How to Support Writers in a Post-Trump Era

If you care about progressive voices—in local newspapers, on websites, anywhere–start commenting with YOUR progressive voices. Be loud. Be frequent. Drown out the hate. Check the aggression. Every time you read something you like, fill the comments section with love and herald the person who wrote it.

The trolls may be few but they are loud and they are mean. Do not ignore this. Do not turn away. Combat this. Start reviewing the comments via our newspapers, websites etc and click through.


Please please please say something-anything! Progressive writers put themselves on the front lines of bullying to say something meaningful and real in this fucked up world. Please please please don’t expect us to stand alone.

Never let bullying go unchecked. Never let a strong voice go without support. Now more than ever, be vocal and be fierce. Every time. Every single moment. Do not miss an opportunity to be the voice of reason and to lift someone up. Now, more than ever, SAY SOMETHING!

So Long Marianne: An Elegy for my Country through Leonard Cohen Lyrics

“Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now. / Then why do I feel alone?

I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web / is fastening my ankle to a stone.”

–So Long Marianne, Songs of Leonard Cohen 1967


I have spent most of the last 48 hours in bed crying. Like many people in America, I have felt isolated and scared and alone.

I cried for people of color who face an imminent threat from emboldened racism.  I have mourned with my friends who have been battling cancer, who will no longer be insured if Obamacare gets repealed. I cried for my gay friends and for LGBTQ youth whose equality is uncertain. I cried for Latinos who are suddenly suspect and whose families may be in danger of forced divide. I have cried with young women fearful about family planning and a lack of options.

I have spent that last two days sobbing for one reason or another.

Then Leonard Cohen died today. Just two days after my country elected a racist, misogynist, megalomaniac.

Leonard Cohen was my soul. He was my solace. He was my wise man. He was my reason for living on so many, many dark nights. Leonard Cohen has helped me through moments of my life that I never thought I could get though. He has helped me these last few days as I’ve watched my country dissolve into a mess of racism, bigotry, and fear.

I have spent my life fighting for justice, for women’s rights, for LGBTQ equality.  In these past few days I have watched my friends crumble. I have sent letters and text messages apologizing and I have gotten letters and text messages hearing apologies. So many of us have held each other for so long.  And so many of us are faltering, falling, dying.


“I saw some people starving / There was murder, there was rape

Their villages were burning / They were trying to escape

I couldn’t meet their glances / I was staring at my shoes

It was acid, it was tragic / It was almost like the blues”

–Almost Like The Blues, Popular Problems 2014


In a strange and terrible parallel to my country, in a very real and utter desolation, an angel ascended; Leonard Cohen, the poet I had loved so much, the poet who had given me so many moments of peace, left this earth. He was too good for it. But I will miss him just the same.

2016 has been a complete and utter shit show. Many of us can count the ways: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Harper Lee, Prince, Muhammed Ali, Ralph Stanley, Elie Wiesel, Gene Wilder, Janet Reno and, today, Leonard Cohen.

But, in addition to the incredible loss in the artistic community and sphere of wisdom, America seems to have lost its way.


“Your servant here, he has been told / to say it clear, to say it cold:

It’s over, it ain’t going any further

And now the wheels of heaven stop / you feel the devil’s riding crop

Get ready for the future.”

–The Future, The Future, 1992


The 2016 American presidential election was not about the candidates. The election was about the issues, morality, human rights, and justice. It was never about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The people who voted against Donald Trump, the majority of Americans, voted against misogyny, racism, elitism, and bigotry. A slim majority, but a majority nonetheless, voted for healthcare, human rights, and progress.  But sadly, it wasn’t enough. And now we are facing some very dark times.

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows the war is over

Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the fight was fixed

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That’s how it goes / Everybody knows”

–Everybody Knows, I’m Your Man, 1988


I am crying for my nieces and for the children in my life.  I’m crying for the people who came before me who believed they would see change in their lifetime.

I am terrified for the young women and for the people of color in my life.  I’m terrified for people whom I deeply, deeply I love. I want to make them safe.  I want to take them in my arms and protect them.  I want to shield them from all of this.

And I want the promises that we were given. I want that promises that were made to us.  I want the promises that were whispered to us to be upheld. “In America, you can be anything you want.”

I hold America’s broken promises in front of the people I love the most and I want to hide and shout and scream and cry.

“And I wish there was a treaty we could sign

I do not care who takes this bloody hill

I’m angry and I’m tired all the time.”

–Treaty, You Want It Darker, 2016


As someone who has been fighting my whole life, I’m tired and I’m scared. I hardly know what I could possibly have left to offer. But I’m still going to fight. I’m still going to give what I have to offer. I’m still going to put everything I have on the line.


“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

–Anthem, The Future, 1992


Thank you my sweet friend.  I will miss you for the rest of my life.  But I will never, ever, ever forget you. And I will continue to give whatever I have.


Empire Mine State Park

There was an arson arrest made related to the fire that broke out near my house and my mother’s house. We live in the foothills of Northern California and fire is a very real danger here.

We are still watching the details of the fire, as it is still an active incident.  We are still prepared to evacuate.  With regard to the arsonist, I’m very sad that someone set fire to our neighborhood and Empire Mine State Park. I say this as I listen to more sirens drive by.

Empire Mine has been my morning walk and my happy place for the past three years. It is my community park.  It is my place of nature and peace. I have hiked every trail more than once. More than twice. More than ten times.

Empire Mine State Park is the place where I get my steps. It is the place where I listen to Mozart or Joni Mitchell or Eminem, depending on my mood. It is the place I take friends and family to show off the beauty of my neighborhood. I have met humans and dogs there. I have met squirrels and lizards and deer. I smile every time I pass by a fern or a wild flower or an interesting leaf.  I have watched trees grow there. I have marveled at the colors in the park.  Lately, I have loved the green and the yellow and the crimson.

I took my mom for the first time last week.  We walked from Penn Gate (an entrance mostly used by locals and horse riders) to the visitor’s center.  I gave her the three-penny tour and told her that I’d show her the rest of the park in the coming weeks.

Right now, I don’t know how much of the park is left.

There is a bridge in the park that my wife and I cross on a regular basis. I usually make her stop and kiss me when we cross the bridge.


It smells like pine and dust and grease and something like linseed oil.  It smells a lot like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.  We cross it every time we walk through Empire Mine State Park. I’m not sure right now if it is still standing.

This year, in the spring, at the back of the park, my wife and I paused to watch bumble bees going wild amongst the sage. There were purple flowers for days and an incredible buzzing. It was so alive. Yesterday, as I walked through that part of the park, I caught a whiff of the sage drying in the autumn heat and I smiled for the changing of the seasons.

I still don’t know the extent of the damage but my heart breaks. My heart breaks about the fire and it breaks that someone could have been so careless or mentally ill or downtrodden or desperate to unleash such an expense on a community.

I don’t know enough of the details to be mad or vengeful or heated. I don’t know that any details will ever make me feel mad or vengeful or heated.

I feel sad. I feel really sad right now. And, based on the initial reports about damage, I’m probably going to feel sad for a really, really long time.

I have taken pictures almost every day for the last year. This is my park.  This is my heart.  This is my place.







*If you feel inclined to do something, please donate to, our local fire-safety website. ($2 is fine. $200 is nice too. Donate what you can. There is no auto-renew and no additional obligation.) Yubanet has kept so many people aware and safe in times of devastation. The site in run by an incredible person and is the go-to communication when it comes to fire danger:

Best Girlfriends

I keep seeing annoying articles about how having best girlfriends will help a woman live longer. The posts are usually accompanied by a picture of a group of women in tiny outfits with drinks in their hands.

best friends

My best girlfriends and I don’t live as close together as we once did. We aren’t as skinny as we once were. We don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. We don’t wear maxi dresses. We don’t post pictures on Facebook or Instagram of us going out with our nails painted. We don’t visit L.A., New York, or Las Vegas. We have rarely gone on any vacations together in our adult lives.

My best girlfriends and I have been friends for more than 20 years. My best girlfriends are my people. They are my heart. My best girlfriends and I love each other. We look out for each other. We worry about each other. We talk to each other. We talk about each other. All of us would go to battle for one another in a heartbeat, even if we knew ahead of time that we would face defeat. We are sisters and that’s infallible.

Also, we are adults. My best girlfriends and I, for the most part, grew up together. But mostly, we grew up.

We have jobs. We have hobbies. We have classes. We have debts. We have to pay our rent or our mortgages. We have to pay our bills.

Some of us have children and we have to think about childcare or babysitting. Some of us have husbands or wives and we consider our partners in our plans. Some of us are dating. Some of us have more than one job or more than two jobs or more than three jobs. Some of us are struggling with money or depression or both.

Some of us have lost family members. Some of us have aging parents. Some of us have family members who are struggling and take up our time. Some of us live paycheck to paycheck and are trying to get by.  Some of us are working on our Master’s Degree. Some of us would rather work in the garden than check email. We all have different lives.

For the last six months I have tried to make plans with my best friends. Sometimes the plans work out.  Most of the time something comes up and we have to reschedule.

Never once have I wondered if my best friends have forgotten me. I don’t need a trip to Vegas or a fancy manicure or a medical study or a cheesy stock photo to give credence to a relationship that is obviously sustaining and precious.

I love my best girlfriends. I know that regardless of what life brings us, we will always have each other.

If having best girlfriends will help a woman live longer, I’m excited to live forever.


rainbow flag

I was 18 years old in 1998 when two men tied Matthew Shepard to a fence and beat him to death.

I had just finished high school.

I had spent most of my high school career trying to convince the principal to allow a gay-straight alliance club on campus.

We were told that our club wasn’t in line with the values of the school.

It wasn’t in line with the pulse of education.


I was 12 years old when I had my first “family life” class.

I was taught about menstruation and relationships and sex.

Relationships were between one man and one women.

I remember my face turning red and my pulse quickening.

I was five years old when I kissed my best friend on the lips and told her that I loved her.


I was 19 years old when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people at Columbine High School.

I watched the news in my parent’s bedroom with the covers pulled up to my chin.

I wished then that I would never again see something so awful.

That was 17 years ago.

That was too many lives ago.


I was 21 years old on September 11th 2001.

I heard the news on the radio on my way to my community college.

We cried and sent confused glances at each other in the parking lot.

I had a test in my philosophy class that morning.

We were 60 kids filling out scantrons, trying to make sense of the world.

Nothing was the same after that.


I was 22 years old when I went to college at UC Davis.

The pulse of the world had changed.

Between classes, we protested the war.

Between classes we protested rape.

Between classes, we protested the military-industrial complex.

In 2003 we protested Lt. John Pike who was sued for gay-bashing one of his fellow members of the force.

Eight years later Lt. Pike became famous for brutally pepper spraying students for protesting.


I was 28 years old when Prop 8 passed.

I had protested that too.

And I had been spat on and chased and followed and terrorized.

Prop 8 gave a legitimacy to haters and bigots.

They felt empowered by policy.

We learned to take different routes home if we were walking, just in case.


I was 16 years old when I understood that I was queer.

I knew I was different and I knew that it mattered.

My mother had read my diary.

She told me to pretend that I was straight.

Not for social graces.  But for my own safety.


I was 33 years old when I married the love of my life.

We got married in Disneyland.

Our families were there.

We exchanged vows and rings.

We rode the train and it roared like the pulse of our heartbeats.

She wore a tux.  I wore a dress.

We ate red velvet cupcakes.

It was the best day of my life.

We still check our surroundings when we hold hands in public.




I’m 36 years old now.

And I feel like I have spent most of my life either grieving or living in fear.

This isn’t the world I had expected.

This isn’t the world I was promised.

This isn’t the world I had wanted.

I don’t want a world where people are shot for being gay.

I don’t want a world where people are shot.


We have to stop telling our children that it gets better until it is actually going to get better.

It has not gotten better.


I want to believe that love conquers all.

It’s just that love is a verb, an action word,

And without action, love does nothing.


We must be active in policy making

We must be active in peace making.

We must be active when we see injustice.

We must take action.

We must change the pulse of society.





My Top 20 Favorite Albums

My Top 20 Favorite albums:

(In no particular order and with a few addendums.)


Ophelia by Natalie Merchant

The Stranger by Billy Joel

Little Earth Quakes by Tori Amos

Falling Fast Awake by Joshua Macrae

Various Positions by Leonard Cohen

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie


Faith by George Michael

The Concert in Central Park by Simon and Garfunkel

Closing Time by Tom Waits

Kid A by Radiohead

kid a

The Story by Brandi Carlile

All the Way by MaMuse

Ani Difranco’s entire discography.  (I couldn’t pick just one. #sorrynotsorry)

Hallelujah World by Jacob Golden

The Trainspotting Soundtrack

The Joshua Tree by U2

Graceland by Paul Simon


Bird on a Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen by Perla Batella (This is a cover album but what Perla Batella does with the music merits its own mention. Unbelievable.)

Live in London 1976 by John Denver (But with a caveat that I‘m adding the song “For You” which is not on this album.)

The Free to Be You and Me Soundtrack (Because I grew up with it and because I didn’t have anything else with Michael Jackson on it and because it’s perfect. Mel Brooks, Harry Belafonte, Carol Channing, Diana Ross, Alan Alda, Marlo Thomas, Roberta Flack and more.  I mean, c’mon.)

Enough Enough Enough

Today, a lot of my friends on Facebook circulated the video of Ellen’s monologue from her talk show condemning new discriminatory legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi.  At first, I didn’t watch the video.  I had already seen so many comments from my friends and from several activists.  I read the legislation and I know what it means for LGTBQ people in North Carolina and Mississippi. It means that they would be safer if they moved out of state. There’s a scene from the movie, Milk, that keeps playing over and over in my mind:

I love Ellen.  I love her show.  I admire her trailblazing.  I adore her for what she has done for women in comedy.  I will forever be grateful for her role in LGBTQ visibility and progress.  There is no doubt that she sacrificed her career and personal well-being when she came out publicly.  What she has done for LGBTQ people is nothing short of revolutionary.  I appreciate everything that she has historically put on the line for the LGBTQ movement.

That said, I thought her commentary about recent legislation in North Carolina and Mississippi was frivolous and insensitive.

We are past the point of cute jokes and ha-ha interludes. They belittle the argument about human rights. From the perspective of a queer person, from someone who has also experienced discrimination for being a lesbian, I thought that Ellen’s monologue was weak. Since North Carolina’s discriminatory law passed, at least two LGBTQ people have committed suicide, citing injustice and a lack of protection. We will see the same in Mississippi. Children and friends are dying, literally dying, because of these laws. There is no room for joking.

For some people within the LGBTQ community, it is easy to feel tired about the the fact that we are still fighting. On many days, I feel tired.  The privileged, passing, white, middle-class part of me, feels tired.  Because the privileged, passing, white, middle-class part of me can, for the most part, live in peace.

Recent legislation in the south is a stark indication that we are not yet out the weeds on the issue of human rights for LGBTQ people.  This is especially true when it comes to particular cross sections of the LGBTQ community–transgender people, people of color, young people, and poor members of our community.

It is not okay to make light of recent discriminatory laws enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi.  It’s not okay to use a mass media platform to joke about spelling or references to musical groups in the context of discrimination, suicide, and hate.

There are many of us in the LGBTQ community who have seen incredible progress in the last decade.  We have seen incredible victories.  Let us not forget that in more than half the states in the union it is completely legal to be fired from a job for no reason other than one’s sexual orientation. Essentially, in more than 27 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being gay.  In many states, an LGBTQ orientation can lawfully get you kicked out of a restaurant or refused service from a retail store.

The elders of the LGBTQ community in the United States have worked loudly, smartly, and diligently for years to gain the equal rights and protections that so many of the LGBTQ community enjoy today.  There has been incredible progress.  But, to be fair, the LGBTQ community didn’t earn “equal rights” because our small percent of the population was loud enough to make it happen.  The LGBTQ community was granted marriage equality and a smattering of other equal protections because there were several communities, including privileged and straight allies, who came to the table and demanded equal protection. Marriage equality and other protections happened for the gay community, not because we were here and queer, but because we worked for it and because we had help.

our love

There are still many people in the LGBTQ community working and there are still many people within the community who need help.  Not all of us live in big cities.  Not all of us have financial resources.  Not all of us are white.  There are many people who live under the LGBTQ umbrella and who live in places with laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation. There are many people who face discrimination even when the law is supposed to protect them.

Right now North Carolina and Mississippi are the most glaring cases because they are current and have been in the news.  However, there are people all over our country living in fear.  Subtle discrimination can be just as dehumanizing as lawful and overt discrimination.

When a state passes legislation that puts an entire population of people at risk, it is no time for making jokes.  There is nothing light or funny about the lawful marginalization of people.  It is up to those of us who live in places of privilege, or who come from places of privilege, to stick our necks out for those who are hurting the most.  It is the only way that justice can be realized.


Just Be Nicer

Last Tuesday morning I pulled into the parking lot of my local veterinarian’s office to pick up some flea medicine and dry food for my cats.  Some guy had backed his large pickup truck into the parking lot.  His truck was parked slightly slanted, with the bed of the truck facing the door to the vet’s office.  The truck was taking up residence in more than one of the parking spaces.  I decided to pull up next to the truck and park as straight and as close as possible just to make a point about what good parking looks like.

I went in and paid for my cat food and flea medicine.  I talked to the folks behind the counter for a while.  I was there for about ten minutes and then left to get back in my car.

As I loaded my bag of cat food into my back seat, the owner of the pickup truck came out.  He was a big guy in jeans and a flannel shirt.  He had a head full of messy blond hair and a pair of tough looking boots on his feet.  He ran up to the gate of his truck and pulled it down quickly.  He stood next to the bed of his truck and looked back toward the vet’s office expectantly.  His face was pink and his eyes were red.

I quietly realized that he had been crying.


The door to the vet’s office opened and a small family of people came out together carrying a dog bed like a stretcher, heavy and woolen.  The bed was filled with a golden-colored lifeless dog.  Each of the grievers had tear-stained faces and puffy eyes.  I realized that one of the people in the party was our regular vet, also with a tear-stained face.

The family and our vet lifted the dog into the back of the truck.  I heard a few of their exchanges.  They planned to bury the dog in their yard, next to the other animals that the dog had spent his life with—a cat, a few goats, and a bunny.  I watched the man with the boots hop down from the bed of his truck and put his arm around a young girl that was probably his daughter.  She tucked her face into his chest and started to sob.  The man with the boots followed suit, unabashedly crying into her hair.

I felt like a voyeur as I put my car in reverse.  The man and the girl continued to cry.

The man who parked like an asshole, wasn’t an asshole.  He was probably just trying to save his dog’s life.  He probably pulled into the parking lot with his family, the family dog in a fit of emergency.  All of them were probably hoping for a miracle.  Or course the man driving didn’t make it into the lines of his parking space.  It just wasn’t important.

We don’t always know what people are dealing with.

It was unfortunate for me to think that someone had just casually pulled into my veterinarian’s office with no concept of parking spaces.  That wasn’t it at all.  A man and his family were about to lose their family dog and they parked in the best way that they could manage.

We don’t always know what’s going on for people.  We don’t always know what has happened. We are often quick to judge.

Maybe we should just be nicer.


I’m the fattest I have ever been.  Or, more precisely, I am four pounds lighter than the fattest I have ever been because I started dieting nine days ago.

There is something about dieting that makes me feel hyper-sensitive about the way I look.  It’s as though, through the act of dieting, I am constantly acknowledging that I am unhappy with my body and current appearance.  It’s something that I am constantly fighting.

My weight has fluctuated my entire life.  I was a chubby kid in middle school, skinny in high school, and then chubby again in college.  I weighed 185 pounds when I was 25 years old and then lost 60 pounds to weigh 125 by my 26th birthday.  I gained most of that back, then lost it again, then gained it back again, this time with several extra pounds.


I am generally a very happy person and my current body mass isn’t something that depresses me. I have friends who love me. I feel fairly healthy and strong. I have a very happy and healthy relationship with my partner. I enjoy outdoor activities and like to go hiking. But right now I feel really uncomfortable in my body.  I enjoyed running when it was something that didn’t hurt my knees.  I miss being able to wear skirts and dresses without my thighs rubbing uncomfortably together.

I’ve learned to be happy at the weight I’m at.  It has taken a lot of practice but I’ve decided to love the body I live in because it is the only one I have. And because, when I look back on all the times I was unhappy with my weight or appearance, I find that now, when I look at pictures or think about it, I was completely beautiful.

If I could go back and tell my past-self one thing it would be to feel happy in my body—no matter what size.  Because even at my fittest and strongest, I was still miserable and critical.  I never felt beautiful in high school, even though I was.  I never felt pretty in my 20s, even though I was quite stunning.

Most women are incredibly critical of themselves. We receive messages almost from birth.  We are always too fat, too thin, too old, too young, too pale, too dark, or too something. When I was in high school and weighed 115 pounds I used to think I was “fat”.  Even when I was running 7 miles each day to train to climb Mt. Whitney, I never thought my body was good enough.

This is the first time that I have started a diet at a time when I actually think my body is beautiful.  It has taken constant vigilance on my part to not fall into the trap of hating myself because I am “over-weight” or not at a standard of beauty that society expects from me.  I have to constantly remind myself that I am dieting for myself and not to conform to something.

I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin again. And I want to love myself on the journey.

Dear Bernie and Hillary Supporters

I love you.  I love your fucking conviction.  I love your gumption.  I love your incredible badass, unapologetic approach to the 2016 election.  I love everything you stand for.  All of you.  (I’m having a hard time with your Facebook posts though.  Just sayin.)


The Democratic Party has TWO incredible candidates this election season. TWO. Two trend-setting, status-quo-breaking, qualified, smart, incredible candidates. Two! The Democratic Party has two fucking unbelievable human beings who actually have the qualifications, the record, and the vision to help the middle and lower classes in this country to lessen the wage gap, create jobs, manage health care, and go forward with a living wage as a standard.  The Democratic Party is committed to reforming policies to help students, to reduce student loan debt, and to make college affordable.  Both Hillary and Bernie want to ensure benefits for people on Social Security now and into the future. Both Bernie and Hillary are working to foster relationships with others to set America and its allies on course for productive international relations.  Both Hillary and Bernie have a record of success and integrity.


The Democratic Party is fucking KILLING IT RIGHT NOW.  Hillary Clinton could be the first woman president and has a list of qualifications that make both FDR and Dwight Eisenhower look like amateurs.  That is fucking amazing.  Bernie Sanders has a democratic socialist agenda.  His policies are cutting-edge and completely legit.  That is fucking amazing too.

Neither Hillary nor Bernie have tweeted things like:


I’m voting based on record and I am voting based on policy.  I have thought long and hard about it.  I have researched the candidates and I am absolutely solid.  I cannot wait to cast my ballot. (Spoiler alert: I’m voting for either Hillary or Bernie!! I just fucking love those two!)

I don’t know about the rest of you but I am so FUCKING EXCITED TO VOTE!!!!!!  I cannot wait to go to the polls and mark my ballot for my chosen candidate.


sanders clinton