Sunday, November 4, 2018

autumn in portland

Few of us enjoy discomfort. We're stressed after a long day, pour a glass of wine. The news horrifies us, pay less attention. Our head aches, pop a pill. A conversation gets too intimate, we end it and figure out a way to avoid the topic, maybe even the person, thereafter. I'm neither assigning judgment nor claiming I've ever responded differently. Instead, I'm questioning how much of our lives are spent shifting around that which would really challenge us. Growth, as far as I understand it anyway, is uncomfortable.
Mind you, this is coming from the woman who has always opted for the "comfort" of new and anonymous in an unfamiliar city.
It's only natural that our first instinct is to protect ourselves. Survival and such, you know. But a year into life in San Francisco, I fear that many of my fellow inhabitants are confusing self-care with safeguarded withdrawal. The epicenter of American tech and innovation and we've yet to "solve" the homelessness issue; a multi-faceted problem, to be fair, but still. Why and how?
Then again, I'm not sure I have it in me to address the loud silence from some when it comes to our latest Supreme Court appointee because my job requires me to breathe in the space of heartless rhetoric and immigration policy. It's all together awful. Important, too.
And this is before considering what's taking place beyond the U.S. borders.

The horrors of our current reality can be paralyzing. Let's choose action anyway, still. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something; like vote by Tuesday, November 6th, for example. (Please confirm the precise when and where for you). As for my addressing more personal discomfort–confronting relational discord, letting go of love, establishing new memories in special places such as Portland, I'm working on it... aren't we all? Here's to hoping there actually is growing in the trying.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

kalimera

Of the few Greek words I adopted over the five day-stay, kalimera was likely the first. Locals exchanged good mornings at all opportunities; on the island of Sifnos especially. And being tourists didn't exempt us. We were welcomed into the singsong-y custom. How could we resist! Why would we want to. 
Earlier this summer (Labor Day, what?!), I declared that Greek island life beats most other scenarios. It does. Thanks to jet lag, we awoke each morning around 7am. We made coffee and had a light breakfast of toasted bread with local jam and the best Greek yogurt I have ever had. Perched above the ocean, we leisurely read books and caught up on the news. We hiked to beaches, rode our Vespa across the island's winding roads, ate our weight in Greek salad and Sifnian cheeses and seemingly all the local specialties.
On my 30th birthday, I set out on my own. I descended the stairs to the Church of the Seven Martyrs and prayed to a God who hasn't heard from me in quite some time. The church bells, tied up so as not to ring in the voracious winds, chimed steadily, three times.
It was all so perfect and special, and aside from those solo moments above, shared with one person with whom I no longer speak.
I neither dreaded nor was I thrilled about turning 30. It just felt fitting, in that ordinary no-frills "ah but of course" kind of way. All those little changes and shifts I'd made consciously (and not) in accepting who I was and what I wanted and how I needed, without apology... 30 suddenly made sense; a milestone of adulthood in and of itself as opposed to the reasons I'd been told.
A lot can happen in three decades lived: Multiple degrees and passport stamps. Stints/lifetimes in cities like New York and Paris and Los Angeles. Collections of passion-fueled and need-based jobs. Romantic love found and lost and sought after, juxtaposed with the evolution of familial bonds (once humanness is fully seen, to the extent that it can be). Friends that stick. Real life evidence that another good morning can be found in each ebb and flow, as perhaps the only thing that's truly "meant to be", for every one of us.

Monday, July 23, 2018

close to home

I grew up around kids. My mom watched all ages: 3 months, 10 years. My brother, sister, and I learned how to change a diaper, make a bottle, keep an eye on and entertain. We helped, though not always happily. We often didn't have access to our bedrooms until so-and-so got up from his or her nap. So, we'd keep an ear out for crying. We came to understand what it stood for--whining, frustration, discomfort.

The cries I heard on this recording were different.
At this point, I expect you're well aware of the crisis taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border. You know that last month: 2,000+ children were taken from their parents, that every person to cross the border without legal documentation was prosecuted as a criminal, that AG Jeff Sessions tried to use the Bible to defend the zero-tolerance policy, and that President Trump signed an executive order to discontinue family separation, an act that was put in place with his blessing. Hopefully they'll make their deadline? And still, one can only imagine the pain and suffering that continues through trauma.

Decades after my grandfather ventured to Central California with the Bracero Program, my dad crossed that same border for that same economic opportunity. He stayed longer though. He sent money home, supported siblings as they, too, came over. Years later, once my dad had met my mom, after my siblings and I came to be, my dad became an American citizen.

It's no wonder this feels personal, and yet... nobody risks their own life, let alone that of their child, unless they have to; unless doing so feels like the only viable option for safety. If they make it, their family might come to know the opportunity that comes after. Maybe.

Who do we think we are to dehumanize fellow human beings by labeling them illegal? A descriptor of an action, by the way, not an existence. Do we not share the same value, the same entitlement to human rights? Dignity, let alone decency? This administration appears not to think so. How quickly we forget our origins.

I am the child of an immigrant. My father achieved "the American Dream." This has afforded me the privilege to move across borders and oceans without any apprehension a.k.a. the entire premise of this silly blog. The magnitude of these truths are enough to paralyze me with guilt sometimes. I'm trying my best to do more. I hope you are, too.

P.S. For some levity whilst giving a damn.