Welcome to the US, where people don’t give a shit about moms and born babies

This week, I’m attending a virtual course every morning on Crucial Conversations. There’s about 28 participants in the course, and while a lot of it is large group lecture and discussion based, we also do a good amount of small group breakouts, in groups of 2-3. When one of the first breakout sessions happened, another woman who was based in Colorado apologized to me in advance in case I heard some crying or cooing because she had her 8-week old baby sleeping in her arms, below the view of the camera. I laughed in response, as I told her I could totally relate: In fact, full disclosure, I said to her, but I was actually pumping milk and had my camera angled above my chest so that it wasn’t in view. Good thing my pump was so quiet that on Zoom calls, no one would notice! I half joked.

I noticed her baby was on oxygen and said she looked really cute and tiny, but it’s all relative since my own baby is seven months old now. She told me that while her baby is on paper 8 weeks old, she is quite small for her age because she was born about a month premature and was in the NICU. She had only two weeks of maternity leave, and though her company has an “unlimited PTO” policy, the company did not allow her to tack on any PTO to her maternity leave, which was already dismal. She was frustrated about this, since it was a big reason she took this job in the first place. So she wanted to use the skills she hoped she would learn in this course to confront her management about this.

It really hurt my heart to hear this. And while my heart hurt for her, I also just got really angry and could feel my pulse racing because of how infuriating and senseless all of this was in one of the richest nations on earth. It’s a case in point about how here in the U.S., people and employers truly do not give a shit about moms and their born babies. It’s everyone for themselves, and business is business, which means we’re all about profit and don’t care about the well being of our employers. I had 20 weeks off, and I didn’t feel like it was enough. I cannot imagine only having a tenth of that like this woman did, plus having the stress of having my baby in the NICU and needing to leave the hospital with oxygen support at home. The entire situation sounds completely terrifying, but insanely enough, that’s what’s “normal” for so many moms across this wretched country.

How did we become such an awful, cold, heartless place to live?

Active shooter drills: an American school reality

“I’m scared shitless about my daughter starting kindergarten this year,” my colleague confided in me yesterday. “Just the mere thought that an active gunman could get into her school and start shooting makes me want to sob uncontrollably. I held both of my kids on Tuesday night and just cried for hours, and my older one kept asking me what was wrong. Did you know that active shooter drills are a norm in schools now?! My daughter told me they are making them do these drills regularly at her preschool… AT HER PRESCHOOL! This is life in American schools now, and she hasn’t even started kindergarten yet!”

I got teary-eyed listening to my colleague getting distressed, sharing her worst fears with me…Well, they are my worst fears, too. It also made me sick to my stomach to think that this is a reality in schools, but only here in the U.S. No other country on earth has a requirement for active shooter drills in schools; I guess that’s another example of fucking American exceptionalism, however you want to define that. I thought back to my own time in school, and the only drills we had were in preparation for fire or earthquakes — natural disasters, not manmade cycles of hell the way we are dealing with today with gun violence and politicians who would rather give their pointless “thoughts and prayers” than pass any legislation to help prevent the same carnage from happening over and over on repeat.

I have cherished every night I have put my own baby to bed, rocking her back and forth, caressing her hair and cheeks, kissing her, singing her lullabies, letting her nurse at my breast to calm her down for her sleep. But this week, I have held her even a little tighter and told her that I would still try to do everything in my power to keep her healthy and safe…But honestly, I just wasn’t sure how far my power could extend in a country as insane as this one. I just feel helpless.

When thoughts and prayers can go to hell

There is never anything effective to say to someone when they have lost someone they love. To tell them that your thoughts and prayers are with them doesn’t do much, even if you are trying to be supportive. But the concept of “my thoughts and prayers are with you” is especially empty in the face of yet another mass school shooting in the United States of America, a country where guns are protected better than women who are child-bearing… or even children themselves.

I gave up on the idea of gun access restrictions ever getting anywhere in this country after the Sandy Hook mass shooting about ten years ago. That was really when this country decided that it didn’t give a shit about children dying because of guns. If you don’t care about children dying from guns, then you really don’t care about anyone dying from guns. Let the guns and the gun nuts reign supreme while more and more of America dies quietly and futilely.

When I think of 19 elementary school age children dying senselessly from a random gunman storming through their school, not to mention the two teachers who died, I think to myself… that could be my daughter. Those families that were screaming and crying for hours on end, wanting to find out whether their children were alive or dead and just waiting without any word… That could be Chris and me, worried sick after hearing about a shooting at the school our child goes to. That could be any of my friends’ children. And the fact that this is such a real thought is absolutely terrifying. It makes me sick to my stomach. This is the reality of raising children in the United States today.

No child should go to school and end up having to duck and cover and prepare for a “bad man” coming in. No child should go to school and get shot dead. Why do these things even have to be said? This is not a mental illness issue as much as idiots on Instagram and in Congress want to tell me. The U.S. does not have higher rates of mental health issues than other countries in the world; there is no data to prove this. What we do have is easier and greater access to guns and law makers who are truly cowards and flat out evil for allowing mass shootings to continually happen with literally no action taken to prevent these things from happening in the future. These mass shootings are 100 percent preventable. But we live in a country where no one wants to prevent these mass shootings. Our government, our lawmakers, the ones who happily taking our tax dollars, are doing nothing. Ninety percent of Americans are in favor of increasing background checks for guns, which includes those from households who actually own guns, yet we have law makers who completely ignore that.

All parents want to ensure that their children are healthy and safe. All parents do everything within their power to ensure their children’s safety. But there comes a day when parents have to rely on their community, on their “village,” whether that’s at the playground, at school, at some activity. A parent cannot hover over and be with her child 24/7, protecting her from all harm and malice. At some point, a child’s health and safety are no longer in the hands of her parents, and we have to have trust in the community to know she is safe. But I don’t know if I can trust that this country will be safe for my daughter to live in given all of this.

When they were supposed to be born the same month

I was on a customer call with a colleague yesterday morning, and right after, my colleague asked if she could video call me to share an update. I wasn’t really expecting anything specific to be shared, but when she told me she was leaving after only six months with us, I was shocked. I was even more shocked when she told me that the time off she took in August was because of a medical condition she had. When she was telling me how happy she was to learn that I was pregnant, she said she was fighting back tears because she was also pregnant, too… but had a miscarriage at around 22 weeks.

“My baby was due in December, too,” she said with a somber face. She had to have a procedure to remove the fetus in early August, and subsequently took some time to physically heal, but she’s still emotionally and mentally broken from the experience. And for various other reasons, she’s decided to resign, take some time off, and take on another role at another organization. The abortion she had damaged her uterus to the point where she was warned that she could not get pregnant for another six months to allow her body to fully heal, otherwise it could potentially be life-threatening.

What most people don’t seem to know or realize is that when a pregnant woman has a miscarriage after 12 weeks, the fetus cannot actually be naturally expelled on its own as it would be with the embryo before 12 weeks. Before the 12-week mark, depending on the embryo size, it could be expelled by the uterus through the vagina. But after that point, a woman’s body actually has to go into labor to release the unviable fetus. So, she will literally need to labor and “deliver” her dead baby. This can be a very scary and potentially life threatening process, and so most doctors will recommend a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure, or an abortion, for the safety of the mother.

I felt broken when she told me this. As soon as she said that she was pregnant and her baby was originally due in December, the same month mine is due, I started tearing up. I told her I really felt for her, that the whole fertility journey unfortunately is not easy, and it’s unfortunate so many people don’t recognize that. I didn’t tell her my story because it wasn’t really the time or place for it, as this talk was about her, but I did tell her that my road to get here was not simple or easy.

“It’s okay,” she insisted, smiling. “I have a great care team, I’m seeing an amazing therapist, and I’m getting through this. I have hope that one day, I will be in your shoes and preparing for my baby’s arrival when the stars are aligned.”

The struggles and pains of fertility, infertility are real. I only wish I never had to deal with a fertility clinic and IVF, but in some ways, maybe it’s made me a better, more empathetic person. While I’ve always believed women should be in total control of what happens to their bodies, I’ve never before realized exactly how horrible this struggle can be, how lonely it can be, until I went on this road myself. Not all women can relate; just because you’re talking with another woman doesn’t mean they can empathize or will even care. There are plenty of women out there who have never had any trouble getting pregnant, remaining pregnant, or birthing babies. A lot of these women have no idea how terrifying and agonizing all of this can be. But fortunately and unfortunately, I do know what it’s like. And I can empathize with my colleague and be her support for as much as she needs it.

The vanishing twin

Chris and I arrived at the clinic and waited for quite some time to be brought in for my ultrasound. I was a little annoyed, especially seeing that so many patients who came after me were getting called in sooner than I was. I asked the front desk what the hold up was, and they told me that they were a) waiting for a bigger room since Chris was with me, and b) the doctor would be doing my scan since I’m nearing the end of my time with the clinic, so it’s like a “farewell and good luck” parting. That made me feel sad, though, because I always look forward to seeing Mina during my scans; she has been my rock at this clinic since I first started coming, and seeing her is always a comfort to me.

When we got to the exam room, we waited for the doctor and his medical scribe to come in. They eventually came, and the scan began. But something just didn’t seem right. The doctor was silent for a much longer time than I thought he’d be as he examined one of the twins. I looked at his face, and he looked like he was wrinkling his brow and squinting. He kept zooming in close on one of the twins to get a closer look. I was getting worried.

After what felt like forever, he said quietly, “I’m so sorry. I do not see a heart beat.” He was referencing Twin A.

As soon as he said that, I felt like all the sound coming into my ears had just gotten sucked into a vacuum. I went numb. It was like nothing else mattered at all. In that moment, I just wanted to die.

“You don’t?” I managed to squeak out. He responded “no” quietly.

“What about the other twin? Is the other twin okay?” I asked. He took a look at Twin B, which was progressing well and had a heart beat in the target rate, at 169 beats per minute.

He suggested, for “peace of mind,” that he refer me to a maternal fetal medicine specialist to double check that the two twins were in separate sacs, as if they are in the same sac, that could pose some risk to Twin B. Unfortunately, the ultrasound machine at the clinic just isn’t high powered enough to confirm this to be true 100 percent. Chris started asking him questions about how common this was. He told us this was a fairly normal occurrence and tends to happen about 25 percent of the time; they call it “vanishing twin syndrome,” and they said it’s extremely common and “happens every day” with embryos that split into two. There is no concrete reason for why this happens. Twin A would either get absorbed into the uterus, placenta, or surviving twin, so it would not get expelled as with a regular miscarriage. He was trying to be empathetic, and said that it may take some time for us to digest this news, but he’d be available for a phone call if I had any questions at all or just wanted to talk this through. He then told us to take all the time we needed and left the room. His scribe went to get me some water. And as soon as they left, I just sobbed nonstop.

The doctor informed Mina right after he left our exam room, so she immediately came in to comfort me. I was so happy to see her despite the awful news. My clinic rock had shown up to take care of me.

I’d read at a cursory level what vanishing twin syndrome was after my 5-week scan, when Mina said she wasn’t 100 percent sure if she saw a second gestational sac or not. But at that time, I didn’t quite get the magnitude of how common it was… or that it could actually affect me. Of course, I worried a little about it, but I tried my best to hope for the best, to be cautiously optimistic, to be in the moment. “I’m going to be a twin mom,” I kept thinking, smiling to myself. I even started looking up how to raise twins and what the different twin stroller options would be, particularly for travel.

Every week since week 4, I would begin and end each day marveling at how lucky I was to have gotten this far, and to be doubly blessed with twins when I had only one healthy embryo. Every week, I just basked in gratitude that all my visits to the clinic had gone so well. I’m so lucky and blessed, I kept telling myself. How could I possibly be this lucky? I kept asking myself. I ended my first and only IVF cycle with only one viable, genetically normal embryo, and somehow that little embryo that could split into two; TWO POTENTIAL BABIES. I was just in disbelief that I could be this blessed. And I wasn’t sure when and if my luck would run out. And then when this devastating news hit me today, it was like all my joy just got sucked out of me. My attempt to live in the moment had just been shot to death. One of my babies had been taken away from me nearly as soon as it was given to me. The pain that took over my insides was just indescribable. One of my babies had died inside of me and I had no idea until that moment.

Just last week, I had two healthy, growing embryos the size of blueberries, both with their own gestational sacs, yolk sacs, fetal poles, and strong heart beats. What had happened to Twin A? How could it just have died just like that with no warning?

Vanishing twin syndrome is technically considered a miscarriage; it’s a pregnancy loss. While you still have one surviving twin, you have lost the second. I always knew academically that miscarriage would be devastating and could bring on depression. I just never had any idea exactly how awful it could be until it happened to me, even with one surviving twin. I want to be happy that I still have one little survivor, but I cannot help but mourn the loss of my second twin, who I cherished and grew attached to in the last three weeks. They were some of the happiest weeks of my life; I had never been more full of gratitude for my blessings than during that time.

This loss feels very real to me; I once had two strong heart beats inside my uterus, and now I have only one. I just don’t understand why this had to happen.

When the worst news comes.

I was in the kitchen early this afternoon when Chris exclaimed that he didn’t believe something had happened. I asked him what it was, and he wouldn’t tell me. Instead, he came over to show me the email that was sitting in our inboxes. I was shocked to read that a good friend of ours, who we used to hang out with regularly, while he lived in New York City, had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly due to a seizure. He and his wife had just had a baby just over a month ago, their first child, and we had just spoken with them on a Zoom call in early March when they were getting ready to drive down from Sacramento to the Big Sur for their baby moon.

I immediately just felt sick. I was literally just thinking about messaging them to ask if they wanted to do a Zoom catch-up since it had been a little over a month since the baby had come home, and I figured they’d need some time to get into the swing of things before socializing, even remotely. I didn’t even know what to say. I just felt hurt, shocked, disgusted that something like this could happen to someone who had just welcomed their little baby into this world.

Anyone who knew Raj even remotely would know how full of life he was. All you have to do is look at a photo of him, and he just looks like a big teddy bear: someone who is just so affectionate, tender, kind-hearted, well-meaning, who just screams to be hugged and loved. He is so expressive, so generous, and so thoughtful. Behind my current “desk” setup, we have the bottle (now empty and cleaned) of champagne he sent us from one of his favorite wineries in California. It was a celebratory bottle he sent us shortly after we got married in March 2016 when he and his wife were living temporarily in Switzerland. He had shared that when he and his wife visited this winery and loved the bubbly so much, they knew they had to share it for special occasions with their friends and family when an event came up that warranted it. So he had this bottle engraved for us.

Making new friends as an adult hasn’t been easy, at least for me. Meeting people I genuinely click with, who I can say whatever I want in front of without fear of offending, who I feel actually get and appreciate me, has been a challenge. And well, a city as impersonal and time-strapped as New York, it’s even harder I’d say. With Raj, I always felt like I could be myself. He was an accomplished and overly educated person, having spent a lot of time working and living abroad throughout his short life. He was truly a citizen of the world, constantly curious and wanting to learn, do, see, and eat more. From the time we met him on that food tour a friend of mine arranged in 2015, we immediately clicked and got along. He made it clear he wanted to see us again, and we met him for dinner with his wife downtown. We continued to spend time together regularly until 2018, when they finally moved west to Sacramento, in an effort to be closer to family on both sides and also to start a family with more space.

Raj defined loving and expressive. He always told us, in his cheesy, cute way, how much he appreciated and loved us. Even after they left New York and we’d catch up over FaceTime or Zoom, he’d always say that while he loved having family nearby, he really missed having friends like us close by. He never failed to share how much he enjoyed my cooking and the food I made… to the point of inviting himself and his wife over for lunch during a New York City visit in 2019 when he was here for a work trip. While I may have been annoyed if anyone else had tried to do that, with Raj and his wife, I was just so flattered and felt so loved and appreciated. I still remember when they came, which was the last time we saw them in person: they came in March 2019, and they showed up with a bouquet of flowers and a massive box of Levain cookies (which of course, they got themselves their own massive box for their flight back home to Sacramento).

My heart just hurts for Maria and their newborn Jay, and for Raj himself. It’s so fucking awful and unfair that this happened to someone as kind, genuine, and amazing as Raj. He was so full of life. That sounds like a trite statement, but he really was all those words: Full. Of. Life. I still remember how excited he was to start a family and to meet Jay. He even posted on Instagram that he was reading a book for expectant dads; I know for a fact he would have been a devoted and extremely loving and hands on dad. I just can’t get over how unfair and awful this is.

Life is really short. It is too short. I don’t even know what to say anymore.

When life is truly not fair

Since President Dipshit got elected almost two years ago now, it’s been pretty difficult to have faith in humanity, or at least, in the American people. When facts are no longer facts, it’s hard to believe that “progress” will persist in a country that claims to be the land of the free. When your fellow citizens decide that it’s okay to elect a human being who doesn’t take his marriages seriously, has potentially raped his former spouse and sexually assaulted dozens of women, thinks nations that are not predominantly white are “shit hole” nations and lesser than, is an advocated of white supremacy, and has likely committed tax fraud, you realize that you can’t really take your “peers” seriously anymore and constantly sit shocked at how insane they all are. At that point, it is impossible to talk sense into these people because these people think we, on the progressive side, are the crazy, out of touch ones. And at that point, no compromise is possible.

So when the allegations of sexual assault against a Supreme Court nominated judge came out, my cynical side figured… who cares about what Anita Hill went through in the 1990s when Clarence Thomas was about to be confirmed? People don’t really care about history in this country anyway because they don’t pay attention to it, remember it, or value it. She went through painful hearings, all for nothing because Thomas was confirmed. And when this all started, I figured, it will be the same thing because we as a people cannot learn lessons of the past because we do not understand the past, nor do we care to. Christine Blasey Ford testified, respectfully and gracefully, with credibility acknowledged from both sides of the aisle. Yet, Kavanaugh will be confirmed because he’s just yet another privileged, wealthy white man who can get away with whatever he wants because he is white and he is male. Even if we put aside the sexual assault allegations, even if Ford did have the wrong guy (which I highly doubt based on the testimony), even if none of this ever happened… this man is not fit to sit on the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter that he revealed poor temperament during the hearings. It doesn’t matter that he was clearly partisan during the hearings, literally screaming against the Clintons and the Democrats and saying they were trying to  “get revenge” on him for his involvement during the Clinton scandal in the 90s. What, we demand bipartisanship and mature temperament of a Supreme Court justice? Nah. We’ll pass on that.

We are passing on that. Because the potential “swing” voters on the Senate already declared today that they will vote “yes” on him. And now, for probably the rest of my adult life, I will not be able to have any trust in the Supreme Court. How can we trust the Supreme Court when in my lifetime, we have denounced two extremely brave, intelligent, strong women for coming forward and exposing some of the most intimate and excruciating details of their lives to then have all those testimonies thrown away by confirming both of those vile men? It was as though it was all for nothing. Ford’s time was wasted. She risked her life, received many death threats, and had her house surrounded by media; she is the one who had everything to lose. This white male had everything to gain. And tomorrow he will when he gets confirmed.

When people say life is fair, I look at moments like this and think, what the fuck is “fair’? That white men get away with whatever they can because of their race, gender, and money, and that pretty much everyone else, even white women, have to suffer at their expense?




Rest in love, Anthony Bourdain.

After landing at JFK early this morning, I was in an Uber stuck in traffic on the way back into Manhattan when I saw a news alert pop up on my phone that Anthony Bourdain had died this morning in France while shooting his show Parts Unknown. I actually felt chills all over when I read the alert: how is this possible? Is this real? And what’s worse was how he died: he had hanged himself. It was suicide.

I just felt numb. Anthony Bourdain, for me, epitomized everything amazing about life: he had a genuine curiosity about the entire world, about everything that was unlike him, and eagerly sought to constantly learn more and educate himself about every culture, every cuisine, every person. He was blunt and to the point, at times offensive to some, but that’s what the world really needs — more realness, more rawness, more people speaking about things the way they truly are instead of how they romanticize or wish the world could be, or… for some, ignorantly believe the world is based on the tiny bubble they choose to exist in. He was brutally honest, no bullshit, and always to the point about how he felt. Anthony loved food, and he saw food for more than just something to fill his stomach and keep him alive. He saw it in the way that I’ve always thought about it, as an expression of culture. I’ve always thought that if you want to learn more about another culture, another people that you haven’t been exposed to, the easiest first step is to try their food. Therefore, if you hesitate to try another culture’s food or immediately write it off as disgusting… you’re probably more likely to be racist. There’s a strong correlation there in my opinion. Food tells a story that is more than just “I’m delicious” — it’s about a culture, its rich history, its geography, economy, politics. It’s about how people live, where they live. Food tells a story. And stories reveal important ideas about how and why people are the way they are. And that’s compelling and complex.

He exposed so many truths about all parts of the world, from Palestine to Africa to Southeast Asia, that most of the world didn’t want to see or look at. He humanized the people that other travel shows and magazines wanted to ignore, everyone from people making street food in India to even the Mexican and Central American workers who staff the majority of our restaurants here in the U.S. He was a white male, yes, but he was extremely cognizant of his privilege and continued to ask questions and follow his curiosity around the world and understand more.

To this day, I haven’t ever really felt much when a well known celebrity has passed, but this time, I really did feel something. His death is a tragedy to the entire world, and now, when I hear his words being quoted or see his shows now, a part of me will hurt. He had his inner demons, as he mentioned many times in the books I’d read he had written and in the shows he starred in. He talked about how he should have died in his 20s or 30s, and really shouldn’t have been around to see his 50s. To me, I always suspected this would be a way that he’d leave the world. I just hoped it wouldn’t be true.

He always said he had the best job in the world. He died while traveling for work. I suppose that is a way that he would have wanted to go. I miss him, even though I never knew him personally.

On traveling, on culture, and on moving, he said: “If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

I could not agree more wholeheartedly.

Rest in love and peace, our beloved Anthony Bourdain. The world is a worser and frankly, less honest place without you in it anymore.

Trump’s rise is America’s downfall

In less than a week since his unsightly inauguration, President Dipshit has already caused a stir; he’s really whipped out his balls by issuing all kinds of executive actions, ranging from “extreme vetting” of refugees, a threat to eventually pull Visa Waiver Entry from countries that are currently on friendly terms with the U.S. (that includes Australia… boy, can’t wait for this crap to begin and for these countries to retaliate and make my travel life hell), the revival of the anti-Native American Dakota Access pipeline (and the Keystone XL pipeline); he’s announced that the U.S.-Mexico border wall is the real deal, and that Mexico WILL be paying for it (just… you know, us taxpayers will pay for it first to then get reimbursed later); the “Mexico City Policy” will be reinstated to ban federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize abortion. I can’t even go through the entire list. My blood pressure has already gone up listing just these!
And because his ego is so easily and quickly damaged, he had his idiot press secretary hold a press conference insisting that his inauguration crowds were, in fact, large, and that the comparisons that were being drawn to Obama’s inaugurations were inaccurate and misrepresenting the extreme popularity of Dipshit. Clearly, he has the priorities of the country in mind when wasting everyone’s time with his deflated ego. And Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced that Mexico officially will NOT pay for the stupid wall no matter what, and has also cancelled the meeting he had scheduled with Dipshit. Trump went back and said they mutually agreed to cancel. If anyone thinks that’s the truth, they must believe in “alternative facts” that are quite popular today.

The latest news is that at least six state department officials have resigned from their posts, refusing to work under a Trump administration. I don’t blame them; I’d feel major ethical qualms about my own character if I had to work for someone as openly racist, sexist, xenophobic, and politically inexperienced as this turd. All I feel is embarrassment and anger as a U.S. citizen. It has been a rough start to 2017 when I’ve been trying really hard to be hopeful and keep my head up. This country was supposed to be a nation of immigrants, a country of open-mindedness, freedom, acceptance of new and different ideas and philosophies. Instead, Dipshit is taking this country into the direction of becoming isolationist, xenophobic, and ultimately unwelcoming to people who are not white skinned and light haired. How can any rational American, educated or uneducated, rich or poor, light skinned or dark skinned, be proud to see these news headlines today? I just cannot wrap my head around it and have been in a constant state of “I have no words.”



“So, what I’ve learned is…”

Despite winning the popular vote, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first female presidential candidate of a major political party, the most qualified presidential candidate in the history of our country, the most prepared person on earth, lost the presidency to Donald Trump. I have never been more emotional in my life about politics, but I sobbed when it was all said and done. In the moment I found out, this country did not feel welcoming of me, of my husband, of my family, any of my friends of color, of any of my female friends.

I don’t know what hurt more — the fact that a woman as accomplished as Hillary Clinton could not break the highest glass ceiling in the land in the year of 2016, or that a bigoted, racist, inexperienced white supremacy supporter could actually be leading the most powerful nation on earth. It’s two days later, and I am still broken. When I think of the future, I think, could I possibly have my first child during a Trump administration? What kind of hope is this child going to be imbued with in that case?!

On Wednesday night, I attended the first session of a mentoring program I’m starting for high school-age children that are in foster care. It’s a small group of children living in the Bronx and in Brooklyn, all of African, Trinidadian, Puerto Rican, or Dominican descent. After some ice breakers and group activities, one of the more outgoing kids spoke up and asked if we could all talk about the election. We went back and forth and talked about Hillary’s qualifications, Trump’s qualifications (none, other than being rich), and all the scandals behind the both of them. The resounding theme among these kids was that they were shocked Hillary had lost and they had all hoped she would have won. They did not understand why Trump won, and sadly, as the adults in the room, none of us mentors could explain to them why. It was all just too near and raw. The outgoing boy pipes in again: “So, what I’ve learned from this election is that as long as you are a rich white man, you can say or do whatever you want, even the worst things, and you can still become President of the United States.”

I had to hold back tears in my eyes and keep a straight face as he said this to our group. All the mentors looked dejected as we exchanged looks with each other and uselessly looked down at the floor. We all felt so useless in that moment; it was so obvious. We were rendered speechless. How were we supposed to explain this to these kids, kids who have endured so much difficulty so young, who have come from broken homes, and who constantly have to battle with issues of poverty and inequality every single day of their lives?

What I’d really love to know is… how are Trump supporters who actually voted for him discussing his victory to their kids? How are these parents and grandparents explaining to their children that this man is actually good and empathetic, that he could actually be an example to children around the world despite parading around and treating women like pleasure objects, saying all blacks live in the disgusting inner cities, that Mexicans are all rapists and that we need to build a wall to protect America from those rapists? How do we teach our children to abide by the law via the “law and order” that he loves to yell about when this man won’t even pay his taxes that the rest of us have to do?

I feel broken. Just broken.