Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Exhale!

She had a birthday party on the lawn with friends the Saturday and went out to a nice outdoor dinner with her love in the evening. On Sunday, her actual birthday, she went for a mani pedi with her Boston BFF, and then had Micky D for dinner. She loves nuggets and fries, but never lets herself eat them, so she decided on a treat. She posted that picture on her IG, and I commented "McDonald's huh? Such great habits I imparted!" She liked the comment so much she pinned it at the top of her feed. Oy.

The party on Saturday was actually a joint birthday bash for her and their dog Munch, who was born on April 6 a year ago. Munch had a wonderful time and afterward, everyone was bushed. I just like this picture of my girl and her guy.

Also, I finished the proposal at 5:47 P.M. today! It's 104 pages! I'll do one more read through tomorrow and attempt to trim word count and kill some darlings (I know some of you get that reference), and then I'm turning that sucker in on Friday. I have no idea how it will be received, but fixing a thing is easier than inventing a thing, so here we go. After I catch my breath, I'll be around to catch up on all your happenings. Been missing my tribe.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Happy birthday to our darling girl!

 You hold our hearts completely. ❤️



Saturday, March 20, 2021

Love languages

At noon today, my husband and I walked across the courtyard to the health center, found no line ahead of us, and were whisked right in to get our second Moderna shots. Afterward, we sat chatting with the nurse and two women who came after us for the required fifteen minutes, and were back home not half an hour later. The nurse did tell us that Moderna has proposed a booster shot to impart surer immunity against the more troubling variants. It is already being studied by the NIH. The other question, of course, is how long will the immunity that develops from the two-shot series last? Three months? A year? This is a rather significant question. 

Our son and his fiancée spent yesterday afternoon with us, and it was lovely. It's just so easy with them. Our oven has stopped working, which isn't surprising after twenty years, so our son went with his dad to purchase a new stove so he could apply his first responder discount on our behalf. I told him he's like his father, that his love language is acts of service. I know that, he said. He and his love had taken the test, and that was his result. Hers was quality time. I think mine might be words of affirmation, courtesy of my gently affirming mother, with my secondary love language being acts of service, because that is how I saw my dad show love all his life. If I have this right, your love language is how you understood (or yearned for) love to be given and received when you were a child. If that is indeed the case, it's not surprising that our son should mimic his dad's way of showing love, while our daughter, I suspect, mimics mine. 

The five love languages are: 1) words of affirmation; 2) acts of service; 3) quality time; 3) giving and receiving gifts; and 5) physical touch. I should caution that all this is off the top of my head so there's a chance I might be getting some of it wrong. If you're interested, the fully correct info is a google search away, and the quiz is here. In any case we had a love language fest here yesterday, mixing quality time, acts of service, and words of affirmation with my man's delicious corn and tomato chowder, lively storytelling, and simple soul-restoring joy. It was, all told, a very fine day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Asian Lives Matter (updated with a response to comments)

A shooter murdered eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta last night. Almost all the victims were workers at Asian massage spas, which gives the violence an undeniable racial aspect, even though one arresting officer ludicrously claimed the shooter was just "having a bad day." He was arrested "without incident," which told us he was white even before we saw his picture. These killings happened amid escalating attacks against Asians that Trump ignited by insistently calling Covid-19 the "China virus." In the past year, hate crimes against Asians have raged out of control, rising 1,900 percent just since lock downs began. My daughter and I had a text exchange about it just now. Her texts are in italics.

Mom! Having a moment about the Stop Asian Hate movement. Can I vent about it? Or use you as a sounding board?

Of course.  

I guess at the base of it? I feel like this is my first real opportunity to be an ally. Like the first movement I want to actively support that is not centered around an identity of mine. But how do I be a good ally? Do something more than post on my Instagram?

Also, I'm upset at all of the comments from Black people on the internet saying this isn't our fight or they give us hate so they're not supporting or fighting for them etc. That feels absolutely crazy to me but I can't get sucked into internet trolls .

Well, you can start by pushing back on those comments because this IS our fight. As MLK said “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 

And as Angela Davis and Kimberlé Crenshaw said, all fights for justice must be intersectional, because what uplifts one oppressed group uplifts us all.

It’s also interesting to me that while I absolutely want to be an ally too, because AAPI people like Mazie are powerful allies for us, I notice that even though my horror and sorrow at the killings last night are real, it doesn’t feel as VISCERAL as it does when it's a Black person, which helps me to have some compassion for it not feeling as visceral to non-Black people when the same happens to us.

It doesn't feel as visceral to me either!!! Which is kind of more motivating for me. Like I remember the deep pain I felt last summer when it was Black people, so I can understand the pain Asians must be feeling but am noticing I'm not feeling it in the same way. But knowing that and knowing that people stepped up in solidarity with us anyway is motivating me to want to step up too.

So true! Post on social media. That’s more meaningful than saying nothing. You can also read about the Asian experience in this country, like how Japanese American citizens were rounded up during WWII and put in American concentration camps, and how US immigration policy was most racist against Asians, and the Chinese Exclusion Act stayed on the books well into the 20th century. (Also non-white people were not allowed to become naturalized American citizens until the 1950s, which isn’t that long ago). Also, maybe google how to be a good ally.

Like it's my duty to do so! Because it's been painful when people have brushed off the murder of Black folk in the past.

Well, I remember last year when we were reeling we wanted people to take the initiative on reading and studying how to be an antiracist, instead of making Black people have to teach them, so it's on us to get ourselves up to speed on how we can help in meaningful ways.

Yes! Exactly that too. It is very surreal for me to be on the other side. Feels like quite a bit of extra work to be done that I didn't have to do when it was about my identities.  

Afterward, I got to googling and found that the website Stop AAPI Hate has good suggestions for how to help. Also we can read up Asian American and Pacific Islander news and issues on @NextShark, @ResonateVoices, and @DionLimTV.

Response to comments: Some of you wonder whether this was mass murder born of misogyny, not racial bias. To my mind, it was both, because while the shooter turned his firearm almost exclusively on women, his main target was Asian women at Asian spas. The one man who died was just walking by outside the spa, going to the check cashing place next door. 

I think Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, Hunger, and other books, summed it up well on her Substack, The Audacity. In her piece, "A White Man's Bad Day," she wrote: "A hate crime was committed. It was vicious, gendered, and racially motivated. It was about class, the fetishization of Asian women, and men feeling entitled to sex. To eradicate this kind of moral rot, we need to name every part of it.” 

And then there is the matter of guns, and the fact that the murderer walked in and bought the weapon he used to massacre eight people that same day. The next day, 172 Republicans voted against the violence against women legislation, because they objected to a provision that would prevent domestic abusers from being able to purchase firearms. The gun lobby is so mean and mercenary it makes me despair. What keeps me going are people like you, who stay engaged and don't look away.

Making the world smaller

My husband's extended family on his dad's side recently created a WhatsApp group chat that is so active it's clear these family members were starving for contact. Messages arrive throughout the day, from relatives scattered from Antigua to Barbados, New York, New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina, England, Canada, and Spain. Suddenly, everyone feels closer than before, as they exchange old photos and bits of family history and lore, send birthday greetings, share Antigua news with exiles aboard, drop humor, update each other on individual doings, and express general joy at being in touch once more. The photo here was recently shared in the group. It shows the family gathered on July 4, 1959 for the wedding of one of my husband's aunts. His parents are standing on the far right, and my man points out that he is in the photo, too, as his mother (in polka dot dress) is visibly pregnant with him. His paternal grandparents are on either side of the bride and groom, and the other six in the photo are my husband's aunts and uncles. Such a handsome crew.



Sunday, March 14, 2021

Slowly, we emerge

 
They move into their own space, start socializing more regularly with their peers, and quickly develop their own signature style. Our niece, no longer stuck indoors with her old aunt and uncle, is living her best life in her new apartment in Brooklyn. I adore these photos of her. She looks hipster and joyful. Her mom texted me from Orlando yesterday to say that Thanksgiving is looking good for us to gather this year, because she and her husband had just gotten their one-dose vaccine, and their older daughter who lives with them would get hers sometime in May. 

Everything is opening up now. Last Thursday, when temperatures climbed into the high sixties, I sat in the courtyard at the picnic table in front of our building and worked on my proposal. As my neighbors came and went, everyone masked, they stopped to chat, as it's been so long since we've all seen each other, what with covid lock downs and the walkways of complex where I live having been under construction all year. But now the courtyard in front of my building is partially reopened, with pristine new surfaces and brand new benches on which many neighbors sat with their masks on and faces turned to the sun. It felt wonderfully communal, and very conducive to working, the intermittent conversational distractions socially nourishing. Almost everyone reported having already gotten vaccinated with at least the first dose, or having imminent appointments to do so.

There was some sad news, an upstairs neighbor whose wife got the virus and brought it home. She recovered, he did not, and he passed away last week. The only grace is that because she had already had covid, his wife was allowed to be with him in the hospital at the end. Such a lovely, warm couple, both with iron gray hair and a marriage of decades. He rode a motorcycle, and always looked rock and roll cool with his helmet and black leather, while her style was Earth shoes and Woodstock, no makeup or jewelry or anything fussy. If you didn't know, you might not have put them together, but they were clearly simpatico and very in love. And now she is alone. I wonder how many more such stories we will learn as we all slowly emerge from our homes.

On my proposal, I'm done with the overview and sample chapter and am now halfway through the chapter summaries. My cousin Helen, who is a gifted life coach, held a free online "Refuel" workshop a week ago, and my daughter tuned in from Boston and I tuned in from New York. Helen was wonderful, and so were her fellow presenters, including one woman who had me out of my chair and dancing exuberantly to her rousing playlist, as she guided us through cleansing our spiritual energy. 

At one point, Helen took us through an exercise in which we were to identify something in our lives that was feeling hard, and she helped us reframe our perspective about it. I chose the book proposal, and realized I'd been telling myself for weeks how hard it was, and I could actually spend the same energy telling myself that I am fully equal to the challenge, and could even choose to enjoy the discoveries along the way. This is not a new lesson for me, yet it seems I have to keep relearning it. But it works! That consciousness shift changed everything about how I approach the work, and while it still challenges me, it no longer feels painful. Thank you, Helen.

It's been a while since I've posted a photo of sweet Munch. My daughter's puppy will be a year old next month, so maybe he's no longer a puppy. My girl sends me pictures of him almost every day. Here he is yesterday.