Can we just leave HRC alone? Please?

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Just when she thought she could grieve in peace, along comes yet one more reporter who couldn’t resist taking a photo of Hillary Clinton…staring at her phone. Clinton is sitting alone at a restaurant table, presumably having just finished breakfast, and she’s…staring at her phone.

She’s not surrounded by handlers, adoring fans, the press corps, or Secret Service agents. She’s just doing what a lot of us are probably doing right now: staring at her damn phone. But because she’s Hillary Freakin’ Clinton, it’s apparently newsworthy enough to at least this reporter that she felt the need to not only snap the photo but post it to her verified Twitter account. Because, you know, there just aren’t enough photos of Hillary post-election doing everyday things.

Yes, I realize that, having lived in the public eye for most of her life, Clinton shouldn’t really expect to just disappear into obscurity, no matter how much she might wish to do so. She has both loathed and loved being in the spotlight, and has been willing to sacrifice more than any of us could possibly imagine so that she can perform public service and catapult herself to one of the highest levels of government as Secretary of State.

Most of all, though, she’s willingly sacrificed her dignity a million and one times as our national punching bag. Louis C.K.’s eloquent, brilliant summation of Hillary’s qualifications as president, which he shared on Conan shortly before the election, pretty much nails the role she’s played in the political arena for decades:

Folks, after all of what this fierce, terrifyingly smart woman has endured on our behalf for most of her life, can we just let her be for awhile? Surely she deserves at least that. She’s earned the right to grieve and recover on her own time, on her own terms, whether she wants to do it in the privacy of her home or the privacy of a quiet moment at the breakfast table in some restaurant. No one is doing the nation any favors by projecting her unguarded moments on our collective psyche, as if she still owes us anything. If anything, we owe her a debt we can never really pay back.

The end of the road

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The end of my near-daily runs usually happens at the cemetery. It’s not deliberate — I just happen to live near an old cemetery, so as I turn the corner into my street, there it is. As cemeteries go, it’s pretty small at less than half an acre, maybe less. (I’m terrible at guesstimating property sizes, despite my background as a project developer for a renewable energy company. Give me plats and lots!) Although it’s situated next to a busy, five-lane road, it’s buffered on the north and west by wood fencing that separates it from a row of modest homes, and on the long, southern end by a sturdy brick wall that starts out at about 3′ on one end before gradually rising to over 7′ as it curves along the main road. That brick wall, the lush grass, and pockets of trees that line three sides of the property all somehow manage to absorb much of the traffic noise that might otherwise flood this quiet corner. You can walk right along the brick wall and not realize that just on the other side is a busy thoroughfare.

I’ve always liked cemeteries. When I was in high school in Manila, I’d sometimes forego taking a public jeepney from school to save the fare (a whopping ₱1.00, or 75 centavos if you had exact change because jeepney drivers rarely gave change back if you gave them a whole peso). My hour-long walk home would take me right by an old cemetery near my school, so I would nearly always detour through its narrow alleys. In hindsight, it wasn’t the smartest, safest decision — I was a pretty small girl, and the cemetery was almost always empty. Unlike those in the US, cemeteries in the Philippines generally don’t have rolling hills of grass and vast empty spaces between gravestones. It’s a tiny country of over 100 million people squeezed into a sprawl of thousands of islands that altogether make up a land mass about the size of Arizona. We don’t have room to give every corpse their own little slice of green heaven. So cemeteries are usually chock-a-block of crypts literally stacked one on top of the other. The cemetery near my school had rows of them crammed along stone walls, some piled six or seven crypts high. The wealthier dead had families who could afford to build marble-lined mausoleums protected behind iron gates. Most of the permanent residents of that cemetery, though, came from more modest stock and I guess didn’t mind sharing real estate in such close proximity with complete strangers.

I’m not really sure what I find so fascinating about cemeteries. It’s not morbid curiosity. I like to read the inscriptions on the gravestones, especially the ones with more description than just names and dates. The cemetery near my house has gravestones dating back to the 19th century; some of the dead served in World War I. Some of them died during that war; other gravestones mark those who died in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War. In fact, a remarkable number of the dead in this cemetery died during some of our nation’s armed conflicts, even though this is just a plain old neighborhood cemetery. I imagine there may be more that I’m not aware of, as quite a few gravestones are so old that time has erased their inscriptions.

My actual runs usually end just before I get to the cemetery, so I jump over the low end of the brick wall and then walk across the field towards my house. I always make sure to make wide sweeps around gravestones so that I don’t disturb the dead. I’m somber, but I’m not sad. When I reach the edge of the cemetery and turn into my street, I always look back and give a small salute.

A sign it’s finally fall

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My colleague Jeremy published a post today where he shared his grandmother’s Apple Cake recipe. I loved the story about how his grandmother actually baked this almost every Wednesday when he was growing up. What a lovely memory!

Anyway, when I read it, I thought, “Well, it’s Wednesday. I have 4 apples on the kitchen counter that I need to do something with. It’s cold and sunny outside. And I have a need to bake.”

So, tonight, in honor of Jeremy’s grandmother, voilà! And oh, it was so, so yummy. I don’t think this is going to make it to the weekend.

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I made some tweaks to the recipe based on what I had on hand. Namely:

  • I didn’t have any rum, but I had just a little tablespoon’s worth of brandy left in a bottle. Same thing, right?
  • I didn’t have any vanilla powder, so I used vanilla extract instead.
  • 150 grams of sugar is about 3/4 cup, but I reduced it to 1/2 cup instead and sprinkled about a tablespoon’s worth on top of the batter just before baking.
  • I substituted unsweetened soymilk for the milk.
  • I added a half-cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Next time I might add a whole cup. Because why not?

 

 

Take a break, but don’t forget to come back

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FROM NPR:

We asked how your social media habits changed after the election. More than 150 of you replied — and most are tired, deleting apps, unfriending people, tuning out politics or worried for family ties.

Source: After Divisive Election, Overwhelmed Social Media Users Unfriend, Cut Back : All Tech Considered : NPR


 

NPR recently published the above article about the narrowing of communities, courtesy of the most divisive, negative and emotionally gripping election most Americans have been unfortunate enough to have lived through. Specifically, people are unfriending like mad on Facebook, or otherwise staying away from social media altogether. I spoke with a colleague today who said that she’s been avoiding the social network of late because she “need[s] a break from people.”

I get that. A couple dozen (maybe more?) of my Facebook friends are staunchly pro-Trump or are otherwise deeply conservative, and they share a lot of content that I find personally repugnant, and that’s not even including the “news articles” populating their feeds that are so obviously fake that I question their basic intelligence.

I completely understand the desire to disengage, to retreat into one’s private space to reflect, maybe forget even for just a little while all the disheartening stories and news of the last few weeks. I, for one, realize that I can’t “unhear” that stomach-churning, horrifying Access Hollywood tape from early October, and that was just one example of just how much damage has been wrought by one very angry, self-absorbed and manipulative narcissist. (And now he’s our president. Ugh. There I go again. Where’s the sangria when I need it?)

Still, I hope that very soon, good, conscientious people will return to the communities in which they once thrived and through which they were involved in civic society. We need more people with a commitment and passion for social and economic justice; freedom of speech, religion and of the press; reproductive rights; human rights; and so many other civil liberties that are now being threatened under the impending new administration.

So many people reached out to me privately, either just before or just after the election, lamenting that they didn’t feel they did enough. As any good therapist will tell you, there’s no sense in wishing for what might have been. Instead, channel that disappointment and anger into productive action. Come back to your community, even if your heart is still a little bruised, and your head is still smarting from the pain. Come back to your networks, and double down on your outreach. We still need Joe Biden memes, cat GIFs, puppy videos, holiday baking recipes, and the latest news from Kamp Kardashian. But we also need people to participate as fully informed citizens of a democratic society.

Of course, sharing meaningful, thought-provoking news and essays on social media (obviously, I don’t mean these news articles) should just be the beginning of one’s engagement. I loved the proliferation of “how to be involved” articles in the days after the apocalypse election. Here are two of my favorites:

How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action (from Slate.com)

Finish Your Ugly Crying. Here’s What Comes Next. (from NYMag.com)

I’ve already done a couple (after, of course, hanging out in Barcelona for a few days. Business trip, believe it or not!). Namely: becoming a monthly donor to my favorite progressive organizations (that would be the ACLU and Planned Parenthood), and paying for the journalism that sustained me throughout the election. I also have been in touch with my fellow Hillary for America volunteers, and we’re working on our post-2016 strategy. We’re setting our sites on defeating Ted Cruz’s reelection bid in 2018, and for that, we have to start now.

Another “next step?” Figuring out, along with so many other of my progressives-in-arms, who would make a great candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Right now, there’s not a very long list, but I’m thinking this particular woman might just deserve a place on it.

 

 

With the US Election, a Landmark Week for WordPress.com VIP

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Yes, I admit I was one of the millions and millions obsessively refreshing FiveThirtyEight.com every…minute. As much as I still mourn the outcome, I’m overwhelmingly proud and honored to work for the same company that accomplished this feat. Kudos to my colleagues on the VIP team for keeping America and the world informed and enabling that maddening obsession on the biggest night of the year.

WordPress.com VIP

There were mixed feelings on the VIP team last week, when a joke about one of our clients went viral.

Reports of obsessive refreshing of the US election predictions on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, hosted on WordPress.com VIP, began to appear in late October. As Election Day got ever closer, things reached fever pitch.

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