I attended as “a spouse”

What I did: went as my husband’s “+1” to an election night party, hosted by a cable news network, at the Fifth Avenue Empire Room, a rooftop lounge at 230 5th Avenue, in New York City.


What I did beforehand: voted, took the dogs for a sniffing walk, showered, tried to dry my hair, gave up on trying to dry my hair, put too much product in my hair, changed into jeans and a “Vagenda of Manocide” t-shirt, packed my party clothes into a suitcase, drove to town with a woman in a Land Rover tailgating me. When she turned for the highway, I could tell by the dark shadow that I had picked up another tailgater, now on the 30 mph approach to town where it is oh so tempting to go just a little faster. But I didn’t go any faster, so when I realized my new tailgater was a local policewoman, I felt justified. I walked through town and saw the policewoman buying lunch, and I wanted to ask her if she voted and who she voted for, because I was still giddy and stupid and anxious with excitement.


On the train I worked on yesterday’s blog post on my phone, and when we pulled in to Grand Central I found myself surrounded by other women with overnight bags. They were all headed to hotels, too, but then they were headed to the Javits Center for Hillary Clinton’s election night shindig. I slipped going up the stairs.

What I wore: my mother loved dressing well and shopping and spent more time choosing what to wear than she ever would have wanted anyone to know. She had a perfectly organized custom closet as big as a bedroom. When she died, there were so many navy shoes and long, straight-ish skirts and knee-highs and slips in every color and interesting jackets of various lengths and creamy white blouses to wear under the interesting jackets. And unusual jewelry, of course, as well. I still have some, but not many, of my mother’s clothes, but I do have a certain 90s-era off-white silk blouse which I’ve not worn more than once in the 11 1/2 years since my mother’s death. I was thinking it should be my “white,” since they were saying it’s the color the suffragettes wore, and it seemed like it might work under my other pantsuit. I don’t normally pick out and try on an outfit the night before, but there I was, the night before election day, seeing if the pants from my other pantsuit fit well enough to wear. They did. I put on the blouse to see if it looked ok. It hangs out from under the jacket, but in a way that I liked more than I hated. When I took it off I discovered it was missing a button.


When I stopped crying about my haphazard sewing skills vs. mother’s meticulous sewing skills and from stress about the election and then the realization that my mother would have loved HRC way more than I do and generally missing everything about my mother, I clipped one of the spare buttons from the inside of the blouse and sewed it on. 

And so, to the election night party I wore a black Eileen Fisher tank top, the gray Hugo Boss pantsuit with flimsy, unusable beltloops and no pockets (not even too-shallow pockets), gorgeous and understated jewelry from my generous husband, my grandmother’s square-faced Longines gold wristwatch, and an amethyst pin that belonged to another female relative and though my mother made a big deal about telling me who it came from, it was too long ago for me to remember. I also wore net knee-highs and the loafers with heels that I put pads into finally so my feet don’t slide around. 
One of his co-workers complained that
there aren’t any bad pictures of him
Who went with me: my husband, who made plain back in April that he thought the election might go badly, and whose paranoia, as I called it, was informed by his having escaped a totalitarian regime as a child, and his uncanny ability to predict everything. 

How I got tickets: as the guest of the Bacon Provider, I was actually the only “+1.”

Why I saw this show: I blithely said beforehand that I thought it would be fun either way. I genuinely believed that America would not elect a Russian-sponsored fascist. 

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Where I sat: if you were watching live results on the right cable channel, you saw us in the front row. At least one friend did. 

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Things that were not funny: at dinner, I botched the, “…And what do you do?” question again, but I made up for it by being somewhat ludicrously funny. 

By 9:30 one of the marketing people from the cable news network (who had made it clear at dinner that she was repulsed by the orange, frothy fountain of racism candidate, and excited for America’s first female President), announced cheerfully that the disastrous installation of a lying, bankruptcy-addicted, child-rapist as United States President would, in fact, be very good for cable news, what with the advertising sold to air during impeachment proceedings and all. 

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By 10 pm I started to be cold and miserable and when I went downstairs to find the coat check to retrieve our coats I got trapped in a party that wasn’t ours and when a small mob of people crushed into an elevator, I finally saw the hall and found the gap in a black curtain leading to the event I had a wristband for, at which point I was waylaid by a security guy who thought I was headed out of bounds and I had to get all imperious in his face. 

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Things that were sad: by 10:30 I was ready to move away from the United States for the foreseeable future. The other guests who were sitting outside with us retreated to the party inside or left for home. Drunk, anxious bar patrons grumbled amongst themselves about the tray of extra cupcakes abandoned on our table.  One guy came out of nowhere and asked me if he could take two. I told him they weren’t mine to give away, but, ok, be quick about it. Others came. By the end, people weren’t even asking; they were just taking.

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Things that were funny: when my father was in the ICU towards the end of his life, I realized that he had lost his sense of humor. This was how I knew he was dying. There is nothing funny about last night’s election result.

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What it is: not a good day to be a person of color or LGBTQ. Or both. 


Something I ate: steak and one cupcake.

I violated this cupcake before I ate it.

Who should see it: look away, friends and readers abroad. It’s going to get really ugly. 

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What I saw on the way home: we spent the night in an upscale eurotrash boutique hotel because I had planned for a long night. I had multiple nightmares about crashing my car on the Saw Mill Parkway and woke with a migraine. 

He’s reading about Stalin.

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Outside it was just another bad, gray, Manhattan Wednesday morning. I followed a guy into the subway who was reading the big biography of Stalin I read when I was in business school. He was about halfway through. I let a flustered, old mustachioed woman cut in line ahead of me when I got a coffee and a glazed doughnut in Grand Central and commenced having a big, long, ugly, sniveling cry on the train. White men moved to another car. 

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As we arrived in the sleepy town of Katatonia, I stepped into the drizzle and looked into the dark windshield of an oncoming Audi SUV. I didn’t pause in the slightest before entering the crosswalk, putting my life in the hands of some rich asshole.

A Letter to the County Executive of Dutchess County, New York

The event I described happened in mid-July, and on that day I told the people I was with that I would write the sheriff and the county executive. They laughed. On a different day on that same stretch of road, my young horse spooked at a speeding garbage truck, dumped one of the barn’s professionals on the ground, and took off galloping back to the barn. He stopped and we were able to catch him.
Recent events all across the United States involving police remind me to encourage you, dear readers, to write letters to your local law enforcement and their bosses if you have an opinion about what you see them do. 

Out Hacking
Marcus J. Molinaro
County Executive
County of Dutchess
22 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Dear Mr. Molinaro:
Thank you for your kind letter welcoming me as a newly registered voter in Dutchess County. I look forward to participating in elections in my new rural community.
Recently, on a July weekday in the mid-afternoon on State Route XX in XXXXXX, I was out riding my horse on the road’s shoulder along with two other younger staff members of the barn where I ride. We were each wearing a helmet and riding a calm, older horse belonging to a private owner. An unmarked police vehicle approached and turned on its brightly colored lights and passed us, at an alarming speed. Because we are all experienced riders, we were able to calm our horses and continue; however, almost immediately the unmarked black police vehicle was joined by a marked Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff’s car, and passed us from the other direction at even greater speed.  Once again, we had to calm our horses and continue, which we did without further incident.
I have mulled over the encounter during the last couple of months and taken the time to confirm for myself that under Article 26 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1146 a., “Every driver of a vehicle shall approach a horse being ridden or led along a public highway at a reasonable and prudent speed so as to avoid frightening such horse and shall pass the horse at a reasonable distance.”
I believe that the drivers of both police vehicles, though they may have been responding to an emergency, failed to obey this law, endangering the lives of three people and three horses.
Should any staff members of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s office be interested in learning about basic horse safety, the barn where I ride is a British Horse Society Certified facility, with highly educated and experienced instructors who would be able to provide basic lessons in horsemanship. I would think these skills would be useful throughout much of Dutchess County.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.

The Peony of Coincidence

Before my parents put a pool in the backyard of the house I grew up in, there was a peony in the yard. I think the flowers were dark red. It was memorable for being a plant that emerged from the dead dirt like a miracle, and most especially because of the large black ants that were to be found crawling all over the buds.  
I have read that if you want ant-free peonies, you can cut them when the buds are “marshmallow soft.” You brush off the ants outside and can let them bloom inside in a vase.  The ants are irrelevant and do not facilitate the blooming; they are simply tasting the sugar on the flowers.
Ants were part of my childhood. Our house had the small kind of black ant, the ones that would find a bit of food on the counter and march in a dense line to dismantle it and carry home the crumbs. I watched them often. Despite being afraid of many interesting things as a child (my grandparents, bees, throwing and catching, swimming, dogs, crows), I have no specific memory of being afraid of ants. My younger brother would lie on the pavement on his belly and squish them with his finger, saying, “Gee-um! Gee-um!” I can also recall a couple of experiments on ant hills involving water or hot wax, but I wielded no magnifying glass on them.  
As an adult, I take a keen interest in most of the things I was fearful of as a child (my grandparents, bees, dogs, crows), and I can recommend a book about ants that I read a number of years ago called, “The EarthDwellers: Adventures in the Land of Ants,” by Erich Hoyt. Ants, like bees and termites, live in colonies which function as a single organism.
As for peonies, they are always blooming on my birthday in early June, and in the past I always asked for some. A few years back, Schwartzdeveloped a taste for the peony petals and heartily consumed a number of them. This produced in the cat some projectile vomiting of a surprisingly violent and comical nature. After I did some superficial research online, I was able to find peonies listed as “toxic to cats” on an ASPCA web site and “mildly toxic to cats” in most other forums. I also observed that there are other resources that consider red peony root to be a traditional herbal remedy for people for “clearing the blood.”
Today is my birthday, but it is also the anniversary of the massacre of Chinese citizens in Tiananmen Square.   The powers that be in China seem to believe that censoring the Internet by banning search terms will contain or erase or alter the memories of its people. The Shanghai Composite Index managed to provide its own random reminder by closing down by 64.89 points and so had to be added to the list of banned terms.  
Of course, peonies are said to have magical properties, containing nymphs inside their petals which escape when they bloom. Everyone knows that the peony nymphs are freed to call to the snapping turtles to tell them to come to shore and lay their eggs, but perhaps they also wish to promote democracy for the 1.2 billion people who live in China.