gratitude-a-thon day 2016: there is still gratitude

PJs and Riley. That’s how I started my Thanksgiving day.

Hey ho, gratitude fans, it’s the day after we all sat around tables from Massachusetts to California reciting what we’re thankful for. This year there may have been less people around your table, or no people around your table. It was a different kind of holiday, just like it’s been a different kind of year. But despite the unusual and unusually L O N G election season, living in a world of social distancing, mask wearing, and being separated from friends and those we love, and in some cases losing them to Covid 19 (and I’m so sorry for you if you’ve endured this horror show disease), watching our essential workers and our healthcare workers and teachers risk their lives to take care of us all, parents trying to juggle work and kids who are going to school online, people who are in quarantine in bubbles and alone, a country divided and battered and suffering, we still have plenty to be grateful for. We do.

We have the magic of the sun and the moon above us (how do they stay up there, Bueller, Bueller?), the spectacular beauty of flowers and trees and blades of grass, the soothing feeling of sand and the sound of the salty sea. We have lakes and gurgling brooks and rainy day puddles. We have the smile of babies and the love of dog and cat companions who are family (even if they are just internet pictures making you laugh), sunsets that take our breath away for just a sec, pie and crusty bread, and potato chips and mashed potatoes and any potatoes, a cup of coffee extra light with just the right amount of sweet, a stranger saying hello from behind his mask.

We have the freedom to bring our grievances to the street, to call our government and let our voices be heard, to vote. We have the the right to demand better, to insist on better, to get better. We have the great pleasure of being able to give to others, to help others, to do our part.

We have laughter and funny and silly and giggling. (Among the BEST of what we have to be grateful for.)

We have a vaccine on the way (yes, not now, but soon). We can be grateful for some of the things we’ve learned while we’ve had to slow down, like patience, and generosity and how important what’s important to us, is.

We have a new president who believes in science, rational thinking, integrity, compassion and unity (member those things), who doesn’t tweet lies, or say lies, or believe in lies. We have a new president who wants to help bring us together and not divide us further.

We have a lot of problems as a country. But we also have a lot of hope. And after four years of of being deprived of that, I choose to be grateful for it, to embrace it hard and long and fully.

What are you grateful for? What is it that you can find, no matter how small, that you are grateful for?

gratitude-a-thon day 2015: getting to know my own kids

When Jake, my oldest kid left for college, I mourned for a year prior, crying at every major occasion, as “the last.” When he finally boarded the plane for his first semester in Barcelona (a January admit to USC, he chose a program in fab Spain to spend his initiation into college life), I had my final sob session and went home to get used to a new life without him in the house. (When he came back and we had to pack and bring him out to sunny L.A., I had to go through the whole thing again!)

When Ally left for college in Connecticut, it made me an official empty nester (unless you count Riley, who is not allowed to go to college, and besides he’s smart enough and knows everything that’s important about life without a higher education), but she was also playing soccer, so we saw her every week of the fall, and her school was close enough for us to drive to and back from in a day if we felt the need to see her cute face (unlike Spain and California, which were a much more difficult story).

With the house all emptied out, I began to hunt for the good in the situation (that’s what we do here at the gratitude-a-thon, find the sunny side of the street). No more 17 pairs of shoes in the hallway. Less laundry. When I left something clean, it would be clean when I came back to it (how novel!) And of course, the best part–if I didn’t get to the grocery store for food, or I was too busy to cook, and we had to have cheese and crackers for dinner, or take out, it was just fine. You honestly, no exaggeration, could serve my husband a piece of rug with a side of curtains and he’d tell you how absolutely delicious it was. My kids, not so much.

Picture by the AMAZING Rania Matar!

Jake and Ally would come back and visit, and that was always fun, but the house was now mainly ours and the benefits of our freedom and having a whole lot less responsibility, and of course, re-bonding with one another, was nice. It was fun. It was good. We traveled. A lot. We were leaning in to it.

All of which is to say, I never thought we’d all live together again, in this house, like before. But guess what, Covid 19 had other plans for us (and maybe you, too). And here we are, the four of us, all cohabitating once again, but this time, everybody is an adult! (Well, everyone but my husband, who can still be a bit of a child sometimes!)

And it’s, well, unexpectedly interesting! And definitely the silver lining of this truly bizarre moment in history.

With Jake living in LA, I’m not so sure that we’d ever get to spend this much time with him unless we were having something like a pandemic. Having not lived with him in more than six years, I’m getting to know him in a way I haven’t been able to do, despite visits, Facetime, texting, Instagram messaging and phone calls. It’s fun to see how he handles his his job as an assistant account executive at an ad agency (especially in the later hours of his work day, which with the time difference, make it 9:00 here). I admire his ambition and work ethic. He loves to cook and has a way with the grill. He’s got a great sense of humor and continues to be a thoughtful guy, like he was when he was little. He’s very self aware and is always up for constructive criticism that will make him a better person. On the down side, he’s not any neater than he was when he was a teenager (ugh) and GOD FORBID HE SHOULD PUT A DISH IN THE DISHWASHER, or do something the first time you ask him to, but he’s always happy to walk the dog, or run to the grocery store for a quick shop.

Although we’ve spent a good amount of time with Ally during college, I’ve learned a lot about her, too, since she’s been home, after we unceremoniously said goodbye to her senior year by piling her stuff hastily into the car, on March 13. She, too, is as messy as she was when she was younger, she has more laundry than the rest of us put together, and at least 16 of those 17 shoes in the hallway are hers, but she’s actually attending law school during this total shit show! And she’s killing it! She had her apartment in Hartford, and was excited to be starting law school at UConn last August, but then, like so many schools, the whole shebang went virtual. I couldn’t quite imagine how it was going to work out for her, but I have to hand it to her, she’s doing incredibly well, super engaged, going big on class particpaion and making friends. She is constantly schooling us in all she’s learning and I am half thinking the four of us could probably pass her exams in December! She’s also been our go-to on all things social justice, as it’s one of her interests and something she focused on in college. She’s become very self-aware and is actually realizing she can be wrong sometimes (!) And she keeps us laughing our heads off. If law doesn’t work out for her, she has a career in comedy as a back-up. The girl is funny.

Have we fought? Yup. Do we sometimes want to clobber each other? Uh huh. But the truth is, I keep thinking what an extraordinary thing this is to be able to spend not just a visit, but actual day-to-day time with these two adult people who used to be little in this very same house. And really, given the circumstances, we’re doing damn well together. We have celebrated Ally’s at-home, online graduation, fended off a rat infestation in our backyard, survived the twice broken downstairs bathroom door, acted as co-workers as the four of us working in unison, laptops going in different rooms, looking like the Apple store, had a blast during a socially distanced week on the Cape, sang happy birthday three times at dinners in outside restaurants in varying degrees of cold (ok, one was on the edge of a patio), grieved Peter’s dad, “G-dad, who died of Covid, stopped making fun of my hoarding of toilet paper and paper towels, rallied around Peter finding out he has to have a shoulder replacement, lived through an election season that was like no other, with incessant news watching and accompanying anxiety, one absentee ballot and three MA voters, and a Joe & Kamala victory, in which I actually banged pots, old school, in the street, and nursed the dog through anesthesia for a teeth cleaning in which he had a tooth pulled and had 7 growths removed with 20 stitches. No, we’re not singing Kumbya on the daily, but we love and adore each other and it’s very clear we’d do anything for one another (unless of course it has to do with cleaning or laundry). I mean, this is a stressful time for all of us, but being together has been a bright spot in an otherwise, masked, socially distanced and surreal period of time.

Ally’s birthday dinner at Scampo, on the edge of the patio.

What are you doing that you wouldn’t be doing if it weren’t for the pandemic mucking up your life? I’m getting to know my adult kids in a way I’m quite sure I’d never get to do otherwise. And gratitude, so much gratitude, for that.

GRATITUDE-A-THON DAY 2014: HOPE

Last Sunday I stood in line for 30 minutes at Clear Flour Bakery, which should be called The Crack Den of Brookline, to buy bread to deliver to some friends with a note that said, “Election week sustenance.” I was kidding of course, just trying to help some friends get through the crazy with carbs, but that little note turned out to be prophetic.

The past week has been 1,387,922 years long. Since Tuesday, we’ve been living in la vida limbo, biting our nails, incessantly checking our phones, our computers, our tvs, our radios for news, praying, hoping, wishing, becoming intimately acquainted with Steve Kornacki, his khakis (Kornkhakis), and that little piece of hair that despite being gelled down, always pops up like a Jack-in-the-box, on the left side of his head. We drooled over Rachel’s barn door walls (in quarantine because a friend tested positive for Covid), noticed Rick Santorum was curiously rocking Kamala Converse, gloried in the wisdom coming out of John Meacham’s mouth.

We waited and we waited some more.

We texted friends, as we tried to maintain hope and composure. We tried to work, but who were we kidding. We drank wine and ate bad food. And then drank more wine and ate more bad food. We slept in fits and spurts, our phones beckoning us to check for news. Refresh, refresh, refresh. We waded through our days with the fear that Trump might unleash the Proud Boys and QAnon crowds to make trouble (and not good trouble). We wondered how long this could reasonably go on? We prepared ourselves for the worst, while hoping for the best. We made deals with God. We researched where we could move our lives to and how fast we could get there, in case things went sideways. We cried. We laughed. We napped.

And then Saturday morning, as my family and I were huddled around the tv, for day five, my daughter working on law school homework, my son just up, my husband sipping coffee, Joe Biden’s face appeared, a yellow box with a check mark next to the words that sounded like Truffle potato chips taste, “President Elect.”

Wait, what?

Did Pennsylvania finally come in? Oh yes, it had. And it ushered in with it a collective sigh of relief that could be heard round the world–summed up in a tweet by the mayor of Paris, “Welcome back America.” Screams worthy of Horror pics escaped our mouths, only they were happy screams. We jumped up and down like kids who hear the ice cream tune coming down the street. We kissed and hugged. We toggled stations to see if it was real, and yes, even Fox News, Trump’s shadow administration, had called it for Biden. I opened my front door and let out a holler, a holler that had been living inside me for the past four years, waiting for freedom. My neighbor was banging pots in the backyard and so I joined her. Within minutes, our neighborhood poured into the street, unbridled joy in the form of a kitchen utensil heavy band. We danced unself-consciously, and wanting to hug each other, but masked and socially distanced, settled for yipping and howling and twirling our tired, giddy selves instead. Car horns beeped and spirits visibly rose and people laughed and texts flew into my phone from all over the country, all with the same basic sentiment–THE NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER. And the week that was turned into a moment of pure and raucous elation. My shoulders, permanently parked up by my ears since that cruel night in 2016 began to melt down my back.

My husband and I drove to Castle Island and walked by the water on an unusually sunny and warm day in November and literally watched the tide turn.

The speeches were filled with optimism and warmth and Joe said, “Even if you didn’t vote for me, i’ll be your president,” and I believed him. And Kamala’s smile lit up the podium and her words, “And while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” echoed out into the deepest recesses of women’s hearts, everywhere.

Yup, after four of a power hungry president who lied, cheated, divided, insulted and murdered our planet, our standing, our children and our souls, Joe Biden, a 78 year old man who’s run for president twice unsuccessfully, served his country his whole life, lost his wife and baby daughter in an accident when he was just 29, and a grown son to cancer, held the office of VP for 8 years, possessing the compassion and empathy you can only have if you’ve been through the worst and come out the other end, and the integrity of the finest gentleman, became the president of the United States. And I felt a feeling I’d totally forgotten.

Hope.

Gratitude to our country who voted to rebuke hate and division and lies and cheating and bullying and bigotry. I know we are divided. I know we have some enormous problems to face and fix. And I know this ain’t no disco, that it will be hard and painful to right this ship. But there’s an adult in the room again. And I believe, I really believe we’re going to be alright.

gratitude-a-thon day 2013: panic at the disco

I, um, am starting to panic. In the pit of my stomach, I have a ball of fear. I’m pretty sure it’s screaming, “HE CANT WIN.”

But of course, if you were part of the 2016 election, your PTSD has kicked in by now, and you know that he can win. He can cheat, and he can win. He’s good at it. Talented. And let me just say right here, I don’t know what I’ll do if he wins. I. DO. NOT. KNOW. WHAT. I’LL. DO.

This election season has been four years long. So many of us have struggled with the kind of president and person Trump is. I’m telling you the truth when I say this is not Republican vs. Democrat. Trump is a third party candidate. He does not resemble the principled Republicans of yore. In the least. This is a man (and it really is hard to call him that, but for lack of a better choice) who does not care about our country. People are dying of Covid left and right, that red monster is spiking again, tearing across the U.S. like the two candidates themselves. And Trump has declared that he’s actually ended the pandemic in his brag sheet of accomplishments. THIS IS JUST NOT TRUE. I mean, gaslight, much? People are dying. It could happen in your family. It could happen in mine. Hell, it has already happened in mine.

But back to my butterflies, my waking up in the middle of the night wondering how we’ll all survive if the worst thing of all happens and Trump, the non-science believing, women-hating, xenophobic, hater of the LGBQT community, lover of white supremacists and those good folks from QAnon, non-believer in the Black Lives Matter movement, ripper of immigrant children from their parents (more than 500 of who, criminally, cannot be found), gets four more years. If that happens, I will be hard pressed to stay in this country and watch it burn to the ground.

There is a nice town in Italy, near Sicily that’s selling houses in need of love for $1. Who’s with me?

Gratitude for those of you who’ve voted, worked the phones, written postcards and letters and texted til your fingers were numb. I love you. You, you are the people who give me hope. You are my people.

Sweet baby Jesus, let’s go, Joe!

gratitude-a-thon day 2012: don’t let the fear steal your vote

Gratitude, oh gratitude, where the fuck art thou, dear gratitude? Well, that made Shakespeare shiver. It’s a tense time here at the ranch, meaning everywhere, all the time, in the good ol’ USA. We are not only smack in the middle of fall, that season you want to enjoy (with its kaleidoscope of colors dancing on trees and the autumn sun’s angle providing light that should be an Instagram filter), but you can’t, on account of the winter of our discontent (so literary today) is burning out our eyeballs. How will we, who were not smart enough to settle in a warm climate, sequester ourselves for an entire winter without seeing others? How will we not, if only in our minds, prevent ourselves from making an elaborate plan to murder those we are in quarantine with (calm down, I would never, but think about it, well yeah), eat carbs until we burst, forget all social norms, and ignore that leggings are not, indeed pants. Beats me.

Of course, that is the secondary worry that’s scaring away my usual ability to embrace gratitude like a long lost war hero back and unharmed. Three weeks from today, well, actually today, we are having an election for the president of these here unUnited States. Maybe you’ve heard. It is the election of a lifetime. It is an election that could change the very lives we live. And if it goes the wrong way, and I say that because there is only one real way that this thing can go that will be right, we are gonna be in hella bad shape. The pandemic is going to look like a fruity cocktail with a umbrella. And hey, I say that having lost my father-in-law to it, so you know, not lightly.

The Cuckoo for Coco Puffs Pandemic-defying, new cover girl for Jergens self-tanner current president is now spewing lies like a lawn mower spits out grass from it’s little side thingy (once my mom was in its wake and some piece of metal spit itself right into her ankle, but that’s a story for another day). He has taken his unmasked, unsocially distanced lie machine on the road to try and continue his quest to be the next Hitler/Mussolini/Superman-gone-bad.

For me and so many people I know, this is a time when gratitude seems to be slippery and elusive, a toddler in the bathtub, a dog who escapes his leash, a noodle who just can’t stay on a chopstick. The abject fear of another four years of Agent Orange is too much to bear. And we know that any gloves of decency or integrity that Don the Con may have ever worn are off and in the garbage. He will be a leader from hell.

And so, while I’ve come to this blog multiple times, and written my gratitude, I have not posted them because nothing seems as important as simply acknowledging the fear and paralysis of this moment. While I am cautiously terrified to believe that Biden Harris can win this thing, I am also too aware that a narcissist the likes of our president can and will pull out every maneuver to invalidate a Democratic win. He will encourage violence, and use all of his presidenty tricks to hide the truth.

Which is why, you have to vote. No matter what, where, who or how, you need to cast your ballot. If you think your one little vote doesn’t matter, think of Donald’s orange face with a little mustache above his lip, because he’s coming for you–your healthcare, your rights, your planet and so much more. No matter how long I have to wait, no matter what I might be up against, I will get myself to the polls and make sure my voice is heard.

Please do what you can, in the next three weeks to encourage everyone you know and those you don’t know (Check out Vote Forward) to vote. This is it. The gratitude I will feel if Biden Harris win this thing will only be topped if we can go Blue all the way up and down the ticket. Biden may not be your perfect candidate, but consider the alternative and his wake of truly heinous acts for comparison. Vote. There are three weeks left. Let’s do this.

gratitude-a-thon day 2011: the power of the tRuth

 

The beginning. A young RBG.

She was a fighter. Graceful, tough, and tenacious, she never had it easy, but she never shied away from hard.

She became a cultural phenomenon, an icon, in her later years, loved and admired by a whole new generation of girls and women. 

Her mother died the day before her high school graduation. Her husband had aggressive testicular cancer in his third year of Harvard Law School. She took notes for them both, as she took care of him and their young daughter. When her husband was offered a job in New York, while she was doing her last year of law school, she asked Harvard if she could transfer to Columbia, but still, be granted a Harvard law degree. They denied her, only to change its policy years later. After graduating from Columbia, she didn’t get any job offers from law firms. She finally got a clerkship with a federal judge, because her mentor threatened never to send him another law clerk if he did not. Her first Supreme Court victory, Reed v. Reed. The 88-page brief she filed in that case, an inventory of all the ways in which law served to reinforce society’s oppression of women, became famous in legal history as the “grandmother brief,” on which feminist lawyers drew for many years. I could go on and on, and on and on, but instead, you can read this superb and comprehensive New York Times obituary for the full story of a woman who never stopped trying to show that women and men should be treated equally.

Every person in the United States owes this superhero immense gratitude because she not only helped us live better, more fair and just lives, she taught us how to live–with passion and purpose. Even when she was battling cancer, her never-give-up attitude allowed her to continue fighting for what was important to her, what was important for us.

If you ever doubt that good things, extraordinary things,  can come in small packages, consider the five-foot, 100 pound Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was the very best of what we can be. And I hope her dying words will come to pass, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” As usual, she was fighting for what is fair, and what is right. We should all do the same. 


 

 

The end. The second woman on the Supreme Court. 

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2010: the stuff of life (and death)

And so with pandemic pandemonium still full tilt, the summer 0f 2020 ends with an anniversary, a birthday, and a death. Yup, all in one weekend. We just needed someone to give birth for the full monty.

33 years ago.

The ducks were quacking pretty loudly when we spoke our vows. I sometimes wonder if we really got married at all!
This year’s floral selection. What’s better than flowers? Add wine.

I celebrated my 33rd wedding anniversary on Saturday. We got married on Labor Day weekend to remind us that marriage is work! And after more than three decades I can confirm that as fact, but it’s also fun and funny and awful and stupid and the best thing ever and did I mention, a lot of work! Our kids are home, those people we made during this marriage, and I might add, the best thing we have ever done, so it was a little different. They gave us breakfast in bed and that night we went to the North End for a socially distanced and delicious dinner outside at Mare. I got a cool bouquet of flowers and wine from Winston’s and check that box, we’re onto 34 years.

This is Frank. He’s the best brother-in-law–always supportive, possibly has been to more of Ally’s soccer games than I have, kind, sweet, an awesome writer, and handsome to boot.

The next day we headed down to my sister’s on the South Shore for my brother-in-law’s birthday. We had a decadent lunch of steak and salad and swiss chard and this rice thing my sister makes which is disarmingly good. We took a walk on the beach and just hung out in their backyard. It was so nice to be together. This is what you realize during this hideous virus, that the simplicity of just being together with people you love is every little thing.

We love this Whole Foods strawberry shortcake cake and for our gluten-free entry, macaroons from Clear Flour. Not shown, cannoli’s from Modern Pastry.

Monday morning we got the call that Peter’s dad had passed. He’d had Covid for two weeks and went straight downhill like an Olympic skier. He had been living in a memory care center with Parkinson’s, and while not able to do a whole lot, he was content and loved seeing Peter’s brother and sister and grandchildren and brand new great grandchild, who all lived nearby. But in case you don’t believe the power of this virus, by the sounds of it, it runs through an older body like a fucking tsunami.

This is Peter T. Lansbury Sr. back in the day, teaching what he loved–Chemistry.

Peter’s dad was the child of a Holocaust survivor, who, with the help of nuns, escaped from a camp and came to Ellis Island with his wife and seven year-old son. His wife died quickly of a brain tumor and having been a wealthy Viennese lawyer,, with no English in a new country, he gave his child over to foster care, while he went back to school to become an accountant. Peter’s dad went to a few foster homes, before landing in a permanent one, where he also saw his dad. It was a challenging start to life for him, but he worked hard and went on to UPenn and get his Ph.D in chemistry at Northwestern, where he met Peter’s mom and went on to become a prize-winning chemistry professor at SUNY Buffalo, who helped lots of students go on to find their own success. He had three kids he adored, loved classical music, art, symphony, and peaches, blueberries and corn(!), with great passion. He played piano, swam a mile a day until he became ill, and spent as much time as he could at his house in the Finger Lakes, which he cherished. After an unexpected divorce in his early 60’s, he grieved hard, the bounced back and was lucky enough to find the most fabulous woman to enjoy his later life with. His kids revered and loved him. His was a life well spent and a shiny, bright example of resilience, that thing that keeps us afloat when we could be at the bottom of the sea.

This was our Peter T. Lansbury Sr. memorial dinner. That man loved corn!

This is what we do in the time of Covid. We still celebrate anniversaries and birthdays and grieve deaths.  It’s different, but we don’t let that which is important and vital go unnoticed. It’s harder, it’s more challenging, but it’s also more necessary not to allow this unspeakably awful virus to ruin what’s important. It’s already taken too much from every one of us. Gratitude for a long marriage, a loving brother-in-law and and the end of a life of, “Fall down seven times, get up eight,” that will never be forgotten.

gratitude-a-thon day 2009: MAKE A PLAN TO VOTE

It’s full-on election season. And although I love to exaggerate, this is fact–It’s the most important election in modern times (and I’d contend maybe ever).

Don’t just wish for change, make a plan right this minute to vote. C’mon, put down your coffee and make that plan.

I know who I’m voting for. I know I am going to march to the polls that day, barring natural disaster, (and who knows what 2020 has in store for its last big hurrah), and vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I happen to think that the other choice is not only dangerous, but cataclysmic, disastrous and could make our country unrecognizable. Get your passports ready, people. I, myself am looking at Italy.

I’m not telling you who to vote for (Joe Biden), but just telling you that this year you have to make a plan to vote. The current president is making it complicated with his post office cuts, his wonky rhetoric about voting twice, his ignoring Russian and Chinese interference. So, make a plan now (https://www.vote.org.) It may seem early and unnecessary, but if it is, so be it. If everything turns out hunky dory and it’s easy to vote this year, what did you lose, the little time you invested in making your plan. Better that lost time than not getting to use your voice.

And man, wouldn’t it be nice to bring back integrity to the white house. Wouldn’t it be great to not have this low grade fear about what stupid lie the president has done or said or tweeted that insults one group or another of us, or another country, leader or way of life? Wouldn’t it be gosh darn great to feel like the leader of the free world was intelligent, surrounded by other experienced, intelligent people, who have integrity and grace? Wouldn’t it be fucking amazing to have a president who had compassion and empathy? A person who knows how to unite and doesn’t get up in the morning thinking about how to divide us.

Right now, we still have the right to vote. That vote is your voice. And if we’ve learned anything from the past, in particular the last election, EVERY VOTE COUNTS. It matters. It’s vitally important. So, whether you’re going to vote by mail, or in perso, make a plan, a solid plan how you will get your voice heard, how you will cast your ballot. If you never vote, start now, if you think it doesn’t matter, slap your face, if you don’t care, reconsider. We may not always have the right to vote, but I’m grateful that right now, we still do, so get your hiney to the polls, or the ballot box, or the post office. Ask someone for a ride, an assist, help. This is it, people. Make your plan to vote right now. And vote like your life depended on it, because, and this is the truth, no fake news here, it fucking does.

Hope-a-tude-a-thon day 2007: The Democratic National Convention

I have been feeling that low-grade depression Michele Obama recently talked about having. I know I’m not alone. Our world is upside down. But this week, I got a big dose of an SSRI, called the Democratic National Convention.

I couldn’t even imagine how they could possibly simulate the frenzied excitement of a real convention on Zoom. And the first night, I was feeling wobbly about it, but as the week wore on, each night’s pace quickened and with it my pulse. I began feeling something that’s been missing for the past four years: hope. Yeah, the Democrats have pulled off the task of not only making the case against Donald Trump, but making it for Joe Biden. I know, I was already a believer. I was already voting for him, because I know Trump is more dangerous than a serial killer and with his response to the pandemic, about 172,000 times more successful, but still the convention gave me more than just a clear choice, it gave me a shot of optimisim.

Biden is as different from Trump as an egg and an elephant. Joe is a man of faith, raised Catholic and who sill relies on that faith to pull him through the rough patches. He was raised by working-class parents to be humble, to understand that nobody is better than he is. He has endured some of the most excruciating losses one can experience in not just losing his wife and baby girl in a car accident, but also losing his son Beau to brain cancer several years ago. He is a people person, a compassionate man who connects with everybody, from the elevator operator, to the CEO, grandmas to presidents. He has been a public servant since he was in his 20’s, so basically his whole adult life. He believes in everybody, despite race, creed, or gender. And he knows right from wrong. He served as second in command to a black man and now he has chosen a black and Indian woman to be his second in command, firmly planting himself as a “For the people,” all people politician.

Contrast this with Donald Trump who doesn’t have religion (hell, he doesn’t even have a dog). His biggest loss to date is the inheritance he squandered because he isn’t, as he alleges he is, a very good businessman. He was raised with money from day one in a family with a sketchy moral character if any at all. He never shows compassion for anybody, except, oddly those who commit crimes and get caught. For them he always seems to have a, “That’s very sad. I wish them well.” He’s a divider, working as hard as he can to tear us apart instead of bring us together. He is a racist, a sexist, a white supremacist. He hates immigrants. He demeans those who are less fortunate, makes fun of those with disabilities, has a childish schoolyard nickname for everybody. He spends ample time on Twitter and watching Fox news.

He exaggerates everything, from the inconsequential to the very important. He does not believe in science. He doesn’t believe in climate change. What he does believe is that “one day the pandemic will just go away, like a miracle.” He thinks cheating is ok. He appears not to know or understand the constitution. He has a vocabulary of approximately 25 words, featuring “great”, “tremendous,” “very,” “huge,” “incredible,” and of course the phrase, “and everybody knows it.” He surrounds himself with crooked people–seven of his closest associates have been indicted. He takes no responsibility for anything he may have done that’s bad, quick to blame others. He thinks little of democracy and cares even less about anything or anybody except himself.

The contrast is stark and abundantly clear. Joe is for the people, Trump is for himself. This is just a fact and you can find hundreds of examples of this in just the last four years.

Anyway, the Democratic Convention gave me a big dose of hope. Just the possibility of not having Trump as our leader, and having someone who has a moral center, experience, good judgment, and a big tent attitude instantly lifted my spirits. Having Trump as our president has been like having a three-year-old as a babysitter. He is, as Barack Obama said, not able to do the job. And whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you really have to consider that another four years of Trump could undo our democracy, could put in peril your children’s futures, let alone our own.

Just the thought, just the very thought of having an adult in the oval office buoys me. And gratitude for that. Hope is everything. And when you have someone at the helm steals it, that can’t be construed by anybody as a good thing. And everybody knows it.