Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Bearing Witness--The Wall

Today they started building The Wall. When I woke this morning and went down to the kitchen, Mum and Dad weren’t there. I followed the low murmur of the television and found them in the living room. Dad had his arm around Mum, and from the way her back shook I knew she was crying.

I watched the Docums for a few minutes. Picture after picture of our Chairman, hardhat on his balding head, shovel in hand, surrounded by smiling workers. All men, all white. I wondered if Heidi’s dad was there, or Rachel’s. Mum and Dad didn’t know I was there. A weird heaviness filled me, like I’d swallowed an anchor or a flat of bricks. But then it became part of me, I’d absorbed the weight of it all, and I returned to the kitchen, but I wasn’t hungry for breakfast. I shouldered my backpack and, even though it was still dark, made my way to the corner to wait for the bus.

At the bus stop, I sat on the curb, sheltered by the ancient maple better than any umbrella, and pulled out my DocBook. I wanted to write—I needed to write—but my emotions tangled together and the words stuck together like glue. Above me, the sky spit hard drops of rain that spattered on the leaves. Down the street the dim yellow of headbeams lit the way for the bus. I powered down my DocBook and as I stood, I remembered: Mum’s family lived in Guadalajara, she was born there, and now The Wall would keep her away from her family forever.  


Two months ago I started BEARING WITNESS, a new novel, one that will push me as I am writing speculative young adult, but one which I hope has an Atwood sensibility. The story grew from an ancient flash, never published, I'd written in response to a prompt about walls. This is the beginning of chapter 3 which I've been wondering how to start. I have to thank the current administration for it's announcement today that they are proceeding with blocking our borders for shaking out my block. Peace...   

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Excuse Me, My Feminism's Showing

Once upon a time, in a land far away called Brookline, I was a feminist. I lived a block off Beacon Street, which included three pregnancy clinics within a mile of each other. I held signs and helped make human fences so other girls and women could gain entrance when individuals who called themselves 'Pro-Life' tried to block their way. I was an active member of my town's Board of Selectmen's Women's Committee (doesn't sound right, does it?). I was a card-carrying member of Boston NOW and an advocate for the RU-486 campaign. I boarded buses to Washington, DC on a regular basis to protest the erosion of women's rights and to affirm the passage of such.

Time passed. Abortion and birth control remained a right. Membership in women's groups dwindled because there seemed no need. Women rocked the world--we went to Harvard and Yale, became professors and CEOs and Senators. We raised our daughters and sons. We lived almost happily ever after.

Yesterday, I dusted off my old peace and diversity and abortion rights buttons and boarded another bus to Washington, DC. This was my 7th such DC march and once I joined the stream of humanity making its way to Independence Avenue, I knew it was bigger than any other event I'd attended. Women and men of all ages and colors and religions stood and sat with signs at the rally, And then, we marched. Rather, we slouched our way to the White House--there were too many people to march. A most glorious traffic jam.

What I heard over and over again--we've become complacent. After 8 years of social, economic, and political progress, we have gotten lazy. For myself, more than two decades of complacency have passed.  Certainly I have been ardent about many things--my children, mental health, substance use, education--but my ardor has been a quiet one. Time to amp up my commitment to a better world.

From now on, I will wear my buttons proudly. If someone will knit me a pussy hat, I'll wear that proudly as well. My feminism will wear itself as care and compassion for everyone, even those whose views I fail to understand, and I will fight for equal rights for all. Because that is what is democracy is all about. And, as a mother, this is what I need to insure for my children.

Call your elected officials and tell them what YOU want and need from them. Go to your town and county meetings. Join the PTSA. Write letters to the editors. Run for office, any office that affects policy. And I will see you at the next march.