Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tell me your story - Biographies on Audiobook

I've been listening to a lot of books. Right now I'm in the middle of Grant. This book, written by Ron Chernow, the author of Alexander Hamilton, is an in-depth look at the man, the soldier, and the president.  I'm only about eight hours into this 48 hour behemoth of an audiobook but I'm finding time to do things so I can listen.

It is fascinating.

After I finish the book I'll do an in-depth review of it. However I was musing about how some of the audiobooks I have liked the best have been biographies. I've listened to four biographies that I had not read previously and sometimes it is like listening to someone wise tell me about how someone I looked up to (Steve Jobs) might have been a bit of an asshole. Sometimes it is showing me history (Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin) and teaching me that the founding fathers weren't gods. They were just as human as you or I.

The art of listening to biographies is different than listening to fiction. One, you listen and think, oh, this famous and accomplished person did thus and so, and I do thus and so. My best example of this was when I listened to the book of John Adams and I heard how he would pack books first before any trip and often kept a book in his pocket--just in case. I do that as well and miss the abundance of mass market books that I often kept in my purse.

Sometimes I hear parts of a person's life thinking "I don't know how they're going to get out of this one!" This was prevalent when I listened to the Steve Jobs biography. I knew he became successful, but it was the how of the journey that took me by surprise.

But most important about listening to these biographies is the sense that I'm not alone. It is a voice, quite literally, reaching out from my computer or smartphone telling me that even though I am struggling through difficult times, I'm not alone. These people struggled too. They survived. They thrived, and it gives me the strength to go on.


Monday, October 16, 2017

A little more about that me too - Microblog Monday

I had to ask my husband if what I thought was sexual harassment was--before I wrote my Me Too tweet and Facebook page.

And yet the one huge sexual harassment incident in my life, I didn't ask about. I try not to think about it. Yet, yeah I have been thinking about it off and on for the last few months. I'm writing out most of it here, but I'm trying to keep some of the details to myself. Mainly because---well, because.

On my seventeenth birthday my crush and his best friend gave me a novelty item. It was sexual in nature. They gave it to me in front of an assembled group of kids at my locker. It was in a wrapped box, like you'd imagine long-stemmed roses come in. I opened that box to find another wrapped box. When I opened the second wrapped box I heard a giggle. My first real clue that whatever this box contained, was not something I wanted.  Then, when I peeled the wrapping paper back on the second box I saw what it was. Everyone around me--my girlfriends too--started to laugh. I tried to meet my crush's eyes. I was so naive at this point I didn't know what this was, much less what it was for. When some of the assembled people made crude gestures, I got the idea. When I think of my 17th birthday I think of people I barely spoke to coming up to me and making crude gestures.

So, if this happened today it would be all over youtube. The kids in question might get arrested or something. Every time someone did a google search it would come up. I really don't know. But that would be the wrong thing to happen. 

You see, I still consider the crush one of my oldest and dearest friends. 

"You forgave him?" I can almost hear the horror. 

Yes. I did. I do. 

Understand that by the end of that day, he realized what he had done was not just wrong, it was heinous. He sent me yellow roses--two dozen of them. For those who don't know the language of flowers, those mean "forgive me." The next day when someone made a crude gesture, he shut it down and shut it down hard. By the end of that week, maybe even that month,  I would say that he became someone who could never do that again. 

That's the difference between him and say a Harvey Weinstein. He learned from his mistake. He felt horrible remorse. When I allude to this, he cringes as much, if not more, than I do. He hates the 17 year old boy that he was that did that to me. I see that and I forgive that 17 year old boy because the man he became is a good and kind one.  He is not entitled. He is respectful of everyone, women, men, everyone. 

He had to learn by making that horrible mistake in judgement. 

People can change. They have to want to. They have to have empathy enough to realize that what they were doing was wrong. My crush did. The current occupant of the White House doesn't. Now the big problem is when do we stop giving people a chance to change? 




 



Monday, October 9, 2017

Parenting by Peopling - Microblog Monday

I asked my father a question this weekend. I asked him about the times I saw him send checks back--even when they were in his favor.

I asked him if he did it because it was right or because he knew I was watching. He looked at me as if trying to see if I was kidding or not and then he sighed. "Both." He said. "I did the right thing because it was right and because I knew you were watching. You're our third kid and by the time we got to you we knew that if we do something, good or bad, you'd see it and think about it. I wanted to try to be the person I wanted you to be."

I remember little things about my mom. I remembered a Valentine's day when I was in 9th grade. I had done my duty and given my valentines out and I didn't receive a one. Not one. I remember slamming in the house. I remember not telling my mom anything about the day. I remember slamming into my bedroom to be alone  because that's all I would be. I sat sulking and probably crying on my bed. My mom knocked twice and then came into my room--it had been the devil to get her to knock at all! She told me she had to make brownies for something or other and asked if I wanted to help. I did the typical teenage shrug but I remembered eventually going down and making brownies with her. I didn't tell her about my day. She asked and I was monosyllabic. But it is hard to sulk when you're sharing just-baked brownies and milk.

Mom was gone when I thought about this and realized that she probably didn't need to bake brownies that day. I never thanked her for the gift of simple companionship.

Today Belle had no school and I had been scrambling to find out what to do with her. We went grocery shopping. We bought more halloween candy than we should have. But Belle read me things off the list--words like Banana and Milk. Other words she found when I made the sounds for it. We tasted yummy things and had a good time. I get what my father said now. I want to be the kind of person I want my daughter to turn into.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Who shall attain the measure of mans days and who shall not attain it -- Microblog Monday

Today, once more, The United States is reeling from another mass shooting.
Only the places change.

I'm sick about it.

But I was reeling for long before I heard of it.

Social Media, you see. It got me back in touch with people I thought passed out of my life long ago. Years ago I got back in touch with my very first crush. I'll call him E.  I still remember the day we held hands and climbed the monkey bars together. He was always good to me. In second grade I decided I wanted to marry him. I didn't, but we became kind of friends. He never bullied me and often put a stop to bullying when he saw it happening to me. When I finally got onto Facebook he welcomed me and we corresponded when we saw each other.

He was a good, kind, funny, fun, man.

He was.

Yesterday I saw people leaving memorials for E on social media. This must be a joke. I thought.  He's my age. He wasn't sick. He can't be dead.

Of course it was true. That smiling boy who took my hand in second grade,  went to sleep last night and never woke up. He had (that we know at this time) no underlying health problems. He had no drug problems. He did not die of pancreatic cancer like the valedictorian of my high school class. No one knows why or what happened. We only know that the people who knew him have a darkness in their lives where his light was.

I'm now asking the same questions the family and friends of those killed in Las Vegas are asking. I'm grieving. I always meant to send a text to him that maybe we could meet and hang out. I always thought that there was time. I always thought that there would still be time. Why wasn't there time?

On one of the memorials someone quoted the title quote. It is from the Yom Kippur liturgy. I wondered if E sat in a synagogue on Yom Kippur and listened to it on his last day.

There are times where this whole life thing doesn't make sense. It is up to us to try to make some degree of sense. The week before I went out to see my high school crush/best friend for the first time in years. Both our families had a great time and I plan to see more of each other. I don't know how much time we have.

What would you do if you knew that you didn't have much time? What is stopping you?


Monday, September 25, 2017

Microblog Monday - Going into the New Year

First of all.
If you haven't donated to Puerto Rico. Click Here.

They are Americans. They need our help and they sure as f**k aren't getting it from the Federal Government.

If you can't donate money, find a Salvation Army or a drop off point and drop off stuff. Again. They need help.

Okay--back?

On 60 Minutes yesterday Oprah hosted a roundtable discussion about how divided we are. She invited people from across the political spectrum. It was interesting. It is what we should be doing, sitting and talking about what is going on.

The thing that scared me though, is that they mentioned civil war.

I am so scared about that. I was so scared that I was filled with anxiety when my daughter came and played with me. I worried that her countrymen and women would see her as other and take her from me. I held her so tight and I started to cry. I tried to pass them off as happy tears but the five year old wasn't buying it.

One of my friends who is of the same political bent as I am got annoyed with me because I say that we have to start people to people who don't agree with us. He's happy in his echo chamber. He pastes the most far-left memes on his Facebook page so people who agree with him already can nod their heads. He has happily un-friended all the people who don't agree with him.

I won't.

I have unfollowed people when I don't want hate to clog my feed, but I make sure they see what I can post. Maybe they will like the picture of my daughter with the colander on her head.

It's the ten days of repentance and I repent of a lot. I want to change in small and big ways.

I need to acknowledge that my pre-diabetes has turned to type 2 instead of burrowing my head in the sand. I need to take steps to take far better care of my health.

I need to exercise. I will be joining the Y or Health Center.

I need to go on social media fasts. I might do that in a way to honor the sabbath. I don't know. Still thinking about it.

I need to forgive.

Yom Kippur is coming up and I need to forgive.

I need to forgive the people who voted for Donald Trump. Some of them are my friends. Some of them are horrified with their decision. I need to forgive my fellow countrymen who are both elated by their choice and horrified at what they have done with their precious votes.

I need to forgive Trump and the current administration. Please understand by forgive I do not mean acquiescing to all that they suggest and do. I mean that I need to stop letting it eat at me. I need to stop giving into the hate and fury that it causes in myself. I need to let go of that hate and channel the anger into fighting the actions--not the people.

I have no illusions as to how difficult that it will be, but the hate and the fury they cause me is eating me up. It is not helping me or our nation.

If we fall into civil war I don't want to say that there was nothing I could do to stop it. There IS something I can do. I can be the change I need to see. I can be better than I have been. That is what Yom Kippur is about. Trying, always trying to be better.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year and all who celebrate an easy fast.


Friday, September 22, 2017

The new movie IT has monsters--and they don't all wear clown makeup

I first saw IT as a miniseries. Tim Curry scared the shit out of me as Pennywise. I fell for the losers both as adults and pre-teens.

I then read the book and fell for them all over again. IT is one of my top five Stephen King novels and I love the characters. So when my husband got two days off for Rosh Hashanah and my daughter only got one day off I knew that we were going to go see the movie IT.

I am very familiar with the book.
I reread IT every so often and I just finished listening to it on audio. I highly recommend this version. Steven Weber does such a wonderful job it feels like I am listening to someone telling stories by a campfire.


And then I saw the movie today

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

For those who have never seen IT and don't mind spoilers. Here's a decent synopsis of the book.

I was going to oppose most if not all screenplay choices that were different than the book, I knew that going in. But I didn't expect to find myself disgusted with the tokenism and sexism displayed in the movie. They stripped down the characters of both the sole person of color and the female member of the losers club and made both of them practically unrecognizable.

Mike Hanlon.

The only black member of the Losers Club in the book and in the 1990 miniseries is intelligent and the person who is dedicated to the history of Derry.

In this movie he was the muscle who had the gun. In this movie he was homeschooled--heaven forbid he go to school with the rest of the kids. In this movie his parents were killed in a fire for no reason I could understand.

Why would someone change a nuanced black character into a non- nuanced one?  Why make him less? It sure as hell wasn't because Chosen Jacobs didn't have the acting chops. The actor did wonderfully with what he had, but wasn't given anything to shine with. All the history geeking went to the character of Ben, a white character.

Worst of all, in this EW article, they want to change Mike Hanlon's adult character to a drug addict.  To quote one of the comments to the article, "heavens forfend that he gets through each day with his own grit and forcefulness."  I hope they don't change Mike like this. If, when the next movie comes out, that does seem to be the case, I will not be in the audience.

Beverly Marsh

The movie takes away Bev's choices. Again, the only female member of the Losers Club and it rips the choices she made in the book away from her.

In the book, Bev was the markswoman. She threw the rocks better than anyone. She used a slingshot and she hit what she aimed at.  When the Losers follow IT into the sewers she is there because she chose to be there.

In this movie she is taken from her home after nearly being raped by her father. She spends the last act of the movie catatonically floating. She is the damsel in distress, not a member of the team and that's not what Mr. King wrote.


Monsters are a staple of movies. But with the sexism and tokenism--I have to wish that they had just stuck to Pennywise.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Pages

Since the beginning of September, something has been happening.

It's happened before, since my mom passed, but then it stops. I'm hoping this time that it will keep happening.

I'm reading again. I mean reading again. I mean since September began I have read 5 new books and listened to a new on on audio. The really amazing thing I have to say about these books is that two of them are what I call five-star (Thanks goodreads) books. Two. When I have gone almost two years without any book that was that superlative.

And all of them, even the four and one three star books have been good books. Books that played in my head when I had to put them down. So without further ado... here are the books and small reviews.


Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

I read one book by Beverly Jenkins before, and it was good but not great. Forbidden was amazing. Forbidden was so amazing I went to Barnes and Noble and bought two more of her books and put others on reserve in the library.

Forbidden is a historical novel set in the old west. The hero and heroine are people of color. Well the heroine is. And the hero is, but he is passing. There is so much I enjoy about this book it is difficult to know where to start. Scorching chemistry- Check. Characters I care about- check. A historical setting so real that I look at an electric light and I hardly know what to do with it. What I loved especially is that the heroine is courted by two men (one being the hero) but the other one was lovely and kind.

If you like historical romance novels and you think that there isn't anything really creative out there, pick up this book and find your cynical little heart growing three sizes.


Ready Player One by Earnest Cline

This has been on my bookshelf for about two years. I have been told by so many people who I trust that I should read this book. I started it and put it down. It wasn't the right time. Then I picked it up and had a hard time putting it down. I jumped into the reality and loved it. To all my friend who told me I would love it were right right right.

I can't talk too much about it without giving it away. Just saying that if you like Eighties cinema. If you like video games. If you like a fantastic adventure read this amazing book.


Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

I was privileged enough to attend Writers Digest Conference 2017 where  Lisa Scottoline's magnificent key note speech inspired me to pick up one of her books. I hadn't done so in a while. I won't wait so long to read another one.

Come Home showcases love. Love that doesn't adhere to definitive roles. The main character's stepdaughter comes to her and tells her that her ex-husband is dead. Moreover she believes that her ex-husband has been murdered. When is it okay to mourn someone who hurt you? When a second marriage breaks up, what about the kids for whom you were their step mother?  Love doesn't fall into neat little categories and neither does my emotions for this book. This is an excellent read.


Hold Me by Courtney Milan

If you like romance, get this book. If you like New Adult fiction, get this book. If you like characters that you can empathize with, love, and want to swat, get this book. The last time I had such a reading frenzy, I read Trade Me by Courtney Milan, the first in the series. Now Hold Me does what I didn't think it could do--I liked it better.

Hold Me is Shop Around The Corner updated to the geeky halls of university, texting, and blogging. The characters are amazing. The dialogue makes me laugh, and the sex scenes are so wonderful they require the AC on full blast. Now I've got to read her historical romances.


I also read another book but as I am only reviewing the ones that I think others should read now--I'll come back to that another time. It engaged me enough to finish it but I didn't like it enough to recommend.

So, to sum up.

Five star books

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Hold Me by Courtney Milan.

The others are four stars and highly recommended.






Monday, September 11, 2017

I can't forget this day-Microblog Monday

Billy Joel may have said it best.

"And it's hard to believe after all these years, it still gives you pain and it still brings tears."

I can't forget how beautiful the day was.

I can't forget the frantic calls. "Did you go into the city today?" "Pick up the phone, damn it, "

I can't forget my friend who was in lower Manhattan. She and her husband (then he was her fiancé) live with this day as a day of dust and blood and a miracle of finding each other.

I can't forget my mentor's partner. She kissed her partner goodbye to get on a plane. That plane would be flown into Tower one.

I can't forget how the country came together.
I can't forget how the people who didn't vote for George W. Bush and the people who did all came behind him to hope that he would do good.


And now we hate each other.
We do.
We hate each other with the same virulence that the people who rammed the planes into the towers hated us.

How they must laugh.
They got what they wanted.

They laugh at you.

Whenever you look at someone and think of that person as someone other. Be it LGBTQ, black, asian, hispanic, Trump voter, libertarian, conservative, liberal democrat republican.  If you look at a fellow American and think how they are not like you and not to be trusted you are making the terrorists laugh.  They rub their hands together in glee because we gave them exactly what they wanted.

We divided America.
They didn't.

You think "oh that's other people, I love and respect always." Really? Maybe so. Maybe you're that much better than I am.
I have problems thinking of some as fellow humans.

And I'm trying to stop.

Let this be the day that we reach our hands across the chasm. Maybe we'll shake hands like Sirus Black and Severus Snape, but we can shake each other's hand because we are all Americans. We can be better. We've got to try.

Here is my hand. Outstretched. How can I help you?


Monday, September 4, 2017

Microblog Monday - They go there

Lotus is sick.
I am sick.
D is not feeling well.

So we tried to get Lotus to bed without her usual routine. We wanted to go to sleep. We put her in her bed in our room and tried to sleep. Lotus started to cry that she couldn't sleep. She hadn't laid her head on the pillow for more than three minutes. She started to whine that she needed help and I brought her into our bed to cuddle. I rocked her and she kept saying how she needed help. She wanted hugs and I was short with her because I felt lousy.

I held her, checked for fever and she had none. I sang to her and she told me to stop. She hugged me tight.

And I remembered.
I remembered going to the orphanage where she spent the first 54 weeks of her life.
I remembered seeing the room full of cribs. We were pointed to the one she had slept in. Then we saw two cribs on the outside of the room. When we asked about the two cribs, our translator said that it was for the children for when they were "naughty or sick."

The immediate effect of this was that from that moment to now, Lotus has never slept in a room alone. We've been subtlety trying to move her. First she was in our bed. Then in her crib in our room. Then in her toddler bed in our room. Its slow going but it's worth the trip to make her feel confident.

As she was in my arms, I thought of my little Lotus as a baby. When she was sick she was taken away from all the other children and brought to be alone. I understand this--I do. If you are looking after a bunch of babies and one is sick you need to separate her or you have a roomful of sick babies. But it gave her lizard brain a lesson. If I'm sick I'm going to be separated from everyone else. Once she cuddled on me, I told her over and over that I loved her. I told her over and over that she was safe and no way would we leave her.

Now I'm kicking myself for not realizing what scared her. I hate the fact that she has that part of her brain that believes that we will leave her when she is sick. D, an adoptee, reminded me that they go there. A part of her will always go there. It's up to me to show her that we will love her with everything that we are for as long as we live.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

To honor Doctor Martin Luther King--I still have a dream

A few days ago was the anniversary of the I Have A Dream speech.

I've been doing research about Dr. King. I think that the thing that strikes me so much is his optimism. I have a dream--when things were not changing fast enough for anyone.

I am often despondent about what is happening in my country. This country that elected a good man for president. A good, kind, imperfect man who served our country loyally for eight years is now being followed by the worst president in our nation's history.

And still I don't want to despair.

I went online and I listened to the speech,

And I... I still have a dream.

I have a dream that the people that we elect to our congress and senate will somehow open their hearts and learn that they must represent those who elected them, instead of a party.

I have a dream that the police of this nation will stop being so deathly afraid of people who are black that they reach for deadly force as the last thing, instead of the first thing.

I have a dream today

I have a dream that the people who voted for Trump and the people who voted for Hillary and the people who didn't vote at all will join hands and work so that this country can fulfill its promise.

I have a dream that if (all the Gods forbid) a woman is raped, the only reason someone will ask what she is wearing is to return a lost piece of jewelry.

I have a dream that everyone will be free to hold hands and hug, and kiss, and marry whoever it is that they love without anyone raising an eyebrow or a fist.

I have a dream that it becomes equally dificult for someone to get a gun license as it is to get a license to drive a car.

I have a dream that health care in this great country is seen as a right that needs to be afforded to all and not a privileged afforded to the wealthy few. This includes mental health care and dental care.

And as ever, as Martin said, I have a dream that my daughter will one day live in a nation where she will not be judged by the color of her skin but by the content of her character.

I share his dream. I still believe his dream. I add my own dream to his.

What do you dream?


Monday, August 28, 2017

Microblog Monday - Hurricane Harvey

I had a really good blog post planned for today.

And then I saw the pictures out of Houston.

I remember the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. I remember sitting up in the night listening as the wind blew around the house and how scared I was.

I remember that the Texas congresspeople voted no on helping after the devastation.

I do not do that.

I have sent emails to my congresspeople that whatever Texas needs to recover from Hurricane Harvey they should get.

For those who want to donate money--please consider local food banks.

For those who can't afford to donate money--please consider donating blood as one of the blood banks are totally underwater.

For those who can donate goods-- please consider the Salvation Army and keep looking online as to the needs.

I hope we can all remember that we are better than the political environment has made us out to be.

And come back on Wednesday or something--then I'll have a good blog post.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

We are, none of us, saints

By now, you might have read the brilliant essay written by Joss Whedon's ex wife. It details the reasons for the end of their marriage. It shows that Joss Whedon, one of my favorite creators, was a serial cheater.

Do I look up to him less? Yes.
Am I disappointed in him? Yes.

Am I about to start trashing him and throw out all my Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, Avengers and any future work? No.

People, it is time we let other people be human. People, it is time to stop shooting people down and then saying "we always knew they'd fall." (HT to Tim Rice for the quote.)

Until and unless something comes out about how he coerced these women into having sex with him, I'm still going to call myself a fan. And for the love of whatever please stop saying that because he was their boss and the power was with him that already implies coersion . There are women who will sleep with powerful men to get ahead. There are women who won't. The choice belongs to those women and the men. Was it his responsibility to not cheat on his wife? Of course. But cheating on his wife, repeatedly, makes him a horn-dog. It does not diminish the quality of his work. This is not Bill Cosby, who drugged these women and raped them. This man--and these women--made choices to not honor his marriage vows.

I'm not saying he's perfect. Firefly took lots of pieces of Chinese culture without having a single main character of Asian descent. I was disappointed in Joss because he could have made damn sure he had some Asian actors and didn't. I'm disappointed in him now, to be honest, but I don't think he's going to be upset because of my disappointment.

People we have to stop expecting perfection from every public figure. I'm writing this on a apple laptop. Steve Jobs was a horrible human being. I don't see people throwing away their iPhones.

Are you Jewish? Are you married? Did you play Wagner's Wedding March aka 'Here Comes The Bride' at your wedding? Wagner was a famous anti-semite and did more than just about any other person in that century to foment the hatred of Jews that led to the Holocaust.

There are egregious cases. I threw out all my Marion Zimmer Bradley books--with one exception--when I heard of how she sexually abused her daughter and others. This included a book I stood on a long line so I could get her autograph. I still might throw out my copy of The Mists of Avalon, but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet.

I stopped watching and listening and quoting Bill Cosby. I can't tell you how horrified and sad I was when the news of his behavior came out.

But this news about Joss Whedon? No.
Your thoughts may be different.
But until someone writes a character who is as amazing as Buffy Summers, Malcolm Reynolds, or Doctor Horrible, I'm still going to be on the line whenever his next thing comes out.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Watching the f**king basket - Microblog Monday

So this weekend I went to the Writers Digest Convention.

It was really amazing. I met amazing people. (If you're reading this because I gave you my card--HI!!!) I participated in the pitch slam.

A pitch slam is when you go to a room with a bunch of agents. The agents listen to you pitch. They say yes or no and you go to the other. It's not easy for either the writer or the agent. Also if an agent says yes, they might ask for a query, a partial, a full or a full exclusive.

I have read how you are not supposed to do exclusivity. I understand it. However when an agent I pitched said she would like to look at it exclusively for a limited time--I said yes. I did that for the same reason that my friends applied for early decision in college. They had done their due diligence and they had applied for the college they wanted.

Now keeping the college metaphor going some of my friends did not get in their first choice. The agent might not like my work. Then she will tell me so and I will send the partial manuscripts to the other agents (and there were 4!) who were interested in my manuscript.

She wanted it today. It went off today. And now a new waiting game begins.

I'm scared.

This MS has been laboring inside me for longer than I care to admit. It is good. I know it is good. But I'm scared because rejection hurts.

I'm nervous about exclusivity. I'm nervous.

What I am doing is putting this egg in that basket--and watching the fucking basket.




Monday, August 14, 2017

Charlottesville and the racists we know--Microblog Mondays

Like everyone else I'm horrified by what went on in Charlottesville this weekend.

Note, I'm not saying I'm shocked. Racism is as endemic to this country as corn--and just as prolific. I'm reading my friends lists and everyone is shocked--shocked that this is what America looks like now. They're blaming Trump.

Now look, I'm for blaming Trump for anything but people aren't getting this. Trump is now in the Oval Office because of people like this. He didn't create it--he took advantage of it. People are surprised that Trump didn't denounce them harder. It always bewilders me when people are jolted by the fact that a racist was elected to the presidency. Did people really think that when Trump walked into the White House he'd suddenly become a decent human being? Did people think that he would suddenly be an adult? This is a man who has to get two scoops of ice cream while everyone else gets one. He's not going to change.

But other people can. The people you interact with every day--they have changed since you met them. Maybe they've changed for better or for worse but likely they are not the same people you met at the beginning.

Take my in-laws for example. They are majorly homophobic. They think that gays and lesbians are against God and the bible. Don't even get them started on transexuals which they just don't understand--and they admit that. Their church has splintered because of the gay and lesbian issue and my in-laws proudly attend the "non-welcoming" one.

This has understandably led to friction. But I wasn't going to cut off contact with my in-laws. I certainly wasn't going to stop associating with my LBGTQ friends to make my inlaws more comfortable. I kept throwing people together. All of a sudden my mother in law would ask me. "That friend of yours--is she gay?" I said "Yes." and went on with whatever. I kept telling them funny stories about my friends. All of them. Little by little the phobia went away. Little by little they realized that gay marriage didn't hurt their marriage. Little by little they realized they were wrong.

I see a lot of people on my Facebook feed saying "if you think such and such is right, then just de-friend me."  Unlike the hate--I see this on both sides. I'm not de-friending anyone. I will engage when I feel it is called for. I will discuss.

I don't feel that I am helping my friends who are being hurt most by the current situation by closing off my friends who have different views. We won't learn from each other that way. We have to start listening to others before the screaming starts.

I close with my favorite quote from The American President.  It is still so true.

You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free."



Monday, August 7, 2017

Considering the Game--of Thrones --Microblog Monday

This is not a spoiler filled thing on last night's Game of Thrones episode.

However if you haven't watched Season Seven- Episode 3 "The Queen's Justice" there are spoilers. You're warned.

Cersei Lannister is a bitch. Actually that's too nice. She's is a harpy. Actually that's too nice but you get the idea.

Do not f**k with Cersei Lannister because she will kill you in horrible ways. This is truth. Plain and simple.

On the episode in question, Cersei now has custody of the woman who callously murdered her daughter. In her revenge, Cersei gives the daughter of the woman poison--forcing her mother to watch as her daughter dies.

Horrible. Horrible. Horrible.

And yet.

I have a daughter.
I love her more than my own life.
I would give that life for hers without a moment's hesitation or thought.

If someone killed her and I had that someone in my custody--all bets are off. I have a good imagination and I would put it to horrific use to make sure that the person or people responsible suffered as much as I was.

D thinks I don't have it in me. He was amazed that I could think this about myself. Maybe he's right. Maybe my inherent fairness would allow me to give up justice. I also have a problem about making an innocent suffer for the sins of the mother. I give kudos to Lena Headey's amazing acting. She made me feel sorry for Cersei as well as horrified.

And I thought of the people who have lost children to the unspeakable. The parents who sent a child to school and wound up picking them up at the morgue due to the ease of which we have access to guns. That they get up every morning is amazing to me. I think we owe it to the memories of their children to make the world a little safer.

Now let's talk about dragons.




Monday, July 31, 2017

Comforting After Loss - Microblog Monday

I'm in California. Visiting my Aunt. It's so weird not to say "my aunt and uncle," but I lost my Uncle a few weeks ago.

It was a hard visit. The look in her eye was lost. They were married for 73 years and now he's not there. They had no children. If they were bitter--they never ever showed it. During the times of IF hell, they were my rocks. They refused to accept that life without children had no meaning. They also said that their nieces and nephews were more devoted to them than some of their friends children--and we were. We are. All of us offered to have Aunt Vivian come and stay with us, but since we are east coasters and my Aunt thinks of 85 degrees as comfortably cool she said no.

It is the third time I have had to comfort after such a loss. The first was my grandfather, when I was 15. My grandparents missed their 65th anniversary by 8 months.

The second was my father, after my mom passed. They missed their 65th anniversary by 1 month and 19 days.

People don't know what to do or say.
They don't.

People kept calling the loss "a blessing." My aunt, who never swears--I mean she thinks "hell" is bad language told someone that calling this a blessing was "bullshit." I stared at her for about two minutes totally speechless. I was stunned to learn she knew the word--much less could use it in a sentence.

I took Lotus to see her and help comfort. It was disquieting for everyone, but eventually I think this will be good for Lotus. She's going to need to do this--and she rose to the challenge. She drew a picture of her self with a heart and her name. My aunt said it was beautiful.

None of us get through life untouched by loss. Lotus had one early on. It helps to help others.

Now to address my own grief at some point. Probably I'll do what I normally do. Hold it in for a while and then totally lose it. Ah, something to look forward to.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday Thirteen - Thirteen that I'm doing right

I tend to get down on myself for how I parent.
I'm like most women, thinking that I am constantly f**king this parenting deal up.
This weekend friends came to visit us. Friends with kids adopted from foster care. I was able to see what I was doing right and what I haven't been doing right. I decided to make this list about what I am doing right since I am so often thinking about what I am doing wrong.

What I am doing right is right for myself, D, and Lotus. I do not presume that what has worked for us would work for anything else. Also this is right now when Lotus is five--when she turns six she might throw all of this out.

1)  Consistency
If I say, "Lotus if you do that thing one more time--Plan B is what will happen." Plan B is what will happen and Lotus knows this. Is this 100%? No. Is it better than 90%? Yes. I watched our friends threaten their two year old with everything under the sun and he would just smile and continue on his merry way.

2) Time In
I can't take too much credit for this. Two of the adoptive parenting books talked about it and when I put Lotus in Time Out she wigged. Not just the crying but a total freak out. When I put her in time in--which mean I held her close and immobile as a toddler, she'd fight but after the two minutes she'd calm down and let me in.

3) Listening to what she isn't saying
"Some of the kids were bad at school."
"Really? What did they do?"
I know by her tone whether she is talking about herself or whether she is really talking about the other kids and I react accordingly.

4) What happened at school stays there.
I hope I will be able to continue this when she starts Kindergarten but for now, if she misbehaved at school (rare though that was) whatever punishment was met out at school was sufficient. I want her to feel comfortable telling me about things that happen when I am not there. If I punish her for her misdeeds--that the teachers have already addressed--she won't talk to me.

5) Intervening when she can't.
When she came home and asked what was wrong with her eyes, I thought she might need glasses. Then she told me that a kid at school had been making fun of her eyes. When I took her to school the next day I was mama bear.

6) Intervening when she won't.
A teacher started to call Lotus a little pet name "Little Lotus" and she didn't like it. She told me she wanted it to stop. I told the teacher, and it stopped. I didn't ask her why. It didn't matter. She didn't like it and that was it.

7) "Stop"
A friend told us that we used this like a safe word for our preschooler. I don't like the sexual connotations of that. We are teaching Lotus that when she says stop, people will stop. If they don't, we will intervene and make it stop. When the friends were here, we heard Lotus' stop loud and clear and ran to intervene when she said it a second time.

8) Answering questions honestly.
From the funny and easy, "What's an asshole? Why do so many of them drive?"
To the heartbreaking, "Did China Mommy leave me to be found because I was bad." I answer them with as much honesty as I can. Lotus' memory is incredible and I don't want to be caught in a lie--even a small one.

9) Daddy is co-parent, not the enforcer.
Self-explanatory.

10) Accompanying her to the bathroom when she "wants company."
Also self explanatory.

11) No Tech Table
One of our most hard and fast rules. No phone or tv or screen when we eat at the table as a family. Sometimes we have to take a call (illness), but we explain that is an exception.

12) Co-sleeping.
I credit our amazing pediatrician for this. When we brought her home she slept between us. As she grew older I was worried that we would be told to stop this. Our pediatrician, born in Taiwan, said that she and most of the kids she knew in kindergarten (the equivalent) slept in a family bed.
"I slept in my parents bed until I was 7 years old." She told me. "How my siblings happened--one who is 4 years younger than I  and the other who is 6 years younger than I--that's not something I like to think about." It put me at ease.
Now it is about 50/50 whether she will spend all night in her bed or climb between us at night but it works for us. Your milage may vary.

13) Reading
Our house is full of books and about a third of them are hers. We read all the time.


What are you doing right?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Microblog Monday - Allowing the asshole to come out.

So, a few days ago my Facebook feeds were covered with John Barrowman in a TARDIS dress.

This is not a bad sight to see, as I am a fan of John Barrowman and seeing him is a good thing.

He also said somethings that were taken as anti-trans and that is not a good thing.

To be honest, I don't know the whole story.

To be honest, I don't care.

I think that we need to take a breath and realize that the worst meaning of the sentence that someone typed in a fit of twitterpation is not exactly the worst thing that it could possibly mean. Not everyone hates everyone.

We have a president who fires off tweet storms so he can feel important. Many of these tweets should be ignored.

Why don't we just try to ignore some of the stuff that annoy us?

Hear me out. People are getting crazy about the little things and ignoring the big things.

John Barroman wore a dress to be in solidarity of a television show that is about a fiction character who will soon be played by a female actor.

This is worth analyzing every bit of every word he is saying?

If he said something that is offensive, yes, it is bothersome.
But it isn't the end of the world. If you know him personally--tell him that it bothered you. If you don't--move on with your life. Also, allow him the space to be an asshole--everyone is an asshole sometimes. Maybe this was just his turn.

We're really getting too distracted by the little shit and facing the big one.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Microblog Monday - What's been happening

So here is some of the stuff that's been happening.

1) We went on the first full family road trip vacation with my little family of three, my father, and my siblings and their families that we have done since my siblings and I were in the back seat of the station wagon.
"He touched me!!!"
"Stop hitting yourself!"

It was fun.
It was "interesting."

My sibs and I have different travel styles. Mine is somewhere between plan everything--even your bathroom trips and let's just wander and see what comes. It was...interesting.


2) My uncle passed away.
Since I wrote about how he was dying in January--I have to say that this has been incredible that he held out for so long. He was 96. How could I expect him to live more.

I know this. And I am grieving. Grieving for my aunt who is alone. Grieving because I'll never hear a piece of classical music and not think of him. It hurts.

3) D and I are getting better.

I wouldn't classify us as fixed, but we are touching each other. We are talking and not yelling. We are sending Lotus out to watch TV and talking out our differences instead of yelling or freezing each other out. There is ground to recover but I am smiling more. I am reaching out to touch him more.

And more to come.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thursday Thirteen --Lessons Learned from My Uncle, The teacher.

On Monday my Uncle passed away.

He was 96 years old.

He had been married to my aunt for 73 of those years.

No one needs to tell me that he lived a good life. No one needs to tell me that it was time for him to go. But hearing the loss in my aunt's voice is horrible. Feeling the loss of knowing I won't be able to pick up the phone and hear his voice is also horrible. I'm trying to concentrate on the years I had him. On what he taught me. So here is my Thursday 13.

1) Laugh when you get annoyed.
Watching my aunt and uncle pack was funny as hell. She'd pack everything and he'd stand at the door of their bedroom and laugh at her. Then she'd yell at him in french. Then they would laugh and laugh.

2) There's no cure like travel.
Go away from your base for a while. A Staycation means work--it really does.

3) Music can solve any problem

4) If your emotional state is still bad, you need to listen to more music.

5) Education can solve the world's problems. We should have continuing education for adults--especially civil education.

6) Listening is better with everything. Music, people, problems

7) Don't ask, how can you help--find something and do it.

8) Hand written cards are in fashion. They will always be in fashion.

9) If you dress up for dinner you are honoring your dinner companions

10) Love takes time and work.

11) Once you've reached your 70th anniversary, you can sit silently and hold hands and everyone will just think you are cute.

12) You're not smarter at 95 than you were at 45--you've just seen a lot more and know to keep your mouth shut until asked.

13) Slip from one world into the next holding your beloved's hand.

On Monday night, my uncle passed away. My Aunt was holding his hand.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Microblog Monday - And for worse

We had a wonderful weekend. We truly did.

It intersected the line between fun and productive. Lotus enjoyed it. As I was putting her to bed Saturday night I asked her what her favorite part of the day was.

"Having fun today and you and Daddy not fussing."

Oh.

When we first brought Lotus home, I had this idea that D and I wouldn't fight in front of her. Then we called it fussing. We tried to always make sure she saw us hugging and kissing and making up. Or at least the PG part.

Lately, to be honest, we've fought so much that fights haven't had a distinct beginning and a distinct end. Last week our fight got so intense that L sat at the dinner table with her hands over her ears.  And sometimes, when I stayed up after the rest of the family was in bed, I wasn't sure that everything was going to be okay.

I love D. He loves me. There is no addiction, no infidelity, no abuse. My grandmother, who was married to my grandfather for 65 years said that with the exception of the aforementioned three things anything can work out. I still believe it.

But the operating word is "work." Our marriage has gone from something that just "was" to something that we need to work through. Our differences which seemed to complement each other like gears that line up perfectly. Now the gears are misaligned and grinding at each other and I'm not sure how to fix it.

Most of it is D's job. He is a teacher, and it seemed that last year they set him up to fail and then pecked at him so he would. To be honest, his administration has been helping him to get better but D is burnt out. He comes home exhausted and hides from the world. I've been home either with Lotus or writing with her in pre-k and I want company. The extrovert part of my ambivert needs adult conversation. D can't handle conversation. Add to that my grief, a five-year-old who has decided to start really pushing her limits, money issues and you get the picture.

We've talked. We've cried. Again we've made the commitment to stay. But it isn't the fairy tale. I don't know how we're going to get to happily ever after. A few times the past month I didn't know if we'd get to the next day. I don't want to leave him. He doesn't want to leave me. Why is this so hard?

Before you ask, D gave me permission to write this out here. I wouldn't talk about it otherwise. Though I think that talking about it outside of the marriage helps. Sometimes you need a fresh look. We both are in counseling and might do it jointly we're not sure. I've had friends who were so good at hiding some of the shit they were going through I had no idea they were going through it.

But lately, I've been asking for help. For breathing space. For time away, for time with people.  So I ask you lot,  if you've been there and have advice for how to stay, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Microblog Mondays - F**k Cancer.

Today I walked my daughter into daycare. Her favorite teacher (Miss S) was sitting with her head wrapped in a kerchief. It was a new look for her and I thought it might be religiously based.

No, she has cancer.

She started at the daycare a few weeks after Lotus did. At 18 Months, Lotus would see her and roll over to her as fast as she could. (She didn't crawl well until after she learned to walk--whatever.) Lately Lotus has wondered if Miss S. had been mad at her. I told her no she probably had other stuff on her mind.

Did she ever.

Cancer took my mom from me. Not the lung cancer that I feared as a child since my mom smoked two packs a day until I was around 10. Not the breast cancer that I thought would claim her when they found a malignant lump due to her due diligence with self-exams. Cervical/Uterine cancer. I put the slash in since by the time they discovered it it was stage 4 and no one was sure where it started.

I told Miss S. about an organization that was so helpful to me and to my mom.  They are called Imerman's Angels You contact them and they will provide you with a mentor. They will provide your caregiver with a mentor so you can talk to people who have been where you are. My mom's mentor was Carrie and she had been through what mom had and mom talked to her for hours. When mom passed, Carrie sent us a card that was so lovely.

For those in your life who might be dealing with this hellish disease, point them here. And if you need a place to donate money--same goes.




Monday, June 5, 2017

Microblog Monday- What I'm reading--or not

I have been reading a lot lately.
I haven't been reading at all lately.

I've been listening.
I've been listening to audiobooks.

I've been enjoying them lately to the exclusion of regular books.

I generally listen to books that I've read before, as the audio gives me a new and different take on them,

The Martian by Andy Weir is unique in that is is the only book that is better on audio than it was as I read it--and I loved turning every page.

The Harry Potter series read by Jim Dale gives a whole new light to the series that I didn't expect.
If I liked the Nora Roberts book, I generally enjoy the Nora Roberts audiobook.

I enjoy listening to Stephen King's books, I didn't expect it. That being said, after listening to IT sleep wasn't an easy thing.

What books do you listen to?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Microblog Monday - The Unasked Question

Lotus is 5 now.

I'm calling this stage the question stage.
"Why are skunks stinky? Why is poopy brown? Why is it raining? Why is the sun shining? Why did that Octonaught do something?"

I love the curious mind behind the questions.
I wish she would actually listen to my answers instead of repeating the question again and again and again.

But there is one question that has not been asked.
"Why was I left to be found?'

We talk about her adoption often if not daily.

"Why do I have brown eyes?"
"Because China Mommy has brown eyes."

"Can we go visit China Mommy?"
"We don't really know who she is."
"Google her."

We talk about how she lived in the orphanage and how the Aya took care of her. We talk about Aya and how she smelled and tasted. How it is okay to miss her Aya and I'm not mad that she does. We've talked about D's biological mommy and how Grandmom adopted D just like we adopted her.

She asked me once if Daddy was mad at China mommy. Then she rephrased her question to mean his biological mommy. I said she should ask Daddy. She gave me a look and repeated the question. I said that yes, sometimes Daddy is angry at his bio mommy. Her sigh of relief was huge. I asked if she was mad at China mommy.

She gave me one of those looks--the one that makes me wonder if there could possibly be a seventy year old woman gazing out of my child's eyes. Then she nodded. I told her it's okay to be angry. Then she asked me, "Is China mommy mad at me?"

I said no. Then I braced for it. "Why did she leave me?" And it never came.

It will. I know it will. Then I will have to talk about a cultural preference for girls. I will have to explain about the one-child policy. I will have to state my own ignorance.

But until then, I'm happy and exasperated to answer the other myriad of questions she has. Like a few days ago she asked, "Mommy, what's an asshole and how come so many of them drive?"


Monday, May 22, 2017

Microblog Monday - Bravery

So, on Friday, which happened to be the fourth anniversary of meeting Lotus for the first time, it was time for Lotus' Kindergarten Orientation. 

She was nervous. Heck with her, I was nervous.

Her questions were simple--would the teachers be nice? Would the other kids be nice?

Mine were not so simple.
Would there be other Asians in her class?
Would she be bullied?
Would she bully?
Would school take her love of learning and make it horrible?
Would she be safe?

These are just the top five--I have so many more questions as I'm watching my baby turn into my child.

So together we walked to school and sat with other parents and their kids. I started to make some introductions but Lotus had a death grip on my hand and so we talked and looked around. I looked at the folder with the agenda for the afternoon and it had that the kids would go to the kindergarten room and the principal and others would talk to the parents. I started explaining this to Lotus and her eyes started to fill with tears. I hugged her and she quieted as the orientation began.

First off a bunch of the current kindergarten class came out and sang songs. Yay. Lotus loves to sing and dance. They sang 4 and she knew all but 1 and the one she didn't know looked like fun. Then the teacher asked that the kindergarteners-to-be line up. Lotus hugged me.

"You're not going home?"
"Not without you." She thought about it and rested her head on me for a little. She watched other kids go on the line.

A few other kids were having fits. The one on the chair next to us was not leaving her mom. Lotus went over to her and said "want to go together?" The response from the other child was decidedly negative. Lotus came back, gave me a hug and stood on the line with the other kids. Her chin was quivering, just a little, but she met my eyes and smiled at me. As they walked out she waved at me and I waved back. Then, as she had done four years before, she lifted her head and looked into what comes next. Someone said something to her so my last image of her at that moment was walking away, head held high, with a little smile.

I didn't hear the first part of the discussion because I was musing about how brave my little girl is. How she walked into what came next with  a smile on her face. I thought of the smiles we got shortly after we met her, when she was playing cute. I remember how breathtaking it was when we saw her real smile--the one with her dimple--four days later.  I thought of how the journey from baby to child never takes as long as you think it will.

I thought of the song I first sung to her. You'll Be in my Heart from Tarzan. More specifically the second verse.

"For one so small, you seem so strong. 
My arms will hold you keep you safe and warm. 
This bond between us, can't be broken.
I will be here, don't you cry."

I lifted my head. Smiled. Then I listened to the rules that I, as a kindergarten parent would be expected to follow. I added a few. Be brave. Smile. Walk into the future with head held high.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Microblog Monday - Up Late

So this will be short.

I was up late last night.  Until somewhere past 2:00 am.

No, not with Lotus.

With Lotus' godmother.

We went to visit my sister by another mother yesterday. She's my daughter's godmother. I'm her daughter's godmother. She pushed me to go out with D. I introduced her to her husband. She is my person.

We went to her house and were thinking of doing wonderful things. And  we did.
We hung out.
We talked.
Our husbands went to bed.
We talked.
And talked some more.

With all the texting and Facebook updates and Twitter feeds I needed to just hang out and talk with my closest friend.
And I am so grateful I did.

When was the last time you just hung out with your friends?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Microblog Monday - Hello

So my inlaws are here.

They are able to watch my lovely Lotus so D and I went to the city and won the raffle for The Book of Mormon.

I loved it. It was funny and fun. I'm humming the tunes and enjoying.

And thinking.

I'm Jewish.
We don't tend to evangelize. (Here's some views on why.)  We don't go out and say that if you don't become Jewish you will burn in hell-o. Heck Jews don't believe in hell.

I've never understood why people do evangelize. Why do you care how someone else worships? Even if you think that yours is the one and only way to salvation, there are better ways than saying if you don't worship my way you're going to hell.

You can show your faith by example. (Something our Congress is not doing--as per my last post.) Become a good person and do good works for your friends. Comfort them when they are sick. Watch their children (and don't evangelize to them either!) when they can't. When they ask what makes you so treasured, you can explain how your faith helps you.

I've been told that the seders I make have made the non-Jewish friends I invite consider Judaism. I know several Jews-by-choice who have had relationships with Jewish men/women. The relationship soured but they liked the holidays and the outlook so they stayed.

Religion is one of the most personal choices. It is between a person and their deity. That's it, no matter what organized religion wants to tell us.

That being said--I highly recommend The Book of Mormon.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Christian Does Not Equal Good

So 217 members of the  United States House of Representatives have decided that they want to be mass murderers.

The vast majority of these people identify themselves as Christians.

Accordion to Merriam Webster the word Christian means someone who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I decided to look through my husband's bible to see exactly where they might be taking their inspirations.  What I read was surprising.

These people should be acting according to Philippians 2:4:
"not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."

Or maybe Proverbs 3:27:
"Do not withhold good to those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act."

Maybe Romans 12:13:
"Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."

Because this is blog post and not a bible study I will end with this one.
James 2:14-17
"14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith obut does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 pIf a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 qand one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good2 is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."


This is not how the 217 members acted. They have decided to kill people. I'm tired of prettying it up. By their actions they knew that people were going to die and they decided to do it. People with pre-existing conditions cannot pay for the extra care and they want to defund Medicaid. This will kill people.

These people are the same ones (mostly) who look at the survivors of gun violence and refuse to make any laws restricting gun ownership.  Understand right now, with the bill that they passes, that a mentally ill person can get a gun--but not help.



For a long time, when you said "I'm too much of a Christian" to do thus and so it meant you were too good. The quote I think of is in The Wizard of Oz.

Aunt Em: "Elmyra Gulch just because you own half the county doesn't mean you have the power to run the rest of us. For twenty-three years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now, well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!"

We are meant to think that because she is just a good person, she can't say what she thinks. Maybe when this was made it was truer. But after watching this Congress, who maintain their Christianity, the quote I think of most is from The Princess Bride. 
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Good people can be Christians. But it takes a lot more than being Christian to be good.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Microblog Mondays -To China Mommy

Dear China Mommy,

Our daughter turns five in a week.

She seems to have developed a fear of heights. That is, until I sit down while she's at the playground and she is off climbing something that she maybe shouldn't be and calling for me.

I love that she pushes her own limits.

She is sounding out words and can recognize over thirty written words. She's going to be reading by herself soon and it humbles me.

Any time she thinks we're angry at her she declares that she needs a hug. We give her one.

We nurture her. We let her watch a bit too much TV, and run herd on her computer and phone time. She's friendly with a lot of the kids at school, but not a lot of playdates,  Kindergarten starts in September so I imagine that will change.

She falls down and scrapes her knees and ankles. when that happens, and there is even a spec of blood she requires a band-aid so she can't see it. My thoughts of a doctor to support us in our old age are out the window.

She hates loud noises, but will put up with them

She still does her parent checks in the middle of the night. She wakes up and asks us to tuck her in again. Actually the checks are closer to dawn. Is that when you left her in her finding spot? Was it close to dawn as you kissed her little hands and left? Did you look back? Or did you know that if you looked back you would have run and picked her up and I would not be writing this blog post, or not to you.

She asks us often why we love her. Why we like her.
I tell her.
Because she deserves love.
I tell her.
Because she is wonderful and kind and beautiful and all good things.
I tell her and I hug her.

Sometimes I get angry at you, for putting fear in our daughter.
Sometimes I feel sorry for you, because I have her, hold her, nurture her and all you can do is wonder.

I respect you.
I bless you.
I thank you.




Monday, April 17, 2017

Learning from the wrong - Microblog Monday

We took Lotus to one of the last performances of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus. She loved it.

Part of it was the cotton candy and the popcorn and the other snacks.

Part of it was the spectacle.

Part of it was the animals. The lions, tigers (no bears),  dogs and kangaroos.

I loved watching it with her. I loved watching her little face glow with excitement.
I also missed the elephants.

I know it isn't right to say it. But here's the thing, I loved watching them. Also if they aren't hurt--something that isn't 100% sure that was true--I think that it gives people an opportunity to see them in person and to care. At a party I met a friend of a friend and she works at the Bronx Zoo--in the bear section. She first became enamored of bears when she saw them as a child at the circus.

One of my hobbies is history--learning, reading, writing.

Someone asked if I had any cringe-worthy musical theater shows that I loved.
I don't.
And I do.

The way Native Americans were portrayed in Peter Pan and Annie Get Your Gun is risible. It is disgusting.

But.

The songs Ugg A Wugg and I'm an Indian Too from Peter Pan and Annie Get Your Gun are so racist I cringe. I won't link to them, but you can find them.

That being said, I was seven years old when I heard I'm an Indian Too. It led to a lifelong fascination with Native American culture. My mother suggested I read the myths and then my parents took me out west to see the land they fought for.

Without those bad examples, I wouldn't have the fascination. I wouldn't have learned how to do the good examples.

Sometimes good can come from bad.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Microblog Mondays - Dear Mom Year 3

Dear Mom,

Tomorrow will be three years
since I picked up the phone
to Dad's voice
saying only
"Honey, she's gone."

I had seen you
two days earlier.
I can still feel
your hand in mine.

You were beyond speech but
when you squeezed my hand
I knew that you knew
I was there.

I promised to take care of dad.
And I have, as much as he will let me.

I told you it was okay for you to go.
It was.
You were in so much pain.
You weren't you anymore.
Dad said, "If there was anything to pull we would have pulled it."
Not for him,
For you,
Because you hated being that way.

I told you you had been a great mom.
I forgave all the teenage crap.
I forgave the adult crap.
I forgave.

I said that I would be okay.
I lied.

I need you.
I never planned on motherhood
without my mother to guide me.

I miss you.
The good and the bad.
I never knew I'd watch Gilmore Girls
To remember how much of a pain you could be.

I know I am not the only one suffering.
Dad still reaches for you in the morning.
Aunt V, your older sister, often time travels in her head
to when you were alive.
My sister and brother live with their regrets.

I have few with regard to you.
I am proud of how I was able to care for you
like you cared for me.

I only wish I could have done so longer.







Wednesday, March 29, 2017

An important bit of nothing

Today we readopted Lotus.

We filled out more paperwork.

We went to a court and a judge
smiled at our daughter
and pronounced her our daughter
now
and forever more.

When she asked,
we tried to explain?
Why?
Why did we do this?
Again?

Lotus is an American citizen
since after a flight
from China to New York
we placed her foot on the ground
Of JFK Terminal.

Lotus has been our daughter
since we dipped her foot
in red ink
and placed it on the paper
Making a blood-red footprint
that says
She is ours.

How do I tell you
My daughter,
My child,
My very own,
That our country elected a tyrant.
Who hates you?

How do I say that
I worried that
that tyrant might write
new laws. And those laws
would call
you an immigrant
and take you from me.

How do I say
that I waited because
I wanted to honor
your China Mommy.
I am saddened because
the birth certificate that
will come from the capital city
of our state
will not have her name.

All I can say
that it was for a piece of paper.
And would you like cake?

And my child will hug me.
And ask if she can
lick the beater when
we make the icing.

I say no.
We will share.
Because we are family.






Monday, March 27, 2017

Microblog Monday - And You

And You*


When I get angry at Lotus, 
or she's done something she knows 
she's not supposed to,
she will cry. 

"I want my mommy!" She'll say. 
She will say this clutching to me.
Her face
buried into my very ample stomach
and breasts. 

"I want Mommy." She cries. 

"I'm right here." I say, holding her close.
"I'm here, baby."
"I'm not leaving."

What she means sometimes is
she wants mommy, 
the one who isn't mad at her,
and is fun.

And I generally get this through my brain,
and I rock her,
and she stops crying,
and she says sorry,
and we're okay. 

Sometimes she cries for mommy
as I am holding her
and I realize there's another woman she's crying for.
a woman who she lived with for five days.

A woman whose heartbeat she heard,
while she was getting ready to be born.

A woman who chose to give birth to her, 
and then made the 
heart-wrenching
unimaginable 
decision 
to leave her to be found 
and cuddled 
and loved 
by strangers. 

Lotus cries for that mommy. 
She misses her.
That woman who looks at the world 
from eyes that are like her own.
That woman who,
I imagine,
Aches for my crying little girl
in ways I cannot imagine.
And I don't want to . 

When Lotus does this
We hug each other very hard
and send our love out
and hope China Mommy
can feel it
can understand 
this is the best I can do 
to pay the enormous debt that I owe 
this woman with 
my daughter's face. 

And one time
After being scolded
Lotus said she wanted mommy.
I realized and asked.
"China Mommy?"
She nodded.

Then
tearfully
She raised her head 
tears soaking  er face
tears soaking my breast
to look me in the eye. 

"I want China Mommy." she said 
lifting her hand to my chin
"And You."

Her head returned
just above my heart
as more tears fell. 

I held her,
and rocked her, 
and internally praised her intelligence. 
Because my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter
summed up adoption angst
in two words. 





* The style of this post is a tribute to the book Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I am in the middle of this amazing book told in verse so I tried to do a blog post in verse.  Was I successful?  Let me know. 
 






Monday, March 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Loving My Neighbor

Growing up, our next door neighbors were our dearest friends. I called them Aunt K and Uncle B. If my mother wasn't home when I got off the bus from school I went next door and played in their basement. Uncle B. taught me how to hammer a nail--including how to swear if I missed and hit my thumb. I was told that the words "Shit! Goddamnit! Shit!" in that order was the only way to respond when I missed the nail and hit my fingers. That being said--those words were only for that occasion. I believed that until I got to middle school.

Our neighbors were Catholic and we were Jewish. Every Christmas morning for years we went over there for breakfast where Santa had dropped a bunch of gifts under their tree. Because my parents were on vacation out of the country, Aunt K and Uncle B knew that I became engaged to D before my parents did. I grieved when Uncle B passed away and I still stay in touch with Aunt K.

Because we had such wonderful neighbors I learned how to be a good neighbor. Our across the street neighbors (our house was at the end of a street) were not as wonderful. They loved leaving their car right behind ours even though multiple cars could and did fit into their driveway. They were snobs and told my mother to "watch out for the silver" when I invited my multi-racial group of friends over. But they were our neighbors. Many was the time I would come home and mom had made chicken soup. On the kitchen table was one or two extra containers filled with my mom's chicken soup. She'd tell me to take them next door or across the street because they were sick. If there was death it was a macaroni casserole with our name in masking tape at the bottom of the Corningware pan. This was reciprocated. When I was sixteen, I vented to Aunt K about my crush and how he didn't know I existed and on and on and on.  After giving me a wonderful and nonjudgmental ear, I came home on a very cold day to see a pint of Haagen Daaz chocolate chocolate chip ice cream on our front stoop. "In case of heartbreak," the note read. "open pint. Take spoon. Ingest."

I am lucky that the streak has continued. We have wonderful neighbors. Our next door neighbors teach Lotus about flowers and plan to teach her about gardening. Across the street comes over with their snowblower--often--to dig us out. We say thanks with chocolate chip cookies and brownies.

Love your neighbor is at the center of just about every religion. Help your neighbor.Take care of each other. This is why the Republican Health Don'tCare plan astounds me.

Republicans are supposed to be moral. Where is the morality of telling people that if you aren't white you don't deserve health care? Where is the morality of taking health care from people who need it most. Republicans are churchgoers far more then Democrats. Were they absent when they taught that page from the Bible?

Health insurance is moral to me.  If I am healthy I want the money I pay into insurance to go to help someone who is sick or who, God forbid, has a sick child. If you want health insurance to only cover you, and not your neighbor you have no right to call yourself a good person--regardless of religious denomination. One man asked why men need to be paying for pre-natal care. Was he immaculately conceived? Isn't it a good thing as a nation to have a healthy populace?

I will be calling my congressman and senators and explaining that I want my neighbors healthy. I want my family healthy and I will work like hell to unseat anyone who votes for this bill. I hope all the Americans reading this.

That being said--what are other neighborly things that you like to do?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Microblog Monday - If you become a teacher by your pupils you'll be taught

For the past year, one of the ways  I have been earning money is by tutoring.

I love it. I love talking with the kids and listening to them.

My favorite pupils are siblings.  The boy is a seventh grader. The girl is a high school sophomore. They are wonderful. They are first generation Chinese immigrants and after they learned that I am raising a Chinese daughter, we set aside five minutes from each lesson so they can teach me "things that a stupid American wouldn't know to teach her Chinese daughter."  (Their words, not mine, but I'm not offended.)

They also talk about how they feel and I am watching them grow, and change.

The boy. I'll call him, Rob, was monosyllabic when we met. Now he talks to me in multisyllabic words. Part of that is trust. I say with only a little pride that he trusts me. I've watched him going from regular teenage boy to activist. We cut tutoring short a few weeks ago so he could go protest at the airports.

Another boy I tutored will run for President of the United States. This is what he says and I believe him. I would vote for him--he's more mature than the person in the White House now.

Then there is the teaching of a little girl which is part of my job as mother. Since I'm not earning as much we've cut down on her Pre-K classes. She goes 3 days a week and then the other two we have as "girls days." Sometimes we sit cuddled in front of the TV.  Sometimes we go to the playground. Often we go to the library. And then there are days I teach her. I teach her about baking. I teach her about mitzvoth. I teach her about me.

And I learn.

I learn that sometimes she misses her China Mommy even though she doesn't remember her. Sometimes she wants her China Mommy, but she wants me too. I learn that sometimes it's okay just to be sad for a while. I learn that hugs are really great.

I've been debating of turning this love of individualized teaching to teaching in front of a classroom and I'm not sure. Until I am though, I like what is happening now. I like helping the kids through frustrations and I become hopeful that they will make the world they inherit better.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Microblog Monday - Amazing Grace

No, I'm not going to start singing.

I have a good voice and it's a fine if over-sung song but that's not what today is about.

Yesterday there was an award show. The Oscars.

At the end of the award show--the Best Picture award, the most prestigious one, was mistakenly given to La La Land instead of to Moonlight.  People rushed onstage and after some awkwardness (best shown here) things were straightened out and Moonlight got to take its deserved victory lap.

I've attached a (not very good) video here.

The most extraordinary part comes around 3:19.  Jordan Horowitz has announced that there has been a mistake. Jimmy Kimmel tries to joke around things and Jordan Horowitz, like the adult he is, said "I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight."

Wow.

When you think of our political discourse and how it would take a ladder to raise it to the sewer.  To see this grace in the face of horrible disappointment--well it makes me proud. It makes me proud that these artists can remain friends.  It makes me proud that there is still such amazing grace in people.

Bravo Moonlight.
Bravo La La Land

Bravo Jordan Horowitz.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Microblog Monday - We have something in common. We can build on this.

Hey Trump Voters.

I'm not going to ask you how you feel about your choice.
If you're happy and you think he's doing wonderful things and you like the idea of the United States being a part of Russia--nothing I say is going to change your mind. Nothing you say is going to change my mind and the best we can do is wish each other a great day and start talking about the Mets. (I'm really liking their chances this year--just saying.)

But maybe there is someone out there who voted for Trump who is maybe not feeling too happy about their choices. Maybe we can talk.

In the words of David Addison of Moonlighting.

Hey--let's talk about books. Me? I read left to right--how about you?
And when I'm in temple I read right to left--you?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

Let's talk about eating. I like to eat.
I have food allergies. Do you know someone who has food allergies?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

Let's get deep and talk about sex.
Who would have guessed it! I like sex too!
I think everyone should have plenty of sex with whoever it is that they love.
You?

We have something in common. We can build on this.

I'm not talking about people on the far right and far left-- they are forgetting that there are more people in the middle. I am in the middle. I want to talk to others in the middle.

If we don't--that is when America will die.  It won't be because of the current President. It won't even be because of the current Congress  America will die because we forgot that the people on the right side of the aisle cries tears when they are hurt--the same way those on the left side of the aisle do.

I live in New Jersey. I love my child with every breath in my body.
I believe that the woman in Kansas loves her child with every breath in her body

I am a Jew and my religion fills something in my soul.
I believe that Muslims and Christians find something in their religions that fill something in their souls.

I am a woman and I am deeply in love with a man.
I believe that love is so deep that it transcends gender.

We have something in common. We can build on this. Let's start to try.










Monday, February 13, 2017

Microblog Monday - Trust Me

I'm going to start out by saying this is not what I mean to be writing about.

I planned to write about how parenting Lotus is both easier and harder now that she can assert her opinion.

Then I saw an article that a friend linked to on Facebook. Then another friend and another. It was a headline guaranteed to make me see red and start pounding at walls. Then I planned this whole other blog post about how terrible things are today with lawmakers trying to roll us back tot he stone-age.

Then I did my due diligence on the article.  No, I will not link to it. Because--it isn't completely true.  In fact it is mostly untrue.

Is the law talked about in the article reprehensible? Yes.
However, it isn't happening.

With 45's constant and consistent attempt to discredit the media and his reliance on news sites that is demonstrably untrue--though he doesn't see it or acknowledge it--it has been difficult to know where to trust.

I refuse to be like 45 and say "I heard." I have to back it up.  I have taken a page from Mel and trust a few news sources. But I also read other sources so I know what other people are talking about--and in this case, there is enough wrong stuff, it doesn't merit my linking to it. Moreover it doesn't merit my anger.

I miss being able to trust what I read on a news site. But unless it is in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, or NPR--I just can't. I trust these sources because I know how hard it is to meet their journalistic standard.

What news sources do you trust? And why do you trust them?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why kids don't like to read - Microblog Monday

Since one of my contracts ended I have been making ends meet as a tutor.

I love it more than I thought possible.

One part of my tutoring is something I like to call reading counseling. Where I talk to the kid--most often 7th/8th grade boys and I match a book with their personality and keep trying until something sticks. I am very successful at this.

Tonight I was reading The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems to Lotus. She was giggling all over it--and I think I realized why kids are having so much trouble finding something to read.

We have collectively lost our sense of humor--and think kids should too.

Tell me, seriously, what was the last Newberry award winner where someone didn't die?  Or even if all the named characters made it through alive--was there humor?  Brown Girl Dreaming was beautiful--but it wasn't a happy story.

How do we expect kids to escape into books when the stuff in books is as depressing or more than what they are escaping from?

I know of some books that are fun and funny and escapist, but they are looked down on by teachers. Reading these books don't "count" as much. If you put the fun back in books--you'll have more people reading for fun.




Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Broadway music saved my life--now it is saving my sanity.

Broadway music saved my life.

More than once.

When I was in sixth grade I had a horrible teacher. Think Snape--except without the forgiving back story. I was depressed. I was suicidal.

My parents were fairly oblivious. I didn't think I could tell them anything.  But they knew I was unhappy. They sent me to my aunt and uncle for a week. Where my aunt and uncle saved my life.

They took me to a show. A national tour of Man of La Mancha. While I had seen several musicals--growing up in a suburb of New York City-- this was the first one I climbed in and lived in. After that, no conversation was had without me bringing up Man of La Mancha. Which was my favorite song today? Then I would play it over and over --rewinding the cassette a myriad of times (because of course I had it on cassette since MP3s were decades away). I memorized the entire book of the musical. I read Don Quixote (a fairly bad translation) when I was 12 years old. I read biographies of Don Miguel de Cervantes.  I took comfort from the fact that even when everyone laughed at Don Quixote and beat him and turned away from him--he still followed the Impossible Dream.  It made me believe that I could go on and do it to.

I got through the rest of the school year. I think part of it was that I told my aunt some of the stuff my teacher said and things got better at home. Things got better.

I'm in a dark place lately. I want to just hold on to my daughter because she makes me laugh. She hugs me and makes me comfortable in a world that has grown increasingly uncomfortable. I then thought of what I used to do when I was uncomfortable and I thought of Man of La Mancha. Got the CD and listened to it. '

And today, today, it is helping me go on. Helping me say that I can follow the quest. No matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

Below is Brian Stokes Mitchell in what I would say is the best version of this.
I will strive with my last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars.