A Walk in the City

22 Jul
Underpass

Underpass

Underpass II

Underpass II

Wall II

Wall

Window

Window

Door

Door

All the Lilypads

8 Jul

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Road Trip

4 Jul

I knew my period was coming. I felt it in my paper thin disconnection from the people around me hours before I felt it in my body.

I didn’t know it yet, though, when I drove my car around the bend. I should have. My period has been unpredictable for awhile. I should have known, as I faltered so brilliantly: This was the day it would begin again. But I didn’t.

Not that it would have made much difference.

Half a block from my daughter’s friend’s house, I knew only that the car was packed and we were on our way, forty-five minutes early, all of us eager to begin. The sun was the perfect brightness for mid-morning and I was headed out of town for the holiday in a t-shirt, short pants and sandals. Life. Was. Grand!

When we turned down my daughter’s friend’s street, I was faced with a choice: Drive along the narrow passage to the left of a large, well-marked, gaping hole and risk my wheels tipping into the hole … OR … Drive into the one-inch deep indentation in the road in front of me and risk scraping the bottom of my car.

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In retrospect, I should have parked right there at the moment of choice and walked to the end of the block to retrieve our young friend with her overnight bag. But, no.

I drove right into the indentation. Right INTO the indentation. I didn’t understand what was happening when I first began to sink. I didn’t have a sinking sensation. It wasn’t like that. I was stuck. I knew that much. I tried to drive forward. I tried to drive in reverse. I floored the gas pedal. I rocked the wheel back and forth, trying to get a better angle on the bumps leading into and out of the hole, but my car wouldn’t budge. So I put on my hazards and opened the car door to wet cement.

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What I love is that when I texted my Honey to let her know I was stuck in wet cement, she called to ask if I was speaking metaphorically. Gotta love being married to a poet, right? I assured her I wasn’t, then got off the phone immediately because people were arriving to push my car out of the hole. More people. Trying again to push my car out of the hole. Trying to help. It still wouldn’t budge.

By then, I’d been talking and trying and scheming and worrying for nearly an hour and my hopes were sinking as the cement dried.

Eventually, two very kind men pulled my car out of the hole backwards across two thin boards, pulling it with a heavy chain up the tilted bed of a flatbed truck. The cement company manager hosed down my tires, removing hubcaps and carefully cleaning the inside of each wheel. He hosed down the under-carriage, too, ensuring my brakes and everything else was free from debris. I was grateful. Embarrassed and grateful.

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I mean, even if there isn’t a sign, who doesn’t recognize wet cement?

Still, my car – two hours later and with all four wheels on the road – was much cleaner than when we began. My girl was giggling with a friend in the backseat. And I had the pleasure of knowing we had pulled all the neighbors out of their houses for a mid-morning summer block   party   gaper’s circle   gathering of concerned citizens. Clearly, our village neighbors had my back. Especially the mother of my daughter’s friend, who didn’t leave my side once the whole time.

One gentleman, after telling me all about the trials and tribulations of his niece’s transracial domestic adoption, even asked if he should take up a collection for the tow truck fee.

I love where I live.

And I love that I’m able, now and again, to drive away. Even if I drive into a few unmarked holes and have to wait for a heavy chain and a handful of kind souls to help. I mean, that’s life, right? Metaphorically speaking.

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Here’s hoping for a smooth ride home.

With love,

RoiAnn

Privilege isn’t something you can give away like a dollar

18 Jun

wpid-img_20150613_122954.jpgI feel like I should contribute something meaningful to the conversation, but I have no words. None. I have nothing useful to say. Nothing that hasn’t already been said. Nothing fresh. No magic to bring us all back together again, to fix the cracks, to rebuild a society that makes sense, that nurtures and supports all its members.

There are people who have plenty to say – plenty that’s useful, that’s healing, that’s strong, calling us back to our best selves. Listen to them.

I’ve got nothing.

I don’t want to claim Rachel Dolezal, and I do not want to claim what’s-his-face who killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina in cold blood yesterday after praying with them for an hour.

Today, I just want to live in a commune somewhere, to simply skip off the grid and out of society.

But I am a witness now. We are all witnesses now. And we can let this change us, we can step in and change things, or we can turn away.

I know this, and I don’t want to know it. I don’t want to choose. I don’t want to know I’m choosing.

Because of course, I am still very much on the grid – and yes, I choose to stay – in my temperate house on my tree-lined street with my kid in a summer theater camp and my laptop fully charged. What I am is privileged. What I am is white.

What I am is scrolling through my Facebook feed and wondering what to contribute – until slowly and reluctantly, I realize that what I need to ask here is NOT: What do I say? But rather: What do I do?

Do I hold a longer conversation with the guy in the elevator who I’m friendly with every morning, because it’s becoming increasingly clear to all of us – in the building, on the street, on the train, in the neighborhood – that we need each other?

We need to listen to each other.

We need to start over. We need to build from the ground up, from one conversation to the next, speaking even when we don’t have all the words, and listening. We need to do so much more of that.

Privilege isn’t something you can just give away like a dollar, like five dollars, like a meal you can share with someone who needs one. Shedding privilege, balancing power takes time, experience, and intention.

We need to listen to the voices that are hurting, and the voices that heal.

To shift the balance in this country, we – white people – need to listen with intention. But we can’t stop there.

I need to let the actions of these people I don’t want to claim actually teach me to delve into those places where I don’t want to look. To observe my own blind spots. Because what I am witnessing – and we each may witness something different – but what I am witnessing here is where white people go when we spin out of control in the direction we’re headed already.

We need to course-correct, and none of us can do this alone.

We need to see where we’re going.

We need to listen to the voices that are hurting, and the voices that heal.

We need to speak the truth.

And to start shifting the balance in this country, we need to act with intention. Every. Single. Day.

Thirsty?

17 Jun

Thirsty - Better Half

Thirsty - Latte

Thirsty - Izze

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Last Day

4 Jun

Last kids’ yoga class.
Last night of tutoring.
Last Girl Scout gathering.
Last day with a school-issued iPad.

Last day of elementary school.

With each last, my girl looks me in the eye,
pouts her lip like she did when she was five
and says, “How sad!” But she doesn’t mean it.
She cracks the tiniest smile each time,

leaving me to ask myself if Sad
is the only ending I offered,
if Sad is the only ending I know.

Tomorrow, I drop my daughter off
for the last day of fifth grade.

Tomorrow, I drop my daughter off
for her last day of fifth grade.

And tomorrow night, we dance.

Learning to Type

29 May

pay phoneA few weeks after Kelly and I started dating, on the 45-minute drive between her home and mine, I decided I needed a mobile phone — to stay connected with the people in my life. Before Kelly, I talked with friends every night from my home phone — you know, the one that plugged into the wall. Nearly every lunchtime, I chatted from the office phone, too, or from the pay phone downstairs in the quick-stop market next to a machine that every thirty seconds announced, “Create-a-Card!”

Now, twelve years later, I text. Silently. Briefly.

While I was in high school, my dad spent long hours on the computer at night. It upset my mom, who wanted him around while she ironed and watched her shows. She wanted him to come to bed before she fell asleep. She wanted to see him, talk with him, be with him. Never mind that she was lesbian. That didn’t come to light for a long, long time and by then, I had decided technology was the enemy, keeping people apart, stealing our attentions, lighting up our lives in unnatural ways. I wanted nothing to do with computers. I didn’t even want to learn to type.

I’m not saying this line of reasoning was wrong.

But I remember earlier, a younger me sitting in a room on campus, where I’d go sometimes with my professor dad. I remember drawing or writing or reading or waiting while the computer spit out green and white striped pages, connected and perforated. The computers were enormous and loud. I loved their racket all around me. I loved their rhythms and their beeps and their hums. I loved knowing my dad was nearby, and understood these big brilliant things. No one else I knew had seen a room like this. No one I knew had any inkling what these tall, touch-the-ceiling computers with their dot matrix and binary codes would eventually become. No one I knew had any clue, except my dad.

He was thrilled by them.

Eventually, I learned to type because I wanted to act. My parents required it. You want to act? You’ll learn to type. I hated having a back-up plan. I wanted to succeed on the stage.

I would have, too, if I’d been willing to wander around the country for a long, long while, never settling in one place, never knowing how long a given gig would last. I would have made enough money to scrape by, to sleep under some roof, to eat. I would have. Probably.

I acted for a long time. I supported myself. I dug into Chicago. I built a life. I tried to wait tables and failed. I signed with a temp agency, learned some word processing, formatted documents, changed colors and fonts. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, and now, to support myself and contribute to the family income, I write mostly for the worldwide web. By typing. At a computer. Every. Single. Day.

Puppy Love

27 May

TP chewed

Harley the Puppy

Image

Rain

20 May

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Time for a Change

15 May

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my name. My blog name. About changing my blog name to something like Poet by the Side of the Road or From the Parking Lane.

I do my best writing – or most consistent writing anyway – parked in my car. Between other activities. Blissfully alone. In fact, the only time I can count on being alone is in my car between other things.

Do you feel me?

My youngest certainly appreciates the screen time I allow her while I’m trailing words across the page in her presence – but then the mom-guilt kicks in, my words get messy and eventually whatever I’m writing implodes. Often. Not always, but often. Which means I’m better off in my car while she’s doing something else – making bracelets, practicing yoga. Okay, she hasn’t made bracelets in a good long while. Maybe ever. But you get what I mean?

While the tween is busy with something besides a screen: That is my best writing time.

That time with sun streaming through the car windshield. With chirping birds, newly arrived. With wind chimes, lulling me gently.

I need a name from my own point of view. From the driver’s seat. Right? Not from the point of view of my daughter’s friends.

But even if I change my name, my fonts aren’t quite right. My colors are abysmal. My photos are busy. My poems are spotty. My vision is muddy. I feel like the puppy is trotting around the room with my bra in his teeth.

* * *

Our puppy scampers

around the couch,

head held high, my

bra tucked in his teeth.

* * *

When Company Comes:

Our puppy scampers

round and round the couch , my silk

bra tucked in his teeth.

* * *

It isn’t my bra. It’s my Honey’s. And it hasn’t been – to my knowledge – trotted out in the presence of company. But it could have been. Right? Poetic license.

This is how my brain works.

Not long ago, the dog almost ate Miss E’s homework. For real. For weeks, she prepared for the academic fair: One hundred facts onto note cards –> a 10-page paper –> a visual display –> everything back onto note cards for an oral presentation.

wpid-20150426_125848.jpgI pick her up from school, where her display board waits safely in the gym with all the others. I shuttle her to YogaKids, breathe through the next hour with a mom friend on the couch beside me and a pen in my hand, and as we get back into the car 30 minutes before she needs to get back to school for her presentation, she says to me, “Mom, we have to go home and print my paper.” Again. Apparently, she needs two copies – one for the academic fair and one to turn in.

Home is 10 minutes away from yoga class and 10 minutes away from school. We haven’t eaten dinner yet. You do the math.

As soon as we hit the front door and we’re in WiFi range, Miss E deftly opens her research paper on the school-issued iPad, converts it to PDF, and sends it to print. She staples it together (quickly, but still, 5 minutes have passed), she sets it on the dining room table so she can use the bathroom before we leave.

It seems the puppy’s legs have grown. Before we know it, he’s snatched the entire paper off the table and is prancing around the living room, pleased as punch, shaking his head while a trimester of work dangles from his puppy mouth.

“What?! Wait! What does he have?!”

His bite marks are only on the title page, happily, so out the door we go. Snip Snap! We rush through a drive-through for dinner and reach the academic fair hardly late at all. Sweet!

Maybe my new blog name could be Things the Puppy Has Chewed.

When I started this blog, my intention was clear. I was writing to make space for lesbian moms. I was writing so allies would have something to share. I was writing for younger lesbians who couldn’t imagine becoming moms. I was writing to say: We’re here. We’re queer. And the kids are alright.

But times have changed, both inside my house and outside it. Mombian is fan-flipping-tastic – has been for a whole lot longer than I’ve been in the blogosphere – and of course, there’s the truly awesome Village Q. And both sites, besides sharing their own stories, list blog after blog after blog worth reading.

Lesbian moms are everywhere in real life, too. There are lesbians parenting kids in every grade at my daughter’s school. We’re in the news. On TV shows. We are VISIBLE.

It’s fricking amazing.

Even more important for me, though, and for my blog… my 5th grade daughter doesn’t want her business out in the world for everyone to see. I mean, if my mom had a blog when I was her age, I would have died. Truly. So I get it. But what do I write about now? Where do I steer? Where is my new true writing north?

Maybe a new name, once I land one, will give me a place to begin.

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