Hair Gel and Birthdays

Keeping hair hard and crusty for generations.

On Saturday I met my friend Jennifer at a fancy coffee place in West Berkeley.  We have stayed in touch, but the last time we were really close we spent most of our days keeping our hair frozen or stuck in some shape. For me it was a halo of mall-bangs that expanded outward and downward, sort of like a lion’s mane.  Jennifer plastered her hair on the left  side of her head with hair cement known as “Dipity Do” or “Dep,” both which look like green jello with bubbles and smell like hand sanitizer.

 

I was always more of an Aqua Net girl, myself.  I don’t know if I used Super Hold or All Purpose, but I do know that when they say “All Purpose,” they mean that the Net can not only defy gravity but also turn into a torch when sprayed in front of a match or lighter.  This will come in very handy during the apocalypse, (I think they sell it at Target) but since at 14 we were still light years away from the Trumpfall of humanity, it only served to getting us closer to burning down our parents’ houses.   We did not burn down a house, however, we did go to the late night Talking Heads film concert one night where they played “Burning Down The House” and flirted with college students.  We were only fourteen and, no, our parents were not informed, and, wow, guys are gross…

Anti-gravity/flame-thrower.

Anyway, Jennifer bought me a birthday cappuccino and wished me a happy birthday.

“I’m 45…I live like I’m 25…”

“You should wear that as a badge of honor…Everyone wants to be married with kids but the reality is that you are trapped…”

I could stand to be a little more trapped.   Not five-kids trapped, but like husband trapped, or even full-time job trapped.  I have been “blessed” or “lucky” enough to manage to work from home for the past 1 1/2 years while I try to pursue my writing, to varying degrees of success (depending on how you define success).  But, no, this is not what I thought 45 would look like.

Jennifer and I also discussed what to do with the hundreds of notes I received from my other junior high school BFF who we will call RedOne (because she has kids who are approaching that age)  wrote me every single day of junior high school. Well, maybe not all of junior high but definitely spring semester of 7th grade.  We self-tagged ourselves Ladies of the Night and behaved in many ways that rightly should give parents a heart attack.  My friend Jennifer, now a successful documentary filmmaker and I discussed creating some kind of narrative film on our favorite topic of conversation: being 13 in Berkeley in 1985.

Anyway, I’m old.

Posted in Aging, Birthdays | Comments Off on Hair Gel and Birthdays

Two Years: Let’s Talk About the D-Word

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Me and my mom being very 70s.

[WARNING: This blog post might elicit sadness. Proceed with caution.]

Two years ago, shortly after my mom died, I realized that the mention of her death could sometimes make social interactions awkward.   I might get weird looks or, worse, hear the Wrong Thing To Say.  (“Oh, well, you knew it was going to happen…” etc).  Oh, really?  Then let’s all talk about how WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE. *rage shame*

I am not judging.  (Ok, maybe a little).  But I understand the knee-jerk resistance to any mention of the D-word and it’s power to unleash all kinds of unprocessed fear or  grief.  Especially if you have a job and kids to raise, it’s not like you can check out of work to go to the Primal Scream Room (we don’t even have a nap room…hello Japan), and, at $75, my out-of-network therapy sessions are considered a steal in LA.  Sickness, death, dying…that’s like A.P. Life.  I am not even sure you can “process” death.  It’s a topic in line with God and taxes; it’s just too freaking real.

Trying To Talk About Death

I wanted to be open and frank about her passing, if only to my immediate friends. I felt that We As A Society are too skittish about it. You know, bring Death back…hey, if acid wash can do it, then why not the D-word?  But, as it turns out, I couldn’t do it.  I stopped telling my Mom Jokes. I had one about how if I wanted to feel close to her I went to Chico’s and browed the sales rack. (Sometimes jokes are just too true.)  Or a work-in-progress about how she once asked me if I wanted to see that show about dragons, “Crown of Thorns?”  Dad jokes prevailed, but I thought I’d wait till I felt more comfortable with her absence.  I posted dozens of pictures of her on Facebook for her birthday, Dia De Los Muertos, Mother’s Day. But didn’t dwell in the grief too long.  I’d rush off to yoga. I wanted to stay engaged in life, I told myself.

Two years later I still don’t mention her passing to anyone outside of family.  But the absence of her is always there…like, I imagine, a severed leg.   Everything that seemed central to my life, yoga, comedy,  salsa, blogging, dating even that sociopath in the White House, now feels more like distraction.   The weirdness and unreality of it all, my relationship with her, (before and after) my ability get out of bed and be in the world, seem like mysteries nobody prepared me to for.   And it never really goes away.

It Gets Real Now

The irony of silence around a topic is that you can’t even talk about the good parts.   It’s still odd to me that my mom’s death was both horrible and transformative.  As I gradually took on more responsibility for her care, I felt more connected to her, and more self-esteem than I ever got from a Yale Degree or a paycheck.  I read a book, “Final Gifts,” written by hospice workers, that painted the moments leading up to death as a magical time, an opening between earth and the after-life.  I expected nothing less than an apparition of my Grandmother and maybe some flashes of light.  In reality, the experience proved more grizzly.  Weeks later I watched “Being Mortal,” a Frontline documentary about a surgeon who explores the relationship between doctors and dying patients.  At one point he says, “there is no good death.” Depressing I know, but there’s always brain aneurysms.

In the moments leading up to it, I felt very close to my family.   We huddled around my mom in a room that had once been my sisters.  For some reason, on one of my many errands, I bought two bouquets of flowers.  When we moved her to my sister’s room, we brought the flowers in along with other she had received and sat around and waited. Good scotch appeared, conversations in the kitchen abounded, the dog came in, my aunt made dinner.   It felt tribal and comforting; the most natural thing in the world.

Now It Gets Sad (Still Here?)

Not everyone needs or wants to be there at the very end of a loved one’s life.  And that’s ok. Still, the guilt over not having done more for my mother still plagues me.  My step-father brought her through three hard years with 24 hour care, while I picked up the last day and a half.  But I still feel pride in being there with her through her final moments.   I got instructions from the hospice workers about the amount of morphine to give her because, as it turned out, she had been, by her choice, severely under-medicated.  She, in fact, remained lucid up until the last twelve or so hours.   A few nights before, she even told  a gossipy story, complete with animated facial expressions and laughter.   In some ways, in the last few days, her personality came back.  One that had been drowned out by months of chemo and depression and her own grief.  She had always loved to laugh and I felt that person in her.  Her weight loss also caused her to resemble more the mother I knew as a child.  In many ways, she was more there the last week than she had been in years.

But in the last twelve hours she was already gone. The hospice worker told us it would be soon so we got ready to stay up all night.  We talked, told stories, I took a nap at one point. We even encouraged her.  “It’s okay,” we said.   It’s important to let loved ones know that they can go.   Nobody wants to be pressured to stay at the party too long because your friend wants to hook up. (Bad analogy?)

The next day we went to brunch; the relief was palpable   Nobody talks about the relief because it sounds like you’re happy that said person is gone.  But watching her suffer was also unbearable at times.   And then came the planning and the paperwork and the business and the used-car-salesman funeral director.  Maybe nobody dies all at once.  So many pieces of them remain around for a long time.

It hurt, it still does.  Some days it feels unbearable not to have her, how can I possibly make it through the rest of my life?  And sometimes I feel confident that she’s here, in the other room.   Maybe death is nothing at all. I have no idea.

Posted in Death, Mom | Comments Off on Two Years: Let’s Talk About the D-Word

How To Do A Fancy LA Art Event

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Perfectly good couch.

Enough with the fascist dictator perv about to set foot in the White House, let’s talk about something really important: event parties.  It took me twenty years to learn that I need not be rich or successful to attend  “fancy” event parties (for lack of a better description).  I just need to know someone who knows someone who knows someone who organizes such events or has an extra ticket.  And said event need only have one characteristic: free food and alcohol. (Although, art, celebrity sightings and possible culture, can’t hurt).

So when I and friends got invited to the Art Show Opening Premiere I put on my extra-lash mascara, filled in my eyebrows, and set out to DO THIS.  But how does one proceed to do a Fancy LA Art Event? Funny you should ask…

Step #1: Sit in rush hour traffic on the 10 East for 1 – 2 hours.  Catch up with friends on your romantic life, political horror, and gluten free recipes.

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Perhaps, this IS the art.

Step #2: Arrive to the LA Convention Center and proceed to circle it for 20-30 more minutes in a misguided effort to find parking under $20.   Be sure to forget to navigate one-way streets so you can spend another ten minutes waze-ing your way back to the Staples/LA Convention Center cluster hell.  When you realize, as you will, that under $20 parking doesn’t exist south of Chinatown, succumb to the West Hall. The parking attendant will then inform you that it costs $25.

Step #3: Drive around the West Hall parking structure for another 20 minutes in search of a space.  I know, you already paid $25 to enter a parking garage; doesn’t that mean there is space in that garage?  Only with the assistance of a guy driving a golf cart, who flies by like the ghosts in “The Sixth Sense.”  At last he stops and makes a parking space for you between the exit door and a trash can.

Step #4: At last, you and your girlfriends arrive.  Walk inside the large open space of the LACC to find lines of people.  Security guard tells you that you’ll have to wait 30 minutes unless you have a VIP pass.  Are we VIPs?  Uh…yeah…?  Get in the VIP line and when you get to the front tell the woman at the desk that she looks familiar. Do you know Cherry? Yes, she knows Cherry. Well, Cherry left some tickets. This is all true, but even if it’s not, tell them you know Cherry.

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Like we don’t have enough naked women in public…?!

Step #5: At last, enter the Art Show!  Holy shit this place is huge.  Beeline for the bar.

Step #6: See people carrying plates of food.  Food!  Are those Pink’s hot dogs?  What’s in Pink’s hot dogs?  Who cares?   Is that a donut?….wait, wait…IS  THAT ICE CREAM!…realize that your behavior resembles that of a lost hiker strayed in the mountains for days.

Step #7: Eat Pink’s hot dog, tacos, brisket, buttermilk donut, churro flavored ice cream…salad? No, thanks…obsessive dietary restrictions are a thing for those outside of the walls.

Step #8: Low energy celebrity sighting.  Is that Jason Alexander in line for the custard?…Wait, is that banana custard with a Nilla wafer wedged in the middle?!  Assemble crew and get in line as if you were waiting for rice bags in a war torn country.

Step #9: Remember the art.  Oh, yeah!  Art show.  Ask your Art Historian Expert Friend to guide you through the myriad of work.   First get another glass of wine.

Step #10: Lose friends while at bar.  Friends call.  Lose them again. More calls.  Perhaps, the find and seek of your friends is an unknown subtle meta message of the art show?  So multi-layered!

Step #11: Watch performance art.   Appreciate a piece about domestic violence…but could the girls at least put on some underwear?  Watch another man destroy a perfectly good couch with a chainsaw…has no one seen “Exit Through the Gift Shop”? Realize that the contemporary art world deflects irony, the way our president elect’s supporters react to scandal.   No impact.

Step #12:  Find “good art.”  Nice contemporary Chinese piece using folded up newspapers…yes, art lives at the Art Show!

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Getting fancy.

Step #13:  Appreciate classic art.  Picasso, Monet…amazing.  If they are real, says Art Historian Expert Friend.  What?! Nothing is what it seems in art, politics or Pink’s hot dogs.

Step #14:  Go to a club.   Club? Yes, one gallery has become actual club, complete with a line of people waiting to get in and a bouncer rejecting those not up to par…is this a commentary on la culture…no, just people on the other side of a rope.  Decide this is the “Real Art.”

Step #15: Notice the mostly Latino workers picking up plates, glasses and trays. Minimum wage, no doubt.  Some of them begin to enjoy the spoils, but not all. Nothing is really free.

Step #16: Get in line for the ice cream.  Again.  Everyone at the Art Show seems to have returned to the line for a final free mini ice cream cone: patrons, workers, artists and freeloaders, like me. Decide that that a line for free ice cream is the truest art all night.

Step #17: Feel privileged to have gone to such a fun event.  Also, realize you don’t need to do this again for at least a year.

Posted in Los Angeles, This Los Angeles Life, White People | Comments Off on How To Do A Fancy LA Art Event

Paul Ryan Emoji Chart For Your Feelings About the Repeal of Obamacare

This Paul Ryan emoji chart will help people understand their feelings about the repeal of Obamacare.

confident_paul_ryanCONFIDENT
“It’s going to be fine. I believe in the leadership in high office.”

 

 

 

HOPEFULpaul_ryan_sort_of_happy
“My insurance might become less affordable but it’s only temporary, eventually congress will find a better solution.”

 

 

 

paul_ryan_pertrubed

PERTURBED
“I just realized that without insurance my meds are $300 a month!…congress best be on it.”

 

 

paul_ryan_sad

 

CONCERNED
“Without Obamacare I can’t insure my family…what is happening?

 

 

devastated

DISTRAUGHT
“Who do I know in France, England or Canada?

 

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Paul Ryan Emoji Chart For Your Feelings About the Repeal of Obamacare

Love, Carrie Fisher, 2016, Etc.

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Carrie Fisher, my first bad-ass role model.

Oh, 2016, you were a pain.  Here I thought I had survived the death of my mother, turning 40, love/career disappointments, turning 40, the transformation of my country into a Banana Republic and, climate change (holy shit, California can get cold).  I knew this season would be a hormone-filled time and figured the second holiday season after my mother died would be difficult, but on the heels of personal and political events, holiday-spirit shattering PMS, an 8 hour bus ride, and a couple of deaths too many (celebrity and otherwise), it hit me like a medical bill that doesn’t quite meet the deductible.

While home in the East Bay Area (Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito for those not familiar with the Bay Area…hella chill), I dug through some old boxes to find this signed autograph of Carrie Fisher that I received when I joined her fan club in 1978-9(?).  I could not believe that the ink with which she signed her name belonged to a pen that she may have TOUCHED WITH HER OWN HANDS.

People sometimes told me I looked like Carrie Fisher and I took that to mean that we had a “connection.”  As I got older, I admired Carrie Fisher’s great comedy writing in “Postcards From The Edge,” and, really, the underlying message that her mom was still the most important person in her life. What struck me most about Debbie Reynolds passing one day after her beloved daughter, besides the tragedy for her granddaughter, was that it seemed like a testament to the fact that they were each other’s greatest love.

While in old-crap-digging mode I also found an old journal from my junior high school years in which I must have written the word “love” 1,000 times.   I also wrote that “being funny and sophisticated” are “the most important things in a personality.” (I STILL BELIEVE THAT. HELL YA 14-YEAR-OLD SELF.)    But mostly I wrote about “love.” Sometimes I loved life or my friends, but usually I loved a male figure who I just glanced at while played Centipede at the Arcade.  “Love” was the promised land,  acceptable heroin.   As a teenager, and well, now, I lived only to find only this thing called “love.”

On New Year’s Eve 1985 when my best friend and I either snuck out of her parents’ house or just walked out because they weren’t there — or just walked out because they didn’t really mind if two 12-year-olds walked the streets at night — and met two boys.    “Purple Rain” had lodged Prince into our hormones (and he’s still there), and as my friend pointed out, it’s no accident that the mixed-race boys we walked with at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1985 looked a lot like him. Behind us that year, was the year of pop’s greatest hits.  Ahead of us was “Take On Me” by A-ha and “Part Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder.  We were on the road to finding “love.” COULD LIFE GET ANY BETTER?

It seems, at best, creepy, that we were thought we would find “love” in these two thugs.   If I had children, they would be the love of my life.  But as it is, the love of my life was my mother.  I’m sure it’s next to impossible to explain that to a hormone-filled pubescent.   But at least I figured out.

Posted in Aging, Election 2016, Emotional Stuff, Hillary Clinton, Is It All Going To Shit?, Mom, New Year, Spoken In An Old Lady Voice | Comments Off on Love, Carrie Fisher, 2016, Etc.

Slay Ride – A Comedy Benefit Show

slay_ride2I got tired of feeling depressed about the election, Aleppo, the creaky sound my knee makes, etc., and decided to direct my energy into something positive, if not helpful…So I am very excited to announce the fundraiser comedy benefit, “Slay Ride.”   Support your community and get “slayed” (always need a pun) with laughter on Friday, December 16th, 2016 at the Fanatick Salon. All proceeds go to benefit St. Joseph’s Center. Arrive at 7:30 pm for wine and appetizers and music.  Line up includes the Kevin Camia, Kazu Kusano, Morgan Jay, Julia Austin, Judith Shelton, Brian Kiley, Greg Edwards and, yes, me.  For more information, visit the event page.

 

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How Are You Holding Up?

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I’m not into guns, but I do feel the spirit of French female resistance fighters in this time.

In the “echo chamber” of my blogosphere/social media-sphere it comes as no surprise that the 2016 Election changed my life,  sense of my place in the world, and  immune system in many ways.  (I was about to say “profound” ways but I just can’t use that word anymore in the era of T** p).

We’ve made it through the roller coaster of the past two weeks.   BUT HOW?  For the purpose of my own blog-cessing, here is a recap of my post-election emotional roller coaster experience.

 

Election Night: I go to bed devastated.

Post Election

Day 1: I wake up feeling like I spent the night drinking grain alcohol.   I prepare for an audition for a bilingual commercial and am grateful that I have something else to think about.   I recite my line, “Cual es la pelicula del esqueleto que se aburre?” and, thanks to the election, I forget to ask myself, “This is my life?”

Later, a guy at Starbucks asks me if I like Trump and then follows up with, “Women like men in power.” Is this the type of daily harassment I need to prepare for?  Note to self: Avoid sitting at community tables.

Day 2:  Jessica and I process our feelings on Jessica & Solange Take Down The Patriarchy.  We agree that we need to podcast before the Nasty Woman Act of 2017 goes into effect and we need our husbands or fathers to sign release forms before we can speak in public.

Day 3: I accept that I know Trump supporters.  How could I not know the values of people around me?  Decide to deal with Trump supporters in the only logical and appropriate manner: avoid them until 2020.

Day 4: Realize that my 2016 Vision Board contains images of Prince, Hillary Clinton and David Bowie.  I didn’t realize that I know Black Magic.

Day 5: I perform in two comedy shows.  I see friends.  I remember laughter.

Day 6: I go to yoga.  Yoga teacher talks about “weird energy” and teaches an “easy” class. My back cracks twice.  Maybe everything will be OK?

Day 7: Bannon appointment announced. No, everything will not be OK.

Day 8:  I have a conversation with a friend who watched Leslie Stahl’s interview with Trump’s 60 Minutes episode.  (I could not bring myself to watch it).  She convinces me that his racist hate-filled speech could be “campaign” rhetoric.  Again, I slip into a state of coffee-induced denial.  Maybe he won’t be that bad?

Day 9:  Jeff Sessions announced as top candidate for Attorney General.  Denial over. I consider going “off the grid” and avoid reading the paper.  I still learn that Mike Flynn announced as National Security Advisor.   I breathe news in the air.

Day 10:  I accept my deep depression.   Maybe this is a permanent state.  Friend invites me to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” with her tickets from work.  Oh, my God! Art! Expression! Music! Joy! There is a life after this election.  I vow to dedicate myself to the arts.  Realize I can’t sing like Lena Hall. No one can.

Day 11: I’m worried about Hillary.  Where did she go?  It’s not like she can go to a support group for former female presidential candidates.  We can’t afford to have her to go into Al Gore depression. We need you Hillary!  I go into a PMS/election depression compounded with too much sugar.   I go dance salsa.  That kind of helps.

Day 12: I am sick again.  I might have the flu.  I realize I can’t absorb events in my body or I will die.  I watch some Saturday Night Live skit.  The only good thing to come of this election is the realization that Alec Baldwin has talent.

Day 13:  Wake up at 6:00 am and read news articles.  Accept the possibility of war, recession, unrest, poverty, violence…basic apocalypse.  Make coffee.  Decide to be grateful for all I have today.  Blog.

I accept that this blog will have no relevance tomorrow or the week after.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!

Posted in Election 2016, Emotional Stuff, Politics | Comments Off on How Are You Holding Up?

Thank You Hillary

Dear Secretary Clinton,

As the dust settles on last Tuesday’s devastating election results, more dust keeps falling on top of it. The bombs keep coming down; from the appointment of Steve Bannon bomb to God knows what comes next.   I helped cause those bombs and maybe need them to wake me out of a coma I didn’t know I was in.  Ever since November 8th, around 7:30 pm, when the election results bitch-slapped me into acceptance of a world that could come, like many, I have struggled with facing this new world and what part I may have played to cause it. The grief is multi-layered. I fear for the future, but I also for the loss of a country under your leadership, what now seems like an over-optimistic hope that I would see not only a female president come to office, but a woman who raised me and other women to a new place in America.  Whatever the results, your campaign changed my life.

I can not begin to imagine the emotions you experienced on the evening of November 8the. For the past ten months I watched with awe and fascination as you have blazed down the campaign trail, undeterred by the insanity, lies, hate and misogyny, of which a fraction of which would have thrown me into depression and despair.   It did not have that affect on you. Even after your loss you fight.   It’s weird to say this, but I did not know that was an option.

Like many professional women, in my life I have sat around grey conference tables in offices filled with men, dudes, boys, whatever…wondering if my pants are too tight or not tight enough, if I am feminine enough to be acknowledged or masculine enough to do the job. Spending more time on how to not sound bitchy, but confident, yet assertive, but humble, than on the task at hand.  Wondering if I am crazy.  And I never doubted that it was my duty to think as much about my physical and verbal presentation as my work. I’m embarrassed by this now, but that’s the truth and I know I’m not alone.  It did not occur to me until 2016 that I gave my power away to a system that never earned a fraction of my respect; that words like old hag, unattractive, witch, bitch don’t mean anything.  That people can fire me or hate me, but nobody can stop me.

I have no doubt that you will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders of our time. I am so proud to have supported you and I will follow you anywhere.  Please don’t go away, keep fighting.  You are still my president.

With Love & Gratitude
Solange

Posted in Hillary Clinton | Comments Off on Thank You Hillary

Devastated

Shit got real and I got down on my knees and prayed.

Shit got real and I got down on my knees and prayed.

Monday evening I felt fatigued. I chalked it up to the flu and the election. I went to phone bank for Hillary Clinton and then to an acting class. I felt terrible throughout the acting class, but thought maybe I just hate acting exercises?  I came home and went to sleep. The next morning, I felt worse, but I got up and walked to the polls at the Lifeguard Station in Venice (California-style voting). I stood in the wrong line at the poling place and sweated in the hot sun.

I ran into my neighbor who had tears in her eyes.  Strangely, I did not feel the joy I thought I would in casting my vote for the first female presidential candidate in US history.  I figured I was just hungry so I got a breakfast burrito at my favorite Mexican place and walked home.  I cried all the way.

When anything good or momentous happens in my life I miss my mom with all my heart. It’s palpable.  Sure, I can still talk to her picture, but I can’t hear her voice; her worry, anxiety or blood curdling advice. (I would give anything to hear her order me to find a short, bald rich guy to date).   She did not like Hillary, but I think she, like many, would have come around.  And she would have loved to cast a vote for a female president.

I felt worse when I got home.  Something weighed on me.   I checked the New York Times which had her at an 84% chance of winning (it might have been lower, I’m not sure).  I texted a friend about my fears that Trump would win and he said not to worry. I felt w orse and worse and considered calling the advice nurse. I didn’t have a sore throat or cough, but I felt like I had a fever.  I just lied on the couch and watched election coverage.

At 6:38 pm things already looked bad.  I texted my same friend that I was “Freaking out…” He said it could be a long night.  At 7:52 pm I texted him again: “WTF….is this for real?” He said he was shocked.  I realized I had never really believed in the possibility of a Trump presidency.  At one point, I started watching “Westworld” and eating gluten free tuna sandwiches, anything to escape reality. But it didn’t last.  I panicked. I cried. I took deep breaths and even closed my computer and meditated. (I don’t have a TV).  I decided that maybe my mother, who once worked for Cesar Chavez,  had been spared this turn in the real American horror story.

At 8:00 pm I created an altar with the Virgin Mary statue that my grandmother gave me years ago and some candles.  At 8:30 pm I got on my knees and prayed…to my mom, my grandmother, the universe. I prayed for our country.   Not since my mother told me that the doctor had diagnosed her with cancer have I felt my paradigm shift in such a dramatic fashion.  I struggled to accept reality.

But it happened.  I, like many, had been naive and maybe lazy.  I was out of touch along with the New York Times, LA Times, FiveThirtyEight.com…the media gave Trump a platform and underestimated his messages appeal to a population of Americans that have long been ignored and dismissed.

The next day I felt physically better but my heart hurt   I don’t think I had the flu. I think my body saw the election results before I did.

Still praying.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Politics | Comments Off on Devastated

The Election of My Lifetime

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Any more questions?

In my twenties, I once debated the electability of a woman vs. a black man with a friend. We decided that a black man would get elected before a woman in this country. As Sady Doyle so brilliantly pointed out in this awesome piece, it sucks to be right.

Liberal white men loved voting for Barack Obama.  For many micro-brewery, plastic-frame wearing white dudes, that election healed the burden of guilt they didn’t know they had and made “post-racism” seem like a real thing.  Do I need to point out that Hilary Clinton has not had such an effect? The powerhouse, hardest working, most experienced, steel-willed woman in politics still has to (as of this moment)  fight to beat the lazy Superhero of White Male Contempt and Hostility (I have yet to hear the proper description of T**p…to call him a Cheeto-faced lazy bigot seems generous). Because unlike racism, prior to this moment, and maybe not even them, sexism has never been a thing anyone feels guilty about. In fact, before 2016, sexism hardly existed.

But thanks to the demon child of America, the man whose name I will not say, misogyny and sexism now has a neon Vegas-style sign that blinks and blinds and, like the empty Vodka bottles found in the trash or the credit card statement with charges to strip clubs, the problem has undeniable hard proof.  T**p’s Yosemite Sam-meets-Hitler level of a caricature has illustrated misogyny’s place in America in a way that any Susan Faludi op ed could not.  He’s the gift feminism has waited for.  A less multi-dimensional Dr. Evil whose message you can not ignore, dismiss or defend.  He’s the Ghostbuster’s Staypuft Marshmallow man-proof women needed and no amount of smooth mansplaining can make him go away. Women who have fought and struggled in politics, finance, technology, medicine, or while cleaning hotels (also, a must-read!), don’t have to ask themselves if maybe they just are a little too sensitive, not a “team player,” or PMS-ing.  JUST LOOK AT THESE TWO CANDIDATES SIDE BY SIDE AND DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS.

You did it, America!  (And you did it for xenophobia, racism and anti-muslim/mexican immigrant sentiment).

My friend pointed out the patience with which I address male friends on Facebook who politely ask in my comments about Hilary: How can I justify her support for the war  Iraq? How can I support her treatment of Bill’s accusers? How can Hilary can support Louis CK’s sexist endorsement (cuz she’s a politician!)?   All semi-reasonable questions and, yet, set up to challenge or somehow wobble me, like we’re sitting in a conference and I meekly brought up an idea that will get swatted like a lion’s tail on a fly.   She’s right.  Sady Doyle is right.  I don’t have waste my life answering any more questions, just look at the election of 2016 and use your atrophied empathy skills.  We no longer need to justify our battle fatigue anymore.  THAT TIME IS OVER, BROS.  GO HILARY!

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Politics | Comments Off on The Election of My Lifetime

“Ladies of the Night” and Other Scariness From Junior High School

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“Ladies of the Night” was our “tag name.” We had NO IDEA what it means.

A few years ago, my Mom handed me an old grocery bag on which I’d once written in black marker, “Do Not Touch!”

“These are your notes from junior high…” she said, “Take it!”   I opened the bag to find hundreds of  historical remnants of the most insane time in my life.  Throughout 7th – 9th grade my friends and I wrote “notes” —   text message handwritten on paper —  to each other every day.  We folded them up into little footballs or origami shapes and passed them to each other in the hallway between periods, hoping that we made it to our next class without getting shoved, “capped on” or sexually assaulted.  I am, sadly, not exaggerating.

Back in the early 80s, parenting wasn’t a “thing,” more of a fly-by-night check in.   As such, college educated adults in Berkeley allowed their children to walk into the Wild West of junior high schools.  Each day, my best friend and I— we’ll call her “Jane”— walked to school, our eyes slathered in Boy George-style liner, our hair standing on end with gel, entered a petri dish of burgeoning drug dealers, well-seasoned pot-heads, and future convicts  (how I wish I were joking) and, gladly, documented the adventure of our days.

Since most notes were written to me, I don’t have too much embarrassing evidence of my  insanity…but what I have is plenty.  In one of the few notes I wrote to Jane, I mention “cutting” (class), getting “burnt” (high), and “fine guys” who I also referred to as “men,” despite the fact that, as Jane so eloquently put “the best we ever get are always 4’9″ or less.”  She was “capping” on my taste in some 90 lb. 8th grader.   In another note, featured above, I or Jane, wrote out our “tag” name, graffiti-style, “Ladies of the Night.”  At one point a guy friend, now Jane’s husband, informed us what the expression “Ladies of the Night” refers to.  But we were not deterred; we figured cool girls call themselves “ladies” and went out at “night.”  What’s the big deal?   (Oh, the horror…thank God I don’t have a daughter…).

Whatever we missed in class (when we didn’t miss class) we made up for with our own  epistolatory drive.  Jane wrote me somewhere in the hundreds of detailed notes (which I won’t publish because, well, she has kids), with dates, times, names, and detail of activities of the girls and boys

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Ok, Mom, so maybe I was a little heavy on the eye make-up.

Violence and sexuality intertwined in my psyche like those plastic lanyards I made at camp. Amidst the sounds of Prince’s ubiquitous 1984 and Madonna’s Material Girl, (1984 was pop music’s greatest year) the smell of pot and Ralph Lauren’s “Polo,” and the feel of Wet n’ Wild lipstick stolen by the local drugstore.  (I hope there’s a statute of limitations).  The police frequented our campus, as did hallway fights and notorious stories of violence.   One time a student dropped a desk on a teacher from a bridge.  After a “fine” guy talked to me one day, he kicked a kid’s face in.  To this day I feel for that poor kid.  I felt sorry for the teachers, who, whether or not they cared, at any moment might have to stand in the middle of a fight.

Lacking discernment and filled with my own frustration and anger, I took for granted the fear and aggression of this environment. But I can’t say it was bad for me.    Not surprisingly, in a few years, many of the kids at the center of the violent whirling dervishes left school, for drugs, “juvey” or worse.   The rest of us struggled with academic failure, marijuana, or as my notes attest too, extreme mood swings.  However, most turned out pretty well.  Many of my friends from that time, middle class kids, became successful interesting adults: my 8th grade class included Rebecca Romeijn, Lyrics Born, documentary filmmakers, actors, singers and writers.

I think about this when I meet my friends’ teen kids,  whose lives could not be more different.  It’s not just that they get picked up and dropped off from school, or that the major threat in their lives comes through social media, but if one fraction of the events at King Jr. High took place at their schools, there would be a parent riot.

I only got in trouble once in Junior High.   I can only say that I am quite a good actress.  My mother later explained her lack of suspicion of me by saying, “You looked so innocent.” Maybe I was.  Maybe we all were.

Posted in Childhood | Comments Off on “Ladies of the Night” and Other Scariness From Junior High School