Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Civility and Satire #SOL17

In his classic satirical novel Catch 22, Joseph Heller introduced a term that has embedded itself into our political lexicon. A catch 22 is a dilemma occurs when two competing options offer no clear win or benefit to the one caught in its circumstance. 

In Catch 22 Heller explains: 

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Youssarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

An early morning Twitter dialogue Monday reminded me of Heller's novel. The conversation centered on this satirical cartoon: 



I retweeted this post and promptly received a response challenging it as "mean." The responder later clarified that the cartoon itself isn't "mean," but the commentary from TheDailyLiberal is. 

I disagree with the characterization that the cartoon is mean; rather, I see the tweet as a brief analysis of PEOTUS's rhetoric. Certainly, many have noticed and commented on Donald Trump's tangled syntax. Recently, Trump advisor kellyanne Conway admonished the public to look into Trump's heart rather than take literally his words. 

But Trump's words and actions are all we have by which to judge him, and it's these that generate response. 

Failing to comment on Trump's comments risks assessing that silence as "tacit consent." Those who support the man would like nothing more than to silence the critics, hence Conway's admonition to "look in his heart." 

Failing to comment on Trump's rhetoric risks normalizing his criticism of national heroes like Representative John Lewis. 

By definition, satire is biting. It's meant to criticize in a cutting way. Those who respond to it shouldn't feel caught between two competing notions. 

In my own bubble--and I do live in one, as do most of us--I love sharing satire, especially Andy Borowitz's take on Donald Trump. Borowitz is funny and razor-sharp in his critiques. The same is true of Alec Baldwin's parody of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.

Yet I know my anger and dismay over the election results, over the hateful rhetoric Trump spewed in his campaign and on Twitter, over Russian interference in the election, over the spread of and acceptance of "fake" and distorted news, all needle me to the point that I have responded inappropriately, more often than I want to admit. 

A few weeks ago, I made a resolution to "go high" in my responses to Trump. I've stopped following those in my FB feed who act mean, particularly those who use derisive diction such as "libtard" and other political epithets. I'm trying to scroll past posts that push my buttons, those that spark my mean streak. 

This doesn't mean I won't share satire. I will. It doesn't mean I'll stop trolling Trump. But there are rational voices on Twitter who push back at the false narratives Trump tweets in the wee hours. Evan McMullen is one such voice. I'll follow this former CIA operative's example. 

We can criticize with civility and satire. As Joseph Heller reminds us: 

Some men are born mediocre, some achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them...[They] agreed it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.

Joseph Heller wrote Catch 22 beginning in 1953, but it wasn't until 1961 in the early days of the cold war that it was published. The novel is set in WWII, yet his critique's relevance can't be denied.*

Youssarian laments the sorry conditions:

What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused, or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, and rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to bodyguards, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.

How do we live in such a world? That, my friends, is the real catch-22 that confronts us in the Trump world order. 
Each Tuesday the team of teachers at Two Writing Teachers sponsors theSlice of Life story challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for theirunwavering dedication to living the writer's life. Head over to the TWTblog for more slices of life. 

*Edited to correct publication date and add context for the novel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Couch Surfing on a Snow Day #SOL17

Driggs, Idaho hosts Snowscapes each year.
This is a snowscape from a previous festival.
Here in our little postage stamp corner of the country we've had an unprecedented number of snow days. THREE! 

Unlike the cautious South, snowfall in our area rarely results in significant changes in folks' schedules. We're not quite as tough as North Dakotans, but we know how to drive on snow, know how to run a snow blower, and know how to adapt to seasonal changes by keeping supplies on hand.

Our district officials know that a snow day has another name: SKI DAY. Students dismissed from school head for the slopes at Pebble Creek, a ski area known for its steep vertical slope and rocky runs. 

This year is different. 

We have had three "snow" days in a row. Calling these days "snow" days is somewhat deceptive since it's not snow that closed school. Sub-zero temperatures and sheets of ice on mountain roads take the blame for our school closures. 

I celebrated a little when I got the text last Wednesday night informing me of school's cancellation on Thursday. We'd had 6"-8" of snowfall during the day, and my husband and I decided to destress at a local watering hole when the news arrived. I used Thursday as a day to read, to work on my NCTE17 proposal, and to clean toilets. I did a happy dance! 

By Monday, after rising at 5:00 a.m. and heading to the gym for my morning workout, I was ready to head back to school. I had managed to grade outlines for Comm 1101 students Sunday, had finished the proposal sans a couple of tweaks and uploading it, had vegetated enough. 

I felt a case of cabin fever coming on. 

Monday I couch surfed. 

From my cozy couch...

  • I began reading the fourth Harry Potter book but soon nodded off. 
  • I watched a funny video of the Georgia Tech swim team traversing the snow in their Speedos. 


  • I answered a text from a student who wanted me to evaluate a college essay, which I did.
  • I trolled PEOTUS and Kellyanne Conway on Twitter. I was curious about how he'd respond to Meryl Strep's Golden Globe Award speech (BTW: as predicted).
  • I participated in a group text reminder of Leadership Team meeting Tuesday morning in which my colleagues celebrated another day of no school. Imagine the image below as an animation.


  • I read FB posts about water issues in friend's homes, posts from colleagues who had gone to school before the cancellation announcement, and comments on my district's page from angry parents who claimed to need more notice before sending their teens out to drive on icy roads.
  • I napped some more.
  • I dressed Snug, one of my dogs, in his new coat and posted a collage of him modeling on FB. 
  • I thought about grading papers and making lesson plans, but decided not to strain myself. 
  • I snacked. A girl needs nourishment when couch surfing. It's a strenuous sport. 
  • I made soup. 
In short, I wasted a lot of time on my third snow day. I'll regret that Tuesday morning as a scurry to get things done at school. Since December 16, we have only been in school two days. That will hurt the rest of the week. 

I'm not very productive on snow days. I'm exhausted from my day of surfing on the couch. I think I'll go to sleep now. 




Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Trickster Archetype in Hamlet and PEOTUS

Henry Miller "Large Reclining Figure (1984)
via Wiki images labeled for reuse.
When I think about the archetypal Trickster, Native American literature typically pops into my mind, but Shakespeare also incorporated the Trickster into his dramas, and we see the Trickster at work in our political structures. 

Trickster Characteristics

Karl Kerenyl describes the function of the Trickster as contributing "disorder to order" to "make a whole, to render possible, within the fixed bounds of what is permitted, an experience of what is not permitted." Carl Jung describes the Trickster: "Although he is not really evil, he does the most atrocious things from sheer unconsciousness and unrelatedness." 

In his "8-Function Model of Archetypes," John Beebe depicts the Trickster as "amoral, mischievous, disruptive." This model builds on Jungian psychology's conscious and unconscious self. The Trickster operates on the 7th level of Bebee's model to "create double-binds" that "circumvent obstacles." 

The Trickster in Hamlet and in Presidential Politics: 

Hamlet: Prince of Denmark is full of Trickster-type characters, but Hamlet reigns supreme in his ability to "disrupt" a political structure he sees as "disorderly": "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Hamlet's father tasks the younger Hamlet with the duty to "make a whole" of the monarchy by exposing Claudius, his uncle, as the murderer of his father. In this context, Hamlet must operate "within the fixed bounds of what is permitted, an experience of what is not permitted." 

Certainly, Hamlet operates in a subversive manner. He's mischievous. He's disruptive. Arguably, he's amoral, or at least he acts in ways that theater-goers might judge amoral. 

In 2011 an article in Personality Types in Depth posed a question about the role of political Tricksters that is relevant as we begin a new year: "Was Shakespeare ultimately cautioning us about the potentially disastrous effects of unbridling the Trickster in psyche or society?"

In 17 days our Trickster-elect will take the Oath of Office. Yet we must recognize that the PEOTUS elect functions as a "hero" in some cultural circles and that there is little evidence that he reflects and searches his soul to examine his beliefs and morals. 

However, sans self-examination, PEOTUS operates in a questioning paradigm that rejects established political norms

  • Will he release his tax returns? No
  • Will he put his businesses in a blind trust? No
  • Will he accept intelligence briefings and findings? No
  • Will he appoint cabinet members with relevant credentials for their respective positions? No
The list of ways PEOTUS challenges political order to create disorder knows no bounds. 

When PEOTUS takes to Twitter to wish his "enemies," the Americans who voted for his opponent, a Happy New Year, when he tweets about the election outcome two months after the election, when he describes the media in derogatory terms, when he attacks businesses on Twitter, we get glimpses of his insecurities. I've come to see tRUMP as an insecure man-child who knows he has no credibility and will do whatever he can to divert attention away from this reality. 

Like Hamlet, our PEOTUS revels in self-doubt. Some see him as a hero, but many see him as a tragic character on a collision course with history. 

Throughout the campaign and transition, PEOTUS has equivocated on the political stage and in his commitment to democratic principles. He's obsessed with whether or not people like him. Like Hamlet, "his equivocating interpretations of the events shape our understanding, at the same time that his actions and inaction serve as a pivotal force in shaping the events themselves," writes Steve Whiteford about Hamlet, but the characterization also rings true of PEOTUS.

Hamlet meets his tragic end through a failure to understand the Ghost's origin. Thus, he equivocates. Hamlet sees the Ghost as an evil Trickster. He knows his Uncle Claudius, now the King, is an evil Trickster. He eventually recognizes his childhood friends Rosencrantz and Giuldenstern as unwitting Tricksters. He even questions Ophelia's love and loyalty. Could she, too, be a Trickster?

Before he can function or act within social and political structures, Hamlet, needs more proof that Claudius killed his father, so he devises an elaborate scheme: "The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King." Similarly, Trump's inability to trust the democratic institutions that have kept our republic functioning more that 200 years stands on shaky pillars as PEOTUS's distrust in the system he will "lead" has led many to see him as a fool, as mad (mentally ill), as morally and ethically depraved. His "enemies" take to Twitter to chide and bait him and do so without relenting. 

At the end of his Trickster analysis of Hamlet, Whiteford says Hamlet "fails miserably--unable to see and transcend his own inferior and unconscious motives." Ultimately, Hamlet dies a tragic death, the fate of the fallen Shakespearean hero. 

We've yet to see the final denouement for the PEOTUS, but Monday Andrew Smith wrote a FB post reminding PEOTUS of his 2.9 million vote deficit and suggested in the comment section that PEOTUS is "headed for a breakdown." He's not the first to offer this prediction. What tRUMP and his supporters in the Republican party have done and by all indications will continue doing is deconstructing the foundation on which our system stands. 

Today marks the end of the independent ethics committee that functions as a check on congressional members. This is a ploy of the Trickster-elect. Indeed, "Something is rotten in the state" our our United States. Will we allow the Trickster among us to disrupt and create disorder? Will we resist? 
Each Tuesday the team of teachers at Two Writing Teachers sponsors the
Slice of Life story challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for their
unwavering dedication to living the writer's life. Head over to the TWT
blog for more slices of life. 





Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gifts from Students: The Best Ones are Free: #SOL16

The mop angel I received from a student early in my career (1980s).
A conversation with a student:

Lizette: When's your birthday?
Me: Why do you want to know?
Lizette: My dad wants to buy you a neglige. He's in love with you and wants to get you one for your birthday. 
Me: (mortified) That's not necessary. I wouldn't be comfortable accepting such a gift, but thank you.
Lizette: (not to be deterred): Then how about a night gown. A flannel one. 
Me: That would be better but still not necessary. You don't need to give me anything. 

I'm sure I mumbled something about Lizette being a superb student. I'm sure I thought: "Who needs a flannel nightgown in Yuma, Arizona," which is where I taught in the early 1980s, the time of this conversation.

As a secondary teacher, I don't get many gifts and receive fewer from my current students than from those I taught in Arizona. This year a student from last year frequently drops by with cookies and brownies, which I often take home to my husband. 

Early in my tenure at Highland a debater gave me a leather briefcase. That's one of the most expensive gifts I've received. 

Once a parent picked me up at school and took me to her home for lunch. It was a touching moment from a woman who became a good friend during her time in Pocatello. Alas, we have lost touch. I taught several of her children and love them all. 

In the early years of my career a student gave me a mop angel that I put on top of my Christmas tree for over thirty years. My husband and I have a discussion about the topper every year. Last year was the first time he "won" as we bought all new decorations and did not haul any old ones up from the basement. 

The best gifts, however, come from the heart. They express gratitude and love through words and deeds. The card below is one I received this year from a student. It says exactly what I wish to give each student who learns from me and teaches me in turn. 
The card reads: "Happy Holidays to a teacher that always offers kindness, knowledge, and unconditional support. I will always think of you in my future success! Kumbaya."

The Kumbaya reference is a class joke of sorts. When the mood is a little heavy, I tell the kids we need a group hug and a Kumbaya moment.

Teens are a pretty generous demographic. Students in my school support close to thirty families via the Sub-for-Santa program. They provide gifts for all members of their sponsored family, regardless of age. They fill classrooms with food for the local food bank. They want to give to their community and do so without hesitation. 

We teachers talk about something transforming in the lives of readers around middle school. I see a similar change as teens move into adulthood. Often the generosity of the teen years evolves into cynicism and doubt about the world. 

I embrace the generosity of teens. Their inherent goodness is a gift that has given to me every day for over three decades. May you know the joy and gift of having young people in your life this holiday season. 

Happy Holidays!

Each Tuesday the team of teachers at Two Writing Teachers sponsors the
Slice of Life story challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for their
unwavering dedication to living the writer's life. Head over to the TWT
blog for more slices of life. 
*This post was inspired by a thread on the Badass Teachers FB page about unusual, weird, and best gifts that prompted me to remember the exchange with Lizette in the wee hours of the morning. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

How I Remember Mama(s) #SOL16

My father and mom (Jean) in the early 1960s.
In John Van Drueten's drama I Remember Mama, the main character Katrin, a writer, reminisces about her childhood and the ways her mother, an adept manager of the family, influences and enriches her children's lives as they grow into adults fulfilling their dreams. 

The play opens with Katrin centerstage reading from a manuscript: 

For as long as I could remember, the house on Steiner Street had been home. Papa and Mama had been born in Norway, but they came to San Francisco because Mama's sisters were here. All of us were born here. Nels, the oldest and the only boy--my sister Christine--and the littlest sister, Dagmar.

Katrin looks at the audience and continues: 

It's funny, but when I look back, I always see Nels and Christine and myself looking almost as we do today. I guess that's because the people you see all the time stay the same age in your head. Dagmar's different. She was always the baby--so I see her as a baby. even Mama--its funny, but I always see Mama as around forty. She couldn't always have been forty. 

Once again, Katrin returns to the manuscript: 

Besides us, there was our boarder, Mr. Hyde. Mr. Hyde was an Englishman who had once been an actor, and Mama was very impressed by his flowery talk and courtly manners. He used to read aloud to us in the evenings. But first and foremost, I remember Mama.

I, too, remember mama. I remember mamas.

Mothers hold a unique place in our lives, and it's only natural to revisit our memories of these important women.

During my lifetime two women whom I call mom have influenced my life, my birthmother Hazel and my stepmother Jean. 

I met Jean when I was a wee one around two years old, and I think my father and Jean married when I was five. I spent most of my life in Jean's company--rather than with my birth mother--and began calling her mom shortly after my brother Steve's birth. 

For me Jean has always been mom. Not Mom Jean. Simply, mom. 

When mom (Jean) died this past October 6 after a long battle with Alzheimer's, I felt sorrow. I wanted to write about my memories of her in a respectful, loving way. She is someone I loved, but I loved the extended family she brought into my life more, and I love my brother Steve, one of the most generous and kind people I have ever known, most of all. 

That Steve and I have a close relationship is somewhat of a minor miracle because growing up in the same home brought nearly daily reminders that our place in the family order was unequal. My father doted on Steve; it was his dream to have a son, preferably one who would grow up and play baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. Mom, of course, cherished Steve; he is the son who survived, who lived while her first son was stillborn. I remember mom's grieving for her lost baby even while rejoicing in her adoration of my brother. 

As the middle child (I have an older sister), as a step-child reminders of my place poked their way into my consciousness. 

Those who knew my stepmother, talk about her smile, her gentleness, and her kindness. She possessed a soft voice and a slow speaking manner. Mom bequeathed her even temper to Steve while I inherited my father's temperament. Mom had beautiful red hair that she'd let me brush. 

Mom and her sister Mary (also a ginger) and brothers Jack and Mike remained close throughout mom's life. She was their big sister. Theirs is a wonderful family who demonstrated their love for me throughout my life. I babysat for Mike and Sherry (his wife) when I was a teenager. I loved hanging out at their house, and I grew up loving their girls Jeania and Stacey. 

Mary did more to give me a normal and enjoyable childhood than any other single person. Once Mary passed her driving test, she hauled me to movies at the old Fox Theater in Joplin, Missouri; she took me swimming at the Carthage pool and to various pools in Joplin. Mary showed me the world other children lived in; were it not for her, I would have been land-locked and naive to the simple pleasures of many childhood activities. 

After Mary married Mike (her husband) and moved away, I visited. Mary is still one of the few people I'll confide in--to the extent that I confide in anyone. In our adult lives time has shrunk the distance in our chronology, and I think it's safe to say we respect one another as adults. 

Mom's mom, Grandma Young, normalized my life even more. She treated me as though I was simply one of her granddaughters and not a step-anything. Grandma Young bought me cool clothes at Christmas, my favorite being a purple pair of bell-bottom hiphuggers and purple body suit that showed off my curves in junior high. Grandma said, "If you got it, flaunt it," when my breasts popped in overnight. Grandma Young picked me up from school when I had my first period, took me to her house, and bought me all the supplies I needed. When she crocheted a bedspread for all her granddaughters, she made one for me, too, and I still have it and cherish it as an important family heirloom. I never thought of myself as an add-on to her list of grandchildren. She made me an equal. 

I want to remember mom the way I remember her loving and accepting family who welcomed me into the fold so many years ago and who still show me tons of love. I want to remember mom the way others remember her or at least allow pleasant memories to take the forefront in my memory. 

As I contemplated writing this post, I thought that time would bring me to a place of fond remembrance. I thought that good memories would supplant bad ones. I thought I'd remember differently. At best I resign myself to believing the parenting choices mom made for me were motivated with the best intentions, that gender inequity in families was the norm, that mom needed me to be an adult and take on added responsibilities at home when my father was so very ill, that mom wanted to protect me from making the choices my birth mother made and even the choices she made, bad choices such as dropping out of high school. 

Still, I know many of my insecurities and foibles owe their presence in my life to my childhood experiences, experiences shaped by my two moms.

If I were to write a memoir of my life growing up with my moms, both of them, it would read more like the memoir The Glass Castle by Janette Walls or the novel We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates than I Remember Mama. I do remember mama. I just don't remember her the way I'd like to remember, and those are memories I simply can't forget. 

Each Tuesday the team of teachers at Two Writing Teachers sponsors the
Slice of Life story challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for their
unwavering dedication to living the writer's life. Head over to the TWT
blog for more slices of life. 




Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Satirizing the Thin-Skinned Orange One with Dryden's "Mac Flecknoe" #SOL16

Image via Google search, labeled for non-commercial reuse.
Having spent the last two weeks mourning the election results, I find solace and laughter in humor, especially satire and parody. 

One of the first poems from the 17th Century I loved in college and often taught in the early years of my career is John Dryden's "Mac Flecknoe." Typically, anthologies excerpt the poem as I've done here. 

The T.S. referenced in the poem's epithet is Thomas Shadwell. The poem mocks Shadwell and helped create the mock heroic epic. 

Notably, Dryden announces his intent to poke fun at Shadwell in the poem's epithet. Dryden proceeds to skewer Flecknoe and Shadwell by referring to his "epic" subject as adept at "Non-sense, absolute" (ln 6), as being "of a large increase" (ln 8), and as one "at war with wit" (ln 12).

Even as a child, the speaker announces, Shadwell was dull and "confirmed in full stupidity" (lns 16, 18). And while others may occasionally meander into illogic, Shadwell "never deviates into sense" (ln 20).

The poem continues mercilessly in this vein for many more lines, and we must work to recover some of it's more archaic references. Still, the poem offers a timely reminder that as writers did  hundreds of years ago, we live in an age of satire, and at no other time is satire more relevant than when commenting on politics and politicians. 

From The Onion, to The Borowitz Report, to Saturday Night Live, to political cartoons, satire speaks truth to power through humor. I find Mac Flecknoe an apt description of Donald Trump, whom I view as rarely deviating into sense, whose rhetoric and shifting policy positions one can describe as "rising fogs" that "prevail upon the day." 

As does Mac Flecknoe in Dryden's poem, Trump seems to have proclaimed his children heirs to the executive branch: 

Cry'd, 'tis resolv'd; for nature pleads that he 

Should only rule, who most resembles me: 


Social and political critics alike argue that Trump's twitter wars intentionally divert attention  away from the pressing issues of the day, but I'm not convinced. Trump bears the marks of a  social media addict, particularly in his inability to understand SNL's satire and parody. 

True, "Mac Flecknoe" criticizes Shadwell's bad writing, but I suspect the ghost of Dryden will forgive me for taking a few liberties with his tightly-woven masterpiece given I'm applying it to one whose tangled syntax has given us bigly and the overuse of very in 140 characters. 

"Mac Flecknoe" by John Dryden 
A Satire upon the True-blue Protestant Poet T.S.
All human things are subject to decay, 
And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey: 
This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young 
Was call'd to empire, and had govern'd long: 
In prose and verse, was own'd, without dispute 
Through all the realms of Non-sense, absolute. 
This aged prince now flourishing in peace, 
And blest with issue of a large increase, 
Worn out with business, did at length debate 
To settle the succession of the State: 
And pond'ring which of all his sons was fit 
To reign, and wage immortal war with wit; 
Cry'd, 'tis resolv'd; for nature pleads that he 
Should only rule, who most resembles me: 
Shadwell alone my perfect image bears, 
Mature in dullness from his tender years. 
Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he 
Who stands confirm'd in full stupidity. 
The rest to some faint meaning make pretence, 
But Shadwell never deviates into sense. 
Some beams of wit on other souls may fall, 
Strike through and make a lucid interval; 
But Shadwell's genuine night admits no ray, 
His rising fogs prevail upon the day: 
Besides his goodly fabric fills the eye, 
And seems design'd for thoughtless majesty: 
Thoughtless as monarch oaks, that shade the plain, 
And, spread in solemn state, supinely reign. 
Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee, 
Thou last great prophet of tautology:

Each Tuesday the team at Two Writing Teachers sponsors the Slice of LifeStory Challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for their unwavering commitment tothe power of narrative. Thank you. Head over to TWT for more slices. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Morning After: A Dream Deferred or The Glass Ceiling Shattered #SOL16


Tomorrow morning we will awaken to the final count, the result of the 2016 presidential election. As a political junkie, I've followed this election cycle glued to my screens--computer, smart phone, television. I also subscribe to several print magazines: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Time. I devour political rhetoric and happily talk politics. 

But I am exhausted and ready for the morning after. 

I even took the pledge above, but I'll struggle with it regardless of the results. For I know that whatever the results, our nation will forever be changed from what it was to what it is. 

Will we be a nation of deferred dreams? Langston Hughes asked this question in "Harlem" which he wrote during the Harlem Renaissance: 

What happens to a dream deferred? 
      Does it dry up 
      like a raisin in the sun? 
      Or fester like a sore— 
      And then run? 
      Does it stink like rotten meat? 
      Or crust and sugar over— 
      like a syrupy sweet? 
      Maybe it just sags 
      like a heavy load. 
      Or does it explode?

Will the nation "explode" into riots of disenfranchised voters, victims of limited places to vote in states that have reduced the number of precincts by more than half? Will women struggle for another 32 years before seeing a female's name on the presidential ticket? It has been, after all, that long since Geraldine Frerraro ran as Walter Mondale's vice presidential pick. 

Certainly, a Clinton loss will shatter my dreams. Will I shrivel and weep or ooze with anger. I feel the load of this election and have struggled to articulate all that troubles me. As a life-long Democrat, I've at least been able to understand what drives folks to the elephant in the room. At times I've thought that were I living somewhere else I might even lean in a little to the right. 

Not this year. 

Sunday night "60 Minutes" featured a segment about our national mood and our inability to listen to and respect one another's differences in political opinion. Our "National Mood," the segment argues, is contentious and angry, both with the political process and candidate choices. No fewer than 80% of the electorate dislike our choices, claims pollster Frank Luntz. He put supporters of both Trump and Clinton in a room together, and chaos ensued as neither side listened to the other. The participants blamed social media and all other media, which the participants see as biased and focused on entertainment. As Luntz says, "We can't even agree on the same facts." 

This is a real problem. We have reached a place in which facts get denied and rejected outright. This paradigm shift differs from our interpretation of the facts. A fact is verifiable, but many ignore the science, environmental, historical, social on which we base and learn facts. When we can't agree on the facts, we can't debate or discuss what these facts mean. We can't talk about what to do about the facts. 

Yet I can't help but think Luntz misses much of the bigger picture. As he scolded the participants for not listening to the other side, I wondered why the emotional reactions. I simply can't listen to and respect someone who supports a sexual predator. I feel violated by such respect for someone I find so vile and reprehensible. The facts verify my claim, but many ignore these facts. That puts us in a wag-the-dog loop. We go round and round the same circle, forever chasing our political tales. 

How then do we awaken the morning after the election and move on, whether our side wins or loses? 

I'm in the 20% who likes my candidate choice. Simply, I'm with Her. I have followed Hillary Rodham Clinton's career since the early 90s, and while I have cringed at some of her comments over the years, I've grown to understand her wifely responses and separate them from her political aspirations. Some will disagree with and take issue with that. I understand. I've read much that HRC has written and found myself focusing more on the village necessary for teaching. 

We women have long endured secondary status, so I'm longing for a morning after celebration that allows me to shout the words of Maya Angelou in "Still I Rise." 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?Why are you beset with gloom?'Cause I walk like I've got oil wellsPumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?Bowed head and lowered eyes?Shoulders falling down like teardrops.Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?Don't you take it awful hard'Cause I laugh like I've got gold minesDiggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,You may cut me with your eyes,You may kill me with your hatefulness,But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?Does it come as a surpriseThat I dance like I've got diamondsAt the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shameI riseUp from a past that's rooted in painI riseI'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI riseInto a daybreak that's wondrously clearI riseBringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,I am the dream and the hope of the slave.I riseI riseI rise.


I long to rise Wednesday morning and hear the sound of shattering glass and the breaking of the thickest glass ceiling in America. 

Each Tuesday the team at Two Writing Teachers sponsors the Slice of Life
Story Challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for their unwavering commitment to
the power of narrative. Thank you. Head over to TWT for more slices. 


*Last week Betsy Hubbard and her family lost much of their home and belongings in a house fire. As one of the members of the TWT team, Betsy gives tirelessly to our profession. Pleas consider helping Betsy and her family rebuild by donating to a fund on her behalf. Click here to donate now.