Learning to Speak Politics

June 23, 1995 Comments off

Please join me at my new blog, Learning to Speak Politics, where I am writing to learn.

Categories: FYI, politics Tags: , ,

Finding family in the Magic Kingdom

Mama's generations

Growing up, four out of seven people I perceived as family shared blood with me, but three did not.

When my sister’s high school boyfriend came to feel more like a brother than “my sister’s boyfriend,” my family-member scale was balanced numerically between those of blood and those strictly of love.

The scale hung in the balance for only a brief while. Soon enough, my new brother’s mom became family, too, confirming to me what I’d suspected all along: blood didn’t make family.

Sure, my parents seemed to feel bound to the other kind of family, but in my mind, those biological families had little to do with my own family.

Most of the time, I had no desire for more family. I figured I was abundantly blessed with what I had.

Occasionally I’d find myself wistful, but never wistful enough that I let wishful thinking rule over circumstance.

When a Monster in Your Closet reader, Katrina, mentioned in February that she’d be visiting Disneyland in April, I noted her middle name–my mother’s maiden name–and state of residence and figured we probably had an ancestor in common somewhere. I said as much to my honey, Anthony, but was otherwise focused on the thrill of meeting up with an online friend in person.

The day before Katrina and I met up, I got a short Facebook message from her. Her husband, she wrote, had suggested she should make sure I knew our relationship.

Namely, that we were cousins.

I wrote back instantly to ask the specific connection, though there was really only one option. I then called Anthony, crying with joy I couldn’t explain.

When I looked at Katrina’s profile picture, it was like looking at a younger version of my mom.

The next day, Katrina, her family and I met for lunch at Disneyland.

As I waked back to my car a little while later, I wrote this on my phone:

The next evening, I brought my son, Li’l D, to the park. We spent a couple of hours wandering and taking DCA (Disney California Adventure) kiddie rides with my cousin and her family. When Li’l D refused to ride any animal on the carousel, Katrina took the bench with him while I held her son.

One word replayed over and over in my mind: family.

Watching Katrina’s kids not only play with but instruct and tend to Li’l D filled me with wonder. I’d had many a fun Disneyland trip together, but never one so merry as this!

Heading out of DCA, Li’l D alternately shrieked with glee while darting between my cousin’s sweet, spirited children and dance-walked to the music, occasionally stopping without notice and jamming foot traffic.

“You’re so weird!” one of the kids said to Li’l D with a kindly laugh that inspired my own.

I would bet you just about anything that’s how my siblings and I sounded when we visited Disneyland two and a half decades prior!

When we parted ways a couple of minutes later, I was reluctant to leave. I only did so knowing Li’l D would soon enter meltdown territory if we  didn’t. And that family wouldn’t end just because the evening did.

Today, Li’l D and I went back to the park solo. There was much laughter, and much messy enjoyment of ice cream.

There was something else, too: a sense of connection, as we strolled hand in hand, not just to each other, but to the little Deborah who’d once held hands with her own mom at the park, and to the new generation, whose interwoven hands and hearts might reach so much further together than they ever could apart.

This was among posts accidentally deleted from this blog.
Reposted 9/26/16

Saturday Soliloquy: 26

I killed
26 people
on Wednesday

I didn’t
pull the trigger
physically, but I
killed them
all the

For fifteen years,
my people have
used one
to justify

some war
I thought
“Not my

spread from
one country to
another to yet
another, I thought,
“I guess that’s just
how it is”


For fifteen years,
I never thought to question
my leaders: “How are
me and mine served by our
bombing one then two
then seven countries?
How am I served
by our killing
people and
their homes,
lives, and
in ways
that could
only fan
of hate?

explain it to me
like I’m a five-year-old”

My silent assent
enabled them, and they
have milked it for
all they

My president
has sold $115 billion
in weapons to Saudi Arabia
alone*; it, in turn, has used
those weapons to kill
civilians, over and
over and over

(so many killed,
the Red Cross
is donating

By looking
the other way,
I said, “Yes,
I approve”

And those
I’d helped elect,
they just kept
for money
run for
their lives
from our weapons

when I saw pictures
of children starving in
Yemen because of our–
no, my–weapons, I wept,
for I am starving them

And when
I saw that 71 senators
permitted another billion-dollar
weapon sale to Saudi Arabia
the very same day those
26 innocents were killed
by our business partner,
I wanted to scream

Today, I will kill
even more people,
but take some scant
solace in knowing
I will not be complicit
any longer

I will shout at
those I’ve elected
that I will not support
murder, not vote for it,
not stand for it,
will rise up
against it


I can’t stop
any trigger from
being pulled today
or tomorrow, or the day
after, I. will. speak. in hopes
that my fellow Americans
hear that politicians who
fear losing their seats
will listen well to
an overwhelming
chorus of voices
saying, “You
no longer
my quiet
to murder
(26, 260, 2,600,
or 26,000)
for your or

* By all rights,
we should have
been fighting against
Saudi Arabia; instead,
we have bombed the house
while leaving
the bathroom

** Go to hell stricken
parts of Yemen,
General Dynamics.
May your munitions
fail and end up striking
you where you sleep

Note also
that President Obama
yesterday vetoed a bill that would
enable 9/11’s victims to sue Saudi Arabia;
it’s too important a business partner
big a munitions buyer to
risk losing it over silly
things like
the law or

Already written

Yesterday, I told two coworkers how much I appreciate them and what they do.

“Write that down so you remember it when you’re asked about our performance later!” said one.

“Naw,” I replied. “I don’t need to write it down to remember it. It’s already written in my heart.”

Categories: Work Tags: , ,

measure in love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

Work ends

I love it, but
I’m tired, still

I scroll through
my Twitter feed
as I walk to my car,
feeling both more alert
and more tired
by the tweet

But then
I climb into my car
and I am lifted–
no, catapulted–
to love
by a chorus of
voices singing
about how to
measure the
moments in
a year

These friends
(this family),

(They are
my friends,
and my family)

Even when
I step out of my car,
Rent continues
in my soul

Its silver (love)
cocoon continues
to shimmer
around me though
its notes stopped
with the car

After dinner,
my older son
pedals his bike
up ahead

I jog behind
with my younger son
on my hip

Littler J giggles.
Bouncing is fun–
so fun, he bursts
out singing his ABCs,
all the way through,
which I didn’t know
he could do

And then,
back home,
my husband’s
trying to tell me
about an article in
The New Yorker, but
I’m not really listening
because the kids are tired
and I read them
their bedtime
stories first

I feel guilty, as I begin
to read

(I should have
listened better. Why
must I be so objective

I try to focus on
my little boys, which
is easy because they are
so silly and sweet

Li’l D blows
spit bubbles as
Littler J pretends
a Hulk action figure
is a monkey jumping
on the bed, which
bed is actually
his brother’s

When it’s Daddy’s turn
to read, both the boys
rush to snuggle him

Littler begins (again)
singing about monkeys
jumping on the bed

“Why does he keep
saying three monkeys?!”
asks Li’l D, affronted

“He’s only two,”
Daddy explains, gently.
“He doesn’t know
subtraction, yet”

Daddy sings along,
leading slightly
so that the proper
number of monkeys
remain on the bed

And I sit down
at my computer
to look at political
Twitter, but instead
find myself humming
Seasons of Love

And I know,
with every particle
of me, not only that
life is not measured
in missed tweets,
but that it’s
measured by
shared in

Oh you got to remember the love
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love, spread love
Measure, measure your life in love


Categories: Love, Parenting, Twitter Tags: , , , ,

The 40s track

“You’re on the 30s track, aren’t you?” my six-year-old asked of my age yesterday.

Laughing, I agreed I am. Nodding toward my husband, I added, “And he’s on the 40s track!”

A little later, I couldn’t help but notice how the 40s track suits him.


I’m already looking forward to his 50s track.

Saturday Soliloquy: Seek the Stars

Do you feel comfortable engaging with politics?

I didn’t, until recently. I hadn’t done enough reading. I didn’t understand enough. This being so, I was sure I could never understand enough.

Changing careers last year helped change my perspective. I stepped from a universe full of knowledge-stars and into the darkness of a universe apparently nothing like the one I’d left behind.

The darkness was daunting, but I sought out the stars. Read more…

AN ENTREATY: sing loud for love & life

Hey, lovely friends,

Barbara Lee was the only U.S. representative who voted against a vague Authorization for Use of Military Force immediately following the 9/11/01 attacks.

Lee rightly feared that a “rush to launch precipitous military counterattacks runs too great a risk that more innocent men, women, children will be killed.” The same AUMF, together with the 2002 one targeted specifically at Iraq, has been used for fifteen years and supported U.S. bombing of seven countries to date. With virtually no constraints on how the 2001 AUMF may be used, there’s a very real possibility it will be used to kill and upend more lives than the millions it already has.

Catastrophically, in addition to itself bombing these countries, the U.S. has partnered with human rights travesty Saudi Arabia (to start) to bomb many of them. The Obama administration alone has sold $115 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite that the Secretary of State is supposed to consider human rights records when weighing whether or not to approve arms sales to any given country.

One-third of Saudi Arabia’s air strike targets in Yemen have been non-military, with approximately 4,000 civilians killed and infrastructure necessary to deliver humanitarian aid crushed. So many Yemeni people have died that the Red Cross has begun donating morgues to hospitals.

The 2001 AUMF authorized the president to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” Given that Saudi Arabia was home to three-quarters of those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11/01, I believe it is fair to say the AUMF has (1) given enormous, unchecked power to the executive branch while (2) straining credulity that the AUMF continues to be used–if, indeed, it ever was–for its stated purpose.

(If you wondered why President Obama would vow to veto a bill allowing 9/11 victims to Saudi Arabia, it is arguably this: that to do so would prove fatal to a strategic U.S. alliance, no matter how destructive that alliance.)

Please, please consider signing Lee’s petition to revoke both AUMFs, and talking to those you love about doing the same. I know it can feel like there’s little we as individual citizens can do in the face of such enormous tragedy, but our voices matter … never more than when they join together in a resounding chorus of love.

The lives of innocent, impoverished men, women, and children on the other side of the world depend upon your love, and your loving use of your voice.

I beg you to please, please use that voice to call for an end this senseless violence.

With love & thanks,

Note, while I will continue using my politics blog
to address most political topics, I perceive this
as more “life-or-death” than just “politics.”

This was originally an email to friends.

%d bloggers like this: