Miscellany

It’s been a long while since I’ve been here, y’all.

Oliver graduated from 4th grade, and we enjoyed our eighth annual family trip to Wrightsville Beach with Tom’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their darling girls.
Children are dying under pathetically inattentive, cruel “protective” custody on our southern border.
Trump is flirting with bombing Iran. His base is enabling his insane idiocy and excusing his many assaults.
Yet another has credibly accused Trump of assault -this time of RAPE.
I leave on Thursday to move the boys to summer camp, and I fly home on Saturday to commence six weeks without them.
Tom is soon to start a new job so we’re not traveling this summer.
Instead we are renovating our dining and family rooms and relearning how to rest and relax.
Nutmeg still doesn’t like Ruthie, but she is holding her own, and things are slightly better between them.
I have wonderful new writing students and last week taught a fun, energetic Canning 101 class.
I am deeply worried about and appalled by much of America.
Tom and I are driving to Brooklyn on Sunday in further pursuit of my passion for midcentury modern, Scandinavian-inspired design.
The fireflies are out, and my blackberry bush is thriving, and the orange calla lily I planted with hope two Junes ago is blooming magnificently.
It is PRIDE month, and love is love, and let’s just cheer that!
Today is Bourdain Day, and I miss the light that Anthony Bourdain was in the world, and I hate that depression lies so believably to so many.
I am so very tired, so very worried, and have so many books I hope I get through this summer.

In the meantime, I am thinking about connection and trust, relationships and self-protection. I am thinking of how wonderfully connective vulnerability and gratitude can be, and yet how exposed such porous borders can render us.

Here’s to peace and goodness, faith and the best of the unknown. Here’s to six weeks unplugged and in nature, to New York City and loving cats, to friends and also boundaries, and to the ways that appreciation and trust can make life richer.

#StopTheBans Day of Action for Reproductive Rights

“Excuse me, are you pro choice?”
”Yes.”
”But it’s not your body.”

-as told to Emily by a young white man in front of the Supreme Court

It’s been a long month since I last posted. A long time since Kieran died, since his funeral, since his mom started to meet each day without him. It’s been an honor to bear witness to some of her grief, to sit with her in it, to see a community rally together to help in any and all possible ways.

The past two weeks alone have felt horrifically oppressive. We have seen our “president” cross the 10,000 lies to the American people mark. We have seen Alabama and Missouri pass draconian anti-abortion bills; no abortion after six weeks, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, heinous punishments for any woman who seeks an abortion and any doctor who dares to help her. Meanwhile, the rapist can have parental rights. These bills were voted on by majority-white Christian men. Here’s the Alabama slate responsible:

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Do they look like people who have uteruses? Who can become pregnant from rape? They don’t and aren’t. And I am SICK TO FUCKING DEATH of other people, especially sanctimonious, right wing Christian men and women, attempting to regulate what I may decide to do with my body.

If you don’t remember, the right to abortion was decided in 1973. Forty-six years ago. And yet, for as long as I can remember, my mother has hoped desperately that women never need relive the pre-Roe years. I volunteered for NARAL while Tom and I lived in Boston, and marched in their March on Washington in 2005. I have listened ad nauseam as far-right pro-life supporters have demanded that I live by their rules and values while simultaneously denigrating mine and acting in stunningly hypocritical fashion all the while.

See: all the uber-Christians at my high school who sent out conversion caravans and preached abstinence but concurrently held the mantle of highest teen pregnancy rate in my town and area. Consider the one who had a painful, scary miscarriage in the toilet stall next to me in the school bathroom.

See: Alabama governor Kay Ivey carrying on about the sanctity of life as she signs the anti-abortion bill but who has also, while governor, executed seven men on death row. Alabama is notorious for the systemic racism that puts innocent men behind bars, including on death row. This is why the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the lynching museum, are housed in Montgomery.

See: the publicly pro life GOPers [Tim Murphy (a PA senator and Elliot Broidy (former RNC deputy finance chair, for example] who have decried abortion while paying for their mistresses and girlfriends to have them. (And if you don’t think serial adulterer Trump has done the same, your head is buried in some dark sand.)

Perhaps most revoltingly, I have become aware that for way too many pro-life folks, pro life really only means pro birth and, ideally, pro-white birth. Just look at the lack of willingness to support programs for hungry children, diaper banks, free- and reduced-lunch plans at school, early childhood education programs, and so on.

Sixty percent of Alabama women seeking abortions are black. “Alabama is tied for fourth-worst place in infant mortality,” according to this article in the Los Angeles Times. In this piece you’ll find that “more than a quarter of Alabama’s children live in poverty; 30 percent of those children are under the age of five. Only half of Alabama’s 67 counties have an obstetrician.” The state has no equal pay laws protecting women from discrimination.

It’s utterly despicable to force children into this world and then refuse to care for them or their mothers. It is sick and cruel to force a girl raped and impregnated by a family member to have the baby and then share custody rights with her rapist. Read this heartbreaking article if you want a firsthand account. That’s not pro life. That’s pro birth and then shit on the mother and shit on the kid. This is anti-woman and control the women at all cost crap.

This morning, I hurriedly coordinated with two regular Resister Sisters so that we could attend the #StopTheBans women’s rights rally at the Supreme Court. All of us canceled or shifted plans, grabbed or made signs, water bottles, and backpacks, and headed downtown. I riffled through my library of protest signs past before remembering that I’d been forced to leave my favorite pro choice sign outside of the Senate building before entering last time.

I scrounged up a half sheet of foam core, Sharpied “I didn’t vote to live in Gilead” on one side and “If it’s not your body, it’s not your choice” on the other, pulled on my resistance shirt, and left with my friend Karen.

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Initially the turnout felt small, but by the official start time, the rally was thrumming with energy, camaraderie, outrage, despondency, and determination. My friend Julie arrived, and she and I set up camp just behind the speaker’s lectern, over to the left. This was fortuitous because in addition to the wonderful NARAL and Planned Parenthood speakers, including the wonderfully fierce Dr. Leana Wen (PP’s new president), a long line of Senators and Congresswomen and men, joined us and spoke.

Senators Klobuchar, Hirono, Wyden, Murray, Blumenthal, and Schumer. Congresswomen Pressley and Speier and Congressman Swalwell. Bernie was there but left before speaking. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, and because of early school dismissal I had to leave before the rally ended, but it was really an excellent turnout of support.

Julie felt pumped up and grateful to be in the company of like-minded resisters; Karen and I enjoyed ourselves, but really feel the bleakness of women still being treated like such non-beings. Things feel hard and as if nothing will ease in the near future.

Which was why I was beyond enraged when a young dress-shirt-and-tie guy came up to me and said, as I quoted at the start of this piece:

“Excuse me, are you pro choice?”
”Yes.”
”But it’s not your body.”

Yes it fucking is, man without uterus.

Karen sputtered and said, “Bless his heart,” before we turned around with utter disgust.

“It’s not your body” is really the essence of all this, isn’t it. If you see women as equals, with agency and selfhood, you couldn’t possibly divorce one’s physical self from one’s emotional self, reproductive desires and choices, and independent plans for life. You couldn’t possibly tell her that her body isn’t hers.

I am not just a goddamned vessel. No woman is UNLESS she chooses to be. The choice should be each of ours, as should safety and respect.

New York and Sri Lanka

It is Sunday morning, and Mom, Dad, Jack, Ol, and I are on our way to the 9/11 museum and memorial. I lived in NY on 9/11 but have not visited the site since I moved two years later.

We are still in Brooklyn, it’s a beautiful morning, we are all happy and have had such a fun weekend. I sit with the horrific news from Sri Lanka, and suddenly it really sinks in. I have friends living there, a mother and son the boys and I know from school. She is Sri Lankan and they took a leave of absence to move to the country for two years to be with extended family, to travel, to let the boy, now a fifth grader, study in and experience a new place and school.

I message the mom: Just checking in. Are you and your family ok?

What are the odds, I think, and I turn my attention back to my family and the museum.

The incredibly thoughtful designers and curators of the tribute to 9/11 couldn’t have done a finer job. It is a weighty, moving place of course, my eyes prick with tears many times, but I never feel destroyed or frantic to leave. To an individual, the staff and volunteers are thoroughly trained, passionate, and kind. Please, if you feel overwhelmed, there are tissue kiosks and seats all around. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help.

The boys take it all in, brave and respectful. And we talk about terrorism and hate but also the antidotes of love and tolerance. We talk about the lives that were horrifically taken and also the beautiful way New York came together afterwards. We talk about community and tending the ones we are part of. We talk about condemning hate and hateful actions but also about the importance of not judging groups by the behavior of the extremists within them.

After, I note that I’ve not heard back from my friend. This is odd. But it’s Easter, and I put the niggling aside to laugh with my boys and parents, to pack us up, to say goodbye.

We board the bus home and three hours in I hear the news: the boy has been killed in Colombo. The mother and grandmother are in the hospital but will be ok. They had been at breakfast together.

I gasp, and without thinking turn to the boys and tell them the horrific news. What?!

We cannot make sense of this. Jack had played chess with this boy and borrowed his hiking pants. He was a radiant, kind child of such intelligence. He was to return to DC in just weeks.

Our community is wrecked for the loss this mother has sustained. For the loss we feel, too.

Yesterday, as I drove Jack home from school, he, in uncharacteristic emotionality, said, “Mom, I don’t understand this evil. The world is shit right now.” He looked so distraught and baffled. I couldn’t disagree, but I am 43 and he is 12, and I desperately wish the world was a better place to grow up in because death and a deep awareness of the world’s ugliness and many failures is a lot to hold when you’re not even a teenager.

Please be the good. Be generous and kind and tolerant. Please offer to lend a hand, to give a hug. Please value fact and truth and honesty and character. Please fight fanaticism in every way you can, including the very real white conservative extremism, so often religiously-rooted, that harms us here in the States. Please honor this dear boy and all the others whose lives end entirely too soon. Please keep his mother in your heart and your thoughts. She needs a deep bench of love and support right now and for a long time to come. Many do.