Practicing Praxis, An Occasional Blog

3-7 April 2021

How does one capture what it feels like to turn 70 years old?  It’s hard.  Today, during this pandemic, I had a “drive by” birthday party.  

In the midst of the murder trial because of the death of Mr. George Floyd, an African American man, killed by a white Minneapolis police officer here in Minneapolis last June.  In the midst of a car that killed a police man in Washington DC. yesterday. In the midst of a pandemic where a half a million people just in the U.S. have died.  In the midst of people in Minneapolis living in tents because they are homeless and/or lost their job. In the midst of so many people starving around the world because they are poor, because where they live isn’t safe, because they are migrants or immigrants. In the midst of rich people getting richer in the U.S.  In the midst of people of color in the U.S. not getting access to the vaccines that might help them live longer lives. 

And today, I am privileged enough to have had a “drive by” birthday party.  No, it wasn’t all white people. Friends came today because they love me (and I am blessed to have so many beloveds). They came because they care about me and wanted to celebrate my 70th birthday.  My memory, due to vascular dementia, isn’t great, so I’m writing to remember today. I’m writing so I have a record in my mind about today. All of today.  My friend, Leigh Combs, took pictures of everyone to document the day.  And I want to remember as much of today as I can. I have written copious notes of who came here today, who called, who sent me an email or a text to say happy birthday.  I want to remember all of my friends and say thank you.

This blog will go on my website, and some of this might go into my book, Are We ‘There’ Yet?: Social Justice Journeys in my Lifetime.  My literary agent (sounds fancy!) is Grace Freedson.  She has her own literary network.  We went to high school together, and then lost track of each other for decades.  I was a bridesmaid (!) in her wedding when I was 21 years old. Wait until you see that picture!  She worked for a publisher and then because she is brilliant, she created her own network.  She shops my book to publishers and if someone wants my book (!!!), she will make her money by getting a percentage of my royalties.  And we both know that books by white people about social justice ain’t gonna go on the best sellers list. I am blessed to have Grace in my life.  So I keep writing.

It is Easter weekend.  I’m a Jew and Passover ends tomorrow.  I love matzah but I am getting a little tired of it.  It will be Ramaden for my Muslim sisters and brothers in another two weeks. They will fast and not eat until the sun goes down for…I’m not sure how long. More than a week.  Today, there were (Christian?) grandchildren running around Becketwood on an Easter egg hunt.  Again, not my thing.

I remain “single, solo and senior,” in quotes because of the holiday newsletter I sent out to friends.  It is hard doing this pandemic with a life partner.  I am lonely. I love my kitties, both old and wonderful.  They have been my buddies, but I sure would love to have a warm body next to me sometimes.  I have a crush on someone. That’s all I will tell here. Do NOT attempt to get his information out of me.   She is not available for many reasons, but I do enjoy having a crush. Makes me feel a little more human. 

So…who came to my drive-by?  I am going to name as best as I can all the beloveds who came today, as well as those who contacted me and could not make it.  I am blessed. Many of my beloved social justice students came by. I love them dearly.  In no particular order…Jennifer Nguyen Moore and her daughter Luna and husband Kendrick. Jennifer and I go back 16 years to General College days.  She does environmental justice as a woman of color and has had to face all the horrible Anti-Asian violence that has been happening in the U.S. It is not new news,  but it is worse during this phase of the pandemic.  Too many people, mostly white people saying it’s “those Asians” who brought the pandemic to the U.S.   Mollie Lacey, a white lesbian, who lived a block from where Mr. Floyd was murdered, but has moved with her partner, to be less in the war zone, and to feel less traumatized.  Yes, there are white people who have been traumatized by the murder, though we cannot feel it the way people of color can.  Sara Kettering, the white woman who got a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She really wants to do work with people with Alzheimer’s, since she lost her father to the disease. She has had the privilege to do lots of unpaid organizing for quite a while.  She’s really done a ton to stay in contact and connected with the many social justice students, so I’ve stayed in contact because of her work. She just got a job finally and is working with a small non-profit collecting prescription drugs that people are not using any longer. Her organization is finding ways to re-circulate meds to those who need it.  Then there’s Katie Nordhagen, who has helped me so much over the past years, driving me to doctor appointments and helping me move. She and her partner, Erick stopped by. We have often gone for grilled cheese to the All Square Restaurant locally where formerly incarcerated people work, as they take “classes” from the founder of All Square, to acquire job skills and go on to productive lives, since it is so damn hard for former felons to find work in the U.S.  And the grilled cheese is great!  

A bunch of former social justice students texted or emailed me…Dana Johnson (doing a PhD in Texas about reproductive justice which she learned about initially in the social justice minor!); Laura Anderson with two kids works in a hospital but her husband has the virus now; Amanda Swarr who lives out west not sure where, has lived and worked in South Africa; Ellen Schneeberger (Schneeee!), not sure what she’s doing but I heard from her; Amanda Stapleton, an Asian adoptee, has done immigrant organizing; Jon Delperdang, a new Dad, not sure where he’s living but he loves being a Dad; Chelsey Perkins, a journalist in Minnesota in a small town, doing great reporting and loving it; Crystal Spring, a radical teacher in the Minneapolis schools teaching drama (Augusto Boal’s theatre) to urban youth; Robyn McGrade, in Minneapolis, I think trying to run her own restaurant during the pandemic, no easy feat; Tori Hong, fabulous artist who started doing art in the social justice minor and now has her own business, and who has a partner, Minh Bui, who created and updates my website:  There’s more…I’m looking through my notes, but will move on and if I see other people in my notes, I’ll add them back.

I’ve come back to this blog, but don’t feel like I have the energy right now to write more.  There’s more to say…just not right now. Gonna get this posted.  Thank you as always, Hayden Bui, the brilliant man who designed my website and posts for me.

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