don’t fence me in

January 29th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

You know that phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I?”

Its something one might say to invoke humility in the face of their own good fortune, or to express identification and unity with the struggle of another.

Yesterday the first headline I read began, ”Refugees, Visa and Green Card Holders Detained, Turned Away…”. I sat upright and my heart pounded in my chest. You see, my husband is a green card holder (he’s actually my Permanent Resident Alien Spouse, to be exact) and we are currently in what we hope will be the final stage of the process.

Until we reach that promised land of a 10-year green card, allowing supposed free movement in and out of my country, his residency and immigration status informs every aspect of our lives together. Where we go, how we work, when we visit family, and how we plan for our future. The thought that the rules we have been so diligently following would somehow and suddenly be thrown up in the air put my heart in my throat.

Then I read further, and saw the changes were affecting travelers only from Muslim countries. My heart promptly returned to my chest. My husband is from Italy.

That quick moment of relief affirms for me that what divides us is bigotry and racism, social constructs that have no tangible basis, yet have deep influence in our history, society and individual behavior. I can insist all day long that I am not biased against Muslims, but that moment of relief would be no less real. My privilege would allow me to leave it at that, accept our own good fortune and move along.

at_capt_stans

After the courthouse, with Alien Spouse.

When we got married in a small town courthouse in rural GA, the clerk doing our marriage license heard F’s accent, saw his foreign birth certificate and filled in his race as “Other”. F thought this was fantastic. I thought it was sort of an Alpha-Omega moment, where our national pastime of keeping everyone neatly sorted turned a white European male into The Other. We had become completely estranged from the source material of our racist thinking. The center could not hold.

So this morning I intentionally rewind to that heart sinking feeling that came before the momentary relief. Because there but for the grace of God go we.

resist

January 21st, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Oh how I hope this message reaches you, dear reader.

If I am being hyperbolic, hormonal, hysterical, so what; if I should be locked in the tower, I simply don’t care. Today’s global mobilization of women and girls, and the cisters, sisters, and men who love us has sent my heart on a wide boomerang arc – out… and back. What a week, amirite?

In my “old life” I would have hopped a train with friends and been in the center of one the largest and coziest of herds. What is a modern nomad to do when you get that homing mechanism that moves your feet on the FL/GA line?

You march around by yourself, is what! Then you go to a coffee shop and kill time until the next idea comes to you.

A group of older-than-me ladies asked if I was waiting for a friend, and I responded, “I think I am waiting for you!” We then invited each other to a bigger table, and I pointed out a pair of younger girls wearing 1920-2020 protest pins, and said, “Hey I think you are with us too.” All the sudden we had ourselves an intergenerational feminist quorum.

It is weird to sit down with strangers, but just think about what we have in common. We all left the house today with the intent to be on the right side of history on this historic day.

My intention for the next few days is to stick with this mind set – to assume that the people I encounter have something more in common with me at the core than different. We are women today, but tomorrow what will it be?

We are pro-love? We are daughters? We are environmentalists? We are neighbors? We are in line at Parkers?

dear president

December 1st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Many of my acquaintances are writing good old fashioned letters lately, to their elected officials. This is for you, dears:

dmpp
ORDER HERE (this is real)

I have diligent friends who generously circulate their hand-crafted call lists and phone scripts, encouraging their circle to support the Water Protectors, watchdog political appointments, and bear witness to the uptick of hate crimes in Trump’s America.  I know some that battle in an online scrum and others who are organizing travel to protests.  For many reasons, I weigh how and where my own energy can be directed.

After swastikas with pro-Trump slogans were spray painted on the Brooklyn playground named after Adam “MCA” Yauch, late member of the Beastie Boys and avowed peace warrior, his former bandmate said the following:

“If you’re able to volunteer, volunteer…if you’re a musician, write that anthem. If you’re a writer, write. Take what you’re good at, and what you truly enjoy, and lend your services to the causes you care most about. ‘Cause we can’t, and we won’t, and we don’t stop.”

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz

This struck me, because I have a hope that my most purposeful work lies ahead, but my next steps are (still) less than clear.

Side note – During the same event, Public Advocate Tish James sang “We Shall Overcome” with the gathered crowd, a mental image that gives me an attack of nostalgia for NYC and makes me wonder if there is a video out there pls?

Right now I watch those individuals and groups who have been doing this thing – those who have been engaged in resistance and will be for the long haul. I admire those who have steadily stoked a fire that fuels their ability to both row and steer.  I was shocked by the election outcome, but I have been even more impacted by those who are making new ways forward.  Specifically, I mean #BlackLivesMatter and #noDAPL, campaigns I view as expressions of pure love for humanity and the earth, respectively. If you try to tell me different, mind you are in for a long conversation with footnotes.

I try to steer clear of echo chambers and instead make eye contact and hear/learn/use people’s names right away. Traveling often makes me feel like my hands are cut off, like I have no pull in a place where people don’t know me. Lately, I’m moving more as a pilgrim, so that every wandering step has more purpose, and every stranger is the next opportunity for exchange.

I am still thinking of what I have to offer in that exchange besides postcards, tho.

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