Monday, August 29, 2016

Things That Made 2016 a Life-Changing Summer: Part Two

The Fourth of July! I didn’t get to do much in June, and with the broken-arm grief it sometimes felt like all was lost, but when we drove up to my sister’s for Independence Day, summer started to light up the way it’s supposed to. Watching the Oswego parade with my sister and niece and nephews gave me such a feeling of childhood joy combined with grown-up patriotism and progress—the parade even included a giant rainbow flag and ladies dressed as suffragettes!

In between fireworks, (both the mom-lit and city-provided varieties) swimming, and red-white- and-blue “Patriotic!” cookies, my nephews asked a million political questions and I showed them how to use the candidates’ issues pages so they could learn all the points themselves. Holden really hates fracking and Kieran told me that whenever he has a substitute teacher, the class asks who he or she is voting for. My niece is the youngest person in her school’s Acceptance Coalition, so they give me more hope for the future than anything else.

Helping Open the Neighborhood’s PA Democrats’ Office! This is where I felt the most at home this summer. Whether I was calling to ask people to volunteer, making art to hang on the walls, or hearing the entire headquarters sing “Happy Birthday” to Amy, I felt a sense of love, inclusion, and purpose—I felt most welcome to be myself. There are only (thank goodness!) 71 days to go ‘til election day, but I’m hoping to serve Planned Parenthood in some way after this, so hopefully the love will keep inspiring me.

The Filibuster and Sit-In! After Orlando, it was hard to deal with the fact that friends and family didn’t always see the personal nature of the tragedy, the implications of such a large-scale massacre of LGBT people. When Chris Murphy, John Lewis, and Nancy Pelosi lead our lawmakers to really take a stand for gun control, it felt like such a relief, like oh, thank goodness, someone sees us. After decades of being ignored and/or vilified by my own government,  I’m grateful that public opinion and grassroots activism has given Washington the push and the permission to take a stand for LGBT people in so many ways, even if there’s still a long way to go. Also, sending thank-you tweets to the sit-inners and tweeting vigil pictures at Paul Ryan was pretty fun.

My West Wing Rewatch and Hamilton Obsession! Though I certainly favor either/or thinking that leans fully to the left, the West Wing has helped me to understand progress as a long game, and one that is peopled by public servants who, as BrenĂ© Brown would say, are doing the best they can. As much as I am a raging partisan, it heled me to see that even when Paul Ryan is forgetting what the fuck a gavel is for, is probably doing what he thinks is best for the public good. It feels healthier to me to believe that everyone, especially on the blue team, is really fighting hard to do the most possible good. I get that the West Wing is fiction, but it’s just such great counterpoint to my depression-brain.

Hamilton, besides providing the “How lucky we are to be alive right now!” of it all, (And another awesome way to bond with the niece and nephews!) helped me to understand why we HAVE partisan politics, why conflict and vehement disagreement are as much part of our values and freedom and inclusion are/should be.

I feel extremely dorky and sometimes freakish for believing in these things, but it’s just a nice way to see the world. If I didn’t believe that I could be a genuine part of progress, I don’t know how I’d ever get out from under the injustices I’ve seen.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Things That Made 2016 a Life-Changing Summer, Part One

Things That Made 2016 a Life-Changing Summer, Part One

In some ways, I’m just beginning to process the fact that my summer began an intricate fracture and a harrowing surgery that coincided with forty-nine of my people being brutally murdered in a nightclub. But somehow, the magic of staying engaged and working for change kept me from seeing the world as a pile of bloody bones. It was a miracle summer that changed me in so many large and small ways. Hoping to honor the profound and ridiculous experiences that I’ve been blessed with, in no particular order.

1.      The way the world looked out for me when I was hurt. From the moment that I was hurt, passersby gathered to help. A pair of strangers called 911 and stayed with me. A passing friend-of-a-friend brought me ice and stayed to comfort me. My library friends came out and helped me to keep from passing out, helped me to get the driver’s information. The driver waited with me too. The EMTs and policemen were kind and helpful, keeping me calm in such a scary moment. Nearly every healthcare professional I encountered has been expert, thorough, and kind. 
      Most important, though, has been Amy. She has sacrificed so much time to help me get through recovery and to this place of near-health. Our original plan for the summer had been for me to cover the store as much as possible so that she could take a vacation and get some of her own medical stuff done, and I feel TERRIBLE that that didn’t happen—I hope that I get to make it up to her somehow, thought she certainly doesn’t expect me to. Every day I’m amazed that I pulled off the magic trick of being best friends with my ex-wife, and I’m so, so lucky.

2.      The Philly for Pulse Vigil. I’ve already written about it here, but that evening stayed with me. It made me so proud and grateful to be part of such a diverse and activist city, to keep that closeness with my fellow humans as we marched through the street and tried to remember the words to “Born This Way.”

3.      Marching for Black Lives.  After the murders of Philando Castile and Alton sterling, Amy and I decided to join one of the many marches happening around the city. The march we chose was in a cool Puerto Rican neighborhood I’d never visited before. There were metal palm trees decorating the street corners and golden murals like everywhere. As we marched, residents unfurled flags from their balcony like something you’d see on the news, like being in history. The gnashing events of the week found expression, everyone was rising up. I didn’t agree with everything the march leaders were saying, but why should I need to? It was grief and revolution and honesty. After the post-accident weeks I’d spent being afraid to cross the street, I was helping strangers shut down an intersection, awed to be a body for them. My own allyship has been fraught and deeply flawed, but it was a gift to be trying still, standing up for justice in such a clear and tangible way.

4.      Flowers and fireflies. While I was scared and stuck and concentrating on growing bones, while I couldn’t write or draw or drive, I made myself keep up on my walks around the neighborhood. Sometimes I was sad that I couldn’t go further, but the flowers on these few blocks were different every day. There was always something new to notice, and for the first half of the summer, there were always fireflies. Being separated from usual summer goals and preoccupations, I was able to look more closely at what was in front of me, to slow down and take more notice.

I originally meant to put all of the things in one post, but I got overwhelmed so I’ll have to space it out. So much to get to!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Happy Goals for an Activist Summer

This has been a different kind of summer. While my arm heals, I've been skittish about swimming, so the beach hasn't dominated my life the way it usually does. Luckily, it's a great time to find all kinds of meaning volunteering for the Democrats and marching/vigiling for all kinds of change. I wish there were a lot less vigiling, but I feel lucky to have a chance to stand up for people when I can.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Help Register Voters! And Other Democrat Fun

Good morning loves! I'm excited to join in the post-convention Dem fun. If you're not from Northwest Philly, you can go to, type in your zip code, and find an event near you. It's fun and easy and you'll meet lots of adorable people who want to make the world more awesome.

For local pals, I'll be posting my organizer's weekly updates here so you'll always know what we're working on. Her name's Kimberly and you can join her list at

"Hello Volunteers!

I hope that everyone enjoyed watching the Democratic National Convention last week, and that it gave you more hope than you felt after watching the GOP Convention, which left many of us feeling uneasy and aghast. Things are looking up for us in this election nationally, but we still need to work hard for every vote in Philadelphia to help to balance out the rest of this state. We would absolutely love to send a message that there is no place for Trump in this country, including Pennsylvania!

Here is a list of activities which we need help with this week. Please let me know if you are interested and available. If it is your first time volunteering, please feel free to signup for a shift via email, or give me a call with your questions: 541-301-3805. Thank you!

Phone Banking:

We are working hard to reach as many people as we can through phone calls this week, riding on the wave of excitement lasting from the DNC. If you are phone banking from home, please try to raise your numbers. We should be making a minimum of 50 calls at one time. When making 50 calls, you are likely only going to reach around 10-15 people, and out of those, only 1-2 people will actually come through as volunteers. You can save time by not leaving voicemails, but I will leave that up to you individually.

Stronger Together Phonebank:

Wednesday, August 3rd, 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM

NW Philly Office, 7133 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19119

Make calls as a group in the office. Bring your laptop to streamline the data entry process, or call from the sheets we have prepared using your cell phones (We expect to receive burner phones any day now, but can't guarantee them tomorrow). Use the slogan "Stronger Together" in your script to emphasize how we need to come together as a country to face the issues head-on without fear-mongering and hate. You may also participate in this event from home - just let me know! 

Weekend of Action! 

We are going to have a big weekend of Voter Registration Events. There are two types of events this weekend - seated at a location, canvassing, or standing at a stationary, high traffic area. 

Saturday, August 6, 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday, August 6, 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM

Sign up for a 3 hour shift on Saturday or Sunday. Shifts begin at 9:00 AM12:00 PM3:00 PM and 9:00 PM.


Door-to-Door canvassing with VR forms. Our data team is putting together a list of areas with the highest population/lowest registration ratio. Bring a friend or find a teammate in the office to set out with.


Find a spot of your choosing or take a walk on a high traffic street with your clipboard and talk to everyone who you pass by. This is a very fun way to engage with the community and talk to those who you might not otherwise approach. Register those who need to sign up to vote, and remind passersby about the important election coming up.

Seated Event:

Voter Registration at Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Saturday, August 6, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday, August 7, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Sign up for any 2 hour shift to help us register voters in the lobby of Parkway Central.

Office Shifts:

You may sign up for any one or multiple two hour shifts in the office during these hours. There is always something you can help with - bring your phone and laptop if you have one to help with phone calls and data entry during any down time.

Monday - Friday10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Saturday10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday1:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Be in touch and have a wonderful week. I would love to see you all!!"