“Looks like snow. Should I call whatshisname? The snowplow guy?”
My husband looks up from the weather report on his phone, waiting for me to respond. I’m happy to take his question.
“I know there’s been a lot of reporting on this and I’m happy to have that conversation. But I don’t have anything new to read out at this time. So let me point you to Google and I’ll circle back when I have something new to preview.”
My husband just stares at me. I’ve taken to wearing double knits in primary colors and am looking into buying a red, blunt-cut wig. Because friends, I am going full on Jen Psaki. Why? Because that woman is a grown-up and she makes me feel safe.
Competence. I’m in love with competence. And calm. And transparency. When she doesn’t have an answer, she “circles back.”
And she doesn’t suffer fools. Pity the journalist who asks a dumb question like “Why haven’t you fixed the economy and crushed the virus as you promised?” Her look says it all. It’s what I call her “Seriously?” look. Raised eyebrows, patient stare. And then the coup de gras. “This is day two of our administration. Next?” She’s such a boss! I love it!
And I love the fact that we have press conferences again. This is America, the land of free speech. We fought hard to have the right to ask our government questions and to expect cogent answers. And she calls on everyone and doesn’t hold it against you if you asked a boneheaded question last time or are from a wingding paper from some obscure corner of the country.
And she’s not afraid to page through her notes to find you the right answer. She’s on your side. She wants to get you the answer you deserve. And she will, yes, “circle back” if she doesn’t have the answer. Because she’s from Connecticut and you can trust her!
I’m actually sleeping at night knowing that Jen Psaki will be there the next morning keeping us all informed and bringing our questions to the right people in the right department so she can get us the right answers.
Because no administration is perfect. And that’s why we need these hard-won traditions. The tradition of the peaceful transfer of power. The tradition of the daily press conference. The tradition of free and fair elections.
These traditions are bigger than any one person or any one party and they safeguard our democracy, which began as a dream.
Which is why on those days when I’m not wearing double-knits, I’m in my braids, my hair piled high, my chin up, my hands making graceful arcs through the air. On those days if my husband asks about the snowplow guy, he’s more apt to get this answer.
“Snow? Is our hope crystallized — our commitment to a future that all little girls can achieve if we just believe it! If we just be it!”
And yes, that would be my Amanda Gorman, Muse #2 these days. A tiny young woman whose glorious hairdo was almost bigger than she was, standing at that podium on inauguration day like a prophet, invoking all those emotions we’d kept buried through all these months of disease and death and lock down and insurrection and uncertainty. She reminded us that we are supposed to hope, that we have to have faith, that we need to be the change we want to see in the world.
I hadn’t realized how much I’d squelched all those hopes and dreams because, well, we didn’t know when or if we’d be able to act on them. It had been a time of tolerance and forbearance and resilience and patience. Not a time of aspiration and hope.
And she reminded us that it’s essential to dream. That we have to have hope. That if we don’t envision a brighter future, we will never reach it.
And she’s right. This is America, the land of opportunity, a country settled by dreamers. For what is an immigrant if not a dreamer? We all come from immigrant stock, even the Native Americans who came across land bridges from other continents to settle here.
Why? Because we all wanted something better. No one leaves a happy life for the risks and uncertainties of immigration. Every immigrant wants a brighter future. And America has been the one country in the world that has opened its arms to immigrants and exploited their hopes and talents and energies to build itself into the juggernaut the whole world envies.
The essential country. With a functioning democracy — if we can keep it.
Which is why on those days when I’m not a redhead or a brunette, I’m a blonde with black glasses and a strong jaw - Muse #3, Liz Cheney.
“That snowplow guy not only ripped through our lawn, he gutted the driveway. And he has to pay.”
“Fine! I’ll buy a shovel!” As my husband storms off to the hardware store, I take solace in the fact that the snowplow guy did indeed make a mess of it. But while my husband and I will mend fences, there are lots of arguments with no easy solution.
These days it takes real courage to stand up and be counted. To tell the truth and hold people accountable. More often than not, your friends and allies will abandon you. And you’ll be left to fend for yourself.
Because most people are self-serving. Or too insecure to go against the crowd. But Liz Cheney stood up when it counted and called the sacking of the capitol what it was — an insurrection. And she placed the blame where it belongs — at the top.
Why did she take this risk when so many others were hiding from the cameras? Because she had her priorities straight. She knew that country trumps party and that our democracy was under attack.
And while Officer Sicknick paid the ultimate price, at last count there were 140 officers still recovering from their wounds from that attack. Some of them will never fully recover. Liz Cheney honored their sacrifice by acknowledging what had happened.
So as we march forward through this pandemic and the shambles of our economy and the ever-lurking racism and selfishness and hate, the people who are standing up for the ideals this country was founded on deserve our thanks and our support.
So thank you, Jen, for keeping it honest and grounded and open. And thank you, Amanda, for reminding us to dream and to hope. And thank you, Liz, for daring to speak truth to power and demanding that the guilty be held accountable. I am actually starting to feel a little bit better about our future.
(Thank you so much for all your emails. Reach me at WelcomeToThePandemic@gmail.com. And find me on Twitter at @epagenyc or on Facebook at ElizabethPage.)