Friday, November 18, 2016

It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

The past week and a half - and really, the months leading up to this past week and a half - have been exhausting. I grew up in a household in which history and current events and politics were CONSTANTLY the topic of discussion - well, that and football. And even with that frame of reference, I don't remember ever being so consumed with an election - with fear of what the wrong outcome would bring.

And now here we are, and it's shaping up to be as awful as everyone thought, if not more so. There are white supremacists and overt racists and misogynists heading into major positions of power. People who would have members of a particular minority forced to "register" - whatever the fuck that entails - so that their movements can presumably be tracked and they could be singled out for harassment and discrimination. Instances of bullying and bigotry and harassment on the rise, with the perpetrators emboldened.

I've been reading about the rise of fascism in the 20th century. And what's going on has me legitimately terrified. I don't want to be hyperbolic, but that instinct of, "oh, let's not hyperbolic, it won't be that bad" is what led to World War II.  I'm scared.

So I've been participating in advocacy groups and calling my representatives and writing letters and joining the Colorado Democratic Women's Caucus.  I feel like my days have been consumed with worrying about all these things that are bigger than I am - with feelings of, "what more can I do? how else can I help?"

It's overwhelming.

Tonight is the start of a weekend when I don't have the kids. And we'll be in Virginia next week, so it was my last day at work for a week. And I'm tired and I needed a break from worrying that the world is about to end and wondering what I can do to stop it.

So I went and bought some earrings for Josie.

She got her ears pierced at the beginning of October. And then had to wait for a month, keeping the same earrings in place, cleaning them and turning them every day, while the holes healed.

Anyone who knows her, or who reads this blog, knows that patience isn't her strong suit.  I've gotten quite a bit of, "AAUUUUGGGHHHH! WHY DO I HAVE TO KEEP THESE SAME EARRINGS IN FOR SO LONG? IT'S SO STUPID! IT'S SO BORING!"

And I'll roll my eyes and say, as calmly as I can, "I know, honey. Just a few more weeks, and then you can wear all the different earrings you want."

"Uuuuuugggghhhhh..."  This is accompanied by exaggerated huffing and puffing and flailing of arms.

"Oh, for god's sake, Josie, stop growling at me!"

But eventually the holes did heal and she has been able to swap out different pairs of earrings.

"Mama, can I wear your pearls?"

"Yes, but not to school. I don't want them to get lost."

"Can I wear these dangly ones?"

She pointed to a pair of cheap pearl drops that I've had forever but never wear.

"Yes. You can have them. Wear to school if you want. Just don't sleep in them - they could get pulled if you roll over and it will hurt."

"I can keep them??!!??"

I smiled. "Yes. They're a present from me to you."

"Squeeeeeee!!"  Her whole body shook with happiness and her grin consumed her whole face.

I have a million little purses and cloth bags and jewelry boxes that my mother has brought back from her travels around the world, so I gave Josie a heart-shaped jewelry box that my mom got in Korea.

"This is for you. Mimi gave it to me and I want you to have it to keep your earrings in."

"Can I get some new earrings? Some little dangly snowflakes?"

So today after work - after helping one of our lawyers get a decision out, after interviewing witnesses in a case I'm investigating, after answering a million questions from a million different places - I went over to the Claire's near my office to buy my daughter some earrings.

I bought dangly snowflakes and dangly penguins and little ladybugs and bumblebees and turtles and flowers and sparkly hearts and cute little faux-diamond studs.

I wasn't worrying about Jeff Sessions or Steve Bannon or calling my congresswoman about conflict of interest investigations. I was having fun buying frivolous baubles for my sweet, impish daughter, and enjoying the thought of how delighted she will be when I give them to her on Monday when I pick her up to go to the airport to fly to Virginia for Thanksgiving. I was thinking about how, when we go to the hockey game this year, Zeke will be coming with us for the first time, and how excited he is about it. I was thinking about how he asked me the other night if we were going to do the Turkey Trot this year, and when I said we were, he said, "yaaaayyy!! That's my favorite thing about Thanksgiving." I was thinking about that moment when, after walking through the endless corridors of Dulles Airport from the jetway, we go through the doors to baggage claim and the kids see my mom waiting for us and completely lose their minds with happiness as they run to her and jump into her arms.

I came home tonight to an empty house. And I continued to set aside thoughts of the world coming to an end. Instead I ate some cold pizza and watched The Crown, alternately entertained by the pomp and then irritated by how utterly useless the royal family really is. Over the weekends I have errands to run and plans with friends both nights, and I'm looking forward to it.

The world is scary right now. But it will not end this weekend, so I'm going to get a pedicure and go out and have some fun, because if I don't, I'll collapse under the weight of it all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights.

So that happened.

And it sucks on so many levels. The uptick in racist/misogynistic/xenophobic attacks made in the president-elect's name. The appointment of an anti-semitic, misogynistic, wife-beating white supremacist to a leading White House policy position. The threats to women's rights, particularly in the area of reproductive health.

For the past week, every night I have woken up at 3:30 in the morning with flushes of panic and anxiety coursing through me.

But I am not, by nature, a gnasher of teeth and render of garments. I cannot wallow endlessly. If I'm miserable about something, I've learned to let the misery wash over and through me, and then I move on. My approach to unpleasantness is to either suck it up if I have to, or do something about it.

I am taking steps to get more politically active. I am becoming involved in women's groups, determined to support causes that are important, either by giving money or volunteering. I am in contact with my government representatives at both the state and national levels. I am signing up to do training to help immigrants who are resettling in Colorado so that I can work with families and help them apply for jobs, or find apartments, or get their kids enrolled in school.

I am fortunate to come from a family that shares my sensibilities. I've talked to and heard from so many people whose political views are diametrically opposed to those of their parents or siblings, and they feel under attack and alienated, and worried about what will happen at family gatherings at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I don't have that problem. I come from a long line of hard-core Democrats. As the descendants of Jews who came to this country in the early 20th century to escape the Russian pogroms, we are hard-wired to oppose discrimination in all forms. Over 20 years ago, and well before homosexuality became far less stigmatized or normalized than it is now, my dad participated in a march on Washington for gay rights because, as he told me, "I can't stand bigotry or discrimination."

So my Thanksgiving will be a good one. i will see my brothers and my nieces and my DC-based friends. We will watch hockey and go for a hike at Great Falls or Scott's Run. We'll do the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Copious amounts of cranberry jello mold will be consumed. We will feel the love.

That's what I can always do - let my friends and family know that I love them and will always be there for them. I can stand up to bigotry and refuse to remain silent if I witness bullying or harassment. I can work to advance equality. It's what we all need to do.

So get more active in your community. Volunteer. Run for office. Don't let hate and ignorance win.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

My persuasion can build a nation

Last night I was lying in bed watching President Obama's speech in Philadelphia - his last campaign speech of the election cycle. As ever, he was eloquent and inspiring. And as he spoke, I felt this well of emotion and I started to cry.

First I thought back to his final campaign speech of the 2008 election, which was delivered the day his grandmother died on the day before the election. I remember crying then at the enormity of what was about to happen but also with sadness at the fact that the woman who raised him, who was smart and capable but whose career bumped up against a glass ceiling, would never get to see her grandson elected as the first black president of this country.

I thought with wonder about the world my children were born into - during the administration of the first black president, and now about to witness the election of the first female president. I was talking with Zeke on the phone this morning as I walked to work and remarked on how incredible it was that he and Josie were born in a time when barriers to success are increasingly falling. That you can achieve what you are willing and able to work for, no matter what color you are, no matter whether you're a man or a woman.

"It's like in the movie Zootopia!" he said.

Yes, like Zootopia.

I thought about how when my dad went to the University of Virginia, women weren't allowed to attend, except in the nursing school. How when my mom was in law school in the mid-60s, the few women in the class were criticized because they were taking up spots that should have gone to men.

I thought about the number of times men who didn't know me have defined and reduced me because I am a woman, whether in the form of a "nice tits" comment muttered under their breath as they passed me on the street, or in the form of an assumption when they walked into the law firm conference room that I was a secretary rather than a lawyer.

I thought about women throughout history - and still today - who live their lives waiting to be noticed by men, their validation and self-worth intrinsically wrapped up in the male attention they receive rather than in their own strengths and accomplishments. Believing, like the proverbial tree in the forest, that if they aren't coupled up, if they aren't singled out by a man, they don't really exist.

All of those thoughts flooded over me and I bawled.

My friend Ali added me to the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group last week, and it has been moving and inspiring and wonderful to read the posts of men and women from all over the country - straight, gay, transgender, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, immigrants, blue dog Democrats and registered Republican - giving their heartfelt testimonials about what it means to them to vote for Hillary Clinton in this election. Men who are proud feminists. Women voting for her in secret because their husbands wouldn't approve. People who were bullied at the polls, or who stood in line for 4 hours to cast their votes. Women who were born before women had the right to vote, and who now rejoice at being able to cast their ballot for a woman. In a political season characterized by hate and intolerance and polarization and negativity, the Pantsuit Nation page is a bastion of encouragement and love and inclusiveness. It represents the best of America.

I'm watching the news footage of long lines of women waiting to put their "I voted" sticker on the grave of Susan B. Anthony, and it makes me choke up all over again.

I am an intensely patriotic person. This country is flawed and messy, but I believe so strongly in the ideals and principles on which it was founded. And yes, our political system is frustrating and this election season has been exhausting, but today I could barely contain my excitement as I put on my Notorious RBG t-shirt (I don't have a Hillary shirt, but RBG is a badass woman, so it felt appropriate) under my pantsuit, which I will wear as I do some final election day canvassing later this afternoon.

Today is a great day.