2020: A Year to Stay in the Moment. And Wear a Watch.

Nordgreen watchI’m hearing it everywhere, especially from middle-aged people and seniors: 2020 is a year unlike any they’ve ever experienced. Sure, some years are really difficult, while others seem to fly by. But 2020? How can it even be described? And how can we keep up with the ever-evolving daily news, let alone get anything else done? And this year is far from over.

New Year’s is the number one holiday celebrated around the globe because of its universal and non-denominational nature. All you need to celebrate New Year’s is a belief in the calendar and a little hope for the future. And since 2020 also began a new decade, this past New Year’s Eve seemed particularly significant. If you raised a glass and declared that 2020 would be filled with lots of change, well, you were correct.

But who could’ve predicted the types of change? And the speed at which those changes would occur? Who thought as they rang in the new year that our world would be united again in just a few months, not in celebration, but by a global pandemic that would sicken and kill millions? Or that the people gathering, cheering, and enjoying firework displays in iconic locations would soon find themselves locked down in their homes, afraid to venture out in fear of contracting the deadly virus? Or worse, mourning the loss of loved ones to COVID-19?

Who could’ve imagined on January 1st, as they kissed, called, and texted friends with wishes of health, peace, and prosperity, that in late May, the world—now wearing facemasks, social distancing, washing hands as often as possible, and accepting lots of new normals—would once again be shaken to the core by the horrific murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer? And that this would be the year when America would finally, finally begin to actively acknowledge—as a nation—the existence of systemic racism in our culture? That we’d finally, finally begin to listen—as a nation—intently to the millions of voices of people of color in our country and finally, finally begin working for real, structural change.

Emotions, are, understandably, all over the place. Speaking on a personal level, I find myself in desperate tears one moment, only to be crying tears of joy at images of the thousands of peaceful Black Lives Matter protests all over the world and believing in my heart that this could be the year everything changes for the better. Nothing can ever make up for the unspeakable injustice the U.S. has inflicted on people of color for centuries, and nothing can ever right the wrongs of lives lost and destroyed, but the hope that the future will be brighter is truly encouraging.

Hope alone, however, won’t bring about change. Change only happens when humans dedicate time and energy to it, and that’s where we all come in. I don’t need to mention the names of the appalling, disgraceful American leaders—one in particular—who must be removed from power in order for systemic change to happen. And in the months leading up to the November election, every moment will be critical. This time around, no American can say, “it doesn’t really matter who wins,” or “both parties are essentially the same.” These statements are categorically untrue, and it’s critical that all Americans are allowed to vote and vote safely. Unfortunately, even this fundamental American right is being challenged right now. In other words, before we get to celebrate New Year’s Eve again—perhaps in a less racist world, with a vaccine for COVID available or right around the corner, and a new American president—we’ll need to stay in the moment, prepared to work.

So I’m going back to wearing a wristwatch. That’s right. Because I’ve recently realized that I spend a ridiculous amount of time out of the moment, primarily on my smartphone. Ever since embracing cellphone culture, I stopped wearing a watch, because who needs two timepieces when one will suffice? Me, apparently. I pull out the phone to check the time and end up scrolling through social media, responding to non-urgent texts, reading non-urgent email, or going down some other unfulfilling path seductively offered by my smartphone. Don’t get me wrong: humans absolutely need to take breaks, but the number of smartphone detours I allow myself on a daily basis is excessive.

I was actually in the process of looking at watches online when Nordgreen, a Danish watch company approached me to ask if I’d write an honest review of their product in exchange for a free timepiece. I did a bit of research and agreed. And I’m glad I did. For starters, the watch is lovely. Nordgreen allowed me to choose from their extensive collection of styles and colors, so I was able to find exactly what I’d been hoping for: a good-sized face (the watch I chose is actually recommended for a man, but I’ve always favored large, chunky jewelry, and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be either) and a clean, minimalist design. I’m no fashionista, but since I plan to wear the watch a lot, I wanted something I really like. This one fills the bill. The chief designer at Nordgreen is Jakob Wagner, who’s well-known for collaborating with brands like Bang & Olufsen, and has a fixed collection at the MoMa in NYC. At the top of this post is a photo of me wearing my choice, The Pioneer Chronograph, a recent winner of the prestigious Red Dot design award.

As for functionality, the watch works great, it’s very lightweight, and I really like the chronograph (stopwatch) feature. It feels smooth on my wrist, and the leather strap is soft and comfortable. I also like that it’s water resistant up to 3ATM, and rain resistant. And the strap is removable/replaceable, so I hope to be able to wear it for years to come, even if the strap breaks or I want a change in the future. It comes with a limited 24-month warranty.

Also, as someone who does her best to preserve our environment and buy responsibly, I admire Nordgreen’s commitment to sustainability in both its packaging and products. They use cardboard paper from responsibly managed forests, and felt cushioning made from upcycled plastic bottles. They also claim to plant enough trees (thousands) to offset carbon emissions from their offices in Copenhagen, as well as their global shipments. In addition, they partner with overseas manufacturers (the watches are made in Asia) to ensure that all production facilities adhere to high standards and Danish labor practices.

Finally, Nordgreen has established a Giving Back Program, which partners with three reputable NGOs: Water for Good, Pratham, UK, and Cool Earth. You can read more about these excellent NGOs by following their links, but here’s the bottom line: After you receive a Nordgreen watch, you enter its unique serial number on Nordgreen online form, and choose the NGO that speaks most to you. Then Nordgreen makes a donation to that NGO.

What’s not to like? As a new Nordgreen aficionado, I’m giving this watch 5 out of 5 stars, and hope to enjoy it for years to come. I also hope it helps me become a more productive, “in the moment” person as 2020 inevitably presents the world with new and important challenges.

Wishing you peace,

–Mary

Posted in 2020, Black Lives Matter, COVID, living in the moment, Nordgreen, Nordgreen watch review, Nordgreen's, pandemic, racism, Time, Uncategorized, Watches, wristwatch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

COVID-19 Cannot Cancel Earth Day

Earth_Day_Flag

Earth Day Flag (public domain image)

Regardless of where you live, your life has almost certainly been drastically affected by COVID-19. Whether you’ve fallen ill, lost one or more loved ones, lost a job, have begun working or studying from home, and/or lost countless hours of sleep worrying, nothing will ever feel quite the same when this pandemic is over. And if you’re a first responder or healthcare worker, I can’t even imagine how you get through the days, and can only offer heartfelt gratitude.

Collectively, however, we can take comfort in the knowledge that the best scientific minds on the planet are working tirelessly on vaccines, reliable testing, and effective treatments for this horrific virus, and that at some point in the not-too-distant future, life will slowly start returning to something resembling normal.

For most of us, that day can’t come soon enough. The ability to share physical space with friends, family, classmates, and work associates sounds like a huge luxury. And hey, now that we’ve witnessed the significant atmospheric results of burning less fossil fuel, we’ll even be inspired to drive less and walk or use public transportation more often. What a silver lining it would be if these dark months of COVID-19 actually taught humans to take proper care of the earth. Time will tell.

On the other hand, it’s almost definite that when we start getting out and about again, we’re going to want to celebrate, and when humans celebrate, we often dress up in new clothes. So in the spirit of Earth Day, here’s something I hope you’ll consider: try to buy at least one of your “new” garments secondhand.

Now, if you know me, you may know how much I enjoy thrift shopping. But my initiation into the world of used clothing didn’t spring from any great desire to save the environment; it was strictly financial. In other words, when I, as a college student, attended a semi-formal dance party in a faded khaki jumpsuit purchased for a song at the local Army-Navy surplus (and accessorized with lots of thrift-shop jewelry) it wasn’t because I liked it better than the more typical outfits other women wore. But the price was right.

Over the years, though, I developed an appreciation for well-made, vintage and unique garments. Thrifting became a hobby for me, as did transforming old jeans into skirts, and sewing funky, homemade patches on worn-out items. But until recently, I bought most essential clothing and gifts at traditional retail outlets.

Then, in the fall of 2019, I re-entered the conventional workforce after almost twenty years of freelance writing and parenting. As you might imagine, that decision invoked a fair amount of personal anxiety. Which only increased when I landed my first job interview and realized I didn’t own a single pair of professional trousers. So I headed for the mall. But every pair of slacks I liked was also quite pricey. I had a bit more luck at Nordstrom Rack, where I found and bought the one pair of pants that fit both my taste and budget. But, of course, I knew I’d need more slacks when I actually started working.

Luckily, a few days later, I came across an online ad for thredUP.com and checked it out. Wow! In a few clicks, I was staring at the exact same pants I’d recently purchased—gently used—at a far lower price. The site made it super easy to search for brands, sizes, and colors too, and I ordered two pairs of trousers on the spot, which arrived on my doorstep about a week later. I found the entire shopping experience simple, rewarding, and enjoyable.

But the reason I’m writing this post is because of a letter from James Reinhart—founder and CEO of thredUP—which was included in the shipment. It talked about the tremendous amount of waste generated by the fashion industry, and the disastrous effects waste is having on our environment. It went on to say that if every American bought just one used clothing item in 2020—in place of something new—we could eliminate nearly six billion pounds of carbon emissions.

Of course, I did more research, and was most distressed by what I learned about so-called “fast-fashion.” This is trendy clothing (usually made from synthetic fibers) designed to last one season at best. After several washings, fast-fashion garments tend to fall apart and lose their fresh look, so they end up in the trash and then in landfills (along with millions of tons of other discarded textiles), leaching dye and other chemicals into the groundwater. And if these garments are incinerated instead, they release CO2 into the atmosphere. The fashion industry alone is responsible for a huge amount of the emissions responsible for climate change.

Sobering, for sure. But the good news is, we can start improving on this situation right away, if we’re willing to change our attitudes a bit. Many of us were raised with the belief that special clothes (and gifts of clothing) are best when they’re brand new. We Americans have a love affair with “untouched” and “unworn” items. Perhaps it’s a cleanliness thing. But let’s be honest: as soon as clothing or shoes are worn on the street—much like automobiles—they’re no longer new. But that doesn’t mean they’re not fabulous!

So, as you prepare for post-COVID reality, please join me in a pledge to purchase at least one secondhand clothing item instead of a piece you’d normally buy new. You’ll do the planet a favor, save some cash, and probably have a little fun as well.

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LIVING BY EAR–3rd Time Charm

livingbyearebookAfter I “finished” writing Living by Ear in 2012, I “self-published” it in 2013.

Little did I know that LBE was not complete. And “self-published” was far from an accurate term, because so many amazing people were involved in that endeavor. Without the members of my original writing group—who became the manuscript’s initial editors and cheerleaders—I never would’ve moved forward with the writing. Nor would I have known the first thing about sending a book out into the world without the lovely people at IPNE (Independent Publishers of New England), who selflessly provided essential publishing advice. And I’ll forever be grateful to Cate Barr, who designed LBE’s first cover, and my mom, Joanne Rowen, a one-woman marketing force in my hometown of North Andover, MA.

About a year later, I met my wonderful literary agent April Eberhardt at the Grub Street writing conference in Boston. By then, I was shopping a second manuscript (Leaving the Beach), which April brought to a hybrid publisher. That publisher offered a contract for Leaving the Beach, and then, shortly thereafter, published a revised version of Living by Ear as well. Once again, I believed LBE was complete. But no. Although I made dozens of terrific friends—authors, editors, marketers, and designers—at that publishing company, it closed its doors in 2016, and my books went out of print.

2016, however, brought about far more significant changes than the closing of a small book publisher. And, like so many other Americans, I began focusing a good deal of attention on matters of national and world politics. Then, in 2017 and 2018, my family and I faced several unexpected health challenges. Thankfully, we’re doing better now. Here’s to excellent doctors, great family, friends, and faith.

My writing has been given another opportunity too, thanks to Dave Lane and Evolved Publishing. Evolved kindly offered a three-book contract for Leaving the Beach, Living by Ear, and a brand new novel called It Doesn’t Have to be That Way, which is due out in April, 2020. So these days, I get to work with brilliant editor Jessica West, and phenomenally gifted and generous cover designer Kabir ShahLiving by Ear is now in its third incarnation, and I really do hope it’s finally complete. What a journey! I’m truly grateful for every twist and turn.

But I’d be nothing without the angels who were in my life before Living by Ear existed: my amazing parents, siblings, in-laws, extended family, and friends. And of course, precious Mike, Walter, and Maggie. I love you all.

Posted in books, books about music, Leaving the Beach, literature, living by ear, marriage, music, new fiction, novel writing, Uncategorized, women, women's fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

A New Day for LEAVING THE BEACH

leaving_the_beach_evolved_cover final_for_pubReaders, I have some exciting news to share: after being out of print for almost three years, my novel Leaving the Beach is available once more, thanks to the wonderful people at Evolved Publishing. Leaving the Beach took an unplanned vacation when its previous publisher shut down, but it’s back now, freshly edited and sporting a gorgeous new cover.

I couldn’t be more grateful to Dave Lane at Evolved for believing in this novel enough to give it a second chance. And for the warm welcome I’ve received from Evolved’s amazing community of creative individuals. I’m beyond thrilled to be working with editor Jessica West and cover artist/designer Kabir Shah. And if that’s not enough, in September, Evolved will release a newly edited, newly designed version of my other previously published book, Living by Ear. Then, over the winter, they’ll publish It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way, my newest novel. If you see me out and about today, please pinch me. I really do feel like I’m dreaming.

Here’s little more info about Leaving the Beach from its Amazon page:

“This is an outstanding novel… Erin is a perfectly flawed heroine.” ~ Semifinalist, 2017 BookLife Prize (10 out of 10 in All 5 Categories Judged)

Erin Reardon gets her first kiss from Jim Morrison and loses her virginity to David Bowie. When she flunks out of college, Bruce Springsteen comforts her, and Elvis Costello breaks her heart in Europe. So what happens when she finally meets a rock star in the flesh?

Erin’s a lonely misfit with an eating disorder and a wild imagination. She believes she was born to save—and love—at least one tortured musician, and is willing to risk almost everything to fulfill that destiny.

“…gracefully grapples with several important issues, including alcohol and drug addiction, loss, grief and sexuality… There are also many entertaining pop-culture references to offset the weighty themes… An intriguing novel that looks at the ways that people cope with the pain in their lives.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

So if you enjoy contemporary fiction and novels about regular people learning about life through lots of trial and error, please check out Leaving the Beach.

Thanks so much! And do stay tuned for news about readings and other events. I hope to get some dates on the calendar soon.

xo,

Mary

 

 

 

Posted in books, books about music, Leaving the Beach, life, new fiction, novel writing, publishing, read, reading, summer, summer reading, Uncategorized, women, women's fiction, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What’s That Book? Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

Many, many thanks to book blogger extraordinaire, Book Club Mom, for this generous, thoughtful review of my novel, Leaving the Beach. I highly recommend checking out the Book Club Mom site if you’re looking for something new to read.

And while we’re on the topic, I’d like to announce that a brand new edition of Leaving the Beach will be published in early summer, 2019. Please stay tuned for additional news on that–and more–soon!

Book Club Mom

TitleLeaving the Beach

Author:  Mary Rowen

Genre: Fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who understand her: Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the fictional grunge rocker, Lenny Weir, Erin’s main obsession. But Erin has major problems. Trouble at home and feelings of guilt and inadequacy lead to an eating disorder, alcohol…

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Where Would You #Read, If You Could Read Anywhere?

I was a tomboy as a kid. It was the 1970s, and my neighborhood friends and I played outdoors whenever we could. My grass-stained knees and shins were usually dirty and covered in scrapes and bruises; I adored all the local cats and dogs; frogs, mice, and bugs didn’t gross me out. I’d never heard of Lyme disease, and couldn’t understand why anyone would use sunscreen. I mean, how could something as awesome as lying on a sunny beach be bad for your health?

But I was also anxious about lots of things. I was hesitant to try new activities, and shy around strangers and people I didn’t know well. At night, I’d often lie awake in bed worrying about fires, war, car accidents, and waking up in the morning and discovering my whole family dead. I may have seemed laid back to the casual observer, but deep inside I was anything but.

So on summer days when my friends weren’t available to play, reading was my escape. About once a week, I’d bike to the library and borrow a new stash of novels and mysteries. Then I’d go home and read in my favorite spot: under a big oak tree in the back yard. I’d fill my camping canteen with water, stretch my legs out on the grass, and lean back against the wide tree trunk.

All the fears in my head would evaporate as I’d lose myself in the story. And there were very few potential distractions. The phone was in the house—attached to the wall—and if I heard it ringing, I’d never run inside to grab it. Most of the calls were for my parents, and if nobody picked it up, it was no big deal. We didn’t have one of those fancy answering machines like Jim Rockford, but hey, if the call was important, the person would try again later. Right?

Fast forward to 2017. I’m an adult now—married with two teenage kids—and although life’s a lot different these days, I still worry about all kinds of things. And I still love reading. Sure, we’ve seen some of the most amazing advances ever in science, medicine, and technology during the past fifty years, but there’s still something magical about relaxing in a comfy spot with a good book.

But rarely, if ever, do I sit outside on the ground and read. For starters, my eyes, back, and legs aren’t what they once were. I’ve also learned through experience about the importance of sunscreen, and Lyme disease has become a serious threat in New England. And if I accidentally look directly into the sun or some other bright light, I often end up with an ocular migraine. Fortunately, these migraines don’t usually cause me pain, but I get weird visual disturbances that can make reading unpleasant, if not impossible. So the bottom line is that I usually read indoors.

I love reading on the couch with my feet up. It’s pretty great—especially when one of our cats snuggles with me—and I’m not complaining. But what would be ideal? Well, I guess my fantasy reading spot would include one of those comfy, curvy chaise lounges that’s wide enough to curl up on with a book, a cat or two, and maybe even the dog.

And since I prefer tea, coffee and seltzer these days to water from a canteen, it’d be good to have a table nearby for a drink and a snack. And, of course, my phone. Because whether I like it or not, it’s almost impossible—and perhaps even irresponsible—to disconnect completely these days.

As for lighting, I love natural light, and defer to it whenever possible. But at night, I use the overhead lights in our home. They’re efficient, and because they’re on the ceiling, the cats and dog can’t knock them over. However, if we’re talking fantasy here, I’d love a sturdy table lamp with a shade (like the one below), because it looks cool, and would probably prevent some of my ocular migraines as well.

How about you? Where do you like to read, and what would you include in your perfect reading nook?

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Two Oars Cutting the Water

The great Duke Miller writes about love. Wow. Reblogged from Tin Hats.

tin hats

(Dedicated to Teresa and Marshall.)

I have never loved until now.  For years the word scarcely escaped my lips.  Women would wait and still they waited until I was no more.  In my family I only used it with my father, mother, and one of my grandmothers.  As to my sisters, the word just didn’t seem right.  Was a brother meant to love his sisters? Of course, but I was an idiot back then.  I could not see, since my eyes had been poked out with burned sticks at Christmas.

I spoke love to one of my grandmothers. Nanny was a religious woman, a piano player, and born of the depression and because I had asthma and the air was clean in the tiny town where she lived, I’d visit in the autumn and spring.  I could roam freely down the limestone rock streets.  Sometimes the tornadoes came and we…

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GUEST POST BY DANE COBAIN—VANITY SEARCHES: AN AUTHOR’S BEST FRIEND

dane cobainToday, I’m pleased to welcome Dane Cobain back to my blog. Dane’s an independent UK poet, musician, and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. He also enjoys reviewing books and sharing tips to assist people in their writing and publishing endeavors. Please be sure to check out the links below if you’d like to connect with Dane through his website or on social media.

Thanks so much, Dane, for this helpful and interesting post!

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You’ve probably performed a vanity search before – even if you’re not aware of it. In fact, if you’ve ever gone to Google (or any other search engine) and run a search for your own name, you’ve performed a vanity search.

In the early days of the internet, vanity searching was considered to be taboo, an act carried out only by the egotistical. But nowadays, with so much of our lives revolving around the web, vanity searches have become a tool for good.

Think about it: Odds are that at some point, someone is going to Google your name. For ‘normal people’, this might only happen when they apply for a job or if they try to get a loan, but for authors it tends to happen on a daily or weekly basis.

Do you want to be left in the dark about what results people see? Or do you want to check what people are looking at so you can make sure that it accurately reflects you?

Introducing Google Alerts

Carrying out a vanity search is a good start, because it’ll give you a rough idea of what results are surfacing, but it can be time consuming to check as often as you should do. That’s where Google Alerts come in – you can receive automatic emails whenever a new webpage is discovered that matches your search term.

As an author, it’s a good idea to set up alerts for your pen name, your series titles and the individual names of your releases. This can help you to pick up on coverage that you might not otherwise have been aware of, from reviews and giveaways to promo pieces and more. Reviews are particularly important to discover, because you can take the time to thank your readers – and even to ask them to share their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

If there’s a problem

Of course, there’s always the risk that you could carry out a vanity search and see results that are either irrelevant or – worse still – that cast your writing career in a negative light.

Perhaps it’s a scathing review or a blog post that accuses you of being a talentless hack. Perhaps it’s a bunch of photos of you as a kid, or an old account that you used half a lifetime ago. Either way, you have options available.

If the search reveals results that are defamatory, you can file a right to be forgotten request to ask the search engine to remove it. But usually, removing a result is almost impossible, and so a better option is to contact the webmaster directly and to ask them to either remove the page or to update it with more accurate information.

If the search reveals old photos or blog posts that are no longer relevant, you can remove them yourself if you have the relevant access. Otherwise, your best bet is to focus on creating new, high quality content that will push the older results off the front page, where people are less likely to see them.

Reputation management

One of the most obvious reasons for doing all of this is for the purpose of reputation management. Even the average person on the street should take the time to audit what comes up when you search for them, and for creative types – from authors and bloggers to artists, filmmakers and more – it’s more important than ever.

That’s because, as an author, you make a living from your reputation. When people read your books, they’ll typically do a little research beforehand, by checking out reviews, by seeing what people are saying about you on forums and discussion sites, and by simply tapping your name into a search engine to see what comes up.

And that’s exactly why vanity searches are so important. You’re not doing it to boost your ego – you’re doing it as part of a practical, concentrated effort to secure your reputation. As an author, you need to know what people are saying about you, regardless of where and when they’re saying it. Vanity searches are a key way for you to do just that.

 Your Turn

Have you ever carried out a vanity search? If so, did the results surprise you? And if not, will you be carrying them out in the future? Let me know what you think with a comment!

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More about the author:
This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that specialises in building websites for authors to help them to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.

Find Dane on his website: www.DaneCobain.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/danecobainmusic

YouTube: http://youtube.com/danecobain

Twitter: http://twitter.com/danecobain

Instagram: http://instagram.com/danecobain

Posted in #MondayBlogs, books, dane cobain, guest blog, guest post, promotion, publishing, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why the Women’s Marches Were So Important

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My daughter and I decided to go to the Women’s March in D.C. almost as soon as we learned of its existence. But just a day or two later, I found out that plans for the event weren’t going smoothly. The bottom line was that the white women organizing it had been unintentionally insensitive to some issues concerning race. And even when changes were made—and more diverse organizers were hired—the bad taste lingered in many mouths. In the days leading up to the March, the press seemed to be giving the conflict almost as much coverage as the actual event, and that disturbed me. I couldn’t help wondering if I was pulling my teenage daughter out of school and bringing her on a four-day journey, only to attend a poorly attended, primarily white event.

march_subway

That fear was quickly quelled on the morning of January 21st. The Metro train from our hotel in Alexandria into D.C. was jammed with people of various genders, ages, and ethnicities, most wearing pink pussyhats and carrying some of the most creative protest signs imaginable. But when we reached the L’Enfant subway stop, a very different type of fear arose in me. There were so many people trying to exit the station, that police had to regulate flow of people, and that particular Metro stop was temporarily shut down. Had I brought my kid to something too big? Would we be safe? The riots of the previous day came to mind, and I tried to figure out what we’d do if violence erupted.

Fortunately, there was no violence at the D.C. March, nor at most of the sister marches around the country and world, and my daughter and I were safely back in our hotel by early evening.

march-signs

Was everything amazing? Well, that depends on how you define amazing, and also on your health and physical condition. As everyone knows by now, the marchers in D.C. numbered somewhere around half a million. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a large, packed crowd. Meeting up with friends was complicated, and, in several cases, impossible. Also, moving through such a dense crowd was only possible around the edges. The sound system was fairly good, and organizers did a great job setting up Jumbotrons, but even so, we only saw about a quarter of the program, if that. We stood in one spot for four or five hours, and if we’d had to use the bathroom, getting there would’ve been a challenge. Also, because of the size of the crowd, marching was extremely difficult, as much of the designated “march” area was filled with people.

On the other hand, we contributed to history (or HERstory). As we watched the TV news in the hotel that night and saw the magnitude of the crowd, we were thankful that we’d had the opportunity to be part of such a thing.

Also, the current administration may not be doing much for feminists or liberal causes these days, but Mr. Trump has made it clear that he pays attention to crowd size, so seeing images of the crowds at the various marches around the world must’ve made some sort of impression on him.

Furthermore, it’s also almost impossible to attend such an event without wanting to stay involved in causes you care about, and obviously, there will be plenty of opportunities for involvement in the immediate future. I admit that my participation in politics has waxed and waned quite a bit during my lifetime, but since the Women’s March, I’ve been doing what I can to contact legislators, share factual information in the face-to-face world and on social media, and stay up to date on what our government’s doing. And based on conversations with many people, almost everyone’s doing the same thing. The Women’s Marches awakened the activists in many Americans—both those who attended and those who saw them in the media—and I doubt there’s been a time in the last thirty years when more people have been involved in the political process.

Finally, on a personal note, the experience of going to D.C. and staying there for a few days allowed us to spend time in close quarters with people whose political viewpoints differed from ours. If you live in a swing state or an area where lots of left-wing/right-wing conflict exists, this may seem silly, but we live in a very liberal town, where very few people support Trump. (And those who do don’t normally admit it publicly.) For that reason, not only was Trump’s victory extra shocking for my family and me, but almost everyone I’ve spoken with since election day has been upset. But staying at a hotel in the area—especially on Inauguration Day—made it clear to us that we weren’t in the Boston area anymore. Guests in the hotel were a mix of Trump supporters (wearing pins and red hats), people there for the March (the pussyhats were a dead giveaway), and others there for business or tourism. And both nights that we were there, we attended the hotel’s evening reception. At first, we were a little nervous about how people might act, but what we experienced gave us some hope. Everyone acted respectfully, despite the fact that most guests were literally wearing their political sentiments on their heads. We held doors for each other, exchanged pleasantries, and made small talk in the elevator.

And so, my hope in America was renewed last weekend. Yes, at the Women’s March, but also at the hotel, where people were just people, taking time out of their regular lives to celebrate and work for what they believe in. It’s easy to get caught up in the actions of the current administration. And make no mistake: I’m strongly opposed to Trump and Bannon, and believe that if they’re not curtailed, America as we know it will be in grave danger. But I also have faith in the people who live here and love their country. I believe we have the ability to come together and preserve what’s truly important to us: a democracy that works. It won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

March If You Want To. Wear What You Like.

pink_shoes

C’mon, people. Haven’t we had enough division already? So please, if you’re concerned about Trump and his attitudes toward women and women’s rights, stop saying divisive, disparaging things about the Women’s March on Washington.

I understand that the March got off to a bumpy start, but the intent was always good, and isn’t that the most important thing? As a writer and lover of words, I realize that names are important. I also know that the issue of race in America is a complicated one, and we’ve got a long way to go. But the organizers of this March have continually emphasized that all are welcome to participate, and I think all interested people should be encouraged to do so. The organizers have also just released a terrific, four-page document outlining the inclusive, intersectional goals and principles of the March.

Anyone who has the will and ability to show up on the National Mall on January 21st (or at one of the Sister Marches in another city) has a reason. That reason may be broad and altruistic, or it may be extremely personal. But it’s a valid reason. One of our most cherished American freedoms is the right to organize and demonstrate, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else. So please don’t make people feel uncomfortable about exercising their rights.

cat_hatIt’s also an American right to dress as we choose. So if you think a pink “pussyhat” will make a statement to the incoming administration, then wear one. If you don’t like the hats or consider them too “cute,” then don’t. Because let’s face it: if you’re not a fan of Donald Trump, chances are you think American women need more—not fewer—choices. So why attempt to influence anyone’s choice of headwear?

I’d also like to note that the Pussyhat Project has provided many people unable to attend the events a wonderful way to get actively involved. Supporters have been knitting, crocheting, and sewing the hats for weeks because they want to be represented at the marches. Let’s allow that to happen, then, and let’s applaud their amazing handiwork. Not to mention that since it’s January, warm hats will be appreciated by most participants. Women supporting women: who can argue with that?

See you at the March?

 

Posted in events, getting involved, politics, Uncategorized, women, Women's March on Washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments