Thursday, November 24, 2016

Not the kind of Thanksgiving post that most people write

Smashing the patriarchy one bath at a time
Dear Friends,

I know many of us are hurting, and we are angry and afraid. We are outraged at what is going on in our country, in the world.

I am working on not being fearful and enraged all the time.

You know, I bought some pepper spray the other day. It's in a leopard print holster. It's cute. The reason for carrying it is the opposite of cute.

And I'm in a demographic with the fewest threats against it right now, except for the fact that I'm a woman.

When there is a problem, I make calls to elected officials. I throw money at the issues. I live, as some people call it, in my DC bubble. We read and are horrified by the news, but we aren't in rural areas living it.

I know that Thanksgiving is a holiday many object to, because it celebrates domination. The white settlers arrived, invaded, and stole. And over generations, kept marginalizing and taking.

We want most of your land, but can have this land. So move. Oh, until we want it. Then we'll take it.

Police sprayed peaceful protesters at Standing Rock with water cannons in freezing weather. Literally freezing, like the water turned to ice.

Who among us thinks that is defensible?

We look at images from Syria, where adults and children are terrified for their lives. Tiny little babies, just born, are losing their lives in war.

And there are those among us who would turn away refugees.

It is hard for me to be hopeful right now.

Thanksgiving has never been my holiday anyway, although it's much, much better on antidepressants. It used to feel like a celebration of the dark, where things would start to get really bad, what with the waning of the light and the beginning of the season where I would put every carb that crossed my path into my face.

Thanksgiving, with all its delicious pecan pie, was the official start to my annual descent into my own personal version of crying, weight-gaining hell.

And yes, it was All About Me. When you are depressed, it is impossible to see outside your own pain. It's easy to be outraged, to blame anger or sadness on outside events or others. But that's not actually the root of it.

Pharmaceutical help is like magic. I only have the residual feeling that this is not my day. It is not accompanied by the first few steps into the depression spiral.

But the holidays are hard in their own right. If you've lost anyone you love, or are estranged from them, you still have an imaginary seat for them at your table. You feel their absence as much as you would feel any presence.

But.

I'm writing all this to say, for me it is a forced pause, and a reminder to love the family and friends I have so hard. To be so grateful for the people in my life.

Recently my friend Leigh was telling my friend Meg how I have a million friends, and I started to deny it. Because I'm an introvert. I'm not all extroverted and friendly.

She cut me off. She said, "Are you kidding me? You have so many people you love. I could list tons of people you adore."

And you know what? She is right. There are tons of people I adore. Because our world, flawed and hateful as it can be, is also filled with amazing, loving, kind, smart, funny people.

I feel lucky to have so many of them in my life. For you, I am immensely grateful.

Let's keep fighting the good fight and love each other with all our hearts. (And also, maybe, with pecan pie.)

Big love and hugs.

Lisa

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

With the realization that this might be too woo woo for some of you

Last week I told Nick that a friend of mine was going to do some energy work on me.

I have friends who would respond, "Oh, Reiki?"

My husband is not an "Oh, Reiki?" person. He looked at me nervously, like maybe by energy work I meant I was going to hook myself up to the power grid and see if I could power Christmas lights.

"En...ergy? Work?"

I explained that the practitioner channels energy and puts their hands over or on your body, and, you know, just makes you feel better. I didn't actually have any further explanation.

He was all, "Oh, well, sure."

Not his thing but not dangerous or objectionable.

OK. So the next morning I saw my friend. The thing that astounds me about energy work is how warm the person's hands get. You can think what you like, but if it is not energy being directed, then what?

It was relaxing and soothing, and immediately, I felt like my anxiety had lessened. I've been sick, and at some point my ear started throbbing, then felt like it opened up.

I felt calmer, better than I had in ages.

When the session was over, she told me that a man had appeared while she was doing the treatment. She saw him out of the corner of her eye. He was relaxed and happy, laughing. I asked if she recognized him, but she didn't.

She said a person or a presence typically appears when doing this kind of work.

I found it interesting, but didn't think much more about it.

I had a writing deadline for a tribute to my dad for International Survivors of Suicide Day. If you'd like to read it, the link above takes you to the post on This Is My Brave.

The writing was on my mind when I woke up, and I left my friend's place thinking about it. I walked out with more clarity, and feeling positive in general.

Yesterday, I saw my friend. She said she had to tell me something.

She'd read my post about my dad. She'd seen, for the first time, a picture of him in his later years. Usually the pictures I post are from when he was much younger.

She said, "As soon as I saw your picture, I recognized him. He's the one who was in the room."

I got goosebumps. I teared up.

Energy doesn't go away just because you die. We are all connected.

He was there, and he was laughing.

This gives me immeasurable peace.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

And they don't know the half of it

I feel like the time change kind of got lost in all the election news.

Typically, people spend way more time talking about it. Spring is much, much worse, in my opinion. But the whole fall back is no underwear dance party.

We had explained to them that we were going to change the clocks. And then we did.

"Why?"

"The government makes us. Everyone in America has to change the time. So we are all on this new time."

"Everyone?"

"Everyone except Arizona and I think half of Indiana. Everyone we know is on the new time."

My kids are now old enough to be cognizant of the time. So they know when they have to go to bed. And they also recognize when they are tired. Which doesn't mean they want to go to bed. 

So last week they were getting up an hour or so earlier than normal. And then by 7:00 pm, they were absolute train wrecks. Fighting, crying, disoriented.

And the new time didn't really matter until evening. When they could barely hold it together through dinner.

"So," I explained, "we're getting in bed at 7:00, because even if the clock says 7:00, your bodies know it's actually 8:00. That's why you're crying and exhausted."

"We're crying and exhausted! We're crying and exhausted!"

Had Trump done this to us? (No.) Surely not Obama? (No.) Who started this fresh hell? (I think it has something to do with the farmers in WWII...but I don't really know.)

Every night for about five nights we had to talk about how this was terrible and why we couldn't just change our clocks back.

And couldn't we fix it?

No.

"I know! Let's go back to the normal time and then we can stop waking up so early and not be so crying and exhausted and at night!"



Every night it was some version of this.

And every night I answered, "But if we change our clocks we will be on a different time than everyone else around us. I know you're tired, sweethearts. Your bodies will get used to it. We just have to wait."

Over and over they sobbed, "Why? Why does the government do this to us?"

Indeed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Which turns out to be the least anniversary-y anniversary post I have ever written

Wear pearls and smash the patriarchy. Is my new motto.
Nick and I met nine years ago Sunday night.

We've since had two children and I feel like we've both aged like 37 years since then. Actually, not really. I've aged 37 and he's aged like 19.

Maybe we are aging in dog years now. Although the math on that isn't quite right, is it? 

I've written about my last first date a variety of times over the years. (I particularly like this one.) We like to go to the Tabard Inn to commemorate the event, although we were unable to this year (see aforementioned children, plus an ear infection--mine, oddly enough).

Sunday night we said, "Happy anniversary!" to each other and celebrated by watching The Good Wife after we'd coaxed the kids into bed.

Normally I am excited to write this anniversary post. I enjoy reflecting back on the past year.

But I've been anxious and upset since the election. I just got over bronchitis, and I'm sick again. I've been feeling pretty despondent.

Nick thinks I over-react to everything. Sometimes I do, or maybe always. I don't know.

Even before the results came out, he thought I was too anxious about the election. Now he thinks that I get too freaked out over the news I read.

He questions my sources. And I'm all, New York Times, or CNN, or whatever. What does he think? That I'm clicking on weird random made up news from Russia?

I finally said to him something along these lines: Look. You're a straight white man. You have never not been in a position of privilege. You are never in a vulnerable position. So cut it the fuck out with telling me not to be anxious.

I have all this anger, and all this fear. I need to do something with it. I am not sure what that something is. And you can call me a drama queen, but I really do feel like I need to start preparing for Thunderdome.

I mean, I have friends whose kids are at a middle school in Bethesda. And last Friday, someone drew swastikas in the bathroom.

Bethesda. If the hate is happening in liberal Bethesda, it is happening everywhere.

Cities are going to burn in the next four years. I believe this.

It's like Tourette's. I can't stop talking about it.

I went to a birthday Friday night. It was all anyone talked about.

Saturday night we went to a truly lovely, love-filled wedding. We took this picture there.

(And while I didn't discuss politics with the bride or groom, I talked about it with a lot of other people.)

But let me tell you about the wedding.

The vows were personal, charming, and funny. The bride was stunningly beautiful, the groom handsome. People ate and drank and danced and had fun.

Our kids were invited. India danced like a whirling dervish. She was dressed up all fancy, which she loves. She had a hell of a time. We all had a blast.

Weddings of wonderful people give hope to the world. They remind you that there is joy and goodness and people come together to celebrate it and rejoice in it.

There is joy. There is goodness. There is hope.

And when you've been married long enough and your relationship is solid enough, you actually can hear criticism from your husband and consider the merit, and, if necessary, tell your husband to cut it the fuck out.

And you will still love each other.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

No one can find the rewind button, girl. So cradle your head in your hands. And breathe.

So we hug our babies tight and spread the love we can.
Tuesday night I drank a lot of gin and stayed up too late.

It was clear where the election was going, but I refused to believe it. Nick, usually the voice of moderation in the house, was gone. I rely on him to stop me from binge-watching a show until 4 am and being a zombie the next day.

So I kept pouring more gin and more tonic and slicing more lime. And serving my friend Andrea more beer.

This wasn't really happening, was it?

And then at 1:30 am, we threw in the towel. It was actually happening.

I woke up with that sick feeling in my stomach. I looked at my phone. It really happened.

The kids were all excited when they asked who won. And I had to say, "Trump."

Their first question? "Where are we moving?"

And I had to explain that that had been idle talk. Because Daddy's job is here. It was easy for us to say, because we never, never thought Trump would win.

Yesterday DC seemed like a post-apocalyptic town. It was strangely quiet. People were out, but very subdued. 

At school drop off, everyone looked traumatized. India clung to me in her classroom.

I started talking to another mom who said they were going to move to Colombia. Her parents are Colombian, and her husband is black. They don't believe they are safe under the new regime.

I started to cry.

I stopped to talk to a couple moms out front. They'd been crying. One friend, who is Turkish by birth, joined us. She feels particularly vulnerable as a Muslim woman.

We got a letter yesterday from the principal saying that they had assured the kids that they are safe, and that the adults in their lives will protect them. That all students regardless of religion and documentation status have the right to an education and protection within a school.

What. The. Actual. Fuck?

When have we ever needed language like that after an election?

I certainly joked about fleeing to Canada if McCain or Romney won. But I had not been made to feel unsafe during the election just for being a woman.

I am a blond haired, blue eyed white woman. I am not a person of color. Nobody's eye stops on me for racial profiling. I don't wear a hijab and fear that someone will threaten me for it.

I'm married to a WASPy white man. We have white kids. We don't fear that someone will bully them, or worse, for the color of their skin or their religion.

Nobody is telling us to go home. Although for me, born in India, I am tempted.

(Actually, though I was not, all four of my grandparents were born in the U.S. So I'm a legitimate voter in that evil Anne Coulter's fantasy world.)

Friends are saying we need to dig in and work hard in our communities and promote kindness. We need to volunteer for the social services we think are so important.

We need to stand up to bigotry. We need to point out racism, even if it makes us uncomfortable. We need to be on the lookout for bullying and stand strong against it.

I agree.

But I also think, hell, let's just walk away. I get that it's an elitist viewpoint to consider this option, because most people can't just walk away even when there's a hurricane approaching.

And the truth is, Nick's work is here. It is not portable. He supports our entire family.

But in my fantasy world, we all walk away. We take our talents and our brains to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, wherever else.

We leave the country to those who voted for Trump. They can have what they deserve.

In fact, he doesn't give a shit about the bulk of them. They will get what they deserve in voting for him.

But we'll be stuck with it as well.

For now, I hug my kids every chance I get. I remind them that everyone is equal. I tell them they are safe and loved.

I tell my daughter she can do anything, anything. We're not talking about a woman presidency right now, because when we talk about the presidency I feel sick to my stomach.

I feel like I should be looking for the good in the world, but right now I feel hopeless.

And I can't seem to help myself: I'm having arguments with creeps on Nick's FB wall. They've crawling out of his past, out of the basket of deplorables. They are white, male, and angry.

They refuse to acknowledge that white privilege exists. They work hard! They're not privileged!

And they are so rude. Hateful and rude. And this from people who are ostensibly old friends.

They're defensive. They call us the "liberal elites" who think we're smarter than them. One felt the need to point out that he got an MBA from Wharton. So don't tell him he's not smart.

(So I didn't. I just pointed out that he was white, privileged, angry, and rude.)

There's no grace from the winners.

And it says to me that, at least for the next four years, we are all losers.

And I am really fucking angry. And don't know quite what to do about it.