Kindly Unfriend Me to My Face

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by Riaz Patel

About a week ago I was "unfriended" by someone on Facebook. Since then, I have spent many nights wandering around my kitchen at 3 am. And as I poured yet another bowl of cereal by the light of the refrigerator, I asked myself: was I a truly good person? If so, why was I so easily disposable? Perhaps I was completely unaware of aspects of myself that are deeply objectionable to those who know me.

To be clear, I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook. In fact, I often forget to look at it for days on end. Which is all to say, the “minus one” in the Friend tally wasn't an ego hit. It was a heart-directed strike.

Because this wasn’t just a friend on Facebook. This was an actual Friend. Capital “F.” For well over a decade.

We’d met through work ages ago and had immediately taken a profound liking to one another. And as we built our careers, we’d always make it a point to celebrate our successes together as well as offer support during those times when Hollywood can leave you flat on your back and feeling alone. Since 2011 we’d regularly volunteered side-by-side at a domestic violence shelter and those experiences, in particular, became the basis of an even deeper friendship. We were so close, in fact, that as recently as this past May she was the “you-just-brought-your-baby-home-and-I-can’t-wait-to-meet-her-so-I’m-heading-over” kind of friend. I’m actually looking at the photo as I type.

So when that kind of friend decides they don’t even want to passively see or hear about your existence, it definitely stings.

In hindsight, I have to say I appreciate the sensitivity built into the overall design of Facebook that it does not announce or highlight each time a person drops you from their world of awareness. It saves us all a lot of exactly this particular brand of pain. So how did I know I had been disposed of, you may ask?

By fate. I happened to run into a mutual friend at a party last week. And we had spent hours chatting before she felt quite comfortable enough to ask about the "blow-up." Whatever argument had erupted between the two of us, she hypothesized, must have been fiery enough to incinerate a friendship of that many years. As she spoke her eyes were brimming with truly empathic tears as she noted that these were dark days, indeed.

My eyes, in contrast, were as wide as dinner plates as I asked what on earth she was talking about. The friend she was referring to and I had just texted a few weeks prior, I stammered as I fumbled for my phone to show her the actual last exchange. The very last word being “Adorableness!” referring to a recent photo of my daughter. There had to be some misunderstanding.

So, I checked my Friend list on Facebook right then and there: Gone. I checked the other forms of social media we had used for years to follow one another in our busy lives: no trace of her. I was stunned. I remember feeling very sick, very quickly.

She had vanished from my life. Why?

I came to find out it was because I was talking to someone from waaaay over on the "other side." A new friend named "Glenn."

Someone she thinks she knows from his reputation in media. Someone whose value system she thinks is flawed. And someone whom she thinks believes in things that she doesn’t.

But here’s what is so strange: she never asked me if I agreed with these so-called “beliefs” of his. She never even asked me to discuss the thing, in particular, that so bothered her. And here’s the kicking-est kicker off all: I don’t even know what the “thing” was.

Why? Because she never told me. She just silently opted out of my life and I was only just accidentally finding out.

Think for a minute if there existed a type of magical scale that could somehow accurately measure the weight and importance of all the experiences we have in life. On one side of that scale, I would put all the weddings, birthdays, game nights, work successes, inspirational conversations that I had shared with this friend of mine, including the time we had spent with one another’s children. I would happily watch the scales tip heavily and fully to that one side in celebration of all that we had shared together in our common history as friends.

And then I would watch --- in shock, horror and disbelief --- as all that was reversed, and the scales shifted decidedly and definitely in the opposite direction because of the weight of one silent disagreement, the specifics of which I will never know because she never offered me the dignity of a conversation.

As a result, I have spent night after night down a rabbit hole of self-doubt because one of my dearest friends didn’t think me worthy of a little guidance in understanding something about which she obviously felt so strongly. Fueled by Raisin Bran and worry, I have been flinging metaphorical fistfuls of hay in the air, searching all over for that pesky “needle” of a mistake I may have made. Five cereal boxes down, and I still don’t have an answer.

So why write this piece about a friendship that no longer exists and about a question to which I may never know the answer? Since I have been cut out of her life entirely --- as have almost all of our common friends --- it’s not because I harbor hopes of her one day reading this. In fact, I’m not writing it for her, at all. Here’s to whom I am writing it:

  • Anyone who has done the same on Facebook
  • Anyone whose recent Superbowl party had similar absences
  • Anyone who has been avoiding “that cousin” at Thanksgiving
  • Anyone mourning a time when personal relationships weren’t "collateral damage" in elections and politics

 

Because the worst feeling of all was that, in her eyes --- eyes that have seen me for a decade --- I wasn’t even worthy of a teachable moment. So here’s what I believe with all my heart and why I am writing this:

Whether you are a Trump-voting coal miner in Charleston, WV (where I lived as a baby) or a newly-energized liberal activist in Los Angeles (where I live now) I believe everyone deserves the opportunity and the dignity to teach and be taught. A moment to say: “This is what you may not know about my life. This is what I’d like you to understand.”

And all the person on the other side has to say is... absolutely nothing. To try not to focus on what they are saying, but the way they are saying it. are they saying it? Are they hurt? Or angry? Do they feel powerless? Or afraid? If so, about what? Those should be your follow-up questions, not the legitimacy of their "Alternative Facts." We need to dignify one another’s humanity enough to humble ourselves and actually have the conversations, even if they are uncomfortable.

I’m not saying look away from politics and all that matter to you and your family --- but I am saying don’t forget to also look toward those who are standing right next to you and what matters to their family.

I believe dark days can and will turn into pitch black nights when they lose any light of hope. But as bad as things seems now --- like that painful feeling of having lost an old friend --- they cannot get worse if we simply do not let them.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.