In Girl Scouts we used to sing:”Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.” (Yes, I was a Girl Scout. I fondly remember my “Flying Up” ceremony in which we went from Brownies to Scouts. We performed a play: I was cast in the role of a lake, lying on the stage wrapped in aluminum foil. To call it a nonspeaking part is being generous.) I’ve been humming this ditty to myself lately because, in middle age (early old age) I have new relationships in my life–in-laws. True, I was a daughter-in-law for many years, until we lost my husband’s parents. And I am still a sister-in -law. But now, with my younger son’s marriage, I have become that much-maligned creature, a mother-in-law. My daughter-in-law’s parents are my mishbocher. (Is there an English equivalent for that?) And my older son is in a relationship with a woman to whom I am a pseudo-mother-in-law (and I’m a pseudo-grandma to her daughter. The pseudo doesn’t prevent me from being ga-ga). I have watched my friends negotiate this territory, but, until I was there, I never really thought about how exciting, if occasionally difficult, it is to have new members in one’s family. What a gift it is at this stage of life. When I consider the people I am now lucky enough to call family, I realize it’s a gift worth its weight in gold.
Happy to announce the passage of the H.Res. 683 by the United States House of Representatives. Introduced by Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), the resolution is an acknowledgement and regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Full coverage of
the House proceedings on H. Res. 683 can be found at
Each week I lead a writing workshop under the aegis of the New York Writers Coalition www.nywriterscoalition.org/ at the Center for the Independence of the Disabled in New York www.cidny.org/. All of us in the group have either a mental or physical disability, but we get together not to kvetch, but to write. One of the founding, and favorite, members of our group was Joe Rosenbaum. He was a gentle soul, and smart and funny as they come. We always looked forward to hearing what he’d written, knowing it would be keenly observed, clever and elegant. Often Joe wrote another episode in the saga of the nefarious Dr. Bidet, a character he’d created who embodied the inhumane aspects of the medical and social services systems which Joe felt had failed him. One week the good doctor might be an uncaring, incompetent physician, the next, the pompous theoretician of the anti-social school of social work. Joe named the chapbook that was a collection of our work: Insight Out http://nywriterscoalition.org/bookstore/item/insight-out-3/. It was a fitting description of him as well. Two weeks ago, during our workshop, Joe died of a heart attack. Our only comfort is that he was among friends, and that the last thing he did was write something lovely. We will miss him so. I will especially miss remembering with him–we didn’t grow up together, yet we shared so much of, and similarly valued, the past. I hope to be able to gather up his writing and publish it. It’s the best way I can think of to honor him.
Welcome to anyone who wanders in. I am a writer (novel, poetry, memoir, personal essay–oh yeah, blog) and teacher, a Boomer and citizen of the People’s Republic of Brooklyn. I’m also someone with a disability and the mother of two biological and one adopted child from China. That little bio should give you some idea of the range of my interests, and what topics I might need to mouth off about here.
Today I want to talk about Danny Chen, the Chinese-American kid (he was only 19 when he died) who was so tormented by his fellow soldiers in the U.S. Army because of his ethnicity that he was driven to kill himself. Danny was an only child raised in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The community has rallied around his parents. I went to a birthday memorial for him a couple of weeks ago. To see his mom weep, to see his dad wearing his son’s army cap, is heartbreaking. The only comfort–and it is cold comfort–is that the army has agreed to hold the court martials of those involved in the U.S. and not in Afghanistan. Late last month, his parents and their supporters delivered to Congress 9,000 birthday cards written in Danny’s honor by people in America and abroad,urging passage of a military anti-hazing bill. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-05-23/news/31829584_1_hazing-incidents-supporters-soldiers I am disappointed in that number–9,000 is nothing. Many more people need to care about what happened. Anti-Asian prejudice has a long, sad history in our country. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=419