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Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

The Mosque in the Room

In Elections, New York, Opinion - theirs and mine on August 21, 2010 at 5:04 pm

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ” ~Dalai Lama

Every election there’s the inevitable Thing – from here on known as The Thing. It’s The Thing that drums up controversy but has nothing to do with what is actually going on in the real world. It gives something a little more exciting and enticing for voters to talk about: This Thing that can either make or break an election to an unwitting candidate. Could you imagine being Kendrik Meek in Florida and being forced to comment on something that is located a thousand miles away nowhere near the Gulf of Mexico where you have actual problems? But alas not, this Mosque and positions on it will be the cross to bear of politicians this year. Well, the Mosque and jobs but unemployment figures don’t pack quite the wallop as “Did you hear that they’re building a Mosque ON Ground Zero?”

You can read anywhere that the Mosque isn’t physically on Ground Zero. It is near Ground Zero and requires walking and perhaps a stop at Duane Reade on the way there. But who cares about those minor details. The Mosque is not being built because the ‘terrorists will win’ it’s being built because there was probably space. I dunno, cheap space, perhaps? It is Manhattan after all. And they figured why the hell not? I truly do not know. What I am very well aware of is how this Mosque that is NEAR and not DIRECTLY ON TOP OF Ground Zero is taking away from the real situation at hand. It’s a diversion of sorts where the magician wants us to focus on his right hand as he pulls a bunny out of hat with his left.

This midterm seems not more volatile but more out there and in yo’ face than any other midterm I have experienced and there are still 77 days to go! Midterms are usually quite boring unless you a) are in politics for a living or b) there is a brand new President and this midterm is the bellwether for his entire presidency. Or something. But that is an entirely different post. What happens to be driving me crazy right now is not just general discussion about Mosque and the debate on the Mosque from the right (They aren’t real Americans and people who agree with having a Mosque ON Ground Zero aren’t patriots) and the left (Well, everyone has their freedom of religion and they should be able to worship where they’d like) and the Tea Party (Well, I mean, yeah that whole defend the constitution thing but do we still want to defend the constitution when Muslims are allowed to practice the First Amendment? Have we decided on that one yet, guys?) It’s just that it seems so very constant. So! Instead of discussing a real solution to the unemployment problem, whether or not a July 2011 is actually feasible to be out of Afghanistan, what USDOE would like to do to public education or did I mention the 9.5% unemployment? Instead of discussing all of these very real issues we keep talking about the Mosque that realistically will not directly affect 97% of us. Because quite frankly the former aren’t all that sexy but a Mosque? HOOO BOY! Pass me a fan.

I have received several emails about the Mosque and my feelings on it and whether or not I wanted to debate the merits of “Having Hamas right next to Ground Zero” and I have to politely decline. To me it’s just The Thing. It had to happen soon enough and if we’re lucky we might get another Thing in the next 70 plus days but right now just watch and listen and politely turn the conversation back to jobs, jobs and more jobs.

Mosque related reading if you are so inclined (or bored):

Ted Olson, Former Bush Solicitor General and Husband of 9/11 Victim, Backs Obama on ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

Pelosi’s Preposterous Pontificating On the Ground Zero Mosque

Gibbs: Mosque by Ground Zero a Local Matter

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The Unemployment Thing (See also; That Thing That Gives Me Agita)

In Congress, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:38 am

“[O]f all the aspects of social misery nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment.” ~Jane Addams

Early last week or perhaps the week before I was in a mood. A no good, very bad mood over a variety of things all of which were money oriented. All of which stemming from irresponsibility and/or a month of cross country travel that left me feeling destitute. I walked into my coworker’s office, plopped down in a chair and made a HRMPH type noise. Like “Dear God, life is so hard. With the living and the having to choose between having money and a trip to Martha’s Vineyard”. COME ON everyone needs R&R and I was on that cusp of needing to get to get out. To go somewhere. To breathe something other than badly circulated air conditioning. I needed to smell salt water and eat fresh clams.

And I walked into my coworker’s office and told her just that.

“All I want to do is vacay and I can’t vacay because I have to work and let’s face it, I cannot afford to vacay. Fuck my life”

She cocked her head to the side.

“I want five minutes of peace and quiet. There’s also a dress I’ve been eying but more importantly THE BEACH and I haven’t been to the Vineyard all year. WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD?”

Her head moved a little more to the left and she smirked. And with that I knew what she was thinking.

My head stayed straight ahead as I closed my eyes and repeated everything that had just spewed from my mouth in my head. The complaints about vacation and Martha’s Vineyard and why I had to spend a week in Seattle eating raw oysters and drinking French 75. Feel free to slap the shit out of me and my agony.

I rolled my eyes at myself and was ready to shut up and returned to my own office. The office where I sat among piles of papers with layoff and attrition projections. Dollars lost were staring me in the face. In the background played a debate on the Senate floor on the extension of Unemployment Insurance. I vaguely heard Mitch McConnell mention something about the unemployed needing to pick themselves up by the boot straps and find a damn job already (I’m paraphrasing here). For clearly that was the reason for trillions in deficit; all of those people who were sitting on their ass watching the Real Housewives instead of working. Of course.

Then more eye rolling and general head between my knees-ness over email upon email as to why it had become such a Herculean effort to keep teachers employed. There was a discussion of offsets so as not to contribute to the deficit and where the offsets should come from so as not to piss off that group or this one. But even if it was paid for someone had to have a problem because again, WHY CAN’T THESE PEOPLE JUST FIND A JOB?! Never mind that pesky recession. People just aren’t trying hard enough. People didn’t want it enough. Parents didn’t want to take care of their children. Dad’s didn’t get those bags under their eyes from sleepless nights after realizing that no bacon would be brought home. Moms didn’t fret about giving their children enough to eat. They just didn’t care and that’s why they didn’t get jobs and another “bailout” wouldn’t get them off their Bon Bon eating asses.

No one should have to go through that. No one should have to worry about how to care for their children or themselves. It’s so very liberal of me, I am aware but it is also the human side of me that doesn’t like to see people in excrutiating pain and awaiting foreclosure because of jobs lost. I cannot imagine being that terrified day to day and having the fate of my job in the hands of people who have never and could never be there. How can you help when you don’t know what it’s like to spend each day surrounded by worry. Will there be a job or won’t there? I don’t like What If and that’s on things that don’t matter like what if I can’t buy wine tomorrow or what if I can’t buy that new MacBook Pro?

I know that things are relative and we look at our circumstances and pain as individuals and not in relation to the world around us. It’s hard to see past our own problems – however small – to realize that there are those who are spend each day in a state of perpetual fear. That’s what made me feel like That Asshole; the one who couldn’t afford that trip to a beach house and didn’t want to work or just wanted a nap dammit! I turned into that person but what makes me less of an asshole – and probably you as well – is realizing that things are good. Relatively speaking. As long as I keep trying and I did keep trying and tomorrow there is a vote in the House to prove that I worked my ass off and that the gray hairs of stress were worth it.

I’m not a complete jerk. And what makes me less of an asshole is that I made myself aware. And I hope that for five seconds you can realize as well. Realize that as I type, others are in the absolute worst of situations and that vacation or no, we are some of the lucky ones.

The Art of Political Dialogue

In Poliogue on August 10, 2010 at 2:36 am

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Attributed to Howard Thurman

I just finished taking a quiz from the November 2009 issue of O Magazine. I found it laying on my mother’s bed and what drew me to it was a bold “Who Are You Meant to Be?’ on the cover. I flipped to the required page and then perused the section stopping at the quiz of the same name. The instructions involved a bubble test and excel at the bubble test. The answers ranged from Never to Always when thinking of reaction to certain situation. “Read each of the following statements and ask yourself how true it is”. Easy enough. As it turns out I am “Striving to Be Creative” as well as “Striving to Be Recognized”. It was suggested that I am an artist and achiever. I am an original and I know it. I’m ambitious, competitive and hardworking. I should write and I should be a politician.

I often use magazines to find out the obvious.

***

Way back during my trip to Houston I confessed to Susan and Maggie that I wanted to write more about politics. I’ve always wanted to write more about politics but I thought that people would find it silly. So to say it out loud was a big deal. It seems that I also need approval but there was no quiz about that. They both gave the thumbs up and said, “Duh, silly”. There was also some talk of how I wanted for politicians to use social media more effectively. To supplement but not necessarily supplant.

Quick digression because I’m smiling to myself right now: Supplement vs. supplant was a major part in the American Recovery and Reinvestment act with regard to how states could use Title I funds. I walked around for months with those two words written on an index card tucked neatly in my back pocket. But supplement and not supplant is what I think that politicians should do when it comes to using social media. I recently spoke with a member of congress whom I adore about his use of Twitter. I told him that I love that he has a presence there and he informed that he hated it. He feared that ‘our children’ were going to grow up without feeling a handshake and rely too much on computers as their form of communication. He missed the old days of going door to door and worried that we were moving to far from that. I couldn’t help but agree. But I do believe that using things like Facebook and Twitter can also assist the constituent/representative relationship. It’s another way for those who so frequently feel disconnected from what is going on within a Capital (or Capitol) or inside the Beltway to feel a bit more connected. It’s a new and different way to engage with those who are being represented but in no way should replace the art of doing a door-to-door on a Saturday morning. Never forgetting that people genuinely appreciate the latter.

***

Over the almost five years that I have had this site I have debated how and when to write about politics. I don’t want to bore people to death while regaling you all with tales of bicameral systems and voting (democracy is so boring). Then again if you really enjoy something, find yourself truly passionate about a subject, you write about it. The goal here is not to shove my political agenda and beliefs down your throat. The goal is just to engage and discuss and for me to do something I enjoy. We all as individuals need to make up our own minds when it comes to politics and our feelings towards what goes on in this country what I want to do is make it easier to have dinner party conversation on the economy or who is running or why midterm elections bring out the worst in politicians but very little from the electorate.

If you look at the top there’s a tab that says ‘Poliogue’ which is a word I made up meaning The Art of Political Dialogue. I don’t expect for people to be rabid C-SPAN fans and blubber when Steny Hoyer utters a simple hello. I would like for people to feel more engaged this election year and (to infinity) and beyond. I promise not to bore you to death or be all inside baseball and will continue to discuss what happens in this country with an air of humor and storytelling and not long winded and regurgitated polling courtesy of the AP. So join me. Please? It won’t hurt. Promise.

(You can follow here http://twitter.com/poliogue or tell me what you want to hear about here Poliogue@gmail.com)

Not Enough

In Opinion - theirs and mine on August 10, 2010 at 2:34 am

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” ~Franklin Thomas

I grew up in a rather small, rather white town in Upstate New York. One of those towns where everyone knew their neighbors business. You saw your teachers in the grocery store (you guys, teachers have lives outside of school!) and So and So’s mom would tell your mom if she saw you out past 11. That kind of town. Given the demographics it should come as no surprise that I was the odd girl out. I always hoped no one would notice but of course they did. Those moments when my peers would point out the color of my skin as if to remind me. Thanks, friends, for keeping me in check. It was the nothing that was often something and it made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I oscillated between groups; one who thought I was too black and the others who thought I wasn’t black enough. 15 is hard enough. One need not make it worse.

College was easier and even my first jobs were a breeze. I lived in DC and let’s gloss over the fact that I ended up in DC months before my classmates so that I could be in a “special” summer program for the brown and black students. It was chocolate city! Later my coworkers and I were our little melting pot striving for progressive politics and policies across the country. And then I moved back to Albany.

There’s something to be said for being the Only One. Not in a precious way but I often observed and continue to notice three years later that I am often the only one who looks like me in the room. I am a black, female working in politics. There aren’t that many of me hanging out in Upstate NY but, you know, I take it in stride. In the beginning it was a shock and as I would peer around a room during a fundraiser I’d get a jolt when I realized that there were no other black people there. Let alone women. But that jolt forced me to stand up straighter and taller and to fix my hair and make sure my makeup wasn’t running. I would check my shoes and fix the collar on my shirt because in someone’s eyes I was there to represent my people. Whomever those people might be.

Here’s the thing; I own a mirror and every single morning I wake up and look in that mirror. I put on my make up and wash off the residue on my hands from my foundation which leaves a brown smudge on a formerly pristine towel. I know what color I am. Most black people, brown people, whatever color people realize their color and don’t need to be reminded of such. And we certainly need not be told that we are not doing enough to prove to the masses that we are in fact whatever color we are.

Which brings me to this morning and Maureen Dowd and the New York Times. And if you looked up “liberal elitism” in the dictionary – scratch that – in Urban Dictionary there would be the New York Times logo. The New York Times which is here to show us poor colored folks that if we did things differently then maybe we would be better at being a person of color. I thank them for that. When someone pointed out Dowd’s opinion piece this morning I was hurt and in a second I was hurled back to a feeling one where no matter what I do and how hard I try in someone’s eyes I would not be good enough. There would always be someone to say that I wasn’t being black in the proper way. I had an entire adolescence full of teenagers who presented me with the same argument. So what on Earth was I thinking when I thought that adults could look past such trivial matters. Furthermore she was, in part, correct. The Shirley Sherrod situation – Sherrodgate – was handled poorly on all sides. But instead of calling out Tom Vilsack – who apparently makes an excellent white guy from Iowa – she calls out the President. Because Barack Obama isn’t aware enough of his blackness. In fact, according to Ms. Dowd, he kind of sucks at being black and he should probably have a Czar of Blackness in his inner-circle. You know, someone who plays Jay-Z on repeat in the Oval Office. That that was Maureen Dowd’s takeaway on a situation that was a shit show from jump street makes me embarrassed for her and the paper she writes for.

After reading her piece, I went to a fundraiser in Saratoga. There I stood in a room full of people and was the youngest person there and also the darkest. I hadn’t had a wave of self-consciousness like that in ages. Were they looking at me? When they saw me did they only see race? Did they wonder why I was there and who I knew or why I would be invited? Was I good enough to be there?

Instead of enjoying myself and working as I was supposed to do, I have gone through the entire day overly aware of myself. I’ve spent all of today questioning myself and whether I am good enough for certain people. It’s 2010 and I am walking on eggshells because of Maureen fucking Dowd. Overly worried about my race. Like high school; politics is bad enough. One need not make it worse. And yet there are people in the world and there will always be people in the world who do.

Kagan, Quickly

In SCOTUS, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:33 am

“The difference between intelligence and education is this: intelligence will make you a good living.” ~Charles F. Kettering

Oh, you guys, I have a total thing for smart women. I mean women doing awesome things already makes me want to fist pump but smart women doing smart things thrills me to my core. And ideology has never mattered just actual brain usage and the ability to be objective when needed and to accept the subjectivity of others. That’s really all I ever request of most people; a willingness to listen and learn.

So Elena Kagan. I know as much about her as you do so I am not here to offer any formidable insight or tell you some hysterical story about that one time I met her. But I have found a growing interest within myself of Supreme Court nominees. Mostly the age thing. Being a SCOTUS judge is a life long FOREVER thing. Like forever and ever until you die and the nominated justices keep getting younger and younger and though I’m getting older I’m realizing that these people will be sitting on the bench, all up in my civil liberties for a very long time. And so passing interest has turned into a need to find and scour every bit of information about potential and actual nominees as I can because life…FOREVER…is just so long.

Quick Facts:

  • Attended Princeton University
  • Received her JD from Harvard University
  • First female Dean of Harvard Law School
  • Became the first female Solicitor General after being nominated by President Obama

Quick Links:

Read a little. Let it marinate some. My opinion thus far is this: smart. And that’s as far as it goes because I don’t know enough to form a well-rounded and adequate opinion. All I know is that ‘for life’ is a long time and it makes me want to find out more.

The Members

In Congress, House, Senate, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:30 am

“My life should be unique; it should be an alms, a battle, a conquest, a medicine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently attended an event for a member of congress that featured a Special! Appearance! by the Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer. Sometimes members do this to get a good crowd. And it tickles me a bit that I live in a world where Dick Durbin is a total draw. So I’m milling about at the smallish event and chatting with the one other person I knew who used to be my boss when all of a sudden Steny! Hoyer! walks in. I turn to my colleague and say “Oh my God, what do I do? What do I say? What if he hates me?” You know because Steny Hoyer and I were going to have a 45 minute personal conversation where he would tell me his legislative priorities and I would give him my suggestions and then we’d high five to being progressive. Hoyer walks in and shakes hands and I mumble something about it being so nice to meet him and he smiles back and beelines for some freshly grilled lamb chops and I’m like OMFG the MAJORITY LEADER.

Here is a nice point for a short digression where I tell you that I’ve been watching C-SPAN since the tender age of 11 and subsequently spent a large part of my life thinking that Members of Congress were total rockstars. And while we’re at it; I can recite the names of the members of the Senate in alphabetical order by last name. Moving on.

So Hoyer speaks for about 20 minutes about how wonderful the member of congress is and how hard he works and then launches into how damn good those lamb chops are and he looks directly at me and says, “Did you try one of these lamb chops?” I had not. “Ooooh whee You should. Have one!” And of course when the Majority Leader tells you to have a lamb chop, you get yourself a fucking lamb chop and announce that it’s the best damn lamb chop you’ve ever had.

Later a staffer needed me for something but I had a tank full of guts and a new pair of balls, so I was confident enough to hold up a hand to the staffer and say, “Wait, I just want to speak to the Majority Leader”. So there I am in some stranger’s dining room with said stranger and like six other people and I walk straight up to Leader Hoyer and say, “I just want to know that I am so happy to meet you” (again) and I pause and say, “…Also! I follow you on Twitter“.

You know those moments where it feels like everything freezes like in a movie or a television show when a character breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience and then things go on? It was kind of like that but with no freezing just what felt like a silence so large and epic that I prepared for a glacial shit. It was a moment of silence where you realize that announcing to the Majority Leader that you follow him on Twitter – while it seems almost normal to so many people – you all? That shit’s not normal. Especially not in a room full of real adults who paid 5K to see the Majority Leader and there I am all bouncing around and “Hey! Twitter! Tweet! Tweet!” Anyway the Majority Leader then looks at me, smiles broadly and gives me a one arm, shoulder hug. “TWITTER!” He says. “Gosh, you’re fun”.

And then I died because Steny Hoyer called ME fun. The end.

******

I mentioned this to someone who knows me well that sometimes I get a little nervous around the Members of Congress. Not in a weird stalkerish, staring, cannot speak or say my name, kind of way. No no, that was years ago. I’m over that. I don’t feel insecure and it isn’t all of them but just a rare few where I’m like what if I say something ridiculous and they’re like, “Oh my God, you’re allowed to vote?” That’s my fear. Or something like that. Even better when they know my name and I get this brief moment of I must be in trouble when your Member of Congress calls you by your first and last name. It’s just…weird. Especially now when the masses find the behavior of most politicians to be abhorrent and here I am figuratively dying because Steny Hoyer said four words to me.

******

In DC last week, part of my job was to hang out with Members of Congress. I managed to keep all dorkiness and nerves to myself. I also managed to have calm, cool, collected conversations about work related things and when it was all said and done I got cheers and handshakes and general kudos. This is one of those full circle moments for me where I realize that which made me a giant ass loser from 1994 – 2000 totally turned into a positive. Like yeah, I did rush home to watch C-SPAN and then I made myself a nice little career because of that obsession. Who’s the dork now? That’s a rhetorical question. It’s still me.

Senator Chuck Schumer

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Congressman Bill Owens

Just a Thought

In Obama, The White House on August 10, 2010 at 2:26 am

“Whenever it is possible, a boy should choose some occupation which he should do even if he did not need the money.” ~William Lyon Phelps

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am and I shouldn’t but I do. Like this morning when I was walking across Capitol Hill in DC and I noticed how genuinely happy and impressed by our nation’s capital they all were. This month I have four trips to Washington the thought of which throws me into a grand tizzy with dramatic facial expressions and hyperbole. While I’m having a melodramatic moment there are hordes of people who come to Washington thrilled to be inside the beltway in this ‘seat of power’. I walk past folks whipping out their cameras to capture this memory and realize that I need to tap into my wealth of luck more often and learn to appreciate things. A novel concept, I know.

All of that said when I was in Houston for Mom 2.0 I did two small roundtable discussions on how parents/people in general can involve themselves in the political process. If there is one thing that would make my heart burst it would be for people to love politics as much as I love politics. Because, you guys? I love it so very much. Anyway it was the past conversation at Mom 2.0 coupled with walking through the House office buildings that led me to another thought:

Let’s say that there is an issue out there that affects the masses. And I’m going to use workplace flexibility as the issue because a) it affects everyone and b) because the blogosphere has been abuzz on this issue. I’m going to present this issue because while I am trying to be more positive and appreciative, I am also trying to look at things from different angles. For example the White House doesn’t necessarily write policy. They drive it of course and help to influence what goes on legislatively but it’s congress that writes the laws. The White House can hold 156 forums but if Congress isn’t fully engaged then you get nothing.

So with workplace flexibility and since it’s a labor issue I think of those who have the most invested in what happens in the workplace; the labor movement. Now is the time when someone will tell me how God awful unions are and they’re corrupt and blah blah blah but I can unequivocally say that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Not only that but they are the gold standard for workplace flexibility; they are what the Department of Labor and the White House want for other businesses to achieve when it comes to this issue.

In my head – a little utopia – I could only think; If you have a workplace problem why not go to AFL-CIO (the umbrella labor federation)? Or join forces and go to a member of congress? Preferably a member of congress on the Ed and Labor Committee on the House or the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee member in the Senate? Because that is what I would do: I would join forces – which sounds so hokey but it works – with others in the same boat and I would lobby the shit out of members of congress. I would find members who are amenable to my cause and those who might be against and I would fax them and write letters and let them know that workplace flexibility is a huge problem in what is the most advanced nations in the world. I would tell them that workers fear for their jobs when their kid gets the sniffles. I would tell them that work/family balance* is laughable. I would say that people should be able to have better control over their lives and that setting a national standard is the best place to start.

Anyway, this is just a thought. A long, rambling thought. But yeah, that’s what I would do.

One Day in November

In Uncategorized on August 10, 2010 at 2:24 am

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” ~Anne Lamott

Once someone told me that “you can’t spin hope”. And I quoted it for months with a snicker. ‘Hope’ isn’t part of the party platform. I’ve read the party platform and next to ‘improving public education’ it doesn’t say ‘dream big’ with little unicorns and a heart instead of a dot above the lowercase i. I find myself to be a generally cynical person and pragmatic. The glass is never half full or half empty it’s just a glass with water for me to quench my thirst. Which is why when ‘hope’ was used as a catalyst for people to throw their cautions to the wind and vote for ‘change’, I scoffed and guffawed and remained a non-believer.

There was no push or drive during the last two years, I was just going through the motions of electing a President whose platform most aligned with my ideals. That is until last night when my coworker, Ben, a man old enough to think that he would never see the Berlin Wall come down, started to tell me a story that I had been dying to hear. I was already for the The Drama when out of the corner of my eye I saw something that made me stop everything. It’s rare that I’m at a loss for words or that when something exciting or monumental happens that I’m not shouting from the rooftops. I turned to Ben and politely said to him, “Barack Obama is the President”. He just stared back at me and said “Wait. What?”

“I think that Barack Obama is the President”.

He stopped the story that I was so dying to hear to turn around and look at the television screen with me. You know those moments that are forever etched in your mind? Those moments when you remember exactly how you were standing, which way the moon was facing and the color of the chipped nail polish on your fingers? Those moments? It’s just that…it isn’t everyday that I stand in a room full of people, put my head down and my hands on my knees and feel everything inside of me collapse and then cry. Two minutes later Ben went back to telling me the story and I stopped him to say, “Yeah, whatever you’re going to say is going to be boring as shit compared to this”. But he told me anyway.

I called my father later and he was far too quiet than usual. Not the normal banter and telling me that I’m adopted but he was quiet and thoughtful. If you grow up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, you can never really prepare yourself for raising children in the suburbs of Upstate NY. You probably don’t envision your black son and daughter discussing political science and supply side economics and the LSATS and their white peers as if they were common place. And you sure as shit don’t ever bring yourself to really push your mind to pursue the possibility of a black man living in the White House.

But you hope. I hope for a lot of things. That my check clears or that a pair of perfect shoes are available in my size or that one day I’ll be able to fit into my favorite dress again. I hope that the Giants win this weekend and I hope there’s more wine. I’m neither sentimental nor idealistic, but yeah, sometimes I hope. We all hope every single day because it’s what gets us up in the morning: That hope that things will be better or just as good as the day before. That hope that whatever we are working towards – either alone or as a people – will go well and get better. It’s just that on any given day we don’t realize how much we hope because we never outwardly say it because it’s just a little too trite and rainbows and kittens to say that you spend your days hoping. Though I think it’s human nature and catching to see one person be optimistic and so it’s hard to avoid that drug of good feeling.

So would you like to know what my first thoughts were last night? After the tears and my father. It was of my friends, Leah and Simon, and then of every other parent I know that has young children. But Leah and Simon especially because they’re having a baby in six weeks and their baby will never know of anything different than having a black president it will be natural to him and forever be a grip on my heart and something that I remember vaguely thinking about. Just as it will always be baffling to my father that Garrett and I have always experienced integration (its ups and its harsh, harsh downs) as it’s always been natural to us but a grip on his heart.

There are these little tiny babies who will always think of this – what just happened – as ordinary. And they will have that luxury and life because one day in November several million of us chose to lean on the idea of hope a little more than we had in days, weeks and months prior. It was one day in November when we said we could and so we did. We hoped and then we changed.