Listen Here: Let Me Be Clear

midnight healthcare scare
 makes my family more aware
 of options made fair
 
 don’t take this away
 or the Democrats will sway
 each bill you will play
 
 cause love deserves life
 not this plagued financial strife
 that cuts like a knife
 
 Kimmel speaks of teams
 cause we’re ripping at the seams
 for your twisted dreams
 
 for you, one last word
 you selfish billionaire turd:
 our needs will be heard
 

Searching for Heaven

even escapes bleed
 with guilt-ridden winds of snow
 that just can’t ice him
 
 

Dedicated to 1/27/17, A Day that Will Live in Infamy

For today, I met with 27 students from Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and Iran to tell them that they probably shouldn’t leave the country or they might not be readmitted.

“Thank you, Ms., thank you for telling me.” Relief as transparent as grief in their eyes.

For today, first Trump said this about the Holocaust: “In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

THEN he said this as he signed the executive order banning refugees from Muslim countries: “We don’t want them here.”

For today, I told my colleagues in our district-mandated common planning, after twenty-seven minutes of discussing Socratic seminars, student placements, and teaching methodology, “Please let your students know about the recommendation from many aids groups and human rights lawyers: students and their families should not leave the country.”

For today, the ONE DAY that a district minion came to “observe,” his title Data Culture Specialist, not a day older than twenty-five and only experience in a Teach for America charter school network, writes: “Strength: The team was considering how current events impact student lives in a meaningful way (Executive Actions). They are team most impacted by these events as they have the most ELA/Refugee students.

Next Step: Continue to push the conversation to be about instruction or student learning/outcomes.” (n.a. Source unknown)

For today, I want to push the conversation: “Do you think my INSTRUCTION is more IMPORTANT than my STUDENTS’ LIVES?

For today: Student learning outcomes? Do you think they will LEARN ANYTHING if they are deported?

For today: I share all of this at dinner in the too-crowded local pub. My husband, my daughters, ages twelve and ten.

For today: My ten-year-old replies, “Mama… he must have been a Republican.”

For today: One. Small. Win.
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Weighing In

Wednesdays have turned into a ritual for Riona and I, as the older two get a ride home from the carpool and she has joined in with her expertise at helping me go grocery shopping (if expertise means begging me for Cheez-its, Naked juice, and blueberries…).

On this Wednesday, five days into Trumpocracy, the weight of it all is heavier than ever before. The two stores, the lines of people at guest services while I wait to buy bus passes, the shuffling of semi-broken carts, the weaving in and out of crammed-too-full aisles filled with Valentine’s candy and magazines and gift cards and everything, it seems, except the food I need to feed my family.

The knowledge that I carry with me now, of stripped healthcare, border wall building, claims of voter fraud, Muslim refugee bans, women’s healthcare denials, mortgage fees reinstated… It makes even the mundane tasks of finding the right brand of almond milk, of selecting a new variety of potatoes, of giving in to the Cheez-it bid, seem heavy and dark and worrisome.

How long will this variety of foods be here? I begin to wonder. How long will this variety of people be here? My darker self asks, as I hear a series of languages and see every skin tone meander through this shared space, this shared ritual of finding food.

At the second store, after I’ve sent Riona off on her own to fulfill half the list while I buy the bus passes, we count our items in the small cart to see if we can shimmy into the “About 15 Items” line behind four other groups. We stand behind them like a crooked tail as carts shuffle past, and slowly move forward to the monotonous beep of the register. As we pile our goods atop the belt, I’m proud of her ability to stick to the list. “Good, you got just the almond milk I like,” I smile down at her, and she grins back, “Of course, Mama. I’m not Daddy.”

A tall blond woman rings us up in a slow, methodical fashion. Riona, who has just finished checking off the last item on the iPhone grocery list, proudly clicks the phone shut and begs to put my credit card into the chip reader. “How does it work, exactly?” she asks excitedly, wholly unaware that my usual no has slipped into a dull yes because my mind is on all my Muslim students from all those countries on his list who will likely never see their extended families again (and not on who’s putting my card in the chip reader).

“Awww,” the cashier coos, “I wish I could be a kid again… although, I had a terrible childhood.”

I look up at her, the pale blue eyes, the straight blond hair, and the hint of an accent. She knows she has my attention now, though of course a line of people still waits impatiently in this express lane, wanting to check out, to go home, to pop open a beer and drink this day away.

“Have you ever heard of the Bosnian genocide?” she asks, and my mind flashes back to my first year of teaching when I had a student whose letter of introduction to me was, when I asked about his childhood, “Only an American would ask about that. Because my childhood was shit. My childhood was war.”

“Yes… I have had students who were from Bosnia,” I reply to the cashier.

“Oh, where do you teach?” she asks excitedly.

“South High School.”

“My sister went there!”

I’m reminded again of how connected our humanity is. She hands me my receipt, I tell her what a great school it is, and I grab the hand of my ten-year-old, whose childhood still lights up by the sushi we always share (unbeknownst to her sisters) before we drive home. Whose childhood is road trips and living in Europe for a year and grandparents who are right down the road and two loving, living parents.

We make our way across the parking lot, and she rams the cart into the speed bump. The eggs tumble to the ground and she frantically looks up at me, ready for the annoyance that would normally be present on my lips.

But I am crying because I don’t care about the damn eggs. I care about the millions of refugees, just like that girl in the grocery store, who won’t be coming here. About the thousands who have come. And the thousands who have been left behind. About the impotence I feel, the numbness that creeps into the corners of my days, as I face this new regime.

“What is it, Mama?” she asks, taking my hand again. I tell her what the girl said about the Bosnian genocide. About the papers Trump is ready to sign. About my first-year-of-teaching student.

We open our crunchy California roll and I put all the wasabi on one piece. She smiles, holding up the bottle of water for me, wanting me to douse it out. “Not this time,” I say, “I want to feel all that fire in my mouth.”

I want to feel something. To feel like I can go to the grocery store without crying. To feel like we live in a place where everyone is welcome, everyone is loved, and everyone is free. Where everyone has the chance to have a happy childhood.

Halfway home, she asks, “Can I have the last piece?”

“Of course.”

She pops it into her mouth and squirms in her seat. “Don’t worry, Mama, I’ll throw the package away before the sisters find out.” She hops out of the car and dances across the lawn towards the outside trash can. “It’ll be OUR secret.”

As usual, she is as happy as a clam. She doesn’t carry the weight of the media, the weight of the presidential pen, the weight of a genocide, as she goes through her days.

She has the gift of a happy childhood. And for now, that is the only weight I want her carry.

“We’ll never tell,” I smile back, the spicy wasabi still sticking to my tastebuds. I can feel the fire in my mouth. And for this moment, at least, I am only thinking about how happy she is.

About how glad I am to have my girls, my home, my school that is a safe haven for all the refugees, for the grocery store filled with a microcosm of the world where a refugee now works, and all the food our family will need.

Because it is something. It is enough. Enough for today.

Why We March

We march because we have daughters. Because no one has the right to grab them by their pussies. Because “women’s rights are human rights” (God bless you, HRC). Because the world needs a wakeup call.

We march because we have sons. Sons who will grow into men who can learn how to respect women.

We march because we can’t be bullied. We can’t have anyone–male, female, binary–telling us what to believe. What to do with our bodies. What level of education we deserve. What pay rate we should succumb to.

We march because of our mothers who fought their way into the workforce. Because of our grandmothers who balanced households and work during WWII. Because of our great-grandmothers who were forced into marriages with strange men. Because of every woman who was ever mistreated or controlled by a man.

We march because politics matter. Political policies affect our lives, from whether we have birth control choices to being able to play sports in school to having equal opportunities in higher education.

We march because we are women and men, Muslim and Christian and Hindu and Jewish and Buddhist and atheist, LGBTQ and straight, married and unmarried, parentsĀ and grandparents, employees and employers, activists and pacifists.

We march because we are human. Because the United Nations created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we see it as a binding contract with our government. A binding contract with our world.

We march because we are free.

We march to protect that freedom.

Cloud Walking

clouds came in last night
 Siri warned of “bad weather”
 (she’s not a skier)
 
 twenty new inches
 of fresh powder, soft as silk,
 came from those “bad” clouds
 
 we floated ten runs
 clouds above us, below us,
 this heaven on earth