Week 8: My 3 New Year’s rebellions

Just because something bears the aspect of the inevitable one should not, therefore, go along willingly with it. — author Philip K. Dick in “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer”

Most of my friends have processed the election of Donald Trump more slowly than I have. They are still a bit shellshocked and unsure what to do. Thinking on it, to be sure, but not yet ready to move. But it’s January 2. The holidays are over. The options for rebellion against all we lost two months ago are endless — as is the need and urgency.

Yes, I will start my Whole30 diet at some point this week (oh sweet carbs, how I miss you already). Yes, I will hit the gym when the rest of my family gets back to a normal schedule. I will sleep more. Drink less. Yada yada yada. But what’s more important than the 40 pounds I need to lose (of which I can only blame about five on the last six weeks) is the progressive rebellion for the next four years.

fullsizerenderI am one to overcommit — as is evidenced by the fact that I started a potential four-year commitment while in the fetal position on the couch on November 11. So I’m going to keep it intentionally simple for 2017. I may dabble in more, but I will write these three New Year’s rebellions down on a Post-It note where I see them every single day.

  1. Tell my story. That is, of course, this blog. The idea for this blog percolated for three days after Election Day and came to life on November 12. My first New Year’s rebellion is to write this weekly blog for 2017. Maybe for four years, but definitely through 2017. This is the mission statement I came up with on November 11:

    “To tap into the energy of HRC supporters (and others) who are gutted by the fact that Clinton/a woman was not elected and to focus that energy into more than hating Trump. We need to organize and have our own movement. And with that movement, line up progressives deeply for years to come — including women — so we can start making changes we think America needs.

    “I want to focus on women, progressives, and the future. I do not want to start a Trump hate movement. This is passion with a practical slant.”

    I had no idea how I would do that. I spent the first two months processing, planning and taking small steps to prepare for battle, getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas with those on the other side, talking to people younger and older than me on both sides of the ballot, considering the upside of HRC’s loss, pondering then giving the middle finger to the Electoral College, and trying (occasionally) to remember there is more to life than our country’s politics.

    It is now time to act. And that’s what I plan to write about for the next year or four, in this space every Monday and throughout the week on my Facebook and Twitter platforms. Writing about my journey is therapeutic. Perhaps reading about it will be, as well.

  2. Learn about similar movements of the past. I am 49 years old. I was born in 1967 and have done little to fight for what’s right other than a few marches, opinion pieces, donations, board positions, and Facebook posts for gay rights, common sense gun laws, and immigration reform. OK, that list actually makes me feel better. Maybe I’m not such a novice after all. But I always had the feeling I could half-ass it — that we were on the right side of history and the progressive movement was on track, nipping at the backward heels of those in opposition.

    That fairy tale is over.

    Last week, I spent an energizing and hopeful hour and a half with a friend’s daughter — a 22-year-old in her first year at Harvard Law School. She gave me the history of the feminist movement in the amount of time it took me to eat a breakfast taco, along with a list of books I should read. I’ll share more about that next week and am ordering those books this week, as well as renewing my Amazon Prime membership.

  3. Actively move forward. I am making plans today to join the Women’s March on Austin on Saturday, January 21. I have been to a few political meetings since November 9 and am part of the leadership of the East Dallas Pantsuit group. I will follow my Republican state house representative very closely during the upcoming four-month session. I now know his name (my bad that I didn’t before November 9) and soon, he will know mine. I will also continue my daily tirades on social media against fake news.

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-12-40-21-pmThose are my three. I have friends who have other rebellions in mind:

  • The Harvard law student is now gearing her journey there toward being a feminist lobbyist instead of a public defender.
  • A attorney friend is seriously exploring a run for public office, at a state or national level.
  • A teacher friend is toying with the idea of running for school board.
  • Friends are going to the Women’s March on Washington while others will join me in Austin (if you can’t make it to D.C., check this list of marches going on 47 states and 15 countries).
  • Friends are giving money to organizations vital to the progressive movement that are at risk — from Planned Parenthood to The Washington Post.
  • Friends are giving their time to organizations and people at risk.

We are now the change we wish to see in the world (to tweak a quote often found on the back of progressive’s cars that Ghandi didn’t actually say).

So what change do you wish to see? And don’t give me any bullshit about the first woman president in 2020 or even a Democrat victory in 2020. This isn’t a movie, folks, where one is magically transported to the future with a caption, change of hairstyle, and all is right with the world. This is real life and we are in a real mess. If you were pissed off on November 8, there is a hella lot a work to be done every single day between now and November 3, 2020.

So, what are your New Year’s rebellions? It’s January 2. Barack Obama will no longer be our president in 18 days. The Republican majority Senate and House start sessions tomorrow. Tick tock tick tock.


Week 7: Rest, reflect, then let the New Year’s rebellions begin

Rebellions are built on hope — Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in Rogue One.

In an effort to distract my family (mostly my dad) from the first Christmas without my mom, I planned a movie outing on Christmas Day. It worked perfectly. For two-plus hours, we were mentally transported to a galaxy far, far away from the obviously huge and painful gap in our immediate family.

In an effort to get back to said immediate family today, I’ll make this post short.

When all seemed lost and the bad guys seemed invincible in the newest Star Wars movie, the good guys get together to plan their next move. The majority of the good guys believe the bad guys and their new Death Star are insurmountable. They have lost hope. But Jyn Erso tries to rally them in the face of all they’ve lost: “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope,” she says, after being schooled in the good fight by Diego Luna’s character several scenes back.

I don’t need to make the connection for this crowd.

So take it easy this week. Prepare to do battle, as I said in Week 1 of this crazy new reality. Because come January, it’s on. We are the rebellion. We have a PhD in hope, thanks to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. And we need to find the leaders who are behind them on the progressive bench.

Maybe we won’t have to go rogue to fight Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their (very different) supporters. Maybe the majority of voters who voted for HRC won’t lose hope. Maybe all this energy can be sustained for four years with the rebellion we started plotting on November 9. Maybe.

Let’s hope so. If not, going rogue is always an option (maybe Jyn Erso just hijacked that term from Sarah Palin and her like-minded Republicans). Whether we are a small band of passionate progressives or a rebellion that includes the 65,844,610 who gave HRC the popular vote last month, it’s almost go time.

So drink your last sips of eggnog, enjoy your leftovers and family time. When you have a few quiet moments, make a list of your New Year’s rebellions. The Republic needs you.


Week 6: Love really must trump hate (fear, grief, anger)

There is more that unites us than divides us. — Mauricio Macri, president of Argentina

In previous election years, my Fox News-watching Dad and I kept the peace by giving each other space around elections. It (usually) was all playful banter during the primaries and conventions. We gracefully parted ways for a few weeks before Election Day, then carefully felt each other out afterward before resuming our sometimes friendly, sometimes harsh back-and-forth.

But 2016 was different. My mom died four months ago, throwing us together in one of the most intense life situation humans go through. We are joined in the common, gut-wrenching bond of grief, as it should be. There would be no parting of the ways in October. There could be no grace period in November.

In the Oval Office at the George W. Bush Presidential Library with Dad, two days after Mom’s funeral.

Last week, I was in my hometown, just 30 minutes away, and stopped by somewhat unexpectedly to see Dad. He was sitting in his recliner with his blind and needy orange cat, watching something on his oversized flat-screen TV. I took the attached recliner to his left, where Mom always sat. We talked about some family stuff that needed to be dealt with and then started talking about how we miss Mom.

He was a tad weepy that day. I suspect he is more often than I realize because I don’t see him as much as I should. Part of that is distance. Part schedule. Part, honestly, is that I don’t know what to say to him anymore. I’ve read so many stories on Pantsuit Nation and its subsidiaries about family members and friends parting ways because the #imwithher supporter could no longer stomach the #makeamericagreatagain voter.

That is me. That is my dad. But this will not be our future.

For two hours, we laughed, tried not to cry (didn’t always succeed), told funny stories about Mom, shared when we missed her most. About an hour in, he said, “Would it upset you to watch some video of her?” That sounded delightful. He and Mom were passionate about travel (mostly Mom) and motorcycles (mostly Dad). They took many cross-country trips on their motorcycles, a few in the ’90s with another couple who had a penchant for video editing.

Mom and Dad in front of our house in the early ’90s.

We were suddenly transported on that oversized flat-screen TV to 1992, when Mom was a few years younger than I am now. Dad fast forwarded past the lovely scenery to the mundane scenes at restaurants, tourist stops, campsites. To hear Mom’s voice after four months was like coming home to a place I thought I’d never see again. I was entranced. After a while, I started glancing at the clock, partly out of habit and partly because I did have stuff to do. But this was where I wanted and needed to be. So I sat still in Mom’s recliner for as long as Dad was willing to watch those videos with me.

This was a visceral reminder that there is more that unites us than divides us.

That said, there is much that divides us. I am preaching to the choir here when I say that the values of a man who thinks Donald Trump is the best thing for our country while truly believing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are its downfall are hurtful to say the least.

I think about our country’s political situation more than I think about parenting my kids at this moment. More than I sit in grief over my mom. That isn’t to say the latter aren’t infinitely more important. It is to say that at this moment in time, I — probably like you — am as passionate as I’ve ever been about politics and the progressive movement. Yet to be with my Dad in the way we both need means to be quiet about the million points of light and passion and shock and disdain bounding from my brain much of the day.

But for two hours, none of that mattered. Trump’s tweets didn’t matter. The Electoral College (which is No. 1 on my shit list today, by the way) didn’t matter. Tax returns, e-mails, Rex Tillerson, Pantsuit Nation, Wisconsin didn’t matter. Even Russia (!!!!) didn’t matter.

And it was OK.

Nothing changed in our political landscape in those two hours. When I left, I’m sure he turned on Fox News and posted something idiotic to Facebook, which I’d have to call him on as soon as I saw it. When I got in my car, I checked Twitter and The New York Times to see if the Hamilton Electors were making any progress.

But for two hours, I was reminded that there is life outside of politics. There is death outside of the Clinton loss. There is love outside of Pantsuit Nation. That Trump voters are multi-faceted people … many of whom we love. That’s the messy truth, as Van Jones calls it. It is messy for every obvious reason. And it is truth.

I will sit with that messy truth throughout this holiday season. Because it sucks without my mom. And I will try to remember this messy truth when I hit the ground running to fight against everything my dad believes in come January.

And when I forget, I will watch this video again to remember a time when hope and unity felt possible. And I will remember this two hours with my dad as proof. Because when I want to hate a Trump supporter, I will know my perceived enemy most likely has some of my dad in him. And, I hope, when my dad wants to hate a Clinton supporter, he will remember that liberal has some of me in her.

Sure, our politics help define us. But we must remember (oh this is so hard!) that they are not the total equation.





Week 5: Is it time to be a crazy bitch?

“When the whole world is crazy, it doesn’t pay to be sane.” — Terry Goodkind, The Pillars of Creation

A friend and I were talking a couple of weeks about about our current political situation. I love this friend more than most people in the world. I have known her more than half my life and she is my people in every possible way.

And it is with love that I say she’s crazy as all get out. Has been since the failed Occupy Wall Street movement. She was all in for that. And when it fell apart, she checked out of the political process. This is someone who was once an intern at The New York Times. She’s an Ivy League-educated woman who has more passion in her one of her beautiful brown eyelashes than most people have in their entire soul. But she shut it down, at least the political part of it. She decided media and politicians weren’t trustworthy and disengaged.

When I visit or chat with her, I try my best to draw her in. And she indulges me for the time we are together. Then goes back into her no-news, no-politics black hole. This recent election result has drawn her out, though. So when we last chatted, we both lamented how “our side” was in danger of become the crazies. Crazy like: Benghazi, the Clintons have people killed, #pizzagate, Obama isn’t a US citizen, Rush Limbaugh, climate change is a hoax, evolution is a theory, trying to repeal Obamacare 60+ times. The hysterical, no-facts kind of crazy. Sure, it seems like everything is different and we have a right to be hysterical, but we’ve got to be fact-based hysterical. We have to #makeramericacareaboutfactsagain.

So I told her I was going to write a blog post called, “Don’t be a crazy bitch.” We laughed, promised to keep each other in check, and said I love you before our goodbyes.


This morning, I woke up that crazy bitch.

It’s just all too much: Saying the media lies. Saying the CIA lies. Rex Tillerson. Being too smart for daily intelligence briefings. The thank you tour. Twitter replacing the press conference. Twitter in general. Nominating someone to head the EPA who is suing the EPA. And on Friday, Russia.

I am now in a world in which I agree with Glenn Beck, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and, as of today, Mitch McConnell and Fox News’ Shepherd Smith.

Russia is my tipping point. Not just that a foreign entity tried to influence our democracy. Not just that Russia tried to undermine faith our our election process. But that Russia possibly did this to influence our election process. And that @realDonaldTrump says the CIA’s allegations are “rediculous” (he later deleted the tweet). And that my family and friends who voted for him are silent. Crickets.

Their silence indicates one of two things to me:

  1. That they want their side to be the winners so badly, they don’t care if Russia interfered with our election process to get the candidate it favored elected. (Translation: They would rather have Putin interfere in our government than have Hillary Clinton be our president.) Read those two sentences out loud. And picture your favorite Republican. Picture Ronald Reagan. What gives people?
  2. They would not want a full investigation if the Russians hacked the RNC email and released incriminating evidence against it (not saying it wasn’t true, just incriminating) and Clinton had won. Again, picture your favorite Republican. Picture any Republican politician. Seriously, what gives?

This is the side of Benghazi and Obamacare and Obama is a Muslim. No. 2 just seems nonsensical with this crowd, right? As it should be! And this is where I worry about my crazy.

Now, I do not in any way believe we need a re-do on the election. I’ve listened to the experts and it just ain’t gonna happen. One can’t quantify the number of votes lost or gained because of this. I get that. I really do.

I have a degree in journalism/political science. I shun conspiracy theorists (and I was raised by one). I am a fact-based person who can almost always see two sides to every story — from abortion to drunken campus rape (I win over exactly zero friends in that debate) to term limits.

But this week, I’m embracing my crazy. I want the Electoral College to stop this man. My apologies to those of you who have been tirelessly carrying the Hamilton Electors banner. I thought you were crazy when I first heard about you. I thought you’d become the birthers of the Democratic party. But now I get it.


Is it fact-based hysteria? I can’t tell yet. I spent this morning watching CNN, Fox News, reading The New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, and @realDonaldTrump tweets.

Here’s what the Hamilton Electors say our founding fathers intended when creating the Electoral Collage. That our incoming president must:

  1. Be qualified.
  2. Not be a “charismatic autocrat.”
  3. Not be under the influence of foreign powers.

If Donald Trump doesn’t raise to the level of the emergency measures our founding fathers intended when they created the Electoral College, then what does? I’m still deciding what I think about the Electoral College. But if it’s here for THESE reasons and we don’t use it NOW, we might as well get rid of it. Have we ever checked even one of these three boxes? Much less potentially all three?

I don’t want to be the fringe. I am as liberal as you can get … but I’ve never been fringe.

Here’s how the Hamilton Electors say it can be done on December 19, when the Electoral College actually casts its votes. That’s one week from today. I plan to be crazy — but on the right side of factual — until that day. And then, in the incredibly likely scenario where Trump is still PEOTUS, I will go back to fighting for what I stand for that I believe he threatens. I will go back to my Pantsuit Nation meetings (I actually have one tonight) and my local politician’s community meetings and seeing what we can do in 2018 and 2020 and beyond. I will continue to want an answer to the non-partisan issue of whether Russia intervened in our election process. I will not go into a black hole of political knowledge, and I’ll try to keep my friend out of it, too.

Because crazy with facts and passion — in that order — is OK, I’ve learned today. We do not sound like the “show me the birth certificate” lunatics when we say “I want to know if Russia tried to get Trump elected.”

I have new respect for crazy today. Because, facts.

Week 4: Two awesome things about PEOTUS Trump

“I didn’t get to do this in the ’70s so I’m ready” — Megan, a 20something friend of a friend just after the election.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a month, isn’t it?

One month ago today, I pulled my 16-year-old son out of school so he could watch me vote for the first woman president of the United States. I had a yummy roast in the crockpot, wine at the ready, laptop moved into the living room. I could hardly work for all the texting and CNN watching and history-making awesomeness. It was going to be the best day ever.

Until it was the worst day ever. The apocalypse, as a friend of mine calls it. We were pantsuit-loving lambs headed to slaughter.


One month later, I’m impatient with the wallowing. Yes, it’s awful. Yes, his appointments just keep bringing new fresh hell daily. Yes, HRC’s popular vote lead keeps increasing (at 2.7 million last I checked). Yes, we have a hair-width slice of the shadow of a glimmer of false hope as the recount takes place and a some of our Electoral College members bail on Trump.

Yes, the apocalypse.

Except for two things:

  1. We have gotten off our asses and are engaged like never before.
  2. We are having a serious and pervasive discussion about fake news.

And those might make Trump’s election worth it. (Ducking for cover as I write that.) Might, I said. Or, at least, are significant silver linings.

Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 10.18.47 AM.pngLet’s start with getting off our asses. I am 100% sure that if Clinton had been elected, most of us would be sitting back, fat and happy with our awesome history-making president. Maybe she would’ve inspired us to get a little more involved. But let’s face it, had our engagement really changed since she announced she was running? Had our engagement really changed during Obama’s eight years?

Things were laurel-resting good!

When the friend of a friend said she was ready for the fight (see quote above), it occurred to me I was, too. While I’m 20+ years her senior, I haven’t fought very hard for anything either. I was incredibly supportive of gay marriage and did what I could, sporting my artsy marriage equality necklace. But I haven’t taken to the streets — literally or figuratively — in a long time.

When my kids were young, my husband and I traveled to Austin to protest for sensible gun laws with the Million Mom March in Austin one time. And I returned to Austin several years ago to protest underfunding and over-testing in our public schools.

Like you, I have a list of progressive social issues I’m passionate about: gay rights, women’s rights, reasonable gun laws. But I took press and religious freedom for granted. I took women’s rights for granted. I assumed we were all headed for the right side of history in every possible way.

OK, so we SHOULD be able to do all of that.

But I didn’t know who my state legislator was until yesterday. I wish I exaggerated for effect. I was all about the big national (usually social) issues, but my political savvy crumbled the closer to home it got. And that is not acceptable. My state just passed a law that women who have abortions in a clinic or miscarriages in a hospital must pay for the fetal remains to be cremated or buried. Where was I when this shit was going down?

I was assuming, pre-apocalypse, that we were all headed for the right side of history.

Pantsuit Nation has almost 4 million members. I assume most of those members are finding their way to the state, regional, and local Pantsuit Nation offshoots like I am. And these groups and their members are organizing. We are a force today — a force that I truly believe would’ve faded back into our normal lives if Clinton were our president-elect.

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-11-27-07-amSecondly, Oxford dictionary announced “post-truth” as the word of the year for 2016We need that situation to be different in 2017.

And I am hopeful. #fakenews is a hastag — a thing … like not opening the door for the guy who says he’s here to check your cable when you didn’t have an appointment. That’s the kind of thing I want #fakenews to be. I’ve been pushing #makeamericacareaboutfactsagain and actually just found this image when I searched Twitter for it.

I’ve been sharing #makeamericacareaboutfactsagain with my Trump-supporting Dad for a while. Post-election, I started expanding its use to anyone who doesn’t check a source on Facebook — conservative or liberal. OccupyDemocrats, Breitbart … same same in my opinion right now.

Since it was reported that #fakenews was an issue in this election, everyone has joined on the bandwagon. Yay for critical thinking!

And with stories like this one from NPR, “Fake or real? How to self-check the news and get the facts,” coming out daily, it’s easy to do. Here are two more to help your truth-finding journey: “How to tell which news is fake” and the CRAPP test.

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times hits it perfectly here: “Lies in the guise of news in the Trump era.” Let me tease out one fact from his post: Only 44% of Republicans understand that Obama was born in the United States. Oxford, I bow to your painful wisdom. Read the article. It explains that #fakenews is more than a conservative agenda; it’s now a money-making business.

As consumers, we can call out and not share #fakenews. But it’s going to take more. Facebook, Google, and Twitter started down the right path the week after the election. But it’s going to take even more. I love this from Jeff Jarvis: “A call for cooperation against fake news.” And this: “Stamping out fake news will take collaboration by platforms and publishers.” I agree. This is my industry. And I intend to hold it accountable. That #fakenews is a hashtag is, I hope, an indicator of good things to come.

img_5928So yes, the apocalypse. But with a bright side.

I wanted to toss my “I voted today” sticker from a month ago. But I didn’t. Instead, I have it right by my laptop on my desk. I see it every single day.

Because I’m with Megan. And #imwithher. I didn’t get to do this in the ’70s. I’m ready.

How about you?

Week 3: How to save the world 101

We survived Thanksgiving. We can put off thinking about Christmas until at least December (which is Thursday, but let’s ignore that right now).

We’ve been through disbelief, sadness, anger, wallowing, back to disbelief (Bannon), anger (Bannon), recount-driven denial (damn you Rust Belt), more wallowing (Bannon). I took my Texans for Hillary sign down a week after the election (taking a nod from my across-the-street neighbor, who did the same). But I smiled today when I saw someone in another neighborhood who still had one out. I indulged my Anderson Cooper craving for a full two hours tonight because the Trump Twitter story is crack. Like most of us, I broke bread — and thankfully nothing else — last Thursday with family on the other side. And now we’re looking Christmas and Inauguration Day in the face like a honey badger.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-5-08-30-pmNow what?

I am overwhelmed when I go too far down this road. Just the posts from Pantsuit Nation — and its wonderful regional and local peers on Facebook — are overwhelming. The stories. The racist incidents. The love. The despair. The little girls dressed up in pantsuits. Not all families survived Thanksgiving, I learned. That in and of itself is overwhelming.

But what I’m starting to see that does not feel overwhelming are the stories of action — especially on the Pantsuit Nation offshoots. Those “Not Bannon” postcards to Trump? Brilliance.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today: “Can’t find that ‘How To Save The World’ instruction manual anywhere.” I feel ya.

I went through so many emotions on November 9 and, by November 10, had made many fleeting decisions: I should run for office. I should, on principle, never speak to my Trump-voting family again. I should go to work for some political entity. I should … wait … I should do what I’m good at. I should, as the quote says, do what makes me come alive.

This blog is where that thank-god-only-in-my-head discussion landed.

It’s so easy to get distracted by how awful this is. It’s easy to pause our passion, pinning it on the recount or Trump’s business entanglements or Russia, or whether we’ll soon release Secretary of State Guiliani on the world (forgive us, baby Jesus). I could spend hours talking and posting and lamenting about the avalanche of trickle-down indecency Trump has inspired. Hell, I could spend hours talking and posting and lamenting about just one of Trump’s tweets. These rabbit holes feel so good to my tormented I’m-with-her soul.

But what are we going to do about it? I know you had your own thank-god-only-in-my-head discussion in the days after the election. Where did you land?

One friend of mine is considering running for the school board. Another for Congress. One says she’s going to spend four years not saying Trump’s name. Honestly, I’d like to see a lot more of the first two than the latter. Sure, it may feel good to make some personal protest like that, but I can’t see how that brings progressive ideas — those we may lose and those we haven’t won yet — to the forefront. But hey, if it keeps you off the Zoloft, go for it.

Again I ask, where did you land? What will you do?

I have a few ideas for myself:

• I will write a blog post every Monday to continue my mission: To tap into the energy of HRC supporters (and others) who are gutted by the fact that Clinton/a woman was not elected and to focus that energy into more than hating Trump. We need to organize and have our own movement. And with that movement, line up progressives deeply for years to come — including women — so we can start making changes we think America needs.

• I will do everything I can to call out fake news. I am a journalist. And the fact that we are having a discussion on fake news makes the honey badger almost worth it. I want the hashtag #makeamericacareaboutfactsagain to be a thing (copyright dibs!). I’m calling out friends and family members on Facebook that share less-than-stellar news sources — on both sides of the political spectrum. I am not so popular on Facebook these days.

• While I want to read all the beautiful and painful stories on Pantsuit Nation, I am going to read fewer (although I very much look forward to seeing what Pantsuit Nation transitions into). I am going to dive deeply into the local offshoots, which are now gathering and planning real strategies to support policies and politicians I believe in. From there, I will learn about specific things I can do and specific people I can support.

• Keep doing what you were doing on November 7. I’ve been involved with Congo Restoration, a sewing school in Eastern Congo, for seven years. I will go see the next class graduate in January and will solicit #GivingTuesday funds this week (click here if you’d like to help with that). I suspect many of us were already saving the world before we started gawking at Trump’s Tweets. Keep going.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-11-01-09-pmThree things and one pat on the back. That’s not so overwhelming, right?

Right now, make a list of what this election brings out in you.

What are you most worried about? What makes you come alive? Then, what are you good at?

This is your map to changing — maybe even saving — the world.


Week 2: How to not drop the f-bomb at Thanksgiving

Many of us are walking into the lion’s den on Thursday, if not before. I’ve honestly never understood the “holidays are stressful” mantra that has fed many a holiday movie/song/meme. But this year, I get it.

Let me paint the picture:

My mom died three months ago. That’s really enough, isn’t it? Yet there is more. We have the following characters playing lead and supporting roles in the multi-family mash-up that will be played out this Thursday with my family, my husband’s family, and my sister-in-law’s family.

Siblings who aren’t there (because they weren’t asked to be or chose not to be). Ex-husbands. Older people with dementia issues. Younger people with legal issues (and recent stints in an orange jumpsuit). Republicans who truly believe the recent racist incidents going on are being done by Clinton supporters to make Trump supporters look bad. Republicans who truly believe Trump was sent by God to save our country. Republicans of your usual Texas variety (read: pro-life/anti-gay). Libertarians who voted for Johnson (but who cares because we’re in Texas). Farm Democrats (which could be the name of an awesome band and describes much of my husband’s family, working folks who grew up loving FDR and demonizing Hoover). Social Democrats. And a smattering of people whose votes were a bitch-slap to their actual can’t-be-discussed life circumstances.

Love them. Wouldn’t be anywhere else on Thursday, truly. But there isn’t enough wine in this big state to help me maneuver the political and emotional minefields that will be in play.

So I’ve come up with this cheatsheet. You’re welcome.

F. Focus: If you have to talk politics, focus on key issues or those that are the most important to you. In my opinion, issues that are not key and distract from our mission at hand are the following: Melania and Barron deciding to stay in NYC until Barron finishes the semester; Hamilton; SNL; Twitter; the Electoral College. Issues that are key to our mission are these: the rights of women/immigrants/minorities, freedom of religion, the environment, freedom of the press (#makeamericacareaboutfactsagain #fakenews). Do not let the tryptophan-filled turkey take away your edge. Focus people.

U. Understand: You can’t reason with everyone. Exhibit A: the aforementioned Republican who believes Clinton supporters are committing racist acts. Exhibit B: the aforementioned Republicans who believe Trump is sent by God. These folks are off the table. I will smile at them like I do the relative with dementia to their left (or right, as the case may be).

C. Compose: Plan what you will say in several situations. Crazy Exhibit B says you can’t argue with the bible and, therefore, with Trump’s presidency. What do you say? Widowed dad makes a joke about deplorables while passing the gravy. Go! Dementia patient quotes Breitbart. What’s your plan? But wait, Libertarian nephew asks your opinion of what you think Trump will do with Obamacare. What’s your family friendly, serious issue, elevator answer … keeping in mind Crazy Exhibit B is within earshot.

K: Keep eating (there aren’t many K verbs so go with it). It’s almost always a good idea to put a bite of mashed potatoes in your mouth if things get dicey. Take a moment. Revisit F, U, and C while K keeps you in check.

My niece created the wonderful reminder below, laying out the Thanksgiving rules this year and proving two things: She’s sweeter than I am and a bit of humor is always helpful.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!


Week 1: Five steps to prepare for battle

I got a bad case I can’t shake off of me — the fevered walking around wondering how it ought to be. You work in the system. You see possibilities and your glistening eyes show the hell you’re gonna give ‘em when they back off the mic for once and give it to a woman.

— Lyrics from “Pendulum Swinger” by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls

The shock and awe is over. Mostly. Reality is settling in. We flinch just a tad less every time we hear the words “President-elect Donald Trump” — so much less it’s not detectable by the human eye but still, less. We survived the day after Election Day. We survived the day Trump visited the White House. We started binge drinking/eating/Netflix watching about noon on Friday and sobered up Sunday, hoping our Trump-supporting friends and relatives would just give us some space to process the four-year progressive buzzkill we are about to endure.

It is now Monday, November 14. I think I’ve been wearing the same jeans and bra since Election Day. My son is coming home from college in eight days for Thanksgiving … which is NEXT WEEK. I have a job. I’m writing a book. I am the parent of a 16-YO (I need say no more, right)? Christmas is in 41 days. I’m going to Africa in January as part of a non-profit I’ve helped lead for the past eight years. My garden desperately needs to be weeded and, seriously, I’ve got to do laundry so I can change clothes.

Here’s the deal: We all have lives to get back to. The to-do list on my calendar from last Tuesday is long and untouched. I checked out of every non-essential part of life on Election Day (honestly, I checked out the week before), assuming I’d check back in on November 9 — that glorious day our first elected female president began her four-year journey toward making America exactly what I wanted.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-11-41-53-amLike every strong woman I know, I am busy AF. So let’s be smart about this. We have to keep this going for years, not days. This list might help:

  1. Find a small step for this week that can make an actual political difference (maybe two since we’re all riled up): Mine is to spend 10 minutes looking at Annie’s List, a website I learned about in a passing comment last week and have since heard a lot about on the local and statewide Pantsuit Nation Texas groups. Annie’s List exists to “recruit, train, support, and elect progressive, pro-choice women in Texas.”

    How did I just hear about this group last week? Why wasn’t I supporting Annie’s List the entire year? Or since its founding in 2003? If this exists in Texas, I suspect every state has something similar. Please share in the comments below if you can connect us to like-minded organizations in other parts of the country.

    My possible second small step is to have a conversation with my politically savvy Gay Husband (and election night freak-out partner, as mentioned in my first blog post). A few back-and-forth emails from him or a 15-minute phone call will save me hours of research. I have another friend traveling abroad who brings a different yet similarly impressive grasp of all things political. I’ll hit him up when he gets home.

    Small steps get big. I’ll probably post something about Annie’s List on social media. Who knows where these conversations will lead.

    Can you set aside a chunk of time (however small) to research the political movers and shakers in your community or make a list of the non-profits nationally or locally that may need you? You don’t have to make a move yet. Just explore your options.

  1. Take in something that inspires you: Hey, I’m taking one for the team this morning and watching Van Jones videos. I’m a giver like that. I’m also listening to some of my favorite Indigo Girls songs that seem perfect right now, like Pendulum Swinger, quoted above. Watch the “Fight Song” video again. Maybe there’s a song you can sing along to, a passage from a favorite book or movie, this weekend’s SNL “Hallelujah” cold open or Dave Chappelle’s unedited monologue. Have coffee or a phone conversation with an energetic or calming friend. See a movie. I saw “Loving” this weekend with my husband and was beautifully inspired by how far we’ve come and what we have to lose.
  1. Plan to do something that furthers causes you care about (and that you feel might be at risk): I saw one Pantsuit Nation Texas Chapter member planning an event to honor National Homeless Person’s Day on December 21.

    Donate to ProPublica, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood. Find a local ESL where you can donate time or money. There are many different groups that feel threatened right now. Pick one that feels right for you.

    Again, you don’t have to do something this week (although by all means, sista, make a move if the time is right). Planning is progress.

  1. Wallow less and less each day. Don’t boo, President Obama said. Vote. But booing feels good, I know. And it’s OK in small doses. Try to balance Rachel Maddow with some Rachel Green.
  1. Take care of yourself (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, are you is reading this?). In a weird, middle-aged mom kinda way, I feel the need to make myself stronger: to workout more, eat better, sleep better, meditate, read a beautiful novel, pray. How can I change the entire trajectory of our country if I don’t spend some time on self-care — whatever that means for you.

    For my 49-year-old body, that means getting back into marching shape (I did the Susan G. Komen 3-day almost exactly two years ago — walked 60 miles in three days, inspired by my mom’s battle with breast cancer — but likely haven’t walked two consecutive miles since then).

    This is an inspired-movement marathon, not a pissed-off sprint. So work on being the strongest you can be. Ruth, we’re getting you a plastic bubble.

That seems enough to focus on in Week 1. Next Monday, we’ll dig in a little deeper as we head forward into light.

Put down the pie, get off the couch, turn off CNN

“The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You are not strong enough for the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devil’s ear, ‘I am the storm.'” — tweet from Cory Booker today.

OK, I’m not turning off CNN. Baby steps.

I slept from 3:30 am to 6:30 am Wednesday morning. Armed with that awesome amount of mental alertness, I stumbled into Day 1 of Hillary Clinton Is Not Our 45th President. I felt like I had a hangover, although I was so stunned the night before that I had to stop midway through my third glass of Cabernet. That ended up being the only history made that night.

As a freelance writer/editor, my only office supply is my MacBook. Several days before the election, I moved that laptop out of my lovely upstairs office down to the awkward living room table so as to be closer to my news addiction. I flipped between CNN and FOX news obsessively, breaking to work, Facebook, look at 538, and text with my politically obsessed Gay Husband until my Actual Husband came home from work and wanted to watch American Horror Story.

After days of this, I was 100% sure we were going to win. And then we didn’t.

I thought a lot about Hillary Clinton that day after. If I was sunken into my couch of despair, what was she doing? I hope she was able to go home, take a long, hot bath, drink a cup of tea in peace and her PJs, and maybe watch a rom-com before she went to bed early.

Here I am, full of optimism Tuesday. I pulled my younger son out of school Tuesday so he could watch me vote for the first woman president.

I realized I was surprisingly more sad that she is not going to be our 45th president than that Donald Trump will be. And so I entered into the five stages of grief, which I’m most familiar with after losing my mom to cancer in August. This time, they went by at warp speed:

Denial: At some point after polls closed in Florida, I texted Gay Husband: “Do we smell a landslide?” How adorable, right? Shortly thereafter, he started drinking Manhattans and I brought the bottle of wine into the living room.

Oh we’re losing North Carolina? That’s OK. We were expecting that. We still have Florida. Oh we’re losing Florida? COUNT THE VOTES IN BROWARD COUNTY!! Oh you did? That’s cool. We’ll take the rust belt. We always do. But we really need to so please, seriously, this needs to happen. WISCONSIN? PULL YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!

More texts: “We are the underdogs.” “Senate is gone.” Other friends call and text. I ignore their calls because I have to focus here. I can will the votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan to change. YES I CAN! I frantically look for relief from Nate Silver and get nothing. This man who led me down the daisies-and-puppies electoral college poll road is never wrong. Not only is Gay Husband panicking, John King is throwing some serious negative vibes from his magic map. John! Nate! Come on. WAIT! We can win Arizona. Sure, why not? Actual Husband goes to bed.

Gay Husband: “This won’t end well.” Then, “We aren’t going to win, my friend.” I trust Gay Husband completely. It’s over. I watch until the bitter end, when Anderson Cooper signs off at 3 am after Trump’s speech.

Depression: Wednesday I cried, spent entirely too much time under the covers on our couch, ate pie straight out of the container and chips straight out of the bag. I heard the stories of friends whose daughters cried when they heard the news. My 16YO’s chemistry teacher — a lesbian and immigrant — cried in class and a few girls in class joined her.

Anger: I started my day at 6:30 am on Thursday in a Twitter fight with my sweet 20-year-old niece. Listening to this song replaced my Dead-To-Me 538 habit, my completely off-key voice screaming along with Eva Longoria. Try it: CAN. YOU. HEAR. MY. VOICE. THIS. TIME. Feels damn good.

I picked up lunch at Taco Fucking Bell and cried while I ate it in my church parking lot. By Friday night, I called my Trump-supporting dad after a tense Facebook exchange, starting the conversation with: “WHO are YOU to …” and went downhill from there. I ended the evening with a bottle of wine at a girlfriend’s after my equally angry Actual Husband and I yelled at each other over where to go to for dinner.

Wisconsin, this is your fault.

Acceptance: 270 electoral votes is all it takes. I get the #notmypresident movement and protests. But I also watched My Favorite President Obama host President-Elect Trump at the White House on Thursday. Kellyanne Conway is not going away. On a less suicidal note, neither is Samantha Bee. This is our reality. Until November 3, 2020.

Bargaining: I think this is supposed to be far earlier in the process. But I’m putting it here because my bargain is this: Everything that led us to this moment will be turned around in future elections if the Pantsuit Nation and like-minded supporters turn things around in future elections.

Those of us who voted for Clinton are still stunned and sad. But we will rise. We will get off the couch and rise for what we believe in: inclusiveness, opportunities for all Americans (and those who come to us from troubled lands), love of our country and planet, safety, and religious, press, and personal freedom. We will grieve first, but then will we rise. Of this I have no doubt.

How? I honestly don’t know. Yet. But starting Monday, I will unpack this political process and what needs to happen to get us back to the future we envisioned in the hours before the polls started closing last Tuesday.

What will you do with your small boat? Join me?