January 20, 2017. The day that so many of my friends and family have been dreading. It is another grayish day in Syracuse. Mornings like this are nothing new to us here in the Salt City and we still rise every day and go try to find some joy. I have been feeling unsettled all week and everything I have been paying attention to in the media has not been helping. So this morning I sat in my warm house and had a hot breakfast, took a hot shower and got ready for a job that provides me with a living wage and health care and vacation time. I thought about how I am living the American Dream. But really, what is the American Dream? I am fairly sure that just about every writer around will be posting about this today. This is a day that will go down in history, no matter what comes tomorrow and the next day and the next…everyone I know has strong thoughts and opinions about what will happen during the next four years.
#GivingTuesday. I have seen some really worthy organizations tagged on my Facebook feed today and it got me thinking, who would I support and donate to if I won the lottery? As anyone who knows me would guess, I already have a plan. Hey, you never know! In no particular order, here are some of the groups I would support. No doubt you have seen or heard me talk about them. In lieu of actually winning the lottery, I do support these organizations now I whatever way I can. If enough drops of water come together, they can form a really big wave!
Number one on my thankful list is always my family. I know how lucky I am to have both my parents still living and in good health. I have six brothers and sisters that I love to spend time with and get to see more often than most. I am lucky in so many ways. I am employed by a company who stays closed on Thanksgiving, I own a beautiful home, and I have such amazing friends in several different circles of my life. So what am I doing to celebrate all of these blessings on Thanksgiving? Sitting home alone.
Don’t cry for me, Argentina. This situation is totally by choice. I am a proud singleton. I have loved the concept since the very first Bridget Jones book, long before anyone ever heard Renee Zellweger say it. Don’t get me wrong, I am still waiting for mister right, that chance to connect with someone in a meaningful way and to share my crazy life, but in the meantime, I am embracing that single life.
The sun rose Wednesday morning. I woke up, picked up my coffee, and went to work. It seemed like any other morning. Except it wasn’t. Wednesday morning when I awoke Donald Trump was the president-elect. My stomach was in knots and my brain was in a bit of a fog. But the sun did rise and the world is still here and now WE all must rise to make sure that we have a tolerant and accepting world for everyone. Those of us who are devastated with the events of the week need to do whatever we can to make sure all people are treated with respect and dignity and acceptance. We need to make sure our voices are heard for those who have been or are in danger of being silenced. Here are 5 women who are most definitely committed to doing just that, my mom and my sisters, and of course myself.
For people who do not enjoy white privilege, it has been a long and painful road for basic human rights that the rest of us enjoy simply because of the color of our skin. If political rhetoric from our president-elect is to be believed, then there is a danger for so many in our country. We cannot allow strides that have been made over the last 50 or so years to be erased. How can we keep moving forward?
Black lives matter and all people deserve love and workers deserve a living wage. There should be no reason for women to feel vulnerable and scared that they could be sexually harassed or abused. Children should feel safe and have full bellies and access to education. Those who are suffering from illness, both physically and mentally, should have access to health care that won’t send them into bankruptcy.
So, for those who don’t have faith in the person who is at the helm, what can we do? We need to band together and rise up and raise our voices to make sure that everyone has what they need to be successful and happy. Find what you are passionate about and join that group to help make sure people are safe and healthy and happy. It is up to us.
“Road Trip!” she shouted. “Let’s go to Woodstock! You can’t write a rock and roll blog without ever going to Woodstock! Not when we’re so close!” How could I ignore that level of energy and enthusiasm? She was right, I needed to go. I had actually been thinking about Woodstock earlier in the weekend when John tagged me in a Facebook post with this gorgeously haunting video by Good Harvest:
So we were off, leaving from Hobart, the Book Village of the Catskills (where I was attending the Hobart Festival of Women Writers) and heading towards Woodstock…
I should mention my very enthusiastic traveling companion is my friend Linda, who appeared in my life first as a local writing icon, then became a writing instructor, and now she is my friend, mentor, and cheerleader. Linda was the one who encouraged me to blog about my band wife experience and even came up with the name of the website!! She keeps me focused and accountable, all the while singing my praises to anyone who will listen!
As we got closer to Woodstock, she took a slight detour down Mink Hollow Road, where Todd Rundgren used to live and record. When she was younger, she drove down this road, hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of Todd, this talented guy she was crushing on. We started feeling a bit stalkerish, driving down this narrow country road, wondering if at some point we would be found out, but then we came to the end of the road and it was actually a trail head, so we didn’t have to worry about some sheriff stopping us and asking who we were there to bother.
OK, so this may not be categorically true. Only one person was polled: me. I am sure your moms have done great things too and are superheroes in their own way. My mom turns 75 today and instead of a gift, she asked that the people who love her write a note to her or create a work of art. This is a little of both. Happy Birthday Mom. I don’t think she will mind this existing in such a public forum.
My mom has had many roles over the years, but I want to focus on one, motherhood. She has been a mom for 55 years now and if you added up all the years for every child, it is over 350!
And just in case you were wondering if that’s where she got all her gray hair from, then what about the purple or the blue?? Where did she get that colorful streak? I think it is from her sense of adventure and whimsy. There are so many stories, and I want to share just a couple with you that helped shape me into the woman I am today.
My mom had 6 kids under the age of 6. After they pick their jaws up, people always ask me how she did it. I am not sure anyone knows. When she had the twins in 1967, before ultrasounds were the norm, she fought with the doctor for much of her pregnancy because he was insistent that she was carrying one baby when she knew there were two babies were in there. Imagine the chaos when she brought those two home to add to the four of us (ages 5, 4, 2, and 1.) And what a gift when she brought home one more 5 years later to make our family complete. Even with her hands so full, there were many things she did to make each of us feel special. One of those days for me was when I was almost 10. She stayed home while my dad took a bunch of us somewhere, maybe to the Great New York State Fair. When we arrived back at home base, she had made me my very own bedroom (I think she gave up her sewing room.) It was very special to have a space of my own with so many in our family. Thanks Mom, for teaching me that no matter how busy or chaotic life is, there is a way to treat people like they are important.
Many say that Syracuse is just an average college town, but with much more snow. There is at least one person out to change that perception (besides my mom, champion of the Near West Side) and his name is Michael John Heagerty, voted Best Community Advocate in 2016’s Best of Syracuse, run by our local community publication the Syracuse New Times.
Last week I was once again at #overpassfest. It’s an informal gathering of artists and musicians that has been happening every week since June. So far there have been #overpassfests at the Onondaga Creekwalk, the Inner Harbor, the Erie Canal Museum, and at the Great New York State Fair, and each one has been unique and amazing. Musicians with guitars, basses, tambourines, trombones, and even a couple of cajons (a percussion box that you can sit on and play at the same time) show up at the designated place at the appointed time and just start to perform. The groups constantly change as the evening goes on. Add in photographers (like my friend Lisa Kane), artists of all sorts of media, and for at least one week, a guy with a typewriter that wrote poems on demand. Every week people gather and create together in a community space that otherwise doesn’t see a lot of action.