Saturday, August 19, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 36: white privilege

White Privilege

When the boys joked about bringing switchblade combs to school to fool people, I thought about it for a while before we had the conversation.  

Have you heard about Black Lives Matter?  No?  So, there's this thing that's been happening in our country...for a very long time.  Black parents have to tell their kids, unfortunately, that the police might kill them.  Can you imagine?  No?  Me neither.  

What they've learned in school about MLK and the civil rights movement conveys a mission accomplished.  So...disillusionment...but with privilege.  Told them to stick with a black kid if they're out and police stop them.  

Friday, August 4, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 35: saying thank you to my 22-year-old self

Saying Thank You to My 22-year-old Self

I have come to use the metric of smart-funny-kind to identify the people to whom I'm most likely to feel close, most likely to let in at all.  This is completely subjective, obviously; another person's idea of humor might not match mine.  Smart, funny, and unkind:  no thank-you.  The other permutations represent people who are perfectly wonderful to be around, but the trifecta means we'll probably be good friends. 

Somehow, back when I wasn't always making good choices, I managed to attract a man who is brilliant, gut-bustingly funny, and relentlessly kind.  And I've been with him ever since.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 34: volunteer


As Staff Coordinator at the all-volunteer crisis center, I had the power to 'deactivate' other volunteers.  The most common reason for deactivation was three blown shifts; phones had been covered 24/7 since 1969 so not showing up was a big deal.

But the one time I deactivated someone, it was for making racial jokes that discomfited others.  At 20, I took a stand against a man twice my age who had volunteered there for half my life.

No self-congratulation--I was tormented.  He was so old.  They were just jokes.  But, unlike some decisions I made then, I think I got this one right.

Friday, July 21, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 33: affronted


I picture her running, a sash fluttering around her waist.  Attached to the sash is a net and into the net goes a pebble every time she feels affronted.  Clink.  Every grievance, petty or weighty, imagined or undeniable:  clink, clink.

She's been at this a long time. She can no longer run.  She trudges.  "But it wasn't fair."  Clink.  "It's not my fault."  Clink.  Sweating, purposeful.  Her determination has always been strong.  "How can you ask me to let this go?"  Clink.  "Why should they get away with it?"   Clink.  "I'm not stuck in the past."  Clink, thud.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 32: the truth will set you free

The Truth Will Set You Free

I've had a lot of tough conversations with my kids.  I'm sure there will be many more.  This one was tough.  I had to confront one boy about lying.  There was no question that he was lying about taking something of his brother's.  We asked him to tell the truth and he fudged around but finally admitted that he was embarrassed and had lied.

I want him to know that telling the truth will make him feel better.  Admit that you made a mistake, made a selfish choice, and then let it go.  Don't carry that shame.  Set it down and move on.

Monday, July 17, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 31: Fire and Rain

Fire and Rain

Hours after I learned my brother was dead, I heard Fire and Rain on the radio, began sobbing, and ran into the bathroom because I didn't want to freak out my two 6-year-olds.  I always thought that I'd see you again...

When the guitar teacher began playing it as a demonstration for the boys, I felt my head fill up.  Not just my eyes; I felt it in my ears, my throat, behind my cheekbones.  It didn't take me to memories of my brother but to learning of his death.  Healing now through little boy voices reaching for the notes, struggling to find the chords.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

100 days of 100 words, day 30: grief


I grieve with others, in empathy.  I experience pain witnessing tragedy and I clutch, with others, at the petals of hope in times of despair.

But this grief is utterly selfish.  It is me missing you, me feeling the hole in my life, the emptiness in my womb, the relationships that died while the people still live and the ones that died with death.

I can't prevent grief, can't stop myself from loving, from expecting, hoping, planning.

Sometimes I am scabby and oozing.  

And sometimes I am a crackerjack improviser, spinning deftly from that vortex, reconfiguring myself with everything that's left.