AB2 was 14 days old when this picture was taken. And she was 31 days old when then-board trustee Mike Dunn emailed my employer and threatened their business and my employment status due to a public comment I made at a school board meeting when AB2 was 29 days old.
And this is AB2 above, 18 days short of her first birthday.
And here's AB 1 & AB2 more than 11 months ago.
And now. Less than a month before AB2 turns 1.
To Mike Dunn: FUCK YOU.
I'm sorry. Are you offended by my "vulgar" language, more so than the fact that an elected representative, in a position of power, threatened my employer and my employment because I — a parent with a vested interest in my children's education — shared my opinion respectfully at a public school board meeting? Because if you are, I invite you to check yourself and your priorities.
Mike Dunn: I repeat: Fuck you. Your selfish, self-serving extremist agenda deprived me of relishing in the joys and moments many parents with new babies hold dear. It's moments I will never get back. It's time I'll never get back. And no. I wasn't given "the choice." You know the choice I'm talking about: the choice to be a "good woman" — to sit home silently, cooking dinner and catering to "my man," while dedicating the rest of my time to my children and being the "right" mom. Because we all know that's really not a choice — and, if it were, it's a sexist one at that. You're damn right I'm angry about it.
There's been so much this year. This has been a blog I've been putting off writing. Where do I start? Honestly, where do I start?
Less than a month into the new year and a new baby, my "normal" routine was twisted upside and inside out in so many ways it's hard to describe. It feels like no time has passed. And it feels like 10 years have passed. And yet, here I sit, with a little babe, about to turn one, and a sassy little four and a half-year-old, and it's like I've been in some alternate universe.
Because, when Mike Dunn abused his position of power, my family was forced to fight back. And we were forced to sacrifice our time in order to do so. And our comfort. And our safety.
Maybe some don't consider time a precious commodity. I do. Because I know it runs out.
The weeks after the election were a whirlwind. For so many, many, many months, we were election-focused. Day in and day out, we were at campaign events. We were writing postcards. Hundreds upon hundreds of postcards. We were canvassing. We were campaigning. It's not "free time." You "borrow" it from somewhere, knowing you'll never get paid back — at least in time — but hopefully in the results that validate your efforts.
And certainly, on November 6, we swept. Locally, across the board in every open and incumbent seat, we took it. We weren't the only ones fed up.
In the wee hours of the morning, I was able to post, "Guys, we're #donewithDunn" and HUNDREDS cheered.
But then, just as quickly as our election results were settling, the community suffered devastating tragedy. The Borderline 12 massacre, followed by the fires. That time feels like a cloud of uncertainty. Plans instantly disappeared. Life changed. Priorities changed. Our community was — and is — in mourning.
I'm still processing.
I helped run a campaign. And it will forever be one of my proudest and greatest accomplishments that I cherish. Wholeheartedly. The friendships I've made are family. But, it came at a cost. It cost me time with my babes. Times of "being in the moment." And I will never forget that.
And, it challenged me — emotionally and physically. My family experienced threats and personal attacks that caused us to seek legal protection. We now have a home security system. We're perhaps a little too aware of lingering glances our way. We've had our jobs threatened by those who have filed false complaints. We've had our parenting threatened. We've been stalked and filmed and photographed for public fodder. We've been the target of vicious rumors and malicious, defamatory lies derived to destroy our reputations.
Derived to break us.
But we did not FUCKING BREAK.
My involvement in local politics has been many things. It's been depressing. And invigorating. And devastating. And energizing. And mind boggling. And hopeful. And exhausting. So exhausting. The kind of exhaust you don't recover from in a day. Or a week. Or even a month.
And I'm being asked: what's next? Now what?
And, there's this part of me that wants to say: can "nothing" be next? Can I just sit? Can I just breathe? But I've also learned that's not me. My mind churns and churns and churns. I've found my place that I find a "home away from home." And this is now our normal. We'll adapt because we know it's important. Because we know what's possible. And, most importantly, because we know what we want for our daughters.
Tonight, I was able to attend the swearing-in of the CVUSD candidates (Jenny, Bill and Cindy!!!!) we so passionately campaigned for. We put our souls into this damn election, in every way imaginable. I could never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined I would have been in such battle for quality education for my children. It's a battle I hadn't prepared for. But, I feel so very privileged to have been a part of it. I feel so proud. I really do. It's an elation I can't put into words. I feel settled.
And just like that, we're on to "the next."
And, while it's intimidating, "what's next?" is an exciting question to have.
But, for just a second — maybe even a day — I'm going to soak in these precious little babes I have. Thank you to every each one of you who, in any way, has supported me and my family, and our community this past year. You all did the work. You all spoke up. You all voted. You all made a difference. I'm so grateful to so many of you for filling up my cup.
I want to extend a special thank you to all those who have supported my nonprofit Conejo Community Outreach. There are so, so, so many deserving organizations we can show our support to, and it truly means a lot to me to have support from you.
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season.
(And, a very special thank you to Dianne Avery for all of our family photography.)