I was riveted by CNN’s coverage of the March For Our Lives in Washington. My reaction was both physical and emotional. With goosebumps on my arms and tears rolling down my cheeks, I watched survivors speak with eloquence and passion.
Their anger and pain seemed to burst from the screen and fill the room. And yet, the intensity of feeling was tempered by resolve, strength and determination. These “kids” who were thrust into the spotlight, in a way they wouldn’t wish for and couldn’t foresee, are leading a revolution. They are not going to be cowered by the NRA or politicians or POTUS or anyone who might disagree with them.
As I watched, I remembered how powerful I felt as a teenager. I was idealistic and opinionated and I wanted to affect change with my words. I was optimistic solely because I was young and strong, just as the Parkland students are. They are not plagued by doubt. Their youth allows them to believe that if the cause is just and the effort great, they will succeed.
After the news switched from the march to politics, I turned off the t.v. and felt surprised that my overwhelming feeling was one of hope.
Never say never! How many times have we all heard that expression? At the ripe age of 57, I’ve learned just how true those words are. During the past week, my bleeding liberal heart has been assuaged by …Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker and John McCain. Surprising? Yes! But simply shocking: I was also comforted by the thoughtful words of President George W. Bush!
I strongly disagree with the politics of all four of these men. But, they voiced what I have wanted to scream from the rooftop since POTUS entered the political arena. This is not normal! This is dangerous! This is sad! This is demoralizing! And, this is embarrassing!
Way back in the 1990’s, Mark Singer of The New Yorker wrote an in-depth profile of a real estate mogul . He concluded that the man had achieved something remarkable: “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.” Alas, that man now resides in the White House. I do not sleep well.
Another truism…my least favorite: life is not fair. I’ve always had trouble with this truth. I can not wrap my mind around the fact that a man with no honor has been rewarded with the highest office in the land.
Pundits are quick to point out that President Bill Clinton did not behave in an admirable way, at all times, in the Oval Office. History has chronicled the exploits of President John F. Kennedy. Ken Burns just brought a recording into our homes of President Lyndon Johnson acknowledging that the war in Vietnam could not be won many years before he sent more troops in to fight and die. We are still suffering the aftermath of President George W. Bush’s unjustifiable and unnecessary “crusade.” Politics is an ugly business and history is as imperfect as the worst of us.
And yet, we learned of the sins of past presidents after their actions. Our current president did not even attempt to hide who he is. He clearly, loudly and proudly told us all that he is a bigot, a misogynist, an ignoramus and an egotist. Then we elected him.
I like to imagine I have a crystal ball and I can see the future. It allows me to write history. In my book, the couragous women and men save us from the lies and hate and insanity. I’ll just keep telling you, dear readers, as a way of telling myself: Truth will be told. Democracy will survive.
My day started pleasantly which is not surprising. I’m retired and healthy, happily married with a successful college-aged daughter. My friends and neighbors are wonderful. I have a lovely home filled with shelves and shelves of books and bursting with dachshunds. And, yet half-way into my first cup of coffee, my husband looked at me and asked “What’s wrong, Michele?”
“I don’t know; life is good,” I answered. “I just feel so anxious and I don’t know why.”
That wasn’t the truth though. I knew why; I know why. I’ve felt anxious on a regular basis since November 8, 2016. On that morning, I rose early full of energy and ready to cast my vote for the first female president. The refrigerator held an expensive bottle of champagne and I couldn’t wait to pop the cork and toast her victory (our feminine victory)! Instead, I went to bed early after dosing myself with a couple Tylenol PM tablets.
I woke up still in shock as I know so many others did. We’ve elected an egomaniacal real estate mogul* to the highest office in the land. I was never prepared to forgive the man his former sins, but I was prepared to hope for the best. Surely, now that he’s the leader of the free world, his approach to leadership will change, I thought. And, yet, it continues. The insults, the lies, the ignorance, the incompetency and the narcissism laid bare for the world to see.
Since January, I’ve coped with the craziness of the new administration in an alternating fashion…get the news, eat too much or drink too much with friends…get the news, eat too much or drink too much without friends…laugh out loud with husband while watching SNL and Colbert…swear off the news to preserve sanity and waistline…begin watching news again…repeat. I’ve also tried to make a difference in the lives of others in small ways…donating, volunteering, listening and writing.
I watched our president today in Puerto Rico tossing out rolls of paper towels to the crowd. Tomorrow he’ll be visiting Las Vegas to offer solace to a city rocked by gun violence. I do not feel encouraged or consoled. There are people and problems that need attention. I’m worried. I’m afraid.
My husband understood. Yet, his concerns were slightly different.
“He was elected. He still has the support of most Republicans,” he said. “That’s my worry.”
We concluded our conversation in the same way it began. We are living through a difficult time in the history of this country. Divisions are deep and nothing is being accomplished. Suddenly I remembered what Michelle Obama said to Oprah shortly after the election, “This is what it feels like to have no hope.”
I can not allow myself to sustain the feeling of hopelessness, though. It comes and it goes, because I’ve always been an optimist and I’ve always felt proud to be an American. I continue to look for heroes and heroines and I find them each and every day.
Tonight I raise my glass to four courageous women:
Carmen Yulin Cruz, the San Juan mayor, who will not be cowed by our president and continues to fight for the survival of the people of Puerto Rico.
Gabby Giffords, who called upon Congress (again) to “find the courage” to address gun control in the wake of the latest tragedy in Las Vegas.
Katy Tur, the MSNBC anchor and author of Unbelievable, who devoted a segment to fact-checking POTUS’s claims about his Puerto Rico response
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said she was “heartsick” for the victims of gun violence and called for action NOW.
The sky is vibrant with the colors of another beautiful sunset as I finish this post. I could not wish for a better life here on the California Coast, and yet I know that I will continue to struggle with the fact that while my small world is so wonderful, my country is without a moral, admirable, competent leader. I’m holding on to my belief that America is the greatest country in the world. I will not give in to hopelessness. Will you?
I wonder if you were equally as appalled by Anthony Scaramucci’s language in his interview with The New Yorker. Probably not if I am to believe the general consensus of pundits from both sides of the political spectrum.
“The problem was not in the choice of words,” the talking heads all insisted. “After all, we all talk that way.”
No, we do not all talk that way! Perhaps, it would be accurate to say that most adults have heard this type of language, but it is not accurate to say that most adults use it. It is not even accurate to say that most of us are subjected to this language on a regular basis. It would only be accurate to say that we have not heard it from a spokesperson for the President of the United States before yesterday.
Foul language may be the least of our concerns about the current state of the White House, but I wonder what that suggests for our country. Imagine if we (really) all spoke that way.
Mr. Scaramucci leaned on his Italian, New Yorker personality to suggest that he was just being authentic. I know nothing of New York, but I know Italian. I’d like to help his mother wash his mouth out with soap and remind him that he speaks for our country now.
In case you were wondering when it IS appropriate to say, “You’re in such good shape…beautiful,”…
When our president looked at Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France, and said, “You’re in such good shape,” women of a certain age knew exactly what he meant. At 64 years old, she is 24 years older than her husband. Our first lady is 46 years old; our president is 70. Interesting mathematical coincidence, huh?!
I’m a glass half-full kind of gal; always have been, so I haven’t stopped looking for something good to come out of the results of our presidential election. Perhaps having the most openly chauvinistic president ever inhabiting the White House will force a light on the fact that we’ve got work to do. I hope so.
I believe in pretty packages… generosity, feminism, friendship and flowers…art, whimsy, birdwatching, dogs and truth…long lunches and dinners on pretty dishes. I believe people don’t change but that the people we’ve loved and lost become part of us. I believe in Disneyland and Christmas and that my life has been blessed with a few angels in the guise of a teacher, counselor and grandmother. I believe in the power of personality, words, coffee, sunscreen and lipstick. I believe in smiling and asking for what I want because most people like to help and I like to get what I want. I believe in California and Californians. I believe in London and its mayor. I believe in creating a beautiful home and celebrating and entertaining frequently. I believe in the young and the old… modern and classic and that everyone has a story. Most importantly, I believe in my own strength, the love of my husband and the beauty of my daughter.
And, of course, I believe in pink, as Audrey did!
What do you believe in?
P.S. And, I believe as Crash Davis does, that “there ought to be a Constitutional Amendment outlawing the designated hitter.”
While sitting in a popular, local bar enjoying a glass of wine with a friend, I overheard the gentleman at the next table say:
“Wow it must be hard to be one of those visiting dignitaries’ wives who are required to have their picture taken standing next to Melania!”
CNN was showing footage of the Japanese Prime Minister’s recent visit to the White House.
I laughed and whispered to my friend that I did not know how I managed to endure Sunday’s party as I was photographed many times posing with my young, tall, stunning friends who came to celebrate in my pink shed.
I returned home to google the photos from the prime minister’s visit. Although I could not locate the height of Akie Abe, I’d guess that she is at least six inches shorter than our first lady and I noted that she does not look like a supermodel. But, my research did not stop there.
I was fascinated to read about a very unconventional, opinionated and accomplished first lady. She holds a master’s degree in Social Design Studies and worked for the world’s largest advertising agency. She founded an organic izakaya (Japanese bar and casual eatery) and worked as a popular radio disc jockey (known by the handle Akky).
She has also managed to maintain her own views despite her husband’s position. She became popularly known as the “domestic opposition party” because her opinions were often in contradiction to those of her husband. She marched in the gay pride parade in Tokyo in 2014 and publicly supports the LGBTQ community.
She and her husband underwent unsuccessful fertility treatments and she has publicly stated that she has come to accept the blessings and disappointments in her life.
So, I don’t know her, but I’m guessing that she was unfazed by having a photo-op with a former model. I am however left wondering how our president feels having his picture taken alongside Justin Trudeau?!
What do you think?
This picture is a favorite of mine. It was taken a few years ago when I was 10 pounds heavier than today. The contrast of my “womanly” shape with my daughter’s young shape is beautiful to me.
Our president is an affront to most things I believe in, not the least of which is truth. This week’s Time magazine cover asks: Is Truth Dead? My answer: NO, not as long as that very question makes us angry!
Every day we are reminded that we can not take for granted simple principles like truth, justice and the American Way. I’ve renewed subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair. Our president did not win the White House with a mandate. Remind yourself: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote bigly by almost 2.9 million votes! More Americans voted for Clinton than any other losing presidential candidate in US history. That does not make us losers. We only lose when we fail to make our voices heard.
I am committed to holding onto my anger for all the right reasons. I think Mr. Rogers, a man I did respect, said it well:
“The values we care about the deepest, and the movements within society that support those values, command our love. When those things that we care about so deeply become endangered, we become enraged. And what a healthy thing that is! Without it, we would never stand up and speak out for what we believe.”
Kermit the Frog: “Hi ho there. This is Kermit the Frog and I’m here to find out why Oscar the Grouch likes public television.”
Oscar the Grouch: “I don’t like public television!”
I’m no grouch! I love public radio and television. There is so much to love, but today I’m thinking of Sesame Street. It was part of my daughter’s childhood; we watched together. She loved Elmo and I often appreciated the guest stars. I remember the day Liam Neeson appeared alongside the Count. The beloved vampire puppet films him counting to 20. Neeson counts so brilliantly that it causes a rainstorm! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhDJe8IP8A0
Have you heard that the President’s proposed budget calls for large cuts in a variety of domestic programs — including, agencies that fund the arts, humanities and public media. Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would be cut to zero under the proposal. We could lose access to educational programs for children, emergency communication services, local programming and reliable news.
CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison said, “There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s education and informational programming and services.” She called public media “one of America’s best investments,” costing “approximately $1.35 per citizen per year.”
Today I signed a petition urging Congress to continue essential funding for our stations at protectmypublicmedia.org and I hope you’ll join me.