Lift Ev’ry Voice, and then some

It’s Black History Month! And Trump’s a racist!

I spend too much time on Twitter and this morning ran across the transcript of Trump’s Black History Month remarks. He referred to the breakfast as “our little breakfast, our little get-together,” first of all.

Continue reading “Lift Ev’ry Voice, and then some”

“Did you eat, yet?”

When my best friend in high school was deciding whether she’d leave California and go East for college, her mother walked into her room one night and, apropos of nothing asked, “pero ¿quién alimentará tú?” Continue reading ““Did you eat, yet?””

The worst part about having an easily-raised temper is that you feel betrayed by your own feelings. I’m almost never sure when I’m actually angry about something because for every 4 times I’m justified, there are at least another two that I’m being irrational.

It feels like I’m being sabotaged by my own brain.

Find Your Zen

Find Your Zen

There is a new site for the millennial ladies called The Refresh, and guess who is published there?!

(If you guessed me, YOU WIN.)

For your sanity, I shared some of my favorite self-care, uh, things (things?) that I sincerely hope put you in a better frame of mind ahead of Tuesday. Sweet pile of burning trash Tuesday.

Self-care as a concept has taken off in the past few years, thanks, in part, to young women who are emphasizing its importance to their well-being. I’d never really thought of it as a necessary, almost-scheduled practice until probably a year ago, but I’ve since become a vociferous advocate. Taking care of your mental and physical health is the single most important thing you can do, and it’s what sets the stage for everything else in your life. As Count Rugan tells Prince Humperdinck near the Pit of Despair, “If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”

So. With that, I hope these eight key tips help. And if they don’t, or if I missed something (keep in mind there were like four or six I left off, but, word counts), feel free to let me know. In the meantime, let’s just try and get through the next five days. I know we can; I believe in us.

How Lucky We Are

I think a lot about how lucky I’ve been. My mother was a teenager in shock and recovering from her father’s suicide when I was born. My dad wasn’t around. There was no money when I was growing up. I had my grandma, I had her best friend, I had my best friends and their parents.

The daycare I went to for awhile was run by a woman who used her charges as free labor. Once a week, we cleaned her apartment. I learned to vacuum and wash dishes there.

My mother didn’t believe me until one day she happened to come early to pick me up, and there we were, scrubbing and tidying away. I never went back.

The summer before I turned 10, my mom met a man who left his wife and three kids for the two of us and proceeded to mosey us on across the country, away from everyone we knew, to somewhere no one knew us from Adam. There was still no money.

What’s worse, there were so many more rules, and a ton of oversight. Then there was another baby, and even less money. I made a few friends. Their parents became watched over me to the extent they could. But I also gained two lovely uncles with whom I’ve cultivated an enduring relationship through the years. They have been my biggest champions, and have been pillars in my life and my education.

School was my refuge. I was good at it, and I was in advanced classes as soon as they had some in which to put me. Sixth grade was the worst year, because my teachers placed a higher degree of importance on their legacy students than on the new kid who wore the same clothes to school every day, but seventh grade was better and in eighth I found teachers who gave a damn.

Teachers who went out of their way to protect me from my stepdad and to provide options where they could, for instance. Or coworkers of my stepdad’s, who gave me babysitting jobs and paid pretty well.

My best friends’ parents were crucial during this time; I’ve mentioned that before. They fed me, sheltered me, parented me, and sometimes clothed me. They picked me up from practices and school activities, and ferried me around. They worried about my whereabouts, and bought foods that I liked to eat.

When I was in college, my mother’s ex-boyfriend sent money every birthday and Christmas. A professor asked if I’d considered grad school, effectively the first time I’d ever even been in the same headspace as the idea.

This list could go on, and I know I’m leaving people off. I was talking with my uncles this evening, and in relaying some drama from their side of the family, it occurred to me how lucky I was. Yeah, things were bad for awhile, and I had to grow up quickly and learn to survive. Yes, this has in some ways made me kind of hard. Cold. But there was always someone around who loved me, who cared about where I was and whether I was eating and whether the clothes I had were warm enough. To have had that in the face of everything, when at any time things could have taken another turn, I have been so completely lucky.

And I am ever awestruck, and thankful.

The Right to Sit

One of the key elements of the Freedom of Speech is being able to speak out against and/or act in protest against a government’s actions without retribution from said government.

Consider this: the symbols of our country are just that — stand-ins for a political structure; an image or collection of notes arranged in a pleasing manner and accompanied by words to stir pride, to stir togetherness and unity.

Not acknowledging one of those symbols is not disrespect, it is within our rights as Americans. In fact, the architects of the Constitution codified those rights as the backbone of our country to ensure that people couldn’t be thrown in jail for speaking out against deplorable policies that treat some of our citizens as second-class while elevating others.

It might seem counterintuitive to say that the people who fought for us to be able to fly the flag also fought for us to be able to burn it. It’s that freedom to speak freely, to express our displeasure with a government that does right by only some of its people some of the time, that the flag represents.

It doesn’t only cover the good parts of the country, it covers the bad, too. It covers the KKK’s right to march (something I personally find reprehensible) and spread its white supremacist ignorance, intolerance and hatred; and it covers a football player’s right to sit out the national anthem because he sees something deeply amiss in the way the state treats black people and people of color.

The national anthem is a song. It is just, at the end of the day, a song. And it’s a song that was appropriated from another culture (like so many wildly popular American things are), to be a unifying symbol to those of us who were lucky enough to be born on U.S. soil, and those who dreamt of becoming Americans in many cases for the exact kinds of freedom Kaep exercised last night. He wasn’t taken out back and shot; he wasn’t jailed for insurrection or treason or simply just being “un-American” as many are accusing him of today. Speaking out in protest is as American as you can get.

NFL teams and the league can’t seem to figure out domestic violence or drugs or game ball deflation, but at least this time, they got it right.