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Thunder Thighs Forever

February 10, 2017 Comments off

For more than three decades, I shared a birthday with my mom.

In October 2010, I faced my first birthday without her. Cancer had claimed her body in March 2010.

mom me n d

(but not before she met my Li’l D, the first of her many beautiful grandchildren)

Writing about her sometimes challenged me, especially early in this blog’s days. How could I show all her love, humor, compassion, and ferocity, while still being true to the hardships I endured both growing up and saying goodbye to her?

I got as close as I’ve ever gotten in my 2014 birthday letter to her, my blog’s most popular post by far, “Dear Mom.” In a single paragraph, I was able to sum up my experience of being her daughter better than I had before or have since:

You always begged me not to write about you. You thought I’d write about how you beat my siblings and me, how you yelled at us, how you could barely feed us and only kept us in a home by selling other people’s trash. I do write about these things, because they’re part of you. But they’re a small part, so enormously insignificant compared to your laughter, your love, your lessons in forgiveness, our birthday trips to Farrell’s and Pietro’s. I wish I’d written more about you in your life, so you could have seen how greatly your loving acts overshadowed your lost and tired ones. I wish I could’ve started writing sooner, or that you could’ve lived longer to see your love through my eyes.

I was a little nervous when I wrote about my mom in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor: Poverty, Predation, and Understanding Love.” I posted it on Progressive Army, a site with readers knowing nothing about my mom but what I wrote there. Since they didn’t know my mom, I worried they’d take away from the piece a unidimensional understanding of a woman enormously complex and vivid.

My mom was and remains my foremost superhero. While the word “superhero” is thrown around a lot these days, I mean this fairly literally. One of my favorite things about my mom was her superhero alter-ego, the uniquely malodorous Thunder Thighs. Read more…

Me, speaking instead of writing

I recorded a video a couple of nights ago. I wasn’t planning on linking it here, but I just listened to it and changed my mind. It reveals so much about where I’ve been, where I want to go, and why I want to go there.

It did originate with politics, so you might want to skip it. Basically, some folks expressed concern with my supporting Brand New Congress, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that could legally accept dark money. It’s so personal that sitting down and writing it out didn’t feel right. So … I recorded a (respectful!) video, and I’m glad I did.

Just be forewarned: my husband might work in show biz, but you’ll see none of that glitz watching the video here!

maslow

 

My DemEnter

I left the U.S. Democratic Party on June 10, 2016. I returned on January 7, 2017.

You can read about why–and what it has to do with this lovely oncology nurse–here.


I’m reading Bernie’s Our Revolution right now for insights into effecting political change. 

If you’re concerned about the shape of a country that permits outcomes like that highlighted above–pennies “saved” for lives destroyed–please consider listening to Bernie’s town hall on CNN at 9 p.m. ET tonight.

On building racial stamina

I care about Americans

“Why do you care so much what happens to some people in Yemen?” several people have asked me. “Don’t you care about Americans?!”

“All injustice is interrelated,” I’ve fumbled in reply. “The injustice Yemeni people experience is symptomatic of the same illness many Americans endure. To care about one is to care about all.”

I haven’t satisfied a single person–myself included–with this vague answer, so I’ve kept searching for a better one. As a former negotiator, I know I won’t receive any concession I can’t describe.

I sought and found a story, something that might breathe real life into the abstraction that “all injustice is interrelated.”

Imagine the earth is a single enormous iceberg, and all who live upon it are penguins. Some penguins live nearer the center, and others nearer its edges.

Penguins in the center are doing very, very well. In fact, 1% of the penguin population has managed to hoard for itself almost half of the iceberg.

[ please click here to continue reading ]

kids outside 792

Once you’ve lived near the edge, you know it’s never very far

The truth of what others feel

I have so much to say, I know I can’t possibly say it tonight. Below is the shortest form.

My seven-year-old, Li’l D, shone during his first quarter as a second grader. My husband and I were concerned about the school’s super-strict second grade teacher, only to discover she was exactly what our little boy needed to thrive. (Like his mom and her siblings’ teachers before, Li’l D’s teacher exclaimed about the kindness of his heart.)

Instead of telling me I was a jerk for taking so long to figure things out, my husband thanked me for trying to figure them out. I was delighted when I found Michael Graham, a guy of Anthony-like-but-more-progressive mind on Twitter. Instead of bashing me for taking decades to decipher readily available fact, Michael welcomed me for joining where and when I was.

Thanks to Michael, I published my first article on Progressive Army today:

progarm

Many years ago, I dreamed that my just-younger sister had only three days to live. I stood in a church and screamed, and screamed, and screamed until my throat was raw from it. I had the same feeling when I read an article today, but was heartened by the expressed love of another bystander. Together, we will change the world.

It is lovely to feel happy. I know this, because I’m basking in happiness’ glow right now.

But it’s also lovely to see the truth of what others feel and join them there.

So I sit with dissonance tonight: the joy of being here,
and the sadness of knowing this glad “here”
cannot (for now) be shared by all.

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