We got this.

Ten years ago today, we got married. I was twenty-two.

Here’s the thing about being twenty-two: you don’t know anything. For all the pain you may have suffered (real and imagined), life experiences you’ve had, foods you’ve eaten, problems you’ve solved, fundamentally you don’t know anything. You may have theories, but you don’t have knowledge. Because you simply haven’t been here long enough. (And before we gather our pitch forks and start being mean to me, let’s take a step back. I value twenty-two year olds and think they offer a lot of enthusiasm and perspective. After all, I was one once.)

Truth be told, I don’t know what I thought about marriage back then. I know I wasn’t afraid of it. I didn’t feel anxiety about my choice. And that could have been because I was absolutely making the right choice, but it also could have been because I didn’t really understand the choice at all. I thought this guy was great. Sure, the rest of our lives sounded amazing. Kind of the same way eating ice cream for the rest of your life sounds amazing when you’ve had 3-4 bites. You’re completely incapable of really thinking about what it might mean to eat that for the rest of your life. It just sounds like a really great idea at the time.

Fortunately for me, it was the former. But there are many, many times it could have been the latter. Because marriage is the most natural unnatural thing in the world. Marriage is your greatest ally and your most cunning enemy. It lifts you up, carries you forward, but it also challenges you to grow and change and adapt. It challenges you to own up to your choices and your behavior. Marriage is a mirror reflecting back the image of what two people have done to one another, for better or worse.

If and when you become a parent, its so easy to see how your actions shape another. You see how your anger makes a child cower or become angry himself. You see how your joy and lightheartedness opens them up, makes them feel safe and happy. But as grown ups, I think we forget that the same is true of our spouses. Who we are affects them. Our belief in them becomes their belief in themselves. Our words have weight and meaning.

For my part, I know I’m a challenge to be married to. I’m fiercely independent. I struggle with compromise and collaboration. I can be selfish. A lot of my life is in words that live in very public places (welcome). I process quickly and act even quicker. I favor efficiency over thoroughness. I don’t like to be touched. (IT’S SO CONFINING!)

And then there’s the husband. He’s got his own list of weaknesses, but he is also the naturally more pensive of the two of us. He is metered and thoughtful. He takes time to consider options, outcomes, and possibilities. He wants there to be an “us” rather than two “mes” living in our house. He pushes me to slow down, quiet down, sit down, and be present.

And sometimes I want to kill him for it.

In theory, a marriage is a celebration of differences and how they can compliment two people. But differences are often misunderstood, vilified, and blamed for our inabilities to communicate. Ten years ago, I didn’t know what marriage was. I only knew what getting married was. I knew the logistics– one house, one life, do stuff together, maybe have kids, get old, the end. At twenty-two I was incapable of unpacking what that meant. I didn’t understand the responsibility of promising to stay with someone always. I didn’t realize I would change, or he would change, or our relationship would change. We couldn’t see the future. That’s the gamble of marriage. You bet on who you are at that moment with a necessary blindness for who you will become. That’s some risky shit.

Ten years from now I expect to laugh at my naivety today, but for now, there are some things I think I finally know. Maybe.

  1. You match each other annoying habit for annoying habit. If you want to start throwing stones at that glass house, be prepared the open the 7th seal and have ALL your annoying habits listed for you during a drunk argument. You’re both annoying.
  2. If you don’t get a cleaning lady, you’ll likely get a divorce. They are exceptions, but not many.
  3. There are things that you can’t take back. And while they may be forgiven, even forgotten, you will remember you said them. In some ways that’s worse.
  4. There are days that the logistics of divorce are the only thing keeping you together. And that’s okay. Sometimes we need the reality of real estate prices to buy us the time we need to calm the fuck down.
  5. People change from the day they are born until the day they die. Everyone. Your choice is to fall in love with the heart, adapt to the mind, and accept the body. Otherwise, your marriage will fail.
  6. Marriage is hard. So, so hard.
  7. Never let a week go by without looking your spouse in the eye and asking them honestly how they are doing. Like legitimately. Like, how is your journey on this earth?
  8. If you stop making out, it will eventually get weird and then when your spouse does eventually stick their tongue in your mouth again you will have a reaction that scars them for life.
  9. Acknowledge the difficult stuff. Say it out loud. Many marriages end because of the assumption that people can read minds.
  10. Stop comparing. Everything. Anything. Yes, someone does have a better marriage than you. And your kid is cuter. SO THE FUCK WHAT.
  11. Try to have sex. More of it than you want to or feel is necessary.
  12. Find a good babysitter <if applicable>. You stay a parent even if your child hates you for leaving them on a Friday night. You don’t stay a spouse if you lose your connection by remaining consumed by the duties of life.
  13. Don’t drink too much on weeknights. It starts a chain reaction of tiredness, misery, and agitation that leads to fights where people say things like, “WHY THE FUCK DO WE HAVE THESE GODDAMNED THROW PILLOWS?” and other meaningless, but vaguely hurtful, things.
  14. Be a good team. At home, in life, and at parties.
  15. Make sure you’re your spouses biggest fan. Because if you’re not, something has gone wrong. (And that foxy 21-year-old at his/her office is gonna be and then you’re gonna get dumped.)
  16. Laugh.
  17. Don’t start a blog. Definitely don’t start a blog where you talk about your life.
  18. Work really fucking hard to stay in love.
  19. Say I love you, but only if you actually mean it and not because you’re being a dick. Because I’ve done that and it’s received very poorly.

I’m a better person because I’m married. Personal growth is hard. Being reminded (lovingly) about your shortcomings is hard. But better to have it coming from someone you love than some anonymous asshole on the internet.

Corey Beaulieu, I love you. It has been a pleasure to spend these last ten years as your wife. You are half of all the good things about me and I hope you know that without you, I’d be a hot mess in a one bedroom with a lot of cats, eating Prego out of a jar with a spoon. That kid of ours is something else. We did so good. I hardly recognize the faces of those kids ten years ago, but I think I like our old mugs better anyway. You’re my favorite asset. 

 

I ruined you before 3.

Hey, kid. One day you’re going to learn stuff about your childhood that I’m sure you’re going to insist I explain to you. Things you’re certain ruined you, and you’ll probably be right, and I’ll have lost the sharp clarity of my reasoning over the years. So I figure I should write it all down now. Save us both the heartache.

Ruining you didn’t take long. By all accounts, I’d completely fucked you up by three. I didn’t wait until you were a vulnerable teen. I did it young, when you were still too young to ever have a chance.

This morning I read an article about how screen time is going to turn you into a homicidal junkie. Those hours I let you watch Finding Nemo and play that bug game that keeps you happy and quiet while I have a glass of wine and try to connect with my husband, it’s ruined you. You’re going to turn into an antisocial dick with no interaction skills. You’ll never date. You most certainly won’t ever have sex. Your father and I will house you and your collection of black socks and vintage Nintendo sets in our basement until you are imprisoned for life for a crime that could have been avoided if I just didn’t give you that screen. So I’m sorry about that.

Also, you have a TV in your room. You probably don’t want to hear the speech about how our house isn’t huge and there is only so much kid space and we wanted your room to be a place that kids could hang out, play, watch movies, AND STAY OUT OF THE ADULTS WAY WHILE WE TRIED TO TALK, but I can see how that doesn’t matter. We never should have put that TV in your room. If I’d have known it would keep you from getting your first job out of college, I’d obviously have made a different decision.

I stopped breastfeeding at nine months. You wont get into medical school because of it. I tried to make it okay by buying your formula direct from Germany, but I can understand how that seems like a cop out. What I should have done was continue to pump. Which I did. After that first 4-day-stay in the hospital with 5 clogged ducts, I kept after it. I hooked myself up to that machine for another six months, but in the end I couldn’t take it much longer. I was working these insane 12 hour days and commuting and you were spending so much time with the nanny. When I got home, I had to go straight to pumping instead of hanging out with you, so I stopped. Obviously I’ll write whatever letters to admissions offices on your behalf, but in the end, the damage is done. You’ll likely amount to nothing because of my selfish decision.

Let’s talk about your blanket. I read a study the other day about how kids with blankets after infancy are actually just emotionally crippled. They lack internal coping skills and can’t fully develop into productive adults. Women find these kind of men repulsive, which leads to feelings of sexual inadequacy. That wasn’t my intention. You love that damn blanket and its gotten you through some tough times. That blanket had you sleeping through the night at 3 weeks old. And when your dad and I had to leave you with strangers for 12-hours-a-day, your daycare report always said that you were happy and social as long as blanket was there. It may be hard to understand, but at the time we wanted you to feel safe and happy. We weren’t thinking about you as a sexually frustrated and socially ostracized adult. And that was short sighted. We should have taken away your blanket and left you there alone. What dumb, naive, first-time parents we were.

I don’t allow your toys out of your room. You’re not allowed to drag endless amounts of kid shit around the house, marking our whole house as yours. I’ve heard a lot of parents and therapists talk about how this will stifle your creativity. Your inability to adequately spread your thoughts around the house will lead you to be a CPA. God knows I didn’t want to raise a financial planner, but I needed to maintain something for myself. When you’re chained to your desk at tax season, cursing my name, I’ll understand. I should have known better. I should have given you more.

On your first birthday, I gave you real cake. It wasn’t made with applesauce or mashed potatoes. It was cake. Out of a box. I sprinkled it with cancer and type two diabetes and set it in front of you like the lousy parent that I am. I wanted to see you smash it and taste it and get super excited about the sugar rush. (Which you did.) But that was a silly memory. A moment in time that wasn’t worth poisoning you against beets and steamed broccoli. I never should have done it. But I did. And it’s done.

I let you drink a lot of juice. Not from concentrate or with sugar added, but juice nonetheless. In the morning I let you have green juice and after school I even let you drink chocolate milk. You eat about 16lbs of green vegetables a day, but those don’t matter. This isn’t about moderation, it’s about the shame and guilt I should feel for giving you juice. So let’s stay focused on that.

I bought you stuff and said yes when I was too tired to say no. So you won’t have a healthy relationship with material goods.

I was honest with you about money from the time you could talk. So you’ll obviously have a childhood riddled with anxiety and concern over the cost burden you add. Then be a hoarder.

I put you in timeout a lot. And let you cry. One time I even shut the bathroom door so I wouldn’t have to listen to your INSANE screaming. But I’ve since read that it causes you shame and you’ll never be able to express yourself emotionally. So, again, I’m sorry.

I referred to you by your gender. A boy. You had a penis so we went with it. You’re welcome to change your mind later, but frankly it was too confusing to try to wait it out and it seemed cruel to call you “it.” I can see now how narrow minded and confining that choice can seem, but yellow is my least favorite color and, at the time, you seemed just fine being a boy.

The list of things I did to ruin you is so long that I could go on forever. And anything I’ve forgotten will pop up in my inbox or newsfeed. Tomorrow I’ll get an article about what I did wrong or how I ruined you in a new way. I know we’re using the wrong sunscreen, bath products, toothpaste. We don’t eat enough organic and I think you had something with red dye in it last week. I’ve let your shoes get too tight, I once used real detergent instead of the eco-shit (that doesn’t work) because I’d just spent $36 on a shirt and you immediately got watermelon on it. I drank beer while I was pregnant. I ate sushi. I yelled loudly while I was pushing, so your entrance wasn’t the silent sanctuary that many psychologist believe is best.

But, kid, I swear to God we love you. I promise you that every day we wake up wanting to make you better, even if that means doing the hard work of making ourselves better. We are human, and we’ve fucked up many, many times, but the road is long. Someday you’ll love someone so much you’ll ruin them too. And I only hope I’m still around so we can have a beer and laugh about how hard it is to love someone so much.

 

Woman, I am.

 

I am a woman.

I am as smart as you.

I am as capable as you.

I am as worthy as you.

If I’m being bitchy, you’re being a dick.

If I’m being emotional, you’re being a soulless fuck.

I can run a company.

I can compete in the Olympics.

I have a name.

I have a brain.

I have a vagina.

I have value.

I have worth.

I have ideas.

If you’re annoyed by my change in mood every month, then let me tell you about the burden of being the only one of us that can continue the mother fucking species.

 

If you think my role is in the kitchen, in the laundry room, or in the bedroom, then you’ve missed the boat on a few hundred years of evidence that you’re wasting my talent, squandering my skills, and cutting household earning potential by at least half.

If my outfit, my breasts, or the way I look in a skirt is a consideration for employment, then we should discuss your ill-fitting suit, your “I gave up gut,” and synthetic leather shoes, and what they say about your competence and attention to detail.

I will choose my place.

I will choose my position.

I will decide my fate.

I will consider my options.

You do not own me.

You do not tell me.

You do not make me.

This is my body.

This is my mind.

This is my life.

I do not hate you.

I do not resent you.

I am not trying to steal your masculinity.

I am trying to define my femininity and I do not need your input, your opinion, or your objections.

You have had your day.

You have have your centuries.

You have had your empires.

I’m not asking you to step down.

I am asking you to step aside.

Hold my hand, not my reigns.

When I achieve, applaud.

When I slip, support.

When I conquer, collaborate.

I am tired of the versus.

I am tired of your fear.

I am tired of convincing.

Do not degrade me.

Do not oppress me.

Do not judge me.

I am equal.

And so are you.

 

 

 

Moderation, right?

I’ve recently been following a lot of fitness stuff on Instagram because I am attempting to suck the energy and motivation from these happy, skinny people and use it to force myself to quit being such a miserable fat ass. It works sometimes. A lot of times it doesn’t work at all. I start my morning (after commuting to the garage), riding the bus to my office and scrolling through photo after photo of egg whites, protein powder, neon colored workout gear, and high ponytails. #mondaymotivation #eatclean #getafterit #notimelikethepresent #eattolive #bethechange #gogirl #thintastesbetter #fit #imhot– the hashtags are endless and one of my favorite parts. I’m pretty sure I could start a satirical workout gear line based on hashtags. Because I definitely need some lycra leggings with #squatbitch written all over them. (BRB, I obviously just found my calling.)

But I digress. My new favorite is stumbling upon insanely fit, chronic selfie takers (who apparently own NOTHING else but coordinating sports bras and shortie shorts) who answer questions of from their fans in their IG posts. “People are constantly asking me: do you eat cake? YES! Yes, ladies. I LOVE cake. I don’t deprive myself of ANYTHING. But I do LISTEN to my BODY and do what makes me FEEL good. Sometimes that’s REST. Sometimes that’s a crazy WORKOUT. AND SOMETIMES IT’S CAKE! #eatcake #nodeprivation #fitmom” …or something like that. Occasionally I’m tricked by these posts and I find myself spending a hot second being like, “OMG. She really is just like me. She eats cake and is thin and there’s hope for me.” And then one of two things happens…

  1. The thin, fit lady follows up her cake proclamation with some BULLSHIT recipe for her favorite cheat cake and it looks something like this: 

Piper’s Perfect Cheat Cake

Serves: 1/2 a person

1/2 cup exotic nut “flour” (sometimes I use Kuelalala flour from the highest peaks of Japan– but only if I have to!)

2 cups gluten-free, cruelty free, organic oats

1/2 cup pureed acai berries (organic or nothing!)

3 TBSP coconut oil

1 TBSP macadamia nut butter (you can make this the night before)

16 organic avocados (buy local; I pick mine from my avocado tree in the back garden)

9 TBSP chia seeds (I can’t seem to keep these in the house– no matter how much I buy!)

3 dates, pitted

1 cup pumpkin milk

2 tsp cinnamon (ground yourself)

1/8 tsp organic, local maple syrup

Instructions: It’s so easy, y’all! Glaze the avocados with the maple syrup and roast for 3 hours on 250 until they begin to chant Om Shanti from the oven. NOT A SECOND LONGER. Simmer the pumpkin milk with the cinnamon and dates until it smells like a vegan Christmas party. Throw everything except the chia seeds and acai berries into a Vitamix Pro series and puree until completely smooth. If you need to sneak some batter, I totally understand. (But remember, that’s one less bite you get later! SACRIFICES!) Pour into a loaf pan– don’t panic if the consistency is “brick-ish.” Bake for 26 seconds at 325 to allow the flavors to marry. Let it cool and then ice with acai berry puree and sprinkle with chia seeds.

There you have it! My all time FAVORITE cheat cake. So good. Reminds me of the cupcakes my mama used to make!

(Obviously her mother was a loveless hippie with the kitchen skills of a cockroach. But whatever.)

2. I remember that when these ladies cheat, they do so once every 6-7 days.

Six days of eating roughage and egg whites, working out twice a day, and freezing to death in those sports bra outfits,  and they earn a fiber cookie and a half glass of zinfandel.  We’re not talking about moderation. Moderation is knowing that you should never go for four glasses of red on a weeknight. (Because only people who really hate themselves allow for that to happen.) This is something else. If I make it through breakfast and lunch without eating something completely shitty, I feel like I’ve earned something by 3 PM. That feels moderate. And I’m warm and comfy in my modern muumuu.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging these amazing women (and men) who have iron self discipline and bodies like gods. It’s really something. But like all media, I have to be really, really careful not to confused their goals and outcomes with my own, and therefore not confuse their habits with my own. I’ll likely never be skipping around town in a bra and wind shorts. (And if I did, the husband would have me committed.) I haven’t done that since the late 90s and even then it wasn’t my best look. I’m 100% sure that my before and after photos will not look anything like 99% of these folks. Not because I couldn’t (I couldn’t, realistically, but physically it’s probably possible if I REALLY committed), but because I’m not in that place in my life. Plus I’ve yet to find the Instagram account of the crazy fit gal who works 50 hours a week, commutes 3 hours a day, has kids, and still has friends who like hanging out with her. Because, let’s be honest, no one likes a sober gal who eats fiber cookies and talks about deadlifts.

So for now I’ll keep riding the bus, liking the photos, drawing inspiration from these otherworldly humans, and collecting design ideas for my activewear line. Starting with the sports bra emblazoned with #lovemycookies.

 

 

 

 

 

Two beers and an untold number of cookies

When I met my husband 12 years ago, I was a wee thing. A child. I’d had a string of completely insignificant relationships with random boys, but I was always just “one of those girls.” I didn’t really date. Partially my mother scarred me for life, implying that I would become knocked up and poor if I ever let a boy see my boobs, and partially I just never really liked it. I felt painfully awkward going on first, second, third, fourth– all dates. (I once insisted in sleeping in all of my clothes at a guys house. Like in his bed, in jeans, with my socks on. I turn crimson every time I think about it. Girls, listen up, sex is not that big of a deal. Don’t be a whore, but for Christ’s sake, please don’t shack up in a guys bedroom in all of your clothes and disappear through the fire escape after he’s asleep. You can’t recover from that. He’ll never call.)

When I met the husband, it was instantly different. I didn’t want to date him, I wanted to be his other half. I wanted to skip over all the awkward dating (we did), the boobie gazing (we didn’t), and arrive at the comfortable, compatible, for always stuff. I’d found my person. BOOM. Let’s move on.

Part of our courtship was fueled by an newly awakened desire to take care of another person. I wanted to make him happy. It was like a tortured, romantic fulfilling of Maslow’s hierarchy. I wanted to feed him, shelter him, clothe him. I wanted him to be happy and carefree and I would do all sorts of very loving, very out of character things to ensure those things were true. The biggest thing I did was cook.

I cooked things out of cookbooks. There were courses and sauces. I made dinner almost every night. After I was 21, there was wine. We got into a rhythm. I was the dinner maker, the grocery shopper, the planner. And that was that.

But here’s the thing… As it turns out, I really don’t like dinner. I don’t like making dinner. I think, more accurately, I don’t like to have any responsibilities after 6pm. Having a child was a real kick in the dick in this area. They need all sorts of things at all hours of the day and night. So Aut kind of puts me at my quota. By the time I commute home after a full day of work, orient myself in my house, and put all my shit away, I basically want to do the ABSOLUTE minimum between that moment and when I get into bed. Even if that means eating questionable cottage cheese over the sink and calling it dinner. My priorities are different now than they were over a decade ago.

When the husband is gone or busy, I get almost giddy. I think about the complete zero dinner I’m going to have and I’m set free. Calorically, it’s also a boon. If I don’t have to waste calories on proteins and health carbs (eye roll), I can use them all on a bottle of wine or sixteen pieces of chocolate. I can also just eat three spoonfuls of almond butter and go read for the rest of the night. Fuck. Yeah.

The bigger challenge is that I’ve started to feel anger towards dinner. Dinner mocks me and steals my time. When the husband says something like, “so, what do you think we should eat this week,” I get a little rage-y.

NOTHING. I want to eat NOTHING. I want to open the fridge and fine random treasures and eat them indiscriminately over six hours. A piece of cheese. A few nuts. A bite of something that’s been in the fridge since… who knows. I don’t want to be tied to a single, well balanced plate, for GOD SAKE. As for that child of ours, he can take a page out of American Childhood and have a bowl of cereal and some disappointment.

But that’s not how grownups apparently act. We have to meal plan. We have to shop. We have to prep things. We have to eat dinner. We have to feed our children. Ugh.

This is actually the number one thing I fantasize about when I think about my impending mental breakdown and my move to a ramshackle cottage on the outskirts of Reno. Sure, I’ll be living in squalor and painted as one of those disgusting women who left her child out of selfishness, but I will eat the shit out of nothing every. single. night. I’ll probably never go to the grocery store again. It will be magical. In it’s own sad way.

But this is actually a story about marriage. About how the precedents we set (even subconsciously) at the beginning of our relationships start to define our roles and our interactions. And even though nothing is set in stone, it’s hard work to accept the ways you’ve changed, harder still to accept the ways in which your partner has changed, and even harder still to break these cycles and find new normals. My husband doesn’t (by any stretch of the imagination) expect me to cook dinner, but the scheduling, rituals, and ingrained habits that have to change if I decide to write dinner out of my life are bigger than not cooking any more. There would have to be a shift in responsibility, a reallocating of duties and expectations. And that is really difficult to do in a marriage.

And dinner is a small thing. When I think back at the girl I was then and the boy he was, our paradigms were defined by such narrow experience of the world. Our belief systems have changed, our goals have changed, and at every step we’ve had to reassess, acknowledge, and make decisions about our relationship and our dynamic. It’s hard work. Necessary, but hard.

Twelve years ago, dinner was my language. In all the years since, I’ve found new ways to show my husband that I want to take care of him. (Or maybe I haven’t. You’d have to ask him. I could have also just become one of those drag wives.) And his languages have changed too. Frankly, he used to agree with me a lot more. But we make a choice, like all married couples, to keep trying to translate these languages into insights about where we are in life, what we need, and where we are floundering. Sometimes we figure it out. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we eat dinner. And sometimes we don’t. And like all things, it’s a compromise.

Some nights it’s a big kid meal, and other nights it’s two beers and an untold number of cookies.

 

 

Note: our child gets fed. So calm down.

 

 

 

The Political Post

I was genuinely taken aback at my own response to Hillary’s official nomination last night. I haven’t been a Hillary supporter up until now. I threw myself behind Barack in the 2008 contest and behind Sanders during this nomination cycle. I’ve said since the beginning that she wasn’t the candidate I wanted, but she was absolutely the candidate I’d vote for if it came to that. So no #BernieorBust here. And maybe it’s because I was so focused on the task at hand–the singular goal of having my candidate secure the nomination– that I wasn’t focused on the historical significance of Hillary, a woman, securing the nomination. But there I was at Del Frisco’s, in a bar surrounded by white men drinking scotch, when the screen flashed the official announcement. She had done it. She had done it.

I held the hands of my dining companion (also a woman) and we stopped. We stopped drinking and talking, stopped hearing, stopped everything, and we took a moment to do the most appropriate thing. We wept. Because no matter what you believe about Hillary, no matter who you’re voting for, if you have a daughter, mother, granddaughter, or sister, you owed it to them to recognize what that meant. It was one less “never. ” And while those nevers are slowly being removed from our vocabulary, they still exist. They still silently affect our ability to truly believe in what is possible.

When she did it, she guaranteed that my 3-year-old son will add a new, female face to the fabric of history. When she did it, she gave my peers the confidence to push for more and better today and every day after today. When she did it, she also proved that men are aligned in this fight. That women are not doing it alone. Because women alone did not secure her nomination– we ALL did. For every man who pays us less, every institution that labels us less qualified, there are men who call bullshit. Men like my husband, my father, my grandfather. Those men are our army. Because of those hes, we have a she.

But there are months between now and November and a political shit storm is brewing. And there are many who are not with her. Many who espouse that she is a criminal, unqualified, and ill suited. On our own side, there are those who believe a vote for their conscience will prove their point. A vote for Trump will “show us.” Here is what I have to say to that.

Wars end in treaties. In compromises. With hope that change will continue to take hold. To walk away from something because you did not get everything is what got us into this mess. The road is long, it stretches on long after my lifetime or yours. The progress of the Sanders movement has fast forwarded our national dialogue in unimaginable ways. We were not shouting into a well. Our voices were heard. Our issues got more play, more time, more consideration in the last year than the last 10. We narrowly missed the nomination. There were dark forces, but dark forces are not new to politics. We cannot take our ball and go home. That is defeat. We were not defeated. We were victorious. We will continue to be victorious, if we remain.

What is at stake in the short- and long-term is bigger than today. It’s bigger than holding our ground, clinging to every principle. I am no traitor to this cause, but I am a pragmatist. The Supreme Court of the United States has the power to uphold or deny some of the most groundbreaking changes to social justice in the history of our country. A democratic/liberal majority bench is imperative to our stronghold on minority and gay rights. My conscience cannot nominate SCOTUS. She can.

The devastating effects of a diminishing middle class is evident. It’s causing unrest, division, and hate among neighbors. Access to education, reproductive autonomy, and living wages is imperative. We cannot further #blacklivesmatter without these three things. We cannot change the black American narrative if we do not continue to lay down in front of the train that threatened to undo all that we have managed to eek out these last eight years. My conscience cannot keep Planned Parenthood alive. She can.

We have to fight terror, not hope. Fear cannot be our military strategy. Do I believe we need to reassess our approach to relations in the Middle East? Yes. Do I think we need to push our allies to play a more active, cooperative role in ending ISIS? Yes. Do we need to end this reign of terror? Yes. Do I believe in spending more money, more time, more energy in building a military at the expense of the basic opportunities of the very citizens they protect? No. I do not. I also do not believe in walls. You cannot keep hate out with a wall. More hate comes to us through the internet than the borders. This is a global society. The last country to build a wall was Germany. I took us nearly thirty years to tear it down. My conscience cannot execute that foreign policy. She can.

Call her a criminal and I’ll show you 100 men who have done worse and served our country. Call her a liar and I’ll show you 100 men who have told bigger lies and become lauded in our history. But you cannot call her a bigot. You cannot call her racist. You cannot call her a misogynist. Because she isn’t. And that makes all the difference.

I was with him.

But now…. I’m with her.

What hope remains.

I hear you. I hear you saying that following the rules is the answer. I hear you saying that more guns are the answer. I hear you saying that black lives aren’t the issue. I hear you saying you want to build a wall. I hear you saying you want less color, less gay, less diversity. I hear you saying that the world you want is one of defensiveness, Darwinism, and solitude. I hear you saying that the America you’re voting for, pushing for, and hoping for is one where I take my kids to the movies with a gun, feel cautious and uncertain around black men, withdraw in fear from Muslims, and choose inalienable rights and freedoms over joy, hope, and peace. I hear you. I do not understand, I do not agree, but I hear you.

And I know you hear me. You hear me saying that no amount of rule breaking justifies any of this. You hear me saying that I don’t want more guns. You hear me saying that black lives are the issue. You hear me saying that I want more color, more gay, and more diversity. You hear me saying that the world I want is one of compassion, inclusion, empathy, and community. You hear me say that the America I’m voting for, pushing for, and hoping for is one where I take my kids to the movies with popcorn, feel camaraderie with black men, recognize the terror that my Muslim neighbors endure, and choose and adaptation, evolution, and compromise over militance, blind liberty, and stagnation. You hear me. You do not understand, you do not agree, but you hear me.

And this is our fundamental problem. We hear, but we do not agree. We want a different version of America. We are pulling mercilessly, tirelessly in different directions. We speak our truths to like-minded individuals, we commiserate with those who believe our side of the story, agree with our vision of America. Even in our rare agreements with our decided “foes,” we are quickly becoming enemies. Our frustrations and fears are slowly getting the better of us. These disagreements have leaked off of the pages of newspapers and Facebook feeds and seeped into our relationships. They have poisoned friendships, caused comrades to sling silent insults at one another. Our political differences, our social beliefs have divided us so far that we argue over the relative value of human life. We barter humanity like goods at market. We play God. We have created a theater out of our existence. Our original differences are unrecognizable. They are shrouded in rhetoric, defensive remarks, convenient facts.

You call me liberal. You find me soft, unrealistic, and absurd. But I cannot even call you conservative. Because you, who I am talking to, you are not conservative. You are hard, unrealistic, and disassociated.

But what happens next? Will our shouts and screams slowly quiet? Will our rage and frustration slowly change to indifference? Will our indifference slowly choke us? Will we become so tired of holding our ground that we become our congress, arguing to fill space and time until nothingness becomes the goal? What happens to a nation when progress stopped? When equality is not longer at the  the agenda? What happens if we take a step back and realize that we have irreconcilable differences?

Do we wage war on ourselves? Is that not what we are already doing?

I hear you say you will not compromise. And frankly, I will not either. I cannot agree to compromise any longer. I signed up for Rosa’s dream, King’s dream, Milk’s dream, Anthony’s dream. I signed up for the dream that was born of a desire for ongoing progress, equality, justice, and change. I signed up for the dream that suffered the consequences of a nation built on fear of one oppressor while ignoring the presence of hundreds. Our nation is not oppressed, but our citizens are. Citizens who did not have a seat on the Continental Congress. Citizens who were needed for their contributions, but not their voice.

And I am lost and angry and sad. How many times can we knock at the door before we give up? Or do we give up? Do we walk away or do we fight? Because to fight we need hope.

And what hope remains?

Show me that hope remains.