Friday, February 29, 2008

knick knack paddywack

The weather is turning fabulous and we're taking a family day. We've got surprises planned and everything. I'm also thinking I'll take a couple days away from the computer, so if I'm not around it's not you, it's me. And besides it's gorgeous outside which is a good time to back away from the computer and play with my kid.

Celebrate the leap.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

today

sometimes and on my better days, i see nothing but hope.

Oh, and we are going after some overgrown schoolyard bullies over at MOMocrats. Come join us.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

capturing the flag

I was raised in a small mountain town, you know the kind. Mail was delivered to the post office and we all had a box. The tiny town had one market and all the cashiers knew your name but still called you honey and baby and doll. We had a town drunk and everyone knew him and yet drunk he stayed. We'd get snowed in for days on end and sleep huddled in front of the fire. All the men drove trucks and people watched out for each others kids and there was nothing much to do.

Growing up there meant I spent a lot of time outside. Climbing trees, building forts, creating imaginary situations out of rocks and dirt. There were many of us in the neighborhood, kids from a variety of rough homes and broken families who all gathered in the trees and played endless games of capture the flag to avoid going home.

One of those boys was named Rex. He had a lot of freckles, Rex. He's was the kind of kid who got in a lot of fights, who had a mom but not a dad, who ran wild and free and late into the night. One such night Rex kissed me, the first kiss of my life. It was uneventful really, two ten year olds prodding each other in the face and then running in different directions thinking we were grown. Rex went home and his house caught fire that night, the story on the mountain was he set it himself. His mom took him away after that and none of us ever saw him again.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

it's this

There are so many things I want to say here and cannot. Something big and fantastic and scary is on the horizon for my little family, a whole new way of being and choosing and yet i can't tear into it quite yet. But if you were here sitting by me i'd ply you with sweet coffee or red wine and i'd give you soft blankets to keep you warm and we'd talk long into the night. and i'd whisper and whoop and tell you everything, the words and laughter and fear spilling out until you begged me to shut up so you could go to sleep.

and no dudes, i'm not pregnant. please.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

holes in the bucket

Thanks for all of your comments on my last post. It's funny because I feel like a failure in these moments, that if only we'd been better at what we do then perhaps this sort of thing might not keep happening. For me, it's a loss. It's a weird dilemma, you want to be on the winning side of poverty and yet there are no winning sides. Non profits are futilely at the end of the line trying to patch social issues after they've already been damaged and battered beyond repair on their way downstream. Being at the front end, sitting in the policy tank has always made more sense and yet it's never been something accessible to a shelter girl like me.

And yet if those suits ever had me at the table you can imagine the things I'd say and not a lot of it nice. Perhaps that's another reason why I'll never get there.

Because see, folks only want to hear about what's working, about how their work has made a difference, how their bill created more jobs or more health insurance for kids. And whether that bill passes or not they go home to a nice house and food in the fridge. I am guilty of it too, I didn't tell you about the 25 people who slept outside last night because we were full and even though it's raining bureaucracy prevailed.

And perhaps it's another thing too. Sometimes I wonder if we all stood directly in the face of the heaving weeping desperate horrifying ridiculous problem of poverty in America if it might drive us all stark raving mad.

Friday, February 22, 2008

little big girl

She pokes her head around the corner of my office. Jen? I look up. It's a girl I've known since she was 11 and I haven't seen her in a year or so and she's probably 16 by now. Her long hair falls around her face. Oh my god, honey. Hi! I jump up and walk over to the door and open my arms to embrace her.

She walks around the door and I can see her fully. Holy shit, she's enormously pregnant. I look at her belly and look in her eyes. She looks at me and then away and I give her an awkward strong hug.

So, babe, holy shit. You look absolutely beautiful but wow, this is a surprise. I know, she says. I had to come and see you. I'm so fat. Honey, you aren't fat, you're pregnant. And exhausted too, right? She nods her beautiful head.

She came to us five or so years ago, her mom had left a horrible abuser and was attempting to raise her and her little brothers on her own for the first time. Mom was terrific but overwhelmed, a lifetime of abuse and poverty had dictated her reality, she had babies too soon and struggled ever since. Ami was the oldest and adorable, a young girl who'd seen too much and wanted the love of her father above all else, something she'd never get to have.

She quickly took to some of us and over the course of a couple of years we became surrogate older sisters. I remember her coming to talk about sex when she was 13, a terrifying conversation of peer pressure and boys, of risks and loneliness and confusion. I tried then to dissuade her, to remind her of her beauty and strength and value. She listened and yet took some the condoms from the dish on my desk and I knew then and in the year to come, by the make up on her face and the clothes she wore, I knew we were going to lose her. I've seen it too many times, this desperate searching for love.

They moved out and on and at the time I told her what I tell all the kids, that they can always call and I am always here. I can imagine the courage it took to finally show up today as pregnant as she was.

She looks so small to me now, her gigantic belly covered by a t-shirt with bunnies on it, the irony is almost too much. Are you okay? How can I help?

I'm so scared to have this baby, I know it's going to hurt so much. Well, babe, it probably will. But you'll get through it because you are one of the strongest girls I know.

Are you mad at me? She looks down at her belly. Honey, of course not. But I'm sad for you because you are still so young to be going through this and to be honest, I am somewhat in a state of shock. What happened to the condoms? She smiles. I knew you'd say something like this. And yet she came anyway.

It's a boy, she says. I'm naming him Alex after his dad. I smile while simultaneously wanting to find this little fucker and strangle him. That's a good strong name, babe. A perfect name. She lifts her little Hello Kitty backpack onto her lap and starts looking for something. Stickers and a stuffed animal and gum and a bunch of papers are piled onto my desk. She finds what she's looking for and hands it to me. It's a sonogram picture. He's gorgeous, I say. I can't wait to meet him.

We talk a bit more and she asks some birthing related questions and all of a sudden her mom walks into the room. She looks at me and comes over and hugs me and I look at her too and I want to cry. So what do you think? She says. I think you're going to have your hands full grandma. She smiles. I know. She's so young and I wanted her life to be different than mine.

And I don't have the words because I believe her and yet it's so obvious this was where Ami was headed, it was all the life she knew. It's the intergenerational poverty and a broken family and the repeating the past that slays me the most, this beautiful girl never really had a chance.

It's time for them to go and we all hug again. I hold Ami tight and remind me that I am here to help. I just wanted to see you, she says. I'll call you after the baby comes so you can come see him.

And I will. And we'll help her if she needs us, the mother passes to the daughter and the daughter becomes a mother, babies having babies and the drum beats on.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

old time rock and roll

Heather asked me to list some of my favorite posts. It comes from a meme that's going around but I can't quite follow rules very well (and Heather doesn't know that about me yet) so I'll offer a slightly abridged version and call it good.

Posts on love: My favorites are some of the ones that tell the story of we three and my journey into mothering and my beautiful child.

Posts I like: I have a fondness for the ones about our travels.

My great passion besides the above are chronicled in some of the ones about my work and the incredible people I've met. And the kids too.

And I am rather proud of the ones that fostered the Just Posts and their ongoing
evolution.

And once in awhile I even think I'm funny. But only once in awhile. I'm way more fun in real life. But you'll have to take my word for it unless you bring your sweet asses to BlogHer this year.

PS. After I did this I realized that so many of you have been in my village for so long, for a year or more, you've come round visiting. It brought tears to my eyes to see the early getting to know you comments and the evolution of the relationships in the present, so while it wasn't the point of this post, thank you for that too. Old friends and new.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

neighborly relations

It's early morning at the far side of the park and I see the signs that homelessness is somewhere close. The toiletry bottles stashed under a table, the multiple hotel sized ones, we give those out nightly and that blanket looks familiar too. M and I are on our way to meet some friends.

What's that stuff, she asks and I tell her it's someone's close by. Where, she asks. I don't know, I reply, but as I answer he rounds the corner. Behind the dugout and under the bleachers, I see them sleeping there sometimes but usually not in February.

He sees us nearby, not a threat to his stuff but perhaps closer than necessary. He walks over and has what M would most definitely call a mean face. She wraps her arms around my legs and hides behind them. Out of my element I am sometimes thrown, and on a still not sunny morning in the park with my kid I am thrown a little more.

I think I recognize him, but years of huddled bearded burly haggard tired dirty men can sometimes blur. It's not something I'm proud of because it seems like each face should be carved into my memory. I grab her hand thinking we'll keep going, this happenstance run in doesn't have to be a thing. I've seen her before, he says, pointing at M. Ah, then. Introductions are being made. Here or over at the shelter? I ask because I don't know. Over there. She never sits still does she. More of a statement than a question and to be honest I agree.

That'd be us, I reply. Were you over there last night? Yep, and I slept for shit so left early to try and sleep out here. And then he glances down at her again. Sorry.

If that's the worst thing she hears today then I'll be doing pretty good, I reply and he smiles a half smile, we are still a bit close to his stuff and I see him looking at it and her and probably wondering if she's going to not sit still all over it so I keep holding her hand. I have an extra muffin if she wants it he says. It will never cease to amaze me how many homeless men and women who have almost nothing offer to share what little they do. M is always offered things at work, trinkets and food and sweets and it always touches me. She just ate, but thank you.

Alright then, maybe I'll see you around. And he turns his back and we say goodbye and walk on through the green grass and the grey clouds and the just waking up sounds towards our friends at the other side of the park, the side brimming with kids and snacks and laughter and sand.

Monday, February 18, 2008

finding her there

I wake to a foot in the ribs, I turn over and realize she's crawled in sometime hours ago. I watch her sleeping, her chest rises and falls. She's exquisite, her perfect red lips pursed against her milky skin. Her wildly curled hair wrapped around her neck. I watch her, I notice a freckle, one I've not noticed before if that sort of thing is possible. I run my hand over the curve of her back.

Her foot kicks me unaware, she stretches in her sleep and wiggles her head back and forth, the movements she's made since she was a tiny baby, she makes them now. She's about to open her eyes and I want to close mine so I can still observe her unnoticed yet of course, I can't have it both ways. She's magnificent in the early dawn, but then she's magnificent all the time.

She wakes facing me. Her eyes light up, the brightest smile. Hi Mommy. And I smile broadly in return with tears pooling in my eyes. I am humbled that there are these moments of overwhelming grace and joy, that this little riblet is in my life teaching me how to love and risk and wrestle and try. I try and find new words and they don't come and yet I revel in this feeling, this amazement at her life.

A new day awaits us, a lazy one and I remind myself to live it with intention, to make each moment with her conscious and worthy of the magnitude it is.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

it's not you, it's me

Why is it when men are sick they seem to be able to get more rest than when women are sick (women and men who happen to be parents of little people during the aforementioned sickness).

Why is that, exactly?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

healthcare and you

We are debating healthcare this week over at MOMocrats, from the political to the personal. If you have a story or opinion you'd like to share on this critical issue send me an email and let me know. If you out of country types can lend some thoughts as to how to make our system better (hint, more like Canada, more like France!), we'd love to hear from you too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

the simultaneous destruction of the english language and young minds

There's a routine I go through most days when dropping of M. She's got a mini-posse, the same few friends are faithful most days. Each morning when we show up they run up screeching M's mommy, M's mommy!! and they all prance around and show me their outfits. I'm not sure how it's come to this but it's the only time in my life where fashion advice is sought so I rather enjoy it. They like me, these wee peeps and as such they show off, shoes here, bracelet there look at me look at me and I oooh and aaah and call them lovelies and babies and dudes.

The other day in the midst of our routine the fire alarm starts going off. The teachers look at me it's just a drill but you can't leave they say and cornered, I follow suit. I'm arbitrarily assigned three little ones along with M and we start the toddler journey to the special fire drill location across the complex. It's clear there is no fire and this is just practice but regardless I'm a hostage in the madness but M's happy because I'm along for the ride.

While it's all well and good I'm also a bit annoyed because this is making me really late and the teachers are clearly using it to their advantage by tossing random children my way. So I'm hanging with the little people and after a dozen long minutes of nothing I mutter I'm in the third vortex of the dark side of hell not really realizing I was speaking out loud. So one of my temporary charges says vortex? what's a vortex? and another says dark side of hell, what's that, what's that?

Nice. Fearing the wrath of a dozen preschool parents I say well you know, it's my way of saying I have to go. So one of them starts yelling M's mommy has a vortex, M's mommy has a vortex, I want a vortex too! and I'm mostly pleased they've forgotten about the dark side of hell.

Finally we've been given the green light, the long journey back to the room commences. I get to the door and say dudes, this has been rocking but I gotta bounce and my little cohort starts bouncing, literally bouncing their way back to their class. Bounce, they say I gotta bounce!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

we are our sisters keeper

I've been writing for MOMocrats for a while now, and we've been dedicated to raising the public debate on the election and the candidates and policies involved. But politics are personal and Kyla graciously agreed to share her own story and you can read it here. Come sit with us and help figure out how to change a system that's failing people we love and those we've yet to meet.

Because if not us, then who?

And perhaps we can take a lesson from the smallest around us. Go and visit Carrie's son Wyatt as he raises money for orphaned children in Africa. That kid is money, I tell you. Pure money.

(Because we are our brothers keeper too.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

john.he.is

if you are one of the three people yet to see Will.i.am's video for Obama, see that first. Then come back and clickety click. It's freaking hilarious.

waterboarding and other unnecessary evils

This picture is from Wikipedia, but the original is on display at Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh. I happened to see it in 2004. Not the waterboarding in question but it's a good contrast given the US position on Pol Pot's regime.

On Friday The Washington Post ran an editorial depicting the current US administration's use of torture during the course of interrogations where the CIA went on record that they've resorted to this form of torture but only in certain instances in the past. I don't know about you, but that seems like a line that has no business being crossed.

The current administration seems to think there are laws, and then there are laws. There are laws that apply to the world, and laws that apply to them. There are ways to treat people, and then there are ways they treat people.

And it begs the question: what the hell is going on here?

In case it's unclear, Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. Through forced suffocation and inhalation of water, the subject experiences the process of drowning in a controlled environment and is made to believe that death is imminent. In contrast to merely submerging the head face-forward, waterboarding almost immediately elicits the gag reflex. Although waterboarding can be performed in ways that leave no lasting physical damage, it carries the risks of extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, injuries (including broken bones) due to struggling against restraints, and even death. The psychological effects on victims of waterboarding can last for years after the procedure. (Wikipedia)

And even average citizens seem somewhat conflicted about whether or not waterboarding is torture. In a telephone poll of 1,024 American adults by the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. in early November 2007 about whether they considered waterboarding torture, 69 percent of respondents said that waterboarding was torture while 29 percent of respondants said it was not. In addition, 58 percent of those polled stated that they did not think that the U.S. government should be allowed to use this procedure against suspected terrorists as a method of interrogation.

But what's legal? The United Nations Convention Against Torture has agreed there is no legal exception for waterboarding and the US participates on the Committee Against Torture. But it seems that everyone's still looking for a loophole. Because although the Pentagon's written policy prohibits cruel or inhumane treatment domestically or in other countries, our Secretary of Defense can approve case-by-case exceptions. And somehow we've decided waterboarding sometimes falls into this category.

Press TV recently reported that The United Nations' torture investigator has slammed the White House for defending the use of waterboarding as an interrogation method. Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, also urged the US to give up its defense of "unjustifiable" methods. "This is absolutely unacceptable under international human rights law," Nowak said. "Time has come that the government will actually acknowledge that they did something wrong and not continue trying to justify what is unjustifiable." The comments came a day after the Bush administration acknowledged publicly for the first time that waterboarding was used by US government questioners on three terror suspects. Testifying before Congress, CIA Director Michael Hayden said the suspects were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003. The White House on Wednesday defended the use of waterboarding, saying it is legal.

And legal sidestepping aside, what's moral? I am pleased to see that all three frontrunners for the Presidency oppose the use of torture. But it's too little, too late. We have allowed an administration to make it's own rules, to ignore international policies, and to hide this information from it's people. And why did they hide it? Because just like everything else they've misled the general public about, it's wrong and they know it. And they do not care what we think.

Change is coming. But it begs the question: is it too late? All the more reason to support a candidate who does not and will not support waterboarding and war. This just isn't funny anymore. The Republicans have had their shot. It's time for change.

Cross posted at MOMOcrats

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

busted

Yesterday I was going through the stack of papery junk that always accumulates a mile high. Mixed in were piles of M's papers from school. The school likes to send home any paper M touches, whether it was to draw a single shaky blue line across a 16" piece of paper or glue a piece of trash 1" in width to a gigantic blue posterboard. I know you know what I mean.

So I sorted out the actual "art" from the "crap" and feeling slightly bad I tossed the crap. This morning M goes to throw something away and screams MAMA SOMEONE THREW MY ARTWORK IN THE TRASH! IN THE TRASH! and starts crying.

Well, fuck.

So I run into the kitchen and peer inside, last nights dinner congealing on the papers. She reaches in and starts pulling them out. Mama, this is my artwork. It's NOT TRASH.

I help her pull the endless papers and we stack them on the table. It's my art!, she says again. I know baby, and I'm sorry. That should not have gone in the trash. (In the kitchen trash, you stupid woman, the OUTSIDE TRASH would have been better) I think silently.

I bet daddy did it! she says and opportunity for absolution briefly rises. I ponder that route, briefly weigh the benefits, and decide I have to suck it up. No baby, it was me. I did that.

YOU?! (her tone is incredulous and I feel the weight of a million therapy sessions in the balance) You threw away my artwork? Yes love, but I'm sorry.

It's not trash, mama. Don't do that again. Hands covered in coffee grounds.

And I walk by the bathroom and J says thanks for not selling me down the river on that one.
I should have put it in the outside trash, I reply.

Exactly, he says. Exactly.

Monday, February 11, 2008

yet another reason blogging has saved my ass

The famously hip and gorgeous Kiki heard my cry and sent me a care package with her daughter's old princess dresses in it a couple of days ago. Crown included.
Mere words will not suffice in expressing the outrageous joy in a little California town this weekend. Dresses have been simultaneously worn and not yet removed, not even for sleep. We went out to dinner in the above dress and M pranced around the various tables plaintively whining do you see I'm a princess? I'm a princess! to anyone who would glance her way.

And in case you missed them, our Just Post roundtable is just below. It was a fantastic round up this month.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

January Just Posts

justpostjan2008

Once and in the audacity of my youth I provoked a woman's batterer into a rage in order to expose the brutality with which he treated her every night they were in our program once their door were closed. The cops were called regularly and yet did not find evidence to arrest him and she would not admit it (although she did privately to us several times). She was unable to throw him out, fear and shame and isolation and years of abuse rendered her powerless and I was an idealistic and angry young woman who thought she knew so much. One night after hearing him abuse her through the door of their room I knocked on it and he came out. He was clearly angry at being interrupted. I told him I knew what he was doing and that I thought he was a piece of shit. I told him if he wanted to hit someone he should hit me and I'd have no problem pressing charges if he did.

The exchange went on a little longer and more expletives were offered from both sides. Eventually he lunged at me and cracked me a good one, no surprises there. Within seconds some burly men intervened, the cops were called and he was arrested because there was someone now (me) who was happy to press charges and I did. We used the rest of the night to get her and her children into a safe house and we never heard from her again.

Looking back I probably should have been fired, no matter the motive because engaging with him that way was out of line (although, ahem, no one made him hit me, he did that all on his own). But at the time it seemed the thing to do. I am not advocating for this or even proud that was how it went but weeks of children watching their mother terrorized was more than we could take and we were young and angry and fearless and yes, wrong.

I was reminded of this story last week when the CDC released their study citing One in four women and one of seven men experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.....Those who experience intimate partner violence during their lifetime were also more likely to report a range of adverse health conditions and health risk behaviors.

Because it's not just the battering that wounds, it's the effects of living while battered. And to think that 1 in 4 women are still being abused with 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries a year in the US alone makes me physically ill. I have known countless women who've been abused physically, sexually and/or emotionally in their lives, I've witnessed and interrupted men battering a woman on at least a dozen occasions and seen the bruises and heard the stories of hundreds more. I met a woman once who was shot three times in three different states and she still wasn't able to get far enough away. She was an amazing artist, I still have a piece of her work on my wall and yet wonder if he ever managed to finally kill her.

And then I think of the magnificent glory of women. Of how spectacular and heroic women are, how they love and give and birth and raise and so many, one in four in fact, have done all of that while facing some sort of abuse.

While that was a long time ago, 15 years later I can't believe these crimes against women still continue. If you are being mistreated there are places that can help. If you are unsure if something is abuse, just know you should never, ever have to live in fear. It's not always an easy journey, but freedom is on the other side. It can be different than this.

The Just Writers

Alpha Dogma with Happy Period
Andrea with Apocalypse for one
Blue Mountain Mama with I first saw her at a kid's program
Bohemian Creations with The machine
Bohemian Girl with Paraben Free
Carrie with My little philanthropist
Casey at Expectant Waiting with Actually, YOU need to seek help for my PPD
Chani with Midnight in our souls and Retirement of a cultural dissident
Chez Kirby with Taking Chances
The Cleaner Plate Club with My first boss, and what she had in common with a cloned cow…or a mad one
Dave with Words. Tone. Death
DAYSGOBY with Trial and error
Defiant Muse with bratz dolls and string bikinis for toddlers
Elderwoman with why hasn't everybody turned green yet Pt. 1 and Pt. 2
Emily at Wheels on the Bus with Blog for Choice Day
Ewe are here with Just a quick note and Why our next election can't come soon enough for me
Gina with not my god and big bad wolf
Gwen at Woman on the Verge with We real cool and And I Would Walk 5 Thousand Miles
it's not easy being queen with his dream is still my dream
Jen with oh george, how i loathe thee and don't you know i'm talking about a revolution
Jen Lemen with Everything we needed
Jen M with Philanthropy Thursday: Haiti
Jess with one step at a time and beloved
Julie Pippert with my big pink elephant for hump day, When it comes to sexual harassment, it's the little things that bleed you to death and To the Sexual Harassment Google Searchers...
Kevin with Operation Climate Vote Relaunch
Lucy with We do not need rulers, we need rules of law
Mad with Blog for Choice Day
Mouse with Don't Tell Me How to Talk About Sex and The Talk
No Caption Needed with Love in the ruins
No Impact Man with A balanced approach to climate change
Not Hannah with Enough. No more.
Peter with The politics of greed
R World with Secret decoder ring for Bush's state of the union address
Seventh Sister with The last hours of ancient sunlight
Sin at Write About Here with tenuous
Slouching Mom with Wherein I'm dismayed to find that old and young are not always antonyms and What happens to a dream deferred
Snigdhasen with Daughters of the soil
Susanne with stifling the urge to learn
Suzanne Reisman on blogher with Why We Vote with Our Uteruses, Standing Up for Working Women & Child Care Providers, Because "Nobody Really Likes Hair in their Private Regions...", and Victorian Times or Comprehensive Sex Ed: Which Method Do You Choose to Prevent Teen Pregnancy?
Thor with Blog for Choice Day
Uppercase Woman with Take the baby to prison day
Wayfarer Scientista with last native eyak speaker dies and energy & google earth

Belated shower gifts for our volunteerism baby
Christine with December Just Posts: A Baby!
Mary with About the Gorilla in the Living Room
Suz with Late to the Party

Some of the Just Readers
JoC
Sin
Jess
Mary
Mary Murtz
Steph

We are here every month rounding up social issues and serving them hot. Before you go stop by and see what Mad, Su and Hel have cooked up at their ends of the social justice table. If you haven't sat with us before we'll be back next month and you all are welcome at the table. Join us.

Friday, February 08, 2008

stars in their bucky eyes

Tonight on our way home from family night we stopped to get a coffee. We went to SB's because it was the only thing open, a place we usually ignore in light of local coffeehouses. I ran in and left J and M in the car and as i ordered realized we were out of coffee at home too. So with some trepidation I ask if they have Fair Trade I can purchase. And what happened next makes for perfect blog fodder, so here you go.

Adorable waiflike little boy child with streaky project runway style hair: Oh, yeah. (long pause) Um, if I knew what Fair Trade meant, I am sure I can find it for you.

Precious long haired girl from a good home: Yeah, if you tell us what it is......I know we probably have it. I just don't know what that means. Trade? I mean, you still have to pay for it?

Suave dude I'd have totally wanted to date when i was 18: All our coffee is Fair Trade. I just went to Coffee Camp and I learned that. It's been like that since 2004.

Me (older unhip mother type): Really? (I am shocked at this but maybe I'm out of the loop) I don't think....

AWLBC: No he's right. I remember that now.

PLHG: I mean, I am still not sure what you are talking about?

Me: It means we pay a fair price for the coffee rather than raping and pillaging rural farmers all over the world just to make a profit.

PLHG: (with a look of complete and utter shock and sincerity): I KNOW we don't do that. NO WAY would we do that.

Me: Well, actually, we do it all the time and not just with coffee. It's why you need to vote democrat. You guys vote, right? (shameless plug)

PLHG: What?!? (I actually feel bad, she's utterly sincere)

SD: I really think it's all Fair Trade.

Me: (skeptical) Okay.

They hand me a freshly ground bag and I don't see the FT label and so I turn around and look at the row of coffee and on the end, ding ding ding, there's one blend that's labeled Fair Trade.

Me: Ah, guys. See this? This is what I mean. They gather around and stare at the label and I actually read the subtext aloud to them, the waif boy smiling, the good girl still in shock because what do you mean we do bad things while producing and consuming in America? This is just COFFEE AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH POOR PEOPLE!?!?

SD: Oh, sorry. I think we WANT all our coffee to be Fair Trade. (he's still pretty cute)

Me: Well, you should. In fact, you should ask your managers and their managers about it. You could even protest, refuse to grind any more beans till this is resolved. People die for coffee, you know. It's our moral obligation to do the right thing. (taking it a bit round the bend now)

Waif boy is smiling vacantly now, clearly I've lost him. Good Girl still looks stricken, she offers me a whole bag of Fair Trade coffee for free, and you know, what the hell, I accept.

And they pack up my coffee and all smile and wave as I leave. Get the crazy bitch out so we can go home and watch American Idol.

It's the last day to get me your Just Posts. Send them over at girlplustwoATyahooDOTcom today and come back this weekend because we'll be setting the table out on the 10th.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

babies

First, Hetha shared this post with me today and while it'll be part of next month's Roundtable, it deserves a read now too. It's unconscionable that children grow up in these conditions.

Second, the rest of my heart and soul is sitting over at Mad's today.

We are all mothers here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

single file

i happened to be around at check in time. the line was long and ragged and heaving and jovial and shuffling and cold. i sat for awhile and watched folks going through the drill, the man with the security wand waving it over outstretched arms, the other with gloves on doing discreet bag checks, weapons you see, they are not allowed.

i notice one guy, his belongings are in an old 10 gallon bucket. he lifts it up on the table for the cursory look. the guy behind him is bouncing, cracking jokes. his red hat tells me which team he favors or perhaps he simply wore it because it was all he had.

the woman in the wheelchair, she's smoking and spinning her chair in listless circles. her hair's a bit matted, eyes darting around. she's got a bag on her lap, she looks unhappy and it's easy to imagine why. a social worker walks out and talks to her, she smiles a bit and starts talking, talking, talking. the social worker listens. i know this listening, sometimes it's all you've got.

i spot someone i know so i jump off the desk i am perched on to go say hello. a man opens a door for me, a tall man with a shirt that says he's a vietnam vet. he's staying here along with vets from almost every war we've had in the last fifty years. i thank him and he smiles a beautiful broad smile. i smile back and walk through the door, his veteran-ness not lost upon me and a thousand questions cross my brain and i ask none of them because the moment is not right.

there's an old guy, he's limping and has a long bushy beard. he bends over to pick up something he's dropped and for a minute i think he's going to fall over. someone else steadies him, puts his hand on his back and picks up the dropped item and hands it to him. the old guy smiles, mumbles a few words and limps inside.

another man heads into the building and walks up to the desk. he asks to use the phone and is told he has to wait. there are rules for that here too, see. even a simple phone call requires a process. i understand these things, these many peace keeping things that are necessary when you are warehousing human beings and yet at the same time it all seems so complicated, this stripping of rights in the name of mercy.

and then a guy walks past the desk grinning and announces they've got BBQ tonight, y'all. A few of the guys clap their hands, this shelter meal perhaps a bright spot in the midst of endless circles, of waiting and cold and fear and loneliness and for a brief moment the thought of food is uniting, the hope of a hot meal and a spot of kindness along the way.

Monday, February 04, 2008

super tuesday bowl

We went to a Superbowl party yesterday at a friends house. It was a large crowd, I maybe knew 25% of the people there. Beer was flowing, bets were flying and the mood was high. After folks settled into the game a large number of us turned to the inevitable discussion: who are you voting for on Tuesday?

It was a liberal crowd so there wasn't a question of party but it was exciting to see how folks were evaluating their choices. I am still in the undecided camp since my man dropped out last week so I was eager to hear others thoughts. One of the things I noticed right away was how people were aligning themselves. Some white chicks for Obama, some men of color were voting for Hillary. The conversation was energetic, hopeful. Hearing phrases like she's got healthcare nailed but her immigration position seems harsher than his, or he's really motivating the young vote but it's hard to compare war positions when only one of them was in the senate at the time all made me realize that it's the issues that matter, if nothing else this horrendous administration has woken everyone up and we are paying attention. This is really happening, after seven long horrifying years, this is really happening.

During the Kerry/Bush election we hosted a couple of grassroots fundraisers. We called them Regime Change Parties and raised money for Kerry. The campaign was less about him and more about Anyone But Bush. This year is markedly different. There are people speaking our language. There are people who actually have a shot at leading this country in the right direction. We even have more than one to choose from. And it's exciting. It's exciting because we are all so desperate for something to be different, for our voice to matter, for this war to end, for things to change. And I'll gladly pay more in taxes if that means that can happen.

Many of us are in Super Tuesday states. Tomorrow we'll be heading to the polls and whether we agree or disagree we are all in this together. No matter your position let's send those current bastards a message. We are revolting. We are standing up. You are not our president any longer.

Let's get it on.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

A bakers dozen (just do it)

I had a dream last night that I was a baker. I was furiously baking loaf after loaf of hot steaming bread. Not sure what that means but I rather liked it.

It's coming up on our January Just Post Roundtable. All you need to do to join us is send me a post about a social issue, big or small, one you've written yourself or that you've appreciated from someone else. You can send them to me at girlplustwoATyahooDOTcom before the 7th and we'll feature them all at our monthly roundtable on the 10th. If this is new to you or if you have questions just click on one of the purple and white buttons to your right or shoot me an email. You might even get a slice of bread out of the deal. Everyone is welcome.

Friday, February 01, 2008

game over

Some days I am so disappointed in my mothering. Some days I don't have much of a choice, but I hear the nagging tone bundled in frustration and I feel like an asshole. Today was one of those days, this morning at least.

M to her credit, has been hell on wheels. She's melting down at the slightest thing that doesn't go her way. As I am stepping over her this morning as she's losing her mind for the third time in 15 minutes (you will not wear the freaking princess dress five days in a row to school you will not you will not no way no it's filthy and it's wet and it's just not happening) she's puddled on the floor, alligator tears and I turn to J and say I can't take this anymore, I simply cannot. And I feel bad as I say it, I know it's not true and I can take this and I will take this and it's not even in perspective that much to take but I lose my center and fall from grace.

So we are driving to school and I ask her why, why we can't be on the same team, this one little team that has to bend and flex and give. She grunts and folds her arms, I see her in the mirror. Baby, I say, I really could use your help. I want to be a better mama than this. I am utterly heartfelt and gooey. I mean this. I can almost taste us reaching a paradigm shift right here in the car. I wait, I hope, I hedge my bets for her response.

And she eyes me in the mirror and utters Me too, mama, me too. We should negotiate more so I can get what I want.

And with that I start laughing and you know, holy shit. I might just do better admitting defeat.