A Bitch Dreams of Buddha Hillary

After twelve days of bouncing around between and among numbness, outrage, horror, and sorrow, I had a dream last night that took me close to something like hope and happiness for the first time since election night. I share the details with you because I welcome your interpretive assistance and because I figure maybe you could use a glimpse of something like hope and happiness, too.

On the surface, the dream seems mostly to be about missed connections and lost opportunities. My partner and I are at Hillary Clinton’s inauguration. (See what I mean?) In one scene, I am trying to secure space for us to stand and watch the speech. She takes off with other friends. I don’t remember where they were headed, but I wasn’t upset about their leaving. They’ll be back. I have to do some negotiating with folks around me to save enough space, but that works out. I don’t think I dreamed the part where my partner returns and we listen to the speech. There’s a gap in the dream. In the next scene, we’re standing in line in a shop or cafe to get some kind of inauguration cake. It’s very crowded. We finally get up to the counter and the guy says, “Sorry, we’re not giving out anymore cake.” I can see they still have some. “Why not?” I ask. He shakes his head no. “We’re just not.”

So, yeah: Missed connections, lost opportunities, disappointment. The hopeful part actually came before everything I’ve just described, and I love it because it’s the goofy, wonderful, only-in-a-dream part.

In this earlier scene, my partner and I are together. I may be embellishing a bit here, but it seems to me we are on the steps of the Capitol, which is, of course, where presidential inaugurations take place. We are standing very close to the action, which (and this is the goofy, dreamy part) is taking place in a big beautiful pool – something like the Capitol’s reflecting pool only much deeper. The colors of this scene are gorgeous – the whiteness of the Capitol, the blueness of the pool and sky, the crystal clarity of the water as a bright yellow sun shines upon it. We are transfixed by what is happening in the pool, because Hillary Clinton is in it, riding a porpoise. (I swear I’m not embellishing that part.) We watch as she and the porpoise dive down into the water and then pop back up. She’s in a cerulean blue suit and wearing goggles, but when she comes to the surface her hair is still perfectly coiffed and her suit looks dry and ready for primetime. What I love most about the dream is the look on her face as she sits there astride the porpoise. She must have pulled off the goggles, because she gazes out at the crowd with a look of utter, head-to-soul delight. She smiles broadly and lets out a little whoop that recalls the brilliant “Woo, okay!” she uncorked with a shoulder shimmy in the first presidential debate. It is a Buddha’s smile of kindness, composure, and understanding. It is a smile that fully embraced the moment and all who stood with her in it. It is a smile to love, honor, trust, and emulate.

The dream was so vivid to me that I shared it with my partner as soon as I woke up, wanting to cement the details in my mind. A couple of hours later, I shared it with my yoga class because the election has been a preoccupation of ours for months, and we are all working through the heartbreak of Clinton’s Electoral College defeat. As it turned out, my teacher’s theme for this morning’s class was equanimity – as in, how to recover one’s sense of calmness and even-temperedness in the wake of something as unsettling as Clinton’s defeat and #NotMyPresident’s victory. (No, I will not use his name. You are safe from that here.) My dream and Natalie’s theme work beautifully together in a delightful instance of serendipity, for smiling Hillary astride her porpoise is a compelling image of equanimity. The porpoise carries her safely on a watery journey that transforms and prepares her for what lies ahead. At journey’s end, she is serene, happy, calm, and ready to face whatever comes.

Now, you could say I have falsified or done violence to my dream in rearranging the order of the parts I recall so that it ends in happiness rather than the disappointment of all those missed connections in the other scenes. Narratively, that may be true, though I’m not a hundred percent sure about the sequencing of the various scenes. Such details are always fuzzy in Dreamland. In any case, I would argue that my telling of it captures and emphasizes what is for me the emotional truth of the dream, which is all about resilience, equanimity, and the wisdom to be discovered through play (porpoises are playful, right?). I needed to glimpse that truth after nearly two weeks of feeling paralyzed by grief and uncertainty. I needed to be reminded that I have within me great reservoirs of strength and the skills I will need to navigate my own and my country’s future. I needed to bask in the light of that kind smile in order to reconnect with my compassion toward myself and all of the flawed, hurt, vulnerable beings with whom I share space and time.

I am not a religious person, but this dream came from a place so deep within myself that I might as well call it my soul, that place beneath or beyond rational thought that Emily Dickinson described as “Where the Meanings, are.” I will call it my Buddha Hillary dream, and I will think of it whenever I need to calm and refresh myself in the challenging days that lie ahead. I offer it to you, for whatever good it may do you as you travel along on your journey. May you also be accompanied by a helpful porpoise, and may Buddha Hillary smile on you, always.

Namaste, Bitches.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

A Bitch’s Love Letter to Hillary

November 14, 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Post Office Box 5256
New York, NY 10185-5256

Dear Secretary Clinton,

I am a proud Bitch for Hillary – because “Bitches get stuff done,” as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler explained during the 2008 Democratic primary.

I’ll say more about that Bitch for Hillary thing in a moment. First, though, I’d like to say thank you for your service to our country and for your generous and inspiring campaign. You rallied millions of Americans in support of our highest ideals of inclusion, fairness, and engaged, expansive citizenship. You enacted a compassionate, feminist model of leadership and earned the distinction of being the first woman to win the popular vote for the presidency. I realize the victory is incomplete and bittersweet, but it is an achievement that history will not forget.

In your powerful concession speech the other day, you briefly alluded to secret Facebook groups of Clinton supporters, urging members to come out and let their voices be heard. I happen to be the co-founder of one of those groups, Bitches for Hillary, which was launched in March of this year and now has close to 10,000 members (of all genders, races, shapes, and orientations). A friend and I started the cheekily named group not because we felt we had to be closeted in supporting you but because we wanted a space for sharing thoughts, feelings, and strategies with the like-minded. The solidarity members experience within the group has empowered them to act boldly outside it. Please don’t think we were shy or embarrassed about supporting you during the campaign. Believe me, the Bitches are not shrinking violets! We are an army of fighters for justice and possibility who advocated fiercely and publicly for your candidacy. For months, I have read with astonishment and humility reports from all over the country of group members making your case at their kitchen tables, in their work places, over the phone, and on the ground in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

For me, Bitches for Hillary has functioned similarly to the consciousness-raising groups of the 1970s or the sewing circles of the nineteenth century. Members of a marginalized group gather in nominal secrecy (I say nominal because the group has been identified by name in The New York Times and other media outlets) to generate subversive knowledge that fortifies them for engagement with an often hostile external world. Yes, it has been a refuge, but it has also been an incubator that sharpened the skills of young activists and raised the spirits of post-menopausal rabble-rousers like me who have spent decades dreaming of a woman president.

The hearts of ten thousand Bitches were broken early Wednesday morning as it became clear the glass ceiling we had all expected to come crashing down was still, thanks to the Electoral College, intact. I want you to know, however, that, in addition to reports of tears, nightmares, and a lot of stress eating, the group this week has been on fire with determination to continue fighting for the causes of social and economic justice that you have championed throughout your career. Inspired by your extraordinary resilience and perseverance, Bitches for Hillary are preparing to advocate for change in their communities and to protect those who are most vulnerable to the dangerous proposals being floated by the incoming administration. And some are getting advice on how to run for office! The dream is alive, Madam Secretary, and the hard, vital work goes on.

Change comes slowly, sometimes painfully so. I have spent my career in higher education, working to create institutional space for scholarship on women and LGBT people. (I’m an English professor who served as founding director of the University of Maryland’s LGBT Studies program.) That perhaps explains why I have identified so strongly over the years with your deliberate, detail-oriented approach to politics and policy. I hope you won’t mind that I think of you and of myself as badass incrementalists, because I see us as similarly committed to creating progressive institutional change bit by bit, over the long haul. I credit my late mother for teaching me this approach to any dauntingly large task. “How do you eat an elephant?” she used to ask when I was momentarily overwhelmed. “One bite at a time.

I’m so sorry that you and we weren’t able to take the last bite out of the elephant obstructing women’s path to the Oval Office this time around, but we will, thanks in no small part to your tenacious efforts and considerable achievements. Some day soon, a smart, feisty, wonky, wonderful, big-hearted Bitch will come along and take that last bite – and she and we will have you to thank for it.

With gratitude and admiration,

Marilee Lindemann

PS: I’ve enclosed for your amusement a picture of the cake I had made for our election party. The words on the cake resonate somewhat differently in defeat than they would have in victory, but they are still true. Bitches are rising, and you have shown them how to soar.


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