I’m with you…and her

7 Nov

My father and I have two rules for talking about politics:

1. He gets to call President Obama my boyfriend.

2. I have to agree with everything he says.

Oh, and he’s voting for Donald Trump.

Here he is holding a baby. My baby.

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But in all seriousness, my father, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, and me, a bleeding-heart liberal, have some interesting and productive conversations. He taught me everything I know about the free market and commodities trading, but also about photography and black-and-white printing and the golden hour. I taught him that sometimes it’s okay to take a portrait in landscape mode. We still agree to disagree.

Aria at four

This political season has been long and brutal and full of anger and hatred and venom and lies and accusations. And that was just the conversations between my friend Rachel and I during the primary season.

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This is Rachel. She’s a Berner. She sometimes slips up and calls me Shillary.

Anyone who thinks this level of divisiveness is new doesn’t remember the nineties. In fact, it was the nineties (not college), which turned me liberal. That’s right. The first time I registered to vote I registered as a Republican.

My deepest roots are in Detroit. I grew up at the periphery of a blue-collar family which was wary of racial tension and racial divide, in ways that made them fearful and not inclined to acceptance and unity.

My parents were also also the kind of people who believed in hard work and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. My father started his own small printing business in Tucson which thrived until technology changed dramatically in the early part of the millennium, swiftly wiping out film photography faster than any of us could have anticipated, and leaving my father without a business and without a retirement.

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I grew up in that studio, and still feel a pang when I think of it. It’s where I learned everything I know about art and photography and risk-taking.

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Rightfully or not, my father hates the government, high taxes, and rapid change.

He likes Donald Trump because he believes that Donald Trump is not a politician. He believes that Donald Trump is businessman, like himself. He doesn’t believe all of the most horrible things about Donald Trump, because he is and always has been deeply suspicious of the media.

One of the biggest things that frustrates me so much about the political cycle is that people really have no understanding of the power of emotional appeal. You can dump any amount of facts and information on someone, but if they don’t believe it in their gut, if they don’t believe it with their whole soul, they won’t believe it any other way.

I’ll never forget the lesson my brother-in-law, a Baptist minister, taught me when we were arguing (pleasantly) about religion. He said, “It’s not about facts; it’s about faith.” This is true for many people, and if you don’t understand it, then you haven’t experienced it.

You can call people like that stupid, ignorant, stubborn, or evil, but that’s not going to change their minds either. You are doing exactly what they expect you do: looking down on them.

I honestly don’t know the answer. I do know this. Many people who support Donald Trump are smart, interesting, complicated, and worthwhile human beings.

Like my parents:


Clearly, I have no problem letting my children associate with evil, sinister beings.

Meanwhile, I’m with her.

clinton hearing

I mean, I’ve made this face at faculty meetings many times.

A lot of people think she is just as evil and conniving and unworthy of higher office as Donald Trump.

I happen to like her, for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into right now.

Whatever happens, I honestly don’t think it will be the end of the world. I could be wrong. After all, the Cubs just won the World Series. But I will go on loving my family and friends, and the country will move forward, because the Founding Fathers balanced out the powers of our government over three branches, and as far as I’m concerned, they are frigging geniuses.

I will keep trying to teach my children to be kind. I will keep trying to teach my students to be better writers. I will keep trying to finish my novel and do more yoga and eat fewer potato chips.

My son Oscar will continue to teach me about life.

Oscar for blog post

Oscar was watching one of the debates with me and he said, “Gosh, everyone is so angry. It’s like when Aria and I are fighting over cleaning up our room and who did a bigger job of messing it up and the room is still not getting cleaned up.”

The room is still not getting cleaned up.

So lets all figure out what brings us happiness and joy, and what brings others happiness and joy, and work on doing more of that.

The way to bring people over to your side is not to yell at them, berate them, make them feel stupid, pile on your statistics or tell them they’re going to burn in Hell. The way to win people over is to be a shining light.

Make positive effort for the good.

positive effort

I was pregnant with Oscar the night President Obama was elected. I cried tears of joy that my son would be born into the presidency of a black man. Why? Because he will always have the experience of growing up with a person of color in a position of tremendous power. Now I want my daughter to see a woman in that same position.

I don’t care what you think of Hillary. I’m okay with the fact that you may not like her, or worse. I still love you and respect you and care about you. I’m still with you, and I’m still with her.

“I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

~Walt Whitman



11 Apr

Lately, my stepdad has been sending me blogging ideas, which makes me think I should dust off the old blog and write some stuff. It’s hard when you haven’t blogged in almost a year and feel like you should write something special and momentous. Then I realized that I should just start somewhere. Anywhere.

Lately, we’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to think or write or do much of anything else. I remember when my kids were babies and people would tell me how much harder it would get when they were older. At the time, I was breastfeeding, changing diapers every hour or more, and not getting more than two hours of sleep in row. I thought they were nuts.

Now I realize that when it comes to kids, things don’t really ever get easier, they just change. I get more sleep and change fewer diapers, but now that my kids have a full array of linguistic strategies at their disposal I spend a lot more time negotiating sibling squabbles and bedtime routines, supervising homework, and discussing the finer details of bee life. Yes, I did indeed know that honey is bee puke. Thank you for reminding me, Oscar.

Lately, I’ve realized that our toy days are numbered. This first came to me when I was shopping for Oscar’s Christmas presents. It occurred to me that it would only be another year or two before he was no longer interested in toys. Certainly he will be interested in Legos, video games, art supplies, and books for many years to come, but I’m talking about little kid toys, the kind that sometimes feel like they are taking over our house. I know that one day I will blink and they will be gone, replaced by smelly clothes cast off in all directions, cell phones, and requests to borrow the car.

A few weeks ago I insisted we pull out the Thomas the Train sets and play with them. Oscar thought I was a little bit crazy but he obliged me. He played with his little sister for a short time and then lost interest in favor of a new book. I can’t tell you how much I love to see my son sitting around reading, but it gives me a pang to realize I’ll probably never see him build train tracks out into the living room again, spending hours creating one disaster after another with Thomas and Percy and Henry and James. Oh, don’t get me wrong. He still plays. He love action figures and Legos and will play for hours. But he asked me to stop putting the Thomas the Train container in his lunch box. “I’m too old for that now, Mama.”

Lately Aria has stopped calling me into her room in the middle of the night, every night (it still happens). It feels good to sleep through the night, but I looked around the other day and realized that most of the baby paraphernalia is gone from the house. I honestly don’t miss having babies around, but what bothers me is that the transitions don’t always happen with fanfare and documentation. Oh, sure, we take pictures of first steps and first days of school and lost teeth, but not of the last time our kids ride in the front seat of the shopping cart or need help getting their shoes on. Most of the transitions and changes happen in the midst of our hectic daily routine, and aren’t noticed until much later.

I’m trying to strike a balance between making it through each day as it comes, creating happy memories, and holding onto the little details that make life with children so unique. As the saying goes, it’s the longest shortest time of your life.

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Aria and Oscar running errands with me–three years ago.


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