Voting is Your Rallying Cry, Your Middle Finger, Your Roar

Shari voting 2018 primaries
Aug. 28, 2018 was Primary Day in my home state of Arizona. This is me after voting.

As a writer, author, and American, I believe so strongly in the power of voicing one’s opinion beyond words.

Yesterday was Primary Day in my home state of Arizona. And I feel the need to say this, to anyone and everyone who is willing to listen.

The will of the people is heard one way, and one way only–by the vote. If you’re discontent with the current state of affairs within your city, your state, or your country, the voting booth is where you can affect change. Your vote is your rallying cry, your middle finger, your roar.

Do not shy away from the power that shimmers deep inside you, even if you doubt its own grit and force. Make it heard. Make it known. November is just a few months away.

“Don’t boo. Vote.”

America, How I Weep

 

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Courtesy of “Beverly & Pack” via Flickr

 

America, How I Weep

A Poem, by Shari Lopatin

©Shari Lopatin, 2016

 

Oh America,

How I weep for thee!

My once beautiful muse,

My distant refuge.

Your maternal embrace

Protected our grace, and welcomed

My family whole.

 

But now I stand atop your dream,

In cowardice and fear I glean …

We watch with haste,

Such distaste,

And mourn the death of hope

And faith.

 

America, when will you rise?

And crush the hate which I despise?

With this prayer,

I say to thee,

Revive the truth in us … in me.

 

 

9/11 is the Day I Learned to Hate

I learned to hate not a particular person, but an idea. A way of thinking. Sept. 11, 2001 is the day I learned to hate organized religions—all of them.

That’s because the night of Sept. 10 was the first time someone I loved revealed his anti-Semitic side to me. He showed me that although he can say words like, “I love you” and “I want to marry you someday,” he also had the ability to say, “All Jews are arrogant.”

I remember I slept in the morning of Sept. 11 because of that fight. I was 19 years old and missed my first class at the local community college. I’d just walked out of the shower, wrapped in towels, when my phone rang. It was my father.

“Are you OK?” he asked me, his voice cracking.

My stomach dropped. How could he know what happened last night? Nervous, I sucked it up and said, “Yea Dad, everything’s fine. Why?”

“Haven’t you seen the news?”

Borrowed from Google Images

Hair still dripping, I flipped on the T.V. and watched in solidarity with the rest of America, as smoke billowed into the heavens  from two magnificent towers. And I knew why my father wept.

My parents are both New Yorkers.

Later they said it was terrorism. They said it was Islamic extremists. But I knew … I knew. It was religion. Divisive. Hateful. Demonic.

Religion was the reason a boy no longer wanted to marry me. And religion was the reason 3,000 people died that fateful day.

 

Remember to love in honor of those who died

Yes, Sept. 11 is the day I learned to hate. You may ask, “Why share my story today, when so many other bloggers will be doing the same—on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11?”

Borrowed from Google Images

Truth is, I’ve never written about Sept. 11 until now. It’s crazy to think we have a whole generation of kids growing up who know nothing but a perpetual state of war in this country. They’ll never know what it was like to fly without paranoia, to live without the Patriot Act, to be at peace with most of the world.

So many died on Sept. 11, 2001. And so many more died serving their country in the wars that followed. So many heroes saved lives, and so many lives were ruined.

I’m writing today to say in these past 10 years—since I learned to hate—I’ve learned to love again. I’ve forgiven myself and found new (and better) happiness with someone else. I’ve learned the difference between religion and faith.

I wish and hope our country can do the same.

In honor of every victim of Sept. 11, I want you to remember that love heals. It pushes the world forward, and it inspires. Let’s never forget Sept. 11 by striving to be the country we were before that fateful day. Let’s have faith in each other again, and honor those we lost by opening our hearts.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What images and/or emotions does this profound day—the 10-year anniversary of 9/11—evoke for you? Looking back, what has been your greatest lesson, whether in life, or in your writing?

What Happened to the Need for Volunteers?

I’m a 29-year-old professional woman, college-educated, and I’m dying to volunteer for my neighborhood’s at-risk kids.  

There’s just one problem: no one wants my help.

Today is one of those days I’m veering off-topic. And yes, perhaps this is a bit of a rant. But I see something wrong–very wrong–with my recent discovery. And I cannot remain silent.

What I want(ed) to do 

I grew up in the vibrant dance culture of Phoenix, Ariz. (yes, we do have one, believe-it-or-not). I danced ballet, jazz, lyrical … 15 hours a week. I helped put myself through college by teaching dance.

And now that I work a professional 9-5, I want to teach it again. Except this time, I don’t want to be paid. I want to volunteer as a dance teacher and mentor for teenage girls in my neighborhood’s high school dance program.

It’s a Title 1 school. That means it receives federal funds because many of its students are at-risk, from low-income households.

Since this summer, I’ve been trying to call the school. I’ve left messages with the principal, the office staff, and even the staff dance teacher. I went so far as to call the SCHOOL DISTRICT and leave a message for their volunteer coordinator.

Not a single call back.

I guess our local school districts, which are scrounging for money, don’t need free help from its community’s professionals, who by the way, pay property taxes to support education.

Walter Cronkite had a volunteer high-school mentor.

Did you know that? I’m currently reading his autobiography. The man was a professional journalist in Walter’s community. He volunteered to teach and mentor the neighborhood high school kids once or twice a week.

Walter Cronkite, as we know him, would probably never have existed without this great volunteer.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Stand and Deliver?” It’s about the infamous math teacher, Jaime Escalante, who taught at-risk high school students calculus. Jaime, a Bolivian educator, came to Garfield High School from a computer factory, where he served as a star technician.

In today’s world of public education, neither Jaime nor Walter’s mentor would have made it to the classroom. No one would have bothered to call them back.

Yes, I’m angry! And you should be, too.

What happened to this country’s appreciation for volunteers? When did it become so HARD to help, for free, in your community? When did we become so selfish, that we think only to use our communties as resources–to better ourselves?

I come from a family of teachers. My mother was a teacher, my father was a teacher. My boyfriend’s mother is a teacher. I have cousins who are teachers. It runs in my blood. And yet, I cannot get involved.

Is anyone else seeing what’s happening here?

Yes, perhaps there are many reasons why I haven’t gotten a call back. But after leaving multiple messages for multiple people, I think the message is clear. They don’t want my help. Because to them, it’s not about the kids.

This makes me wonder, what other opportunities are being denied to our youth in the public school system? Who else have they not called back?

I’m not a parent. So I urge every parent out there to find out. Ask questions. Because apparently, it’s no longer the American way to step up and volunteer for your community’s youth.

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Bananagrams: The New Age of American Consumerism

We’ve reached a new height in the age of American consumerism—Scrabble in a banana.

Yes, I found this new gem while stopping at Walgreens the night before Thanksgiving to grab some contact solution. You can purchase this enlightening invention for only $14.99.

Yes, it's true. This is a Bananagram. No, your eyes are not deceiving you.

Here’s the kicker: When I came back to Walgreens to snap a photo, only one remained.

I have no idea what company makes the Bananagram, or why. All I know is that I couldn’t help but stop after glimpsing five oversized, fabric bananas hanging from a hook off the aisle at Walgreens. I had to inspect this specimen further.

Upon removing one fabric banana from its hook, I noticed a zipper down the middle. Intrigued, I gently unzipped the contraption, revealing its hidden surprise. When it opened, a bag full of plastic letters—the kind used in Scrabble—erupted from the banana’s core.

I looked up at my boyfriend, confused. “Scrabble in a banana?”

He broke into a hysterical fit of laughter, as I stood there, stunned, with my shoulders shrugged. “Who would use Scrabble in a banana?”

Then I noticed the invention had a name. There, inscribed onto the side of the banana, it proclaimed, “Bananagram.”

Wow.

Now I know we’ve hit our peak. We have Facebook, and Twitter, and God bless it, we have WordPress. We have cameras on our phones and phones on our computers. But never have we reached the epitome of our capabilities in societal communication—until the Bananagram.

May it bring us peace and solve world hunger.