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.
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“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.
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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. 

1916.

One hundred year ago, on this day, a baby was born. The youngest of four siblings — the only girl. A loyal wife, a straight-shooter, a firm believer in etiquette and respect.

I simultaneously feel like I knew my grandmother very well while also not knowing her at all. For all the advancements in science, there is still no invention that would allow me, at 42 years old, to reap the benefits of the wisdom of my grandmother.

For almost all of my life, I lived within a half hour of her house. In part, I chose our current synagogue because the sanctuary there has a faint olfactory reminder of my grandmother’s bottom floor den.

She always voted democratic, even when her husband disagreed with her. She was content to let their votes cancel one another out instead of voting his way. She worked well past typical retirement age. She drove around in a ’79 Chrysler LeBaron, which she sold to me for $1 in 1992 — with only 13, 000 miles on it. She took me shopping for birthday gifts at “Fleens” and ended each day with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream.

She died in 2010, having really slipped out of herself a year before that. She met my son a handful of times — held him and talked to him. He remembers her only from stories now, but there was a brief several months when she was an active memory for him. He loves her because I love her. He knows her only from what I know of her, which lately, has not seemed like nearly enough.

During the election, she was omnipresent for me. How she would have loved to have seen a woman get elected. In the months before it, I was so often sad that she would miss it — the same way I was sad that my grandfather didn’t live long enough to see his beloved Red Sox win the World Series in ’04. But then — when all hell broke loose on November 8th — I was glad she hadn’t had to get her hopes up only to see them dashed. I still have some time to see the glass ceiling shattered. She wouldn’t have, so maybe it’s better this way.

I keep thinking of the wisdom she could have gifted me during those long, rough days following the election. And still. She had a way of looking at things that was practical and matter-of-fact, while still being compassionate and honest. At 42 years old, I am in a better place to receive those gifts than I was when she was alive and well. As a teenager, a young woman, a young mother, I didn’t seek her out as often as I could have. I didn’t need her then the way I need her now. I think of her all the time and wish that I could have been 42 when she was 80 and in her prime, with all of her lived experience behind her and still over a decade yet to come.

Today, she would have turned 100 years old. We would have celebrated with chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate everything. She would have insisted that she was only 95 and she would have been so happy to have us all around her, which was her favorite thing in the world.

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Care.

The Who’s pediatrician is sick. This isn’t news to us and I’ll ask for your forgiveness ahead of time because I have a feeling that this post will end up making me sound like I am blaming her for having cancer. Or forgetting that she and her family are really the ones who are suffering. Neither of those things is true. This is, however, the second time that we’ve been blindsided by her absence. I blame her staff for not caring for her patients by letting us know what is going on. But also — I blame myself for needing so much care.

We’re flying by the seat of our pants doing this whole parenting thing. M* and I have good instincts and we’re relatively practiced after 8 years of keeping The Who alive. But everything he goes through — every stage, phase, growth spurt, struggle, success — is new. It’s the first time. We have one kid. Everything we’re doing is novel. Every time is a first time. And although I trust us and the choices we make, I really rely on the once-a-year check-in with someone who has known The Who since he was three years old. Someone who has seen him through stitches on his face, minor surgery, migraine headaches, allergies, and head colds. Someone who knows him. Who knows me. Who sat and talked to me about whether or not to send him to kindergarten early, who took what she knew about The Who and combined it with all that she knew about raising four children up through the same school system in the same town.

Even though technically, she takes care of him, she also takes care of me.

The Who — knock wood — is not a sick kid. We are incredibly lucky to be able to say that the only time we have had to step foot in his doctor’s office in the past twelve months was to get his annual flu shot. Most of his yearly visits are uneventful. She talks to him, examines him, checks in with me, and then sends us on our way. I rarely, if ever, have much that I need to talk to her about. This year, however, I had a growing list. Eight years old has brought with it a host of small concerns — none of them major, but each of them something new. Something I’m sure his doctor has seen before either in her own kids or the many patients she sees. I was desperate to get some insight into the things that m* and I seem to only be able to guess at and suppose about. I was imagining that his doctor might have a heart-to-heart with him the way that people who care for you do. Help him understand things that m* and I can’t seem to get to penetrate. I was eagerly awaiting this day.

I pulled The Who out of school early this afternoon, got us to the appointment on time, and as I was filling out some paperwork in the waiting room, I realized that I had heard many voices coming from the office, but none belonging to his doctor. I started to wonder. And that’s when I noticed the letter posted unceremoniously on the desk, thanking some other doctor for taking her place while she received treatment. Again, I do not blame her for having cancer. Obviously. And I don’t blame her for taking time off to take care of herself. I wouldn’t even blame her if she left the practice completely. But I do blame her for not insisting that her patients be kept in the loop. It’s 2016. We all have email. We all have telephones. The good ole USPS still works last I checked. If I had received a message or a letter or an email letting me know that my child’s primary care physician (who, by the way, works in a solo practice) would not be around, I’d have made a different appointment. I’d have waited for her. And instead of feeling like she didn’t care who saw her patients or how her patients felt about it (which I know is not the case) I’d have felt respected. Instead, I left the office without The Who being seen, tears prickling in my eyes. Disappointed, angry, frustrated, and actually? Actually, scared. Scared that cancer was going to barge into the middle of everything and steal away the only person I trusted to help guide us as we try to take care of our boy.

I hope she is ok. I hope she is getting the best treatment available and that she is going to recover and be well — for herself and for her family. I hope she is able to come back to work because I know that she really wants to. And in the meantime, we will wait, even though it may be the hardest thing for me to do.

2016.

It’s a little early, maybe, but…
The 2016 New Year’s Meme:

Did you do something you thought you would never do?
Cut my hair short!

Did you keep any New Year’s Resolutions?
I don’t recall making any. Every year, it’s basically the same: try to be kind, patient, and a little more disciplined.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. I think I am aging out of this question.

Did anyone close to you die?
My uncle died. I wouldn’t say we were particularly close, though.

Did you visit any countries outside the US?
Nope. I tried to get The Who to agree to do a week in Europe instead of a month in Boston this summer, but he wasn’t having it. Not yet, anyway.

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
I’ve got pretty much everything I need. Maybe a more reliable migraine treatment? I’ll get on that this year.

Will any date from 2016 stay etched in your memory forever?
11/8/16. The day I lost all faith in humanity.

What was your biggest achievement of 2016?
Teaching Hebrew school. It doesn’t seem like it was that big of a deal on its own, but it’s helped me build the Jewish community that I have been looking for for a long time.

What was your biggest failure?
Not keeping my car clean.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major. A cold or two. A monthly migraine.

What was the best thing you bought in ’16?
The complete set of Harry Potter movies. Endless joy.

Did your behavior change over the year?
I think it’s constantly changing.

Where did you spend most of your money?
Right now, it feels like Hanukkah gifts, but I actually think we spent more on the month in Boston (including the house rental, airfare, my parents’ anniversary, and my cousin’s wedding.)

Are you happier than this time last year?
About the same, I think.

What song will remind you of 2016?
The Star Spangled Banner. The Who is so into it this year.

What do you wish you would have done more of?
Going to bed early.

What do you wish you would have done less of?
Wasting time, procrastinating, and beating myself up about wasting time and procrastinating.

What did/will you do for Christmas ’16?
We’ll be in Boston this year, joining into my brother’s family’s Christmas traditions.

Did you fall in love in 2016?
No

Did you get your heart broken in 2016?
No.

Favorite TV programs of ’16?
Project Runway, Madam Secretary, Sister Wives, 90-Day Fiance, This is Us

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t hate anyone, but I am way less fond of a few people this year than I was last year.

What was the best book you read and/or movie you saw?
The books in the Harry Potter series continue to be my favorites. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople was my favorite in-theatre adult movie. Moana was my favorite kid movie.

What was your greatest discovery?
Figuring out that I could talk myself out of my anxiety. Or at least out of acting on it.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 42. I had breakfast with a friend, grabbed The Who early from school, and we spent the weekend with friends in Washington, DC.

What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A more professionally satisfying job and more money.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2016?
Um.

What was your greatest disappointment in 2016?
The election results.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
HRC’s. I continued to be amazed at how she kept her cool, maintained her stamina, and refused to go low through that whole shitshow.

Who was the best new person you met?
Anna.

Who did you wish you did not meet?
No one.

Who was your best friend?
M* is my best friend. Kay, Lena, Kristen, Michelle, Sarah R., Cheryl, Stepho, and Sarah C. are my circle of closest friends.

Who was your enemy?
No enemies, but a few I could really do without.

Who do you miss?
I miss my grandmother more often. I wish The Who could have really known her. Also, I feel like maybe she could have had some wisdom for me about a family member who is getting under my skin.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016?
Nothing is as bad as I think it is.

What will you always remember about 2016?
The day a fascist real estate mogul-cum-television reality star became fucking president of the country.