Tag Archives: donald trump

Trump’s America

This just happened. (Note: racial descriptors are relevant to the story. It’s not like I just decided “Hey, you know what’s good storytelling and never offends? Calling the characters ‘black man’ and ‘white guy.'”)

Just now, I was in the liquor store buying 4 bottles of wine (one for each day Eric’s away at his bachelor party). As I was paying, a black man started yelling, in an EXTREMELY loud, panicked voice, “WOAH WOAH WOAH NO NO NOOO!”

The whole store froze. I turned to look at the man, and saw that he was starting at, and seemingly yelling at, a white customer at the register on the other side of the store. Not knowing what was happening, I obviously assumed we were all about to die. Then the black man darted out of the store and confronted a cop who was ticketing his car right there outside the door. Turns out, I was mistaken– he was not yelling at the white guy, he was yelling past the white guy, trying to get the cop’s attention because he didn’t want to get a ticket.

Once I realized this, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief, looked at the cashier, and said, “Jesus, I thought you guys were getting robbed. My heart just stopped.”

The cashier, a black woman, looked back at me, unamused, and said “Uh huh. Because every time a black man’s yelling, it’s because he’s robbing someone?”

I stared at her, taken aback. The race of the people involved had not even occurred to me until that moment (no, not because I’m that asshole who is going to claim “I don’t see color.” Of course I fucking see color. I have eyes. But in that moment, I was too panicked to process anything beyond the fact that I thought I was going to die right there in Yorkshire Wines and Spirits, holding 4 bottles of cheap sauvignon blanc).

“Actually, no,” I said, regaining my composure (but obviously still sweating profusely). “I thought that white man at the other register was robbing the store. I thought the black man was yelling at him, because he saw him with a gun or something. I thought the white guy was going to kill us, and that the black guy was trying to save us all.”

“Ah. Ok, my bad,” she said.

Then she shrugged her shoulders and mumbled, “Sorry. Trump’s America. I just assume now that everyone is racist.”

The saddest part?

I get it.

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(He did get out of the ticket, though. So…happy, feel-good ending? img_2021-1 )

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Be Afraid

Brain surgeon, pre-surgery, holding a drill to your skull:  “Why, no. No I did not attend my training. No, I am not fully aware of the specific, acute challenges I might face once I get in there. But I’m a smart guy. I’ll figure this out. I don’t need to be told what to do.”

If that scenario alarms you– and IT FUCKING SHOULD– so should Trump’s attitude toward intelligence briefings.

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Know Your Audience

A 5th grader I tutor, who is generally not one to open up about anything personal, expressed to me that he was really devastated by the results of the election, and that he found it personally hurtful that anyone would vote for a bully like Donald Trump. I told him that what he was feeling was the same thing half the country was feeling, and that he has every right to feel saddened by what has happened. I then decided to use his emotional experience as an opportunity for him to practice his writing skills. We were about to start a narrative piece, and I had prepared a topic that I thought he, in his classic boy-ness, would enjoy: “Imagine you have a superpower for a day.” Getting him to write can be a painful process and I knew he’d think this topic was fun. But given that he was grappling with all these emotions from the election, I proposed that instead he write about his experience of disappointment and anger (and perhaps he’d mature a bit in the process).

Me: “Writers are often inspired by what happens in their lives, and usually the most powerful pieces of writing come from a place of genuine, deep emotion. I think what you are experiencing right now would be perfect inspiration for a writing piece. And it will have the added benefit of making you feel better, because writing is often used as a way to express, and therefore move on from, experiences and emotions that upset us.”

Kid: (intrigued) “Wow, that’s a really good idea, actually. I like how you have all these smart ideas that I would never think of. I think I probably WOULD feel better if I wrote out all these feelings.”

Me: “Aw, fabulous! So how ’bout we start brainstorming some ideas?”

Kid: “Ok, cool! I’m going to do a web.”

(I search in my bag for a pencil as kid draws a web. When I look over, I see he has written ‘invisibility’ and ‘removing my head.’)

Me: “Wait. What do these things have to do with the election?”

Kid: “Oh, nothing. I’m writing about my superpower.”

Me: “But…wait…I thought you just said writing down your feelings about the election was a great, smart idea!”

Kid: “Well, yeah. It was. But I’d rather write a story about ripping my head off my neck and carrying it around in my hands. How cool would THAT be?!”

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Hope

*Disclaimer: This post is not meant to represent the experience or feelings of anyone but myself. I recognize that crawling out of depression and Trump being president are not universally analogous, nor is the comparison relevant to most people out there, especially the people most potentially threatened by his presidency. This is simply a personal, self-indulgent journaling of how I am processing my emotions and looking to stay positive and make sense of things in a time that is overwhelmingly challenging to do so. But mostly, it’s just an ode to a dear friend.

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Today I received this email from a dear friend…

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Nine years ago, this same friend came to visit me in my darkest hour. I was living with my parents in Maryland, in the midst of an extremely serious depressive episode. I had left my job and my life in Philadelphia. I was literally sleeping in my parents’ bed, between them, too afraid to be alone with my thoughts. Despair was eating my insides. I couldn’t function, couldn’t eat, could barely breathe. Dressing myself was a challenge. I had lost any semblance of the life I had known and loved, and I saw absolutely no path to getting it back.

And then this friend came in from NY to visit. He dragged me into DC and forced me on a tour of our nation’s capital. And as we sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he promised me hope.

I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t see how that was possible. I couldn’t see past the very moment I was trapped in. I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever be able to function again, how I’d ever be able to take a breath that didn’t feel shallow. I couldn’t imagine ever holding a job. I couldn’t imagine being able to connect with anyone, on any level, ever again. If I couldn’t even imagine these simplest of human tasks, the idea of ever living a fulfilling, productive life seemed completely out of my reach. I wanted to die.

But this friend insisted on hope. He insisted that progress doesn’t happen in a straight line– but that eventually, we always move forward. He promised me I’d not only get my life back, but this painful experience would, in time, lead to an even better, more connected life than the one I had before.

I protested. He protested back. Eventually, too bone-tired and sad to argue, I nodded. My heart wanted to believe him but my mind told me he was full of shit.

Shortly after his visit, life began to change. It wasn’t instant and it wasn’t easy. It took work. It took a LOT of support from those around me. It took a damn village. It took faith. It took forcing myself into action. It took constantly reminding myself that no matter the setback, everything was going to be ok.

Today I not only function, I thrive. Today I not only breathe, I breathe deeply. Today I not only work, I have my own business. Today I not only connect, I get to marry and share my life with the most incredible man I’ve ever known.

My friend was right. My life is better today than the life I was living before my darkest hour. Not only because I survived the despair, but because I learned from it. It opened my eyes. It gave me perspective. It made me more empathetic. It deepened my connections with others. It inspired me to give back. It forced me to speak out. It sprung me into action, and inspired me to work on myself and stand up for others every chance I get. It made me realize that I have to cherish, appreciate, and look for the good if I want to ensure that darkness will never win in the end.

So thank you, friend. I needed this reminder of hope today. And not because there aren’t other messages of hope out there. There certainly are, thank god.

But you are a source I can trust.