This photo was captured on my last afternoon with both my mother and my godmother, and it will be a precious memento for years to come. We stood on a balcony in the Palm Beach sunshine and did nothing but smile in that embrace. Now, they are both gone, but I count myself the luckiest of girls to have been with them for six decades, for their love is an epic tale.
There is an old adage, “write what you know,” that has been sounding away in my mind. Not that I ever try to write what I don’t know, but sorting out what story is the story to tell, the story that rolls around in my mind, and has, for years, isn’t always a direct line. To coax it into being I thought to set up a new writing area in my bedroom, away from the kitchen and living room, which although might be perfect blogging spots, tend to distract when one needs more concentrated concentration. To aid the process we carried in a table from my grandmother’s summer home stored in the garage attic. This, I reassured my timid self, is a starting point. And with that I started writing.
This country. This #America gone #hashtag #crazy yet stalled so fucking bad in Washington that even the Senator’s families don’t live there anymore. Just fly in and fly out to cast their party-driven vote. This America. A jumble of contradiction at every turn. Wide rural vistas divided by pristine forests and muddy rivers. Farmland rich with harvest promise. Yeah, promise. But that’s a lily-white view tarnished once one passes under a big-mother Confederate flag flying with bravado, (yeah, sadly we saw those) or an oversized Trump billboard (crazy, but yeah, saw those too) promoting all the trappings of White Supremacy with his sneer. That sneer. Sickeningly an advocate of hatred. (Will anyone really be able to vote for that world, his world of hate?) After our recent 14 State and 4,500 mile drive-by, and the current racially driven atrocities, it is clear to this blogger that the veneer of the American Dream is wearing thin, if not for all of us, at least for the Other in this country.
Just about everyday this past week we have been on the move. First heading south, then west, then south again, driving for almost 2,000 miles. We were struck by the vast, the rural, and the beauty. Even arriving in the sprawl of Austin, Texas, all three of these qualities existed.
Two weeks before my high school seniors graduated, I asked my AP English Literature students to write their own Valedictorian Speech. Much like past years, the actual Valedictorian and Salutatorian were in the class, but for their benefit, as well as a way for all the rest to express their ideas, they all wrote and then recited speeches. I was so moved listening that I am compelled to share snippets from a few of them with you. Their words are about hope, and after all, that’s what we need: day and night, simply hope. Continue reading
Eli Wiesel wrote, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” It took a while for that to seep when I first heard it. I was young, and passionate, and not in the least bit resigned, or living in fear, or surrounded by ignorance. I hadn’t even learned to keep my mouth shut very well. But, over the years, I slipped into that gray area, where I argued less about issues, about rights, about ideals. Perhaps I didn’t have the energy. Or got too busy. Somehow I became indifferent to suffering and hatred and bad stuff that always seemed to be happening far, far away. Like famine in Africa. Or civil wars in eastern European countries with names I couldn’t pronounce. Even Columbine seemed distant and isolated. But then, on a crystal clear December morning, 20 young students and several teachers were massacred in Sandy Hook Elementary School and I woke up crying. I consoled myself with the thought that the whole world would change. It didn’t. Continue reading
Congratulations to the Class of 2016! Inspiring me, as I am inspired by brave graduates year after year. All the luck in the world to you!
As a teacher of high school seniors, come June, I am reminded daily of the almost–here graduation-day swiftly moving toward us. There is no them and me or me and them at this point, for we have all been riding on this roller-coaster of great expectations and harsh realities for an entire school year together. All over the country 18 year olds are experiencing this free-falling sensation and I for one think it is a feeling worth catching on to, but I did not start out with this appreciation. No, I most certainly did not, in fact, I did my best to stay uninfected with what I, as well as most adults, labeled senior-itis.
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