Hice lo que pude

It has been a year, almost exactly, since Mary Espinoza, my grandmother, stepped down from her career in public service.

She served for 16 years on the Mountain View School District Board of Education, and for 25 years before that, as a school attendance clerk.

“I’m 80-years-old. I’ve got no business being up there,” she said of her decision not to seek a fifth term. “Ya. Hice lo que pude.”

I did what I could.

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Grandma, after her final school board meeting in Nov. 2015.

My grandma was born in El Paso and raised along the Texas-Mexico border.

She attended segregated schools, and did not graduate, not at first.

But she went back.

She earned her GED a little before her oldest child, my mother, finished high school.

Grandma was 65 when she first sought elected office. She had no political ambition, but she was driven to contribute. To help, to share, to serve, to solve.

“That first time, it was just family and a few friends that I had who went out walking precincts with me.”

Home from college, I was dispatched to the public library where I scrolled through of microfilm to look up returns from Mountain View’s previous three election cycles. How many votes did Grandma need to win? How many doors did we need to knock on? How many lawn signs did we need to print? How many phone numbers did we need to dial?

Relatively speaking, it was not a terribly sophisticated operation.

But she won.

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I am sometimes inspired by the democracy we celebrate on big, national stages, with streamers and balloons and soaring oratory.

But I try not to forget the democracy that breathes under the fluorescent lights of school board chambers and city halls, rooms with linoleum floors and metal folding chairs where people like my grandmother work for speed bumps, for street lights, for schools.

“If someone called me with a problem, I’d always say, ‘Well, come on over. We’ll sit here with a cup of coffee and we’ll talk,’” Grandma said. “You have to listen, and you have to hear. That’s why you were elected.”

She doesn’t regret retiring, she said, but “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the involvement. I do.”

(She has spent the past few weeks phone-banking in support of California’s Prop. 55, which would extend income tax increases on the state’s wealthiest residents to help fund education and health care.)

Today, she and my grandfather will walk to the polling place down the block to cast their ballots.

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We have come so far, and we have so far left to go.

Sometimes our leaders fail us, and sometimes we fail each other.

And yet I really do believe in the promise entrusted to people way down at the bottom of the ballot, people who pledge in good faith to do what they can.

Make Your Own Taco Truck!

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Because a lot of times taco truck art is just as good as taco truck food, don’t you think?

My talented brother, Anthony Torres, designed this killer build-your-own taco truck template to help celebrate Stef Soto, Taco Queen.

And I couldn’t wait to share it. (Scroll down for a link to the template).

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Just download, color, cut, fold and paste.

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So fun, no?

This one is Stef Soto themed, but there are so many more I want to make. Like, so many more.

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Here’s the template:Taco Truck_printable

Will you make one too? If you do, I wanna see. #StefSoto

P.S. Princesses love tacos. Ask Soledad.

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Because there’s never been a girl

“Did you know,” Alice asked when I picked her up from kindergarten one afternoon,”there’s never been a girl President?”

I know, of course. But not like she does.

My daughters are fortunate in many, many, many, many ways. And I think maybe one of the biggest and most powerful is that their world is incandescent with possibility.

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It would never occur to her that a girl couldn’t be President. So why hadn’t one?

“Lots of reasons. Why do you think?” (It’s kind of a cheat, but I lean on it lots. What do you think?)

Alice thinks it’s because the first President was a boy. “And boys normally pick boys.”

“Something like that.”

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Primary Day in California. We voted!

 

“And do you know what else?” I asked her, “There was a time when girls weren’t even allowed to vote. They didn’t even get to help pick the President.”

She frowned. Why?

“I know, right? There have been some pretty terrible laws.”

“Were they mostly about things girls weren’t allowed to do?”

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Stan is the dog. I *think* this means the pets are Trump supporters. Or they’re on the ticket? I am not 100 percent sure. Soly is Alice’s little sister, Soledad. She’s for Sanders.

We checked a bunch of books out of the library – about girls and women and voting and service and making things possible. (Do you have any recommendations? We always want more).

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My favorite, favorite part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC earlier this week, the part that made me a little teary, was this:

“I want a leader … who is worthy of my girls’ promise and all our kids’ promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children.”

Oh, me too.