it’s complicated

He’s right outside my window,
right now, right here.
In the rain, looking for dry spot, under the eaves,
or so I presume.

Wrestling with a blanket, tucking it into his torn jeans
It’s awkward, trying to work and watching him
just trying to be warm.
I wish I had a tarp, or a blanket, or something
more.

I can’t see his face, but I can see
he’s wearing a
leopard skin bra.

It’s complicated.

But it’s cold and wet
and I don’t know
how to reconcile the
community growing
under the freeway with
the life I get to live,

where I ponder
creativity and travel and wine and
if I need a new sofa, or if chairs and better lighting

are good enough.

here we stand, connected to each other

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This weekend I was reminded again, how we are all connected. How we are all neighbors. And how we all are standing with each other.

Our town of Davis, is known as one of the most liberal communities in America. You may have heard of us. Rush Limbaugh (who worked in Sacramento for many years) refers to us as “the people’s republic of Davis.” We have a toad tunnel (good idea, didn’t work so great). We are a nuclear-free zone and a Sanctuary City. Our bicycle-to-person ratio is about even (with the bikes winning).

Our town is mostly good, but sometimes bad things happen here. Last week, our beautiful Mosque was vandalized. Broken windows, slashed bicycle tires, and perhaps the most emotional and disgusting act, bacon wrapped around the door handles.

It was a difficult week for all of us, but imagine what it must be like to be visibly Muslim, and to know that you are on the government’s list, based on your religion?

But then a neighbor stood up. And another. And another. Hundreds of neighbors, connected by our need to do something, anything, for social justice, human rights, religious freedom (hey that sounds familiar, isn’t that what our country was based upon?).

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On a sunny Friday afternoon, we gathered in Central Park, to support our friends and neighbors. The crowd stood in silence, as we witnessed our Muslim brothers and sisters in prayer.

I saw my friend, Kamal, in the front row of the prayer group, and was honored to hear him offer the Call to Prayer. I’ve known Kamal and his wife, Anne, since Alex and their son, Nassim, were four. They went through school together, birthday parties and play dates and graduated from high school together.

My friend, Robb Davis, who is now our town’s mayor, spoke emotionally about our collective brokenness and shame, and the power of love. I worked with Robb at Freedom from Hunger, and Steve and I are good friends with him, his wife Nancy, and his daughter, Kara. We did Robb’s campaign materials when he ran for office two years ago.

Steve and I stood with our good friends, Dave and Vicki, who we have known since our girls were ten, playing softball together. I saw Sheila across the way, her daughter played with ours.

I realized later that the organizer of the event, Kate Mellon-Anibaba, is the older sister of one of Alex’s dear friends. They spent several summers together as camp counselors in Marin County.

A woman came up to me and identified herself as someone I worked with at Explorit, many, many years ago. She’s been reading the blog ever since, and was inspired by my previous piece on Resistance. She’s starting a website with resources for resistance. I hope I can help her.

The speakers stood on the steps of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, one of our favorite clients. The logo Steve designed for them is one of his best pieces of work, ever.

We stood behind a group of young Muslim girls, wearing jeans and hijabs. Younger than my daughters, but reminding me of them.

I looked around, and saw my neighbors. I saw my town, connected and connecting. Protected and protecting.

Our country supervisor, Don Saylor, said “This is not something foreign,” he said. “This is not something strange and faraway. It’s us. This is our community.”

Yes, it is.

While we were standing side-by-side, in the sun, on a beautiful Friday afternoon, the president was signing his shameful executive order to ban refugees from certain countries (though not the ones where he does business) from entering our country. Alex works for IRC, teaching cultural orientation classes for newly arrived refugees, many of them from Syria and Iraq (including some who worked for the U.S. government). Refugee resettlement has become a daily topic in our home.

I have hope that our connection and our commitment to each other, the neighbors we know, and the ones around the corner, will be stronger than the government that is working to break us. And I am trying my best to stand up, speak up and support others.

Because, we are connected. Even in ways we don’t yet know.

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The Davis Vanguard had a nice piece on the event. Thanks to all who made this possible. I am honored to be in your community.

 

 

you say you want a resolution :: 2017 edition

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I love New Year’s resolutions. That doesn’t mean I remember them, or actually achieve them…but I love making them. They are different every year. One year I resolved to learn to poach eggs, text with two hands and be funnier. One year I wrote a list of changes I wanted to make (I don’t think that one worked out). In 2013 I resolved to take naps every Sunday afternoon (I did pretty well with that one). One time it was simply to pay attention.

This year I have a really long list. 60 resolutions and counting. I predict a 20% success rate. Percentages.

Steve and I started our New Year’s weekend in separate cars. He drove with Dave to Bodega Bay to play golf, and Vicki and I drove to Freestone to spend the day at Osmosis Spa and Sanctuary. Before my (75-minute!) massage, I had an hour and a half in the meditation garden and began Mary Oliver’s new book, Upstream. On page 7, this quote whispered my name:

“May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful.”

I thought about that quote all day, all night and the next day. It’s the first of my resolutions.

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We spent the night at Bodega Bay with our friends (and we know they are the best of friends, because we get to celebrate the new year together, but all agree that 10:00 is late enough) and I woke to a clear dawn over the bay, and a sense of  possibility for 2017.

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I made some coffee, pulled out my notebook and felt like my life could be intentional this year, and fun, and productive and worth every bit of energy I could muster. So I started my list of resolutions, and kept going until I got to  50. That seemed like plenty of resolving before breakfast.

3. Be nice to Steve

4. Be nice to people I don’t even like

7. Write every day

10. Clean up after myself—real messes and imaginary ones

13. Have a solo weekend adventure

14. Have a weekend adventure with both Kate and Alex

22. Shed weight (at least some)

23. Don’t be afraid to sweat, or huff and puff

28. Fix up the guest rooms, so they aren’t just storage rooms with a bed

After breakfast with the deep blue sea before us, our friends left for home, and Steve and I explored Bodega Head, and a few small villages. I saw a street sign the previous day, and I wanted to find it again. Steve is always game for an adventure, which is one of the reasons I keep him.

30. Research writing retreats

31. Apply to one

37. Meet up with online friends in real life. Make the effort.

41. Skip the news until after my first cup of coffee

47. Wear my Fitbit

48. Don’t cuss so much (actually, this is about one specific word…which I say often, but can’t seem to write…it’s the big one)

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I kept thinking about my list, and the sense of ease I felt…it’s been a while since I felt like life was manageable. I know the importance of slowing down, not rushing…but I also know how the minutes, days, years can slip by us, without constant reminders of what’s important to our hearts.

During our drive, I added “update iTunes library.” I also resolved to keep my new car clean.

49. More dinner parties. At least five. Brunch counts.

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We drove home, unpacked and cleaned up a bit. I kept adding to my list:

52. Floss twice a day

54. More ukulele

56. Stay politically engaged (don’t give up, don’t be bitter, learn, use my voice)

57. Learn to cast off (when knitting)

59. Moisturize

60. Consider the long view, especially when it belongs to someone else, rather than always going for the short cut.

I’m not sure how this will work out. I imagine checking my notebook on Sundays, and reminding myself what I did, and what I still can do. Taking a moment to remember what’s important, and that there is indeed a long view. Perhaps I miss a few, or most. But when I do, I can always pick up the ukulele, or floss my teeth, or make a cup of tea for Steve.

And that will be a start.

And if not, there is always next year.

 

 

the more things change and other thoughts on this new year’s eve

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Sigh. It’s almost over, isn’t it? Please tell me we will get a do-over soon…I can’t possible drink anymore sorrow, or eat any more emotion, and goodness knows, my deep sighs are wearing out their welcome.

I need a new year. I need a change.

I understand the risk of change. I know that the more things change, well, the more things change. And it’s not always good. In fact, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes change shows up as “this wasn’t the change I imagined and I would like to trade it in now” variety.

Still. Change.

My change this year has to do with the moving parts of family. I have lived 500 miles away from my parents since I was 19, and this spring they will sell their home and move within 5 miles of me (that’s a good change, in fact, I am almost giddy for that one). My in-laws are also moving, out of the home Steve’s grandfather built in the hills of Redwood City, when his mom was ten, more than 70 years ago. It’s a very special house, and all of us will feel the loss…but we know San Diego is a lovely place to be. My daughters are still far away, and I am not sure where they will root, but I know I miss them. I try not to feel sorry for myself when my friends get to see their daughters just because. I am not always successful.

I am on the back end of my career, and working to forge a new path with this well traveled one. I want to write more, walk more, read more, travel more, photograph more, make more, cook more, explore more. I’d like to see more movies, visit with more friends, have more parties. And while we’re at it, I’d like more time.

Also, I am already missing the Obamas.

The new year always comes when we need it the most. When the Christmas tree branches are dry and brittle, when our bodies have finally demanded vegetables rather than sweets, when the nights are the darkest. When we’re tired and worn and need inspiration. When we are cranky with the universe (and baseball is still months away). When we need a refresher for life.

A new year. A new chance. And the courage to change, even with the risks.

Steve and I are headed to the coast with our dearest friends. The guys are playing golf, the women are spending the afternoon at Osmosis Spa and Sanctuary. After my massage, I am going to hang out in the hammock forest with my new Mary Oliver book of essays, Upstream. We will drink, eat, laugh, and walk on the ocean bluffs.

And then we will wake to a new year and begin again. Changing, hoping for the best. Working and reworking our moments and days and lives, until we get it right. To paraphrase (with apologies) Gandhi, may we be ready for the change we see in the world, and may we be willing to change ourselves.

Happy to you. See you next year.

 

 

Photo by Kim Tackett. Yosemite Valley, New Year’s Eve 2015.