Tuesday, November 29, 2016


     Andrea came to see me at work today. She's a much older woman, well into her 80's, but you'd never know it from looking at her.  Aside from moving more slowly, she handles her affairs, drives herself wherever she needs to go and makes sure her makeup, hair and nails are fantastic.  She has that perpetual New Englander scowl thing going on, so at first I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to please her.  But after you've lived here for a couple decades, you come to realize that the scowl gets imprinted on a lot of our faces due to the weather and/or the sports teams.  She's an absolute jewel, so I love helping her.
     We've had several lovely conversations over the years. She's told me about her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She told me about the catering business that she started and then ran with one of her sons, who now runs it by himself. She's shown me pictures of herself as a young woman and dressed to the nines attending parties with her husband. She brought a sweater to show me that she knitted years ago with beads woven into the knitting.  We had discussed crafting, and she had wanted to show me what her hands were once capable of doing.  Andrea likes to bring me food as her way of thanking me for helping her.  She's silly that way. We've talked about her husband. They grew up together and were married for over 40 years before he died.  Many years after he died, Andrea met another man through some friends.  She called him her sweetie.  His grown children and grandchildren love her, and still do, even though he died a couple years ago. He made her happy again when she thought that part of her life was over.
     When Andrea got ready to leave my office, she noticed an older gentleman that was sitting in my waiting area. She inhaled sharply and put her hand to her chest. I immediately asked what was wrong and she told me that when she looked at the man sitting there, for a moment she thought it was her sweetie. Quickly realizing that wasn't possible, we both smiled weakly at each other. I hugged her. She started to tear up, and then asked me if I needed a grandmother in her life. I told her to be careful out there.
     After my mother's divorce was finalized when I was a teenager, she tried her hand at dating again.  She even got engaged on two separate occasions over the many years afterward but gave the rings back each time when she realized the men weren't right for her. One really didn't want to commit, and the other failed to visit her in the hospital when she was very ill.  He was busy.  That whole week.  I remember telling her that I thought she was brave to do that, even though he was an ass for not visiting her when she so desperately needed to see him.  She told me that all she really wanted was someone to go to the movies with every so often, maybe go out to dinner, sit on the couch and hold hands. She didn't need to get married again to do that. She just needed a sweetie.  

Monday, November 21, 2016


     I've was able to take a couple days off from work (sort of), and when I got in today I was besieged with a ton of catch-up work.  Such is the lot of the manager.  About half-way through the day, I was sent a deceased client alert which I needed to attend to immediately.  I've mentioned in the past that my clientele is an older demographic, so although it's sad, it's not uncommon to have people I know pass away.  When I opened this alert, it was for a man in his early fifties named Nathan.
     Nathan was always quick with a smile and so easy to work for and with.  He usually never made an appointment, so when he needed something and I was with someone, he'd patiently wait in one of the chairs outside my office.  I'd pass by to check in and he'd say, "No worries, I've got all the time in the world." He never walked into the office, always waited for me to let him know I'd finished up and was now ready for him.  We had been working on a couple things to address his needs, so for a while there he would stop by each week.  He'd tell me about his life, his collections (stamps and coins), how he was caring for his elderly mother.  He had told me that he was out on disability from work due to an illness, but I didn't put two and two together. He was a little plump, and I thought it was just from a life well enjoyed and not from liver failure.
     I learned today that he died 3 weeks ago.  Too late for me to attend his funeral and offer condolences to a family that wouldn't know me from Adam.  Instead, I sat in my office and stared out at the wind vigorously blowing the bushes and fall leaves around just outside my window.  I thought about how very few of us have all the time in the world.  I wondered if I had thanked him enough for his patience and for his stories.
     The world is so unsure and unsteady right now, but this I know to be true.  There are only so many days and so many minutes for each of us.  Thank the people who do right by you, praise the light and the good, stand up for what you know is right, and don't be stingy with your love.  Don't ever be stingy with that gift.  It may not always be appreciated or reciprocated, but don't chance leaving this world without letting the humans you care about know your truth.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


     My heart remains heavy, my loves. Heavy for my country and the direction that we will head for the next four years, and honestly for years to come, as very few decisions made have only short term outcomes.  News outlets online and half-assed internet sites are reporting so many conflicting stories about the President-elects transition team and first 100 day plans, that it is difficult to know what to believe.  We do know that the backlash against intellectualism continues to grow, as names like Ben Carson are bantered about for Education Secretary or Sarah Palin for Interior Secretary.  Is Trump toning down his rhetoric, suggesting that he said whatever he needed to say to rile up his base? Heaven forfend!  Or is it all a ruse to make people believe that it won't be as bad as he promised, create a false sense of security before the all important holiday shopping season is upon us?    
     We know that more than half the eligible voters in the country didn't vote.  Whatever their reasons or excuses, that's inexcusable.  We know that there are still millions of votes left to count.  We also know that Hillary Clinton is leading in the popular vote in counted ballots, and it only continues to grow.  We also know that she has the 4th highest popular vote total in American history and could move into third place.  He won the electoral college. He played the numbers the right way. She neglected the white vote in poorer parts of the country, assuming that they would naturally be in her camp.  She and the DNC made a couple other mistakes, but that's better left to the pundits to debate.  There is little comfort in knowing that really about a quarter of the registered voters in the country voted for him.
     I don't want to argue with anyone about whether or not he was a better a choice. When you vote for someone, it's supposed to be based on the whole package.  If you're a one issue kind of person, forsaking all other aspects of a personality or platform, that's like buying a house based on one room.  You might dig your time in that room, but I guarantee you're going to have to move throughout that abode, and if you can't at least be mildly at ease in those other rooms, that's going to make for some uncomfortable living arrangements.  To put my analogy into play, if you voted for Trump based on his stance on abortion - because that's your line in the sand - then you're at least mildly comfortable with the idea of registering Muslims, mass deportations of immigrants and discriminating against others based on religious preferences.  If you disagree with me and say, Oh no Heather, I'm most certainly not for those things at all, but I am totally against abortion. Like I said, that's one room in the house.
     That's why there are tens of thousands of Americans protesting in the streets throughout the country.  They're not upset about an election. The're upset at the hate and vitriol that so many people just condoned and tacitly approved of.  They're afraid and scared.  They're not being petulant.  Our country was built on the freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble, to protest.  Donald Trump made his views on women, minorities, the LGBTQIA community, Muslims and veterans well known. His rallies showcased hate speech and violence against protesters. He is endorsed by the KKK.  David Duke is beyond giddy on his twitter feed.  Make no mistake, you ally yourself with evil by not outright rejecting it and all its trappings.  If vendors outside your rallies are selling white power merchandise, if supporters inside your rallies are screaming epithets and racial slurs, if you re-tweet white supremacist memes and follow those people on twitter, if Anti-Semitism is thinly veiled in your messaging, you have made your true character well known. That's why people are protesting, and why we must not be silent.
     An older well known male client was discussing the protests with me on Friday.  We were being painfully polite with each other while in my office, as it was clear that our political choices were different.  But at one point, he told me that the protesters really needed to be quiet, hunker down and "take the next 4 years."  Do you know what that sounded like to me?  It sounded an awful lot like something someone quite evil told me a very long time ago in a moment that I will never forget.  Just be quiet and take it.  Why are you crying?  It's not that bad.
     I will not be quiet.
     I will not take it.
     I will rage.
     And I will never forget.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Tumbling Tower

     My loves, as you know  I’ve spent a great deal time over the last year questioning the decline of discourse between the sexes.  I have no illusions that there was more civility before this year -- online comments prove that time and time again -- but there was at least the appearance of propriety in public discourse. All bets are off now with Donald Trump having riled up the far-right members of his base.  The chants of “tramp”, “whore”, “trump that bitch” rang in the air at his rallies, while he offered up thinly veiled invitations for those who might exercise their 2nd Amendment rights if only her Secret Service detail would give up their arms. 
     I have discussed the daily maneuvers in my work life between uncivil comments, innuendos and outright proposition.  I don’t believe that if Hillary Clinton is elected President the situation will improve.  In fact, I think that sexism will get worse.  Too many people have become too comfortable with expressing the baser aspects of their personalities.  This backlash is portrayed as a response to political correctness, as though our skin as women has grown too thin to take a joke.  In actuality, these rejoinders are due to the crumbling of one of the pillars on which this country was built on. 
     We were founded on the premise that all men, specifically white men, were created equal.  Our Declaration of Independence isn’t talking about women, nor people of color.  We were chattel.  Women couldn’t own property, enter into a contract or even earn a salary until the slow introduction of the Married Women’s Property Acts.  These started state by state in 1839 and weren’t passed unilaterally until 1900.  Our right to vote wasn’t guaranteed until 1920, although Mississippi didn’t ratify it until 1984. We weren’t deemed equally qualified to serve on juries until 1947. In 1971, the Supreme Court outlawed private employers from refusing to hire women with pre-school aged children.  1972 brought Title IX and the prohibition of sex discrimination in all aspects of education programs that receive federal support.  Roe v. Wade in 1973 presented the novel idea that we should have control over our reproductive rights.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act came along in 1978 and prohibited discrimination based on pregnancy.  Marital rape became a crime in all 50 states in 1993.
     Steadily, but too slowly we have attained the rights and privileges that have long been available to men.  Some are still consistently threatened, such as reproductive rights and access, and other pieces of legislation aren’t fully enforced.  When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women made 59 cents on the dollar. By 2004 the figure had risen to 77 cents but has increased by less than half a penny every year since.  The Institute for Women’s Policy Research does not believe that the wage gap will close until 2058.  Some men probably feel disenfranchised by these gains, as though they’re sitting atop something akin to a Jenga tower.  As each piece of wood is slowly pulled out from the bottom and sides, they feel like their foundation is crumbling round them.  If you weren’t raised to believe that women were men’s equal, these changes must feel like quite the bitter pill instead of the changes that are necessary to advance our country and our society.

     That’s why we must be prepared to combat the increased sexism and misogyny that will inevitably arise from a potential Hillary Clinton presidency.  Donald Trump didn’t create it; he boldly encouraged it to come out into the light.  More and more, women are speaking out and refusing to swallow the commonplace.  We can’t gloss over sexism and let business as usual continue.  Equality for women advances not only the individual woman, but the family unit, as well.  Our work for change and reform doesn’t end with the election, but starts at home with the children and men we interact with daily.  It must happen in the workplace for ourselves and for the women who have yet to be hired.  We can’t be silent.  Our founding mothers demand to be heard.