Sunday, November 18, 2018

Exhaling

I've had my head down, writing. I did manage to complete a full draft of the book late last week, as my due date barrels toward me. I am now deep in the editing, always the more fun part of the process, even though I'm assailed by doubts about whether what I've produced is good. I dream fondly of the days when people spent five, ten years on a single book, but how did they live? Did they have deep pocketed benefactors? Were they independently wealthy? I certainly can see how much richer a work of writing might be if one had the luxury of living with the story long enough to allow hidden connections to show themselves, lightbulb moments to occur, and unforced poetry to whisper its way in.

In other news, the subject of the book I co-wrote last year, Lucy McBath, WON HER RACE IN GEORGIA! Against all odds, she is now a congresswoman, an eventuality that was not even a glimmer in her mind when we began our process. But after Parkland, she decided to run. The kids were the same age as her son when he was taken by gun violence, she said, and they were fighting the cause of gun reform so courageously. She wanted them to have backup in the chambers of law, and so she decided to run in Georgia's sixth district, where she lived. She was an African American Democrat running on a gun reform platform in a white Republican district in the deep gun-loving South. And she won! This woman inspires the heck out me. Her book is here.


As for the election, it turns out that despite disappointments in the Florida and Georgia gubernatorial races, and the Texas senate race, and despite successful GOP efforts to gerrymander districts and suppress the vote, there was indeed a big ole walloping blue wave, as more women and people of color than ever before were elected to political office. This piece by Joan Walsh in The Nation sums up how I feel about what happened. I won't rehash it here. Suffice it to say that in the days right after the election, I didn't know how to feel, but now I think the results were a fine repudiation of the party of Trump, and may the trend continue into 2020.

And now Thanksgiving is upon us. Family members have already started to arrive. My niece came from college last night, my cousin arrives from Trinidad on Tuesday, and my other cousin and niece arrive from Orlando on Wednesday. Another niece arrives bright and early from Jamaica on Thanksgiving morning—and those are just the ones who are staying with us. My daughter and her guy, my niece and her fiancĂ©, and my son will also sleep over on the nights before and after Thanksgiving, because tripping over each other in our small apartment is just part of the fun.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Gold

I'm working at my dining table, next to my expansive window, outside of which the trees have turned to spun gold. Earlier, before I moved with my laptop from the desk in my bedroom, a moth flew in through my window, it's wings were gold glitter, so shimmery I thought at first it was a butterfly. I tried to shoo it back out the open window, but it dodged me and flew under my bed. I decided it was a blessing.

The TV is set to the news, turned down low, a hum in the background. Every so often something jumps out: The reporter saying that 45 viewed that slaughter in Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue as "inconvenient," a distraction from the story of the caravan "invasion." They're talking now about his plan to send 5,000 troops to the border, and to open fire on the migrants if someone throws a stone, which I take to mean that someone will surely be planted in the crowd to throw a stone. Of course, this caravan of asylum seekers will not arrive at our border for two months yet. Imagine, if instead of troops, we were the kind of nation that would send lawyers, social workers, doctors and teachers to the border, to help those whose desperation has led them there. But the election is next week, and so 45 is trying to whip his base into a frenzy of xenophobic fear and outrage, and we saw the sorrow that brought to Pittsburgh a week ago.

And yet. All this gold in my morning, like a whisper of something good in the world, telling me my efforts, small as they might seem, are not in vain. Do what you do, it whispers. We all have a part to play in turning this national nightmare to spun gold.

Monday, October 29, 2018

This loved man


His birthday yesterday was kind of perfect, with our children and their loves hanging out with us all day, and that, in itself was a party. It was exactly the kind of day my husband wanted, low key but convivial, with his beloveds around him, lounging and chatting happily into the night. Happy birthday, my love. At this no longer new stage of our lives, when we close the door at night and it's just us two, I feel the real gift of you, the comfort and ease of your company, and the deep blessing of shared history, and our precious children. I'm forever glad it's you.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

American Terrorism



Every day brings a new atrocity. Breaking news this morning is of a slaughter inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh. At least eight people dead, some police officers shot. It's being reported that the shooter had an automatic rifle and a handgun, and as he opened fire, he was yelling that all Jews must die. And now the orange psychopath is on TV saying if they'd had an armed guard inside the synagogue, no one would have been killed. The hatemongers have been unleashed, and by the president himself. I truly believe when he declared at the start of the week that he is a nationalist, it was the code his followers were waiting for to go out and wage a full on race war.

This was the third act of American terrorism this week alone, happening in concert with the fourteen pipe bombs that were mailed to critics of the president. Fourteen attempted assassinations. None of the bombs detonated because of a flaw in the making; the bomb maker, who is a rabid white nationalist and Trump acolyte, was thankfully not the star of his bomb making class (as someone on TV put it). Still, he attempted to blow to smithereens high profile critics of the president, including two former presidents, four members of Congress, two Democratic donors, an actor, two ex-CIA men, and a news network.  The list was given to him, name by name, in the president's vile tweets and hateful right wing rallies.

Elsewhere in America this week, a man walked into a Kroger store in Kentucky and shot an elderly black man in the back of his head. The man was with his grandson, buying poster board for a school project. The shooter then walked out to the parking lot and shot a black woman dead. He assured white bystanders they had nothing to fear because he wasn't there to kill white people. Just fifteen minutes before he killed two unsuspecting black people going about their lives on an ordinary day, this same man had tried to gain entry to a black church, but couldn't get in. So he went to the Kroger's instead.

Sadly, black people get killed in this country with such regularity the press barely covered the Kroger shooting. And now another massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. All three terrorists have been apprehended. All have drunk deep of the white nationalist Kool-aid. I'm just out here, bearing witness, forcing myself to look, to take it in, while trying to figure out what else to do.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Slipping into night

"Elections from North Dakota to Georgia may be stolen. The idiot king spews forth bigotry. The opposition party is threatened with attempted assassinations. A completely unfit attempted racist has been placed on the Supreme Court to judge the idiot king's obvious corruption. What little democracy this country ever had may well be entering its twilight. I hope I am wrong, but as night falls and the political winds get chilly, I am remembering Thomas Paine's admonition that we not be 'sunshine patriots' but winter soldiers. It is looking more and more like our charge is not to win a short term battle, but to settle in for a long campaign in a war that may well continue after our lives have ended. I am hoping against hope for a new dawn, but I think it's time to prepare for a long winter of discontent." —Jason Tebbe, historian

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dear America

According to recent polls, some 47 percent of you are propping up a president who a few days ago declared himself a nationalist from a podium, over a loudspeaker, as some of you cheered, as if it was code to unleash the forces of hate to wage war.

You are giving credence and power to a man who declares the free press the enemy of the people, and a cadre of Republican minions too cowardly or morally bankrupt to stand against him, who in fact run all manner of racist and spectacularly dishonest ad campaigns in political races, who steal millions of votes in plain sight, whose nationalist rhetoric inflames the forces of hate to wage war.

This morning, the war was joined by those forces responding to the dog whistle, which was really a bullhorn. They sent pipe bombs to those who would seek to check their rampant, violent brand of nationalism. America, your president is stoking the flames of a race war, one in which white supremacists devote themselves to the destruction and nullification of all others. You might think I'm overstating things, that I too am being inflammatory, but I'm really not.

Today, several explosive devices were intercepted, one at the home of the Clintons, one at the home of the Obamas, one sent to CNN at the Time Warner building in midtown Manhattan. Also targeted by these letter bombs were former attorney general Eric Holder, ex CIA man and Trump critic John Brennan, congresswomen Maxine Waters and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and liberal billionaire George Soros.

This is America in 2018. We are no longer on the brink, but deep in the maw of a new civil war. The weapons have changed, and so have the battlegrounds. But the forces of division, bigotry, and hate look much the same. So when the activists and community organizers plead with us to get out there and vote as if our life depends on it, they are not speaking in euphemism.

Our very lives depend on what we do now.


Duality

As undetonated explosive devices are found this morning in mail sent to the homes of the Clintons and the Obamas, and to CNN in the Time Warner building in busy Columbus Circle, I'm posting my vacation pics from last weekend, where my daughter and I floated on a lazy river in Orlando and chatted and dozed under a cabana by the quiet pool and spent many wonderful hours with our cousins who live nearby. This lovely dream was invaded this morning by hell. The bomb story is developing.




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Life's grace


That's us, back in the day, in a failed selfie attempt long before selfies were a thing. We weren't yet married, or even engaged. We were still brand new. Not unconnected to this, I'm sitting here musing on the fact that I was always a chubby, okay a fat child. In adolescence and for a bit into my twenties, I was what people might call “well covered.” In truth, I felt grossly fat, ungainly, but now I look back and wish I could be that size again, and I wish I'd appreciated it more. Having more girth, always, than the girls around me, who were all thin and willowy and effortlessly graceful, made me self-conscious in life, a feeling of being conspicuous in the wrong way that has persisted to this day. So I wonder sometimes that I should also be so lucky in life, to have met and married a man who is undeterred by my gains and losses and gains over the years, who treats me always as if I am simply me, the woman he married, and laughs with, and shares children with, who exasperates him sometimes, but with whom he has cast his lot, and is at peace having done so. We had a joking moment on the phone just now; he is at work at the museum and I am working at home, and after I clicked off the call, I just sat for a while staring out the window at the mid-morning light falling soft through the trees, and I just felt lucky.




Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cravings

I have been trying to just stand apart and observe my relationship with food this week, and what I see is that my emotions are a mercurial thing, they ebb and flow and swirl at the slightest change in the wind, and when they are roiling, I crave the narcotic of sugar: I read an article about an activist who is dying of ALS, and find myself craving an oatmeal raisin cookie. I listen to the news, and suddenly I want a key lime crumble yogurt. I hit a wall in my writing project, because I don't have enough detail and will have to interview my subject again, and anxiety flares, and I just want a slice of Milk Bar pie. They call it crack pie for a reason. Sugar numbs me, distracts me, blurs the edges. But it does so many other things besides, not the least of which is move the needle on the scale in the wrong direction. This feels exactly like addiction.

I'm remembering a man who lost more than three-hundred pounds by meditating. He said: "I had to gain control not of my hunger, but of my craving." Those words gonged in my brain. What yawning space inside me am I trying to fill, or anesthetize? I lost fifty pounds in the last year, and need to lose more, yet I can't seem to get my head back in the game. I am writing this in the hope of a new beginning. Yes, I know I can begin again in this second, that it's foolish to wait for circumstances to be perfect, for stress to abate. Stress never abates. And so I'm reaching for a kernel of motivation; seeking to unearth resilience; to vanquish despair and make the good choice. Thanks for letting me share.

In other news, I'm seeing images of complete devastation along the coast of Florida, houses reduced to sticks, forests kneeling all the way down. Difficult to believe that the steady, comforting rain outside my window right now is the remnant of yesterday's monster. This earth school is hard. But then it gives you colors like that tulip, which I think I should paint, and wouldn't that offer an infinitely more nourishing form of distraction, and perhaps a deeper soul comfort, than sugar.


Last night



The kids slept over. There was birthday cake and joy.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is this from a history professor, one of the clearest assessments of the current shape of fascism that I've read. This isn't your daddy's fascism, which is why so many haven't grasped that it's not down the road, it's here.