I Remember by Barbara Bloomberg

I Remember

I remember Roosevelt. A little New Jersey community a few miles from Hightstown. It was a rural town filled with writers, painters, sculptors
and members of the Progressive Party. No, not the Communist Party. It was known as the Progressive Party in 1948. I was 11 years old when we moved there. My father was out of work due to the Depression. After desperately looking for a job and a home for us, he found a concrete block and glass house which was architecturally designed by Louis Kahn in the Bauhaus style. Little did I know then that this little town would become one of the Heritage communities in New Jersey and part of a “Homestead” movement founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was to be one of the most idyllic childhood memories of my life.
It was called “The New Deal,” Roosevelt’s vision put thousands of people to work building bridges, houses, painting murals, farming, etc. The homesteads provided factories so that folks could work and live in the same community. My father got a job in the clothing factory. It was a vision of a genius.
The Jersey Homesteads appealed to many Jewish “thinkers.” Writers, artists, sculptors came to live there because of it’s socialist ideology. Among those who came, were Ben Shahn, David Stone Martin,
Gregorio Prestopino, Jacob Landau and many other luminaries. I had no idea how prominent they were or what their membership in the “Progressive Party” meant. All I knew was my mother called them all Dirty Commies and said the FBI had our community in their sight lines. This was during the McCarthy era. She didn’t like “any of em.”
My best friend was Susie Shahn, Ben and Bernarda Shahn’s daughter. We climbed trees, rode our bikes, fished in the lake and played softball with the boys. We were labeled Tom Boys. We didn’t care. We never kept in touch after we moved to Trenton but I found out many years later that she went to live in London and died from liver cancer.
My brother, Barry, and I went to the public school. My class consisted of 12 students who came from different backgrounds. Joel Levinson went on to fame as a director on Broadway. I’ll never forget the day we were standing in line for 8th grade graduation and he said, “Ya know Barbara you’re not going to get along with the boys in high school.
They don’t like flat chested girls.” I hated him after that.
Tony and Stephan Martin used to come over after dinner during the summer with their guitars. We sang folk songs for hours: Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were our favorites.
Some nights we all ran around collecting fireflies in jars. We lived near the pine barrens and the wildflowers, strawberries, skunk plants and ferns were plentiful and glorious during the summer. We built huts out of dried out pine branches and played hide and seek.
My mother and father struggled. It seemed like all my friend’s families were struggling then so there were no “rich” kids. We had one phone in the house. When it rang we all scrambled to answer it! My father taught us how to plant a garden and, of course, I’ve been an enthusiast ever since. My mother was not a happy person. She would be labeled bipolar today. We never knew what we would find when we got home from school. A sweet lady or a screamer yelling at us to get to work and clean the house!
We used to swim in Lake Etra and every weekend during the summer my parents would take us to the beach. Belmar, Bradley or Asbury Park. The egg salad sandwiches my mother made were delicious
all wrapped in wax paper. Lemonade and pickles topped them off.
Growing up in Roosevelt was a wonderful, idyllic childhood memory. I only wish my children and grandchildren could have known such an innocence.

April 2019

BARBARA BLOOMBERG

BIO

Barbara and her husband, Ron, moved to Aldea in 2004 from Los Angeles. Barbara was a teen leadership organizer for the State of California and retired from the Los Angeles County Office of Education in 2003. Their decision to move to Santa Fe was their daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren live in Albuquerque – what better reason???
Barbara always loved to paint. Her inspiration was Ben Shahn, who was a neighbor of hers as a child in New Jersey. She began to study painting at the Santa Fe Community College. After several years she decided to become serious and get her degree. In May, 2013 she graduated from the University of New Mexico with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Her passion for painting and now glass sculpting continues at SFCC where she is still a student. She also volunteers as a member of the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is a Board member of the New Mexico Glass Alliance. This was her first attempt at a
memoir.

Haiku By Shawn Cotton

long past bedtime-
my toddler
dances in the town square

***
In the manner of Issa, this haiku takes a look at the passing scene, but an intimate one. As reader, I get a lot of immediate context. Usually life is well regulated–and not all societies have “bedtimes” for children. But now there is a party or holiday and everyone is out. The image of the square brings to mind a medium-sized town or community–a shared outdoor space. And these festivities have overridden the usual, because the toddler is up at all hours. And energetically able to keep up, too, dancing away.
It’s a sweet moment, and like all moments in both haiku and toddlerhood–fleeting.

What do babies think about…

My grand-daughter Grainne Rose is almost a month old. That’s exciting because she came a month early, so she’s approaching her due date! But she has been out in the air with us for long enough for me to wonder what she perceives. It’s a gradual process, coming into collective consensus reality.

***

in the womb you dreamed
of a field of yellow flowers

you heard our voices
and thought we were crows perched
on a broken down corral

you held my gaze
and saw ghosts and static and the insides
of cat ears

you tried to turn over
but you didn’t know
what “over” meant

God felt new and fresh
in your tiny fist
your sucking mouth

you heard us laugh
and thought the wind
had come down the chimney

the biggest dog
licked your toes—
you thought it was the rising tide
of an inland sea

you dreamed
about yellow flowers
without knowing “yellow”

you crossed a field
an enormous one

bigger than the universe
or our hope, our expectation,

to arrive here.

Miriam Sagan

In the Annals of Pain Control, Today Was Not A Good One

Three days ago, I got a script for my usual pain meds. There was something missing on the script, so back to the medical office. “Is this script now ok? Totally ok, no problems?” I asked the pharmacist. Yes, yes. Today I went to pick it up. I was told no, it’s a controlled substance, you have to wait 28 days in total before a refill. This is day 27. Why are you trying to pick it up now?
The short answer–because the script has almost run out.
I doubt if she wants to hear about my getaway plans for tomorrow, or the excitement of my slightly confused journey towards Medicare, or how I’m juggling a gallery deadline and a new grandchild. The slightly longer answer–I thought it would be convenient for me.
Apparently this was a junkie’s answer, because I was told numerous times (as I leaned against the counter on my cane)–again–that this was a controlled substance. Despite the signs warning abut confidentiality, she was belting it out for the assembled line to hear. But why tell me I can pick it up Saturday if that isn’t true? She said it was because they hadn’t “checked the computer.”
“And don’t you have any pills left?” she asked. I just glared. That’s not really her business, is it.
A BIG piece of this is my fault. This pharmacy has been horrible to me on several occasions, about a variety of unrelated exchanges. “That pharmacy is a bad boyfriend,” my husband Rich said. “Get on mail order.”
But…my buttons have been pushed. I do live in fear of pain. My meds were once considered an analgesic, but the war on drugs changed that. To calm myself down I remind myself that I have many tools for pain, not just this one.
But I wonder why society has seen fit to shame and frighten me.

***
Here as an excellent look at the issues:

An excerpt from “The war on opioids is saving lives. But it’s also killing people like me.” By John Heubusch.
Mar. 27th, 2019
Washington Post

I am not alone. Victims of tragic accidents, disease onset, combat wounds, complicated surgeries, workplace injuries, gun violence or even a simple fall off a ladder are among the 20 million Americans like me who experience some form of high-impact, chronic and often debilitating pain. Many, given a second chance at life after a serious illness or injury, tragically choose suicide over pain. Why? The most unfortunate among them, those with life-altering, unspeakable pain, are being denied access to the medications they need to go on. Their doctors, now numbering nearly 70 percent of our front-line physicians, have enlisted in the nation’s war on opioids. Many have turned away from their patients in chronic pain.

John Heubusch is a novelist and the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, Calif.  His website is here.

Teaching ESL by Terry Wilson

Teaching ESL (one teacher’s experience)

When Trump got installed and continued his horrible tirades against immigrants and refugees, then began his daily executive orders designed to keep immigrants out of the country, I, like most sane people, was incensed and disgusted. What could I do about this?

Aside from donating money and attending immigrant rights’ protests and forums, I decided I needed to do the thing I’d been trained for—teach immigrants English. In the late 1980’s when Reagan was president, he was despicable too, except he did one good thing—he created a law that allowed amnesty for millions of people in the US who were undocumented.

It was an incredible time, the late ‘80’s—I’d just finished another year of teaching elementary school in downtown LA, when the word got out that LA Unified School District was looking for teachers for adult students seeking English classes. The answer to the dumb question of “Why don’t ‘those people’ want to learn English” was easily answered—all you had to do was look at the lines of people five blocks long, all waiting patiently to register for classes! Some schools like Evans Adult had classes all around the clock—noon, 2 pm., 4 pm., 6 pm., 8 pm., 10 pm., midnight, 2 am., 4 am., 6 am., 8 am, 10 am. THAT’S how many people wanted to learn English! And that was just at ONE school in ONE city, Los Angeles. The students had simply been waiting till it was safe to come out of the shadows. If La Migra (or ICE) is going to grab you when you try and register for school, you’re not going to do it!

Those years of teaching adults English and Civics were among my most satisfying times as an instructor. I taught Level 1 at four different schools, and after each 8 weeks of class, students could take the test—if they passed it, they’d get their green card. I don’t speak too much Spanish, so we all helped each other. We had parties for every holiday and a few amazing women taught me salsa dancing. I looked forward to every class and in spite of students working 10 and 12 hour shifts, they rarely missed a day. They were largely Spanish-speaking but there was also a tailor from Israel and a magician from Russia who once pulled a pigeon out of a hat and was about to do a trick involving fire but I knew it would set off the ceiling sprinklers so I stopped him, mid-trick! We also sang songs in English like Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas” and “Yesterday” by the Beatles.

When I first moved to Santa Fe in the early 1990’s, I taught ESL at UNM Los Alamos—often my students were the spouses of scientists who worked at the Lab. Again, my pupils were varied—this time from China and Russia and Japan, and once more, they were hard working, motivated and generous with each other.

Then for the following 25 years, I instructed young students in English composition and creative writing. Many pupils were immigrants from Mexico and Central America. And in spite of some harrowing stories of how they and their families had gotten to the US, they often were the highest achievers in the class because they were so diligent, motivated, and appreciative of education.

But back to 2017—I signed up with Literacy Volunteers at SFCC on the nights I was not teaching other classes.

I began teaching Rodrigo (not his real name) in March of 2017. I will tell you his story, though I also have instructed other ESL students since then.

Rodrigo entered the United States over 30 years ago. He’d only completed 5th or 6th grade in Mexico, so when he came here, he worked construction and basically learned English just by hearing it. “What an amazing ear for language you have!” I told him this
often. I suppose I could go to a new country by myself and learn a completely new language and culture with no real instruction, but it takes bravery, resilience—and persistence! Rodrigo has made a living here in the US, got married, had children and grandchildren, and now he has his own construction business. He also does carpentry work for a local hotel. On election day in 2016, he had two knee replacements and went back to work with a walker only three days later. He is tough.

Rodrigo took ESL classes to read English better, write English more fluently, and someday soon, become a US citizen. We laughed a lot but we also accomplished much, two nights a week. He wrote a story about how he used to save people from drowning at the beach where he swam in Puerto Angel. I am also a swimmer so that impressed me. And he often had questions for me about words like ‘fight.’ He asked, “Why is spelled that way?”

I explained that the ‘gh’ is silent and words are not always pronounced the way they are spelled. English is a combination of French, German, Latin, and the rules don’t always make sense, especially since there are many exceptions.

Obviously learning a new language—especially English–is hard, and it takes a lot of time—particularly when you are also working two jobs.

Rodrigo sometimes got frustrated but he kept coming to class. One of his goals is to help his brother, Juan, get into the US since he can’t find a job in Mexico. But as we know, now that THE WALL is the Current Occupant of the White House’s main obsession, Juan will have to wait. Plus, becoming an American citizen is not a simple task.

To become a US citizen, you have to be skilled enough in English to take a written test and an oral test besides. All your papers have to be in order, of course, and you have to know the answers to 100 questions about the US system of government and history. A few of the questions are easy, like, “How many stars are on the flag?” But many are challenging, for example, “What year was the Constitution written?” And “Who wrote the Federalist papers?” And “What territory did the US buy from France in 1803?” I have two questions: Do TRUMP VOTERS know the answers to these questions? And, could Trump pass the Citizenship test?

Rodrigo gets discouraged at times with these queries. One of my personal favorites is, “In the US, what is the rule of law?” Part of the answer to that is, “No one is above the rule of law.” Rodrigo’s response to that was, “Why I have to learn ‘Rule of Law’ when Trump do not follow rule of law?”

What can I say? I agree with him but tell him he should probably not ask the Citizenship Examiner that question if he wants to pass the test.

Maternal Mitochondria!

Miriam Sagan and Isabel Winson-Sagan have a few upcoming shows and workshops this summer! We will be back at the Japanese Cultural Festival on May 11th, offering a free demo of suminagashi printing. The festival is at the Santa Fe Convention Center and costs $5 for adults, free for children under 12. Visit Santa Fe Jin’s website for more information. Then on June 8th, we will be presenting on our work as the art collective Maternal Mitochondria from 1 pm to 3 pm for Santa Fe Book Arts Group. This is free and open to the public. This will be followed on June 9 by a workshop on suminagashi & poetry from 9 am to 4 pm. The workshop is $75 and is only open to members of BAG. If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact BAG directly at http://www.santafebag.org. And finally, from June 21st-August 24th our work will be featured in a group show at the Peters Project gallery, “Speaking to the Imagination: The Contemporary Artist’s Book.” Looking forward to seeing some of you at these events!

-Isabel and Miriam

www.maternalmitochondria.com/

More info from BAG:

Please note : there are a few remaining spaces if you know anyone who would like to attend.
Thanks. Laura Wait

Class Size: Limited to 12 participants. Cost: $ 75. To register, send a check for $75 payable to BAG, to Laura Wait, 108 Calle Francisca, Santa Fe, NM 87507.

Workshop: Suminagashi & Poetry:

Sunday, June 9, 9-4 at the College in the Fine Arts Building Room #710.

The workshop will teach each participant to create suminagashi, Japanese inspired marbling, on paper. We will work with low impact materials—water trays, ink, and inexpensive paper. We will also create poetry based on “weathergrams”—short poems about the environment and our inner selves. The workshop will be structured so that text and marbling can be combined for a final product. You will have pieces to take home that can be collaged, used in book making, or hung as ephemeral to weather out into the atmosphere. We will provide all materials, but here is an overview if you want supplies to continue this practice—https://maternalmitochondria.com/2018/09/26/what-is-suminagashi/

Presentation: Maternal Mitochondria

Saturday, June 8, 1-3. Board room.
The Collaborative mother/daughter duo of writer Miriam Sagan and multi-media artist Isabel Winson-Sagan will share their projects. These include an art/poetry trail off of Route 14, collaborative public art piece in the Santa Fe Railyard, video, installation piece in an ancient silo in Japan, renga, and numerous geocaches. Their meditative studio practice is based on a contemporary version of suminagashi, Japanese style marbling, and free writing.. In addition to showing images and discussing our process we will have samples of our work and some free giveaway broadsides and books.