Now What?

Trump Supporters Andrew Kelly Reuters

Just about three weeks to go, and this country is in flux, aka ‘deep crapolla.’

215,000+ people dead from a virus this president says is no biggie, because he got over it, right? Hell, he’s immune now. Ready to give his adoring fans big, sloppy kisses and they can’t get enough. Just yesterday, in Sanford, Florida they came out in droves, few wearing masks, packed together asshole to appetite, while up on stage–his favorite place to lord over his swooning base–Trump danced to YMCA and spewed his ignorance and spittle all over his adoring crowd, who breathed it in along with shed Covid-19 airborne droplets. . .

Who ARE these people?

Don’t they realize that this man is demonstrating worst practices where Covid-19 is concerned? That he is telling them to ignore the science, pretend thousands and thousands and thousands of us haven’t already died from this deadly virus? Are they forgetting that he failed to warn us, failed to protect us, failed the American people?

Why aren’t they listening?

Three weeks to go, and 40+% of Americans still support this man.

Why don’t they care?

Trump’s utter and complete failure to lead this country through this pandemic, to guide and protect us, is nothing short of astounding. Every day that he adds to our Great American Tragedy–on Twitter, on the front lawn of the White House, in airplane hangers–our future looks bleaker, the rising body count more dire.  Donald Trump stands triumphant before his crowd of blind, deaf or dumb followers who eagerly swallow his lies and vitriol, even as they, and their loved ones, choke on it.

Don’t they care at all about this pandemic and the unthinkable toll it has already taken? And what about the other stuff: the families Trump and his administration have ripped apart, the children they’ve kept in cages, the utter disdain Trump has shown for this country’s servicemen and women, the wanton destruction to our environment/educational system/world standing, the assault on our free press, the unravelling of the very fabric of our Democracy?

In just about three weeks, this country is going to officially vote for its future, assuming it still has one. Many have already done so. In their heart of hearts, each voter has, or will, make a choice, a declaration of what they hold most dear. Will it be the values upon which this country’s Constitution was founded? Will they choose country over Party? Science over falsehoods? Will they think about the people whose struggles mirror those of their parents or grandparents–immigrants upon whose shoulders this country was built? Will they admit to themselves that racism threads systemically throughout this country’s policies and practices, and that Black lives do matter, and immigrants matter, the environment matters, climate change matters, equality matters, acceptance matters, a free press matters, ethics matter, justice matters, kindness and decency and truth all matter?

Or will they shut their eyes and ears and minds to all but this, spoken by Trump yesterday in Sanford, Florida:

We’re going to have, if it’s possible, an even greater and more important victory than we had just four years ago. And nobody ever said this fight was not going to be a hard one, but we will make it like you’ve never seen before.
 
Yes, we will. And that’s what I’m afraid of.

Trump THEN & NOW

Image for post

 

On February 20, 2017, the date of Donald Trump’s inauguration, the newly elected POTUS made a promise to the American people:

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Umm . . . no.

 

I was going to show, clearly and absolutely, that the platform for Trump’s Republican party is not just based on fear, it IS fear.

But on second thought, I am going let the man speak for himself; THEN–a lifetime ago–and NOW, with this observation: Hindsight is 20/20. But this is an election year. We can do something about that. 

THEN:  “Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.”

NOW:  “The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT),” Trump wrote. 

NOW:  Referencing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s abolishment of term limits: “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said, according to audio obtained by CNN. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

NOW:  Referencing President Obama: “Look, he was an incompetent president, that’s all I can say. Grossly incompetent.” 

THEN:  “This moment is your moment: it belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.”

NOW: 

Activists rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, 24 October 2018 in New York City.

THEN:  “. . .a nation exists to serve its citizens.”

NOW:   

  1. https://www.gq.com/story/trump-kids-profit-presidency
  2. https://prospect.org/power/mapping-corruption-donald-trump-executive-branch/
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/20/steve-bannon-arrest-list-of-trumps-ex-associates-who-have-faced-charges.html

THEN:  “I will fight for you with every breath in my body – and I will never, ever let you down.”

NOW: 

‘I don’t take responsibility at all.’

United States of America total CASES and DEATHS from COVID-19, as of today:

5.75M+ Cases            

177,000+ Deaths

THEN:   “America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.”

NOW:  

https://www.businessinsider.com/10000-families-showed-up-to-receive-free-food-in-texas-2020-4

10,000 families showed up to receive free food in Texas - Business ...

THEN:   “At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.”

NOW:  Impeached, then and now: Front pages showed Clinton in 1998, Trump ...

THEN:   “When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.”

NOW:  america-house-divided-against-itself_11-01-2016.jpg

THEN:  “Together, We Will Make America Strong Again. We Will Make America Wealthy Again. We Will Make America Proud Again. We Will Make America Safe Again. And, Yes, Together, We Will Make America Great Again. “

NOW: 

Trump has told 13,435 lies while in office: WaPo

THEN:  “The time for empty talk is over.”

NOW: 

Gallery: Posters that will make you want to go vote |

Do Unto Others

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I try to live by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This is a post about a seagull, and about Donald Trump. Only read it if you want to, but I have to write it.

Yesterday, in the pouring rain, I saw a seagull in the parking lot of a grocery store near me. I went back later, just to check. It hadn’t moved, couldn’t, but it tried with a hurt leg and wing. I couldn’t leave it there. I got a box, picked it up gently, brought it home and fed it and then I started calling, and finally found a place to take it, a waterfowl rehab place two hours from my house.

My husband drove us there today. When the lady lifted the seagull out of the box. . .

I can’t say it.

I didn’t know it was hurt so badly, oh god the poor thing. They had to put him to sleep. I couldn’t go in. I cried and cried because it suffered so, and I hadn’t known. Now I ask you this, as I cry remembering that poor sweet innocent thing: What did I get from trying to that little seagull? Nothing but heartache, right?

Heartache, yes. But it needed help and when I saw that, I had to do something about it. Because we help those in need, no matter who or what they are. Because we care about others besides ourselves. Because especially, the most vulnerable among us need the most help from the rest us.

Through grace, I think, I was there, and because I knew that bird needed help, I helped it. At least I tried. And while I couldn’t save that poor sweet thing, at least I was there to lessen its suffering. At least, I spared him starvation or getting attacked by some animal, or hit (again?) by a car, or lingering there alone, in pain, for who knows how long.

As cohabitants of this earth, we owe it to each other to look out for each other, to care about each other, to help each other when we can, do what we can. . .

. . . which is why I can’t abide Donald Trump any more, nor anyone who supports him. I can’t do it. Even if I love you, I can’t do it. He doesn’t CARE, don’t you see? He doesn’t care about you or me or anyone but himself. Say what you will about his ‘honesty,’ about his ‘telling it like it is,’ his ‘business savvy;’ tell me he supports the rich, the farmers, the miners, big business; tell me you look past his monstrous misdeeds, his hate, his divisiveness, his misogyny, his racism, because he supports anti-abortion legislation or drilling into pristine wilderness or the right to carry AK-47s or keeping immigrants on the other side of his walls.

Do you what I’ll tell you? I’ll tell you that he supports himself only; that everything else is lip service and most of it is lies.

The Golden Rule means absolutely nothing to Donald Trump. Instead of helping the most vulnerable among us, he does the opposite: He destroys everything he touches.

Covid-19? La de da de de.

 

The beat goes on, the beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

Tell me this: At what point did common sense and reason become passé? I could blame it on Trump. I want to. But Trumps’s reckless disregard for science and facts didn’t lead to today’s massive rally in Berlin. That rallying cry is rooted in a greater commonality:

Stupidity.

true

 AP

Thousands marched today in Berlin, protesting Germany’s Covid-19 restrictions, holding up signs like “Corona, false alarm,” “We are being forced to wear a muzzle,” “Natural defense instead of vaccination” and “We are the second wave.” Demonstrators stood shoulder to shoulder, few wearing masks, declaring that “the end of the pandemic” had arrived.

Really? 

On July 27, there were 340 new cases reported in Germany.

On July 28: 633 new cases.

July 29: 684.

July 30: 902.

July 31: Another 870 people infected.

As of today, Germany has 210,697 Coronavirus cases. As marchers protested the loss of “freedoms” (to be selfish, or assholes, or selfish assholes), 9224 men, women and children have lost their lives to the disease.

But that grim statistic, as sobering as it is, pales in comparison to that of the United States:

As of yesterday, there have been more than 4,640,000 cases of Covid-19 in the U.S., and over 156,000 deaths.

Let those numbers sink in for a minute.

And yet, here–as in Germany–too many people refuse to acknowledge scientific, proven evidence that social distancing and masks save lives. Some of those people are selfish, some ignorant, but most are just plain dumb. They think it won’t happen to them. They think they’re immune or that, if they do get sick, they’ll recover quickly. They think the whole “Covid-thing” is overblown, or a hoax, or an attack on their right to drink booze and party and cough on their neighbors. They’ll repeat the latest conspiracy theory. They’ll tell you if it happens, it happens, but hey, it’s God’s will so fuck it and fuck all y’all. . .

History has turned the page, uh huh. . .

. . .but too many people haven’t learned anything. They haven’t done their own due diligence to separate lies from facts, opinions from truths. They haven’t listened to people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about. They’ll tell you Trump knows more than Fauci, because Trump listens to all “the best people,” to wit:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/28/stella-immanuel-hydroxychloroquine-video-trump-americas-frontline-doctors/

. . .or they’ll listen to these people:

https://news.yahoo.com/republicans-attack-fauci-and-defend-trump-at-coronavirus-hearing-173957811.html

Meanwhile, since I started writing this post, 7 more people in Germany have died from Covid-19. Not sure home many more Americans will die today.

And the beat goes on. . .

 

 

Happy Birthday, Dear Ones

human being

The blessed gods have left their perfection
on the face of this most beautiful child,
so sweet. Adorable confection!
The blessed gods have left their perfection,
antithesis of hate and dereliction,
apotheosis of angels’ mercy mild,
the blessed gods have left their perfection
on the face of this most beautiful child.

This morning, at 4 a.m., a baby girl was born.

Her name is Mila.

She is the granddaughter of my dear friend Cindy, who died this spring. But Cindy’s hopes and dreams for her beloved daughter, and for her daughter’s daughter, are with them both this day and will be with them, all the days of their lives.

Happy birthday, sweethearts. We love you very much.

 

 

 

No Más, No Más

micky shadow

That’s it. I have officially reached my limit. I can’t take anymore so I declare myself done.

Finis.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this little blog, late February or was it early March? Back when my main concern was the needless excruciating pain I’d experienced after total knee replacement; aka: The good ol’ days. 

Since then, this world of ours has gone to hell in a hand basket due to a lot of things but especially, one in particular that has been out of our control, to wit: a new coronavirus, one humanity has no immunity from, nor cure for; one which has caused 155,145 deaths worldwide as of yesterday morning. . .

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

See the source image

The best way for people to stop the spread of this virus is to stay away from each other. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re running out of food or gas and need to venture out, or if you happen to live in close proximity to a lot of other human beings. . .

Major Slum Areas in Top Ten Cities of India

That’s a slum in Mumbai, but there are places in the United States trapped in that same sinking boat. NYC comes to mind, of course. We’ve seen what happens when a bunch of people live in a relatively small area: Covid-19 has a field day, to wit:

https://www.nbcnews.com/4f307420-66a7-4701-b8f5-ddbf1cfd4226

But there are things people can do to stop the spread, even in places like NYC, right? Stay home. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you must venture out. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds. Don’t spit on the ground, don’t stand within 6 feet of anybody else, get tested if you have symptoms . . . I could go on but I won’t, for a few reasons.

First of all, those precautions are posted online everywhere. Second, for some, those precautions are moot. They don’t have a home. They don’t have access to running water or soap, they don’t have access to tests, they don’t have access to treatment, they live on top of each other in slums and inner cities…

Thirdly, what’s the point when there are so many people right now in this country who think those precautions are pointless, or a threat to their freedoms or worse: that their president ‘s call for the “liberation” of states like mine–Michigan, U.S.A.–from the “tyranny” of a governor’s ‘stay-at-home’ mandate is, at best, license to spew one’s own hateful rhetoric…

…and, at worst, a call to arms, echoes of Charlottesville…

Governor of Washington Jay Inslee tweeted this in response:
The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19. His unhinged rantings and calls for people to “liberate” states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.

Yes, we have. But this time it’s happening during a fucking PANDEMIC for chrissake and meanwhile, the governor of Florida just opened the fucking beaches again…

Florida's beaches flooded with people the minute they reopen after ...

…and meanwhile, the head of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, just gutted the rule limiting pollution from coal and oil-fired coal plants. . .

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/04/epa-keeps-mercury-limits-in-place-but-undercuts-their-foundation/

. . .and meanwhile, Tyson foods is shutting down plants and Putin’s making a move on Trump and the GOP wants fewer virus restrictions and tornadoes are forecast in the south and the west is facing a mega-drought and the virus is racist and conspiracy theories are running off the rails and yeah. I mean, No.

No más.

Can’t do it, folks. Not anymore.

Opiod Tolerant? Welcome to the Torture Chamber. . .

Opioid-dependent patients may fear the risks of under-treatment due to prejudices, . . /. . Patients should be reassured that . . . effective pain control is an achievable goal. 

. 2017; 13: 1163–1173.
Published online 2017 Sep 5. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S141332

Today is Day. . .let me think. . .Day 13. Thirteen days since I had total knee replacement, right knee. It was messed up pretty bad. My doctor thought, going in, that I might be a candidate for a partial knee replacement. Nope, not even.

The surgery went pretty well by all accounts and I am now officially “on the mend.” No doubt this is going to be a slow and painful process, but if I want to walk without a limp, and drive, and sit cross-legged on the floor with my kitty (which I hope to do again some day), I have to keep working that knee which, right now, is swollen and TIGHT, and a challenge to bend beyond what I guess is 100/110 degrees.

But this pain, which is caused by swollen and damaged tissue coupled with aggressive scar tissue formation, is nothing —NOTHING — compared to the absolute torture I endured in the days right after surgery because I am “opiod tolerant.”

 Acute pain in patients with opioid tolerance makes pain management a challenge, and perhaps one of the greatest risks associated with pain management in this population is the risk of undertreatment due to stigma and bias. Further, data on pain management in this patient population are limited.

https://www.uspharmacist.com/article/acute-pain-management-in-patients-with-opioid-tolerance

My husband and I both warned the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and hospital staff beforehand that, because of previous ‘failed’ lumbar surgeries as well as a severe Lisfranc injury of my left foot, I have been taking Tylenol 3 for years now, under the care of a pain specialist. While I take between 2 and 4 pills every day, my usual dose is 3: one when I wake up, one in the middle of the day, and one before I go to sleep. Sometimes I have to take an extra one during the day. Once in a great while I manage to get by with two pills. I never ever take more than four in a day.

The upside of taking Tylenol 3 daily is that the pain I experience is tolerable, for the most part. Even though I still can’t walk too far or stand too long, or lie in one position for too long, or do a myriad of other things I used to do without a second thought, I can make it through the day (usually) without agony, which is a blessing.

But because I’ve taken Tylenol 3 with codeine for so long, I have developed a tolerance to opiods. The biggest challenge has been getting and keeping post surgical pain under control, esp. in those first few days. After surgery of any kind,  pain management for me is a challenge because the usual drugs/dosages don’t work effectively. The pain quickly rises from moderate to severe to excruciating, leaving me writhing in a state of agony, seemingly without end.

This knee replacement surgery was no different. Even though my surgeon injected multiple pain blocks in my knee before closing me up, and even though I had an intervenous line in my elbow for some injectable pain med, and een though I was given something strong by mouth–Norco, I think–and even though I had a pain block thing in my thigh above that knee, I was in agony. And once again, the hospital staff was either scrambling to find something that would work without stopping my breathing, or they insisted I “wait and let the *drug of choice* ‘kick in.’ Let them say that after experiencing total and complete torture for 10 minutes, 20, 30, 40 . . . I can’t tell you how many times I lay there bawling, nor how many times I called my husband in the middle of the night crying and crying because it hurt so fucking bad–

Even now, back at home, pain control is an issue. I have 3 Norcos left right now and I am saving those for just before bed. I have been trying to do my exercises with the help of over-the-counter Motrin and ice packs, neither of which is adequately cutting that deep  pain around my knee, nor the shallow fire-like pain in my lower leg. When the Norco runs out, I will be back to my 2-4x/day Tylenol 3, the Motrin, and ice packs, unless those don’t cut it, in which case I don’t know what I’m going to do, especially when my outpatient physical therapy starts in earnest 3x/week. They say to be sure to take pain medication an hour before because they are going to work the patient hard, and it’s going to hurt, and I don’t mind telling you I’m afraid what I have available to me isn’t going to cut it.

When I say I’m afraid, I mean that literally.

Research shows that pain management for opiod tolerant patients is a challenge on multiple fronts, including bias of medical professionals, and the fact that folks like me need stronger pain meds more often after surgery to get the same effects as opiod naive patients (those who do not take opiods on a regular basis). The research is out there, guidelines are out there, my husband and I put it out there most emphatically and still I suffered mightily post-surgery. My goal, I told everyone, was to reach a 4/10 on the pain scale. Most days I hovered between 6 and 8. Those 9s were almost too much to bear.

When will the medical profession take action based on the research of their own cohort? Because right now, it’s SSDD for people like me, who dread any kind of surgery and who can blame us? It’s fucking torture after and it shouldn’t be. Couple that with the nurse who came into my room after, accusing me of not icing my leg enough, which is why the pain was as bad as it was–was she effing serious? Yes, as serious as the nurse who came into my room after my last surgery, accusing me of overzealousness, or of being a drug addict or I don’t know what when she said: “Do you know that yesterday you pushed the PCA button over 400 times, and today you only pushed it four times?” Hell yes I know, you idiot. YESTERDAY my pain was OUT OF CONTROL. I knew that PCA pump wouldn’t allow me to dose myself more than x times per hour, but as soon as that dose was available I wasn’t fucking going to miss it. And YES I know I only pushed that button four times today because finally, FINALLY, they found a cocktail of drugs/treatment that got my runaway pain under control–

Almost too much to bear and it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be.

Happy New. . .

 

IIt’s been a while. Too long, and I surely do apologize about that. I could offer my apologies, offer excuses; there is always a reason one doesn’t follow through on stated goals. . .

I shall spare you, my ersatz readers, for that is what you surely must be after all this time and I don’t blame you, not one iota. Instead, I offer you a little bit of wisdom I have learned these many months this little blog has been on “temporary hiatus”: Circumstances change. People change. Priorities change. And when we are faced with these changes, whether slow or sudden, expected or non, we may find ourselves re-evaluating a lot of things, not the least of which is how we are going to act and react, what we are going to do now, what we may need to do in the future. Big decisions or small, what we do and how we handle the curve balls Life throws in our way defines us and our relationships, steers us in one direction or another, and then there are the variables we didn’t consider before and now must: our health, our emotions, our new responsibilities, those things beyond our control that still affect us in some way. . .

I’m rambling.

For the last year or so, I have been doing my best to navigate some strange, disturbing waters. The toll this past year has taken has been dear. Truth be told, I’m tuckered out. And yet I suspect this tumultuous journey will be a long one. I also know I’m not the only one facing challenges; not by a long shot. And so, to anyone out there who happens to stop by this little blog today, tomorrow, next week or month or even year, know that there is somebody out there who commiserates with you and understands, at least a little bit, what you are going through.

In one month, I shall go under the knife in hope that soon I will be able to walk from Point A to Point B without wincing. Oy, it ain’t easy getting older. Still, with age comes a wisdom I didn’t have 20 years ago. Or 10 or even 5. I realize how lucky I am to have people in my life who are good and kind and supportive and forgiving. And maybe, during my recuperation I might finally, FINALLY, finish my long-suffering WIP. I’m still at around 69K words, target of 72K, so I don’t have far to go, although sometimes that last hill is all but insurmountable. But I’ve done it before, 5 or 6 times now. Some of my completed novels are pretty good, at least I think they are, and I have hopes for them yet to see the light of day.

That’s a good hope for all of us, I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Well-lived

Our dear friend Linda died yesterday morning.

I couldn’t write yesterday. Two apocalyptic events: Linda’s death and Kavanaugh’s ascension, sent me reeling. But today, grateful for the hours buffering Then from Now, I think I’m ready to compare the two.

Brett Kavanaugh takes his place in our national history by way of ugliness and deception. He is now a member of the United States Supreme Court, vaulting to that coveted position on the heels of those whose politics trumped reason. Questions of ethics and veracity, accusations of sexual assault . . . all were lost in the rising cacophony of rhetoric and lies riding the tide of this country’s burgeoning tribal divide.  Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation epitomize ‘good ol’ boy politics’ at its worst. From this day forward, and for the unforeseeable future, he is a part of this nation’s history. I have no doubt he will use his position to steer this country toward conservative values that celebrate money and power at the expense of decency and freedom.

Linda D., whose ravaged body is being prepared for Tuesday’s final internment, will be remembered by the small group of people fortunate enough to have known her. We loved her dearly. She faced a devastating diagnosis with unwavering faith and quiet grace. Throughout her life, Linda was a good person: caring and thoughtful, loving and giving, honest and forthright, empathetic and brave, sweet-natured and funny. Never comfortable ‘making waves,’ she found her voice the last two years of her life: speaking up for herself and for her friends, taking control of her treatment and–as much as fate would allow–living, and dying, on her own terms. Her friends became her caregivers willingly and lovingly. Linda was the epitome of kindness and decency, a joy to be around, a special human being. To know Linda was an honor and a privilege. Her friendship was a gift; her death, a profound loss. Like Kavanaugh, her character defined her, but there ends the comparison.

In all ways and in no small measure, our little Linda truly made this world a better place.

 

Saturday, January 27, 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly–Scratch That

One day at a time. Alleluia.

It’s been a while since I posted on this little blog. I’ve thought about it many times over the last few months, actually found myself with my fingers poised on the keyboard ready to fly. But my heart wasn’t in it, I think because I was wrestling with possible content: was I going to write about writing–which I haven’t done in months–or was I going to write about this president and what he’s doing to this country? The former topic seemed ridiculous in light of the fact that, you know. The latter seemed too daunting, too depressing.

But today, right now, I’m ready to tackle the good, the bad, and the ugly . . . in reverse order. Eating the lima beans before the cupcake as it were. And so, without further adieu. . .

The Ugly

Yeah, that guy. I could slap a photo of our spineless congress there, too. Or ‘The Republicans.’ Sean Hannity. The Alt Right. Big Oil. Spin it however you want: there are people in this country doing bad things right now, folks; people hell-bent on destroying the very fabric of our democracy, our ethics, our environment, our free press, our rights as citizens of this country, our charity, our humanity. Not a day goes by–seriously, not one day–that we don’t bear witness to real attacks on the values we hold so dear.

At least, on paper.

At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

But the truth is, we have only ourselves to blame. For whatever reason, this man is our president, and millions of people believe he’s the greatest thing this country has ever seen, and this congress is failing to uphold and defend the very checks and balances they were elected to champion. Which leads me to

The Bad

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Him AGAIN?

But see, this guy right there, this smug fool mugging in front of the camera, represents the worst in us: self-righteousness without empathy, morals, ethics, dignity, or humility. He doesn’t care about me or you, he only cares about himself: how he looks, how he is perceived. His super-inflated ego belies his utter incompetence and apparent self-loathing, which drives his sick need for uncompromising loyalty and mindless accolades. . .

My opinion, of course. YMMV.

Thing is, this man–this sick and sorry bastard–is not the cause of the hate and chaos we see in this world. He’s a product of it. We have brought this on ourselves, folks. And it is up to us to do something about it now and in the days and weeks and months to come, by talking instead of pointing fingers, listening instead of yelling, voting with our hearts as well as our beliefs. I’ve said it before: each of us has a role in how this mess is going to play out. To  remain silent is to be complicit. Are we going to do what is right and what is best for all of us, or are we going to close our minds, dig in our heals and settle for our own destruction? That doomsday clock is ticking. The clock itself is ticking, which brings me to

The Good

This is the toughest part for me to write today. Today, a dear friend of mine called me from her hospital bed and told me doctors think she now has liver cancer. She’s already been in the fight for her life, first getting the devastating diagnosis of malignant melanoma, then finding out it had spread to her lungs, and now, this. My heart aches for her, especially because this person, this amazing woman, is–without question–the kindest and sweetest soul I know on this earth.

This woman drifted out of my life ten years ago. Last year, she drifted back in, three weeks before her father died and she received that first, awful, diagnosis. I can’t help but feel it was fate that brought us together again at that time in her life, and in my own. I’d been struggling with my own personal challenges and found myself floundering in a sea of self-pity and self-doubt. It’s too easy to lose sight of what is really important in this life we each are given: love for others, friendship that transcends time and distance, family . . . in this tumultuous world, it’s too easy to lose sight of the good in people, to lose our faith; too easy to forget that there are people on this earth whose struggles we can’t fathom. It is only by the grace of god or luck or fate that we don’t walk in their shoes bearing the sorrow of their heavy hearts.

I don’t want this new year to be like last year. I want to find the good in people. I want to find hope and hold it close to me and not let it be lost in a mire of anger and fear. I want to celebrate life with all of its joy and heartache, too. I want to cling to the good I see, and do what I can to ease the suffering of those I love so much, I want to be positive and courageous and hopeful. I want to believe in miracles. I want hope because hope is good, you guys.

Hope is exactly what we need.

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ETA: My friend just called me with amazing news: it might be a blood clot near her liver for chrissake and not cancer at all. I can’t believe it–scratch that.

Today, right now, I can.