Am I Angry?

Posted on 11/12/2016 11:05:00 AM
Tuesday's election in the U.S. has devastated me like few other things have. 

Am I angry? Yeah, I'm angry.

The night before the election was also the night before I was getting on a plane to go to a week long conference.  I participated in early voting so I wouldn't miss my chance.  This has been a long and horrible process and we're all ready for it to be over. We have clear and strong opinions about the candidates and issues in our house but just the same, we have tried... very hard... to keep to civil discourse in discussing even those strong opinions in front of our children. We don't keep from talking about our thoughts about the political discourse within their earshot, but we also don't bad mouth opponents of candidates we like. I try to refer to them all by their full names or titles rather than just throwing around last names like they are curse words.  But as I was putting my youngest to bed the night before the election, she looked up and said to me, "Mom?"


"If Mr. Trump wins, are we going to have to move to Cuba?"

I made some joke about trading one fascist dictator for another and assured her that Mr. Trump would not be the President.  I reminded her that this is the same country that elected Barack Obama twice.  I had faith in us.

I was wrong.

Basically, we have an unqualified, racist, misogynist, homophobe who was endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan getting ready to take White House now.  And all because the other candidate, an extremely qualified and competent woman whom we've been brainwashed to hate for the last 30 years, who, despite the fact that large groups of people have spent decades and millions attempting to prove she did something illegal and failing to do so, simply rubs many people the wrong way.  Because where was the outrage when the Bush administration "lost" 20 million emails?  Were people chanting to lock him up? Why is this only a problem now?  Where was the outrage during Iran-Contra, one of the biggest presidential scandals ever? Or in this very election, what about when "he" refused to release the tax records for taxes that he most likely didn't pay for the last 20 years? But you're worried about "her" transparency? What about when "he" encouraged and downright asked for Russian hackers to commit espionage toward the United States in a public forum? What about the bankruptcies, the 3500 lawsuits, the hundreds of defaults on payments for services that he agreed to pay to hardworking service providers? Where was your outrage then? Was that somehow better? You say you don't trust her? Well of the two, whom do you think is more trustworthy? Do you really think that of the two, "she" is the crooked one?  No, this is far exceeding that. This is because it's "her."  This is because you don't like her pantsuits.  This is brainwashed misogyny, pure and simple.  Because even if you didn't feel comfortable voting for "him," when you voted against "her" or you didn't vote at all, you basically cast your vote for "him" and for what he stands for.

I had to explain to my youngest daughter what a "pussy" was this month.  Hint: not the cat kind.  And what it means to grab a woman by hers.  Because despite the fact that we watch literally zero news channel television in our house, that horrible tape of the man who will now be the President and will swear to protect the constitution of the United States that my daughters are growing up in was on TV 24 hours a day -- even on channels that have kids' programming.

They heard him say it.

They know what he meant.

They know that "all men" don't talk like that.  

No one they know talks like that.  

The first time they heard disgusting talk like that -- and I'm not talking just the words, I'm talking about the attitudes that women are objects to be fondled and used -- the first person in their lives that they heard express those sentiments?  He was an accepted candidate for the Presidency of the United States they live in.


I was sexually assaulted when I was about the age my older daughter is now.  A man literally did "grab me by the pussy."

My friends and I were at a wave pool, boogie boarding. It was crowded.  When the wave came, I - along with about a hundred others - flopped onto my board to surf to the beach side and in the commotion, someone I could not see behind me, stuck his hand between my legs and grabbed my genitals.  Hard.  He (I assume a he because the assumption is probable, but I admit that it could have been anyone) tried to put his finger where he had no right.  I kicked and wriggled and managed to get out of the grasp and when the commotion ended and we surfed to the beach and the wave was gone, he was lost in the crowd.  I had no idea who it was.  I never saw. 

I was humiliated. Mortified. I thought it was somehow my fault for prancing around in my modest, one piece bathing suit in public.  For even daring to be there in the first place. For not simply staying home and inside. I didn't know what to do about it.  I didn't have any tools for doing ANYthing.  So I went back to my beach towel on the sand I never. told. anyone.

The truth is I was not raped. I was not seriously hurt.  For that I am grateful.  But I was changed that day. 

I'd almost stopped thinking about that incident.  I pushed it down and put it behind me. Or so I thought... until I heard the man who would eventually become the Republican nominee for President of the United States, along with a cousin of two presidents, egging him on and then doing a little men's elbow-you-in-the-ribs inside joke later, encouraging an innocent bystander woman to give that same man who had denigrated and objectified her not five minutes prior, a hug... and laughing about it like little boys who got away with looking at a naked lady in a National Geographic magazine. It all came rushing back like a bad dream. And it sickened me. 

And that sickening feeling was added to the sickening feeling provided by a hundred other things he had said before that and the hundred other things he would continue to say after it.

That man/boy/child/person at the wave pool?  The person who did that to me was probably not a monster.  He was a regular person, enjoying a day at the fake beach just like me and my friends. It was probably some kid who got a feeling of titillation out of trying something and getting away with it.  A regular person who had been sent the message over and over that women and girls are objects to do with as you please. A kid, who wasn't told not to do that shit by his parents, his community... or his President.

And now, maybe that manchild is going to be the President of the United States some day too.  Maybe that manchild is the one who will be in January.  It could be; I never saw him.  

I'm angry because what we all said when we voted for "him" and even those who didn't vote for "him" but chose to vote against "her" because "she" rubs us the wrong way is that we know what "he" said.  We know what "he" did. To Jews, to Muslims, to gays, to Mexicans, to women...  We know what he thinks because he's told us... over and over.  For YEARS.  I am waaaay less bothered by the fact that this one man won an election than by the fact that 47.5% of the voters heard these things from that man's own mouth and said, "You know what? I'm okay with that."

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

And the worst part about it is this man, whom you elected, has no intention of representing you either.  He will use this position to line his own pockets and feed his own ego - the only two things that truly matter to him.  You think he'll find you a job? Doubtful.  You think he'll keep your access to healthcare? It's probably already gone.  You think he'll work to fix what's wrong in your community?  He couldn't care less about your community.  Do you think your children will be safer? He has already indicated his intention to remove gun-free school zones.  Even if he's not as bad as we all think, do you think he'll work to make the country a better place for your daughters and sons to grow up in and learn to be kind, equitable people in a functioning Democracy next to other people who are kind and equitable?  He has proven he has no intention of doing that.  

I already am hearing from my fellow therapists - some who provided services to kids after Newtown, after Orlando, after Columbine, and Sandy Hook, - that their clients are afraid because this has emboldened people who think that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems and they are not just afraid for their ease of living in this country; they are afraid for their lives.

This is not the country I want to live in.  And that's the most devastating part of an already really devastating year: we are not the people I believed we are.

I called my kids from my conference Wednesday morning, despite the fact that I could barely keep it together enough to keep from crying on the phone.   And I am not a cryer over presidential elections.

They are scared.

Let that sink in.  My kids are scared of the person who will be President.

Maybe I could have done a better job as a parent shielding my children from the things this man who will be President says, but to be honest, I don't think I should have to.

They are worried their friends at school will be deported.  They are worried that their gay friends' marriages will be dissolved and they will be forced into conversion therapy.  They are worried that as Mormons, they will somehow also be identified as "other" someday down the road and have to sign into the same registry that he said he would create for Muslims.  They are worried that we'll hate each other even more than we already do.

It was very hard not to agree with every one of those fears. I am worried too.

When I called them, I told them that I knew they were disappointed. I was disappointed too.  All because a little less than half the country and a whole lot of political gerrymandering decided to grab at all the power and good people couldn't vote against that because, "I don't like her.  I can't explain why. I just don't like her." 

I also told them that just like in Orlando, and Newtown, and on September 11, and so many other events we've witnessed together, that there are as many people running toward the flames as away. That people will still be there to keep us safe and work toward equality for everyone. That fortunately our governmental system has other checks and balances and while this man may have a lot of power, he doesn't have all the power.  And that people, as we spoke, were donating money in record numbers to organizations that work to protect the vulnerable and at risk from the statements and policies that he supports and that I was doing the same.  I told them that we would still stand up for people who are bullied, who are afraid, who are not treated fairly, and that we would work doubly hard to make sure this never happened again.  I told them that now more than ever, it's incumbent upon all of us to demonstrate kindness and equity for all... and I expect no less than that of them, of myself, of us all.  

I almost believe it.

What I learned from this, is that this country is way more sexist than it is racist... as Patton Oswald said, "...and it's pretty f***ing racist."

So am I angry?

Damn right I am.

I am livid.

My thoughts: 

To Gillian on Her 16th Birthday

Posted on 10/20/2016 12:03:00 PM

I've been taking a break from this blog for a number of reasons.  I'm not saying I'm not writing anymore; I'm not promising more regular posts from here on out because both of those things seem cliche to me.  It's just that these days, I feel torn in a hundred different ways constantly, and when I do have a moment with my thoughts (which is not often), I honestly don't feel like I have anything new to say. Which might either mean writers' block, or depression, or maybe that I just don't have anything new to say.  Anyway, I refuse to force myself to post when I'm not feeling it and I also refuse to admit that this blog has run its course.  When I need it, it's there and that's good enough for me for now.  

Fall is my favorite season of the year, it's cool and beautiful and welcome respite from the heat of summer.  I didn't get to experience fall much because during so much of my childhood I lived in a desert.  I always longed for the leaves changing colors and all the other things that come with it.  When I was in second grade, my teacher held a drawing contest each month and I drew an old timey red school house with a bell tower and trees around it full of leaves of all different colors which were falling to the ground in mounds.  I was contest winner for the month of October.  We'd just moved from Colorado, where you see such things, to Arizona where you don't, and many of my peers couldn't wrap their heads around my picture but instead thought it was some sort of fantasy drawing.  They simply didn't have a frame of reference for such things.  It wasn't very many years there before I was just like them.  It's one of the reasons I don't really have a desire to live in a desert again. Seasons are just too amazing.

But Fall also happens to contain maybe the worst of the year for me as well and I often don't really realize it or know why until it blindsides me that there's an anniversary that I dread both remembering (and dread not remembering).  September comes and school starts and holidays get closer together and we hit the whirlwind of all our family's birthdays in a four-month period and work gets really busy for me..... and I just begin bouncing down that road of milestones until the end of the year, with no recourse but to simply submit to gravity and let everything shake out where it happens to land - I just have some vague hope that I'll be able to stand without broken bones when it's all over.  

There's a new network television show this season and I happened to catch the pilot a couple of weeks back.  It's lovely and excellently done so far and I'm a fan. Not the least of the reasons is this scene toward the end of the pilot where a young couple is expecting triplets and one of the three babies dies during delivery.  I didn't know this was coming; hadn't heard anything about this show before watching it and I don't really even know how it ended up on my DVR.  But there it was.  I sat in my basement in the dark at five in the morning - because that's the only time I can watch television and not be interrupted - and this scene happened and I dissolved into great, blubbering tears, shaken with the raw honesty and relevance for me of this scene.
Doctor: "Rebecca's vitals are good.  She's going to be asleep for a little while but she's doing fine. We're monitoring her closely. We lost the third baby, Jack. I'm very sorry. The second baby is a girl - very strong.  The third baby was a little boy but the umbilical cord was cutting off his oxygen and he was stillborn.  Nothing anybody could have done."

Jack: "I'm sorry. I'm not processing anything. My wife...?"

Doctor: "Is fine. And she'll be awake pretty soon. You have two beautiful healthy children, Jack - a boy and a girl... but we did lose the third child. "

Jack: "I need to be with my wife."

Doctor: "You will be. She needs to sleep now but... just... sit down. But soon. Just sit down. Sit. ... Okay if I keep you company a second?"

Jack: "Yeah."

Doctor: "Okay if I try and say something meaningful?"

Jack: "Yeah."

Doctor: "I lost my wife last year to cancer. That's the reason I still work so much at my age... just...  trying to pass the time.  We were married 53 years.  5 children. 11 grandkids. But we lost our very first child during the delivery. That's the reason I went into this field, truth be told. I have spent five decades delivering babies - more babies than I can count... but there is not a single day that goes by that I don't think of the child I lost. And I'm an old man now. I like to think that because of the child that I lost, because of the path that he sent me on, that I have saved countless other babies. I like to think that maybe one day you'll be an old man like me talking a younger man's ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then you will still be taking 3 babies home from this hospital... just... maybe not the way you planned. I don't know if that was meaningful or senile but I thought it oughta be said. Your wife will still be asleep for a little while. Go see your babies... they're excited to meet their Father. I think maybe they got a good one."
- Milo Ventimiglia and Gerald McRaney, This Is Us

It's been sixteen years.   

I hope I can say that there's been something resembling lemonade to come from this sour lemon for me.  I have two other beautiful girls who are amazing in so many ways, I can't list them all here. I have a perspective and an appreciation for the sanctity and preciousness of life that only comes from understanding loss in a very personal way.  I have been able to counsel others through some of their dark times with an empathy that I wouldn't have gained through any other experience. Somehow, her father and I have managed to use this to grow closer rather than farther apart, which is so often the case.  There are a myriad of wonderful things in my life now because she came to us and changed us before she left.  I wouldn't change any of that if I could, I don't think.

But I'd be tempted.  

My thoughts: 

Nature's Way

Posted on 6/30/2016 10:44:00 AM

This morning, when I was taking the Shortlings to camp, I turned the corner in the car and saw a little bunny running down the middle of the road.

“Oh look, girls! Look at that cute little bunny hopping down the road like he thinks he’s a car.”

Normally, The Caterpillar isn’t looking in the right direction and misses such things. Then she pouts the rest of the car ride.  But we were fortunate, because the bunny was directly in front of us she actually spotted him for a change.  All three of us had a great view actually and there were several seconds while we oooh-ed and aaah-ed over the adorable Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail/road… right up until the adolescent fox in the neighborhood darted out into the road from the bushes, snatched that bunny, and disappeared back into the thicket.

And then we continued on to our destination… older, wiser, and sadder.

My thoughts: 

Minutiae - Caterpillar edition

Posted on 6/19/2016 08:32:00 AM In:

I'm not doing so so hot with the keeping up on the blog thingy this year.  It seems every time I get ready to jump back into the regular, some tragedy happens and then I fall off the wagon again.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been documenting my children's lives. Just on my phone where no one can see it.  With might be better in their eyes.  Today is Fathers' Day.  I'm sitting on our deck outside listening to the birds sing.  Watched a fox and a deer with her two babies run by, and everyone else is in the house asleep and in the fridge there's a Peanut Butter Cookie Lasagna waiting for him for breakfast. It's the best Fathers' Day present I know to give.  

In the meantime, I'm clearing stuff off my phone and realized this younger kid he is helping me raise has gotten pretty funny. Here's a minutiae dedicated to her.

"If I had to write about my dad, I'd probably write... he is fun to be with, he is embarrassing to my older sister, he takes the cake (mostly literally), and he's the best dad in the world."

Just got accused of suppressing financial information. 8 year old would like to SEE her savings account statements from now on so she knows that nothing sketchy is happening with her $12.

Parenting protip: Sometimes I buy my kids dumb stuff they want just for a reprieve... so for the next six months, every time they ask me for so much as a stick of gum in a checkout line, I can yell, "FAUX ANIMAL FUR HOODIE VEST!!", and they shut up about the new thing they're about to beg for.

"She always does that when she gets mad. She flattens her nose."
"You mean, she 'flares her nostrils?'"
"Yeah. It looks like her nose is a tiny devil, spreading its wings."

Found this after I turned my back on her for five minutes in a toy store. I'd say the Need To Create Order Where There Is None Thing has gotten out of control, but this isn't even the worst I've seen this week.

First conversation with small child after coming home from an out of town trip fielded this thinker: "I really don't think it's fair that cats don't have a birth certificate."

Ah, crazy right off the bat. It's good to be home.

"Who's that on the wall?"
"Billy Joel!"
"Go away, you don't belong in this family."

I showed my kids the Chicken Dance.  I have perhaps created a monster.

"Where's my electrical tape?  It keeps disappearing?  What is everyone using it for?"

Certainly not to make a kilt to wear to school on St. Patrick's Day.  Who would do that?

I just stuck this one in here because it was sweet. This is the only person he will sit like this without having to stand up, walk around on your face and rub his head on your lips, getting cat hair in your mouth. This cat loves her like no one else.

It's good to know that if my daughter ever ends up living on the streets, she at least won't go shirtless... as long as there are plastic bags in the world.

Me: The cold killed all my basil plants last night.
Caterpillar: I'm sorry for your loss.

Dancing to music on the deck in the rain. I wish I was 8 sometimes.

We sat through five different performing groups at The Dormouse's Spring Concert.  Some of us enjoyed it more than others.

Required education for Shortlings this weekend was a screening of West Side Story. While The Dormouse's main problem with the movie was incredulity that anyone could fall in love with someone and decide to run off with them after knowing them only two days. The Caterpillar thought the whole thing was particularly ridiculous because you can't really kill someone with a three inch long pocket knife. I'm kinda glad she's on my side, actually.

By the way, both decided West Side Story was "way worse than Romeo and Juliet because at least Shakespeare didn't force Juliet to live at the end of it all." Perhaps my realism genes have run a bit deep here.

This is exclusively her part every time we take a road trip.

Asked her to put a pile of underwear away after it came out of the dryer. She took them, disappeared, then came back, somersaulted through the kitchen while singing the theme from Mission: Impossible and yelled, "Mission complete!"

Caught Caterpillar outside today kissing a toad. KoH's response, "That's the wrong kind of amphibian, you know.  You have to kiss a frog to get a handsome prince."

"I know, I just love him."

Incomprehensible question of the day: "Mom, do camels use bad manners?" 

Apparently, we're still in bed this morning.

"It's time to leave for school, are you ready?"
"Almost. Let me just get my underwear on."
"Aren't you already dressed?"

We've been battling mice in the attic lately, so when I found the cats pawing at something under the closet door, I assumed one of the mice leaders had finally gotten the courage to venture into the house and was cornered in the closet. I was half right.

Went looking for pins in The Caterpillar's room and found this. What the heck, you little maniac?

My thoughts: 

Me in 3 Seconds

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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