A one woman riot

Today I am thinking of family and friends, golden light on orange leaves, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, and the warmth of the home I love. But I am also thinking of what has been lost.

In the last year, I have lost my ability to pretend it doesn’t matter, to somehow be okay with those who want to whitewash who we are and fall in line behind vindictive and discriminatory agendas. There is a difference between having a different point of view, and having an immoral point of view. It’s absolutely okay to want smaller government, tax reform, better and more affordable healthcare, stronger immigration policies, and countless other conservative ideals. But it’s not okay to want those things at the expense of our neighbors, or the less fortunate among us.

It’s not okay to condone — either through silence or deflection — men who prey on children, or treat women as their possessions. It’s not okay to think “terrorist” or “criminal” when a person of color crosses your path. And it’s not okay to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the lies and hypocrisy of those in power. This is not about belonging to a political party. It’s about belonging to humanity. If we are to be citizens of the world, we cannot simply fall in step. It is our responsibility to question, to probe, to strive for greater understanding. To demand better of ourselves.

I have lost more than my innocence in the last year. I have lost friends, too. It’s not been an easy thing to come to terms with. I still mourn the relationships that have been unable to survive the trying times in which we live. But if I’ve learned anything about myself in the last 365+ days, I’ve learned that I cannot be silent. I will use my voice to honor my truth. I will not be quiet. And neither should you.

Against this backdrop of what has been lost, I clearly see what has been gained. I have so much to be thankful for; so many blessings. I am grateful for those who stand with me, who seek and follow their own truth. To my mom for always giving me a safe place to land, my husband for his unconditional love, my son for his impeccable moral compass. To my resister sisters (you know who you are) and the countless new friends and brave acquaintances who are working tirelessly to change our world at the grassroots level, to all the strong and capable candidates in our community who ran for office (or are tossing their hat into the ring), you have my undying gratitude.

There is so much good in our world. So much love, so much hope. I believe we are better for the hardships we face. This last year has made us stronger. We can never go back to our complacent past. And for that, above all else, I am grateful.

Today, I will give thanks for this fragile democracy, this fragile peace, this incredibly complex and beautiful world we live in. I will mourn what is lost, but I will turn my face toward the light.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

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Karma

This morning my son excitedly explained to me (as if I didn’t already know) how amazing it was that in so many elections on Tuesday, seats were flipped by candidates who were the philosophical opposite of their opponents. “I just love that,” he said. “Karma is a dish best served cold.”

And, indeed, who wouldn’t feel a sense of hope and glee that the author of an anti-transgender bathroom bill lost his seat to a transgender woman. Or that the elected official who mocked the Women’s March was ousted by a woman who took exception to his comments nearly a year ago and vowed to run against him.

There are so many instances of love and hope and acceptance stomping all over hate and exclusion. From New York and New Jersey to Montana, Washington State, and Virginia, we are stronger and wiser than we know. I feel good for the first time in nearly a year. I have woken up these last two mornings with a renewed sense of purpose. The Resistance is alive and well, and has almost nothing to do with the infighting and backstabbing going on in the Democratic party. It’s a grassroots, in the trenches movement. It’s concerned citizens and community leaders putting our muscle behind — not a party agenda — but strong, capable candidates. The media and the pundits can keep talking amongst themselves about the aftermath of the 2016 election, but the people have moved on. Whether the Democrats will choose to follow, remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s the Indivisible groups and the activists who are playing a leadership role.

And I don’t even give two hoots about what the man in the Oval Office is doing because I know, I know in my heart and soul, that we will rise up, again and again, and we will use the system as it’s meant to be used: We will elect smart, progressive people — citizens of our world — to lead us. And we will continue to flip our communities, seat by seat, with a message of inclusion and hope.

I never really understood the significance of local politics. But in the last year, I have watched as state attorneys general have stood up to the White House on everything from immigration to the environment to healthcare. I have watched governors and mayors refuse to back down. The people who lead our communities are our fist line of defense against policies that do nothing to unite us and everything to tear us apart. That is why it is so important that our local leaders share our values and our desire for a more perfect union.

But the real story behind all of this is all of us. We organized and mobilized and got the job done. In my own small county, we turned over two incredibly significant seats in a very tight race. We were engaged and motivated. We knocked doors, we manned phone banks, we mailed postcards, we talked to our neighbors, and we absolutely rocked the vote.

I can’t predict whether this wave will carry us to a better outcome in 2018 or 2020. But today, for the first time in nearly a year, I see a better future. I see a way out of this mess. I feel empowered.

And yes, karma is a bitch.

Love is a long road

I imagine he’ll look back and say, “The night before my 16th birthday, Tom Petty died. My dad played some of his records and my mom danced all around the living room.”

He may also look back and say, “Two nights before my 16th birthday, 59 people were killed and 500 were wounded in a mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip. They were at a concert listening to music when they died.”

I remember my 16th birthday. My mother gave me a piece of her jewelry that I still wear today, a necklace shaped like a heart. My favorite song was Only the Good Die Young. When my son was born, I started writing letters to him, letters that I thought — in my new mother naiveté — I would gift to him on his 16th birthday. But I’m not ready yet. And neither is he.

As I danced last night, jumped and twirled and let the music wash away my sadness, he rose from the couch and stood close, smiling, laughing, “Be careful,” he said. “Don’t fall.” And I reached for him, as I’ve done so many times since he learned to walk, only it was me who needed steadying. The room was filled with warmth and music, and the curtains were drawn against the dark night. Tom Petty was the soundtrack we needed to hear. I thought about how far we’ve come, how far we still have to go, and I hugged my just-about-16-year-old son for as long as he would let me.

And that is how I will remember that brief moment when 15 faded into 16. I’m choosing to let the rest fall away, and to cherish this boy, this man, this interesting, fun, fascinating, sweet, and empathetic young person. Love is a long road, and I am so blessed and honored to be his mom.

Fire

It’s almost impossible to process what is happening in America. For those of us who grew up asking few questions beyond what we were told in school, the shock of what we are living and experiencing today is kind of mind-blowing.

I didn’t realize that so much of what we were taught in school is the whitewashed version of the truth. And in some cases, outright lies. I often say that our democracy is a fragile beast, and yet I’m not sure that simple description can convey how truly close we have always been to losing it. My friend who teaches tells me that those who attempt to teach the truth are targeted — at least at the high school level — people want the heroes and holidays version of events. They want the story of an all great and all powerful America.

And yet, lies always come back to take you down, to unravel the story you try to weave. Reading Howard Zinn and watching the PBS documentary on Vietnam has shattered my illusions. Here’s what I think: Our government has been gas-lighting us for centuries. Our current president is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

There are, however, so many things I am grateful for, so many things that are a product of this democracy, of our uniquely American way of life — and these are the things I cling to desperately in my despair. I am grateful that I can speak my mind and not fear a midnight knock on the door. I am grateful that there are good people who run for public office, people who want to be the change for the rest of us. I am grateful that I live in a country where writers, like Zinn, are free to publish and make their books available to those who want to read them. I am grateful for having choices, and opportunities, even if some of those opportunities are theoretical and not actually attainable. I am grateful that our founding fathers had the presence of mind to go their own way, to choose a form of government that despite not being perfect, is better than tyranny and oppression.

I was roughly the same age as my son is today — a little younger, perhaps — during the strong push to end the Vietnam War. I remember watching the body counts on the nightly news. I remember Kent State, and Watergate, and though I was very young at the time, I remember watching Bobby Kennedy’s funeral train on the evening news. But I also remember watching a moon landing on a small black and white TV in my elementary school classroom. And going to a sit-in near the Griffith Park Carousel with my parents. I remember countless moments when the best of us came together to help those in need, when we stepped outside of our differences to actually make a difference.

Someone recently wrote that watching the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam is helping her to be brave. I get that. I keep thinking that as bad as it is today, as divided as we are, the divisions this country faced in the sixties and seventies were just as wide, if not more so. And yet, it is the fact that so many of those differences remain unresolved that has brought us to this point.

Our current president and his administration of billionaire bullies is what happens when people are so fed up they can’t help but reach for the extreme solution, even if that solution is to set themselves on fire.

 

Shelter from the storm

I don’t even know what to say anymore. As I scroll through my FB feed and see memes diminishing #takeaknee posted by people I used to know, or used to think I know, I am heartsick. I turn to James and ask how can we ever come back from this? He says, we can’t.

America fights about the meaning of respect while shrugging off decades of institutional racism and social injustice. Three devastating hurricanes, a game of chicken with North Korea, disability activists in wheelchairs literally dragged out of senate hearings, Russia’s quiet but hostile takeover of our social media feed, a new travel ban, and yes, everyone has an opinion, a gripe, a grievance, but to what end? We are not divided; this country has been fed through a shredder, the kind that makes cross-cuts and gleefully devours old credit cards.

I make no secret of where I stand. But I understand that it is so much easier to turn a blind eye. To pretend you don’t see. I’ve done it. We all do it. It would be easier too, not to deal with the issues and problems that bring us to cry out in senate chambers and march in the streets. If only those rabble rousers would be quiet and go home. Who really likes confrontation, anyway? We just want to live our lives, go to work, go to school, come home to a hot meal. If only it were that simple. The hard truth is, that life, whatever it was, is over.

Today was a hard day. It knocked me down.

We’ve been watching the Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam. I don’t want my son to witness the horror of that war, but the way he cries out each time Westmoreland asks for more troops assures me that he sees what needs to be seen. I could say he is too young or too fragile to watch. I could say, when you are older. But there is no shelter from this storm. It seeps in. The despair, the fear, the anxiety. He watches as the bodies pile up, as the men tell their stories, and his shocked reactions strengthen my resolve. I can’t raise him to turn a blind eye. I can only raise him to know, and see, and understand.

Is it possible to love your country but hate what it does? What does it mean to be a patriot? McNamara knew he was wrong. He pushed Johnson to feed the general’s beast. And it is only by the grace of some god that we are here today, fighting amongst ourselves over flags and songs while Rome burns. We are never looking in the right direction.

I didn’t ask for this and yet I feel the weight of it heavy on my heart. I love my country but I am deeply afraid for its future.

I have been watching friends and families divide in my FB feed. Both sides believe they are on the side of patriotism. Honor the flag. Honor thy country. Honor what you know to be morally right. All men are created equal. All men. And just because you don’t like what I have to say doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to say it.

Where does this end? There is a madman at the helm and I have no faith, no trust in our humanity. We have done unspeakable things. Over and over again. And arguing over whether we stand or take a knee, who is a true patriot and who is not, does little more than provide cover for those who want to tear this democracy down.

There is no shelter from this storm. It seeps in. And as difficult and as painful as it is to watch, we cannot turn a blind eye. We have to see each other, and somehow see this through. Or we risk losing this fragile beast, this America we strive to become.

The summer of…

If you are friends with me on FB, or follow me on Instagram, you are probably relieved that my political anxiety has given way to a trip down memory lane. Or maybe you are already weary of the old family photos and memories we’ve dug up from the boxes being dragged in from the garage or pulled out of the upstairs closets.

Let me start by saying every summer is the summer of something. Because that’s just how we roll. Last summer was the summer of the kitchen remodel. We spent endless hours looking at quartz and tile and cabinets. The summer before that was the summer of the coffee table — or maybe it was the lamp — so much of it fades in and out of my memory. But every summer involves a project. Either a home improvement project or a personal project, but a project nonetheless. And because my son is who he is, every summer is also the summer of cars: car shows, car museums, car cruises, tours of private collections, always there are cars. This is, after all, LA and he is, after all, completely obsessed.

So while there have already been a significant number of car events, and a few little things that in years past may have qualified for greater status, I am officially declaring this summer the summer of old family photos. The boxes have been sorted and the photos separated into stacks by decades, old frames have been discarded, blurry scenery shots from family vacations have been tossed, and we are now — finally — left with the task of figuring out a new and improved storage system.

When I think about what we carry, the things that matter and the things that don’t, I am overwhelmed by what all these hundreds of images represent. My mother’s childhood, my childhood, my son’s childhood. It’s all there. In color and in black and white. Some images have faded to a grayish green, others are damaged and torn, but all take a moment — a heartbeat, a pulse — and hold it, frozen in time. I look into my eyes at 18 months or five years old and I search for the memory. Do I really remember that dress or that toy or that house, or does it exist for me only because it’s been captured in a photograph?

A stack of photos is all I have left of people I loved; someday it will be all that’s left of me. There is honor and truth in these images. And they deserve to be thoughtfully preserved. Where we remember a date or an event or a face, it is written on the back. Where there is damage, we do our best to restore, even though that often means creating an entirely new photograph out of the old one. We have spent hours sorting and remembering. I have felt again the love of my grandparents and suffered through my awkward years. I have been reminded that my mother was (and is) unbelievably cool — a composite of Liz Taylor, Marlo Thomas and Donna Reed. My grandmother regal and coiffed, always photographed in a beautiful dress, her jewelry just right, her lipstick perfect.

I have seen again that I come from a long line of strong and capable women. And the world being what it is today, I am grateful to be reminded of that fact. I come from a family of immigrants. Of people who came to this country with nothing and created a legacy of hard work and success. I come from a place where the land rises and falls in mountains and valleys as it rolls out to meet the Pacific, where the light is golden, and the warm winds blow across the desert.

This is the summer I hold my history in my hands. It is the summer of old photos and memories, people and places that have come and gone. It is the summer of all that I know and all that I have loved. Breathtaking. Heartbreaking. And yet forever mine.

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The thing they share

For two days I’ve come downstairs to find them glued to the 24 hours of LeMans. Though they vowed to simply watch the first and last hour of the race, there has been quite a bit of intermittent checking in.

The only time the TV is ever tuned to source 1 and regular cable TV is on race days. Formula One, the Indianapolis 500; spring is nothing if not a season of automotive racing. They have this in common: A love of motorsports. Before he was born, his father used to watch alone, or with me half-heartedly showing interest, but now he has a real partner, a true believer in the house.

As a metaphor, there is much to be learned from the international race circuit. There is a camaraderie the drivers share, regardless of their country of origin. In Formula One racing, a tire change takes less than two seconds. Blink and it’s over. At LeMans, it takes closer to 20 seconds. Either way, imagine the teamwork and training it takes to make that happen.

The living room debates — Astin vs. Porsche vs. Honda vs. Ferrari, and so on — have become more studied, more intelligent as the years fly by. If you think for one minute that the father is schooling the son, you would be wrong. It’s the know-it-all young man who absorbs the facts and figures and trivia like a sponge; he is the one who knows strategy and engine speed and how much time a driver has until the next pit stop.

I have come to love these mornings, the sound of racing engines, the commentary, the civilized intensity of global motorsports. But most of all, I love the way it brings them together, father and son. The thing they share. Allegiance to the checkered flag, to each other, to this incredible life they live.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. May your day be filled with shared moments, checkered flags and the things you love.

This life

Friday we celebrated our anniversary. Twenty-seven years of marriage. I can’t help but think what a long, strange trip this has been. Lately, we’ve both been a little nostalgic about all the traveling we’ve done together, most of it in the first 12 years of our marriage, before we were parents and homeowners.

Though there were plenty of other trips and other places, we spent so much of our time in California. Our lives continue to be drawn west and east; our footprints in the sand from Point Reyes to Montauk. Our hearts split between where we are and where we have been.

We met in LA as I was preparing to move to NY. He was the art director at the NY-based sport magazine where I had just been hired to write about performance fabrics and apparel. Our first assignment together was a surf story in Malibu and he showed up in a black rented turbo T-bird, which I later learned he drove illegally down a dirt fire road off of Mulholland Drive. The road, of course, was narrow and had no turnaround, so he had to back out in that big old boat of a car — about a mile back to the pavement. I would learn that this was pretty much his approach to traveling in general. Asking directions and turning around were not in his DNA. To this day, he swears the map showed a through road.

His passion for cars and culture is still shaping our lives. There have been times when I’ve felt myself lost to the things he loves, and yet, my life is richer too because of those things. He gave me the West Village and Dylan and Patti Smith; I gave him California and all her treasures.

Marriages are complicated and messy and 27 years is a long time. But here we are. Once I tried to catalog every place we had been. But the list was too long. There was a time we lived in the moment, when tossing a bag in the back of the car and seeing where we might end up was just about every weekend we knew.

I have loved our life and sometimes even felt smothered by our life, but through it all there has been us. Together. And I don’t always understand how or why, but somehow it just works. Twenty-seven years is a long time. It’s been something of a magical journey, a little wild, a little free, a little out there at times.

And maybe it’s been a little miraculous too.

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Scenes

I often think it is the men who have fucked things up. I know. But still.

I am the mother of a son dancing awkwardly among other mothers of sons. I wish we knew someone who had daughters, I recently said to a friend. I am compelled to remind my mama-sisters that our sole purpose is to raise these boys to be strong feminists. To teach them that women are equal, that no means no, that honor and respect go hand in hand with just about all things in life.

I wonder aloud if I am doing this: Is my son merely parroting back my beliefs or does he see — really see — the beauty in all of us, in social justice, in saving that which needs to be saved? We build bridges, not walls, I tell him. It really is that simple.

We watch the late night comedians, but we are past the point of shock. Nothing that happens in the world surprises us anymore. And the irony of the humor is that it no longer plays like a fictionalized account of the news. The truth is ironic enough.

At school, my son tells me, there are kids who cheer for the president. They don’t see the irony or or the unbelievable hypocrisy of it all. They feel empowered. There’s an undertone of superiority, a not in my back yard elitist attitude among his peers that troubles me. I wonder if these kids are parroting their parents’ dinner conversations or if they truly believe the words they throw at each other like fastballs from the pitcher’s mound.

I’ve stopped following two of my writing groups on FB. I grew weary of the bickering. Squabbles over race, religion, who is woke and who isn’t. Within these small groups, anger and judgment has taken the place of kindness and sisterhood. Navigating it became a chore. There are better ways I can spend my time.

My son can’t wait for school to be out. There is a smallness to his world. He gravitates toward the few teachers who comment on the lessons hidden between the lines. An acquaintance told me she is thrilled with the direction our country is taking. Close the borders, she cried. Like my son, I can’t wait for school to be out, to escape, run away, even for just a little while.

I go to political meetings. I compose letters for like-minded friends so they can write to their reps in DC. I preach slow and steady progress, the importance of upcoming local elections, the imperative of flipping the house and maybe even the senate in 2018. I see no real end to the nightmare, but I act anyway, I do what I can. I organize and empower and mobilize; I concentrate not on changing hearts and minds, but on giving a voice to those whose hearts and minds are already in the right place — including, even, my son.

In the mornings I walk with a friend, or sometimes alone. I used to listen to Rachel Maddow but grew weary of her sensationalist shock and awe. She is the liberal Fox News. I don’t question her reporting, but I can’t stomach her delivery. Now I listen to Pod Save America and pine for the days when the grownups were in charge.

I never knew I cared this much. For years, I took my beliefs at face value. I felt safe in my small town. I walked through life with the confidence of my freedoms. But I don’t feel safe anymore, and it’s not terrorists who frighten me, but the willingness of so many to chip away at human dignity. To strip away the rights of those who are vulnerable and marginalized. The fear is pervasive.

Yesterday I was texting with a friend about the Paris Climate Agreement. There’s little to say that hasn’t been said. How anyone could think this move is good for the U.S. is beyond me. Even if the details of the accord are worth quibbling over, the symbolism of pulling out, of separating ourselves from the rest of the world, is shameful on every level.

This is what I tell my son: We are not special. We don’t deserve more or less. As individuals or as a nation. We are not special. But what we had… well, that was something special indeed. Two interesting points: “A constitutional democracy succeeds only if the constitution reflects democratic values alive in the citizenry,” and “Only four presidential democracies have lasted longer than 30 years.” The four? The United States, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Colombia. Think about that. Of those four, go ahead, google Venezuela and Colombia — political overview.

I have taken to calling our democracy fragile, but beautiful. And if you know your world politics, you know that a number of countries have tried to create what our forefathers created. But of those countries, almost all ended in a dictatorship that led to a military coup. Authoritarianism is alive and well. I could speculate endlessly about the cause: lack of education, racism, xenophobia, greed, a breakdown in democratic values?

And yet, I do not believe that the vast majority of Americans are okay with the path we are on. Nor do I believe that there are simple answers to these complex problems. What I do know, without a doubt, is that these are dangerous times. When we elect leaders who have a blatant disregard for the rule of the law, who think they can go rogue, ignore the system designed to curtail their power, well then I think we need to send up flares.

I worry about my son’s generation. Old enough to understand what is played out on the world stage, but too young to have a voice. They will inherit the scorched earth, and yet none of this was their choice. I think about my son’s peers, cheering for a man who makes no sense. I think about all that we hoped to give them.

Someone will inevitably tell me to pray. Give it up to God. If only it were that easy. I read today that one of our politicians — and no, I don’t remember which one — thinks that if things get bad enough here on earth, God will step in and handle it. This news slips in and out of my consciousness. God is who they turn to when they choose not to take responsibility. The atrocities rendered in the name of God are yet another long and complicated history of people simply treating other people like shit.

The scenes of this life dance around me like pollen on the wind. I am a mother, a wife, a pre-existing condition. I have lived a life of privilege. And I have often turned a blind eye to things I cannot control or do not understand. Today I am guilty of all of this, but also of giving up on those who are already gone. I am not trying to change hearts and minds, only to give a voice to those whose hearts and minds are in the right place.

I tell my son we build bridges, not walls. But it is not that simple. I cannot bridge this one gap. I cannot figure out how to speak to those who disagree without losing my mind. Every conversation I have with someone who is undeclared in their beliefs is a study in superficial banter.

Today is hard. Tomorrow will be hard. But I advocate slow and steady progress. The one thing, the only thing, we cannot ever do is give up. I am the mother of a son dancing awkwardly among other mothers of sons. My sole purpose is to raise my boy to be a strong feminist. To teach him that women are equal, that all lives matter, that honor and respect go hand in hand with just about everything in this world. And maybe, just maybe, there are other mothers of sons and daughters out there teaching their children the same thing. Sometimes I believe this is our only hope.

Let the music play

Last night after dinner and a competitive game of Qwirkle, I looked at the rows and rows of vinyl lining the living room walls and asked James, “So what album should we listen to?” Somewhat taken aback (I so rarely express interest in his collection of 8,000 vinyl) he suggested something from his iPod. “No,” I insisted. “What good are all these albums if we never listen to them?”

I’ve been listening to my own playlist of Resistance songs on a virtually endless loop lately. From Bob Dylan’s Hurricane to Pete Seeger’s We Shall Overcome, listening to that playlist of 26 songs has pulled me out of a few dark places in recent months. It reminds me that good eventually trumps evil.

As Linda Ronstadt’s voice filled the room — there really is nothing like the sound of an actual record playing through the stereo system — I closed my eyes and let the music carry me home. Heart Like a Wheel was released in 1974, but I so clearly remember it as a part of the playlist that just a few years later defined my time in high school. There was a great little record store — The Turning Point — close enough to walk to, and we used to spend hours thumbing through the bins. I’m pretty sure it was also a head shop because we’d go there to buy rolling papers and gawk at the enormous bongs in the glass case under the cash register.

In the mid-70s, I became obsessed with the Vietnam War. I collected newspaper clippings on POWs and MIAs, and I made my parents buy me a silver POW bracelet. I had nowhere to put the overwhelming sadness or grief, so I tucked those clippings into a drawer, and spent hours sitting on the floor of my room listening to records. But I was a few years too late for that Resistance. Back then pop radio in LA was a mix of Rod Stewart, ABBA, The Eagles, and Frampton Live. There was no Dylan, no Seeger, no Barry McGuire. It wasn’t until years later when those anthems from the late 60s added another layer of truth to my memories.

I remember sitting on the front lawn and talking with friends about a band we knew. They were playing at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip. Some of the older kids were going with their fake IDs and I so desperately wanted to be a part of it. At home, my dad was listening to Led Zeppelin and the Concert for Bangladesh. He served in the Korean War, but was called back in the early 60s to Vietnam. It was a strange time, a time of straddling two worlds. When I graduated high school in 1979, disco was already nearly a thing of the past.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those years. My dad was a republican and my mother was a democrat. They used to joke that their votes cancelled each other out. Everything about my formative years, the life we lived, the neighborhood I grew up in, the advantages we had, should have led me straight down the path to the Republican party. But what’s supposed to happen so often doesn’t, and when I look back and note that the first vote I cast was for Ronald Reagan, I think maybe somehow that was my turning point. Pulling that lever was one of the last times I blindly followed my dad’s advice.

It’s all so fragile, this beautiful democracy. How did it become nothing more than a plaything for the greedy and the privileged among us? Hate your neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace. Yet when it starts to feel like the world is slipping away from me, when it feels like the very heart of everything I believe in is about to explode, I turn to my soundtrack and I let the music play. I close my eyes, and I’m home.