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At once weary of returning again and again
to the ragged scrap of memory ripped
from your long ago life
folded over and over into a tiny square
and shoved into a back pocket
yet feeling one small breath of relief
each time you open it up and
air it out and you hear the choir of one million women
singing, “i hear you ~ i believe you ~ i know you ~ i am you”
their refrain is your lullaby

it is our song now

We have been told
by petulant, bullying, liars
wielding weapons of ignorance and egomania
that our bodies are not our own
at any moment of our lives–they are the domain of men and babies

It has been etched in stone
that truth means nothing
compared to getting what they want
No matter if it is our truth
or the truth we expect from others
Fingers crossed behind their backs
as they take the oath,
like the juveniles they are

We will not forget this week of
scorn
hypocrisy
betrayal
injustice
the defensive outrage of privilege
the sneering sarcasm of entitlement

We will not forget any more than
we could forget our own moments of
being pushed into bedrooms
being laughed at
while someone put a sweaty hand
over our mouth

We will never get over it
but we will survive
we will persist
we will sing
we will write
we will make art
we will preach
we will march
we will meditate
we will pray
we will love
we will listen
we will volunteer
we will campaign
we will gather
we will vote
we will protect ourselves and each other

We will look those men in the eye and say
GET YOUR HANDS AND YOUR LAWS AWAY FROM MY BODY
and we will teach our children to say it too
and

WE
WILL
NOT
BACK
DOWN

 

October 2018

(c) 2018 Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso |
please only repost or reprint in entirety and with credit given

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 12.33.51 AMThis morning I rearranged my office while in my underwear because I needed to shake things up. My office is cozy at best with a propensity toward absurdly crowded when everyone discards their stuff in it or it becomes a staging ground for various family projects.

In recent weeks my office has also become a vortex of lethargy. One of the perils of operating my own business is that it is all to easy to walk back into the house after the kids have been dispatched to school and collapse on the futon in my aforementioned office. Especially because I often sit on the futon instead of in my desk chair, for no particular reason except maybe there are comfy pillows nearby and the window through which I can gaze out onto Columbia Pike. Oh, and I should mention that I have a sleep disorder, and if I forget to take my medication for it then I get really sleepy when I sit down at the computer. Under ideal circumstances, I shower before my kids leave for school, and the act of getting clean and dressed sets me up well for the day and I’m good to go. If I don’t shower because I’m busy getting the kids ready or because I oversleep, or because I’m just lazy, then it’s that much easier to slip into morning nap mode, because I’m still in pajamas. On bad days I shuffle back to my futon, shadowed by the twin gremlins of anxiety and depression. I had the epiphany a couple weeks ago that the transition to new schools for both my kids was not challenging for me just because of my overactive sense of empathy and my concern for them, but because of my deep need to be part of communities, and the fact that I was leaving the nurturing preschool community that had embraced my family for the past decade, and the elementary school community that we had loved for the past six years. In their new schools I know very few people yet, so I am emotionally adrift.

And then came the horrifying yet disgustingly unsurprising spectacle last week in the Senate. I won’t recount it all here because you’ve probably read and seen and heard more than enough coverage of it. I began reading articles so obsessively I feel like I am now an expert on the life of federal judge Brett Kavanaugh. I consider Dr. Christine Blasey Ford a hero. And, like most women, I have my own #metoo/#whyIdidn’treport story but I am still too scared to publish it here. I have been reading about how to talk with your children about consent, which apparently it’s never too early to do. I’ve implemented a plan with my 11-year-old daughter in which she can always text us at any time from any place if she feels uncomfortable and needs us to come get her and make an excuse for her needing to leave. Of course I am registered to vote and of course I will vote in November, but where I live is already bright blue. Every day I think about victim blaming and shaming, about rape culture, about pervasive misogyny and sexism, about all the very old straight cisgender privileged white men who run the country right now and who have never experienced and will never experience what it’s like to be a woman or a person of color or any sort of person who has been marginalized or mistreated. Every day I read threads on twitter and in comment feeds on news and opinion stories by women and men who were sexually abused as children and whose parents either did not believe them or told them to just suck it up and not cause trouble. If any news cycle was going to cause me to pull the covers over my head and play solitaire on my phone until I fell back asleep, this one would do it.

And there’s more to the story, because there’s always more to the story, but that’s as much as I can stomach retelling right now. Thankfully, however, there is soccer. When I played Monday night, in my third game this season, it was the first one I wasn’t dreading as I drove to the field. I knew that the moment I stepped onto the turf I would completely forget about all these people and all their pain. I play on a fantastic team of strong and supportive women in a women’s league, in a 40+ division. Some women on teams we’ve played are in their 60s or 70s. Talk about resilient. And thankfully, there is rearranging furniture. As I set about my task this morning–which I started envisioning in the middle of the night last night when I couldn’t sleep, but realized if I started then I would wake up my whole family–I thought about one of my college roommates who always cleaned the bathroom when she was avoiding studying for a big test or tackling an assignment she didn’t want to do. We enjoyed an unusually clean bathroom for college students. But moving furniture–and cleaning the bathroom–isn’t just about procrastinating, it’s about taking control. Here is a mess, here is a room where I have not been productive lately and I’m sitting here wallowing in a toxic brew of emotions, and I can clean it up. I can reset. I can take control. So I spent the morning moving the desk to one wall and the futon to another wall and vacuuming up the clouds of dust that emerged from underneath things, and shifting pictures, and throwing stuff away, and prioritizing, and now I can sit at my desk and look out the window and be in charge of myself.

Of course the closet in the office is now even more crammed with junk, but that’s a project for another day. And my neatened desk does nothing to restore my broken faith in our democracy. But I did talk with three new clients today. And I made a new to do list and crossed one thing off. It’s hard these days, it really is. Nevertheless, we persist.

Originally published on https://invocations.blog/2018/09/21/i-picture-you/

I picture you
sitting as close as you can possibly pull the chair
up to his bed
careful not to disturb
the noisy network of artificial arteries
filling him with electrical impulses
and life
because you need to hold his hand and
he needs to feel your hand holding his

I can hear you talking with him at times
telling him what the babies have been doing
knowing how they make him smile and how
he can elicit the baby laughs that are the sweetest music on earth
you recall moment after moment of your life together
both ridiculous and sublime, always steadfast
sweet and bittersweet

Thought sometimes you are silent
watching him rest
wondering what is happening in his brain
glancing at the machines that are measuring and monitoring but
not revealing any of the secrets that you want to know

I can picture him lying there
knowing you are nearby
knowing you will never leave
enveloped by your love
waiting to come back to you

September 2018

(c) 2018 Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso |
please only repost or reprint in entirety and with credit given

Originally published on https://invocations.blog/2018/09/17/no-one-reads-the-fine-print/

I suspect you did not know what you were signing up for in this life
No one bothered to read you the fine print when you were born
They were busy
It would’ve been meaningless to you anyway, as it probably is now
The letters shrink smaller and smaller until no one can decipher them at all
So we are forced to improvise

You probably didn’t know how many times your heart would break
or guess who would be the ones to shatter it
and who would mend it
and who would fill it up again with love until it spills over
in tears

You may have thought the instructions should be clearer
the answers more obvious
Subtlety and nuance require patience
You may have heard patience comes easier than it has for you
but you learned quickly that what’s easy is to make mistakes
When they tell you everyone makes mistakes, you’re not sure
you believe them

But it’s true

Did you ever imagine
you would spend so much time awake
because someone desperately needs you
in the middle of the night
Who could possibly have known
how much demand there would be for your presence
in the middle of the night
someone crying or coughing or barking or puking or
flinging their arms and legs across your face and body
while they find the peaceful rest that you have surrendered

I doubt that you predicted what you would let go
and what you would cling to
what would always matter and what would fade
You are probably still making these discoveries
With reading glasses come epiphanies

When did you realize you would be the one
to make the hard decisions
to take the high road
to put on your own oxygen mask first
to say the thing that no one wants to hear or
to swallow the words you wish you could say
because you know no one will listen

You might have thought by now it’s too late
to start something new
But I know it’s never too late
You have shown me that you know it too
It may be hard and it may be messy but
I have faith in you
September 2018

(c) 2018 Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso |
please only repost or reprint in entirety and with credit given

alexroth.jpgIn which Alex talks about her affection for books, her adventure working for a year and a half on Nantucket when she’d never even heard of the place, her fantasy careers of being a psychotherapist hairdresser or running an artisanal snowcone food truck, being a birthday gift for a friend in Australia (and her private time with a koala), and much more.

https://betsyrosso.podbean.com/e/five-questions-with-alex-roth-season-2-episode-18/

donnieIn which Donnie talks about deliberately simplifying his life, the surprising similarities between being an actor and working as a nurse specializing in end-of-life care, the effects on Donnie when he was a teenager of his cousin’s death, the importance of local flavor when he’s traveling, what it means to make people laugh, and more.

https://betsyrosso.podbean.com/e/five-questions-with-donnie-bledsoe-season-2-episode-19/

MaryJaneIn which Mary Jane talks about the unexpected influence on her life of our high school French teacher Madame Alnwick; her time in Europe, Africa, and Hawaii; her sculpting work in plaster, ceramic, and bronze; meeting her Tongan husband on a flight from Salt Lake City; the unique traits she inherited from her Chinese father (who had to flee China as a child) and Mormon hippie mother; and much more.

https://betsyrosso.podbean.com/e/five-questions-with-mary-jane-maumau-season-2-episode-17/

Anderson-Tiffany-HannaMF01.jpgIn which Tiffany talks about being a trailblazing African-American woman judge, her Monopoly acumen, what she learned from being offered an afterschool job at Pizza Hut, the surprises of parenthood, Dave Chappelle, and more.

https://betsyrosso.podbean.com/e/season-2-episode-15-five-questions-with-tiffany-anderson/

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 12.27.25 AM.pngYay chickens! Sustainable farmer and best-selling author Forrest Pritchard talks about cat-shaped vending machines that dispense cars, his insatiable need for sunshine and a good soundtrack, patronizing advice that turned out to be true, the joy of stonemasonry, and so much more.

Listen here: https://betsyrosso.podbean.com/e/season-2-episode-14-five-questions-with-forrest-pritchard/

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 12.55.17 AM.png

photo from instagram by @phillyjim

Twentysome years ago, attending
the symphony for the first time,
my friend who brought me advised,
“If you get bored,
just think about sex.”
In the cool plush of the opera house,
Both the symphony and sex seemed
remote and abstract

Tonight, it’s steamy on the wharf
Inside, ascending to
the top tier in the dim,
Lit by chandeliers,
the silhouettes of six thousand souls
Amplified intimacy
Our thighs touching those of strangers
Sweat sticking shirts to skin
Colored lights shining on bare legs

Tonight, there are two cellos and a violin,
a piano and a French horn,
a bearded sleeveless drummer behind his drum set
a host of adamant, emphatic guitars
Voices raised in the brutal pursuit of truth
I’ve never heard her preach before
But she has won a convert

From where we sit I can stare
at the catwalk
feeling the cool metal slats
across my back
where I would lie suspended above everyone
with my eyes squeezed tight
submerging my body in the waves
of music crashing over me
mixing with my salty tears

Loose coils of ropes hang
From the ceiling and I picture
a wooden trapeze swinging across
the theater in a bubble of silence
on it I sit, sheathed in a shimmering blue
costume so sheer it might be painted on
maybe it is painted on
to mirror the broken open revelations
of the singers
by laying myself bare

inspired by Brandi Carlile at The Anthem, May 20, 2018

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