Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light


Or maybe a better title for this post would be “Mental Anguish in the Time of Trump.”

I love politics. I have been following political news since before the days of Watergate. I’ve always found it fascinating to follow the actions and words of our national leaders. Even when I have vehemently disagreed with a President or Congress, I’ve enjoyed the arguments, the discussions, the matching of wits with those who disagree.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

Now, like so many other Americans, I am overwhelmed with what is happening to my country. I’m anxious, even afraid, for the first time in a very long time. But that’s not all.

I was talking all of this over with my husband, the other day. And I realized that what feels unbearable to me right now is the uncomfortable combination of rage and helplessness that hits me in the face every single day.

Rage.

I am feeling true rage about our President and those fools in Congress. Tearing away every kind of protection that our government has put in place for us. Regulations designed to keep our air and water at least marginally safe? Gone under this administration. I’m old enough to remember when our rivers were on fire and our harbors were so toxic that falling meant an immediate trip to the Emergency Room.

I’m enraged that Donald Trump is sending us back there.

Angry doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about Trump’s one sided assault on our insurance system. Congress couldn’t find a way to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, so Trump is taking a machete to it. It doesn’t matter how many people will lose coverage. It doesn’t matter how many people die.

Trump wants it to happen, so he’s making it happen.

And the list goes on, of course. Impending nuclear war with North Korea threatens the whole world, but Trump just keeps on tweeting. The United States will ignore its allies, pull out of legal treaties, go to war with anyone who annoys the man in the Oval. The NRA will keep its stranglehold on our government and more and more innocent people will die.

And then there are the lies. One after the other, day after day after day. Trump lies, lies, lies and lies some more. EVERYONE knows it. The entire media knows about it, but when they call him out, he screams, “Fake! Fake!” and repeats whatever lie it was.

That’s what brings me to the feeling of helplessness.

I am used to contacting my Congressional Reps. I contact them by mail, by email, by phone, when I think that there is an issue that needs their attention.

But what am I supposed to do now? My Congress people agree with me! They know that Trump is dangerous, unhinged, dishonest, amoral. They’re as scared as I am.

Should I march in the streets, the way I did at the Women’s March in DC and the anti-Nazi march in Boston?

It feels good when we do it, that’s for sure.

But NOTHING seems to change.

When you are living in a country that has suddenly been turned on its head, what do you do? When you find yourself going through your daily life under a President who make up his own facts, threatens the press, mocks his colleagues, admires the worst among us and lies with a completely straight face….Well. What are you supposed to do to ease that sense of fear and rage?

I feel completely helpless.

We are dealing with a completely surreal situation here. Our President wakes up every morning and tells us things that are simply untrue. He’s contradicted by those who know the truth. He repeats his made up facts. And he repeats them again.

Up has become down. The sky is pink. Trump’s agenda is, according to him, “ahead of schedule.” No President in history has been as successful as he is. No President was smarter. Or a better negotiator.

Facts no longer matter. The truth has become as malleable as hot taffy.

What are we to do?

I no longer believe that I can do a single thing to make things better or safer for my family. Now my goal is to find a way to maintain my own mental health as I sit back and watch our leaders fail to cope with the fact that we have elected a madman and he is taking us on a path of destruction.

Rage and helplessness.

Not a good mix. Not a great way to move through middle age.

What do we do? How are you holding onto your fragile sanity in an age of total insanity?

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“I pledge allegience….”


What on earth are we doing when we ask little children to recite the words in our “Pledge of allegiance”?

What are we doing?

Have you ever listened in when very young kids are trying to repeat these words? I have. I was a teacher for almost 30 years.

“I predger legiance to the flag on the United States of American.”

“And to the republic of Richard Sands…”

“One nation, underground….”

What are we doing?

We are asking children to join a club they don’t understand. We are asking them to promise loyalty forever to a piece of cloth. At least, that’s what it seems like for them.

Really, honestly, when we adults stand up and place our hands on our hearts, and say these words, we are pledging our loyalty to “The republic for which” that flag stands. We are promising that we will do our best to protect and defend the “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

So what if we see a republic in which there is no “indivisible” group of people who receive “liberty and justice” equally? What should we do?

Because we live in the United States of America, we have the right to protest. We have the duty, as Americans, to do our best to demand that there is equality in the liberty and justice that is applied to all.

Even kids who came here from the Dominican Republic at the tender age of 6 months and who now live, work, learn, contribute as “Dreamers”. We have a duty to point it out if we think those people are not experiencing liberty and justice that is equal to ours.

If we see that our Black friends live in a kind of fear that we will never know, if we see that young black men are afraid to drive to work after dark or fear for their lives if their taillight goes out, then we have a duty to complain.

The fact that some rich, famous American athletes like Colin Kaepernick have chosen to stay on one knee during the reciting of the “Promise to be eternally loyal to our country”is proof that this country is worthy of our allegiance.

When I was a teacher, I was mandated by law to have my class recite the Pledge of Allegiance at least once per month. So I spent a considerable amount of time teaching my innocent ten year old charges the seriousness of standing, placing a hand over our hearts, and solemnly repeating those words. I made sure that every single one of them understood what it is that they were saying.

I had an assignment where they were asked to put the pledge into their own words.

Most importantly of all, I told them, those wide eyed young children, that they would never, ever be obligated to stand and say those words. I impressed upon them the fact that making a pledge must be voluntary.

“If your government insists that you have to stand up and swear your loyalty,” I told each child, “then you are not living in a free and open society. If you are ordered to swear loyalty, you are living in a dictatorship.”

And I thought about the people I knew who lived under Joseph Stalin. I thought about the children in front of me whose parents and grandparents fled from dictatorships in Iran, in North Korea, in China.

The only NFL player that I have ever admired in my entire life is Colin Kaepernick. I salute him and all of those who are joining in taking a knee because they want the United States of America to be worthy of their pledge of allegiance.

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All Worn Out


I am done. Worn out. Run down. Squeezed dry.

I am just absolutely sick of all the Americans who are determined to pounce on every reason to gripe, point fingers and complain about each other.

A hurricane came roaring into an American city. It blew over homes, businesses, churches, schools, animal shelters, restaurants and used car lots. It poured more water onto one spot than we’ve ever seen.

Human beings are dying out there. They are dying in their flooded houses, huddled on their bureaus on the third floor. Old people are shivering in the cold water. Babies are crying and scared.

This is a true, honest-to-God disaster.

And I can’t help them! I can’t rush in from the safety of my New England home to rescue terrified families. I can’t bring medicine to sick people, or take home drowning puppies, or jump in my kayak to deliver clean water.

It breaks my heart to watch and be unable to help, other than writing a check.

In light of all that, may I please make a request?

Dear conservative friends and family,

For the love of God, Barack Obama was NOT president during Hurricane Katrina. Stop with all that “Where was Obama during Katrina?” crap. Just stop.

This is not Hillary’s fault. It isn’t Obama’s fault, or Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s fault. The DNC didn’t cause this and you can’t pin it on Bill Maher or Rachel Maddow or antifa.

It was a hurricane. It was nature. It happened.

Now people, our fellow American citizens, our fellow humans are desperately tying to survive.

So. Just. Stop.

Dear liberal friends and family,

I do not care, not one bit, what kind of shoes Melania wore to Houston. I don’t care that Trump sounded incredibly self-serving at his press conference down there. Hullo. Have you ever heard him NOT sound self-serving? His narcissism is NOT the point today.

Texas needs help, and Congress can provide it. So can we please move on and forget that after Hurricane Sandy a bunch of Texas political hacks refused to vote in favor of a relief package for New Jersey? Now is not the time to play “I can be as big an asshole as you can.” Americans need help. End of story.

Also, I know that some people out there will try to post images that feed a particular racial narrative (the looting black men, the white rescuers, etc). But does it really help any of us to be on hyper alert searching ahead of time for those posts?

There are a million other images out there that show the young black men saving elderly white ladies, and black officers holding onto white children.

All I can say is that I have been more or less glued to the news for the past week. I have heard story after story of plain old regular folks coming out to save others.

Today I was listening to NPR, and I heard an interview with a young man who had come from his safe Texas town to another flooded out community. He came with his boat and his cousin in tow. The young man had one of those thick-as-molasses Texas accents that in normal times makes me think “redneck.”

I’ll be painfully honest, in normal times, I would have immediately pegged him for an ignorant southern hick. I would have assumed he was a big Trump supporter and that he was probably a racist.

All that because of the way he says, “Yes, Sir, I heard they was needin’ boats out bah the freeway.”

But I listened to his words as he was answering the reporter. He said that he’d come down with his boat because he has a license to navigate it. He cousin came because he’d served two tours in Iraq as a medic, and he was able to help anyone with medical concerns.

And with a little laugh this humble young man said, “I figured we was at least kind of qualified to help.”

When the reporter asked him why he would risk his life for complete strangers, he was clearly taken aback. He said, “Well, Sir, if it was your Momma or your Grandaddy in the wattah, wouldn’t you wan’t someone to come ‘n hep?”

So please, dear friends. Give it a damn rest. Stop the finger pointing, the name calling, the anxious and angry posturing. I’m pretty sure that when the water goes down, all the bullshit will start back up and I’ll be more than ready to jump back on the “Trump is insane” bandwagon.

But for now, can we just please do our best to stay positive, and let everyone heal up a bit?

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Oh, But I’m Afraid.


I’m sixty one years old. I’m white. I am happily middle class. I speak English as my first language. I was raised as a Christian. I’m heterosexual.

I have every kind of privilege there is, other than being a man.

There is going to be a big right wing rally in Boston tomorrow. It says it’s about “free speech”, but the speakers are Nazis, white supremacists, racists.

There is going to be a big counter rally nearby, as well as a march to the spot where the alt-right is gathering.

What do I do?

I am so conflicted.

Here is a bit of my thinking.

Don’t go:

• I live an hour and half from Boston

• I’m a 61 year old Grandmother

• There are younger, more fit people who could go.

• It might be violent. I don’t want to get hurt.

• There are people who depend on me! My children, my grandchildren. They need me to be healthy and whole.

Do go:

• For my entire life, I’ve wondered why more German people didn’t stand up to the Nazis. I assured myself, time and time again, that if I had been there, I would have done something to stop them.

• I’m as safe as anyone can be. White haired, white skinned, pudgy; I make a ridiculous target for anyone who wants to look like a tough guy.

• My grandparents gave up everything they knew…home, language, family, livelihood….so that they could raise their family here in the United States. They came for inclusion, acceptance, safety, prosperity.

•My father and his brothers, first generation Americans, went to war to fight the Nazis. They fought in Germany and even in the homeland of Italy. THEY would certainly march here if they were still alive.

• I was a teacher. I made it my life’s work to support and encourage and nurture children. At no point did I EVER say “but not the black kids” or “not the Jewish kids” or “not the Muslims.” As a teacher, as a nurturer, it is my obligation to stop bullies. Adult bullies, armed to the teeth and ready to murder anyone who isn’t one of their sick group, those are the bullies that I have to Stop. Right. Now. However I can.

• There are people who depend on me. My children, my grandchildren. They need me to be a model of courage in the face of evil.

So I’ll be joining my brave husband, and two of our progressive, courageous friends tomorrow. We will go to Boston. We will do what we can to be really safe and secure.

But we WILL stand up for our Black/gay/Jewish/Muslim/Asian/Latino/trans/disabled/fill-in-the-blank neighbors and fellow citizens.

Honestly, we don’t actually have that much of a choice.

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A Time To March


I’m horrified, shocked, furious about the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this weekend. White Nationalists, whatever the hell that means, marched supposedly to protect the statue of a man who committed treason 150 years ago and then lost a war.

How to pick a winner, right?

They wore Nazi insignia. They gave the Nazi salute. They chanted about the Jews “replacing” them.

Their true goal, obviously, was not to stand up for old dead Robert E. Lee. It was to provoke a fight with all those awful people who they believe are trying to take away their white male role as masters of the continent.

They succeeded. There was fighting. There was death.

They got their headlines.

Now these radical deplorables are planning to march on Boston. The capital of the state where I live. They want to chant their pathetic racist drivel on the streets where Sam Adams rallied patriots to action in the 1770’s.

So what should I do?

I don’t want to drive my 61 year old self into the city. I don’t want to march on a nice late summer day. I don’t want to risk being hit, or shot, or run over. I don’t want to give these pitiful bullies so much of my attention.

But.

My first job as an adult was interpreting from Russian to English and back again for Jewish immigrants who were arriving here from the Soviet Union. I helped them find housing, took them to the doctor, took them shopping.

I heard their stories.

I saw the numbers tattooed on their arms. I touched those tattoos.

How can I NOT march to stand up for the old Russian woman who told me how she had run away from the invading Nazi’s? She was 7 months pregnant, and had a two year old in her arms. The Nazi’s came to her village and she ran into the woods. The soldiers shot, and she was hit in the face. Still she ran. She got as deep into the forest as she could go before she collapsed.

When I knew this woman, her face was creased with an ugly red scar. Her speech was slurred by the path the bullet had taken across the roof of her mouth.

How do I not march for her?

And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t march against the rise of fascism, knowing the stories from the siege of Leningrad, when the Nazis blockaded the city? I remember a Russian Jewish woman with wide blue eyes. She could no longer see when I took her to the doctor in Boston, but those eyes were filled with sorrow when she told me the story of her father walking the streets in search of food and coming home with part of a dead dog to feed his children.

She talked about her mother cooking their shoes to get some protein out of the leather.

My father fought the Nazis. He was only 18 when he enlisted in the army. He was at the Nuremburg Trials.

I lived through the civil rights era right here in the US, too. I remember seeing the marches, the violence, the struggles. I remember the day that Martin Luther King was murdered.

Are we really going to let the clock go back, Americans? Are we going to embrace the slave owning and race baiting past of the country?

Are we going to sit back and let the Nazis come in here and take our country? Are we going to allow our President to get away with condoning their violence?

Personally, I think I’ll have to go and walk the streets of Boston and stay as safe as I can while making my voice heard.

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Sad!


I love politics, as sickening as it is. I generally spend a fair amount of time reading about policy, and about legislation.

I’ve been deeply immersed in the insanity that has unfolded in this country over the past year. I have written about it on LiberalAmerica and here in this blog. I’ve talked, argued, debated, read, shed a lot of tears.

Almost thirty years ago, with my baby girl in my arms, I watched most of the Iran-Contra hearings. I was riveted.

Last week, I watched every single minute of the Comey hearing. It was moving, interesting, powerful.

Now I’m trying, to the best of my ability (cough, cough), to watch the “testimony” of our current Attorney General and for the very first time in my 61 years of life, I must tell you that I am in complete despair for our government and the country.

What I am watching is a room full of people who have been elected to take care of US, to guide the laws of OUR COUNTRY. They are all, Democrat and Republican, sitting in that room because people trusted them to look out for our best interests.

Instead, every one of them is trying to achieve their own agendas.

To watch adults, professionals, highly paid officials, living off of our tax money, engaging in this kind of name calling, finger pointing, griping, sniping and flat out lying is beyond disgusting.

I can’t remember the last time I was this disheartened about the country that my grandparents sacrificed so much to join. I am so sad to see the self-serving arrogance on display from the leaders of this nation that was born out of such high hopes.

I know that the Constitution was written during the age of enlightenment, when educated people believed in the best instincts of man. That Constitution opened with these moving words:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Nobody involved in this mess seems to be working toward any kind of union, much less a more perfect union. None of them seem to want to insure domestic tranquility or promote our general welfare. I sure as hell don’t see anybody in this hearing room who is thinking about the blessings of liberty for our kids and grandkids.

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Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr.

What I see is one giant clusterfuck of a mess. We are watching hours and hours and millions of dollars being spent on people who are still arguing about Hillary Goddamn Clinton, who LOST the election. We are watching grown men and women who are only interested in making themselves and their team look better than the other team.

This hearing was designed to get to the truth about the FACT that the Russian government attacked us.

But that fact hasn’t even been fully acknowledged by the whining little fool of an Attorney General who seems to have a worse memory than my 87 year old mother.

I am so sad for the United States. I am so worried for my children and my grandchildren.

This country is done. Cooked. Stick a fork in us.

If we can’t find a way to form at least three or five new political parties, we’re going to find ourselves mired in more of this knee-deep bullshit.

Meanwhile, in case anyone is interested, our health insurance system is about to be blown up. The world is getting hotter, but we’re not going to do a single thing about it. And our hard earned tax dollars are flowing by the billions to Saudi Arabia so they can continue to drop bombs on Yemeni families who are busy dying of cholera.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be drunk under the back deck.

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I think we’re missing the point…


If you have followed this blog at all, or if you know me, you will no doubt realize that I watched the entire James Comey testimony today.

In fact, I also watched the pre-event coverage, the ongoing coverage, the follow up coverage. And as I listened and watched, I clicked back and forth between Twitter and Facebook.

I am a very nimble multi-tasking lefty Nonni political junkie.

But as the evening comes on, and I sit here trying to put it into some perspective, I’m left with a few questions and a few impressions that I’m not seeing on the (cough, cough) “Main stream media”.

My first “Huh” moment came when I realized that the freakin’ RUSSIANS attacked our national election. And this is NOT what we’re talking about!!!! As we used to say back when I was a Soviet Studies major “што такое???”

As in, “What the hell???”

I mean, we have been informed that the country that has been our key adversary since 1945 has attacked the very fabric of our democracy, attempting to influence our election and weaken our self-determination.

And we’re spending our time fighting about what the words “I hope” really mean????

UM. Who’s on top of the whole “we-have-to-protect-our-electoral-process” problem?

And my second thought is this one. We just heard the former FBI director state in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the President of the United States is a big, fat liar.

In what universe would this NOT be a huge, outrageous, earth shattering revelation?

Well, in this one. In the world where the vast majority of Americans know that the President lies every damn day. Where the entire Republican Party simply accepts that he lies and doesn’t really object to that fact.

The. President. Was. Called. A. Liar. On. National. TV.

And that’s not the headline????

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And finally, I am left with this question.

What in God’s name are we supposed to tell our children when they ask about America, and about our democratic system? How are we supposed to explain to them that the Russian could mess up our election, that our President could be widely known to be a liar, and that our government is completely wrapped up in pointing fingers instead of circling the wagons and trying to get the DAMN RUSSIANS out of our elections.

Sigh.

This overwhelmed Nonni doesn’t even know where to begin with this crap.

(Featured image by Thierry Ehermann via Flickr.)

So, yeah, Rand Paul…why SHOULD you pay for my pregnancy coverage?


Those Libertarians. They get me every time with their “small government” thinking. They say things that seem to sort of, kind of, make sense.

For example, a lot of people who are leaning Libertarian are asking, “If I’m a single man, why should I have to buy health insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth?”

Seems like a good question at first glance, right? I mean, why in the world should old single Uncle Gus have to pay into the fund that covers these services he will never, ever use?

What if we had an insurance plan that let people like old Uncle Gus opt out of paying for those baby things? Would that be good?

Um.

Well. See, it occurs to me that I will never, under any circumstances, ever get prostate cancer. Can I opt out of paying for that coverage?

Also, I don’t smoke. I’ve never smoked. I want a plan that allows me to not pay for lung cancer coverage.

I’m not into drugs. I refuse to pay for rehab for people addicted to opioids. OK, sure. So I have had more than one close relative and many friends who have had to deal with this. Still. I don’t use. My kids don’t use. Why should I have to pay for that treatment?

Oh, and did I mention that there is no diabetes in my family? I am a careful eater. I have low blood sugar. Why should I have to pay for people with diabetes?

And let’s just for a moment step away from health care, and look at other taxes. Shall we, Rand Paul?

If I don’t own a car, should I really have to pay the taxes that keep the roads paved and plowed? I say, no.

I also live in a town with well water. Why should I pay for clean water for other people in my state? Why should I pay to clean up EPA superfund sites, if I am not sitting on one?

Why?

So. I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why my tax dollars should pay to support my local schools even though my kids are all grown up. I’ll tell you why some of my tax money should go to pay for meal on wheels for my elderly neighbors. And why I should pay for prostate cancer and why you should pay for pregnancy, childbirth and early education.

Because we are a society. We are not hundreds of millions of isolated individuals.

I almost never take the train, but I don’t object to supporting Amtrak. Maybe one day I’ll want to take the train to San Francisco.

Or maybe I won’t but YOU will. You are part of my community. And I want to live in a healthy community. I deserve to live in a community that meets the needs of its members.

And, honey, that means that we ALL chip in to provide the best life for ALL of us.

 

I will never, ever, ever have testicular cancer. But I don’t mind paying for your treatment, if it helps to keep you alive.

 

Thank you, President Trump


I know, that headline made you a little sick to your stomach. I get it.

Can you imagine how hard that was for me to type?

But you see, I am channeling my inner optimist. Who is hiding these days. Hiding really, really well.

My inner optimist is hiding behind the evidence that points to us having elected a mentally ill, out of control despot.

It’s hiding behind the realization that our Congressional leaders don’t really care that the guy with his finger on the trigger is out of his mind. They’re too busy fighting the traditional Democrat-Republican game of “YOU’RE A DOODY PANTS” to try saving us all from nuclear holocaust.

So.

I’m trying to look on the bright side.

For example, I might as well eat that dish of ice cream since we’ll most likely be incinerated before I can die of heart disease. Also, if we go into a long nightmare of civil war and the grid goes down, its probably the fat people who will live the longest.

Also, there’s this little fact.

Whenever I get anxious, I clean things. When my kids were little, Paul used to be able to judge how well the day had gone based on how the house looked when he got home. If every surface was sparkling and there was a smell of Clorox in the air, he knew that one of the kids had gotten on my last nerve. He’d open the door, sniff, and ask, “Oh, oh. Who is it this time?”

He’s a therapist, so he explained to me that my desire to clean the house was a reflection of my feelings of helplessness. When my life felt out of control, I asserted my superiority over dust and grime.

If that’s true, then I really have to thank President Trump.

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself unconsciously organizing closets, sorting through old clothes and scrubbing things I didn’t even know I owned.

My granddaughter is 18 months old. This morning the two of us scrubbed the floors in every room of this house. I buy her all kinds of art supplies and books and toys in my effort to be a wonderful Nonni, but we spent an hour with me sweeping and her using the wet swiffer.

She seemed to enjoy it.

But honestly, I didn’t realize just how anxious our new administration was making me until tonight.

I found myself vacuuming the garage with a glass of wine in one hand.

Thanks, Mr. President!

When the mushroom cloud appears overhead, at least my house will look fabulous in that last eerie glow.

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Life with my Muslim family: A sick day


When I was only 17, I was a very healthy and hearty young woman. I was lean, but not skinny. I was rarely sick.

My body had some adjusting to do, though, when I left Massachusetts and flew to Kairouan, Tunisia, to spend the summer as an exchange student. The dryness of the air so near the desert was hard for me. I remember how I used to dream of drinking ice cold water. The water in our home and around the city was safe, but it was warmer than ours at home, and it always had a slightly salty taste to me. My skin was dry, my hair was dry, even my eyes felt dry.

My Tunisian family showed me how to treat my skin and my hair with olive oil, which was abundant in that olive growing land. They noticed my craving for water, and kept a supply of small, sweet watermelons on hand.

The food that we ate that summer was incredibly delicious. We ate a lot of chicken, of fish, and a lot of mutton. I love lamb and discovered that I love the rich taste of mutton even more. We ate loaves of dense, chewy bread that came in round loves with a crisp crust. We got it from the market every morning, fresh and incredibly delicious. In the very dry air of Tunisia, any leftover bread was very dry by its second day. Almost too hard to eat, unless we covered it with honey from the huge jar on our kitchen shelf, letting the sweetness seep into the bread for a few minutes before we ate it.

What a delicious memory!

The one problem that I had with the food, though, was that even for an Italian American like me, it was very, very spicy. I once roasted and peeled hot peppers with my Tunisian sisters, and even though we coated our fingers with olive oil, we all had blisters when we were finished.

The result of all that spice was that after three or four weeks in Kairouan, I was suffering from a bad bout of stomach distress. I wasn’t sick, really, but I had stomach pain and I spent a LOT of time in the bathroom.

One hot morning I was feeling the distress of what I’d eaten the day before. I don’t know if I complained, or if I just ate less breakfast than usual. In either case, I was sitting in our family’s living room with a book when Maman came in with a glass in her hand. It was filled with something brown and thick. There was ice in there.

Truthfully, it didn’t look great. But she held it out to me, and said in her lovely French, “This is wheat. It will make your stomach better. Drink it, my daughter.”

I took it with thanks, and then gave myself a tiny, tentative sip.

Even now, almost 40 years later, I can conjure up the taste. Honey, wheat, nuttiness, the cold, cold ice cubes.  I drank it all down, and felt better almost at once.

I don’t know what was in that glass, but it made me feel so much better. I’m sure that some of my relief came from the love and care that went into the mixing of that magic elixir.

Maman Barrak is gone now, and I’m not sure that I ever told her how wonderful that moment was. I hope that she knew then how much it meant to me. I hope that she knows it now.

My Tunisian Mom, my beautiful Muslim Mom, was a blessing to me in so many ways. This story is only one of those ways.

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