Monday, November 25, 2013

In a Shopping Mall Parking Lot

In a shopping mall parking lot the carts await
with shoppers, their plastic money, and lists. Their burdened fates
weighted under what they buy. The hope of shopping impulses sated like a mayfly
for now ‘til President’s Day and Super Bowls and the Next Great Sale.

We are the consumer. And short years ago
would have spent this day with loved ones we know
yet christmas has breached Thanksgiving’s Maginot
and sent my Pilgrim’s Pride to its lonesome death ‘neath the asphalt below.

I close my weary eyes and inhale the last cinnamon scented cider and
in warm embrace, assume the final turkey leg and a last purchase
of rest along with that noble holiday. In a catacomb space,
my tomb, under the parking lot by a shopping mall.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Heather Mizeur for Governor of Maryland

I don’t remember the exact date, but it was sometime in the summer of 2003 when I first met Heather. She was running for our Ward 2 City Council seat in our little town of Takoma Park. Heather had sent out an email inviting folks to meet with her. Amy and I, being somewhat politically minded, decided to invite her over. We ordered pizza and with our then 1+ year old Adam causing trouble over the course of almost 2 hours, Heather won us over. We grilled her on traffic calming, urban planning (Amy’s degree), taxes, crime, the environment, and even mosquitos, a particularly “red-meat” issue for Amy who seemed to attract the pests like no one else. Sure it was a small town local election, but Heather really took the time to listen.

Fast forward a few years and our Heather had become a State Delegate in Annapolis. And this time she was fighting for new causes. In the intervening years a confluence of economics and health insurance changes led to the closing of the nearby midwife led birth centers including the one where Amy gave birth to our two sons while I attended. Beyond the emotional loss that came with the closing of where our sons were born came a level of anger with “the system” that moved Amy into action. It was then that she decided she would do what should could to change this part of our world. Among the many barriers to moving forward were state regulations for midwives. Amy became very active with Birth Options Alliance and the American College of Nurse Midwives who, in 2010, along with Heather, championed Maryland's HB 1407: The Birth Options Preservation Study.  HB 1407 changed how Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) could practice in the state of Maryland. It was only weeks after its passage, and just before a victory party celebration that Amy helped organize, that she was killed. That was April 29, 2010.

I share that story because of what it means for me today. I know Heather will continue to fight for women and children's health issues and by supporting Heather I can, in a small way, continue supporting Amy’s dream.

But that is just a part of it. Whether it is education or protecting the Chesapeake and the rest of the environment, by standing up to harmful fracking interests and the interests of big carbon-energy companies, or expanding wind power for Maryland, or even no-nonsense marijuana decriminalization, more than any other candidate, Heather’s values are aligned with mine.

Independently of all this, Lori met Heather not long after Amy and I did when Heather was running for state delegate. Once again, Heather was in a private home in Takoma Park, getting to know her constituents. Lori was impressed. Fast forward a few years and Lori met Heather once again when Heather was graduating from the Rawlings Center for Public Leadership at the University of Maryland and Lori was the event producer. A few years later, in 2012, when Lori, the boys and I were all living under one roof, Lori and I saw Heather for the first time as a couple. We were at the annual Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s annual Keep Winter Cold Polar Bear Plunge, an event that Lori has participated in since 2007. Lori and Heather were both plunging. I was there to take pictures. Lori and I both reminded Heather of how we knew her. Until then Lori and I didn’t realize that we both knew Heather.

“You know Heather? I didn’t know you know Heather.”
“Of course I know Heather! I produced the graduation event at Maryland.”
“Well, I know her from the work she did for midwives that Amy was working on.”
“Yeah?” Now with hands on her hips, “Well I met her when she came over to a friend’s house in Takoma Park when she was running for State Delegate!”
“I guess that counts. But she was at my house when she was running for City Council!”

And really, it doesn't matter who knows Heather first or best, we are a full-on Heather Mizeur family. Our faith teaches of of the interconnected web of life and, as stewards of the Earth, that we have an obligation to our creator to protect it. Thus our family values include a unflagging commitment to doing everything we can to ensure that future generations have the same or better access as we do to clean air, clean water, and an environment in which humans can thrive. For our family, that means supporting Heather however we can.

Obviously, you are free to make your own choice. Be informed. Read about the other candidates. And if you do, I think you just might come to a similar conclusion.

Vote for Heather Mizeur for Governor.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wet leaves on a sidewalk in Ann Arbor

After breakfast at Victor’s, in the Campus Inn, I took a walk around the block. Cold and drizzly. Typical early November, right? You used to say this was just cold enough to be “sweater weather.”

Petite, shoulder length brown hair and a beret, blue jeans and boots, she walks towards me and for the merest moment it is you, here. I know it is not but let the fantasy play out just a little longer. Could there be some strange cosmic conjunction of time and space on this cold drizzly day in this cold drizzly place that conjures you as a young co-ed walking to me like a character from my own personal Brigadoon? Then her facial features come into view and the shape of her hips and it’s someone else. We walk towards each other on our own sides of the sidewalk. I wonder: Will she look at me? Will she at least make eye contact so I can say “good morning?” But she is in a hurry on this cold drizzly morning and barely lets her eyes glance sideways as we pass.

I stop to tie my shoe and notice the mosaic of leaves, yellow and red, pressed into the cold and drizzly sidewalk by the shoes and boots of others passing each other by.