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we will

On Thursday, I had an experience that kinda changed everything for me. I’m not able to write about it in detail, but the core of it was me asking:

Can you change any of what happened yesterday? No? Then what do we do about making tomorrow better?!

Yes, I wrote a sad post yesterday. Yes, it was about how much yesterday influences today, especially for people who grew up in chaos.

But, you know what? That was already the remnants of something that had to be let go, for me to move on.

Because in that moment of arguing for tomorrow (and someone going, the next morning, “DEB FOR PRESIDENT!!!”), I saw: 

This is what it means, to show care for what happens next, for everyone’s children.

My own littlest is snuggled next to me as I type this and think,

Fuck, yeah. The future’s gonna be okay.

We can–and will!–make it that way!

Categories: Reflections Tags: , , ,

Hope in the Dark

In 2015, my goal was to read one book per month. I barely reached it, but was glad to have beat my 2014 reading. Having grown up immersed in books, it depressed me to have lost my stamina for reading.

This part-year, by contrast, I’ve already read almost twenty books. I’ve crammed in minutes of reading wherever I could, trying to learn more about the many connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena. Understanding these connections has felt pivotal for being able to describe them, especially those least intuitive, and perhaps find ways to help effect much needed, positive change within and outside my home country.

I spent several months last year in a state of genuine shock at the world I saw uncovered by my book reading. I’d vaguely understood there were some injustices happening somewhere out there, but only began to comprehend their scope and scale last summer. Seeing how many millions of people have suffered and died needlessly, whether of hunger or treatable illness here or bombs and drones abroad–for decades, under command of U.S. Republicans and Democrats alike–sent me toppling into despair.

I don’t regret raging. I don’t regret grappling aloud with my despair. These are understandable, even appropriate responses to discovering what great and sweeping cruelties have been and are being worked by my country right now.

Even when the shock finally wore off, anger and great sadness lingered. I stumbled forward with little hope, desperate but clueless about how to start working effectively now for a better world for my children … indeed, everyone on this planet.

Genuine hope finally found me a few weeks ago. It came (wouldn’t you know it?) in the form of a book. Read more…

the after-drought rain

Today, I hope

you have enough

food to be full;

water to slake your thirst;

shelter to stay both safe,

and neither too cold

nor too hot;

as well as love to fuel you,

and that, if you

have any left over,

you will share it

freely, choosing to

be the after-drought rain

that helps

life

grow

Categories: Idealist, Love Tags: , ,

… and fortitude

Last night, I went to bed crying. I felt like every bit of hope I’ve had these last few months was delusional.

I still feel that, but I did find a little spark in something that happened yesterday.

Midway through the afternoon yesterday, an old work friend texted me. “Are you at LAX right now?”

He was there with his wife. When we met up, he said they’d invited all their friends. None had shown up. They’d been there for hours when he went, “Wait! There’s no way Deb’s not here!”

Thinking of that today made me smile. I might not have hope right now, but you know what? 

Agree, disagree, hope, don’t hope, like me, don’t like me, I’ll show up for you.

I might not have hope right now, but I have love … and fortitude.

LAX 7 p.m. Saturday v. LAX 3 p.m. Sunday

On facing a soul-stealer

A soul-stealer has come to town,” a neighbor tells me.

“Soul-stealer? What’s that?”

“It’s a demon that eats souls. There’s no coming back from this.”

I am standing on a stairwell. A man-shaped demon emanating flames stands a few steps beneath me. 

“Run!” I shout to my seven-year-old, who’s racing up the stairs behind me. “Get as far away as you can!”

The soul-stealer before me has killed both my husband and my two-year-old, and for a split-second I am crushed by the loss. But wordless understanding fills me, all at once; given words, they would be:

Who came back from the netherworld to say this loss is eternal? Either someone came back, or this is propaganda. Right now, I must do everything I can to save my son. And then, then I will worry about how to fix what’s already been lost. Dead or alive, I will find a way. This is not the end.

“You will not get him!” I roar at the demon.

I am suddenly lying in darkness. I wonder where I am and how I got there.

It hits me: That was a dream, and this is reality.

“Thank God,” I whisper, touching my husband before rising.

As I drive to work, I chuckle. I’m glad to have grown up with horror in a family of horror lovers. I learned young that you don’t beat the monster by sitting still.

My political journey is now shaping my dreams. My dreams, in turn, are shaping my political journey, reminding me to fight for what hasn’t yet been lost instead of drowning in sorrow over what already has. After what’s left is secured, I can then look toward reclamation of what appears to have been lost.

I don’t know what’s ahead. What I do know is that I like who I’m becoming. I like that I’ve got this fight in and outside of me. 

Now, to take it from dreams and translate it to reality: doing everything I can to protect what I can of a planet being made uninhabitable long term in pursuit of profits short term.

Grandma Christine’s warmth

My seven-year-old asked me to see pictures of “Grandma Christine,” my mom. “I can’t remember what she looks like.”

It’s not surprising he doesn’t remember. He was only five months old when she died.

I told him I didn’t have many pictures of her. I explained that this was because she destroyed all our pictures while suffering from a kind of mental illness. I added that the loss of all those photos makes every picture I have of her all the more precious.

I promised to show him those pictures I still have, but a day passed. Another day passed. Yet anther day was apt to pass when he exclaimed an hour or so ago, “Your mom! I still want to see pictures!”

I sat down on the stool in front of my computer. Li’l D joined me there, snuggling up next to me as I loaded my tiny folder of photos labeled “Mom.”

The warmth of Mom flowed from those photos until I got to one longtime readers will recognize: the moment my mom met her first grandchild, and smiled a genuine smile for the first time I’d seen in years.

Li’l D scampered off to play with his new toys as I stared at the photo.

Mom and Li'l D

In my blog’s most popular post, “Dear Mom,” I expressed some of the abundant joys and sorrows of being my mom’s daughter. In the two years since I wrote that post, I understand the joys so much more clearly.

I also understand what a privilege it was to be raised by her. I know this might sound strange to someone who’s read about pieces of the poverty, abuse, predation, mental illness, and cancer that entailed, but those were mere fractions of an overall experience bound together by her love, compassion, forgiveness, and hope.

Had I experienced all that hardship without her insistence–and demonstration–there could be better, I would not be where I am today.

I like where I am today. I like how I am facing enormously complicated, harrowing truths while finding ways to effect change and retaining my optimism.

How do I know to do these things?

I learned them from my mom.

So today, as I remember the warmth of my son pressed against my side, asking questions about Grandma Christine, I also remember the warmth of being nestled against my mother.

The warmth itself fades, but the memory of that warmth is unquenchable.

Note: If you’d like to read more on the joys and hardships of being my mom’s daughter, please read the series I compiled–largely for my husband–last year:

Talks with old friends

I talked with an old friend yesterday morning.

She had made coffee at 6:15 a.m. so she’d be ready to chat at 6:30 a.m.

As I drove to work, Jane and I talked on the phone about many things. One particular exchange stood out after we hung up after I reached my office.

“I’m trying to give myself breaks. I can’t really effect positive change from a place of constant distress, y’know?” I said.

“I’m writing that down,” she replied. She felt exactly what I meant.

deb jane

Me and Jane, more’n a decade ago

I wanted to write down a lot of what we said, but I couldn’t.

Instead of marking the words, I marked the feeling: the feeling of safety that comes with having loved and quarreled with and come back to loving someone without reservation.

For the first time in what seemed like ages, my distress melted away. I was just Deb, chatting with a dear old friend and savoring every second of it.

I tried to return to the feeling of Jane-talking throughout the day. I’d find it in moments here and there, but it kept fleeing when I thought about all the change I wasn’t making happen right now!

Today was a little different.

I’d told Jane yesterday, “Rain is nice. When it’s sunny out, which is most the time here, I feel like I have to get things done. When it pours, the load is lightened. I feel so much more mellow, like, ‘You know what? Today would be a good day to do half as many things.'”

It poured today, as if to remind me.

After spending extra time in traffic this morning thanks to the glorious downpour, I stopped at a gas station and messaged my sister and a new, supportive Twitter friend, Michael, while filling my tank: “Wish I knew how to relax right now.”

Step away, Rache and Michael both told me. Take a social media break!

I smiled. I was grateful to have them looking out for me.

Soon after, I read with a little boy who asked, “Will you be coming back tomorrow?!” (“No,” I told him, “but I’ll see you again next month!”)

At work, we had our holiday party. I fought valiantly and won the only prize worth keeping: poop slippers, which I seized at the very last second.

And there was something else, too: I’d solved a riddle. Thanks to Jane’s candor, I was able to piece together some part of a truth it’s pissed me off to have perpetually just beyond my reach.

The joy from solving a riddle is directly proportional to the time and energy it takes to solve it …

… and whether a friend helps you solve it.

1012356 slurp

Same as always on Friday, I inched home slowly in Friday afternoon traffic.

Unlike always, I smiled all the way. Why? Well, wouldn’t you know:

I talked with an old friend yesterday morning.

largeleaves

The sweet convergence of past and present

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