from The New Yorker
from The New Yorker
Although it has been eight years since I started ruminationville, I have not maintained it actively since the corrupt, greedy, lying, self-serving, misogynistic, racist creep sleeping in the White House stole the election. In part my relative silence has been because of a growing belief that whatever I might have to say here would seem frivolous in light of the grave dangers that now confront us. I think, also, that I have been unable to proceed here with business as usual because I have changed over these past several years.
As I have watched myself careen daily between rage, grief, sadness, and fear — and as I have looked for ways to right myself — I have come to realize that what interested me most when I started this blog no longer interests me very much. More than wanting to become a better writer, I think I wanted to see if I could be disciplined enough to write regularly because I had been led to believe that I had no business calling myself a writer unless I wrote with determination and consistency. Now I see that I can call myself a writer even if I never write another word. Who’s to tell me otherwise?
And where previously I came to think that being a writer was my life path (and it certainly had seemed so), several years ago I found I had been placed on another path when I wasn’t looking. It began in 2016 when I was searching for a way to supplement my income since one cannot pay one’s bills and eat on an adjunct professor’s salary. I also was looking for a way to exit teaching because, after more than 20 years in the profession, I had lost my passion for it.
Having had some experience in the mental health field, I applied for a part-time job working with young adults who had experienced their first episode of psychosis. To my surprise, I was offered a full-time position. Unfortunately, after two years in this job I was let go because the program had been taken over by another, much larger organization that required someone in my role to have an undergraduate degree in psychology, social work, or a related field. Although at that point I had several advanced degrees, none satisfied the requirement, and I was left scrambling to find new work. Fortunately a supervisor went to bat for me, and I was hired to do a similar job for the same organization, though in a different program with different degree requirements for staff.
I realized then that, if I wanted to leave teaching and if in the future I wanted to be considered for better-paying, more professional mental health positions, I would need another graduate degree. Colleagues told me that a master’s in social work would be the most versatile degree, so I applied to an MSW program and was accepted. Believe me when I say that I was not eager to return to school, yet here I am with a year and a half of course work behind me and with my first of two required internships well underway.
When I finish my degree, I think I would be happy enough to remain in Northern Virginia, where I live: I have friends, work, and a spiritual community to which I have belonged for many years. I am confident, also, that I could get a better job with my new credentials. The only problem is that my daughter has returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she was born and where we lived while she was growing up. She was pining for her home, and now I am pining for her.
As a holiday gift, she sent me a baby peperomia plant. The directions said I should give it a name, and, although “Cheryl” popped immediately into my head, I found I could not remember it for the life of me. My daughter thought I might not be able to remember the name because it didn’t seem to really suit the plant, so I asked her to suggest another. Though fragile, “Sofia” appears to be thriving, and I have no trouble remembering what to call her. Daily I speak with her, touch her leaves gently, and open the blinds to let in the light. I feel great tenderness for her, in fact, and am becoming aware that she is as much a being as I am. When I let it, this realization breaks open my heart and allows a certain kind of love to enter. Perhaps it is this love that will help guide me in the decisions I soon will need to make.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.
For quite some time I have been relatively silent here. I could say much has changed, but you would not know it necessarily: As always, I seek solitude wherever I can; typically wear loose, dark clothing, with black as a preference; and remain folded in melancholy, though generally I can keep a sense of irony about things.
I also remain steadfast in the love and devotion I feel for my daughter, and I still believe I am called to serve the fragile. If years back you had asked me how I felt about my father, my mother, and my brother, I would have said that I loved them but that I might have died from their dark betrayals. I would say the same today but would add that I am not an innocent either.
Still I have more and more come to accept my nature and my past: I have made so many grave mistakes, particularly in relationships. Yet, I do not think I could have done otherwise, and perhaps I should not have done otherwise. More and more, too, I am roiled by rage as I watch men (and, sadly, women) who do not seem to possess even a trace of self-knowledge hurtle us toward the end of days. But I am less and less afraid of my anger. In fact, I can welcome him in now and can delight in pouring us a cup of tea. He and I have much to discuss.
by Warsan Shire
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.
– posted by Max Burns (@themaxburns) on Twitter