Today is That Day

Today is one of those days you have a hard time explaining the world to your children.

Today is will always remember two men who didn’t ask questions, didn’t blink…but did their jobs for me when I called on them and asked. Even though they were in grave danger and ended up running for their lives. Yet there they were, doing what they do best in the midst of the chaos and informing the world of what they saw.

Those two men will forever have my admiration. They both choose to remember today in their own way and for every year that has passed I’ve never tried to push a celebration of their lives or shower them with public accolades. I’m just forever glad they are alive and forever glad they tolerated my calls during the horror.

Today is also the day I, somewhat like the Grinch, had a body part grow three sizes that day. Except it was my spine. Never again did I just do what I was told. Or take an assignment and go where I was told. Upon reflection of the day’s events I should have said no to sitting below the two tallest buildings in Los Angeles, awaiting their destruction so I could report from the middle of it…if I survived.

Today is the day I turned my career from a young reporter, to an investigative reporter to be reckoned with in one of the largest cities in our nation. I’m proud to have forced the city to spend millions to shore up security at our ports and our local water supply and proud to have the awards and special momento (given to my news director) as a reminder. May that lock  sit on her desk forever.

Today changed so many lives forever, not all are as kind as mine. Today I am grateful to still have so many of you in my life who nearly were gone forever and my heart still aches for those lost.

Today is the day I use up a lot of my wishes, the same as I did so many years ago.

Lunchtime love

Trayvon’s Heart Missing for White, Mom Jury

I think we need to talk about the other elephant in the room regarding the Trayvon Martin case:

this jury of predominantly white “Moms”- or so I keep hearing.

As if, magically, this will take away any issues of race or privilege or any other issues…simply because all these jurors were mothers and female.

I’ll just go ahead and say it and take the heat: some of the biggest people with racial issues I know are white feminists. Mind you I did not say every, I did not say ALL, I said some. Simply…some.

I found out first hand when I was the first blogger to publicly ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to step down from her run so then Senator Barack Obama could claim the nomination for President. 99% of my hate mail came from white feminists who were shocked and appalled I dared ask a woman to get out-of-the-way for a man. They accused me of being at traitor to my gender. They accused me of being a N-gger lover, out to “impress” the “other” minorities, while ignoring my own. They also told me women needed this more than people of color and I should know that because I AM a woman. How dare I fail to understand their struggle and how dare I put those of color’s struggle above women’s struggles?

So when I heard the jury was made up of a bevy of white females, I did not feel any better for the prosecution’s chances. Even if they were liberal, white, females. I knew all too well the history of racism some of these women carried in their hearts and I knew some believed their plight was far worse than any other minority’s plight. I also knew, deep down, some may be harboring some very racist views.

It was the age-old “but our struggle is harder than your struggle” fight that I’ve watched play out over blogs over the years. Even on my own.

But hey, maybe I was way off base. Maybe my gut feeling was totally wrong and these were enlightened, totally biased free women. Sure they might have the usual issues anyone would have with race and gender and class, but perhaps they were smart enough to put all that aside for the trial and move forward like rational humans.

And then came Anderson Cooper’s interview with one of the jurors. My stomach churned and sadly, I felt like my initial thoughts just might be true. I certainly didn’t feel any better about my theory as to the panel composed of George Zimmerman’s peers. Juror B37 said she had no doubt Zimmerman was “afraid” – my question…how afraid can you be if you take your gun and pursue the person you are allegedly afraid of? But what caught my attention most was juror B37′s comments on witness Rachael Jeantel. “A lot of the times she was using phrases I have never heard before and what they meant…that’s way they talk…” (emphasis mine)

Does she means the way teens talk? Doubtful. I think considering she was discussing her “communication skills” she was speaking directly to race. Directly. Go ahead and click on the link to her discussion of Jeantel. How she felt bad for her. How she felt she was uneducated. Really? She was speaking about her being a teen then? Juror B37 sure tried not to say it, but it was clear to me she was speaking about race.

And to Jeantel’s credit, she was respectful of the juror’s comments, even saying her parents helped her calm down and she was raised to not cuss and respect her elders.

Certainly doesn’t sound like someone who was ashamed of herself or her education to me there Juror B37. In fact, Ms. Jeantel out-classed you and showed her education far better than you did on national television.

So where does that leave us? With a generation gap or a racial gap? Or does that just leave us with those who are upset at the verdict and those who are not?

I’ve been told I’m race-baiting by even bringing up black witnesses and white jurors in this case. But an unarmed black teenager was killed, he was considered suspicious for walking through a neighborhood in the rain, carrying candy and tea. SO VERY SUSPICIOUS that George Zimmerman felt it necessary to follow Trayvon with a loaded gun.

I can’t think of any teen or man who wouldn’t confront Zimmerman if they were being followed. And there sits this jury of predominantly white women actually thinking it’s Zimmerman that was scared. The man with the gun. The man who did the following. SO SCARED HE FOLLOWED TRAYVON. If you are scared and afraid for your life, do you chase after the person who you are afraid of? I’m just asking here. And if you are a white woman sitting on that jury -are you the typical stepford-wife thinking Mr. Zimmerman was oh so brave for following that thug of a black boy daring to traipse through their neighborhood?

Nevermind it was Trayvon’s neighborhood too. Because I get the distinct feeling neither George Zimmerman nor the white, female jurors thought of that neighborhood as Trayvon’s either. Even though it was.

Tie in Juror B37′s comments on Ms. Jeantel and I see exactly how this went in their minds. Yes, I am a mind reader. (That’s sarcasm, people…I’m giving you my own theories here, not fact).

And to say race didn’t come into play is either total denial on the jury’s part or just another sad chapter in the long history of white, sometimes very feminist, women denying the plight of people of color in favor of their own struggles.

This isn’t a competition. We are not post-racial and we are not post-gender and we are not post-patriarchy.

Imagine what we could do together if we could only see the other’s fight and help. See the other’s pain and history and empathize instead of compare.

If we could only see the facts surrounding the death of a young man and not let things like our prejudice of a black woman’s “education” get in the way of her account of that fateful night.

And if only Juror B37 could have seen into Trayvon’s heart the way she claims she could see into Zimmerman’s. The man who pulled the trigger. Why is it she knew Zimmerman’s heartfelt intentions yet she couldn’t fathom Trayvon’s intentions and heart? Even after the witnesses and those who told of his unarmed walk home. His entirely legal, unarmed, entirely NON-suspicious walk home. But B37 couldn’t find any heart there…

and I can only come up with one reason why…

Meanwhile THIS white, feminist Mom has nothing but a broken heart for Trayvon and his parents. I can’t imagine their pain. I can’t imagine how they must feel after a jury of women couldn’t find reason under the law to put the killer of their son behind bars. I can not speak to the racism they may feel due to this case or the fallout regarding race sweeping through the nation. I can only speak to what I know. and I know white women. I am a white woman.

Sadly I had hoped they would see into the heart of a young boy before they saw into the heart of a shooter.

We Blend, Trayvon Did Not

My Dad walked into the living room and said “Not guilty.”

I inhaled.

He didn’t have to say anymore. I knew what he was talking about, I knew what he meant. My head swirled.

My 10-year old instinctively clung to my left arm. Began petting me. He didn’t understand. He asked question after question.

But how could he just shoot him and not go to jail? How is that ok? Why would he be not guilty? He shot him. You can’t shoot people, right? 

#relayforlife

I had shielded as much of the Trayvon Martin case as I could from the kids, but my son enjoys watching the news with me and truly enjoys discussing the news with me. So many mornings are spent with the two of us talking over current events. I keep things as age appropriate as possible. With Trayvon it was hard from day one. This was a teenager gunned down for doing nothing more than walking home, being stalked by the local neighborhood watch guy, and when Trayvon confronted George Zimmerman, a fight ensued and Zimmerman shot and killed the teen.

Now Zimmerman walks free and all over my twitter feed under certain hashtags like #tcot and others, people were celebrating. On my Facebook page there were exclamations of ‘What a great day for America!’ and so on.

While my son shook with anger and tears rolled down his face. While my daughter did her best to play her game and not pay attention, yet clearly was listening and upset. While I struggled to come up with the words to tell them justice would prevail…silence permeatited throughout our home.

Silence.

Because there were no words.

There was nothing I could say that would make sense or make this right.

The verdict went against everything we had taught them about our judicial system and it went against everything we taught them about how justice was supposed to be served in the end.

My husband talked about how sometimes, justice does not win. We all did our best to explain away the unexplainable.

But the kids clearly did not understand. Hell, the adults didn’t understand.

Later on in the evening my son asked me how we could make it better. My sweet, sweet baby boy wanted to know what he could do to change the verdict, racism, and the world- and he was very serious.

Again, I had no answer for him. My only answer was that he continue to be a great person. And that hopefully, it would be contagious.

This wasn’t good enough for him.

So I told him about a petition to get the Justice Department to open a civil rights case against George Zimmerman to try, once again, to put him behind bars.

He was unimpressed. And I have to say, while I think the petition and case could be worthwhile…Zimmerman walks free while Trayvon is dead. I see no justice there and I see no reason to get excited over the possibility of another trial.

Something my son said keeps repeating over and over in my mind as I think about the verdict:

Mom, what if I walked to go get Hala some candy and you always drink tea…what if I went to get you tea…and that happened to me? But it wouldn’t though, would it? They think I blend in here, don’t they? They don’t understand I’m not on their side…they don’t understand we’re on the kids like Trayvon’s side. That means I can sneak into their talks and find out what is going on and then I can tell everyone and everyone will be safe. They will never know because I blend in. They will think I am one of them, but really I am like a ninja and I will bring all the information back to everyone like Trayvon and US and everyone will be SAFE forever!

I love my son’s big heart more than I can say. In his 10-year old imagination that’s all it takes. Him acting like a superhero of sorts to come save the day for all. Or at the very least, him acting like a super, secret, spy-ninja who can get rid of racism and the bad guys all in one night.

How I wish this were one of those times his imagination’s amazing ideas worked. And it were all just that simple.

That a 10-year old boy’s dreams and ideas could come true and some of this pain and confusion could be erased with good and innocence.

If nothing else, may the world know if there must be sides to take, my son has signed us up to be on Trayvon’s and people ‘like’ Trayvon’s. That means those of color and those who do not ‘blend’ in ‘our’ neighborhood.

Jack has decided we don’t blend. And I’m glad. I don’t want to blend if it means we are anything like the Zimmermans of the world. We’ll happily be just like Trayvon in spirit.

Forever.

Trouble, Trouble, Trouble… oh Yes TROUBLE

We hit a bit of a milestone today.

I had a car filled with 8-year old girls singing their hearts out to Taylor Swift, with my daughter leading the pack.

I couldn’t exactly catch the ear piercing chorus, but this will give you an idea:

…and she couldn’t have been happier.

Giggles, singing about boys being Trouble, begging me to stay in the car just a few more minutes after we had parked because the new Selena Gomez song had come on and ‘Mom, we just have to sing this one too…’

…and I pretended to look at my phone all while grinning and crying on the inside at my baby girl growing up right before my eyes. Unafraid to share her fun in front of her Mom and even thanking me later for being so ‘cool.’

Is this really happening? Is she really old enough to be signing with her friends at the top of her lungs about boys?

…and to top it off as we picked up her older brother at his classroom door he clearly had an admirer there walking him out.

This cool mom isn’t ready for any of this.

Trouble indeed.

Lupus Awareness Month. You Want a KickOff Post? You Got One

Lupus awareness purple bow on my IV by wonder nurse @alina_khodad !!!!

It hits me at the oddest times. Not ever when there is an IV in my arm or when I’m talking to a therapist…but like, just now…when I see the photo of a beautiful newborn.

And this heaviness crushes my chest and my heart begins to pound a bit faster and I feel that ache.

That ache for all those things I wanted yesterday (read: NOW) that I must wait for. For all those things I will never have. For all those things that must change because life has dealt me a hand I’m not sure how to play.

I dream about secretly saving money to take the family away on a surprise cruise. And realize I have to schedule it around treatment and make sure it’s well after that one drug I get because that drug means I catch every germ on earth and I can’t be out in public and I have to make sure … you get the idea. And my dream fades.

I dream about going back to work after having an inspiration for a project as I finished reading up on some social media political ideas and begin to plan how to approach my boss and exactly who I would want on my team. And then I remember I need to be stable between treatments for a good length of time and stop getting all these infections and setbacks, even if they are small. I remember I’ll need to ramp up to balancing work and health and life while I currently have enough trouble just balancing health and life. And my dream fades.

I dream about my honeymoon over and over.

I dream about nights out with girlfriends where we dance and I need to take a cab home.

I dream about meeting my husband for dinner with friends across town. Or by the beach. Or with his co-workers. Such simple things he does all the time with many people.

I dream about running in the park with my children, laughing. I dream about volunteering in their classes.

And then I remember I shouldn’t be out in the sun long, due to the medication. I remember I can’t run, really. I remember the germs in the classes could land me hospitalized.

The ache returns. Harder. Stronger.

I want it so bad. I have been working so hard. I take my pills, I sit with that damn IV in my arm as they infuse whatever they infuse into me day after day, week after week, month after month. I try yoga. I try the diet that is supposed to help with the steroid weight gain. I barely eat now but I’m still a prednisone oompa loompa. I have done everything the doctor’s say and yes, I’m getting better but at what cost? I know there is light at the end of this tunnel, or so they tell me…but I still can’t see it because despite FEELING better there is too much still missing.

On the days I feel good I do all I can- I have gone back to school (online only as I can’t sit in a classroom yet), I drive carpool, I make dinner and breakfast and lunches and I do the best I can with housekeeping. I’ve been trying different things, doctor approved, to help my body and mind from horseback riding with my daughter to gentle yoga to just walking the dog.

I feel like I am trying so hard some days I’m creating stress by being so very determined. Mostly because I can’t stand to feel that ache. I don’t want to feel that ache. I want that ache to go the hell away and understand there is now a new normal around and this is just how it is going to be.

Only better. Because it will keep getting better. I have come this far and I will keep going. It’s slow. It’s painfully slow. But it is happening come hell or high water because it will get better than this. THIS is the new normal for now and it will continue to morph until I am happy with my life.

Yes, I have much for which to be grateful. And believe me, every single day I celebrate. Every. Single. Day. I am happy and laughing when I open a jar without pain. I have cried when I climbed the flight of stairs to our bedroom to realize I wasn’t out of breath. I’m patting myself on the back for every ‘A’ I get in class and for every treatment week I make it through without sleeping the entire time.

All I want is someone to hold my hand and tell me this is going to pay off.

This is life with Lupus.

 

Learn more about Lupus at Lupus.org

We Will Stand There

I have an eight-year old. I have an eight-year old and a 10-year old and we always stand at the finish line well before it’s time.

Their Dad runs. And we stand there with signs and smiles and we watch with anticipation searching the sea of runners waiting for him to cross the finish line.

We’ve played this scenario out over and over again at that finish line. Sometimes right at the line. Sometimes a block before. Sometimes just after the runners cross. But we are always there.

Off we go!!!

Just like all those families were there. Just like eight-year old Martin Richard and his six-year old sister, his other sibling and their Mom. We stand there. Just like they did. We have done it so many times…because no matter how sweaty our loving runners are, we are so proud and we want that hug so bad.

As the stories pour in about so many families and so many runners and so much hurt and pain all I can do is promise that when my husband’s body is ready again we will stand there at that finish line again.

We will stand there with our signs and our smiles.

We will stand there because we are proud of our runner, but also because we will remember.

And he crosses the finish!!! #awesome80srun @aaronvest rocks!!!!

Every time we ever stand there ever again, we will always remember.

Celebrate the Joy in life NOW…RIGHT NOW

Update:

For those who are not aware yet, Dawn passed away yesterday almost as I was writing this. We wish strength and love to her husband Mike and her boys.

 

Our family doesn’t get it sometimes. Aaron and I can sit next to each other on the couch and tweet back and forth, giggling. We laugh with friends and they tweet back…it’s a community.

Dawn and Mike have always been around for those late night and middle of the day giggle sessions. They were the Ethel and Fred to our Ricky and Lucy. Or vice versa.

Dawn and I even got sick together. We even started to get better together. Then, not long ago, there was news Mike was taking Dawn to the ER. The next thing we hear there is a surgery and tumors and bleeding and the words inoperable and hospice.

I, of course, had been lost in my world of treatments and swollen ankles and worrying about things that didn’t matter. So when I caught the news it came second-hand and it very literally sucked the breath right out of me.

No. No. These are our buddies. These are the people we joke around with online and knew we’d hang out with on our next trip to Michigan- just as soon as my Doctor said I could travel. No. No. This is not happening.

Aaron and Mike understand what it’s like to be caregivers to women they love. The kids, the jobs, the meals the worry. My god the endless worry. Dawn and I could bitch about pills and surgeries and pain and being stuck in a hospital bed or on a couch. Wanting nothing more than to take the worry away from our Aaron and Mike and, most of all, our kids.

I refuse to give up hope that doctors can find a way to help Dawn. We still have trip to Michigan to make where we all have to go a Tiger’s game and eat Coney Dogs after. Our kids needs to hang out.

But most of all, Dawn and I need some girly couch time. Where we may have to rest, but we’ll rest together.

Mike is asking donations be given to Melanoma Research Foundation so smart people can continue to try to find a way to fight this asshole cancer. There is also another donation drive where the funds are going to help the family with meals, expenses.

I hope beyond hope for a miracle. And in the meantime, follow Dawn’s advice and check your skin. CHECK YOUR SKIN.

For Better or Worse

This is the week my husband and I celebrate bringing unconditional love into our lives forever. Love that no one can describe to you, that no one can begin to try to get you to grasp no matter how hard they try. Our children celebrate their birthdays. Two years and six days apart. One a decade old. The other, eight.

Beautiful signs of spring on the way to school

The rest of the country will be watching the United States’ Supreme Court hear arguments on another type of love. A love that can be legalized with the institution of marriage. Something else many find hard to put into words. Many find beyond difficult to explain the overwhelming joy it makes them feel.

My husband and I were married and had our two children. In my mind, we became a family when we declared our love for one another in front of our friends and family and even before that when we became domestic partners in the eyes of the law in order to make sure we could take care of each other in sickness and in health and in any legal matters. This happened BEFORE we were legally married.

Some would say, “…isn’t that enough?”

NO. It’s NOT enough.

Just because we were domestic partners does not mean that we were protected had we left California’s borders and it certainly did not protect us in the rest of the US and it’s territories. To this day, there is no one else I want making decisions for me should I become unable, than my husband. It does not matter why…it’s who I CHOOSE. I CHOOSE him. We are adults and adults should be able to make sure the person they want is allowed in the hospital room with them when they want, makes important legal and medical decisions, and inherits any and all and everything I find necessary-from property to personal items. And if I do not happen to write it down in time, it should be common sense this is the person who is in charge of all these things and GETS all these things. Oh, and by the way, this person also gets full custody of OUR children. The ones born of love.

The ones born into a family made of love.

In a “marriage” that did not include God or a preacher.

It also was not guaranteed to create chidden.

I now have no uterus or ovaries. If you were to ask my husband before hand, there would be no promise this “marriage” would produce children. Apparently my body agreed.

As you can see, I’m knocking down all the reasons many say you must “save traditional marriage” left and right with our family.

We did not have a traditional wedding. We did not have a traditional wedding ceremony. We do not have a traditional marriage, unless you consider “traditional” one that means we love each other and wish to spend the rest of our lives together.

As the country, once again, consumes itself with what “marriage” means in this day and age I only ask that you consider one question: What does family mean?

Our family started in a way many would consider illegal and immoral. Yet here we are, with two beautiful children celebrating birthdays and we’ve stood by each other through every vow repeated to one another long ago.

That’s more than I can say for millions of Americans claiming to be truly “married” while shunning my husband and I, while saying things like “why can’t they just have a civil union and not be married like us” and while trying to convince the country separate can be equal. In fact, I think I’ve heard that before…didn’t turn out too well then either.