Sunday, February 19, 2017

Found when helping Wally clean his room just now. (I've never been able to spell, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.)

From September. 

#BestLaidPlans #AlwaysWithHer 

Nice ideas here for family art-journaling.

Friday, February 17, 2017

This morning I came across scribbled reminder from mid-January. Nancy Colier was doing a book signing at the local library for The Power of Off: How to Stay Sane in a Virtual World. I missed it. 

I have been working on a middle grade fiction book. I have a full, semi-functional draft. This is rare for me. 

I've been returning to some of my short stories, too. It's satisfying and by that I guess I mean relaxing to channel my obsessions and neuroses into fiction rather than chronicle them on my blog. 

One Sunday in October I had a few quick minutes to catch up with my grad-school-writer mom friend on the coast of Connecticut before catching a train back to the city. We walked along the marina and laughed about how mortifying it so often is to keep a blog. It's kind of funny to talk/think about that after I've kept one for almost seven years. More or less, often less. 

I have several projects with publishers right now that are inchoate and/or maybes and/or hurry-up-and-waits. They leave me pirouetting between excitement and deflation and anxiety. 

I am starting to tutor again, taking the PATH train yesterday evening to Hoboken. Remembering the Sunday I went to an art show there fourteen years ago. Those long Sundays back in those years. Red wine in the galleries and no particular place I had to be at any particular time. Talking last night with a super-bright high school student about the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. About the Dutch sailors, the "fresh green breast of the new world."

Just a week earlier I was out there near Gatsby's "old island" with our Dutch neighbors, not sailors, having given into a crazy impulse to hop in her car and drive two hours in the dark with three kids in the backseat, to arrive after 10 to absolute quiet, to bring the bags into the empty house while the kids played with lovely wooden toys in a darken sunroom, Orion bright overhead.  

There are notes here too from Summer Brennan's The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America. I started following Summer on Twitter, and found my way to her expose of a struggle at Point Reyes National Seashore. Before reading it, I didn't know the Wilderness Act was the year of my birth. Brennan writes: 

"This is what is all too often missing from the familiar wilderness scriptures of Muir and Thoreau: that the land was not empty when they found it. The first peoples of North America had already been laid waste by diseases before the settlers with their covered wagons ever started to move west." (214)

Brennan wrestles throughout with the question about what is "natural"--an obvious question given that the oysters at the farm that the government pushed out in order to protect nature do seem natural, even if a commercial operation is not. Yet those oysters were brought to California's coast most likely from New Jersey. And supporters of the farm objected to the idea of park visitors trampling through "wilderness" to take in nature as a hobby.   

Her questions continue to haunt me: "When we turn to nature, what are we looking to remember, and what are we hoping to forget?" (216)

They remind me of my surprise, writing letters to constituents during my brief stint at Senator Kerry's office, of the messiness of environmental protection--not just the mess of pollution, toxic waste, greenhouse gasses--but the mess, metaphorically, of sorting out who is right, what is fair. Is it fair for the government to ask homeowners to leave cottages on the seashore their families have owned for generations? Is it fair to fishermen to ban fishing to protect an ecosystem when the fishermen has no other job he's trained to do? When he has no other means to support his family? When you are writing letters to those directly affected by what must seem to them abstract legislation, preserving resources for future generations, the lines about what is right become dramatically less clear.

What are we looking to remember, reading through scribbled notes of events we meant to attend, books we meant to read? What are we looking to forget, once we've finally established boundaries and schedules, reigned ourselves in, become more disciplined, less spontaneous, when we jump in a car with two kids after dinner, throwing off the week, the schedule, the plans for work, opting for a moment of peace, a dream of peace, a night of knowing what it would be like to own a house where "there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound"?  

What are we looking to remember, when we read Gatsby, when we imagine Dutch sailors pondering fresh green breast of a new world that was not in fact a new world, that was not a fresh green breast that was already inhabited and would presently be stolen? More importantly now--especially now, with a leader who champions bans and walls--what are we looking to forget?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sorry I haven't written.

I'm listening to Ray LaMontagne.

New York is covered with snow.

It feels like a Saturday night. 

I love how you cannot go fast in the snow. 

You have to go slow. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

If you have a minute, please check out the beautiful new issue of WritersResist, out today. The editors were kind enough to include my piece "Why we march." 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

America, 2017. Frequently Asked Questions for the Resistance

1. Question: Where was all this energy before?

Answer: It was there.

Millions of people across the country have always had energy to fight. 

They had the energy to leave comfortable jobs to set up tents in Zucotti Park to protest corporate greed and draw attention to the “other 99%.”

They had energy to risk their lives protesting, demonstrating and flooding Ferguson to demand the country wake up and recognize that BlackLivesMatter.

Energy to wake up in the dark to make the hour commute to their teaching job in a public school, paying for school supplies themselves, subjected to outrageous “evaluations” based on test scores of students they don’t even teach on tests made by corporations whose only goal is to make money.

Energy to serve as public defenders while their classmates from law schools make more than four times as much as corporate lawyers with less than half the stress.

Energy to drive to the Central Library in downtown LA town over after work to tutor a seventeen-year old Syrian refugee.

Energy to say “Enough of saying ‘enough,’” and start a group of moms that demand action for sensible gun control, a group that has grown to include chapters in all 50 states and earn the nickname “the NRA’s worst nightmare.”

Energy to teach computer science to inmates at Rikers.

Energy to come over the border from Mexico to deliver 170,000 meals to victims of Hurricane Katrina before packing up and driving back to their homes on the other side of the border.

Energy to provide maternal-fetal medicine to high-risk, disadvantaged population despite dwindling funds and constant attacks on public health by the Republicans in Congress.

Energy to care for a father dying of Parkinson’s.

Energy to be cheerful to every customer, every day, despite knowing you make the same amount in an hour your customers will spend on a single Cappuccino.

Energy to bike to work rather than take the cozy, comfortable, fully-functioning car sitting there in the garage even on raw, windy days in a freezing Minnesota winter.

Energy to volunteer for every event at your child’s school, despite being a single parent, working full time and taking online courses at night.

Energy to traipse across snow-filled streets of Portland, Maine to bring meals to a house-bound neighbor.

Okay sometimes our energy flags (but that's only when were overwhelmed by the crowds and desperately in need of a nap).

Energy for a few Lakota teenagers—devastated by the loss their best friends to suicide—to set up camp to protest the pipeline that threatened their Reservation at Standing Rock and refuse to leave.

Oh, and one more thing:

“Barack Obama built the largest grassroots organization in the history of American politics.”  (The Atlantic, Oct 24, 2012)

There has always been energy.

In the past two months, the stakes became so high, and the enemy so clear, that patriotic outrage coalesced that energy into a single movement.

2. Question: Will you finally admit it should have been Bernie?

Answer: Besides 30 years of the Republican spin hate machine ruthlessly pursuing her with the relentlessness of Javert, it took Fake News, Putin and Comey to bring Hillary down. She lost by fewer than 100,000 votes in key states. She won the popular vote by nearly 3 million. She was among the most brilliant and most qualified candidates ever to run for office. She has devoted her life to public service. She was loved as a senator and Secretary of State. She crushed all three debates. If you don’t think she spoke to the white working class, read her platform. Take a look at her policies. She was fighting for family leave and paid medical leave, increased Social Security benefits, expanded healthcare, raising the minimum wage, massive public works, 6.5 million new jobs, and raising taxes on the rich to pay for it. We don’t know what the opposition research (which was never released) would have done to Bernie. We don’t know what Putin and Comey would have done.

So, in a word, no.  

3. Question: What do you want exactly? You’re all over the place protesting the Bannon appointment, fighting DeVos, complaining about Putin’s role in the election, wearing pink hats, whining we stole your SCOTUS seat, adding more letters to LGBTQ, shielding your eyes from the blinding refection bouncing off the staggering number of white men now running the country, saying corporations aren’t people, which is hurting their feelings big league. Sad! Apologize!

Okay, first and foremost, we want to save democracy and protect the Constitution. It’s under attack from many directions, so we are armed on all fronts.

Next, if you need a really succinct, bite-size “screen-grab” format – we’re fighting for equality.

What does that mean?

We want immigrants, Muslims, African Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, Native Americans, people with disabilities, members of the working class, and all women, to be given equal rights and equal protection.

Health care can go under that umbrella. Saving public education (ix-nay on DeVos) can go under that. Not selling off national parks can fall under that. Demanding the resignation of a White Supremacist leader of the National Security Council can fall under that. Common sense gun control. Fighting the pipelines. Supporting National Security efforts (i.e., investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election) falls under that. Protecting the First Amendment. Fighting Paul Ryan’s wet dream of privatizing Medicare. Fighting Republican attempts to privatize the V.A. and slash benefits for veterans falls under that. Demanding marriage equality falls under it. Demanding justice for African Americans and standing in solidarity with BlackLivesMatter falls under it. Fighting the Republican attempts to privatize and make a profit off (water, education, prisons, parks, bridges…actually just put anything here at all) falls under that. Fighting tax breaks for the top 1% falls under it. Fighting for a real infrastructure program that puts Americans to work and rebuilds our roads and bridges and railroads and airports, rather than putting billions in taxpayer money into private hands, that falls under it too.

Here’s a wrap up in case you skipped the above paragraph: no one wants a handout.

No one wants a free ride.

We know religion bans, border walls, and privatizing water, education, prisons, national parks, the V.A., and healthcare is just about the fastest way to put more money into the top 1% and, make the income gap even bigger, and at the same time, with and through that and because of it, make it not so great a country.

We know that MAGA is really, MINSGAC (Make it Not So Great a Country) but that's hard to pronounce.

We love the country.

We want it to continue to be a great country. 

We don't want it run by Putin's puppet.

That’s why we’re putting up a fight.

 4. Question: Okay, fine, so if we impeach DT as he is so clearly impeachable and it hasn’t even been two weeks and we don’t even need to figure out how to pronounce emolument because we can just use the fact that his Muslim Ban is such a clear and reckless violation of the Constitution, then will you be happy?

Answer: It will be a start.