Thanks for all the self-tanner recommendations. I ended up buying some Jergens Natural Glow - Three Days to Glow and mixing it with a little kukui nut oil. This is day three I’ve got a non-streaking, not too aggressive, little glow going on. So thank you!
I just (finally) finished The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P and I HATED it. I stuck with it because it wasn’t boring (and I had recently given up on The Woman Upstairs so I felt a little self-conscious that I picked to blah books in a row so I forced myself to finish) but I felt angry and offended and insulted most of the time I was reading it. Maybe that was the point? Also, I felt like these characters were so realistic. I know people like Nathaniel and fuck off, bro.
I am a total loss for what to read next. Actually, I”m reading a book for work next. But I need something to read for entertainment and am open to suggestions. No GOT and no Divergence. Whatcha got for me, Tumblr?
Jason is in London (actually, he’s currently at JFK but he will be in London all weekend) and which means I can’t watch the True Detective finale until Monday. (Ugh, love is so hard sometimes.) So I’m already mentally preparing for all the anger I’m going to feel towards social media starting Sunday night at 10 pm EST and ending when I’m finally able to watch it. (FB seems to be filled with the most egregious offenders of the NO SPOILERS PLEASE rule. But Twitter is a very close second. Everyone here seems to get it. Thank you for that.)
Patrick is transitioning out of the infant room and into the toddler 1 room at his daycare. He was in there yesterday when I picked him up and he thought he was total hot shit. He flipped out when he saw me, screaming “mama, mama” at the top of his lungs and running around showing me all the new toys and (and freedom) that he had. He was so proud of himself and it was adorable. My baby is a (little) big boy now.
Texas death row inmate Ray Jasper is scheduled to be put to death on March 19. He has written us a letter that, he acknowledges, “could be my final statement on earth.” It is well worth your time.
If you read one thing on the internet today, please make it this.
We live in a country with a broken justice system. Racism is alive and well in America and people are making MILLIONS on the prison industrial complex. (I encourage you to look closely at your 401k plan and the cross reference that against the companies investing heavily in the prison system.)
If you’re at all interested in reading more about this then you can also check out the follow articles / book:
Gay Notre Dame varsity tennis player Matt Dooley attempted suicide in 2011. He came out to his team exactly two years later, and their acceptance helped save his life.
I have been trying to post this all day, but I cannot even click on the link without bursting into tears. But this, like all coming out stories, is a story that matters deeply. And I hope you will take the time to read it.
Matt is a wonderful young man who has had a tremendous impact on my family and my heart. He is one of Jack’s favorite people in the world. I am so proud of him for sharing his story but also so sad that this rock-bottom experience is true for so many people.
This is such a heartbreaking and beautiful article and I am so thankful that Emily shared it.
Matt’s story is important.In fact, all coming out stories are important and I celebrate every single time I am lucky enough to hear one.
On Saturday afternoon we gathered our family and friends-who-have become-family together in a tiny wine bar called The Owl’s Head in Bay Ridge for Patrick’s first birthday party. I decided not to have a have a theme; turning one is a big enough deal in and of itself. Instead, I just wanted to throw a super fun party to celebrate our boy and to thank our crew for all of the support, food, laughter, escapes from reality, and love they’ve given us this past year. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
My mom and I made about 30 cutouts of Patrick’s faces and decorated them with party hats. (Inspiration found here.)
Jessica made the most beautiful and delicious smash cake and cupcakes. (The” “R” is for R train that takes us in and out of our beloved little neighborhood.) (She also took most of the pictures that you’re seeing here.)
My mother-in-law made her famous pumpkin roll and chocolate chip cake and brought some South Philly love in the form of a pretzel tray.
The sun was shining, the wine was flowing, and Patrick was a wonderfully well behaved guest of honor (hamming it up for everyone).
I feel so incredibly lucky to have been blessed with this little boy, with these friends, with Jason, and with the life we’re building together. It was quite the year and I’m damn proud of how it all turned out.
HUMP DAY! (Almost on the better side of the week, friends.)
I took Patrick to get some routine blood work done this afternoon and It was so sad. First, they had to poke him in both arms because the first vein the got wasn’t giving good blood. Second, he put his head down on the little tray that was holding him on my lap in the chair (the anti-faint thingy) and started sobbing when they stuck the needle in his arm the second time. It was covered in his tears and it took all my strength not to cry too. Third, he made an immediate recovery and was blowing kisses to the phlebotomists when we left.
I wore non-weather related boots for the first time in like two weeks today and it is glorious.
I have to go to a black tie dinner next month for Jason’s work and I’d rather do ANYTHING else. What the fuck am I going to wear? And please do not even come at me with Rent the Runway because no my chest doesn’t fit into those dresses and a strapless bra is not an option. UGH. No.
Working from home. Both of us. Thank GAWD that a) daycare is open and b) only 5 short blocks away.
Speaking of shit being open today, there is an outrageous fight happening on my neighborhood’s parents FB group re: NYC schools not closing and WOW. Strong feelings all around and lots of trolling. It’s so entertaining.
How much (k-cup) coffee is too much?
I’m dreaming about where we should go for our next vacation. Back to Paris? Barcelona? Berlin? Copenhagen? (We’re going to Italy to celebrate our 5 year anniversary so that’s off the table.
I’m currently planning Patrick’s first birthday party and am over my head in emotions.
Speaking of Patrick’s first year: I had a co-worker ask me recently if there’s anything I wish I’d done differently (totally appropriate in the context of our conversation, btw) and I honestly didn’t know how to answer him. We can spend our whole lives and all our energy second guessing and over thinking our choices. Plus, in the end, we have no way of knowing how things would’ve turned out had we taken a different path. I have a happy and healthy little boy. Life feels less chaotic these days. So, I think the short answer is no. And that feels pretty good.
We finally caught up on Homeland last week and I loved it. No complaints.
We are almost caught up with Downton and holy shit, you guys. No spoilers but why why why does this show continue to be so heavy and emotional? I don’t know how much more my heart and spirit can take. (Yet I can’t quit it.)
This is an important piece of writing that is applicable to all neighborhoods and not just Oakland. Everyone should read this.
Be a good neighbor, friends. Happy Friday!
Gentrification is the word of the day in Oakland. Everywhere you look people are asking, “Am I a gentrifier? Is it bad? Should I care?” What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.
If you come into someone’s home, do you immediately start rearranging it and moving furniture in? Do you throw away their family photo albums and tell them they have to go to bed at an earlier time or play their music at a lower volume?
No, of course not. You get to know each other, decide if you get along, and, once your host has decided you can stay, you ask politely if there is space to put your stuff. So why do you think you can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as your own? Why do you think you can move into someone’s ancestral land and start taking it over, evicting them from their homes and pushing out their businesses?
And yet, recently arrived residents of Oakland are doing just that. We would like them to stop. We would like them to include us in on their meetings. Maybe ask one of us what we think about putting in a bunch of high-end markets and pricey boutiques. While you all are dining out at fancy restaurants, some of us are struggling to find a cheap meal.
So I’ve put together a few how-to’s for avoiding the gentrifier label in Oakland:
1. Smile and say hi to your neighbors every time you see them, even if they seem scary or don’t say hi back. Sometimes it takes time to build a rapport and gain the trust of the community.
2. Recognize all the people outside of your door as your neighbors, even if they look different from you and live under different circumstances. This includes the homeless who sleep on the street, the drug dealers who sell outside the liquor store, and the prostitutes walking your streets. Replace the words homeless, drug dealer, and prostitute with the word neighbor. Treating these folks with respect and dignity from the beginning will give you later leverage to talk to them about changing their behavior and getting out of the life.
3. Change the way you look at said neighbors by changing the language you use to describe them. Think about the motivations for their actions. Instead of “that prostitute was out all night selling her body” think “my neighbor (insert name here) was forced by her pimp to stand out in the cold all night and have sex with multiple men she didn’t know.” See if that doesn’t change your opinion of her.
4. Pay your taxes, parking tickets and fines with the pleasure of knowing you are financially helping a beautiful, but struggling city. Be grateful if you are able pay them without too much difficulty.
5. Really think before you call the police. Ask yourself, is this something that can be fixed by a simple conversation? Did a violent crime just happen? Then, of course you should call the police! But your neighbor playing their music too loud is not a police issue. Remember many communities have experienced, and still experience, real trauma at the hands of the police. While you may think a person has nothing to fear if they didn’t do anything wrong, an African American will always be holding Oscar Grant and Alan Blueford in their mind. A simple interaction with the police can trigger the collective PTSD from which the entire community suffers.
6. Remember low-income communities and communities of color are suffering from hundreds of years of historic trauma and this trauma is very fresh in the minds of most Oaklanders.
7. Recognize most of the perpetrators of crime in Oakland have also been the victims of a system you have benefitted from disproportionately.
8. See all of Oakland’s problems as opportunities for growth, creative problem solving, and entrepreneurship. Refuse to complain about a problem unless you are willing to play an active part in the solution.
10. Shop local and small. Go to the dive bars, hole in the wall restaurants, and small markets as often as the upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques.
11. If you are opening up a business, make sure your prices are within reach for the majority of people in the neighborhood you operate.
12. Hire locals, low-income folks, people of color, and people from a variety of backgrounds. Take a chance on someone with low experience, but high potential. Hire someone who has been formerly incarcerated. Train some folks. Forgive them for not understanding the ins-and-outs of the workplace as quickly as you would like. If it doesn’t work out, clearly explain to them why and suggest some job training organizations that could help them develop the skills they need for the next job.
13. Recognize Oakland has a very unique and vibrant history and culture, and you were attracted to this city because of the energy that is already here. You should be here to add to that history and culture, not to erase it. We are not San Francisco. We don’t want to be San Francisco. So please don’t try to remake our city in San Francisco’s image. And remember, you don’t gain culture by eating a burrito. You gain culture by engaging in a real and meaningful manner with the person who makes the burrito.
14. Give to crowd-funded campaigns that support local projects by Oaklanders. Encourage low-income folks to launch their own crowd-funded campaigns to help them go to college, get their car fixed so they can drive to work, buy a suit they can wear to an interview, or get a computer so they can pay attention to all that is going on in the community. Invest in your neighbors’ well being. A neighborhood where everyone’s needs are met is a safe neighborhood.
15. Identify your privileges. We all have them. Having privilege is not necessarily the problem, it’s what you do with it. As an Afro-Latina woman, I am not who you would traditionally consider privileged. However, I do have privilege in this society over people who have darker skin, less education, a less respected job, and less money. When I am in situations when these things act in my favor, I use my privilege to enrich myself and the people around me. I mentor people. I try to find jobs and internships for people of color. I teach people how to navigate city services. I know whatever success I gain, I didn’t gain it on my own. I have a responsibility to the community that has facilitated my success to be a resource and asset to those people still trying to make it.
16. If you create a neighborhood organization, make sure the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the group is reflective of the neighborhood. Actively recruit members who have differing perspectives. Find translators that can help facilitate the recruitment and retention of non-English speakers. If there is another organization working in the neighborhood, ask them what they are doing and how you can help, not the other way around.
17. If you plan any major projects in the neighborhood, make sure you do active outreach, and seek the opinions of all your neighbors. Put in the extra effort to build a consensus.
18. Engage with the government and advocate on behalf of policies that benefit all the residents of Oakland, those born and raised here, transplants, people in your neighborhood, and those living in greater Oakland. Support affordable housing, education funding, re-entry services, job training and placement programs.
19. Learn all that you can about the culture and history of Oakland. Take a free, guided walking tour of some of the neighborhoods. Read some books on Oakland. Check out some museums. Go to a few festivals. Talk to elders and ask them what Oakland was like when they were growing up. That older black guy who hangs out the park is a walking historian and a cultural asset. He should be treated as such.
20. Hella love Oakland. Fall in love with our city for everything it ever was, is, and will be. I did a few years ago and have been ecstatic to live here since.
Dannette Lambert is a community organizer and resident in Oakland, CA.
We have a playpen that we used all the time but as Patrick got more active he became increasingly less happy about being in it. Like, he would just throw all his toys out while staring at us and screaming at the top of his lungs. Everyone was miserable.
This play yard has been a total sanity saver. I think being on the floor might make him feel like he has more freedom and space? I’m not a baby psychologist but I can tell you that Patrick is very happy whenever he’s in this thing and will play independently for hours. We use our couch as one of the walls (gates?) so that if I’m sitting on it my legs dangle into the pen area. I really like this set up and Patrick has fun “hiding” all his toys under the couch and then laughing while I struggle to get them without actually moving the furniture around.
Here’s a picture of Patrick reading books inside the play yard. (Wearing Christmas jammies in January!)