I Want a President

A couple of years ago, I read Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King. Glory is a young woman who has just graduated high school and suddenly finds herself with visions of the future. That future is bleak. A civil war has broken out in the US over women's rights, which have disappeared. Women are taken from their homes, interred or sold as property. Glory wants to know how to stop it. It is a wonderfully written, deeply unsettling novel. Unsettling because it is a dystopian future that seems entirely possible. The Hobby Lobby decision had just come down from the Supreme Court. Women's reproductive rights were being threatened in many states, there were police shootings and mass shootings in the news far too often. The real future was seeming pretty bleak.

Twenty four years ago, Bill Clinton was running for president. I was a high school senior thinking about constitutional law as a career and I loved Hillary. She grew up in the Chicago suburb just south of where I grew up and she was so smart, so accomplished. I thought she was a bad ass and really wished she was the one running for President. It seemed impossible. 

Sixteen years ago, I got into a fight with a friend over Ralph Nader and we didn't speak for years. Everything seems so volatile with this election and I didn't want that to happen again. I've mostly stayed quiet. I didn't want to make waves.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama ran for President. He hasn't been perfect but President Obama has delivered the hope that Bill Clinton promised during his first Presidential race. Change felt possible for the first time. Si se puede. 

A few months ago, I broke down and cried to my husband. I admitted the election scared me and I told him about how I couldn't stop thinking about the civil war in Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. I was sad about Bernie but I had to vote for Hillary. I've learned so much about her since I was 18, much of it not good. Sadly, she would no longer be my choice for the first woman President. But she is the devil we know. Trump is hateful, unpredictable and underqualified. He scares me. This country feels like a powder keg and he's about to light the match under the guise of Making America Great Again. 

Yesterday, Roxane Gay wrote in the New York Times, "It is crystal clear that a Trump presidency would lead both the United States and the rest of the world into a dystopia the likes of which even the darkest of novelists cannot fathom." 

Two days ago, I was riding home from work after hearing vague reports of the Trump/Billy Bush tape all day at work and I was catcalled at a stop light. I cried when I arrived home and found all my internets overflowing with Trump and sexual assault accounts when all I wanted to do was sit on the couch, looking at pictures of corgis, embroidery and drag queens and forget that man ever spoke to me. 

But I couldn't. I was so angry. I don't usually cry over cat callers but this one felt particularly viscous. When I actually read the news, after hearing it third hand all day, it felt like he was emboldened by Donald Trump to talk to me that way. I mean, if a man running for President can talk to and and about women that way, why couldn't this guy? 

I can't stay quiet anymore and I'm not alone. If you've spent any time in the world the last few days you know this. Brave women have been shouting about sexual assault for years but it feels like there's been a signal boost the last few days. It is simultaneously infuriating and empowering. I mean, here I am, typing for the first time in months.

Today, I am afraid that if Donald Trump wins it would be open season on minorities and women. Unlike Glory O'Brien, I know what I can do to stop imminent disaster. Vote for Hillary. And start making waves now for the future. Because we deserve better candidates than a racist sexual predator and the lesser of two evils. 

On beauty, backhanded compliments and being done

I'm done. Seriously done. You may have recently noticed or I might have actually told you to cut that shit out because I am so done. 

I'm done feeling like shit about myself. I'm done watching my beautiful friends feel like shit about themselves. I'm done listening to the body snark and the harsh judgments, which make everyone feel like shit about themselves.  I'm done with an industry that was built upon and profits from our self hatred. I'm especially done with conversations like this one:

Stranger: You're so brave to wear that outfit.

Me: Excuse me?

Stranger: You're so brave to wear that outfit.

Me: Oh, I heard you. I just don't understand. I'm going to need more information.

Stranger: You're brave to wear such an attention grabbing outfit... at your size.

Me: <deep breath> I bet you think that was a compliment but it wasn't. It was rude. Would you say that to someone 50 pounds lighter?

Stranger: Uh, I guess not. 

Me: Right, because it would just be a nice outfit. So say, "that's a nice outfit" - period, or don't say anything at all. Also, bravery is not getting dressed in the morning. It's fighting fires. 

Earlier that day, a woman told me my outfit was making her ten times happier than before she laid eyes on me. A nearby couple overheard her and also complimented me. Later that day, a few more people went out of their way to compliment me. None of them mentioned my size. Because most people understand that a compliment that involves body shaming is no compliment at all. 

When I was telling Shawn this story later, I realized just how done I am. He looked a little starry eyed and like he was ready to fist pump in solidarity with my doneness. It's been a long time coming and he's had a front row seat for the entire painful process. (Thanks, babe. I know it's not been easy.)

I realized while writing my last post that I've always focused on my style because I never thought I was that pretty. Style seemed attainable. Conventional beauty did not. Until a few years ago, I couldn't look in the mirror without tearing myself apart. There was a long and sad period of time that I couldn't even look in the mirror. I wanted to be thinner, have better skin, a smaller nose. I thought these things would bring happiness. They don't.

I bought into the idea that being thin and pretty would make my life better for so long I didn't notice how awesome my life actually was. I am surrounded by people who pay me compliments far more meaningful than "you're so pretty." 

For me, getting dressed in a great outfit that I feel good in can bring happiness. But more importantly, being kind to myself and others brings happiness. Sharing my life and work in meaningful ways brings happiness. Looking at everyone and seeing the beauty in their face, not just because of the symmetry of their parts but because of their very existence and experiences, brings me happiness. Going to bed every night knowing I've done the best I could to be good for the world makes me happy. 

So, I'm done and I will call you out nicely if you are shit talking yours or someone else's appearance. And honestly, if you keep it up, I'm probably done with you. Because it's bad for you, for me, for the world.