believing in you

My three-year-old awakened me with howls for water. He’s got a flu, and told me after he’d sipped water that his “room is tipping over.” I explained that the room isn’t actually moving; he’s something we call “dizzy.”

He’s asleep again, but it’s hard for me to fall asleep again after being startled awake by howling. I ended up reading my last post, about Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power. And, oh, boy, did I get its tone wrong! Read more…

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exploring “efficacy”

In a recent trip to Long Beach’s Gatsby Books, I picked up a couple dozen political books. Many were written by authors I’d never before encountered, which didn’t deter me from picking up their works.

I’ve read a few of the books I picked up that day, and I’m glad to have found each of them. That being said, I feel a special gratitude for the Gatsby-acquired book I’m currently reading: doctor Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor.

I’d never heard of Farmer (“Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School”) before I happen to pick up this book on the strength of its title. I’m grateful the title caught me; Amartya Sen’s introduction coupled with the first few pages of Farmer’s words had me totally, absolutely hooked.

Having grown up devastatingly poor, I understood the impact of powerlessness–of poverty–on life outcomes. As I wrote in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor,”  Read more…

collective success

I recently had a few conversations that left me reeling. They reflected visions of success that, I realized, I rejected completely and absolutely. Viscerally.

This left me with the questions: Why did I reject that vision of success? And given that I rejected it wholesale, what was my own vision of success?

The answer is tied, in part, to the 150 or so books I’ve read since August of last year. Somehow, I couldn’t find the answer to these questions in pages. I had to find it in conversation.

We live in a world of finite resources. Some people are granted access to those resources; others are deprived of them. Generally, those who have access have military or other kinds of power legitimating that access. In short, they retain access by force. Read more…

feeling life

It’s been a while since I visited my mom’s grave, so I wanted to visit it while in town last weekend.

As my hours left in town shrank into minutes on Saturday, I found I didn’t really want to visit Mom’s grave. I’d already felt my mom in a dozen sweet moments of life outside the cemetery in my family’s three days in town. Trying to find her in the cemetery, which she only ever visited in death, felt like holding on to the wrong thing.

My husband, sons, and I left town without visiting her grave.

I feared I’d get back to SoCal and kick myself, but no: I’d felt her life wherever I went in town, and that sweetness didn’t leave me just because I left town.

Categories: Death, Family, Love Tags: , , ,

those who can

A few evenings ago, I sat with hometown friends and reflected aloud upon my all-time least favorite saying:

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

“Spoken like someone who’s never had to effectively communicate anything complex. Ever,” I said.

I was about to expand on this when I noticed tears in a teacher friend’s eyes.

“I love you, Debbie,” she replied.

As my boys and I drive back toward our SoCal home, I think how hard it is to communicate effectively even without layers of regulations constraining you. And I think:

Those who are skilled at communicating complexity to kids often teach. Those who are aggrieved about being unskilled, bitch about those with skill.

Here’s, then, to those who not only can reach kids, but do.

cousins laughing

When I left my hometown, I was virtually certain I’d never return for more than a few days at a time.

When I left my hometown, I wasn’t a parent.

Now, I have two little ones.

Now, I watch them

play with their cousins

(some are cousins

by love and blood;

all are cousins by love

between once-famil-ies

now famil-y)

and hear their

peals of laughter

as they disappear

this way and that

and feel the joy

flowing out of them,

to be here with family,

and I wish

we did not

have to

leave.

This time, we’ll make the long drive back to Los Angeles.

But it may well be that there’ll be no drive back the next time we arrive, or the time after next.

That someday I’ll miss the SoCal sunshine … but that such missing will be a small trade to make to not-miss my siblings, or their kids, or the sounds of cousins laughing.

our own legacies of love

I met my now-husband, Anthony, shortly before I graduated law school and moved to Japan in 2004. We hit it off, and kept in touch for the four years I didn’t live in Los Angeles County.

sai nose

Sai

When I decided to move back to Los Angeles County in 2008, I ended up in Long Beach. This wasn’t because I was especially drawn to Long Beach. I landed here because there were more apartments friendly to larger dogs, like my buddy Sai.

Anthony was thrilled to discover I’d moved to Long Beach. He’d gone to high school here and offered to show me around. He did just that, taking me on a night tour of downtown Long Beach and the shoreline.

I remember standing on a bluff with him that night. Together, we looked out at the twinkling lights of manmade drilling islands. I thought that the twinkling lights were beautiful, and felt so glad I’d made Long Beach my home.

Almost a decade later, I remain glad I made Long Beach my home. That early 2008 evening with Anthony happened because of his familiarity with this town. We now have a lovely family, and–no matter where we may someday move–Long Beach will always be the place where we began.

Those manmade islands, on the other hand, are no longer beautiful to me.

In a 2015 article entitled “What the Frack is Happening Under Long Beach?“, OC Weekly describes the genesis of those twinkling islands: Read more…

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