The Pink Stuff


Mom and me, 1991 in front of the Haida totem pole in Sausalito

My mother made the pink stuff for winter holidays. When I took over hosting the holiday meals and my mother asked what should I bring, I would say, “The pink stuff. Bring the pink stuff.”

I couldn’t remember its name.

I called it the pink stuff because it tasted pink—not cotton-candy-bubble-gum pink. But rose unfolding pink. It tasted great with turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy and the warm spinach salad I made—a recipe I adapted from the Greens* cookbook. No hot bacon grease to wilt the spinach. Rather olive oil that had slowly been heated along with smashed garlic. Then there was the feta cheese and Greek olives and pine nuts.

We each were who we were with those dishes. Pink stuff and warm spinach salad.

My mother was not the cookies-baking-in-the-oven kind of mom. Though she loved cookies. And she loved crumbling saltine crackers into a glass of non-fat milk and eating it up with a spoon. It had to be non-fat milk, which had a blue cast to it. I referred to it as blue milk.

Whole milk she claimed was too rich. Blue milk was what she drank and crumbled saltine crackers into. During the last years of my father’s life, she shared her home with the stranger my father had become—a man who was disappearing into Alzheimer’s. I would visit and we would talk late at night as she spooned up the blue-milk-with-crumbled-saltine-crackers concoction. It brought her comfort.

She finally had to find him a home in a skilled nursing facility. It was a good one. But really, no one wants to end their days there. It’s kind of a waiting room where some go as they hover between what was their life, what has become their life, and where their days will end.

She taught me about loyalty.

My mother came as close to being a feminist as she could. She was encumbered by the teachings of her mother and the world she inhabited as a young woman.

That encumberance was often a grand canyon between us. Crossing that grand canyon took a leap of faith that she didn’t always have. I learned about that leap of faith from Jeanette and Sally, two older women I knew from my days with the Gray Panthers. We had great meals together. I learned new ideas for cooking from them, as they, by their presence and experience, gave me permission to womanup and be the woman I am.

But at holidays, it is my mother who visits my heart. It’s always unexpected, though it’s happened every year since she died.

For complicated reasons, I did not help clean out her apartment after she died. And so I did not get the recipe for the pink stuff. I know she used cherry Jello, cranberries, walnuts, and perhaps, cream cheese.

voteThough she did not completely embrace feminism, my mother would have voted for Hillary Clinton. She would have voted for her with gusto and been pissed, really, really pissed at the outcome. She knew about that grand canyon of limitations, even though she couldn’t take that leap of faith.

Is is almost fashionable to humiliate Hillary Clinton now for not becoming president—I will not use the word “lose.” Women have been humiliated throughout the history of our country when they have the audacity to leap over that grand canyon of limitations—limitations defined by tiny-hearted men and the women who depend on them for their power.

It took Russian intervention, Wikileaks, voter suppression, the FBI, and an antiquated institution that was incorporated into our country to protect slavery to keep her out of office. She wasn’t defeated. I say again, she won 3 million more votes than the man who represents the worst of what passes for manhood in our country.

For the sake of women like my mother who saw the grand canyon but could not leap, and for all the women who have been taking that leap throughout our history, it is time to stop abusing Hillary Clinton.

I don’t know why the pink stuff this year is mixed up with the betrayal that was this election. Perhaps it’s fear that all the work that has gone before was for naught. Even though she didn’t take the leap, my mother got to the precipice and wondered what could be. Without that, I might not have been able to take my own leap.

I feel like the old guard is dancing on the graves of women they are unworthy of. It’s a slap in the face. But this latest slap in the face is just that. A slap in the face. We’ve stood up to bullies before. We will do it again.

I’ve Googled and Googled, but to no avail. I cannot find the recipe that my mother turned into the pink stuff. I’ve come to accept that the absence of the pink stuff at my holiday table is out of respect for her. The dish missing from the table because it was her dish. Like her, it cannot be replaced or replicated.

*Greens is the Zen community vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

That Sandwich Is Filled With Shit

“Rage is a substance waiting for our transformative efforts.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

protest-shitI’m mad. I’m damned mad. I’m pissed. I’m enraged.

And I’m not alone.

Yeah. I know. Electoral college.

But still, the woman received nearly three million more votes and still didn’t get the job. And the man who slimed his way in on lies, innuendos, and abuse smirks and the woman who got him there smirks along with him.

Kellyanne Conway was born in 1967. Either she has no idea what women endured for her to get to where she was, or she doesn’t care. Todd if-it’s-a-legitimate-rape,- the-female-body-has-ways-to-try-to-shut-that-whole-thing-down Aikin was one of her clients.

No, she hasn’t shattered a glass ceiling. She comes from a long history of women who trash other women to climb to the top of the boys’ club. And I mean boys’ club. Not men. But boys. You know, how Melania referred to her 59-year-old husband’s boasts about grabbing women by the pussy.

Kellyanne was willing to eat the shit sandwich and say it was chocolate.

Well, I’m not. I did it for years, and I’m not willing anymore.

All you have to do is look at who Trump is bringing in to help him run the country. It is the nightmare of bosses, ex-husbands, co-workers, clergy, professors, and politicians we endured for years. They will take us back 50 years.

That was not a great America. That was an America where women died from illegal abortions; only white males were assured of the right to vote, earn a salary commensurate with their qualifications, and could beat the crap out of their wives and family with impunity.

In that great American, if you ate the shit sandwich and pretended it was chocolate, you stayed alive.

Well things are different now. The white men I know and love don’t think that America was so great because it wasn’t so great for them. These are men who are capable of having more than one idea and find smart, powerful women sexy.

Dare I say it—they have learned how to harness their feminine side.

And women who don’t think that America was so great don’t count on the power of their man to give them a place in the world, and don’t destroy women who have womaned up and embraced their lives as their own. And, they know that one can embrace a domestic life right alongside the life that happens outside their home.

Dare I say it—we have learned how to harness our masculine side.

And we don’t eat no shit sandwiches anymore. We know what shit tastes like and it doesn’t taste like chocolate.

The outcome of this election is an abomination. It took help from Russia, the FBI, and voter suppression for a man so clearly unqualified, a sociopath, to ascend to the most powerful office in the world.

He is a danger to us and to the world as we know it.

All this talk of the forgotten white working man, well, my father was a white working man. A union man whose union was destroyed by the sainted Ronald Reagan. The aftermath left him working his final five years without a pay raise. It affected his pension. It was a total denunciation of the value of his craft (he was a master electrician). He was humiliated.

He never—never in a thousand years would have fallen for the con job that came out of Donald Trump’s mouth.

Of course, the irony is that Hillary Clinton actually had policies that would have helped the working, middle class. But we never heard about them because pundits had to talk about her emails and the Clinton foundation.

Hillary Clinton had ambition and the desire to implement an ambitious vision—one that went beyond herself. One that was informed by what it takes to make a safe place for children and family in our society.

Sure she was flawed. But what did her in were not so much her flaws, as having the audacity to think that a woman could have ambition along with the smarts, the integrity, and the competence to enact that ambitious vision of the world. And she had that audacity when Kellyanne was still shitting in her diapers.

No, it is not time to get over it. It is not time to move on. That is what people who abuse you and get a way with it say so you’ll shut up. Lay down. Surrender to their ill-gotten power.

Nope. Not gonna’ happen this time.

Trump did not acquire the presidency legitimately. The welfare of the country, the integrity of the country, the idea of the country that actually makes America great are nowhere on his radar.

All politicians are somewhat narcissistic. But most of them do not exhibit it as a personality disorder.

He is not my president. I will not support this administration. I will fight however I can to make sure it either fails, or bends its trajectory to one that benefits the diversity of stories that actually do make America great.

I don’t know how. But I do know that I’m not alone.

Do not underestimate the power of the crone—the wise woman and man. We are mad. We are damned mad. We are enraged.

And we will harness our rage into transformative efforts.

We don’t eat no shit sandwiches, but we will relish the taste of fair-trade chocolates as we take to the streets, the airways, the halls of Congress, and flood our communities with the wisdom of the crones.