Trump presidency. And there was hope. The early Latino vote came in super strong in many states and there was even more hope.

But then on November 8th, as the votes began to trickle in and we all watched in shock as Trump won basically every single battleground state, hope fell away. In some instances, and within certain states, the candidates were really close in numbers, some of the differences could have been made up by the votes cast for Jill Stein.

I wrote this back in July:

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Here’s the deal: I understand not liking either candidate. I understand wanting to change the system. But if you’re a POC; if you’re a Muslim; if you’re LGBTQ; if you’re a woman; if you’re disabled; if you’re Mexican; if you’re an immigrant—just to name a few—you didn’t have the luxury or privilege of sitting this one out or casting a protest vote by not showing up because their candidate of choice didn’t make it. (I love Bernie, too, by the way.)

Look at Michigan, which is currently the only state not fully in yet.

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Look at how close they are. And then look at how many people voted for Stein. Some folks don’t have this privilege and are terrified. If you’re a white person, specifically a white male, you are probably rolling your eyes upon seeing the word “terrified”. But it’s the truth. So many of our fellow Americans are terrified. In fact, if there were a word more terrifying than terrified, I’d use that.

Scared shitless? Worried for their lives? Worried about their families? Terrified.

I’m so mad. I can’t believe this man has become our nation’s leader. A man who has offended basically every single living American other than the white man. I won’t go as far as to say that he’s not my president, because he sure as shit is. And, again, it comes from a place of privilege to be able to say such a thing—I can weather out a Trump presidency. Instead, I’m going to fight back. I’m going to spend the next two years working my ass off to make the tide of fear and intolerance change.

Toby and I are hosting a meeting at our home this evening with kids and families from all around town. I am hoping we can make a small change together and maybe turn the red tide a touch more purple before my kids can vote. This is not someone they can look up to. Fear got him into this position. Fear got him elected.

Fear is a terrible thing.

I think it’s time to make our nation great, not great again. Let’s make it great for the first time. Because we aren’t there yet and I love this country.