Month: November 2015

Table of Enough

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

Today is Thanksgiving here in the US.  I was going to muse on why we still celebrate this holiday–a holiday that continues to glamorize Native American genocide, food waste, shopping for shit we don’t need, and canned cream of mushroom soup. I’ve posted about being tired of the tremendous amount of work to prepare and cook for this holiday for the past few years.  I’ve said how much I used to love this day, but haven’t in a while.  Yes, every year I swear never again, and yet here I am, one eye on the clock because the shelves in my fridge are warping under the weight of foods waiting to be cooked.

I was going to muse about what America means.  President Obama tells us these hideous pronouncements of wall building and turning our backs on refugees aren’t what we stand for.  I like Obama, I like what he stands for, and I agree that it shouldn’t be.  But let’s be honest, America has a long history of fighting to reject immigrants and refugees, an even longer history of racism.

If you are someone who believes “freedom of religion” includes all religions, if you believe “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” is still valid today, this is an exhausting and often disheartening time.  I still hear people moaning that only English should be spoken in America.  Sigh.  English is the language of the US, and it doesn’t take a damned thing away from anyone when other languages are also spoken.  Not only doesn’t it take anything away, it’s a bonus.  “Global community” isn’t just a phrase for Facebook and college admissions essays.

The thing is, sappy as it might sound, I still love the idea of Thanksgiving.  The sentiment of it, anyway.  I like the idea of a day to stop and pay attention to the privilege of enough to eat, having people in our lives whom we love and love us.  Should having enough to eat be a privilege?  I don’t think so, but it is.  I know it is when I look at the photos of the Syrian refugee camps.  I know it is when I walk down the streets and through the subways, seeing those who are homeless and hungry.   My children have attended schools with classmates who live in mansions, brownstones, projects, and shelters.  When you know this, when you know the kiddo waiting for their turn with the brown crayon right next to your kiddo, sharing Saltines and apple juice with your kiddo,  isn’t going home to a full table, it isn’t theoretical.  Yes, yes, we should all give thanks every day for what we have, but really, many of us don’t.

I’m not going to post a million Thanksgiving food pictures.  Have faith, Fringelings, my cranberries are glistening in their zinfandel bath and the skin on my pernìl is crisped just so.  I will post a few pics from the past weeks that make me smile, and hope they do the same for you.

Love when I luck into a decent shot of the moon.

Love when I luck into a decent shot of the moon.

This guy comes to visit me regularly, but I suspect he's going to fly south soon.

This guy comes to visit me regularly, but I suspect he’s going to fly south soon.

zoanthid colony in the tank.

zoanthid colony in the tank.

Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate, and if not, happy Thursday.

Could You Repeat the Question?

I seem to have lost my train of thought.

I seem to have lost my train of thought down in the subway tunnels.

I know, I’ve been quiet.  You could go so far as to say absent–doing what I have to do, and not a syllable more.

It’s a funny thing.  I’ve heard writing described like a muscle, the more you do it/use it, the more you can write, higher word count and more effective.  The same is true in reverse.  Not working on a novel led to not working on anything fiction, to not reading fiction, to not blogging because what the hell, is anyone actually reading my words anyway?  Despite my descent into sniveling, I’ve received several nudges in the form of notes and emails over the past couple of weeks from people wondering where I am (thank you!), reminding me there are people out there who read Mrs Fringe. If this post is a bit scattered, keep in mind that my writing muscles are a bit stiff.

By now, most days I’m on autopilot for the commute.  Some days I can fully appreciate the opportunity to hear some fine musicians, find a dollar at the bottom of my bag for one of the all-too-many ragged and hungry homeless who are walking those tunnels without benefit of a coat–sometimes not even shoes, note some characters (and quirks) for future writing endeavors, and some days, well,

some days I wonder if I'm going to be humping that 3rd rail after another few years of twelve trains a day.

some days I wonder if I’m going to be humping that 3rd rail after another few years of twelve trains a day.

So where I’ve been is here, and what I’ve been doing is adhering to the if-you-don’t-have-anything-nice-to-say rule.  What makes me come out of cyber-hiding today?  My absolute embarrassment at being a member of the human race right now.  Much as I’d like to be a Time Lord; I have no Tardis, only one heart, only one life, and am in fact limited by time and space.  We won’t even mention the effects of gravity. Same as everyone else on this earth.

But everywhere I look these past few days, I see and hear people playing the my-god-is better-than-your-god game, naturally followed by my-life-is-more-valuable-than-yours.  Last week’s attacks in Paris more than ramped up the worldwide conversation about the Syrian refugees, where they can go, who will take them in, why anyone should.  The attacks in Paris were horrendous, despicable, the result of fear and hatred.  Every act of terrorism is horrific, be it domestic or international.

I’ve read many theories on what to do in order to combat terrorism.  Some of those theories sound good, others make no sense to me at all.  Not being an expert in international relations or politics, I can’t begin to think that I know the best thing to do in order to neutralize (is that the right word?) Isis/Isil/Daesh.  Here’s what I do know.  They are a small group of dangerous nut jobs.  I said it.  SMALL.  And they do not, in my expert opinion as a human being residing on the one and only planet we humans can currently reside on, justify turning our backs on the millions of Syrian refugees who have had to flee from their home.

We, as human beings, have documented waves of refugees (most, if not all, because of religious persecution) dating back to BC times.  Israelites, Huguenots, Muhacirs, Russian Jews, Belgians, Serbians, Armenians, Jews from Eastern and Western Europe during WWII, Palestinians, Ugandans, Cubans, Balkans, Rwandans, Sudanese, Iraqis, and now Syrians.  I’m certain I’ve missed many, and I’m certain the Syrians won’t be the last.  Is there a group, a religion, a nationality that hasn’t been persecuted?–and many have had their turn as the persecutors, as well.  With all this experience, shouldn’t we, as one human race, be able to recognize each other as fellow humans and respond with compassion, instead of reacting with fear and walls and bigotry?  Given the planet’s population, global climate change, and bigger and better weaponry, I would guess waves of displaced peoples will increase with time.  (Unless we eliminate borders.)

I’m not naive, I understand there are problems, logistical and otherwise that come with large numbers of refugees.  But the biggest problem I see is clinging to hatred and xenophobia, pretending that it isn’t “our” problem.

The other day I was on a crowded train and spotted an empty seat next to a woman wearing a niqab.  You know what I did? I sat down.