When Your Father Dies

Shifting the Sun
by Diana Der-Hovanessian
When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.
When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.


Never Again Would Birds' Song Be the Same

By: Robert Frost

He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds' song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.


Is this thing still on?

I've been on quite a writing hiatus in the past year. There have been so many big and little things to write about that when I sit down to put fingers-to-keyboard, I usually just end up checking my bank account instead. I don't know why I do that; it is not fun.

Anyway, here's what's been happening lately: 

I've been getting into fender benders and ignoring my gym membership almost entirely. It's been 9 months since I've had a soda, 4 months since I started my job, and 1 week since I've seen snow. I watch way too much CNN and I don't read enough books. I feel really badly about that second thing. I have a new sheet set that is out of this world, I mean it. The A/C in my Jeep is out. I need a haircut. I've been eating a lot of animal crackers. I'm going to New York in a few weeks to visit some of my favorites. I'm excited to eat bagels and wear lipstick without worrying about breaking the "Colorado casual" dress code. I possibly have a seltzer addiction. I've been really happy lately, and I've been using the heart eyes emoji a lot. I'm feeling grateful for people who have come into my life, but also so sad when they have to move on. I've been binging on Tim Tams to deal with this. So that's where I'm at right now, on my couch eating Tim Tams.  

More on all of this later. 


OK Ladies Now Let's Get In Formation

A year ago I wouldn't have used words like "political," "activist," or "protester" to describe myself. A year ago I was an optimistic and complacent American citizen who thought that as long as I was kind to people, the rest would work itself out. I thought I'd let Washington deal with the big stuff, like laws and policies, and I'd focus on the small stuff, like donating to non-profits and holding the door open for people. But in the past 12 months I've realized that it's not enough to hold doors open for people, and it's not enough to be kind. The truth is, I wasn't really participating in democracy. I was avoiding uncomfortable conversations about conflicting candidate choices, and I was assuming that the election would reflect my values and the values of most of the people I know. But I wasn't doing anything.

But now all that has changed. If I have to think hard (really hard!) about one good thing to come from this election, I guess it would be this-- I'm awake now.

Now I see that if an issue is important to me (ie, immigration, climate change, healthcare, etc.), that I can talk about it, even if it makes for an uncomfortable situation.  It's okay to be uncomfortable. That's how growth happens.

I know now that I can't rely on support for causes I care about, but I need to voice that support every chance I get. Even better, I need to provide that support myself. Translation: I need to put in some work volunteering. I need to show up.

So today, the first full day of the Trump administration, I'm waking up at 6AM to buy donuts for a group of women (and 1 man!) who are meeting at my apartment before we march at the Capitol of Colorado. Today I'm participating in democracy. I'm likely making some people uncomfortable, even angry, I'm voicing support for the issues I care about, and for the first time, maybe ever, I'm not afraid to make a political stand.

Ok ladies, now let's get in formation.


On repeat for the next 1453 days...

Donald Trump & The Mean Reds (not a ska band, I wish)

It's been one week post-election, and man I'm still feeling so. blue. More than blue, I'm feeling what Holly Golighly in Breakfast at Tiffany's calls the "mean reds." She explains, "the blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?" That's precisely how I've been feeling these past 7 days, with the only difference being that I know exactly what I'm afraid of. 
  • I'm afraid that the Marriage Equality Act is going to be repealed, taking away what I consider a basic human right for gay Americans and a lot of my closest friends. 
  • I'm afraid that Donald Trump is going to deport or incarcerate 3 million illegal immigrants, including children, (as he has promised) thus ripping apart families and ruining the lives of some of America's hardest workers and some of my best ESL students.
  • I'm afraid of the consequences of losing women's health programs such as Planned Parenthood (Did you know 97% of services are mammograms and preventative health??).
But most of all, I'm afraid to be living in a country so filled with fear and hate, racism and sexism, and with a leader who won because of that. I have friends and coworkers and family members who voted for Donald Trump (maybe you did too), and I don't think that they are all racist and sexist and full of hate, but I do think there is something seriously fucked up about the fact that they voted for someone who is. 

I am a heterosexual, educated, middle-class white woman, so the truth of the matter is, no matter how afraid I feel right now it pales in comparison to my brothers and sisters of different races, religions, and sexual orientations. And what's even more upsetting is that the fear I have felt for the past week isn't new to those who this administration is going to hurt the most. My fear just started but theirs just got worse. That is what it means to feel the "mean reds."

Even though it all went wrong/ I'll stand before the Lord of song


Why I'm Voting for Hillary Clinton

I've debated writing this post primarily because I don't consider myself a very political person. I watch the news and I proudly wear that little sticker when I vote, but when it comes to politics, I'll admit that I could use a refresher of my 11th grade government class. There is a lot that I don't know. But, there is also a lot that I do know. And that is this:

Immigration reform is important to me because immigrants are important to me. I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) at a multicultural center in South Dakota where our mission was "Welcoming the Stranger," and I've tried to live my life that way because we have all been strangers at some point. I have worked as an ESL teacher in South Dakota and in NYC, and I want a world of bridges, not of walls. That's one reason I'm with her.

I earned my bachelors and my master's degree at a state school, and I had scholarships, and teaching assistantships, and part time jobs. I worked really hard to ease the burden of the cost of higher education, and yet, I have a lot of student loan debt. I want future generations to have less. And that's another reason I'm with her.

I love fishing on lakes in South Dakota, picnicking in parks in New York City, and hiking in mountains in Colorado. Protecting the environment and recognizing the real threat of global warming is important to me. That's another reason I'm with her.

On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, and I watched as America virtually erupted in love. Some of my closest friends were given a right that I think they should have had all along, and I want the LGBTQ community to continue to feel the support and celebration of that day. That's another reason why I'm with her.

I am an imperfect woman with an imperfect body, but it's my body and it shouldn't be belittled or exploited or grabbed without my consent. It's not ok when derogatory language is used by a stranger who walks past me on the street, and it's definitely not ok when that kind of language is used by a presidential candidate. That's another big reason I'm with her.

At the end of the day, it matters less to me how Hillary Clinton's personality translates on TV or what arbitrary level of "trustworthiness" I think she displays. I value what she values, and I really believe that what's in my heart is what's in hers. 

Last thing: it was important to me to write this without mentioning Donald Trump's name (well except for just now). I think his mention often turns positive messages into negative ones, and I want this to be free from fear and hate and negativity. I want that in our next President too. That's why I'm with her.



Where Chance Meets Necessity

Love at First Sight
by Jennifer Maier

You always hear about it—
a waitress serves a man two eggs
over easy and she says to the cashier,
That is the man I’m going to marry,
and she does. Or a man spies a woman
at a baseball game; she is blond
and wearing a blue headband,
and, being a man, he doesn’t say this
or even think it, but his heart is a homing bird
winging to her perch, and next thing you know
they’re building birdhouses in the garage.
How do they know, these auspicious lovers?
They are like passengers on a yellow
bus painted with the dreams
of innumerable lifetimes, a packet
of sepia postcards in their pocket.
And who’s to say they haven’t traveled
backward for centuries through borderless
lands, only to arrive at this roadside attraction
where Chance meets Necessity and says,
What time do you get off?


So I Moved (Part 3): Now What Do I Do?

Once I made it to Denver, I unpacked my Jeep and put all my belongings in LS's storage unit (Thanks, girl!). LS graciously let me stay with her in Englewood for my first week while I got settled, and all I really remember from that week was aggressively trying to reconnect with every single person that I knew in this city. A job and apartment would come eventually,  I figured, but I needed friends, and I needed friends stat.

That week I had breakfast with JF at Snooze, a picnic with KS in Wash Park, lunch with WL, a baseball game with AI, and even a blind friend date with another friend's friend SH. Oh yeah, I meant business. The hardest part of leaving New York was leaving the people, so that was the first box I needed to check in Denver, and I will say, I did a pretty damn good job.

10 days into my new Denver life, I moved into a 7-week sublet in West Wash Park with two fat cats named Crookshanks and Chow. Their owner/kitty mama was on a backpacking adventure in Slovenia, and she had given me discount rent in exchange for keeping her cats well-fed and well-snuggled. I loved that apartment: the record player, the big kitchen counter, the giant window next to my bed. I woke up early every morning because the birds chirped so loudly and the sun shone so brightly. It was so idyllic it was almost cliche. But it wasn't cliche; I think that's just Colorado?

Although I was starting to carve out a little life for myself in Denver, tears still flowed for Brooklyn. I missed walking past a mosque on my way to get groceries at Mr. Melon, and I missed hearing the neighborhood steel drum band practicing on Saturday afternoons. I missed taking the A train to go to Rockaway beach, and yes, I did just admit that I missed the subway. Mostly, though, I missed my people. The friends-turned-family who I spent so many hours with, doing fun things with or not fun things with or doing absolutely nothing at all.

Here's the part where I thank God/Allah/Queen Bey for LS who had been living in Denver while getting her PhD but was leaving in August to take a professor job in South Dakota (sidebar: how kick ass is that?!). Without LS's friendship (and her washer/dryer), the beginning chapter of my Denver story would have been darker and a lot more lonely. She was my guiding light, introducing me to farmer's markets and great breakfast spots, cool movie theaters and the best Target in town. More than just showing me around, she let me be sad, let me vent, and let me be me. When she left in August, my already fragile heart broke a little more, but it was eased by the gratitude that I felt that we had been able to share this time together at all. Denver with Leah was Wonderful.


So I Moved (Part 2): Road Trippin' with Mama Lightfield

On Friday, June 4th I drove for 12 hours straight; that's as many hours in one day as I had driven in the past 6 years combined. And I drove it with my mom. We left South Dakota at 8:00AM and 6 bathroom breaks, 700+ miles, and 1 failed Snapchat tutorial* later we had arrived. This is our (snap) story:

*I attempted to make a Snap Story of our road trip, but my creativity was stunted by the apparent need for me to stay in our lane. I tried to verbally teach my mom the finer points of snapchat while driving, but if you can imagine that was a total disaster. God lover her for trying!

So I Moved (Part 1): The Day I Left NYC

So, I live in Denver now! I've actually been here a full three and a half months already, but I haven't been  fully inspired to sit down and write about it until now (when I have literally a hundred other things I need to do #typical). This has been such a challenging, illuminating, and fun time in my life that I need to stop, drop, and write now more than ever, and quick! before I forget everything! Here's what I remember and don't ever want to forget.

I left NYC on Friday, May 27th at 5AM. Uber prices were surging, so I stood on a street corner with 6 rats (I counted) scurrying by my feet until I spotted a yellow cab.  I bartered with the driver to take me to Newark airport for a flat rate of $100, and the sun came up as we drove West, over the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan, then under the tunnel to New Jersey. As we drove, I tried to breath in every last New York City drop but my Coldplay-level of feelings were interrupted by my driver who was curious about where I was going with such large suitcases. "I'm moving to Colorado," I said, to which he replied, "Oh cool, home of Bart Simpson!" (I laughed then quickly fact checked this on my phone). Then my driver told me his story, of moving to the U.S. from the Sudan twenty years ago.

He told me about arriving at La Guardia airport never having spoken a word of English. He eventually learned enough English to get a job driving taxis from a homeless man who lived under the Manhattan bridge. Every morning, my driver would bring the homeless man McDonald's, and the man would sit in the driver's car and teach him the English words for "steering wheel," "rear-view mirror," "seatbelt." Years later after my driver got the job and was driving somewhere in Brooklyn, he spotted his friend/teacher. He pulled over immediately, they recognized each other, and hugged it out right then and there. As my driver was telling me this story, I couldn't help but feel more in love with New York City than ever. It had been such a hard, exhausting, and expensive place to live for the past 6 years and I did feel ready to leave, but sitting in the back of that cab with Brooklyn at my back I thought, "yeah, but it's *magic*."