This land is Parkland, this land is…

IMG_1988I can’t write about Parkland. I’m sorry, but I can’t, much as my heart bleeds for the victims, the community, and for all of us. I’ve said it all before anyway… wasn’t it just a few months ago, after Las Vegas that I told you how I felt about gun control? So, yeah. The only thing I’ll say before moving on is that the families of those victims (beautiful high school kids with their whole lives ahead of them and dedicated educators) deserve more from our President. This isn’t about mental health reform. It’s about gun legislation and passing sensible gun laws which he won’t even talk about because of his NRA money. It’s all about the money.

Oops, I’m writing about it. My fingers seem to have a mind of their own. I was seriously going to sit down and tell you about my book club book because we discussed it last night and it was really thought-provoking. But I guess I’m going to talk about the most recent (certainly not the last) mass shooting after all. How could I not? It’s part of the fabric of our lives right now so it’s pretty much unavoidable. The sad thing is, I’m not even surprised anymore. Not even one bit. I am officially anesthetized. You get to the point when you hear the news when you think to yourself “please just don’t let the body count be too high”. And that’s really sad.

One of the victims in the picture looked a little bit like me at that age. Her story ended on Wednesday but I’ve been able to see and do a million things since my high school days. That’s gut-wrenching. She won’t get to experience any of it because it was all too easy for her 19-year-old murderer to get his hands on a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle.

“The AR-15 rifle used in the attack was purchased legally, at Sunrise Tactical Supply in Florida, according to a federal law enforcement official. The arrest report said Mr. Cruz purchased it in February 2017. “No laws were violated in the procurement of this weapon,” said Peter J. Forcelli, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in Miami. “

I watched the speech Trump gave in response to the tragedy.  He vowed (in a measured voice dripping with insincerity and void of real emotion)  to do everything he can to make America’s children feel safe in their schools. Everything but put measures in place that would stop easy access to assault rifles, machine guns and large capacity ammunition magazines- weapons no civilian has any need for whatsoever. A glaring omission.

I have a 14-year-old daughter. As I write this she is currently in the kitchen making her lunch to bring to school. She’s packed her backpack with the homework she finished last night, and she tucked the note I wrote so she could go to a friend’s house after school in the front pocket of her frayed and ripped jeans. After debating for what seems like an exorbitant amount of time, she’s decided what shoes to wear and her new canary yellow Converse hightops are laced up just right. Her phone keeps buzzing with snaps and Insta notifications. There’s a basketball game tonight; plans must be made. Music is wafting from her room, lending a rhythmic beat to our morning routine and the bathroom smells like Bath and Body Works. There is toothpaste all over the sink (gah). In a few minutes, I’ll braid her hair in two neat french braids that she’ll immediately take out because they look “too lumpy”. She’ll kiss me goodbye (or she won’t depending on her mood) and then she’ll walk out the front door.

What if my girl doesn’t come home today?  Tell me, Mr. President, what if she doesn’t come home?

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaking?
But, you see it’s not me
It’s not my family…

 

 

12 days into 2018 and…

IMG_0826I’m at a loss for words. I really am. I have just typed, erased, typed, erased, typed and erased again the first sentence to this post, where I had planned to express my feelings about the President of the United States describing other countries as “shitholes”. But now I can’t because I simply cannot articulate how this makes me feel. It was stomach churning at the least, I can tell you that. And he followed it up by asking why more people can’t come from places like Norway. Um. How is it not yet clear what we are dealing with? The Donald has shown his true colors (again) and they are definitively black and white.

Last night, as I sat on the couch flipping from news program to news program, my son said “Mom, why do you even watch this stuff? I feel like it just makes you sad”.

It does make me sad. I feel sad, and exhausted and terrified every single day. I was hoping to find balance, grace, and some sort of peace in 2018 but already that seems like an impossible dream. I thought after last year we had nowhere to go but up, but it’s clear that we haven’t even hit the bottom yet. How low will this deranged, bigoted, misogynistic, idiotic, hate-mongering lunatic take us, and will we be able to preserve a little bit of our human decency?

I know there are millions and millions of people feeling exactly like I feel today, but I can’t help but think of the people that are supporting him, or at the very least allowing him to get away with this type of indecency. I’m talking about the people appointed to serve in our government who are supposed to maintain order and ensure checks and balances endure so that we as a nation and as individuals are fairly represented. I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that any human would be able to justify what he said at all. He is the President. Of. The. United. States. and this is DEPLORABLE. Beyond deplorable. It’s the worst, ever. Lower than low.

I guess the one good thing is that this just strengthens my resolve to take action in 2018 and to be a role model for my kids so that they remain of strong moral character, with open hearts and open minds. I feel like it’s more important than ever to raise my voice in the name of humanity and stand up for what I know is right. I want to do this for me, to help loosen that knot in my stomach that’s been there since Nov 8, 2016. I want to do this for my kids so that they see that words and actions have power; that it’s important to take action against something you wholeheartedly believe is wrong and to have compassion and a desire to help those who are less fortunate than you are. I want to do this so that we as a nation don’t lose sight of what’s good and right about being an American. I want to do this so I can believe that there are still things that are good and right about being an American.

In our house, we watch a lot of Star Wars. I mean, A LOT. It’s something we can turn on and know everyone will be entertained by. How could you not love Star Wars? It’s the classic struggle of good vs. evil played out by endearing characters against a fantastical backdrop. It’s just magic. But it’s deeper than that; it’s real life disguised as fantasy.  We’re playing out the storyline right here on Earth. We’ve got the Empire and we’ve got the Rebel Alliance, both adamant in their beliefs and willing to fight to the death for them. In the latest movie (The Last Jedi), the Rebel Alliance, fighting for justice and equality, are in a desperate spot because the Empire is stronger than ever and they’ve been reduced to a small number of freedom fighters with little in the way of a fleet or weapons. They feel as though their support around the galaxy has deteriorated to nothing. They are running out of hope.

I won’t rehash the whole movie (you’ve probably seen it anyway) but I want to talk about the last scene. The scene where the little boy on Canto Bright holds the Alliance ring in one hand and a broom floats into his other. He holds up the broom like a lightsaber and the music swells.

tumblr_p12dmtnwE61u5d459o1_500Back in the beginning, Leia thought that Obi-Wan was their only hope and this time around Rey thought that Luke was their only hope. But neither of those proved true. The future of the Rebel Alliance is secure because of all of boys and girls all over the galaxy who believe in the cause, who feel the pull of the Force that allows them to find the strength to fight against the Dark Side. Every mission needs a leader, but no mission can succeed without an army.

Hope for us lies within every boy and girl who are taught to see the good; who are inspired to do something to preserve the good. These boys and girls grow up to be men and women who have the strength and the courage to stand up for the good. They combine their strengths and find power in their unification and collectively they can move mountains.

I mean to say, collectively WE can move mountains because WE are those people who need to unify.  We need to nurture, encourage and support the notion that there doesn’t need to be one strong person to fight for us. We are the ones that need to fight. We all can make a difference, no matter how small we are, how insignificant we feel. We just need to ignite the desire and find the motivation to do so. And we need to wholeheartedly reject the Dark Side.

WE are our only hope.

#action2018 #addyourvoice

Gah! And double Gah!

I promised myself I was going to stay away from writing about politics or that awful person who is systematically destroying democracy and stripping millions of people of their basic human rights. But I’m sorry to say that it’s impossible. I know it’s so much nicer to look at pretty vacation pictures, but that’s just not reality right now.

It was so nice to be in Europe, away from the daily deluge of gut-wrenching, vomit-inducing news coming out of Washington. It reminded me of a quieter, gentler time- way back in oh say 2015.  But all good things must come to an end, I guess.

Logan Airport has conveniently installed large screen televisions in the long corridor that leads from your disembarking gate to customs so that you can immediately be caught up on all the things you were trying to avoid while you were away. As we walked down to re-enter reality this is the headline that screamed out at us:

“Trump calls Warren ‘Pocahontas’ at event honoring Native Americans.”

Welcome to AMERICA people! I hope you enjoy your stay. But you probably only will if you’re white, male, straight, and Christian (preferably evangelical). The rest of you be damned.

You straight, white, evangelical males will have a fabulous time in America, because guess what? Anything goes! Especially with women! You can disparage them with condescending remarks, you can disrespect them with sexually charged innuendos, and you can even cop a feel here and there if you want. It’s all good because women are LIARS. Right? When they reveal situations like this the real victim is the man being accused because he didn’t mean it. It was just locker room talk. He was just being a “guy”. And women are inferior and stupid so they don’t deserve respect from the male species. And they have boobs. So yeah, go ahead and try to get some.

Look, here’s the current situation in America. We have a President who has been accused of sexual misconduct on 19 occasions. 19!!!! And, he’s adamantly supporting electing to the Senate a man (and I use that term loosely) who has 8 allegations of sexual assault of his own. 8!!!! Against minors, no less. Girls!!! What kind of message does that send?

There have been many high profile revelations of sexual misconduct over that past few months. Obviously, I don’t need to point them out here because you know about them. It’s impossible not to because day after day the news headlines are littered with them. All of those have ended in the accused being fired or resigning from whatever powerful position it was that they used to manipulate, belittle and abuse their female victims. My question is, why did the accusations against Trump not matter? Why the hell is he immune to consequences of his despicable actions?

I could go on and on. Because of course this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s just one of the many, many, many reasons why Donald Trump is unfit to lead our nation. But it’s my hot button today, and it’s the one that’s got me riled up. I went to bed thinking about Al Franken’s resignation speech where he said this:

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” 

Did you hear that? “…with the full support of his party“. And that my friends is the long and the short of it.

Maybe we can be a little hopeful that the high profile sexual assault scandals that ended in swift and severe punishment and public outcries of outrage (Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer) will result in changing the tide of acceptance around what can be ignored and what must not be, but we’ll see. We’ll see next Tuesday in fact. All eyes on Alabama.

There’s so much more I can say, but this is exhausting. Hopefully, my next post will be pretty pictures of somewhere lovely where I’m pretending that the reality of living in America under the “leadership” of a deranged pig isn’t happening.  Til then, melancholy greetings from Trumplandia.

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Shakes Head, Again (and Again)

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I wonder how many times this year I’ve said “Are you fucking kidding me?” Probably at least a thousand, and 95% of them are in reaction to something I’ve read or seen about Donald Trump or other Washington happenings. Every day I think to myself, it can’t get much worse or more ridiculous. But then, dawn breaks and guess what? It actually does get more ridiculous and there’s something out there that is even worse than the last worst worse. Sometimes I feel like we’re all living in the Truman Show. Who’s watching us and laughing their asses off as they play puppeteer and orchestrate scenarios that are making us a nation full of people riddled with anxiety, fear, and divisiveness?  And can we please just roll the credits already? Good morning, good afternoon, and goodnight!

Here’s the latest in my “are you fucking kidding me?” lineup of moments. It’s a little excerpt from the super articulate, confidence-instilling dialog between Lou Dobbs and Trump during Wednesday’s interview. I’m going to totally gloss over Dobbs telling Trump that he is “one of the most loved and respected” presidents “in history” (because: bahhhh bahha bhaa haahaaa ha. Ha.) and skip to the really enlightening parts:

On China, in response to Dobbs question about his relationship with President Xi- TRUMP: He’s a powerful man. I happen to think he’s a very good person. Now with that being said, he represents China, I represent the USA, so, you know, there’s going to always be conflict. But we have a very good relationship. People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he’s called president also.

Now some people might call him the king of China. But he’s called president. But we have a very good relationship and that’s a positive thing. And it would be good to have that relationship with Russia and other countries, too.

On border relationships, sovereignty and our economy (in response to this question): “How in the world are we going to be able to deal with all of these issues if you — if you cannot bring the Republican party together?”  TRUMP: I really think they’re coming along. I really do. I think they are coming along. One thing you didn’t mention which you will mention and I know you talk about it is the power of the pharmaceutical companies.

DOBBS: Oh, yes.

TRUMP: We pay so much more for the same pill, prescription drugs than other countries. You go to Canada — people go to Canada to buy prescriptions.We pay for the exact same pill, made from same plant, the same company, we pay in many cases, many, many times more than they’re paying in other countries. So we’re subsidizing the world in terms of prescription drugs. It’s ridiculous. And it’s going to stop.

The problem I have is these companies give so much — I mean the contributions are massive, just massive, the amount. But we do have — there are a lot of good people that are seeing what’s going on. And I think we’ll be successful in that. Next week, I’m going to be declaring an emergency, national emergency on drugs.

The opioid is a tremendous emergency, what’s going on there. The drugs pouring into the country have gotten — and I tell you what, we’ve made a big impact. But still, we need the wall. You know, part of the reason we need the wall is for drugs.

On Tax Reform (in response to this question): “What do you expect the impact to be for working men and women, the middle class, those who aspire to be in the middle class?”  TRUMP: You know, we’ve done so well. Pretty much record-setting, certainly record-setting for nine months in so many different ways. Nine months of a presidency. But you look at the market, how well it’s doing, so you’d say well why do you have to do anything. We can actually do better. And I think we will do better. We are going to have so many jobs created by what we’re doing. And you know, we’re going to have companies that aren’t going to be leaving our country anymore.

You look at what’s happened over the last 25 years, you go down and take a look at Mexico—and see how many car companies have built these massive factories in Mexico. Not here. We want them built in Michigan, and Ohio, and our places. And they just leave, and they fire everybody, and they go and open up plants. That’s not going to be happening anymore, plus they’re going to be penalized in many different ways if they do it.

And here he explains how he spends his time when he should be focused on actually getting shit done (note major eye-roll on the shout out to Fox, Sean Hannity and of course loyal Lou): 

TRUMP: And the good thing about social media is that I have so many millions of people, so many — I guess, 128 million. You could add up — you know, you add up all the different platforms — massive social media. At least I can put out — it’s not that I want to do that. I’d rather not do it. I would love to not do it at all. But at least I can put out the truth. And I can put out the real word. And people agree. And if you look at the level of approval of the — of media — of general media —

DOBBS: Right.

TRUMP: if you look at it from the day I started running to now, I’m so proud that I have been able to convince people how fake it is — because it has taken a nosedive. —

DOBBS: Yes. And —

TRUMP: Except for your show, of course — and Sean, and a few of them. Right?

DOBBS: Yes.

TRUMP: There’s some very good ones. And I have to say, Fox has treated me fairly. And I don’t mean good, but they’ve treated me fairly. I don’t want to be treated good. I just want to be treated fairly.

Gah! NONE of these answers make any sense.  They are either completely off topic or completely incoherent, or just totally inaccurate. If he can’t even answer questions that were lobbed at him by one of his most loyal and enthusiastic supporters, how can he address or provide thoughtful and effective solutions to any of the other pressing issues we’re facing as a nation and a world (ahem, North Korea)?  ALSO: I remember back in November when people were saying “Oh give him a chance, he’ll become more Presidential”. Ok, it’s been almost a year. He’s had lots of chances. When is this miraculous transformation going to happen? Someone–anyone–please tell me. And, answer my question directly and concisely. Is that too much to ask?

 

Everything we need to know, we learned in elementary school.

240_F_126465296_ieANptdMpgI8ozuUVbqAWKkWVQREIF1rMy son is in fourth grade. At his school when one kid does something wrong, it has the power to change policies for every child in that school (or in a particular classroom at least). For example- remember the fidget spinner craze? Well, in the beginning, kids were allowed to bring them to school as long as they didn’t play with them during class. And the kids were all happy, heading off to school with fidget spinners nestled comfortably in their pockets. But then one day one kid just couldn’t help himself and he took his out during math which caused a disruption and ruined the lesson. The teacher got annoyed and guess what? No more fidget spinners for any kids in school at all, even the ones that followed the rules.

The same thing happens in the recess line when one kid breaks the no pushing rule, or on the playground when one kid violates the no tripping policy. It means all kids lose playtime, or all kids have to refrain from playing soccer on the blacktop. It seems unfair, but there is a reason behind it.

Kids know this. They know that the rule is good until someone breaks it and then it has to be re-evaluated. The rules are put in place to protect ALL the kids, and when even one kid threatens the safety of other students or damages the learning environment with his or her actions, then the rules are modified so that they can continue to offer the intended protection.

In Las Vegas on Sunday night 59 people were brutally murdered and more than 500 injured by a 64-year-old rich white American citizen with an arsenal of guns he bought legally. He had the right to own and bear these firearms because that’s the current law.

My question is, if we change the law of the land for a fidget spinner violation, why can’t we consider changing the law of the land when we suffer devastating loss of life like we did in Las Vegas (and Orlando, and Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook, and all the other in-betweens)? Why, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, is now NOT the time to talk about gun control? Why? It seems to me like the perfect time. The LAW as it currently stands is not working.

The Second Amendment was drafted in a long-ago era when society was vastly different than it is today. I understand the importance of and agree with preserving citizens personal rights but I do think it’s time (way past time actually) to layer that with reasonable restrictions designed for modern day society that protect people as a whole. There is no good reason why any civilian citizen needs an automatic weapon or assault rifle. No. Good. Reason.

The best way to stop gun violence in America is to drastically reduce access to guns in the first place. How can you argue with that? Less guns=fewer deaths by guns. It’s a simple equation. Read this article if you need a little convincing of that. And, if you still don’t agree, ask me for more. There are many, many studies that show that stricter gun control translates into significantly fewer homicides, a lower suicide rate, less domestic violence and fewer incidences of violence toward police.

My heart aches for the victims and their families and I’m so sad for all of those who lived through the horror of that night. A night that even though they survived will forever change them (believe me, I know).  And the sickening reality is, this is not going to be the last time it happens.

Next time it might be me, or you, or your neighbor. Your child. What do you have planned this weekend? Something fun? In a public place? Will there be guns?

Think about it. And then, take action. It’s a small step and we have a huge mountain (of NRA money) to climb, but at least it’s a start.  #actionforlasvegas

This. Is. Unacceptable. Period.

170922-hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-sg-1520_0b277c1cfcac0b5764da20dbd9856eaa.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Ok, Ok. OK. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of that man in the Oval Office who is play-acting at being the leader of the free world. But I have tried- really I have- to find positive things about the current White House situation.  The thing is, there isn’t really anything that makes me feel good about it. And every day it gets worse.

I read Stephen King’s IT in high school. I remember sitting up in bed late at night, wide eyes glued to the page, heart pounding, fingers gripping the edge of the book, teeth gnawing at my bottom lip, night after night as the book got creepier and creepier. I tortured myself by continuing to read because I just couldn’t leave it where it was- I needed to know that there was a resolution, and I was hoping that in the end all the bad would disappear. So, I kept on turning page after terrifying page until one night I couldn’t take it anymore and I threw the book clear across the room, where it banged loudly against the wall that separated me from my sister and landed, pages askew, on the floor where it stayed for days and days and days.

I’m telling you this because the way I am feeling about Donald Trump is pretty similar to how I felt when I was reading IT.  And now, I’m at the point where I throw the book.  But now, it’s even worse, because… because…this. is. not. fiction. Holy shit.

If I write about everything I’ll be here for days, and I have dinner plans tonight, so let’s just recap what happened this week, shall we?

  1. He spent the first part of the week tweeting a lot about the NFL and spent some time trying to convince people to boycott football games. Football games! I wonder what Kim Jong-un did on Monday.
  2. Next up, he tweeted a bunch of disparaging remarks about John McCain for not supporting the Graham Cassidy bill. You know- that health care bill that, in a nutshell, basically would just take money away from states that voted for the Affordable Health Care Act and gives it to ones that didn’t.  The one that would provide $243 billion less Medicaid funding than the current plan. The one that would leave millions of people uninsured. The one that more than 300 health care advocacy groups opposed. Yeah, that one. I wonder if he had time to read it. Cuz, you know. Twitter.
  3. The tax reform idea- OMG. I can’t even… but I will. I guess. He had the audacity to announce that this plan would benefit the middle class, and from which he would not benefit at all. Guess what? The tax “framework” raises rates on the lowest tax bracket (the poorest Americans), lowers rates on the top bracket (the richest Americans), and includes all kinds of giveaways to the rich. The day it was released, Trump said, “I don’t benefit.” except that’s a lie because…the Trumps will personally save a BILLION DOLLARS if this plan is enacted according to the New York Times’ analysis. Yes, you did read that right. A BILLION DOLLARS. 
  4. Puerto Rico. Where to start? There were lots and lots of tweets like this:

 Responders are doing a GREAT job in Puerto Rico. Massive food & water delivered. Docks & electric grid dead. Locals trying…..really hard to help but many have lost their homes. Military is now on site and I will be there Tuesday. Wish press would treat fairly!

AND THEN THIS. THIS IS WHERE I THROW THE BOOK.

This is what he tweeted today, followed by a flurry of tweets about how the press is getting it wrong, Dems are evil and the rescue mission is actually the best rescue mission ever.

  The Mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump..Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They….want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

this-photo-of-mayorcarmen-yulin-cruz-wading-through-waters-in-san-juan-following-hurricane-maria-ha
This is the Mayor of San Juan

Um, ok, excuse my language but are you fucking kidding me? Please get off social media, please stop stroking your ego and patting yourself on the back, please stop acting like a disgusting pig and start doing something. Something real. These are HUMAN BEINGS. THEY ARE AMERICAN CITIZENS. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

I get it. There is big water, ocean water surrounding Puerto Rico, so yeah, it’s a complicated and difficult problem to solve. But, normally when you are President of the United States you face difficult problems head-on. You understand that solving these problems are your responsibility and you own them.

In general, you relish finding solutions to problems because you want to make the world a better place. That’s your goal. Making the world a better place. What was it that John F Kennedy said? Something like…

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

That’s all I have to say right now.  I hope the restaurant we’re going to tonight has really strong drinks. I can’t take the reality of today right now, and I need a break. Tomorrow I’ll pick the book back up and stick with it until the merciful end. But tonight I’m throwing it against the wall.

 

It’s Good Now

womenThis weekend was beyond inspirational. The hundreds of thousands of (mainly female!!!) people who marched and protested peacefully in so many cities sent a powerful message to our government, our nation and the world. Voices loud and strong united to stand up for what is right and best for our citizens- for all of our citizens- and for the first time since that cold dark November day when the world seemingly went mad, I feel real hope. Not sort of-hope, not lukewarm-hope, not wavering-hope but real, true, deep hope.

We can work together to fight the injustices born from this administration’s policy and executive orders. Together we can support our communities, we can strengthen our foundations, we can provide solutions, we can empower our young. We can lead by example. We can be stronger and better than childish tweets, unfounded accusations, blustery egoism and “alternative-facts”.  We can make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of those who are the most threatened. We WILL make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of those who are most threatened.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I needed this weekend to happen. I needed to see it all come together and be real. And, I needed to be reminded that there are change makers out there, that there are smart, engaged, motivated people who are doing things at the grassroots and national levels that are going to keep the moral fabric of our nation strong. I needed to be reminded that I am a change maker.

Today feels like the beginning of something new. And for the first time in months that feels like a good thing.