Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Snow Day

Schools in Providence are off for today and tomorrow.  Snow is coming down and visibility is about half a block.  We are anticipating high winds and cold temps once the snow winds down this evening.  Luckily we had good notice of the storm.  I've been trying not to overbuy food in order to waste less, but that meant the only vegetables I had in the house yesterday morning were frozen peas and okra, and the only fruit was frozen blueberries, and no milk.

I beat the crowd on my morning shop, but then had to go to three more places after I picked up LB from school, because the first place was out of milk, and then I realized I had no flour for pizza dough.  A friend posted a pic from my closest Whole Foods, at which the greens section was COMPLETELY emptied. I guess that's what happens when New Years resolutions meet blizzard. Three additional stores later, here we are ready for the storm:

(I don't know why I didn't post this when we actually had the big storm, but here you go, belatedly).

Monday, January 1, 2018

Less than a year

It's actually been less than a year since I last posted, so that's not so bad.  I miss blogging being a thing like I miss having a tv channel that shows music videos.  2017 for me was a year of organizing (the political kind) and I went hard for about 9 months and then crashed.  I was part of a successful campaign to pass a new ordinance on police accountability and transparency that goes into effect today, and a successful city council campaign to elect Nirva Lafortune.  Two good things in a year of loss.

A friend suggested reflecting on 2017 by listing one good thing from each month, and here are mine:

Jan-was an adult observer when 1000 local high school students walked out of class to the statehouse to protest the inauguration (absolute highlight of my year).  If you watch the video in the link, there is a moment when a couple hundred students standing around by the statehouse see hundred more students marching up the street in front of the mall, realize how big the protest is going to be, and start running to meet them-all the adults were crying.

Feb-went to a blur of emergency meetings, met a lot of people

March-walked into a dive bar with my daughter, walked out with a date

April-hung out with a new mom friend like I remember my mom doing (taking the kids to IHOP on Saturday night)

May-went with LB to a very raucous city council meeting where we got a first yes vote on a new police accountability ordinance 


June-went to Chicago for my diss advisors retirement

July-a week in Maine where junie ran wild with the island children

Aug-door knocked for our city council race, and Nirva Lafortune won by a lot!


And 1st grade (terrible pic but look at those shoes!)

Sept-family camping, on of my favorite things LB and I do all year

Oct-klezmer and marching brass band Halloween parade

Nov-my girl turned 7 and had a party she loved, and I went to the Day of Mourning in Plymouth for the first time

Dec-a whole month with our beautiful Christmas tree

New Years Deep Freeze in Maine

A friend was just blogging about intentions vs resolutions for New Years, and I like the improvisation involved in having a theme for the year that I then have to figure out how to live.  I think my theme for this year needs to be health.  Sitting at work/sitting in all those meetings/eating random potluck offerings/busing and ubering from one location to the next/on the computer all the time, all those things have been unkind to my body and sometimes my spirt.  I'm lying in bed typing and my head hurts and my shoulders hurt and my back hurts.  I've noticed that my balance has gotten so much worse this year, and I get up from the floor like an old person.  I'm very lucky to be in good physical health, but I need to invest in what I've got instead of squandering it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Dear Trump's America: I'm living your nightmare and you should too

 People here roll the windows down and turn the music up while they idle by the store, Kendrick Lamar fades into some old school Fugees doing "Killing Me Softly."  We buy our popsicles at the corner store from a guy named Habib, who calls us both baby. My daughter goes to school with a majority of kids who are poor and brown, and she says the pledge of allegiance in Spanish (but only every other day).

The building where I work also houses a gay bar, a Mexican restaurant, and the print shop of a community arts organization.  Various styles of Mexican music compete with Techno and the OomPah beat of the print presses, and the cacophony bubbles up through our floors. On election day, I bought a small coffee (for $4.00!) from a guy who in my memory has a small waxed moustache.  The more your coffee costs, the slower your barista moves.  As I crossed the alley back to work, a drag queen from the gay bar in the downstairs of my work building rasped: "Honey, you want to smoke some marijuana?"  I politely declined, and she (I'm assuming that is the correct pronoun as this person was at the time in full drag) replied, "Sorry baby, I'm just so nervous!"

We ride the bus.  Riders are many colors and they speak many languages.  We riders work together so that the system can work for us.  People shift as one for a man in a wheelchair, decide who will move for the lady with the cane, hoist kids and packages onto laps as the seats fill.  One day LB had a horrible coughing fit after we ran for the bus, and the driver offered to stop and run into Dunkin' Donuts to get her a bottle of water.  One night we stayed late at LB's school for Animal Adventure night. Afterwards we walked to our bus stop, which is in a worn working class neighborhood, on a busy potholed road.  It was rainy and the bus was late.  The only other person waiting was a youngish black man with lots of bags.  We waited and waited, and he didn't seem to mind as LB encroached on his space as she leapt like a frog.  He stepped away to smoke a cigarette and then moved back under the shelter. And, then he took two sharp steps toward us. My hand went automatically in front of LB, protecting her.  He saw me, and motioned toward the roof of the bus shelter.  He had been standing under a huge hole and the rain had gotten heavier-he had moved toward us to get out of the rain.  I smiled at him-the smile of trying to ask for forgiveness.  But I said only, "it's really starting to rain, I hope the bus comes soon." We are all in motion.

This is a city and cities hold poor people, and people with many different skin colors.  We are a city that sits on indigenous land and indigenous people remain here, with the descendants of of white colonizers who fled here seeking religious freedom.  We are a city dominated by immigrants, migrants, and refugees.  I made a mental list of all the people LB I interact on a regular basis who were not born in the US:

my landlord
many of our bus drivers
teachers and staff at LB's school
LB's fellow students
the man who fixes our copier
students at my work
workers at several of my favorite downtown restaurants
the bank teller who knows my name
several of my doctors
the owner of the place I go to get my eyebrows threaded
the owners of the dry cleaner I use
the guy who owns the Indian grocery

Without immigrants, migrants, and refugees our city would grind to a halt. They only thing we could count on is $4.00 coffees poured by guys with waxed moustaches.  And, our life is good.  We don't have a lot, but we have enough.  We don't fear those who we know, even if they look different from us, speak different languages, and come from different places.  And sometimes we do fear those we don't know, because they look different and move different and sound different.  But, when we stop, we know that fear breaks us.  We must learn to know each other.  Vulnerability must be our strength. Love must be our strength. We must move together.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Night Live

Two weeks ago I realized I was running LB ragged on the weekends.  One Saturday we had swim lesson, playdate, playdate at an African-American drumming festival, and a birthday party.  In practice that involved a lot of "PUT YOUR SHOES ON NOW WE ARE GOING TO MISS OUR BUS WHY AREN'T YOUR SHOES ON!" And that's no way to live.  So this week we kept it simple, went out to a live music event in the neighborhood last night, the pool heater is out of commission so no swim lesson, and one playdate.  And now we've spent 5 hours hanging out in the house cleaning (me), watching shows (her), playing parcheesi and filling our bird feeder and then retrieving it when it fell off the building and coloring (both).  Honestly, I feel a little restless but I think it's been a good chill out day.

I'm not married anymore and I live in a different place, but the biggest change in my life is that I've gone from a person with no real local friends who very rarely did stuff, to a person who often has plans 5 nights a week.  Sometimes it's a little too much, but overall I feel energized.  I like being around people.  I'm nosy enough that I live being part of communities and getting all the news.  And LB is shaping up to be a similar shy extrovert.  Her absolute favorite thing is to play with friends.

Although I haven't captured all the moments on camera, we've established some rituals.  We took the bus to Maine twice this summer.  We went camping with friends in September, and last Monday we watched and marched in PRONK here in Providence.  We didn't take the ferry to Newport or get to the beach at all.  Next year, I need to be brave and try out one of the beach buses-it just seems like such a haul, and who wants to be stuck waiting for the bus when you are ready to leave the beach?

I think I"ve convinced LB to go with me to get PVD Donuts and then do some bird watching tomorrow-sounds delicious!

They need to have this splash pad open more hours.  Twice we showed up just as they shut off the water, and once we actually made it to splash.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trumping: the final countdown

Graphic from Feminist Fight Club.

Should have known that Trump would bring me back to this blog after many long months.  Today I slept in until noon.  And woke up terrified, because I haven't done that in how many years? Ten? Today is rainy, I had only minimal plans for an amazing 24hrs+ and I'm scaling back even those.

As I've been blogging less, I've been living more.  And it turns out that when you show up, people ask you to show up more.  Now, my issue is finding balance.  I realized at the end of last weekend that I'd been running LB relentlessly-surely we can manage swim lessons, followed by a playdate, followed by a playdate at a drumming performance, followed by a birthday party.  And we got it all done, but with a lot of stern "put your shoes on NOW, we are going to miss the bus!" And for myself, I'm trying to figure out when I need quiet time vs. when I need activity. And, when I can drag LB around to another meeting and when I should just say no.  Right now I'm missing an activist art build that probably would have been a lot of fun to lie in my bed and drink another coffee and write to blogland.

In LB land: five is awesome, so chatty, so stubborn, so capable, so not throwing a tantrum because someone else pulled the cord on the bus.  She can swim! She can play well with friends.  At home she plays weird pretend games and makes houses for her animals out of magnatiles, and we play parcheesi and neither of us know the rules.  She started K at a nearby dual language charter school.  Sometimes I wait with her for the local bus and think "we could be home by now." But, the teachers and support staff are absolutely lovely, she's making friends and seems to like it there, and I have no big complaints-and I am a complainer by nature.

I've been reading to my dystopian stuff, real and imagined.  In non-fiction, I read Tim Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name, which is a great read for race-liberal white folks.  The fiction that is sticking in my head is The Mandibles (liked it, but at times it felt a little Ayn Rand), and Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower-I am traumatized and in love.  Read this book!  I actually paid cash money to order the next book and another trilogy she wrote.

Projects: I was supposed to be taking Spanish classes, but then I got a BOOK CONTRACT with a reputable university press.  I am the worst ex-ac ever.

Work: out-of-control at the moment, but should calm down in a few weeks.  I'm trying to keep my anxiety in control.

Politics: I've been doing some work with a local anti-racist group.  I like them and it feels good to do. National politics: dear God.  Glad to know that the protection of white pussy is still a motivating value in American politics?  A million sighs...

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2nd Rate

Rhode Island has low self-esteem, which means Rhode Islanders love articles about how great Rhode Island is and how cool Providence is.  I just read one, and a columnist from the Boston Globe opened with a story about being offered cocaine by a friendly college student in a Providence bar.  Must we always be the local color-or as my friend used to say in college "my life is not performance art."

There are way worse places to live, but sometimes the living gets you down.  A lovely stroll down historic Benefit Street on my way home from work has me clambering over the sidewalk buckled by tree roots, and don't even think about trying that will a stroller.  Our teensy splash pad will only be open in July and August from 12-5 Monday through Saturday, if the city can scrap up the money.  Other places seem like the splash pads run with milk and honey.

But I suppose LB doesn't care.  Her soon to be school feels big to her even if if it feels claustrophobic to me, she gets to go to cool rock n roll birthday parties, pick out Skittles at the corner store, climb the tree in the park, dance to a hipster marching band in the middle of the street, roll slow balls down the candlepin bowling alley and watch the pinsetter handset the pins.

Like Amanda, I don't know where I'm going with this blog.  I miss blogging being a thing, not for the readers, but for the call and response.  But I do like having a place to organize my thoughts.  I just need a scheme to make other people blog again.