First Time for EverythingI

I have never been in a protest march in my life. Even in college, when classmates would gather to demonstrate against whatever or for whatever, I’d skulk around the fringes or hide in the library.

I was studying journalism and I became a journalist.I was convinced I needed to maintain objectivity, so learned to set personal opinion aside. Sometimes, I honestly didn’t have an opinion at all, and often my opinions were mixed anyway. I could not understand why some people were so angry and upset. I am not a fearful person, and so I guessed that it was fear that really motivated these protesters – fear that something bad would happen, or fear that something good would be taken away.

I attended the Women’s March on Trump Tower yesterday and came to feel the fear first-hand. Since the day Trump was elected, I have felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. It hasn’t gone away. When we was sworn in as president Friday, I downed some Maalox and got back to work, then finished preparations for the march Saturday.

At the march, fear met joy head-on and got run over by a pink tide. I marched with women who made uteri out of cardboard and women who drew fallopian  tubes on their pink pants. I marched with women young enough to be my daughters and women older than my grandmother, some inching along with canes and walkers. There were men, too – plenty of them.

No one got violent, no one got arrested, no one so much as stepped accidentally on someone’s foot without saying “sorry” or “excuse me.” Here is the scene outside Grand Central Terminal, the main train station in New York:

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Lots of people made signs. I met up with a guy dressed as Gandalf whose sign said “You shall not pass!” Of all the signs I saw, this was my favorite:

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I couldn’t catch up with the young woman holding it. I hope she doesn’t mind that I shared her artwork with everyone.

Today I am tired an achy and a bit anxious again. Yesterday we had our fun. Today the real work begins.

“What are you going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the rest of your life?”

My Poster for the March on Trump Tower tomorrow.

Gandalf says this to Pippin right before he introduces the Hobbit to Denethor, the leader of Gondor. Pippin’s wilfully ignorant of what’s going on as the nations prepare for war against Sauron.

I think it’s a good metaphor for the Trump Resistance. No one is too small to matter. No one can remain wilfully ignorant. 

“You look so skinny!”

I bought a new sweater this past weekend – love me a January sale. It’s a long raspberry and gray sweater with a split hem that reaches well past my butt, so I wear it belted. I wore it to work yesterday with some black slim-fit pants.

“Love this! You look so skinny!” a coworker blurted out in the hallway when she saw me.

Does it matter that this coworker is a size 2 30-year-old?

Does it mean, “You usually look fat, but not today!”

Does it mean, “I normally hate your clothes but this is pretty good, for you!”

Who knows what it means. It was meant as a complement, to be taken with good grace. There’s no point in parsing out the meaning, exploring a coworker’s lack of social graces, or plotting revenge.

So what to say in reply? “Thanks.”

That’s all.

#Pussyhats

I sewed 22 #pussyhats yesterday for myself and my friends to wear during the Women’s March on Washington and the March on Trump Tower in NYC on January 21, the day after our new president is sworn into office.

Here’s a picture of two finished hats and a picture of the assembly line I created.

A couple of women created this project to create a strong visual representation at these events. The hats must be pink – any shade – and handmade, either knit or sewn. You can decorate them as you like. I made these little contrasting ears, and I am leaving it to my friends to decorate them with buttons, whiskers etc.

I posted pictures on Facebook yesterday, and several takers appeared right away, including a friend of a friend who wanted six hats for herself and her friends for DC. I am meeting her tonight to hand over some hats. I am mailing other hats to friends and relatives in Maine and New Hampshire, and I’ll give more to my friends locally. Whatever’s unclaimed I will give to strangers at the march in New York.

To be honest, I am not that keen to wear a goofy, bright pink hat to this event. I am deadly serious about my fear for my country, and for women in particular, with this new president. But, I understand the power of symbolism and image in our digital age, so I will do it. And I understand the desire to take away the derogatory power he and others have tried to claim over women’s bodies, by vulgarizing our anatomy.

For more information and how you can get involved, see Pussyhat Project. The sewing pattern itself is a free pattern from Fun With Fleece. I got 22 hats out of about 3 yards of remnants of poly polarfleece.

Sobriety

I am laying off the drink for a while. I have never been a big drinker; even in college I’d have 2 or 3 beers and call it a night. But lately even one drink is too much. It’s like my body can’t metabolize it anymore. I was no more than halfway through the gin & tonic for evening cocktails on Thursday when a headache bloomed in my brain. It stayed there for four days.

I had no alcohol on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day. I haven’t done four sober holidays in a row since I was 16.

Is my husband on board? Perhaps this photo of his shopping excursion last week tells the tale better than I can:

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I am trying a sober January. We’ll see how this goes.

Caretakers

My cousin called me last night to tell me her grandfather had died. He was my great-uncle, and he had been in poor health for several years, but still it was a blow to everyone. My cousin had been primary caretaker for both her grandparents, as well as her mother and mother-in-law, so they could stay in their home. Her brother does nothing.

My sister-in-law is battling her mother over care of her father, who has dementia and falls down all the time. He is staying in their home without any extra help. Her brother does nothing.

My cousin is helping her mother (my great-aunt) care for my great-uncle, who has advanced dementia and still lives at home. Her brother does nothing.

Anyone see a pattern here?

Caring for the sick and elderly is the biggest distaff deal of all. Women’s work. The kind of essential but unpleasant, tiring and depressing work women do all over the world, often for free, or at best, poorly paid.

Why won’t men step up? Why don’t women make them help out?

I don’t have an answer to these questions. Men are stepping up more when it comes to child care. Every father my age or younger I know has changed diapers countless times; my father never did. So that’s progress. But when it comes to care of the elderly or ill, no dice.

If anyone has suggestions, I’d appreciate it.

What a pleasant surprise!

Every year, my relatives give me food for Christmas. They know I’ve lost and (mostly) kept off a ton of weight, and yet they always give me a pile of crap for Christmas.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a typical example from December 2012, after I lost 65 pounds.

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There’s a bag of licorice, a tagine and cookbook, a book about wine & cheese, a bottle of wine, wine bottle stoppers, a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card, a pound of coffee and a gift card to a restaurant.

After a few years of this, I tried the tactic of “asking for what you want.” We started using this website called Elfster to manage our family Secret Santa drawing, so I liberally filled out my profile with likes and dislikes. The people in this gift exchange are family, so presumably they know what I like and don’t like, but hey, no one’s a mind-reader, right?

I told my family I like the outdoors (hiking, biking, kayaking), gardening, sewing and reading.  I like handcrafted things. I like natural fiber clothing. I like art glass. I like adventures and new experiences. I also noted explicitly: “I do not like gifts of food or cooking equipment or kitchen stuff. I work hard to maintain my weight, and I already have a ton of kitchen things, thanks.”

This year, guess what I got?

Drumroll…..

A “lobster” gift basket, including plastic lobster plates, plastic butter dishes, vinyl lobster bibs, lobster crackers, a lobster motif coffee mug, lobster shears, lobster-shaped candy, and a rubber lobster (which I gave to the dog to destroy). Also wine glasses. Also a gift certificate to a fish market, where  I can buy a live lobster to cook at home (although I would have to schlep it home in a 3-hour car drive).

Sigh.

Yes, I realize I sound like a baby complaining about it all. It’s not the gift that upsets me really. It’s the realization that my family doesn’t know me and doesn’t want to know me. They’d rather just think of “old me.”