Tuesday, May 31, 2022

This Is Creepy, Insight Timer!

In June of 2020 and beyond, I changed most of my online usernames to Defund the Police. I like that little extra way to nag people for justice. It’s still my Design Home handle and the name of my home Wifi—I never think about it. At the time that I was making this silly little stand, not only was the nation rising up against the killings of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor, but Philadelphia was slashing the budget of city arts programs to give MORE money to the police. (One of whom, two years ago yesterday, aimed their car at two of my friends while they were crossing the street during a protest. AIMED A POLICE CAR AT THEM.)

Lots of people, even on the left, are now saying that “defund the police” is an unhelpful phrase we should distance ourselves from, but I disagree. What if, when there’s a problem, we called someone who could actually fix it, instead of someone(s) trained to respond with dominance and force.

My artsy brain pictures a rainbow of cars, not just police cars, gently caring for our city and helping those in need. A soothing light blue car for a therapist, soft pink for social workers, green for wildlife and parks. To care for LGBTQ citizens’ needs, a progress-flag emblazoned fleet. Need to safeguard a particularly nasty pothole or a construction site? No need to bring a gun, just an expert in a cheerful orange car. Purple for clergy-of-choice. Delicious strawberry red for nutrition care. Inviting peach for housing. Silver for elder services.

This is an idealistic picture, but defaulting to calling the police in every urgent situation isn’t working and it is causing lots of harm, including to police. Granted, not everybody (Really nobody besides my BFF and my liberal family members) knows about my rainbow-of-cars idea, but it really bothers me that the phrase “defund the police” feels so threatening to people.

I was so creeped out when I got this message from Insight Timer, where I’d named myself Defund Police (With the tagline of Abolish ICE, plus a bunch of festive emojis) that my tummy did a flip and I started to think about how to restructure my whole meditation routine.

The idea that redistributing TAXPAYER MONEY to less murdery organizations would be seen as “offensive or profane” filled me with facing-the-void type dread. Not really conductive to a nice Yoga Nidra at bedtime.

I think this message from Viv means that some fellow human, in the course of logging on to meditate, was so jarred by the phrase that they decided to report it to Insight Timer. And the app, or at least this one particular person, took this petty, small-minded, fragile, repressive person’s side.

Admittedly, I have plenty of unethical apps. Somehow all my music ended up living on Joe Rogan-infested Spotify. As long as there are nieces and nephews, I will have Bannon-collaborating facebook in my life. But a meditation app somehow seems like it should know better, like it should have access to the better angels of our nature instead of feeling virtuous while propping up a violent system.

Meditation is such an intimate act. I love falling asleep to kind words or a chakra clearing at the end of a long day—it’s one of the deepest and most intimate parts of my relationship to myself. Just as I wouldn’t date someone who is apolitical or a Trump supporter, I’m not going to meditate with “someone” who feels offended and threatened at the tiniest suggestion, the tiniest little two-word nudge at structural change.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Ridiculous Summer Mix Tape 2021


Only two from this album, I promise.

1. Get Lucky (Daft Punk feat. Pharell Williams and Nile Rogers

2. I Know The End (Pheobe Bridgers)

3. Don't Look Back in Anger (Oasis)

4. Copacabana (Barry Manilow)

5. Rapper's Delight (Sugarhill Gang)

6. Die Young (Ke$ha)

7. Mortal Kombat (The Immortal(S) (I don't care about the video game, it just reminds me of being a raver in 1993!)

8. Lay All Your Love on Me (Erasure)

9.Right Round (Flo Rida feat. Ke$ha)

10. The Humpty Dance (Digital Underground)

11. Wild, Wild West (Will Smith,Dru Hill, Kool Moe Dee)

12. Bubble Pop (HyunA)

13. Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen)

14.You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (Dead or Alive)

15. She's Electric (Oasis)

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Eek A New Poem! Where I'm From

A view from behind my childhood home when we visited a few years ago. Not pictured: fracking.

Disclaimer: My family is full of far-left-to-moderate wonderfuls. Supersorry they’re not in this poem very much!

Where I’m From

(After a prompt from George Ella Lyon)

I’m from tomato plants
and apple trees
and weeds I’m supposed to be pulling.

I’m from ten acres with horses
but the horses weren’t ours.
The house was harsh,
but not the fields: They smelled like
wildflowers and wild strawberries
and, alternately, cow manure or hay bales.

I’m from five cents for each fly swatted
during the manure times. I’m from hay bales, daylilies
mallow and daisies, from rows of raspberries
and brambles of blackberries—should have remembered to
wear long pants.

I’m from the perfect fall view
and the perfect place to fly a kite.

I’m from banging pots and pans at midnight,
visiting Great Grandmom’s South Philly
and marveling half-asleep
at the narrowness of streets.

I’m from waving little American flags with my cousins
in the big yard at Aunt Connie’s colonial one Fourth-of July afternoon.

I’m from visiting Aunt Patti’s house in Bradley Beach,
some summers even with my own badge
until my body made me promise not to go near Uncle Bud’s
“Deplorables for Trump” sticker anymore.

I’m from Walecki and Mellili and Keating and Wiedmann and McCormick and Penrose and Wojcik and Carter and Lawson.

I’m from meatballs in the crockpot
on Mom’s sideboard and from Grandpa
Wiedmann cooking bacon outside in state parks.
(With plenty of sliced tomatoes of course.)

I’m from undiagnosed depression and toxic positivity:

From Mom telling me I was creating Covid out of my own fear.
From Mom’s pretty Easter card telling me she was paying
Catholic priests to say masses for my soul.
(It should go without saying that I don’t think I need saving.)

I’m from Sicily and Ireland and Poland and Germany.

I’m from wondering what Emily Post’s grandchildren would have to say
about a PS. in Sharpie on the outsides of red Christmas card envelopes:
“Please don’t march with the Proud Boys” or about checking the FBI’s
pictures from January 6th to look for Aunt Connie

I’m from the (MANY) podcasts about cults I listen to, to try and understand.

I’m from all the books I can’t assign them.

I’m from the both sides of teargas.

I’m from whatever version of family comes next.

Monday, May 24, 2021

To Heal, I Need the Victories


If you need science and not just feels (though science gives me ALL the feels!) go here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

It’s been a long year. A long five years. As I move (I hope) out of survival mode and start to process the multifaceted trove of traumas these Trump/Bernie/Russia/Covid years have wrought, I think it’s important to pause here and be in awe at what we (And by WE I mean those of us who believe in justice, empathy, and science!) have just accomplished.

Thursday before last, I was having a generically shitty day. After all of the put-aside-in-order-to-live claustrophobia of quarantine, I was snappish with my neighbors and ready to drive one million miles away. I was having another round of seemingly insurmountable Zoom issues at work without the grace of my calm-down-we’re-in-an-emergency tend-and-befriend vibes.

After too-numerous calls to my BFF, I did what I often do when I’m trying to motivate myself enough to get ready for bed: I put on Nicole Wallace’s podcast. (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/deadline-white-house/id1367201919)

(It used to be Joy Reid but she gets too Franken-y sometimes! Cry emoji!)

President Biden’s remarks on the newest CDC regulations lead the show: https://www.c-span.org/video/?511762-1/president-biden-speaks-rose-garden-cdc-eases-mask-wearing-guidelines He was speaking in the rose garden and a purple finch was singing its heart out in the background. A finch-size ray of sunshine-hope shined in and melted my crabby heart just a little bit.

The president said something like “You’ve earned the right to smile at each other” and that felt exactly, exactly right. I made going-to-the-movies plans. I bought (GASP!) concert tickets! (Wilco (ok) with Sleater Kinney (OMG!)

And then I felt completely overwhelmed.

But it’s a good idea to stop for a second and acknowledge what science (what humanity!) has accomplished. Miracle doesn’t seem like the right word, but that’s how this new whole-face life hits me. I’m in awe that I get to elbow-high-five my students! I get to feel the simple joy of handing a kid a book after more than a year of reading through screens.

Yes, the depression-machine that is facebook (and also the depression-machine that is my brain) will always remind us, there’s so far to go from here, so much work to do. We vaccinated lucky ducks may not be ready to let go of masks for any number of reasons. It’ll take stages and steps. It feels vulnerable for my face to be exposed, and maybe I’ll even be mistaken for predatory. But smiling at my neighbors and getting the HECK out of the neighborhood sometimes both feel like such momentous things!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

"Go change your skin color, then." Open Letter to Flourtown Country Club


Dear Flourtown Country Club Management,

I am a pool member and a (white) Black Lives Matter activist. I want to report an upsetting interaction with the woman who seems to manage the pool. She is a white woman of medium build, fit, with short sandy-blond hair. Today when I was entering the pool area I was upset to see this person standing proudly in front of a “blue lives matter” flag. I hoped there was a misunderstanding, I know that not everyone knows this flag is often used as fascist/white supremacist iconography.


Her response to my alarm made it clear that she did, in fact, hang the flag for violent, racist reasons. When I told her that the flag might make Black members and guests feel unsafe, she told me to “Get lost.” When I told her that police had aimed their cars at my friends during the Uprising, she said “Well, were they in the road?” This implies that protesters deserve to be killed or injured simply for crossing the street. When I asserted that everyone who stands for white supremacy is a bad person, she then said “Go change your skin color, then!” But I don’t need to be Black to be against murderous police, to be against the white supremacy this woman clearly espouses.


I am horrified by both the display of white supremacist iconography and the rude, aggressive way I was treated. I think that this woman needs to be fired and that the pool staff needs a serious structural overhaul to subvert the current near-segregation of the membership and staff. Black members and anti-racist members should be welcomed, not implicitly threatened.


As you know, both country clubs and pools have a violent white supremacist history in America. It’s within your power to change that, to work towards inclusion and healing. Firing this racist staff member would be a great start.



Sharon Wiedmann

Pool Member






Friday, September 4, 2020

Birthday Heart Inventory for Turning 46


45 was a good age, but I’m happy to leave that cursed number behind. As I wrote the first draft of this inventory, I was in a shocking sense of well-being. A lot of the time, there’s a magic in the resignation and hardship of 2020 that translates to calm. Other times, I have to go back to bed and play Merge Dragons until the panic subsides. This morning I’m somewhere in the middle.


Like the world (and so, SO much less than so many people in the world) my heart is trying to heal from so, so much loss and pain. Business suffered, but more importantly, there was fear in every breath. There was grief in every breath too, mourning the very many who had their breath stolen from them by the violence of police, the violence of white terrorism, and the violence of national medical neglect. It’s hard to write about my heart while we’re all in an ongoing, unfathomable trauma.


On May 31st, I watched the Philly riots start, I saw the first police car catch fire in a moment when I didn’t know where several of my friends were. Two friends were pinging me from where they were boxed in by the police near the flames, but some I worried were dead for days. The streets where my friends live were under police and military occupation for weeks. I saw my regular Target getting looted on the national news, and for all the people-over-property, it hurt. I still see people whose bodies and whose ancestors’ bodies have been looted by America for centuries selling good from those weeks on the sidewalk, and that part makes me glad.


This year my heart learned that you can reject someone and feel abandoned by them at the same time. Some of my family members seem to have been swept into the slimy Russian internet sea forever. I’m trying partial estrangement with my mom and some extended family because I just couldn’t make room in my psyche for all of the gaslighting. The loss is real, painful, and the culmination of lifelong political abandonment. Even though I’ll be 46 tomorrow, I’m still a little kid who wants to scream WHY WON’T YOU JUST TAKE MY SIDE?! I’m realizing to a deeper and deeper degree that you can’t both fight white supremacy and keep all of the familial amenities it provides.


The mental and emotional space I gained by blocking Mom’s facebook made room for so much new community connection. Whether it’s marching, stopping by the daily 8:46 vigil in my neighborhood, or offering support to liberal friends stranded in more hostile places, the community of the Movements feels like true love. It feels like what my life means.


I’m still mourning the loss of John Lewis. Though he’ll be a source of advice in my head forever, I miss sharing the planet with him. I can feel the warmth and generosity of his handshake when I met him in September of 2016, and that’s a big part of what keeps me going. What keeps me, most days, hopeful.


To counteract the bitterness, hurt, and self-recrimination of this hard hard year, I chose MERCY as my word for this new birthday year. Mercy is more badass even than lovingkindness because it asks me to recognize the power I have and asks me to wield that power with benevolence and discernment. That’s a pretty tall order, but I’ve got a year to work on it.