My father encouraged me to speak out

“Never let anyone tell you you’re wrong when you’re right, Mija,” my father said to me often when I was growing up. What he meant was that I needed to stand up for myself no matter who it was I was standing against. That I needed to speak out when necessary.

To him, this was more than just words.

My parents stood by me in the third grade when I was sent home for getting into a fight with a boy who escalated from bullying attempts to hitting.
They stood by me in the sixth grade when I was accused of being “disrespectful” to a teacher for calling him out for his language.
They stood by me in high school when I helped organized a two-day walkout to protest a teacher who failed 90% of the class in his final exam.
They stood by me as my career and education goals differed from what they understood or planned.
They stood by me as I became an adult and family members accused me of being too much, too loud, or too different.

My dad was very old school, traditional and often incorrect in his views about women’s roles and, yes, about race. As I became an adult I clashed with him on more than one occasion about what he believed and said. There were words, shouting and hurt feelings … and we didn’t always so much make up as just move on.

And yet, despite the fact that we often disagreed, I did know that he took delight in my strong character. He liked watching me push up against the world, against what others thought I could and couldn’t do and shattering their expectations. I think he liked knowing that he and my mom gave all of their children the tools to go out and do more than what they were able to do themselves.

As I speak out in support of #blacklivesmatter in conversations with friends and family, I know that my father wouldn’t have agreed with what I’m saying but he would have absolutely supported my right to say it.

the things I hate right now

I hate that she seems so frail … when I look at her I can see the weakness and not the strength.

I hate that she seems so old … when I’m with her all I notice are the signs of the passage of time.

I hate how she makes me feel … impatient, exasperated, guilty, and tired.

I hate that all her requests are emergencies … there’s never any planning, everything is due now.

I hate how I always end up saying “yes” … I’m tired of asking her to think ahead, make lists, consider my time so I just do what she wants.

I hate knowing that I should be better … and knowing that I’m stuck in this gear.

I hate her … I hate myself.

So little faith

My mother is spending the weekend at my place. This morning, after I showered and spent a little bit of time working.

MOM: “I heard you up and around early today.”

ME: “I told you last night I had an 8 am Zumba class, Mom.”

MOM: “Yeah, but I didn’t think you really meant to go.”

A pause.

ME: “Then why did you think I mentioned going?”

MOM: “I don’t know. I thought you were just making conversation.”

ME: … {{silence}} …

And then I left the kitchen.


A busy life

I have a busy life, do you? (

In the next month I have 7 health appointments. Yes, 7.

No, I’m not seriously ill. The truth is that only one of the appointments is mine. The other 6 are my mother’s. After years of resistance I finally convinced her to do all those exams and other things that she’s been putting off. There appointments include 4 doctors and 2 scheduled groups of exams.

I’m glad that she’s finally getting all of this done. It’s good news, really. Unless you’re her chauffeur. Because what this also means is that I have to take time away from my regular schedule (and I have a lot of meetings) to drive her there and wait with her and drive her back. And, of course, pick her up and drop her off.

I want her to be healthy. I just wish someone else could drive her.

Yes, I sound like a bad daughter … except I will take the time off to drive her. And I will make sure she follows up with the doctors. And I will make sure she takes her medication.

I don’t have children. But I do have an aging parent. I’m a caregiver, though not exactly a perfect one.

Meet the cast: David

David is my youngest sister Arianna’s baby (also Tomas’). He is 10. He is beautiful. Like his cousin Adam (my other nephew), he has dimples and a killer smile. He is brilliant in a Sheldon-from-Big-Bang kind of way. Yes, that is a little scary. He never reacts the way I expect. He hasn’t grown out of that, I don’t expect he ever will.