Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Birthday Wish

I posted this last Friday on my birthday and it garnered a lot of likes and positive reactions on Facebook. In light of all that has happened in the last few weeks, I had to unload some of the heaviness in my heart. Thank you for reading.

"Today is my birthday, yet on my way to work I had tears running down my face. Black people fearing for their lives, Muslims fearing for their lives, LGBTQ communities fearing for their lives, police officers fearing for their lives, innocent people around the world going about their day fearing attacks and slaughter. So much violence, pain and fear.

I was at Eid prayer this past Wednesday in a park in my hometown. The Muslim community has grown so large that we cannot all fit in the mosque, so we had our morning prayer in a public park. The day as beautiful, sunny and peaceful. Yet my heart was dark and cloudy with dread. I looked up as people began to pray and noticed that there were men from the mosque posted around the prayer group, scanning the environment. I realized that instead of praying they were playing the part of security, trying to ensure our safety. My sister even whispered to me before that "do you think they hired security?". Security. For a peaceful prayer at a park in America.

I mourn for the black community, I have never stopped mourning for the black community. I have worked alongside my brothers and sisters from this community since I was 16. My heart is heavy with devastation after seeing the two videos that are in a long line of execution videos, because the systems that criminalize the crime of too much melanin in our skin will not admit their mistakes, they will not concede the need for change.

I mourn today for police officers who were gunned down in Dallas. I have great regard for police that do serve and protect their communities. Once my mother was lost on the highway and flagged down a police officer for help because she didn't know how to get home. When he told her how, she realized she didn't have toll money and the police gave her money for her toll. She was so grateful to him for his generosity and help. On the other end, my husband, who is of Latino background has been routinely profiled and stopped for no other reason than the fact that he was Latino, and based on that alone he was handcuffed to the side of the road and had his car searched because they thought he had drugs. My husband was a Marine, he even has a Marine sticker on his car.

I mourn my community in Bangladesh, as they reel from a terrorist attack in an area full of family members and friends and where my parents lived before immigrating to this country. I mourn for Syria, Baghdad and Turkey. I mourn for Orlando and for the LGBTQ community that have shared their safe spaces with me, no questions asked.

I mourn for all the families, parents, children, siblings and friends who have lost and are losing people here and abroad to anger, violence and rage.

In the end all I can hope for is that each one of us works to make the world a better place in the realization that peace, equality, and empathy are all values we can carry and act on, not only in our daily lives, in our work and in our efforts for justice but also something we demand from the institutions that govern our lives.

You aren't supposed to tell people your birthday wish but that is my wish, this and every birthday."


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me: Motherhood a Year Later

Every time you celebrate your birthday by going to town on an obscene amount of shots, or by partying the night away, or eating a pint of ice cream in your pajamas, what you are also celebrating is the day a woman's body pretty much ripped itself in half to give you life. Since we are not in the matrix yet (or are we? ::shifts eyes::) this is true of every single human being in existence ever. For me, this is not just my son Zakir's birthdate, this is my first year anniversary of being a mother.

Me right after birthing Zakir trying my hardest to smile. My face says it all.
At 1:44am a year ago, I gave birth to my son. I was in labor for I suppose about 20 hours, but it wasn't so bad once the drugs kicked in. Drugs were so awesome. I don't think I could thank modern medicine enough for giving me relief during labor. Cool beans to ladies who have done it without drugs, but life is enough of a struggle for me than to make child birth one of them. It chilled me out enough to facebook post during labor and take some nice naps in between throwing up. Because as happy as the epidural was, the pure force of labor still made me vomit all over my mother and the nurse.

SEEN HERE : not me
Motherhood has changed how I look at everything. I don't think being a mother is any different if you physically give birth or adopt. I think loving, caring for and raising a child is one and the same. I also don't think motherhood is a good fit for everyone and that women who choose to never have kids shouldn't be asked constantly to justify their no child status or pressured into having any.  I also realize that motherhood is a privilege, there are women whose greatest wish is to give birth to a child, and for many that deep desire remains unfulfilled. Then there are the mothers who have experienced miscarriages, stillbirths and the loss of an infant or child. For them once they are a mother, they will always remain a mother to that child. In my life I know women who fall under each of these categories, and though I will never pretend that I understand all of their individual experiences, my feelings towards these different situations has only deepened in understanding and respect after becoming a mother myself.

With this is mind I can speak that for me motherhood in this first year is indescribable. I think that's the only adjective that really fits. I described it on my Facebook as "A beautiful, vomity, bloody screaming mess with lots of poop. So much poop. And hugs." I mean really, that about sums it up for me. Motherhood is so damn visceral, in every possible sense. We decorate moms and babies in pastel colors, with a halo of peace and love. Society makes it so serene, so perfect

Scrap that, motherhood is badass, it's bloody, it's nature, full force. I'm not talking camping nature. I'm talking lions ripping wildebeests apart, volcanoes erupting, dinosaur extinction nature. The hurricane force that goes through your body when you expel an entire person out of your being is the very core of existence. Raw, unhinged and wild. It was so intense that my brain literally forgot things and fogged out my memory from remembering the hardest parts, it was that physically traumatizing. There is a purpose to this convenient memory lapse, this is so I will want other children. Because believe me, I do want other kids,  nature and my cuddly awesome progeny has tricked me into thinking it's a good idea.

Nature is beautiful
But why is it a good idea? I'll tell you why, because motherhood has changed me. Everyone says it does, but it's so true. I'm still the same person, not even an ounce more mature or put together, but definitely trying a lot harder. Because frankly I have no choice. I have to put on my big girl pants for Zakir, because if I don't no one will put them on for me to raise him. Okay, I lied, my mother helps me tremendously and has been his primary caretaker when I returned to work. My mom helps me with my mommy big girl pants. 

Thanks mother, for helping both my and Zakir survive our first year together
More than that, I feel like my blood, my brain, my heart and my entire being has changed (scientifically it actually has). And I'm not talking about the 20 pound weight gain and missing sexy abs. It feels like my heart got carved out and filled in with something different, and that 'different' is my son. I know I may still have new mom hormones surging through my body but the way I feel towards Zakir is overwhelming if I actually stop to think about it. When he's making super high pitched noises coz I stuck him in his playpen again, or when it takes 2 hours to feed him one meal, the love feeling is kind of taken over by the "oh my god you are so annoying" feeling. But there are magical moments, when I hold him tightly against my chest because that's the only way to calm his yells for "mama, mama, maaaamaaaaaa" or to calm him if he's feeling sick or sleepy. Moments when I watch him sleep at night, tears flow freely from my eyes. Tears of the purest love, intense, overwhelming, I-will-die-for- you, move-the-earth-for-you kind of love. Literally he's a piece of my soul that decided to detach and join the rest of the world outside me. And that's excruciating, it's overwhelming, it's maddening, it's exhilarating, and I guess, well, it's being a parent.

Outside of these off the wall feelings during this first year,  I am just damn grateful.  I would like to pat my mom on the back for helping me keep my son alive and functional. I want to thank all of the friends who have absolutely spoiled my family with gifts, support and love. Seriously, my home is overrun with toys and baby stuff and I bought none of it. NONE OF IT.  They basically made sure Zakir has been clothed so far. I want to thank my fellow mothers who checked in on me and understood when for the first 3 months of Zakir's birth I felt like an absolute crazy person, and frankly hated being a mom. For the first 3 months I wondered why I didn't use birth control because Zakir was awesome but I felt terrible. Not depression as much as physical pain from breastfeeding and birth recovery, guilt at not knowing what the hell I was doing, weight gain I have never experienced and trying to get back to a life that has irrevocably changed. Thank you moms for making me feel less like a wild animal and more like a regular female who had just shaken her world from its core forever. Thank you to my husband, frenemy, partner, good-looking baby maker, Roberto, for taking this journey with me as we navigate our lives as new parents, as a couple, as people wanting to advance our careers as we try to navigate mountains of debt while unsuccessfully (so far) buying a home for our family.

While writing this post, it turned 1:44 am, the time of Zakir's birth. I took a break from blogging to give my sleeping angel koala baby a kiss Happy Birthday. The tears came again, I could barely even choke out the "Happy Birthday" part, and when I kissed him, my tears glistened upon his perfect sleeping face. He's perfect, who knows if I will think that when he's a hysterical toddler and an annoying angsty teenager who listens to music I hate. But for now, he's perfect and part of me thinks, angsty teenager or not, I will always think so.

I'll love you anyway kid.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Beautiful Life

On Monday, my great aunt Nazneen Begum passed away in Bangladesh. I hadn't seen her in person since I was 12 years old when she came to visit my family all the way in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where she stayed with us for about two weeks.  She was hilarious, adventurous and someone who loved nature. Even though she was my grandmothers youngest sister and her hair had completely greyed, she had the spirit of a young woman or a child even. She and my mother literally frolicked about, gathering wild flowers in meadows they randomly stopped by off interstate highways. I remember my aunt, whom I called "Shundor Nanu" or "pretty grandma" in Bengali, taking off her shoes with no hesitation to go wading in a lake, her salwar kameez hiked past her calves. She and my mother were kindred spirits, connected from my mother's childhood, more best friends than aunt and niece. She would sleep next to my mother teaching her traditional Bengali songs and telling her poems that my mother has memorized to this very day.

But she was so much more than a relative that was fun yet separated from me by thousands of miles of oceans and continents. My aunt was a fierce lady. She was the very definition of a fierce lady. She spent a lifetime teaching girls. She taught at countless schools throughout the country and later became a professor. She even came to America to teach at schools here and continued her education at a Cal State, her passion to educate and to learn pushing her across borders and oceans. She was an voracious reader, my mother told me that her home was lined with books, books and more books. This is something else we have in common.

Empowering girls, teaching and advancing education were her greatest passion. She came from a generation of sisters who were married off young due to the turmoils of not one, but two wars. One war that saw the world battle from the shores of Europe to the South Pacific, to a violent partition that tore apart the British Raj into the modern day Indian subcontinent. She knew that marriage and childbirth were not the default pinnacle of a woman's ability and ambition. She knew and dedicated herself to education, the one thing that could change the lives of women, families and communities. In the heart of it all she was a social justice activist. Her work was not only limited to teaching. I recently found out that she also rallied teachers to march and protest calling for better pay and workers rights. I wish I had known all this when she had visited for those 15 days. But I was barely in middle school, only beginning to touch on thinking about the grander impact I wanted to make on the world. I loved her but I didn't know her whole story, not in the way I appreciate it now.

Students at my aunt's Mohammad Eusuf Higher Secondary School
She never stopped caring about education. When she retired, she took all her retirement money to finally open a girls school of her own, something that had been a dream of hers. She named it the Mohammad Eusuf Kindergarten and High School, after another great lifelong activist, her father and my great grandfather, who rallied and organized politically with Ghandhi's non cooperative movement in India. He was a lawyer and activist who joined efforts to drive out British colonialism and later became a teacher himself. 

As I reflect upon my own social justice work and commitments, I feel so deeply rooted in knowing the history of my own family in social movements and in efforts for social good. Is this passion to create change genetic? Is it passed down somehow through blood, through the coding in our DNA? Or is it passed through stories and learning, through the songs and poems my Shundor Nanu taught my mother as a young girl, who looks up to her to this very day with the utmost love and reverence?

Nazneen Begum

I'm not sure of the answer but I am sure of one thing. I am grateful that a woman like Nazneen Begum graced our world and shone as brightly as she has. I am grateful for the love she spread like ripples in water to those in her family and in her community. The light she has inspired in every student she taught, to those girls who are getting an education in her school who will shine brightly for generations after her. It is incredible to think how many lives just one person can touch. It is a lesson I hope to embody in my activism every day. Thank you Shundor Nanu, I am also someone who was touched by your light.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Unapologetic Motherhood

So I've been handing out my personal business cards to people and it has this blog on it so I figured I should write in it since my last post was all the way back in July. Can I blame it being a new mother? Yea, let's go with that.

Motherhood is less maddening now, mostly because my own mother has been the biggest help. She can watch the babe if I go to networking events in the evening or when I have panels on weekends. I could leave Zakir at home when I  attend all these events but I'll be honest, I really miss him! Yes I have to leave some sessions to rock him to sleep (especially because he starts grunting loudly when he's tired) but it's still worth it to hold his warm, snuggly, chubby little body against me while I listen to presenters talk about political empowerment and activism.

Zakir and my mom joining me when I spoke at the League of Women Voters NJ Fall Democracy Forum
I know parenthood drastically changes ones life and often, ones waistline but I know for myself that I wanted to keep the parts of my life that were important to me alive somehow. This article about basically focusing on your baby and nothing else and having no friends is my worst nightmare. I seriously hope that my life never gets to that point, but is that even possible? Can you be a mom and not be holed up shut in with no other priorities except for the survival of your progeny?

 I present to you Lisa Ronzulli, member of the Italian parliament representing with her little girl

I see articles all over about motherhood and where mothers can bring kids. Everyone has an opinion, both men and women. There was an article on Jezebel, about how a mother was asked to leave a women's conference for bringing her baby. I should know by now to ignore the comments section of any online article, and this was no exception. People repeatedly agreed that babies should stay at home and that a mom should just "find a sitter".

There have been many times that I have taken Zakir out with me to women's meeting and panels when I didn't have to. I could have left him at home with my mother. However I take pride in bringing him along. I am still the old Nadia but am also a mother now and I don't understand why  being an active member of society without having to shove your baby off with a baby sitter can't be a thing. I don't take my kid everywhere- some places are not appropriate of course, or can be plain annoying or an ordeal for baby (such as all-day conferences)- but within reason I like to take him. I feel like political motherhood should be normalized. Just like the photo above. Being a mother is such a powerful thing, as mothers we are raising the future of us all. The future of our entire society! Every person comes from the body of a mother but still the treatment of women around the world and in our own backyard is appalling.

AAGGGHHHHH ::bangs head repeatedly against the same damn wall::
Being a mother is an incredible, amazing and challenging experience that shouldn't be relegated to being only within the home with your child or just taking them along for errands (unless that is fully your choice of course). Motherhood shouldn't be another excuse to marginalize women. But I think it is, in all honesty.

I'm still navigating the spaces of new motherhood along with what used to be my prior life. I am learning, I am making mistakes but I am also carving my own place with my baby. Not just for us but for women everywhere. I hope to be an example of what is possible. Motherhood is well known for its sacrifices, but not as much for its possibilities. I hope to focus on the possibilities and am going to bring Zakir along for the ride. Because what could more powerful than for my boy to see a woman rocking in the public and activist sphere? I can think of no better experience to leave him with and I hope that one day he can appreciate it. I hope one day all of us can appreciate it!

Respect, we deserve it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mother Knows Best?

Motherhood is a complex experience. This is something I've almost never heard anyone say.

Usually all I hear is exaltations about the lack of sleep and how "it's the most incredible experience ever and enjoy every minute"

It really isn't that all!

I haven't posted as much on this blog about the whole mommy experience, because I was too busy posting on another blog that is very aptly titled "Lost Moms: A Primer on Knowing Nothing" so you can check out my hysterical ruminations there. Basically I feel like an animal in a cave for the last three months, going through a massive transformation. Like a werewolf, or a butterfly. Okay, let's go with butterfly.

though this is probably more accurate
It's been almost 3 months since my little Zakir came barrelrolling out of me. I didn't expect to have a kid, I actually wasn't even sure if I ever seriously wanted a kid. So much responsibility! Gaining lots of weight! Making sure I don't irrevocably screw up another living being! But I have a theory that most kids come unplanned and I joined that club two days before I left California to move back home to the East Coast...via a cross country road trip nonetheless.

So, what is motherhood like? It's a question I am asked frequently, and I honestly am not sure how to answer it. I COULD answer it by saying "great! awesome! I am SO in LOVE! It's so amazing that I have to punch myself in the face repeatedly to remind myself I'm not dreaming" etc etc

Well its kinda those things, kinda not. Ask me how I feel when I am holding a screaming baby that refuses to be put down. Or when I can't go network or events as much as I used to. Or when I look at the 20 pounds I've gained and none of my work clothes fit. These are times when it definitely doesn't seem as awesome.

I love Zakir, but its a crazy kind of love. As in "I know why parents are actually crazy" kind of love. I love him so much that even the thought of him for some reason not being on the planet anymore makes me feel like I would lose my mind. I can't imagine people losing their children, whether as babies or adults, losing a child seems unbearable and so far I've been lucky to not know what that is like. I've been lucky to not even know what having a really sick child is like. I have friends who have had to hold their babies hands in NICU, with heart problems and babies that were premature. I have friends that have lost babies, my mother lost two of my brothers before I was born. Even thinking of her pain completely blows my mind now.

Okay that's morbid, I know. Like I said, it's complicated. Sometimes it's super frustrating and guilt-inducing. As in me feeling terrible because I yelled at my insurance company in front of him, or dropped an F-bomb when I stubbed my toe (I'm working on it, I promise!). I worry about not playing with him enough or feeling guilty that sometimes I feel so bored and/or overwhelmed that I kick myself for not being smarter about family planning.

birth control was invented for a reason, people
Worse, I hope I'm not a terrible mom. I have no idea what I am, the kid is only 2.5 months old.

I sound neurotic, I know. No apologies, this is me being me. This is the hardest thing I've ever done.

But  it's also amazing. He smiles at me in the most perfect way. He's hilarious and quirky, I mean can babies even be quirky? Well he's mine so maybe that's just a given. He also takes incredible selfies! And when I catch a glimpse in my mind of our future together, as my son, as part of my family with Roberto, I get so so giddy with happiness. Having a baby has also brought our families even closer together. Marriage did that for sure, but a child brought in a whole new dimension to the relationships both myself and my husband had with our parents. I have never been so grateful for my mother, and his mother, who flew all the way from California to help me with Zakir. I learned so much from their motherly wisdom. I swear they were the ones that kept me sane as I plunged headfirst into motherhood.

Seriously, he takes awesome selfies
I have been so grateful to have friends who are moms come out of the woodwork to send me gifts, to check in with me, give me advice and give me their things they aren't using for free. It's been incredible, truly. My friends have made it so even up till now I have not had to buy a single diaper, wet wipe, or outfit. And let me tell you babies poop so much it's astounding, and I am still covered because of the generosity of my friends.

Ya'll are incredible!

So it's awesome, it's scary, it's frustrating, sometimes it's straight up terrible. But somehow all of humanity has survived by keeping infants alive so I'm pretty sure I can do this.

It gives me hope that Zakir and I will be alright. Weird and neurotic, but alright :-) Maybe even better than alright, maybe we will be this super duper mom and son team that kicks butt and takes names. He can be the salt to my pepper, the peanut butter to my jelly, the kanye to my kanye...

that's deep

or just the Zakir to my Nadia, I think that will be the best combination of all.

two weirdo peas in a pod!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Activism, a Love Story

Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to host a Young People and Civic Engagement Talk for the League of Women Voters- Fairlawn. I plastered the event all over my social media (as I tend to do) and was absolutely thrilled and humbled to see a packed room of people of all ages who trekked out on a cold, wintery February night to attend. The people in the room consisted of League members, high school students and friends of mine, both new and old, some of whom I've known for almost 10 years. It was actually really gratifying to see people who I've met more recently through networks such as the New Leaders Council- NJ come out and support. I've only moved back to my homestate of NJ 5 months ago so it's just awesome to already have connected to people already!

It was a lively discussion, tons of opinions and questions and a lot of open dialogue, which I really appreciated. The night was a success and I thought that people got something out of it. But honestly, more than anyone in the room, I think the event meant the most to me. It was a bit of a "NJ debut" for me, a homecoming. After 5 years of being super active and involved in the Bay Area on a range of issues like immigrant and refugee rights, Muslim civil rights activism, political involvements and youth organizing I kept wondering what my activism activities would look like here, in a new state, starting a new life.

Woohoo, getting my discussion on, all while having hot flashes, leg pain and secretly taking my shoes off under the table during the middle of the conversation.
Judging by last week, it's going great so far. And did I mention that I was over 8 months pregnant when I led the discussion? That's another thing, moving across the country and re-establishing yourself WHILE pregnant is a totally new aspect of a journey I certainly didn't expect. Yet in a strange way, being pregnant has only fueled my need to be active and involved. I know I may have to take it easy (or so I'm told) when my bundle of joy gets here but I feel a sense of duty to instill a deep sense of service in my child. It's not as much of an expectation (since kids seem to want to rebel so chances are if I push the progressive activism front too hard he might just turn into a future Bobby Jindal) as it is a deep wish I have for any child I raise to have a positive impact on the world around them and feel a sense of investment and duty to their community. I can't imagine a more important "teaching tool" than for me to set that example myself.

NAPAWF being all excited together in sunny San Diego
 Last Thursday's presentation was my second presentation in two months on civic engagement.  I also led a session at NAPAWF's (National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum) Power Up Summit. As many people know, I serve on the National Governing Board of NAPAWF so the summit is a great event I always look forward to so that I can connect with incredible API women from all of the country who are dedicated to social justice. It was a great weekend, though getting there while pregnant was a total nightmare that left me sore and almost unable to properly move for 2 days (next time I'm knocked up, I'll be sure not to take 4 modes of public transportation to get to the airport while dragging along my heavy luggage). Even with the pregnancy aches and pains, I took tremendous pride in showing up and being able to contribute to something I am very passionate about; sharing civic education and ideas with women.

Can't stop, won't stop
Outside of those two presentations, my fetus has joined me talking about voting and race on HuffPost Live, marched for 6 hours in the massive Climate March in NYC, attended a bunch of political trainings, and generally came along for the ride as I hit the ground running and haven't stopped, nausea and constant bathroom breaks be damned.
Climate Marchin' in utero
Because activism for me is not an compartmentalized slice of my life, it IS my life. It's woven through everything, it's the paid work I do from my current job where I organize college students around the country around voting and issues activism for the Andrew Goodman Foundation and it's what I do on my off time on weekends when I attend Ready to Run women's political trainings. I also have a history of using vacation days to go to social justice conference outside of work. I literally have never used a vacation day for an actual vacation.

An acquaintance asked me what I do for fun outside of all of this, and my answer was basically "I guess activism?". Not that activism is fun, we are addressing major issues here and so much of it is painful, tiring and often overwhelming.

I guess it's not "fun" for me as much as it is my passion and my love. I get tired, but I don't feel it because it feeds me and gives me a sense of purpose every waking moment. Maybe it's selfish because it gives me purpose? Frankly I don't know what else to do, it is is such an integral part of me and always has been even from when I was a child going around picking up litter in my neighborhood and spending hours in the library reading about the holocaust and other human rights tragedies.

From spending every night forwarding progressive jobs to an activist listserve I started (NADIA'S LIST ya'll! ask me about it!) to spending my free time catching up on articles about issues, statistics and blog posts, maybe all this points to the fact that maybe I have no life. Or maybe I have a full life?

Because I love it and I want it this way?

As I await the birth of my child, who is only about 6 weeks away, I will have to perhaps see, reconstruct and change up what all of this will mean as I embark on my motherhood journey. A journey where another person is supposed to come first, where I will be exhausted, emotionally and physically, where I won't have all the time to do what I want as just Nadia, the non-mom.

Or maybe motherhood will open a new chapter in my Activism Love Story, one where my children will join me to create a fuller, richer and more powerful experience for us all.

In the meanwhile, I'm still gonna to hope my kid doesn't become Bobby Jindal. Please son, no.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Year of Transition, A Year of Unknowns

2014 was so chock full of major transitions, both emotionally, physically and spatially that I feel completely stumped when it comes to reflecting on anything.

The biggest physical transition of course was my cross country move, which would be a major event for anyone. After living for 5 years on the West Coast, it took so much work to look for and secure a job in the East Coast, then physically move everything back here without even having a real apartment to land at (almost all of my stuff is still in storage). It was a bit of an unusual move because my husband, Roberto and I drove across the entire country to move my things in August, but he returned to our apartment back in Oakland, CA and was set to join me in January. But then came an unexpected monkey wrench in the form of a pregnancy (although an adorable monkey wrench I'm sure). Roberto scrambled to finish up his work with Habitat for Humanity in San Francisco until he joined me at the end of November, driving cross country again, this time with the rest of our things and two cats in tow.

Roberto on the road...with cats

Have you ever walked cats across the Great Plains? Never underestimate the insanity of cat people
It was beyond wonderful to finally have him back. My first few months back home were completely hectic and stressful to say the least. Though I was thrilled to be back home, I still didn't have an apartment so I lived with Roberto's family in upstate NY. Though it was great to be around them, they lived an hour away from my new job. Starting a new job, even a wonderful new job can be stressful, but add a two hour daily driving commute to that while going through serious morning sickness that lasted throughout the day made for fun times (heavy sarcasm). On top of that my health insurance was lagging, so for my first pregnancy I was uninsured for a month and a half and I was completely freaking out. I was alone and freaking out. I gained so much sympathy for women who go through pregnancy with no support or resources. Being uninsured for that short amount of time worried me so much, I can't imagine women who went through most if not all of their pregnancies without insurance or affordable access to healthcare.

Luckily, I was able to find an apartment in North Jersey a month into moving in, which made the commute more bearable and gave Roberto a place to land once he got here with our cats. We completely drained our savings to move back (moving is so expensive) so literally coming here is a brand new start from the ground up.

A very broke start, but I guess it builds character?
Now that it is 2015, there are still so many unknowns. I am about 6 months pregnant now and all the uncertainties and insecurities, let alone complete inexperience of giving birth is overwhelming at times. We have another upcoming move due to our apartment being too small for a growing family, and am still waiting on Roberto hopefully getting a new job to give us more economic stability (we have been living off one income since October). This is a story that so many have gone through as a young couple, broke, pregnant and starting anew. I am grateful to be sharing it with a wonderful partner and also with friends who have been there for me during the process.

There is also the question of where my career and future goals will go. A work/life balance with a new baby is obviously challenging. I guess that will be a bridge I will have to cross when I get there!

And there are my many civic and political involvements. 2014 saw me disengage from my activism in the Bay Area due to my move. I went from being super involved with the Democratic Party, API movements, and a lot of community work to leaving most of it behind. Living month by month in a temporary location doesn't really give me the time to engage with the communities I usually work with. I know this is all part of the transition process. I am still finding my footing, and even though this is my home, I have been gone for 5 years, so I need to work my way back to the place of local activism by learning and being humble.

Yes, yes I can?

So on this first day of 2015 I have a lot of hope and a lot of uncertainty. I am very excited to meet my child in 2015, what a monumental thing to look forward to! I have no idea what kind of mother I will be, which town Roberto and I will settle down in and where my new life will lead me regarding my continued commitment to activism, but I guess only time will tell.

So Happy New Years,  good luck exploring the infinite abyss, a fitting quote from Garden State, and yes I used it coz it's a Jersey movie.

Happy New Year! Into the infinite abyss we go!