I’ve Moved On and Adopted a Cat

I never posted this, because I’m trying to protect my privacy. However, reading back over some of my posts, it’s clear that I never said here that I was able to move out of the subsidized housing system, and into a place of my own. Yipee!  Things are better.

I adopted a cat, too! She was at the shelter for two years.

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Meow.  Thanks for reading.

Madeleine Albright’s Response to Executive Order

Most of you have seen the draft executive order on immigration and refugees that the President is expected to sign. If signed as written, it would ban Syrian refugees from entering our country, suspend the entire refugee program for 120 days, cut in half the number of refugees we can admit, and halt all travel from certain Muslim countries.

Having looked at the draft, I felt I had no choice but to speak out against it in the strongest possible terms.

In doing so, I want to make three points.

First, it is a cruel measure that represents a stark departure from America’s core values. We have a proud tradition of sheltering those fleeing violence and persecution, and have always been the world leader in refugee resettlement. As a refugee myself who fled the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, I personally benefited from this country’s generosity and its tradition of openness. This order would end that tradition, and discriminate against those fleeing a brutal civil war in Syria. It does not represent who we are as a country.

Second, this measure would directly harm our security interests. As you all know, the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East poses an extraordinary threat to the stability of that region and to our allies in Europe. We need to be doing more, not less, to alleviate the problem – and one important way to do that is to accept a modest number of thoroughly vetted refugees. The signing of this executive order would send a terrible signal to our allies in Europe and in the Middle East, who will now have an excuse to do less. It will also be a gift to ISIS, which has been telling Muslims around the world that the west is their enemy. I have no doubt they will use this order as propaganda to support that claim.

Third, there is no data to support the idea that refugees pose a threat. This policy is based on fear, not facts. The refugee vetting process is robust and thorough. It already consists of over 20 steps, ensuring that refugees are vetted more intensively than any other category of traveler.

The process typically takes 18-24 months, and is conducted while they are still overseas. I am concerned that this order’s attempts at “extreme vetting” will effectively halt our ability to accept anyone at all. . When the administration makes wild claims about Syrian refugees pouring over our borders, they are relying on alternative facts – or as I like to call it, fiction.

The truth is that America can simultaneously protect the security of our borders and our citizens and maintain our country’s long tradition of welcoming those who have nowhere else to turn. These goals are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they are the obligation of a country built by immigrants.

Refugees should not be viewed as a certain burden or potential terrorists. They have already made great contributions to our national life. Syrian refugees are learning English, getting good jobs, buying homes, and starting businesses. In other words, they are doing what other generations of refugees – including my own – did. And I have no doubt that, if given the opportunity, they will become an essential part of our American fabric.

Yesterday, I tweeted about my own background. I was raised a Catholic, married an Episcopalian and then found out I was Jewish. I said in my tweet that should a registry of Muslims be instituted by this administration, I would add my name to such a list.

Such a registry is not included in the language of this order, but by targeting Muslim-majority countries for immigration bans and by expressing a clear preference for refugees who are religious minorities, there’s no question this order is biased against Muslims. And when one faith is targeted, it puts us all at risk.

When I came here as a child, I will never forget sailing into New York Harbor for the first time and seeing the Statue of Liberty. It proclaims “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” There is no fine print on the Statue of Liberty, and today she is weeping because of the actions of President Trump.

#RefugeesWelcome

Give

Why does it feel so good to give someone a dollar or two a few times a week? Why do I end up talking to them? Why does it feel good? Is it self-righteousness? Is it my programming? I was programmed to believe I deserved nothing. Then again, I don’t buy that anymore. I just feel good when I give. I feel good when I’ve been frugal enough with my money for the month that I can give.

I often wonder if the people I’m giving to have just as much as me – subsidized housing, Public Assistance, Disability, or some combination of public housing and benefits. What moves someone to sit or stand on the sidewalk and beg? I never begged. No wait – one time I asked someone for a swipe so I could get the train to work: when I was working, the money flew away from me before I knew what was happening. I wanted to get rid of it as fast as I could. I hated that job.

No, that’s not it. Yes, I hated my job. I needed to spend out of convenience, because what life didn’t take out of me, my job did. I needed to take a cab to the train because I injured my leg at work. I needed to spend money on medical care and medication, because I didn’t get insurance. I needed to buy food, because I didn’t qualify for food stamps. I ate and ate and ate so I could get to sleep; so I could forget how awful the day was and how awful the next day would be. I saw no way out. There wasn’t really any way out. I looked for jobs all the time.

I’ll Make It OK

I never know if I’ll get through one day or the next. I mean, I believe I’ll stay alive. Yet I can only do it by putting one foot out of bed each day; then the next; and so on.

I try to imagine my future. Will I write? Will I finish my four-year degree? Will I ever be able to work again? What would allow me to earn my keep? Will I ever be able to decide where I want to live and sign a lease?

I know I’ll make it. I know I’ll stay alive. I know this morning that I’ll be alive in the evening. Yet I know any given morning I might not get out of bed, because of a migraine; I won’t be able to think of a good reason to risk a panic attack in order to go out and accomplish something. I know that even if I make fun plans and follow through with them, there’s a damn good chance that my mood will stay depressed.

So what’s the point? JUST KEEP GOING. That’s the point. One foot after the other. That’s the point.

Cuz I have a secret: I think my future’s gonna be awesome, really awesome. And I can’t wait.

What the hell, Depression?

I don’t understand my mental and physical conditions at all. I can be fine, and then a weather front rolls into the area, and I’m flat on my back for days. I’m in pain. I can’t speak. My body fills with negative comments I’ve heard, mean things. Something sinister inside of me toys with my sense of joy, telling me I’ll never get better.

“You’ll never be able to work. Who’d hire you. You know you’re making it all up so that you don’t have to go back to the service industry. Don’t you know that all you exist to do is wait on people?”

That stuff curls up and nests inside of me for weeks at a time, and then, one day, it’s gone. I remember who I am. I can organize my thoughts. I can stand up without the room spinning, without getting sick.

IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THAT THIS HAPPENS TO THEM TOO.

I’ll be moving right along, going to all my appointments, keeping up with the housecleaning, and suddenly not be able to sleep one night. Then a huge depression pushes me down and holds me there until I wake up one day and feel fine. I’m fine! I can go to the store! I can tolerate the heat for 20 minutes at a time.

I DON’T GET IT.