Monday, June 30, 2008

your comfort is my silence.

LaVena Johnson.

i just want to say her name, out loud, here on my little blog, and hopefully add one tiny little internet voice to the movement for justice on her behalf. if you haven't already heard her story, hear it now, and join the movement to compel the army to formally investigate her death. speak up for her, spread the word, carry a little piece of the torch.

the first step is refusing to be silent.

h/t to the tireless Waveflux - see his site and the petition page for ongoing updates.

Friday, June 20, 2008

a letter.

"Four years ago, when I was still at Ms. but had just learned about Bust, the editors of that zine asked me to interview Björk, the Smurfy Icelandic pop star, for their issue on motherhood... Trapped in my own earnestness about Third Wave feminism, I found myself asking a lot of goody-two-shoes questions about being a single mother. I wanted to know what had led Björk to divorce the father of her son after only a year of marriage. 'Why suffer?' she said, and picked her nose." --Jennifer Baumgardner

dear 2008:

you have been, by all accounts, a bitch of a year. i don't really believe in the cosmos (not in the fatalistic, sun sign-moon sign alignment sort of way), but if i did, it would seem that they asked you to wreak some havoc pretty much anywhere that you could. big ways, little ways, in-between ways - any kind of havoc was preferable to none. in just under six months you've brought me and mine, in no particular order: weddings, tumors, power outages, deaths, eye afflictions, heat waves, elopements, arguments, retirements, broken refrigerators, falling outs, denied medical treatments, tornadoes, the flu from hell, hospices, turbulence, ended friendships, surgeries, and one disintegrating pair of favorite jeans. just to name a few.

and honestly? it's been great. i mean, it's been god awful, a lot of it, but it's also been great. it feels like a year of forging, in a way - or maybe, more aptly, a year of being forged. of being both the sledgehammer and the red-hot metal underneath. a year of total upheaval, of these shifting tectonic plates that still have not quite decided where to settle. and i am learning so much.

after one particular decision i made recently - one that had to do with cutting off communication with someone that had once been very important to me - my sister made a very good point. she said, essentially, that we accept too much unnecessary negativity in our lives. if someone or something is bringing nothing positive to our table, why tolerate it? why not just cut it out, toss it aside, and move on?

why suffer, indeed?

i've been thinking a lot about this, this idea of excising undue suffering from life when you can. of embracing the positive, even if you're not the most positive person - because lord knows i'm not. but i think there's a way, even for the most committed of cynics, to refuse to engage with things that are not improving your life or helping you grow in some way. because, as far as life goes, there's good negativity and bad negativity. for instance, my work can be really depressing sometimes - the dogged societal persistence of inequality for nearly half the world's population will have that effect. but the reality of that negativity - as much as it sometimes makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and stay that way - ultimately fuels me, motivates me to take some action. whereas so many other kinds of negativity - pettiness, manipulation, fear, self-doubt - just wither you on the vine. they make you smaller, less engaged, less alive. and here's the thing - you don't need them. they are infinitely and continually disposable.

so, 2008, i'm rolling with your punches. i'm using everything that i experience as a filter, a lesson, a discovery, a new context. i refuse to be pulled under. i am more thankful, i am more mindful - i am easier on myself, much more gentle with myself. i admire shoes more. i worry about my hips less. i send facebook gifts more. i online stalk ex-friends less. i eat fruit more. i hurry through dinner less. i read more. i watch tv news less. i sleep more. i dwell less.

honestly, i have no idea what else is in store for us before new year's eve finally rolls around. maybe it will be harmony, maybe it will be catastrophe. who knows. but last week, i was home in massachusetts looking through some pictures, and i found one of my dad standing in the place where, thirty years earlier, my parent's wedding reception had been held - a big, warm, wood and stone-filled building which i'm certain has seen many a good party. on a wooden beam above his head, a carved inscription read: "enjoy yourself - it is later than you think."

and so i will.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

push and pull.

isn't it always a balancing act, living in the neighborhood? the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly. always shifting slightly, so you never quite know - on the day you leave the place - what your ultimate verdict about it will be. big things, and little ones, happen every day, and your mood has to keep recalibrating. like, for instance, this weekend.

the good: walking down the street that bisects the park just outside our apartment, jason and i notice something. the parking signs, which had just been changed out a few months ago to reflect the new "pay to park" nature of this tiny through block, had changed again. gone were the fury-inducing signs instructing people to locate the few new-fangled, credit-card-accepting parking meters along the block and pony up for the privilege of parking there - a by-product of the new nationals stadium nearby, and a circumstance that seriously cut into our ability to park within a block of our apartment. in their place were new signs, ones with a blessed green background and white lettering lower third that reads, "zone six permits excepted." i am not kidding you when i say i did a dance of joy on the sidewalk - heel kicking and elbow swinging included. us, one, DDOT, zero! take that, bitches, your stupid idea failed and we can park here again!

the bad: as we returned from running our errands that afternoon, we got the last spot right on our block. walking over the curb, i noticed that the fire hydrant 500 feet from our apartment now bore that ominous plastic ring around its metal snount: "maintenance required." dammit. i would rather not die in a house fire, DCFD, so please do get on that.

the ugly: we are still playing the game called "hmmmm, how much will our rent go up after the landlord signs on the dotted line to sell our building?" this will happen, we assume, any day now, since the 45 day period all the tenants had to band together and buy the building instead (ha. hahahaha.) is just about over, if not over already. my wallet feels lighter already.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

thought for the day.

sometimes, i feel like a jumble of loose ends. and none of them seem to have a beginning.

which makes it hard, you know, to tie things together.