Category Archives: On My Mind

On Women and Power

8 November 2016 – There were tears in my eyes when I voted for Hillary Clinton.

9 November 2016 – There were tears in my eyes throughout the silent ride to school. My carpool of strong women could think of nothing to say. Like many of my colleagues, I cried at work that day. I sat in a school-wide meeting called by our director, stunned, as he explained to the students that at our school, we value dignity and respect. We accept everyone, he emphasized, and we do not believe in hate. How to explain this to middle school students who, like the rest of us, had just watched hate win?

10 November 2016 – Our carpool was no longer silent. Shock and despair turned to anger and we realized the most important of lessons: Our voices were all that we had. I had the good fortune to be living in New York City and I was well aware that life would remain largely unchanged, despite the persistent chill in my chest.

22 November 2016 – It took about two weeks to accept that I was afraid.

December 2016 – Plans were formed and we waited.

18 January 2016 – Preparations finalized and we waited.

21 January 2017 – Women’s March on New York City. Women’s marches everywhere.

February, March, April, May, June 2017 – The carpool to and from school became an opportunity to call government officials at the local, state, and federal levels. We gave donations, signed and circulated petitions, read the news aloud, listened to the radio, joined online interest groups. We attended marches and protests. We spoke up because we could. We spoke up because we could not stop reading about people living in places that had become openly repressive and dangerous. We spoke up because these people could not speak.

And we realized, our voices were all that we had.


My political awakening came during the Obama years. I voted for the first time my first year in university, there was a financial crisis and promises for changes afoot, and I was studying to be a social studies teacher. Politics took on a relevance it never had before and I was excited to be involved. By the time Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination for president, I assumed the United States was ready to join the nations that had already elected women to the highest offices. It was 2016, after all.

Like more than half of the country, I was wrong. The people may have been ready but the Electoral College was not, and it is the Electoral College rather than the people who make this decision. So much for demokratia. The people hold power . . . except when they don’t.

This was not an issue of politics. This was an issue of women.


I have watched from afar, in horror, as the United States has increasingly restricted what can be taught in schools and what books are available for young people. I have watched from afar, that sinking feeling again in my stomach, as the nation’s courts deny women the right to their own bodies, again and again and again.

And I ask: What are they so afraid of? What are they running away from? What are they scrambling to hide?

I am a student and teacher of history, and this is the pattern of the world repeated over and over.

So I answer: Power.

After all, we do not silence people who we do not fear. We do not delegate inferior status to those we exclude without repercussion. When we do not feel threatened, we need not respond at all. In fact, we likely don’t even notice.

This leads me to the conclusion that men in power fear women. They fear opposition. They fear ideas that could harm the illusion they have built around themselves. And this illusion? That whatever power they think they have is, in fact, theirs. If it were, if that power were rightfully earned and positively utilized, there would be nothing to fear. Nothing to hide. Nothing to silence.

Clearly, there is a great deal to repress.

And this says a great deal about power.

Criminalizing a woman’s right to her own body suggests that the people making these laws are afraid of everything that makes a woman. And so I ask: If this is the case, who actually has power?


Head held high, I needn’t answer. I need only act. With my very self as the threat, my existence proves stronger than your resistance. Power lies in me and of me and through me. And no amount of you can take that away.

Women’s March on New York City – January 2017

Home Is: A Reprise

Depending on how you look at it, I am a person with many homes or with no home. Perhaps I am a person looking for a home, or perhaps I call “home” what is more accurately “place”. Is home where you are or is home how you feel?


Home is clearly more than house, but there are times when home is indeed also house. And there are times when home has no house. Home can be forest, mountain, water, and here, home is a feeling. Can the feeling also be a place? Can a place be a home?

If I have many homes, it is because home is people, not places. But not every place with people is a home, nor do all homes rely on people. Does bringing people to a place make it a home? Perhaps not, but the community that comes from the people can be a home.

If I have many homes, it is because home is a feeling, not a location. I can feel at home in different literal places when my heart can settle in a figurative place. To say that I feel at home with you means you and not where you happen to be. So I can feel at home with you within, despite, or regardless of the place.

Or do I have no home? I can be homeless without being houseless, a person who has a physical place but no sense of warmth, of love, of affection and affinity. If I have lost my connection to home, that means I have lost connection. And what does that mean for who I am? If connection comes from relating with others and the world around us, does losing home mean losing identity? And without identity, who am I?


Depending on how you look at it, I am a person with many homes or with no home. I am deeply rooted to something I cannot articulate but am never without, a sense of belonging to the trees and sky, mountains and ocean. I do not need to be out in the world to understand that, but I need to be out in the world to feel grounded in my own body. And at the same time, I seek to lose the body to become part of the world.

In this sense, I am at home in the world.

But to be home in the world does not mean being alone in it.

So home is people, not places. I do not need to know a place to feel belonging, but to know people. By this I mean the know that is tied up in care, the know that means I will share my delights and sorrows with you because, if I feel at home with you, I believe you want to know.

But home can also be found in places themselves, because to find a home is to connect with a soul. The soul of a place is a feeling and we feel places. This is how we choose where to wander and where to settle, where to explore and where to retreat. If we are able to see the soul of a place, perhaps we understand it in a way that allows us to call it a home.

In this sense, home merely is. Home exists. Home is there. Sometimes we are there, too, and sometimes home is waiting to be found.


It has been a long time since I’ve been home, and in the interim I’ve occupied many homes. Literal homes, figurative homes, shared homes, solitary homes.

Perhaps my preoccupation with home comes from a constant search for one, or perhaps from always knowing there is inherently more than one. Perhaps it’s less a preoccupation and more a vested interest, one that comes from life circumstances I never could have imagined but that, at the same time, were always lying dormant and waiting. Or maybe it’s a simple awareness of language. I cannot wait to go home, said when I am clearly at home. Welcome home, said when I coming from home.

It took years, I remember her saying, before I stopped referring to this city as home. And then I realized that my life was somewhere else and that that was my home.

This is undoubtedly logical. But if this is the case, how can I say I’m going home? And how can I then be welcomed home to multiple places?

And so I search further. I search from the security of a place that I call home, a place made up of people who hold, care, and love, and who know that it is not the search that is important, but the discoveries that are part of searching.

And I search because I like to ask questions and I like to find answers. I am curious when I am safe, and I am safe when I am home.

Schalkau, Germany – September 2021

I Wonder

I wonder how much of what’s on paper is real. I wonder how much of poetry comes from life lived.


A few months ago, I started reading a book of poetry* aloud. I’ve carried it around town and read under the tree, in the park, by the fountain. I carry a blue pen with me, slight weight, fine black ink, the kind of pen that was made to tell stories rather than sign papers, I like to think. The kind of pen that’s meant to be enjoyed rather than kept in a box on a desk for special occasions, but also the kind of pen I’d be sad to lose, so I left it at home once, and those pages are easy to find in my journal because they don’t look like the other pages. I haven’t left it at home since.

I carry a blue pen with me and I annotate, underline, fold down page corners, record dates. I read aloud and sometimes I reread, sometimes I stop because the words have become the sound of my voice and I need to go back to the words. I read aloud and sometimes there are people around and sometimes I stop just to take it all in.

There’s something about the words that makes me braver than I am, that reminds me that I am all I have, that assures me that when everything falls apart again, there’s a way to rebuild.


I can still see the look in your eyes I can’t read, hear the chorus that told me what I already knew and didn’t want to know.

Sometimes I wonder if you’re as scared as I am.

And I laugh at myself for wondering because you’re not. You never were. I wonder if that’s how I seem, too, and I wonder if that’s why I can’t read that look in your eyes.

How much of poetry comes from life lived?

Weimar, Germany – March 2022

*River Flow by David Whyte