From my newsletter, after the March

Dear Readers, 

It was never my intention for this newsletter to be so political, but I also never imagined our country would look like this: so angry, so starkly divided, so mired in hate. Yesterday I marched. For the first time in my life I felt as if I didn't have a choice. I realize the privilege that sentence comes with, that my life up until this moment has been so secure that I haven't felt as if my rights were in peril. There is an embarrassment associated with that privilege (and its selfishness) as I think of all the people around the world and across the country who have always lived with this fear, but it is my promise here and now to never again take that feeling I once had for granted. It is my further promise to use my position of privilege — as a white, cis-gender woman — to fight for equality, and rights across the board. Let us keep the momentum and passion we saw yesterday, and let us support one another and fight for one another. We cannot close our eyes and wish our current reality away, and we cannot leave these marches and movements up to other people — if we want change, we must be it.  

Of all the deeply troubling things that have happened in the mere two days since Trump became president, I find one of the scariest to be Sean Spicer's first conference as press secretary. He entered his new position and immediately unleashed a full-force rage. He bullied the media, he wrongly accused them of falsely reporting low inauguration numbers, he hit them loudly with lie after lie, or as Kellyanne Conway put it "alternative facts." One New York Times White House corespondent's reaction pretty much sums it up: "Jaw meet floor." Also, if the words "alternative facts" don't chill you to your bones, you're not listening hard enough. 

If all that (and more) happened in only two days, who knows what the next two days, two weeks, two years, or even two terms may bring. If you, like me, are feeling afraid, take solace in the fact that you are not alone. America is great — and those are words that I want to continue to believe in. 

As many of the signs I saw on the streets yesterday said, Princess Leia inspired no less: "A woman's place is in the Resistance." If fighting for equality lands me a place in the resistance I only hope that I can prove myself worthy of that post.

As the writer Audre Lorde said, "Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now." So let us do it in the now. There is nothing left to wait for. 

-Elena

This was originally in my newsletter, Sunday Reads

What I see from my window.

The Paris Review runs a contest where they ask people to write what they see from their windows. I gave the prompt a go, writing about the view from my bedroom window in Manhattan. The rules asked for no more than 300 words. 

When I look out my bedroom window, across a neighbor’s backyard garden to the backs of the buildings on 1st street, I know that what I’m really looking for is time.

Yes, I can see my neighbor’s apartment windows – at night their lights clicking on one-by-one. I see the garden plants, wrapped around the trellises, blooming in spring, withering in fall. I see the man across the way who on cold mornings climbs to his roof with a paper and a coffee mug. I see the glow from One World Trade, the dog who wanders the garden in the mornings, the shapes in windows as people get ready for bed, the bath, breakfast. Manhattanites arranged in perfectly rectangular buildings, all with windows looking out onto the same garden, the same dog.

But I also see the years, stacked in my mind like a diagram of the Earth’s layers. At the top is now: the buildings, the garden, the morning coffee. The next layer looks similar but the neighborhood is Ukrainian – same buildings, same shapes, different culture. We peel back another layer and it’s Klein Deutschland “Little Germany.” Lower buildings, dirt streets, another language being shouted from window to window. The next layer is different still. It’s a farm now with pastures, and animals, and no hint of what it would become. The final layer is just countryside. There’s a stream, grassy hills, trees dotting the land, and the occasional tribe walking across the scene as they make their way to the river which will in 400 years be five blocks away.

At night peering out my window I see speckles of light, the hint of moon. But I also see my own face reflected. My eyes looking back at me as I search for history.