The Ugliest Day In America

November 9th, 2016 - filed under: Furthermore » Inspiration


It was supposed to be a celebration.

We had such a wonderful party planned. We wore pantsuits and we got a Trump piñata for the kiddos and there was champagne and miniature hot sauce party favors, because Hillary Clinton loves her hot sauce. It’s been an ugly, ugly election cycle, but my friends and I promised ourselves: election day would be all about celebration. Just joy and laughter and coming together to celebrate. We were so confident . . .




I woke up on November 9th at 2:30 am face planted in my couch. I had fallen asleep there, crying. We had watched the acceptance speech and I wept into Jeremy’s chest. Bitter, ugly, heaving tears. I woke up at 2:30 tangled in my couch, and stumbled to bed. And I woke up again this morning, at a more reasonable hour. I turned over, snuggled into Jeremy, and wept again. Body-wracking tears. I fell asleep crying and I woke up crying.

I spent most of the morning feeling numb. Intermittently weeping. It felt like a nightmare. It couldn’t be real.

I’m sure many of you are feeling the same way.

Jeremy has been researching expatriation. He is really into Belize. I have other friends who are seriously talking about a California secession. California got it right this election, like we always do.

But I couldn’t think about any of that. I couldn’t think. It felt like physical trauma. I didn’t know how to make sense of it, how to accept this, how to move forward.

But then I had to face the world.

Damian had taken Waits the night before, so it was time for me to pick him up at school. The first time that I would see him. And I was trying to figure out how I could look into the eyes of my child, who I have promised never to lie to, and navigate a conversation about this. I felt so despondent.

Until I did it. I picked him up and we sat in the car together and I said, “Trump was elected. How does it make you feel?” He was fighting back tears, trying to be brave for his mama. But he asked me, “When will Trump start making my friends leave?” My sweet 6 year old baby is legitimately worried for the safety of his friends.

And that’s when everything changed for me. I realized that I couldn’t leave, I won’t run away and hide. And I felt my fire returning to my body. Because this isn’t about me. None of this is about me. It’s not about me or my trauma or my tears.

And now, I feel Lit Up from the inside.

And I want you to feel Lit Up too. I am ready to get radical, and I want you to be ready, too. Because when I looked around my party on election night, I was surrounded by Mexican Americans. Gay Americans. And a whole, whole lot of Nasty Women. And that’s what this is about right now.

So please, take care of yourselves, my friends. You will need your strength because a fight is on the horizon, and we ALL need to be there to meet it. We need your body, and your voice, and your action to fight for our black and brown brothers and sisters. Our queer community. Our Muslim friends and neighbors. We need to come together and we need to come strong.


That night there were four of us left by the time Clinton called to concede. So we opened the champagne that we had thought would be for celebrating, and instead we toasted to each other. We toasted to friendship. To community. To finding your tribe and holding them close.


I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot over this past week. Thinking about how she raised me to be a warrior, and to always fight for justice. She died when I was 9 and I know she would have loved so much to vote for a woman president.

But I’m honoring her today, by choosing love. I choose LIT UP, RADICAL LOVE.

And I’m ready to fight for it.

♥ ♥ ♥

  • Anna

    I’m not ready to fight yet. I’m still vacillating between shock and grief and a lot of wanderlust. But I hope I can muster the strength to fight back at some point, too.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    That’s okay Anna. I firmly believe that everyone has the right to feel the hell out of their feelings right now. It hasn’t even been 24 hours, so you do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. Grief is very real.

    I do hope, for our sake and also for yours, that you will be able to move through the grief and reclaim a more productive, empowered heartspace.

  • k

    I’ve been reading your blog for years but i’ve never commented. I love the recipes, i love all the practical household tips, it has been a joy to watch your sweet boy grow and your life take shape.

    I’m writing this from Australia and all i can say is that the shock is global. Just the cultural implications of all that hatred being validated has frightened me to my core. The thought of how this cancer will try and spread through the world … I spent my workday feeling weak at the knees, trying not to burst into tears.

    But those feelings of disgust, sadness, hurt, anger ….. i think they’re the silver lining. Because they remind me that no matter what, i still have my humanity. I’m not one of them. I will never allow myself to be empowered by hatred and ignorance and bigotry. I’m 22 and i’ve just finished my bachelors – social science majoring in politics and governance. I was already determined to makes this world kinder, softer, easier for those who need it most. Now i’m fucking galvanised. Angela Davis said “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time”. And really, what alternative do we have. I think the bad will get worse, but the good will only get better.

    Sorry for writing such a rambling, overzealous comment. Sorry this has happened to your country. Sorry this has happened to the world. Good vibes and good luck.

  • lysette

    Thank you for your strength and spirit, Sayward xo Fists up to Radical Love <3

  • Julie

    As a “Christian” American who also lives in Southern California, I’m going through the stages of grief. I’m saddened by how many people chose him who claimed to be Christians and really believed that he was the answer. How can someone with so much hate and lies be the right choice? I know you are Atheist and I totally respect that and have no intention of changing anyone for their beliefs. THIS is what makes America great. Love is always the answer.
    My 6 year old daughter woke up yesterday and I broke the news to her. She was angry and sad too. She has Muslim friends at her co-op school (we home school) who have chosen to home school for many reasons and one of them is because of how kids in public school treat them.
    This is a hard pill to swallow. I stand with my fellow Muslim, Black, Gay, Straight, Jewish, Mexican and EVERYTHING else in between. Ready to fight for LOVE!!!
    Hugs to you Sayward! We are in this together.

  • Elle

    YES YES YES. We have got to stay and fight this. I too woke up sobbing yesterday, but today I feel invigorated to fight.

    If the government is going to fail us, we have to rely on each other more than ever to support threatened groups and preserve the rights of marginalized groups.

    Jezebel has a really good list of organizations that need our support NOW. If you can’t give money, you can sign up for action alerts and volunteering.

    Much love to everyone. We’ve got this. <3

  • Beens

    You will find the strength, eventually. I went through a grief process after Brexit, managed not to fall out with friends and family who voted to leave and took a ‘one day at a time’ approach.

  • Grace

    On the night of the election, I cried myself to sleep and woke up to uncontrollable tears. I couldn’t fathom what had happened, and was failing at convincing myself that it had been a sick nightmare. I lived in southern California all my life, and had been fortunate enough to feel relatively safe surrounded by all kinds of diversity. I believed that the worst crimes against humanity (in America) are a thing of the past, and that hateful acts are more isolated events. But I was proven very wrong on the night of the election, where almost half of the country voted for an openly xenophobic, racist, homophobic rapist. My heart hurt with grief and worry for my fellow citizens who now feel like they are not wanted here. Then I realized that I, an Asian American woman, was in that group of the unwanted.

    Among the many texts I exchanged with heartbroken friends, one sent me the twitter page of writer and activist, Shaun King. He has been keeping records of accounts of racial hate and sexual assault that minorities have been receiving since November 8th. There’s the woman in Indiana who was told by a Trump supporter, “hey ni**er, pick that up.” The USPS worker at a gas pump in Cambridge telling a Latino man to “go back to your country.” The Asian man in Simi Valley who was called a “chink” by a group of Trumpers claiming a “pure America”. Countless accounts of high school and middle school minority students being told by white students that there will be a wall built and they ought to be deported soon. THIS BREAKS MY HEART and I weep for the victims. I am also legitimately scared for my and my Korean mother’s safety here in California. PLEASE share the twitter page of @shaunking with your friends and followers, because people NEED to hear these stories.

    I truly applaud you for refusing to accept these horrid circumstances and choosing to FIGHT. As a long time reader, I really appreciate the safe space you create for us readers in regards to all subjects. Much love <3

  • stephie137

    I’m Canadian. We are utterly blown away. I spent the first 12 hours in anxious shock. Then I wrote a letter to my 4 year old daughter about how I felt and how I know it’s important to continue to live boldly in a world that wished I didn’t. For her.

    Then I sobbed at the table.

    And now I’ve found my resolve.

  • Brie

    Thank you for this ❤️ I have felt so numb and terrified these few days as a native woman. That is starting to be over shadowed by anger and determination to protect those more vulnerable than me. Just like when I went vegan, there is no going back now.

  • Serena Lewis

    I am still stunned with disbelief that Americans would even consider voting Trump in. Here in Australia, I think the vast majority of us thought it was a joke that he was even in the running…and now…. What were those Americans thinking?!!!

  • Crystal Dicus
  • Crystal Dicus

    I did exactly the same thing – literally wept for this country Tuesday night, then got up Wednesday and cried again. I posted this petition link here wondering if you would be willing to sign and share since you have so much reach.

  • Katie

    Hi Sayward,

    I am a Canadian in the US on a NAFTA trade visa (which I guess now qualifies me as a candidate for deportation). This election has been a crash course in anthropology for me. I identify with and am an ally of the groups that have been the focus of the election “platform”. The whole process, the whole election, just didn’t make sense. I cannot comprehend sometimes the behaviour. But here we are. The morning after, a friend reminded me of the words of the late Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP – a socialist-democratic party that at the time was the official opposition in parliament) just before his death: “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

    I was at a protest tonight. Although I cannot vote, I can make my voice heard. And one speaker said something that I hope is true: people are awake. People are awake now and ready to listen, to fight.

    Let us all be awake, be loving , hopeful, and optimistic. And we will change the world.

  • Lina

    I’m feeling it, too. Every single one of my girl friends have
    experienced rape, sexual abuse or sexual assault. Every fucking one of
    them. I was sexually abused (by a man) for years when I was little. As a
    teen, a friend’s dad grabbed my ass. At work, as a waitress, some
    guests openly stare at my body and ask me where I live. My sister has
    been raped. Two of my best friends have been raped, one of them while
    being choked and told she is a whore. I grew up and live in Sweden,
    supposedly one of the most gender equal countries in the world. When I
    read that a sexist, racist bully had been elected president, I wept. It
    made me feel like all the people who voted for him, approved of what had
    happened to us, of what is happening to so many everywhere. I am so
    fucking sick of this shit. Got democracy? I don’t think so. So yes, be
    radical. Be ungovernable. What we need is anarchy. Love harder and
    fiercer and braver than ever. Let’s sleep in a pile! <3

  • Michaela@The Lightweight Eats

    Hillary was right from the beginning: Stronger Together.

  • JR

    I agree. I feel the same wave that you describe. We must grieve but we must let that grief transform us into warriors of the spirit and of humanity. No government or leader can ever be there for us the way we can for each other. I was up at Standing Rock and they are calling for all of us, every human, to be warriors. Together we Stand. Strong in the broken places

  • Courtney


  • Kate

    Thank you so much for writing this post and for actually choosing to address the election. I’m not surprised–you have always gone beyond the traditional format of a “food” blog to talk about important issues related to social justice and politics. It’s very hard for me to read blogs right now that have continued with business as usual, posting recipes and ignoring the results of the race. I’ve never commented on the blog before, but I had to tell you how thankful I am for people like you in the blogosphere.

  • Sarah Zimmerman

    Hi – thank you for your post which is beautiful. I’m writing from New Zealand and similarly to the Australian folks who’ve commented can say we’re pretty struck dumb at this outcome, and feel so much for you in the US. Something I feel really strongly is that what’s needed, more than all of the talk of fighting, is talk about understanding. The people who voted for Trump – what are they saying? What is so bad for them that they choose to cast their vote for this man? I don’t believe that all the people who voted for him are awful people – what did they feel they were voting against/ how badly are they feeling unheard? How do we listen to one another? This is so hard – but it’s our only way through.

    I think the most radical acts we can take now are to set our beliefs aside – of course we’re right, our side is more just, and so on – and listen to the people we find it really, really hard to give the time of day to. Just listen. Radical and humble and hard.

  • Sarah C.

    I know it’s been more than a week, but I’m still depressed and terrified. I need this community more than ever, to help me think of constructive ways to survive and thrive in the midst of a hideous, evil, hateful regime. I’d love to see you post some concrete ways in which you plan to fight, since I’m so demoralized that all I can think to do right now is donate (I’ve chosen ACLU, SPLC, and the Muslim-rights advocacy group CAIR) and call my (already progressive) senators and reps. Any thoughts you have on how to fight are much appreciated.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Julie,

    It means a lot to me to hear from someone who self-identifies as Christian, who was also able to see through the Trump hypocrisy. It truly saddens me how many Christians seem to be blinded by their current leadership, and as an atheist, I feel like most Christians are not willing to engage with me in any meaningful way. I really urge you, Julie, to be wiling to do the incredibly difficult work of trying to have these conversations with your fellow Christians. It is SO hard but it is so important. You are in a unique position to really be able to make a meaningful change!

    Hugs to you too. We are definitely in this together and we will need to stick together, keep loving, keep hugging, and stay strong. I’ve got your back!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yes! I love reading this, thank you k. You give me a lot of hope!I know it must be freaking terrifying to be watching America make these terrible choices that will affect the rest of the world. But I love the quote you shared and I couldn’t agree more. I think we *can* radically transform the world, all of us together. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Sarah, you are not alone. I know so many people who are feeling the same as you, sad and scared and confused. I know that for me the most clarifying response to this election has been: community. We need it now more than ever! In real life but also online.

    I’m putting together a resource list of actionable items for people looking for something constructive to do in the wake of all this madness. We will fight Sarah, all of us together!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Sarah,

    I think your questions are important, and I’ve been really struggling to stay in a place of empathy so that I can do the best work, which is to try and find common ground with the people who have made this terrible mistake. I do have a ton of anger and it’s hard for me not to dwell in rage right now, haha. So for now I’m doing other stuff. But as my anger subsides, I agree with you. We need to ask why these people thought they needed to do this. What was so terrible for them? And how can we help prevent it from ever happening again?

    Unfortunately I think the answers are ugly. Racism and sexism and bigotry and xenophobia are clearly the primary motivating factors here, whether the people who voted for Trump realize it or not. That’s a really hard thing to face and a seemingly impossible obstacle for us, on the other side, to try and tackle. But like you say – radical and humble and hard. I will continue to work on that. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I agree Kate, I can hardly deal with anything that isn’t political right now because it seems SO important and like everything else is a waste of precious time that should be spent fighting, learning, working, and healing.

    As to me posting this on this blog, well there will be a lot more of this on the blog in the coming weeks and months. Yes ma’am. ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    YES! Let’s fight this together!!! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    100%. Before her and after her, we stand together, STRONG. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    This comment is so beautiful JR! And thank you for going to Standing Rock, that is amazing. I would love to hear more about your experience there.

    Yes to warriors, yes to spirit, yes to strength and stronger together! YES!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Trying ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    What a beautiful quote, thank you for sharing Katie. It must be really unsettling for you to be here right now, under those circumstances. I hope you know (I’m sure you do but I’ll say it anyway) that there are so many of us, millions and millions of us, who are fighting tooth and nail against this monster. We can unite and we can fight, like you say: awake, loving, hopeful, optimistic, and ready to change the whole wide world! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’m on it! Signed. Done and done. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    We all thought it was a joke too. A joke in the primary, then he won the primary. A joke in the election, then he won the election. Now people are saying “he’ll drop out” or “he’ll be impeached” or “just wait, he’ll be a more stable leader”. NOPE. Fooled me already, not going to fool me again.

    We’re fighting back now. Try and have hope for us!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’m sorry Brie, I’m sure you are feeling it doubly hard with the election and with Standing Rock. I feel numb and scared too, though I’m finally coming around I think. Still pretty stuck in anger and hoping to move through that soon. I, too, am feeling completely reignited to fight and protect the people who are vulnerable and oppressed. I will devote my life to it. No going back, indeed.

    Hope you are staying strong and taking good care of yourself. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I can only imagine. You went Trudeau and we went Trump, WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF??

    But we will keep fighting and we will take our country back. We’ve come to far not to. ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I feel you Grace. We truly are lucky, and a little bit isolated, to be living in southern California. I am so grateful that I live in this beautiful progressive place, but we need to remind ourselves that the rest of the country is NOT this way. We need to remain diligent and watchful and we need to stay connected! This election happened because we’ve been disconnected, and we need to make sure that never happens again. Let’s fight, together, to make it right!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    “If the government is going to fail us, we have to rely on each other” YES! Community, unity, together. Now more than ever. Much love to you too Elle. Were going to take it back!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Fist up to you Lysette! ♥

  • Crystal Dicus

    Thank You!!

  • Sarah Zimmerman

    Thanks Sayward – yes, that anger is so valid. And when the first waves subside, I so encourage your efforts toward empathy. empathy for the bigots, the xenophobes… in our corner of the world, we’ve had a few issues playing out in the press lately around immigration and particularly anti-Asian sentiment. Of course a primary motivator for a lot of the (all?) hateful comments is fear. House prices are rising and people are concerned they won’t be able to afford to live where their jobs are, they worry that the inflation will drive things they’d expected to have in their lives out of their reach – and the easiest and most visible enemy is the ‘new people’ (note – asian and particularly Chinese communities in NZ, as in the US, have been strong contributors to our communities since day 1 but that gets forgotten) who are buying ‘all the houses’. Myself, I know that the causes of the housing crisis are so much more complex – property market legislation, economic growth, social inequalities with all sorts of drivers, and the laws NZers made ourselves about who can and can’t buy property here. But the ‘racist’ people I have a problem with – a lot wouldn’t know where to go for the information I have that would ‘set them straight’, or the people they love and look up to insist on a racist point of view. What chance do they have? What’s more, these people will never listen to a new way of thinking if it comes from someone telling them they’re stupid. I need to remember and to honestly accept that these people are essentially good and intelligent, if we have any way of changing each other’s thinking. Gosh sorry for the long post – I’ve been thinking about this at work today, it’s really at the centre of where I believe the only potential for growth lies.

  • Sarah Zimmerman

    also i totally fail at practising what i preach – i judge people almost instantly and find it so hard to get past. I guess I’m preachin’ ‘cos I need to hear it so much… thank you for the conversation

  • Tera

    Wow. I believe I’m the first one to say I’ve been a reader of yours for over 2 years and I’m ssssooooo happy Hillary Clinton wasn’t elected. Mind you I’m no trump fan either. Good grief how many more lgtb people do we need fighting for “egual” rights?! Its all just a fad for attention. Look back to the 80-90′s… it was rare. Now it’s just trendy. Ridiculous! Good grief people. Get a grip on real life!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Your opinion is bigoted and disgusting and won’t be tolerated here. Bye bye, reader of two years. You do not belong here.

  • Jennifer

    I never quite understood why Hillary was so unpopular with Republicans. Most people I understood why they didn’t like Hillary were very liberal. If they weren’t, they could never get specific about why they hated her. It makes me so sad. I don’t think everyone who voted for Trump are racist, just naive about what their vote meant. Even my in-laws (who didn’t vote for Trump) had no idea the scale of the election. They were surprised by all the protests while in California for a business trip, and didn’t have a clue that the protests were EVERYWHERE. I had family who didn’t vote because they “didn’t like either candidate” and it just tears me apart when these people had every reason to vote for Hillary. It just makes me frustrated how little people know about Trump and they never questioned it. We still keep taking Trump’s bait of dumb tweets instead of talking about policy and what is going on with our government.

  • siska

    A celebration for which has never been celebrated by sprei waterproof