It's no secret that I'm a radical feminist and an ardent fan of the notorious HRC. I have been, in fact, for many, many years. I came out publicly as a hard and fast supporter of hers, way back when she was a FLOTUS and still when most of my friends and colleagues were supporting Bernie Sanders for the nomination.
And again, more recently as the shitshow of this current presidential election cycle continued into the public debate phase between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump:
About a month ago, when the Boise Weekly asked me if I'd be interested in writing for them again - this time in the form of Op-Eds - of course I said yes. I was so excited to hear my first one would run this week in their election issue, just a handful of days before a historic, extraordinary, and earth-shattering (or glass ceiling-shattering) one at that. And I knew exactly what I wanted to write about - a little story of a brave girl from rural Idaho who grew up to be a courageous feminist mom with the power to stand up for a vote, and a country, she believes in. While so many people agree with my voice, speaking up and out (especially in conservative Idaho) is hard and stressful as there are many who feel free to tell me I'm too loud, a bad mom, an overly educated bitch, too much.
Honestly, lately I've been feeling scared sick and just sad about the current state of affairs of this election and this country I love so dearly. I'm worried, friends, for myself, for my children, and for all of us. Then yesterday I received an email that made me burst into tears:
I just read your article in this weeks issue of the Boise Weekly. I LOVED IT. I just turned 18 so I will have the right to vote tomorrow. I am doing a government project for my government class at school and had to read and highlight 10 different newspaper articles. Yours was by far the best one I have read. Your story was so moving and makes me feel even more awesome for being a woman. People often forget about Alice Paul and all of the work she did for the rights of women. I will proudly hold the "I voted" sticker tomorrow after I place my vote. I am in tears writing this because I am so happy. Thank you for your wise words and wisdom. You're a badass and keep killing it!
I responded to her and told her to proudly check those boxes today - in honor of the women who came before her, in honor of herself, and those who will come after her. To be brave, be rebellious, and, perhaps most importantly, to continue to be educated.
Election Day is one of my favorite traditions. I've never voted early or by mail because I love the ritual of re-reading up about the issues and candidates the night before with Dr. Brown, staying up late and Googling and researching and making our notes about who we are voting for. I love standing outside in the cold November air with a hot mug of coffee in my hands with my neighbors and buying cookies from the school bake sale. This morning I donned my makeshift denim pantsuit with my Nasty Woman tee hidden underneath and brought my 8yo daughter, Alice, with me. As we waited in line I noticed I was the only one who had a child (with the exception of one baby in arms) and I was noticeably the only one in a pantsuit, so I had no one to make "solidarity sister" eye contact with. The vibe felt serious and reverent, anxious and not at all celebratory. As Alice and I moved into the short line for those with the last names M - Z she looked around worriedly and asked loudly, "is this the Hillary Clinton line, Mama?" I hushed her and told her that we were just being arranged in alphabetical order to get our ballots. That I have no idea who these people are voting for, but it's exciting that they are all here, exercising their right to vote. As she scurried off to choir practice, I ducked into my little cardboard booth and saved the Hillary Rodham Clinton for President box to fill in last with my black pen ceremoniously while holding back my tears.
This morning, as per tradition, I drew hearts on the arms of my daughters before they left for school, this time telling them how important and historic it was that I was voting for our first female POTUS today. I wished for them a life in which they may never know a world without a powerful woman leader. I told them that it wasn't that long ago, really, that women even got the right to vote, nevermind be in charge of one of the most powerful nations on earth. But I also told them that, honestly, while the work that women like me and Hillary and others have done is important there is still so much to do. That we are fighting an important fight for freedom and truth and acceptance and radical change. And that they can - and will - too.
I walked home from the little school community that I love feeling emotional and passed a neighbor walking her dog on the other side of the street. She called out, "Have a great day. And GO HILLARY!" Dr. Brown and I traded Arlo duty so he could vote next and I told him about the sort of melancholy atmosphere I felt at the polling place and he told me that everyone was just stressed out and nervous. I started busily reading the positive posts on Pantsuit Nation on Facebook to cheer myself up and pull my typically positive self out of this momentary funk when my naked toddler waddled up behind me pulling a tiny red toy wagon into the kitchen FULL OF HIS OWN POOP. I snatched him up quickly to find feces spread all over his body and tiny shit-filled footsteps across the hardwood floor and into the carpeted family room. I rushed him to the tub and surveyed the damage. In the midst of crusts of toast and a million train tracks and toys and books all helter-skelter I saw shit smeared on the vacuum cleaner and covering a notebook and I panicked. WHAT KIND OF FUCKERY IS THIS?! How am I ever going to find all the shit and clean it up? Should I just throw the toys away or bleach them? I started to cry again out of frustration and exhaustion and misplaced anxiety. Dr. Brown came home just in time to help and calm my nerves and grab a roll of paper towels and carpet cleaner to go with my bottle of bleach and baby wipes. "We've been through this before," he calmly told me. "It's called life. We can clean it up together and move forward through our day."
Some days you just gotta get up, throw on a pantsuit even if it's not really your style, pull up your big girl panties and bust out some party pasties in the name of positivity, optimism, courage and change. And remember that love trumps hate any day of the week but especially on Election Day. That we are stronger together cleaning up any of the shit life throws our way.