Sunday, September 30, 2007

retreat

We took a weekend away. Nowhere far but alone just the same. We called in reinforcements and stole away to a nearby hotel and taken some time to rejuvenate. To fill the near empty well.

We've done precious little aside from playing cards and watching movies, eating out and sitting and talking. J agreed to the retreat after witnessing the events of the past week, the near breaking of my sanity. We've been quiet this weekend, but not too quiet. Quiet in the best sort of way. J has long had a saying that we are the guardians of each other's solitude, that by allowing for space alone and together we allow the other to do what they need to, because being in relationship, and a good one at that, doesn't mean that the other person can always fix or repair. That process comes from within.

So we took that time this weekend and as I sit this morning, a belly full of hotel breakfast I realize how fortunate I am to have this quiet. This mental and physical retreat. And while it hasn't fixed all that weighs on me it's certainly gone a long way to help.

And we aren't done yet. Today we'll go see a movie and tonight I am indulging in some quiet time alone. It's amazing how restorative this can be and how rare of an occurrence it actually is. And then I wonder how others do it, those of you who work just as long and hard, how it is you find your breathing space amidst the noise.

Friday, September 28, 2007

chasing tails

Those people deserve what they get.

I hear this uttered after just speaking publicly about homelessness, about the plight in our community, about suffering and what we can do. My head whips around like I was slapped and barely controlled I turn back to him. Excuse me?

I said, those people deserve what they get. Why don't they just get a job.

So often in moments like these I've used all sorts of tactics, a bit of humor and education, a quiet sort of explanation about root causes and social injustice. But this isn't the week for that, my heart has already been jumped on enough.

Without measuring my words I get very close and bite back how dare you judge someone else's suffering. how dare you. when did it become okay to ignore the suffering of others. tell me, when?

Angry now and caught off guard he too rises up and in defense tells me they are not my problem. To which I reply but you are most certainly theirs.

He had another choice word or two but I turned and walked. I walked hard and fast feet to pavement I walked and as I walked I cried. I cried tears of frustration and disbelief and exhaustion that people continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering around them and instead choose to kick them in the shins. I cried not over this asshole but for the thousands just like him. I cried because our world could be so much kinder than it is.

I get back to my office and as I sit the phone rings. I debate for a moment and then pick it up. Hello young lady my friend M says, his voice a rich sound of gravel and butter. I may be out of line here, but I met a woman and she needs help. She's sleeping in her car with her two kids. One's just a baby. Can you help? I met her yesterday and I couldn't sleep last night knowing I had a home while she slept outside. And I grip the phone a little tighter, teary again but this time from the goodness of others instead of the bad. Of course. Have her give me a call. And hey, how are you?

I love my new apartment. I love it so much. And I just got a new job, too. Things are looking up.

Indeed, my friend, indeed. For me as well. Thank you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

i'm your huckleberry

One of my favorite lines from the movie Tombstone is Doc Holiday's, when he looks at Wyatt Earp, all TB-ish and sick (sexy sick, actually) and with a little cough says Wyatt, we're rolling. It's delivered perfectly and sums up the irony and the desperation and the fact that even with half a lung left there is no other choice but to get on the damn horse and ride.

That about sums up the past few days, days that have been intermingled with tears and anger, humility and grace, warm embraces and solidarity. And as I've put one foot in front of the other I've been reminded of grace in bad times, of the extraordinary goodness of people, and what it means to not give up. It doesn't make the bad times easier, but it adds a layer of living on top of the ones that have already formed. A layer that has been cloaked in the grace of others and the ability to rally around the cause.

Thank you for your love and support.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

my heart is a lonely hunter

I haven't been able to visit much lately. I am still in the whirlwind of some extraordinary issues in my work and as such have been depleted, so utterly depleted. And I miss you so.

Tomorrow will be the most difficult day so far, and for all my cryptic comments I am unable to share more than this and I wish that wasn't the case. But I am pouring my heart out to you silently, pleading for safe harbor and a place to rest my head. And I could use a little wisdom to see me through.

And I'll go forward head up, as we are defined in the moments where we are forced to stand up the straightest, to open our hearts as fully as possible regardless of the ache. Because I want to look back on this one day and know I've done the best I could. And that this too shall pass.

I'll be around soon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

this is how it starts (jumping off)

My car, once jumped, refused to turn over again. Fortunately we have the resources to have it towed to a mechanic and spin the car repair wheel. But the car will be out of commission for a while and taking public transportation would delay me from work an hour or more by the time I take M to one part of town and head back across. Fortunately again my brother has stashed his car at our house for a month and even left the keys on the counter.

This small event would cripple some families. Some families would have slept inside their car or waited hours till a stranger took pity on them. Some families would have driven that broken car home and when they discovered it dead in the morning would have had no money for a tow and no money to fix it anyways.

Some families would have been unable to make it to work on time the next day and would have lost their job. Maybe not the first day but probably on the second. And then they wouldn't get paid at the end of the week and their rent is due. They'd get a notice to evict a week later and by then they are terrified. The car is still broken and food is running low in the fridge. The baby gets sick and they have to take her to the doctor in the middle of the night and the cab fare takes the rest of their money.

Frantic, they call her mom who lives across the country on a fixed income and while she wants to help she has little to spare. She is worried but helpless. They call a guy they know but they've got no room since his brother in law moved in last week. A few weeks into this the landlord is really on their ass - pay up or move out. The baby is still sick. Dad is in trouble too - he's had cancer for the past year and can't work and can't do too much at home. Her job paid the medical and now that she's lost it he's having to figure out how to get chemo at the county hospital and how to get there on the bus.

They don't know their rights well enough to know that they can stay in their apartment longer even if it means an eviction in the end. That their landlord can't really force them to move, that there are legal procedures to follow. They don't know this and don't want to cause trouble anyways and so they cram a bunch of their stuff in their broken car and leave it in the lot.

They stay at a friend's house for a couple of days till it becomes apparent that they've worn out their welcome. Her friend's sister tells her about a shelter, the one downtown. They take a bus to the shelter and terrified, they walk inside. They are met warmly or brusquely depending on the hour but either way there is either room or not. Today is a good day and there is space for them on the floor.

For the first time in their lives they are homeless. As they try and fall asleep with the baby between them they look at each other, terrified and confused. Thirty days ago they had a running car and a job and a healthy baby and a cancer fighting dad. Tonight they have nothing and are sleeping in a shelter. Dad's pain meds are almost out and the baby is still coughing.

Once you open the door all hell can break loose. I've seen hundreds of families go from 0 to 60 into homelessness and it all started somewhere. A car that won't start, an illness you can't shake. I am filled with gratitude because we've got resources to spare and this gets to be an inconvenience at most but for some it's tragedy and all that is different about we and them is a little bit of money in the bank.

Not quite done yet - Part Three up soon.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

jump

We were at a gas station last night when my car unexpectedly died. No lights, nothing. The battery must have shorted or stalled or god knows what, but regardless, my car was dead. It was dark and there were a few cars around coming and going. We dug out some jumper cables (who's the rock star for even remembering to have them in my car) and cables in hand, started eyeballing the strangers around me for help. A few noticed and still got in their cars and drove off. One told me directly he didn't have time to stop and help and another pretended not to understand what I was asking him even though those cables were dangling from my hands at the time. One actually tried but his battery was unaccessible.

Luckily I called a nearby friend who was able to come and give us a jump. Ten minutes later she arrived and we got the car started and drove home. If she wouldn't have been able to come we would have called AAA, a service we pay for annually just in case we need it. It wasn't a big deal because we had options at our disposal. An inconvenience at most.

But as I sat there waiting it crossed my mind that without resources of my own, namely friends and money, then I quite possibly would have been out of solutions for the night. Barring the kindness of strangers we'd have been quite on our own. And what would that have meant for M, currently nestled in her car seat behind us on one of the first cold nights of the year?

Part Two coming next.

Friday, September 21, 2007

free nelson mandela

for the love of god, someone please make him stop.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

the rope ends here

I am freakishly overwhelmed and teary right now and as such am unable to enjoy the usual door knocking over your way(s). My google reader is growing so full it might pop from the weight of the words I can't get to and there is definitely an obsessive trait deep inside me that can't stomach watching it balloon to so many unread posts.

But a girl's only got so much time and I hope to be back around soon enough. In the meantime, do me a favor and tell me something nice about our world. Sometimes I forget all the good stuff.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

shelter-(ed)?

A few posts ago Ally asked: Jen, I'm wondering whether you'd consider posting a general post about homelessness sometime soon. Specifically, I'm interested in knowing your take on: 1) how to explain homelessness to children in terms they understand; 2) how to best respond to pan-handlers/road signs;3) how to best involve our children in finding solutions.

And I've sat on it for a few days because while I have my own thoughts I am in no way an expert or would I ever claim that I have the right answers to how others choose to teach their kids about poverty and how to live alongside it. But what I can do is share what I am trying to do for M. So I'll attempt your first and third question and leave the second for another post.

I suppose it depends on the type of homelessness. The dude on the street corner who's ranting to the wind or the kid sitting next to mine because 1 in 5 in this country alone live below the poverty line, a staggering statistic all it's own. Either way it's about suffering. And how we choose to interact with that suffering. Some folks turn away. Some are scared. Some stop and help. Some volunteer and work and try to alleviate suffering. To be honest, I do all four depending on the day. Sometimes I am tired and the guy at the grocery store freaks me out. Other times I feel the blessings of all blessings that I've gotten to know and support such amazingly strong people. People who've survived with so much less than me. Sometimes I just don't know what to do.

I talk to M about homelessness a lot. Whenever we see someone on the street and she notices we talk about it. I tell her where I am taking the clothes and toys she's outgrown. I tell her why I have to work late sometimes or on the weekends. And when we talk about it we talk about all of it, how we as a country have failed to allow for equity for all, how some folks try and try and still can't find a place to live. How some folks are in so much pain and have no family and they are sad and make others sad too. How it's not a problem with a specific person but a problem with our collective way of thinking. Simply what is mine shouldn't just be mine if others need it too.

I don't know how much sinks in, but I do know nothing has made as much of an impression as when we are actually interacting with folks themselves. When she comes to the shelter she sees it as helping people go sleepytime. But I am lucky because I have a ready-made forum to immerse her in. She was at the shelter with me last winter when a man was overdosing and she saw bits of the crisis and it confused her. I don't know what to do when bad things happen but I don't know how to always avoid it because sometimes it's messy but most of the time it's not.

And to be honest I don't know how much I should shield her from, because I often think the over-shielding is a problem. As long as she's safe, she doesn't need to feel scared. She can see odd looking people and they can smile and laugh at her. She can run around garbage bags filled with someone's life and not be freaked out by the smell. Because to her it's not all that unusual, not yet anyways. And with odds being one in five chances are she'll be in school with homeless kids and have friends who struggle so better she learns how to understand it now.

So what does all of this mean in terms of practicality, in terms of teaching our children? First, it has to be something you want to teach them. Education about the state of our union and the way many folks have to struggle. That alone can be scary, the world is not supposed to be as unkind as ours. Second, you've got to find a way to give them some hands on experience. This can be done in a variety of ways: organize a drive and take the kids to the shelter to donate the goods. Sign up to serve a meal. Volunteer to tutor kids or participate in some sort of programming offered in your community. Adopt a family at the holidays, sponsor their Thanksgiving meal or their holiday gifts. Those things won't end homelessness but let me tell you, it matters a lot to the families involved. I've seen hundreds of families benefit from the kindness of strangers at the holidays and the joy on the kids faces and the utter relief from parents who had no earthly idea how to make a holiday special with no money living in a shelter. Because poverty doesn't make you less of a mother. We all want the same things in the end. A safe place to live. Food on the table. Happy kids. I won't say there aren't horror stories but it's the exception rather than the rule. Third, teach them about philanthropy. Have them watch you donate money or go without something in order to share it with others. It can be small but it will have an impact because our actions say a lot.

If I sound preachy please forgive me. I hate preachy, it's not my intent and I do fully realize this isn't everyone's gig. But poverty is poverty and one false move and the house of cards crumbles, our illusion of stability devastated. We all go to sleep wanting the same things: food, safety, hope and dreams. And the world we live in, it comes with this suffering. And I want M to grow up and have it matter to her. Have her see beyond the individual to the reasons why and want to do something about it or at least find compassion for others instead of judgment, action instead of pity, drive instead of fear. Because we'll all suffer the longer this goes on and our future depends on collective kindnesses and a willingness to stand up. We are all in this together after all.

I've got a review up about sneakers over at my review blog. Nothing much to do with homelessness but a girl can't rant about it all the time either.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

pop goes the weasel

Our usual routine consists of me driving M to school (daycare) and dropping her off. When we got out of the car yesterday I reached down to hold out my hand and M says No Mom, I don't need to hold your hand anymore. I a big girl.

Whoa, M, what's with this Mom stuff. I am Mommy. Or Mama. I'm just not ready for Mom yet, it makes you sound too grown up. (coming from the woman who actually considered just having her call me Jen when the whole gig started).

I told you Mom, I a big girl now. Cackling wildly and seeming strangely taller all in one moment.

And oooof goes my heart.

Monday, September 17, 2007

yo ho ho

Alejna cracks me up. She's got a pirate name quiz over her way that made me laugh and as such am bringing it to all of you here.

Mad Jenny Flint was too good not to share, and besides easily chipped and sparky sums it up pretty well these days. What is it about pirates anyways? For as sexy as they look I am pretty sure they smelled pretty damn rank. But still, there is something about pirates.



My pirate name is:


Mad Jenny Flint


Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network
And in other news, won't it be ironic if this is how he finally ends up in jail? I mean, I'd probably not have pushed it if I were him. But then again, I am not a madman. Just sparky and chipped.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

i am a playdating whore

This is the first weekend where M's social life has taken precedent over ours. Not that we have much of a social life, but not doing anything at all is still different than keeping three separate engagements for your child.

I don't enter into this easily, the tedium of small talk and constant navigation of toddler social skills. I sit at the park and wonder why they don't have a stand for bloody marys, why no other mothers feel the same way or at least say it out loud. But at the same time I see the joy in M's face, the over exuberance and kicking of legs. The running headlong into her friends and into their homes, new toy discoveries and new beds to jump on. We tackled two of these yesterday and when we finally came home I sat outside with J and noted the weight of this milestone; that until now she's basically done what we've wanted, willing or not. The things we did usually revolved around her but were solo ventures that hadn't yet expanded to others. But this weekend is markedly different, the cracking open the door of a new reality, one where her friends take precedence and it's a juggle of arriving at these mini-events and then home for a nap and then back out again. With new rules and toddlerisms navigated along the way.

We gathered with our newfound neighbors (it's slowly progressing, this community) for a BBQ last night and over beers and babies I talked of this briefly, and the eager looks of our neighbors who still worry of swaddling and nursing and perhaps long for this level of interaction, this show of independence prompted me to implore them to make sure they take it as slow as they can because you can't get back what you grow out of, no matter how bright things look as you move forward because space will take on the air you give it and we are ever expanding still.

So we surrender and commence, this beginning of a third social life with it's constructs and schedules, this way of marking her own presence in this world as she grows into what will be many coming and going of friends, not all ending gracefully but all with significance. She's learning to dance, my M. She's on her way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

three and holding

One week into Three and already I am noticing the changes. M is more emotional, more easily (as in rapid fire no wasted breath collapsing on the floor in agony of the smallest things) upset, a bit clingier to me in particular.

I want to navigate this well, with the grace of angels so to speak but it's a conundrum, a newness that hasn't quite settled in and on top of it is an unwelcome guest with muddy shoes and dirty laundry.

My brother is in town and as he attempted to play with her she threw a fit and pushed him and yelled. I immediately stopped her and told her I needed her to go to her room because you know, that really sucked. She lost her wee little mind, raging hysterics on the floor. I held my ground and sent her packing and she finally and devastatingly went into her room where she screamed rageful screams, a scream of a much older child complete with the hitting of some walls who'd most certainly never done a thing to her save keep her warm and dry. J and my brother and I all looked at each other and sat in stupor wondering which pod she'd she'd hatched out of and how we send her back. And my brother, in his usual brother way finished his beer and turned back to his book and muttered thank christ i've never decided to breed.

Three rocks, dudes. Now past the scotch.

But it's not all bad, three brings learning and other little marches towards brilliance. Like learning how to speak Spanish. Check out my review and learn all about it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

door to door

I saw him about a month ago when I was leaving Trader Joe's one night after work. M and I were walking out and he's sitting there at a rickety card table with sign that says something about Helping Homeless Vets. I stop and inquire about the organization he's raising money for because I am often (perhaps unnecessarily) suspicious about the ones who send homeless people to store entrances with tin cans. He said they were nice people but that he only got paid enough to rent a hotel room for $40 a night and that was with his VA pension and he was sick of being homeless.

Feeling brave and a bit irked at their benefiting from cheap labor I tossed out I think we can do better than that, friend. To which he replied oh young lady, so you think so. So we got to talking a bit about how much he makes and what he's looking for and I gave him my card and told him to call me if he wanted to get serious.

He most seriously called me the next day and reminded me of my challenge and made it clear that he was done with shelters so don't be sending me to a shelter young lady. I knew that was his challenge to me and so I told him about a place I know that has good housing for cheap and called over to ask for a favor. They obliged and made an appointment for him the next day.

I got a call from the housing folks a bit later who said that his having an eviction on his record wasn't going to make it easy. I knew that might be the case and told them that I had a feeling, one of those feelings that this might be an okay risk to take. They said they'd do more legwork and let me know but made no guarantees.

Meanwhile my friend keeps checking in to let me know what's what. When he's there, what forms he's filled out, etc. We talk maybe once a week and for awhile it's not looking good. I can only pull certain strings at this place but it's a good place and one he can afford. He's getting discouraged but they've been straight with him from the beginning because the eviction was going to be a problem but we decided to risk it anyways. And now the dude is out $20 on the application fee and he reminds me clearly that is half of a nights lodging young lady.

Yesterday I get curious, having heard nothing from anyone for at least a week. I call over and leave a message and today I got a call back, the very best kind of call from the guy in the office who says they just handed M the keys to his new apartment. I smile broadly through the phone and hang up only to have it ring a minute later. Young lady, it's M. I am calling to let you know I just picked up my keys. I get to move in tomorrow. Thank you for going the distance with me even when I didn't think it would work out. May god bless you for getting an old vet off the streets.

Amen, brother. Amen. It's all you. I just made a phone call and gave an old man a bit of shit. He laughed a deep strong laugh and said goodbye. And it's true. I didn't do much of anything at all. This was him following through every step of the way.

M, I hope you enjoy the bed in your very own apartment. May your fridge always be stocked with the food of the gods and may your feet never feel cold.

Monday, September 10, 2007

August Just Posts

justpostaug2007

He stumbles in haggard stopping short of the counter. I can smell him, the funky smell of unwashed hair and dirty socks. He looks up, one blue eye muted by glaucoma looking slightly past me and the other, a light and beautiful blue looks me right in the eye. His skin is weathered, deep ruddy skin with wrinkles around his eyes and a sallow jaw. His red t-shirt is tattered, there are holes and a decidedly large brown stain down the front. He could use a belt, the edges of his worn brown pants drag on the floor. He drops his bulging trash bag and starts to mutter. A defensive mutter, if there was such a thing. He's been sleeping in a parking garage and was hoping he'd find a place to shower and a bed for the night, just enough to offer a small panacea from the utter aloneness of his life.

I often think in moments like this about the lifetimes that brought him to our door. He may be somebody's father, brother, grandfather, or at the very obvious least someone's son. Somehow he's evolved into a grizzly, a man who survives and lives along, hardscrabble for every meal. His posture reflects his position in the world, an achy teetering on solid sort of posture that seems it could expire at any moment and yet in reality will probably outlive us all.

He wanders this world alone, dodging fancy SUVs and BMWs people rushing most hurriedly to their next very important thing. I wonder how many even see him except to avoid him, his lack of comfort must be discomforting as they sip their lattes trying not to spill.

There are thousands more like him in the United States. Tens of thousands of people without a place to live, who use dumpsters for restaurants and alleys for sleep. And while I wish that this was everyone's issue, the one thing they chose above all else I know the competition is strong. The rational part of me knows that AIDS and trafficking, child abuse and our environment are just as worthy and as such we split the difference on where we choose to focus and what we choose to fund. But for me it is this. And I will forever refuse to concede that this is anywhere near the best we can do.

The Writers

Bon at Crib Chronicles with Blessings
Crazymumma with If I'm going to talk the talk...
Cecilieaux with blogging last word, who is anglo, people of 1066 and portal for billionaires
Jangari with more on squandered funds and stuart highway robbery
Maypole with false hope and i know what it means to love
Denguy with boyo man
Jen with what a long strange trip it's been, national news and side by side
Alejna with some of my best friends are republicans
NoMotherEarth with about a boy
Urban-Urchin with disposable people
Emily with miscarriage of justice
Kevin with Jena 6
MBT with What you'll get nekkid for
Vera with dominator tentacles
Packaging girlhood with increased suicide rates among teen girls
Lex with compassion
Kitchen Fire with postscript
Aliki with disparity
Gwen with feed your head
From the Front Lines with philanthropy thursday
Flutter with the morning commute and What Should Flutter Cook?
Stumbling and Mumbling with you know you're a conservative when and the tangible harm of inequality
Izzy with forgive my bluntness but i hate george bush
11D with bob herbert morphs into david brooks
MOTR with enough
Janet with my grass roots are showing
Eden with some animals are more equal than others
Acukiki at Sticking to the Point with Follow Your Dreams
African Fragments with Sisters Can Do it For Themselves
Christine at Running on Empty When I Grow Up
Ewe with Baaaaad Party, Baaaaad Party and A Sunday Not-So-Funny...
Fortune and Glory with What fills us up makes us whole again and Today as I hold my head...
Gary with Homeless
Gettin' it wrong with Twisty Slides, Twisted Logic and Olivia
Jen with Teaching Fish to Swim, I Was Interviewed by National News, side by side and What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been
KC with Colorless, II*
La vie en Rose with It's the body...always the body
Latoya Peterson at Racialicious with 4th Generation Racist: Can you be racist if you're anti-white?
Lia with Pensioned Serenity
Maddie at Persisting Stars with Someone with sky and birds in his heart
Nina Smith with Books Review: On My Own Two Feet
Open Synergy with Darwin's Jihad-A Luta Continua
Snigdha Sen with Streets Are For Walking, Stop Stalking
Suzanne Reisman with The Real Story: Attack Of The Predatory Lenders On Single Women Homeowners
Susanne at Creative Mother Thinking with Housework for Children and Being Sick Shouldn't Make you Bankrupt
Thailand Gal with Katrina put me over the edge, Repeat ch-ch, repeat-ch-, and Your silence will not protect you
Tired Mommy with Learning what we live
The World's Yours To Live!! with The World of Peace
Wayfayer Scientista with Seasonal Goodbyes and Working against cultural biogotry

The Readers

Jess
Thordora
Cecilieaux
Chani
Alejna
KC
Christine
Catherine
Aliki
Sarah
Karen
Mad
Jen
Hel
Susanne

We've gone global this month and added two new hosts to our Roundtable. Hel and Susanne have joined Mad and I and have brought with them some fruits from other parts of the world. I hope you'll swing by their places before you go as we work together to incorporate more global voices at this little table of ours. It's a wide reaching social justice bounty this month, each and every one of you making a difference in your writing and in your living.

We can and do make a difference. Thank you for joining us this month.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

going postal

I can't even find a space to park and dreading the inevitable I head inside, the line winding to the door. The man before me has several packages, he's hunched over the counter in repose. I sigh, a heavy sigh and lift my own parcels on the long counter that stretches the length of the building. Behind me quickly comes three, four, five more.

Each as they enter sigh deeply, as if the vapid bureaucracy sucks the life out of them the moment they hit the door. I am impatient and I rummage around in my bag looking for some form of distraction. Finding none, I hunch as the others hunch before me.

Slowly we inch forward. I enter the hallowed double doors where the controllers of my morning sit like chattel, stamping and pecking and heaving packages into a bin. They move slowly because time is on their side. Slow or fast they've got eight hours to go.

There are seven stations but only three are open. Another sigh combined with the quick multiplication of the parcels and bodies in front of me. I hunch lower still. As we creep along the endless counter towards mecca there are occasional disturbances, heavy sighs and groans, a seething frustration binds us all.

The people three spaces in front of me are quietly arguing. A mother daughter situation I assume, and wonder what the issue is or how many issues it always is. The daughter turns her head in irritation suddenly fascinated by her chipped blue nail polish while her mother, haggard yet watchful nudges her forward. Sighs. More sighs.

Thirty minutes pass and I am second from the front. One of the three stations has been occupied by an elderly couple who in another language argue and argue and argue some more. Time is wasted on this couple and we all know it and will it to end. They argue on. I focus my energy on the remaining two, willing godspeed and a bit of charity. Please for the love of god move along.

The man in front of me finally gets a spin and lo and behold, he's not addressed his packages. Thirty odd minutes of hunching and he waits till he's sitting on the jackpot to blow his wad. I hate this man in this moment for his inconsideration and also his insensibility and lack of manners. A broken wheel in the cog and man overboard the boat will goddamn sail. Others notice and one man behind me groans and mutters what the fucking hell under his breath and I stand silently in solidarity.

Finally and painfully the person in the coveted next spot shuffles away from the station. The aged indian woman spends a few moments doing god knows what before acknowledging me forward. My entire body grimaces and yet feels strangely close to freedom. I start to itch.

Four parcels all the same. No insurance no delivery confirmation whatever is cheapest I implore and yet she asks me the same three questions for each and I want to weep on the counter from the futility of it all.

Finally she finishes and my parcels are tossed into the great postal abyss. She glances towards the door and says so many people waiting. Yes, I say, it seems it would go faster if there were more of you. She clucks, the universal clucking of women from ancient times till as far as I can see from my little town in America to India and all around the world. The clucking binds us for a moment, the centuries of women who stand in disappointment and resignedly push on.

They don't care how long you wait, she said. They don't care. And I know she is speaking of the Man. I know, I said, and for some reason I feel impulsive and want to give her a long embrace or at least touch her brittle hand. But I don't and my eyes fall downward, exhausted from the tepid peeling paint and the utter lack of anything other than longing for the door. I turn and leave and walk out into the sun and as I make my escape I think of her clucking, clucking for seven lifetimes more.

Friday, September 07, 2007

rolling around

I haven't been feeling especially funny lately. I am incredibly taxed at work, it's reaching it's breaking point for a thousand reasons I am not at liberty to discuss here no matter how much I want and need your support. It's safe to say I am heavy, so very heavy both from some tremendous challenges and the weight of the responsibility. So it's a breath of fresh air when I find things that make me laugh. And nothing makes me laugh quite like posts like the ones written over at Where's My Cape. KC's greatest hits are an ongoing phenomenum, her interpretation of her google hits always has me laughing. Or ahem, I mean Rolling On The Floor.

But it does beg the question: Is anyone actually rolling on the floor? I've never quite understood the expression and to be honest it kinda bugs because I think if we are going to get all dramatic then why not go for it and say we've just Shat On Our Keyboards. In fact, I volunteered to rename the ROFLs at BlogHer but I think they thought I was drunk. Yo, I'm sober now. Where are my Shatting On My Keyboard awards?

The super delicious Chicky and Metro have other ways to make you laugh over their ways too. Maybe you'll even roll on the floor. Or better, you'll shat on your keyboard.


Speaking of shatting, ok, not really but I am enjoying saying it so deal. Today is the last day to send me your Just Posts. All will be featured on Monday in four blogs from all over the world.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

because you know, I rock.

It's no secret I am not too good at a lot of this mom stuff. I am not a crafty type nor do I relish in parks and playgrounds. So it's fair to say that I am fairly proud of myself for having our First Ever Child Birthday Party (previous years were mostly adults and BBQ. This was few to no adults and you know, kids were invited too). I even had a bona fide Children's Activity. And SIX children at our house. J even captured me with beer in hand proudly proclaiming Dude! I Am A Full On Mom! to the camera during the very loud, very insane, very child geared event on our lawn last night.

And bonus to my neighbors who heard all the noise and stopped by for a drink rather than to complain.

It may seem trite, but I am damn proud. And exhausted. I fell asleep at 9pm last night and can't remember the last time I did that in my life. This stuff makes tripping through the third world with no money and a backpack look like the easiest thing in the world. Not to mention trying to end homelessness for some people. Piece of cake by comparison.

The joys of motherhood. I am getting closer all the time.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

three

I thought I knew just about everything three years ago and all of a sudden realized I'd never learned a thing. You came on a burning night filled with light and love and fright and calm and anxiousness and peace and laughter and blood. We held your tiny, tiny body and our tears mixed with your birthiness and we were all covered with the making of you.

That first night was the longest, the three of us in one small hospital bed, your daddy and I staring at you and at each other and wondering what we'd done. And yet you've shown us every step of the way what you need and how you love and what the world looks like because you are in it.

You've grown famously for the last three years my sweet beautiful girl, you've turned our lives and world upside down and on it's head and while I've often felt like I was clawing my way out I know now I was digging my way in. You are my secret, my joy, my breath, my deepest understanding of myself. I now realize my worth, my long resisting eyes screwed shut to the thought of this purpose that now has me peeling back the sun to crawl deeper into your heat. Because my child, you are the truest and brightest thing I have ever known.


I promise to keep doing my best to see the world through your eyes and meet you on rainbows so we can dance to the music and roll around in the rain. The gift, the incredible gift of you has humbled and honored and silenced me to tears while screaming my gratitude to the moon.

Thank you for choosing us to care for you while you grow into this world and make it your own. We'll always, always have your back and never fail to push you towards the sun. You are the most amazing and hilarious being I have ever met in my life and I know you'll love age three just as much as you've loved one and two. So let's rock it sister child because there is no one I'd rather be careening through life with other than you.

Happy Birthday to you.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

closer

I still have a whole other post swirling around in my now wine addled brain but that will wait for another day because I am too tired to do it justice. The tiredness comes from hours of talking, five or six hours of talking with people who have been living two doors down for years and yet we'd never taken the time.

I invited them and another couple over with the thought of connecting the latter with the former, relatively new moms the both of them but the latter is struggling with the newness and I can't help but see my reflection in her tired, overwhelmed eyes. Everyone had a great time, good food and drink and much merry and the two of them hit it off famously.

As everyone left we made plans for the next time and then we sat alone on our porch I told J that I had wanted them to meet but I also needed this for me. I need to know there are people close by and in 3-D and while I didn't know how it would go it had gone better than I'd hoped. Connections are elusive, they are either there or not and you can't force it and it's got to feel right so when it's good it's really, really good.

Jenn wrote a post recently called There's a girl that was written in a ethereal, haunting almost Milne sort of language that left me wanting for more. It summed up her own bit of perfection and as such I share it with you. You can find more over at suburban turmoil and petroville.

And don't forget to email me your Just Post nods before Friday at girlplustwo(at)yahoodotcom. If this is new to you read the going global post a bit farther down the page or one of the Just Post buttons on the right.

Monday, September 03, 2007

hot and cold

I am restless today. I have thoughts swirling in my head about the debilitating effects of snark, the state of the world, of how much I miss the rain.

I move through without noticing the movement. It's murky and somehow I feel tired. This vague-ary of a post only serves to prove that point.

But tonight I am stepping out a bit, gathering a few neighbors together for the first time for cold beers and remnants of the hot sun. I don't know what I am hoping for but amidst the stilted getting to know you conversations I hope the possibility of more emerges, a shadow trickle shallow pool of what we've managed to build around here.

Because I need this in real life too.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

sister, i salute you

There's a little back and forth going on at SVMB about Elizabeth Edwards, or better stated, one writer's thoughts on Ms. Edward's choices. The ever-astute Pundit Mom picked up on it and added her .02 as well. I don't need to rehash what happened but I do know that it got me thinking.

See, Mrs. Edwards saw the piece and responded in the comments. A very thoughtful and eloquent response. And as I read it all I can think is what a waste of time this must be for her in the midst of everything else. Having to defend her mothering when we need to be learning about the platform she stands for.

Here she is on the campaign trail, juggling a serious illness, small children, a marriage, and an incredibly lofty and difficult goal. And she's somehow managing to do all of that and during the course of the day or days one or another thing must go wrong. Kids throw tantrums, perhaps she spills coffee on her skirt. She is having to meet and greet more people than most of us will ever be in the same room with in our lifetime. Every word she says is dissected and critiqued. And yet every single morning she gets back out there and stands next to her husband because she believes he has a fighting chance to make this world a better place.

And I'll tell you, it's a hell of a lot more than I do in a given day, running multiple homeless shelters included. And none of you were here a little while ago when I snapped at my daughter and almost ran my grocery cart into an old woman and thank god none of that will make the New York Times or TIME magazine. I get a semblance of privacy, my missteps are my own and my bad days belong to me. Elizabeth doesn't get as many of those moments these days and that alone is something to honor. You can easily respond by saying she chose this life and perhaps she did, but then ask yourself why. Because it must be pretty damn important to her to give up just about everything else to see it through. And hey, it's our future she's fighting for too.

Win or lose, she is out there trying. Like her or not, or better said, like the media's portrayal of her or not, that's your decision. But I think we all have it in us to be a little kinder about what must be an incredibly challenging time. She's not in this for the money, kids. She's in this because she believes she's part of something that can be better than what we've got going on now. And you know what, I do too.

Mrs. Edwards, I salute you.

going global

There has been a lot of talk swirling around over the past month about inclusivity, color and readership. About how to continue to foster a spirit of inclusivity amongst various groups and readers. And it got us thinking about the Just Posts.

One of my favorite things about the Just Posts from it's inception is that anyone can participate. Anyone who writes about an issue related to social justice or social issues from large to small is welcome to send in their link and have included in the roundtable. By definition it's open to everyone. But lately that's still not felt like quite enough because the hosts of the Just Posts, the lovely Mad and I both live on the same continent and both share the luxury of certain social issues relegated to our regions within that continent and our introductory posts on the Just Post Roundtables are coming from a specific part of the world.

Writing from one continent leaves six others out of the equation. While folks from all over the world are welcome to submit their links we've noticed that for the most part those links are coming from North America. To be expected perhaps but you know, I think we can shake that up a bit.

To that end we've invited Susanne and Hel to host the monthly Just Post roundtables on their sites and they have graciously accepted. We hope this will allow for more global representation, with a voice from Europe and from Africa lending their words and wisdom in their own roundtable introductions, and will hopefully encourage more readership and writing from places far away from where Mad and I sit.

So this month look forward to a broadened Just Post roundtable, 3 continents instead of 1, and our goal is to continue to seek partners from other places who can host us as well, so we can slowly expand to Just Post roundtables all over this great big world of ours. It's a work in progress and I am sure there will be growing pains but we hope you come along for the ride because there is nothing more important than awareness of the world around us and your writing each and every month makes us more aware of the life beyond the four walls I sit within.

And speaking of, our August Roundtable is coming up soon. If you have read or have written a post about social justice this month send the link to me at girlplustwo(at)yahoo(dot)com and I'll send you the button. You and the post(s) you've shared will be included at our Just Post Roundtable on the 10th and will now be featured on four blogs across the world.

If this is new to you send me an email or click on one of the Just Post buttons over there on your right. See them? It's the one with the purple dove. All are welcome.