I'm "Eve"- blogger and writer Allena Tapia. Thanks for visiting. To support the blog, be sure to check out the links and ads. You can also subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter (above) or using the service/icon of your choice to the left. Thanks!
Today is the 50th anniversary of the day that Sylvia Plath fed her two babies, made sure they were safe, and then proceeded to stick her head in an oven, thereby guaranteeing herself a place in poetry history (although her text may have done that anyway; we’ll never know for sure).
This particular portion on Plath’s work, below, has significance to not only this blog in name (the fig tree, so on, so forth), but also to our themes here (choice comes to mind), and also, personally, to me–this piece screams to me now, at age 35, as much as it screamed to me at 16, the first time I read The Bell Jar. The only difference is, at 16, I thought the answers would come. Now I know better.
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
Brilliance. Plath was talking about the whole “Having It All” problem long before the Atlantic article tangled it up in the blogosphere.
Just a quickie- Check out my news spot talking immigration reform with a local reporter: Lansing Freelance Writer Talks Immigration Reform. Apparently he found me through Twitter and the like, although the story ended up focusing much more heavily on my family ties to the topic, versus my work contributions.
English transcript: (Español abajo)
News Anchor: Well, it has been a rocky road leading to a new proposal for immigration reform, but President Obama sounds optimistic about getting it done. Now here’s his plan. Give illegal immigrants temporary legal status if they 1) pass a criminal background check, 2) pay a fine and back taxes, and, of course, 3) learn English. Well today, Will Robinson-Smith talked with a local woman who tells us that this really hits close to home.
Reporter: President Obama has spelled out his vision for immigration reform.
President Obama: We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We’ve been debating this for a long time.
Reporter: And while the president did lay out his idea for changing the system, for professional writer and mother Allena Tapia of Eaton County, it was all a bit abstract.
Allena Tapia: I was just really wondering where we are going to go. How long is it going to take? How are these bullet points going to, you know, change as we get closer and closer to the real thing?
Reporter: Tapia is to mother of 12-year-old Maricela and 9-year-old Benicio. Their father was the first person on that side of the family to be born legally in the U.S. His father was naturalized, but came over illegally.
Allena Tapia: We can’t make this into an ‘us/them’ thing. We can’t have that ‘other’ mentality. It’s just not going to work. This is our community now. This is everyone. This is, you know, the new U.S.
Reporter: Tapia knows for this to pass with bipartisan support, there will need to be beefed up (stronger) border enforcement. But she says that the most important thing is a pathway to citizenship.
Allena Tapia: Anything less will put an entire group of our community members, you know, our neighbors, our coworkers, it would put them into a second-class citizenship, like a second-class group. And that’s unacceptable.
Reporter: And that’s a future Tapia hopes to prevent. In Lansing, Will Robinson-Smith, 6 news.
News Anchor: Well, thank you. The president hopes congress will have legislation ready on this in a timely fashion, and if not he will hand down his own version of a bill, and insist on a vote.
Presentador de noticias: Bueno, ha sido un camino difícil que conduce a una nueva propuesta de reforma migratoria, pero el presidente Obama suena optimista acerca de conseguir que se haga. Ahora aquí está su plan. Dar a inmigrantes ilegales un estatus legal temporal si cumplen con los siguientes requisitos; 1) superar una verificación de antecedentes penales, 2) pagar una multa y los impuestos atrasados y por supuesto, 3) aprender inglés. Pues bien, el día de hoy, Will Robinson-Smith habló con una mujer de esta área que nos dice que esto realmente tiene un impacto emocional en ella.
Reportero: El presidente Obama ha explicado su visión de la reforma migratoria.
Presidente Obama: No podemos permitir que la reforma migratoria se estanque en un debate interminable. Hemos estado discutiendo esto durante mucho tiempo.
Reportero: Y mientras que el presidente expone su idea de cambiar el sistema, para la escritora profesional y madre Allena Tapia del Condado de Eaton, todo era un poco abstracto.
Allena Tapia: Yo estaba realmente preguntando a dónde vamos a llegar. ¿Cuánto tiempo va a tomar? ¿Cómo estos puntos del presidente van a, ya sabe, cambiar a medida que nos acercamos más y más a la realidad?
Reportero: Tapia es madre de Maricela de 12 años de edad y Benicio de 9 años de edad. Su padre fue el primero de ese lado de la familia que nació legalmente en los EE.UU. Su padre se naturalizó, pero llego aquí ilegalmente.
Allena Tapia: No podemos convertir esto en una cosa de “nosotros / ellos”. No podemos tener esa “otra” mentalidad. Simplemente no va a funcionar. Esta es nuestra comunidad ahora. Se trata de todo el mundo. Esto es, ya sabe, los nuevos EE.UU.
Reportero: Tapia sabe que para que pase esto con apoyo de ambos partidos, se tendrá que reforzar la vigilancia fronteriza. Pero ella dice que lo más importante es un camino a la ciudadanía.
Allena Tapia: Cualquier cosa menos pondría a todo un grupo de miembros de nuestra comunidad, ya sabe, nuestros vecinos, nuestros compañeros de trabajo, los pondría en una ciudadanía de segunda clase, como un grupo de segunda clase. Y eso es inaceptable.
Reportero: Y eso es un futuro que Tapia espera evitar. En Lansing, Will Robinson-Smith, 6.
Presentador de noticias: Bueno, muchas gracias. El presidente espera que el Congreso tenga lista la legislación al respecto en el momento oportuno y si no él dictará su propia versión de un proyecto de ley e insistir en una votación.
Any time I think of choosing something, I think of this harried line from the main character on Sex and the City. I didn’t even watch much of the show, and never saw any of the movies, but for some reason this line sticks in my head.
Today I am proactively and specifically choosing a “new” philosophy (I guess is the word). I stumbled upon this line from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a week or so ago, and skipped right by it. But, for some reason, it stuck with me. And I think I get it now.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Here’s the thing- why I think it “stuck.” It has been absolutely exhausting for me lately to argue politics too much. Yet, isn’t that what I’m willing to do here on this blog? Isn’t that where my interest lies? How could I avoid it? I actually think there is a good, necessary reason to argue things. It is necessary. Check out my reasoning here on “Why You Should Argue Politics and religion on Facebook.” But, it is exhausting.
The problem is that I think I was letting the hate in when I argued. A lot of my arguments were coming from a place of “How the hell can this dolt think this way? What kind of selfish moron thinks this way?” Unfortunately, the “selfish morons” were often my friends or acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, or even face-to-face.
That’s why it was exhausting. I carried it with me. I approached it from this place of anger, and that was often mixed up with my real life family and friends. It was a great burden to bear.
I think that if I can remember to approach every aspect of my life from the point of “love”- keeping love for my fellow humans in my heart first and foremost, I will have a lot less to bear. But, I can still stick to my values, including:
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu“Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.”- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
So, hopefully this new philosophy means that I don’t give up my conviction that things must be argued, and conflict must sometimes happen, but I do avoid the pure soul-crushing exhaustion that can result.
Wish me luck in keeping this new approach foremost in my actions!