A Second Renaissance

Between the raging threats of climate change that are constantly being ignored, the hundreds of thousands of deaths from COVID-19, and a president with a disturbing resemblance to the Biblical description of the Anti-Christ, many Americans have wondered if the end times are near.
What if, however, these days are not the end, but rather about to usher in a new beginning? The bubonic plague of the Medieval era lead to the Renaissance. The word “Renaissance” means “rebirth,” and it was a time marked not only by Europe rebuilding itself after the plague, but by significant advances in art, science, religion, and politics.
Just as the bubonic plague exposed much of the problems in medieval Europe; COVID-19 and President Trump’s failed response to it have exposed many of the problems in 21st century America. These problems include (but are not limited to) confirmation bias, the cult of personality surrounding the presidency, division among party lines, systemic racism, low voter turnout, a system where a candidate can lose the election despite receiving several million more votes than her opponent, and many more.
Confirmation bias is described as the tendency to accept information that supports one’s existing beliefs; and to dismiss as false any information that contradicts one’s beliefs. While Trump displays extreme confirmation bias, it didn’t start with him. It was back in 2005 (fifteen years ago!) when Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness,” meaning “the quality of seeming to be true, regardless of what the facts say.” Truthiness was frequently exhibited by then-President George W. Bush and his followers. It increased with the advent of social media, which made it possible for information to be available to the public without first being vetted for accuracy. Anyone can post content to YouTube or Twitter and instantly make it available to the public. The popularity of social media has coincided with a growing tendency for Americans to disregard scientifically proven facts like never before. This can be seen among those who deny the existence of climate change and the effectiveness of vaccines, and it has reached its culmination in the president’s dismissal of the medical experts regarding COVID-19. As a result, over 175,000 Americans have died of the virus. This tragedy has exposed the dangers of ignoring science, and has opened many Americans’ eyes to the need to listen to the experts. Even Trump himself has started to wear a mask and has cancelled his in-person rallies; two things that just months ago he swore he would never do.
The Trump presidency has also highlighted the cult of personality surrounding the presidency. While no president in recent history has embodied the cult of personality more than Trump, the tendency among Americans to idolize their president and view him as the solution to all their problems is nothing new. Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama were all idolized and venerated to a degree that the Founding Fathers never intended.
Perhaps the best antidote for this unhealthy hero worship of the president is a candidate who is more down to earth than his predecessors. What we need now is someone who is just your average Joe, if you’ll excuse the pun. I initially was disappointed about Joe Biden being the nominee, due to his age and his tendency to make gaffes. I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primary (and I still highly admire her intelligence and determination) and saw Biden as belonging to a previous era, just in a time when we needed to be moving forward. However, it recently occurred to me that Biden is exactly who we need at this point. We don’t need a charismatic or flamboyant person who delivers catchy phrases or motivational speeches, but rather a person who is humble enough to recognize that he doesn’t know everything and is willing to work with others. We need someone to remind us that we all need to work together to achieve the goals we want, rather than looking to those in positions of power to solve all our problems. As Lin-Manuel Miranda so eloquently put it, “We want our leaders to save the day/but we don’t get a say in what they trade away. We dream of a brand new start/but we dream in the dark for the most part.”
We are much closer to “the room where it happens” in 2020 than Americans were in Hamilton’s day. We have live coverage of important government meetings on C-SPAN, as well a plethora of other resources available to us. The technology of the 21st century makes it easier than ever for Americans to participate in our democracy. The Founding Fathers rejected a totalitarian government ruled by a monarch. They instead envisioned a democracy ruled by the people, where the leader merely presides over the government. The word “president” literally means “one who presides.” Preside means “to exercise guidance , direction, or control.” Sadly, the presidency has been elevated to a position that is less like what the Founding Fathers had in mind and more like the British monarchy that they fought against in the Revolutionary War. Joe Biden‘s humility and compassion make him an ideal person to steer the role of the presidency away from its pomp and pageantry, and restore it to its role of guidance and direction.
Perhaps this dark era in our nation’s history will lead to a brand new awakening, just as the Dark Ages of the Medieval era led to the Renaissance. In the history of the United States, we’ve never been more in need of a renaissance than we are now. However, the second renaissance can only take place if every American takes the time to do their part. Everyone who is eligible to vote must do so, whether by absentee or in person. Only then can we move forward into an era of rebirth where we will strive not to make America great again; but to make America better than ever.

She was so amazing, we couldn’t afford NOT to elect her

On my eighteenth birthday, I went to the Town Hall and registered to vote. I chose the Democratic Party, as both of my parents were fervent Democrats. I voted in every presidential and state election since, and I am still a Democrat.
For a good portion of my life, I wasn’t very political. In the primaries, I usually consulted with my parents about which Democrat to vote for, rather than taking the time to learn about the candidates. In the general election, I voted for the Democrats simply because they were Democrats. I watched the presidential debates, but mostly so I would understand the jokes that the cast of Saturday Night Live would make when they parodied the debate in the cold open. On election night, I watched the results the way one might watch sports. I cheered when the Democrats won and booed when they lost, just as I did when watching the Red Sox. After the election was over, I didn’t really think that much about politics until the next election.
Social media raised my interest in politics to a degree, as I connected with people of different political views. This gave me a chance to evaluate my own politics, and I became a much stronger Democrat. The liberal Democratic views that my parents instilled in me became even more important to me; because I realized that the Democratic platform resonated with me as well.
However, it wasn’t until one day in August 2012 that I truly became passionate about politics in general, and in one leader in particular. That year, our Republican senator, Scott Brown, was running for re-election, and his Democratic challenger was a Harvard Law School professor by the name of Elizabeth Warren.
On this August day, I had just taken the train back from work. I was making my way down the sidewalk, when I was stopped by a young woman wearing a t-shirt that said “Working America” and holding signs for Elizabeth Warren. She asked me if I planned to vote for Warren, and I said yes. She asked me, “What do you like about her?” “Um…” I said, fumbling for an answer. “She’s…not Scott Brown,” I finally said.
The woman laughed and asked if there was anything in particular that I liked about Warren. I admitted that I didn’t really know a lot about her, and that I just always voted Democrat. The woman told me her name, and explained that she was with a group called Working America that advocates for the rights of workers and the issues that are important to them. She then explained that Working America was a nonpartisan group, but that they were endorsing Elizabeth Warren because they felt that she represented their position more than any other candidate they had ever seen. She told me about how Warren created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how she helped Congress write the bill that became the Dodd-Frank Act, which restored the economy after the recession of 2008. She then handed me a sheet of paper outlining Warren’s positions. I truly was impressed as I realized that Warren was no ordinary candidate, but someone truly dedicated to the needs of others.
She asked if I would be interested in canvassing for Warren before the election, and I said yes. Later that year, she called me again, and several of us drove around the city, knocked on the doors of people’s houses, and encouraged them to vote for Warren.
I never heard from Working America after that day, but I now had a greater passion for politics than ever before. I was elated on election night when I learned that Elizabeth Warren was elected the first female senator from Massachusetts, and I was proud that I helped make her victory happen.
As I watched all of Senator Warren’s accomplishments in her new position, I became even more impressed with her intelligence, her courage, her determination, and her refusal to let her opponents get the best of her. I saw Warren as not only an amazing senator, but as a woman who I wished I could be more like. She made me proud to be from Massachusetts and proud to be a woman. I hoped that she would someday become the first female president of the United States.
Unfortunately, she didn’t run for president in 2016, and Democrats had to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Although both had impressive resumes, they also both had several flaws. Bernie had great ideas but lacked the plans to implement them; and Hillary was about maintaining the status quo, which simply wasn’t working for many people. I found myself once again wishing that Warren would join the race. She seemed to have the best qualities of both Bernie and Hillary.
Well, we all know how that race turned out, and on the morning after the election, we woke up to find that the unthinkable happened: Donald Trump was elected president.
Like many others, I was devastated. I worried that our country would come to resemble a world out of a novel by George Orwell or Margaret Atwood. I even had nightmares about Trump bankrupting the economy and turning the government over to China.
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, a friend told me that Elizabeth Warren was speaking at the Women’s March on Boston Common the next day. I hadn’t planned on going to the march, because I was so miserable and depressed that I just wanted to stay home. Now that I knew Warren would be there, I decided to attend.
As I stood in the Common and heard Senator Warren speak, I felt a sense of hope for the first time since Trump was elected. I admired her strength and her determination to fight back rather than live in fear. I realized that I, too, could make the choice to fight back as well. Throughout Trump’s presidency, Warren has been a source of hope and strength for me. Simply knowing that she is there fighting for us in the Senate makes me realize that the American Dream still is alive.
When she announced that she was running for president, I was ecstatic. I immediately signed up to volunteer on her campaign. I met some amazing people who were just as enthusiastic about Warren as I was. My family and friends, however, were hesitant about Warren’s chances at beating Trump, and preferred a “safer” candidate. Their reasoning was that Trump was such a dangerous president that we simply couldn’t risk re-electing him.
Still, I remained dedicated to Warren. Even though four years prior, I had also felt that we couldn’t afford to elect Trump, I now had a new goal for 2020. I felt that Elizabeth Warren was so amazing that we simply couldn’t afford NOT to elect her. At last, I was determined to choose hope over fear and to look forward rather than backward.
Sadly, most of the American people didn’t agree with me, and Warren didn’t win a single state. The saddest part was that her losses weren’t because people disliked her. People did like her, but somehow they were convinced that nobody else would vote for her. As a result, she ended her campaign today.
Shortly after I heard the news that Warren dropped out, the dog indicated that he needed to go out, so I took him to the park. As I watched him gleefully run around and play with the other dogs, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between his mood and mine. I envied his ignorance of politics, which allowed him to simply enjoy the simple pleasures of life without worrying about what would happen next.
For a moment, I entertained the thought of not paying much attention to politics, as I had in my younger days. It certainly would be better for my mental health.
Then, I realized that I didn’t regret volunteering for Elizabeth. It was a great experience to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to work with others for a common goal. I was proud that Elizabeth stayed in the race for as long as she did, and I am proud of myself for fighting for a goal I was passionate about.
Although I’m heartbroken right now, I’m not as devastated as I was after Trump won the 2016 election. Then, I felt as though we’d lost everything and there was no turning back. There was nothing left to do but sit back and mourn as Trump destroyed the country. However, Elizabeth Warren made me realize that as long as we have the courage to keep fighting, there is always hope.
So what’s next? Will Elizabeth Warren become Joe Biden’s running mate, or will she be appointed to Bernie Sanders’ cabinet? Will she help flip the Senate blue, and become the Senate Majority leader? Or will she simply continue to be one of the most powerful progressive voices in the Senate?
Regardless of what happens next, we can find comfort in knowing that no matter what, she will continue to be a source of hope and strength for me and for all who choose hope over fear, and all who choose to fight back rather than to give in. She will continue to fight for us in whatever role she will have next, and simply knowing that makes me realize that the American Dream is still alive.


1. What time did you get up this morning? 7
2. How do you like your steak? I try not to eat red meat anymore, but on the rare (no pun intended) occasions when I have it, I like it medium well.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? The Great Gatsby
4. What is your favorite TV show? The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Also Glee, though it isn't as good as it used to be.
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? California, most likely San Diego
6. What did you have for breakfast? granola
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Italian
8. What foods do you dislike? brussels sprouts
9. Favorite place to eat? Salem Cross Inn, West Brookfield
10. Favorite dressing? lite Italian.
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? I don't drive
12. What are your favorite clothes? anything bohemian
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Bermuda, England, Ireland, France, Italy, Israel, Australia, Africa.
14. Where would you want to retire? see #5
15. Favorite time of day? 8-10pm
16. Where were you born? Boston, MA
17. What is your favorite sport to watch? Baseball.
18. What's your dream job? best selling novelist
19. How many siblings? one sister
20. Favorite pastime/hobby? Reading, writing, photography, music
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? Anyone.
22. Bird watcher? Sure
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? night.
24. Do you have any pets? Benjamin A. Fluffball, better known as Benny  (guinea pig)
25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share? I recently wrote and published a book!
26. What did you want to be when you were little? I always wanted to be a writer and now my lifelong dream has finally come true.
27. What is your best childhood memory? West Brookfield and Camp Grossman
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Neither, I'm a cavy person.
29. Are you married? Yes
30. Always wear your seat belt? Yes, of course.
31. Been in a car accident? I was in a car accident in utero-  some guy rear-ended my mom when she was in the first trimester of her pregnancy with me. Thankfully, she was wearing her seat belt which is the reason she and I are still alive. Hence, the answer to #30
32. Any pet peeves? Wal-Mart, racist/sexist/homophobic people, and bullies.
33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? tomato, basic, mozzerella
34. Favorite Flower? Azalea, honeysuckle
35. Favorite ice cream? peanut butter/chocolate
36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Taco Bell
37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test? once
38. From whom did you get your last email? Mike
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Macy's
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? sometimes
41. Like your job? yes
42. Broccoli? No thanks
43. What was your favorite vacation? My honeymoon in- guess where? San Diego
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? My parents
45. What are you listening to right now? I was listening to Dar Williams "The Beauty of The Rain" CD but it ended.
46. What is your favorite color? purple
47. How many tattoos do you have? None.
49. What time did you finish this quiz? 3:49pm
50. Coffee Drinker? not really but ocassionally decaf

computer survey

Computer Firsts!

When did your family get your first computer?

What type of computer was it?
Apple IIC +

What were your favorite things to do on your first computer?
Play Think Quick! and Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? Then there was the Bankstreet Writer, the word processor.

When did you/your family first connect to the Internet?
1995, I think (by this point we had retired the old Apple IIc and upgraded to an IBM with Windows 3.1 or whatever the most recent version of Windows was at the time)

How did you spend time online when you first connected?
Email and computer games

Copy and paste to your own journal, then reply to this post with a link to your answers.

ABC survey

A - Age: will turn 36 at the end of the month
B - Bed size: Queen
C - Chore you hate: washing dishes. (me too Lisa!)
D – Domestic Animal Names: Benny
E - Essential start to your day item(s) juice and cereal
F - Favorite color: purple and azalea pink
G - Gold or Silver: Gold
H - Height: 5'3"
I - Instruments you play(ed): Guitar and a little piano
J - Job title: Project Assistant
K - Kisses or hugs: hugs..
L - Living arrangements: Jim and I own a house
M - Mood: bored
N - Nicknames: Mouse
O - Overnight hospital stays other than birth: none
P - Pet Peeves: loud motorcycles, mosquitoes, people who talk loudly on their phones on the T
Q - Quote from a movie: Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.
R - Right or left handed: Right
S - Siblings: one sister
T - Time you wake up: 7, 8 or 9 on weekends
U - Underwear: panties and bra
V - Vegetable you dislike: spinach, broccoli
W - Ways you run late: losing track of time
X - X-rays you've had: dental
Y - Yummy food you make: pasta dishes
Z - Zoo favorite: meerkats

2012 survey

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Audition for a professional theater production (didn't get cast, though)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolution(s)?
If I remember correctly; they weren't resolutions but goals- to get my book published, to get more hours at work, and to redo my kitchen. I did finish writing my book but I'm still working on getting it published, I did get more hours at work, and my kitchen is still the same.

3. Will you make more for next year?
To exercise more, to get my book published, and to finish writing my second book.

4. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister (baby Eliana born 12/19/12)

5. Did anyone close to you die?

6. What countries did you visit?
None. I didn't do much traveling at all this year- except for a weekend in NH and another one in CT.

7. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
A full time job; a publishing deal

8. What date(s) from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 19, 2012- the birth of Eliana

9. What was your biggest achievement of 2012?
Finishing my book

10. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting the promotion at work- but I did get more hours for another project

11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was sick with a cold on both my birthday AND on my anniversary!

12. What was the best thing you bought?
Um...I have no shoes, maybe?

13. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Obama and everyone who voted for him

14. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

15. Where did most of your money go?
Food, bills, gasoline, etc.

16. What did you get really excited about?
The election
The birth of Eliana

17. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Call Me Maybe- Carly Rae Jepsen
Somebody That I Used To Know- Gotye

18. Compared to this time last year, are you:

-Happier or sadder?
Happier and more optimistic.

– Thinner or fatter?
A little fatter, but not bad.

– Richer or poorer?
A little richer.

19. What do you wish you’d done more of?

20. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Sleeping late

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Spending Christmas with the in laws tommorow

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Nope. I've been married since 2005.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Glee (even though it's not as good as it used to be), The New Normal, Bunheads

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Also, I've been on a Bronte kick since September when I found a novel at the library called
"Charlotte and Emily," about the Bronte sisters. I took it out and read it; and then re-read Jane Eyre, both versions of Emma, Villette, and Wuthering Heights; and now I'm reading Shirley, which I haven't read before. I hadn't read Wuthering Heights since my AP English Lit class in high school. I didn't like it then; but I absolutely LOVED it now!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Muse; Florence & The Machine

27. What did you want and get?
An Obama victory, a new camera, and a new computer.

28. What did you want and not get?
A full time job, a publishing deal, a new kitchen

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was sick but Jim and I went out for dinner a few days later when I was feeling better. I was 35.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A publishing deal

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Classy bohemian

33. What kept you sane?
Books, music

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

35. What political issue or news stirred you the most?
The CT shootings

36. Who did you miss?
Whitney Houston

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Denise, I met her via email.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
I'm kind of stuck on this one...I'll get back to you, maybe.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling!

40. List some other notable things that happened in 2012.
Dave & Beth's wedding and Renee & Aaron's wedding

Ways To Annoy Your Republican Relatives On Thanksgiving

1. When they greet you, "How are you doing, honey?" say, "Oh, I'm doing fabulous! Better than I've been all year! Ever since Barack Obama got re-elected, I've been in a constant state of bliss!

2. If they have everyone go around the table and say what they are thankful for, say, "I'm SO thankful that Obama won, because he will continue to make this country a better place by taxing the rich even more and giving women free birth control and giving all of us Obamacare and making gay marriage legal in all 50 states...." Go on and on, naming all the things that the Republicans don't want Obama to do. When you are unable to name any more, make stuff up, i.e., "and he'll make candy bars become nutritious and he'll cure my hemmoroids and he'll make this year's season of Glee not suck so bad and he'll make my house clean itself automatically..." The more ridiculous, the better! Keep going until you are forced to stop.

3. At dinner, refer to the turkey as "Mitt Romney." Say "Could you please pass the Mitt Romney...I mean turkey. Turkey! Get it, because Mitt Romney is a turkey!"

4. When there is a break in the conversation, say, "I just LOVE Barack Obama! I think he's the best president ever! In fact, if I were to have a baby, I'd want Barack Obama to be the father!"

5. Set your watch or phone to chime at random times throughout the day. Each time it does, pump your fist in the air and chant, "FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!"

6.. At that moment after dinner, when everyone is exhausted from eating too much turkey and is just collapsing on the couch, loudly announce, "At this moment, I am going to peform a dramatic re-enactment of how I responded when I found out that Obama won." Sit up straight, put your hands over your mouth, gasp, and say, "274? OMG that means Obama won!" Jump up out of your seat, exclaim, "Obama WON!" Jump up and down, and scream, "OBAMA WON! OBAMA WON! WHOO HOO!" Kneel down and say, "Thank you, God! Obama won!" Get up, and start dancing, and chant, "O to the B to the AMA! O to the B to AMA! O-BAMA! O-BAMA! Hey hey, O-BAMA!" Hug all of your relatives, especially the Republican ones.

7. While watching the football game, say, "It looks like (name of team) is going to be the LO-SER, just like Mitt Romney!"

8. If, at any point, Obama comes on TV, stand up, say, "That's my PRESIDENT!" applaud, and sing "Hail To The Chief."

9. While having dessert, say, "This apple pie is delicious- just like the SWEET victory of Obama over Romney!"

10. At the end of the meal, groan, put your hands on your belly, and say, "I ate like a pig- just like Romney, because he's a pig!"

election results

The poll on the Live Journal homepage asked "How do you feel about the election results?" I checked "I'm ecstatic!" Truly, I was ecstatic on Tuesday night- as well as shocked, joyful, grateful, and most of all, RELIEVED that Mitt Romney won't be President.
In a way, I'm even more ecstatic than I was four years ago. Don't get me wrong: Barack Obama's victory in 2008 was a wonderful historic moment for the nation as we elected our first African-American president, and it was thrilling to be a part of it and to know that I helped make it happen.
However, in 2008, there was no doubt that Barack Obama would win, while in 2012, I seriously was preparing myself for a Romney victory. Therefore, this time, the joy was due to knowing that President Obama overcame so many obstacles to get re-elected: a highly electable opponent who was vindictive and had lots of money to spend on campaigning, slow economic recovery, all the polls showing the two candidates were nearly tied, the Republicans in Congress working against him to prevent him getting re-elected, and yet he overcame all of them! I have to admit, I'm still a little shocked that President Obama not only won, but won by a clear, significant majority of both the electoral and the popular vote; and not to mention that he won before Florida's votes were in!
I felt like it was Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July all in one! Thanksgiving because I was so grateful for Obama's victory, Christmas because I got everything I wanted on my wish list (all the candidates I voted for got elected, both the ballot questions I voted for passed, and the one I voted against didn't pass), Easter because my hope and faith in America has been resurrected, and the Fourth of July because I'm reminded of how proud I am to be an American.