Monthly Archives: November 2016

Never Forget

I met my husband David on this day, 14 years ago. The occasion was a progressive dinner party called (yes this party had a name) ‘Farewell to Jesse Helms.’ Jesse Helms was a senator from North Carolina who had recently retired, and who was known well for his opposition to affirmative action and to reproductive and gay rights, among other things. So one could say David and I met at an event celebrating the end of an era of bigotry. What a happy day that was!

November 9, 2002

November 9, 2002

A few years after David and I were married, when Obama was first elected president, I remember how, caught up in the wondrous surge of hope, I (half-kidding) exclaimed, “I think we can have a baby now!” And we did! Today that baby is in first grade. This morning he and his classmates were discussing what country they were going to flee to in light of this new upcoming presidency. Parents were hugging each other. Some of us cried together. The school principal sent an email to the parents, informing us that additional counseling services are available to the students in the next days and weeks. That in school today, teachers had to create activities that ensured and emphasized for the deeply distraught children that they are safe, and that they will always have access to education regardless of religion, race, or documentation status. In other words, they were in crisis mode, in fallout mode, because the children were so upset by the results of this election. Imagine that.

When we google the words Never Forget, we see they are basically synonymous with memorials in honor of the 9/11 tragedy. So many of us remember it as the most calamitous, most devastating day in our country’s entire history. And like many of you, I believe the results of this presidential election will likewise be remembered as one of the worst moments in our history. The disbelief is raw. As is the grief. We haven’t told our son about 9/11, just haven’t had the heart to. We’d figured, what’s the hurry? This morning, on the anniversary of the day we met, David and I held each other, utterly heartbroken, asking ourselves and each other, “How do we tell him?”

Never Forget can obviously be applied to many other human tragedies as well. Slavery. Segregation. Homophobia. Women literally dying, in shame, as a result of illegal abortions. Genocide. And I think one big reason why this election is so indescribably soul-crushing for me personally is that I feel like this happened because too many Americans fucking forgot, AGAIN, the consequences of electing an unstable, bigoted tyrant to office.

When you think about it, we all forget, all the time. We forget we’d resolved to be better. To eat better, to exercise more, to be more punctual, to read that book, to write that book, to yell less, to be kinder. Kinder to ourselves especially. And I believe this is what our country has done this week. There’s been a collective forgetting, a cataclysmic forgetting, that we’d resolved to be better. (Don’t think I don’t know there are some straight-up fucked up hate-filled bad seeds out there—I’m not talking about them or to them.)

hopeobama

Hope. Never forget the hope.

But Never Forget is also evocative for the patriotism it conjures so unequivocally and invariably. You see, I will never forget the power, the sheer force, of the auspices of hope and equality under which I met my husband 14 years ago tonight, and which partly inspired us to become parents 8 years ago. Now, more than ever before, I will remember to remember exactly what that felt like. And know that one day it will feel like that again. Because the arc of the moral universe does bend toward justice, even when it feels like the world’s turned upside down. After all, it does kind of feel like, after an agonizing decline in our cultural and national consciousness, we have “finally” hit bottom.

yorktown

Today I feel like the staggering “fallen foes” in this musical number from Hamilton, except I am most definitely not retreating.

So what do we tell our boy? Well, it’s a complicated conversation we’ll be having for years to come. For one thing, we are not going anywhere. We will grieve. We will go deeply within and broadly beyond ourselves, and ask some hard questions. We will love each other hard, and continue to revel in life’s joys and pleasures. We will work our asses off in peaceful yet assertive protest. And we will rise up, not in arms, but in love and peace.

David and I met while celebrating the end of era of bigotry. And I know that we shall one day, through our hard work, through invoking love and light, be celebrating the end of this unimaginable dark time in our history. This is a call to action. We will not be silenced. We will not give in to fear. As Michelle Obama said in her speech at the Democratic Convention earlier this year, let’s get to work. P E A C E.

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Of course I’m with her

Yeah, in case it wasn’t already obvious. But I’m not going to make my musings here all dense and high-brow. Goodness knows we all have policy and issues fatigue. Here are some simple basic things that describe one person who’s voting for Hillary Clinton. I hope you’ll find them worthwhile or at least amusing.

I’m with her not just as a Latina. Also and more specifically, as a Puerto Rican (and lifelong US citizen) who’s spent half her life on the Island and the other half on the mainland. As a woman and feminist, a daughter and sister, an aunt. As a deeply flawed but fiercely loving wife and mother in a multi-ethnic household.

I am voting for Hillary as a Catholic (yeah you heard me) and a woman who believes in God and evolution and prayer and reincarnation and faith and energy fields. As someone who, in fact, prays every damn day. Who believes in democracy and never takes something so precarious for granted. As someone who wants peace. Who supports gun control and who still cries every time she remembers Sandy Hook (crying now). Who believes that what’s good in humanity (and in America) is greater than what’s not so good, and who refuses to ever, ever give in to cynicism.

annelamottehope

I’m with her, as someone who loves this country. Who is passionate about human rights and civil rights (is there any difference?). As a Generation Xer who likes to think she’s acquired some measure of wisdom in her 41 years on this earth. Which reminds me, also as someone who does not believe global warming is a hoax. And as an unapologetic tree-hugging bacon-eating pescetarian. As someone who’s on the fence about pets but might still get one out of love for her kid.

I’m with her as someone who, in addition to family and country, also loves history, coffee, saying ‘I love you,’ books, potato chips, traveling, Judy Bloom, sushi, Harry Potter, chocolate, Stephen King, cooking and baking, yoga, naps, swearing, exercise, friends, raw onions, Hamilton (and musical theater in general), Christmas, Paris, red shoes, tea, pasta, writing, NYC, Hondas, cuddles, and cheese.

I am voting for Hillary as a fervent LGBT ally and supporter for life. As a neighbor. As a linguist with a freaking doctorate. A once and future educator. An author. A hypnotist. As someone who strives not to take herself too seriously. As a citizen with common mother-trucking sense. As someone who reads and who’s been paying attention.

I’m with her as an individual whose pet peeves include tardiness, meanness, having to remember so many damn passwords all the time, poor spelling, self-righteousness, sloppy food preparation in restaurants (apple core in my pie? really?), toilet paper placed with the flap under instead of over, superiority and condescension, plastic packages designed to be impossible to open; and the incessant need to update the software and apps on my phone to the point that nothing works like I remember and I have to relearn how to use Viber, Facebook, and the message threads on my Gmail all the damn time.

prolifequote

These are just some things about me. And like all of you, I am greater than the sum of my parts. Not easily labeled or pegged. Thank goodness for that. The two nominees are also greater than the sum of their parts. There’s a part or two about Hillary that I’m not crazy about. But the sum of what she stands for resonates with me, with my values, with my vision for the future of this country.

I can’t think of a single thing the loathsome Trump has said that would ever, ever, EVER make me vote for him. Not one that I could isolate. Which makes me think that voting for him on one single issue (abortion –like Trump stands for the sanctity of life? please) is reckless, irresponsible, and deeply troubling. (To the person I know who says she’ll unfriend anyone who “attacks” her “faith”-based support of Trump, the ball’s in your court, my dear. Perhaps you should unfriend me. Go in love and light.) And the sum of what I’ve seen and heard from this awful, awful man makes me feel like I’m in a nightmare I want to wake up from.

I am not flippant about what’s at stake here. I also know that calling this the most important election of our lifetime is tired and trite. But of all the values we hold dear as a country, I believe that democracy is one of the greatest, and also one of the most frighteningly under siege right now. There are many, many reasons why I’m voting for Hillary. I tried to be both humorous and serious here, but don’t be fooled by my (attempt at) lightheartedness. This isn’t funny. There is one nominee who, in unprecedented fashion, has seen fit to shit all over the strides we’ve made in our –admittedly flawed– democratic process (not to mention all over equality, integrity, and basic human decency). And if nothing else, I am voting for the one one who respects and vows to uphold democracy.

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