Bullets. 

  • I can blog, but I can’t write. I tell my students to just write and not get caught up in how it’s supposed to sound. And yet, I am mired in the notion that writing has to have a certain diction from the gate. I do not — nor have I ever — given myself the excellent advice that I have for others. 
  • I am prepared to take on the pasta machine for a third time. This time, it is a major part of my only dinner plan, so I must feel more confident than the last two times. I am determined to make this purchase worthwhile. I plan to keep at it until it’s perfected. The first time, too gummy. The second, too sticky. Third time’s a charm?
  • I have seen more turds fall from that giraffe’s backside than I have ever wished to see. Really, one would be more than I ever wished for. It’s been way more than one. I actually got a text from a similarly obsessed friend last night in the middle of my feminist/racial justice book club: “Her tail is way up and she keeps banging her head into her side.” This is what it’s come to. 
  • Mid-March snowstorms can kiss my ass. I no longer have any use for winter. I understand why my people move south when they reach a certain age. 
  • Speaking of age, less than a month until 43. For reals middle age. If I had enough money, I’d go get myself a fancy Jaguar. (Except not really. Maybe just some fancy jewelry.)
  • Sunday, we rally. Because — to quote my nephew — This right here? This is crap.

First.

When I was a little kid, I overheard my grandmother making dinner reservations. Although her last name was Cohen, she made the reservation under “Johnson” and when I asked her why, she told me that sometimes restaurants gave the worst tables to Jews or didn’t hold tables for them at all. This was in the mid-80s and I remember thinking that her paranoia was unfounded. I could certainly understand from where it came and could even see how it might have been true earlier, but not then. That would never happen in 1984.

Years later, on my first job interview, I tucked the Star of David pendant I always wore into the collar of my shirt. I had never been ashamed of being a Jew — or afraid of being treated differently because of it. (What a lucky life I had lived.) But as I walked into the office for the interview, my grandmother’s words echoed in my ears and I thought, “why risk it?”

While this might sound like two stories of persecution, it’s really two stories of privilege. How fortunate my grandmother was in 1984 to be able to simply give another name and pass as a non-Jew. How lucky I was in 1990 to be able to tuck a necklace in and pass as a non-Jew. And how lucky I still am today with my diamond wedding band and mascara to pass as a straight woman.

I don’t have any big revelation to make. Simply noting and checking my privilege so that I don’t get complacent.

Bullets.

  • We’re on the road to a video game system. The Who has been casually asking for one for several months and I have always said he’d have to really beg for one for a long time before we got one. He’s definitely amped up his asking lately, so we devised a sticker chart earning system tied to behaviors and habits that need changing anyway. He can earn up to 5-6 stickers a day and needs 150 to get the system. A month is about the right amount of time to create a new pathway in the brain, right? He’ll totally be putting his clothes in the hamper and getting ready for school on time by the time the chart’s filled, right? RIGHT?
  • Basketball season is over. Saturday morning (at EIGHT AM, THANK YOU VERY MUCH) was the last game and it was bittersweet. On the one hand, ending basketball means getting ready for spring and Little League. On the other hand, this was an incredibly rewarding entrée into the world of team sports. He got to be on a team with one of his besties, made a bunch of new friends, and had an awesome coach, who actually made decent strides with this bunch of 1st and 2nd graders. We definitely saw improvement throughout the ten weeks. Plus, it gave me a new appreciation for basketball as a sport, which was never anything I either understood or cared about.
  • I’m feeling a lot less misanthropic these days. When DeVos was confirmed, it was really an all-time low for me. I felt like no matter what anyone did, nothing would matter. Since then, I have seen reports about her confirmation being the only one that called for a tie-breaking vote and that was due in large part to all the calls people have made. I have seen Under Armour walk back their support of 45 (in a sort of weak way that didn’t make much sense, but nevertheless…) and Ivanka’s clothes are being sold for $1 at Marshalls. Plus, I am a little bit jazzed about some guerrilla art projects that are taking shape in my head.
  • I’m finding it hard not to be petty and aggressive lately. I have had to bite my tongue a number of times over the past month — and there have been an equal number of times where I probably should have bitten my tongue and didn’t. A combination of approaching my mid-40s (43 days ’til 43, but who’s counting?) and a general laissez-faire attitude about making my opinions known has led to some a couple of uncomfortable social situations. I’ll blame Trump (why not?) Ever since the election (and the months leading up to it), I’ve been intentionally controversial on social media. I’ve been making conscious decisions to say exactly what I think of Trump supporters and policies. I’ve made no apologies, even when people accused me of name-calling or stooping to a level lower than was expected. It’s true. Sometimes when they went low, I went lower. I’m not exactly proud of it, but I’m not ashamed of it either. Unfortunately, though, this attitude has carried over into realms where it shouldn’t. I took today to check in with myself. I did no work (save the dishes, laundry, and hard-boiling a dozen eggs for the week) and instead watched movies and intermittently sought advice from trusted friends. I think I’m ready to pull up my big girl pants again. It’s not going to be easy.
  • I’ve been eating through bags and bags of clementines. The label advertises them as “candy sweet” and I’ll cosign. It always feels like a kick in the ass, though, when my intake of fresh fruit and vitamin C are at an all-time high and I still come down with a cold. I’d like to blame global warming and this irrational weather, but I know colds come from germs and nothing else. I’ve also developed a batch of sores in my mouth from all the acidity. Still, it’s worth it. Especially when the collection of mandarin peels and poured out coffee in the sink make the scent of sunshine and morning swirl through my kitchen.

Tired.

Oh, you guys. I am really struggling here. It’s starting to feel really hopeless and when the action-oriented, optimistic idealist says that, it’s time to panic.

I mean, it’s possible that I overdid it. It’s possible that the entire weekend in DC (including all 5 hours of the rally) plus the all-day Examining Whiteness workshop, plus the impromptu protest at the airport all in a span of eight days tapped me out. Or maybe it’s my “can’t stop won’t stop” attitude toward reading Instagram memes, Twitter posts, and Facebook alliance group posts. It could just be simple saturation.

But it also could be the fact that no matter how many emails, faxes, phone calls, and postcards we send to our senators, they’re still supporting a useless, wealthy campaign financer for Education Secretary. In the face of jammed phone and fax lines and overflowing mailboxes, my state’s senator still issued a statement in support of that elitist, ignorant tool. No matter how many hours we stand in the cold, holding signs and chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” they still detained a BABY, trying to enter the country for a life-saving surgery. A fucking baby. Nobody cares. “We listen to our constituents,” they say. “Call your sentators; it matters.” “Protest and march.” I call bullshit.

Today, it just seems useless. And this from the daughter of bonafide letter-writing, sign-holding, campaign-running activists. I have never felt this disheartened about my voice and its strength and power — or lack thereof.

I vote in every. single. election. And I have since I turned 18. Even when I lived in Massachusetts and I knew that my primary vote wasn’t going to move the needle, I voted. I vote in mid-terms and off-years and special elections and I take my kid with me every time so that he knows that I believe that every voice counts. Or at least I used to believe that. I’m starting to question it.

How in the actual fuck did we end up in this position? With a bumptious, arrogant fascist leader of the free world and a band of unqualified liars falling in behind him. I didn’t believe it would happen. Maybe too many of us didn’t believe it would happen. I am embarrassed by my election-day optimism and horrified by the enactments of the past week and a half.

I don’t know what we’re fighting for. I can’t see what the end game is. I know an 8-year-old who marched in Philly today, holding a sign that said, “Inpeach.” I smiled at both her spelling (it reminded me of when The Who used to call it a “soupcase”) and her confidence that an impeachment might actually solve something. I looked at the Presidential Succession list. It’s not pretty. Mike Pence? Paul Ryan? We’d have to burrow pretty far down to get to someone who’s not just as scary or scarier than who we’ve got.

So, what then? It’s been proven time and again that this president won’t be bullied into submission. What are we hoping to gain by protesting and marching and writing and calling and emailing? Maybe just to stay aware? Stay engaged? As fruitless as this all seems, I can see that complacency would probably be worse. Is it just so he knows how very much we hate him? (He’s got to know that already, right?) If all of this isn’t going to yield something very tangible very soon, I don’t know how long I can maintain it. I don’t know how long any of us can.

Blue.

The Who: “Do we need to go march every time something bad happens?”
Me: “Well, maybe. I mean, if we don’t, who will?”
The Who: “We’ll be marching every single day; I don’t think I can do that!”

His expression was a mix of exasperation, worry, exhaustion, fear, bemusement, and even a little amusement. Like he understood that both a “yes” and a “no” answer would be absurd.

He didn’t come with me to DC, but he knew I was going and he knew why. And he didn’t come with me to the Examining Whiteness workshop all day yesterday, though he knew why I was there, too. He has donated time and energy to the movement in his own way by giving me up for two nights, the longest we’ve ever been apart and by giving up his bed for our houseguest/workshop facilitator. He’s joined me at sign-making parties and collaborated with me in setting up postcard-writing campaigns. And today, he joined me at the spur-of-the-moment protest at the airport when we heard that SCROTUS was detaining people just because of their country of origin. And while he was eager to join and to use his privilege to speak up for those with less, he lost his mojo after about a half hour.

I felt a little guilty. Like, maybe I should abandon the rest of the protest and take him home. He’s just a little kid; he wanted to be home, playing football. But then I overheard my friend telling her son (also 8 years old) that sometimes things are hard and boring. It’s not always fun to do what is right. And then a police officer spotted The Who’s sad face and approached him at the barricade.

“What’s the matter, little man?” she asked. He didn’t want to answer, but he did because she was a cop, although that wasn’t immediately apparent to him. (She was wearing plain clothes, but did have a badge hanging around her neck and a ‘Police’ armband.)
“I don’t want to be here anymore,” he said, looking down.
“Of course you don’t!” she answered. “You got a Playstation at home or an Xbox?”
“Neither.”
“Neither? What? You got a laptop?”
“Yeah.”
“Wait, you got a laptop? How old are you?”
“Eight.” He cracked a smile.
“Do you know how old I was when I got my first laptop? Thirty!”
Full-on grin now. I wiped away the tear that was sitting on his cheek.
file-jan-29-10-17-58-pm
“You got your own laptop before you got a Playstation?” she asked incredulously. “You got a great mother. You know that? Give her a high five.”
He did, still smiling.
“And you know what else makes your mother great? She’s giving you an amazing experience right here. You’re gonna remember this for the rest of your life. You’re gonna remember the day you came to the airport and stood up for what’s right. And when you go to school tomorrow, you can say, ‘Y’know what I did yesterday? I did the right thing.’ It’s not an easy thing to be here. You want some gum?”

He did.
photo-jan-29-3-15-16-pm

 

 

Segue.

  • Bright Lights (the Todd Fisher doc about Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher) was incredibly touching and funny and warm and shows them in such a sweet and honest and private light. If you were shaken by their deaths, this will probably undo you.
  • Speaking of being undone, I can predict my cycle almost to the minute based solely on my comfort in my own skin. Tonight on the couch, I had to shake my arms and legs just to settle myself down. A couple of hours later? Yep.
  • Speaking of comfort in one’s own skin, The Who reports that when he “has a naked belly” (aka is shirtless) he often feels itchy or “tickly.” Could it be because he doesn’t have even the tiniest layer of fat between all his nerve endings and the environment?
  • Speaking of naked bellies, The Who’s basketball team played a “shirts and skins” scrimmage at practice last week. It was so old-school and the kids (those that chose to be “skins” anyway) loved it. The skins team kind of sucked in the scrimmage, though. Presumably because they were giddy about being half naked in school.
  • Speaking of school, my new teaching term starts Monday. I am not excited, but also not dreading it. I don’t loathe my job the way I did a year or so ago. I still wish I made more money doing what I earned degrees to do, but I also am much more appreciative of the time this job gives me — time to organize political workshops, participate in anarchist marches, and help 8-year-olds master their math facts.
  • Speaking of math, The Who has been complaining about it lately. Saying that it’s too boring. I was a little surprised because one of the things his teacher talked about in his conference was this special math enrichment book that he had to work on when he had buzzed through whatever the class was working on. But, The Who reports that he almost never has time to work on it because he has to go at the pace of the class. “Follow along on the SMART board, do two problems, wait, get them checked, follow along more, do two more, wait, get them checked, etc.” And by the time they’re done with that, math is over. I’m hoping this isn’t always the case. He did tell us that he and one other girl in his class are doing a special reading project with their teacher — almost like a mini book club, reading How to Eat Fried Worms and then meeting with the teacher during reading time to discuss it. So, there’s that.
  • Speaking of reading, I’m glad that The Who’s getting a little more into reading lately. It seemed like maybe he was going to be a kid who never picked up a book for pleasure, but the tide seems to be turning on that, especially since we are reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child together every night — complete with assuming characters and using our best British accents.
  • Speaking of British accents…. nah, I’m going to bed.

16 Out. 

This is the second year that The Who will attempt (and probably achieve) midnight. The precedent was set last year and there’s no going back. Truthfully, I like ringing in the new year with him, even all wired and tired as he will be. 

My hopes for 2017 are low, even though I find it hard to believe that a year could be worse than this one. 

One foot in front of the other. Happy New Year, friends. Hopefully.