Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Proud of My Community

Last night’s City Council election was poignant and hopeful.

In 2012 I ran against Charles Macheers for the KS Legislature and lost. He had previously defeated a bright and talented moderate Republican during the primary and the tone around the district was one of unabashed conservatism.

Fast forward to the spring of 2014, when Representative Macheers introduced House Bill 2453 to the Kansas Legislature. As described in one of the many articles written about this awful bill: “Businesses could tell gay couples to get lost if an employee or owner believes homosexuality to be a religious sin. Government employees could also refuse service to gay couples. Employers could deny benefits to gay couples or get rid of the employees altogether without recrimination. And if a person so discriminated against filed a lawsuit against the discriminating entity and then lost the case, that person could get stuck not only with their own attorney's bill but also with that of the person or company sued. The measure is an added insult to gays in Kansas, who in 2005 suffered the indignity of a statewide vote to force a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage - something that was already against the law at the time.”

My friend Stacey, who is gay and has been married to the love of her life for several decades, accompanied me to the Capital during this time and we met with Representative Macheers. Stacey wanted him to see the face of one of his constituents; the face of someone who would be harmed by the bill. It was an emotional visit for both of us but one that was necessary.

HB 2453 was scuttled in committee after embarrassing national attention and blowback, but by then Stacey and her wife had decided that Kansas posed a threat to the security of their family and they moved to Colorado as a result.

Charles was defeated during the 2016 Republican primary. He lost his legislative seat to former educator Shelee Brim, a beloved community member with a pragmatic and moderate view of her role as a State Representative. Shelee worked closely with other female legislators last spring to craft a budget to reverse Governor Brownback’s disastrous tax monstrosity. These strong and devoted women came from both Republican and Democratic parties but none were extremists, none were ideologues. They simply believed that in their roles as stewards of our state they needed to work together to salvage our valuable services and to find a way to increase vital revenue that had been eliminated by the Governor and the far right.

Fast forward to last night, when I volunteered as a Poll Watcher for Shawnee City Council candidate Justin Adrian. Justin is gay. While this does not singularly define him, it is important to the story. Justin ran a clean and appropriate campaign, focusing on growth for the City of Shawnee. The race is completely non-partisan and candidates don’t announce their political parties. It is designed this way for a reason, so that City Councilman will work in a spirit of cooperation when elected. His opponent, Dave Myres, utilized multiple ugly mailers taken straight out of the extremist’s playbook. The final mailer was designed to highlight the fact that Justin is a gay married man.

Charles Macheers sat next to me while I was poll watching. He was there representing Dave Myres as a poll watcher as well. We briefly visited (Charles is a mild, unassuming man and quite pleasant to chat with) but when the voting machine counts were tallied Justin had soundly bested Myres, at least at our polling location. The irony was not lost on me.

I headed to Justin’s watch party and after walking in noticed him talking to a petite, spunky blond woman. I recognized her immediately as our Republican State Representative, Shelee Brim.

There is indescribable pressure the western Shawnee far right branch of the Republican Party exerts on moderate Republicans. Shelee’s public support of a gay man (who is a registered Democrat) took courage, particularly when Justin’s opponent proudly boasted of his conservatism. She can most certainly expect to face an extreme right primary opponent next year as punishment.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what happened last night, but I know one thing for certain. I have a renewed faith in my community. I know that there are politicians out there with the moral courage to do the right thing, even if it costs them later. Shelee proved that and I will be supporting her if she runs for the legislature again, regardless of the letter next to her name on the ballot.

Stacey, I hope you are reading this. You were in my thoughts last night as the final votes were announced and we realized Justin had won.

Much love,


Saturday, November 4, 2017

What is YOUR worst driving behavior?

Honestly, the worst part about working full time is the drive.

If you see a crazy almost middle-aged woman, wild eyed with her mouth open (you aren't really middle age until 50, right?), veering in and out of traffic on EITHER Shawnee Mission Parkway, I-70 or 71 Highway between the hours of 8:00-9:15 am Monday through Friday in a black Audi it might, just might, be moi. And I'm sorry, but you people are killing me.

Just killing me.

Hey, line of eight semi's convoying around the I-435 exit onto I-70, can you FREAKING SEPARATE? You are adding at least five minutes to my commute. FIVE MINUTES. And how in God's name do you manage to fuse all of your wide asses BACK TOGETHER at the most inopportune time - the one lane squeeze through downtown? Do you know how hard it is to veer over to the 71 Highway exit within that 1/4 mile window while stuck behind a chorus line of mammoth semi's chuggging, panting, and playing coy like they MIGHT want to move along but just can't decide?

And those of you merging onto 71 on my right, do you understand the laws of highway driving? Do you KNOW what a throttle is? Or what it can do? Oh, I promise, it can be fun. Try it. Please God, try it. Hell, do you understand speed? Or the meaning of the words "rush hour?" It means rush, and not the band (although from the speed of your driving I can only assume you're more of the Susan Boyle type of fan than Rush, sacame de mi miseria).

And while the driving on a Kansas or Missouri highway during rush hour can be frustrating, nothing, and I mean nothing, can compare to the horrific nightmare that is Shawnee Mission Parkway.

I broke my own rule on Thursday. Based upon mileage and route, Shawnee Mission Parkway SHOULD be a solid 15 minute faster drive to my office. Notice I say "should". Now, I live almost to the Colorado border from my office, true story, and I try to take the quickest route there when possible. Traffic tends to clear up a bit by 8:45 so I figured what the hell, I'll try it today since I'm running a bit late.

WRONG. Why do I do these things to myself? I need one of those oil change stickers in the corner of my windshield that says, bold and in all caps, "DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ATTEMPT TO TAKE SHAWNEE MISSION PARKWAY TO WORK DUMB ASS!!!!"

Sure enough, within five minutes of the drive THAT car was there. Sometimes it's a Subaru. Sometimes a beat up van. But remember, the vans can be like Jekyll and Hyde, mind you. Some are driving slow, swerving a little, but others can be aggressive as hell with drivers who look somewhat similar to me, shudder. THOSE drivers aren't afraid to use their middle fingers. And they usually have bumper stickers with fish or stupid stick figures and advertisements for pedophiles to figure out exactly what school their kids go to, how many pets and what kind they have, which sports their kids play and which marketing tier the mom sells from home. Yeah, "come and lure me" it screams.

I digress.

THOSE cars, like the Subaru or Toyota Camry's (why do old women always drive Camry's) perpetually end up in the left lane. You know, the FREAKING PASSING LANE, going 1/4 of a mile faster than the people in the right lane. You know, the lane for the rule followers. I'm not a rule follower, I'm running late, I need to get to work, I hate Shawnee Mission Parkway and I HATE YOU BECAUSE YOU WON'T GET THE HELL OVER AND LET ME PASS!!

Whew, that felt better. Usually, when I scream this while driving, a bit of spittle flies out of my mouth. It's a situation.

There is always the usual speed up and slow down driver, the "dur, can I get over yet?" dufus who can't seem to understand that when I'm gracious and pause long enough to let you merge in during construction it means you merge NOW AND NOT IN A MILE! There is the guy who decides a yellow light means stop, not speed through the intersection so I can draft you and ALSO get through. I'm headed to a fire, yes, now get the f-over!

And did I mention wanting to hurt the people who decided that starting construction ANYWHERE on Shawnee Mission Parkway was a good idea? Just pass out toothpicks in a booth so we can all jab them under our fingernails during the drive. It'll relieve that pain of the agonizing wait.

For the record, I'm not really this crazy. I'm actually a courteous driver. But holy hell, if I spoke out loud in public the things that go through my mind during that daily commute...let's just say, it wouldn't be flattering. And I can accept that. It's why I call my friends and leave desperate messages saying "I'm bored, please pick up" (bluetooth, promise). It's ACTUALLY an SOS call and I'm using you to save me from myself. When I'm talking to you I'm not focusing on killing the driver in front of or next to me.

You are doing a public service when you answer my call.

Thanks for letting me confess. This has been bothering me. But please don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds, promise. I won't hurt anyone and, at times, the same spittle spewing, raging and wild eyed suburban freak hustling to get down to Troost might just begin cackling and laughing out loud. The things I call my fellow drivers can be that funny.

If you pick up my call, I can share those names with you.

You've been put on notice.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Democrat, Independent, and Republican walked into a bar....

Wednesday night the unthinkable happened. A Democrat and an Independent hosted a meet and greet for a City Council Candidate. He's a registered Democrat. We also invited another City Council Candidate from the neighboring ward. He's a registered Republican. The race is non-partisan and these two candidates have approached their races with this in mind.

It was fun. We talked about city issues. We laughed. We listened to each other. We got along. And we actually agreed on most things while also carrying on civil dialogue, even taking into consideration we were all members of different parties. In fact, the issues we were discussing were not particularly contentious or about national issues. They simply focused on our own small community.

It can be done. Far from being difficult, it was refreshing.

Roughly 100 people were invited. Less than 10% came by to visit with the candidate. Unfortunately, this is reflective of our Democracy. Americans turn out for local elections at rates lower than 20%. I recently read that in our area, that number has been as low as 8%.

We all have hobbies. We all have interests. We all have priorities. I try to never judge people on those things because these differences are what make each of us so unique and special. Being part of a Democracy, though, requires a small bit of effort. We wax poetic about "those who fought for our freedoms and our right to vote" and then we quietly look the other way when the one responsibility that supports the entire system of government rolls around every year or two.

Do your part. It requires a small bit of effort that will be a blip in the radar of your busy and active life. First, find out just a little bit about the candidates. It's easy. Google them, ask your friends or neighbors if they know them, call them, email them or attend an event where they are meeting people. Then vote.

Those two things are all this great nation asks of you.

I took heart on Wednesday night, though. Two of the guests brought their very young children. That is the third part of our responsibility. Teach the next generation to step up and be engaged citizens.

Even if the majority of the community fails to do so.

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Clean a House in Just a Few Easy Steps

Preface, this is a First World Problem, so if you are going to get all righteous, just walk away. Now.

Moving on.

Grandmother Mary Jean would be proud of what I'm about to write.

I've had my house cleaned by a number of different cleaning crews in the past. Only at various times, like when I was in a cast for ten weeks. Four different times, by four different agencies (I'll call them agencies...every cleaning "crew" is different). It never felt right when I did it. It still doesn't. But I'm running out of hours in the week and my house is getting pretty scary, so it's time to get serious about finding a permanent house cleaner.

And here's the thing.


Whew, I feel better.

Maybe it's because I learned at the knee of my Grandma Mary Jean. She was notorious for vacuuming and dusting every day. Every other week she would deep clean the cabinet doors.

She was downright military-like when it came to teaching me to clean a house.

And I've slacked over the years. Oh, my, how I've slacked.

I'm ashamed at the level of slacking. work....friends...exercise....maturity (which has taught me that a clean house should come last on the list when compared with spending time with my kids or my friends....all of these have intruded on my "used to be" clean house).

I simply don't have the time or the desire anymore and most of my friends use someone.

But it never works because the basic tenets of house cleaning, which were damn near biblical to my Grandmother, are being neglected. Unless I can find someone who understands and appreciates how you clean a house I'd rather it stay dirty and I'll get to it when I can.

Here are the basics:

1) When dusting, remove every item from the wooden surface you are dusting and dust underneath said items.

2) When dusting, remove every item from the wooden surface you are dusting and dust underneath said items.

3) One more time, in case you didn't fully understand numbers 1 & 2: When dusting, remove every item from the wooden surface you are dusting and dust underneath said items.

4) Dust the items you removed, even if it's just a quick swish. And dust the sides of the cabinet...and the front of the cabinet...and the doors of the cabinet. What's that? Yes, all the way to the bottom. Yes, I know, it's laborious. But it's important.

5) Wipe the dust cloth across the tops of frames. Every frame. It doesn't take long, I swear. Just do it when you walk by them. But do it.

6) If it has a glass surface (like the two huge doors on my antique cabinet in a, oh, I'd say fairly prominent position on my landing) then clean it. With glass cleaner. Please.

7) If it's a toilet, get on your hands and knees and clean the floor around the base of the toilet. Yes, all the way up to the wall and the baseboards. I know, I's kind of gross. But it's part of CLEANING THE FREAKING TOILET.

8) While you are at it, wipe down the entire bowl and the base and back of the base. IT'S PART OF CLEANING THE FREAKING TOILET. And not just for one toilet. For ALL of the toilets.

9) When mopping a wooden floor, vacuum under pieces of furniture. Then mop the same area. You know, it's very obvious when someone is on the floor playing with their pets if a massive pile of dust and pet hair is growing under a buffet or a cabinet as if in a petri dish. It is fully expected that these surfaces get the same love and attention as the rest of the hard wood floors.

10) Look for cobwebs and destroy them. Sometimes, they are easy to spot. Like on the wall, eye level. You can use your vacuum to suck them up or the dusting cloth you just used to wipe of the top of the frames I mentioned. Just don't ignore them. Please.

It's bad enough that we live in a world where we no longer mop the kitchen floor on our hands and knees. My Grandmother is screaming from heaven and disturbing the angels because of this, I'm certain of it.

I fear that, along with the sewing/quilting, the printed newspaper, actual paper books, in person human interaction and phone calls, the art of housecleaning has disappeared.

My children are in for a looooong weekend. House cleaning boot camp is about to commence.

Oh, and if you happen to know any cleaning services that are run by a Depression Era, World War II Grandma? Send me the info. I'll pay anything.

p.s. Photos are from AFTER my house was recently a crew of three. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, give me strength.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How Do We Survive This?

Been awhile folks and I haven't felt the "blog" bug in some time.

The state of the union is just that...the state. Nothing I type will change our current reality. Trump is President.

In the meantime, I've focused on the things that matter, like my family, my job, my friends (and the 2018 mid-terms, eh hum).

I've been tested lately, though. And I think all of us need to step back and look at each other.

Two people who I have held deep respect for over many years, both with advanced graduate degrees (lest you make assumptions; remember about assumptions, right?), voted for Donald Trump and have literally said to me within the past few weeks "yeah, but don't you think Trump has done some good things for the people?"

I still respect these two. They are still special friends to me.

I didn't argue with them. I didn't attack or call them names. I didn't repeat the monsoon of concerns roiling in my brain. What's the point, after all?

And honestly, they didn't want me to argue with them. They didn't want to hear my response. And I didn't have the energy to discuss "it" or "him".

What I was left feeling, to be honest, was a deep sense of concern regarding how ALL of us interpret information and how all of us treat each other.

Something profound has happened in this nation when people with the same values, the same love of family and friends, the same family structure and from a similar socioeconomic level and with even a similar sense of humor have such insanely opposing opinions of the President of the United States.

It hurts my head.

What we can't do is let it hurt US. We can't let it hurt our relationships with each other. We are bigger and better than the office of the President, whether you love him or hate him.

What I DO know is that my two friends are good men and that I enjoy having them in my world. They BRING something to this nation, their professions, their families and their friends. They are very special and unique (I'm a bit picky when it comes to those I adore, after all).

I know that I trust them and I trust their ethics and values. And I believe that there IS a red line for them and for other good, decent and honorable Americans.

We have painful days ahead of us still but I trust that even in the current political environment in this nation enough good people like my friends would step up, speak out and put a stop to actions that would destroy this Democracy or cause the death of innocent people.

If I didn't believe that, what would be the point of continuing to live here?

I accept that there hasn't been a single moment where I can rationalize or understand their support of Donald Trump and his behavior. I accept that I disagree with their political opinions on an almost visceral level for some issues. I accept that they view certain policies differently than I do, particularly policies that I believe will severely harm segments of our population. I accept that they have come to their beliefs based upon their upbringing and life experiences, as have I. And I accept that they are still amazing men that I'm honored to call friends.

Take a good look at the people around you and remember, most of them are decent. Most of them are no different than you. We simply interpret information differently. And trust that when push comes to shove, in extreme circumstances, they will do the honorable thing. We just aren't there yet, even though it feels like it to many of us.

It's the only way we are going to survive this. Believing this is the only way I am going to survive this (and working towards the mid-terms, of course...I mean, I'm not going to STOP fighting for what I believe and don't expect you to either).

Monday, April 24, 2017

13 Reasons and my 12 Year Old

So it has come to this America.

I don’t know how…or when…or if it is just “me” being “old”.

I just know I’m deeply sad and torn and angry.

It seems I’m going to have to consider watching “13 Reasons” with our twelve year old son Brody.

My sweet boy, the one who still gets a kick out of farting in my direction because he knows it drives me crazy.

This amazing young spirit who still enjoys playing with his Legos and building things and who gets dorky and giggly when chasing his buddies around the house shooting Nerf guns at each other.

Brody is the kid who will bust out dancing with no provocation, roll his eyes, wiggle his hips and bask in the laughter of adults and kids around him. He knows he’s funny and goofy and he doesn’t care. He’s just being himself.

But now “13 Reasons” is THE show his friends are watching. It’s the show the parents are all saying “Oh my God, we have to watch this with our middle school kids because they need to know these things and understand these things.”

We watched the first episode with him and both my husband and I, without consulting Facebook or a therapist or a school official or another parent, looked at each other and said “hell no, this isn’t appropriate.” I watched the second episode and felt even more confident in this response.

We went to bed feeling good about our decision because we didn’t give it a second thought.

Fast forward two days and it sounds like it’s the magical time when we need to let our son watch teenagers smoking weed out of a bong, ramming their hand between the legs of an unwilling female victim and, if what is coming down the road in this series is all that I’ve read, it’s time for him to witness violent rape and a drawn out, bloody suicide.

Because this is the reality of the world we live in.

Here is my question: is it necessary to watch this with him in order to discuss bullying, being there for your friends, and knowing that he can come talk to his parents or another trusted adult if he’s struggling or sees someone else struggling?

I spend every day of my life thinking about how to be a better parent; reaching out to my kids, even though it drives them crazy…paying attention to who they are hanging out with, learning who the parents of those kids are and asking them about their devices…peeking at their devices…monitoring their grades…sneaking talks with other moms to compare what they are hearing…emailing teachers if I have a question. Even with all that, it’s necessary to sit and watch rape, drug use and bloody suicide before he even finishes his FIRST YEAR OF MIDDLE SCHOOL?

I need some time. This one is really bothering me.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My New Kitchen Toy!

I have all the gadgets.

I've got the food processor.

The blender.

The Kitchen Aid.

Two crockpots.

A rice steamer.

A waffle maker.

We use the waffle maker on birthdays. I use the Kitchen Aid during holidays. The blender? During the summer on those rare occasions when I make fun cocktails (otherwise it's the old standby's: wine, beer and vodka tonics). The rice steamer gets used pretty regularly and, if you like rice, is something I highly recommend.

The problem with all of these gadgets is storing the damn things.

To store them, I have to put them out of sight. And in my house? That's the kiss of death.

I have two gadgets, though, that I've decided I cannot live without and I'm so jazzed about the newest one that I have to share. I like them so much that I don't forget about them. I'm pretty sure I caught the Kitchen Aid whispering "I hate you" tonight when I passed her by to pull them off the shelves again.

Let me tell you about the first one that I've had for a little over a year. It is so awesome that I will literally plan a day to just use it.

It's the food saver. And Oh. My. God. Has it saved me.

This thing will shrink wrap anything, liquid or solid. I used it when we went on a 16 day trip through Yellowstone, etc, in our fifth wheel and, no joke, I prepared ahead of time enough meals and/or ingredients that we only ate dinner out three times. And it fit in our fifth wheel freezer!

I freeze the usual left over meals, like chili and stew, but also gravy to use in later recipes. I'll make a lasagne and freeze individual pieces so that Brian can grab one on the way out the door for work and by lunchtime it has thawed out enough to reheat. I will chop four or five onions at a time and freeze individual bags of one chopped onion each for later recipes. If I find a smoking deal on ground beef I will stock up and break it out into individual bags of a pound each. Honestly, I don't think there is anything I've found yet that I won't freeze using the food saver.

My only advice? Buy the actual Food Saver brand and then search for bags on Amazon that have high ratings. The off brand bags are cheaper. I got my Food Saver at Costco on sale for $139. It has easily saved me more than that.

Now, drum roll, about my new toy.

The Instantpot pressure cooker is the BOMB (shout out to Marcia, who I work with, for hooking me up)!

All I can say is that the meat in our house will never taste the same again. I'm getting rid of the crockpots too. This thing will BE a crockpot if that's what you want. The problem with the crockpots is that I've never been able to get the absolute most out of a piece of meat when using them. The Instantpot? Holy cow. The meat tastes like it came from a restaurant.

Most of the meat I've cooked so far has taken less than 30 minutes. Tonight I cooked an entire chicken, which was still partly frozen in the middle, and the actual pressure cooking time was 20 minutes flat.

The pot has a feature that allows you to saute in it; it heats up almost immediately, meaning the gravy I made when the chicken was completed was boiling in half the time it takes on the stove.

I made Kalua Pig last night - using a 5 lb bone in pork shoulder roast - and damn near had an orgasm it was so good.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea. It was tender and succulent and the flavor was out of this world. This one took 90 minutes but the preparation was so simple that it just meant I needed to make sure I planned ahead, which I did.

The Instantpot will allow you to release the pressure immediately when an item is finished cooking or, as with the Kalua Pig, it will release the pressure itself slowly. I wasn't going to be home when it finished due to kid taxi duty so I didn't have to worry about it overcooking.

I knew after the first use that I was in love. After not getting home from work until 7:45, and walking into a room with three people staring at me blindly asking "what's for dinner", I grabbed what I had one hand. That included three frozen chicken breasts. What can I say, we were overdue for a visit to the grocery store. I almost made them eat cereal, but instead tossed the breasts into the Instantpot along with some salsa, chili powder and salt. Voila! Fifteen minutes later we had shredded chicken tacos (it took five minutes for the cooker to pressurize and ten minutes to cook the chicken).

The first day I had off following that first success I searched a website referred by Marcia called Nom Nom Paleo and started printing recipes (the Kalua Pork photo is from her site but mine looked just the same, promise). I chose ones that I thought might be fairly easy, then hit the grocery store, and now I've got three meals cooked and frozen (hence my deepening love for the Food Saver) and tomorrow night we are eating Indian Curry Spareribs. It won't be until later in the evening but everything is ready and this one will take 35 minutes - 20 to cook and 15 to depressurize naturally.

If it is as good as what I've made so far you will hear the moaning across town.

If anyone else reading this has an Instantpot and wants to share recipes then I'm your girl. Please. I'm begging you.

Between the speed, efficiency and brilliant ability to leave meat moist and tender coupled with the option of freezing meals and not having to worry about what to make for dinner I'm sure my life will be a little more simple now. It seems like every night either I work late, the kids have activities, or both.

Now I don't have to feel guilty anymore for picking up carry out three or four nights a week.

And I'll have more time for wine and catching up with the kids about their day (not necessarily in that order, promise).

Get an Instantpot and a Food Saver. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tornado Brain and Remembering What Matters

Ok, so I can’t keep up with my own self.

With my head.

My appetite.

My emotions.

I don’t blog more because, frankly, every day there is something. Something to add. Something new.

So I wait until things settle.

But they don’t.

My God. They don’t.

My daughter’s activities are never ending.

My son’s activities are never ending.

My husband needs to have his space. Because that’s who he is.

And I love them all three. I want to experience all of their activities, be a part of all their needs.

But I love my friends.

I need my friends.

I want to do everything my friends have planned.

And it’s March.

Basketball interferes.

Because in March, basketball is EVERYTHING to me. Well, almost. Those three people, sigh. Basketball is number four in March.

And I need to call my mom more. Because she needs me.

And I need to see my grandmother more. Because I love her.

And I need to connect with my cousin the hermit more. Because I miss her.

But my country is in flames.

Donald Trump is my waking nightmare.

And I have to help. Have to keep working behind the scenes, in ways others don’t know I’m working. Being an activist, using my past connections delicately, prudently, to try and change things the next election.

I’m not sitting idle. I promise. You just don't know that I'm not sitting idle.

And I’m not exercising. Because I’m tired. Because I don’t care.

But I DO care. I don’t ever want to gain the weight back.

And it weighs on me.

So I’m on my second glass of wine tonight. Because it tastes good. And now I’m putting this on paper, so it’s an outlet. Like steam escaping from my new pressure cooker.

The pressure cooker that allowed me to make four different meals today that I can freeze. So that when I work late I can have something thawed for my family to eat.

They don't function the same when I'm not home taking care of things. And before you judge, I WANT to be home to take care of things. It is a way I show my family that I love them and I like it.

I'm a mix. A modern day woman, colored hair to boot, with the Greatest Generation's influence that leaves me feeling warm and satisfied when I cook for my family. When I'm THERE for them.

Because I’ve been working a little more lately, worried about my co-workers. We are a small crew and I’m just a part-time helper. But when several of us need time off there is no one else. It’s not my job to fix, but I care. I love my co-workers. I love my boss. I love the store.


I just breathed for the first time since I started typing.

And in that breath, I thought of Rhyan Loos. And her fight. My niece Hannah and the fight she lost. My cousin Rachael and the roller coaster of fights she has lived through.

I thought of my friends, who are struggling in their marriages.

I thought of my kid's peers and their own personal battles, from divorced homes to self-esteem issues and a myriad of themes, many of which we all have a connection to.

I thought of relatives…who I avoid. Because it’s awkward…not traditional…forced, obligated, when I don’t know them. Haven’t ever connected. Because my “story” isn’t normal. Yet I feel guilt. For not connecting.

And I feel like a failure. Deep, deep disappointment over a goal I had set. A training applied to with Department of Justice that I was rejected for. Because of the employment gap that I wrote about some time ago. The gap for those of us who leave our careers to stay home with our families. I knew this would happen.

The gap reared her ugly head and is the reason I was rejected. I feel humiliated. Washed up. Fear that I would be unable to provide for my family if I had to.

I breathe again. Sigh. Let it out.

I know in my head, yeah, in my heart, that this is all normal. I’m normal. My doubts, fatigue, worry and stress are normal and actually far less than the worry many others shoulder.

I bring it around.

First World Problem.

We are healthy.

I’ll say it again.

We. Are. Healthy.

That’s all that matters.

I can breathe again, while feeling relief that I can sleep now...because I remember the most important thing. The one thing that none of us can control and the one thing that can destroy us.

We. Are. Healthy.

And I’m good now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Orange Rat

I recently shared thoughts on President Trump’s lies and why they don’t matter to a certain portion of our population.

On a cerebral level I guess there are psychological reasons for this. At least I hope.

There is a secondary issue related to this President about which I feel compelled to opine.

And I’ll do it as if I were talking to my friends over a beer.

I’m going to be mean.

I’m going to be hateful.

In short, I’m going to describe Trump the way another Trump would describe Trump.

It’s all my own opinion. And it’s NOT fact based. You want to vote based on your “feelings” America? Well here are mine, for those few friends who care to join me on this little word journey.

He is THAT guy.


Donald Trump is an obnoxious braggart.

He’s the guy who doesn’t get invited back to the Wednesday night golf club because the rest of the guys can’t stand him.

He’s not funny.

He’s not engaging.

He uses made up words and spends most of his air time boasting about accomplishments (always leaving out valuable details, like daddy’s money, who he screwed over in the process or who did the real work).

Nobody likes to hang out with that guy.

But they feel obligated to include him because he has a shitload of money and pays his fees.

Then they remember that he stiffed them on drinks the last five weeks.

Our Presidents have had easily recognizable traits that resonated with voters.

President Obama’s charming smile and wit are appreciated around the world. His comedic timing is notorious.

Michelle Obama’s mantra “when they go low, we go high” is one for the ages. As matriarch of the first Black family in the White House she carried the responsibility with a quiet dignity and leadership that leaves many Americans in awe and it is why her popularity is even greater than her husband’s.

President Bush is the guy I still, to this day, swear I’d love to have a beer with (or two or three). He too had an engaging, boyishly cute smile. This is a man who made the term “compassionate conservatism” a call to arms. And what’s not to love about a president who hands out nicknames to folks he trusts and loves?

Laura Bush was the epitome of class. Her background as a librarian and love of education was something every American could rally behind.

President Clinton’s ability to speak to any American, on any topic, and to do it in a way that even the most complicated international issue could be understood is a quality I’m not sure I’ll ever see again in my lifetime.

I once spoke with some Secret Service agents who said the hardest part of covering President Clinton and President Bush, Jr. was their relentless habit of ignoring schedules so that they could hang out in the kitchens of hotels visiting with the wait and cook staff. These men both respected blue collar workers.

The affection share by the Clinton and Bush families, particularly George and Barbara with Bill and Hillary, is known far and wide. The Bush’s call Bill Clinton the “black sheep of the family” because the international work they have done together to improve lives around the globe is something they deeply believe in.

And, probably, because they are nice guys and enjoy spending time together.

President Reagan’s Hollywood good looks and calming leadership are easy to identify as engaging. He’s still the father of all modern Republican Presidents. He tore DOWN walls. And the love he and Nancy shared with each other brings a tear to even the most ardent Democrat.

President Carter’s faith in God and desire to do the right and moral thing has never been in question and as the years go by his Presidential ranking continues to move up as history reflects more and more the positive things he did.

President Nixon is probably the only President we can easily point to whose personality left so much to be desired. And, yet, his qualifications for the highest office in the land were so monumental they more than adequately made up for the sweat, gruffness and nasty distrust of everyone in D.C.

In a nutshell, if we are to be honest, it is easy to see why these men were elected.

They had amazing qualities that shined on the campaign trail.

But Donald Trump?

He’s a dick.

He’s THAT guy.

He’s obnoxious and boastful.

He lies and inflates every story, every tale.

He brags about having sex with women.

He walks in front of his wife and doesn’t open the door for her.

His third wife, by the way.

His oratory skills are gross and he makes up words.

He repeats himself over and over and he pauses after he says something, as if, in his own mind, he’s thinking “wow, I’m so smart.”

He speaks in short, stunted sentences, like a child.

And he pouts. And whines. And blames everyone else around him for everything that happens.

He doesn’t like to learn or read reports.

He’s the only leader of the United States with the arrogance to bombastically claim he and he alone can solve every problem in America.

He’s impulsive and if a normal person tweeted the things he tweets they would have five followers: mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and wife. Hell, if he were an average citizen and tweeted like this even his own kids wouldn’t follow him.

He’s not funny. Ever. In fact, I’m not sure he understands what humor is.

And he never smiles. It’s odd. And a little creepy.

Definitely creepy.

Can someone find a photo of this guy rearing his head back in pure, unadulterated laughter?

His wife is creepy too. Find a photo of her laughing as well. Even better, find one of them together laughing. That might go a long way towards relieving the creep factor.

His sons are creepy, with oily hair….maneuvering behind the scenes like members of Slytherin, relying on nepotism to make more money off the White House.

Ivanka is the only bright star in this family and she seems oddly out of place.

I used to think, when it began to appear like he might win the Republican primary, that maybe Trump could be the Anti-Christ. Mind you, I gave up believing literal interpretations of the Bible years ago but there was something so horrifying about the things he was saying and his financial dealings that it gave me pause.

Then I remembered that the Anti-Christ is supposed to be handsome, charming, engaging and deceptively captivating.

Oh, and rise out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, for New Yorkers and contractors at least, it feels like Trump has been running around being an asshole for decades. There is very little “new” about him.

But the handsome, charming and, most notably, deceitful anti-Christ? That ain’t THIS guy. Trump hides nothing except for his taxes, debt and Russia connections.

He’s the guy the other Silver Spooners bitch about in text threads with each other because they can’t stand his guts but, based on social standings, they are forced to tolerate him.

He’s the guy the philanthropist millionaires hate inviting to charitable events because he’ll show up, grab every photo op available, eat the food, drink the booze, dominate pleasant conversation by telling tall tales that make him look good and then screw the charity by refusing to donate so much as a cent.

He’s the guy they all roll their eyes at as he leaves the room.

The fat ass with sagging skin, a shitty fake tan and bad breath who uses every opportunity he can to denigrate every woman (or man) he deems as unattractive.

In short, classless.

A bully who makes fun of anyone who isn’t him.


With a lousy personality.

I can understand voters being willing to overlook certain things when it comes to fundamental political beliefs.

What I’ll never be able to understand is how those same voters over-looked qualities they despise in other people.

Because Donald possesses a veritable trove of those traits.

The next time you listen to him, wait for it. Wait for something genuine, be it humor…or a maybe a sincere kind word for someone. Wait for a smile or laughter. The things that attract us to other human beings. The things that draw us to our friends or our partners.

In short, the things that give us joy in life.

This guy, THAT guy, is missing them.

He’s a James Spader character in an ‘80’s movie.

He’s the opposite of the full package.

He’s the anti-package.

Wrapped in orange cellophane.

When The President Lies

I am no longer an optimist.

The entire argument surrounding facts versus lies in the political and media arena has become some sort of surreal nightmare.

I’ve read several research studies this week that resulted in findings deeply concerning. In a nutshell, the findings show that a percentage of humans are likely to reject any form of contradictory information to their initial beliefs. Even if that information is based upon factual, cited and documented research.

Factually, Trump lied when he said crime "is out of control and rapidly getting worse." Crime is actually at an all time low in this country.

Factually, Trump lied when he said illegal immigration is at an "all time high and they are pouring over our borders." While immigration rose rapidly in the years before 2009, it has leveled off. In my own home state of Kansas? Immigration has declined since 2009.

Factually, Trump lied when he said there were record numbers of people at his inauguration.

Factually, Trump lied when he said President Obama’s birth certificate was a fraud.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he won the biggest electoral college win ever.

Factually, Trump lied when he said there was an immigrant terrorist attack in Sweden.

Factually, Trump lied when he said President Obama was behind public protests of him.

Factually, Trump lied when he said there has been a dramatic expansion of the federal workforce recently.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he would release his tax returns.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he wouldn’t take vacations if he were President.

Factually, Trump lies when he uses terms like “tens of millions” and “biggest ever” and “record breaking”. And words like “unanimously” when referring to, say, border patrol agents supporting him. All terms easily fact checked, by basic numbers and statistics.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he won environmental awards.

Factually, Trump lied when he said over three million votes in the last election were illegal.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he received a standing ovation larger than “Peyton Manning’s after a Super Bowl” at a small speech given to the CIA.

Factually, Trump lied when he said President Obama wire tapped Trump towers.

He lied when he said the New York Times has lost subscriptions because of its coverage of him.

He lied when he said he and the Mexican President “agreed” to cancel their meeting.

He lied when he said our military is woefully underfunded and falling apart. In fact, we are 34% of the entire world’s military spending and nearly three times greater than the closest nation, China.

He lied when he said past Presidential administrations had unfairly prevented Christian immigrants from entering the United States.

He lied when he said China was devaluing its currency.

He lies with numbers.

He lies about political opponents.

He lies damn near every time he takes to twitter.

And it doesn’t matter to his supporters.

Let me explain how a rational person is able to remove themselves from the politics and differentiate between a flat out lie and the truth.

Just to show that as a registered Democrat I can differentiate between the truth and a lie independent of my political party…. when President Bill Clinton looked into a camera, shook his finger and said “I did not have sexual relations with that women” HE WAS LYING. His political party affiliation doesn’t change that. Nor did my political party alter my deep sadness and hope that he would tell the truth all those years ago.

Now there is a difference between parsing data and relaying information to play into a narrative. Politicians do this all the time. All politicians do it, left/right/middle.

But a bald faced lie is a different story. A bald faced lie is what President Clinton said to the camera on that sad day back on January 26, 1998.

Bald faced lies are what Donald Trump has been feeding Americans for well over a year. He has created a culture of lying within his administration as well. Kellyanne Conway lies with mind boggling ease. Sean Spicer lies. People take their direction from the top of the pyramid, after all.

Research has shown that, in fact, the MORE we try to show facts to those who are the most ideologically committed to a way of thinking the more they will ignore those facts and deny them.

Research has further shown that doing so ACTUALLY REINFORCES those false beliefs.

So when President Trump is shown to be lying? Or that he and his campaign have connections to Russia? When we point these things out with supportive evidence? Even if some of the evidence is being gathered by our own intelligence agencies?

We are just reinforcing the lies for a percentage of the voting electorate.

Yeah, I know. It sounds crazy. But I’ve never professed to understand humans. We are the only living creatures who go out of our way to destroy our environment, other humans and everything good around us because we glean pleasure from the suffering of others.

Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a long ride.

Accept that there is a segment within our American communities that will continue supporting him…no matter. This same segment will pivot to blame President Obama or Hillary Clinton or anyone else they can every time evidence points towards Donald Trump doing something unethical or lying.

He said it himself. He could stand on New York’s Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters.

Which just goes to show, he actually does know the difference between a truth and a lie.

Monday, January 23, 2017

This Is Why We Marched

Admit it Trump voters.

You aren’t disgusted with the Women’s March because you think those many millions of women are pathetic, whiners, cry babies, or unpatriotic.

You are disgusted because deep down you know how wrong he is.

And you are struggling internally with the fact that almost 3 million American women and hundreds of thousands of other women from Antarctica, Mexico, Australia, Kosovo, Kenya, England, Germany, France, Argentina, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Georgia, Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Ghana, Malawi and others I’ve failed to mention are shoving in your face their concern over your alliance with Donald Trump and your support of his promises, words and actions.

It's ok. You don’t have to admit it. And you can keep saying nasty, self-righteous and misogynistic things about us. Like the Indiana State Senator who tweeted "In one day trump got more fat women out walking."

You see, we don’t care.

You can’t hurt our feelings.

Because this isn’t about our “feelings”.

And no matter what argument you present to undercut our cause, to try and humiliate, denigrate, or marginalize us, we still don’t care.

So YOU get over it.

Your arguments are flowing on social media, now that you’ve had a day to arm yourselves in response to the mass flood of photos, interviews, news reports and support we shared with each other globally on Saturday.

It was awesome, by the way.

But I can just hear the disgust dripping from your comments.

And it makes me smile to myself.

Because we are on the right side of history.

You will never fully understand what this march was about because, let’s face it, you don’t really want to, right? And also because it was about many different things. Issues unique to each beautiful, amazing, strong and flawed woman or man who got out from behind their keyboards to stand up for themselves or for someone else.

Yes, there were men marching. There were people of all colors and ages, all races and socio-economic backgrounds, all religions and nationalities; a veritable yummy and multi-colored smorgasbord of diversity.

I know, you are bothered by what you don’t understand. It’s okay. We still aren’t going away.

When you smugly call out American women for having it good and having no right to march because we don’t understand third world hardship you forget that women in third worlds marched along with us.

And your rationale is an odd one. Should we not fight for clean water because those in third world countries don’t have access? Should we not fight for healthcare because, well, after all, they don’t have it in third world countries? What IS the point of that argument? Other than to try and demean the women who united on Saturday? We see through you.

The United States is supposed to be the goal. Our freedoms and our prosperity are what those nations look to as a template for what they can either be down the road or as a place they can hope to live in order to provide for their families, escape violence, hunger, sickness and abject poverty.

We marched so that this nation can remain a haven for them.

We marched so that we can remain the gold standard.

When you haughtily state that maybe all of these women should use their energy to actually help people you are making a vast judgement that many of the women marching don’t already do so.

I marched with women I know who donate time and money to charitable organizations. Women who have opened their homes to people in need. Women who serve on the boards of non-profits. We listened to many speakers; doctors, lawyers and teachers who have done more charitable work in an afternoon than some of you bashing them have done in your lifetime.

And for those who marched that have yet to volunteer?

It’s a start.

They are awake.

They WANT to do something now.

Don’t insult them for taking action; applaud them. Learn from them.

We marched so that maybe, finally, this nation will reach a point where none of us ever has to march again. Heroes before us marched for the right to vote. They were ridiculed and laughed at. And years later, brave men and women marched again so that black men would never be hung from trees while their anguished families hid in terror. Yes, the most violent battles have hopefully been fought. But we are facing an administration that has promised to undo so much progress. The threat is real, tangible; occurring even as I type.

This march is for all of the rest of the battles left to fight. We are standing up and saying "enough, let's fix it, once and for all." THAT is why so many came out. That is why there is such a vast array of messages and voices. Should we not strive for more? Should we not fight for the disabled and sexually abused? Is this country not great enough so that citizens with pre-existing medical conditions can have healthcare? Should we not fight so that a young man, with his life in front of him, isn't tied to a fence and pistol whipped to death? Is there not always more work to do?

For those complaining that the marchers should have spoken up before the election?

We are looking forward, not back. We have no other option.

But these citizens are awake now and this is what matters. They are learning from each other about activism. About who, where and how to contact their legislators and about how to become an engaged citizen.

They are learning that the process of government is complicated and when we have leaders who can't peel apart the layers and work together then we all suffer. We don't want utopia; we are pragmatists at heart. We want unity and common sense and leaders with the moral and ethical fiber to do the right thing.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr would be pleased. He would be proud. He would say “keep going”.

Some of you were appalled by Madonna’s language. That’s okay. I didn’t like it either. But I don’t like the way Ted Nugent speaks about President Obama or anyone else he doesn’t agree with… or the fact that he called Hillary Clinton the “C” word. And yet you remained quiet when Ted used vile language. Why?

Let’s defend the First Amendment as much as the NRA defends the Second. There is a reason it is number one on the list.

The word “pussy” is front and center because of Donald Trump. He handed this movement their mantra on a silver platter by relegating women to nothing more than an easy piece he can grab whenever he chooses. The word isn’t going away as a banner because this President tossed it around so carelessly and those of you who are upset at marchers using it gave him a pass when he did so.

This was the largest and most peaceful march in our history.

2.9 million Americans in 21 cities.

With only 4 arrests. The looters you heard about? Those occurred Friday and were unaffiliated with the Women’s March. And yes, they were wrong.

600 cities around the world.

That is worth celebrating.

In the chilling words of Yamamoto, this election has awoken a sleeping giant and filled her with a terrible resolve.

Michael Smerconish interviewed a Trump supporter at the inauguration on Friday who said he supported Trump so that Americans can “get our freedoms back”. When pressed as to what freedoms he has lost, he replied "none".

We marched so that he WON’T lose any.

And so that those of you complaining about us won’t either.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Trump Crickets

I’m trying.

I’m sooooo trying.

I’m trying to avoid the news, ignore articles and definitely not read the Facebook pages of Donald Trump supporters who whine about anti-Trump people whining (nah, no irony there), brush aside Russian hacking reports and otherwise remain silent while this bizarre leader continues tweeting away.

I am seriously addicted to Netflix and Amazon Prime now as a distraction. Just worked my way through all of The Man in the High Castle, started The Crown and am hooked on Transparent. I’m also enjoying wine on a fairly regular basis. And spending time with kick-ass friends.

Old habits die hard, though.

The news is finding me, in spite of my best efforts.

And I Just. Don’t. Get. IT.

“It” being the crickets and silent condoning of everything Donald Trump is doing, saying and the culture he is creating.

Seriously. I scream some variation of “what the fuck??”, “are you fucking shitting me??” and “holy fucking shit!!” multiple times a day. I’m not exaggerating but do apologize in advance to my grandmother for the foul language.

It’s just that, well, those are the words that allow me to fully express my thoughts the best. Samuel L. Jackson was on to something.

Close your eyes and imagine, if you will….

Hillary Clinton had won the election.

Oh, shut up. She didn’t. And really, for many of you, that is ALL that matters, right?

Back to my fictional premise: Hillary is the President elect.

Imagine her letting Chelsea sit in on national security meetings and visits with foreign leaders, giving Chelsea and Marc offices in the West Wing, roles as advisors and appointing Chelsea in charge of handling all “First Lady” duties. Now, picture the Clinton-Mezvinksy’s receiving offices in the West Wing WHILE CONTINUING TO RUN THE CLINTON FOUNDATION.

For those of you who don’t venture outside of Fox for your news, Marc Mezvinsky is Chelsea’s husband. Make sense now? Aha. You learned something today.

Imagine Hillary specifically choosing billionaire friends with no government experience for her Cabinet.

Billionaires. Some of the wealthiest people in this country. With no experience.

And then, and this is the important part, imagine those billionaires refusing to release their financial information to the Federal Government Ethics Office for vetting prior to confirmation hearings.

“Pay for Play” as a GOP hashtag would put @RealDonaldTrump’s name calling to shame. Nauseatingly and bigly.

Yes. Bigly is now a word.

And if Hillary were to publicly turn up her nose at all American intelligence agencies in favor of trusting Vladimir Putin? Holy hell, there would be billboards plastered along I-70 from Topeka to Limon labeling her an unpatriotic, treasonous despot who hates America. With a few confusing words like “dictator” and “marxist” thrown in for good measure. I guess cuz it would sound good? And it's been done before? Sigh.

Who are we kidding.

There would be a new segment added to the Fox News lineup titled “Why Hillary Hates Our Patriotic Intelligence Community”. Actually, they’d just shorten it to “Why Hillary Hates America”. Marketing at its best.

Get real.

And IMAGINE, oh my GAWD, if you can…. imagine if Michelle Obama had decided to remain in Chicago so Malia and Sasha could stay in school there to the tune of over a million a day in Secret Service protection.

The sounds of wailing would have resembled a banshee convention. And don’t give me that “poor Baron needs to be in his own school and not have his life disrupted.” You wouldn’t have given a shit about the Obama girls. You would've freaked. The. Hell. Out.

Imagine if Hillary, as our fictional POTUS-elect, backtracked on campaign promises. Before even taking office. Without even trying to make them happen before backtracking.

Imagine if she continued to refuse to release her tax returns. Seriously. REFUSED TO RELEASE HER FINANCIAL RECORDS. Not speeches. FINANCIAL RECORDS.

Imagine if she had chosen Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. What would the other side be saying if Hillary had picked Rex-freaking-Russian-Order-of-Friendship-recipient-Tillerson? Sean Hannity would be so sputteringly outraged that he’d be speechless. For one blessed second.

Give me a moment. The thought of Sean Hannity shutting the hell up makes me smile.

Where was I? Oh, the big one. The really big one.

This big one: consider the fallout if she had won the electoral college while losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. And then boldly and brashly looked American voters in the face proclaiming a mandate.

What’s that? No, I didn’t say 3,000 or 30,000 or 300,000. Three million.

Armed “patriots” who threatened to storm D.C. would have their cause. Trump stated before the election that if he lost it would be rigged. Seriously. And now, NOW, none of his supporters care about Russia’s impact on the election. You Don’t. Even. Care. What the fuck????

I’ll continue burying myself in Netflix and Amazon but I know the news will reach me, one way or another.

I can only hope that it will include a cessation of the crickets of silence from Trump supporters. Is there anything this man could do that would be objectionable to you?

Take away your medicare and social security?

Sell state secrets to Russia?

Grab your wife’s pussy?

Start a nuclear war?


Is anyone out there?


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

So begins another new year.

I should be depressed and deflated. I should be gearing up to march on D.C. in protest of the new President. I should be attending planning meetings and brain storming with other passionate grassroots activists to return Kansas to the guiding leadership of common sense and pragmatism and to save our nation from the coming nightmare.

But I’m not.

In fact, I’m actually at peace.

In many ways, 2016 WAS a disaster. The divide in this country is heart breaking. No other election in my lifetime or since the Civil War has caused the rifts between friends and family the way Donald Trump’s campaign has. A friend of 40 years cut me off in a nano-second without seemingly batting an eye and I’m still in a bit of shock at the ease with which it was done.

On a further personal level, I campaigned hard for Hillary, donating hours of time and emotion. The night of her loss was a deep blow.

But I’m still content.

In spite of the one cut-off, other friends with differing viewpoints haven’t gone anywhere. I have no scientific research to support what I’m about to say, but I have a sense that the majority of Americans have retained at least their closer social circle. And in the midst of the fighting and fractured relationships something else was happening for me personally and many other people I volunteered with this past year. Something beautiful and far reaching.

We were meeting each other. We were connecting with folks who were both similar and different but who shared our own optimism for America even if the specifics of what to do varied.

I used to think I didn’t need any new friends, that I already had enough. I was wrong.

I’ve met women who have lost and loved… women who have overcome life threatening diseases and become stronger because of it. I’ve met new friends who travel the world and whose insights encourage me to look at things from a different perspective.

I’ve met Americans along a varied social spectrum… single, divorced, married, with children and without, young and old, black and brown, gay and straight, spiritual and atheist, educated and uneducated, healthy and handicapped, urban and rural.

And I’ve met men and women who are as equally passionate about human rights, healthcare, fair taxes, jobs, protecting the disabled and keeping Americans safe from domestic and foreign threats; activists who have nothing but respect for identities different than their own. Tolerance and love of fellow man is the guiding doctrine that unites them.

I’ve met people this past year who are easy to get along with and others who are difficult. Some who are quiet and deliberate before they speak and others who see blunt unfiltered expression as a badge of honor. I’ve seen passionate arguments in private liberal Facebook groups that could rival any of those between Trump and Hillary supporters. No individual has the sole market on good ideas.

This broad group of people reminds me of a family. It reminds me of America… and my life is better because of it.

I remain deeply concerned with the future of this nation. I fear that our new president’s impulsive naivete and exceedingly questionable mental health, lack of experience and impulsivity could result in state secrets being shared for profit and, ultimately, war with any number of insulted or wronged foreign nations with no support internationally.

In spite of this, connecting with people has given me peace and is allowing me to continue growing, questioning, learning and thinking outside of my own comfort zone.

I hope the growing part never ends. How can it? None of us will ever have all the answers and the most important thing we can do is learn from each other.

2016 may have been explosive but 2017 is adding rungs to a ladder that I believe will ultimately move us forward. This election has done something monumental, even if after the fact. It has woken a nation of new friends.