Today was  gorgeous day with the clouds having sunshine flowing through them warming up the cold, surprised souls walking the streets this morning.  I stayed in bed.  It was warm and more inviting than the cold wind that was making its way into the third floor window I’d left open last night to hear the sounds of the streets below me.  Last night I sat in the dining room of my host home, nostalgic for correspondence days of old when people wrote letters, waiting with anticipation the sound of the post person bringing them the mail.

When I finally got out of bed after doing some computer correspondence and organizing from afar, I made my way around

tumblr_lxczz5xZ9y1qh1z3go1_500Lancaster on foot, with my yellow puffy vest on to keep warm.  I ate at Prince Street Cafe and drooled over a Bon Apetit magazine with lovely recipes of cuisine that I can only dream of creating myself… that is until I get into a kitchen and am no longer on assignment, on the road.  I visited an old historic cemetery wherein lie the remains of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Whig party representative and hoarded stowaway slaves during the Underground Railroad.  This cemetery was very old and a site of significance because of its purpose of being a multi-racial burying ground when that sort of thing was unheard of during that time.  I then walked into a record store, proceeded to get overwhelmed by the vinyl surrounding me, head to toe, floor to ceiling.  I imagined making a “playlist” before digital.  Made me smile… When I walked out, I saw a poster of singing in the rain which screamed, “You need to be skipping down the street!” …and so I did.

I had a presentation tonight at Millersville University.  My student J. and a professor he’d scheduled to be there to present were the only other people in the room.  No one showed up for the event.  It was even catered by the school.  If I were that student, I would have been mortified and extremely embarrassed.  I’m not sure how J. felt about it, but I could see in his face that he was trying diligently to keep it together.  It was a disappointment and a stark reminder of how hard it is to get people into a room to talk about hard issues.  I hope that we can rectify this situation in the future, but I have a small amount of faith in J.’s organizing skills at this point and I hope that he can redeem himself with the remainder of this semester.

To celebrate my successful evening, I went to the local pub and met up with a friend of mine from 15 years ago.  His name also starts with J.  We reminisced about our memories together growing up in Alamance county and how our lives had changed since that time, so many years ago.  It was a good meeting and now I am back in my beautiful host home, about to go to bed.  You win some, you lose some, but not ever do you not get a chance to learn.  I had a feeling that something was awry with this student tonight… I will look forward, again trust my gut feeling, and take this evening as a reminder that my work is worthwhile because otherwise it wouldn’t be so hard.

I’m sitting in the sun right now, just about to have breakfast for … lunch at 3:20ish.  All food being cooked to order in a place called Breakfast Bum.  This means I will have bacon twice in one day.  That is good news.Mmmm Hmmm

Last night, reunited with my darling girlfriend from my time in Vermont.  Recently I’d decided to change the course of the capstone/thesis program I am working on.  She was in the same program and it was great to talk about that with her, share with her the passions that led to this change of heart and direction.  Realizing that I have no choice, this path is choosing me just as much as I may have any agency or authorship over the situation.. great concept.   So that was in DC, I arrived last night late in from the excellent presentation at the University of Mary Washington.  The couch I slept on was comfortable and this morning I felt somewhat refreshed, but if you remember, I was up late last night blogging and thinking – so my 5.5 hours of sleep felt a little more like 3 than I wanted them to.

It took me 30 minutes to get out of DC metro area, JEEEZ what traffic.  I got lost several times, turned around is more like it.  Also, I had no cash and the guy at the toll booth chuckled at me and told me they’d mail it to me.  That made me laugh too.  I’m glad he was a jolly old man instead of a grumpy old codger.  🙂

The drive to Salisbury to meet my student at Salisbury University was BEAUTIFUL.  I found an old diner called Holly’s, I wrote some post cards, and ate bacon and eggs with a surprisingly yummy gravy this far North.  Took some back roads and cruised into Salisbury wondering where all of a sudden I had ended up.  A bustling college town, busy with commerce and students walking around in the midst of farming villages and rural little areas…

M., my student here is a determined young man and I met with him for about 2 hours discussing the creation of his new chapter of Democracy Matters.  He’s almost finished with the process of establishing an official chapter of DM on campus and will start to have official meetings and hosting events as soon as he can.  We brainstormed events and actions he could take and I told him about my inspiring experience of lobbying in DC years ago  advocating against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with members of indigenous nations from Alaska and Canada.  He was excited to hear about the connections we made in DC and how it felt to have a direct communication with a Congressperson.  I’m going to help him organize an advocacy trip with his students and I’m going to put together a Advocacy Day for Fair Elections once the Fair Elections Act is reinstated for Congressional consideration for all my DC area students.

Now I’m here and just got my plate of eggs and bacon and yummy potatoes with peppers and onions.  Seriously, who’s going to finish typing when THAT’s an option?

My eyelids are heavy and I am warm, my feet are hot after having been reminded of what it’s like to walk around a college campus, up and down stairs, all over town, all day.  To be reminded also that this is the essence of life – experiences.

Today started with me sleeping in and getting some extra needed rest after a long day yesterday of driving, prepping, and a late night meeting with my student and a meeting with my glass of wine after.  Even later night rantings about the meaning of words and letters and thoughts and feelings.  Even LATER night pondering of which stars are really surrounding us and then me thinking that bed would probably help me solve more of those issues than staying up thinking about them. 🙂

My student M. at the University of Mary Washington is a gem of a student.  She is eager and driven.  I am inspired by her approach to grassroots organizing.  It is an approach that is inclusive and fearless, realistic and she sees situations for what they are, not what she wants them to be.  This is key in this path.  Right now I’m too tired to go into it as thoroughly as I’d like – so I will just say this, her approach works because she can analyze situations for what they are and she will go far for not making assumptions.

My presentation tonight went very well and the students were very receptive.  Each student has legitimate concerns with the system of blatant and equal opportunity corruption that is blanketing our election system and therefore our daily lives.  Making those connections are so important.

I can feel the energy draining from my fingertips so this note will be cut short by my lack of being able to keep my eyes open.  Today was a wonderful day.  I enjoyed Fredericksburg.  I typed on a real typewriter today too.. can’t wait to do that again.  Soon.  Here I come Maw Maw’s basement.  Romance in the touch of a black, metal, lettered key, whose strokes are permanent in old machines.  Permanent and therefore begging for determination and confidence.  Two things I have right now, along with many other important things.  Goodnight Moon.Moon above R St. NW, D.C

nottingham_curtain_bethsmI am here on the first leg of my journey and a few sips into my glass of wine.  I am meeting with my student around 10:15 or so to get to know her and talk about our plans for the morrow.  I decided to journal about the happenings of each day on my blog and instagram beautiful moments.  I saw the moon tonight and she was beautiful on her way out of her full phase.

I thought about my life under that moon and how many moons have gone by since my conception moment… So much to be said, so much gratitude and curiosities flowing through me.  Right now I am sitting in a historic house in Freds’burg, VA and this room is dainty and comfortable.  Glass doorknobs, black and white motif with crystal lamp, minstrel scene on the wall, complete with lute player and then.. a soccer poster…. Not sure why the last is included but hey.. soccer’s not all that bad.  (Okay, proper foot ball.)

This trip is consisting of visits to six schools in 5 days.  There were going to be 7, but one seems to have dropped out.  We’ll see.  I’m visiting all of the colleges where Democracy Matters (the political, non-partisan organization I work for) has interns.  Those interns are learning to be grassroots organizers on their campuses, highlighting specifically the problem of MONEY ruling our ELECTIONS.  We talk about this issue and how it relates to and completely dictates how other issues are experienced in this country.  Everything from our environment and how when The Pan American Petroleum Company (presently Amoco)  pays half a million dollars to a congressperson, that congressperson is then obliged to be at Amoco’s disposal – completely undermining the rights of citizens to have a say in whether their water will be contaminated by fracking practices.  This is one example of how money in politics is a bad idea.  My students do the work of spreading this message across their campuses and my tour visits are meant to boost participation and recruitment to join Democracy Matters, and to reach out to students who may have otherwise never heard of this issue. (Believe me, indifference is not the case, nor is apathy, it is a complete and utter dis and misinformation of the masses in this country that keeps people from knowing all the information they need to be COMPLETELY disgusted with our current state of affairs.)  But anyway… that rant could go on for days!! (and will..)

There’s a couple staying here who are from Berlin.  They flew into NY 3 weeks ago, then flew to Texas and are driving all the way up the East Coast.  Kate and … I can’t remember his name but he is tall and red’haired with a short beard.  What an adventure they must be having.  Reminded me of my friend B. who’s living in Germany.  I haven’t seen or heard from him in years.  He was one of those people you meet and feel like you knew all along.  Those rare times I treasure so closely.

Right now I am content with my surroundings, feeling the first warm pangs of wine entering my temples.  I look forward to tomorrow and all the learning that will happen when I step up to the courage plate and give it all I’ve got.

Tune in tonight from 9-11pm EST (I’ll be calling in at 9:30) and listen from anywhere in the world, or 1090 on your am dial if you’re close to Brooklyn College. Sex and Politics is a live call-in talk radio show.HeaderBW4

ATTENTION FRIENDS: I will be talking about the work I do with Democracy Matters and issues relating to money in politics to education, equal rights, ETC.

xoxo – wish me luck.  Never done this before.  Slightly excited, slightly nervous.  I LOVE this feeling. Teaches us courage and so many other virtues.

Check out the radio show online and on Facebook:

strong-public-schoolsI sent this in to be published last night:

We The People Deserve Fair Elections

Are you okay with the fact that North Carolina politicians receive huge donations from wealthy contributors and give tax breaks to the rich and corporations while they cut funding for schools, public safety and for other critical, life-saving services?  If you want a government that cares about and listens to ordinary North Carolinians, then I have good news. There is a coalition of organizations in our state right now working to take back our democracy advocating average citizens speaking out against these injustices who want to get this private money out of OUR election system.  “We the people” are being railroaded by wealthy campaign donors like Art Pope (billionaire CEO of Roses, Maxway and other chain discount stores) whose political money is silencing the overwhelming majority of North Carolinian voices, all the while implementing new laws restricting our right to vote!

Until this year, North Carolina had a public financing option for our Supreme Court races.  Currently, in state legislative races Connecticut, Maine, and Arizona, and city races in New York City, among others, the citizens have fair representation because candidates are not ruled by big dollars but by the needs of the people.   Imagine politicians spending time talking with you and solving problems, instead of using precious hours each day raising money from wealthy contributors. It means that highly paid corporate lobbyists lose their clout! It means that if you have good ideas, you can run for office even without millions in your bank account!

However, by the end of our latest legislative session, Art Pope used his new position as the Budget Director for Governor Pat McCrory, along with a very small group of ideologically driven politicians, to completely gut our Judicial Fair Elections program.  DESPITE the fact that over 93 percent of North Carolina voters believe that campaign contributions can affect a judges ruling (according to a 2011 poll from the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education.)  This complete and utter disregard of our voices is leaving us in the dark.  We need accountable and representative government., not one beholden to the money that pays candidates’ campaigns.  This is a non-partisan issue.  Money floods our election system and drowns out ALL of our voices.  But there is something that YOU can do and something that North Carolina is doing right now, to make this legislature and governor accountable to their electorate.  Thousands of people across this state have been protesting at Moral Monday rallies, standing up for their rights, and making it known that we will not re-elect those who are tearing apart our foundation of Democracy.

Alamance County is hosting a Moral Monday event, Monday October the 28th, from 5-6:30pm at the Burlington Historic Depot Amphitheater.  We will be rallying to show both our complete disapproval of the actions of our legislature and governor and also rejoicing the efforts of ordinary citizens to stand up and be heard.  We are inviting you to join us in our mission to bring to light the harsh injustices that have been hidden beneath the surface here in North Carolina.  Uncovering the truth that corruption and money are silencing people like us and keeping us from the Democracy that we fight for and deserve.  We should be able to run for office with the support of our communities, not because of how much money we can raise to outspend our competition.  If ordinary citizens had the resources to run for office independent of special interest money,  it could lead to the break we need from the powerful hold that money has on our democracy.

The truth is that with YOUR help, a more accountable North Carolina government could be within our grasp,  even though powerful corporate donors are fighting to retain their grip on our political process. That’s why we need you! Minorities, veterans, the elderly, women, the disabled, unemployed, students, and all working people across the state have an important role in deciding whether North Carolina will have a political system where everyone’s voice is heard. If you want your representatives in Raleigh to listen to YOU, join our Moral Monday rally in Burlington, October 28th to show your support for a fair and inclusive democracy. North Carolinians deserve a state government that is of, by and for the people of North Carolina  —   not one bought and paid for with big campaign checks. Together we can do it! Forward together, not one step back!

NC Schoolteacher blog:

Video about NC voting rights