Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving

Like many, I am still reeling from The Election. I have been reading and watching a lot but generally trying to avoid posting about politics. NPR challenged me to "read the book that's not for you," and I will. In my case, this is Strangers in Their Own Land (about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana), and I managed to get our Book Club on board (thanks, you guys). Still, even as I search for understanding and connection, I know there is so much to be afraid of, and to be disappointed in. I am thinking of ways to be a force for good. I welcome your suggestions.

In an effort to distract myself from the above and in light of the holiday, I have been trying to focus on the many things I am thankful for. The list is very long. Included on it are my families in Columbus, Cincinnati, and beyond, my very special and long-suffering partner, my talented, passionate, and creative friends, my clients who teach me how to open my mind and my heart a little more each day, my health, travel, literacy, means enough that money is not always on my mind, song, warm meals, new challenges, changing seasons, and our shy and kooky little wolfcat. Perhaps most of all I am thankful for hope.

I feel very lucky when I reflect on my gratitude. I hope that you do too.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Election

I almost hit a deer on my way home from work on election night. The deer ran out in front of my car, I slammed on my brakes, and then I worried that the car behind me would run into me. Instead, thankfully, the driver swerved around me and the deer. For a moment, I thought I was going to get hit again, and I was terrified. Several hours later as the votes were being counted, I felt like I had been in a different sort of accident. 

Initially, Hillary Clinton was not my candidate of choice. I thought she was not progressive enough. When it was clear that she would become my party's candidate, I embraced her. I watched all three debates. I watched her speak, and I read more about her positions and her long history of fighting for children and families. I came to believe in her conviction. I voted for her happily and with confidence on November 8. I believed that she would win because that was what the pollsters and media had been predicting, and I had been obsessively checking fivethirtyeight for days. I think, too, that I did not want to believe that so many of my fellow Americans support Trump's sexist, racist, xenophobic rhetoric. I wanted to believe that we're better than that. I guess I still do believe that, although my faith has certainly been tested. Further, I allowed myself to actually believe that we could elect a woman as our president. I was excited about what this could mean for other women and especially for young girls-- how validating and encouraging it would be. I wore a white sweater to the polls to honor the suffragettes. I wore a multi-colored necklace, too, to try to honor women of color who did not get the right to vote until 1965. 

I wore black on November 9. I was in mourning. When she did not win, I felt angry. How could we have missed this? How are we so out of touch with one another? I was angry with the pollsters. I was angry with the so-called protest voters and with the millions of eligible voters who did not show up. I was angry with Trump supporters. I was angry with Trump himself. I was angry with myself for not supporting Hillary's campaign in a more formal way. I know that the fact that she is a woman played a significant role in her defeat, and I am very angry about that too. I feel that pain. 

I have also tried to understand the Trump voter's perspective (the hopefully large subset that I must believe is not motivated by hatred). Admittedly, this was the first time I tried to empathize with the other side. It had been so easy for me to dismiss Trump and his supporters because of...all of it. Once again, I find myself agreeing with Bernie Sanders about some of the reasons Trump won and where we can go from here. Here is his statement from November 9. 

BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States:

“Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media.  People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids - all while the very rich become much richer. 

To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

I do not believe there will ever be a perfect presidential candidate; however, I think we have missed a great opportunity. I think Hillary Clinton could have helped us. I watched her concession speech and felt it was very graceful and moving. I thought it was very presidential. I am sad for this loss. I am also deeply saddened by the hurtful and frightening message we have sent to immigrants, African-Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, Jews, women, LGBT people, people with disabilities, and on and on. I am concerned about ongoing violence and hate crimes in our country and our reputation abroad. I have talked with so many people who are afraid for our future, and I can definitely identify with that fear. Several of my clients have asked what will happen to their health insurance. I don't know. I don't know how it all will play out. 

What I do know is that I will continue to try to live my values every day and to fight for what I believe is right. I agree with Hillary on this...fighting for what's right is always worth it. 

Finally, in case you are interested, here is a list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry organizations that are likely to suffer under a Trump presidency. We must face this reality and figure out ways to protect and support one another. 


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Last weekend in Yellow Springs

Yellow Springs is a village near Dayton, OH; per wikipedia (so you know it's legit), the name comes from a nearby natural spring that's so rich in iron ore it turns the rocks yellowish-orange (but mostly orange as you'll see below). It's an artsy, progressive community right next to a nature preserve. Life seems to move more slowly in Yellow Springs, and I absolutely love it there. 

I originally wanted to go for Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday but blah blah blah for boring reasons it didn't work out. I had a lovely birthday party at home with some friends and we decided we'd try Yellow Springs again in a few weeks. I was not super proactive about planning the trip; at the end of most weeks I feel like I could sleep the entire weekend and be perfectly happy. Eli insisted that we go, so we went. I think he knew we needed it.

Friday night we checked into our adorable (and super cheap) Airbnb loft above a local family's detached garage and headed straight for Yellow Springs Brewery (#priorities). We ate some really great meals at Sunrise Cafe and Winds Cafe and took a couple of long walks in the woods. Each morning we walked by an old building that had been converted to office space and art studios. Eli kept insisting it was haunted, but I was daydreaming about uprooting my life and opening a private practice inside; I'd walk to work and set up my desk underneath a big window with a woodsy view. On a Sunday morning whim, we drove down the street to Young's Jersey Dairy in search of pumpkins.  They had plenty lined up for sale but we decided it made more sense to hop on a wagon full of young children and wade into a muddy patch to clip our own pumpkins off their vines. We wrapped up the weekend with a swirl of soft serve at Corner Cone

Occasionally a client will tell me that he or she is too busy for therapy. I explain that sometimes adding another thing to your plate doesn't necessarily add stress...in fact, therapy can help to relieve stress in a number of ways. That's how I felt about our trip. I'm not home as much as I'd like to be and we'd travelled to our friends' wedding in Pittsburgh the weekend before, so at first I wasn't necessarily into the idea of back-to-back weekends away. In the end, I felt refreshed. I had a really pleasant and relaxed extended hang with my partner. 

Basically, if you can go to Yellow Springs (or anywhere that calms and inspires you), you should. 














Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tweets about Books

Oh, hello.

Long time no post.

Lately, when people ask me what's been going on in my world, the only response I can come up with is, "Work." In a lot of ways psychotherapy is perfect for me because I'm so curious about people, but it can be pretty stressful and overwhelming too. At times, it feels like my job is a blanket covering all areas of my life (I wonder, do others feel this way about their work?). I sometimes think I'm getting better at balance but "Work." is most definitely the most readily available answer to the "What's going on?" question. I am physically at my job a lot of the time, and when I'm not, I am mentally there. Luckily, the truest truth is that other things have been going on. I've decided to split my Summer update into parts to avoid a mammoth entry. I want you all to keep reading and I recognize that writing a 17,000-word update is not necessarily conducive to that goal. Also, I would like to eat dinner at some point.

For today, here's an update on the books I've been reading (mostly with my Book Club friends). Our Book Club has been so bizarre and joyful for me. Typically we pull book names out of a hat to decide the next month's pick and we've definitely had great variety, although there was a period of time that was accidentally devoted to stories about clones (thanks a lot, Harper). I think the only book we've straight-up vetoed is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (also Harper's pick, lol) and, based on some of the weirdo things we've read since, it's hard to believe we drew that line.

NOTE: I try to get my Twitter followers to read things with me too. Sometimes they do, but mostly they don't. Below are my Tweet-sized book reviews and attempts to engage with Internet friends around literature. I didn't include any replies because I pretty much don't get any. Oh well! 

APRIL: The House of the Scorpion was my least favorite of our clone-themed selections. I don't have much to say about it. After our discussion I gave my copy to my friend Erica's 10 year old son. I actually think Rivven's analysis could make me like this book better.


MAY: I really liked The Sellout (I don't know why I didn't take a photo; it has neat cover art). After our discussion, I loaned it to my coworker Chris. I'm preeeettty sure he'll think it's smart like I do, but I'm also a little nervous because it is absolutely outrageous. As in, I was kind of nervous about leaving it in his mailbox at our place of employment. It should also be noted that Chris never asked to borrow this book. (Hi Chris!) 



JUNE: I really liked our discussion of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It focused on two central issues-- informed consent and compensation-- and it made me think a lot about my experience doing human subjects research at Cincinnati Children's a few years ago (but only in a basic thematic sense...not in a major ethics violation kind of way).  

Special shoutout to my mom who is an occasional long-distance member of our Book Club; she read the HeLa book with us. On too many occasions during childhood, Stephen and I would team up against the parents and exclaim in our whiniest of voices: "I'm boreeeeeeeedddddd," and my mom would always respond in the same way. She'd say (and I can hear it in my head right now): "You can never be bored if you're reading a book." While I don't fully agree (because some books are terrible), I can certainly appreciate the sentiment. Thanks for loving reading, Jules. 

 


JULY: I felt kind of meh about The Girl on the Train. Basically, I liked this story better as Gone Girl. Even so, I am excited about the possibility of a Book Club field trip to see the movie this Fall. A movie adaptation makes a lot of sense to me. 


AUGUST: I really liked Roadside Picnic, our vintage, Russian sci-fi selection. Basically, I will go down an existential rabbit hole any day of the week. I also liked the fact that OG BC member Kevin brought Russian food to our discussion. I hope everyone feels tons of pressure to provide themed snacks from now on. Our September Book Club pick is The Revolt of the Cockroach People by Oscar Zeta Acosta (which Eli is reading next to me right this very minute), so if you guys have any cockroach recipes please forward to my gmail. (Also, I must acknowledge Eli's contribution to this post-- he taught me how to screen shot about an hour ago. Whenever I learn a basic computer trick I feel like the most savvy of tech geniuses.)



At some point I also read Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (per Sittenfeld, it's "Austen fan-fiction"-- a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice). It's set in Cincinnati and I both enjoyed and was distracted by the many Nati references. Have any of my friends who are not familiar with Cincinnati read this book? I wonder if the descriptions translated for folks with #NoNatiKnowledge. 


So, what are you guys reading? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Any book suggestions for me?

...


Someday soon I want to tell you about a few Summer adventures including a Canadian fishing trip (spoiler alert: I caught zero fish). 

I really hope it doesn't take me three months to write to you again. 

Cheers.