Art is witness. Art is #resistance .

It began in the middle of this last summer, another hotter than before, smoke drifting into our bowl shaped city from fires raging statewide. 

Then, too, the presidential race was heating up, often uncomfortably so, smoke being blown this way and that across the states.

I quickly realized that when I wasn’t outside doing summery things and was inside with not much to do, that I had to break away and ignore the most contentious of election battles in order to stay cool.

I was drawn to recent history first, and dove into The Big Short, to refresh my memory of the 2008 financial crisis. From there, I was determined to keep finding compelling films that centered around history and politics in the United States, and always people and their stories.

I continued to press the arrow on Amazon Prime and free trials of movie channels, a Hulu free trial, and finally in the dead of winter, January, slogged onto a free trial of Netflix. 

Summer into fall into winter has moved into history, like snapshots tossed into a box; of all the busy days of school and work, family and holidays and birthdays. And alongside it all, a defining moment in my country.

My list is not in any order, except by where I found the cursor and pasted, and by remembering some after I’d found others. I added a few binge worthy series at the end. I have watched more than these, and read, played music and done things that are making meaning and purpose out of the senseless to me.

All of these left a steady impression in my mind, heart and spirit. Stories well told can do that.

These are not times like any before. It has sparked a need in me to know even more, the full story of my land keenly, deep into the structure of my bones. 

 These then are a window into the politics, history, and people in this place, connected dot by dot.

 Hidden Figures;2017

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as “human computers”, we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history’s greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes. (Written by 20th Century Fox IMDb)

Drama/History/Biography; 2 hrs 7 mins;PG

One of the rare movies I was able to view on the big screen this January. It is immensely  gripping, satisfying, beautiful, joyous and awakening. I wonder often if history books had always told the entire, unvarnished true story our country, what would we be like now? Instead of continuing to fight for basic human rights, where could we be. Timing is everything, and we needed this movie now.

Our Brand is Crisis; 2015

In 2002, Bolivian politician Pedro Gallo hires American James Carville’spolitical consulting firm, Greenberg Carville Shrum, to help him win the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. GCS brings in Jane Bodine, (a former consultant with a past) to manage the campaign in Bolivia. Battling her arch nemesis, the opposition’s political consultant Pat Candy. (Written by Gerry Garcia IMdb)

Comedy/Drama; 1 hr 47 minutes; R for language including some sexual references

Recently with many hours to fill while sitting with our dog as he recovers from acl surgery and thought I’d give this movie a go. I’d had my eye on it for some time and I was happily surprised at its humor, pace, and the actors (especially Sandra Bullock) who nailed it. Always under the headlines and stories are people with real beating hearts. 

Mavis!; 2015

Her family gospel group, the Staple Singers, inspired millions and helped propel the civil rights movement with their music. After 60 years of performing, legendary singer Mavis Staples’ message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.(IMDb)

Documentary/Biography/Music; 1 hr 20 mins.

stumbled onto this documentary a week ago and gave it a watch. So honored to get to know the real people behind the musical genius that is the Staple Singers. I kept saying, that’s their song too? I am much richer after viewing. I ended up loving Mavis and her family, and I was so schooled in music, activism, relationships and joy. The times are always reflected in the music and art of a place and people.

Woman in Gold

Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family. Maria Altman sought to regain the world famous painting of her aunt plundered by the Nazis during World War II. She did so not just to regain what was rightfully hers, but also to obtain some measure of justice for the death, destruction, and massive art theft perpetrated by the Nazis. (Written by Elyse J. Factor- IMbD)

Biography/Drama/History; Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language.

One of my favorite kind of stories. When someone decides to fight for justice (a striking Helen Mirren), chooses someone (an unknown lawyer, played convincingly boring by Ryan Reynolds) on instinct, and endures for the greater good. Even better, when justice prevails against the larger and more arrogant powers for the individual, and truly for humanity. This was one of those stories. But for real. It is heartbreakingly true, and it needs to be told, again and again. As do all stories of injustice and injustice overcome. The past atrocities must never seem normal if we say we stand for freedom, liberty and justice for all. 

The Candidate; 1972

Californian lawyer Bill McKay fights for the little man. His charisma and integrity get him noticed by the Democratic Party machine and he is persuaded to run for the Senate against an apparently unassailable incumbent. It’s agreed he can handle it his own way, on his own terms. But once he’s in the race and his prospects begin to improve, the deal starts to change. (Written by Jeremy Perkins IMDb) 

Drama/Comedy/Politics;1 hr 50 mins; PG

This was one of my initial watches in the summer, which I chose for Robert Redford, and that it was released in my birth year. It captures the way being a politician will grind and shape you and your life and choices. Also, awesome 70’s looks.

Good Night, and Good Luck; 2005

In the early 1950’s, the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States and exploiting those fears was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. However, CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly decided to take a stand and challenge McCarthy and expose him for the fear monger he was. However, their actions took a great personal toll on both men, but they stood by their convictions and helped to bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history. (Written by Brian Washington–IMbD)

History/Drama/Biography; 1 hr 33 mins; PG for mild thematic elements, brief language and historical smoking.

watched this when it came out on DVD, a decade ago. Filmed in black and white and using the vernacular of the time made for an engrossing viewing. I rewatched it this fall on a streaming site. Relevant? Wow. Just, wow.

Race;2016

In the 1930s, Jesse Owens is a young man who is the first in his family to go to college. Going to Ohio State to train under its track and field coach, Larry Snyder, the young African American athlete quickly impresses with his tremendous potential that suggests Olympic material. However, as Owens struggles both with the obligations of his life and the virulent racism against him, the question of whether America would compete at all at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany is being debated vigorously. When the American envoy finds a compromise persuasive with the Third Reich to avert a boycott, Owens has his own moral struggle about going. Upon resolving that issue, Owens and his coach travel to Berlin to participate in a competition that would mark Owens as the greatest of America’s Olympians even as the German film director, Leni Riefenstahl, locks horns with her country’s Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, to film the politically embarrassing fact for posterity. (Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)IMbD)

Biography/Drama/Sport; 2 hrs 14 mins; PG-13 for thematic elements and language.

Going in knowing the basics about Owen’s story, I hope for a well done movie. I came away having an infinitely greater knowledge of and appreciation for his tenacity, endurance and courage to use his skills to combat hate. The power of sports is that it can bring disparate people together. The Olympic portion that takes place in 1936 Berlin is riveting and eye-opening. Jesse was and is a torch carrier. May that flame burn strong.

W.; 2008

Oliver Stone’s biographical take on the life of George W. Bush, one of the most controversial presidents in USA history, chronicling from his wild and carefree days in college, to his military service, to his governorship of Texas and role in the oil business, his 2000 candidacy for president, his first turbulent four years, and his 2004 re-election campaign.  (Written by Anonymous IMbD)

Biography/Drama/History;  2 hrs 9 mins; PG-13 for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images.

must admit that I was not a fan of George W. as president, and so at times I was pretty amused with this telling. It is a story of family as much as of politics. Truth is that I came away with some respect and empathy for George and his wife Laura, proving once again, that I cannot make broad and general judgements, there is always more to a story and a person. But I can still disagree, dislike, and lawfully protest their politics.

Confirmation; 2016

Judge Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the United States’ Supreme Court is called into question when former colleague, Anita Hill, testifies that he had sexually harassed her.

Genres: Drama/History; 1 hr 50 mins;TV: MA (I couldn’t find rating but it has manymature themes, including graphic testimony.)

Released in the past year, I chose this week to absorb this HBO movie. I remember the real time story, the players, seeing the testimonies on TV in 1991; my first semester in college. I’m thankful this movie has been made and released now, some sixteen years later. Anita Hill has a very private personality, so getting to see behind the scenes both in her story and the White House one has given me much to think and reflect on as our government currently proceeds through confirmation hearings. Her testimony gave sexual harassment a name. She was a woman who had the courage to tell the truth even though it was the hardest thing to do.

The Ides of March; 2011

Stephen Meyers is a young idealist who’s brilliant at communications, is second in command of Governor Mike Morris’s presidential campaign, and is a true believer. In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris’s opponent asks Meyers to meet; he offers him a job. At the same time, Morris’s negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag. A young campaign intern, Molly Stearns, gets Stephen’s romantic attention. Republicans have a trick up their sleeve; Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has a secret. What’s most important, career, victory, or virtue? (Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com> IMDb)

Drama; 1 hr 41 mins;Rated R for pervasive language.

George Clooney was enough reason to give this movie a watch; Ryan Gosling did not hurt.  It is a look into some of the darkest corners of election politics, and I was left with a sense that there is always a deep personal cost to running a campaign and running for office.

Recount;2014

In this dramatization of the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore concedes the presidency to George W. Bush, but recants when he learns of irregularities in the Florida vote count. Democratic strategists Ronald Klain and Michael Whouley race to Florida to uncover the truth, as do Republicans under James Baker III. Between faulty voting equipment and the vagaries of Florida’s Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a 36-day stalemate ensues. (Written by Jwelch5742IMDb)

Drama/History; 1 hr 56 min; TV:MA

The more things change…I recall (ha) this election quite well, the widespread disasstifaction still lingers in many minds, mine included. This is a very watchable recounting (ha) of that period. Frustrating, humorous, ridiculous and sad at every turn, just like the real story.

Chisholm ’72 Unbought and Unbossed; 2004

A documentary on Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley’s Chisholm’s 1972 presidential bid.

Documentary/Biography;82 mins

woman ran a campaign to run for president the year I was born. I am a born and bred Democrat, and voted that way this past election. I assure you could I have voted for Shirley, I would have as well. This is a simple unfolding of an inspiring woman, and her fight through the maze of party politics and nominations. Unbought, Unbossed, Unequaled she was. A woman ahead of and for our time and hers. I loved it, and love her.

Bob Roberts;1992

A right-wing folk singer becomes a corrupt politician and runs a crooked election campaign. Only one independent muck-raking reporter is trying to stop him. A Documentary-style look at the fictional Senatorial campaign of Bob Roberts, an arch-conservative folk singer turned politician. This political satire includes several original songs co-written and performed by writer/director/star Tim Robbins, and cameo appearances by other stars as reporters and news anchors. (Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>IMDb)

Drama/Comedy/Satire;1 hr 42 mins; R

In the early 90’s I watched this on VHS. It seemed fitting to watch again this past year. Highly original film and even more current now than when it was released. Sometimes dark and sometimes laugh out loud funny, it is a clear reminder that art does imitate life, as unbelievable as it can seem.

All the Presidents Men;1976

In the run-up to the 1972 elections, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward covers what seems to be a minor break-in at the Democratic Party National headquarters. He is surprised to find top lawyers already on the defense case, and the discovery of names and addresses of Republican fund organizers on the accused further arouses his suspicions. The editor of the Post is prepared to run with the story and assigns Woodward and Carl Bernstein to it. They find the trail leading higher and higher in the Republican Party, and eventually into the White House itself. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26 IMDb )

Biography/History; 2hr 18 mins; PG

felt compelled to watch this story on Watergate this week. It was released in 1976, and based on a book by Woodward and Bernstein. The real story began unraveling in 1972, again my birth year, and the differences in the ways newspaper storytelling is researched and achieved then and now are fascinating. The thing that remains the same? A quote from near the end of the movie; Ben Bradlee, editor of The Washington Post, to his two young(ish) reporters; “Nothing’s riding on this except the First Amendment of the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.” Weird, that seems eerily familiar.

Game Change;2012

Summer, 2008: John McCain secures the nomination, but polls behind Barack Obama. Strategist Steve Schmidt suggests a game changer: picking a conservative female with media savvy, unknown Alaska governor Sarah Palin, as vice president. She’s an immediate hit and a quick study – the gap closes. Then, Tina Fey’s impersonation, a raft of criticism, and missing her family send Palin into a near-catatonic state: she doesn’t prepare for her Katie Couric interview and bombs. Schmidt searches for an answer: don’t expect her to learn the issues, but give her a script. Palin does well in the debate with Biden; she finds her voice, goes off script, and goes rogue. A mistake? (Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>IMDb)

Biography/History/Drama; 1 hr 58 mins; TV:MA

A story from a recent political campaign that I vivedly remember. It is well done, and the roles are fleshed out enough to see them as people, not just characters. I came away feeling empathy for Sarah and John, while also feeling terrified at the (then growing) power machine that is the GOP, and the way it desperately churns out candidates with questionable knowledge and experience in US politics. That could really damage our country someday. Or like, now.

Selma; 2014

The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. (Written by Miss W J Mcdermott IMdb)

Biography/Drama/History; 2 hrs. 8 mins; PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including violence, a suggestive moment and brief strong language.

don’t have the words to do MLK and what he accomplished justice. And that was his mission, pure and simple, justice and equality for all. This is a powerful movie because it was a powerful event and time and movement and man. Watch it. This is the true story of our country, ugly as it is. We dare not forget.

The Big Short; 2015

Four denizens in the world of high-finance predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight. Based on the true story of four outsiders who saw what the big banks, media and government refused to: the global collapse of the economy. A bold investment leads them into the dark underbelly of banking, where everyone and everything is in question.(- Written by Jwelch5742)

Biography/Comedy/Drama/History; 2 hours 10 mins; R for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity.

This is by far the most entertaining version of the 2008 meltdown of our financial system. So watchable and understandable, you almost forget this documents the financial collapse of our nation. Almost.

The Imitation Game;2015

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. (Written by Studio Canal)

Genres: Biography/ Drama/Thriller/War; 1 hr 54 mins; PG-13 for some sexual references, mature thematic material and historical smoking.

Another movie I had waited a long time to see and then watched recently while my dog recovered from his acl surgery. Beautifully filmed and acted, I was drawn into the story immediately and didn’t want it to finish. The raw humanity and range of emotions from despair to victory in the main character’s life is completely compelling. His story underscores the very real and present danger of exclusion and alienation of peoples. All people are worth fighting for. Every. One.

Spotlight; 2015

When the Boston Globe’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world. (Written by Open Road-IMdB)

Crime/Biography/Drama;2 hrs. 8 mins.;R for some language including sexual references.

There are horrors that humans do to each other and we say, I would have said something! The thing is, we all turn our weary eyes from injustice and suffering every day. I am quite aware of my failings in this regard. This movie takes the true story of one such massive wrongs done and the complicity of those involved in the acts, but also the greater veil that was cast to cover it. Fantastically filmed acted, and an unflinching look at the very human newspaper journalists from a decade ago in their search for the truth. This will stay with me, forever. Thank God for the ability of the human heart to care enough about the greater good.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry; 2014

A documentary that resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971.

Documentary;92 mins

For all the feminist ideals I hold, I must admit that I (and my generation) had just expected all the equality and opportunities that we grew up with to always be there, and to even improve and spread. We’ve even grown so accustomed that there are now movements of women against the women’s movement. Watching this documentary made me very aware that generations of women laid that groundwork, and even more, what it cost them. I am so grateful for the women’s movement in its’ whole scope. And even more, how they are today training up and assisting women to fight for what we many of us believe is necessary for women, children, men and all people to achieve the promise of our country.

   Page One Inside the New York Times; 2011  

During the most tumultuous time for media in generations, filmmaker Andrew Rossi gains unprecedented access to the newsroom at The New York Times. For a year (2010), he follows journalists on the paper’s Media Desk, a department created to cover the transformation of the media industry. Through this prism, a complex view emerges of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity, especially at the Times itself.(Written by Anonymous IMdB)

Documentary/92 mins; R

watched this one because I have always read the paper. I am a print girl, always will be. And with the current climate in our politically charged landscape, this docu seems presient. While newspapers were flagging when this was filmed, the irony is that despite the press now being vilified by a president, or maybe because of, the NYT has gained readership significantly in the last month. It is worth watching to see what goes into reporting before printing a story. 

Carl Bernstein, Watergate reporter; of The Washington Post was interviewed at one point and clarified the purpose of the press, “The function of reporting and the press is the best attainable version of the truth. We’re not out there to bring down governments, we’re not out there to be prosecutors, we’re out there to be judicious, not judicial and that’s what really happened in Watergate.” 

Near the end, the NYT editor at the time, Bill Keller, (talking about perceptions of the media age on newspapers) said,  “News organizations that deploy resources to really gather information are essential to a functioning democracy .. it just…it just doesn’t work if people don’t know.”

Exactly. Make sure you know.

Timeless TV series 2016-17

An unlikely trio travel through time in order to battle unknown criminals and protect history as we know it.

Science fiction/History/Drama; 1 hr episodes; TV:MA

love this new addition to the sci-if realm of series. It’s part Quantum Leap, part dystopian future, part conspiracy to take over America. I love the history, (I am after all, a history nerd, though not as well versed as Lucy), and the show creates gorgeous, believable back in time framework for the story to land in. Not to the mention the ensemble of actors, I look forward every week to episodes. Talk about must see TV.

Good Girls Revolt; 2016
A look at the personal and professional lives of employees at an American news magazine in the late 1960s. Based on real events, it is centered around a group of women who work in “the pit” and how they and their lives change as they learn of the inequality of their pay and positions, for often more than equal work. 

Drama/History/Biography; 10 55 min episodesTV:MA for language, historical smoking, drug use, and graphic sexual scenes-its the 70’s!

I binge-watched this series and I loved it. Great actresses who tell the greater story of the women’s rights movement in the 70’s. Another one with fantastic seventies styles. I was greatly inspired by grit of the real life women behind this series.

Manh(a)ttan;2014-15
Set against the backdrop of the greatest clandestine race against time in the history of science with the mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Flawed scientists and their families attempt to co-exist in a world where secrets and lies infiltrate every aspect of their lives.( Written by Futon Critic-IMbD) In 1943, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, a team of government scientists is working on the top secret Manhattan Project in a race to produce an atomic bomb before the Nazis. Meanwhile, their families adjust to a life on the military base.

Drama/History/War; 23-55 min.episodes 2 seasons); TV:14 for mature themes.

This series has a lot going on. For me it was an introduction into the history of the Manhatten Project, with historical fiction stories woven in. Sometimes I tired of the subplots and relationships, but the main characters kept my interest as they told the story through a personal lens. The filming is brilliant as is the set and costuming, I loved seeing vintage propaganda posters and pieces from that time frame throughout. It has stayed with me, and nuclear power and weapons are not going away. I only fervently hope we have intelligent minds on deck in these trigger-finger areas of our government. Soon.

The Crown;2016

The Crown focuses on Queen Elizabeth II as a 25-year-old newlywed faced with the daunting prospect of leading the world’s most famous monarchy while forging a relationship with legendary Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. The British Empire is in decline, the political world is in disarray, and a young woman takes the throne….a new era is dawning. Peter Morgan’s masterfully researched scripts reveal the Queen’s private journey behind the public facade with daring frankness. Prepare to be welcomed into the coveted world of power and privilege and behind locked doors in Westminster and Buckingham Palace….the leaders of an empire await. (Written by Netflix)

Biography/History/Drama;1 hr episodes;TV:MA

Okay, so not set in America. But so well made and the historical figures in one of the U.S’s strongest ally’s (or at least hopefully still) play a part in so much of America’s story. Much of Winston Churchill’s story is shared along with WWII issues. Fascinating, enlightening and yes, gorgeous filming, settings and of course, clothing. 

The Blueprints

They were plain.  Hewn from the wood of thousands year old trees. 

Taken, not given. It would be much too late when that was realized.

But they built. 

Out of misshapen pieces that would later be named. Some that seemed like worthy pieces would be deemed unstable. 

But all were usable. Not only usable but stronger than was previously, originally thought. 

The ones shaped out of three sides. 

The long and narrow pieces.

Ones square and sturdy. 

And the curved and gracefully arched ones. Those took the longest to be used as they were designed to be incorporated.

It needs to be said that the land they built upon, it was meant for every child to use, to share, to feast on. 

But as will happen often when heady power meets open generosity, some took what was not theirs to take.

This land, it was like and unlike any the visitors had ever encountered. Some say it was the vastness that called, that the untamed terra caused a powerful need to tame and subdue.

And as will often happen when left unchecked, insatiable need often turns the corner to find greed and selfish taking the reins.

Always in the wake of those driven to conquer, there lay those pieces. The ones left in the pile called scrap. The pieces some thought unusable, ugly. Scarred by flame, burned beyond recognition. Forever removed from the hearth of home to be forgotten, left as dead.

The thing is.

There were the curious ones. Who came upon the scattered remains, among the few left to survive. They were the wakers, the ones that came to build.  

They were driven by something else, a tiredness of power corrupting, sickened by the waste of talent and giftings and experience overlooked, buried and called to be forgotten by the few who scrambled to build atop whatever hill they could claim was theirs first.

So the blocks that were left, they looked to each other to see how the puzzle could be solved. Like any puzzle worth the solving, it would take time. And cleverness. And the willingness to start again. And again. 

To the jaded, the fearful, the sadly mistaken ones, the finished product looked laughable. 

Jagged and unbalanced, they said.

Pieces don’t fit together that way, they laughed.

Many times, so many times, those filled with burning anger at the freedom at which the block builders joined, ran at their structure, toppling the blocks they deemed to be enjoying liberty too much for the common good.

What they didn’t know, the few bitterly twisted ones, was that the blocks only became more agile, more connected to the ones they had been standing with.

So when the ones who only wanted the land to look the way they had planned, turned their back, again and again, the blocks rebuilt. 

And each time the structures became stronger, more adept at rebuilding. They filled holes with new blocks ready to stand with the others. They found which blocks were best at what positions, to hold together stronger, for next time.

And there was always a next time. Because those blocks, shaped from thousands year old trees, built on land taken, not given, wanted to be built, with those who wanted to join. And those who wanted to build in other ways, different structures, they wanted that to be possible too. 

They invited any and all. Those new to this land taken, not given, to build and rebuild with them. They cheered the ones previously considered misshapen and useless, as these had been found to be intregal to the structures strength.

There were times and stretches and lengths of great peace when the blocks flourished and grew and inspired and launched a million, billion new ways to think about building. 

But as always there is when freedom looks too frightening, when ones aren’t seeming to fit the plans some held dear, there were times of knocking down. Kicking apart. Burning bridges and building walls.

That was never what this land was meant to hold. 

So this time, when the many blocks spread far and wide realized too late, that some had taken the original blueprints and were using them to deconstruct the towers and buildings and art the many had sacrificed to build together, there was a quick and awful grief.

A palpable sense of mourning what had been accomplished, from bringing so many so different together. Only to now see that there were actually some who were ready to dismantle this land piece by piece.

But there were the ones, the wakers. They stood and spoke and wrote and reminded. And that flame spread quickly. Because it was the many, not the few, who still believed that this land taken, not given, could be built into something worthy of its beauty. 

It’s scarred, rugged, limping, teeming, gorgeous promise ignited. 

The few though, had misjudged, mishandled, miscalculated. Because as often happens when unchecked fear turns anger, then controlling, it can sometimes seem as if they have won. As if they have taken back a land that had already been taken.

This is not where the story ends. It never is. And this time, there have been too many builders and too many apprentices who have knowingly and unknowingly been preparing for such a time.

You see, in the wake of the few wanting to close their doors and lock all in with them, they forgot to knock the towers down. 

The structures that had been quietly being assembled, made of the bits and pieces cast aside by those requiring only uniformity in shape and size.

There aren’t as many of those awe filling thousand year old trees now. And so they have become rare and worth the saving.

The building blocks, they are even more the precious, and it is now that the fight begins to save this land, in all it’s mess and shame, glory and pain, waste and victory; there must, there will be, liberty and justice, for all. 

For there is one thing you cannot control, and that is love.

The Blueprints

Hear this, young men and women everywhere, and proclaim it far and wide. The earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Be kind, but be fierce. You are needed now more than ever before. Take up the mantle of change. For this is your time.–Winston Churchill

#Thankyouobamas

How is it possible we are here? 

What seemed a publicity stunt was ratified by the Repulican Party.

There were warning signs. 

It’s just that the many, the majority, the committed to continuing progress in our country did not, could not, would not believe that the worst could happen. On any planet. 

As soon as the election results (gulp) woke me on my radio alarm clock November 9, 2016, though, I knew that the worst had happened. 

And nothing was going to be better, or great, or tolerable as long as the electorate-voted president-elect was going to be in the most visible position in America.

Oh. My. Beautiful. Country. 

My NFL team lost last weekend. Lost big, in most painful ways. Mistakes, accidents, domino effect slips and slides all led to the unbearable end to the Seahawks season. We can debate and talk about all the reasons for the loss. 

But right now, it just feels like one more good thing gone wrong.

What did I ever do to you January? We made a deal, remember at 12:01, January 1st, 2017? You were there. And we all agreed that this year was not going to be even close to last year. 

You were going to let people live, reunite a country, take my team to the SuperBowl and bring to a halt the avalanche of financial emergency situations that had begun my winter. 

This Monday was ‘Blue Monday’. The third Monday of January, which will typically find those on the verge at their very most stressed and depressed. The holidays gone. The bills piled high. Vitamin D levels in the basement.

But this year, it didn’t feel terrible because instead, being Martin Luther King Jr. day, I could focus on celebrating not only a man, and his incredible legacy, but also remember that when our country has shown its very ugliest worst, there are those who rise up and show how a person can stir in a nation the very best and most beautiful.

But this Friday.

I’m not ready. 

I don’t like saying goodbye to people I like listening to and learning from. To people who make me better. To people I love. 

This is going to be hard, so much, much harder than I wish it ever had to be.

I don’t know what kind of world we will wake to tomorrow.

But tonight, Thursday, January 19, 2017, I need to say thank you.
President Obama, First Lady Michelle, Sasha and Malia,

Thank you. 

So much. In so many ways. For sharing your time. Your gifts. 

For serving our country as a family as gracious, intelligent, and insightful a group of people in the White House as I can remember.

 I cried joy tears watching both inaugurations, at the beauty of seeing a deserving, committed servant of the people pledging to do his utmost to think of, protect, and preserve all of the people under his governance and with who he would share governing our land. 

For being a man that I have proudly pointed out to my sons as worthy to emulate.

For modeling healthy parenting, mother and father, in an exquisite manner, at every turn. 

For all of the sacrifices each of you have made over eight plus years. 

For playing, talking and enjoying sports, the outdoors and physical activity. 

And for enduring with such grace all of the unspeakably painful times you experienced. 

Michelle, I just love you. As a mom myself, as a woman, as an American. I know that you spoke to and for so many women during your time in this position Michelle. 

But you spoke to me, too. 

I heard, be strong in who you are. Stand for truth unflinchingly. Do not apologize for saying the things that need to be said in a way they need to be said. Laugh. Cry. Dance. Wear whatever you feel good in. 

Thank you for rising to the challenge and elevating the role of the first spouse. 

Thank you President Obama, for daring to incite a revolution. Of the audacious kind. Of Hope.

Hope from start to finish.

From my state of Washington to Washington DC, 

May God bless all of you,

Thank you for blessing the United States of America.

–Hollie Joy Jantz Eastman

twenty-sixteen

Hey there.

Hey, lift your head. What has you so tied in knots? You think there’s nothing left, don’t you. 

That every time you try, you mess it all up. You’ve asked-is any of this worth it? 

Am I worth? 

Come here.

Let me hold your hand, and listen to you. Pour out your fears. I won’t tell you there’s nothing to be afraid of. You have seen enough of this life to have earned the truth.

I am so sorry that load you have been carrying is crushing your very spirit. And you have been doing it all alone wondering why no one has noticed how you walk, bent, limping.

I can’t take this from you, but walking alone ends now. 

And I can support you so that burden is a little bit lighter for the rest of this particular journey. 

You are not weak by allowing someone to help. We are simply not meant to do this life alone. 

Maybe some frames of our film are solitary pictures of just me, you. 

But you have been trying so hard for so long.

So now, feel those hard, painful emotions you have pushed away. Yes, I know they are not pretty, but they are valid, real. However, they are not you. 

You are simply beautiful. And you do not have to believe it, see it, claim it, not now, not yet-for it is true. 

You say, dirty is not beauty; soiled, blemished, scarred.

Let me search with you for the source of this dry river-bed. Then you can drink handfuls of clear, sweet water until you are filled, and then, we need only to find a patch of sunlight. There you can plant your roots for a time, and catch your breath.

Maybe we will take a look at that cumbersome load over there-together unpack and see if there are any pieces we can discard. 

Of course, I will stay with you until we have reached the bottom. Let me take your garbage. Please know, there is nothing that you hand me that makes you less than.

This garbage, its not recyclable, not something to donate-it must be thrown away. 

Here, I’ll light a fire for you and we will burn your refuse. Then. When the embers glow within the wood and the ashes fall onto our skin, you will know. 

It is time.

You get to choose, how long before you pick that burden back up. Because, let’s be clear, it still exists. I’m so sorry it does. 

But you get to decide how you will carry on. 

I cannot imagine your suffering, your pain. I wish we could fix this.

How unspeakably punishing it has been. It’s no wonder you have grown thorns. 

But that will not keep me out.

I must tell you though, that I have limits; that my strength fades, my hope disappears, my faith can be overcome by fear. Know it isn’t my heart that chooses this completely. We all receive love and gift love uniquely.

And my aim is love.

We will navigate this trial, walk this trail with another, a helper.

So let’s prepare. We have enough to start. We will look for provisions along the way. 

We may stumble, fall apart, weaken: but we are sculpted out of the finest clay-mud from dirt and water formed in an image of the very One who created this world.

Ready?

…i found this one recent night, late when I couldn’t yet sleep. So i was up, looking for a good read to help me fall asleep, and found a pile of my drawings, doodling, writings I had done over the year. This one caught my eye. I remembered writing it, wrapped in a blanket in my cozy chair, in the deep midwinter of last January, when 2016 was still new and relatively unmarked. I wrote this as a letter to myself originally. To remind myself when that I am valuable and valued, and real. Looking at it again, i also felt the pull to share it here. It is what I would say to a suffering one, whether I know you or not. I hope it speaks to you or someone you know. This past year was difficult for many, in so many ways, on so many levels; so let’s be for each other buckets of water to together throw onto the dumpster fire that was 2016.–hollie

Diary of a Minecraft Boy

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl who ate words for her meals and lived off of their sustenance in her imagination.  

She dreamed that one day, her fairytale would unfold as most did; complete with a forest, long swinging hair, a long spinny dress, singing birds and squirrels, a castle, and a handsome knight in shining armor to whisk her away on his mighty stallion.

And they would live happily ever after.

I don’t know all the worlds you live in.

Some days I am confused which ones I exist in.

I’m a writer, occasionally on here and always in my head, a teacher at times, a musician, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter. But the one realm I am always consciously conscious of is that of being mom.

I have three boys, 13, 10, and 8. It is that eight year old boy whose birthday was October 2, who lives in an imaginary world  that is as vastly dissimilar and comfortingly similar as mine was as a little girl.

To get us all on the same page, or screen shall I say, there is this video game called Minecraft. It is the brainchild of a guy named Markus Persson (his alter-ego is Notch online) who grew up in Sweden, playing first with Legos and as he grew older, video games on his home computer. When he grew up, (super condensed plot line) he created a realm, a world of worlds, called Minecraft. It’s primarily a building game, much like Lego blocks, just in the virtual world. (Also, ironically, Lego now sells Minecraft sets.) 

So Markus’s palace is his company, named Mojang, from the Swedish for “thingamabob or whatchamacalit”.  There are other Swedish things that I quite like. Ikea originated in Sweden, and is a big box filled with all sorts of possibilities, or a never ending maze of hell depending who you are. Spotify, another Swedish export, gives subscribers access to millions of titles of music that keeps me grounded in sound on a daily basis. And I have a real thing for Swedish Fish. Especially the red ones.

There are pieces of memories of my boys that filter through my mind like honeyed sunlight through trees. Some I remember bits of; a look, a laugh, a hug, a place.  And others look like an entire developed picture, the words, scents, faces, feelings all intact.

When each of my boys were young-young, birth to Kindergarten, we would spend much of our time during the days together, running errands, visiting friends, playing at parks, picking up brothers, getting Mommy’s coffee, that kind of thing. 

One particular time of doing some-thing like that, it was just Finn and I, my youngest getting a more patient, calm, better version of who the other two had. (Or possibly just so beyond tired I had no fight left.)

His sweet preschool voice, like his brothers before, would narrate our route, asking questions, pointing out sky, trucks, signs, whatever caught his perceptive eye. 

(It should be noted that most moms are able to find a pretty doable balance of half attentiveness to a child’s running monologue and still appear actively engaged by inserting certain phrases at appropriate times, all while silently creating multiple checklists, mulling over (and over) what someone said to us, and watching traffic like a hawk.)

I was pulled back from one of those times immediately to full attention on Finn when my mind caught up with the vocabulary that he was using to describe his landscape. He was using words like saplings, birch and oak and elements… I would have been unsurprised at more general terms, but the descriptions were so, descriptive.

I naturally assumed being the well read and eloquent person I am,  that Finn had absorbed this new vocabulary from being around his obviously fantastic parent, me. And so, as this story goes, assuming made, what we all know it always does, out of me. 

It only took a short time relaying this story at home to my older boys to realize that it was not me at all who was his brilliant possesser and passer of knowledge, it was Minecraft. His beloved video game. Which I at least comforted myself with the knowledge that I had contributed to him massive uninterrupted playing time.

Sometimes expected change arrives so differently than we imagined that it is a shock to our system. Looking out my window yesterday, I saw brilliant  blue skies and sun, and if I wasn’t aware of the month I was in, I may have mistaken it for a warm summer day and walked outside dressed for 80, expecting warmth, and instead receiving a physical shock as the cold 40 degree fall air hit my uncoveredskin. 

The environment we end up living in often does not at all look or feel like the one we created. We make one world, and then wake up to one that looks kind of like what we planned and created, but doesn’t feel even close to how we imagined it would.

Minecraft is a game of bytes and bits, a game that is based on the look of 1980s computer game technology, but created with 2oth century tools. 

It’s premise looks like one thing, but the real worlds one can create are quite another. 

Growing up, my parents bought my sisters and me an Atari gaming console system. It was the height of video gaming (a concept unimaginable in my parents childhood). My middle sister and I loved it. We had our favorites, Pong, Pole Position, Breakout; but Pac Man (and subsequent Ms. Pac Man, created from the circuitry of Pac) were our definite favorites, most especially on the handheld arcade style game.

But we never had dreams or visions of actually existing through the worlds on our screens. Our world was vibrant colors, ringing sounds, textures and tastes. But the world of my children, in this now, is not only the imaginary living within a screen created world, it’s a virtual reality. 

The player in Minecraft has complete freedom to build and change and develop or destroy their world, no pre-set narrative, only self-directed goals. The story unfolds organically as the player builds his or her world and they can create as elaborate of a scenario as they want.

Minecraft and the open share culture of the game has spawned (that’s a Minecraft joke) spin-offs and riffs all as individual as those who passionately play and share the game. There are books and You Tube videos and Pins all dedicated to the tricks of the trade. 

And new vocabulary has cropped up around the growing gaming industry. I’ve learned in the past six months or so words such as: Hacks, Noobs, Mods, Avatar, Skins. One day, I found out quite by accident while my oldest was starting his own gaming You Tube channel (around Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and some Madden), that my youngest, then 7, had his own You Tube channel.

(Pause as I take a moment to regain my composure.) 

After that, I quickly found, met, and discussed internet safety with my child already obviously light years ahead of me digitally. I watch both boy’s channels to keep an eye on them, (mostly other people) and to enjoy my boys personalities. Haden’s got a great rapport with the camera, and Finn, well, he basically records as he plays a game, hums and makes noises to illustrate what he’s doing. He does the same thing when he plays with his “real” toys.

Minecraft inspires this sort of response. Players create buildings, art, music, YouTube videos, crafts; so it turns out, Minecraft is less a game and more an activity. And when users share the pieces they’ve made, it becomes something more. It becomes community.

And that may well be the part of the technology revolution that some struggle to understand the most. If you decide to write it all off, to cast aside all gaming as time-wasted, brain-cell killing, all the ills of society, and additionally screen time as the downfall of kids these days, and most likely civilization, you miss the point. 

You’re not seeing the Minecraft forest for the Minecraft trees.

I tried to play Minecraft one day, when the boys were first exploring this new world. I sat down, ready to see what they saw. Except I couldn’t. I was so frustrated with my brain’s inability to literally even see the game, that I stopped after less than five minutes; all nauseous and sad and relieved at the same time. I had wanted to connnect with them doing something they really enjoyed doing, that brought and brings them (especially my youngest) such joy. 

There are hidden recipes in Minecraft, like two parts stone + three parts wood=pick axe if arranged on the grid correctly. Elements are made into tools, Survival Mode iswhere you not only live and build but fight off monsters at night bent on destroying all you care about and built during the day, and a Creative Mode where you can spend your digital life in a gaming Eden of sorts.

The boy who loves and lives and breathes Minecraft told his mom very seriously yesterday that he was “more of like a gamer guy than like a sports guy.” 

An his mom replied with a smile and said, “I think that’s awesome that you know that about yourself. Not everyone likes sports, not everyone likes gaming, we are all created so uniquely.” And she thought to herself, how wonderful to both know who you are and still have so much growing and building yet ahead.

So the little girl grew up (super condensed story line) and realized that her world looked a little bit like and quite a bit unlike what she had imagined. There were hidden recipes for things like relationships,and disasters.  Elements made into tools can help you to survive where you not only live and build but fight off monsters bent on destroying all you care about. And those monsters don’t always just stay in the night. 

Most of all she discovered fairytales are just tales, but that if she kept creating, and continued to live on words, that she could build her life in a forest of her choosing, in a castle that holds those she loves.

Swinging hair, a long spinny dress, singing birds and squirrels, well, those were just frosting on her cupcake.

For a fun time and peek into the Minecraft world:  Revenge-CaptainSparkelz

Pop-Quiz

Math problem:

3  boys are going back to school. They are 13, 10 and 8 years old. 

2 go to 1 school and 1 goes to another school. 

Each boy holds their own personality, disposition, temperament and gifts. 

They have a mom and a dad, and other family nearby. They have been mostly with their family this summer, and occasionally friends. 

If you add 1 teacher and 24 students to each of the younger two boys, and 7 teachers, 4 coaches, and 150 students to the oldest boy, can you predict what kind of school year each boy will have?

Show your work.

This is what story problems looked like to me when I was in my school years. Once you got to a certain grade, math went from practice pages full of equations and times tests to one page with four “story problems” and a bonus question.

Math has never been even close to easy for me. I would gladly spend hours with books, art supplies, pencils, papers thesauruses and workbooks (yes really). Math left me with an upset stomach, anxiety to spare and the lingering feeling that has followed me into adulthood that I wasn’t smart.

If something comes easy to you, it’s because it is literally natural, you are built to do that thing, whatever it is. We can see that most clearly demonstrated in sports, there are people for whom sprinting or passing or dribbling just makes sense. It is an extension of their very being. You know it when you see it. 

There  are others, too,  who may have the passion for a sport but little to no natural talent. They may work and dream for countless hours hoping to perform at a high skill level, but the accumulative waterfall of time and attention without results can quickly douse any flame.

Brain research has surged in recent years, be we aren’t quite yet able to take a look into someones brain to see where it lights up, how fluidly the neurons travel, what synapses are strongest and diagnose, treat, prescribe quick answers.

Add the complexity of thoughts, feelings, behavior, nutrition, living situation,well, if you are looking to unlock any one individual’s potential, you have a very long night of homework ahead of you.

It is all of these things I think about in the beginning of the year. I pray for and deeply desire my boys to have years that build them and do not ruin them. So every fall, I always want the first day of school to be the way I think it needs to be to help them start off on the right foot.

But that would mean that I had spent the past week prepping; cleaning up the halls and stairway and homework desk area; packed up backpacks and organized lunch ideas; purchased the perfect back to school cards for my boys; sarcastic for Haden, cute but slightly inappropriate for Liam and silly/cute/deep for Finn. 

I would have reread all the articles and blog posts and info-graphs I pinned about Meyers-Briggs and kids and birth order and love languages and not to mention first day of school signs to hold up for Instagram perfect pictures. 

I would have made a detailed list and shopped for ingredients for their after-school snacks and a first day of school healthy dinner that everyone would devour while they traded first day of school stories.

There would be nerves, and I would have already done the self-care preparation I needed to do so that I could be truly present for my boys, and I would say exactly what they needed to hear in the best tone of voice for each of them. 

I would glide into school with them, calmly settle them with their respective teachers, deliver a punny teacher gift, and have a sweet hug goodbye and then end up at Starbucks with a crowd of other like-minded moms from the school for a short treat for myself before heading back home to finish up the last few household chores I had left before prepping for their triumphant return.

So when I say that isn’t exactly how it always goes, or how it ended up this year, you are not surprised. 

Even I’m not surprised at the result, only surprised that I expect things and myself to be somehow so idealized. 

I want to be that me I dreamed up I would be, but reality is, that no matter how much I want it, the proof is in my already completed work.

There is this “new math”, as we like to call it in my state, which I can describe to you quite simply:  It attempts to build a solid foundation in the how math works, so that any higher math will make sense.

Also most parents can’t help with their kids math homework; not because of a fault of the schools, just a pendulum swing in teaching theory that means how I learned math growing up is on the entire opposite end of what my children are learning. I can’t think of what angle I would be using to illustrate this.

Lucky for me, my husband is infinitely better at the matics of math than me, teaches high school math, and through generous genetic gifting my boys grasp math without much extra effort. In fact, they claim math as one of their favorite subjects (that is, if forced to give an answer beyond A. Lunch, B. Recess, C. PE.)

So this year, as in years past, my three will almost assuredly fly through the equations that are written for them to decipher, and given they need help, I can call in Mr. Math to assist. Because I really am interested in what my kids are learning, undoubtedly I’ll continue to learn more about numbers the way that might have made math easier for me to keep, instead of throw away.

But what about them, the three boys, 13, 10 and 8 years of age? 

All unique arrangements of DNA, learning with other children who carry their own array of genetics, together with teachers and other adults, most of who really care about teaching kids, for nine months?

It’s always the question on the back of the math problems worksheet that stumps me, the bonus question. I can look at it and think on it, but there never appears to be a definitive answer. 

It stumps me because mostly, it scares me. 

To take my three pieces of my heart and let go of their hands (or wave to the back of the oldest), takes a large whithdrawl on my lifetime courage savings account. 

But I do it. Knowing that teachers are human, other children come from better or harder home environs, and school climate, while not perhaps the perfect incubator for growing minds, can become a community where kids learn how to function in a society of differences.

And really, this problem has some holes, it’s a bit of a trick question. It’s way beyond numbers and isn’t something that can be worked down to a single answer. It’s my worst math nightmare. The one that you scribble an answer that you hope is close to what it really is, and wait anxiously for your grade.

What I didn’t know when I was working endlessly frustrating math worksheets was that there would be somethings in adult life (which looked so appealing) that would challenge me, defeat me, surprise me, grow me (but all grown-ups have it together, right?) and flat out wreck me.

Life in the past month has provided more than enough material for me. It has subtracted where I though I was going to have addition. It has multiplied issues that I had expected to be divided and conquered. And then taken some situations down to a fraction of what I had estimated. 

I didn’t like math. Not even a little. I find it difficult, frustrating and a drag on my soul and time now. 

But part of what parenting has driven me to see is that, I can’t avoid the hard things. 

If I truly want to show my boys love, and even more, how to live love, then I have to let them see me dislike things, make mistakes, (even confess some of the huge ones), and still do them as best I can, and when I fail, to do what must be done (and it’s usually really uncomfortable) to walk through the mess to find another way, a better way.

So, enough procrastinating, I have to finish this homework and get back to my home-work (bleh). The only real way I know how to answer what I can do to ensure a healthy year for my boys is this:

1. Keep re-reading the question for understanding. 

2.Call on help and ask for answers when zero things make sense. 

3.Don’t get stuck trying to graph invisible, what-if problems on a chart. 

4. When tangents and undefined slopes appear,  do not ever think you don’t have what it takes to conquer them.

All of this plus a necessary sense of humor, and the sum is found simply in the circumference of your heart.

Game on.

It was a sea of blue. Floating clouds of white. Shades of green. With an occasional glimpse of wolf gray. 

Today was the season opener for the Seattle Seahawks, at home, in Centrylink Field.

It was also 9/11.

I found myself lucky enough to be included in a trip to see the game with my mom, her cousin and daughter. We did this last year, but it was the end of September before the team had a home game, bruised and battered from coming this close to winning a second super bowl. 

It wasn’t pretty football then.

Wasn’t really pretty today either. And today had an undercurrent of loss of its own. 

I’m sure the NFL and all the teams had a pause when recognizing that the first Sunday of the 2016 season was going to fall on 9/11. This year, they had choices to make, more about honoring the memory of those who aren’t here to watch this season unfold than the entertainment value for those who would be filling their stadiums.

I felt uneasy, it all felt uneasy, for a bit this morning. Watching the children of 9/11 victims reading the names, so many names, of loved people who didn’t get to choose to see their kids grow up, or grow old with spouses, hang out with friends, or plan a future, while knowing I was going to something privileged. I felt split in two.

This is what makes life so cataclysmicaly heart rending. 

The tenuous balance of living and dying, joy and sorrow, breaking and mending of minds, hearts, souls, relationships.

The Seahawks have spent the week, and last, and more toiling over deep stuff. Issues of life and death, injustice and liberty. If some lives matter more or less than others.

They took the time to carefully pull apart thoughts and feelings folded into the shape of each teammate, listening to outside voices from all angels of an impossibly complex national debate, and then, made a choice of standing together in unity. 

Not because they all agreed. Because they didn’t.

It’s pretty great to walk among thousands and thousands of others who like, a lot, the team that you buy jerseys and hats and waste of money fingernail tattoos for. 

Makes it easy to feel one of many of a united force, with a common goal, an expected outcome. It can be a relief to just be part of a place where you can go unchallenged for a bit, relax into the social blanket of acceptance, follow the awesome shirt in front of you.

As long as you are wearing the same colors. 

It might be why my teenage son and Cardinals fan, who flew into Seattle for the game, made the decision to let Oma buy him a Seahawks hat, he for whom on any given Sunday finds the Hawks repulsive. He said he liked the hat, even though it is a Seahawks hat. I think he decided to honor his Oma’s favorite team (not so much mine), and at the same time, save the hassel of standing out as not a 12.

We all want to be noticed. We want people to look at us. To see us. To go out of their way to look in our eyes and take the time to show us that we are significant. 

And yet, so many times the shades of our situation, our pain, suffering, loss, hurt, insecurity color how we see those who cross our paths.

We do the very things to others that we would never want another to do to us. And it hurts.

Defense isn’t just played on the football field. It’s so easy to be fooled by the lie that protecting ourselves by being the first to hit will keep us from losing. Yes, sometimes having a strong defense is your best offense. 

But off the gridiron, in our jobs, on the road, at home, in our streets; making schoolyard teams based on who we like best and who can do the most for us just ends up costing us in ways we never bargained for.

What will we do now? Now that the anthem has been sung, the memorials spoken, flags unfurled and the brave honored. 

There are times, like when I dropped a glass bottle of (annoyingly expensive but super delicious) sparkling water on the concrete this morning, when I just want to be done with the people looking, watching, waiting to see how I fix my problem.

In those moments, their is nothing sweeter than a bystander coming forward to help, to empathize and smile and make the clean up process twice as fast, the embarrassment twice as short.

I love football, but I have no idea how it feels to play the game, or to coach a team. Standing on the sideline and watching from a stadium seat or a comfy couch are two completely different experiences. My perspective is formed by what I know of the game and the rules, my history of watching games, who I have watched with.

Our country unified after 9/11, maybe for each other, or maybe we felt had an enemy in common, a battle to fight to try to right the awful wrongs, a defensive line to build. 

It lingers, that fear. When a generation has seen nightmares in real time, there is no going back. 

Football has a season, it always feels too short (unlike baseball and hockey, yeah, I’m looking at you). It can be a brutal physical game, wearing on the strongest and healthiest of us all. We who love the game profit much from it’s intensity, but that always comes at a cost.

I think we have come to a time again in this nation of states united where people are ready and willing to take a deep breath and stand up for and against somethings. There’s only so much of being beaten that a person can take. There is a time when, if it comes to it, you choose.

This will be when we decide what to make a big deal of. What is no longer enough, no longer acceptable. 

This is when the game begins.