Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Are We There Yet? (A Constitutional Crisis)

When does the President's behavior become A Constitutional Crisis?

When do you start looking at people on the street and saying, "What the fuck just happened?" When do they look back at you and say, "No, really? I know it's egregious!"
And when do we start doing anything about it?
What exactly would "doing anything about it" entail? When do we collectively wake up and say "NO! This is NOT normal, nor is acceptable!"

I think when we learn that the President is telling confidential information to foreign diplomats might be that time.

What? You don't feel it's time yet? You think he's just kidding us? You think he didn't really mean to register all the Muslims and deport all the illegal immigrants?

Guess what boys and girls! We've come to the Constitutional Crisis!!!

No. I'm not kidding.

Last week, I put up a blog section with links to the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee.

I'd intended to put a link to it on my Facebook page. I was that upset.
That was on Friday. I refrained from linking it to anything, because I decided it was too early...not necessary yet. I was being proactive by having the information yet, but perhaps I agreed with Erickson in the New York Times. Perhaps I was just another disappointed Hillary supporter. Perhaps I was just another liberal who was just dying to get rid of the Orange Ego in the White House.

No, I can't bring myself to call him the President. After he spent almost 8 years undermining President Obama, calling him a secret Muslim and denying that President Obama was a citizen (yeah, can we all have a good look at YOUR Birth Certificate, Orange Man?"), I don't want to be told "he's the President" by people who think they're being reasonable, and that I'm just being a sore loser.
I protest when it's necessary. And it's become necessary.

The old adage about Democracy being like sausage may be true, even if it's getting the quote wrong, but it's not the point. Democracy is a process, and like many processes, it's not about the final product, it's about how you get there. Do you remember when you gave an answer in math class, and the teacher said, "how did you come up with that answer?" You were flummoxed. Was the answer right? Or wasn't it?
Your teacher didn't let on, because she wanted to know if you had the process right. Perhaps you had the right answer, but do you know why?
On in the words of my science friends, it is replicable?

Do we know how we got here? Do we understand how the people of the United States elected an Orange Insecure Man who is too busy telling people what he learned in the secure briefing this morning to be bothered to understand why he can't do that?
Does it matter?
I wrote this in the morning of May 16th. We got there by the end of the day.

The day before I wrote this, Representative Al Green called for The Ego's impeachment.

I don't care that this is hardly a a "personal essay," this is political preaching. I don't care. We are in a historically significant moment.

We need to stand up and be counted.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bill of Impeachment

A Bill of Impeachment may be introduced in the House of Representatives by the House Judiciary Committee. I'm afraid we're there now. If you don't feel like wading through all of this, go to the House of Representatives' website and type in your zip code. Then look for his name on this list. Here is a list of Representatives on the House Judiciary Committee. I provide links to the Representatives' email me page on their names. I provide a link to a map of where their district is in case you need it.

First: The Majority Party

Bob Goodlatte from Virginia's Sixth Congressional District.

Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin's Fifth Congressional District.

Lamar Smith from Texas' 21st district. His email me site advises you to type in your zip code to see if he cares what you think, I mean, to check if Lamar Smith represents you.

Representative Steve Chabot of Ohio's First Congressional District. If you type in your zip code in his Contact Me site, it will inform you if he represents you.

Representative Darrell Issa represents California's 49th Congressional District.

Representative Steve King from Iowa's Fourth District. His "email me" site will tell you if he represents you or not.

Representative Trent Franks' website indicates that he is from Arizona's Eighth District, and his website will tell you if he represents you.

Representative Louie Gomert from the First district of Texas.

Representative Jim Jordan's email me site has a Zip Code look-up feature to see if he represents you. He represents Ohio's Fourth District.

Representative Ted Poe from the Second District of Texas.

Representative Jason Chaffetz from Utah's Third Congressional District.

Representative Tom Marino from Pennsylvania's Tenth Congressional District.

Representative Trey Gowdy will allow you to contact him using Facebook or email. He represents the Fourth District of South Carolina.

Representative Raul Labrador represents the First District of Idaho.

Representative Doug Collins hails from the Ninth District of Georgia.

Representative Ron DeSantis represents Florida's Sixth District.

Representative Ken Buck comes from Colorado's Fourth District.

Representative John Ratcliffe represents Texas' Fourth District.

Representative Martha Roby comes from the Second of Alabama.

Representative Matt Gaetz represents the First District of Florida.

Representative Mike Johnson hails from the Fourth District of Louisiana.

Representative Andy Biggs comes from the Fifth District of Arizona.

The Minority Party:

Representative John Conyers from the 13th District of Michigan. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Jerrold Nadler from New York State's 10th District. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Zoe Lofgren represents California's 19th District. Her "contact me" site will show you if you live in her district.

Representative Shirley Jackson Lee comes from the 18th District of Texas. Her "contact me" site will show you if you live in her district.

Representative Steve Cohen hails from Tennesee's Ninth District.

Representative Hank Johnson represents Georgia's Fourth Congressional District. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Ted Deutch comes from Florida's 22nd District.

Representative Luis Guttierez represents the Fourth Congressional District of Illinois. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Karen Bass hails from the 37th District of California. Her "contact me" site will show you if you live in her district.

Congressman Cedric Richmond comes from the Second District of Louisiana. His His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries represents the Eighth Congressional District of New York. His His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative David Cicilline represents the First District of Rhode Island. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Eric Swalwell hails from the 15th District of California. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Ted Liu comes from California's 33rd Congressional District. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Jamie Raskin represents Maryland's Eighth District. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Representative Pramila Jayapal hails from Washington's Seventh Congressional District. Her "contact me" site will show you if you live in her district.

Representative Brad Schneider comes from the Tenth District of Illinois. His "contact me" site will show you if you are in his district.

Living History?

Living History is the title of Hillary Clinton's memoir. I confess I've never read it. It's in the list of books I think I "should" read, like I should eat 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables ever day.

It's odd to think about my life in a historical perspective, though, because there are times when I realize that what's happening right now is important, no, significant, to the rest of the world. How I respond to it demands careful thought.
How do you stay informed? Of the two hundred countries in the world right now, which one is experiencing something that could go so very wrong and take the rest of the world with it? Does anyone know until it starts happening?

The Great Man Theory of history posits (I think) that the people who shape our world are different from you and me. They have vision, ideals, they make the world happen the way they want to. It's an idea that separates the Leaders from the Followers. The problem is it's bullshit. Any one of us can suddenly become a leader, you just have to find your group. And that's not necessarily a good thing, because some of us certainly shouldn't become leaders. Think of Donald Trump, who is going crazy right now.
He's been protected from his worst judgments all his life. There's always been somebody to bail him out, a bankruptcy rule to save him, a woman to tell him how wonderful he is, and now he's on his own and his people (Mike Pence, Kelly Anne Conway, etc) are beginning to wonder what sort of mistake they made picking him as their leader. And the news is talking about how his days should be numbered.

We all knew Trump was a joke. Or thought we did. The video of him winning the election shows him looking like a deer caught in the headlights. His next actions proved that he had no idea what he had gotten himself into. Putting up ads on the web recruiting the best people? Really?

Stay informed. Read the papers. This is the advice I give myself.

And it's all getting too much. He's lying all the time, or maybe he doesn't quite understand what the truth is anyway. I can't tell what's going on in Trump's head and it's fascinating because I have to know.
I can't spend my whole life paying attention to...what exactly is this? Is this the crumbling of the American Empire? Or the crumbling of our Democratic System?
Is the Government (shorthand for our elected officials) going to realize that it serves a system that is more important than party? I think it will, and I'm waiting for something big to happen.

And it's burning me out.
I look for actions to take. I can't get through to my Senators. Their voice mailbox is full.
Don't Panic.
And I must take a step back. I can't do everything, and I shouldn't try to. But I must do something.

And I want to know I was on the right side when it all comes down.

I'm off to another march.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Labored think you know what it means. It means heavy breathing that feels like you're working at it, working at something that should come naturally.
When you've run too far too fast, that's labored breathing. Your breath after the orgasm that just keeps coming and coming has gone, that's labored breathing. But when your father's lungs are so tired and worn and each breath feels like it's more work than he's up for, and he's not even talking anymore, that's when you know what labored breathing is.
It's work.
And I am tired of thinking about my father's death. I am tired of focusing on, not focusing on it, but having it, like a magnet with pins, draw me back to it, as though somewhere I think I'll forget about it.
I won't forget. I was there.
The second missed birthday was two weeks ago. Facebook forgot to remind me, which means that somehow Mother programmed it to stop doing that. Fuck Rolaids. Facebook's inattentiveness spells relief.

Two days after the missed birthday a bomb startled the voice into silence and as I opened my eyes in my bedroom I realized that thunder had woken me from a dream.

A bomb startled the voice into silence and as I opened my eyes in my bedroom I realized that thunder had woken me from a dream.
I could not hear the rain hitting my window. All I could see was light flashing outside, with booms coming closer.

Flash! Boom! Flash! Boom! FLASH! BOOM!!

Please tell me this is just a rainstorm. I can't hear the rain.
Just tell me this is a rainstorm. It's too early and I can't quite seen the clock. I don't want to sit up and focus to learn what time it is.
Does it matter what time the bomb is dropped?
Will it drop in the morning?
North Korea doesn't have enough airplanes that could get a bomb over here. Probably not even enough...I do know that a missile is sent in a bomb that is shipped over here and it is THAT that North Korea doesn't have, though North Korea does seem to have Nukes now, and I don't know how many people in North America are happy about that. I'm not too happy about it, but I take some comfort in that fact when I realize that it is four in the morning and the flashes and booms have neither stopped nor quieted.
I get up. I hope it's raining. I don't know why I can't hear rain drops against my window, but I can't. I've heard dry thunder, but it's not common in New England. Yes, New York City IS New England. While it does not resemble any of the stereotypes of New Englanders, New *York* State is certainly part of *New* England.

It's not raining. It's not even light outside. The lightning does brighten the sky, but it does not signal dawn. The dawn will creep into the night, infesting it along the horizon. The night heals the day every evening at a slightly different time, and the dawn breaks the day into the night as a confused robber might return the jewelry she stole the day before. The times might change, slightly, but it happens every day.

We rely on time to keep marking our lives, even after our loved ones are gone. Time obliges, without judgement or fanfare.

Time will keep on after we have all finished our own labored breathing. Other creatures will live and die and we won't be here to notice or care. The earth will continue, until it, too, dies.

We haven't seen a death that big yet. Unless we figure out where to go before it happens, we won't witness Earth's death either.

Perhaps we should take comfort in that, too.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What am I learning from this?

I was "invited" to join this essay a week project by a friend of my mother's; a woman I've met at writers' workshops. Write an essay a week, the FB page said. Vanessa Martir is working on a memoir, and she wants other people to join her in the experience.

No word limit or minimum. This project resembles my Crunch membership; No Judgements, Just Try.

An essay a week? Sure, I can do that.

Fortunately the beginning of the year lends itself to self-reflection, at least for me. I believe in New Year's Resolutions, and I've kept a diary before. I've thought I should keep a diary since, but the last few times I tried, it always led to way too much self-reflection, and not enough action. Like getting up in front a group and announcing my flaws, waiting for everyone to applaud, and then sitting down. Wait to listen to everyone else list their flaws, and leave the building when the meeting ends. This doesn't help anything.

But 45 is in the White House, and I have to do something to keep myself centered.

By the beginning of February we are invited to read other people's essays. This is interesting, and gives me an opportunity to see other people's work, peek into their lives.

Is that the point of this exercise? Or is it a side benefit?

Is it a bug? Or a feature?

Looking through other people's essays, I notice that most of us (it seems to me) are in New York City. We may not be FROM the City, but we live here now. We have common experiences, and I start worrying that the woman who is complaining about the white woman standing next to her on the train, pushing into her, and not being helpful, is me.
That can't be me, by the way. I am the penultimate of consideration and I try to behave as though I am holding my subway seat for somebody who really needs it.
Except when I'm tired. Or cranky.
Or my feet are already wet and I need to push my belongings under the seat on the train.
Can I post an emoticon here? Is it appropriate? :)

I read an essay yesterday by a woman who grew up in Jackson Heights. I work in Jackson Heights. I work in the library. This young woman and I know each other. We don't recognize each other online but if she grew up here, and she posted comments about the 'hood that I recognize, I've seen her around.

I like what she wrote about her life.

I hope I was nice to her when she came into the library.

My boyfriend assures me that I was. "You're the nice one," he reminds me, a reference to a story when a customer once complained that I'd been sent to work at another branch, and she wanted me back at her branch.

I'm not always the nice one. Sometimes I'm the one who says, "I can't help you right now. Can you call back?"
"Can you come back tomorrow?"
"Are you sure you returned all those books?"

Doing my job often enables me to be the nice one. I have access to information that you may not even know is out there. I know how to get your daughter into a public school in New York.

I don't know how to get the Rug out of the White House.

I didn't know how to get Hillary Clinton elected President.

I do know what dystopian novel you should read to distract you from this right now.

Last June I heard Michael Eric Dyson give a talk at the American Library Annual Conference. The Conference was in Orlando, and the mass shooting there had just happened. Mr. Dyson started his talk by mentioning it.
"Do we really just need other people to look down on?" He asked. "Do we really need other people to hate?" (Warning, this was 10 months ago, and I don't have my notes. I might be paraphrasing.)

Don't we just HATE other people who look for other people to look down on in order to make themselves feel better? Isn't it just so SAD that there are people who NEED those other people -- whichever scapegoat they are that year -- in order to feel better about themselves?

And aren't we just so glad that we aren't that pathetic?

There isn't an emoticon for typing tongue-in-cheek, I'm sorry.

When I was in high school, going through the teen angst that Ned Vizzini would later write about, I used to write down EVERY reason I was miserable. Surely there was one reason I could do something about.
Often there was, often there were several, and sometimes the list just made me feel better because it was getting it out of my system.

Almost one quarter into this, I am learning that New York is probably just as incestuous as I'd feared it was. We cross paths with one another over and over, but we can't possibly stop and recognize everyone.

But unlike the Silent Majority who interrupted my commute, (or maybe even LIKE them) we are all in this together. We need to figure out how to solve the problems our world is facing together. And we all have to get on board.

Yes, even the right wing asshats who think that they can buy their way out of global warming.

Really? On December 15th, 2016, did I not know that we were all in this together? We will all go together when we go.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Should I have engaged "The Silent Majority"?

It was a lovely October evening. I was on the subway coming home from work. I was on the sixth avenue line which meant I travelled under Rockefeller Center, where the group of people got on and talked loudly, totally upsetting my commute. These people didn't know where they were going or how to get there, but they didn't stop to find a map. They loudly complained that the trains weren't labelled well.
Their accents sounded different, rather, they sounded neither like working class New Yorkers nor teenagers who are too wrapped up in their own lives to realize they are upsetting the commute for everyone else. Yes, most New Yorkers hold public conversations at a level that can be ignored, because to do otherwise is to encourage interruption or interference, connection. I'm not sure why, but I do know that after taking subways to and from work for almost 20 years, we spend a quality amount of time trying to ignore one another.
Why is this? I think it's because we can't possibly acknowledge everyone, and we also know that we don't want to. I don't know everyone and my commute is time for me that I steal out of the day. At the worst all I can do is contemplate the day. If I'm lucky I can lose myself in whatever I'm reading.

But not that day. That evening these people got on and when I realized they broke the social barrier of the Mass Transit system of New York City (we ignore you because we can; if we can't, you're being rude) I looked up to see who they were.
They were holding signs. They had just come from a march or a protest, but before I could feel a sense of comaraderie, I realized their signs said "Make America Great Again."

I returned to my book. I don't want to know these people. They're going to lose the election and then they will spend 4 years bitching and moaning about it, I thought to myself.
Thankfully, they got off at Rockefeller Center, with a boisterous clamor as they did so. One of them, probably a son, given the range of ages in the group, held his small "Make American Great Again" sign for us to see as they climbed the stairs to the exit.
There was a young woman sitting next to me, probably my junior by about 8 years. She and I looked at each other with relief as silence returned to the train, and smiled.

"Idiots," she said to me, at the right volume for strangers talking to each other, and I smiled my agreement and nodded.
We did not say anything else to each other. She was reading a magazine. I was reading a book. We were relieved when the comforting sounds of the subway returned to drown our lives.

I wondered that evening, after they got off the train. If I should have talked to them, found out what they thought and why they thought it. We certainly hadn't had enough time to have a meaningful discussion, but I could have said something.
The problem is, that something I would have said, on that day, as I returned home from my job as a public librarian, AKA a civil servant who depends upon tax revenue for her job and the institution for which I work, to continue, probably would have been
"You do realize that as soon as Rump gets into office, you're going to be thrown under the bus, right?"

That is not a way to build alliances, even I know that.
But what could I have said to them? Given that all I wanted to say was "you're being rude because we are all trying our best to ignore each other, and you are PREVENTING that from happening." what good would that have done? Perhaps they came from a part of the world where strangers are just friends you haven't met yet, though I don't imagine walking up to a friend and saying "there are more of us than there are of you and you are going to lose," is a way of making friends. Should I have approached them and asked where they were from? How long they were in New York for? How humiliating would it have been for me if I learned they came from Nassau County and found the city as foreign a place as Timbuktu?

Every story has a perspective. Everyone brings their own story to whatever story they hear, and to whatever facts they encounter. How can we do otherwise? Someone once told me that he was the product of his experiences, and eventually I found that tiresome, because all he was saying was "I have my story and the facts I gather are fit into that storyline so that it continues to make sense;" in this context, it was "all women are fucking me over and I assume that every woman I meet will eventually start lying to me," and of course he didn't trust women at all because he was waiting for each of them to fuck him over, eventually to disappoint him to badly that it was better not to try to trust any of them.

This is why we need to learn about other perspectives as we encounter the world, particularly when we meet people who (we believe) should share our perspective but don't. A coworker once described people as crazy, and it took some time for me to realize that she just meant she didn't understand how they could think the way they did. I imagine she didn't try to understand their perspective, because she couldn't imagine a different one from her own.

I am a great believer in the power of story. The stories we tell ourselves inform our lives and shape how we interact with people. That's why The Rug won, because he told people who felt that they were losing the American Dream not only that they were, but that they were losing because of them, the illegal immigrants, and the elites.
Can we understand one another better if we actually listen to what the other side is saying? Perhaps but not if our first response is "what you think is completely stupid and you must understand why what I think is the right way.
The conversation that would follow would certainly last longer than 3 stops on the sixth avenue line.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tax Day March Crashing

I was excited about the Tax Day March. I went with a group called the March Chorus and I am happy that my contribution was a round based on Frere Jacques "Show your taxes. Show your taxes. Donald Trump. Donald Trump. Just what are you hiding? Just what are you hiding? Show them now. Show them now." It's an easy tune, everyone knows it, and the words are easy to catch. Only the third line is a little hard to copy. Divide your peeps into four groups and figure out which one starts first.

People joined in. They heard a bit of the first line and wanted to sing along! And this WAS the high point of my day. Somebody thought it should become a standard!

I need the positive affirmation. There's nothing wrong with that.

But then I wake up on Easter Sunday, remembering (again!) something my father told me about Easter being the Holy Day of the Christian religion ("Christmas is when Jesus was born," he once wrote me. "Well, all God's chilluns gets born. But getting crucified and resurrected? Now that is some holy business.") and I don't know how much good it did. The march in New York City got NO coverage in the New York Times, but the Mar A Lago rally did, presumably because the Rug saw it and it pissed him off.

I was unsure what to do today. Do I try to come up with a new round to sing at the March for Science next week? To share with the March Chorus before the rally? Do I write letters or postcards to elected officials?

Do I try to finish the pussy hat I promised someone?

Do I try not to sink into blue because my father would have turned 75 next Thursday, had he lived?

No, taking a day to relax and come down after the positive feelings after the march yesterday is necessary. I can only do so much, and we all need to be at our best now. Self-care is necessary. So is finishing the things I said I would, even (or particularly) if finishing them will require you to calm down and do something you enjoy.

Happy bunny day. I must drown peeps in hot chocolate.