Sunday, May 19, 2019


I am pro-life.

I believe that every human should have the right to choose what is best for her health and body, and for her life.

I believe that abortion is health care, whether it is to end a pregnancy caused by birth control failure or to end a pregnancy that is causing harm to the health of the fetus or the mother.

I believe that men don't have the right to tell a woman they are not in a relationship with to have a baby, even if that baby is biologically his.

I believe that children should go to school and be reasonably assured that a madman with a gun won't breach the fences and gates and come in to kill them senselessly.

I believe that health care is a human right and no one should go into bankruptcy because of an unexpected injury or illness.

I believe that the women killed by men deserve to live.

I believe that "an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind," and therefore, the death penalty, with its costly court challenges, is not a valid option. Or, especially, a deterrent to violent crime.

I believe that a child victim of rape is not physically, mentally, or emotionally prepared for pregnancy, and should be offered abortion as health care, and extensive counseling to help her process what has been done to her.

I believe that if someone chooses to carry a fetus to term and have a baby, that baby/child/pre-teen/teen deserves to have its most basic needs met, even if the family who welcomes it needs assistance in providing.

I believe that children in less-affluent areas deserve schools as good as those in more affluent communities, and a fighting chance to escape the cycle of poverty.

I believe that no one should have to go into poverty-inducing debt just to obtain a college degree for the career they are passionate about.

I believe that comprehensive sex education is a right for all, so that children can first learn what is going on in their growing/changing bodies without fear or shame, and then later learn how to protect  their bodies from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, and what they can do to keep their bodies functioning healthily .

I believe that the United States should not have the worst rate of maternal mortality in the developed world.

I believe that no human being should be called "illegal" or an "alien," that yes, we have undocumented immigrants and they ought to do things the legal way...but we need a safer, more effective legal way for people to come into the United States.

I believe that minimum wage, as it stands nationally, has not stayed up-to-date with cost of living and no one can actually live on a minimum wage job.

So yes. I am pro-life. And pro-choice. Because one person's ability to survive can be contingent on factors the rest of us are too privileged to even think about.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019


I work at an IB (International Baccalaureate) school, and there are Learner Profile Traits we encourage in our students. One of these traits is to be a risk-taker.

Not risk-taking like parachuting out of an airplane (though, if you want to do that, who am I to stop you?), but the simple act of doing something knowing you might just fail at it. Failure, as we all know, is but one step on the road to success.

As a child I was never athletic. I got A's in PE because I dressed every day and did what I was asked to do--not with a ton of confidence, but I did it. I imagine my PE teachers thought me a sweet, pleasant kid who just wasn't athletically gifted. Still, I gamely jogged part of my 15-minute mile, and I did my best to learn the various games we were taught. I liked basketball and flag football.

Volleyball, however, was a particularly torturous experience for me.

It started in 7th grade, as I quickly realized I was more likely to freeze in fear when the ball came my way than I was to hit it. Or I'd move to hit it and miss by a mile. I couldn't serve the ball anywhere near the net, but instead, managed a weak little bump that went about ten feet and hit the ground. I can still see the eyerolls and hear the mutterings of my classmates. Middle school is cruel.

It wasn't any better in 8th grade. By 9th grade, I could kind of hide my ineptitude at volleyball better, and that was my last year of formal PE. Because I was in Marching Band, I took two summer school sessions of PE to meet my requirement, and that was that. I was a proud musical nerd...and I would never have to play volleyball again.

Fast-forward...many...years, and here I am. I'm a lot more athletic now, at 40, than I ever was as a kid. I've run three half marathons, I can lift weights, and I can hold my own with a punching bag. I like getting sweaty. So when the PE teacher at my school asked at a recent staff meeting if anyone might be interested in being on a staff volleyball team to play staff teams from other schools in our district, I said...yes.



I laid it out for him: I haven't played in years, and when I did last play, I was terrible and I hated it. But I have grown and changed by light-years since then, and if there's going to be a staff volleyball team, well, I want to be part of it.

I missed last week because I had an appointment, so today was my first game. I arrived at the other school in running leggings and my trusty Mizunos, and figured I'd just give it my best and call it a day.

I never expected to...enjoy it?

Look, miracles are rare. I still bumbled and I missed a few times when the ball came towards me. My serve was much better than it ever was in my younger days (thank you, biceps) but still not anywhere near going over the net. Most of the time I let our stronger team members take it while I bounced around cheering my teammates on. "Great save, Chrystal!" "Oooh, nice one, Paul!" And even as I missed, or served clumsily, my teammates, those awesome people I am privileged to call my colleagues, would cheer me on and offer encouragement. No eyes rolled. No lips muttered.

And yet, there was this one moment, when the ball came my way and there was no bouncing sideways to let Paul or Adrian go for it. That ball had my name on it, and I had no choice but to bend my knees, stick my arms out, and clasp my hands together. I figured I'd at least keep it from hitting the ground, and another teammate would give it some better air. I mean, up until now, I'd been wildly hitting it as I could and watching it sail in the opposite direction I'd intended.

So I gamely set myself up. The ball made contact with my clasped hands. I swung it upward...

...and into a perfect arc that sailed over the net with room to spare.

If I'm going to tell my students to be risk-takers, I've got to walk the walk myself. Today, I did that, volunteering to play a game that I basically spent years of my life hating because of bad memories. I wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a strong player, but halfway through our second game, I found myself, mid-court, watching the ball sail around, and I realized I was having fun.