Dear Charles

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 2.19.21 PMCharles, I admire your writing, and rely on it for a semblance of sanity.

But with all due respect, you wouldn’t completely lose your mind if you were a woman.

You’d be too busy:

  • running the damn carpool
  • changing the toilet paper on the roll
  • remembering your daughter will only eat blue jello
  • navigating the dinner invite from the couple you’ve avoided the last 3 times, because your partner doesn’t like them
  • remembering to put the lunch money in the backpack
  • taking the dog for a walk, after you clean up the stuff he’s chewed to bits because he was inside all day (you can relate)
  • buying birthday cards for your nieces and nephews on both sides
  • keeping track of who in the family you share what news with
  • recycling
  • threatening the kids with cripes knows what if they don’t brush their teeth
  • reminding your boss at work he has a lunch date with his male CEO pal from another company
  • reading movie reviews so you know what’s appropriate for the kids to watch
  • knowing they’re going to watch the bad stuff anyway, and planning what to say to them about it
  • calling the the parents who are having the sleepover, to see if they keep guns in the house
  • keeping an eye on the rear view mirror as your kids fight it out in the backseat on the way to buying them school supplies, when all you really want to do is smoke a joint and toss them some broken crayons and see how that works out for them
  • texting your partner important news three times because that’s how many times it takes before they pay attention to their texts; meanwhile trying to remember what you learned in Drivers’ Ed about changing a tire, from that teacher who wouldn’t keep his hand off your knee, but now all you can remember is his hand and something about lug nuts
  • reminding your partner to charge their phone
  • clearing all the clutter out of your house according to the realtor’s instructions so you can sell it
  • picking paint colors to repaint the house so you can sell it, after arguing with partner about why it matters, because paint costs $200
  • clearing time in your schedule to go sign papers at the closing because the house sold in one day
  • remembering which Disney princess your granddaughter is obsessed with, so you don’t screw up her birthday
  • making a mental note to talk to your granddaughter about princess worship, maybe after the birthday
  • buying the wrapping paper from your kids’ school so your kid isn’t the only one who brings an empty envelope back to class when the fundraiser is over
  • making sure the sheets on the beds are comfy so you can all get a good night’s sleep.

Oh, look at that, you only had time to think about sexual harassment once. Whew.

I could go on. But I know you get it, Charles. You’re one of the good ones.

And if you turn out not to be, I’m gonna be so pissed.

Your fan,

Kitty Sheehan

By Richard Meyer

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photo by Kitty Sheehan

 

The Women’s March: 21 January 2017

 

Let this be

a rising sea,

an ocean of humanity —

a surge no obstacle can break.

 

Let this be

a tide of justice, fairness, sanity

by women born, by women led —

an inundation meant to spread

for our, and the nation’s, sake.

 

Richard Meyer

 

Richard Meyer is an award-winning poet from Mankato, Minnesota. His latest book is Orbital Paths

The Audacity of Hope, or Real Men Wear Pussy Hats

This is for the friends who called Sunday and said, “Tell me everything.”

And you.

And you, Catherine.

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photo by Catherine Sebastian

I’ll leave “everything” to others – much is already written about Saturday’s Women’s March in DC. This is my tale.

None of us knew how big this might be when we boarded our two buses at 2 am in Woodstock; hopeful, happy, determined. We gave our bus driver, David, his very own pussy hat.

My traveling buddy was Catherine Sebastian. She’s a photographer and veteran climate activist. She bought two tickets from the get-go, knowing someone would want the other one; that’s who she is. I’m her someone.

Our first inkling of crowd size hit as we pulled into our first destination, the parking lot for the metro station.

A murmured wave of “Holy shit” spread through the bus when we saw the lines to board the metro. The first thing that struck me, as we hopped out and found our spot in line: no one was complaining. We smiled and made room for each other. Imagine that happening from now on, every time people stand in line. Yo ho.

When we stepped off the train at our stop, Archives, we became THE CROWD.

We were a hum of drumming, clapping, singing folk and, oh my gosh, signs. We were all colors, shapes and sizes. Moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, kids of all ages, nuns, priests, wheelchairs, dogs, (yep), police, Veterans, women in beautiful hijabs topped with pink hats, superheroes draped in American flags and rainbow capes, queens in crowns and Princess Leias in white robes.

Up we went.

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photo by Catherine Sebastian

I took Catherine’s arm and sang, “Somethin’s happenin here…”

She answered, “What it is, ain’t exactly clear…”

And we both kept snapping photos.

I felt safe. DC’s finest were wearing pussy hats, for crissakes.

The white-grey sky cast its light over leafless trees: a perfect backdrop for the pink tsunami of us, taking shape in the streets.

We headed to where the stage was set up.

Ha! I just made that sound so easy. Let’s say we walked toward a Jumbotron on the horizon, above an ocean of words and hats.

Catching photos of signs along the way, we grabbed each other, in awe of the fantastic sights, laughing, crying tears of joy and wonder. This was for real.

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And just like that, we stopped. No more moving ahead. As we stood, wondering what we should do, the crowd decided for us. There was to be no moving forward or moving back. The longer we stood, the tighter the squeeze. All prior plans, out of the question.

Catherine said, “Let’s go to the back of this,” and before I knew it, she was dragging me through spaces I’d never guessed I’d fit through. Civility reigned, and people let each other through, offering advice about where they’d just been, what the scene was like over there, back there, up there.

It took us an hour to do this. No worries, I just kept my eye on her pink hat, heh heh. 

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We found some breathing room at last, and heard the police decided to sort of re-shape the crowd, turning people back from heading to the stage. That was fine with us; the show was all around us. There was no time or desire to stand in one place.

Every child I saw was serene. Up on a parent’s shoulders, calmly checking out the scene, like it was nothing unusual or alarming. Or walking, some with signs. Or in a stroller, wide-eyed face topped with a tiny pink hat.

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“She’s my GPS,” he said.

I took my cue from the littlest marchers. It was all good.

We’d see men; we’d thank them.

“Of course. We’re here for you!” they’d reply.

We smiled, crushing on that.

My husband was home watching it unfold on TV, and when he texted me the first photo of the crowd, it was the first time we saw what this looked like from the air.

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Every time I’d show that photo to someone, same reaction: (Double take) “Oh my god! Is that us? Oh my god! Honey, look at this…”

Catherine’s husband called us with the early crowd estimate. Made us weep once again.

The impromptu march began – right from where we were standing.

We decided to head straight into it, head on. You know how normally people would frown upon such a thing? Not here. My video is below. Notice the “oh sorry” and the smiles and high fives. I stopped a lot to high five and bow to signs. You can see Catherine on the move ahead of me. There was no diabolical plan ahead of time to pass the Trump Hotel, it just happened. It’s interesting to watch the crowd’s calm, yet decisive reaction when it does.

Check out my video here. 

Ok, you’ve seen the signs. They were fabulous. So creative, funny and true. Spelled correctly.

“We’re here to apologize on behalf of Ohio.”

“Introvert snowflake. Here anyway.”

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photo by Catherine Sebastian 

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Text from my daughter:

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We walked toward the White House. The plan was to leave the signs there. With an eye on the clock, we turned and made our way to the metro stop, with no idea what we’d find. We found more long lines and more camaraderie. We stood for our 45-minute ride back to the parking lot. More than once, sitting people offered their seats to people standing. What?

We poured out of the trains to load the buses, singing, “Lean on Me” and helping each other get where we had to go.

We had to climb a fence to finally get to our bus. I smiled inside on the way over, glad to be in that very spot at this very age. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, the man wrote.

We made it home, tired but peaceful.

Imagine my surprise on Sunday, to learn Trump fans were mocking us, crowing that we didn’t even know what we were marching for.

Trust us, fellas, we knew why we were marching.

I was trolled by a man on my Facebook page, (Now? After all this time? Has he met me?) suggesting it’s time to move on, and oh, it’s not healthy to be so angry.

Stop projecting, ok, darlin? And pick up the phone if you have something to say to me. Let’s talk. I’d love to tell you how this feels. And I listen.

There are two kinds of men in my life.

The kind who tell me it’ll be ok that a sexual predator has been elected president,

and the kind who call me to ask how I am, the morning after it happens.

My husband brought this when he met our bus. He’s that kind.

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I marched because love must win.

But we have so much work to do.

No laurels to be rested upon.

It’s Day 4, and the shit show is as bad as we thought it’d be.

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photo by Josh Edelson via Getty Images

Sorry Not Sorry, New York Times

Thank you for contacting The New York Times. We appreciate your business and are always happy to help.
info: You are now chatting with ‘Ashley T’
Ashley T:

Good afternoon Kitty. Thank you for contacting The New York Times. My name is Ashley. How are you doing today?

Kitty Sheehan: great. please cancel my subscription.
Kitty Sheehan: no discussion. thank you
Ashley T:
I will be happy to assist with making the changes for you today. May I ask the reason you are requesting this change to your service today?

Kitty Sheehan: I am disgusted with the paper’s irresponsible election coverage, which helped our country elect a racist rapist as president.
Kitty Sheehan: Your paper should have called him out on day 1. But instead you normalized him, for readership.
Kitty Sheehan: I am no longer interested in reading the Times.
Kitty Sheehan: I’m not here to be persuaded otherwise.
Kitty Sheehan: let’s cancel, ok?
Ashley T:
I do appreciate your feedback. However, independent and fair journalism is more important now then ever.

Kitty Sheehan: omg. CANCEL
Ashley T:
Deeply reported independent journalism is as critical as it’s ever been. We will continue to champion free press and focus on bringing you the real story.

Kitty Sheehan: IF ONLY YOU HAD THAT
Kitty Sheehan: I can go to my paypal and cancel my payment
Kitty Sheehan: if you aren’t going to help me
Ashley T:
I do want to remind you that we report on all the topics that matter from global news to fashion to culture to what to read, eat and watch. I will hate for that be of reason to limit yourself on keeping informed with our award winning national and international coverage including the sections you do enjoy on a regular basis?

Kitty Sheehan: cancel
Kitty Sheehan: i’m a journalist. please stop mansplaining journalism to me, Ashley
Kitty Sheehan: my impression of the paper is not improving with this transaction
Ashley T: Well Kitty, before we go, I will like to offer to upgrade your service to the basic digital allowing access to all devices and provide you with 30% off for 52 weeks. That will bring it all the way down to $10.50 every 4 weeks. Will you reconsider your decision today?
Kitty Sheehan: NO
Kitty Sheehan: stop, please
Kitty Sheehan: i realize you are doing your job.
Kitty Sheehan: the content of the paper is not your fault.
Kitty Sheehan: please cancel me, that is your job as well
Ashley T:
Not a problem, one moment while I process your request. While I am taking care of this today, for feedback, are there any changes you feel The NYT needs to make?

Kitty Sheehan: don’t get me started
Kitty Sheehan: i don’t have that kind of time
Ashley T:
That’s fine. Is there anything else we can assist you with today?

Kitty Sheehan: just let me know when it’s cancelled.
Kitty Sheehan: and how much of a refund I will get
Ashley T:
I have completed your request. You’re able to have a copy of this transcript emailed to you at the end of this chat. Thanks for being a value customer of The New York Times, have a great day!

Kitty Sheehan: thank you.
info: Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

Here We Are

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Screaming.

Blaming.

Judging.

Pointing.

But not listening.

It turns out the basket of deplorables is much deeper than we imagined.

It turns out Facebook was the basket of deplorables all along.

I laughed derisively at those who said Twitter was “about what you had for breakfast.”

“They don’t get it,” I thought.

I didn’t get it.

I happen to make part of my living in social media.

So I feed the beast and the beast feeds me.

I have some stuff to work out.

Andy Borowitz, on stage Friday night in Poughkeepsie, explained the election situation fairly simply.

He made a Breaking Bad analogy. I don’t think you need to have watched the show to understand.

In the show Breaking Bad, the main character, Walter White, finds out he has cancer. He must pay for treatment. He has no money. He discovers if he produces and sells crystal meth, he and his family can stay afloat.

Andy said, look at the media as Walter White. Their cancer: they were broke.

Their crystal meth: Donald Trump.

The networks gave him over 3 billion dollars in free air time.

And they got richer.

Andy reminded us of what Les Moonves said, “Donald Trump may not be good for America, but he’s good for CBS.”

I cancelled my cable on Friday morning.

And I cancelled the New York Times.

These are two things that will help me.

I hope you can find things that might help you.

Last night, I watched a clip of Dave Chappelle’s monologue on Saturday Night Live, and wondered if Lorne Michaels understands now, what he helped do. By having Trump on his show, so many times, for ratings dollars, he fed him to the viewing public as a plate of normal. He’s anything but.

Facebook feels like a screaming abyss of panic to me right now. Twitter is worse, because on Twitter, there’s no governor on the hatred.

Since 2008, when I joined Facebook, I’ve indulged in the selfie mentality of thinking what I was doing with my life should mean something to other people, instead of making damn sure it means something to me.

That’s 8 years! That’s a whole third grader.

Shit.

Narcissism is how we got here, fellow deplorables.

And addiction to social media, all media, feeds the narcissism.

Addiction I can do something about.

I’ll share what Andy said on Friday, at the end of his show.

It’s the same idea I hung on to, as I sat in the dark silence of Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Change starts within. It’s all we can control.

To quote Andy again, “As Gandhi said – or maybe it was Melania Trump – I can’t remember – be the change you want to see.”

Thank you Andy, you’re one of our national treasures.

I need to put the phone down, and speak to people face to face.

For now, hello is enough.

And I’ll write.

Dispatch from the bubble

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God, I love you people — my tribe.
The messages, the calls, the hugs.
Yesterday, as my Zyban-like therapy for quitting social media (Zyban is the smoking cessation cure you get to take for 2 weeks while you’re quitting) – I spent time not unfriending, but blocking 37 people on Facebook.
Then, guess what?
I suddenly have entirely different things to say, on Facebook.
And outside of Facebook.
For now: here’s this.
More people voted for her.
Half of America didn’t vote.
Some people who voted for him are not hate-filled; they just needed a new system and this was the only avenue they saw.
(I’m still working on that one, but humor me.)
Things are broken. We broke them. WE, all of us.
We must fix them.
The Obamas are why we can’t have nice things.
This thing has been coming for a long, long time.
Since before many of the people who voted for him were born.
We must stop and think what and who it is we’re fighting, and then go fight it, with kindness.
Hint: it ain’t him.
Stay tuned.
ps: Did I mention how proud I am of my kids?

Never Trump

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A person I admire and respect sent this essay to me, and gave me permission to share it.

She, like many of us, is distressed and alarmed by the recorded sexually predatory talk from Donald Trump.  

Here’s her story. 

It’s been challenging being a part of the human race the last few months. The ugliness, the despair, the nasty rhetoric…it’s hard to justify any of it and even more difficult to face it day after day.  I guess, if you’re like me, you just care and want to recognize some humanity in humans again instead of all the hate.

Many of these assaults are “just” words. Social media as the format. A platform to hide behind and say horrible, awful things to friends and strangers.  So does any of it actually matter? Words, I mean, what do words hurt?

If only the last civilized thing about us could be the way we treat each other, the way we speak to each other…it would be easier if we could love each other again.

I’d love to say none of it has bothered me, but the bombardment of sexism, misogyny and anti-female rhetoric has become more than I can handle. I know it’s in fashion for some people to mock the oft used phrase “trigger warning” but for some of us, it’s a line of protection we need.

I was 18 years old, from a typical small Iowa town when I left for school at one of Iowa’s universities. I’d had a serious boyfriend but we decided to date other people.  I met a guy. He was a big deal. On the football team, which was in the middle of a run of many back to back appearances in national playoffs.  It started out fun.

Then we were sitting in his dorm room talking with his roommate who all of a sudden left. And things were getting kind of amorous while we sat talking on the couch when all of a sudden he is pushing me facedown on the floor. My clothes were off, his clothes were off.

He made it clear what he wanted to do and I said, “No, I can’t”.

I said, “Stop. Please stop. No, I don’t want to do that. Stop.”

I tried to move. I couldn’t move at all. I was 5 feet tall, 100 pounds. He was 6’4” and outweighed me by at least 130 pounds.  I was immobilized.

He didn’t stop.

He didn’t listen.

He ignored me.

I finally just whimpered into the pillow and waited for it to be over.

A guy I had just started dating sodomized me. I bled for three days.  I spent the next days in a state of confusion. I thought he liked me? Why would he do that? It was an odd shock and unsettling feeling to know what he wanted was the only thing he cared about.

I saw him again a few days later. I was not a confrontational person but I felt a nagging feeling to say something. I simply told him that I didn’t understand how that had happened and that it was not a cool thing to do.

He became angry. He practically spit at me, “What are you complaining about? It’s not my problem you’re inexperienced!”

I was so surprised but I bought it. His line. I BELIEVED HIM WHEN HE SAID IT WAS MY FAULT.

I never reported him. I was too scared. I mean, we’d been dating, who would have believed me?  No one, that’s who. No one.  To this day, all these years later, I still feel guilty I wasn’t brave enough to file charges because I don’t know if he did it to another girl and for that I’m truly sorry and ashamed.

Months later I was hanging out with friends and we were having one of those deep talks you only have with people you trust and I talked about it, and kind of laughed it off I guess. My friend Tyler looked at me with such shock and pain, “You were raped! That is not your fault! You said no, you said stop! You were raped!” Then he grabbed me and hugged me hard and told me he’d help me if I needed anything at all. Like friends are supposed to do.

It took someone else verbalizing it to admit to myself that I had, in fact, been raped. By someone I thought I knew. And they had blamed it on me.  It took an even longer time after that to even say aloud “I was raped. I am a rape survivor. I was a victim of sexual assault.” I didn’t say it aloud until well into my 30s.

I still have never said much but to a few trusted friends. It’s something I try to leave in the past. The last thing I want to keep feeling like is a victim because I’ve spent my adult life trying to be a strong, confident woman.  But it’s hard when I turn on the news and see a Brock Turner story…I’m angry and sad all over again.  I open up the newspaper and read real quotes from real politicians and I’m traumatized all over again.

I’m tired of being reminded I was once a victim when I see people who over and over and over treat women as less than, treat women as whores, treat women as slaves, treat women as trash. I’m afraid for my daughters. It keeps me up at night.

Maybe it’s just words. Sticks and stones, right? Just words.  I’m sorry….my bones feel very, very broken right now. And I’m not OK with that. I’m going to keep fighting for women to have a voice and be treated fairly. I hope more people will too.    -Anonymous