Why I Love My Local Bank

New post up at Medium!

You Work for Me: A Letter to My Representative

New post up at Medium! 

Deluded by The Donald

Head on over to Medium to read my latest post on how I used to be a Donald Trump fan. No really, it’s all true.

Taking the Long Way

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It’s been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down

In May of 2006, the Dixie Chicks released their album “Taking the Long Way” which included songs that were a direct response to the scathing treatment and death threats they received for criticizing President Bush and the Iraq war in 2003. Country radio stopped playing their records, and some even hosted CD crushing parties in their station parking lots. The album earned five Grammy nominations and went on to win all five categories: Best Performance by a Country Group, Best Country Album, Song of the year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.

And I’m getting it back on the road now

At the end of that same May 2006, I finalized my divorce nearly two and a half years since the filing took place. I listened to that album once a day everyday for months. I blasted it on road trips, added my favorite songs to playlists, daydreamed about being the Chicks best friend. There was rarely a time when the title track didn’t cheer me up, even if I did need to let out a few tears first, a release of worries that gave way to the truth and comfort of the chorus…

But I’m taking the long way
Taking the long way around
I’m taking the long way
Taking the long way around

Two years seems like the unit of time that most upheavals require, in order to move through all of our cells, both physical and emotional. It’s the amount of time it takes so that when we are inevitably confronted with a ghost from that upheaval, it doesn’t knock the wind or spirit out of us, and hopefully, if we have been going to therapy, and accepting the love and laughter of friends, we confidently stand our ground with the ghost and tell it to get the fuck out.

Well, I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself

Life is relentless, so it also happens that just as you are coming out of a two year cycle of hell, you’re not winning Grammys, but instead filing bankruptcy. And for that one, you have to add on another four years of lean years, but, the aggregate of therapy, love and laughter of friends, Life Experience, and learning to once and for all be nice to yourself, you get to the other side of that too.

Today, I realized I am finishing another two year return: in 2013 I was too injured to run or hike without significant pain or discomfort, and it was discovered that I needed surgery on my right hip. Fitting that it was on a hike when I put this all together, and I was listening to this song when I had the epiphany. Yes, I was crying. But they were happy tears.

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I’m gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

Open Letter to Texas School Superintendent

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18 February 2015

Dr. Kevin Rogers, Lewisville Independent School District Interim Superintendent

Flower Mound High School
3411 Peters Colony Road
Flower Mound, TX 75022

Dear Dr. Rogers,

Although I live far from Texas in Northern California, I am writing to you in reaction to the news stories reporting the abhorrent behavior of Flower Mound High School students at a varsity basketball game last Friday night. I could not get through my day without being interrupted by my emotions about what happened at the game, and the alleged grotesque vandalism of the Plano East School buses. I posted the story to my own Facebook page with a sarcastic and defeated rant about how can this still be happening, and questioned what kind of community of adults enables these kinds of outright racist acts by their children. Frankly, I am glad that the world was allowed to see this with its own eyes, and hope that maybe NOW some action can be taken to stamp out racism at the core, starting with your homes, LISD schools, and surrounding communities.

I read your statement posted on February 17, but I do not think it was strong enough in denouncing the behavior, even as the school district is doing the necessary investigations. You say, “We regret that this unfortunate event has been elevated to this level on so many social media circles.” I don’t think you should regret it at all; in fact, this is how you will be held accountable in starting to address the systemic racism your school community is facing, and ultimately, how to fix it. Starting with me, just some woman in California who read about it on Twitter, I am holding you accountable for facing the racism in the LISD with some courage, and charge you with a challenge to change it.

Discussion with my friends in that same Facebook thread suggest that you should start with the following:

  1. Suspension of the students involved
  2. Criminal investigation of the students involved (this will include property damage, and some civil rights violations as well)
  3. Letters of apology written by the students to the Plano East varsity basketball team, coaches, fans, and greater school community
  4. Mandatory and long-term racial and diversity training for the entire LISD, students, teachers and staff
  5. Events that bring school communities together in celebration

I am a former teacher. I work at a nonprofit in San Francisco. Maybe I am a bleeding heart liberal. Today though, my heart is broken.

May you find the grace and courage to create real and lasting change.

Sincerely,

Justine Hebron

 

Grateful, 2014 Edition

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

And I mean ev-er-y-onnnne!!

I have arrived at the place in my life where it is reflexive for me to be grateful for the people who love me unconditionally, and I can access the words to tell them, and the actions to show them how much I appreciate their presence in my life. It takes years of practice to get to this place, because deepened gratitude requires constant reflection and action, and a lot of times examining your thoughts and actions feels shitty because you realize you didn’t do your best. You also realize that you can’t and won’t be in sync with everyone you care about all the time, but that is the space you fill with your gratitude.

I have also learned to be grateful for the antagonists in my life, from people with whom I don’t agree on Facebook, all the way to the plainly hostile. These are the folks who teach me the most about my character. How I react to their provocations is under my total control, perhaps the only real control any of us have at anything. So for those lessons, I am grateful.

As years go, it has been a good year. My second of two beloved dogs died, I failed myself and a deeply respected partner at work, I didn’t save any money, and I had hip surgery. None of these things broke me and I was well supported and doted upon through each. They still visit me in quiet times as shards of torment and frustration, scraping away at my confidence, leaving me raw and confused. But another thing happened this year.

I fell in love.

And someone fell in love with me.

The great power of love is still far beyond my understanding to put into actual words, and I strongly resist trying for fear of sounding like a bad greeting card. But I am in love and feel loved, and am intensely committed to showing him how grateful I am for his presence in my life today, and every day always.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. May your time with family and friends be warm and tender, just like your turkey.

Robin and Joan

I know I need to give an update about surgery (short story: all went well, recovery is appropriately challenging, more news to come), but dammit if I am not out of sorts and struggling under the avalanche of just total crap news the past four weeks. Physical therapy is slow and hard and slow, work is being weird, I haven’t seen my boyfriend since July 7th, I miss my dogs, and too many good famous people whose job it was to remind us to lighten up through laughter have died.

I was still home in the hip brace when the news came of Robin Williams’ death. Since I live in Marin County, only one town away from his home in Tiburon, it felt more personal to me, knowing his neighborhood, and having several friends who cycled with him, they all, in terrible shock. I cried, bawling, loud jags for about an hour as the news reports and tweets rolled in, each one echoing the same basic story: Robin was tender and kind, shy and vulnerable, giving and warm, intelligent and well-mannered. Being a comic genius was actually much lower on the list.

Today, Joan Rivers died. She lived to be 81, sucking all the delicious marrow out of a long life while working her ass off every single day. For all their differences, she and Robin shared two things. First, the gift of comedy, which shows me time and time again to be the most potent medicine for the widest range of ailments. Second, they are widely hailed as people of integrity and humanity, always there to support or mentor, and always looking out for those coming up behind them.

It strikes me that the reason it hurts more to lose actors and comedians like Robin and Joan is because of this magical combination of humor and humility and the talent and drive they have to perform it for us, out loud, in public, on a stage. They make us feel as if they live inside our brains, saying all the things we want to say at JUST the perfect time, all the while an entire audience shares this same feeling, and bam, we are all connected. Most of us don’t know them personally, but they express our emotions and validate that we are not alone with all our complicated feelings through their writing, performance, and support of others doing the same work. They relieve us of our anxieties by pointing out how absurd our behavior is. There is real power in this exchange. Much more powerful than, say, creepy extremists carrying out horrific violence on other humans.

I hope we keep our focus on all the joy they brought us, because the world feels really terrible and overwhelming lately. They both made it a little easier for me to get up and face each day. I think I will read all the gushing remembrances over again and watch some good videos of them and others who make me laugh.

And hopefully the next person to go will be Vladimir Putin. And Pussy Riot will dance on his grave. (Joan would like this joke.)