Every single time Ann Marie greeted me, it was with an exclamation point.
“LIZ!” she’d begin. “LIZ! We gotta talk!” “LIZ! Wait till you hear this!” “LIZ! I have something to tell you, honey.”
I have never had a friend quite as different as myself.
I am a tenth-generation American WASP. Ann Marie was a Catholic Italian-American; her parents emigrated from Italy. She was a devout believer in God. I am not. She loved trinkets and coffee cups with sayings on them and plastic unicorns. I despise clutter. I was born in Virginia. …
Editor’s note: This cognitive test was designed specifically for American politicians. It is pass-fail.
1. I am a United States Senator, and my state is experiencing severe winter weather. Our super special power grid that doesn’t have the Fed breathing down our neck with bogus regulations fails. My house is cold. Do I:
A) Set up a helpline
B) Call the Governor and ask if I can help
C) Explain to my family we are Texans and we are tough
D) Go to Cancun; Cancun sounds nice
2. Once I get to Cancun, do I:
A) Stay in a motel
Let’s say you and I have a couple of mutual friends in Congress. Their names are Friend Democrat and Friend Republican.
Suppose we arrive home after a long, hard day at work. We suck it up in spite of our exhaustion. We decide to make a tasty, nutritionally balanced meal that nourishes our family.
We take the time to carefully chop vegetables, and grill a beautiful piece of fish. Friend Democrat gave us the recipe! He’s such a great friend, always wanting to make our lives better.
Then Friend Democrat calls us on the phone at 6:30 pm, just as…
I grow up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which in the 1970s feels like living in Confederate Disneyland.
Tourists flock to the area to look at empty battlefields where tens of thousands died in misery. There are Civil War reenactments; grown men dress up in uniforms and pretend to kill each other all over again. On Memorial Day, tiny Confederate flags decorate the graves in the Confederate Cemetery.
The war is still alive. Miss Edmo Lee, the great-niece of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, comes by our house occasionally. Her brother Harry drives her. They go slowly around the circular drive…
I remember how I felt when I saw tanks in the West Village, after 9/11. My whole body is paralyzed by the sight. I just stand there, absorbing the shock. What I witness is impossible; my beloved New York City, under siege.
It’s reminiscent of how I feel right now.
There’s a report in Business Insider that more troops will be in Washington than in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Inauguration. Let that sink in.
For the first time in my life, there is no peaceful transfer of power between presidents. I believe that alone answers Ronald Reagan’s political test,
Ever since the Capitol was stormed, I exist in a state of fear.
That’s not an accident. Terrorists terrify; it’s what they do. I am incapable of imagining this situation without the specter of a second Civil War. I am weepy and jumpy and agitated.
Then this morning, I remember a phrase that snaps me right out of it.
Here’s the thing: my fear of more bloodshed isn’t going to change a thing. My fear is a hindrance. It encourages learned helplessness, and I am not helpless. None of us are.
I learn this phrase from a friend. We are…
My brother and I have a fairy godmother. Ours arrives not by pumpkin coach, but via the classified section of the newspaper.
It is 1965. My mother, pregnant with me, has a vacant apartment in our rambling Victorian house. A woman sees the ad, and makes an appointment. She takes one look at our kooky place and knows it’s exactly the right home for herself.
Taking that apartment forges a life-long friendship with our family.
She is our third parent, without the drag of parenthood. Her apartment is an extension of our own. We don’t have to knock. …
How do we talk to them?
I mean the point, of course, the bottom line, is to get them to cooperate. We want them to get with the program, which is wear a mask in public and maintain social distance. That is the point.
The point is not to inform them how incredibly stupid they are. Which is hard to remember, because they are being incredibly stupid. …
I hear President-Elect Biden wants to heal the rift in our nation.
What a lovely thought. I do wish he would shut up about it. It isn’t helping him, or us.
At the moment, healing our nation is a pipe dream. I am not proposing that it won’t ever be possible to work together. I am pointing out that Americans need to be willing to heal in order to do so.
I’m not sure what just happened.
The joy inspired by Biden’s victory reaches across all kinds of generational and philosophical lines. I receive celebratory texts from people in their twenties, and people in their nineties. The guys over at The Lincoln Project are crying, as are my most progressive friends.
This buoyancy of spirit is a shared one. From online to the streets of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, we all use the same language to describe what’s going on.
Tears of relief…