the impossible burger

Vegetarians, Day 4: The Impossibly Complicated Impossible Burger

Dan and I go out to dinner pretty much every Friday night. It’s either because we’ve run out of food, motivation to cook, or both. This past Friday was our first experience in a restaurant as vegetarians. We almost went to our default place – Tiny Thai, which we both agree we could live solely off from- but then remembered that Mule Bar was now selling the Impossible Burger. It was time to give it a try.

For those of you who have no idea what the Impossible Burger is, it’s supposed to mimic a real hamburger without the meat. They tout, “Impossible™ meat delivers all the flavor, aroma and beefiness of meat from cows. But here’s the kicker: It’s just plants doing the Impossible.” I was skeptical, but ordered one anyone.

the impossible burger

My first impression was, Wow, that actually looks exactly like beef. Not only was it shaped like a burger, but it was even cooked to behave like ground beef, with a brown exterior and pink middle. Then came the smell test and it passed that, too. It shockingly smelled like a burger that just came off the grill. So what about taste? Would it taste just like a burger?

Sort of. The “meat” actually didn’t taste much like anything, IMHO.

After researching, I’ve learned the Impossible Burger is made of coconut flecks, wheat, potato protein, and heme, which is the secret ingredient that gives the burger its meaty texture…and is also, as I found out, a pretty controversial ingredient.

Heme is a molecule found in all living things, from animals to plants. But you need a ton of it to create anything substantial. The company who makes the Impossible Burger found a way to manipulate soy so that it pumped out heme in mass volume. This is part of why the Impossible Burger is controversial: it’s genetically modified. The other reason it is controversial is because up until very recently, heme was not recognized by the FDA as safe for human consumption. A ruling in July of 2018 changed that and now the FDA considers it GRAS (generally recognized as safe). As in, don’t worry, it’s pretty much safe to eat this. We think. As far as we know. There was that one rat who grew an extra limb out of its head, but we think that was an anomaly. 

The FDA denial and GRAS status is concerning for me because, to be blunt, the FDA typically sucks at protecting consumers. We assume if an ingredient is dangerous to ingest or put on our bodies, the FDA wouldn’t allow it , right? Wrong. Lead has been found in all major brands of lipstick, formaldehyde in baby shampoo, phthalates in food packaging, and bpa in pretty much every plastic. All of these chemicals are known carcinogens that wreck havoc on our bodies, and yet, are still being manufactured. How? Because many of these products are not required to undergo FDA approval and because they can keep the ingredients a “trade secret.”

At the start of this journey, I wanted to eat less meat because I didn’t want animals to die. But there was also a health component – I wanted to find healthy, protein alternatives to fill me up. And here I am now substituting naturally occurring meat from animals who are part of our food chain, for genetically modified food that a scientist concocted in some lab. Is that really a better choice?

Here are some redeeming qualities of the Impossible Burger:

  1. It uses 75% less water, 95% less land, and generates about 87% lower greenhouse gas emissions than a conventional burger from cows.
  2. It’s produced without using hormones or antibiotics, normally injected into cattle.
  3. It contains no cholesterol.
  4. It doesn’t kill animals.

So, the big question: would I order the Impossible Burger again, knowing all that I know now? Probably not. Controversies aside, I wasn’t super wowed with the taste. And if it doesn’t taste that good, and I have moral reservations, what’s the point? I think I’ll stick to typical veggie burgers for now.

Vegetarians, Day 3: That Smells Good, Too Bad I Can’t Eat It

Day 3

At the start of this experiment, I decided I never wanted to be one of those people who make their vegetarianism a big deal. I’m not here to preach, convert, or make anyone go out of their way by adjusting their cooking to fit my lifestyle. I’m just here to eat fewer animals for a month.

Last night, my book club had its monthly meeting and dinner (side note: we call it the Shithole Book Club and we only read books by authors who are from “shithole” countries, according to Trump). My friend who hosted told the group she was going to make a French cassoulet — a casserole, typically made of beans and you guessed it, meat. I called her to ask if I could possible scoop around the meat. She let me know that wasn’t really possible and that the sausage was cut up very small.

Here it was: my first vegetarian conundrum.

Just to be clear, I hadn’t told my friend I was doing this experiment. I really didn’t want her to have to change her plans for 1 of 7 people. I also knew others would bring an appetizer and a side dish to go with the main. I told her not to worry about me. “Worse case scenario, I can just fill up on bread.” So that was my strategy. And then I walked into her house.

I was immediately overcome with the delicious smell of the cassoulet. In a split second, my brain went from saying, “That smells sooo good, I can’t wait to eat it,” to “Fuck! I can’t eat it!” And I realized this experiment might actually be harder than I wanted to admit.

But in the end, I stuck to my plan and it really wasn’t a big deal. I ate cheese and crackers, bread, and huge helping of a delicious walnut grapefruit kale salad. I was full and I was satisfied.

Part of what I’m learning is that more than anything this is a re-conditioning of my brain. I do not need to eat meat, or even a meat substitute, at every meal–that’s just what I was conditioned to believe up to this point in my life. I think I also learned that although I don’t need to push my ideals on others, it might not be the worst idea to mention in advance that I’m doing this experiment to a) not make my friends feel bad if they cook meat and b) to make sure there is something else available.

If anyone has tips on how to broach the vegetarian subject in a non-annoying way when someone has you over for dinner, I’d love to hear it! Also, do folks ever bring over their own food, or is that weird?

Vegetarians, Day 2: Ooe, Eee, Ooe, Killer Tofu!

Day 2

Last night we decided to host our friends for dinner, and not only cook a vegetarian meal, but also attempt to cook tofu. For the first time. Ever.

It was a pretty gutsy (read: dumb) move since they have been vegetarians for years and have cooked tofu a million times. But this experiment is about taking chances and they agreed to be our guinea pigs.

One of the first roadblocks I ran into was not knowing there were so many different kinds of tofu. Soft (which looked liked ricotta cheese in a tube *shutters*), Medium (a slight step up in hardness, but still not necessarily solid); Firm (a solid, sponge-like block in water); and Extra Firm (like Firm, but tougher and less water content). Un/Fortunately I had already blindly purchased the firm variety, not knowing there was a difference, so that’s what I went with.

Then I discovered a long-held debate in the Tofu World: To Press or Not to Press? In Western culture, people generally prefer to press to get as much water out as possible so that the tofu itself is harder and so they are avoiding a spongy texture. But according to a YouTuber I watched who is from Korea, they don’t mind the spongy texture and therefore they don’t press it. Since I’m neither Korean, nor really know what I’m doing, I went with a happy medium: squeezing the tofu between two cutting boards once or twice. Was this the right thing to do or even the right method? Probably not. I could make a whole other post on the varying methods for how to press, including stacking books on top … (which just seems dangerous, but ok).

Next , it was time to transform the tofu from a tasteless, egglike mass into something resembling food. I chopped it up into cubes and put it in this marinade to sit overnight:

  • Oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Maple syrup
  • Ginger
  • Garlic

I discovered the next morning that the tofu sucked up most of the marinade. So my effort to press it now seemed moot. Maybe that’s why Koreans don’t bother.

Finally it was time to bake it. I found a recipe that recommended coating the tofu in cornstarch to help get it crispy and baking it at 350 degrees. But here’s the part that killed me – it said to cook it for between 20 and 45 minutes. That’s a big range. How would I possibly know when it’s done?! 

In the end, I cooked it for 30 minutes total, flipping at the 10 minute marks as suggested. The tofu did not turn out crispy, but it also wasn’t terrible. It held its shape and tasted like the marinade. For being my first time cooking it, I was pleasantly surprised.

Here are my general observations about tofu:

  • You really have to put some time and work in to make it taste good.
  • It’s not a very forgiving product to work with (cutting, pressing, etc).
  • I doubt I will become tofu’s biggest fan by the end of this experiment.

P.S. Who can name the cartoon this clip came from?!

Vegetarians for a Month

Dan and I decided that for the month of January, we will be vegetarians. We’re going to give it a go and re-evaluate on February 1st if no meat is really the way for us.

People have asked me if there was a significant moment that lead to this decision, and there was–the lambs in Iceland. Everywhere we drove, we were surrounded by these fluff balls of cuteness, who looked so innocent and happy. Then we would go into a restaurant and see “rack of lamb” as the special, and I’d lose my appetite.

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Sheep in Iceland, photo by me

Funny enough, three weeks earlier when we were driving around South Dakota and Wyoming, seeing cattle had the opposite effect on me: I craved steak and couldn’t wait to order a juicy hamburger. I can’t really explain it, except maybe that some animals are cuter than others.

Since those two trips in October, we’ve made a conscious effort to eat less meat. So we’ve been easing ourselves into this decision and aren’t just going to quit cold turkey (to be clear, we WILL be quitting turkey, just not…cold? This is getting weird). Anyway.

I’ll be posting about our experiment here when I have updates. In the meantime, please feel free to share your favorite vegetarian recipes below!

How to Travel to ANY Destination!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine

We have a dry erase board at work that we use to ask each other different questions every month. A few months ago the question was, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” It’s an innocent enough question, but it actually really bothered me. And it bothered me because of one word: if.

As I literally found myself writing a public service announcement response about how attainable travel really is, I thought better of it and decided to write here instead. So let me just state the obvious: Traveling to your favorite destination IS possible! 

The problem with the word “if” is that it qualifies travel as this mysterious thing that only happens to really rich/lucky people and is something that is never going to happen to you. Don’t accept that. You get one fucking life. ONE. You CAN be a person who travels to a place they read about in a magazine, or saw in a movie, or heard about through a friend. Like anything in life, you have to make travel a priority and you have to come up with a plan. Here’s what you do:

Step 1: Pick the destination in your mind. That’s all you have to do for step one. Just know where you want to go.

Step 2: Do some research. Figure out the cost of flights, hotels, rental car, and any activities you might do there. You’re just ball-parking at this point—no need to get exact.

Step 3: Get real about your money.  Now that you know how much the trip could potentially cost, look at your finances. Do you have that much money in your bank account? If yes, awesome! If not, time to analyze. Excluding bills, what are you spending your money on? Look for items that you could curtail, like that $5 Frapp you buy each morning. Expenses that don’t seem like very much in the moment add up over time. A $5 coffee each morning = $35 a week, $150 a month, or $1825 a year! That’s like an entire trip right there! Maybe you have an online shopping habit, or maybe you go to the movies each weekend. Whatever it is, ask yourself, “Is this more important than traveling?” If it is, I have no time for you — goodbye. If it’s not, read on!

Step 4: Setup a savings account JUST FOR TRAVEL.  Did you gasp at this idea? I know, me too when I thought of it originally (note: I did not invent this idea). When my partner Dan and I were first getting into travel and doing these same steps, we knew we had to do something different than saving money in our bank accounts. If we saw money in there, we were going to spend it. So I had the idea of us physically withdrawing money every paycheck and putting it in a “travel jar.” Beside this being a really dumb idea if we had been robbed, it was also foolish because it meant the money we were saving was not gaining any interest. So instead we looked for a savings account with a high interest rate. We landed with an online bank and a 1% interest rate. I highly suggest using a different bank than the one you keep the rest of your money in so that you are not easily tempted to use it. What you want to do is pretend this account doesn’t exist or that you don’t have permission to access it. I love my bank for this reason because I don’t have an ATM card…BUT if shit hits the fan, I can do an online transfer to my other bank in a couple days.

Another tip is to open a credit card that earns travel points. There are lots out there that help you earn miles, or will even forgive travel related expenses.

Step 5: Start saving money. Some people will interpret this sentence as, “DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF EVERYTHING.” But that’s not what I’m suggesting. What I’m suggesting is little improvements here and there. Think back to step 3 and how much you’re spending on non-essentials and decide on a number that is doable for you. I don’t care if you can only afford to save $9 a paycheck–do it. Go to your HR department, give them that magical number and setup a direct deposit. You will be shocked at how quickly this money adds up!

Step 6: Get obsessed with savings. You’ve got your travel savings account, you’re making regular deposits, and now it’s time to get obsessed with saving money. How exactly do you do this? Challenge yourself to make deposits whenever possible and then be really proud of yourself when you do!

Let’s pretend you were thinking of going out to dinner. After booze and food, your meal might have cost you $25-$50. Let’s also pretend your plans fell through and now you’re making dinner at home. Take the $25-50 you would have spent on that meal and deposit it!  Here’s another scenario:  you just got a raise at work. Guess what? You survived on the amount you were making before. Time to invest the difference. Calculate your increase per paycheck, go back to HR, and change the amount you are depositing into your travel account. Again, I don’t care if you’re only make .38c more per paycheck — deposit it!

Step 7: Get prepared to actually use some of your time off. I can’t tell you how many people I know who lose PTO by the end of the year because they didn’t take enough days off. What the actual fuck is wrong with these people!? They’re PAID vacation days. They are one of the perks of your employment! If you are one of these people, first of all, I feel sorry for you. Secondly, what are you worried about? That the office is going to fall apart without you? That your boss will deny your request? If you have a good boss, they will understand the importance of taking time off. It’s not just some cush benefit; we receive time off to RESET so that we can come back and continue to do our jobs well. We are not doing ourselves or our organization any favors by being overworked, super grumps. So use it!

Step 8: Be flexible on the timing of your trip. Did you know timing can greatly affect how much your trip costs? A recent study said that the best time to book domestic flights is 54 days out; the booking window for international flights varies greatly.  Even the day of week you fly on matters. I highly recommend using Google Flights to try different days and months.

Another factor is that every destination has a peak tourist season.You can save yourself a lot of money and avoid big crowds by booking off-season. For example, Italy’s peak season is May-August. Dan and I have visited twice: once in April and once in late May/early June. The trip we took off season saved us upwards of $500 per person!

But let’s be honest — sometimes you are choosing a location because of the season. For example, you might be booking a trip to a Caribbean island to escape winter. In that case, understand there’s not much you can do and get used to the idea of paying a premium.

Step 9. Keep your eyes peeled for deals. There are tons of travel websites out there that offer vacation packages. They often come up suddenly and disappear just as quickly. But if you can find one, bundling your airfare and lodging will save you so much money! I personally swear by Travelzoo. They release a weekly email called The Top 20, which features the best deals they’ve come across from each week. I’ve booked at least three vacations through them. Remember how I said we found an off-season deal to Italy? That was through Travelzoo: 7 nights, airfare, hotels, and rental car for a total of $699 per person. Literally less than the price of one airplane ticket to Italy. You can also try the vacation bundle options at Priceline, Kayak, and Travelocity (or a million other sites).

Step 10. Make a more concrete budget. In step 2, you researched ballpark prices of airfare, lodging, car rental and activities. Now it’s time to get exact prices. You should have an idea of when you want to travel, so start plugging in some dates and times to get costs. Try different websites, different days of the week, and different months. Think about the activities you want to do while you’re there and get some prices. When you’ve collected all the pieces, make a budget that includes:

  • Anything you need to buy for your trip. For example, do you need a passport?
  • Transportation to/from the airport
  • Airfare
  • Lodging
  • Car rental or public transportation at the destination
  • Activities (entrance fees, tickets, etc)
  • Food and drink

After making this budget, you might find you still don’t have enough money. And that can discouraging, but it’s part of the process. Keep saving! When you finally do have enough to take this trip, you will appreciate it so much more.

Step 11. Pull the trigger! When you’ve finally saved enough money to get to the destination of your dreams, pat yourself on the back! You set a goal for yourself and you did it! Tell work you’re finally going to take a freakin’ vacation. Then book that trip and have an amazing time!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

10 Things I Love About Target

If you’re living in Vermont then you likely heard the BIG news today – no, it’s not about Ben and Jerry’s, or pot, or skiing. Are you ready…TARGET IS COMING TO VT! YAAAAAAAAAY!

That’s right, the only state in the country without a Target store is finalllly getting one. It’s been, oh I don’t know, 500 years since we’ve been asking?  Target will be going in at the University Mall sometime in 2018. It’s not going to be a large Target – I guess they are trying a new smaller model for more rural communities like ours – but hey, a Target is a Target, right? No more having to take the expensive ferry to Plattsburgh, NY to shop in one, or drive all the way to New Hampshire. Now you can take that gas and ferry money AND BUY MORE THINGS AT TARGET!

So in honor of this exciting news, here are 10 things that I love about Target.

1. Those big, red concrete balls out front. I don’t know why, but as soon as we park, I start RUNNING to those balls like I’m metal to a magnet. Weeeeee!

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2. There is almost always a Starbucks inside. Why, yes, I would love to pump myself full of caffeine to become even more excited about this shopping experience.

3. Their Carts. I’m normally a person who HATES pushing a cart. I always end up with that one that has a wonky wheel, or makes a super embarrassing high pitched squeal.  But the carts at Target…oh MAN. They are next level. They literally glide. It’s MAGIC.

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4. The store is clean, bright and well organized. Yesss to not having to shop in a complete dump just because you’re getting good deals. Wally World, I’m looking at you.

5. They have super cute home décor stuff. Unexpected, right? I’ve purchased everything from candles, to shower curtains, to an outdoor couch from Target. And none of it looked like it came from a department store.

6. It allows me to be efficient. I can pick up a new bra, cat food, stationery and a car battery, all in one swoop! Without Target, I’d have to go to four different stores to get all of those items.

7. Their cartwheel rewards program is baller good and saves you lots of money. I follow a couple couponing sites and they are always sharing the amazing deals you can get at Target. I can’t wait to sign up for Cartwheel and try myself!

8. That bargin section at the beginning of the store with seasonal items you didn’t even know you needed. The joy a $1 pack of pencils brings to my life cannot be understated. This section starts your shopping experience off right!
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9. Their employees are so friendly and helpful. Wow, people who don’t look like they want to kill themselves AND actually know where things are in the store? Unheard of.

10. Their branding. That cute dog Spot, the iconic bullseye (so simple, yet so effective) and their entertaining commercials make me want to go to Target always.

2016: My Year in Review

Sometimes I can be hard on myself. I tend to get to the end of a year and think, “I didn’t do this” or “I never got around to that.” This year, as I sifted through the 1,300 photos on my iPhone, I realized I actually had a really phenomenal year and that’s worth celebrating!

1. I met Hillary fucking Clinton. Sorry, Dan, that had to be number 1.

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2. I read 20 books.

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3. We spent my birthday at a relaxing Spa.

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4. We went “across” with my Mom. CAPPA.

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5. We flew over the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

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6. We visited Europe…twice…!

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7. I learned some Italian.

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8. I ran 2 miles, two days a week, for most weeks.

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9. I wrote more here on my blog.

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10. I danced on stage with Morris Day and the Time.

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11. We saw Pearl Jam, The Dixie Chicks, Brandi Carlile, and Rev Run in concert.

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12. We spent a week on Martha’s Vineyard and celebrated Dan’s 37th birthday.

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13. We went to the Warren Fourth of July Parade for the first time and Dan won $75 worth of cheese.

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14. We hiked, walked and ran with Sadie more this year.

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15. We kayaked and fished.

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16. We saw 4 Lake Monsters games.

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17. I won 99 $1.00 bills at Breakwaters.

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18. I also won a year of flea prevention medicine for Sade, ha.

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19. I spent a lot of time with family.

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20. I baked countless breads, cookies and pastries.

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21. We gave our greenhouse a makeover.

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22. We installed new basement windows.

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23. I cuddled (a lot) with Brody and Sadie.sadie-brody-cuddling
24. We spent some QT with friends.

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25. We played on a softball team and donned jeggings.softball
26. We ran a 5K and had to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the middle of it (and yes I realize how counter productive this was to #8)

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27. I became very close to the cat next door, Lily.

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28. I got to see one of my best friends have a baby (note: not *literally* see) and become an honorary Auntie.

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29. We visited Portland, ME.

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30. We went to Hampton Beach.

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31. We had awesome foliage and went on a leaf-peeing adventure to the NEK.

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32. I got *really* into nail art.

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33. I developed a new-found appreciation for both my dad and Sherlock Holmes.

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34. We made teacup bird feeders and became bird watchers.

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35. We got lots of snow in December and I continued trying to learn how to snowboard.

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36. I got to honor a close friend and coworker with a goofy video.

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37. I became a Nasty Woman – ok, let’s be honest: I always was one, but finally got the t-shirt to prove it.img_9507

38. I organized a drive for period products for a domestic violence organization.period-products-drive
39. I rekindled an important friendship.

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40. And…I finally hit that mother f-ing jackpot on Candy Crush.

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What a year!

The Bubble Bursts. Trump Wins.

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Two weeks ago, we were in London on another one of our cheap travel adventures. We had booked the deal weeks before Brexit and were pretty happy that the timing worked out in our favor. But besides a cheap (er) pound, we weren’t sure what to expect over there. Would Brexit be all that was talked about? Would the pubs be crowded with people drinking away their sorrows? It was hard to know what would happen.

One night, I got accidentally hangry and we ran into the first restaurant we could find. It was busy and the only table available was a shared one in the back of the restaurant. I grumbled, but we accepted. Towards the end of the meal, our British table-mates chatted us and asked where we were from. We had joked before the trip that we would lie and tell people we were from Canada in order to avoid talking about the presidential election. But we found ourselves nonetheless confessing “Vermont.” Instantly the conversation turned to the topic we had hoped to avoid.

“You aren’t from TRUMPLAND, are you?” our British friends laughed.

“No, definitely not!” we replied.

“What a joke your country is right now!” and we agreed.

It went on like this for a little bit—them sharing they had seen Trump say  X offensive thing, us laughing nervously while trying to make it clear we weren’t supporters. Finally Dan was able to pivot to their current crisis.

“Yeah, so what about Brexit? What a disaster that was, huh?”

It was like the music in the room stopped. Instantly their moods changed. Their faces grew stern. “Actually, no. We think it’s great. We think it’s just what this country needs,” they told us. Open mouth, insert foot.

Trump winning yesterday is that interaction all over again, but on a massive scale. I had naively assumed the majority of Americans didn’t support him, that there was no way he could win, and that if he did, I wouldn’t personally know anyone who was happy about his victory. But it turns out, I do know Trump supporters:

-My friend from college who outed herself the day after the election. She said she was offended by the news because there are plenty non-white, non-males who supported him, including herself.  She is not only a college educated female, but half Mexican.

-My best friend’s parents. They are hardworking, good people, who own a local business and are constantly donating food or gift cards from their restaurant to non-profits, schools, and youth sports teams. They even recently held a Calcutta fundraiser for one of their former employee’s grandsons who is sick with leukemia.

-My aunt, who is one of the people I love and respect most in the world. She is smart, reasonable, and is another example of a big-hearted person who constantly goes out of her way for others.

I struggle to understand their decision—to understand how I can like these people when they voted for the exact opposite of everything I believe in. It hurts. It’s hard not to take their choices personally.

But if I play the devil’s advocate for a minute, voting is just as personal a decision as say abortion, the issue I work every day to protect. If these people, these good humans, could find something appealing about Trump, it shouldn’t surprise me that 59 million other Americans could, too. Do I think that all 59 million are the same caliber of decency as my friends and family? No. In a lot of ways, this race, this candidate, granted permission to the racists, sexists, xenophobes, and homophobes to come crawling out of the closets and spew hatred. And I believe that a big chunk of his voters love that renewed hatred and are thriving on it now. But I also have to believe that there are people in this country who are aching for change and for one personal reason or another, truly believed Trump is going to bring that change.

I’ll be the first to admit that I live in a sheltered, unique bubble. I work with nearly all women who share the same belief system. I love a man who has the same political leanings. And I live in a state where the majority of people overwhelming voted for the same candidate that I did. To say my bubble burst on Wednesday morning would be an understatement.

I was devastated. I was in disbelief. I had supported Hillary since the Obama primary. I bought her bumper sticker, tshirts, shared her social media posts, and even forced my way through a crowd to meet and shake her hand at a rally. I endured as a minority in my own state of Vermont through Feel The Bern, staying strong to my convictions and saying, “I’m still with her.” By Election Day, I was confident she was going to win and convinced I’d spend the night celebrating our first female president. I wore my pink Hillary shirt, took selfies, smiled all day, and even bought a giant tub of party mix to figuratively and deliciously mark the occasion. [I know now that was what jinxed it. #thanksobama]

The day after [so yesterday-wow, that seems like a long time ago-] was like mourning a death. Our office felt like a funeral home. We hugged, we cried, we supported each other, we went through the stages of grief. Everyone wore black. It was more of the same when I got home, plus frantically reading and watching everything we could get our hands on to understand how this happened.

I don’t know what else to do. I see people just like me protesting across the country and I just—can’t. I’m tired. I’m defeated. Most of all, I think if the roles were reversed, I’d be calling the protesting side “sore losers.” And because Hillary has been nothing but the epitome of class about this whole outcome, I personally don’t think protesting is the right move.

I’m trying instead to be there for my coworkers and friends. To ask how they are doing or give a hug. I’m trying to do one nice thing a day for someone. I’m trying to take care of myself. Mostly, I’m trying to understand the “other side.” I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. And let me tell you – so far it feels like squeezing my size 10 into a pair of 5’s. Uncomfortable. Before you get all, “Wow, that’s so noble of you, Amy,” let me just make one thing clear: for every one of these good moments, I still have two that involve screaming at the TV or throwing my phone. I still cry. I still worry about nuclear war, about my organization folding, about women’s rights going out the window, about me losing my job, about the KKK, about the rights of my LGBTQAI friends, about the safety of my non-white friends, etc. etc. etc. I’m not over this. I don’t know that I will ever be over this. But I am trying to understand it, and maybe if we all do more of that, we won’t ever be here again.

Thoughts while going for a walk in the woods and being female

Who will be in the woods?

Is it too dark/too early/too late to be taking this walk?

Is it a bad idea to be wearing these headphones?

Does someone know I’m out here?

Is that parked car suspicious?

Are those two guys sitting inside that car suspicious?

What would I do if they got out and started chasing me?

Would I scream?

Would I run?

Would I be able to run fast enough without my inhaler?

Would they say I was asking for it because I’m wearing these black yoga pants and this cut off sweatshirt?

Would I try to talk them out of it?

Would I lie and say I had my period?

Would I lie and say I had AIDS, like I saw in a movie once?

Would they believe me?

Would they have a gun?

Would my dog even understand if I was in trouble?

Would she attack them?

Would she run home and get help, like Lassie?

Would I fight tooth and nail?

Would I succumb and let it happen?

Would I survive?

What would I tell my friends and family?

Would they question why I was on this walk?

Would they scold me for going alone?

Would they say I should have carried that pepper spray with me?

Would they say I should have known this could happen?

What was that noise?

Is someone behind me?

Should I take out these headphones?

Should I walk faster?

Am I almost out of the woods?

That Time I Danced with Morris Day and The Time AND COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED MYSELF

“Do you wanna go up stage and dance?” Dan asked me.

“YEAHHHHHH!,” I shouted back instantly over the loud music, not thinking for a second what that actually meant.

“OK, wait here,” the large, muscular security guard said to me, as he corralled me towards the others.

It was a beautiful Friday night at the Waterfront and let’s just say your girl had been taking advantage of the open bar. Taking advantage of all the offerings, really. Dan’s company parties are known for being epic and include a concert with bands you’re shocked are in tiny Vermont. Coming from the non-profit world where we can’t even afford an extra roll of toilet paper, it’s part shocking, part exhilarating to see how the other half lives.

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We spent the first part of the party mingling, rocking our “flashback” outfits, and seeing what other crazy things people had on. My favorite was this dude who was just straight up dressed like The Ultimate Warrior for no reason other than it’s the Ultimate Warrior and you don’t need a reason. We saw a woman dressed as Riff Raff, complete with braids and a tin foil mouth grill. We saw people wearing afro wigs and sequins. We saw men in mesh shirts, and some men with no shirts at all.  We saw women in rainbow tutus and ponytails on the sides of their heads. These people took their parties seriously and for the first time in my costume career I almost felt under-dressed.IMG_7681

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have started the night off with a Heady Topper, an 8%, 16 ounce beer known to knock lightweights like me on my ass. But what the hell. It was Friday night. I probably had 1/4 of a can left when I hopped in line to get one last free beer before open bar closed.

“Are you out of Heady Topper?” I asked the bartender.

“Yeah, sorry,”he replied.

“That’s OK. I’ll take a Corona, please.”

He looked at me like I had two heads.

“Do you want ONE…or do you want TWO?” he asked.

Unsure if this was a trick question or not, I hesitantly replied, “Two?”

“Smart girl,” he said as he handed over my two Coronas.

And then I was the girl at the party with three beers.

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Morris Day and The Time (MDATT) were about to get started, so I took my three beers and what was left of my dignity, and followed Dan up to stage right. For those of you unfamiliar with MDATT, he was Prince’s band competition in the movie Purple Rain…and for those of you unfamiliar with Purple Rain, just turn on VH1 because they’ve played it about 1674 times since Prince died in April. MDATT are a really fun funk/soul band, who are full of attitude, style and extremely talented musicians. They keep it old school in all the best ways with synchronized dance moves and attire.IMG_7697

Morris himself was rocking a diamond rhinestone mauve suit, a gigantic diamond ring, and at least 3 million carat diamond watches ON BOTH WRISTS. He was everything my 3rd grade, bedazzle enthusiast’s heart could ever hope for and I couldn’t look away. I also couldn’t really feel my face.

So anyway, there we were–Dan with his N/A beer, me with my collection of empty cans and my buzz, and Morris with his diamonds–when Dan asked if I wanted to go up on stage and dance. And I stupidly agreed.

As I was being ushered by the security guard to the other dancers, I saw Dan stay behind.

“Wait, wait,” I said shouting to Dan over the loud music. “Aren’t YOU coming, too?”

He also looked at me like I had two heads.

“Haha, no way, babe,” Dan laughed and smiled. “Just you ladies.”

What the hell had just happened?! It was as if Dan and the security guard had made some sort secret agreement when I was being blinded by Morris’ bling. I instantly regretted my decision and considered bolting.

“Hiii! Are you Dan’s girlfriend?” some of the other girls asked me. “It’s so nice to meet you!!” They shook my hand and introduced themselves as they danced in place.

Fuck. They’re all so nice. I can’t leave now,  I thought to myself.

“So anyone know what we’re doing?”I asked the rainbow tutus girls, trying all at once to both play it cool and desperately obtain information.

“I’m not really sure!” one of them smiled back at me, no fear whatsoever in her voice.

There’s still time to run, my brain said.

“I think they just want us to dance!” one of the other girls cheerfully replied.

She was trying to make me feel better, and I really appreciated that, but instead she inadvertently set off a chain of questions I knew I couldn’t ask aloud: How will I know when to go on stage? Is there a certain dance I’m supposed to do? Is there a certain move I should absolutely NOT do? Where am I supposed to stand? Will we all be spread out or assigned a spot? Are we dancing for just one song? Are we dancing for SEVERAL songs? Oh my god, what if we’re dancing up there for the rest of the night?! WHY aren’t the other girls nervous? WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS?

“Ok, ladies, follow me,” the guard said as he began to lead us backstage.

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FUCCCCCCK.

Just as I was about to have a panic attack, I instead starting feeling all of the positive effects my friend Alcohol is known for. You know, Alcohol, right? He’s the one who tells you that dancing on stage in front of 2,000 of your boyfriend’s coworkers is a GREAT idea. He tells you that you are A FABULOUS DANCER.  He points out that YOU LOVE TO DANCE.  And he reminds you that YOU TOOK ZUMBA CLASSES FOR 3 YEARS so OBVIOUSLY you are MORE THAN PREPARED FOR THIS MOMENT, and quite possibly, YOU SHOULD HAVE AUDITIONED FOR AMERICA’S GOT TALENT BY NOW.

Well shucks, Alcohol. I don’t know about that last one. But you’re right! I’m going to relax and have fun with this.

So that’s the mindset I had as I drunkenly went on stage with a dozen other girls to be MDATT’s back up dancers.

A band member I will refer to as Jamie Foxx casually ushered us to our various places on stage, as he danced and spun around. And before you say I’m just a white girl being racist, let me assure you, this guy is so much the splitting image of Jamie Foxx that I almost asked him if he was going to sit at the piano and cover a few tunes from Ray. But there wasn’t any time for questions because I was there to dance and act like I knew what I was doing.

Everything was going great (read: completely mediocre) and I was actually enjoying myself. I waved to Dan, I smiled for the cameras, and I shook, shook,  shookmy salt shaker (whatever the hell that means).


Just when I thought the song was over and I was congratulating myself for not completely embarrassing myself, I COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED MYSELF BY HUGGING MORRIS FUCKING DAY. 

You know how certain songs sound like they are about to end…? The last note of whatever instrument is dragging on…and people in the audience have started to clap…and the singer has his hands in the air like he’s waiting for that one final note to indicate, this song is over…yeah, all that was happening.

Morris had turned around to face the band and was standing directly in front of me. And like a cast member at the finale of a Saturday Night Live episode, I was overcome with emotion and the weight of our performance. See also: drunk. So I stretched my arms out to him, cocked my head to the side and conveyed through gestures, Heeyyy, did we all just kill it up here or WHAT?!

The look on his face can only be described as absolute terror.

Turns out the song wasn’t over! It was just one of those songs with a weird dip like November Rain. I had completely screwed up his routine.

Immediately Jamie Foxx came over to pull me off Morris and put me in my rightful place, with a look on his face that said Nobody touches Morris Day and all of his diamonds. I was mortified.

But that wasn’t even the worst part! Because the song wasn’t over, I HAD TO KEEP DANCING and act like nothing had happened. So I stayed up there, fake smiling, my face beet red, doing the 4 Zumba moves I could remember over and over again, acting as if hugging Morris had all been part of the plan.

**Hugs**