They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. ~Andy Warhol
We recently went to Chicago – or, as I like to call it, home.
I wasn’t born in Chicago and I didn’t go to school there – but it’s the city I grew up in.
From my mid-20s to my late 30s, I had a condo in a three-story walk-up in East Lakeview. It was a short walk to Lake Michigan (or, simply “the lake”), a short walk to the Elevated Train (or, simply “the el”) and a short walk to pretty much anything and everything you’d ever want or need.
It’s where I learned how to be an adult. It’s where I became … me.
And this past weekend we took a trip back home. We decided to go up to the old neighborhood just to see what it looks like, six years after saying goodbye.
It was harder than I thought it would be. I found myself lagging behind my husband and son as I walked down the sidewalk, tracing years of my own steps. Remembering night after morning after day of walking down that same street. In heels, in running shoes, in snow boots, in galoshes, in flip flops.
Years of my life, walking down that street.
And so, when my husband slowed down to look up at the old building and remark on how the front doors still look wonky and fogged up, and how they were still using the same (relatively ugly) flower pot, I had to keep walking.
I didn’t want to see the railing that my neighbor was obsessed with keeping painted. I didn’t want to see my old mailbox with the creaky hinge. I didn’t want to look up at the big gnarled tree that waved its arms in front of my windows for over a decade. (She was the reason I got that condo in the first place.)
It was impressive how much had just … carried on. Without me.
Of course there were changes, as will happen in six years. One restaurant gone. Another opened. A new play space for kids (smart idea). A new – and better – grocery store to replace the one that burned down.
But so much was the same. Right where she was supposed to be, there was the redbud tree that greeted me every spring with a flush of pink, promising that I could put my puffy coat away soon.
There was the diner at the end of the street, with the same sign, the same seats, same tables – same waitresses.
There was our favorite little store to buy bits and bobs and pretty things that you don’t need but that you … need. It’s still there with the smiling storefront.
Time passes. (Damnit.)
And some things stay the same. Some things change. Some things change for the better, others not so much.
I think about time and change a lot these days, with the beginning of the new year. This year – 2020 – was on my mind a lot in the later days of 2016 when nothing made sense.
I think back about the person I was then. That woman who, in the late days of 2016, sat down and starting writing to you every week.
Some things about her have changed. Others, not so much. The sharp panic she felt is mostly gone – more because it’s not a sustainable feeling than that there’s nothing to be panicked about. The bewilderment is mostly gone. The belief that conservative family members will come around is mostly gone.
Some things have stayed the same.
There’s still the drive. There’s still the unwavering belief that working together, we can make change – that it’s the only way we can make change. There’s still the anger that we have to deal with this mess. There’s still the agonizing heartbreak for people, and for our country.
And there’s still the unrelenting hope.
Maybe you, too, have walked down your own memory lane this week. Maybe you’re remembering who you were in 2016. Thinking about who you thought you’d be. Where you thought you’d be.
Where you thought we’d be.
We’re still here. Right here, with each other, walking arm in arm down that sidewalk and into a new year.
It’s a year with so much promise. Because over the past three years, as others may have come and go… as ideas have fizzed and coalitions broke down… as babies were born and as jobs were changed and as houses were sold…
All of those things changed.
I don’t think you’re going anywhere.
I’m certainly not.
Welcome to 2020, friend. I’m so happy you’re still here.
Now let’s get to work.
Actions for the week of January 7, 2020
Tuesday: The Obvious Call to Senators – No War in Iran
No doubt you know that Trump ordered a drone strike that killed a revered (and murderous) general in Iran and sparked an international crisis.
Just another week in the Trump administration.
Things are pretty heated, and they’re changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up. The important thing here is to keep reminding our congresspeople (both Reps and Senators) that Congress has the power to declare war – not the president. He cannot unilaterally get us into another war, and we need to keep pressure on our electeds to make sure they assert their constitutional authority.
Senator Kaine has introduced a resolution to keep Trump from further escalating hostilites with Iran; a similar resolution has been filed in the House. Let’s ask our electeds to support these resolutions.
Script: (To senators): Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I’m concerned that the Soleimani strike has caused an international crisis, and I’m concerned that the Trump administration is taking over Congress’s war powers. The Senator should support Senator Tim Kaine’s resolution to keep Trump from further escalating hostilities with Iran.
Keep the pressure on our Senators, here. They need to hear from all of us right now.
Wednesday: Another Call to Senators – We Need A Real Impeachment Trial
I know, I know – after weeks of not having a bunch of calls to Senators, here we are starting the year off with calls to them two days in a row. But honestly, these are super important calls.
Script: I’m calling to urge the Senator to push for a real impeachment process that would include the calling of key witnesses. The allegations against Trump are far too serious to be pushed aside in favor of partisan politics and the American people deserve an opportunity to see the witnesses and evidence for themselves.
Thursday: Calling all crafty folks!
Initially I had put this in the “help Australia” section below, but it really does deserve its own CTA. I’m sure you’ve heard of the wildfires in Australia and the devastation they are having on wildlife. It can feel very hard to help from this far away.
I know some of you knit and crochet based on the response I had to the CTA about plastic yarn (plarn) blankets. So I’ve got another for you!
The Animal Rescue Craft Guild (https://www.facebook.com/groups/arfsncrafts/) is asking crafty folks (knitters, sewers, crocheters and you generally crafty people) to create joey pouches, wraps, blankets, mittens and more. Please go to their facebook page and click on their large banner image (which says Click Here for FAQs Design Files and Drop Locations).
They have specific design patterns that their wildlife experts have chosen, so please use those. https://www.facebook.com/groups/arfsncrafts/
Friday: Help Australia
The bush fires in Australia are apocalyptic. It’s heartbreaking to see the destruction to both people and wildlife. We won’t know the full extent of the harm for quite a while; fires are still raging. Here are some places where you can send donations. CRAFTY FOLK (including sewers, knitters, crocheters and generally handy people) – please note the assistance you can provide by creating items for the Animal Rescue Craft Guild in Thursday’s action.
To help families:
Both the Red Cross (Australia) (https://www.redcross.org.au/news-and-media/news/your-donations-in-action) and the Salvation Army (https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/donate/make-a-donation/donate-online/?appeal=disasterappeal) have funds set up specifically for the wildfire disaster and have been the most frequently cited relief organizations to help families recover. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is also a way to donate to families that have evacuated (https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-nsw/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-nsw)
Farmers are being hit really hard by the fires; the Victorian Farmers Association has set up a disaster relief fund to help farmers and and provide emergency fodder for animals. https://www.vff.org.au/vff/Resources/Donations/vff/Donations.aspx?hkey=660181a7-acec-4401-a876-ecad98159e93
To help animals:
The RSPCA (like the ASCPA except in Australia) is a rescue organization for pets, livestock, and wildlife. They have a New South Wale’s bushfire appeal: https://www.rspcansw.org.au/bushfire-appeal/?location=stickybardesktop
WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) – Australia’s largest wildlife rescue – has an Emergency Fund set up: https://www.wires.org.au/blog/emergency-donations-to-help-wildlife
The World Wildlife Fund in Australia is already committing to restoring the forests lost in the wildfires after the blazes subside. Donate to their efforts here: https://www.wwf.org.au/get-involved/bushfire-emergency#gs.q6iwab
Wildlife Victoria’s bushfire appeal will distribute funds to wildlife shelters to help them rebuild after the fire, and support them as they cope with the enormous number of animals that will need care in the coming weeks and months. https://www.wildlifevictoria.org.au/?view=article&id=145:helping-wildlife-during-bushfires&catid=11:wildlife-information
Most of the firefighters are unpaid volunteers working 12 hour shifts (or longer). You can donate directly to the County Fire Authority here: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa
The NSW Rural Fire Service is also accepting donations: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade
If you have a Twitter account and you like to read, check out Authors for Fireys. The project was started by a group of authors that is auctioning off books – the highest bidder will donate to the County Fire Authority (CFA) to receive the item. https://authorsforfireys.wixsite.com/website
WHEW! Go team!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.