Mary Lou Sanelli
Mary Lou Sanelli

In the living room, which is also the den, dining room and my office, of our new home, there is a sweeping view of the surrounding rooftops. When I look south, I can see the sky over Elliott Bay shift from a hovering grey, to open gaps of a blue you could drown in, to darkening shades at dusk.

Today, surrounded by as many puffy snowflakes as any time I remember, I imagine this is what Whistler looks like on any given winter day, and I am content to stay inside to take in the wonder. Like when I first walk into a bookstore and think this is what heaven must feel like: quiet relief.

It’s a snow day after all, so I can have any vision of perfection I want.

By midday, things really begin to quiet down. I no longer hear the worst sounds: delivery trucks, traffic and ... Mitch McConnell’s speech after the Senate vote. He reminds me of a woman I met while teaching dance in Moab. I think back on what she said about being Mormon, “I don’t believe a word of it, but there are the bennies to consider.”

Politics on both sides of the aisle bother me more than ever. I tried to explain to my sister why, and she cut me off.

“Because you don’t have any kids to worry about,” she said.

I feel like this a lot around my sister: As if my troubles are nothing compared to how difficult it is to be her. Other people have made remarks. To them, I must look at the world from behind green, inexperienced eyes, and it’s practically their duty to remind me I never had kids. As if I didn’t know.

What I’d been about to say was, “Maybe a record number of women are serving in Congress, but it’s still only 24 percent.”

This is an injustice I just can’t seem to let go of lately. Why I am so bothered.

But I can assure you, once this pandemic is over, I am done with congressional shenanigans. I am going places. If the plane, train or bus can go, so will I. It makes no sense to live in fear. See, I say to the flakes coming down, I am trying to look ahead.

There is an old saying, “As the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger,” but did I listen? My potted bulbs were beginning to shoot up before the snowstorm, and I let myself believe that the worst of winter was over. Not that this makes my eyes green, or inexperienced.

Maybe not as “over” as, say, my patience for QAnon. Seriously. All the lies: every day new lies. And isn’t it just my luck that my new neighbor, Helen, is deeply into all that nonsense. She told me, flat-out, that Trump is the second coming of Christ, unprompted by anything I said, other than asking if she’d like my Time magazine before I chucked it into recycling. I had to take a deep breath so I wouldn’t laugh. “Do you really believe that?” I said.

“Yes,” she said. “And we only need 4 million (or did she say billion?) more followers and then we will show the world.”

There is no way I was going to ask, “show us what?” I could see the danger of that. You can talk yourself blue in the face about what they believe, and not a one of them will listen. I’m sure they feel the same way about me, that I’m crazy as Charlie Sheen to believe Obama wasn’t born in Kenya.

She and I smile at each other as I back away, lock my door and run to look up if other people believe the same thing.

“Oh!” I cry. They do! The sound of my cry must have carried all the way out to the street because when I looked outside a man was looking up at my window with eyes that said, what am I supposed to do when I hear a woman cry out so-o-o-o loud? And then he went back to scooping dog poo into a little green baggie.

My emotions got so intense that I had to call my sister back, then my friend Camille, then my friend Mary Ann, to talk me down — my island of three who let me be my most incensed self without hanging up. “What is up with these people?” I wailed.

Which, of course, answered my question. The truth rolled out like ribbon off a spool to save me from thinking there is any way to fathom all people: Tomorrow you will hear nothing but the drip drip of snowmelt, so get your butt off that chair and go outside.

As they say, truth paves the way.

And it did. I am determined to enjoy the rest of this snowstorm.

Mary Lou Sanelli's column, "Falling Awake," has been a part of The Queen Anne & Magnolia News since 2009. The author of three nonfiction titles, her first novel, “The Star Struck Dance Studio of Yucca Springs,” was recently published. For more information about her and her work, visit