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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts on the eve of 9/11

I don't remember what I was thinking when I went to bed on September 10, 2001.  Probably about the stock market that was not looking so good or maybe my wedding that was 5 weeks later or maybe how was I going to pay for a wedding with the stock market not looking so good.  Probably that last one.

Then, as many people on the West Coast, I awoke to a new world.  I was terrified for my friends in New York- were they okay?  Were their families okay?  What had happened?  Was it widespread?  What do I do?  Do I go to work?  Do I stay home and watch the news?  Are my clients okay?  Who did this?  Why did they do it?

Fear.  Panic. Love.  Anger.

Every emotion.

I didn't know anyone who died.  I had friends in the towers that got out- more like acquaintances- people from classes in college that were nice.  In fact, I didn't even know people who knew people who died.

My cousin who worked in the Pentagon had had his office moved the day before-- otherwise---  well...  But to be honest, we weren't nearly as close as we are now.  I hadn't met his wife yet-- she's now one of my all time favorite people.  In a flash, they can both go back to that moment and you can see how terrifying it was.  I cannot pretend to understand.

I watched it from a couch in Las Vegas, NV.  Then I went to work numb.  No one knew what to do. 

It felt hopeless.

It felt terrifying.

I vowed to be a better person. I vowed to be more grateful.  I vowed to be engaged in the world more- to make a difference.

Thirteen years later... well... two kids... we're building a house... I just seem so tired...

And the world is even angrier it seems.

For awhile, I thought we might have healed.  Then it was gone.

Us against Them became Us against Us.

On 9/11 I try to go back to that place in my heart- the place of sheer despair that made me want to be a better person- make a better world.

I try to be grateful for the amazing life I have.

And it is amazing.

I have a beautiful, healthy family.  I am absolutely in love with my husband.  I have a career that is fulfilling.

There is nothing that I want or need.

There's a part of me that gets angry that people seem to have forgotten 9/11.  But there's also this part of me that is somewhat glad-- it means the terrorists didn't win.  They didn't destroy us.  They didn't ruin us.

We move forward.

That's the only option.

And we take a part of it with us.  And it becomes part of us.

Tomorrow I will pause and remember.  I will be grateful. 

And then I will go to work.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Politics, Government and what is Right with the World

Last night I attended a fundraiser for a political club with which I am fairly active. 

And this isn't a blog on my political beliefs.

The very cool thing about the event was the diversity of the people who were in the room.  And I don't mean racially.


There were wealthy donors.  There were poor activists.  There were teachers. There were lawyers.  There were judges.  There were doctors.  There were administrative assistants.  There were congressmen.  There was a future congresswoman.  There were students. There were commissioners.  There were bartenders. 

In one room there were all kinds of people, together, celebrating the lives of some amazing woman who have changed the world.

The friends that I invited had fun meeting people, talking with people.  It really was a fantastic night.

But what I hope my friends left with-- because I always do-- is how completely accessible our government is to us.

You don't have to be rich to have an impact in our country.

You really don't.

The last election, a bunch of people tried to buy it.  They truly did.  It didn't work.  Because at the end of the day, the vote of the bartender counts as much as the trust fund recipient.

I think people forget how amazing that really is.

I hate when people bitch out "the government."  We are the government.

You don't like something?  Write a letter. If that doesn't work, schedule a meeting.  If that doesn't work, go to a public meeting.  If that doesn't work, schedule a protest.

Your voice can be heard.

It really doesn't take a lot of effort, either.

The women that were honored weren't born with silver spoons in their mouths.  Some had more advantages than others, but they all have made an impact.

I have a very good friend who at 19 fought to change the face and opinion of immigration in this country.  She has some very important people who know her name.  She is shy but she had had enough.  Now in her 20s, she gets things done.

Last night people spoke of an amazing woman who unexpectedly passed away who was a mover and a shaker.  She leaves a big hole.  Her voice will be missed.  She was kind but she never let up.

There was a quiet, softspoken teacher in the back who worked with a louder, assertive teacher in the front to integrate Las Vegas schools.  They have schools named for them.  You would never know looking at them what a huge difference they made in the world.

None of these people were or are  obscenely wealthy on a balance sheet.  But clearly, their lives had a major impact on the lives of others.

So say what you want about our broken government. 

I don't think it is as broken as people say.

I think people need to be more engaged.  More informed.  Understand the issues- all sides.

Have you been to a school board meeting?  A commission meeting?  A council meeting?  Have you taken the time to get involved?

If you haven't, then shut up.

You don't have a right to complain.

If our government is broken, it is because as a society we have become broken.  We expect others-- including elected officials-to do it for us.  For other people.

I lost it with some parents on the playground last spring.  They changed how they were doing the 5th grade culmination at my kids' school.  I listened to these parents bitch and moan about it.  Then I said:

"You know they had a meeting about it, right?  They asked for volunteers?"  They nodded.  "You know who showed up?  Me and Mrs. Bailey.  That was it."  Silence.  "So when they explained that they were doing it differently and how much work it took to do it the old way, I knew I didn't have time to do it.  Mrs. Bailey didn't.  So we said 'Okay.'  If you really cared so much you should have shown up and offered to help."

Because I'm tired of listening to people complain about everyone else-- especially when they can make a difference and be involved.

The government, the schools- they are a reflection of our society.

They are a reflection of us.

They are a reflection of you.

If you think the world is broken, then do something about it.

Write your own verse.

Because the world needs you.