Monthly Archives: January 2017

Sleepless and Troubled

The first week was a doozy.

The executive order against immigrants entering the USA has caused chaos and confusion in airports across the country.  People entering the country legally were left stranded; many having to return to the country of origin.   For some of my colleagues trips ‘back home’ are being cancelled;  hard working professionals are making contingency plans in case they need to flee the country quickly.

And … we appear to be building the damn wall.  Although the purpose is not entirely clear:  I believe it is a response to the ebbing away of well-paying manufacturing jobs across America.  But that logic is flawed: automation, the global economy and gutting of unions are the root causes for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US  (Even Trump’s companies are doing manufacturing overseas). However, we seem to be in a post-fact era; where it is easier to vilify a scapegoat than to address complex root causes.

We’re in an altered state of reality; where executive orders are issued based on alternative facts.  Lies are loudly and passionately presented as facts; as if volume and spittle can substitute for truth.

The comparisons to the Nazis become more relevant each day–it is  no longer far fetched speculation:  the administration is feeding a frenzy of unrest, hate, entitlement and victimization;  while placing the blame for a variety of woes on a particular religious group; which ultimately sets the stage for sanctions, hate crimes, and worse.

Press conferences are bizarre rants against the media and of self-promotion. Mainstream media is demonized and threatened when daring to challenge ‘alternative facts’. The media is being bullied into accepting everything said by the administration as the absolute truth–the true hallmark of a facist leader.

Trump does not even bother to provide a facade of separation of his personal interests from his presidential duties. Increasing his personal wealth and the wealth of his cronies is clearly a major priority for this administration, and he  does not see a problem with that.  My god, how much money does the man NEED before he can even consider being generous to others outside his inner circle?

Unfortunately, the core of the problem is one of temperament and character … it will not get better.  It is likely to get much worse before sufficient checks and balances kick in–due to Republican control of congress and (seemingly) significant swaths of the judicial branch.   Eventually, the media and the courts will be this administration’s most effective foes; we can only hope that a devastating war does not break out before then.

What can we DO now?   Donate to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood;  call and write senators and representatives;  march, protest, speak out.  And… reflect and retrospect.  Reflect on how we got here.  Reflect on the sense dis-enfranchisment that many American’s feel.  How can we find a common ground so that we are less divided?  How can we have a civil outcome if we cannot have a civil discourse?

And finally – how can we maintain any sense of inner peace with the crazy that is going on?  One of my wise FB friends suggests that each of us meditate for 10-20 minutes every day – with intentions of peace and love and letting go of hate.  I’m going to try it.  It will certainly be a better use of my time than another 10 minutes scrolling through my FB feed.

Retro Tennis

It’s a revival of rivalries from over a decade ago: when the Williams sisters were seemingly in every major final, as were Federer and Nadalon the men’s side.  Venus, Serena and Roger are all in their mid 30s; and Rafa is the youngest of this year’s finalist at a mere 30. This group of seasoned tennis ‘senior citizens’ have been spanking back their younger opponents in Australia.

It’s never a surprise when Serena makes a final, but for Venus it’s been over 7 years; during that time her auto-immune disease has taken its toll, preventing her from playing at the top of her game.  Even if she had hung up her tennis shoes by now, she would be an inspiration both on and off the court–her comeback at age 36 is truly impressive.

For Federer / Nadal it’s been 6 years since they met in a Grand Slam Final:  with see-saw results on hard courts and Rafa reigning supreme on the clay.  Rafa has had a rough couple of years with the injuries that are inevitable with his hard charging style of play–and it’s exciting to see him back on top of his game.  Roger is back after taking 6 months off to heal a knee injury; and has proven he can still mix it up with the best.

Although I do not consider 36 be old… in tennis years they ‘should be’ well past their prime.  Kudos to all four of them…  win or lose, it will be exciting, and the real winners are the fans who get a chance to see timeless greatness…. once again.

Empowered, Emboldened and Awed

We knew it was big.  Towards the end of the rally, with legs rubbery from 5 hours of standing, I tried migrating to another vantage point; but I quickly ran into an absolute gridlock of humanity.  From my perch, wedged in the middle  of it all, it was hard to get a sense of the magnitude of the event.

Today, I have seen  pictures, watched  videos and read newspaper accounts of the DC March and the 600 plus ‘sister’ marches in cities across the country and the world.  Wow!!!   Many cities exceeded their estimates-including my home town of Madison, Wisonsin, where between 75,000 and 100,000 souls, incuding many good friends, filled State Street.

Early estimates are that 2.5 MILLION protesters around the world sent a powerful message that we will NOT be silent; we will notstand by quietly while our rights and the rights of our sisters and brothers, are trampled. Trump’s agenda of hate and willful, brash ignorance will be challenged, we will not simply go away or give up in despair.

Today, I am full of pride and hope. The sense of dread that descended  on November 9th has dissipated in a sea of pussy hats and has been replaced with a renewed sense of empowerment and faith in our collective humanity.

I do feel bad about one thing — many plants outside the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum were mangled as several of us shorties sought higher ground for better viewing of the Jumbotron.   At first we were careful of the vegetation, but eventually it just wasn’t possible to preserve the pansies.  I have never been good with plants..  sorry!

Tonight, I pack away my March T-shirt, my pussy hat, my Nasty Woman pin, and my now blurry (I might have sat on it on the wet ground at some point) pillow-case sign.  The sign may be a lost cause, but I suspect I will need the other items in the not too distant future.

Rising

Still, We Rise.  Thank you Maya Angelou for these words:   “You can kill me with your hatefulness, but just like life… I rise”.

Today, I joined hundreds of thousands of women; along with our partners, brothers and children to collectively protest Trump’s election with a message of equality and inclusiveness.

When I first planned to go to DC, my daughters, and a handful of friends expressed interest in going with me.  One by one, they bailed out, due to a variety of conflicts and ever-rising costs.  However, I have no qualms about traveling alone – especially in this day of GPS and Uber.

After a few short hours of sleep at my hotel, I returned to the airport in an attempt to find public transportation downtown.  Another marcher gave me a spare ‘pussy hat’, and I shared a Lyft ride with two young women who had just flown in from Seattle:  We shared our motivations  and our excitement for being at this historic event.

Although I arrived downtown early (8 am or so): there were already thousands of marchers streaming down the streets –The signage and chants were varied and creative!  Street vendors were hawking their pins and T-shirts.

Having been denied a permit to use the mall (which was NOT being used), 500,000 women were crammed on Independence Avenue and surrounding streets. It was a veritable sea of pink pussy hats!

The speakers were inspiring and amazing  –  Gloria Steinhem told us “This is the upside of the downside”… the election of He-who-shall-not-be-named has created a generation of activists.  I found myself tearing up several times, in response to the message and the sheer energy of the occasion.  I love Gloria – she is an icon who has never wavered in her message – which she consistently delivers with intelligence and humor.

Ashley Judd totally stole the show with her rendition of “Nasty Woman“, a poem by a 17 year old from Tennessee.  Hell, Yeah! We are Nasty, but not as nasty as Trump and his cronies… we are nasty like our grandmothers were nasty when they marched for the right to vote.

There were 4 hours of speakers, and virtually no place to march to – since the march route was already a solid mass of people!!  After standing in the mild-for-January-but still-gets-chilly weather for 5 hours… I tried to find a way out of the crowd – eventually giving up and seeking solace in the Smithsonian museum.  Getting to the bathroom (finally!) I wasn’t sure if I was happier to be peeing or just to be sitting down.

Although I was traveling solo, I was not alone.  I met and chatted with many women from all over the country; including 3 generations of a family on the very crowded metro:  finding connections between the grandmother who was named Ginger and the young woman sharing the seat – who was named Tina after Tina Louise who played Ginger on Gilligan’s island.

Michael Moore encouraged us to call a congressman every day, to make it part of our normal routine, and that we need more women to run for office.  In his words:  if you are shy, you have 2 hours to get over it.

I get it — we can no longer afford to be silent or complacent.  It is past time to speak up, to get involved.   Today – we rose as a group and sent a loud message, and it felt good.

Bracing

Most days I set an intention to help guide me through that particular day.  It’s generally 1-2 words, like “calm”, “Focus”, “Strength”.   Today, my intention is “Breathe“.

Today, we are taking a collective deep breath to brace ourselves for the storm of the new Administration.  Today I pack my bags and get on a plane to travel to Washington D.C.; where, along with many of my sisters and brothers, we will flex our First Amendment Rights to advocate for a government that is accountable, informed, and reflects the values of the majority of its people–values that reflect kindness and inclusivity.   We march to demonstrate support for all threatened groups, whose hard-won rights are threatened by the prevailing winds.

My son posts “Grab your pussies, learn to speak Russian, and prepare for the  nuclear winter”.    It is catchy,  but I prefer a more mundane slogan:    Grab your signs, Learn to speak OUT and prepare for the NEXT election!

 

An Acquired Taste

Tonight I sent a very bizarre text to my husband.  Allow me to set the stage.

Our canine companion, Cleo was acquired almost exactly a year ago after a brief, yet intense, campaign on my part to convince Dan that we really needed a dog to complete our new lifestyle in our log cabin in the woods.  Although initially resistant, Dan is a very smart man with lots of first-hand experience with my tenacity.  Enter Cleo–a husky / beagle mix.

Readers of this blog are familiar with my affection for Cleo.  However, she has one particularly annoying and puzzling habit.  Shortly after her arrival in our home we discovered 6 pairs of Guzzy’s expensive lacy thong panties torn to shreds.  Prior to the mauling, the innocent undies were residing in the bottom of a basket of clean laundry waiting to be put away, requiring a concerted canine effort to root them out into the open.  Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident.

As the primary dog advocate and owner, I would replace the mauled items.  I felt super creepy browsing Victoria Secret’s website searching out the lacy, sexy (and seemingly incredibly uncomfortable) styles that Guzzy seems to prefer.  Even as a mom, there was a certain ‘ew’ factor.

After Guzzy moved out, Cleo had to find another source for her undie fix, and turned her attentions to my decidedly more substantial (and more comfortable) under garments.

Cleo has proven to be a bit of a savant at sniffing out and destroying panties.  If she applied those advanced olfactory skills to sniffing out missing persons or detecting drugs; she could really make a difference and contribute to society.  Alas, the only benefactor of her current hobby is Victoria Secret.

Now that I am keeping my own unmentionables under lock and key, Cleo is forced to lower her standards further in order to satisfy her cravings.  Dan had bought some new clothes for our recent trip to Belize.  Thus, the text I sent him tonight: “Your Jungle undies have been decrotched”. 

At the risk of losing my PG rating, I won’t share his reply.

2016 Reflections

We have a ‘joy jar’ next to our kitchen sink.  Periodically throughout the year, we jot down a note regarding a happy occasion.  On New Years Day, we pull out the Joy Jar, and take turns reading and reminiscing.

I tend to be both the most prolific and the most absent-minded contributor to our joy jar; which results in several duplicate submissions.  Some highlights from our year:

  • Our Vacation in Belize
  • Guzzy moved to her own apt and got a great new job (and she still stops home now and then)
  • Guzzy recognized she deserves ‘more’ and broke up with an icky boyfriend
  • Time spent with X-girls throughout the year
  • A Successful NEDA Walk
  • We got a dog (Cleo)
  • I am working out regularly, and am feeling strong (although today I’m more sore than strong)
  • Time with friends and family over the holidays (including Dan’s 60th birthday dinner)

On a personal level, we had a great year — yet I continue to have a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach as we reflect on the past year.  2016 will forever be known as the year that America experienced a national brain-fart.

National brain-farts aside–we have much to be thankful for.  I have made two resolutions:   To keep a gratefulness journal and to get out of my white, middle-aged ‘bubble’ more frequently to advocate for, and help maintain hard-fought gains for many now-threatened groups, including women.

Today, as Dan remains glued to the TV set: I am grateful that the college football season is almost over.