I know this song it ain’t ever gonna end

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I ran into one of the handymen who work in my building just  now, on my walk with Lou, and he told me that his wife, who lives in the Dominican Republic, is finally going to be allowed to join him in here, sometime after January. It’s been a long saga – from what I gather he was divorced shortly before they married and there was, as a result, a great deal of red tape and such that prevented them from being together in the states. This has been going on for a while  — when did we paint the apartment? It’s been going on for about two and a half years. He’s given me updates during this time and this is the most promising news and the happiest he’s been yet. This is, of course, a microcosm of the immigration issue, but one I’ve witnessed third-hand first-hand.

Nothing political in my agenda with this — I’m simply happy that this man and his wife will probably be together soon.

There is so much to say about the world and there is so little I need to say because it’s all being said all over the place.

Happy Thanksgiving — another “loaded” statement. Take away Columbus and Rodrigues and what this country “should” be and what it “is” and you know what? I hope those of you who celebrate enjoyed your turkey or tofurkey or free-range, organic, GMO and antibiotic free wren or whatever you ate, and that you enjoyed your family, or your blended family, or your friends-who-became-family, or your solitude … so many restrictions on the simplicity we enjoyed as children. Maybe that simplicity was a fallacy — maybe we didn’t think of the Arawaks as we should have — of course we didn’t. However, I spent Shouldn’t-Be-Thankful-Because-People-Suffered-For-It day with family and friends and we ate something that once had a mother (not all of us; there are people at our Whatevergiving table every year who don’t eat meat and no one scoffs) and excellent, gluten-free and gluten-full and Paleo and Paleolithic side dishes and all the rest and because this is a holiday in this country we celebrated as best we do and it was nice.

And now it is the day before December. December is a big month. It’s Hanukkah and Christmas and New Year’s and … my birthday wedged in the middle of it all. And this year it’s a relatively significant birthday if you go by zeroes and fives.

I keep having dreams that I’m younger than I am — I don’t want to have those dreams. Because I’m the age that I am and while I do have a choice, it’s not one I would ever make. I’m here and I’m glad I’m here and many of you who are reading this know how much I love you and how grateful I am that you are part of my life and were part of this year.

Dog is driving me a little bit nutso lately – he’s needy (no idea where he gets that from) and he doesn’t like when I concentrate on this sort of thing – on these machines of varying sizes that mean I’m not fully committed to him.

So, Thanksgiving. As I said, I spent the holiday with people I love and I was fortunate enough to spend the surrounding days up north at my parents’ house and to take long walks outside and to eat good food and to have time to work on my book – I got a lot of work done!

Toward the end of every calendar year I take stock of what I’ve accomplished and, more importantly, of the things I’ve experienced for the first time in the past year. I look forward to doing this in the next couple of weeks but for now, though there is so, so much more I’d wanted to say in this post, for now I say … thank you. Thank you for reading this. If you’re in my life and I’ve seen you this year, thank you for being part of this year. If you’re someone who knows I especially love you, you’re right, I do. If I’ve never met you and you were browsing on WordPress and read through to the end, thanks for validating my rambling.

I wish for you all wonderful things.

 

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May the road rise with you

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I have started new posts many times since the last one, and each time I’ve gotten distracted or had to leave for an appointment or started to stress about freelance work and abandoned my thoughts mid-stream. And then by the time I returned to them, new things had happened to me and to the world and whatever I’d written was rendered obsolete or seemed petty in light of, say, the most recent spate of shootings in this country or the news I’d just learned from a friend or the brilliant revelations I’d made that morning over coffee, while talking to the dog.

And now this … now this thing has happened that is an enormous game changer. Yes, the game was changed a long, long time ago, and massacres even bigger than what happened on Friday have taken place all over the world and have affected far more lives and cultures and countries than I’ve paid “enough” attention to. Right or wrong, Friday was different. For a great many reasons.

My friend Holly articulated it better than I will in this piece, and prior to her writing this she taught me the term “emotional proximity”. That’s at the heart of why what happened in Paris on Friday has affected so many of us so much more than what happens daily elsewhere.

A lot of people are criticizing the blue-white-and-redding of Facebook and the horror and shock that Americans are finally feeling. I’ve seen posts mocking the people who feel “entitled” to their emotions because they’ve been to Paris once or studied French in high school or whatever their perceived connection.

We are all entitled to our emotions, perhaps more than we are to anything else. They are organic. They are hard to fabricate. They do not translate directly into how we choose to respond or react, though they can.

If you’re reading this you probably know me and if you know me you probably know that I do have a connection to Paris; it’s a city I’ve spent a fair amount of time in over the years and one that I love deeply. I have friends and family there. I speak French.  Am I claiming ownership over this tragedy, claiming to be more affected than people who’ve not been there? Of course not. The hierarchy of pain is fluid. But yes, I do know the neighborhood where some of this happened and it’s not far from our place and a family friend lives on the block those restaurants are on (and she frequents them; she was out of town) and I know someone who knows someone who was shot at the Bataclan and I love Paris and blah blah blah this is not my tragedy, it is all of ours.

I have never been to Lebanon. Some years ago I edited a novella that takes place in Beirut and I learned, then, that Beirut was once considered “the Paris of the Middle East” and that it is a beautiful, multi-cultural, and religiously diverse city. I know Lebanese people and I’ve eaten in Lebanese restaurants and this is the extent of my tangible connection to Beirut and Lebanon.

The tragedy there is no less tragic than the one in Paris, or the one in Aleppo or elsewhere in Syria or in Kenya or anywhere else in this beautiful, damaged world.

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve visited a place or if we have at all; if we have context for it, if we romanticize or vilify it, we have a connection to it. If it affects lives, it affects us all, whether or not we have a visceral response.

Longwinded way of saying that whatever we are feeling about any of this is valid and don’t let Facebook monitors or righteous opiners belittle your emotions and expressions of grief and concern.

Vive la France. Vive le monde.