Tuesday, 7 January 2020


When I was 19, my coworker taught me phrases in Farsi and gave me my first glimpse into his culture through his generous spirit and admirable hustle behind a jewelry counter.

At 28, I took my Life in the UK test at the Iranian Association in London, and was welcomed along my journey as an immigrant in England by a building full of kind, motherly ladies, who told me with delight how highly I'd scored on the exam. They made a big hurdle into a safe passage among friends.

Whether in dance classes or late parties, I've had the honor of having a lovely introduction repeatedly reaffirmed for decades. In my years of running around the world, making friends, and learning about bits and pieces of humanity's tapestry rather randomly, Persians have continued to overwhelm me with their grace and hospitality. They are not the only ones, and I know no group of people is uniformly good-natured, but I have been blessed to meet some wonderful cultural ambassadors, and my impression of this particular group of people has been entirely benevolent and long-lasting.

I think of my friends, and the anguish of warfare, and how deplorable it is to have the United States and Iran run by the sorts of governments they have. We all deserve better than this.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Our Republic, If We Can Keep It

Please listen to today's impeachment hearing, and catch up as much as you can on the pattern of foreign interference this "president" has solicited to weaken our own government for personal gain. This is so, so important. Our intelligence community is unified in their assessment, and the pattern of solicitation and obstruction is clear.

Understand what impeachment means, and engage with this living lesson in our means for fighting tyranny. We very deliberately have this power, and our president is no king. No one is above the law.

Democracy is at stake here, and we need to voice our support for congresspeople doing their constitutional duty and holding this incredibly corrupt administration to account, ideally removing them from power. It is worth remembering, as a parade of faux "good ol' boy" credulity bandies about terms like "coup" and urges us all to look away, that these same folks are eager to defend their right to wave the treasonous flag of a prior defeated rebellion against the United States itself. When the holder of our highest office kills our allies by withholding military aid in times of war, and eagerly encourages foreign powers to interfere in our elections, we need to be talking not only of impeachment, but also of treason and sedition. Do not look away. Keep pushing. Standing up against such debasement is literally written into the the noblest motivations of this country's founding. Our republic, if we can keep it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUSQaYHJAiI

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Hurtling Toward the End of the Empire

You know, there was a time when I followed politics like sports. I watched debates with a beer and popcorn, ready for a battle of ideas.

What's going on now is not that. The United States government is basically headless, with an enormous number of crucial federal roles unfilled or occupied by "acting" figures, unvetted by Congress and beholden only to Trump for their posts. Congress and beholden only to Trump for their posts. McConnell continues to defend Trump, whom he owes for his wealthy wife's important role that has allowed millions to be directed to Kentucky, while his state built things like a Deripaska-collab aluminum operation. After McConnell helped lift sanctions against Russia, of course. While he himself became very, even mysteriously, wealthy. Corruption of the highest order.

Our allies are being slaughtered, abandoned by us in haste because Trump swoons for dictators (Putin, Erdogan, Duterte, Bolsonaro, Kim, etc.). He has signed off on the burning of the Amazon (ongoing).

There are children in concentration camps, protections are being eroded for endangered species, as well as our water and air. Our sacred wild places are being opened up for exploitation, even as science shows that we need more and more trees to push back against climate catastrophe.

This ignorant, corrupt, self-dealing, venal administration must go. The Republican party is dead. Today's theatrics, in an area of our Capitol that is secured for national security needs, are a desperate display of loyalty to a deeply unfit leader.

History will not look upon the GOP kindly. Every empire falls, and Trump has batted his eyelashes at Putin as he hastens our decline. (Putin himself is facing political upheaval at home and deeper disapproval ratings, which partly explains his meddling abroad.)

These are weak men, and they are supported by those ignorant of history, the greedy, and those angry at the wrong parties. They are all trying to make their last buck before shuffling off this mortal coil, and they make the future darker for all of the rest of us in the process.

Enough. Impeach, convict, remove.

Remember: we outnumber them. This government is supposed to work for the American people, and if it doesn't, we must change it with ruthless vigor.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Óscar y Valeria

"He set her on the US bank of the river and started back for his wife, Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away. The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene."


They made it. And, not wanting to be left behind, his little girl came in after her daddy. Dash would do that, too.

After a long, dangerous journey, being held for months in a camp because the US would not hear their asylum claim, a father placed his little girl on what should have been the bank of freedom. If they hadn't drowned, would she have been taken from her parents, placed in the care of another starving child, shuttled from one dark location to another to hide the abuses the US government inflicts upon migrant toddlers?

We can choose to be better than this. We can choose not to replicate history's darkest chapters. We can end this torture of children and families fleeing violence and oppressive poverty.

End this administration. Vote against them every time you have the opportunity. Protest. Speak up loudly and constantly against this relentless heartbreak.

Does your heart not ache with this terrible grief, too? Can you not see your own children in these children?

When Dash was born, my highest calling became the creation of a stable life for him. I would certainly flee violence with him in my arms. I would swim for his life and mine for the opportunity to place him gently on the other side of poverty.

I watch the apologists line up to blame parents, deliberately ignorant of the realities that drive these migrants so far from home, willingly ignorant of their own histories, the ignorant descendants of stronger people that made long, dangerous journeys to a land of open borders and fabled opportunity.

There is a deep soullessness inherent in the inability to stand with these migrant families. Apologists for these crimes against humanity debase themselves.

The legacy of white America is being written in concentration camps exclusively for children (did the Nazis even have those?), drowned babies, and human trafficking of abducted toddlers lost in our government's custody.

I will absolutely rip anyone to shreds for defending this abhorrent administration. Let the deaths of these families be on their heads. May the suffering of children perpetuated in the name of Donald Trump be a stain on Republicans forever.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Sharpening My Sword

There is a sickening sadness in me today. Two stories:

I had an abortion when I was 22. At 19, I had become prematurely engaged in the flush of romance, and I couldn't think of any reason I should say no. Later, I learned that the ring on my finger had partly come about from my prospective father-in-law's Catholic guilt about his son and me living in sin.

The engagement was abruptly broken off one afternoon, after my ex-fiance took me out for a burger. It was unexpected, and I was heartbroken. We started making plans to exit our apartment, and when moving day came, I stumbled across a pregnancy test I had purchased after having heard every responsible, sexually active adult woman should have them on hand. My period was a little late, so I went to the bathroom and took a test, not thinking much of it because I was on birth control.

Positive. The sounds of my friends dismantling my home outside the bathroom door, packing the remains of my relationship into trucks to take across town. My breath stopped. There was only one option.

In a quiet moment, I pulled my ex aside and told him. He said he would marry me, and we could figure it out. Standing in an empty apartment, in a shattered relationship, I said no, we were not having a baby.

At first, I tried to take care of it myself. I cried, and apologized to the little spark inside of me, and tried painfully hard abdominal massages and herbal suppositories. No change. Thankfully, no infections, either.

So, an appointment was made, and I went home after an exam with two tablets and a limited time frame, after which surgery would be my only option. At home, I cried some more, took one pill and inserted another, and then a few hours later had the prescribed miscarriage. I was relieved.


This winter, I was trying to get my 18-month-old son settled into daycare so he could have his need for toddler company met, and so I could try to resume something like a life of my own. His napping was not yet synced up with the schedule of the older children, so I was spending my days walking to and from his daycare with him in a stroller, strategically, to coax him into sleeping at roughly the right times to ease the transition. On these days, I was walking about 7 miles per day, pushing a stroller up and down San Francisco hills in the rain, trying to do the best I could for my little one.

One day, while huffing and puffing uphill through mile 7, I did my mental math on menstruation, and realized that the unprotected sex my husband and I had could most definitely result in a pregnancy. I felt despair. My first child was not much more than a baby himself, still in diapers, and I was alone every day to structure his life. No help for 12 hours a day. No sick days. No family nearby, few friends that were competent with kids. Alone, trying to be my best for him, and losing myself day by day. I needed to have a plan for the next one, and I needed more time to invent that out of thin air.

I could clearly see what the next several years of my life would look like with another baby and more of the same, so I walked straight into my local pharmacy with my sleeping child in his stroller and bought a pack of Plan B. I took it before he woke up, and I texted my husband to let him know what was going on. I was relieved.


These two stories are about the same two questions: What kind of life can I have, and what can I provide for any potential child?

If I had had that first child and married my ex, I would be a single mother now. That relationship ran its course, and in the process alienated me from other women as my fiance tried to sleep with my friends and broke my heart with infidelity. There is a high likelihood I would be living in poverty, I almost certainly would not have made it to university, and I would not have met my husband.

I wonder how that bitterness would compare to what I feel today. For a good primer on the pressures of parenthood that come directly from sexism and our dysfunctional economy, I invite you to read Elizabeth Warren's book, The Two Income Trap. If I recall, the odds of a woman living in poverty roughly double in the USA as soon as she has a child.

At 22, I had only just figured out how to get myself into community college. When I was in high school, I had zero assistance understanding how to get into college; at one point, in my junior year, I walked into the guidance counselor's office, and asked how I might start the process. She laughed at me and told me it was too late. Somehow, a few years later, I had the courage or good sense to just walk into my local community college and ask the same question, and they were kind enough to hand me forms and direct me to the financial aid office.

From ages 16 to 19, I was in an abusive relationship. That boyfriend had undiagnosed mental health issues, and took all of my paychecks. He was controlling and paranoid, actively preventing me from applying to university, saying I couldn't afford it, and he made sure that was true. I'm fairly certain I had a miscarriage in that relationship, and I am so grateful.

It is a miracle that I am living the life I am today. I completed university at an amazing school overseas, partly because my mother-in-law correctly identified at a crucial moment that my educational attainment would directly impact the outcomes of any grandchildren I might have with her son. Poverty nearly knocked me out of that race, but I got a last-minute stay of execution, and my ready supply of free birth control pills from the UK's National Health Service helped me see my commitment to my own education through to a degree with honours.

Statistically, I am an outlier, and it is largely due to the freedom to choose my life over an embryo.

I am from Missouri. This morning, I woke up to news that the state of my birth has slammed the door shut on girls like me making choices that could keep their paths open to university, less degrading relationships, and better futures for themselves and any children they might have. Instead, lawmakers seek to keep women and girls trapped in poverty, trapped in abusive relationships where they are made to co-parent with their abusers, and trapped in a cycle of despair that seeks relief in addiction and death. I hate them for this.

There is no nuance here. This is about controlling women and girls, specifically to prevent them from having the opportunities I had. My intelligence and willingness to survive have been honed and developed by critical thinking skills and exposure to the world, and I'm not going back. No one should go back to the world before Roe v. Wade, back-alley abortions, infections, hemorrhaging in hotel rooms and left to die.

When I think of the girls like me that will be deprived of the opportunities I've had, I want to ride into the fray with a fiery sword and liberate them all. They deserve so much better than the insanity of this forced birth extremism, misogyny codified into law to make women and girls second-class citizens and chattel.

Beyond sadness, there is a rage in me that will not be quieted.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


I am literally in tears right now, thinking of the rape victims and pregnant children who already feel broken and hopeless, sensing the world crash down on them, wondering where they can get help. 

And then these asshole old men and their apologists shut another fucking door, door after door. This is why people commit suicide. Why children innovate ways to escape from hopeless abuse, hidden in bedrooms across this country, isolated to death by their oppressors. Why women slice themselves apart to see if they can ever excise the brutal pain society keeps inflicting, in alleys and after dates. 

My heart just breaks open if I let it reach out for all of the pain there already is. And these creeps would amplify that?

They have no souls, these men. And not men alone. But so many men, who have killed so many women and girls, since longer ago than time can remember.

Let these perpetrators be gone. Force them to stop raping. Eliminate them. Let them be predators of the past, extinct, only sad stories we tell to remember the danger.

Sunday, 12 May 2019


Mother's Day over here was spent visiting another family (with doggies and babies making chaos), playing with my husband and toddler, putting baby plants in the ground, and thinking about so many mothers I know.

My heart is feeling so open to the transformation and vulnerability of caring. Delia taught me to be a mom, but Dash made me a mother; so many little lives have come depend on me, at my invitation, and I feel so blessed to have a good partner by my side. This year has featured a lot of reminders of how delicate life can be, and how quickly the picture can shift. I am grateful for this moment, and working hard to keep it going.

Thank you to mothers for your essential work, striving to guide the young on their way through the world, even as we are all imperfect and figuring it out on the fly. Mothers alone cannot bear the full responsibility of stewarding new human beings in this world, but we still do the lion's share.

Lots of love to the mothers that are, the mothers that were, the mothers yet to be, and the mothers who could have been, many of whom feel the lost possibility acutely. Not everyone wants to do this, but those of us that do share in the exhausting love of pouring ourselves into those who fly beyond us. Something shifts in the soul and is never quite the same, I think.