All posts by Teri

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 9: Father Panik Village

CHAPTER 9

FATHER PANIK VILLAGE

June 1962

Past the elevated train tracks near White Street is a housing project called Father Panik Village, which makes our tenement look like a palace.

Mem forbids me to cross over to the other side of the tracks. When I ask her why, she explains that “On this side, there’s still hope, but on that side, ils sont finis,” meaning they’re finished.

“Crackers who go to the Panik get shot up with a semi-automatic,” my friends would say, so I never went anywhere near the place.

There was a rumor going around that Father Panik, a Catholic priest, was shot and killed when he got caught up in a gang crossfire there, so they named the project after him. Mem doesn’t believe a word of it, but if a man of the cloth couldn’t survive in there, I certainly couldn’t. When my friends would make bets and offer money for someone to run through the Panik, I always bowed out. It was a great way to make some quick cash, but not for me.

That was until last week when Mom gave me a dollar and told me to go to Steve’s Market for cigarettes and milk. On my way to the store, I saw some of my friends playing marbles in the old abandoned parking lot in between the train viaduct and Father Panik. The lot is full of wrecked cars, refrigerators, and other junk, so it’s a great place to hang out and hide out.

I stopped to play a quick game of Shooter with them. My friend Trish let me borrow her marbles, and using her prize largest one — the Big Kahuna — I beat them all. When I got to the market, I grabbed the milk, and Steve, the butcher and owner of the place, pulled me a pack of cigarettes from behind the counter and rang me up.

I dug into my pocket to pay, and to my horror, the dollar was gone. I told Steve I’d be right back and ran to the lot, my heart pounding out of my chest. We all looked for the money, but nobody found it. Or at least that’s what they all said. I was certain that Mom was going to beat me with her strap, and I started to cry.

“Okay, okay,” said Roland, a chubby kid who lived in my building. “I’ll tell you what — you run through the Panik, and when you get back, we’ll give you enough cash for cigarettes and milk.  I looked in terror at my friends. They all pulled coins out of their pockets and threw them into a pile on the hood of a burned-out Chevy.

“She’s a chicken,” Roland said, waving his hand in my direction. Then he pointed toward the Panik, so I felt like I had no choice. It was Father Panik or the strap. As I reluctantly walked under the stone viaduct, the other kids stayed at the corner watching me.

The girls were yelling for me not to do it, and the boys were making squawking chicken noises.

I stood facing the Panik, watching some black kids standing around a bus stop smoking and laughing. I wasn’t prejudiced — just scared. I wasn’t taught to hate — just not to trust.

Before I could chicken out, I raced full force across the street and into the Panik, whipping past the kids hanging at the bus stop. “You crazy girl?” this one black kid cried out as I sped past him. While running at full speed, I looked back to see if my friends were still at the corner and crashed into a black girl a couple of years older than me. She got into my face and asked, “You lost?” It was just this black girl and me, and I was lost all right.

Then she yelled to someone across the street, and a man yelled back at her. When I turned around, Steve the butcher ran over to where we were standing, put his arm around my shoulder, and led me toward his store.

He turned to the black girl and said, “Thanks, Yolanda. Stop by tomorrow for a soda and chips.” “Arright,” Yolanda answered and gave us a wave. I was too shocked even to respond.

Steve scolded me when we got to the front of his market. “Father Panik is no place for you, young lady. What the heck were you doing in there? I saw you leave my store upset, then watched you run across the street, and I knew no good would come from that. You’re lucky Yolanda was there and not someone else.”

I tearfully told Steve I didn’t want to go home so fast and about the bet and how Mom was going to give me the strap, and I couldn’t stop shaking. “Now, now,” he said.  “Stop that blubbering.”  He took me into his store and bagged up some milk and a pack of Marlboro’s. Then he placed a candy necklace around my neck and gave me a handful of Pixy Stixs and Flying Saucers. “Now go home, and don’t ever try that again. Next time you go in there, you might not be so lucky.”

On my way home, I thought about all the times I had gone into Steve’s Market with Mem and how he would always give Rib treats and offer Mem free samples to try out. She always refused, telling him that she didn’t take handouts.

Every Saturday, she would go to Steve’s and buy chopped meat, liver, and hot dogs. And he always gave us way more than we paid for. Even Mem agreed with me about that.

I always thought Steve liked Mem, but the one time I brought it up to her, she got all red and told me to hush. “Men can’t be trusted. They always let you down.  And they’re only after one thing. You’ll see when you get older.” I always wondered what the one thing was, but I figured it must have been bad.

Mem had a real problem with men and always had something negative to say about them. When she would tell me stories about my grandfather, she never said anything nice. She would go on and on about how he deserted and humiliated her — and Mom. The only positive thing she ever said about him was he was tall and that I got my height from him.

The next day at the lot, I told my friends how a gang had stopped me and shoved me and how I had punched one girl in the face and how she ran off crying like a baby, and then the rest of the gang ran off too. I put my right fist in Roland’s face and warned him that if he didn’t give me my money, I would do the same thing to him that I did to Tit and the Panik girl. You bet he gave me the money, and I ran right to Steve’s and spent every penny of it. Yolanda was there, and Steve treated us to Twinkies and cream soda.

Yolanda lived with her grandmother, MawMaw, and the more we talked about our lives, the more we realized how similar we were. Well, except she was black and I was white, which made all the difference in the world.

According to Yolanda, Father Stephen Panik, MawMaw’s hero and a priest for the poor, wasn’t murdered at all. After he died in 1954, the 14-year-old “Yellow Mill Village” was renamed in his honor because, without Father Panik, public housing projects in Bridgeport would never have existed.

And now I know that Father Panik Village isn’t so scary, although Yolanda agrees that at the Panik, people can get shot up with a semi-automatic.

Three things happened after running through the Panik that day. The first thing was that I became the Big Kahuna to my friends, and the second thing was that Steve the butcher became the Big Kahuna to me — even though Mem told me never to trust a man.

But the third thing was the best of all because Yolanda became one of my closest friends.

Stay tuned for Chapter 10: Steve the Butcher

YOU


YOU

are terrified

by what

makes

America

great.

YOU

want to regulate

my uterus,

but regulating

your gun

is too

personally

invasive.

YOU

white

Christian

Republican

nationalist

who

pathetically

brag

about

revering

Jesus

guns

and

babies

think

YOU

have

power

over

US.

YOU

right-winger,

neo-confederate,

alt-right,

skinhead,

Ku Klux Klanner,

forget that

Jesus

was a

selfless, radical

Jew

who defied

oppressors like

YOU

and protected

the rights and

dignity

of the

oppressed

like

US.

YOU

who violently marched

in Charlottesville

so

YOU

could

save America

by

uniting the

white right,

chanting

“You will not replace us,”

and

“Jew will not replace us.”

YOU

neo-nazi,

anti-semitic,

confederate flag bearer,

dare to expect

Jesus to save

YOU?

Perhaps

Jesus

should send

YOU

to “Camp Auschwitz.”

YOU

care

about

babies in the womb,

but once they’re born

YOU

care not a whit.

YOU

claim

to

love

babies

but

YOU

do nothing

as babies

are shot to death

every minute

of

every day.

YOU

patriots

who despise

Jews,

Blacks,

Democrats,

and

LGBTQ,

fantasize

about

hanging

US.

YOU

are

laughably naïve.

Because

try as

YOU

might,

YOU

are

already

being replaced

by

all

of

US.

Governors up for Reelection 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025

United States gubernatorial elections will be held on November 8, 2022, in 36 states.

The 2022 gubernatorial elections are the first since the 2020 census and reapportionment.

All but two of the fifty Governors serve four-year terms — the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont, serve two-year terms.

Of the 36 gubernatorial seats up for re-election in 2022, twenty are Republican, and sixteen are Democrat.

Republicans are defending six governorships in states President Joe Biden (D) won in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Democrats are defending one governorship in a state that Donald Trump won (R) in 2020: Kansas.

Below are the 36 Governors up for reelection in 2022 in alphabetical order by political party and state, as well as the listing of Governors up for reelection in 2023, 2024, and 2025.

Democrats up for reelection in 2022:

California: Gavin Newsom (Running)

Colorado: Jared Polis (Running)

Connecticut: Ned Lamont (Running)

Hawaii: David Ige (Not running due to term limits)

Illinois: J.B. Pritzker (Running)

Kansas: Laura Kelly (Running)

Maine: Janet Mills (Running)

Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer (Running)

Minnesota: Tim Walz (Running)

Nevada: Steve Sisolak (Running)

New Mexico: Michelle Lujan Grisham (Running)

New York: Kathy Hochul (Running)

Oregon: Kate Brown (Not running due to term limits)

Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf (Not running due to term limits)

Rhode Island: Daniel McKee (Running)

Wisconsin: Tony Evers (Running)

Republicans up for reelection in 2022:

Alabama: Kay Ivey (Running)

Alaska: Mike Dunleavy (Running)

Arizona: Doug Ducey (Not running due to term limits)

Arkansas: Asa Hutchinson (Not running due to term limits)

Florida: Ron DeSantis (Running)

Georgia: Brian Kemp (Running)

Idaho: Brad Little (Running)

Iowa: Kim Reynolds (Running)

Maryland: Larry Hogan (Not running due to term limits)

Massachusetts: Charles Baker (Not running)

Nebraska: Pete Ricketts (Not running due to term limits)

New Hampshire: Chris Sununu (Running)

Ohio: Mike DeWine (Running)

Oklahoma: Kevin Stitt (Running)

South Carolina: Henry McMaster (Running)

South Dakota: Kristi Noem (Running)

Tennessee: Bill Lee (Running)

Texas: Greg Abbott (Running)

Vermont: Phil Scott (Running)

Wyoming: Mark Gordon (Running)

Democrats up for reelection in 2023:

Kentucky: Andy Beshear (Running)

Louisiana: John Bel Edwards (Not running due to term limits)

Republicans up for reelection in 2023:

Mississippi: Tate Reeves (No announcement yet)

Democrats up for reelection in 2024:

Delaware: John Carney (Not running due to term limits)

North Carolina: Roy Cooper (Not running due to term limits)

Washington: Jay Inslee (Running)

Republicans up for reelection in 2024:

Indiana: Eric Holcomb (Not running due to term limits) Eric Doden is running for the Republican nomination.

Missouri: Mike Parson (Not running due to term limits) Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe is running for the Republican nomination.

Montana: Greg Gianforte (No announcement yet)

New Hampshire: TBD (Chris Sununu is running for reelection to a fourth term in 2022. Because New Hampshire does not have gubernatorial term limits in its Constitution, he will be eligible to run for re-election for a fifth term, should he win a fourth term in 2022.)

North Dakota: Doug Burgum (Running)

Utah: Spencer Cox (Running)

Vermont: TBD (Phil Scott is running for reelection to a fourth term in 2022. Because Vermont does not have gubernatorial term limits in its Constitution, he will be eligible to run for re-election for a fifth term, should he win a fourth term in 2022.

West Virginia: Jim Justice (Not running due to term limits) Chris Miller is running for the Republican nomination.

Democrats up for reelection in 2025:

New Jersey: Phil Murphy (No announcement yet)

Virginia: Ralph Northam (No announcement yet)

There are no Republicans up for re-election in 2025.

Lionhearted

I was recently asked: What is the best word to describe yourself?

The first word that instantly hit my brain was lionhearted, although I don’t know why it did because I had never thought of myself like that before.

On December 31, 2021, I came upon an article attorney and columnist Ms. Flowers wrote for theeagle.com: Get Rid of Christine Blasey Ford Time.

Since she provided her email in the column, I thought about responding directly to her, but I changed my mind and decided to write a blog post instead. I’ll probably forward this post to Ms. Flowers, although I doubt she’ll be able to relate to it or feel the debilitating anguish her words caused me.

I worked on this post for almost five months, mostly because I struggled with how to structure it so that it would make the most sense. My post might seem to the reader to meander and jump around because it does. But then again, so do my everyday thoughts.

It all started in 1967. Or at least that’s as far back as my brain has allowed me to remember.

Back in 1967, when my fourteen-year-old world was crashing in on me, Ms. Flowers was around five.

Lionhearted is often associated with warriors who exhibit courage, determination, and bravery in war. Back in the late 60s, I was fighting my own kind of war. Since lions are the least afraid of anything of all the predators, I often wish I had been more lionlike, even though I was the prey.

My nightmares are often about lions stalking me, and in my dream state, I’m always scared sh**less, yet in my awake state, they’re my spirit animal — after unicorns.

I have yet to remember a night terror where the lion has ever caught me, though. Maybe it’s because I wake up before he has had a chance, or maybe my dream perception is off, and he’s protecting, not hunting me. Or maybe he backs off because he senses my strength — and he doubts if he can take me on.

In the 1980s, I named my daughter Ariel, meaning Lion of God in Hebrew. My daughter was born before The Little Mermaid movie came out, so the name was fairly unknown. When I named her, I only knew of one other Ariel — Shakespeare’s male spirit in his play The Tempest.

In the late 1990s, as I left my SoHo office on my way home one night, there was a man selling angel statues on Broadway. Smack in the middle of the table was a lion. One lone lion surrounded by angels. I took it as a sign and bought him. He was too big for a bag, so I nestled him in my arms.

I lugged him home via the E World Trade Center Subway, followed by the Long Island Railroad, and then placed him in the corner of my backyard.

Twenty-five-plus years later, he’s still there.

And I know this sounds insane, but he needs to be in just the proper position because, for whatever reason, he’s my back-of-the-house focal point. When the gardener moves him, I place him right back to his corner spot.

Now, let’s talk about my front-of-the-house focal point — the parking spot directly in front of my house.

A certain couple on my block thinks I’m a mean old crazy lady because I have asked them nicely — five times — to please refrain from parking in that spot.

I’m not mean or crazy. There’s plenty of parking on my street and more than ample parking spaces in front of their own house, so there’s zero need for my neighbors to regularly and purposefully park directly in front of mine.

The fifth time I spoke to my neighbor, I had no choice but to tell him that I had been assaulted as a young person and shared my fear that a man might be lurking behind his parked car. I was emphatic that the space had to be empty because I needed a clear view of the street directly in front of my house; otherwise, I couldn’t go outside to empty the garbage or for any other reason.

From the look on his face, I know he was thinking “cray-cray,” but he never parked in front of my house again, which I wholeheartedly appreciate because I no longer need to worry about a car-lurking man.

And yet, sometimes — despite the carless space in front of my house — I get to thinking that maybe this man is hiding on the side of my house, or behind the tree in front of my house, or maybe even in the back of my house.

When I get to thinking like that, my routine is to go back and forth from the front window of my house to the back window of my house, peering out, looking for this man.

Front to back, back to front, while always plotting my escape. It’s exhausting, and I wouldn’t wish my modus operandi on anyone.

The reason my lion is so ideally situated is that I not only see him through my back window but his image is perfectly reflected on my glass back door. So, I can see him without actually seeing him.

Okay, now back to the Flowers article.

In her piece, Ms. Flowers wrote this about Dr. Blasey Ford: “…if you live in the United States, where we have a female vice president, a female speaker of the House, thousands of female judges at the state and federal level, it’s a little harder to understand why a woman who says she’s been attacked would wait years or even decades before making her accusations.”

First off, fifty-five years ago, there was no female VP, no female SOH, and few female judges, so why is it so hard for Ms. Flowers to imagine that a woman or child back then might be afraid to accuse?

It took me decades to accuse as well. But now don’t ask, because I’ll tell.

Hell, I’ll tell even if you don’t ask because I can’t control myself. The ripple effect of trauma is a curious phenomenon.

I suppose I kept my mouth shut and my words in for so long that they just flow out of me now. I’m a human coping machine, and time does not heal all wounds.

Speaking of time, Flowers calls it CBFT, short for “Christine Blasey Ford Time.”

CBFT. How clever. How maddening. How painful.

Flowers’ hurtful and thoughtless words made me ask myself: Does she have daughters?

In 2020 I was diagnosed with PTSD. The diagnosis was a relief, but there’s no cure for what ails me. My trauma is like a shadow that follows me wherever I go. Me and that miserable shadow.

In September 2018, both Dr. Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified before the U.S. Senate committee.

First up, Ms. Ford testified about being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh as his friend watched, their uproarious laughter encoded into her brain, his hand over her mouth, his forceful and frightening groping, her panic that she might suffocate, her two front doors, the science of traumatic memory.

Her testimony was riveting, and I never doubted one word of it because, like so many of us, I have lived her pain.

Next up, Brett Kavanaugh testified about liking beer. I never doubted his intense love of beer because Kavanaugh mentioned his fondness for it over 30 times. His entire testimony centered around his love of beer, and in his own words, he fully embraced it. Personally, I would never think to define the word embrace with a brewski, but Brett Kavanaugh did. His testimony was cringeworthy. And please — stop with the gaslighting — the man sexually assaulted Dr. Blasey Ford.

How do I know?

I learned the hard way that a boy or a man who loves his liquor is in danger of drinking too much of it, eventually resulting in bad choices. I know because I was an innocent victim of the life-altering consequences of someone’s drunken behavior — my younger self destroyed by a man who loved and embraced his booze.

In her column Ms. Flowers went on to say: “…even forgettable cads have a right not to have their reputations trashed by women who emerge from the shadows like avenging handmaids, wanting to tell their stories of woe to strangers.”  

Woeful stories? A story is an account of events told for entertainment. Unless you’re a weirdo, there’s zero entertainment in the sexual assault of a child. And back then, I did tell someone: my OGBFF.

She knows who she is, and she knows who he is.

And yes, it was horrifyingly woeful. More woe than any 14-year-old should ever have to feel or bear. My woe, Ms. Flowers, is never-ending.

Christine Flowers ended her column with: Men who rape and sexually assault women need to be held accountable. The way to do that is to actually hold them accountable when they commit the acts, not years later when they won’t be prosecuted.”

I have two replies for you, Ms. Flowers: Firstly, you are incredibly naïve, and I know beyond a reasonable doubt that you were never sexually assaulted as a child. And secondly, I would have done everything and anything to save myself from that drunken monster, but back in 1967, children like me were rarely seen and never heard.

And to the people out there who question my sanity?

I’m not crazy. Just traumatized.

The Hourglass

On this day

carved out

for mothers,

motherhood

begets maternal

bonds.

Push,

push,

push

the hourglass

away.

The sand,

the mother,

the child,

all

flowing

down,

down,

down.

And the sand

is boulder heavy,

from brunches that

never happen,

to non-existent flowers

and sentimental

cards that are

never sent

and never

received.

Like an hourglass,

I measure the

intervals of time.

Time left,

the end of time,

the passage of time.

Two fragile bulbs

of glass,

and

free-flowing

sand.

A reminder of

the thing

to come.

This time

shall pass.

Time heals

all wounds,

you’ll see.

But I don’t see

the healing,

just the passing.

And then

a phone call

from the

littlest ones

singing happy

birthday

even though

it’s

Mother’s Day.

There is

nothing,

nothing,

nothing,

that

compares.

As they sing,

the hourglass

fades and

melts away.

U.S. Senate Seats up for Reelection in 2022

There are a total of 535 Members of Congress. 100 serve in the U.S. Senate, and 435 serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Each state sends two Senators to represent their state in the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, the majority has the power to schedule when various bills come to the floor for voting, but a single Senator can slow legislation from coming to the floor for a vote.

Since debate in the Senate is not concluded until 60 Senators vote for a cloture motion to approve a bill for consideration, the majority must also coordinate with the minority party to set the rules for debate on legislation.

Under this system, legislation can be debated for one or two weeks on the Senate floor alone.

The United States Senate elections will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Thirty-five of the 100 Senate seats are up for regular reelection, and one special election (R-Okla.).

The GOP will have to defend more Senate seats than the Democrats. As of now, there will be 22 Republican Senate seats on the line, while Democrats will need to protect 14 seats.

The winners of those seats will serve a six-year term from January 3, 2023, until January 3, 2029.

Elections to the Senate are staggered over even years so that only about 1/3 of the Senate is up for reelection during any election.

To contact your Senator click here.

Below are the 34 Senate seats up for reelection in 2022 in alphabetical order by political party and state, as well as the listing of Senators up for reelection in 2024 and 2026.

Democrats up for reelection in 2022:

Arizona: Mark Kelly

California: Alex Padilla

Colorado: Michael Bennet

Connecticut: Richard Blumenthal

Georgia: Raphael Warnock

Hawaii: Brian Schatz

Illinois: Tammy Duckworth

Maryland: Chris Van Hollen

Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto

New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan

New York: Chuck Schumer

Oregon: Ron Wyden

Vermont: Patrick Leahy (Retiring)

Washington: Patty Murray

Republicans up for reelection in 2022:

Alabama: Richard Shelby (Retiring)

Alaska: Lisa Murkowski

Arkansas: John Boozman

Florida: Marco Rubio

Idaho: Mike Crapo

Indiana: Todd Young

Iowa: Chuck Grassley

Kansas: Jerry Moran

Kentucky: Rand Paul

Louisiana: John N. Kennedy

Missouri: Roy Blunt (Retiring)

North Carolina: Richard Burr (Retiring)

North Dakota:  John Hoeven

Ohio: Rob Portman (Retiring)

Oklahoma: Jim Inhofe (Retiring) Special election to fill Inhofe’s final four years.

Oklahoma: James Lankford

Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey (Retiring)

South Carolina: Tim Scott

South Dakota: John Thune

Utah: Mike Lee

Wisconsin: Ron Johnson (Retiring)

Democrats up for reelection in 2024:

Arizona: Kyrsten Sinema

California: Dianne Feinstein

Connecticut: Chris Murphy

Delaware: Tom Carper

Hawaii: Mazie Hirono

Maryland: Ben Cardin

Massachusetts: Elizabeth Warren

Michigan: Debbie Stabenow

Minnesota: Amy Klobuchar

Montana: Jon Tester

Nevada: Jacky Rosen

New Jersey: Bob Menendez

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich

New York: Kirsten Gillibrand

Ohio: Sherrod Brown

Pennsylvania: Bob Casey Jr.

Rhode Island: Sheldon Whitehouse

Virginia: Tim Kaine

Washington: Maria Cantwell

West Virginia: Joe Manchin

Wisconsin: Tammy Baldwin

Independents up for reelection in 2024:

Maine: Angus King

Vermont: Bernie Sanders

Republicans up for reelection in 2024:

Florida: Rick Scott

Indiana: Mike Braun

Mississippi: Roger Wicker

Missouri: Josh Hawley

Nebraska: Deb Fischer

North Dakota: Kevin Cramer

Tennessee: Marsha Blackburn

Texas: Ted Cruz

Utah: Mitt Romney

Wyoming: John Barrasso

Democrats up for reelection in 2026:

Colorado: John Hickenlooper

Delaware: Chris Coons

Georgia: Jon Ossoff

Illinois: Dick Durbin

Massachusetts: Ed Markey

Michigan: Gary Peters

Minnesota: Tina Smith

New Hampshire: Jeanne Shaheen

New Jersey: Cory Booker

New Mexico: Ben Ray Lujan

Oregon: Jeff Merkley

Rhode Island: Jack Reed

Virginia: Mark Warner

Republicans up for reelection in 2026:

Alabama: Tommy Tuberville

Alaska: Dan Sullivan

Arkansas: Tom Cotton

Idaho: James Risch

Iowa: Joni Ernst

Kansas: Roger Marshall

Kentucky: Mitch McConnell

Louisiana: Bill Cassidy

Maine: Susan Collins

Mississippi: Cindy Hyde-Smith

Montana: Steve Daines

Nebraska: Ben Sasse

North Carolina: Thom Tillis

Oklahoma: Jim Inhofe (His 2022 special election replacement)

South Carolina: Lindsey Graham

South Dakota: Mike Rounds

Tennessee: Bill Hagerty

Texas: John Cornyn

West Virginia: Shelley Moore Capito

Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis

Current Members of the U.S. House of Representatives

The 435 U.S. House of Representatives, along with the 100 who serve in the Senate, composes the legislature of the United States.

Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held on November 3, 2020, and since they serve two-year terms, all 435 will be up for reelection in 2022.

A member of the House is referred to as a Representative, Congressman, or Congresswoman.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives each represent a portion of their state known as a Congressional District, which averages 700,000 people. Senators, however, represent the entire state.

Under Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, in the House of Representatives, a state’s representation is based on its population as measured by the U.S. Census.

Each state, however, is entitled to at least one Representative. For example, smaller states like Vermont and Delaware have one representative, while larger states like California have 53 representatives.

The Constitution does not provide for the representation of the District of Columbia or the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Marina Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, although each is represented by one non-voting delegate. They have a voice on the floor but have no voting power.

The House is charged with the passage of federal legislation, otherwise known as bills, which, after concurrence by the Senate, are sent to the President for consideration.

The House also has the exclusive power to initiate bills for raising revenue, impeach officials, and choose the President in the event that a presidential candidate fails to get a majority of the Electoral College votes.

The House of Representatives is informally referred to as the “lower” house, while the Senate is referred to as the “upper” house.

The party with the majority of seats in the House is known as the majority party.

In the House of Representatives, the majority party holds significant power to draft chamber rules and schedule bills to reach the floor for debate and voting.

In most cases, House rules will limit debate so that important legislation can be passed during one legislative business day.

To run for House of Representatives, he or she must be at least 25 years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for at least 7 years, and at the time of the election be a resident of the state they represent.   Members are not required to live in the district they represent, but they traditionally do.

Of the current 435 members of the 117th House of Representatives, 221 are Democrats, 209 are Republicans, and there are five vacancies (Alaska At Large, California District 22, Minnesota District 1, Nebraska District 1, and Texas District 34).

To contact your Representative click here.

Below is the complete list of current members of the United States House of Representatives by political party and State:

DEMOCRATS

Alabama (District 7): Terri Sewell

Arizona (District 1): Tom O’Halleran

Arizona (District 2): Ann Kirkpatrick (Retiring)

Arizona (District 3): Raul Grijalva

Arizona (District 7): Ruben Gallego

Arizona (District 9): Greg Stanton

California (District 2): Jared Huffman

California (District 3): John Garamendi

California (District 5): Mike Thompson

California (District 6): Doris Matsui

California (District 7): Ami Bera

California (District 9): Jerry McNerney (Retiring)

California (District 10): (Vacancy to replace Josh Harder who is running in District 9)

California (District 11): Mark DeSaulnier

California (District 12): Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House)

California (District 13): Barbara Lee

California (District 14): Jackie Speier (Retiring)

California (District 15): Eric Swalwell

California (District 16): (Vacancy to replace Jim Costa who is running in District 21)

California (District 17): Ro Khanna

California (District 18): Anna Eshoo

California (District 19): Zoe Lofgren

California (District 20): Jimmy Panetta

California (District 24): Salud Carbajal

California (District 26): Julia Brownley

California (District 27): Judy Chu

California (District 28): Adam Schiff

California (District 29): Tony Cardenas

California (District 30): Brad Sherman

California (District 31): Pete Aguilar

California (District 32): Grace Napolitano

California (District 33): Ted Lieu

California (District 34):  Jimmy Gomez

California (District 35): Norma Torres

California (District 36): Raul Ruiz

California (District 37): (Vacancy to replace Karen Bass who is running for Los Angeles Mayor)

California (District 38): Linda Sanchez

California (District 40): Lucille Roybal-Allard (Retiring)

California (District 41): Mark Takano

California (District 43): Maxine Waters

California (District 44): Nanette Barragan

California (District 45): Katie Porter

California (District 46): Luis Correa

California (District 47): Alan Lowenthal (Retiring)

California (District 49): Mike Levin

California (District 51): Juan Vargas

California (District 52): Scott Peters

California (District 53): Sara Jacobs

Colorado (District 1): Diana DeGette

Colorado (District 2): Joe Neguse

Colorado (District 6): Jason Crow

Colorado (District 7): Ed Perlmutter (Retiring)

Connecticut (District 1): John B. Larson

Connecticut (District 2): Joe Courtney

Connecticut (District 3): Rosa DeLauro

Connecticut (District 4): Jim Hines

Connecticut (District 5): Jahana Hayes

Delaware (At Large): Lisa Blunt Rochester

Florida (District 5): Al Lawson

Florida (District 7): Stephanie Murphy (Retiring)

Florida (District 9): Darren Soto

Florida (District 10): (Vacancy to replace Val Demings who is running for U.S. Senate)

Florida (District 13): (Vacancy to replace Charlie Crist who is running for Governor)

Florida (District 14): Kathy Castor

Florida (District 20): Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick

Florida (District 21): Lois Frankel

Florida (District 22): Ted Deutch

Florida (District 23): Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Florida (District 24): Frederica Wilson

Georgia (District 2): Sanford Bishop, Jr.

Georgia (District 4): Hank Johnson

Georgia (District 5): Nikema Williams

Georgia (District 6): Lucy McBath

Georgia (District 7): Carolyn Bourdeaux

Georgia (District 13): David Scott

Hawaii (District 1): Ed Case

Hawaii (District 2): Kai Kahele

Illinois (District 1): Bobby Rush

Illinois (District 2): Robin Kelly

Illinois (District 3): Marie Newman

Illinois (District 4): Jesus “Chuy” Garcia

Illinois (District 5): Mike Quigley

Illinois (District 6): Sean Casten

Illinois (District 7): Danny K. Davis

Illinois (District 8): Raja Krishnamoorthi

Illinois (District 9): Jan Schakowsky

Illinois (District 10): Brad Schneider

Illinois (District 11): Bill Foster

Illinois (District 14): Lauren Underwood

Illinois (District 17): Cheri Bustos (Retiring)

Indiana (District 1): Frank J. Mrvan

Indiana (District 7): Andre Carson

Iowa (District 3): Cindy Axne

Kansas (District 3): Sharice Davids

Kentucky (District 3): John Yarmuth (Retiring)

Louisiana (District 2): Troy Carter

Maine (District 1): Chellie Pingree

Maine (District 2): Jared Golden

Maryland (District 2): Dutch Ruppersberger

Maryland (District 3): John Sarbanes

Maryland (District 4): (Vacancy to replace Anthony Brown who is running for Attorney General)

Maryland (District 5): Steny Hoyer

Maryland (District 6): David Trone

Maryland (District 7): Kweisi Mfume

Maryland (District 8): Jamie Raskin

Massachusetts (District 1): Richard Neal

Massachusetts (District 2): Jim McGovern

Massachusetts (District 3): Lori Trahan

Massachusetts (District 4): Jake Auchincloss

Massachusetts (District 5): Katherine Clark

Massachusetts (District 6): Seth Moulton

Massachusetts (District 7): Ayanna Pressley

Massachusetts (District 8): Stephen F. Lynch

Massachusetts (District 9): Bill Keating

Michigan (District 5): Dan Kildee

Michigan (District 8): Elissa Slotkin

Michigan (District 9): Andy Levin

Michigan (District 11): Haley Stevens

Michigan (District 12): Debbie Dingell

Michigan (District 13): Rashida Tlaib

Michigan (District 14): Brenda Lawrence

Minnesota (District 2): Angie Craig

Minnesota (District 3): Dean Phillips

Minnesota (District 4): Betty McCollum

Minnesota (District 5): Ilan Omar

Mississippi (District 2): Bennie Thompson

Missouri (District 1): Cori Bush

Missouri (District 5): Emanuel Cleaver

Nevada (District 1): Dina Titus

Nevada (District 3): Susie Lee

Nevada (District 4): Steven Horsford

New Hampshire (District 1): Chris Pappas

New Hampshire (District 2): Ann McLane Kuster

New Jersey (District 1): Donald Norcross

New Jersey (District 3): Andy Kim

New Jersey (District 5): Josh Gottheimer

New Jersey (District 6): Frank Pallone, Jr.

New Jersey (District 7): Tom Malinowski

New Jersey (District 8): Albio Sires (Retiring)

New Jersey (District 9): Bill Pascrell, Jr.

New Jersey (District 10): Donald Payne, Jr.

New Jersey (District 11): Mikie Sherill

New Jersey (District 12): Bonnie Watson Coleman

New Mexico (District 1): Melanie Stansbury

New Mexico (District 3): Teresa Leger Fernandez

New York (District 3): (Vacancy to replace Tom Suozzi who is running for Governor)

New York (District 4): Kathleen Rice (Retiring)

New York (District 5): Gregory Meeks

New York (District 6): Grace Meng

New York (District 7): Nydia Velazquez

New York (District 8): Hakeem Jeffries

New York (District 9): Yvette Clarke

New York (District 10): Jerry Nadler

New York (District 12): Carolyn Maloney

New York (District 13): Adriano Espaillat

New York (District 14): Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

New York (District 15): Ritchie Torres

New York (District 16): Jamaal Bowman

New York (District 17): Mondaire Jones

New York (District 18): Sean Patrick Maloney

New York (District 19): Antonio Delgado

New York (District 20): Paul Tonko

New York (District 25): Joseph Morelle

New York (District 26): Brian Higgins

North Carolina (District 1): G.K. Butterfield (Retiring)

North Carolina (District 2): Deborah K. Ross

North Carolina (District 4): David Price (Retiring)

North Carolina (District 6): Kathy Manning

North Carolina (District 12): Alma Adams

Ohio (District 3): Joyce Beatty

Ohio (District 9): Marcy Kaptur

Ohio (District 11): Shontel Brown

Ohio (District 13): (Vacancy to replace Tim Ryan who is running for U.S. Senate)

Oregon (District 1): Suzanne Bonamici

Oregon (District 3) Earl Blumenauer

Oregon (District 4): Peter DeFazio (Retiring)

Oregon (District 5): Kurt Schrader

Pennsylvania (District 2): Brendan Boyle

Pennsylvania (District 3): Dwight Evans

Pennsylvania (District 4): Madeleine Dean

Pennsylvania (District 5): Mary Gay Scanlon

Pennsylvania (District 6): Chrissy Houlahan

Pennsylvania (District 7): Susan Wild

Pennsylvania (District 8): Matt Cartwright

Pennsylvania (District 17): (Vacancy to replace Conor Lamb who is running for U.S. Senate)

Pennsylvania (District 18): Mike Doyle (Retiring)

Rhode Island (District 1): David Cicilline

Rhode Island (District 2): Jim Langevin (Retiring)

South Carolina (District 6): Jim Clyburn

Tennessee (District 5): Jim Cooper

Tennessee (District 9): Steve Cohen

Texas (District 7): Lizzie Fletcher

Texas (District 9): Al Green

Texas (District 15): Vicente Gonzalez

Texas (District 16): Veronica Escobar

Texas (District 18): Sheila Jackson Lee

Texas (District 20): Joaquin Castro

Texas (District 28): Henry Cuellar

Texas (District 29): Sylvia Garcia

Texas (District 30): Eddie Johnson (Retiring)

Texas (District 32): Colin Allred

Texas (District 33): Marc Veasey

Texas (District 34): (Vacancy to replace Filemon Vela who retired on 3/31/22)

Texas (District 35): Lloyd Doggett

Vermont (At Large): (Vacancy to replace Peter Welch who is running for U.S. Senate)

Virginia (District 2): Elaine Luria

Virginia (District 3): Bobby Scott

Virginia (District 4): Donald McEachin

Virginia (District 7): Abigail Spanberger

Virginia (District 8): Don Beyer

Virginia (District 10): Jennifer Wexton

Virginia (District 11): Gerry Connolly

Washington (District 1): Suzan DelBene

Washington (District 2): Rick Larsen

Washington (District 6): Derek Kilmer

Washington (District 7): Pramila Jayapal

Washington (District 8): Kim Schrier

Washington (District 9): Adam Smith

Washington (District 10): Marilyn Strickland

Wisconsin (District 2): Mark Pocan

Wisconsin (District 3): Ron Kind (Retiring)

Wisconsin (District 4): Gwen Moore

REPUBLICANS

Alabama (District 1): Jerry Carl

Alabama (District 2): Barry Moore

Alabama (District 3): Mike Rogers

Alabama (District 4): Robert Aderholt

Alabama (District 5): Mo Brooks

Alabama (District 6): Gary Palmer

Alaska (At Large): (Vacancy to replace Don Young who died on 3/18/22)

Arizona (District 4): Paul Gosar

Arizona (District 5) Andy Biggs

Arizona (District 6): David Schweikert

Arizona (District 8): Debbie Lesko

Arkansas (District 1): Rick Crawford

Arkansas (District 2): French Hill

Arkansas (District 3): Steve Womack

Arkansas (District 4): Bruce Westerman

California (District 1): Doug LaMalfa

California (District 4): Tom McClintock

California (District 8): Jay Obernolte

California (District 21): David Valadao

California (District 22): (Vacancy to replace Devin Nunes who retired on 12/31/21)

California (District 23): Kevin McCarthy

California (District 25): Mike Garcia

California (District 39): Kim Young

California (District 42): Ken Calvert

California (District 48): Michelle Steel

California (District 50):  Darrell Issa

Colorado (District 3): Lauren Boebert

Colorado (District 4): Ken Buck

Colorado (District 5): Doug Lamborn

Florida (District 1): Matt Gaetz

Florida (District 2): Neal Dunn

Florida (District 3): Kat Cammack

Florida (District 4): John Rutherford

Florida (District 6): Michael Waltz

Florida (District 8): Bill Posey

Florida (District 11): Daniel Webster

Florida (District 12): Gus Bilirakis

Florida (District 15): Scott Franklin

Florida (District 16): Vern Buchanan

Florida (District 17): Greg Steube

Florida (District 18): Brian Mast

Florida (District 19): Byron Donalds

Florida (District 25): Mario Diaz-Balart

Florida (District 26): Carlos Gimenez

Florida (District 27): Maria Elvira Salazar

Georgia (District 1): Buddy Carter

Georgia (District 3): Drew Ferguson

Georgia (District 8): Austin Scott

Georgia (District 9): Andrew Clyde

Georgia (District 10): Jody Hice

Georgia (District 11): Barry Loudermilk

Georgia (District 12): Rick W. Allen

Georgia (District 14): Marjorie Taylor Greene

Idaho (District 1): Russ Fulcher

Idaho (District 2): Mike Simpson

Illinois (District 12): Mike Bost

Illinois (District 13): Rodney Davis

Illinois (District 15): Mary Miller

Illinois (District 16): Adam Kinzinger (Retiring)

Illinois (District 18): Darin LaHood

Indiana (District 2): Jackie Walorski

Indiana (District 3): Jim Banks

Indiana (District 4): Jim Baird

Indiana (District 5): Victoria Spartz

Indiana (District 6): Greg Pence

Indiana (District 8): Larry Bucshon

Indiana (District 9): Trey Hollingsworth

Iowa (District 1): Ashley Hinson

Iowa (District 2): Mariannette Miller-Meeks

Iowa (District 4): Randy Feenstra

Kansas (District 1): Tracey Mann

Kansas: (District 2): Jake LaTurner

Kansas: (District 4): Ron Estes

Kentucky (District 1): James Comer

Kentucky (District 2): Brett Guthrie

Kentucky (District 4): Thomas Massie

Kentucky (District 5): Hal Rogers

Kentucky (District 6): Andy Barr

Louisiana (District 1): Steve Scalise

Louisiana (District 3): Clay Higgins

Louisiana (District 4): Mike Johnson

Louisiana (District 5): Julia Letlow

Louisiana (District 6): Garret Graves

Maryland (District 1): Andy Harris

Michigan (District 1): Jack Bergman

Michigan (District 2): Bill Huizenga

Michigan (District 3): Peter Meijer

Michigan (District 4): John Moolenaar

Michigan (District 6): Fred Upton (Retiring)

Michigan (District 7): Tim Walberg

Michigan (District 10): Lisa McClain

Minnesota (District 1): (Vacancy to replace Jim Hagedorn who died on 2/17/22)

Minnesota (District 6): Tom Emmer

Minnesota (District 7): Michelle Fischbach

Minnesota (District 8): Pete Stauber

Mississippi (District 1): Trent Kelly

Mississippi (District 3): Michael Guest

Mississippi (District 4): Steven Palazzo

Missouri (District 2): Ann Wagner

Missouri (District 3): Blaine Luetkemeyer

Missouri (District 4): Vicky Hartzler

Missouri (District 6): Sam Graves

Missouri (District 7): Billy Long

Missouri (District 8): Jason Smith

Montana (At Large): Matt Rosendale

Nebraska (District 1): (Vacancy to replace Jeff Fortenberry who resigned on 3/3/22)

Nebraska (District 2): Don Bacon

Nebraska (District 3): Adrian Smith

Nevada (District 2): Mark Amodei

New Jersey (District 2): Jeff Van Drew

New Jersey (District 4): Chris Smith

New Mexico (District 2): Yvette Herrell

New York (District 1): Lee Zeldin

New York (District 2): Andrew Garbarino

New York (District 11): Nicole Malliotakis

New York (District 21): Elise Stefanik

New York (District 22): Claudia Tenney

New York (District 23): Tom Reed

New York (District 24): John Katko (Retiring)

New York (District 27): Chris Jacobs

North Carolina (District 3): Greg Murphy

North Carolina (District 5): Virginia Foxx

North Carolina (District 7): David Rouzer

North Carolina (District 8): Richard Hudson

North Carolina (District 9): Dan Bishop

North Carolina (District 10): Patrick McHenry

North Carolina (District 11): Madison Cawthorn

North Carolina (District 13): Ted Budd

North Dakota (At Large): Kelly Armstrong

Ohio (District 1): Steve Chabot

Ohio (District 2): Brad Wenstrup

Ohio (District 4): Jim Jordan

Ohio (District 5): Bob Latta

Ohio (District 6): Bill Johnson

Ohio (District 7): Bob Gibbs

Ohio (District 8): Warren Davidson

Ohio (District 10): Mike Turner

Ohio (District 12): Troy Balderson

Ohio (District 14): David Joyce

Ohio (District 15): Mike Carey

Ohio (District 16): Anthony Gonzalez (Retiring)

Oklahoma (District 1): Kevin Hern

Oklahoma (District 2): Markwayne Mullin

Oklahoma (District 3): Frank Lucas

Oklahoma (District 4): Tom Cole

Oklahoma (District 5): Stephanie Bice

Oregon (District 2): Cliff Bentz

Pennsylvania (District 1): Brian Fitzpatrick

Pennsylvania (District 9): Dan Meuser

Pennsylvania (District 10): Scott Perry

Pennsylvania (District 11): Lloyd Smucker

Pennsylvania (District 12): Fred Keller

Pennsylvania (District 13): John Joyce

Pennsylvania (District 14): Guy Reschenthaler

Pennsylvania (District 15): Glenn Thompson

Pennsylvania (District 16): Mike Kelly

South Carolina (District 1): Nancy Mace

South Carolina (District 2): Joe Wilson

South Carolina (District 3): Jeff Duncan

South Carolina (District 4): William Timmons

South Carolina (District 5): Ralph Norman

South Carolina (District 7): Tom Rice

South Dakota (At Large): Dusty Johnson

Tennessee (District 1): Diana Harshbarger

Tennessee (District 2): Tim Burchett

Tennessee (District 3): Chuck Fleischmann

Tennessee (District 4): Scott DesJarlais

Tennessee (District 6): John Rose

Tennessee (District 7): Mark E. Green

Tennessee (District 8): David Kustoff

Texas (District 1): Louie Gohmert

Texas (District 2): Dan Crenshaw

Texas (District 3): Van Taylor

Texas (District 4): Pat Fallon

Texas (District 5): Lance Gooden

Texas (District 6): Jake Ellzey

Texas (District 8): Kevin Brady

Texas (District 10): Michael McCaul

Texas (District 11): August Pfluger

Texas (District 12): Kay Granger

Texas (District 13): Ronny Jackson

Texas (District 14): Randy Weber

Texas (District 17): Pete Sessions

Texas (District 19): Jodey Arrington

Texas (District 21): Chip Roy

Texas (District 22): Troy Nehls

Texas (District 23): Tony Gonzales

Texas (District 24): Beth Van Duyne

Texas (District 25): Roger Williams

Texas (District 26): Michael Burgess

Texas (District 27): Michael Cloud

Texas (District 31): John Carter

Texas (District 36): Brian Babin

Utah (District 1): Blake Moore

Utah (District 2): Chris Stewart

Utah (District 3): John Curtis

Utah (District 4): Burgess Owens

Virginia (District 1): Rob Wittman

Virginia (District 5): Bob Good

Virginia (District 6): Ben Cline

Virginia (District 9): Morgan Griffith

Washington (District 3): Jaime Herrera Beutler

Washington (District 4): Dan Newhouse

Washington (District 5): Cathy McMorris Rodgers

West Virginia (District 1): David McKinley

West Virginia (District 2): Alex Mooney

West Virginia (District 3): Carol Miller

Wisconsin (District 1): Bryan Steil

Wisconsin (District 5): Scott Fitzgerald

Wisconsin (District 6): Glenn Grothman

Wisconsin (District 7): Tom Tiffany

Wisconsin (District 8): Mike Gallagher

Wyoming (At Large): Liz Cheney

DELEGATES (They have a voice on the floor, but no voting power.)

American Samoa: (Republican) Aumua Amata Radewagen

District of Columbia: (Democrat) Eleanor Holmes Norton

Guam: (Democrat) Michael San Nicolas

Northern Mariana Islands: (Democrat) Gregorio Sablan

Puerto Rico: (Republican) Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon

U.S. Virgin Islands: (Democrat) Stacey Plaskett

Why Do So Many Elderly Run America?

According to my research, in 24 out of the previous 32 years, America was led by people born in or before 1946.

Politicians in other countries aren’t old like ours—our two-party system is steadfastly controlled by the elderly, which is why I have long advocated for a third party.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of the 117th Congress’ 535 members is 59 years old, and the median is 60 years old.

Overall, the average age for Democrats in Congress is 60, and 58 for Republicans.

That’s old.

The current U.S. Senate (100 members) is the oldest in history, with an average age of 63 years.

The average age of the House of Representatives (435 members) is 58 years.

The age groups with the most significant gains in the 117th Congress compared to the 116th were born in the 1930s and 1960s.

Members in the 80+ and 50-59 both saw gains. Members in the 30-39 age group saw the most significant losses.

Why is Congress so old, and isn’t it far past the time to pass the government leadership baton?

The natural passing of the torch “to a new generation of American leadership,” as John F. Kennedy spoke about, hasn’t even come close to happening.

Maybe the Constitution should be amended to include maximum ages in addition to minimums.

The Constitution requires that a U.S. President be at least 35 years old, been a U.S. resident for at least 14 years, have been born in the U.S., or have at least one U.S. citizen parent.

The youngest elected president was John F. Kennedy, at age 43, in 1963. Bill Clinton was 46, Barack Obama was 47.

Joe Biden, inaugurated in 2021, is the oldest elected president in U.S. history at age 78. Donald Trump was 70, Ronald Reagan was 69, George H.W. Bush was 64.

The Constitution requires that Senators be at least 30 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and reside in the state they want to represent at the time of election.

The youngest senator is Jon Ossoff (D-GA), age 35, and the youngest person elected to the U.S. Senate since 1980. The next youngest is Josh Hawley (R-MO), age 41.

Ossoff is also the youngest Democrat elected since 1973, when Joe Biden became Delaware’s Senator at age 30.

The two oldest U.S. Senators are both 87 years old. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has held her California seat for 30 years since 1992, and Chuck Grassley (D-IA) has held his seat for 41 years since 1981.

Six senators are at least 80, and 23 are in their 70s.

The Constitution requires that Members of the House be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state they represent (though not necessarily the same district).

Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is the youngest of the 117th Congress at 26 and the youngest person elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since 1964—a whopping 58 years ago. The second youngest is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), at 32.

The oldest member of the House of Representatives is Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) at 85, followed by Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ); all 84 years of age.

Now let’s look at the U.S. Population.

According to Pew, people over 50 make up 34 percent of the U.S. population but 52 percent of the electorate, which means, in simple terms, that our electorate college system does not come close to representing the U.S. populace.

Also, according to Pew, in 2018, the most common age for all Americans was 27, while the most common age for white Americans was 58.

Too many older people, both in Congress and the voter registries, point to just how overrepresented white interests are in the U.S.

And Americans over 55 own two-thirds of the wealth in this country.

According to the 2010 census, the number of Americans over 45 increased by almost 25 million versus 2000.

If in 2018, the most common age for all Americans was 27, why are our government officials so old?

I think it’s a two-part answer.

For those that run: Running for Congress takes money, political skills, and a significant network, and the older people have all three.

For those that vote: According to Wikipedia, voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election was highest among those ages 65 to 74 at 76.0%, while the percentage was lowest among those ages 18 to 24 at 51.4%.

Older people have the money, the political skills, and the network to run, and older people (who are voting for older people) are voting in higher numbers, making the oldest people the holders of the most power.

The highest number of people to turn 65 in U.S. history will be in 2023, so old people aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2040, the population of American adults aged 65 and older will nearly double.

The bottom line is that if young people don’t start voting, a younger generation won’t take control of America’s leadership until the baby boomers are all dead.

By 2055, it’s estimated that there will still be 30 million people in the United States born before 1965 — most of whom will be boomers.

The younger generation needs to step up their democratic participation and run for office, or at the very least, vote. The future of the United States is in their hands.

My Stolen Diaries – Chapter 8: What a Difference a Mother’s Day Makes

CHAPTER 8

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A MOTHER’S DAY MAKES

May 1961

Ever since my birds croaked on the rat poison, Mem and Mom have been worried sick about me. They sat me down a bunch of times to talk about my acting out.

I told them that the lie they forced me tell at St. Ambrose started the whole thing, making it easy to make up stories about my life instead of telling the truth about the sucky one I was living. So now, I pretty much lie about everything. My lying is a big worry for them, but their biggest worry is that I’ve been peeing on the rat poison in the corner of our porch.

I told them there was a double reason for that. First off, I hate the pitch-black hallway where the bathroom is, and second off, I want those stupid rats to drink my pee.

Mem cried out “heavens to Betsy” and then took her rosary beads from her housecoat pocket to pray for me. Mom grabbed my ear and twisted it around while yelling that I sounded like a retard. I gave Mom the rat face, combined with hissing sounds until she threw her hands up and walked away.

Mem and Mom both have it in their heads that I’m a tough nut to crack, but I’m a scaredy-cat. They don’t know it, but I’m afraid of everything. And the scariest of all is coming home to that empty apartment.

Mem works the 3-11 shift now, so she’s gone by the time I get home. Every day after school, I force myself to climb the four flights of stairs in the back of our building and then sit at the kitchen table until Mom shows up for supper.

I check the clock in the kitchen and then run as fast as I can from one end of the apartment to the other to press my face against Mem’s bedroom window, hoping to see Mom walking down the street. Then I run even faster back to the kitchen, convinced that the rats are waiting for me in the hallway.

I rock myself on a kitchen chair, willing my bladder to cooperate, so I don’t need to go to the bathroom by way of the dreaded scary hallway. If I can’t hold in my pee, I pee outside in the bowl of rat poison — way better than on the floor.

“The poor dear is lonely,” Mem told Mom in French a few days after the ear twisting while I colored at the kitchen table and pretended not to understand. Lonely wasn’t the half of it.

A couple of weeks later, Mom promised to take us all out to an expensive restaurant for a Mother’s Day lunch in New London.

The Lighthouse Inn was surrounded by water and was the fanciest place I had ever been. There was a path leading up to the front door with the most beautiful flowers, and on the front lawn, kids threw coins into a giant stone fountain.

I stuffed my face with eggs benedict and crispy bacon and washed everything down with my Shirley Temple cocktail. After brunch, I convinced Mom to let me throw a penny into the fountain and make a wish. The fountain area was filled with families who all had the same idea, and as we squeezed in and out of the crowds toward the fountain, Mem threw up everywhere.

Well, the crowd emptied out quick enough, and to their horror — and ours, Mem’s top false teeth flew out of her mouth and plopped right into the fountain.

Mere Germaine and Mom looked at Mem in shock as she bent over, fished her teeth out of the water, shook them off, and popped them back into her mouth. Then she turned to us and said, “la nourriture était trop riche,” which means the food was too rich.

Mom said she wanted to get the hell out of there. I was in no rush because I still never got to throw a penny in the fountain. She dragged me to the car, all the while talking under her breath about how embarrassed she was and how she couldn’t take us anywhere without us causing some kind of a ruckus. Mere Germaine was holding onto poor Mem, who was nauseous as all get out.

We got into our rickety old car, and it took a few tries before the engine turned over. Mom was super unhappy, and I figured our Mother’s Day fun was over — ruined by Mem’s teeth flying out of her mouth.

We drove for a while and came to a white house with a large red barn. Mem, burping, and gagging, stayed in the car with Mere Germaine. Mom took my hand, and together we walked up to the house, where she rang the doorbell. An old lady answered the door and walked us to the barn.

When she opened the latch to the barn, there was a pile of tiny black puppies! I was happy to be playing with the baby fluffballs but ran back to the car to get Mem and Mere Germaine so they wouldn’t miss out on the fun.

When we got back to the barn, the dog lady handed me what she called the runt of the litter. “He’s a Pomeranian, and he’s got papers,” Mom told me proudly as he licked my face with his teensy red tongue. I was confused as to why I was there and what a puppy would need with papers.

“He’s yours,” Mem said lovingly. “Someone to keep you company,” Mere Germaine added. The old lady pulled out a folded paper from an envelope as I smooshed the little black snowball against my chest.

She proudly presented Mom with some papers and said, “His mother’s name is Lady Marlene, and his name is Marlene’s Onyx Jet.” “His name is Jet,” Mom told me.

Jet? I didn’t like that name. It didn’t fit my puppy at all.

“What’s his father’s name?” I asked. “Who cares about his father?” Mom responded, annoyed. The old lady pointed out a line on the paper and said, “His father’s name is Captain Jean Ribault.”

Mem yelled out “il est français!” Mere Germaine clapped her hands in delight.

“I’m calling him Rib,” I told everyone, even though they thought it was a stupid name. On the way home, all three of them tried to talk me out of calling him Rib, but my mind was made up.

It was a Mother’s Day I will never forget. Poor Mem asked Mom to pull off the side of the road so she could throw up again, and right before we got to White Street, Rib puked all over my new dress.

Now with Rib in the picture, when the school bell rings, I race back to our apartment, fly up the stairs, and burst into the kitchen where my little man is always patiently waiting for me.

The bathroom? The hallway? No problem. Rib leads the way and stands guard at the bathroom door, growling and barking. He’s a tiny thing, but Mom says he thinks he’s a Great Dane, and I guess whatever is in the hallway thinks so, too, because nothing scary ever shows itself when Rib is around.

And best of all, there’s no more peeing on the poison even though the rats deserve it, and not too much lying, except for making sure I don’t forget to tell everyone at school that my Mem is my mom and my Mom is my sister.

Now instead of sitting in the kitchen, willing myself not to pee, I can dress Rib up in his pink tutu and whip him around the kitchen with his tiny front legs. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt him, because he likes it.

The two of us swirl and spin in circles until I fall, and he jumps all over me. I laugh, and he barks, and then we both try to walk our dizzy selves straight.

Hooray for Mother’s Day because now it’s Rib and me — my best friend, my guardian angel, my hallway guard, and the one and only man in my life.

Click here for Chapter 9: Father Panik Village

This Poem Is for You

This is your birthday poem,

but I was never good at rhyming.

The matchy-matchy timing stunts my creativity,

my wordsmithing,

and forces me to lay down words

where they don’t belong,

stuffed next to other words that

aren’t the right fit.

Timing isn’t always everything,

but maybe in our case, it was.

All those years ago, you told me you were haunted by one looming question.

Who do I want to walk hand-in-hand with along the beach when I get old?

It prompted me to ask myself the same darn thing.

And it haunted me too.

Although you never specified what beach, or how many beaches,

or the beach location.

You, the one who was so prodigious at planning,

had no plan.

Yes, yes, yes,

we chose to walk the beach together for the rest of time,

although time was on our side back then.

And even though I walked Myrtle Beach with you in full burka-like regalia,

we walked it.

Even though you walked way ahead of me in total embarrassment,

I wasn’t far behind.

And admittedly, the sun is not my thing, so the beach only works for me

in the rain,

or the clouds, or the dark.

And okay, I also have a water phobia, which I’m sure

you did not take into account when you asked yourself

that life-altering question.

And neither of us ever expected the life storms that often

engulfed us like tidal waves.

The seismic swells were way more than

we were prepared for.

Those rolling breakers pushed so much water onto the beach,

it was unwalkable and left sand and sediment,

when the waves washed back out.

But we weathered the storms and the tidal waves

didn’t we?

Because yes, the tides transported the sand

and the sediment,

and reshaped the beach,

and the shoreline.

But the terrifying rogue waves also created

unexpected estuaries.

Beautiful and productive watersheds

that protected us

from the full force of the waves

and the winds

and the storms.

Even though I was on one side and

you were on the other,

I realize now, in the twilight of our lives,

that your beach was a dream,

but the answer to the question

was real.

And that, unlike books,

we are not headed for a happy ending.

Not because we don’t want it

or don’t deserve it.

But because the waves are churning up our beach,

our circle of life,

and the saga of our ocean.

I know now that our sometimes pebbly,

sometimes sandy shore

is a fateful,

frightful, beautiful mess.

An enduring and extended metaphor

for us.