Paris/COVID: Purple Haze

Aliss Valerie Terrell
3 min readNov 15, 2020

A big priority for November was to not let the US presidential election steal my life. I voted in September, participated in a get-out-the-vote Zoom organized by Chicago friends and supported my candidates as much as possible on social media. Liberal leaning news sources were trumpeting a blue landslide, which I did not trust after last time. So, the afternoon of November 3rd, I started a 24 -hour media fast, determined to maintain some semblance of emotional stability no matter what. I did not want to relive the morning of November 2016 when I woke up to election results that had seemed impossible only hours before.

I highly recommend doing a screen Sabbath and seeing who we are without all the electronic input from around the world. Sitting with my coffee, uncharacteristically internet-free the morning of November 4th, I attempted to breathe and pick up a vibe coming from the US. All I could feel was a sort of neutrality. Hmm. When I finally turned on my phone and computer early afternoon on November 4th, it was eerie, no emails, no texts. Were all my connections too devastated to communicate or asleep after a night of watching the coverage? To my amazement, my candidates still had a chance and staunchly red states were showing amazing new trends. From then on I was glued to my screen like millions of other people, hooked on the suspense, especially because all my ancestors come from two of the states that tipped the balance, namely Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Part of the drama of the past 10 days has been observing reactions from my relatives in these two states. One of my cousins in PA wrote that seeing the election tally was like watching 9–11 all over again. I can relate, because that’s how I felt 4 years ago when my world view collapsed like the Twin Towers. The same person and another cousin in Georgia made dire predictions and posted videos of GOP supporters using violent language to describe the coming fight for the current president as a civil war. I could not relate. Meanwhile my Dem friends continue to mock the losers in the most condescending and derogatory terms imaginable. I can understand intellectually but I don’t think this is going to help us progress.

Is there a way to stay informed without hate- and fear-mongering? Is there a way to keep the lines of communication open in all directions, by reacting positively to posts that affirm our common humanity and not reacting to the others?

There are voices of reason. My main news source right now is a Dem lawyer in south GA, expert in Constitutional Law and first-hand observer of the electoral process in his state. When I get his permission, I’ll share his posts in case they can help others stay sane.

Here in France, everyone is facing many more weeks of confinement to stem the second wave, commemorating the 5-year anniversary of the November 13th attacks. The US expat community is wondering how to celebrate vital rituals of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hannukah… Focusing to keep body and soul together, continue working, studying, staying alive.

Hoping to get through the current purple election haze,

Yours truly…

Originally published at on November 15, 2020.



Aliss Valerie Terrell

I’ve had several lives since coming to France: grad student, singer songwriter, writer and filmmaker, marriage and mothering….