Archive for November, 2016

Pennies together

A month ago, a dino I know talked me into joining Nano Poblano, her November daily blog post challege.

“No problemo!” I told her around roughly a half-dozen birthday beers. “I could write eight posts a day with everything I’m learning now!”

It seemed like a great idea, because beer.


Soon after starting the challenge, I discovered that writing about politics every day is exhausting.

It’s especially exhausting when you’re reading about all the very terrible things you never realized were being done with your tax dollars and votes.

I was wiped out by mid-month, so I started writing shorter posts. It was an improvement, but I was still tired.

By the end of the month, I was so very ready to be done … but I was grateful for the challenge all the same.

By forcing myself to write every day, I had to face a lot of questions and issues I might not have faced otherwise.

I had to face burnout, and to face the implications of burnout.

Something really, really good came from that: I stopped trying to obtain perfection. I sought “good enough” instead.

Seeking good-enough in my posts helped me understand the same approach is invaluable as a citizen approaching political change: There will never be the perfect moment or perfect information, so I must begin by doing what I can now!

I understand much of what’s led us to here and now. I understand you and I must band together now if we are to stop potentially cataclysmic climate change accelerating right now.

I don’t have time to keep reading depressing tomes on everything done wrong to date.


Depressing tomes read as of mid-November

I must begin pursuing solutions that might improve the future, since every second I waste stewing over what’s done is a second I’ve lost to change what’s ahead.

I can’t wait for perfect solutions. None of us can.

We must do the best we can with what we have, and trust we’ll gain more understanding and tools as we go.

I’m casting my pennies–my ideas, my hopes, my passion–into a save-the-world fund.

My pennies won’t go very far alone, but you know what? If we each cast in a few pennies, there’s no telling what we might buy together.

So, please: start casting in your pennies, even the ones that don’t look very shiny at first glance. Maybe shiny isn’t what we need, after all.

As our pennies amass, take stock of the totality of what we’re gathering and know: alone we can do a little, but together, we can and will change the world.

Thanks to Nano Poblano, coming posts on Learning to Speak Politics will be focused on seeking and building solutions.

Enough ruminating. There’s work to do!



Reject a Syrian No-Fly Zone! Please call these senators pronto.

On November 15, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the inaptly named Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2016 “with forty minutes of debate.” If passed by the Senate and subsequently signed into law, this will establish a no-fly zone over Syria. Establishing a no-fly zone is an act of war, which would (1) kill many Syrian civilians and (2) dramatically escalate probability of U.S. war with Syria’s ally, Russia.

If you’re interested in actual peace, such as is obtained not by bombs but by legitimate diplomacy, please call the members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and demand they reject this bill.

If Earth were heaven

My two-year-old, Littler J, really likes to dance.

If he hears more than a couple of notes of any tune, he turns to me and asks, “Wanna dance wif me?!”

He just now busted moves with his toy pig, which made me smile as I remembered a few minutes from last night.

“Final countdown!” shouted my seven-year-old, Li’l D, as he played with Baymax, a Captain America shield, and a motorcycle.

“Final countdown,” I sang back.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s an … old … song. Here, let me play it for you.”

I played the song, which he found highly unimpressive.

Autoplay moved to “Eye of the Tiger” next. (Of course it did.) Strangely, Littler barely seemed to notice.

But then? Then “Living on a Prayer” came on. Littler’s face lit up and he called, “Wanna dance wif me?!”

We bounced around the living room hand in hand until the last minute of the song, when my husband took over as Littler’s dance partner.

I surveyed the two for a moment, smiling at the wonderful, silly scene before me.

Do I wanna dance wif my boys? Why, if Earth were heaven,
I’d spend every second doing just that.

happy run

Attacks on #NoDAPL–please call!

Unarmed #NoDAPL water protectors are currently being attacked by militarized police in North Dakota. They’re being sprayed with water in sub-freezing temperatures, hit with rubber bullets, and maced.

You can express outrage and demand cessation by calling any and all of the numbers below:

  • White House Situation Room – 202-456-9431
    • I was told they’re “monitoring the situation.” I asked that the White House actually intervene on behalf of water protectors.
  • Morton County Sherriff Department – 701-328-8118
    • I left a voicemail saying I’d encourage no one to ever visit North Dakota ever again if they keep attacking unarmed citizens.
  • Governor Dalrymple – 701-328-8118
    • Voicemail full; I was unable to leave a message
  • North Dakota National Guard – 701-333-2000
    • No answer outside of business hours
  • Army Corps of Engineers – 202-761-8700
    • I left a voicemail asking that they please take any and every action to ensure (1) no further harm to water protectors and (2) DAPL stop efforts to drill, for benefit of this land and all its people.

Please call. Please protest the abuse of people and earth for profit.

Your voice can make a difference.

Follow #NoDAPL on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information

Categories: politics Tags: , ,

A seven-year-old’s piñata candy

Anyone who’s been here long enough knows I was concerned about sending my older son to a religious school.

Last week, I had a chance to hear school day opening announcements and … knew there was no better place for Li’l D to be.

Explained one of his future teachers, “Look. Often homeless people aren’t treated with dignity, and we have a chance to bring a little dignity to people in our community who deserve it!” This teacher was on the verge of crying as she asked students to donate items.

Oh, man! my heart soared. She is one of my people!

Yesterday, Li’l D and I stopped by the grocery store.

On our way out, he gave a lady holding a sign marked “HOMELESS STUDENT” three dollars.

“This is three dollars!” he told her, as he handed the money over.

“Shhhhh!” I told him. “Shhhh!” I ushered him away.

As we walked back to the car, he asked me why I shushed him.

I said, “It’s not polite to mention how much money you’re handing over. But, oh, man, what if she thought I was saying that you shouldn’t talk to her at all?! Oh, no! Already people who are homeless don’t get treated with enough dignity–!”

“What’s ‘dignity’?” he asked.

I explained what dignity was, how everyone should be treated with equal portions, and how tuition is now so expensive that some students have to live out of their cars because they can’t afford both rent and tuition.

“Do you want to give her another couple of dollars?” I asked. “And tell her why you came back? Maybe even just, ‘I’m worried about you’?”

He did. So we went back, and he handed her a few extra dollars. He then held out a bag of candy he’d gotten from a birthday party piñata and asked, “Do you want some candy?”

Her first instinct was to say no, but she looked up at his face and her eyes filled with tears. She grabbed a Tootsie Roll and said, “thank you.”

I got choked up, too. “Have a good evening,” I said, though I later wished I’d said, “Be safe.”

My husband recently started calling me his “socialist wife.”

“But people only think bad things about socialism because they don’t understand U.S. agents went and destroyed socialism everywhere it threatened U.S. profits!” I say.

“Yes, yes, I understand,” he says as he pats my knee. “But the point is, you think all people deserve equal dignity, and you’re teaching our kids that … and that’s maybe not a terrible thing.”

I think of my single mom raising four kids solo and smile. She was more than a punchline in someone’s thousand-times-shared BuzzFeed story. I pretty much don’t want anyone to be that punchline ever again. Nobody should have to be sitting out begging for food in the rain. Period. It’s not a yay-my-son! thing that he tried to treat someone with dignity. It’s an oh-god-what-is-our-world-that-this-is-a-victory?! cry.

My seven-year-old treated someone with dignity yesterday.

It should’ve been so routine as to not be worth writing …

But it isn’t, yet, and so … I cried, as a stranger accepted
a seven-year-old’s piñata candy.

Don’t sacrifice my husband

November 19, 2016 Comments off

After months of fury, I finally found my way to empathy earlier this week.

Finding it–seeking it–changed everything for me.

Doing so enabled me to find the root of my anger, followed by empathy for myself and then empathy for those with whom I’d been angry.

Read about that here.

(What’s written below is incomplete without it.)

Friends who voted for Trump: Please stand up for my husband and sons, and anyone else you witness being persecuted in the days and months ahead. I will stand up for you even as I rail against any and every injustice so much as suggested by Trump’s team.

Friends who voted for Clinton: Please stand up for my husband and sons, and anyone else you witness being persecuted in the days and months ahead.

Know that people of color–like my husband and sons–and other vulnerable citizens will bear the brunt of hostilities when fans of hate are flamed. Engaging potential allies with empathy is thus one of the most important ways you can protect more vulnerable members of society. Please stop fanning with your proclamations that everyone who voted for Trump is a bigot to be scorned.

Many people who voted for Trump are allies. I know a few personally, and know from listening to them that their votes were not cast in support of hate.  Others could be allies, if approached with empathy instead of blanket condemnation. If understood as more than the sum of a single vote.

If you stand for my husband, my son, for Muslims, for hardworking immigrants, for refugees, for anyone who is currently on precarious footing as we all face a Trump presidency, you’ll practice engaging with empathy.

Please act in pursuit of peace. Protest not each other, but each and every Trump policy and action that is hateful.

Please don’t sacrifice my husband or sons to loudly condemn someone else for their vote and tell me you’re doing it for my family’s good.

We’ve all got a fight ahead, and we’ll fare better if we undertake it together.


The Human Party

I averaged about three epiphanies a day in college, or so you’d think if you read my journals from that era.

Since then, I’d say I’ve averaged about, oh, zero epiphanies annually. I’ve had one the last few days, and I need to write about it pronto.*

The temperature in the North Pole is 36 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. Some portion of that might be random, but a great deal of it is not: we humans are rapidly making our world less habitable.

We are destroying the planet that is essential to our children having any kind of hope for the future. We’ve expected Other People and Politicians on Boards Somewhere to solve this, letting a huge problem take up a smaller and smaller fraction of our individual attention spans.

Right now, U.S. citizens are up in arms with each other over the results of a presidential election. We’re drawing all kinds of unreasonable conclusions based on corporate-sponsored news and mistaking those conclusions for truth, all while dehumanizing the very real, very hurting people all around us.

Here’s the thing. To the earth, there’s a single party: the Human Party. Each and every member of this party is bound together unequivocally, and all of us are equally bound to this planet and her destiny.

We have precious little time to save this world, all of us together. We must take each step we can, not as members of any political party, but as members of the Human Party. We must do this for our kids.

When we band together to do this, relinquishing the extinction-level myth that someone somewhere else is taking care of things, many other ills will be resolved.

See, we’re all victims of corporate globalism and neoliberalism, a devastating economic system that destroys earth and people alike for the profit of a few.

The sooner we see that, learning to embrace and fight for each other, the better our children’s prospects.

In no particular order, here are some steps you and I can start taking right now:

  • Buy local. Get offline, skipping all the waste that goes into powering enormous fulfillment centers and having all those individual packages shipped to you with lots of needless padding, at great ecological expense.
  • Go to farmers markets. Buy foods that didn’t guzzle loads of gas to reach you, grown by local farmers who value your support. Look for gifts and household items at the market, where you might find soap, candles, clothing, lotions, scents, and bunches of other items brought directly to you without any money lost to lots of middlemen.
  • Buy less. Instead of buying gifts for every holiday and occasion, offer a few hours of your undivided attention. Seek out local adventures to share. Ask your loved ones where you could donate some time, money, or love in their honor. Arrange with friends to donate to their favorite charities instead of buying objects.
  • Buy used. Go to swap meets. Add a little quirk to your home decor.
  • Drive less. Take shorter trips, group your trips, and travel with friends when you can. Telecommute if you can, and talk to your employer about the benefits–to local infrastructure, to the environment, to you and your family–of telecommuting if it’s not yet permitted. (I’ll be writing some letters shortly; please let me know if you’d like to work with me on these.)
  • Make your own bath, beauty, and cleaning products.
  • Call, email, mail, and tell your legislators in person that they must–for your children!–take major steps to protect the environment, and that you’ll work hard to see them not re-elected if they don’t.
  • Reuse as often as you can. If you don’t know how you can reuse something, store items in an “opportunity box” for when you can poke around online for ideas.
  • Grow some spices and veggies, in your yard or in planters.
  • Donate what you can’t use. Share what you can to limit waste.
  • Compost. Recycle.
  • Unplug your appliances when you’re not using them.
  • Take shorter showers and shower less frequently.
  • Buy fewer packaged foods. Be kind to planet and self; forego fast food as often as possible, packing snacks if you must.
  • Drink less coffee. When you do drink coffee, drink fair trade coffee.
  • Talk to your friends about what you’re doing and why. Challenge each other to find new ways to conserve the planet that sustains us.
  • Find pleasure not in objects but here and now, in each other.
  • Favor care and community over convenience. Come together, right now. It’s our kids’ only hope.

I’m no expert. I’m simply a parent who understands an increasingly urgent need to fight for our kids. I welcome your links, your ideas, your encouragement, and your outpourings of love for your fellow Human Party members. Please share.

We can’t expect anyone else to save us anymore.

We must work together now to save each other.

these boys

I’m in it for my kids, and yours

* Why pronto over perfect? Recently I’ve been reading about “agile” projects,
or projects begun early that take clearer form as you go,
which means improved ability to respond to new data,
and–often–better resolutions than when you
come up with a perfect in principle
(but, oops, actually unworkable)


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