Tuesday, November 29, 2011


In case anyone stumbles here who doesn't know Me and doesn't know My Story: I have a lovely upper middle class lifestyle thanks to some hard work and some extremely good luck and even some desperate leaps of faith. I grew up poor and occasionally homeless, however, and as the oldest child of a single Mom, I can say we were on every kind of public assistance there was, and some they made up just for us-- so when I say I feel left out or at a loss, I'm not just speaking from A Position of Privilege... I've got privileges, but I've also got institutionalized insecurity and shit. So. If I write stupid poetry, please know it's complicated and I cry a lot.

But I cook pretty damn well.

Poems after following the GA on twitter and the latest Occupied Wall Street Journal post and worrying a lot about race and colonialism


When your eyes run dry,
I will cry for you
If you will hold my hand harder
When I think you want me to go away.

When your stomach is empty,
I will fill it
If you will fill in the gaps
In my clumsy affection.

When you are falling down,
I will hold you in the light
If you will forgive me
For not coming sooner.

And if you cannot do all that,
I will still try to help
As long as someone out there
Still means me, too,

When they talk about 

An injury to one is an injury to all
And I don’t know where to fall
In the middle
On the left
In your face
On my sword
On the edge of the apocalypse
Rock your mic check
And the sweet space
Break it down
Open up
Rain check the sky
Lightning fast
Feel the blast
Fall up into
Apocalypse now
The beginning of the beginning
Shout and murmur and fear and loathing and suspicion and compassion
And all of the ands
Are still words on a page
As we’re living with rage
And the beloved’s betrayal
And all that’s left
In the I of the storm is


I feel lost without the park.

I started to lose it when the tents went up
And the conversations got squeezed out
And wandered away to 60 Wall…

Suddenly there was a barrier to entry

And I am skittish around barriers.
Who are you keeping out?
…You keep out me, when you draw a line in the sand

Or have a glass ceiling or floor or wall or door
(glass is made up of grains of sand, after all)

I am the unwanted
The uncomfortable
The unrequited lover (who makes a mess but usually means well)

And I love you anyway. And I loved the park.

And I am so sad it is not the place that it was: a place where the boundaries were dropping and I was embraced, taken in and comforted. Fed and warmed and given to… things were mostly given though yes, occasionally taken.

That’s still a better deal than I got outside the park.

So yes, screw us and we multiply. So yes, keep fighting. So yes, take it everywhere and indoors and set the place on fire.

But I am still sad that Bloomberg took my safe space from me, and I am not ready to follow you away from the park. If it is childish to honor a space people suffered to protect and defend, then I am a child listening to stories in the monsterful dark.

Please help me fill the night with stories, the long hard winter with novel ideas. Warm me with your companionship.

Please choose the now-and-future spaces with an eye for height.
Make sure the floors are limitless,
Stories so tall
They can fill a people’s library.

Then there might be room for me to sneak in on a breathless word
Or two.

And find you again.


Saturday, November 26, 2011


I’m still washing dishes from the epic Thanksgiving for 60 Vegans we pulled together for the Occupiers Thursday afternoon. Thank the great unknowable for aluminum pans in bulk from Costco, or I’d never reach the end of pots.

After all that, I thought I would take a break from Occupy today. I played trusty native guide for my sister into the depths of Manhattan, and used that as an excuse to check out the markets at Union Square with Older Son.

He charmed a free stuffed turtle, an artist’s pin and a travel candle from the Christmas Market kiosks, being the adorable kid that he is. It probably helped that the weather was good and the crowds were mostly smiling. Especially when he sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at the beeswax candle shop…

Early in our shopping adventure we stumbled upon a vintage jewelry kiosk, and my eyes caught the shine on a pewter pin in the shape of a soup spoon.

…Apparently, you can take the girl out of the kitchen, but you can’t take the kitchen out of the girl…

I laughed, and before I could stop myself I went into my OWS spiel—how I’d been cooking for the protestors at my house, and so kitchen utensils were on my mind.

The stall holder’s eyes got big and she leaned over her counter, “What, every day?” Oh no, just two or three times a week. “Did you carry it down in a pot?” No, gallon Ziploc bags. Mostly in my backpack…

She showed me the three other kitchen-themed pins she had, and I decided to get them all—M, M, and E need medals for their hard work with the vegetable peelers, too—and then, despite my weak protestations, she gave me a significant discount. “You’re doing important work,” she said.


I do want to be important to the movement, I have an ego as hungry as the next person. But as an adult with non-protest responsibilities and a healthy sense of my own limitations, I don’t know if I can handle being indispensable to the movement.

In order to function, I think I’m going to take her “you” as plural. We are all doing important work:  chop carrots, carry signs, take turns being strong and being important and taking time out with our families to bond over carols and credit cards… If we can do that, maybe we can get through the winter with our spirits rested and well-fed and we can cook up the most delicious revolution ever.

And whatever comes out of the soup pot next spring, I have my medal now.

And so will my occupied kitchen buddies.

Friday, November 25, 2011


It’s been over a week since the raid. I saw Marsha yesterday, her yarn survived because someone happened to be borrowing her storage tent for sleeping since the weather has been unseasonably warm. The visiting friend rescued the supplies and the folding chairs from the NYPD that strangely well-lit night.

I went to a Direct Action meeting Sunday, and met P who had been arrested. We hugged. I expressed my desire for actions that people in Central Pennsylvania could participate in, too, whether it was sending coal to Congress or trying to pull a Miracle on 34th Street… I mean, wouldn’t it be amazing if the post office brought bags and bags of letters to some interesting political place?

It’s been over a week—I’ve visited the park with Older Son and with friends and by myself. I have brought homemade bread and apples and Thanksgiving dinner for 60 to the space that used to feed three thousand.

Actions speak louder than words, but I cannot do enough:  I cannot hug hard enough, peel carrots fast enough, think thoughts big enough…

I can’t run fast enough or stretch tall enough to video the revolution, and the lens carriers seem to do the most good with their instant electric efforts. I am a sitter in one place, a word puller, a rhetoric dancer after-the-fact. By the time I have something I think is worth saying, the next crisis has occurred.

I am struggling. Even the words are insufficient, but they’re all I have tonight.

It’s been over a week, and I keep thinking about the medic, describing the raid on Zuccotti and the way his hands moved in staccato rhythm with his strained voice. I imagine myself as the patient inside the medical tent, the terror I would have felt as the NYPD chainsaw sliced through its synthetic fabric and carbon fibers.

In what world is destroying a medical hospital the answer to health and safety issues? In what upside down world does that make sense?

And then my brain jerks like his hands, and I think about the action medic kneeling on the sidewalk outside the police barrier with red and black permanent markers. The red and black cross on his coat shoulders was not enough for him anymore. He drew the symbols of his vocation—the red cross, half black from smoke or the dark of the night raid—on the backs of his hands.

He looked like a medical student, long black ponytail pulled back from an intellectual’s lean face. His medical bag looked like it weighed nearly as much as he did.

But as he marked his hands, it had all the singularity of purpose as a giant putting on war paint.

These people have (literally) put their skin in a game that is rigged against them. They are getting bruised, beaten, and battered and they have bad coughs from being thrown out of their homes in the dead of a cold night.

I am not the president. I am just a Mom. And my mother’s heart looks at these young, old, tired, enraged, calm, crazy, sane, black, white, privileged, scared, bold women, men and children who do not have enough…

I look at them and I think not what my country can do for them, but what has my country done to us?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tenting for OWS

So OWS had this "tenting" idea, where people put tents in public spaces with their messages. I do not have the resources to buy a tent for every public space I go through... But I love the idea and by golly I want to participate. (Edited to add: Official start date is Sunday... but hey--Occupy Early, Occupy Often!)

And I thought you might like to protest in public, too.

This is not fancy, but here is something you can print out on your own or take and run with it into realms of very fancy:

Occupy Wall Street: Protest is In Tents

I plan to fold them in half, write a message (along with "Occupy Wall Street") and place them on subway seats and maybe even use them as stationary. Not sure what all the wonderful uses could be. 

If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments-- and please share this if you like the idea or know someone else who might.


PS: Special thanks to J, for having software and knowledge at the same time. <3!

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Project!

Cooking for the Occupiers has gotten a little more awkward, since I'm not sure where they will be tomorrow...

Time for a new project!

We’re sending love letters to occupations. Because it’s all about the love, baby! And we all need encouragement—I know I sure do.

So… I’ve got the Eastern seaboard, but I’m willing to share. If you want to send a care package to Poughkeepsie or some other small Occupation that hasn’t gotten much media attention, do it! And if you want to let us know so we can keep track of who is getting love and who needs some extra, comment!

Once we get some love letters sent out, we’re also going to send some lovely letters to members of the media who have done an outstanding job of covering this story—Olberman, we’re looking at you!


PS: That doesn't mean I've suddenly stopped feeding the occupiers. No way my family can eat all these PB & J sandwiches by themselves. It's just gotten a little more difficult and I have no idea what the larger strategy is... So we're taking some initiative. Love is non-perishable. Spread it thick.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


One reason I’ve been writing up some of my experiences here is that so much of what people who have never visited the park think is True is… well… Not.

And I am sick of people saying Blah Blah Blah is true, ISN’T IT? In this “gotcha” voice they learned from watching reruns of Perry Mason.

I grant you there are shades of grey, but that’s normal life.

Most true-but-unpleasant things that people grab onto can be answered with “The 99% contains douche bags, too.” They/we have never claimed they/we are perfect or even better-than-you—-how could that be possible, when they/we are actively lumping them/ourselves in with Everyone who makes less than $400,000/year? They/we are just trying something different, which they/we hope might serve their/our needs better than the current corrupt systems.

But there are some inaccurate stories that are sticking, so I’m going to make this post about refuting these… misinterpretations of the truth… I expect I will get to add to it on a regular basis, since the stories that the mainstream media tell tend to be so much more thrilling than what’s actually happening/happened.

I do not expect to do it with as much wit and sagacity as the Snopes people, but consider them my inspiration:

The Occupiers hate Jews

OccupyJudaism is an active tweeter on Twitter, with over 1600 followers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unk6jjgzTS8 (Shabbat services held at Occupy Wall Street, the 14th night of the occupation)

Personally, I have seen a pop-up sukhah at Wall Street—it was one of the first tents that went up after the medical tent was rescued by Jesse Jackson (did you see that story? He linked arms with the protestors who had put their bodies between it and the police. Awesomeness: http://animalnewyork.com/2011/10/jesse-jackson-occupies-medical-tent-saves-it-from-being-evicted-by-nypd/)

The Roots of this story probably lie in some of the crazy guys with crazy posters who wander the periphery of the park. If you are familiar with NYC, you know that we have more than our fair share of crazy. The other side of the story is—and more than one occupier told me this story, which isn’t corroboration but it’s good enough for me for now—that the most egregious guy actually got chased out of the park by one of the scrappier protestors.

I am declaring this universal statement False.

The Occupiers hate The Tea Party

In an essay on the early organizers of the occupation, the author mentioned one vocal person who blocked every attempt to reach out to unions because they were afraid that would scare off Tea Partiers, who she saw as a natural ally.

The Roots of this probably lie in the stereotypes:  since The Official Image of the Tea Partier was an old white guy with a gun who hated Obama, and the Official Image of the Occupation is a twenty-something dreadlocked person who eschews violence and loves everybody, yeah—there’s going to be tension there. (See my post called “Tension” on what I think about that.)

My interpretation is that we’ve got some natural suspicion of each other, but—as the article above points out—there are several major issues that we all agree are problems.

Here, look at the pretty picture:

The Occupiers hate the homeless

Ok, so I need some help with this one. First the media sniffs that the Occupiers are a bunch of drug-addicted homeless people who are too dirty to get a job.

Then they scream that the Occupiers are marginalizing and ignoring the drug-addicted and homeless people who are too dirty to get a job.

                I can’t refute it until we work out which argument we’re arguing.

Second, let me remind my gentle reader that, strictly numerically speaking, the 99% includes everyone who makes less than approximately $400,000 a year. So, it includes homeless people, drug addicts, and me. Oh, and douche bags. Mustn’t forget the douche bags! They get everywhere…

Third, I was there one night when protestors were starting to complain that there was a large ex-convict population suddenly and they thought the cops were encouraging them to come here to Liberty Park.  A tall, bright-eyed woman said, “Great, let’s go meet the buses from Riker’s Island! When they get off the bus, let’s sit them down and teach them what we’re about!” She seemed to be positively gleeful at the idea of messing with the expected order of things.

I think the roots of this lie in a deeply misconstrued attempt by the kitchen to slow down one long weekend so that they could re-organize. Before the protest started, the Occupied Kitchen bought lots of peanut butter and jelly and bread. That’s what they expected to live on, along with some judicious dumpster diving.

They didn’t expect me (Ha!) and all the other people around the world who would be showering them with home-cooked food and Occu-pies from Liberattos’ pizza parlor. (Where he had to hire two more cooks to cover all the orders) They weren’t set up for that.

So, several weeks into the occupation they—with enough warning that folks who needed more/other than peanut butter and jelly could try and find other sources of food—slowed down. Regrouped. And then, bang on schedule, went right back to being the biggest soup kitchen in the area serving up hot vegetarian and vegan food to the masses.

Show me the hate, there.

The Occupiers hate cops! They don’t include cops in the 99%!

http://i.imgur.com/K1sTv.jpg (Captain Ray Lewis, formerly of the Philadelphia police)

OccupyPolice has over 4700 followers on twitter.

Well, cops certainly seem to include themselves with the occupiers.

Not all of them… but hey, there are douche bags everywhere.

My personal experience: I was nervously unpacking the back of the taxi in front of a parked police car. It was the Friday before the unseasonal snow was forecast, and so I had gone to Costco and bought hats and gloves and wool socks and Hot Pockets in bulk.

We were a little frantic—my driver was very unhappy with the heavy police presence—and the cop leans out of his car and says, “Don’t panic. It’s ok. You need to keep those guys warm!”

And, in all the marches I’ve been a part of, whenever we chant “We are the 99%!” several of us start adding, “And so are you!” as we point to tourists, office workers, and cops.

“We’re here for your pensions!” is also a common phrase.

That’s all I’ve got at the moment. In general, ”Remember the douche bags!” and keep yourself occupied in making the world around you a better, more loving place.

I love you.

Edited to add:
...this is useful, too...

...and this one!... clearly lots of us had similar brainstorms at the same time. :*)

Edited to add:
So, there's also a meme about the protestors being just a bunch of white guys, and there's "If you aren't a bunch of racists, why do you need a People of Color Caucus?" leading question. My current answer is: hello, racist culture that we are currently living in And Trying To Change.

I mean, it's good that we've got a PoC caucus and a Women's Caucus and so very many working groups whose sole purpose is to make the movement-- and hopefully the world we're moving towards-- a safer space.The problems that some people have the privilege not to notice are being noticed and attempts are being made to solve them.

As a white girl, I don't feel I have the credentials to comment much more than that, but I really like this post about some of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


From Twitter: “The vibe at Union Square is calm, not like the tension this morning”

Protesting is intense.

(except when they take our tents. Then it is with/out-tense)

Then the tension is

Between the warm tomato spinach bread I baked the protestors for their breakfast, that I passed over the police barricade snug in Ziploc bags because I was scared to walk between the nameless men in dark uniforms and day-glo vests who guarded the only entrance to Liberty…

…and the cold water I squirted into the throats of the protestors, whose arms were linked in a human chain, backs pressed against each other, facing the future in both directions. Surprisingly cheerful.

The tension in our bodies, responding to shouting and shoving men in dark uniforms. The tension between what we have been told is true and important and what we perceive is true and we feel is important.

The tension between what we have been told democracy looks like, and what we have shown it to be.

Warm bread, cool water. They are important.

 Democracy, freedom, they are important.

Tension in the bowstring, before it is let loose. That is important.

An arrow into the belly of the beast. A thousand arrows let fly.

Ten thousand more to follow.

Sink their teeth into the doughy mass that protects the selfish and the greedy from the natural consequences of their actions.

That is history

Being chewed and swallowed.

The ripping open of history to plunge new words into our mouths so we can speak


…then, without any protection…
We are out of tents, out of shelter
Out of bounds and out of breath
From running to catch up with the truth that
Will always be just out of reach—

And we are surprisingly cheerful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I saw

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
~From The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus, 1883

Yesterday at the protest I saw:

A curly haired guy with the rebel alliance tattoo on the back of his neck, who guided us to where the pile of donated food was being handed out. The young man had just been released from prison that afternoon. “They took all my stuff. Everything. I have nothing left. But hey, I’m free!” he shouted, skinny arms in the air.

A wild-eyed action medic repeat the black and red cross image that was pinned to his clothes with permanent markers on his hands. I watched his hands tense when he talked about how the police used a chainsaw to take down the medic tent. He said there were doctors and a patient inside it.

A young man with waist-length dreads being heartily thanked by a well-dressed elderly couple from the other side of a police barricade.

A crowd human mic someone asking the cops tough questions, “Who is your leader? What are your demands? If you have no leader and you have no demands, you are occupying this park illegally!”

Sergeant Shamar Thomas, walking up the south side of the park in his almost-familiar giant stride. Every time I see him, he has this look of wonder in his eye, like he has entered the Land of Oz and couldn’t be happier.

A golden retriever puppy whose name means “illuminated” in Spanish.

A woman get hauled away by police. Older son and I got shoved by the photographers that were trying to capture a photogenic moment.

Two trumpeters playing, “When the saints go marching in” while drummers drummed. Several of them had drums, two just had drumsticks and played on the metal barricade. I had to join in: I thumped my metal wedding ring against the bars in my own demanding rhythm. Older Son thumped his body against the barricades until I made him stop, afraid he would tip them over and create a moment no one wanted.

One of the silk-screeners who said that they lost all their ink in the raid, and about half their t-shirts.

A guy with a red leather beret wearing a leather coat that said “The American Dream is Over.”

A Vietnam vet with an American Flag and foul language, shouting at the police to let us into the park.

The seeds of a new Peoples Library—a thin woman with thick glasses guarding a small canvas bag with about six books in it on the south side of the park.

DeShawn, who found us right after Older Son doubled over in stomach pain (it turned out it was the early stages of diarrhea, but I didn’t know that then)—a very tall, soft spoken action medic who answered Older Son’s questions about goggles and teargas, when we were guarding Jose’s medical bags while the previous guards went on a coffee run. We were well away from the park, but he stopped and started asking Older Son questions and gave him some Maalox and a space blanket to distract him from the pain.

Tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of our teeming shore. The homeless, tempest-tossed.

Hearts can be lifted, even when lamps are stolen in the dead of night.


 “What are you doing?” asked my little son, as I rescued his plush R2-D2 from the floor where it had fallen.

“I am baking potatoes,” I answered, tucking it in next to him.

“Are you making them for the protestors? Again?” he asked, a whine creeping into his un-napped voice.

“Yes,” I said, and kissed him and turned the bedroom light back off.

I cannot do flash mobs because finding a babysitter at short notice is impossible. I cannot go to the General Assembly because it interferes with bedtime stories.

So I go to Liberty Plaza when I can. I keep a sharpie in my back pocket and a peanut butter sandwich in my diaper bag and two bucks for someone who really needs a cigarette even though I don’t approve.

The Lawyer Guild’s number on my arm is for others to copy, since I can’t get arrested—my little son told me not to as we rode home on the bus today, and I try very hard not to disappoint him on the big things. Getting arrested would be a pretty big thing.

Tomorrow, though, I am going to Zuccotti before he wakes up. I’ve made his lunch for daycare, it’s waiting in the fridge. Dinner is made, too, just in case, and I’ve got a sitter lined up to pick up my older son from school. I don’t know when I’m coming home tomorrow.

I vote, but the choices I have in the voting booth get worse and worse. I donate, but the needs get greater every year.

I don’t have any more money to give, I don’t have any more votes to vote, I am so tired.

My flesh and blood are growing up in a world with fewer resources and greater inequality, and all I have left to give is my body.

So I’m taking it—and 5 pounds of baked potatoes and 3 pounds of apples and as many peanut butter sandwiches as I can carry—to Liberty Square tomorrow.

There I will stand.

It is the biggest thing I have ever done.

For my children.