Father’s Day

I’m writing this via my phone as I’m locked out of my blog everywhere else (long, exceedingly annoying story), so please forgive any typos or incoherence. 

We had a lovely Father’s Day celebrating Tom and talking to my dear father and getting good time with T’s dad at the beach last week. And yet the whole day was tinged with a decidedly black cast by the fact that the Trump administration has torn more than 2,000 kids from their parents at the Mexico-US border as they staggered across seeking asylum. They have a legal right to do so, and we have a moral obligation to offer safety, and yet, we are treating them as less than human, as burdensome garbage. 

People don’t leave their homes unless they really have to. Unless they’re terrified or being abused or endangered or are deeply desperate due to poverty or violence or the like.

Today, able to hug and love the children that made us parents, we took the boys to a protest at the White House on behalf of the #KeepFamiliesTogether movement. It was all

I could think to do in the Face of the rage and impotence I felt and continue to feel.

IMAGE.JPG

The stories coming from the border are horrible. An infant ripped from its mother’s breast while feeding, taken away, the mother not told where. Who is feeding that baby now? With what? How?

We see photographs of sobbing toddlers, kids with sheets of foil as blankets,  behind chain-link walls. Cages of sorts. We are told they get one hour outside a day, that the folks who staff the detention center are not allowed to hug or comfort them.

We read reports about strangers caring for the younger kids in their cells, teaching others how to change diapers.  

We hear lies about family separation being law. It is NOT law.  

We hear that NOT ONE Republican senator has signed on to co-sponsor Senator Feinstein’s Keep Familes Together Act, and so it languishes, as do the children, the babies in detention camps in our own country.  One father killed himself last week just after being forcibly separated from his children; he couldn’t stand it. 

A tent city has been proposed. In Tornillo, TX. A TENT CITY! In America! Is no one in the disgraceful White House with a heart? Does no one wonder what traumatizing people might reap? On our souls? On our safety?

And so we made another protest sign, filled a bottle with ice and water, and parked ourselves in front of the White House. 

When will we reach bottom? When will any Republican running for re-election grow a pair and scream “ENOUGH!” At what cost does this hate and bigotry and destructive  nationalism come? I fear we don’t even know yet. 

Rise up, call your senators and congressional reps, donate to organizations helping at the border, be kind. Keeping families safe and together shouldn’t be political or partisan.

This morning, before I called my dad, I told my boys about a Father’s Day decades ago. Dad was attending an Episcopal church then, and I went with him that morning. A parishioner named John was there, bereft and lovely. Dad invited him home for lunch with us, no head’s up to Mom, and at our table there was room and plenty and love.

I hope that someday this country can actually be great. Can actually offer the promise of hope and dreams and opportunity and love. We're falling so short right now. I am ashamed and sorry and scared.

Tony and Kate

We lost another bright light today. Anthony Bourdain. Known to friends as Tony. He of the rakishly handsome and windswept face and hair, the tattooed arms, the bad boy past, the accolades, the larger than life life. Behind it all, it seems, was a dark gulf out of which he could not see. And we are less because he is gone.

And because Katherine Brosnahan, known publicly as Kate Spade, could not escape the darkness either. And because neither could so many others, from the darling boy in cowboy boots with whom I shared a seriously mutual crush so very many decades ago, to the siblings I knew from afar who simply couldn't be here anymore, to, perhaps, some of those who called in to the suicide prevention hotline I volunteered at while in grad school. 

***

Why are there so many angry drivers, I wonder? Why do they seem so entitled to the road as their personal track? Where must they be so quickly? Why do they honk and yell and flip the bird? Even that police man who chased me down the five-lane street, side by side as my kids sat in my back seat, screaming at me through (hopefully) thick- enough glass, making obscene hand gestures at me as I deigned to honk at a driver who ran the red and cut me off when I was just trying to get my boys to swimming lessons?

Why do they speed through our neighborhood despite nearly daily pleas to slow down, because there are kids and pets and older folks and neighbors biking and walking and gardening and trying to just be.

***

I think about the article I recently read about how uniform the red carpets have become. How female celebrities no longer trust or can afford to trust their own preferences in fashion and so the likes of Cher and Bjork have given way to uniformly coiffed and pretty people. A vanilla parade of sponsored Hollywood lobbyists. Who maybe don't even know what they're selling, who they're working for, or why.

***

I amble down my driveway early one Tuesday to find my newly-emptied and freshly-bagged compost bin dripping with dog pee. I will have to clean up this mess, and I wonder who left it for me. Who saw all the grassy space all around and either didn't care or was too absorbed in their hand-held hypnotic to notice their dog urinating all over and into a neighbor's compost bin. Who didn't stop it or who didn't bother to clean it up or who didn't even notice because they were looking down instead of up, instead of around.

***

I see small children taken from their parents. I hear bluster and mendacity gushing from "leaders." I see poisoned water and overt racism and poverty and desperation. I see everyone passing the buck and kicking the can. I see that in my own front yard after a willingness to spend to repair the cheat of others results in a flooded yard and no one willing to say, "Maybe it was me. I'll fix it." It's mostly, "It was him. It was her. It's THEM." and no responsibility taken.

***

I hear the nearly-constant refrains of fatigue and overwhelm.

***

I love-hate social media and how marvelous it is to be in touch with people all over this world and simultaneously how grotesque it is to see the lengths some will go to to curate their lives and powder the pocked and shellac the dull and put a bow on it all. The meanness and judgment that come from anonymity and the ease of othering from afar. 

Shut up and do something with your time. Go meet a neighbor or volunteer a few hours or be real and ugly cry with someone. Connect. Give. Tend. Our communities are dissolving all around us. Don't wait for a call; make one!

***

I can't help but see all these things as interconnected. I can't help but think that the vanilla'ing and the curation and the isolation and the looking down and forgoing of the basic decency of being in community with others are all related. In seriously deleterious ways. 

Tony and Kate are but public examples of the pain all around. They are reminders that wealth and fame and privilege and fortune mean little in the face of depression and loneliness and the inability to feel that we can surmount the expectations that the superficial tabloid-glossy parts of society lay before us as worthy living. The inability to believe that ever will the US reckon with and excise its cancerous bits, leaving promise and room for the most who live here.

My heart hurts for all we've lost this week. Those who brought color and joy and aspiration and connection to us so often for so long. Those who were famous and those who weren't. 

Today was so stupid, aka almost the end of school plus ridiculous

Today was absurd, and I don't mean that in a good way. It was stupid and frustrating and really unnecessary on this, the penultimate day of this school year.

Jack has been home sick for two days. Our air conditioner has been broken for nearly two weeks (merciful being wherever you might roam, it has been unseasonably cool here), and about three weeks ago, the water commission sent out a team to finally install the larger and new main that was, if you recall via the post Integrity, sprung on us as a requirement for moving forward with and completing our kitchen renovation. 

The team jackhammered into the street and sidewalk in their desired location only to find a previously unmarked by live gas line buried within. Then, they did the same destruction a few feet down and seemed to meet with success, promising that the shoddy asphalt fill jobs in all the holes were temporary fixes.  

Recently, our trusted plumbers got the go-ahead to connect the new line to our house, and so today, they started. I made them promise to avoid my beloved fig tree, and they worked around it beautifully, digging an abyss so long and deep that Mike Mulligan would be proud. It really stressed the shit out of me to see so much of my yard backhoed into a pile -Tom works so dang hard on his grass- and really, a day without water, not least with a sick kid at home, will give you a profound appreciation for water-on-demand.

IMG_1060.jpg

Nine hours and three inspections and a new hole in my basement wall and the fire alarms all going off because of the soldering and the toilets now full later, we got the go-ahead to fill in the abyss.

And then they switched the water back on and THE DAMN PIPES OFF THE NEW METER INSTALLED BY THE DAMN WATER COMMISSION'S SUB-CONTRACT TEAM WHO DOES NOT NEED ANY INSPECTION OF THEIR WORK began to leak. TO LEAK!!!! Are you flipping kidding me? The water commission folks blamed it on our plumbers even though the leak was in the meter pit which even I know is off limits to anyone EXCEPT employees of, wait for it, the water commission.

Meanwhile, some guy, another subcontractor from the water commission, came with a circle saw and began slicing into the streets outside. Do they not think it's best to make sure the job is completely done before repairing all streets and sidewalks?

This has legit been the dumbest experience. This is why people only-somewhat-in-jest call Maryland "the People's Republic of Maryland" and proceed to turn Republican. Mary, mother of lords. We did get to flush our toilets tonight and shower but everyone comes back tomorrow, the last day of school, to (hopefully) finish things up.

At some point we'll get a new damn air conditioner, and at some point I have to pack for our annual family beach week which involves a more than 7-hour drive on Saturday. I admit that I am not excited about that drive IN.ANY.WAY. Also, Jack is grounded from screens so that's an extra bonus to enhance the in-car family dynamics. 

I'm over today. And tomorrow, preemptively. But I do love the friends my boys have, so in the meantime, I’ll take these smiles.

IMG_1070.JPG