Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Schadenfreude: FOMO meets Fairness

When I hear about people going to parties or I see photos on Facebook of friends with their arms around each other I get mad. I saw Alicia Keye’s birthday party on Instagram and I felt filled with judgemental rage. Am I experiencing FOMO or am I angry that these people are not as rigid in their rule-following as I am? How can that person be inside that other person’s house?! Without a mask?! The truth is that I don’t know anyone’s story. I don’t know who is in a pod or who has been vaccinated or who has had COVID recently and has a magic three-month immunity window. I feel more in control if I think I know things. Then I can properly judge those people and feel better about myself.

When I experience FOMO, my missing out hackles rise up and my justice tentacles wave madly. I want to drive around in my car with a megaphone and call out the unfairness of it all. I am missing out even though I am doing it by choice. I could do those things, but I don’t because I don’t want to risk getting COVID. I don’t want to spread COVID. Those people who are making those choices are assessing their own risks. And hopefully, in their risk assessment, they have a plan for not spreading the virus.

There are FOMO opportunities all over the place. Sometimes I’m missing out and sometimes I’m getting the perks. I can go to the bookstore near my house and look for a book (20-minute limit) but my sister in Chicago, an avid reader, can’t go into her local bookstore. My sixteen-year-old niece in New Orleans goes to parties and sleepovers but my daughter Lucia hasn’t had a social life in almost a year.

It’s not fair! I want everyone to play by the same rules, to get the same number of Red Vines, to have the same amount of time in the beanbag chair. It’s old stuff, this sense of fairness and it comes out big time with COVID. In response to my big feelings about not getting what others are getting, I find a hard-backed chair in the corner of the room to sit in, cross my arms and look down at them in judgment — those losers, eating their stupid Red Vines, sitting in that dumb beanbag chair.

I don’t like sitting in that hard-backed chair of judgment. Honestly, it’s kind of lonely and depressing. But I find myself there time and time again because I want the world to be fair. I want the white supremacist terrorists to be treated like the Black Lives Matter protesters. I want the COVID deniers to get COVID instead of the COVID rule abiders. The fact that some people still get to have a semi-normal life and not get COVID brings out my very worst. If life were fair the people who play by the rules would have all the Red Vines and get to nap in the bean bag chair.

The unsavory mix of FOMO and fairness is schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is to experience joy or delight over someone else’s misfortune. Schadenfreude is the leprosy of emotions. It is truly undesirable.

The feeling of schadenfreude, for me, comes from sitting in that chair of judgment for too long, from not appreciating the very simple fact that life isn’t fair. It just isn’t. Experiencing schadenfreude is an embarrassing admission. I’m not proud of it and I’d like to get rid of it.

As I watched the imbeciles destroying our nation’s Capitol on January 6th, I was secretly hoping that they would learn something. That, in acting so repugnantly, they would all get COVID and understand how justice really works. And when they were struck down by the virus I would feel vindicated, elated with my righteousness.

But instead, my local congresswoman, a COVID rule-follower, locked in a room with a hundred other congresswomen and men got COVID because some dingbat congressmen in the room refused to wear masks. No justice there. Not fair. 

FOMO is real. We all feel it in different ways. Some people wish they had a big family that made life interesting. Others wish they could escape from their families and just have a week alone in their house. Some people wish they lived in the sun and others wished they could ski every weekend. But FOMO is also pointless because it is just an invitation to suffering. Choosing to wish we were somewhere that we aren’t or to have something that we don’t is part of what creates schadenfreude.

And fairness? It’s not real. Growing up, one of my mom’s mantras with my two sisters and me was, “Life isn’t fair.” I hated that saying and I never say it to my own daughter. But I know it. I believe it. Fairness isn’t possible because people live their lives according to their life circumstances and values and none of us can know what those are for anyone but ourselves. The more energy I put towards trying to find fairness, the more my schadenfreude bubbles up inside. 

I don’t want schadenfreude in my life. Yuck. To rid myself of this odious sentiment, I must remind myself to acknowledge the ever-presence of FOMO — to see it for what it is and let it go. And I must internalize my mother’s mantra, the simple truth that life isn’t fair. It just isn’t. There’s no debate. Sometimes you get some Red Vines, and sometimes you don’t. But being pissed at the guy sitting in the bean bag chair isn’t going to make you feel better. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Angels Among Us

 At Joe Biden’s inauguration, he used the phrase “our better angels [of our nature]”. His exact quote was,

“Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our ‘better angels’ have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward.”

The first time I remember hearing that phrase was about a year ago when I was walking around Seward Park, an old-growth forest near my house. I was listening to a podcast when I heard the phrase “the better angels of our nature.” It made me think about what my better angels are. I always connect with people at the park — I say hi, wave, smile, share appreciation for a heron or an eagle. I love the park and the people there. I love the trees and the birds and the turtles. But I was aware that day how, though I did smile (we weren’t yet wearing masks outside), nod or wave to different people, there was also a pallor of despair, like a persistent grey cloud, stalking me. It was the beginning of the pandemic and everyone was on high alert. 

I remember the feeling I had so clearly that day. As I walked around the park, prone to constant sniffles, I pulled out my hanky to blow my nose and a man walking towards me quickly made a b-line to the other side of the path. He wasn’t trying to be rude or unkind. I didn’t blame him. All of us were just starting to adapt to this new way of life. But I felt a sting, a little pang of rejection.

We are now deeply into this sustained change of life. And we are changed. The four years of living in a country run by a man who disregards our environment and humanity in so many ways has taken a toll on me. COVID-19 may have tipped me over the edge. I worry about people I love. I worry about the people living in tents all over our city. I worry about my old parents and your old parents and my friends who have auto-immune diseases. I worry about my daughter and my nephews and nieces and all the young people who are struggling.

I worry that living so isolated from each other over the last several months has muted our better angels. At the park, when the man crossed away from me on the path, I totally understood why he did that, but as I look back on it now, I can see that it was the beginning of several months of micro-actions like these that have been happening for almost a year. We have all been doing them. The news is telling us to steer clear of each other, to stay home, to worry. 

When I got home that day almost a year ago, I looked up “the better angels of our nature” and learned that this phrase was used by Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address. Psychologist Steven Pinker wrote a book with the same title and uses the phrase as a metaphor for four human motivations — empathy, self-control, the “moral sense,” and reason. (1) We tend to lose focus, especially in times like these, of the innate goodness of ourselves and each other. And when you look at all the little distancing micro-actions we’re all making, how could we not? 

What I needed then and what I need now is to feel calm and at ease. I want to come back to connecting to other people with empathy, self-control, moral sense, and reason. Where do we turn when the majority of people in our midst are suffering from the same anxieties and fears that we are? 

The only thing that makes sense to me is to turn outwards instead of inwards — to look towards those people, even if they are turning away. We can still stay safe. We can still follow the CDC recommendations, but we can find ways to connect. Share food with your neighbors. Don’t buy all the toilet paper. Check-in on your friends who live alone. Tell your kids to be kind to their classmates in the chat rooms at school.

And helping actually helps. For the past several months, every Friday, my partner Nancy and I have volunteered at the senior center near our house. A handful of us prepare hot lunches for close to two hundred homebound seniors. It is one of the highlights of my week. A few weeks ago the director of the senior center gave the volunteers letters to take to a local hospital to get vaccinated. Originally Nancy rejected the letter, “Can’t someone else use this more than us?” she asked.

“You are working in close contact with others doing this work and we want you to be safe. Get vaccinated,” she told us. 

Yesterday we took our letters and went to get vaccinated. As we waited in line, standing on blue dots six feet away from each other, holding our important clipboards, wearing our numbered stickers indicating what group we were in, I felt so grateful to be there. I felt like the seniors must feel every day when the volunteer knocks on their door with a hot lunch. I was being given a gift and it made me feel safe and loved.

When it was finally our turn in line I went to one vaccination station and Nancy to the other. We each got our shots, mine in my left arm and her in her right, and then they ushered us into an auditorium to wait fifteen minutes for any side effects.

As we waited, again in chairs spaced six-feet apart from each other, I said to Nancy, “This feels surprisingly calm and easy.” It wasn’t what I was expecting. I had imagined desperate people clawing their way to the front of the line, pushing ahead of old women in wheelchairs, conning the staff into giving them a shot. But there was none of that. It was serene, calm, and everyone was kind.

The nurses ushering us through the line were helpful. They assisted people in filling out their forms, they leaned in to hear the quiet voices of the elders, they smiled and gently laid a hand on backs or waists or arms to guide us to our destination. 

When I finally sat down across from the nurse who would vaccinate me, she was so happy, even joyful to be giving me the vaccine. Yes, she and her colleagues did hundreds of shots each day, arm after arm, weighed down in their PPE gear. But they weren’t burdened. They were activating their better angels and connecting with all of these grateful people. When Nancy told her nurse to “hang in there,” her nurse replied, “Oh, thanks, but I’m good. I love this. I really love it.” 

On the drive home from getting vaccinated Nancy thanked me for getting her involved at the senior center. It is one of her great joys in life, she told me. Mine too, I told her back. Just like the nurses giving the vaccines, to be able to connect with people by giving, by helping, enables the giver to feel a sense of hope and joy. It’s so simple. That giving connection feeds the heart and soul of both the giver and the receiver. It’s a win-win.

The despair is real these days. There is pain and stress and grief everywhere we look, but there is also generosity and love and hope. It doesn’t come by sitting and waiting for change to come. It comes when we activate our better angels. And, just like Joe Biden said almost two weeks ago, if enough of us come together, activating our better angels, it will carry all of us forward. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Morning Writing-- Like Helium in a Balloon

I look forward to going to bed every night. I am a deep sleeper and I love the process of falling asleep, feeling myself slowly let go of the day and sinking into the night. My natural clock has always told me to wake up early and, besides the early parenting years when I was nursing or doing some other care for my daughter, the early hours have always been my own. For the past several years this first part of my day has started with writing. 

I write to clear my thoughts, to get myself emotionally organized. As a non-linear, disorganized, multi-tasker, my brain is almost never quiet. Writing helps me feel grounded in some way before I begin my day. So, every morning before I do anything else, I write. Before I speak to anyone or look at my email or phone, I write. This is when I have a clear channel to my truest thoughts.

I always write first, consult later.  If I have an idea, I know not to speak it out loud to another person before I write it on my own. If I share it first, more often than not, I lose my inspiration to write about it. Once I share it, my inner idea feels tainted, weighed down by another perspective. My morning writing hours are like time in a helium balloon. As long as the thoughts or ideas are still in my head, there is a feeling of floating and weightlessness. The voices and perspectives in my mind are ever-changing. It is as if reality is suspended and I am somewhere else entirely. I am on a mental adventure, my mind floating above the earth, noting the details of the world around me. And then, when what I've written I feels complete, when my thoughts are clear, I am ready to come down. 

I've tried to write at other times of the day but it doesn't work. For me, the flow comes in the very early morning. Early morning is the space between asleep and awake. It is the time between night and day, the last few hours between dark and light. It is the neutral ground where the unconscious and the conscious greet each other and come together to create a magnificent blend of truth.

In the neverland between sleeping and fulling waking, my mind is neither one nor the other. The gift is in the quiet reverberations from the night before and the comforting awareness that the day ahead is coming soon. There is energy and creativity in the space between the two worlds. I always begin writing by listening to the voices of the night. I might not remember my dreams, but I have a sense of where I've been in the hours behind me. I write what I feel in each moment. Like a sunrise, the ideas, images, details, rise up out of the darkness into the light, making their way onto the page in the form of words and phrases.  

For me there is a limit to my time writing and so it is sacred. Many days it is my morning meditation. And when I skip my writing time there is a feeling throughout the day that something is missing. I long for it throughout the day. I miss the floating, the freedom that comes from lingering in the middle ground for that short time every morning. 

But then, faithfully, the night comes again. The sun sets, the day winds down and it is time again for bed. And I know, as I tuck myself into the familiar cocoon of sheets and blankets and my favorite pillow, that sleep will come soon. In the morning, I'll have another chance to step into the early morning darkness and write. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Need a Tow Truck?

You've driven into a muddy ditch in a big, heavy pick-up truck. It's raining a little bit and you think you'll be able to get out. It's just the right rear tire that's stuck. You take a deep breath, turn the wheels toward the road and push hard on the gas. The wheels spin and you move a few inches, but as soon as you take your foot off the gas, you feel the truck settle back. 

Now both rear tires are inches deep in the mud. It's raining harder and you begin to wonder if you will be able to get out of this ditch before nightfall. You find some cardboard in the back of the cab and quickly tear it into two pieces, putting one under each rear tire, hoping this will help get past the mud. Once more you gun the engine but make little headway. As soon as you take your foot off the gas, you sink again into the mud.

By this time you've given up the idea that you'll make it home by dinner. Your shoes are caked with mud, your hair is wet, and you're cold. This isn't working, you think to yourself, I can't do this alone. So you pull out the insurance card from your glove box and call the emergency roadside assistance. They ask what the problem is and what is your location. They tell you they will get there as soon as possible. You get back in the truck, text your partner or mother or friend, or none of them or all of them, and tell them your situation. And then you wait. There is nothing more you can do on your own to get out of the ditch. 

The grooves your tires have made, the grooves all four wheels are spinning in helplessly, are like the emotional patterns we form in our lives. I am stubborn. I hate asking for help. I feel like a loser if I need to ask for advice or support. In my life I've suffered unnecessarily by insisting that I had no weaknesses. And I've hurt other people too, by denying their help and support, by rejecting their efforts to be loving and kind.

As I've gotten older this trait has softened. But over the course of my life, this stubborn independence got me into a lot of trouble. I was the person who would sit in the truck, waiting out the cold and rain for days, hoping the rain would stop and the earth would harden so that I could get out of the ditch myself. There are those who are very much the opposite. They give up before trying-- victim to whatever afflicts them. Before even trying to get out of the ditch they call for help, dismissing their own abilities before exploring what they might be.

There is a middle ground though, a space between stubborn and passive, between hardass and victim. This is the place of acceptance. Accepting that you need help, but only after tapping into your own strength first. It is a beautiful place, a place of self-agency and inter-connection. In the height of my need to do everything on my own, when I rejected all help, all love, I was alone. Rejecting support deepened that feeling of aloneness, dug deeper grooves, muddier trenches. 

For those at the other end of the spectrum,  those who experience life more passively, there is a void too. It's lonely there. In that place, of sitting in wait, longing for someone else to take responsibility, make a move, create an action, there is no power. And in each moment of denying one's own abilities, giving it over to someone else, the loneliness grows, the truck wheels sink a little deeper, and getting out feels impossible. 

People like me need to accept their limits, open up to help and support and love. It is through this new path that we make our way out of the mud. Those who believe that strength and power live outside of themselves need to go inside, experiment with their personal strength and power first. They might have an idea about how to position the wheels of the truck or how to use the cardboard. They might not need to call the tow truck. 

We're all somewhere on the path to this middle ground, this place of accepting a way of being that is other than what we think we are. For me it's asking for help, letting go of the control. For you it might be taking the reins, having more agency over your life and your decisions. We're all learning something that will free us from the muddy trenches. And each time we try a different way, the less familiar way, we create different grooves, a way out of the mud. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Box of Enough

I have a friend who's ex is planning a trip to Hawaii with their kids. My friend is furious. The travel plans to Hawaii are totally against their state's travel restrictions and it's not a necessary trip. My friend is furious. It puts her and the whole family at risk. I am, of course on the side of my friend, not just because she is my friend, but because I am a rule abider. I believe that, if we all followed the COVID rules, we'd be a lot further into healing this country of the virus. 

My friend's conflict with her ex has got me thinking about how differently people are handling the restrictions in this pandemic. In seventh grade I learned that World War Two lasted six years and that Anne Frank hid in a tiny hidden room for more than 700 days. I remember thinking how impossible that would be-- to endure that kind of extreme hardship for so long. 

But I have endured. We have endured. We are still enduring. We are not in a war or hiding from the Nazis, but our lives have radically changed. We cannot travel where we want, we cannot see our friends or family, our children cannot go to school, we cannot go out in the world and feel safe from the virus. If someone told me ten years ago that this is what my life would look like one day, I would have thought the same thing I did in seventh grade, that it would be impossible to endure.

But almost a year in, I am okay. My family is okay. What we have is enough. We have enough food, money, clothes, heat, space.  Our little world, the walls of our house, have become enough. It's as if we've grown inward, creating ways to evolve within the confinement instead of looking beyond the walls in search of something more. In the absence of this possibility, we do with what we have and it becomes enough.

It isn't easy, but it's possible. Right now my partner Nancy is doing a twenty-eight day strength-training class. My daughter Lucia is going through her closet and selling clothes on Depop. I do water colors and jump in the lake every day. We eat dinner together every night and sometimes we play Scrabble. Every few weeks or months one of us comes up with a new passion or goal or idea. We are all discovering ways to create and recreate ourselves in the confinement of our home.

Our home has become our little box of everything. And as I think of my friend's ex, taking the kids to Hawaii to get a break from the confinement of the pandemic, the confinement that we are all living in, I think I understand what motivates her. Her box is not enough. She has not settled into it. She is fighting to get out of the box instead of figuring out how to live within it. 

I'm not glad to be in a pandemic. It's scary and lonely and boring. But I can see now that it's possible to find a sense of peace and equanimity within it.  I understand that by accepting reality as it is right now, by breathing what life we can into our little box, that it becomes enough. Instead of living in panic, desperate to escape the box, we inhabit it.  We occupy all the different rooms, turn on all of the lights, open all of the closets and drawers, and use all of the appliances. We find all of the hidden spaces and discover books we haven't read and recipes we've never cooked.

 It would be a lie if I said I didn't miss my family, my friends, the adventures I used to have outside of this little box. I miss all of that and hope that one day I'll travel and hug my mom and share meals with my friends. But to hope for that, to wish for something different when we are in a pandemic will only bring me suffering. It will make me claustrophobic and maniacal. I'll want to break every window in my house and run screaming through the streets without a mask. So I settle into my box, look around and see that, though it's not everything I want, for now what's in this box is enough.  

Monday, January 18, 2021

When Joy Visits

Last night joy visited my house. First it showed up while learning TickTock dances with my sixteen-year-old daughter Lucia. The absurdity of doing the dances invoked radical freedom and playfulness. A sense of letting go that comes only when all the players are aligned, when the moment is just right. Then it reappeared when my partner Nancy brought a New Yorker to the dinner table to get help understanding a cartoon. That led to all of us trying to come up with clever captions for other cartoons in the magazine which led to eating ice cream out of the cartons and stuffing chocolate popcorn by the handful into our mouths. We laughed and laughed-- at ourselves, at each other. 

Joy is the opposite of a bag or heavy rocks on your back. Joy is that moment in the movie theater, at the end of the best movie you've ever seen, the perfect classical music playing as the credits roll. Popcorn smell in the air. Eyes fixed on the screen, shadows of other theater-goers beginning to move, the sounds of wrappers crunching, whispers as people slip their arms into their coats. And you, in stillness, experiencing all of it, while relishing in the afterglow of that perfect movie. Waiting for the moment when you're saturated in it, ready to put your own coat on, crunch up your popcorn bag, and head outside.

Joy is warm wind, a gentle tornado that smells like fresh baked bread softly swirling around you. Carrying you through life's moments, light, free, alive. Where does joy come from? It lives inside of us but gets silenced by the weight of the world. Like a grouchy first grader, pouting in the corner for reasons unknown until there is the moment when you look over at them, stick out your tongue and make your eyes big and silly. And they smile back, then laugh a little bit, they run over and wrap their little arms around your big legs. And there, in that split second, is an explosion of lightness, a moment of rapture.

When joy comes, it is all-encompassing and we can't feel anything else. The bag of rocks becomes weightless, as if the wind from the warm tornado is carrying their burden. Joy comes from within each of us but is expanded by the energy from those around us. We are the warm wind to each other. Yesterday Nancy and I walked to the grocery store. We had only one bag and it was heavy with a huge jar of coconut oil and a big bag of onions. Eventually we each took a one handle and walked home sharing the load. Each of our loads was lighter and the walk home was much more pleasant.

When Lucia was five years old, we took her to New Orleans. We were standing on a big open veranda in the French Quarter surrounded by my mother and two close friends. We had beautiful pastries and good coffee sitting on the table and the sun was bright. As we sat and visited,  no place to go, no need to rush, a warm wind began to blow. Lucia, a child of the Pacific Northwest, accustomed to always wearing a fleece, even in the summer, closed her eyes and felt the warm wind on her skin. When she opened her eyes she said, "I love the warm wind."

I will never forget that moment. It was so pure and perfect. That moment, like the newest addition to my library of joy memories added last night, is a touchstone back to what many of us need right now. It can feel counterintuitive for me to feel joy when there is so much pain and devastation around us. But joy is the sustenance of the soul,  just like food is the nourishment of our bodies.

When we have moments, like I had with my family last night, that is an opportunity to capture the experience like a photograph or a video, like the perfect movie. As I sit here and write this I can feel the joy from last night. It takes me right back to the laughter and delight I shared with Lucia and Nancy. I feel a rush of love for my family and genuine hope for the future. Joy is always inside of us, but these days it might feel more hidden. Once in a while, there are those wonderful, magical moments when joy is set free. Keep yourself open for these moments. They will help you carry your bag of rocks, at least for a little while. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A Dying Dream

Four years ago, after the presidential election, my then 12-year-old daughter Lucia and I wrote thank you letters to Hillary Clinton. When Clinton lost the presidential race, writing to Hillary was my first instinct. I needed to tell her what her running for president had meant to me. I also needed to find a way for my 12-year-old daughter to process her grief about the loss. I didn’t know four years ago what a profound, devastating experience Hillary Clinton’s loss would be, not just for me and Lucia, but for our entire country, for the world. 

When Hillary Clinton ran for president, a new level of hope and excitement unfurled for me. I was raised by feminist parents. My father, even back then, was the Board President of Planned Parenthood in Northwest Indiana. He taught my sisters and me to play football and encouraged us to start a team at our school. My mother worked tirelessly for accessible health services for low-income women and helped us write letters of concern and complaint about nuclear arms to Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.

Even with these activist, feminist roots, I never believed, could never imagine that a woman could be president. Sure, I fantasized, I hoped, but I didn’t really believe it. A woman would make so much difference. A woman would truly would change the world. But actually having a woman as President of the United States felt like a pipe dream. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton looked like she was getting close. I let myself believe. The unimaginable became thinkable. My daughter was my proxy. I shadowed her enthusiasm, tentatively watching her true belief, trying to actually experience it for myself. So many years of doubt had left me standing on the sidelines of really buying into the idea that a woman could be our nation’s commander in chief. But for those few weeks before the election I stepped over the line to stand with my daughter in the land of believing.

And then Hillary Clinton lost. The electoral college declared Voldemort our leader, and my heart broke. The night of the elections, after gearing up for a thrilling victory, my partner Nancy and I watched Lucia sob over the horrific results. We helplessly watched her cry teenage tears of disillusionment and disappointment. And my heart broke a little bit more. The next morning when the dust had settled a little bit, I told my family that I was going to write to Hillary and tell her what her running for president had meant to me. I invited Lucia to do the same. It took weeks to get the letters done. They were difficult to write because the blow of the loss had been so painful. Writing the disappointment was almost too much to bear.

And now here we are, a few days before Voldemort, the little shell of a man who’s selfishly wreaked havoc across our country finally leaves the White House. For four years, he has carried the torch of destruction, like a toxic Olympic flame, across this land, tainting it, state by state, with his narcissistic interests along with a deadly virus, to this final point where we are now — -engulfed in flames of violence, destruction, and despair.

Looking back on these last four years, I feel affirmed. I feel righteous. Hillary Clinton was the right choice. And I feel angry. What if Hillary Clinton had been the one leading this country over the last four years? Would unemployment and hunger be ravaging our country? Would Celebrity Wheel of Fortune have Drew Carey playing for the food bank in Cleveland? Would people be hoarding toilet paper and chastising each other for wearing or not wearing masks? 

The possibility for healing this country with a new administration, one that includes a WOMAN, leaves my heart racing with excitement and joy. But I’m not all in. I’ve dropped back into the shadows, not sure this dream can come true. And this time I fear Lucia is lurking in the shadows with me. In the last four years I fear that she has lost the vision, the dream, the pureness of believing in something impossible becoming possible.

For the next four years, we will have a new administration. We will have a woman in the White House. Kamala Harris. A powerful, intelligent, confident woman. In the rubble of this destruction that Mr. Man-baby, Temper-tantrum, Spoiled-brat Donald Trump has left us, we need a woman. I find myself tentatively hopeful, like I was that night four years ago when I dipped my toes into the pool of believing that America could support a woman for president. But my hope is tainted. It’s damaged by thousands of tiny blows from the last four years.

Those of us who wanted to believe in possibilities four years ago are shattered. During Trump’s presidency, we’ve travelled so far away from our vision of goodness, of greatness, of true change, that we need to start from scratch. We’re too exhausted to fantasize, to dream, even to truly hope. We simply want safety. The bigger things — equality, equity, empathy — still seem far away. 

My heart breaks again for my daughter, for all the young women and girls who dreamed the dream of Hillary Clinton four years ago. What they’ve learned in these last four years is that their dream isn’t possible. My hope is that maybe, little by slowly, day by day, one small repair at a time, Vice President Kamala Harris can help rebuild the dream of possibility for so many of us.

Schadenfreude: FOMO meets Fairness

When I hear about people going to parties or I see photos on Facebook of friends with their arms around each other I get mad. I saw Alicia K...