Lost Friendship

I always knew she believed those things that she never said. There were signs. There imgreswas a dinner party for twelve at my apartment with H2 (husband #2) in the mid eighties and AIDS was just becoming a topic of dinner party talk. The left wing international set around our table were all talking about the horror of it, and about the long-term possibility of the annihilation of those we love. You have to have been a thirty-something during that time to understand the enormity of it, and the terror and sadness it left in its wake.

We were all getting up to go to the living room, and there was a moment of relative quiet, and my old roommate and friend said, “Well the gays are getting what they deserve. It’s their punishment for being gay.”

Silence. Everywhere. Everyone. Silence.

H2 looked over at me as if to ask, “Your friend? Are you going to take care of this?”

I was born in 1953, and as a girl I had “the disease to please”; that is, I was taught never to be confrontational. I said, “I’m sure you don’t mean that. Freshly squeezed orange juice and chocolates await us all in the living room.” I really don’t know if that is what I said. The truth is, I’m not sure I ever said anything to her about what she said. But I didn’t see her for a number of years after she said it.

History matters. And we had a long history. We were roommates in the 70s, and there were signs of her bigotry then too, but I ignored them.

Then Obama was elected president. My friend and her sister came once a year to stay with me, and the tension was palpable last year. One night after she’d had a few, her sister explained to me that Obama was personally buying all the ammunition in the country so that those who wanted guns—who had to right to them—would have no bullets to use.

“Where did you hear that?” I said. “I need to call you on this one. You cannot believe that what you’re saying is true.”

“I heard it on the radio. I don’t remember which program, but I know it’s true.”

It got heated, and I went to bed angry and sad and regretful. Regretful, you ask? I was upset at what the harsh words we’d spoken to each other that night might do the equilibrium of our forty-year friendship.

Over the last few years it’s become harder and harder to resolve the disquiet I feel around her, and I’m sure the same was true for her. To be fair, I’m sure she would say I was too strident in my point of view. Too “loud.” I’ll own that. And, I will try harder to be softer in my debate. But, I don’t compare it in my mind to those pretending to be a God-believing Catholics who really abhor people of color … and don’t even start with those who need a leg up from the government.

But it wasn’t just her. Pressure from family prevails. “Don’t rock the boat by having the conversation at family events,” says everyone except me. To me, it’s like living with a Stepford Wife mentality—there is an elephant in the room that no one is addressing. And the scary part is that the elephant isn’t just sitting there taking up space like Uncle Fred’s drinking; the elephant is stomping on everything that made the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance my favorite part of the day in elementary school. And I keep waking up in the night (literally) with images of Germany in the 30s, when everyone was saying the same thing: “No one will let these people come to power.” Well, how did that work out in the end?

I can still laugh and listen to fabulous stories. I still love movies and television and books and my amazing daughter and her brave, fabulous life. It’s not that I want to stand on a corner only talking about politics and what has happened to our nation. That’s not it at all. But I don’t want to avoid all conversation about what is happening to the country I love so much.

So, that’s it. My friend and I are no longer friends, and actually, I think I can live with it. I can hope that one day we will meet again and maybe have our first honest conversation about what we really think about each other. Maybe not. Either way, I know that in this moment, in this country that I care so much about, it is not the time to sit back and be silent.

The Opinion of Strangers

We are funny ducks, we human beings.

We play games, thinking we are fooling the world. But the world couldn’t care less, and doesn’t even notice the lengths we go to in order to appear the way we wish we were but aren’t.

Examples abound:

I love Maltesers—those malted milk balls from England that melt in your mouth (don’t judge me). My cousin Louise, who is British, loves them as much as I do. When

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Bernie Sanders Supporters

Much depends on Sanders’ supporters putting their big-boy pants on and throwing all that energy behind the fairly elected nominee, Hillary Clinton. If they do, and if a bridge can be made between their agenda and Hillary’s, then I think she can beat Trump in November.

I remember Hillary’s tears during the 2008 New Hampshire primary, when the sure win she thought she had began to slip away. Her fear came to pass, and the

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Considering Hillary

A note to women in their twenties and thirties.

Hillary. I am not a fan. Never have been. But truth be told, I don’t have to be a fan to vote for someone. I have to believe that they are capable of doing the job … and doing it better than the next ‘guy.’

I have spoken with a lot of young women in their late twenties and early thirties and they are not for

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Memorial Day Responsibility

I love my country’s holidays. Memorial Day. Fourth of July. Bob Hope’s Troop Specials in the late 60s. I love crying with pride and sadness over the sacrifices made by my fellow countrymen for the safety of our country’s citizens. I love reminding friends and family to vote on Election Day. I love the episode of The West Wing in which Crosby, Stills, and Nash sing My Country ‘Tis of Thee. I love my country.

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Saying What We Mean

I saw this picture on Lena Dunham’s Instagram recently. Her comment: “Thank you to the woman who taught me how to say both Thank You and Fuck You.” I copied it. Thought about it. A lot.

Here is the thing: I have spent much of my life saying both. At the same time. To the same person. When I should have just said “Fuck You.” Let’s take a look and see who’s with me.

“I’m

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Shonda Rhimes & My Sister

I have been reading Shonda Rhimes’ new book, Year of Yes. You know Shonda Rhimes, the creator and writer of the great Grey’s Anatomy. Great book. Game changing book. Merely one chapter into it, I realized that my sister Leslie is Shonda’s twin sister.

We moved a lot while I was growing up. Fifteen times by the time I was sixteen, or sixteen times by the time I was fifteen; who can remember? I was

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Reality T.V. Comes to Politics

Everyone’s talking about it. How did Trump defeat a lineup of seasoned politicians and emerge as the frontrunner, the close-to-certain presidential nominee for the Republican Party of the United States of America? Really? Seriously?

Pundits are saying that a disenfranchised group of Americans is receptive to Trump’s message, which seems to be that America isn’t great, but it will become great if we get rid of much of our nation including immigrants and

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The Donald, Facebook, and Producing the News

Santana or the Donald? We the people decide which we will have, not by our vote, but through our Facebook posts.

I have an old friend I haven’t seen in twenty years whom I follow on Facebook. Upper West Side of Manhattan guy who is passionate about right and wrong and politics, and those who have “friended” him on Facebook generally agree with his point of view—or if they do not, they do not challenge

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In the Name of…Taking Responsibility for Our Decisions

Just the other day I was asked to consider joining the board of directors of a non-profit that is doing amazing work keeping women from being trafficked in Third-World countries. Here was my response to their e-mail: “I have promised my team that I will not sit on any new boards. I am spread way too thin, but if it were up to me…”

And, then a few days later someone wanted to get together

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