It's 8:30 PM on a Wednesday night and I've had 3 shots of bourbon and a peanut butter cup made by the Mennonites at the market where we buy our meat every week. I haven't written in something like a month. Blog post ideas come to me while I'm on the elliptical watching Kathie Lee and Hoda drink wine at 10:15 on a Monday or when Blue is watching a Very Mickey Christmas for the 23rd time. These are not times when I can stop everything, break out the laptop and type out my thoughts. So I wait for him to go to bed and then I stare at an empty screen and think "What the hell do I have to say?"
I want to say that last Thursday I wrote a very sober, completely coherent post about the collective sin of mainstream media and how I feel duped by all of it. I wrote that what I most regret about the last month is how much I listened to Rachel Maddow and how much I ignored the pregnant pauses many friends gave me when I asked them who they were voting for. But none of it is all that earth-shattering. Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, wrote a compelling article for Variety about why our neighbors on the corner hung a Trump/Pence flag over their teenage son's basketball goal. And why the poorest of the poor in our tiny town in a swing county of a swing state are flying American flags with Trump's face in place of the stars over their front stoops. And Trent Lipinksi (who is no relation to Tara...I know...I Googled it) wrote a fair piece for Medium.com about how we got to this place. And then there's this post on The Guardian about how the primary source of information for most of us, Facebook, contributed to polarizing this election even more. They call it a Facebook bubble. I call it effing ironic. And probably something we should have all seen coming.
So, here's all I'm going to say about election night. Neal and I each took Blue with us to vote on Tuesday morning. We both let him push the buttons so he could feel the electrifying rush of being a US citizen, practicing his constitutional right to vote (and yes, it's a constitutional right, the people at USConstitution say so, so it must be true), therefore, technically, Blue voted twice. (Although he's 4 and still pronounces it "bote". If his account of the day would lead someone to think he had been on the open waters twice, then I'm pretty sure that doesn't count.) Anyone who knows us, knows we are both rule-followers. As in, Neal refuses to drive more than 2 mph over the speed limit and I feel guilty about taking extra plastic forks from the bin at Wendy's to store in the glove box. So, to say that we are who we voted for - someone who is, at best, shady, and at worst, a criminal, would be ridiculous. In the same vein, to say that our friends and family, who have stocked our freezers with casseroles, brought laughter into our home, shared life and coffee and, sometimes, copious amounts of bourbon, are who they voted for...a rich as hell old white man with an embarrassing hairdo, a potty mouth and seriously disturbing beliefs, which gave rise to violence and bigotry...is preposterous. We are not the people we voted for. I honestly believe we all made the best decision we could with the information we were given. We did what we thought was best for our country, for our children, for the future. Hello, buyer's remorse.
But. It is what it is. There's a Daniel Tiger song about this. Stop, think, and choose.
It's time to make a choice
I don't know what to do
I'll stop, think, and choose
Stop, think, and choose
Stop, think, and choose
I'm assuming that all of us who bothered to vote did this.
(As a side note, there are all kinds of Daniel Tiger songs that, if played in department stores at Christmas, would make us all better humans.)
Most of us were conflicted. And we stopped, thought, and chose. And now we move forward. We all have to proceed in whichever way we feel best contributes to the good of our nation. Some of my friends unfriended their friends. That's certainly one option...although not one that really promotes two-way communication of ideas that may open your mind. And some of my friends are swearing off mainstream media and other organizations with their own self-interest at heart. Others are beginning to call their Congressmen and Congresswomen to make their voices heard. And some are organizing, others are already marching in the streets.
These are complicated times and, just as is true for raising a child, it's not going to get any easier or simpler. Information is pouring in from all sides at an alarming rate and we don't even have to tune in. When I ran my last iPhone update, all of a sudden, it now gives me a stream of news stories that "might" interest me whenever I touch my home button. Somehow it has deemed me a bleeding heart liberal because it doesn't bother to feed me posts from Fox News or Breitbart...just the latest from NYTimes and the Washington Post. Lucky me. I started watching Fox News on the elliptical just to piss off Apple.
But here's the other thing. I turned 38 this year and in a few short months, Neal will be 49. Politics, government, and the future of the country is no longer something that only concerns our parents. Our parents, the baby boomers, are slowing down, needing more help and, yes, dying. And who is left holding the bag? They stopped, thought and elected Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, the Bush Boys. For better or worse, that's who they chose to govern while they raised their kids. Us. That's who they thought would give us a brighter tomorrow. And y'all know what? Bill leaked all over Monica and everyone else ran a foreign affairs shit show but the country didn't implode. We survived. We peacefully protested, we rioted, we wrote strongly-worded letters to the editor and held town hall meetings. But we found our way through. And that's what we are going to do. We are going to reach across that infamous aisle.
My pastor in Kansas City ends every Sunday service with the congregation holding hands and singing the benediction. It is awkward as hell. Inevitably, my hands were all sweaty from having them tucked in my armpits during the sermon or they were ice cold from trying to not make them all sweaty. And it's no secret that I pick at my cuticles so I'm sure that is appalling to many. But we did it. And they still do it. They literally reach across the aisle to hold the hand of a friend, a loved one, a complete stranger. And it is the best feeling ever...to just hold someone's hand for 15 seconds, regardless of their...anything. To just be a human, holding another human's hand. That's what we are going to do. We are going to hold each other's hands for 15 seconds and say "you are me and I am you."
On NPR this morning, there was a story about how alike we are. People, not Americans but people, are 99.99% alike, genetically speaking. I belong to a Facebook page with women from all over the world. Someone just started a thread about peeing. And we all had something to say. I can attest to this...we are 99.99% alike. That .01% difference surely makes us individuals, but it does not have to separate us. It does not have to lead to divorce, abandoned friendships, hate crime and violence. I already know 99.99% about someone. It doesn't seem so hard to find some common ground in that last .01%. Our neighbors are Mormon. That is their .01% So, we can't meet halfway over a fifth of bourbon, but we can over wood-fired pizza. We can laugh over the things our kids say and what the Black Friday sales will be like. And we will listen to each other more than we listen to the talking heads - for the sake of our children and the future of this country.
On election night, I was in despair. I fell asleep on the couch in my sweaty gym clothes, mascara stuck to the throw pillow, clutching an empty Reese's cup wrapper and a tumbler of Maker's. Oh Country. Thou hast forsaken me. But you wake up, brush the fur off your teeth, pour an extra strong cup of coffee (did you know the new Keurigs can do that? Thank you, movers, for breaking all of our crap), and pull up your big girl panties (mine are bigger than they used to be). We all get to work, however that looks for each of us. Write a letter, phone a friend, start a pay-it-forward coffee train at Starbucks, hold the door, sign a petition, write a check, love your neighbor, hold a hand for 15 seconds. Find some common ground and build a country on that.