No, Actually it’s Not Time to Stand Together Behind Donald Trump

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Since Wednesday morning, when most of the world woke up to the shocking news that Donald Trump had secured the highest office in the nation, I’ve been reading and hearing cute little phrases like “It’s time to lay aside our differences,” “No matter if your candidate won or lost, we must respect the office and the president,” “Trust the system our forefathers laid out; it’s going to be fine,” “It’s time to unite behind our new president.”

First of all, let’s talk about who thinks uniting behind our new president is the way to have peace in our country. It’s we white people, and mostly white men. People of privilege are not in imminent danger, and it’s easy for us to sit in safety and “trust our system,” a system that has proven to target minorities again and again. But not since the Civil Rights movement has it been so blatant as this.

In the aftermath of the election, there have been countless stories of Trump supporters vandalizing, harassing, and harming minorities and women. Undoubtedly this would have happened regardless of who won the election, and perhaps the incidents would have been worse and even more frequent had Hillary won the electoral vote. But the true horror here isn’t the heartless people committing these crimes against already-marginalized people. The true horror lies in the condoning, the encouragement even, that comes from the top. Mr. Trump’s platform was built upon hate and fear; his campaign echoed his beliefs, and now we are reaping the consequences of a man of power encouraging violence against minorities.

So I just have one thing to say in response to the flippant requests I’m hearing from people of privilege that Americans come together in support of our new president.

No.

Actually, it’s NOT time to stand together behind Mr. Trump. Luckily, we live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. Just because a man has power does not mean we are required to unite in support of the cruelty and violence he has incited against millions of people.

Here’s who I will be standing behind: people of color, the hispanic community, Muslim Americans, immigrants (both documented and undocumented), refugees, and anyone LGBTQ etc, women, and anyone else who has been marginalized. I will band together with the minorities in this country, the people who are literally scared for their lives right now. I will be donning the safety pin and keeping my eyes and ears open for the chance to defend and protect those who are being targeted, to come to their rescue, to shield them from harm.

It’s not time to stand behind Mr. Trump until he absolutely and unequivocally disavows the violence that has erupted since his win. Until he stops calling protests against him and his hatefulness “very unfair” and stands in front of America and tells his violent supporters that he in no way condones their behavior, that it is criminal and they will be caught and held accountable by the full extent of the law, I refuse to support him.

Mr. Trump, you should know something. If you threaten to abuse your power, the way you have, you should expect the fallout that has happened since your presidency was announced. You have your supporters, but you will never win. Because until you recant almost everything you said during your hateful campaign, Mr. Trump, peaceful and loving American people will be uniting in support of those who are afraid. It’s not unfair at all, and it’s not a rigged system. It’s democracy, and it’s time to embrace it.

On Bravery

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Last week, the kids and I took one of those Buzzfeed quizzes to find out which Hogwarts house we’d be in if we lived in Harry Potter World. Contrary to my prediction, Noah did not end up in Slytherin, but in Ravenclaw. Well, ok, he is really smart, I’ll concede. Violet was a Gryffindor. I have my doubts… she is pretty gentle and shy. Plus, she seemed to be picking her answers based on the last of the multiple choice offerings I read rather than what I feel like is true for her, but hey. She’s four. Hogwarts doesn’t even take kids until they’re 11, which I keep reminding Noah every time he asks if he’s a wizard or a muggle. I DON’T KNOW YET.

I was pretty convinced I was going to be put into Hufflepuff. I’m not conniving and dark like Slytherins, not exceedingly intelligent (not even kidding, I just misspelled intelligent) like Ravenclaws, and definitely not brave like Gryffindors. With a sigh I clicked the results button, saddened by my certainty that I’d be put into Hufflepuff, where all the dweebs go. I was shocked therefore, SHOCKED I SAY, when I was sorted into Gryffindor. I laughed aloud and Noah asked why I was laughing, and I said, “Me?! Gryffindor?! Buzzfeed is not the Sorting Hat, that’s all.” “Why?” he asked again. “I think you belong in Gryffindor.” “No way, I’m not brave at all. I’m scared of everything.”

Noah said, “I think you’re brave.”

Now, Noah’s not one to be, you know, nice. He’ll tell me like it is even when (especially when) that telling is painful. I often have to remind him that I’m actually a person with feelings and I cooked that “disgusting” dinner and no, I’m not getting fatter, actually, so I knew he was being honest. Even though I didn’t see it at the time, my son was looking at me and believing without question that I’m brave enough to belong in Gryffindor.

I had to give it some careful consideration. From his perspective, bravery means walking into a group of people I don’t know and introducing myself. It means going right up to the barista and telling him clearly that “I’d like a latte, please,” without hiding behind anyone’s legs. It means returning a “hello,” or saying “please” or “thank you.” Alright, I guess there’s some bravery there, even if just one point. Lance still doesn’t even like ordering a pizza over the phone, and he’ll look around online for 20 minutes in hopes of finding a way to get a half pepperoni/half cheese pie without actually having to talk to anyone.

Then I started thinking about how I spend my days, and I did begin to see myself through Noah’s eyes.

  1. I homeschool. I’ve been told point blank by many fellow parents that it takes balls to spend all day with my kids, let alone being responsible for teaching them how to, like, read and do math and stuff. Ok, point two. I guess that takes guts.
  2. I’m an actress. When I started thinking about my “acting career” (such that it is anymore), I gave myself some kudos. To get a job I have to go to auditions, stand up in front of a panel of judges, and sing a damn song! Alone! And then if I GET the job, I have to get metaphorically naked for an audience night after night. Ultimate exposure. Ultimate vulnerability. Arts careers (in particular theater) take guts, man. Alright, so that’s three things.
  3. I’m also a writer. And though letting people read what I’ve written can actually paralyze me with fear, I keep putting shit out there anyway, wanting and needing the connection it brings. Ok. That’s pretty brave, too.
  4. I express myself, like, a lot. A few days after the Buzzfeed quiz I was having drinks with a girlfriend, and she told me that she thought I was brave because I tell the people I love what I think, I say what I feel, I let my emotions show. Alright, I guess not everyone does that. Actually most people I know are pretty guarded. And when it came to expressing my feelings for individuals, I used to be pretty guarded too. Then, after the Orlando tragedy, I had multiple conversations with friends and family about putting yourself out there regardless of fear of fallout. Telling people you love them, not worrying about it being reciprocal, just being open and honest, is the most important thing. It changed me, it really did. It isn’t easy, it still frightens the living shit out of me, but now I do usually try to be honest and authentic with my feelings. I still have work to do in this area. But I get that being open and honest is pretty courageous.

So after all this, I was feeling pretty brave. I was nodding in the mirror, eyes narrowed, contemplative frown in place. Sure, I guess I belong in Gryffindor after all. I may not want to make my way through a dark maze full of dragons or duel Voldemort, but in the muggle world I do some brave things. [nod, nod, little self-satisfied smile, finger guns in the mirror]

I was feeling pretty cocky, y’all, and I can only say that my next actions were borne out of the need to prove myself. Looking back I don’t know what possessed me, I only know pride cometh before a fall and I did kind of deserve that fall, but nevertheless; you can’t change the past. Bravery and stupidity are closely entwined, after all. So here I stand, my pride gone, and only the truth remains: I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done last weekend.

I TOOK MY KIDS TO TRADER JOE’S ON A SUNDAY. BY MYSELF.

It was an act of pure self-sabotage, and I know now I aimed too high. I should have tested myself in smaller ways, you guys. Lion taming. Bear poking. Chasing a tornado, swimming in a lightening storm, eating blowfish. CHILD’S PLAY IN OTHER WORDS.

It’s ok. The tremors are almost gone by now, and with time and rehabilitation therapy I’ve been told I’ll be able to lead an almost normal life. After all, what is bravery really about but putting yourself out there, continuing on in the face of fear? And I can now say that I’ve done that.

So, fellow Gryffindors, I leave you with this. Let us each be brave in our own ways. Let us live open and honest lives, be genuine, express ourselves in loving kindness. Let us go to our jobs, meet friends, have conversations with family, with a sense of courage.

But let us not, no not ever, under any circumstances, attempt to go to Nashville’s most popular grocery store on the most popular grocery shopping day of the week. Now FIGHT ON, YE WARRIORS BRAVE!

Well, Depression

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I wrote this a couple of months ago, and I’ve had really good days for quite awhile. It was therapeutic to write it and I didn’t feel like I needed to post it, because it was just for me. But yesterday I started feeling this bullshit again, and it hasn’t gone away yet today.

I know so many people deal with depression, but I think one of the crippling things about it is how isolating it can feel. I’m putting this out there hoping one of you needs to see this as much as I need you to see it, hoping we’ll feel less on our own today. I’ll feel better again. So will you. We’re not alone.

***

It’s hard and scary to start seeing a new therapist. If I had a broken leg, I’d go see a doctor immediately, without pausing to consider how difficult it might be. I’d sit down, and the doctor would be all, “What seems to be the problem, *looks at chart* Megan?” And I’d be all, “Well, Dr. *looks at name tag on white coat* Whatever, it seems that I have broken my leg. Please fix it.” And Dr. Whatever would be like, “No problem. I’ll do a few Doctor-y things and your leg will be fixed in no time.”

But getting mental and emotional help feels so overwhelming. If I went to a therapist, I’d be like, “Hello, it seems that I have broken my brain. Please fix it.” And the therapist would be all like, “I’m going to need you to provide painful personal information once a week for the next six months to a year and even then I might not be able to fix your brain.” (I’m extrapolating a bit, but I think that’s the general idea.) I believe in therapy, I really do. I’ve been three times at various low points in my life. So why does it feel so scary now, when I think I really need it?

The thing about being sad is that it’s hard to dig myself out once I’m in. Maybe I know I shouldn’t listen to sad music. I know I should get out of the house, read a book, see a friend, do the things I love doing, treat myself to a mani-pedi or a massage. But something about just sitting on the couch and listening to Joni Mitchell on repeat feels so right. Joni Mitchell just gets me right now, man.

It’s a terrible cycle. I don’t feel good, so I don’t know how to make myself feel good, and part of me doesn’t want to make myself feel better, because I don’t feel good so trying to feel better just feels fake and superficial.

I’ve been trying despite myself, I really have. It feels fake, but I’ve been putting myself through the motions anyway, hoping I can fake it ‘till I make it. I smile. I pour myself a glass of wine. I put on fun music. I get out ingredients for dinner. I cook. I love to cook! So why am I having to concentrate on chopping this onion, do it, chop it, just keep chopping, the whole time feeling like my stomach is in knots and my smile is plastered on my stupid face and all I want to do is put down this knife and pour my wine down the sink and break the record and crawl into bed.

And I have actually gotten out of the house lately, a lot. I’ve seen friends, I’ve met new people. But the whole time I feel like I’m breaking a little inside. Little pieces just breaking off, one by one, pieces of me. I don’t recognize my voice, or my laugh, or my hand motions. I’m someone else, watching myself try so hard to be normal. It’s such a bizarre experience. If I’m with friends I want to be alone, but when I’m alone I’m miserable and wanting to be with my friends.

And I have no energy for my kids. I feel like all I can give them is the bare minimum to keep us all alive right now and pray for a school day or a weekend so I can bury myself in some writing just to escape. The thought of engaging them, doing a puzzle together, making music, painting, even going to the park or the zoo feels too hard. It’s not fair to them.

The worst part is how I’ll forget about it for hours at a time while my mind is occupied with something else. It’s so weird. Instantly, I mean THE MOMENT Lance gets up from the table to go to the bathroom, the MOMENT the movie is over or I turn to pick up my jacket, THERE it is, right there, waiting for me. “It.” That’s what it is because I have no better words. The weight on my chest. The thorn in my side. Those are the moments I find almost unbearable. I want to scream, “I thought you were gone! Why are you still fucking here?!” But it has no answer. It just climbs right back up onto my shoulders and it’s excruciating.

I feel a bit like I’m treading water but getting really tired. My head is above water, but only just. Below the surface I’m working furiously to keep my chin up, but the water feels too heavy to move, and all around in every direction is water, water, water, as far as my eyes can see. And no boats.

When I’m asleep, I’m at peace. I wake up in the morning, stretch, sip from my water glass, and lie there for a minute, trying to open my eyes. And for that amount of time every day, I’m conscious but not distracted and I don’t feel anything at all. But then there it is again, before I even get up to go pee. It’s like hey, remember, you’re not fine! You’re sad, don’t forget about me, your sadness, be sure to slip me on like a bathrobe and carry me around all day.

I’ve been sad before. This time feels different, harder, uglier, like a deep cut that I can’t clean properly and it won’t stop bleeding. But I recognize it anyway. I know I’m going to be alright, because I’ve been down this path before and I know it leads to relief eventually.

And I do feel better today. Since this started last month I’ve had almost three whole days of feeling better. Yesterday, after weeks of waking up in the morning and looking in the mirror and bursting into tears, I waited for the same to happen, only it didn’t. And I thought, huh. Wow. Okay. And then I put on some mascara. Now, I think I’m finally in the upward climb, even though there are still occasional downward slopes on the road in front of me. Last night, I sat down to dinner, and BAM, out of nowhere, I could barely hold my head up. Nothing had happened; sadness just hit me like a truck all of a sudden. But it passed. I see a spec on the horizon and I think it might be a life boat. So for right now I’m clinging to that hope.

Caroline and the City

The first time I had lunch with my friend Caroline, she said “I’m only friends with people who are beautiful, talented, or smart.” I left that lunch feeling more than a little intimidated, but (to my surprise) we became friends! It was good for my ego.

She explained to me later that we all operate that way: we have to be attracted to someone for their beauty, talent, or intelligence* before we can become friends, and she’s right. Think about it… everything you love about someone fits into one of these categories (I would put kindness into the beauty category, funny into the smart one, etc.). As for Caroline, now a director and writer in New York, she fits into all three categories. I hit the jackpot with her for a friend.

The cool thing about being friends with someone who is beautiful, talented, and smart, is that they end up doing great things and I get to be a part of it. For example, this year Caroline co-founded Racket, an organization that brings feminine hygiene products to underprivileged* and homeless women. Talk about an underrepresented need! Here’s something that, because of my privilege, I didn’t even know until Caroline told me: pads and tampons are not covered by food stamps. They’re not tax-free. And y’all, that shit is not cheap. Because of Caroline, hundreds of women won’t have to choose between hygienically* managing their periods or feeding their families this week.

And. AND. She just published a damn book.

Seriously.

I was lucky enough to get an early release copy and was not surprised* to find Caroline’s honesty and passion unfold within its pages. All the Time in the World tells the story of a young woman, Charlotte, who nannies for a family in New York while dreaming of restarting her career as a composer. When the mother of the two little boys she takes care of dies unexpectedly, Charlotte realizes she must choose between staying and holding this family together and leaving to follow her own dreams. I’m not giving away any more, besides to say the book is sexy and smart and you need to read it. You can buy it right here.

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(How beautiful is that cover??)

Next week the fam and I are headed to the Big Apple to visit my dear friend for her book release party and um. I’m a little bit excited. (Hear me squealing?) Expect your instas to be inundated.

*Words I initially misspelled while writing this post. #ironic

Concerning Friendship

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I have been feeling lonely this summer and yes, a little sorry for myself. I tend to retreat so that I can feel even more sorry for myself when that happens. I know it’s not healthy. Whenever I feel myself turning inward I try to do something to break out of the cycle.

While I’ve been feeling lonely, though, I’ve been thinking about why letting go of friendships is so hard. Friendships based solely on one’s circumstances don’t seem to work out: when your circumstances change, so do your friendships. Of course.

It makes me wonder what makes friendships stick. It sometimes seems as if life just leads you toward or away from people however it wants to, and we’re just along for the ride. Maybe we want to hold on to someone, but the river forks and we grasp for one another but we lose contact, and we are whisked away and all we can do is wave goodbye as we are rushed to the next of life’s adventures. Do we really have any control over it?

We’re all the center of our own very important dramas, but the people who flit in and out of our scripts aren’t just projections of us; they each have dramas with scripts of their own. But for our own story they are just here for awhile or maybe for a long time, helping move the plot of our lives along, before they move out of the frame. We keep going even without people that we’ve come to love, people who have shaped us, people who have given our story meaning.

If there’s never any certainty that a friendship will last, it feels immensely depressing and unbelievably exhausting to invest so much into it at all. Why give yourself entirely to something that is only temporary? And if you’re not giving of yourself entirely, if you’re holding something back, why have a friendship at all? It’s not very mindful of me, and I know my mindfulness guru would say we can’t know what will happen in the future so it makes no sense to operate out of fear or uncertainty about possible future events, and we have to live in the now. But I can’t help but feel sad when I think it will all end. Is it worth it? But then, if it isn’t, what would life look like? Closing yourself, refusing to let anyone else play a big role in your story would be a horribly sad and cynical existence. It hurts me to think there will be loss and pain either way.

At the same time, I’ve been contemplating how important it is to express concern and love no matter the possible outcome. Letting go of pride seems crucial if you want a sincere, authentic, and lasting friendship. Letting friends know exactly how you feel without fear that they maybe don’t feel the same way about you. Keeping on keeping in touch, keeping on sending birthday cards and Christmas cards and writing emails and inviting them to have dinner and getting together as often as you can. Assuming your friends appreciate and need you the way you appreciate and need them. Remaining confident that you are loved.

I guess my question is, when do you fight like hell for someone, and when do you let them go? What makes some people stick around, some people leave with an explosion, and some people just fade away? Do each of us only get a few people in our lifetimes that will stick around forever, if we’re lucky? Is that ultimately why we humans keep getting married, making forever vows, so that at least we will have that one person we can trust will be there until the end?

If this is the human condition and we all experience it, why does it all make me so incredibly sad?

Dear One

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I think of you every day, every single day. So much reminds me of you; you’re in my little things and my big ones, too. Almost every memory I have is tainted by you; those that aren’t make me think of you simply because I want to share them with you. Your voice is in my ear and in my head, and in my heart. Your laughter. Your frustration. Your hurts. Your joys. Your stories. Your memories. I carry them around with me all day long.

But you need your space and I feel abandoned. I don’t know how to cope with your outpouring and your withdrawal. It’s not healthy for my soul the way I lean on you, the way I need you, but I don’t know if you’ll be there when I reach out to grab your hand. I have grieved you again and again only to find myself running back to you when you call, as soon as you call. And when I meet you, oh, so great is my joy! I’m outside of my body, consumed, giddy in my own happiness to see the face I know so well, to hear the words you say so well: I love you, I miss you, my friend. Then you are gone like seeds on a dandelion, blowing farther and farther away as I chase you, wanting to hold on, wanting to hold you, but as the wind picks up you disappear along the horizon. And I am left alone, watching as the sun sets where you once stood, left with my memories, left to grieve you once more.

So I must say goodbye, my dear friend. Not because I want to say goodbye. It costs me everything to do so. But because I have to. What we have shared no one can ever take away. Know that I miss you, so much, so much that it physically aches. I miss the us we used to be. I miss the memories we made when life was kinder and we had nothing to lose but time. Know that I will never forget you, no matter how many seasons come and go in what is left of my life. I will remember you with my last breath, with my last thought. No matter that we will see each other and speak to each other no more, because my heart will carry your heart throughout eternity.

I hope we meet again, dear one, in another life. When two hearts become one, I will be there with you and you with me. And I will know your laughter, your frustration, your hurts, your joys, your stories, your memories. How I hope that in that day, life will always be kind. And we will lose ourselves in one another once again.

Until that day, farewell. I will never stop missing you. I will never stop loving you.

Weekly Menu – Yup I’m Still Here Edition

I asked Noah what he wanted for dinner this week, and he predictably said “spaghetti and meatballs.” Which we had last week. And the week before. And for leftovers. I was like “DUDE. NO. There are more foods in the world than spaghetti and meatballs. Pick something else.” So then he was all like “Ok, how about burgers!” In other words, he wants another version of meat and carbs with limited vegetables, but I digress.

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I’m feeling worn out today, so I couldn’t even argue when he grabbed the chalk and said “Let’s have burgers tonight! I’ll write the menu for writing practice!” (Manipulative much?) This morning Noah made me so damn angry because he and Violet were outside (against their wills, cause I made ’em do it) and we heard her crying, and what do you know, he was tying her up with a rope. Again. He does this other times, too, including yesterday. What the heck am I going to do with this kid!? He is Calvin but he has no Hobbes. I’m exhausted from trying to talk to him gently and kindly. I’m exhausted from yelling at him. I’m exhausted from putting him into his room. I’m exhausted from ignoring him and comforting Violet instead. I’m exhausted from re-directing his energy. I’m just exhausted. Maybe it seems normal; maybe it’s just a phase. OR MAYBE HE IS A SOCIOPATH. What kind of person ties his sister up with a rope, gets in trouble for it, gets a lecture for it, gets the reason why it’s not ok explained, sees his sister upset, then does it again the very next day? A six-year-old Calvin who lives for experiments, that’s who.

Related: I think most stay-at-home parents are probably glad their partners are home because it means another set of hands, some help with the kids, some time to themselves. I’m glad my partner is home because it means he can make me a cocktail.

Anyway.

Here’s this week’s menu from one tired mama trying to make dinner to the rest of you. I let Noah put burgers on the menu for today and swapped the new recipe for Wednesday.

Monday: Turkey burgers with homemade brioche buns, roasted chili sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Black bean, roasted corn, and sweet potato tacos on homemade flour tortillas, guacamole

Wednesday: Creamy Farfalle with salmon and peas, kale salad

Thursday: Chicken parmesan meatballs, roasted balsamic brussels sprouts, French bread

Friday: Individual French bread pizzas, kale salad