Signs of the Times

Last night the Write on Mamas, a wonderful group I belong to, held an Open Mic Mamas event in a local cafe. The theme was “Plan B: Now What Do We Do?” Here’s my essay:

After the primary season was over, I kept two “California for Hillary” signs on my desk in our kitchen, where they were safely hidden and kept nicely flat under a box of books.

“I’m going to frame these and give them to the girls for Christmas!” I told my husband.

“Maybe for Emma,” Jonathan remarked about our eldest, who has a penchant for memorabilia.  “But Ally will hate it.”

“That’s not the point,” I snapped.

I had grander considerations than what the girls might actually like. Maybe I’d even crack the picture frames’ glass for special symbolic significance marking the historic event to come on November 8!  Continue reading


aftermathThe Day After the Election

Last night I felt the same as when McGovern lost in 1972, although then my 17-year-old self sobbed and sobbed, and now I am too shocked to feel much of anything. It was unthinkable that McGovern could lose. It meant the cataclysmic Vietnam War would continue, with thousands more pointless deaths, a country ruined further.

I don’t remember how my parents reacted. Probably my mother cried and cursed at the TV. Probably they tried to comfort me, sharing my horror and grief, assuring me that the good fight must continue.

Now it is my daughters seeking comfort via text in these inconsolable times. I don’t know what to say, but my husband does. He writes:

We are incredibly fortunate to have a loving, healthy, prosperous family whose members have strong and good values. By always cherishing and building on this, we can prevent those who appeal to hatred and divisiveness from defeating us.

Love, Daddy

The morning after the election I tell my husband I haven’t felt this bad since 9/11 (although thankfully, 11/9 has not entailed such a horrible loss of life). At least the earlier trauma was mitigated by a brief feeling of unity, of the best in the world coming forth to vanquish the worst. Not so now, though that’s what I hunger for. I stay away from the news, but I relish the lingering hellos I exchange with every woman I pass, the conversations with the regulars in Comforts, a string of texts and emails. All of my therapy clients talk about the election. It’s good to be distracted by work, to hold their feelings as they mingle with my own.

Three Days Out

Maria, the woman who was born in El Salvador and now cleans our house, comes on Fridays. Three days after the election, I open the door to greet her. As always, she is wreathed in smiles, ready to work.

“Trump—Lo Siento!” I say. I’m sorry. Maria’s smile crumples a bit; she gravely nods.

This Friday is also Veteran’s Day. Since school is closed, Maria’s American-born daughter is with her. I ask her a bit about school, what grade she’s in, how she likes it.

Then I ask, “How are you doing? Are kids afraid?”

“Some are,” she responds.

A couple of days later I check out the Facebook page of a racial justice organization I’m considering joining. Someone has posted an essay telling white people that their professions of shock and disbelief, even their apologies, to people of color are microaggressions.

I feel hopeless in a different way.

Later Still . . .

It gets worse as the shock wears off. I’ve had difficult sleeping; I drift off only to wake again to the cold pit in my stomach, “OMG, Trump was elected President!” flashing in neon lights in my head. Then a squall of tears, and my husband holds me, his warm body a blanket of comfort. I sigh that broken sigh of someone who needs to cry but can’t quite. The tears come again in the morning as I read the paper, the headlines indisputable. A climate change denier is announced to head the EPA’s transition team. I cry a little in the shower. Finally, several days out, I manage more than a brief squall. My husband holds me again, and at last I sleep better.

It feels wrong to sleep better.


How are you doing post-election? Also, a kind reader sent along this link, which expresses what I’ve also been feeling:

Your Vote is Your Voice


Leave it to Dr. Seuss to guide us through perilous times. During this election season, we’d be wise to take a page from the good doctor.

In Horton Hears a Who, the residents of Who-ville face disaster unless they speak up. The Mayor rallies the townspeople to make their voices heard in an act not just of civic duty, but of survival. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. Desperate, the Mayor races through the town in search of those who aren’t taking part. Finally, he comes across a young citizen named Jo-Jo who is just standing there, not making a sound.

The Mayor grabs Jo-Jo and implores him to come to the aid of his country in its darkest hour, saying, “Open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts.’

Jo-Jo clears his throat and shouts out a single syllable: ‘YOPP!”

That one voice makes all the difference. Who-ville is saved.

Voters should heed the wisdom of Dr. Seuss. The United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates of any advanced democracy: even the momentous 2008 presidential race brought out less than 63 percent of eligible voters. Participation rates drop to about 40 percent in mid-term elections; and this year’s primaries were decided by only 28.5 percent of eligible voters. Too many can’t be bothered, or feel their vote makes no difference, or that it’s all the same anyway.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voting matters. This year’s presidential candidates offer a stark contrast. The stakes are high, the results consequential. First Lady Michelle Obama has pointed out that just a handful of votes in each precinct can swing the outcome in key states.

Your vote is your voice. And as Dr. Seuss reminds us, every voice counts.


Research has shown that one of the most effective ways to increase voter participation is to make a specific plan, and to share it with your friends, especially on social media. Planning and sharing that plan increases commitment and follow-through. What’s your voting plan?