I Need a Refill on My Cerebrospinal Fluid

On Monday night, I played in a soccer game and it was going pretty well—pretty well meaning that I hadn’t made any mistakes so disastrous that my team kicked me off the field. That was until I caught an elbow to the face. Then it was not going pretty well.

I have a combination of traits that really seems to draw elbows directly to my head. First, I’m short. Second, I have terrible depth perception. Third, my response time to threats clearly needs improving. I know it sounds like I’m blaming the victim here, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. I’d say 80 percent falls on the aggressive type-A DC dude who thinks he might get scouted at the local rec field and the rest falls on my general inability to do anything sporty without almost dying.

Literally.

This is not the first time I’ve gotten a concussion from an opponent’s body part slamming into my head. It’s usually an elbow, since my head is perfect elbow height to most regular-sized people, but once it was a knee. A KNEE. I’m short, but I’m not that short. I think I have a trauma magnet in my head.

Over my many near-death sports-related afflictions, I’ve figured out how to make the best of a bad situation. Here are a few benefits of getting hit in the head so hard that your brain smashes ever so slightly against the inside of your skull:

  1. You can take more naps. Don’t believe that rumor about how you’ll never wake up. I’m awake right now.
  2. You can tell people you can’t do things because you have a mild brain injury and they’ll be worried enough that they’ll accept your response.
  3. If you forget something, you can blame it on your brain. I mean, it’s always your brain’s fault, but this time is even more its fault.
  4. You now have a good reason to not like someone forever.
  5. You can erase a few memories, like that time you ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese at a friend’s house when you were 10 and her mom kept serving you more but also stared at you like you were some kind of alien specimen and you didn’t realize that even though you were hungry and they seemed nice about it you actually should have stopped eating two bowls ago. Just like, as an example of something that probably happened to someone once.

Overall, I would give the experience 2 out of 10 would not do again, but also, if I’m being realistic, it will 10 out of 10 happen again.

Careful What You Hold High

The world is devastated about the children who have been separated from their families after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And they should be. It’s devastating. Some people say it’s a political conversation. Some people say it’s a personal travesty. We know it’s both, because the personal is political and the political is personal.

We can probably have reasonable debates about immigration policy. You know, as long as part of that reasonable debate includes the foundation that humans with excess should share it with humans who lack basic necessities. And that we’re all better when we lift one another up. I’m personally a huge fan of radios and jeans and birth control and airplanes. I’m crazy like that.

I also happen to think most people don’t leave their homes unless their lives are so difficult or dangerous or scary that the prospect of moving somewhere where their skills are devalued and they don’t speak the language and people discriminate against them in both thoughtless and threatening ways is somehow less difficult or dangerous or scary. And, because I think that, I believe that if a government is concerned about the number of immigrants attempting to seek safety in their country, they should spend their efforts making these immigrants’ countries of origin less difficult and dangerous and scary. But that’s just me.

So we can have debates about immigration. But we can’t have debates about how we should treat people seeking immigration status. We can’t have debates about whether or not people coming to this country are entitled to the legal guarantees and human rights standards we’ve hung up on our walls in the form of “America is Awesome” posters: due process, parental rights, the fourth and fifth and sixth amendments. If we want to keep our U.S.A. posters up next to those ones with the kittens who are just “hangin’ in there,” we can’t pick and choose who is entitled to these rights and who isn’t, regardless of their citizenship. We either think these things are important or we don’t.

This subject is close to my heart (clearly), and I could tell dozens of stories about the wonderful, smart, and kind children who I had the privilege of helping—but I’m pretty sure there are specific attorney rules about that kind of thing. I will say this: many of these children are scared and overwhelmed. They’re coping with a different culture and language. They’re dealing with the trauma of what they left or how they got here. They’re trying to pass their American history classes and finding solace in art or math—subjects where language is less important. They’re learning English by watching sitcoms on tv. They’re eating McDonald’s after school with the friends they made in ESL class. They’re trying out for soccer teams and dance squads. Most significantly, they’re babies and children and teenagers. They’re confused about life, because all kids are, and they deserve love and support and care.

They also deserve the same legal process any child who is removed from their parents is entitled to—going to court, having the state explain why the removal occurred, hearing the court make a determination about whether the removal reached the required standard, and, if so, being placed in a safe and appropriate environment. Yes, children can be removed from the care of their parents in the U.S. No, they cannot be removed indefinitely, without legal recourse, or placed in inappropriate and unsafe places. These laws exist and I guarantee you the people supporting these recent separations would cling to them if they were faced with the removal of their own children.

People say you can tell a lot about someone by how they treat waiters or flight attendants or valets. That’s true, but I think you can also tell a lot about someone by how they react to a stranger’s crying baby or, you know, someone else’s child sleeping on the floor of a warehouse surrounded by chain-link fence and armed guards.