Sunday, October 17, 2010

no place like home is someplace too

Being back in the mix means I'm back in the mix. It's frayed a bit now, half or at least a third of me is in the jungle but the rest of me is here and here is where I need to do what I can. I've got a new gig, temporarily running a smaller organization trying to bring more housing to those who need it.

So last week I went down into the creeks, the places where folks sleep who can't or don't want to go to a shelter, either because they are full (they are always full) or because they can't handle the rules, or because it's no place like home at all. A friend and I hiked down to a spot where we immediately stood out next to a group of 20 or so folks just packing up for the day. At first there was a lot of staring and then wondering why we weren't showing up like the church folk with socks and coffee. So after a few we start talking, an old timer leading the way. One by one they start to tell us why they aren't in a shelter and why this is all they've got and jiving aside the stories are theirs and ours and different and the same.

Drugs and drink and sick and violence and fear and filth and loneliness and hopelessness and humor and laughter and joy and strength and at the end of it all it's plain old poor. We hear their stories and then we tell them some of ours, that we are working on a project that will put keys in their hands. Not today and not soon enough but keys all the same.

They nod and they listen and invite us to sit. They tell us that sounds real good and how no one has come with lines like this and even if it's a good story why should they believe us and we agree with all of it, we admit the road is long but we have hope, and more than hope we have a plan.

It doesn't have to be like this I tell them and they nod their heads. We wind things up and get up to go when one of the guys reaches out and grabs my hand Don't forget about us he says. And I grab his hand right back and tell him we won't, that it might take us a bit but we'll be coming back. And as we climb the hill my friend and I are quiet, we've both done years in shelters and met thousands of folks and even after all this time and even some time away the problem is right here smacking me in the face. We can do better than this.

We will do better than this.



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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

who are those people that want everything to stay the same

Part of it is because we haven't been able to make the whole "lets live in the jungle" thing work out as well as we would have liked. I mean, it works, and it doesn't. Namely, we haven't been able to earn a living outside the US.

So he is there and we are here and I'm back in the homelessness mix. Again. It's like Groundhog Day, like I never left, and like I've been gone a long, long time.

So we are building a house in the jungle and earning a living in the States. There's a computation error there somewhere, the addition is more than the subtraction. Or something. People are starting to ask that question, the what the hell are you guys doing question. I'd be asking it too.

And yet still somehow it makes sense. Hope, see. We haven't yet given up on hope, on the fact that we can make it work in a way unclear to us now. That by throwing in the whole towel we'd not have learned what we have. That drumming under a full moon in the jungle is really awesome, or that there are excellent doctors in rural parts of the world, or that survival can actually take up 32% of your day, every single day. Or that bugs aren't really that scary. That the sounds of the jungle can soothe you, that you can do most things you set your mind to. That you can grow a butterfly tree. Or that you can be really, really hot and still actually maintain a pulse.

That the whole experience may stretch you in places you need to grow and still not know the way. That the way is the way, not that sign up ahead.

Now if I can only believe it more than 32% of the time, every time.

Oh, and I miss blogging. Especially now that I'm back on the street.



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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

i think I'm turning japanese

I fear I've neglected my blog so much that it's been taken over by Asia. If only I knew what they were saying. Do they hate my posts? Love them? Are we related somehow? Did we used to date?

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Friday, August 13, 2010

now

We've been back in the jungle for a couple of weeks now. It's like we never left and feels like we've been gone a very long time. The road to our house is a tiny bit better but the one to town is worse. It's either screaming hot or pouring rain and I found a scorpion in my bedroom today.

Reconnecting not only with J but with our friends, kids coming round to play, friends dropping by, my mystic friends bringing a potluck while we sat at the table and had a good long chat. Another came to bring tortillas and catch me up on the village gossip. In between I am lazy and watch the iguanas crawl by.

J's made such progress on our house, it's incredible to see the walls so high. Everyone is taking notice now, the strange house growing in the jungle, born of sweat and blood and time apart.

It's wild here and it's calm. It's rugged and fierce and peaceful and beautiful. We have all kinds of trees on our land, avocado and mango and a butterfly tree. Hundreds of avocados and butterflies but no mangos yet. Maybe next year our neighbors say. Maybe next year.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

home again

We
are headed back
to our jungle.

A birthday party, one for the baby born a year ago
They are waiting
For Us.

Postponed especially.

Our jungle family
And us.

And we are so blessed.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

all the broken shit

A month might just be an all time record of blog neglect suckiness. I'm not sure what else to say. I think about writing all the time and still the words don't flow.

I've been working on a project recently, one that's taken me back to my old haunts and given me a chance to catch up with some old friends from the streets. One guy from back in the day, he had a place but then he lost it and here he is again. He tells me that this time he's going hard core, if he has to be without a place to live he's doing it all the way and he's doing it in the streets. And he's writing a book about it too.

So he sits down and pulls out a journal and some pictures and starts to share and I listen and I look and he tells me his son passed away, a son who wasn't even grown. I reach over and grab his hand for a minute, in between all the jokes there's the pain and he looks at me and says make me god for 12 minutes and I'd fix everything. All the broken shit. Done.

Today I'm at the MD, one of those mixed use places where you can get your broken arm fixed get new glasses have a baby when I hear a guy behind where I'm sitting on his phone, he's agitated and he's talking louder, he doesn't know what he's going to do and he can't take it anymore but maybe he should shut up because people will think he's a terrorist. I can't help it, hearing that in a public place, I decide I gotta turn around and look, at the very least I need to see if he's thinking near term and so I look and and I see an average guy of an average age and I see sad. I see sad and I feel sad and I turn back around. Later when I'm leaving I see him again and this time he's lecturing his kid but in a way that sounds like there's all kinds of stuff beneath, stress and worry and fear and he's out of control. I want to reach out somehow but I come up zeros. I walk by.

Then I think of my friend again, I think of him outside and smiling, writing by streetlight and I think about what he said. Make me god for 12 minutes and I'll fix everything. All the broken shit. Done. And I wish it was that easy, we could all take turns and fix our little corner of everything and pass it on.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

the kumbaya of women

I've been single parenting for awhile now. J's been in the jungle and we girls in the States, working here to pay for the house building there. It wasn't an easy decision and there are hard days, bad skype connections and a missing so deep. A wondering of what the hell are we doing and an excitement underneath because we are creating this place in the middle of nowhere, from near and from far. We are still committed to this thing.

So it's mostly been me and my girl, made possible in part by the flexibility of friends and women who have become friends. Like my boss, who when it gets late in the day she says oh i know you need to go get your girl and she means it and it's okay. Or the friend who takes my child about once a month, out for lunch and a movie so I can run errands or simply do nothing. Or my mom, who we visit when we can and who will take completely over, leaving me behind in the best possible way.

But mostly it's just been me and my girl, something I thought would be harder than it has been, we have good days and not so good and I occasionally beat myself up for not doing a better job and sometimes I'm a slacker and sometimes she talks back but mostly we do just fine and while we miss the third leg of our little stool I also realize how precious this time is, the ease with which we move through our day, the simple routine of two. The bond we share and now share even more.

On a bad day she might look at me and tell me she thinks I'm being mean because I miss daddy and that's okay but I don't have to take it out on her. Or on a good day she'll call us sisters and hug me tight. Or today, she handed over the contents of her piggy bank so we can buy anti-malaria nets for kids who need them, or yesterday when she told me my outfit looked really, really bad but in a really nice way. And through it all, distracted or not or busy or not I look at her and I watch in wonder, because I can't believe how lucky I am and how much I adore her, how amazing and brave and nimble she is and how we are in this together, laughing and stressing and hugging and teasing and learning and crying our way into what comes next.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

nice

My site is fixed. Fixed because of this guy . We've never met, haven't talked in a year but are blog friends from back in the day. So when I emailed him a blog cry for help he was there and figured it out immediately. Without hesitation. Just like that.

And that's why this place is so good. Even when we aren't here as much as we'd like. Because we are still here.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ugh

There's an issue here, with this blog. Not sure what it is but appears to be an infection of sorts. So if you are reading this in your reader, don't click through. More to follow. Although I'm at a loss at what to do.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

getting up off the floor

A friend of mine runs a program that helps people who've been in the streets for the longest time re-enter the workforce. Folks many would consider lost forever, she takes these guys and lifts them up. She invited me to visit yesterday, to see her in action.

So I walk into a crowded room but full of life, guys joking around and friendly. I see a couple guys I know from back in the day and their faces light up and mine does too. We hug long and hard and get right down to it man it's good to see you you too hows the baby did you hear I got my own place now? I sit down smiling, already my day has been more than made.

So the meeting starts and it is awesome, folks going around the room sharing successes for the week. The man next to me starts sharing I was given 25 years to life for something I didn't do, I spent 12 locked up before I was released. I've been in the streets ever since and my friend her face is beaming but what's different today she asks and he says today I go home. I got myself an apartment and he leans back and he's grinning like the cheshire cat, he grins and we all grin and the room breaks out in applause. And where are your keys to this fine new apartment she asks and he grins again right here in my pocket and he reaches down and pats them and smiles again. I reach over and squeeze his arm, the rock solid kind of arm that comes from too many years inside and he looks at me and squeezes my hand right back.

The room breaks out into cheers again, the most supportive kind especially when it comes from guys who are still in the streets. I feel myself getting teary, because no matter how many years and what's come in between, I never failed to be moved by this most beautiful display of everyday humanity, the kind that has no bullshit and has been hard won.

I am sitting next to an old friend, a guy who 3 years ago lived in my program for the longest time until one day my friend scooped him up and put a broom in his hand and turned things around. He worked for her for a year, daily getting up off my floor and going out the door. The following year he came back to my place but this time as an employee rather than a client. I remember that day so clearly, he poked his head in to my office and held up his work shirt. I'm scared, he told me. What if I can't do this and it's ironic, this guy is huge and tough and has seen all kinds of things and I remember telling him who else could do it better than someone who knows all the tricks? Yesterday and three years later those days are long past, he's got his own place and a car to get around. He's still got a job but here he is, coming back to volunteer for my friend.

The meeting goes on, folks sharing leads and rides and even some shoes and as folks are clapping all over again the meeting winds down, they have their assignments for the week and are off to work. The doors open and the guys spill out into the sunshine, joking and jiving and I am carried out the door on this great wave of hope.

As I walk to my car I chat a bit more, guys that most people would give wide berth to walking me out and it hits me again as it always does when I'm back in the mix that no matter where I go or what I do I'll never stop being moved by this. I am so lucky to still have this in my life because these guys make me want to do better, to try and do more. Whether in this country or the next we are all humans here.


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Thursday, May 20, 2010

in the park

Every morning I get up very early and work out with a group of people in a nearby park. It's one of those organized things, where the guy in charge very nicely yells at you to do more run more jump more and you do it because you need to and also because it's fun. I've been doing it for awhile now and the group is friendly enough, companionable in the sense that we are all doing this together.

Two days ago we were on a little run and in a line we passed by a parked car. I see the people in front of me turn their heads as they go and when I pass I see a cat, a pile of blankets, and a kid and I immediately know it means some folks are sleeping in their car.

So I drop out of the line and run over to the car and I see a woman and a few kids and a couple of cats all piled inside. She's nervous when I approach so I talk to her through the window a bit, I tell her what I used to do and that I mean no offense but if they are without a place to stay maybe I can help. So she rolls down her window and we talk a good long while and I promise I'll connect her as soon as I'm done with this jumping around stuff. As it always has, my heart breaks for the kids, especially the one not much older than mine who jumps out of the car to get dressed in the street before school. Her little face is dirty but her smile is bright. They've been living like this since February.

They've been living like this since February.

So I fall back in with the class and there are some whispers, what was that what's going on are those people in their car and I briefly share and I also share that this is what I used to do and do in different ways today. Folks react in a way I am surprised by, they start telling me I am so good for doing this and I get embarrassed and a bit weird because I haven't done anything yet and this family is still in their car and it's awful. Later at work I recount it for my in the business friends and they understand my awkwardness because to them these sorts of interactions are normal and certainly not worth making a big deal over, it's simply what they do.

So today I go back a bit happier, because in the meantime I've connected the family with some housing options but am frustrated because it's going to take a few days. So I bring some food to give to them after class was over but during class others said they've brought food too.

So after class is over I walk over with some food and several others are coming too. So different from yesterday, today we are all gathered around the car, one woman is giving the kids all kinds of food. One of the guys is looking under the engine of the car, another helping load things in the back. There is talk of other ways to help, bringing dinner, clothes, a mechanic. They are inspired to do more.

All of a sudden the littlest girl starts jumping up and down Look mama, water! Look mama, bread! And in that space my heart cracks in half, little girls excited over bread and water is wrong on so many levels it nearly makes me cry. Our new friend looks at all of us, she does start to cry and thanks everyone over and over. She hugs us and we hug her and I promise to get in touch with her tomorrow. I know we'll figure this thing out.

I look at my peers and I see their faces, the generosity and kindness and everything else. I see they are moved by this moment and I am too. What created discomfort yesterday turned into love and action today. Strangers are now friends. It's so easy to do the right thing.


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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the apple and the tree

My dad emailed this to me today after I sent him a link bemoaning the screwed-up-ed-ness of Cali and our government:


Civil rights used to be a value in this country. Then 9/11 happened and our leaders decided we couldn't afford those values.
Equal treatment under the law used to be a value. Then the State of Arizona decided we couldn't afford that so long as desperately poor people continued to come across the border in order to feed their families.
Bi-partisanship, a spirit of "we're all in this together" used to be a value in this country. Then extremists hijacked the political process and we had to lay that value aside, too.
Common decency used to be a value in this country. Then a person of color got elected.
Paying our bills used to be seen as personal responsibility, a value in this country. Then any tax increase became "socialism" and we couldn't afford to pay for public services anymore.
Get in line, Arnold. The pile of broken values is just over there. Lay the needs of children on top of the stack before it gets any higher.

He's such a bad ass, my dad.




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Saturday, May 01, 2010

mi amiga

One of my early mentors and forever heroes was the woman I was assigned to work under in my first days inside the shelter. I was immediately taken by her strength, her ability to understand the multiple issues facing homeless families and manage to hold them close until the seams came together. She was fierce in her commitment you will do this mija, you can do anything hermano she would speak with passion and folks would listen. They would listen and do as she said and by the time they left us they had jobs and homes and money in the bank. Over the years I watched her change more lives than I could ever count and she did it entirely from the heart.

In many ways it was her calling, she was a single mom who'd fled a terrible situation, abuse and more and so one day she took her kids and ran, she ran and ran and for awhile and many years she was scared, she was alone and on her own and without a home. Yet she was a warrior, she fought for her family and for herself and used all she had to help others and over the years things came together, she ended up working at the place that sheltered her, she stabilized her life and had a roof over her head and then she gave back, did she ever give back. She gave back more than anyone I've ever met.

We had crazy times, she and I, like the time she stepped between me and the guy with the knife, the one with the wild eyes. As calm as I'd ever heard her she looked at him square, mijo, put that knife down and the blue eyed man dropped that knife where he stood. One other time a little boy was so troubled he decided to jump out a window but she was there, she was there and she caught him as he fell and she held on three stories high as he dangled out the window for endless minutes until others could come and help. I remember after she was crying and she said I was so afraid I couldn't hold on but I said God, you keep my fingers strong and He did.

There aren't words for the love and respect and awe I feel for her and have felt for her for 12 years or more. There aren't enough words for how much of an impact she'd had on others, for the thousands of children she's fed and clothed and housed. There aren't enough words to describe her grace of spirit and her ability to mother.

But there's a part of this story I forgot to tell you. Back when she was fleeing that terrible situation she was in, the man who wanted her dead, she grabbed her babies and she ran. She ran so far she ran all the way from Mexico to here. She ran her in the dark and she emerged in the light. She's a citizen now, she pays her taxes and owns a home and has for many years. She is grateful every single day to this country, this country who in her eyes saved her life.

Arizona, you've broken my heart. You've broken it because you are blind, because you are afraid, and because if you'd arrested my friend all those years ago on the night she saved her own life she'd never been able to save so many others and we'd all be worse off today.

You've done a bad thing, Arizona. You've done all of us a really bad thing. Shame on you.

Shame on you.



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Friday, April 23, 2010

40

I'll have to get used to it, this leaving my 30's and entering my 40's. It's only been about 9 hours and it's already starting to roll off my tongue a bit easier. 40.

40.

For some reason, this number, this big 4 ish number, it always felt so damn old.

And yet I sit, 40. I tried to hide but you came anyways, you came and you found me and relentless you arrived and so I will greet you defiantly, I will embrace you and love you and I might even kick your ass. 40. So you watch out sister, because I'm coming into my own.

happy birthday to me.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

el sancho and the viixen

I'm leaving a meeting daydreaming about the jungle when I see them. They on their bikes, the lovely older and magnificently well cared for bikes that only serious bikers have. I pull up behind them and I notice them laughing. He's a bit overweight, his hair comes way past his helmet. She's in leathers and has her shades on and I see shades of red hair reflected in the sun. They are easily in their fifties and are on their bikes in the middle of the day. I smile and then I see it. Their license plates. His says El Sancho and hers says Viixen and I realize in that moment that no matter what I do I will never know this, I will never know what it means to let my freak plates fly, that there is a story to how they've earned these names and went and minted them and this is how they are known, on their bikes and with their peeps. El Sancho and the Viixen.

El Sancho reaches down to his saddlebag and digs around and I find myself desperate to know what he keeps in there. Viixen revves her motor and puts her boot on the little metal thing, I am sure it has a name and I yet I have no idea what it's called, all I know is I wish I was on the back of her bike. The light turns green and off they go, El Sancho and the Viixen, they go and they go fast and I want to follow them because wherever they are going must be pretty damn cool.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

219

Apparently we like to cut it a little close.

Way to go, America. Yes we can.

Yes we did.

It's about freaking time.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

divine intervention

As soon as I hit the curb I knew I'd blown a tire. Shit. Not knowing what else to do I figured I'd try and make it closer to home, but as I'm driving a car is behind me honking. It's behind me and it's honking, honking. I raise my hands as if to say I know I'm driving on a flat tire. It's my choice. But they keep honking and then pulls in front of me and honks some more. So I pull over at random and the car stops in the middle of the street in front of me and for a minute I have to consider if I accidentally hit this car with mine and simply do not remember but in the end I decide I'd broke my tire all on my own so I have no idea what is going on.

Now other cars are honking at her but unconcerned she jumps out of her car, spry as a spring chicken. It's a nun. A nun in her habit is standing in front of me. Dearie, she says. Your tire is flat and your hubcap is way back there. I smile at her and thank her and she waves and jumps back in her car and drives off. I pause for a minute, both because that was really fucking weird and because I have a really flat tire. I am on an unfamiliar street and I have no form of roadside assistance to call.

As I momentarily ponder I hear a voice from on high. Did that nun run into you? the voice says and I look up and there's a dude on a roof, a construction sort of guy doing construction sort of things. I gaze into the brightness of the sun and I start to laugh. Looks like you're changing a tire I say and he laughs. Looks like I am.

He climbs down and takes a look and I tell him that was awfully presumptuous of me but I was momentarily caught off guard by both the tire and the nun. I thought the nun hit you the way she was acting he said and we laughed a bit and he says he's been wanting to change a tire for awhile now so it might as well be mine. So I poke around in the trunk and find a spare but no jack but my Handy Manny has it under control, he pulls a big jack out of his big work truck and does his thing.

I tell him a few times that he's a lifesaver, that I am not quite sure what I would have done especially without a jack and he takes a drag of his cigarette and smiles ah now, you woulda called someone and I figured he's right but him being right there pretty much felt like a million bucks.

When he's done I try and give him $20 and he shushes me and backs away but then leans over conspiratorial like and says but I'll be here all week if you want to come back and bring me some cookies and I laugh cookies? I say. I'd have figured you for a beer guy and now he laughs too, well if you're offering, I suppose I'd like that better. I guess I'm still tripping out on that nun and we say our goodbyes, he climbs back on his roof and I drive away, and tomorrow I'll go back with a six-pack, because when a nun nearly runs you off the road it's good to stop and listen and it's very good to be thankful for the angels that come next.


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Monday, March 15, 2010

my kid is awesome

I need to go to the grocery store tomorrow. What should we buy?

Coffee. And wine.

I need to go the gym.

You can always go to the gym Mommy, you never have to ask me if it's okay.

After me being all ranty over something silly, like her not picking up her stuff.

Sometimes you give me a ginormous headache. I still love you, but sometimes it's hard to like you.

But the best of all?

Yep, she lost her first tooth:

Dudes.

Oh, and do me a favor and head over to Alejna's and vote for your favorite 2009 JUST POSTS!

http://collectingtokens.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/vote-for-the-best-just-posts-of-2009/


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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

bags of rice

I dropped my Ipod in some water and didn't realize it for a bit so it sat there. Like it was taking a bath. Or swimming. When I realized what I'd done I grabbed it, frantic. I ripped off the case and dried it off, a used a blow dryer, paper towels. A friend told me to put it in a bag of rice and do not try to turn it on. I tried to turn it on anyways. Nothing. I put it in the rice and tried to forget about it. I accepted defeat.

A very good friend of mine just learned her husband has been having an affair. As cliche as it is, its not something she ever saw coming. None of us did. Not him. No way. Not like this. Not in a cheap Lifetime movie sort of way. It's ripping apart their family and sadly, those of us who love both of them. Or used to. Its Day Three since she's learned and already so much has changed. People surprise you. They break your heart. They turn into cliches.

I took my Ipod out of the rice today. Expecting nothing, I pressed the keys and it turned on. It plays just fine. Rice. Like the kind we used to throw at weddings before it all became so politically incorrect. All of a sudden I hate the rice that fixed my Ipod. But rice, just like us, is just along for the ride.


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

see saw

My life is so weird. My partner is in another country. My kid and I are living here. We want to be back in the jungle. We don't know how long it will take. I am enjoying my work here. M continues to thrive. Everyone is healthy. Things are okay.

Things are okay.

I can't keep putting off blogging till I have it all figured out. Otherwise, holy shit.

So I'm getting used to here, and part of getting used to here is getting used to M's school here. It's a great school, clearly more well rounded than the jungle and yet something is also missing. M thinks the kids here are meaner, she complains that they keep telling her what she cannot do, what they can do better. It's like that here because we thrive on competition I try and tell her but it makes little sense to her. To her it's just mean. But the jungle had it's issues too, like the time she came home with sentences to copy and I kid you not, the sentences read:

He is tall.
She is fat.

No kidding. She is fat. So that gave me chest pains too, and I spent the night making her write

He is tall.
She is smart.

over and over and over instead and talking quite a bit about why I didn't like the other sentence. So here the homework is clearly more politically correct. And clearly More Political.

We were given an assignment last week to get a big piece of paper and 100 pieces of something, and our job was to glue those pieces on the paper and write each number. Easy, I think and me thinking I'm clever get those little candy hearts and we sit and glue and label and glue and we look at ourselves and we smile and we call it One Hundred Pieces Of Love so we bring it in and then we notice all the other projects, some in 3-D, others will all sorts of bells and whistles, fantastic designs and over-the-topishness that defines parenting today. As we gaze around the room our One Hundred Pieces of Love seems inadequate, what made us giggle the night before makes us self conscious today, M gazes around and looks at me If Daddy was here our project would have been better she says and my heart hurts and at the same time I can't help it because I know she's right.

You are right about that Baby Girl, because he's the creative one. But if he was here he'd have made you make it out of sticks and leaves and rocks, and then you wouldn't have gotten to eat the leftovers. And she tells me it's okay in a way that she probably doesn't really mean and I love her for it and I give her a hug.

And it hurt a bit more when the teacher hung hers way up out of the way to make room for all the really cool ones, something I would have done too, probably without even thinking about it but when it's your kid's project that's in the nosebleed section you notice. And then you blame yourself even if you truly believe competition is silly. Because if daddy was here it would have been better. Just like nearly everything else.

So you hug your kid again and you tell her we'll do a better job next time and she pats me on the back it's okay mommy I still like ours and I wonder again what I ever did to get this lucky.



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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

sweet and sour

I show up for my Karate Internship right on time but he's already gotten started, I walk in and see a bunch of boys, a few girls, and M. Karate Guy looks at me and says I brought her this time, just like that, no warmth and sort of defensive maybe. I look at the clock and inwardly groan. I wonder why Karate Guy is hating already and then I figure I can't really blame him.

I'll help I say and he says okay and points over at a group of boys. Keep them in line he says. So I walk over to the little dudes, boys I think are maybe in the range of 9-12 years old. They are off the hook, karate chopping each other and being generally unruly. I stand between them and give them a look. Dudes, I say. I'm watching you.

They don't seem to care and keep on being little shits so I stand between them and tell one of them to go sit against the wall. The rest of them look at me askance. I'm not messing around I say and one of them sticks out his tongue at me.

I decide boys between the ages of 9-12 can be little fuckers. The only experience I have with kids of multiple ages is from my work, and kids at the shelter could be little creeps too but I suppose I cut them some slack. These kids have it pretty good, being housed and all so I figure there's no going easy. I break up two more going at it and make one of them hold my hand.

That pretty much did it, if a girl wants to completely freak out boys between the ages of 9-12 I suppose you make them hold your hand. So it's working long enough for Karate Guy to get started, he's paying extra attention to M and I can't tell if he's making a point or just being cool because she's the smallest one there. So I figure since I'm here I might as well learn something, I do some of the exercises and frequently position myself between my boy posse breaking up random acts of dumbassery. He puts them through a few paces and things are going well until one of the boys calls another one fat and all heck breaks loose. The kid who was being teased gets really upset and to be honest, the kid who was calling names wasn't super slim himself but whatever, I grab that dude's hand and he shuts his mouth. I do all the regular things one does with the other kid when one's feelings are hurt and he's not really having much of it but did start laughing when I took the other dude's hand so I think we are okay.

It's nearing towards the end and Karate Guy asks me to be a "shark" so the kids can be "fish" or something like that, I don't really know what the hell he's talking about but it involves tagging them as they try and run past me which I can do pretty well but some of these kids are also pretty fast, so maybe they should be called "eels" but whatever.

So the class ends and Karate Guy tells the class that this week was much better than last week and I'm of course thinking it's because he had back up, the hand holding kind of back up and he turns to me and says thanks and asks if I can come again next week. Only if there's beer after I say and I think he takes me serious and you know, maybe I am because as I said before boys between the ages of 9-12 can be little fuckers, but they are also pretty cute and so I tell him I'll come next week. He looks at me and says you know, I didn't realize M was so upset last week, the teachers told me she was crying and I thought about punching him in the arm just because he's being kind of dorky but then he leans down and talks to M and apologizes directly and tells her how good she did and that she has real promise and I don't know that I believe him but I lost the urge anyways because he's really a very nice guy doing something nice for these kids and if I were him I'd want as few kids in the class as possible too.



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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

kung fu this

I signed M up for karate weeks ago and she's been over the top excited ever since. The class is offered at her school right after her class is over so as far as I knew it was settled, she was going from class to karate and I was going to the gym. With my mix tape.

So feeling spry and earphones in place take me down to paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty I arrive at her school and head to the room. I was excited all day knowing she was finally getting to do this. So as I'm walking in a guy comes walking out and for some reason I had a feeling this was the instructor so I say, Hey, are you the karate instructor, I'm looking for my kid. Her name is M and he stands there looking perplexed for a minute and says, oooohhh...M? Yes I say and he says Oh, wow, I had so many kids I couldn't handle them all so I left her in her class.

You what? I say and he says he's sorry and for some reason I reach over and punch Karate Guy in the arm. He looks a bit taken aback by this but you know, whatever. Look dude, M's been looking forward to this for weeks, did you at least tell her why you weren't able to take her? Um, no, he says. So I punch him in the arm again. So you just ditched her, and now I get to go pick her up and have her cry?

I'm really sorry he says. Do you want your money back? No, dude, I want you to teach my kid karate.

He looks a little sheepish. There's too many kids, he says. I can't handle them all.

What do you need to do about that, I say? I need a helper, he replies.

Fine, Karate Guy, I'll be your helper. He smiles and reaches out his hand and introduces himself and I do likewise and for a minute I decide Karate Guy is actually okay and he's also really, really cute. And I'm surprised he is actually getting this close seeing as I've already punched him twice. But he does and we settle it. I'll do this thing. Not sure what this thing is, but I'll do it anyways.

I find M and when she sees me she breaks into tears. I didn't get to go to karate! she says.

I lean down and pick her up and hug her. Dude, I know. I've already told Karate Guy how lame he is and she starts laughing. No you didn't! Oh yes, baby, I sure did and I tell her the story but I leave out the part about hitting him twice and she's happy now, especially now that she hears I'm coming to karate too. I'm not sure what I've gotten myself into, but something tells me it'll be amusing at least. And I figure I could do with learning some karate too. Maybe it'll even take away the uncontrollable urge to punch people I've just met in the arm. Twice.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

i'm a mix tape in a sea of mp3s

I brought my ipod to the States but forgot my cord. I figured it didn't matter because I don't know how to download music anyways but then I started working out and holy mother I've been doing some long overdue rocking out and all the indigo girls in the world can't meet me there.

I was sharing my lament at my friends' this weekend, two of my most favorite people in this world. I've been hanging out with them a bit lately, my kid loves their kid and I love them and they are the only two people I know in real life who read my blog. So they let me borrow a cord and three hours of computer time later I downloaded all the stuff I liked when I was seventeen or twenty seven and while I am sure there is better stuff out there I dare you to prove it.

Bad Medicine: Who can't relate to this? Love IS like Bad Medicine. But we Like Bad Medicine. I actually saw Bon Jovi on my birthday one year, on a first date with an older guy (not usually into older guys) who showed up with a cake and champagne and good seats (let's hear it for older guys) and I thought it was going to be bad but the show was actually a lot of fun. Plus that singer, he's kinda hot.

Cum on Feel the Noise: There's really nothing I can say and even after 20 years I still smirk when I see the title, those dirty 80's boys. Again, I dare you to prove there are songs better than this. I think I was in 7th grade the first time I heard this and my friend's mom was gone for the night and someone showed up with wine coolers. Remember wine coolers? Those were awesome but probably not when you are in 7th grade.

Lose Yourself. I like Eminem. I know he's controversial and all that, explicit lyrics, yadda yadda but I've always liked him and I'm almost 40 so I probably always will. And nothing gets my speed up on the treadmill like this song does.

Why Can't I Be You? The Cure. 8th grade and it's 3am and I've been listening to Boys Don't Cry for 5 hours straight.I am positive I was wearing all black. Is there anything else I need to say?

Eye of the Tiger. If it's good enough for Rocky, it's good enough for me. Plus it makes me laugh when it comes on. The lyrics are so intentionally intense it makes me giggle. Just a man and his will to survive. That guy wasn't messing around.

Highway to Hell. I saw AC/DC in concert when I was 20. Man, that was a good show. Those guys knew how to rock.

Sex Dwarf. I swear this is Soft Cell's best song, but I think I'm fairly alone in this thought because I don't even know if they released it in the US. I remember driving several hours to the one import store that had this disc and it was a whole adventure. Now we just press a button. Life used to be a lot more interesting. And this list proves I'm a bit twisted. Or at least kind of a loser. But that's okay, I'm comfortable with that. Round and Round, Love will find a way just give it time.

There's some more 80's rock, some rap, basically a bunch of songs you'd probably never admit to liking but you'd sing along to in a bar. So I love my music, it's about two workouts worth and I love it so much I keep the earphones in when I leave and sing really loud in the car. I think that may be against the law here but am not entirely sure.

So all in all this post proves what you already know, that I am a total dork. But I'm a fairly happy one, and I've decided that after 39 years on this planet I'll take a happy dork over an unhappy hipster any day of the week.


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Monday, January 18, 2010

civic dreaming

We talked about it, how our country used to be different, how Dr. King came along and said what a lot of people were feeling, how he stood up, how he had a dream and wanted more than anything for everyone to be treated equally no matter what color their skin. I show her his I Have A Dream speech and she actually watches most of it. She marvels at all the people who were there and we talk some more, one of those magical moments where she is really and truly listening. She asks if he's still alive and if we can go see him and I tell her what happened and she wants to see pictures of that too.

She can't understand why someone would want to hurt such a nice man, a man who just wanted everyone to be treated the same, the way we all do. I told her that he scared some people, some people were very afraid of what he had to say and didn't want things to change. That some white people thought white was the only good color and they were better than everyone else. She looks at me and starts laughing. Are you kidding? ARE YOU KIDDING? If I thought that way I wouldn't know X and X and X and X friends and I LOVE them!

And I smile at her and tell her I am not kidding but her saying that is exactly why Dr. King is so important. Because he helped change America. That because of him and others like him things changed and it was good. But she can't let it go. White people were AFRAID of black people? Yes, I say. Are they afraid of them now, she asks and I tell her yes, some people still are afraid of people who look different from them and she pauses for a minute and says are people afraid of Barack Obama? and I nod and say yes, I think some people are and she throws her head back and laughs out loud. Well that's just about the silliest thing I've ever heard she says.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.



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Friday, January 15, 2010

toupatou

I sit and I sit. I keep crying. Like you are, like we all are.

Haiti. Mwen regret sa, Haiti.

Mothers.
Fathers.
Babies.

I sit and I sit. I go online and make a donation and I feel futile. I sit and I wish I could do more. M hears us talking about it and it scares her. Earthquakes. Can it happen here she says and I nod, I can't help it so I nod and but I also say but it wouldn't be as bad as there even if it shook as hard. When you are poor, when you are so poor, everything is harder. Buildings fall down easier. There aren't as many cars and tools and machines to help you.

Like the jungle, she says. Like if we had an earthquake there.

More like that, yes. It would be more like that. But it's still so much worse there. For as poor as the jungle is, this place is worse. Worse, she says. Like she can't believe it. This child who grew up on shelters and then the jungle. She's already seen what a lot of people might think was bad already and yet I see her try and dig down deep and figure out more. It must be really bad she says. Yes. Can we go there and help she says. I hug her, maybe a bit too hard. We would just be in the way, I tell her. They need doctors and nurses right now.

Mothers. Fathers. Babies.

Haiti. Mwen regret sa.

Kisa pi nou fe?

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Monday, January 11, 2010

one plus two minus one

Two weeks. It's been two weeks of this new way of doing things and so far, so good. My kid, she is amazing. She's embraced our new situation with joy and curiosity and already loves her new school. And they work her there, she's actually exhausted by the end of the day and her brain is full of new ideas. I think Five is the very best age so far. I am so in love with Five.

As for me, I am conscious every day that I am doing well in some ways and falling short in others. Without J everything falls to me and for the most part it's okay but his absence is a small ache, rising up on some days and quiet in others. We are only two weeks into this thing.

I have more to say but it will have to wait. One being in charge of Plus Two minus One means my math is off.



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