One Hundred Reasons No

myfox8interviewselliot2016

When 12 year old Elliot Hoppins, creator of Elliot’s Ninja Art: Helping the Homeless One Ninja at a Time, learned that more affordable housing in his neighborhood is destined for destruction, he took on an overwhelming challenge.  In less than 24 hours, help to compile a list of one hundred reasons why his neighborhood should not be rezoned into a commercial shopping center.  Having less than 24 hours before the neighborhood street protest, he asked for help from family members, neighbors and friends.  The title and the challenge was a response to the City of Greensboro’s decision to ignore the Guilford County School Board’s unanimous 11-0 vote to oppose a shopping center directly across the street from Jesse Wharton Elementary School.  The provided reason for ignoring this vote is that the school board didn’t provide sufficient reason for their decision.  Working with that idea, a flash of insight appeared:  there are at least one hundred reasons why a shopping center in a residential neighborhood, across the street from a school, within walking distance from the city’s water supply at the Lake Brandt Watershed is inappropriate and not right for the area.

As a family, we believe that the school board assumed that this is a matter of common sense, needing no explanation.  And why should we automatically expect parents and students, consumed with the daily stress of not only arriving to school on time, attending a full day, returning home for additional homework, participating in extracurricular activities all while managing enough healthy nutrition, rest, and family time, to take on city hall?  Families with kids in school all over the nation are stressed to the limits, mired in daily struggle for academic achievement. Children in school simply do not have time for civil action, but they deserve to be safe getting to and from school and playing outside on the playground.  While working on his banner, Elliot remembered when he was a student at Jesse Wharton, and he said, “today it’s a wonderful thing to be homeschooled.  I have this whole day to work on a project that might help our community with needed housing and protect the kids at school, too.”

Here is the entire list, which was handwritten and illustrated the day of the neighborhood street protest, on a banner that was so long it was difficult to photograph in one shot:

bannermaking

 

One Hundred Reasons No

****This list is a compilation of reasons gathered from the neighborhood protesters, parents, big sister, friends, and Elliot’s own ideas.
The banner is a work of illustration, handwritten copy work, and  his own unique critical thinking.

  1.  Guilford County Schools unanimously voted 11-0 to oppose the rezoning and commercial development plan.
  2. Because the City Council is in service to the needs of the people, not one wealthy individual.
  3. Because Greensboro is in a housing deficit.
  4. Housing is a need, not a want.
  5. Greensboro needs more high paying jobs, not low wage earning opportunities.
  6. The addition of five access points to the proposed development creates a safety hazard for cyclists, pedestrians, busses, cars and trucks.
  7. The road at the dam cannot be widened without great cost to the city, creating a traffic nightmare and bottlenecking that will back up traffic for miles on either side of the school.
  8. The shopping center’s presence across the street from the school will increase pressure on parents, students and bus drivers as they need to calculate additional time entering and exiting the parking lot.
  9. We do not want to set the precedent in building a commercial development directly across from an elementary school with small children.
  10. Polluted drinking water from storm runoff means no clean water for hundreds of children every day while they are in school.
  11. Children who walk to school are in danger of being killed by angry drivers attempting to swiftly navigate a traffic nightmare.
  12. Increased exhaust from traffic negatively impacts the health of students, teachers and parents, especially asthma sufferers.  Exhaust fumes also cause brain damage.
  13. Commerce brings crime due to easily accessible cash and goods, exposing students, teachers and parents to desperate individuals attracted to the lure of a quick score.
  14. Children need not only to feel safe at school, but to BE safe at school.
  15. Parents will be increasingly challenged to navigate the road when colorful banners announcing new business pop up.
  16. The school’s peaceful surroundings will be shattered with the noise and activity of a bustling area of commerce in a time when focused attention is the most vital asset we have in learning.
  17. A strip center’s presence sends the daily message that commercial advertisement goes with school like peanut butter and jelly.
  18. Because logic, common sense and truth are more valuable assets to society than lies, corruption and greed.
  19. The potential for increased city revenue is offset by calls for police to regulate traffic and manage crime.
  20. The natural area leading to the lake will be forever lost.
  21. A shopping center is not compatible with the natural beauty of the area.
  22. Jesse Wharton Elementary has a nature trail and an outdoor classroom leading to Lake Brandt.  Loss of wildlife due to road kill accidents leaves the woodland area devoid of wildlife for study, enjoyment and childhood delight.
  23. A shopping center’s presence leaves no room for the potential of small agriculture to be a possibility in the future, which is a need TODAY and EVERYDAY.  You can’t grow food in a parking lot.  And Greensboro is one of the hungriest cities in the entire United States of America.
  24. More impulsive spending by passerbys means more national debt and less saving.
  25. More impulsive shopping for things other than needs creates more trash.  More trash means more landfill space, and less space for needed homes.
  26. Additional traffic drawn to the shopping center is risky and dangerous for cyclists on the curvy, two lane, downhill road that is the only access point to the world class Wild Turkey trail, a phenomenal mountain biking challenge.
  27. More traffic emissions in combination with the loss of trees and additional acres of hot asphalt for parking lots adds to the global warming crisis.
  28. Less trees=less oxygen=less air to breathe.
  29. People need trees.
  30. Where will the local children play?  Not outdoors in speeding traffic=more screen time=less face to face interaction and meaningful conversations, less exercise, less health, less healing contact with nature.
  31. Nature is now a prescribed medicine by doctors.
  32. Less wildlife due to traffic accidents, noise and congestion=more disease because animals like opossums and vultures clean our environment of zoonotic diseases.
  33. Wildlife habitat loss decreases access to healthy living.
  34. Because the protection of wildlife matters.
  35. Consider fish poisoned by stormwater runoff.  Toxins in fish lead to health risk for humans consuming fish.  A food source is threatened.
  36. Consider all cats.
  37.  Swans live here too.
  38. Because Ken Miller, the developer, has only ONE reason, and we the people, have over one hundred reasons NO.
  39. Stormwater runoff pollutes Lake Brandt Watershed, the city’s water supply.
  40. Cut through traffic on Oak Tree Road is a safety hazard for residents because we have no sidewalk.  This prompts the residents to close the south access point and create a cul-de-sac.
  41. The developer Ken Miller uses sneaky business practices to secretly buy property in the neighborhood, thereby causing us not to trust his word on the wiggly and vague compromises proposed.
  42. A new traffic light, part of the compromise, will not make less traffic. It will make more traffic.
  43. Curiosity seekers brought to the area by a shopping center will feel drawn to explore the neighborhood, which means less security and more traffic on our streets.
  44. Respect for community—listening to our concerns is a benefit to the greater good.  When other neighborhoods are threatened by big business, they will have a resource for support and learn effective ways to work towards the best possible outcome.
  45. Dr. Stephen J. Sills, Director of UNCG’s center for housing and community recently studied what’s driving the affordable housing deficit and discovered that increased population growth=no incentives for landlords to discount rents.  Income stays stagnant while rent increases.  No money to shop at the strip center puts the proposed strip center at a huge risk for failure.  No place to live and no money to shop means no customers.
  46. The proposed development will not serve the needs of the neighborhood because the neighbors do not need it or want it.  Shopping is 1.6 miles away.
  47. Blight is likely when the businesses in the shopping strip fail.
  48. Gang tagging to follow #47.  Look at the recent history of our local convenience store and gas station.
  49. Which leads to increased crime in our neighborhood, and increased volume of calls to the sheriff.  Not good for the county.
  50. Stranger danger.
  51. Endangered Species: The affordable single family home in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Watch them fall.
  52. DOG’s:  Dirt, Oil and Grease from parking lots contaminating surface waters.
  53. Banging trash dumpsters.
  54. Late night deliveries.
  55. Approximately 50% of households in Greensboro are renters.  Increased home ownership provided by not tearing down houses means more revenue for the city, not less.
  56. Because peace matters.
  57. Trash from parking lots blow into yards.
  58. Because participation in civic responsibility and activism makes a stronger society.
  59. Because the City Council and the Mayor care more about residents than wealthy, sneaky individual prospectors.
  60. Because residential life matters to the city, and cannot function without people who live here.
  61. Because homes for people matter more than shopping.  If no one lives here, who will need goods and services?
  62. One billion songbirds die every single year due to city lights.  More lights means less songbirds.  Songbirds eat insects, thereby controlling the spread of vector diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, West Nile Virus and allergic reactions to stings.  Charlotte and Winston-Salem are participating in a lights out program to save songbirds, but Greensboro does not.  More lights on during the night from commercial business means less birds, and less visible starlight for them to navigate during migrations.
  63. Songbirds also need trees to survive.
  64. Raptors, who control pests like mice and rats, also need trees to survive.
  65. Rats attracted to the dumpsters behind the businesses spread zoonotic disease to people and pets.  Raccoons attracted to dumpsters carry rabies.
  66. Pollinators, like bees, need trees.
  67. Children need trees.
  68. Everyone and every living thing on earth needs trees.
  69. Owls, Hawks and Osprey live near and around Lake Brandt.  Commercial development will either drive them away from the noise and fumes, or kill them with speeding traffic.
  70. In 2000-2010, Greensboro’s population grew by over 20%, increasing the demand for homes.
  71. Privacy intrusion
  72. Greensboro needs more high paying jobs, not more low wage opportunity.
  73. Greensboro is rich with post secondary education, creating an intelligent workforce needing jobs that don’t involve operating a cash register or serving coffee.
  74. Rental properties are currently 93% filled.
  75. Moderate and low income wage earners lost their homes during the recession.  Now is the time to help people return to home ownership.
  76. Because homes matter MUCH more than shopping.
  77. Late night deliveries wake residents.  Sleep deprivation causes illness, poor mental focus, traffic accidents and obesity.  The hidden cost of disrupted sleep cannot be ignored.
  78. Aquatic wildlife and birds are threatened by litter.  Birds and fish eat plastic, thinking it is food.
  79. Lowering of property values depresses the local economy.
  80. Three new intersections creates frustration which leads to road rage, which leads to DEATH.
  81. An estimated 286 vehicles per hour happens at school drop off time.
  82. N’er do wells canvassing our neighborhood is a concern held by many residents.
  83. It is a fact that crime increases around shopping areas.
  84. Increased crime in neighborhood as a result.
  85. Consider all children, not just the kids at school.
  86. Children in the neighborhood are restricted from play and bike riding in the neighborhood for safety concerns.
  87. Increased traffic=less safe dog walking=sad and unhealthy dogs.
  88. Drive bys now stopping, blocking and increasing impermeability.
  89. Potential alcohol sales from drug store and restaurants increases risk of drunk drivers in the neighborhood.
  90. Access to prescription drugs with the proposed medical facility by abusers is a high cost to the city, to families dealing with addiction, and to the well being of the community.
  91. Peace and nature are more valuable than money can buy. Once it’s lost, it is irreplaceable.
  92. The sense of peace in our neighborhood will be lost, thereby driving away our valuable and important and much loved residents, who contribute their skills, talents, education and kindness to the city and to the county.
  93. Look at Detroit.  Is that nightmare Greensboro’s future?  Look what big business did to one of the biggest cities in the nation’s history. Imagine pockets of abandoned property left by people who could no longer afford to live here.  In fact, if you study Greensboro, you will find that this is happening RIGHT NOW. Greensboro, the ghost town of North Carolina!
  94. Attracting business to our area involves attracting people to live in the area.
  95. People and their skills and contributions to the city as workers and as business owners are all important, and Greensboro can show the nation how residents and businesses together make the right decisions that serve both sides fairly and with great success.
  96. The ecological balance of our world is a value that billions of people hold dear.  Because we cannot survive without natural resources.
  97. It is easy to disrupt this delicate balance by construction.
  98. Increased electricity usage is a problem not solved by more unwanted commercial buildings.
  99. Unpleasant odors block and mask fresh air for residents.
  100. A strip mall does not fit because of the negative impact and stress it creates for everyone.  Stress is responsible for a majority of illness and death. The high and hidden cost of this plan is simply not worth it.

 

 

Somethin’ t’ Do.

sumthintado

 

Betcha’ don’t have much to do on a Saturday.  If you’re like me, the day would normally stretch out in an eternity of unfilled hours, where all the chores are caught up and your imagination for creative projects remains in a holding pattern of a blank screen.  No one in your family needs you to help them with anything, and the pets are content not to eat or ask to go in and out eleventy million times a day.  It’s just one of those days when you suddenly realize that every last stich of laundry is totally caught up, and the grass never grew all week, the groceries never ran low because no one ate, and there was certainly no need for you to do anything except sit around all day in your hammock on the back porch with a blank gaze toward the ceiling.  There isn’t, even in all the libraries in the whole city, a book worth reading.  The second hand stores ran out of junk to sell you, and the facebook feed is totally empty of anything. You’re all caught up on ted talks and podcasts and blogs, and there is just simply, nothin’ t’ do.

You have Saturdays like that, don’t you?  So, you decide that since there’s a few buckets of gray paint sittin around doin nothin, you might as well open one up and paint your garage.  Nice and early, but not too early. Like around 9 am when the sun has started to help the midnight dew evaporate.  When it’s not yet unbearably hot and humid.

You get to work right away, when your neighbor comes out to get the newspaper with his big yellow lab, who barks in your face.  Thinking of being polite, he says “Dais-ey. Knock it off.”  Then he notices you with your paint and says, “Well, look at you! Painting the house!”  And you reply, “Yep! It may take a while.”  And he answers in his usual big booming voice, “Well that’s alright, it’s SOMETHIN T’ DO.”

After he goes back inside, you consider his observation.  You think, by golly, yes.  This is something to do.  I am doing something.  This is good.  It is good to keep myself engaged in a long, interesting process of slapping gray paint on the side of this garage in August.  When simply standing around doing absolutely nothing at all produces a full body sweat.

By 11 am, you have managed to paint your way around to the opposite side of the garage, where there is shade.  Climbing the ladder, you again enjoy the simple process of swiping your gray glop back and forth while the sweat soaks the back of your shirt and your head begins to feel a bit swimmy.  You decide it’s time to go in for some ice water and a bite to eat, and step backward, into thin air, which quickly turns into concrete.  You only feel a ripping pain in your ankle as your head hits the concrete.

Somethin. Ta. Do.

Stunned by the fall on the driveway, you realize that something is not quite right.  You feel like you are going away.  Slipping out of consciousness, you call to your son.  “Elliot.  Call Daddy.”

In a moment, you hear the sound of your husband’s voice telling you to keep talking, when you really just want to close your eyes and take a nap.  But the pain in your ankle keeps you awake.  You ask for ice, for ibuprofen, for water.  Which your son brings to you while you listen to your husband on the other end.

Then a strange sensation appears in your ears, and you feel like throwing up.  Your ears feel as though they are pressurized, and begin popping.

Realizing that you might need to go to urgent care, you ask Elliot to bring you a clean t shirt.  The paint flew every where when you fell.

Your heart is racing,  and you think it might be a flow of adrenaline.

The pain in your ankle is pretty much a problem and you decide not to get up right away. In fact you just sit very still until your husband arrives. At the urgent care, they send you on to the dreadful ER, because, you know, head injury.

In the ER, you can’t stop laughing.  The adrenaline does something funny to you, and your husband starts to worry that something is seriously wrong because whatever you are laughing at is, in his opinion, not the slightest bit funny at all.

But he doesn’t understand.  Every summer, my dad would need an ER visit for some freak accident.  And because this was a pattern with him, my mom would start laughing.  And giggling, and chuckling and wheezing.  She would ask him, “Rog, is it time to go to Wheeeeeeeeelock?” (Whelock was the name of our small town hospital.)

He once drove his car off the road during a sneezing attack, broke his nose on the steering wheel, came home late for dinner (my mom had invited guests and had been working very hard all morning on the meal)…anyway, she made him sit though the meal before taking him to the hosptial.  Because, this was just a normal thing that happened every single summer.  And she laughed. Even though she tried to stop and knew that this was serious.  She just couldn’t help it.  Nerves or something.

It sounds so mean of her, but my father always understood.  It’s that relief that happens to know that you made it through without dying.  You will be okay.  Dad was going to live.

As I sat in the waiting room for six hours on Saturday, my laughter keep coming out.  And it flowed knowing that at this very moment, I was both my parents at the same time.  Here I was, being my dad and my mom at once.  The person hurting in the hospital, and the one laughing.  And then, I got my son to laugh, and he couldn’t stop laughing.  He was sucking air  when he recognized that when he laughs uncontrollably, he sounds exactly like a chimpanzee.  Just imagine a chimp.  That’s Elliot when he laughs.  Now try not to laugh when you think about it.

So it’s no wonder that it took six hours.  The nurses must have realized that I wasn’t going to die that day.

Anyone who laughs that much in a place like the ER must certainly be okay.

And I am.

They even had crutches just my size.  And the CT scan says my brain is not injured, although it is surely up for debate on whether it is normal.

So if you have nothin to do on a Saturday… you could spend it like I did.

By the way, after the paint was applied, it rained.  Like mad.

And when I came home, all four of our pets surrounded me.  It was so good to be home, with nothin to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impressions

 

sunlitpath

Impressions

The sky gauze filtered a sun that wanted to be seen,

but just a little, not to burn us with harshness

or blind us in brilliance.

The way God speaks so quietly we think no answers come from our pleading.

The gauze is a gentle cover, letting air in, making the light scattered and white,

keeping the air cool. This is the answer.

Keep it light.

He sang this song to the very young, which at that time was me:

Will you carry the words of love with you?

And another asked me to notice

plants and birds and rocks and things.

I am in this lament and longing for those years before I was born,

when there was a movement going on for the earth

and for love.

In Which Robin Williams Posthumously Declares My Work to Be a Dud.

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Today I greeted the hour before dawn with an alarming wake up call, fresh from a dream.  In this dream, Robin Williams had just finished reading my manuscript.

He was totally and completely bored of my story and dismissed me with a toss of the papers and an eye roll.

I can still see him sitting in the arm chair, annoyed that I wasted his time.

How shameful to be rejected this way by such an important and beloved man, who was not only deeply funny but compassionate and kind.  My friend recently suggested that I journal about what he represents for me.  I can only say that he represents all the emotions, from joy to deepest, darkest pain.  I thought people who suffered would understand.

I felt so diminished by this dream that I woke up certain that my memoir was a terrible, redundant, morose, self-indulgent piece of trash.  I should throw it all away, the sooner the better. So I could get going on something really worthwhile.  Like making folks laugh and feel uplifted.

The thing is, how to get there?  To that jubilant place?  I often find that the proximity of tears and laughter is closer than we know. But in my intense focus on trying to figure it all out, I miss the punch lines.

It has been said of Shakespeare that the difference between his comedies and his tragedies are only the structure; a comedy starts off sad and ends in joy, a tragedy starts off happy and ends in pain.  Both are the same, containing the same range of emotion, just ordered in a different way.

So then I wondered, what if I were to revise it in a way that reads like a tragic comedy of errors, the entertaining life of a fool so blind that everyone around her recognized the illusions that caused her to fall. Flat on her face. Over and over.

When will we get to the part when she realizes that only the stark, unsugared truth gets her out of trouble.

No more denials. No more rosy glasses.  No more wishing for something to be real and pretending it is.

And then I get back to the revising and I can’t bear to laugh at myself.  And I want so much to laugh.  To belly chuckle.  To peal like bells on Sunday.  To laugh so hard I snort. To laugh and gasp for air.

But I still don’t remember it like that, fool that I was.

Now that my first rejection is behind me, and a great big celebrity level rejection at that, maybe I can stop being afraid of the future rejection slips to come later.  First cuts being the deepest…

White Noise

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White Noise

Ever notice that white noise

generating machines never include the sound

of snow falling?

Rainfall and river over rocks,

but no quietly falling flakes?

Ha! You laugh,

Of course not, there isn’t such a thing

as the sound of snow falling,

like zero is the absence of a whole number.

It’s completely silent and therefore

unrecordable.

The problem lies in creating the kind of silence

caused by falling snow.

The pure white noise of nothing–

the insulation of everything,

the way it falls early on a Sunday morning

while everyone sleeps in

and the roads are empty of traffic.

The way it sounds to be out in the yard

in the dark

under the stars

while all of nature and all of mankind’s achievements

are buried.

Perhaps I should be more specific, for in the north

where people have snowmobiles

to break the silence

In the south in the morning

when it snows there are no machines

like snowblowers and high powered craft

for joy-riding.

The sound of snowfall here is a return to a time

before small engines and trucks with

scraping blades and salt to exfoliate that which

deadens and muffles and encases.

A time when people celebrate with

logs in the fireplace burning

and soup on the stove or tea from the kettle

and send children out to play.

Ah, the silent house of simmering broth

and flames aglow.

Of course there is also a need for some to go to work,

but since most everything here is cancelled,

the city rests.

Much later, crawling out from under blankets,

neighbors come out with cups of coffee

while kids in snowpants have been making

a day of sledding on the barest covering

until the few inches of white vanish in the

three o’clock sun.

For a moment nothing but the whitest of white noise

is heard,

not a noise but an absence

of sound loud enough to wake me up

to the pause it brings.

A moment of quiet awareness to recognize

myself in the midst of a busy, noisy life

suspended,

breathing in cold air and exhaling clouds,

awake in the midst of falling silent snow,

awake.

 

Home, Where the Books Are

flowershop

 

Today I read a beautiful article by one of my favorite writers, Beth Kephart.  You can find it here:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-home-in-literature-20160108-story.html

The title and the illustration drew me in:  Home, Where the Art Is.  The colorful illustration depicts a woman tucked into a bookshelf bed with her white cat in a library room, while her companion stands at the stacks, considering a title to bring to bed.  This image is so much like my fantasy bedroom.  Imagine sleeping in a library complete with a fireplace, a lovely cat and a mate who also loves to read.  Heaven, I say.

Perhaps because I’ve worked in libraries, first as an ESL tutor for immigrants, second on staff at the desk, and third as a housekeeper at my beloved college, I experience a library to be another home.  The one place in my community where I’m not asked to purchase anything to participate in a shared or solitary activity.  A place that is as quiet and comforting as the little cemetery I visited in my childhood, where the dead waited for me to listen to their stories.  Where sitting in the tall grass and weeds, I imagined the children who sleep now under the stone lamb, once skipping in petticoats, playing with a ball.  I particularly love historic libraries for this reason. Long dead writers give me new and yet familiar journeys to experience from the yellow pages, where their voices can be dusted off, where a ray of light from a tall window captures the motes as they climb to the vaulted ceiling, whispering, whispering into cinematic form, an old world now awakened and visible on the screen of the mind.

Two days ago, I wrote a complaint on social media.  I was annoyed because at the end of the day, having just come from the library with a book I had been waiting for, the dryer buzzed loud and long, disturbing the silence, messing up my plans.  I lamented that I hadn’t yet learned to fold laundry and read at the same time.  How maybe I could learn how to fold towels with my feet.  The shirts, however, would be wrinkled.

The responses showed how I hadn’t yet made the leap into the now, using an electronic device for reading, or an audio book.  One friend knew me enough to understand my disappointment with these mediums, calling me a die hard page turner.  What Louise Erdrich would call “people of the book.”  I am, indeed, a person of the book.

In a book I have found the ultimate comfort.  A way to be joyfully in our home while avoiding the expense and discomfort of travelling the world.  Paper bound books are a way to experience soul-calming silence, an event so rare as to be my new preferred currency. (Sale in the esty shop? Can you pay in coupons of solitude and peace? Where I can escape the nagging irritations in my head related to unnecessary family drama?)

There’s something so completely restorative as a quiet nap on the couch with my son and our two cats, while the fire slowly dies and glows red.  Home, with real books, we sink into in our own pages, days after Christmas.  I’m still remembering the balm and healing of that afternoon peace.

Home, a place to read quietly next to the ones we love. With cats and cups of tea. A place that in this post holiday season is not brimming with activity. Our home classroom has been abandoned during the holidays and during the flu. We wander into the kitchen for a whiff of my terribly bland chicken soup that if is sadly unappealing, at least helps us helps us breathe in the now humidified kitchen.

Home, a place to quietly fold the laundry and anticipate the new book.  A place where in Kephart’s words, “we allow ourselves to be ourselves and allow others to be cared for.”

I love that she writes this.  This line encompasses more than just a single family building with a roof and a little kitchen garden in the back.  It can mean an entire country, like ours, where through the centuries people have come to be themselves, without the fear of persecution and harm.

And so, slow learner and even slower responder that I am, the one who loves to escape the current world event by diving into the past, where things get lined up in neat words, where stories lift me into hope on the final pages, I’m newly and freshly aware of how important home is for millions and millions without one safe place to be.

I sit here now in comfort and consider that there are such things as private prisons where women and children are being held in cold cells with thin sheets, where they are also raped and mistreated.  That we as a nation are so afraid, so terrorized by news events that we are turning our faces away from refugees, or locking them and their babies in freezing concrete cells.

It’s a pesky bothersome and irritating thing to consider, like a dryer buzzer marking that my time is about to be interrupted.

Because it takes me to the screen on my desk to write letters to people who are doing things to bring people home.  To discover if there is something for me to do, outside of my comfy home.  To a place where I am not known, to learning what I don’t yet know.

 

 

 

Retelling

Here’s a story that needs retelling,

it’s inside of you.

It’s not a story to be made in a book,

read aloud,

illustrated,

illuminated,

edited.

This is the story you forget to tell yourself

when you’re struggling with circumstances you believe

are beyond your control.

The story is that there is another way;

your response—and continued creative responses,

is how you make circumstances

altered.

No one is going to change the thing.

It has to be you.

You don’t need support from anyone,

encouragement,

empathy.

You just must resist the bonds that you’ve shackled yourself

with because you agreed to perform the role that your relationship

seems to demand,

limiting the parameters of your potential.

The boundaries of your capability.

The barrier, the chasm, the seemingly endless void

between you,

and the thing that needs

your willingness

to defy

the expectation,

the plans you ALREADY made

and that appear to be set in stone.

I experience a loss every single day because of something I did

in the past.

And I have come to something I understand is acceptance.

Then again,

it’s still not fair

for it to go on like this forever…

me waiting for the circumstance to change.

So let’s hear it for walking out the door

with the blazing neon sign that reads:

“you are stuck”

–run out of there without warning

or excuses.