We Didn’t Look Suspicious

There is a daily conversation regarding the border and the president’s insistence on a wall at our southernmost border. All the chit chat got me thinking about my two visits to the border. The first was many, many moons ago. I accompanied Dad on a business trip to San Diego, and one day, we decided to cross the border into Tijuana, Mexico. Nothing unusual happened at the border, and my most vivid memory of the trip was the purchase of our onyx chess set.

It was my first visit beyond the United States border and the first time I had any participation in the fine art of haggling. I admit there was little, perhaps none at all, haggling done regarding the purchase of the chess set. What I recall is that I had seen many similar sets in the San Diego shops, which were priced four times higher than the ones in the little Mexican town. What happened is that I hesitated when told the price, so the merchant immediately, to my great astonishment, dropped the price. My pause was honestly because I was uncertain regarding the color. I immediately got out my wallet, much to Dad’s annoyance, because he told me later that he was positive he could have negotiated a better price. I was satisfied.

Our second southern visit was on a trip to Tucson five years ago. We decided to explore the area, so we set out in our rental car headed to the hokey little town of Tombstone. Hokey, I say, because it was as if we were on the set of a movie. Tombstone was a recreation of an old western town, complete with people walking the streets in period costumes, complete with a recreation of an old Wild West fight.

As we got closer to Tombstone I observed a border patrol checkpoint, which we would have to pass though on our return trip. I do not know what got into me, but I suddenly felt the need to check our rental documents inside the glove compartment. I was upset to discover it was empty, meaning we had no way to prove that we were the renters of the car. I imagined that we were going to be hauled off to prison. We hadn’t even seen “Breaking Bad” at that time.

It turned out to be an unnecessary worry, because the border agents said hello, glanced briefly inside the car, and waved us on. How did they know we were not smugglers?

My biggest observation from the trip was my view of the great expanse of nothing to the south with lots of mountains. I would not want to go on a stroll in that area. There are probably lots of scary bugs and snakes there.

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He’s Not Very Nice!

We have all experienced times when money was tight, but we are all very lucky that none of us ever knew true hunger or homelessness.

The first time I was ever made aware that some people don’t have a home was when I was in sixth grade. We went on a field trip to New York City, and I recall walking through an area known as The Bowery. During that time, there were a number of homeless people living there, and our parents had to sign a permission trip acknowledging that we would be walking through the area—as if it were an attraction. I don’t recall where we went on the trip but I still recall the homeless men to this day. I remember that they were called “bums” or “hobos.” How awful to call another human being by that name!

I never again experienced people living on the streets until we moved to Chapel Hill, and now when I visit Casey in Silver Spring, I am again saddened to pass homeless individuals living under the Metro bridge close to her home. I feel both guilt and helplessness.

Yesterday, I saw a man interviewed on television, and he wiped tears from his eyes as he spoke about his fears regarding how he would take care of his family during our latest shutdown. My heart broke for him and others like him.

Our president clearly has no understanding what it is like to be faced with choosing between food and medicine, stating that “they will figure it out.” Really? How does that work?

Then I thought of a story I heard about a recent trip to an indoor waterpark, when a bigger girl, who did not wait long enough before heading down the waterslide, crashed into Lily before she climbed off the slide. Lily turned to her and said, “That wasn’t nice!” When Lily told me the story, she added, “Grandma, she didn’t say she was sorry.”

So I listened to the president answer questions about how people were going to cope without receiving their salary, and it was obvious that he was clueless to their plight. He’s not very nice and he didn’t say he was sorry!

Mommy’s Becoming an Attorney

Before our president dipped his toe into the political world, he had been involved in many other business endeavors: Trump Wine, Trump Steaks, Trump Water, Trump Airlines, Trump University—many of which he does not own. He just slapped his name on the labels. Then there are the casinos, buildings, and reality game shows. We all know about how some of them succeeded while many of them failed bigley.

I am currently enrolled at the Trump Law School, where I am being educated in more legal terminology than I could have ever dreamed possible in less than two years. Here is a small sampling of what I have learned:

Redacted

Documents whose words have been hidden from view by a Sharpie pen.

An example was when one of you sent a note to one of your teachers and then worried that she was mad at you. Perhaps your name should have been redacted.

Why did you punish me and the other 2 for being good? It’s not fair! All my teachers do it, and I am tired of it. Why should I be good if I’m going to be punished anyway?

(That’s like saying “Why should our country practice conservation if other countries will not, which is a line I heard in my congressman’s office.)

Aiding & Abetting     (I use this term because I have learned from the Rudy Giuliani School of Law that collusion is not a legal term, and if it is, it is not illegal.)

Assisting someone in the commission of a crime—involving a plan to commit a crime in which the consequences are illegal.

An example is when someone broke the Cocky ornament, and Bryce suggested to Lily that they hide it from Daddy rather than confess.

Felony

A serious crime, usually punishable by at least one year in prison.

In our family we were lucky. None of us ever committed a felony. Grandma’s biggest punishment was usually a promise to be sent to bed immediately after supper—the next day of course so that we could have time to think about our crime and resulting sentence.

Indictment

The formal charge issued by a grand jury demonstrating that there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed to justify a trial.

(Burn this into your heads because you will be hearing this word a lot in the coming weeks and months.) In a family, which is not a democracy, when you are indicted, expect sanctions to be handed down because the trial consists only of Mom and Dad.

Plea Bargain

Negotiated agreement between a criminal and the prosecutor whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for reduction in the punishment and possible dismissal of some charges.

Example: I used to punish you by sending each of you to your rooms and making the criminal write a letter of apology rather than revoke a privlege if the crime was a misdemeanor.                               

I found a letter written after someone was caught purgering* themself.

I hereby resolve to be nice and live up to everyone’s expectations because I obviously don’t at  this very moment of which I do hereby speak of now. Be honest now and forever, forever, and ever, ever here an now.

 *Perjury

The act of lying or stating falsely under oath.

Sanction

A penalty or other type of enforcement used to bring about compliance with the law or with rules and regulations.

“No tv for a week.”

I had not planned to go to law school at this point in my life, but then again, I never expected a second-rate reality tv personality to become president.

We’ve Come a Long Way, but Not Far Enough Yet

After a historic number of women were elected to public office this week, including at least 35 newly-elected to the House of Representatives—joining 65 already serving—I decided to look back on some of the advancements for women’s rights since I was born.

When I was five, the FDA approved birth control pills, and what surprised me in learning this was that nineteen years earlier, it was illegal to send information through the mail because that was considered to be obscene.

President Kennedy established the “President’s Commission on the Status of Women,” which recommended affordable day care, paid maternity leave, and fair hiring. I think we still have a long way to go on these issues.

Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal for women to be paid less than men for the same job, and the Supreme Court ruled, in 1965, that contraception was now legal between married couples.

Employment ads by sex were no longer permitted, and the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress when I was a junior in high school, but it still has never been ratified by enough states.

In 1971, unmarried individuals were permitted to use contraceptives, discrimination in schools based upon sex was banned in 1972, and women were given the right to a safe and legal abortion in 1973.

Women could no longer be discriminated against for being pregnant, the Supreme Court decided that sexual harassment at work is illegal, and the first woman was elected to that court in 1982.

No longer are women banned from serving in combat, and just two years ago, woman were permitted to serve in any job in the armed services.

We have come a long way, but we still have not had a woman elected to the presidency. I eagerly await that day. I hope it comes years before our little two-year old sweetie can run for office.

 

 

Was it Enough?

I am beginning this day feeling both hopeful and anxious. How will this day end? Will tomorrow show the world that America is not satisfied with the status quo, or will we be looked upon around the globe with continued worry and confusion?

Politics never interested me. I never went to a march or a political rally, never communicated with my representatives, never allied with a particular party, and never did anything more than vote.

This time it is different. I am worried about the future for my children and grandchildren. Clean air and water, affordable healthcare and equality for all, and the return of integrity and trust has made me an activist.

It began with the Women’s March, followed by the realization that marching and carrying a clever sign was not enough. I decided to dip my toe into local politics. I attended and hosted meetings, where I learned how I could make a difference.

I wrote hundreds of postcards for my candidates for governor and Congress. I learned how to register people to vote. I helped organize a candidates’ forum. I visited my current congressman every week, armed with cookies and questions in the hopes of proving or disproving the fact that he does not answer to his constituents. Sadly, I learned he does not care about me.

I made telephone calls during primary season and knocked on doors as part of the Get Out The Vote campaign (GOTV). This got me out of my comfort zone when I saw that people were thankful for the information I provided on the candidates as well as how and where to go to vote early absentee.

In the wake of so much gun violence, I joined Moms Demand Action, a national group intent on enacting more common-sense gun laws. With this group, I learned how an idea becomes a law in my state, when I attended subcommittee and committee meetings, which happen before a law can be voted upon by the legislature.

I did a lot, but did I do enough? I will know tomorrow when I see the election results. No matter what, when my grandchildren read about the 2018 election in their history books, I will be able to tell them the story of the people I met, the things we all did, and how Grandma did not let this election go down without a fight.

I’ve Come a Long Way

When I was in high school, I was so shy I would not wear red because I wanted to blend into the woodwork. In college, I took a mandatory speech class and began to feel just a bit more at ease. Then I ran into my old fifth grade teacher, who casually and cruelly commented that “I guess your braces did not work.” I  lost what little confidence I had gained. Now after more than forty years and two more sets of braces later, I feel I have come a long way.

It has not been easy, and I am still more comfortable writing a letter or story than reading it aloud. It took a forced reading in a small church in London, an interview by Irish television, radio, and two newspapers to finally calm some of those anxious feelings.

This week was another test. I was asked to read a letter I had written to my congressman regarding my frustrations in trying to communicate with him during my weekly visits to his office.  This reading was done beside his opponent in front of a camera in the presence of several constituents, but I survived the experience! How did I get myself into this mess?

In the days preceding the event, my neck hurt and my blood pressure was up again. Now it’s over. I have gained another day of the week to do as I wish, my neck no longer hurts, and my blood pressure has returned to normal. November 6 cannot come soon enough!

Time to Figure it Out

As I prepare to create another sign for yet another rally—”Families Belong Together”—I think back to a post I wrote on my other blog titled “Not Their Decision to Make.”

Immigration is a hot topic these days. A big question is what to do with the young children crossing the borders into the United States. It’s an issue which I am not trying to solve, but I considered  this problem a great deal while I was writing my father’s story.

 When my Russian-born grandparents decided to return to their homeland with their six New Jersey-born children, none of them could refuse to go. Like all children whose parents relocate to a new town or different state, they had to live with their parents’ decision.

 Years later, when the family decided to leave the Soviet Union, much of the world was already involved in the Second World War. My father was the first to leave, and once German forces invaded, the rest of the family was stuck there.

 My aunts begged the American Embassy for shelter and financial assistance to leave but got little help. The attitude was that they chose to move there, so they were on their own.

As I read the correspondences between the State Department and my father’s family, I could not help but think how wrong this was. They were children when they left New Jersey. It was not their decision to make.

Reading about all the battles occurring at the state and federal level regarding what to do with the children today,  both those born here of non-citizen immigrant parents and those children living here who were brought here, I always think, “It was not their decision to make.”

Seeing and hearing the heart-wrenching video and audio clips of the children who have been separated from their parents at our southernmost boarder is why I am attending another rally.

This has been happening far too long. I wrote “Not Their Decision to Make” more than two years ago. More than two years!