My Lost Pregnancy

I stared into the toilet bowl for the longest time.

It was what looked like a clump of tissue in the shape of an embryo. But there was no blood. Shouldn’t there have been blood?

My brain tried to make sense of what I was seeing. But because there was no blood, I couldn’t. I was frozen. I didn’t know what to say, or think, or do.

It couldn’t be, I kept telling myself. Over. And over. And over.

Eventually I flushed the toilet. And I spoke of it to no one: not my doctor, not a friend, not my married lover.

Over the course of the next months, my periods became more and more painful and I became more fatigued and sick each month. Then I received my endometriosis diagnosis. In three surgeries over the next two years, I would lose my ability to have children altogether. I was 33-years- old.

But I wouldn’t allow myself to think about any of it. Not the embryo shaped tissue in the toilet. Not the surgeries that meant I would never become pregnant again.

I was a divorced mother of one child already. The nature of my work as both a journalist and later as a corporate media representative meant my days were not neatly ordered; they could not be written into my schedule between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm.

Only recently have I learned that a miscarriage does not always involve blood loss, and that endometriosis is one of the variables in having a bloodless lost pregnancy.

I had to sacrifice the child I wanted in the future for the sake of the one I already had. I would not let myself dwell on it. I had a child to shelter, clothe and feed.

Only in my mid-60s did I allow the grief of never having the daughter I wanted to enfold me one night as I wailed about what I knew I saw in the toilet bowl that day – a baby. My baby.

So many things we want never come to pass. There must be a reason for that, mustn’t there? Why would God allow such things to happen without good reason.

It wouldn’t have been because I would have chosen not to have my child. I would have wanted to keep my baby, regardless of what the father wanted. I would never willingly give up my child.

But my lover had told me from the start he would never leave his wife because of his son, who was the same age as my own. Because I loved this flawed, funny, smart man, because my own dignity wouldn’t let me, I wouldn’t ask.

Yet a few years after my surgeries, he did leave her and ended up marrying a mutual friend who left her husband to be with my lover. The sword of this betrayal was double-edged. I phoned him and called him a bastard for what he did. He hung up on me.

He has been dead for nearly 20 years now. He never knew. I could barely accept it myself. How could I have told him?

If our souls sparkle and dance somewhere when we die, does his dance with our child’s? Again, a question for which only God has the answer.

Is God really our merciful and loving Father? Is that mercy so divine He will forgive anything?

Can He forgive me for flushing the toilet that day?

Can I forgive myself?

Maybe one day, when hopefully I also sparkle and dance somewhere with the child of my lost pregnancy.

*I was inspired to share the experience of my lost pregnancy after reading stories of the miscarriage and subsequent pregnancy of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. I hope sharing my story helps someone, somewhere.

Women Who Speak

I am still angry when I think about it.

The note was atop an article passed on from a female colleague on the art of active listening. She suggested that I learn to speak less in the meetings dominated by the corporate males surrounding us.

Had I a genuine relationship with this fellow worker, I might have felt hurt, but I wouldn’t have been angered. However, we barely spoke during our work days, had never enjoyed a girl’s lunch nor worked together on projects except when she needed something of me.

I fired back an angry retort. I told her that perhaps I risked making an ass of myself, but it was my risk to take in putting forward an idea. I was upset that another woman would want to shut me up in a world already so full of the male voices in the room.

Neither of us was the best version of ourselves that day. She had no business delivering such information to me via paper. A face-to-face conversation where she could have explained her intent would have been better.

As for me, I was obviously so angry that I could credit her with no good intentions at all.

It would not be the first time another woman tried to keep me from speaking up in a meeting.

Many years later, during a conference call, I was about to make a point in the conversation when my female supervisor, sitting beside me, put her hand on my arm to stop me from speaking and began talking herself. The message was as clear as the written note from years before.

All those years of corporate male dominance and the women who submitted to and supported it have come flooding back this week as the consideration of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Budget and Management has hit roadblocks over her confirmation due to the boldness of her Twitter voice.

It has created a knot in my stomach I haven’t felt in awhile. It is stirring the burning anger that still resides in me for being told to shut up because I am a woman. What could I possibly have to contribute?

For four years we have listened to Republicans say they paid no attention to the demagoguery, fire and fury of Donald Trump’s Twitter account, to the point the man was allowed to use it to promote election fraud and persuade his followers to the incitement of insurrection against the U.S. government.

Yet Tanden’s Twitter account is the reason being given by two Republicans and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) for not confirming Tanden to the post President Biden has chosen.

Not whether she has the requisite experience. Not whether or not she is up to the job.

But because she used her voice on Twitter in a way they deemed “unladylike” while Trump got a full-on pass from the GOP for nearly bringing the country to its knees.

One of my favorite moments of the 2020 campaign came when now Vice-President Kamala Harris chastened a Mike Pence trying to talk over her, when she clearly, loudly and pointedly said “I’m speaking.”

I was so pleased at the way this powerful woman used her voice to put a misbehaving man in HIS place for a change. It is a quality I hope she doesn’t lose in her role as Vice-President.

Meanwhile, I urge those Senators who would penalize women for using their voices to be careful how many times they resort to this trick.

Women make up more than half the electorate. We come in many colors, from many backgrounds, and with differing points of view.

But the one thing I would guess we all share as women is having been told at some point, somewhere, by someone to not talk, to be silent, to acquiesce.

At 67-years-old, I have nothing to lose.

If I feel the need to speak, I can, I shall, and I will.

We Were All Witnesses

As what is probably the final day of the second Impeachment trial of Donald J Trump gets underway, there has been speculation about whether or not Democratic House Impeachment managers will call witnesses to establish what Trump knew and when.

It seems fruitless, as Republicans have already widely signaled they will vote to acquit Trump a second time.

Never in our modern history has a Presidency been so rife with controversy as has Trump’s. Hopefully we will never see such a one again.

But that the GOP so blindly continues to allow him to wriggle off the hook for the harms he has done this nation still boggles the mind.

We don’t need to have witnesses to the event. We watched it all unfold in real time on our TV sets. We have seen videos of what happened from angles not immediately available at the time. We have heard tapes and read written accounts of the day’s events.

We know what happened that day. Trump riled up a violent mob and TOLD them to go to the Capitol to stop the counting of Electoral College votes that had been certified by all 50 state governors, Republican and Democrat alike.

But Donald Trump was unwilling to peacefully accept the results of that election. He promoted the Big Lie for two months that the election was stolen from him when in fact he lost by 7 million votes.

And he knew there were armed white supremacist groups among the crowd. He knew they were armed and dangerous. And he sent them to the Capitol to “stop the steal.” They did so at his direction and armed with another lie – he would go with them.

We all know who and what Donald Trump is. We all know what he has done. So do Republicans.

They just don’t care.

High Crimes and Miss-demeanors

In a few day’s time, the U.S. Senate will convene for the second Impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States. Trump is the only President – living or dead – to have such an Impeachment distinction, let alone in a one-term presidency.

Trump, of course, has been charged with “incitement of insurrection” relating to the violent rioting of mostly white supremacist anarchists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

The Insurrection was tied to a rally where Trump exhorted his audience to march on the Capitol in a bid to stop Congress from accepting the certified votes of all 50 states that ended in Joe Biden becoming the 46th President of the U.S.

Trump had been fomenting dissent over those results since he before he lost the November 3, 2020 election to Biden by claiming the election was fraudulent. He also lost more than 60 court cases that held his claims to be baseless.

But that didn’t stop Trump from riling up the frenzied rally attendees in an alleged coup against the government he then led and the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

Now the question is whether or not the Senate will hold him responsible for his words, his actions and his Constitutional oath when the trial starts in earnest on February 8th.

Trump is not the first man in our history to betray the nation. That distinction goes to Major General Benedict Arnold of the Continental Army.

During the Revolutionary War, Arnold was persuaded by his Loyalist wife, Peggy Shippen of Pennsylvania, to betray the Continental Army by giving away troop locations and strengths, including to fortified West Point.

But it was Peggy, not Arnold, who was the real spy of their marriage. Raised in a Tory household, she had a relationship with Britain’s spy master in the Colonies, Major John André. It was Peggy who encouraged Arnold’s defection to the British side and acted as the conduit of information between Arnold and André.

Upon being found out, the Arnolds decamped to England, so neither were held accountable for their treasonous activity.

Peggy Shippen is also hardly the only female traitor in our country’s history.

As the Civil War was ending, Mary Surratt of Washington, D.C. was one of several people taken into custody as a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth for his assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Surratt, a Virginia widow and Southern sympathizer, owned a D.C. boarding house, Virginia tavern and other property left her by her husband.

Booth made frequent visits to the boarding house as a friend of her son, John, also named a co-conspirator to Lincoln’s slaying and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William H. Seward.

The evidence on which Mary Surratt was arrested was circumstantial. Still her hearing before a military tribunal found her guilty based primarily on the testimony of John Lloyd, her tavern tenant, and Louis J. Weichmann, a boarder.

Lloyd claimed Surratt gave him pistols to keep to be used as part of the plot, and later, a package containing binoculars given to her by Booth, which Booth picked up as he fled D.C. on horseback the night he killed Lincoln. 

Weichmann gave testimony about the meetings Booth and his co-conspirators had at the boarding house about what was originally a plan to kidnap Lincoln that took a deadly twist. 

On June 30, 1865, the military tribunal sentenced Mary Surratt on all but two charges against her. On July 7th, shortly after 1 pm, Mary Surratt was hanged in front of 1,000 people, the first woman ever to be executed by the U.S. government. 

The modern era has seen its share of other females imprisoned and executed for betraying the nation. There were Axis Sally (Millard Gillars) and Tokyo Rose (Iva Toguri) who served prison sentences for propaganda they broadcast to U.S. troops during WWII.  There was also Ethel Rosenberg who, with her husband Julius, went to the electric chair for selling atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.

And then there is Hillary. For many years, the Republican Party has worked hard to portray former Secretary of State Clinton as a traitor and worse to the American public to spoil her bid to become the first female President of the country.

In fact, per Quora.com, there were 33 congressional hearings and four public hearings conducted to the tune of $7 million taxpayer dollars into the deaths of four Americans as a result of a terrorist attack on a diplomatic compound in Libya in 2012.

Clinton sat through 11 hours of testimony herself, and the hearings became less about the attack than what the leader of the appointed Select Committee, Trey Gowdy (R-SC, retired) said was a review of “policy decisions” Clinton made about Libya itself. As part of the testimony given, Benghazi morphed into the FBI investigation of the private email server she maintained in her home.

All this examination of Clinton lasted up to the November 8, 2016 election, in which she won the popular vote for the presidency but lost the Electoral College vote to Trump by narrow margins in “Rust Belt” states. Clinton has never been indicted for anything related to the Benghazi attacks or for maintaining a private email server on which she conducted government business.

Still an ongoing theme of Trump’s never-ending five year rallies were the chants of “lock her up,” even though Clinton has never been charged with a crime, treason or otherwise.

And in an era where conspiracy theories spread faster on internet sites than coronavirus in a maskless crowd, Clinton has been portrayed as a cannibalistic child predator who wears childrens’ faces like masks over her own face. It makes the Salem witch trials seem like a Cinderella fairy tale.

Meanwhile, upon losing the 2020 election to Biden in both the popular and Electoral College votes, Trump himself instigated a coup wherein five people died – including conspirator Ashli Babbitt.

Insurrectionists roamed the Capitol halls calling for the hanging of Trump’s own Vice-President, Mike Pence, as well as for the shooting death of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assassination of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

This after Trump had told his rally goers they should march from the Ellipse to “stop the steal” and that HE would go with them.

Of course that was just another of his Big Lies.

The intricacies of who funded the coup, how different groups participating coordinated their efforts, and whether or not members of Congress and the Trump Campaign played a role in planning the insurrection are still playing out in widespread FBI investigations and thousands of words of news coverage in papers like the New York Times. 

At least one funding source – the largest contribution – came from Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a Trump supporter and one of his largest and most consistent donors.

So when women either betray the nation or are perceived of doing so, they either pay with their lives, their freedom, or suffer severely damaged reputations. Even Peggy Shippen in the end spent a fortune paying off Benedict Arnold’s many debts for ventures at which he failed after running from his treason.

If found guilty in the Senate Impeachment trial, no such dreadful outcomes as those for these women will be assigned to Trump. The harshest sentence that can be given him will be the inability to ever again hold an office of public trust.

That, and an even more ignominious place in our history than he already holds for the cruelty, self-dealing, and political chicanery of his Administration.

Except for those who worship him like the Golden Calf while they wander with him in the desert of his delusions. For them, history has “alternative facts.”

It will more truly be a matter of High Crimes and Misdemeanors if the Senate fails to do its job and convict.

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What Would Jesus Do

Yesterday, via Twitter, I asked newly minted Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert (R) a couple of questions.

I felt it was fair in light of the Tweet she had put out that as a Christian, she could be brought to her knees and wouldn’t let anyone interfere with her right to be “strapped” when and wherever she feels like it. (At least, that was the way I read her meaning.)

My questions were: What weapons did Jesus carry as he went about his Father’s mission as outlined in the Gospels? What weapons did he send with the Apostles into the broader world to spread the Good News of his death and resurrection?

Of course, I have had no response.

But I do not need one, because I already know the answers.

Jesus carried no weapon with him as he and the twelve disciples went throughout the countryside on their three-year quest, not even when they went into the lands of the Samaritans, who were not friends to the Jews.

Yet simply by asking a lone woman if she would give him a drink from the well where she had come to draw water for her household, he not only brought a conversion moment in her life, but for many of her neighbors as well.

For you see, Jesus didn’t just move on from Samaritain territory as quickly as he could after this.

He stayed for several days and taught the many people the woman brought to him with her words of “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)

As Jesus prayed until he sweat blood in Gesthemane, his betrayer, Judas, brought armed men with him to capture Jesus to turn him over for trial.

Three disciples accompanied Jesus to Gesthemane: Peter, James and John.

As Judas gave Jesus his kiss of betrayal to identify Christ to his captors, Matthew 26:51 says “And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.”

(It is generally portrayed in movies as Peter who did this, although neither the Gospels of Matthew or Mark make this attribution.)

Did Jesus pull out his own sword to defend himself too?

Those who believe in the complete sanctity of their 2nd Amendment rights should surely think him justified, being wrongly accused and about to be taken into custody by armed men for an unfair government trial.

No, he said: “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

Jesus – who had just suffered his terrible Agony in the Garden; was failed by his three disciples who did not stay awake to watch and pray with him; was betrayed with a kiss from another and about to be captured by armed men – did not pull out a sword in self-defense.

He admonished his own followers, telling them: “Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53

No – the man who could summon legions of angels to defend him – went peacefully with his captors, all the Way of the Cross to his Crucifixion.

And after Jesus was Crucified, arose from the dead and encountered his disciples in hiding, did he tell them NOW was the time to take up arms, incite others to do the same and overthrow the oppression of Roman rule, as was the expectation of every faithful Jew of the Messiah?

No. According to John 20:19, as the disciples gathered in fear behind locked doors, “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”

Not “Hurry, take up your arms, defend me in my death, which was unfair to me.” He gave them a blessing that called for peace to reign.

He then commissioned them to go out into the world and live as he had lived – peacefully and unarmed, spreading the Good News of his life, death and resurrection.

I don’t know the history of how gun rights and Christianity have come to be so intertwined within today’s Republican party that it has created a twisted vision of what it means to be a Christian.

(Well, I do, but my answer would be simplistic: the corruption of money in politics by the gun lobby and the cynicism and greed of some pastors – Protestant and Catholic – who pretend to speak in the name of Jesus.)

I hope as a Christian who focuses much of her attention in the Bible to Jesus’s own words and actions, I do know the answer as to whether or not Jesus would arm himself, incite others, and somehow assist or participate in an insurrection based on an evil lie that the 2020 election was “fraudulent.”

A lie put out by a President who swore to uphold Constitutional order and despite state Republicans and Democrats alike certifying the electoral results of their individual states, and that some states are said to “swing” for a lot of identifiable reasons besides the broad cry of “fraud.”

The simple answer is: he wouldn’t.

Photo from @TheAtlantic and Public Domain

Secrets of the Three Martini Lunch

Back in my days in journalism and corporate public relations, I was both a recipient and a giver in the Three Martini Lunch world.

When I was a journalist, I was treated grandly to lunches and dinners paid for with corporate dollars that were neatly recorded on expense sheets. These were turned in to be reviewed by managers before being sent to accounting, where their numbers were added up to pass on to the tax department to be deducted on the company’s tax filings every March.

I was a cheap date then. I rarely drank, so my “Martinis” were Diet Cokes. At 110 pounds, I wasn’t putting away 16 Oz porterhouse steaks, either.

When I became a member of the corporate public relations world myself, I had a $500 monthly expense account of my very own.

That’s right. All by myself in the mid-1980’s, I had an extra $6,000 per year to spend in nice restaurants on lunches or dinners, or a hotel room in San Francisco when I had to go for a corporate meeting.

Now multiply that number by dozens and dozens of corporate executives with larger expense accounts of their own and see how quickly that $6,000 of mine morphs into hundreds of thousands of dollars that are written off that company’s tax return each year.

Then multiply that by the thousands of businesses – big and small – that will be deducting what will become in aggregate hundreds of millions of dollars or more.

What you will see is that Mitch McConnell got another corporate tax giveaway while you are getting a one time payment of $600 in the middle of a pandemic.

It is a pandemic that has raged across this nation for nearly a year and infected more than 20 million people, killing over 336,000 of them, per the COVID Tracking Project.

Meanwhile those new hundreds of millions in tax breaks in food, drink and hotel reimbursement will be the reason for the even bigger potholes in your roads, the overcrowding of your child’s classrooms, and the lack of an adequate health care system for those who can’t afford it on their own.

And what do these corporations get on top of these huge write-offs while the world around you daily crumbles?

Influence.

Whether it be better press when their name is questioned, or a piece of legislation that provides a way for them to write off even more of their corporate taxes, they get – influence.

They also get access to government that you and I will never have as average citizens in this country.

When the head of a Fortune 500 company calls and asks to make a lunch date with his or her Senator, it is booked. They won’t be going to Waffle House for the hash browns, either.

That House Representative that never has time to hold a town hall or a day of meeting with constituents? He or she will have plenty of time to putter on the golf course with the representatives of corporations and large regional businesses. Lasting friendships will be built.

But please don’t think that largesse is spent on just one political party. It is spread generously around, because corporations hedge their bets. They want a return on that investment that they get to use to magically reduce their share of the tax burden.

They aren’t schmucks. They know better than to place all their eggs in one basket.

And you?

You get to stand in a food bank line for the first time in your life.

Hail to the Three Martini lunch…and all of America’s pot holes that will never be properly fixed.

We Have Met The Enemy…

One person is dying every 30 seconds today.

Not from heart disease, which the CDC lists as the major cause of death in this country.

Not from cancer, the second leading cause of death, nor from accidents, the third leading cause.

One person is dying every 30 seconds today from COVID19.

As so many have said…it didn’t have to be this way.

A simple mask, social distancing and thorough hand washing – done by everyone in this country – could have tamped down this viral infection long ago.

Far fewer jobs would have been lost.

Far fewer small businesses would have permanently closed their doors.

Children would have returned to in-person learning in September

But because we have lost the ability to separate fact from fiction in our political discourse; because we have turned politics into a team sport instead of a serious vote for the kind of governance we want to have; because we no longer see the humanity of each other when we look into our grandfather’s or our grandmother’s faces – today we will probably see another record-breaking day of infection and death in this country.

(Breaking news: Per MSNBC reporting, sadly I am correct.)

Aah but for a mask…the nation for a mask

The part of me that finds him so detestable wants to completely blame Donald Trump for his failed public health leadership during this pandemic.

But I knew in 2016 he was not qualified by any standard to be POTUS.

So to expect disciplined and sustained leadership from him was a joke. To believe he would honestly task Vice-President Mike Pence with leading the Coronavirus Task Force and then keep his sticky paws off it was a fool’s errand

There was too much TV time devoted to others to keep Trump from pushing scientists and medical experts out of the limelight.

I want to blame the ineptitude of Republican Governor’s who felt they had to tow the Trump line or find themselves on the end of a mean tweet or a call for their resignation.

But they are no worse than McConnell or the Senate GOP, who have done nothing until the past week to provide a COVID relief package for those who have become unemployed or lost a business to the pandemic, to provide PPE for front line workers and other protections for them and the public put forward by a House Democratic majority and Speaker Nancy Pelosi last May.

And Senators really haven’t done anything yet, because there is no agreement, merely a negotiation taking place.

As detestable as I find all the above – Trump, McConnell, most Republican Governors and the Republican Senators – they are not ultimately to blame.

We are. At least that part of the collective “we” that refuses to be the least bit sensible and wear a mask.

This is probably part of the same “we” that thought it was cool to wear a bandanna over our noses when we were kids and played cowboy. Part of the same “we” that wraps mufflers around our noses when it is cold outside and the tip of the nose feels tingly from it. Part of the same “we” smart enough to wet a kerchief and place it over our mouth and nose to keep out a dust storm or smoke inhalation during a fire.

But for an invisible virus that can kill us cold with something as simple as a cough or a sneeze: nope, “we” say that is a bridge too far. And some part of the collective “we” have gotten so darn right crotchety about it, “we” think it’s okay to harass and threaten violence to people just trying to save our lives!

No, as Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

We are literally killing ourselves for the “freedom” not to wear a mask.

Killing ourselves, those we love, and complete strangers.

Thirty seconds at a time.*

* This statistic came from an MSNBC news segment featuring Hallie Jackson on Friday, December 4, 2021.