Monday, January 16, 2017

A New Year, full of uncertainty

Uncertainty is the worst. I firmly believe that not knowing what will happen is far, far worse than knowing - even if the knowledge is terrible. Perhaps you are more comfortable with uncertainty that I... (Perhaps you even LIKE surprise parties! For the record: NO.)

I've had this non-knowing is worse than being sure confirmed for me many times, mostly notably during our journey to becoming parents.

Should I take the pregnancy test now, or should I wait? Waiting lengthens the amount of time "pregnant" is still a possibility...

It was never positive. Which was, strangely, sometimes a relief, because at least I was sure.

Facts, even when they are the cold hard sharp steel of a negative pregnancy test, are at least something to lean on. They are solid, they hold you.

Thankfully those anxious months are behind me. Thankfully our adoption process, although it certainly had its ups and downs, ended up with a certain outcome. Our children know where they come from, we know their first family and we can communicate with them, see them.  We have the truth of their history to lean on.

So here we are, about to inaugurate a new President.  And there are so many unknowns swirling around us I'm dizzy. My news feed reads "Bad" "Worse", "Unbelievable".  Reports are unsubstantiated, truth is fought over, facts are hidden under layers of excuses or opinions.

What do we hold on to?

This past year, this election, has been so unprecedented, so unpredictable that it's hard to imagine how it will continue... where is the end of this crazy story? The plot is so convoluted and the characters are such cartoons. Our reality would be a failing first draft of a would-be crime novelist.

The uncertainty of this moment is driving me to distraction. I can see others reveling in it: "What will happen next!?!"

But I don't like surprise parties.

So here we are. 2017. A year that could bring... anything. The possibilities are endless, but they all seem to be scary. I am enough of an optimist that there is still a part of me that believes this has a happy ending. (Elizabeth Warren is declared President!)

I'm trying to hold on to something. I'm trying to find some slim hard truths to grasp, even if they are sharp and cold.

I know that next Saturday I'm traveling with a group of amazing women from my congregation to Washington DC.

I know we are not alone. Far from it.

And that, for now, will have to be enough.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review

Happy New Year!

Well, 2016. That was... well. It was a year to remember, and very possibly regret. And who knows what's coming for us in 2017. Life, for sure, in all its horrendous, glorious beauty. I don't really expect anyone to scroll through 30 pictures of my family in 2016. I did this for myself, mostly. Because WOW, it is all blur.  So it was helpful to scroll through memory lane (ie, our ridiculously bloated iPhoto folder) and try to punctuate our year. 

So here we go... 2016.

January. Happy New Year! We have no idea what we are in for! HOORAY!

February: ALL of winter happened at once, in one weekend snowstorm. This is us taking the subway to go sledding, as one does when one's car is buried under 4 feet of snow. (aside: I've never seen a group of people as gleefully attacking snow drifts as my West Indian neighbors did that day. Take THAT Winter!)

Still holding to our monthly date night, a habit that, alas, we did not finish the year strongly on. Here we are selfie-ing at the Whitney Museum.

That time they both had strep. 

City childhood. Climbing poles instead of trees.

April: Daniel is the star of his Hip Hop dance recital. Then he decides he doesn't want to take dance class anymore because tween.
 Lily turns 6! Daniel turns 10!

May: Is is summer yet?
June: I made a card with this photo for all her teachers with the caption "We Made It!" because PHEW. 

 July: Family Photo! Family Birthdays! Why is everyone yelling!?!

 Is it summer yet?

Proof that yes, I make my children do school work during the summer.
'Cause summer days are L-O-N-G.

I turned 40! Lord help me, I was an emotional wreck over this. Also I cut all my hair off.

Hubby turns 40! He takes it so much better than me!

 Summer! Road trip clowning around.

August: Maine. I could look at this view forever.

Lily charms her way into the band at our local fair.

 country childhood.
 city childhood.

Labor Day Weekend: We visit beloved family on the West Coast and LILY IS A FLOWER GIRL.
Many, many years of joy for our beautiful sister and brother-in-law!
(Lily: that was the best day of my life!)
 The pilots invited Lily to explore the cockpit on our way home. This was not terrifying at all.
 September: New classroom! New grade! New everything! All the weeks after I snapped this photo on the first day back at work is a blur.
 My wonderful husband got me a Saturday morning yoga session at the local museum. 'Cause I might have been a teensy bit stressed out this Fall.

Celebrating Meskel with a tiny bonfire

October: Obligatory walking in Nature and Admiring Foliage.
November: Campaigning.
 Joyously voting for the First Woman President! gulp.
Photos of the slow drunken nightmare later that night are unavailable.
 Happy Thanksgiving! ("Hi, my name is Lily and I eat about 6 foods, but one of them is Peking Duck. Go figure!")

 This is happening next June. Goodbye little boy, hello middle schooler! Hold me.

December: Merry Everything! Praying for Peace and a bit of sanity for 2017. 
Happy New Year dear Internets. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Three Reasons I'm Wearing a Safety Pin

phone banking for Hillary in happier, saner times...
There has been a lot of cross talk about safety pins in the post election whirlwind. First conceived by Britons concerned about the anti-immigrant/anti-muslim backlash after the Brexit vote this summer, the safety pin idea jumped the pond after 11/8/16. The concept is simple: wear a safety pin to show vulnerable people (refugees, immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ folks, etc) that they are "safe" with you. It's a small act of solidarity and symbolism, and it's a whole lot easier than wearing a full length dress with the Declaration of Independence written on it.

BUT... some folks pushed back, like isn't this just another lazy way of showing 'solidarity' without having to actually DO anything risky or self-denying like protesting or escorting women at Planned Parenthood or boycotting Macys or something. Is this the ice bucket challenge of the year?

Well, I think, Yes. And. That ice bucket challenge did actually lead to new medical breakthroughs and treatments...

I've been wearing a safety pin on my clothes or jacket every day since Election Day. Here is why:

1. It reminds me of who I am. It can be so easy to get distracted by real life- by laundry piles and trip slips and grocery lists. It is fun to think about pie recipes or Christmas decorations. I wear the pin to give me a little mental pinch- don't forget. Don't forget that you are a smart woman, a Democrat, a Unitarian-Universalist, a mother of two beautiful African-American children, a New Yorker, and a teacher of children of special needs. I wear the pin to keep me focused on doing the vital work of being fully present in my life.

2. It might give someone else a sign that they are safe with me. If even one vulnerable person is felt held in love by my little pin, then it is worth it. If even one of the parents of my Muslim students feels a little bit relieved upon seing the pin, it's worth it. If a grocery clerk or a postal worker or a neighbor or a kid on the bus feels a tiny bit more ok seeing that pin, it's worth it.

3. It reminds me that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This election was not normal. The outcome is not normal. (I'm not prone to believe conspiracy theories, but it does seem like some Russion interference happened on 11/8, and that is both bad and really, really not ok.) This "transition period" is not normal. The President elect holding meetings with both foreign leaders and foreign businessmen and Neo-Nazis in his gold plated penthouse. NOT NORMAL. A President Elect tweeting nonsense and settling fraud lawsuits for 25 million dollars... NOT NORMAL. Most of the time I can walk around my life distracted by my to-do lists and grocery shop and worry about our budget. I live in my lovely "bubble" and I'm not going to apologize for it. BUT, the world right now is reeling from this terrible election, and the pin reminds me to stay grounded and stay sharp.

Do you wear a pin? Why? or Why not?