Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bree Newsome, Superhero

Just coming up for air to record that this happened. (Can't believe they put that flag back up over the South Carolina state house after Bree Newsome's thrilling act of civil disobedience.)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Gone into her life again

They come and they go, and the air shifts and shifts again, and we adjust endlessly.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 

—Howard Thurman

President Obama's very bad very good week

Our president had to give a eulogy for a senator and a minister slain in a Charleston, South Carolina church by a hate-filled madman, but then he sang "Amazing Grace" from the podium, in a voice threaded with sorrow and weariness, yet a voice that held in its cadence the will to keep fighting, to keep the faith, to keep on.

The day before, the Supreme Court of the United Stated had upheld Obamacare subsidies, once again refusing the dismantle the law. I personally love calling the Affordable Care Act Obamacare, because years from now when it is just a fact of American life, his name will be attached and he will get all the credit, just as so many try in the present to heap blame. But his back is strong. His health care plan prevailed.

And then. And then. On Friday morning the Supreme Court ruled that all people have the right to marry whom they love, regardless of sexual orientation. When the news hit, just in time for Pride weekend, landmarks across the country lit up with the colors of the rainbow, including the White House.

Banner headlines blared that the president's legacy had been sealed, which of course sent the GOP hacks into a collective freakout. They called for the abolishment of the Supreme Court, saying the justices were unelected so who were they to make law anyway? Where were these critics when the court gave George Bush the presidency over Al Gore back in 2000? They were pretty happy with the institution then.

My husband likes to say that everyone is playing checkers while Obama is playing chess. And he's right. All these victories didn't just happen. Obama has been moving pieces around the board for six years. It helped that a wide enough swath of America, perhaps not the most vocal swath, but certainly enough hearts and minds, finally brought about critical mass in the court of public opinion, led by a courageous president.

None of this "just happened."

History will tell.

Friday, June 26, 2015

A wedding

My son is at the wedding of one of his friends. They are somewhere in Connecticut. He just posted this on social media, with the caption "And we're down a man." May I just admit it boggles my mind that my son's friends are starting to get married? And that he is now the age that his dad was when we met? In any case, that's my boy, smack dab in the middle, looking rather debonair.

A simple good day

Yesterday I ditched my work for a few hours in the afternoon for a wonderful ramble with my girl. We went to brunch, we did mani pedis, we shopped, we wandered, and later we went to the supermarket so she could come home and make her dad and me her roasted cauliflower with its buttery, nutty flavors, along with salmon steaks for dinner. Simple and delicious. Fast, too.

For those of you who asked, she says the roasted cauliflower is nothing more than florets separated from the stalk and arranged in a pan then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. The pan is then put in the oven for however long it takes for the florets to get caramelized and slightly charred in places. She says you can add cilantro and lime, but that it really isn't necessary, and she actually likes it better without. I couldn't stop eating it! It was so delicious it felt almost sinful and yet it was entirely virtuous.

My girl heads back to school tomorrow where she'll spend the rest of her summer as a researcher on a film about bicultural identity formation. She'll be back and forth between there and the city, though, because she has a couple more chef gigs scheduled. She also has fallen back in love with her city; she says that when she was in Rome, as much as she was enjoying herself, it struck her how extraordinary it is to be from a place like New York City. She's looking forward to moving back when she graduates college next year. It is endlessly fascinating to me to watch my children becoming who they are.

Love Wins

When my daughter was in eighth grade, she and her class led their school in a city-wide march on MLK day at which they delivered speeches they had written supporting the rights of individuals to marry whomever they love. Their teacher called them rainbow superheroes because of the tie-dye capes they wore.

So you understand why my daughter just ran in to my room yelling, "Oh my God, did gay marriage just become legal across the country?! Did that just actually happen?!!!!"

OMG! They did it! By a margin of 5-4, the Supreme Court of the United States has just legalized marriage equality nationwide! I'm so happy I could cry.

It is breathtaking!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mise en place

At Whole Foods, she asked the server behind the fish counter for 4 pounds of tilapia, and he said, "Are you a chef?" She shrugged, not quite sure how to answer. She said finally, "I have a job." And so she does, a gig as guest chef, preparing a Mexican feast for a Cook & Dine meal support program at a therapeutic nutrition center. She'll guide the clients through preparing a wholesome meal, and then they will all dine together with a therapist and a nutritionist, who will talk with them about healthful eating and lead them through mindfulness exercises.

My girl spent yesterday finalizing the menu (fish tacos, red cabbage and onion slaw, roasted cauliflower with cilantro and lime, and a black bean, avocado, cherry tomato and corn salad), and last night she cooked some of it for dinner, working out some of the details. Today she shopped and prepped and organized and packed up her ingredients and supplies like a pro, and now she is somewhere in midtown, doing her thing, decked out in her official chef whites.

She'd almost forgotten she had her own, because she's been using chef whites supplied by her school for the past three years. Yesterday she washed and pressed the entire outfit, jacket and apron and blue checkered pants and the cloth that tucks in at the waist (it's called something other than a cloth, but I can't recall the proper name), which she got when she attended a slow food cooking school in Asti, Italy in the summer after tenth grade. The jacket even has the insignia of the school fancily embroidered on the pocket.

When she remembered she had her own chef whites buried somewhere in a closet, she jumped up from the bed where she had been typing up an Excel sheet of ingredients and prices, and she said, "Oh my God, yes, I'm legit!"

Called by us universe

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  ― Albert Einstein

Thank you for your thoughtful and open-hearted comments on my last post. I am less angry now, though no less hurt, but more philosophically removed. That boy who shot those nine people as they sat praying in church is a profoundly lost soul. I am trying to rise above and release him to whatever karmic retribution will be his to face. He is definitely not who I imagine when I say blithely we are all one, energies flowing together like an ocean. My deepest impulse is to reject the notion that we could exist in the same universe. And yet I know this world crippled that boy. Failed him bitterly. Made him a monster. Put the hate in his heart and the gun in his hand. No mas. I am not big enough to take this on nor wise enough to penetrate the mysteries. I'm too impressionable, my emotional membranes too permeable. Perhaps that is why people forgive. They need to move on, to let back in the memory of good.

This is me, moving on.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reaching for grace

I'm having trouble writing here because I don't want to write about the boy with hair in his eyes, welcomed into the prayer meeting at a historic Black church in Charleston, guided by an arm around his shoulders to a seat next to the pastor, who sat there for an hour listening to a minister and a librarian and a coach and a teacher and a grandmother, the faithful, as they searched out the good, who then rose to his feet and pumped bullets into nine of them, telling a tenth that he was leaving her alive so that she could tell what happened there.

I don't want to write about the fact that the families of the dead got up in court a day later and told that hate-filled boy that they forgave him. I have not forgiven him, and I don't believe the families truly can forgive him so soon after he murdered their loved ones. I think they are just saying the words, reaching for grace, but it made it all the worse for me that the shooter just stood there with dead eyes as these people spilled their sorrow at his feet. My cousin thought it was God in action. I couldn't feel it if it was. I hated it. I thought it was the devil himself standing there with those empty eyes, with no shadow of remorse for the atrocity he had committed.

He was obsessed with the Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray cases. He had become radicalized by the Trayvon Martin case, which brought him to the conclusion that Black people were taking over his country. This, according to some rambling manifesto he wrote on some White supremacist website. I laughed bitterly when I heard that. I couldn't help wondering how this taking over the country business was working for Travyon.

In Charleston, all the flags flew at half mast in honor of the dead, except for the Confederate flag, which continued to fly high, insult to injury, insult to murder.

Fathers day was lovely for us, all of us together for the day, my daughter making her dad's favorite creme brûlée, my son being a big goofy boy, everything easy and good. I felt so lucky and blessed to call this man the father of my children, and for us to be there together enjoying the two we have raised, who have grown into such good human beings. But every time I tried to write about it, I just felt as if the world was in flames, and how could I not acknowledge that, even from my sweet corner, where my mercies seem almost extravagant. Don't get me wrong, I'm so grateful for these mercies, this family of mine, this life. God in action, my cousin says. Yes. That.

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