Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Morning After

Contrary to what you probably think, I don't really care much about politics. Whenever an election rolls around again I pay closer attention and try to be informed before I cast my vote. This election cycle was different. For me, there was a very clear villain and I did everything in my power to speak out against him. I did not succeed. I have a lot of muddled thoughts this morning and I want to try and write them as eloquently as I can. Forgive me if I fail.

To my Hillary-supporting, like-minded, democratic friends: This blows. It does. It can't be denied. We are allowed to grieve. Take all the time you need. Cry. Eat. Punch a pillow. Do what you have to do, but once we've grieved we need to pull ourselves together and continue to fight the good fight. This election wasn't about Trump or Hillary or Bernie or any other politician for that matter. This election was about the American people. This country is divided. The only way to combat that is to be the best persons we can be. We will continue to show love to Muslims, immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and (heaven forbid) even Trump supporters. We need to lead by example and show America and the world that love trumps hate, every time.

I know that most of my fellow democrats are non-religious and that's totally cool, I respect you and understand why you feel that way, but I do want to share one religious thing, if you'll allow me. There is a song called They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love, and that song has always meant a lot to me, but it means more to me today than usual. I know the word "Christian" has a lot of negative connotation attached to it these days, and I get it, believe me. But the type of Christian, the type of person I want to be is really at the heart of this song. Take a look and I think you'll agree with me:

We are one in the Spirit,
we are one in the Lord, 
We are one in the Spirit
we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity
may one day be restored:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

We will walk with each other
we will walk hand in hand
we will walk with each other
we will walk hand in hand
and together we'll spread the news
that God is in our land:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

We will work with each other
we will work side by side
We will work with each other
We will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity
and save each man's pride:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love.

All Praise to the Father
from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus
His only Son, 
and all praise to the Spirit
who makes us all one:

And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love
Yes, They'll know we are Christians
By our love.

Yes. We lost this battle, but there is still a war tearing this country apart and that has to be our focus. Let's show them what Love Trumps Hate really means.

To the Trump Supporters: Congratulations. I am glad you are happy your candidate won and I hope and pray that Trump will make some positive changes for this country. I would like to ask a favor of you. Please stop laughing at those of us who are grieving and devastated today. What I want you to understand is that we are grieving not because our candidate lost, but because we are scared. A man who has been sexually abusive to women, racist towards blacks and latinos, aggressive towards Muslims and immigrants, and derogatory toward LGBTQ has just won the highest seat of power in this country. I do not understand why you voted for him. I'm sure you had your reasons, but please stop laughing at us. Stop being smug and condescending. Let us grieve.

To the Bernie Bros: You may have just swayed the entire election in Trumps's favor. I doubt that's what you wanted, but here we are. I love Bernie too, guys. I voted for him in the primaries, but when Hillary won the nomination I threw my support to her. The only outcome I wanted from this election was to not have Trump in the Oval Office. Hillary was my chance to stop that from happening. She was your chance and you blew it. I have no patience for you guys getting on Facebook and Twitter and saying "You should have listened." No. YOU should have listened. And you know who you should have listened to? Bernie Sanders.

To the third party voters: I get it. You have to vote with your conscious. I admire you for standing up for your beliefs and fighting for the candidate you think is best suited for the job. I know the two party system sucks and that your candidate didn't stand a chance, but you voted for them anyway. Was it worth it? That is a question you are going to have to ask yourself and answer during these next four years.

To Hillary Clinton: I am so proud of you. During this joke of an election you always stood tall, held your ground, and fought for us. Thank you. Thank you for your work and I hope you will continue to fight for what is right and that we'll see you again in 2020. You have been a model of hope for Americans everywhere. Thank you for conducting yourself like a true presidential candidate. Thank you for being informed and aware and for listening to the needs of real American people. Thank you for fighting till the bitter end. We will follow your example and we will move forward and live to fight another day.

To Donald Trump: I don't care if you did win the presidency. That position does not automatically give you respect. You have to earn it, and to be honest, I don't have high hopes that you will earn mine. However, I am going to give you a chance to prove that you aren't the sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigot that I'm pretty sure you are. It's going to take a lot of work on your part to convince me. I hope you take this position seriously. I hope you listen to the American people (ALL of the American people) and fight like hell to help unite this country. I don't think you will, but I hope you prove me wrong.

The election is over and now we all have to live with the choices we and others have made. I'm not going to lie. I'm scared. I'm really scared. I was talking to my mom earlier and crying and telling her I was scared. When she asked me why I said, "Because Trump is exhibiting deplorable behaviors and half the country voted for him. I'm afraid that because he won people are going to think these behaviors are ok because our president is doing them." I started googling self-defense classes this morning because as a woman I am afraid. I always thought that the majority of people in this country were good people and treated others with respect. When I saw how half the people in this country voted, it became a lot harder for me to assume people are inherently good and we just have a few bad seeds. HALF OF OUR COUNTRY VOTED FOR TRUMP. Now, I'm not saying that all Trump supporters are sexists or racists or homophobes, etc. But whether or not they are, they voted for a man who is clearly all of these things, which is why this morning half of the country is crying and shaking in fear.

Just this morning I've seen a teacher talk about how her second-graders today were worried that they would be forced to leave the country and go back to a country that would have them killed. I've seen a friend questioning whether or not his recent marriage was even going to be valid that much longer. I've seen friends in foreign countries relaying the messages of disbelief and fear from around the world. Like me, I've seen women scared to have their rights taken away and feeling the need to learn to defend ourselves. I've seen a tweet from a Muslim mother telling her daughter not to wear her hijab for fear of her getting killed. I've seen a tweet from a mother telling her lesbian daughter not to tell anyone she likes girls for the same reason.

This is the country we are living in today. We are going to have to try and push past this fear in order to fight for the unity this country so desperately needs. This is not how America is supposed to be. America is supposed to be the melting pot. A place where everyone can feel safe and free and not have to hide. I hope I get to see that America one day, but it is going to take a lot of work for us to get there.

Last week in church my pastor told a story about an American bomber pilot who crashed outside a French village. The villagers went out in the dead of night to retrieve him and they cared for him until he died. After he died they went to the priest and asked him if they could bury this American pilot in the church cemetery. The priest said no. He's not from our village. He's not from our country. He's not a member of our church. He's Protestant according to his dog tag. You can't bury him here. So they buried him just outside the fence of the cemetery, but the next day they saw that he was now inside the grounds because the caretaker had moved the fence out so that he would be inside the grounds. My pastor then continued by saying that in 2016 it's not enough for us to just move the fence. Now is the time for us to take down the fence. I couldn't agree more. We need to stop building walls and barriers between us. We need to stop making everything US versus THEM. We need to start listening to each other and being there for each other despite our differences.

Trump can build his wall, but I'm going to tear down fences.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Love Story

Most of you know that I am very romantically inexperienced. And by inexperienced, I mean seriously naive. I've made mention of this in a previous post and if you've seen the movie Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore then you have a bit of an idea about my romantic experience. To sum it up: I'm 26 years old. I've never been on a date, never had a boyfriend, and never been kissed. For a long time that was really hard for me to deal with. I didn't understand why I was so unlovable. With time, I cared less and less. I didn't need a man to prove I had worth. Let's be real. I'm pretty freaking awesome. I know this and that's really all that matters. I'm a very happy person and I love myself regardless of what anyone else thinks. I've got flaws. Lots of them. But I love myself anyway. I know my good traits far outweigh my bad traits. So yeah, I don't need a man to know I have worth, but it's never stopped me from wanting to find a special guy to recognize that worth as well.

I started trying out dating sites a few years ago, and was kind of embarrassed about it, but at the same time, I felt like I'd run out of options. Clearly conventional means weren't working for me. I did and OkCupid for a while and nothing came of it. Around October last year I joined eHarmony after hearing a success story from a couple of my really good friends. I had pretty much the same luck as I did with every other dating site but on an even grander scale. eHarmony would send me new matches every day and if I didn't get to looking at them for a while they all piled up. At one point I reached over 800 matches and I had to turn off getting new ones. It's really overwhelming sitting there and going through hundreds of profiles, let me tell you.

Back in May a couple of my friends and I used the huge amount of downtime we had during a shift at work to sort through some of my eHarmony matches. In two days we had sent off 70 messages and deleted about 300 profiles. Sorting through it with my friends made the process more fun and we were able to get rid of a huge chunk of my extensive match-pool. Of those 70 messages we sent out, I got one reply. It was from a guy named Fletcher.

We went through eHarmony's steps of "guided communication" before we started having regular conversations. He told me that we started communicating at a really unfortunate time because he was heading out of town for the summer and wouldn't be back until early September. I was bummed, but we kept chatting anyway. For about a month we emailed back and forth probably once a day or every other. The more we talked the more we discovered how much we have in common and the more I liked him. He's incredibly smart, funny, charming, witty, and the sweetest guy I've (n)ever met. After a month went by we started emailing more frequently, multiple times a day, and I could tell he was falling for me too.

A couple weeks ago we decided to move to some form of instant communication and we started talking on Google chat. We basically haven't stopped talking since then. The entire time we've been communicating our conversations have been completely open and honest with each other, even when we have a difficult topic we need to discuss. About a week ago after working through one of those difficult conversations we did the unthinkable. We said "I love you," on Google chat, and with never having met or (at that point) spoken to each other.

I know what you're thinking. That's insane! You can't fall in love with a stranger on the internet! Believe me, I didn't think it was possible either. For a while I was thinking I was crazy for moving so fast. Part of me still thinks it is a little crazy, but the more I talked to my friends about it, the less crazy it seemed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that love is like sugar cookies. Stay with me for a minute...

When you make sugar cookies you can change up the ingredients you use a bit. You can make them gluten free, you can make them without eggs, you can make them with vanilla extract or almond extract, you can even make sugar cookies with no sugar. There are tons of different options and combinations for you to choose from. Once you have your dough rolled out you can make a million different shapes from the classic round cookie to holiday shapes to animals to hearts and so much more. You can do whatever you want. Once you've baked your assortment of cookie shapes you can top them with sugar dust or frosting or sprinkles or candies. There are billions of combinations you can make when it comes to making a sugar cookie, but you know what? In the end, regardless of how you made it, it's still a sugar cookie.

That's how I feel about love. There is no instruction manual for falling in love. It doesn't always happen as boy meets girl, boy asks girl out, they kiss, fall in love, get married, and have babies. Yeah, that's one way it happens, but it sure as hell isn't the only way. For one thing, sometimes boys like boys and girls like girls. That's love. Sometimes two people are friends for years and years and they never thought about each other romantically, but then one day that all changes. That's love. Sometimes they know after one date. That's love. Sometimes people fall in love with someone 10 years older than them, or 15 or 20. That's love. Sometimes people fall in love and don't want to get married and have babies. That's love too! Marriage and babies aren't a requirement for love! There is no one size fits all recipe for love! As Lin Manuel Miranda put so eloquently in his acceptance speech "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love."

So here's the truth. I'm in love with a guy who is 9 years older than me, who I've never met in person, and who I've only been talking to for 2 months. My love story is not any less significant than any other person's love story. It's different, but it's still real, and it's mine. I shouldn't have to hide my love story for fear of people's judgments. So tonight, on our two-month anniversary, we are announcing our love to the world, knowing full well how crazy it may seem. We don't care. We're happy, we're in love, and we're excited to see where this relationship goes. We both know it may not end the way we want it to, but we're just happy to enjoy what we've got right here, right now.

Being in love is an amazing feeling, and no one should feel like they have to hide it. I don't know if you've noticed, but this world could use a lot more love in it. Now, it has ours.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Let There Be Peace on Earth

I was supposed to get this up yesterday, but I failed. Guess I'm a day late and a dollar short. Oh well.

Sunday at church we had a beautiful service to celebrate our nation's independence. It was full of wonderful music that really made me feel a love for my country that I haven't felt in a while. Our country is struggling right now. I kind of feel like a parent watching my rebellious teenager acting out and not being able to do anything about it and wondering when they are going to grow out of this phase. It makes sense because America really is a teenager in comparison to other countries. We are still really young and we're still trying to figure out how to become the best country we can be. I hope we'll get there one day, but I know it's not going to be soon.

There is so much negativity in our country, in our world. It hurts every time I see another shooting, another rape, another senseless murder. It weighs very heavily on me at times and I'm sure a lot of my recent Facebook posts reflect that. This election cycle in particular is really bringing out the worst in everyone, including me. But on Sunday while I was sitting in that pew I realized, for every bad person I hear about in the news, there are five good ones in the shadows who I've never heard of. Most of the people in this world go about their lives adding positivity and happiness to the people around them without a big fanfare. There are some genuinely good people in this world, and sometimes I need to remind myself of that.

The last song we sang in that service was "Let There Be Peace on Earth." If you haven't heard it, I've attached a link at the bottom of this post. This is a beautiful song and it was just the reminder I needed. A world in turmoil is going to stay that way unless every individual does their best to change it. I really do want there to be peace on Earth one day, and I'm going to do my own small part to do what I can. I want to be the person who radiates positivity wherever I go. I want to change people's lives simply by being kind, caring, and understanding. I want to accept every person for who they are regardless of their race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or age. I may not always succeed, but that's not going to stop me from trying. Regardless of your spiritual preferences or non-preferences I think that's something we can all agree on. Happy Independence Day.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step i take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.