Monday, March 31, 2008
Tonight was the end so I went back alone even though M wanted to come because I needed my own way to say goodbye. I walked in to the usual crowdedness and that alone is a knife in the heart because tomorrow our doors will be closed and in a perfect world we'd be empty by now. The fear is palpable in some because they haven't figured out a Plan B and tomorrow is coming fast and others are so used to this their hope is gone and it's merely the latest inconvenience in a lifetime of woe. I notice one man on crutches with a disposable camera taking shots of the building and of a few friends. I ask him if he wants me to take one of him and he poses; this place was good to me and it's important to remember that when I'm gone. I can't help but touch his hand for a moment, words are meaningless and I have nothing else to give and we sit for a minute. The volunteers seem especially kind, giving everyone extra food and coming around to refill the drinks. I stopped to thank them and they mention their sadness and that they made extra food because filling bellies was all they could do and we clasp hands and they promise to see us again next year.
The staff are out back furiously BBQ'ing, even though dinner was already served it's their own way to say goodbye and they'll pull it out once things quiet down, a late night snack for all. Everyone has their game face on because no one likes what this day means and yet everybody knows the score. I see some old timers and we sit and talk, we hug and one or two of them kiss me on the cheek because we never know if we'll see each other again until we see each other again. Almost everyone I talk to says thank you, even if we weren't appreciated all the way through goodbyes make even the toughest sentimental and above all there's a simple camaraderie. I know it is their suffering that matters and my emotions are nowhere near the point but I will hold these moments inside my heart.
I have to pry myself away, I simply don't want to leave and yet my child and partner are waiting at home. Dusk turns to dark and I say a few more goodbyes and share a few more hugs and walk out the door, pausing to turn and look at the whole of it, folks milling around and watching TV, some are sleeping and others heading to the shower with tiny donated bottles of shampoo. I deliberately soak it in and I feel the tears I've been swallowing all night fill the back of my eyes. I walk into the darkened parking lot and when I reach my car I climb onto the hood and sit and cry, my tears shame me because any sorrow I feel is meaningless in the face of this suffering and yet if nothing else I hope it will make me try harder tomorrow because at the end of the day I'm just a girl who hates the injustice of this and sometimes the losing feels so much more than the winning and all I can do is bear witness the best I can.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
So whose fault is it when her mama swung open the door to lean into the back and unhook the buckles and the prized balloon leaned into the gust and whipped around me and out of her hands and up up up into the sky.
Her wailing was immediate. I scooped her up and out so at the very least she could watch it soaring higher and higher from that ragged parking lot on a dusky last evening in March. And as the balloon became a ball became a speck I turned around and saw the line we'd parked behind was watching it too, all eyes on me they witnessed the entire thing and can now hear her cries. I walk the few steps over to the line full of haggard exhaustion, of wrinkles and dirty coats and geniunely tired smiles. A woman is looking at her kindly, several others are still watching the balloon as it races towards the end of the sun. One of the men looks at me and asks what did you tell her? And I replied that her mama screwed up and let the balloon fly away. I tried to catch it but it flew away so fast. He nods, his face serious. Well at least you told her the truth. M's head raises from the watery place on my shoulder, tears all over her face and gulps but why, mommy, why? And to everyone involved and for many more reasons than the balloon I simply have no good answer for this.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Damn, I thought not. Carry on.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
old toothless guy in a wheelchair: mumblebahgahmumble
old toothless guy in a wheelchair: mumblebahgahmumble
me: what? (leaning down close) what?
old toothless guy in a wheelchair: I said, were you a glamorous movie star before you worked here?
me: dude, now THAT is how you make a girl's day.
old toothless guy in a wheelchair: damn. want me to say it again?
me: actually, I do.
and we both crack up laughing and the day begins with him rolling one way and me walking another.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Up close his backpack is pretty dirty and I see a familiar card poking out of the side, I confirm what I know, he's spent some time at our place and yet his face is unfamiliar. He looks at me and I smile. Hey, we both exchange and the briefest of smiles flit across his face before he looks away. He reaches for a loaf and walks away, milk in one hand and bread in the other. I stand and watch him go because in these moments I want to engage a bit deeper, for however little it matters I want to let him know he is not invisible to me, that my heart goes out to the unfairness of not having a home and having to carry his world on his back. And yet words sometimes or often fail me, and I'm left alone with the bread and the bagels and the softness of Hey.
Monday, March 24, 2008
CCG: What's wrong, M? You scared? Big girls don't get scared. You're not a big girl.
M: I'm not scared and I am a big girl. But big girls can choose the things they want to do and I don't feel like doing this. And she turned and ran and jumped on something else.
And I smiled broadly, you go, precious baby girl. you go.
And realizing this truth, the import of the strength of growing our girls into women made me appreciate all the more reading Three Cups of Tea. I was deeply moved by Greg and his work in Pakistan, all in service of allowing girls to more fully realize their potential. I realize I may be one of the last people on earth who hadn't read it, but if you haven't it's more than worth your while. And it's reminded me again of what I already know: strong girls make for stronger communities.Image courtesy Greg Mortenson, Central Asia Institute.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Peep Show courtesy of Slow Panic.
Friday, March 21, 2008
It's not whining exactly, more of a checking in and saying what's what.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Writer is not technically as angry as she may occasionally appear on this blog. Well, mostly. She still likes a few things.
Red licorice for one.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I remember the State of the Union address in 2003 vividly, watching the President speak while sitting on my futon after a long day inside a homeless shelter and I remember thinking then holy mother of god, this guy is going to invade Iraq for oil. This man is actually going to take America into war. And on March 19th, 2003 he did just that.
Almost 3,000 Iraqi men, women and children are killed on average in Iraq each month. That's a world trade center attack over and over. And we've lost 4,000 US men and women during the course of the five years. Yet we justify this killing in the name of democracy, the price of the horrors barely making news. We talk about eradicating evil, about bringing freedom to those who want it. But after five long years we stand defeated. The Iraqi people are suffering, America is suffering, and Halliburton made a shitload of money.
I don't know how we will ever truly understand the devastation this administration has brought during its reign. I don't know that we'll ever truly comprehend what this debt means to our country, how bad things will continue to get and if it's even possible to recover.
I don't know that we can imagine our country if we'd chosen to do something else with the price of the war. But I do know that in the State of California alone, taxpayers have contributed $66.2B (of the total $507B and rising daily) to the war and if we'd chosen to spend that money on affordable housing we'd have 198,124 new affordable housing units in our state. If we'd used the $66.2B on Healthcare, we'd have been able to insure 27,242,554 more people. If we'd used the $66.2B to build Elementary Schools, we'd have $6,612 more of them today. Now that would be one hell of an aggressive domestic policy.
But instead we invaded a country and called it war. And America is paying the price with high gas and food prices, cuts to domestic programs, a shaky economy and sinking stock market. But our mostly armchair suffering pales in comparison to a nation with over 1M displaced people, high unemployment, widespread poverty and sporadic electricity. And we did that. We used a war to force our agenda on another country and we've left it a mess, just like we did in Vietnam. And who pays the price?
Dante says the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality, and if that's true we'll all be sitting there in our armchairs looking dazed and confused. But I have to think that those who perpetuate the crises roast too, so George, perhaps I'll meet you there.
All I really know is this: Five years ago the President of the USA used his power to carry out an illegal war to mask an agenda of oil and greed. Instead of bringing forward criminal charges we've allowed this man to remain in office and he continued to run our economy into the ground, allowed thousands of people to be needlessly injured and killed, and has damaged the United States both internally and externally seemingly beyond repair.
And today I am again sitting on my futon shaking my head, my heart broken for this great country of ours who acts a dumb puppy, so ready to do good in the world and yet desperate for someone to show us the way.
Happy Anniversary George W. Bush. Shame on you and shame on us.This post and many more are rotating over at MOMocrats where we are participating with many others in The Iraq War Blogswarm commemorating the fifth anniversary of a war that never should have happened.
Monday, March 17, 2008
After 7 years of ruling the United States with a shady and well-oiled fist, the Entire Bush Administration spontaneously combusted on Friday. White House cleaning personnel all appeared to have been spared and cameras caught several of them wandering outside the rubble of what was formerly known as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It came out of nowhere, the saute cook from the downstairs kitchen said, We heard cackling laughter and the words "Game over, you Greedy War Mongering Bastards!" and all of a sudden I was standing in a pile of rubble. But then I found six weeks severance in my pocket so I'm going to Disneyland!
The international community quickly denounced the combustion but shortly thereafter all 194 remaining countries went on record jointly stating karma is a bitch. The hastily assembled interim office includes such notables as Aung San Suu Kyi, Jeffrey Sachs, The Dalai Lama, Ralph Nader, Bono and Nelson Mandela and will remain in place to assist the new President after the November election.
A vigil on the former White House lawn is planned for 7pm EST tonight but authorities are concerned the vigil will be poorly attended due to an estimated 300 million people dancing in the streets, a spontaneous nationwide celebration that started six minutes after the news broke and is showing no signs of stopping. Shopkeepers report being out of beer and champagne in every major metro area in the nation.
In other news, Donald Rumsfield, while not technically a current member of the Bush Adminstration, has also been reported missing. Dust and ashes were found in his apartment bathroom hours ago. No word yet if his disappearance is related to the spontaneous combustion but authorities remain hopeful.
Happily contributing to this week's Monday Mission and clearly a joke, lest you Patriot Act Freakos decide to get all Guantanamo on me. Oh, and it's not quite an obituary, is it?! I'm a Monday Mission rookie.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
And we were almost right. We took her to see Horton Hears a Who, a double bonus for me because Dr. Seuss far and away kicks the shit out of Disney. We took her to one of the newer theaters with all the bells and whistles on purpose because we wanted to watch her face light up.
It did not disappoint. The bright lights, the cavernous room and enormous seats and the screen, the movie is so BIG, mama, so BIG in hushed whispers with shining eyes. We'd smuggled in a snack and she sat like the princess she pictures herself to be, regal and quiet until she became unruly and louder. And hey, the movie was really terrific too.
We went home and a little later in the evening I got a call from work and learned there was something I needed to attend to so I headed over to the shelter, the day had become night and smelled like rain. I walk in and was taken slightly aback as always at the amount of people huddled on the floor. It's still early but many folks are lying down, belongings stashed underneath them and borrowed blankets on top. One guy was fast asleep with his legs poking out and shoes still on. One guy came up to me limping. It's gonna rain, he says. I know it because all the metal in my leg acts up and I can barely walk. Rain's coming, he says and limps away.
And midway down the enormous room sat about 25 guys on hard wooden benches staring at a 20" TV screen. I pause for a minute and one turns to greet me and I think it was an old Bruce Willis film but I can't be sure. They are transfixed, all bodies leaning slightly forward and all eyes fixed on the screen. There's no popcorn and the lights are bright but it's movie night here, too. The irony strikes twice and I leave the cold into the colder, heading back to the warm.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I, however am holding out for Guantanamo Barbie travel pack - for the distinguished traveller in all of us.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
M: (chanting) happily ever after, happily ever after, happily ever after.....
Me: Hey baby, it's important to remember that we might not always be happy and that's okay too.
M: I didn't say HAPPY, mama. I said HAPPILY. It's different!
Me: How is it different?
M: Happily means MARRIED!
Me: Ah. So what does married mean?
M: I don't know. But I think it means there's a prince. And a castle.
And with that, she's officially joined the ranks of millions of deluded young women everywhere. Thank you (oh, and fuck you for setting unreasonable expectations), Disney.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I'm late and I have to pee. The halls are mostly empty but I see the universal sign of a neatly dressed woman, white against the blue. The door is locked, damn, I mutter. It says Staff on it in big letters but I don't care. I yank on it like it might magically open if I pull hard enough.
Senorita? A man with a mop says from down the hall. Bathroom? I have the key. I turn and thank him and he opens the door. As he's fumbling with the key I say you mean I don't look like a student? He looks at me for a minute then laughs. No. Can't blame a girl for trying.
I find the room and peer inside, it's a group of high schoolers and I don't know any of them. In fact I don't really know what I'm doing here at all. Come and talk to my students about homelessness was all she asked. I asked for specifics and got an email in return thanking me for coming with a map of the school. Traffic was a bitch and I'm in a rich part of town.
The teacher introduces me and asks me to come to the front. There's no chair and damned if I'm standing so I pull a desk out of a row and sit on top. I tell them my story, why I care about this and why it matters, how alleviating suffering can be one of the things they choose to do with their lives. They look bored and you know, it's not that boring so feeling slightly offended I pause and ask for questions and none of them raise their hands. I wait a minute. You know, I didn't drive all the way up here to hear myself talk. If you guys don't raise your hands I'm calling on you. Fear sizzles across the room and hands stay at their sides. Good enough. Girl in the red sweater, why are people homeless? She's mortified but answers a decent answer and then a few more hands go up and we're rolling. But then one of them cites our recession as a reason, that our poor country has no money to do the right thing. And then I went all liberal-psycho and started bashing the government, going back administration by administration citing the failures and the fact that no matter what we want to tell ourselves, our country simply doesn't care about those who suffer in poverty and that we can't continue to subscribe to an establishment such as this. I think it was then the principal walked into the room.
The kids and teacher both started watching him as I continued to speak. I had a thought that maybe I might want to tone it down but then I figured what the hell will he do, make me leave? As I was (finally) wrapping up he smiled and said from across the room it's important to hear all viewpoints from the conservative to the liberal and I think that may have been his way of telling me I've filled their liberal quota for the month or maybe even the year.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I touch these books and I begin to dream. It's finally time to dream.
Monday, March 10, 2008
This month's Roundtable reminds me of the first bloom after a long winter. So many vibrant voices here this month talking about so many different things, from human rights to the power of the written word to governmental malpractices and healthcare and bigotry and abuse. Writing means nothing has to go silent. Writing means we are awake. Writing means change. Change means everything. It's up to us. I'd originally had more to say than this but after reflection, it's all that matters in the end. Writing. Doing. Change.
The February Just Posts:
Aliblahblah with Imagine
Attila the Mom with Language is powerful
Awake with Cyclical
BipolarLawyerCook with Free school lunches and social stigma
Cecileaux with Yes, we can vote for a black man and No-cajones congress
Celeste with Immunization controversy and The revolution will not be televised
Chani with Put a little love in your heart and Sacred life Sunday on Saturday
Crunchy Chicken with Using your sewing skills for good, and Operators are standing by
Cynematic with Unable to mind my own beeswax part 2
Deb with Naivete
Eileen with home visits in America
Elspeth with What the Dream House was/is for: building dreams and a real house
Emily with Real dads don't suck and Her name
Gina with vote and wasteful
Guilty with an Explanation with Ain't nobody's business if I do
Gwen with Say it absolutely nothing
HeartFeldt Politics Why we must embrace controversy
Her Bad Mother with Juno's Choice
Ian with Emerging from the mines at last
It's Not a Lecture with Facebook: Still clueless
Izzy with the one where i get all aggro and lecture everyone
Jangari with Eleven years in the making, The Prime Minister who apologised and Sorry business Jen with Water boarding and other unnecessary evils, Little big girl and stars in their bucky eyes
Julie Pippert with Putting a face to the health care crisis for kids (and families) as health insurance options expire and vanish
Karen with Super Tuesday
Karen (needs new batteries) with Just call me Rosenblum Hussein
Kevin with 935 lies
Kyla with Hate to waste $30
League of Maternal Justice with I need to start somewhere
Liz at Los Angelista with our acceptance of the code and religious freedom
Mary with No good answers
MOMocrats Women with Just call me Hussein: The meme
MOTR with more evidence emerges about dangers of EBA exposure
No Caption Needed with The evolution of violence in the 21st century
Pundit Mom with Super Tuesday not so super
Reality Testing with In the mix: Helping our children become successful in school and in life
Sarcastic Mom with Carroll Community Cleanup
Shakesville with Call to action to help tornado victims
Sin with Backwards in Time
Surrender, Dorothy with The US and our spy satellites: Fear disguised as concern
Suzanne Reisman on blogher with Women are Dumb. Let's Educate Girls and Boys Separately! That Will Solve Everything., Would the American Economy Collapse if Women Stopped Hating Their Natural Appearance? A Look at Makeup, and A Letter to My Body
Wayfarer Scientista with Bird friendly coffee/chocolate
Writing as J(oe) with Teaching in the dark and Filled with Groceries
Don't forget to stop by Mad's and Su's to see what they've cooked up. We're saving a plate for Hel who's away from the table this month tending to the birth and newness of her little puppies. If this is new to you we host the Just Post Roundtable every month on the 10th and all are welcome.
Friday, March 07, 2008
So I bend down and look her in the eye. Does it still hurt? She shakes her head no. Well babe, I am so sorry to hear that happened to you. Hitting is never okay. How are you feeling? Sad, she says and M says I'm sorry _____ hitting isn't nice. And looks at me expectantly. Heh.
This little girl is usually there when we arrive and still there when I return. Her hours are long and on the few occasions I've seen her mom she always seems stressed. I've heard her yell at her once, she's a single mom and I am sure her hands are full. I give her a hug and a bit stupified, I look over at the teacher as the kids run off to play.
Quietly I ask her if she heard what was just said. She says she didn't so I repeated it to her and the teacher says Oh. She's said that sort of thing before, but I've talked to her mom and her mom says she makes things up that aren't true. I look at her dumbfounded. And sometimes they say things because they ARE true and then one day they will stop saying them because no one is listening, I reply. She assures me she'll look into it but now I feel a little ill.
I've seen more abused kids in the course of my work than I care to remember. I've seen many good families torn apart by speculation and system failures and troubled families whose troubles got worse. I've seen babies wrenched from their mama's arms and I've seen kids grow up in the system worse off than before. I've also seen kids rescued from horrifying situations and the damage that was done before folks knew to help. None of it is easy and all of it is bad.
There are no good answers and as a sister I am hesitant and as a mother I have no choice. Goddamnit, I say over and over as I drive to work.
I call the Director from work and tell her what happened. I like this woman and she responds exactly the way she needs to and says she'll take it from here. The teacher's comments were news to her and very troubling and I could hear the frustration in her voice. I hung up feeling like I did what was necessary and the sadness stuck with me all day.
When I got home I told J what happened and how it made me feel. He said you know, this is weird because I never usually see her but when I picked M up from school today she was in the parking lot and the mom was yelling at her in a way that made me cringe.
And we both fell silent for a minute, my heart breaking for the little girl and for her mama too.
This was difficult to write, I struggled to bring it here so if it's disjointed I apologize. Today's the last day to send me your Just Posts at girlplustwoATyahooDOTcom. Our Roundtable will feature all of them on the 10th. It's not too late to join us.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
But you know, I call bullshit. If that same flight had 200 people on it no one would have said a word because these flights happen multiple times daily every day of the year. If it's so horrendous to fly abroad with five people then it's equally horrendous to fly abroad with 200.
It's either the environment first or humans first and taking this sort of stand in a sensationalistic way is merely that. I doubt the planet cares whether it's five of us or 200 of us offending her because either way we offend her. Myself included.
If we are really outraged, we should ground planes altogether. But OH, THE OUTCRY! WE HUMANS CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT AIR TRAVEL! AND FUEL! WE LOVE OUR FUEL!
and the planet goes tick tock.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
This past weekend a neighbor kid was a total bastard to M. He said some horribly cruel things to her, her precious naivete and trusting wide open heart shattered while I watched. And I wanted to kick his four year old ass. (Which doesn't say a lot for me, or perhaps it does and none of it good). I'm still upset over it even though she's long forgotten it (or has she, dammit you bastard neighbor kid). I just can't believe cruel starts this young.
But on the good side it's Just Post time so please send me writings on social issues big or small, yours or anothers and we'll include them in our monthly roundtable on the 10th. If this is new to you, clickety click on one of the purple and white buttons on your right or email me at girlplustwoATyahooDOTcom. Join us. It's cruelty free and safer than most playgrounds.
Monday, March 03, 2008
And intentional or not, this shit is keeping Hillary down.
At the end of the day our country has proved itself more ready to elect a man of color over a woman and whether you like Hillary or not it poses the question: Is misogyny embedded more deeply in our country's foundation than racism?
The subtle and not so subtle mistrust, anger, sexualization, and underestimation of women in our society is indisputable and mainstream media does little to quell the flames with it's advertising and programming and yes, it's political coverage. Portraying Hillary as manly, as emotional, as a bitch are all ways her gender is subtly and not so subtly brought into the equation. Online forums are no better, one of the popular political groups on Facebook is called Hillary Clinton: Stop Running For President and Make Me a Sandwich. We've found all sorts of ways to work Bitch into a statement about Hillary, both from Tina Fey's positive and brilliantly pointed Bitch is the New Black to all of the derogatory statements about why folks can't vote for her, she's too much of a bitch. Now if Obama was getting equal time for being called a Dick that would be one thing, but have you heard anyone say Dick is the new Black? Bringing Dick Back? I'm a Dick and Proud?
Oh wait. Dick's been in charge all along.
Before you call me a man-hater (which I am not) and a Hillary supporter, (which I am still undecided), or worse, that I am making a big deal out of nothing because this isn't about all women, folks just don't like HER; I ask you simply: If Cinderella's nemesis was a wicked Stepfather and she ended up selling the glass slipper on Ebay to pay for a Round The World trip with a couple of girlfriends would we be in this predicament today? And are we willing to keep showing our children that this way of defining women is acceptable?
And will we ever be able to see a woman as Commander in Chief?
This post is cross posted at MOMocrats and speaking of cross posting, I read this post on Friday was was completely overwhelmed by the author's courage as a woman and as a mother. The rest of the Perfect Posts are here and here.