Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve Baby

19 years ago, I was eating surf and turf.

From a plastic cafeteria tray. It was the hospital's sweet way of reminding me, "Hey, you're here. Kinda sore from just having that baby, but maybe a little filet mignon will perk you up?"

You were born on New Year's Eve, and while your dad high-fived the Doctor for delivering a tax deduction just under the wire, I was too busy trying to figure out how I had managed to deliver an 8 pound 10 oz. baby.


Today is your birthday, my son. Happy birthday. I know that no matter how many times I say it, it won't be possible for you to know how magical and wonderful you are.

I have stories, stories that I could tell forever, about how much I love you.

Happy birthday, my friend, my smart kid, my talented artist, my walking buddy, my kind and even-tempered child.

I know it's no use telling you how much I'll miss you when you leave this September for Madison, but I can't help it.

I will miss you.
I love you.
I am so excited for you.

Do all parents feel they just didn't get enough time? I'm betting they do. If you notice me more misty-eyed than I usually am on this day, it's because I'm thinking how it's your last birthday at home. So, don't mind me. Much.

I wish you a happy birthday today, my beautiful son! As you open your cards and gifts, know that we chose them with love for you. You mean the world to me, your dad, and your brothers, Xavier.


* * *

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Weather Outside is #*&$**#@

The weather outside is frightful.

And certainly not delightful.

More like Nightmare on Fridge Street levels of torture. Temperatures and pain that have me clipping coupons and resigning myself to eating spam and noodles for the remainder of my days so I can afford to retire in Arizona.

I can't take this weather and for absofreakinlutely sure I will not be able to take it at a fragile age 62. Because it's so cold that the temperature outside is just making everything cold. And with that last sentence as evidence, it's also cold enough that I've lost my eloquence.

Just because our asses are frozen off doesn't mean our brains have to go the same way. With the current Arctic blast as my witness, I will not let this winter take me down sounding like I went to the Trump academy of public expression. I will de-frost my once bountiful vocabulary, and offer the same wealth of words assistance to you, my Popsicle friends.

If you find yourself in the swirl of a blustery day worthy of Jack Frost's lexicon, allow me to lend you a descriptive hand. You will never again be at a loss to bring the icicle daggers attacking your homestead to life even when your senses are unable to thaw through to your inner thesaurus.

Bring your facebook followers, twitter commiserators, and instagram crew, the vivid day in the life of a winter sufferer that will have them crying icy tears. If it's sympathy for your tundra plight that you seek, throw a few of these subzero hashtags into your mix and find instant camaraderie. (who doesn't love a pity party with attendance of more than one, me that's who)

Post a photo of your cryogenic suffering and head to hashtag heaven with these icy beauties:




































I live in Wisconsin, and believe you me, there will be no shortage of opportunity to run through this list at least tenfold before we next see signs of life in this state.

By which time, I'm sure I'll just be hitting my hashtag stride due to a looooong Midwestern winter. #cold #socold #dying #help
* * *

Friday, December 25, 2015

If, If, I Were to Mail Out Christmas Cards

I haven't been able to get Christmas cards out for three years.

I always want to. I call the kids together and pull their holiday best over their heads and herd them outside where I know the natural light will make up for my lack of photography skills. I pose the kids, I yell at the kids, I scream at them to smile at the same time and quit looking in different directions OMG can you just!!!??

I take ten shots before one of them stands up and barks, "I'm done!" and then I pick the most flattering of the three of them together and place my order. 20 minutes later, I'm on my way to pick up the glossy finished product. Modern life is so grand.

But then I sneeze and February is here already and after moving the unmailed stack of cards from the kitchen table to the counter to the kitchen table to the counter, it just becomes too embarrassing to mail them out at the same time as Valentine's Day cards.

So, if I were to send out Christmas cards at Christmas, here's what you would be getting:

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and the peace of the season.

Thank you for making me smile, feel loved, and giving me a place where I finally fit. xo

Today's lesson: Intention does not equal action. No matter how desperate.

I love you guys.
* * *

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

I Wish You the Magic of Memories

It was raining hard that day. We had kept our fingers crossed for snow so that the kids could have a white Christmas, but had 46 degrees instead. We had been waiting for my husband to come back home, bringing my mother with him. It was Christmas Eve, and now she was here, dressed in emerald green satin for the day. We were ready, the kids working hard to be patient, but the gifts under the tree had been staring at them the entire day and they were this close to losing their minds with wait.

My mother came to find me in the kitchen and asked me in Spanish, so the kids wouldn't understand, "Did you get it? Did you find what they all wanted?"

"I did, mama. And it's all wrapped under the tree."

"Oh! Please tell me how much to give you, and let them have it last!"

"I will. We can talk about the money later, Ok, mama?"

I knew my children would be in my life forever, and I had that same amount of time to spoil them on my own. For my mother, my children were her second chance for the parenting she had dreamed of. She had been a young widow of 39 years old, left with six children, the youngest two months old. Working one full time job along with two part time jobs was her only way to feed us and keep us in a warm home.

There was no time with us, my mother had no giving us of everything we wanted, not even a small amount of it. We were fortunate enough to have what we needed, but for the extras - like time alone with her, her presence at school events, the one gift that you wanted, those weren't part of our lives. What my husband and I had decided to give my mother in the last decade of her life, was to allow her forever with our children, whatever amount of time that worked out to be,  to be one of giving them the gifts they had been pining for.

That Christmas Eve night, in the moments of ripping open the paper when at last the gifts from Nona came out, it was as glorious as a mass at midnight. It was impossible for me or her, to make through without blinking away tears. It's us, my mother and I, who see the life we had before them, the one with them, the one they'll one day have without us. The scenes flash through from our hearts to our minds and we smile with tears brimming.

Auggie had been asking for a castle that had been heavily advertised during his favorite shows. It was a hefty weight of one, one that came with all the essentials for a kingdom, a dragon who had red flashing eyes, moat doors that creaked outward and down, and knights that surrounded the turrets. Trumpets sounded when the king landed on the castle's front. When I pulled out the box with the castle from under the tree, and called out, "To Auggie from Nona," he ran to get it and dragged it over to my mother's lap. I watched them together take to the red and green holly paper. As soon as there was a peek at what was inside he went harder at the unwrapping, "It's the castle! Nona, you got me the castle!"

I heard my mother's voice waver over the tearing of the paper, "It's so beautiful! You like it, m'ijo? Is it the one you wanted?" She called over to me in Spanish, "Did it cost, daughter?"

Our eyes met over Auggie's head. My mother tried to speak, but her pressed lips wouldn't open. I rushed over to her and held her. She cried softly into my shoulder, "Gracias, hija, gracias."

"It's Ok, mama, we love you." I didn't want her to worry about the cost of anything on that night.

Auggie is 13 now, and the castle is still in my basement. I can't part with it, not in a rummage sale, not as a donation to another child. It is filled with what we had that night. The memory of my mother, with my son, and how it was just them together in that moment.

That Christmas was the last one in that house. Our offer on a larger home had been accepted and we would be leaving our first home, the only one our children had known. My mother looked around at the end of the night and said, "I don't think you can find a warmer house than this one."

I knew she meant the magic of the moments there.

This is my wish for you this season. Moments that one day will warm you with memory.


Thank you for reading my words, thank you for your encouragement with my work. Thank you for your time and love for me and my presence in your life.

You are all part of the magic that I feel when I reflect on my life.

Happy Christmas to you, my friends, and hopes of magic in this season and in the year to come.


Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot like Christmas

Lucky for everyone, I took notes last night as we Christmas house-decorated. I eavesdropped on Laurel and Hardy while they were put in charge of ornamenting the tree. I would have joined in on putting up my lovingly selected tree baubles too but I was a touch busy doing some other things like, vacuuming, dusting, cooking, wrapping, swishing toilets...

Here's what they had to say:  (Try not to envy their holiday spirit)

"We'd better be quiet, you know what mom will say, "The tree is feeling your negative energy and won't glow as much."
"I think our ornaments are perfect. She's the one saying it's ugly not me."

"Where's the filler ornaments. Double the beauty in a third of the time. She won't know."
"Hey, hey, watch me. I can make this tree go from awful to amazing with these filler ornaments."

"She's getting mad. She's the one who wants to do the tree and makes us do it and she's mad."

"She's acting like it's the Miss Colombia for the beauty pageant for trees."

"I hope you're happy mom I'm now BLIND because of glitter dust ok??!!"
"Oh my gosh she is nuts. WHY do we need so many ornaments.?"
"Maybe she can't see."
"The tree looks fine. Our ornaments look fine. It's an ugly tree we can't mask how it looks."

"How long has she had that star? Since like they got married or something it looks like a flat pancake drooping over but she looooooooooooooooooves it."
 "Mom? HEY MOM! Do we have to get the back too?"

"Hey, Hey, look at this one. This swirly one. It looks like it's going to suck your soul out."

"Ugh. These are the ones she keeps from us. They're so ugly they can't even be ornaments  oh my God why does she keep them."
"No way. Look at these. They shouldn't even be ornaments."
"Mom! Why do you keep these they're construction paper and crayons."
"Man, parents eat that stuff up."
 "I hope she doesn't plan on saving any of these for me."

"Look at this one. All I did was screw a hole through this cardboard with a pipe cleaner and she loves it."

"She wants more ornaments. She just shouted she wants more ornaments. She IS spamming this tree."

"Isn't this like the third time we're hearing "Little Drummer Boy"?"
"Mom? Hey, mom? We love you!"


Saturday, December 19, 2015

All I Want for Christmas Is for Scrooge's Ghosts to Visit Trump

He doesn't believe in charity. It's just a disguise for a hand out. Donald Trump has just returned home from another rally where near mass hysteria crowds carried him on their shoulders.
It had been a good night, a good night. He trundled his well-fed rotund frame to his four-poster bed enshrined in 1800 thread-count Trump Tower sheets and affixed his CPAP mask. He's about to settle in for the sleep that his personal physician has ordered, when his model-wife reminds him of the youth saving benefits of all make-up removal. Sighing, he rolls out of his triple mattress throne and flips the gold-plated spigots of his master bathroom. He washes off his Orange-Glo #46 spray tan from his face and returns for that well-earned rest from rising up America to see what it could be.
But not before he remembers about the left over Beef Wellington on the dining tray. It may be a few hours old, so what. What harm could it cause. He is titanium, the more outrageous his acts, the more powerful he grows. He downs the quarter pound of beef.
And then, Donald Trump rests.
The night is a fitful one, and sleep doesn't come. He tosses, turns, orders room service for chilled pillows, and still, sleep is unreachable.
But when at last his eyes flutter closed, the night brings company. Three ghosts in the dark hours, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.
Christmas Past is at first shooed away by Donald. With waving arms and bellowing to the excessive degree where Melania has to call and be escorted to her own private quarters. "America can be great again!" Donald curses, but Christmas Past shows him, America wasn't great for all. As the ghost flies Donald through the chilly night air, they both witness struggle, hardship, hunger, despair. America has not been 'great again' as Donald believes. "It was great!" Donald continues to insist, but Christmas Past tries with reality to convince Trump it wasn't great, no--it wasn't that way for everyone. "For you, Donald, the billionaire, yes, it was, but America needs to be good for everyone. Not just great for some, but good for all." Christmas Past realizes this job is bigger than he can handle, and he calls upon Christmas Present. He leaves Donald with this, "You can't make America great if it wasn't good for everybody." Trump resists, "How can you say that, I got everything I wanted!”

Christmas Present appears, and Donald anticipates his arrival, enthused from the last locking of horns with Christmas Past that he can't wait to unleash his truths. "They love me! And the ones who don't love me, they'll love me. I'm a good guy. I fight bad guys. You'll love me, you ghosts!" Christmas Present shows Trump his supporters, his army of his worshippers. Trump says this is the best dream ever and he is Ok with it all, which makes me sad right now as I tell this tale.
Christmas Present is too emotionally exhausted from what the present is, that he returns Trump to his bed, unable to roam further. "I can't bear to see anymore," Christmas Present confesses, "this is the most frightening night duty I've ever - barely - survived." Donald beams, "I told you. I'm a winner. I win everything."
Donald sits and awaits Christmas Future. "Two down, one to go. Winning never grows old. Never." Donald feels a chill and turns to see Christmas Future standing behind him. "Let's go! I've never felt more alive!" and Donald grabs Christmas Future's robes. They leap from his 39th floor penthouse garden and Donald Trump sees crime rampant below, a gun in every hand, people angry and hungry, demanding action. People divided in care against those who care not and those who had anything to give have run out. His ghost hands him the newspaper from 2016, "Trump Destroys America."
"What is this bullshit you're showing me!" Trump demands. "This is not my America. Mine is great! I've abolished the losers. These are all losers! They should be gone. Sent to prison and back where they came from and those that can't take care of themselves should be left without to die. What is this lie?!!?"
"This is Want. This is Ignorance. Both are two products of society that will destroy it if not combatted against by those who can prevent both social ills."
"What are you saying, Ghost?"
"That people will find food, no matter the means. That people will fight for equality, no matter the cost. That the majority of people have hearts, and will do what needs to be done to feed, clothe, care for one another. Want is a need that cannot be ignored. Ignorance is a fuel that lights the fire."
"This is bad. Not good. This is bad."
Not good. Bad. Not good. Bad. Donald Trump begged of the ghost, "What must I do? This pain, to see that people will say that I destroyed America."
"Charity and kindness are the works that will live eternal. This is where our treasures are made. We invest in humanity, with the most basic of acts: not in being the winners, the best, the greatest, but in being the most generous, the most open and kind, the most benevolent and compassionate -- this is the immortal richness of our acts."
Donald Trump woke to his own mumblingshis heart pounding with what his ego was too quick to show him. Something he couldn't fantasize away. He saw the way he will be remembered, the way he'll be talked about and written about. The way America will say what Donald Trump was for us.
Not good. Bad. Not good. Bad.
Hell no, he promised himself. There is no way I'm going down in history like this. I will be immortalized, I will be seen as constructing, not destroying.
I will make America great. 
He looked out into the private hallway and shouted for his press secretary.
"Make a press announcement!"
"What group are we going after this week, Sir?"
"No. No more. Say, "Trump Changes Direction. Wants to save America."
* * * 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Fish Out of Water - The Moth Grand Slam

I'm honored and grateful to be included on The Moth Radio Hour's Holiday Special along with Amy Klein, Matthew Dicks, and Ted Conover.

So grateful to Catherine Burns for her vision, passion, and dedication to The Moth. A thousand Thank You-s to Maggie Cino for her huge heart and love for humanity, and to Jenifer Hixson who knows in her own magic way, just how to coax a story.

The Moth brings us all together -- sharing our stories one human being at a time. I have been in love with The Moth stories for years, and to be a storyteller with them seems like someone else's life. But The Moth reminds us with every show, every podcast, how unique and important each of us are in this world. 

This story won The Moth Grand Slam for the night's theme of "Fish Out of Water." I told of that first Christmas without a parent -- when you are a fish out of water.

"Last year, my mother knew it was her last Christmas with us. She asked me to have a gift for Auggie under the tree from her the next year. I tried to read the gift tag aloud, and couldn't... "

You can hear the rest of the story, of learning to do that first Christmas without a mother, here...

Thank you for the honor, The Moth.

* * *

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Keep That Blog Alive

Dizzy December. I mean, is it the 15th already and only nine days left before Christmas Eve? How in the heck will I get this house cleaned, my shopping finished started and keep my blog chugging?

BlogHer asks that same question, and in my strong belief that together we can face anything, I pitched BlogHer some "Blogging during December" ideas.

They gave them a thumbs up, and I hope you do too.

I'm thrilled to be featured on the BlogHer site today with "9 ways To Use Christmas To Fill Your Blog."

"This month can feel overwhelming, but when you share the every day moments of the season, your posts won't have to feel like you're squeezing them in... [click here to read more ways to use Christmas to fill your blog]"

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Food for Thought Before Telling Everyone What a GD Great Year 2015 Was

It's Annual Christmas Letter time. I don't, but I know some who do call it, The Annual Lying Letterm and the biggest favorite, The Annual Brag Rag.

People love to write these. We don't get many, I think that's because we're old and all of our friends are as tired as we are, but when people are starting life out new and excited and all the exciting things that are happening, their enthusiasm spills over.

That's Ok. Just, well, think about how it might sound to someone who maybe isn't having such a great time right now. That's all I say about the braggity brag.

However, on the subject of the annual holiday letter. I will confess, I can't get enough of them. I am in love with reading them. It's as good as someone giving me access to all the medicine cabinets in their house. WHAT'S IN THERE.

Like a train wreck, I can't help but look.

Let's begin with assuming that everyone's got a good heart. I know I know, but let's just assume. No one is purposefully boastful, right? I can say this because my husband has had two minor procedures this year, and with each one, as they wheeled him back to me in recovery, I could hear him coming, "our kids, oh you should know this about our kids, they sing they dance they've been to the moon and heading for Mars next year."

He doesn't to make anyone feel like they're the most underachieving family on the planet, he's a good man. But the pride Spilleth.Out. So, let's start this holiday discussion letter (wait-you didn't know you signed up for this? yup you did)

You want us, the ones on the holiday letter receiving end, to know you wish us well and are thinking of us this holiday season. If we start there, the rest will be a walk in the park. Let's begin, with Step One of:

How To Send Holiday Letters Out That Won't Make People Follow Up With a Request To Be Removed From Your Mailing List:

1.) Ask yourself, who are you writing this letter for? Answer yourself honestly. If it's for you, start a diary instead.

2.) Do not write longer than one page. One page. End of it.

3.) No $8.00 words, no matter how recently you learned egregious

4.) If you're rolling in dough, you're making money hand over fist, just bought your third house, awesome. BUT plain old happy news, like a new baby, new job, your first home, a first lost tooth on your kindergartner, your teen making the football team, your first writing gig; that's the good stuff we'd love to share your happiness over. But if you've had a bang up year and your home has increased in value over $100,000 again! Some things are best kept for your own private champagne toasts.

5.) It's easier for some of us to share happiness than others. For me, happiness and good things often feel foreign and like I stepped into that weird scene like Gwyneth in Sliding Doors: Ooops! Wrong life! So, your effusiveness (that's only a 4 dollar word, not 8...) may sit with me as bragging. Bragging. Not catching up, but bragging. Bragging.

6.) This suggestion is serious: be sensitive to your audience. Really. If you know of someone who has been trying to find work for most of the year, please don't send out a letter telling them how many times you've been promoted in your own job, or how may headhunters are after your awesomeness. Not nice. Same for a couple struggling with infertility; don't type up sentence after sentence on how everyone in your family is a fertile myrtle and gets pregnant just from the wink of an eye... Must be the water! LOL! This will only be LOL to you.

7.) We know you want to make it fun, but Changing fonts and Shifting color changes leaves me feeling like I've got an undiagnosed brain tumor. And then I'll be too worried about getting an appointment with the neurologist before the New Year because of our medical deductible to pay any attention about your trip to Graceland.

8.) Self deprecation is a great tool. Somehow, I'll listen about little third grade Tommy's history making ACT scores if you tell me how both you and your spouse swear he's not from your litter and was dropped off by aliens.

9.) Count your adjectives:  if you've used wonderful or great more than three times in one paragraph, maybe it's time to feed us some real news.

10.) You can't disguise bragging.

 I promise you that if you follow these suggestions, your Holiday Letter won't be turned into Party Confetti.

Stick to these points, and no one will guess that you're telling us just what a GD good year you had. Even if you sign it, Here's to 2016! Though we can't imagine a better year than 2015 was!

Happy Holidays! (did I tell you my husband surprised me with a new seat cushion for my work chair? HE DID #bestmanintheworld)
* * *

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wedding Vows From the 21-Year Other Side

We're just regular people. We sleep less than we should, we get on the treadmill when our waistbands start giving us dyspepsia, and we like our Orville Redenbacher.

Two run of the mill souls married 21 years with three children and a 27-year mortgage stretched out before us.

For our anniversary, my husband bought me a compression sleeve for my right knee so that I would have a matching set.

I bought him a warehouse box of sweet-n-salty microwave popcorn singles.

But our commitment to each other runs deeper than those thoughtful gifts. Deep enough that we were moved to re-write our original wedding vows. As I held the pen from the hearing aid evaluation center and with a suspenseful American Pickers marathon playing before us, we put our updated promises to paper:
I, Mark, take you, Alexandra, as you are. Make-up-less, and in pajamas until noon. I love you for who you are and not for how good you looked on the first day I met you in that navy blue dress with white piping and matching stockings, high heels for that monochromatic look, I mean, geez, who can remember, right? I love you.

I, Alexandra, take you, Mark, loving who you are now, cereal and soup slurper that that means, even if I have that disorder that was on Huffington Post about people who go crazy from hearing people eat and I for sure have that. I still take you.

I, take you, Alexandra, and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and look up from the iPad when you talk. I promise to support you and mourn your losses when McSweeney's rejects you once again, as if the piece were my own. I will love you and have faith in your writing, because you are a very funny woman.

I, Alexandra, love your love for me, Mark. I vow to encourage you, trust you, and respect you, especially on the days where you do things that make no sense to me. I have never rolled my eyes at you and never will. I vow to work on the sighs.

I, Mark, promise you this: to respect our differences, and to try hard to remember how very different your Colombian life is. (It's so different, honey) I also promise to get the garage remote fixed for you for Christmas. And to drive at night with your encroaching night blindness.

I promise you, Mark, to be there every single time when you come to after your colonoscopies. And to let you have the downstairs bathroom to yourself the night before for your cleansing prep.

I promise you, Alexandra, to not give in to any laugh when we drive home from your cataract eye check and you're wearing your glaucoma glasses.

I promise you Mark to attempt an interest in aquaponics. I promise you, Mark to fairly divide the visit to the basement when I hear a strange noise.
I, Mark,  promise to investigate any noises you hear that you are positive are an animal in the house (It's never an animal)
Together, we vow to keep each other informed of any change in moles or bowel movements.

These things we promise, for better or for worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer.

For as long as we both shall live.
We are simple. Two people married 21 years ago, whose eyes twinkled bright at the "for better" part that day at the altar, because "for better" is standing right in front of you. But grow humbled every season to the words we didn't catch the first time around. 

The unexpected clarity that comes with the “or for worse...” part.

Monday, December 7, 2015

We Can't Forget That We're Good

My 7th grade habit of chewing on my thumbnail has come back. I can't quiet my mind down enough at night to fall into a sleep and during the day, I feel light headed and then I realize I can't remember the last time I heard myself breathe.

Who will be our president.

I want to exhale but I'm holding my breath instead. We've got someone in the lead who is more unpredictable than a loose cannon. At least a loose cannon has only one kind of ammunition and you know the damage it can do. Donald Trump is an arsenal that is beyond an armory -- he is nuclear.

There is no good side to Trump's campaign and I'm frightened. What will we do if he's elected. People love him, he could be elected. He's not going away, this could be our president.

I have been studying Trump's press to find out what it is that drives the hysteria machine to keep pushing this Republican presidential candidate in the lead. These are the very first words on the Trump website, "Donald J. Trump is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence in business, real estate and entertainment." He says he wants to make America great again.

I know it won't be for me. He has called Hispanics rapists, murderers, drug dealers, job takers and that we arrive in this country with our hands out, waiting for Americans to hand us their hard-earned wages. I cry about this. I am the first American in my family. My mother had to wait ten years in the United States to become a citizen and in that time, she knew there was no guarantee. She worked hard, three jobs, and because of that, all of her six children work hard. 

As for our palms splayed open awaiting American dollars, I will acknowledge that my family gratefully received food basket donations every year from Catholic Relief Services as my mother struggled to support six children as a young widow of 39 years old. Thank you, America. You are generous and kind.

Because of America's generosity, I received a merit-based state scholarship that paid my college tuition. I only had to worry about providing my own shelter and finding my own food. I could work and go to school, because of financial help with my education. Thank you, America. You are generous and kind.

My mother saved to bring herself and her three children to the United States because the world knows America as the land of opportunity. She wanted a chance at a good life and she knew America was what she wanted for her family. She didn't know she was barely two months pregnant with me when she arrived in Florida. Trump would call me an anchor baby.

All this name calling by him to so many people, he has forgotten we are human beings.

I worry if Donald Trump becomes president, and that thought has made me forget that America is good.

I remembered something tonight and now I know that if Trump were to win the election, our citizens wouldn't stand for his hate. We wouldn't abide, we wouldn't participate, we wouldn't stay quiet.

How can I worry about the what if of Donald Trump when there is a nation of United States citizens who will always do the right thing. 

We will never stand for his decrees of exclusion and terror raising. We will stick to our strength: our positive call to action and our care for those who struggle. 

The citizens of the United States will keep America a land of opportunity and shelter for those who have no home. Donald Trump is a test, and we won't fail it. It may get frightening, it may come close to near despair and he will try. Stirring up the violent energy of hate and anger, but America will be victorious.

We are overwhelmingly a kind nation. We are loving, we are wise. Donald Trump is tough, but we are tougher.

Tonight, I'm not going to forget about us as a people.

And I'm finally going to sleep better than I have since July.
* * *

Friday, December 4, 2015

If Your Kid Needs To Make Money For Presents Here's How

If your kid has to buy presents for his family for the holidays I can help them. I know how to make money. I am 13 and have been making money since I was 3. This is about that.

These ideas work.


First:  Ask for it. Say, "Mom, can I have some quarters?" and sometimes people say yes. Collect them. Try that first.

Second: Find jobs. There are always jobs in my house because my mom is always behind on everything. There is lots she didn't do. Like to vacuum is easy. I charge 50 cents for jobs.

Third: Is my favorite way to make money. Teach classes. [you can also do shows and sell your art, but I'll tell you about that later]

CLASSES TO TEACH:  35 cents for 10 minutes

Domino School:  I will teach anyone dominoes. I will show you how to build patterns or I will build you a pattern of your choice. You get to knock it down.
iPod School: For your parents and grandparents mostly. I will teach you about the apps you can get and how to do stuff like volume control and how not to have stuff on shuffle.
iPad School: Same thing that I will teach you for your iPod. I don't yell and I make the lesson interesting and exciting for you.
New Music: I will tell you what the new music is, what is good to listen to, what is inappropriate and what lyrics really mean so you don't repeat them.
Basic Dance Moves: I am easy and avoid quick twists so that your knees will still be Ok. I recommend at least 4 lessons that will make you shock your friends at any holiday parties.


Guaranteed! ART. No one doesn't buy the art their kid makes. Draw a picture, your mom will buy anything you draw. Also, put her name on it and say, I Love You, and she will buy it. 50 cents.


Put on a show. Get over your shyness and ignore the mean stuff your older brothers say and just do it. If you start to get shy think money money money. A show can be a play. The truth is this:  I haven't really made up the play yet but I can make up a play as I go along, like mad libs. Tickets are 50 cents.

This only works if you have collections. People don't want to buy stuff that doesn't rhyme together. They like to look at collections. I have a rock collection.  50 cents each. I am open from 10:00 until 6:00.


I will read to you for 25 cents a chapter. You pick. My dad picks the Wall Street Journal. (asking me if I understood what I read is 25 cents extra) (trying to trick me into a quiz is double extra)


I will give you advice. Kids tell the truth and see stuff that your emotions don't let you. 50 cents per problem.
This is the best way to make money. Do anything. One dollar.

For all these jobs, just keep thinking money money money.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Things Are More Deadly Than Useful

When we care about something we can demand change. Widespread public outcry has accomplished things before -- it got the 18th Amendment of Prohibition repealed in 1933.

Today, 14 people were killed in San Bernardino because of a mass shooting. It is the second mass shooting TODAY and the 355th this year.

The United States has more mass shootings than any other country in the world.
Americans own more guns per capita than any other nation.

I am tired of the comeback, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people." Yes, with a rock, a knife, a frying pan across the head -- one at a time. But a MASS shooting, that is because of a gun.

There is a segment in our population, The NRA, who in their words say, "You'll have my gun when you pry it out of my cold dead hands." The thing is, it's every one else's hands that are ending up cold and dead, not theirs.

I'm sick of "The Constitution guarantees my right to bear arms!" It's not the Second Amendment behind the mass shootings. It's the lack of background checks. It's the TYPE of weapon and amount of ammunition available. It's the ease with which both are attainable. It's because elected representatives won't pass new laws to effect and reduce gun violence because of the financial contribution amounting to millions from the NRA.

This isn't some conspiracy theory on my part. In 2014, the NRA spent over $30,000,000 in lobbying congress to defeat new gun control legislation.

We need assault weapons banned, we need background checks, we need gun license regulation.

I don't want to hear, "If we had more guns, we could shoot back." More guns means more death. More weapons means more accessibility and more lost lives. More guns won't reduce mass shootings. You can't take a hand pistol up against an assault weapon.

These mass shootings are not going to end. Even if with each one, we hope not again. We had three mass shootings in one week. This is our American culture, our gun culture, our pattern now. These shooting are not going to be the last ones.

The belief that "It won't happen here," is tragically unfounded. In December of 2012, the last thing that the parents of Sandy Hook School expected was that they wouldn't see their 5 and 6-year-old children again. Adam Lanza entered the school with one purpose: to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. He did it with a legally obtained assault weapon -- a weapon with no purpose in civilian life.

Please remember who your elected officials work for. They are elected, they serve the public.
We cannot cry as our only plan of action, nor can we say we don't want to hear or read any more news about shootings and turn away from the horror of these bloody events. And what is becoming the most dangerous: to accept this way of life in America.

Do you know what my grade school son said today in the car? He made me cry when his first words to me today were, "Another shooting. I'm glad we had our school drill." He has become scared, and more heartbreaking, he has become used to it. We are teaching our children that this is normal. He is not even out of elementary school and he is not alarmed by the news except to worry if it will come our way, and if he is prepared enough.

We have to have a public outcry. We have to enact change and we have to be loud about it. There is no reason that a group of people who believe "a gun for everyone" should determine our way of life. Our gun problem is a political problem and you'd better believe it.

Contact your elected officials. Call and email and Demand Change. We need to work for a different America for you, for your family, for all of us. Our elected officials' first job is to protect us. Tell them that, remind them of it, or replace them with ones who will.

Click here and take the ten minutes  To Contact Your Elected Representative About Gun Control

Our country doesn't have to stay this way. Demanding change is our responsibility. We and our children shouldn't have to worry, "It's not going to happen to us, is it?"

We can do this. We can.

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