“The starlings are back. For each of the past three years, they have returned to gather a chaotic pile of damp grass, peeled bark, and matted bits of twine, threads still unraveling even as they are tucked away. One day a silky puff of cream-colored fur appears, the next, a waxy red leaf. I marvel at their ability to make do with such a seemingly uninhabitable place, an old crook of drainpipe beneath the roof of my apartment building, but this is what starlings do. I watch them, thinking of home.
Twenty-nine places in twenty-seven years. Never allowing myself to need anywhere or anything or anyone long enough to stay.
I think this is not true.
(Maybe it is partly true.)
The starling was introduced to North America in 1890 by the “American Acclimatization Society” as part of a plan to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. From 1890-1891, somewhere between 60-100 starlings were released into Central Park in New York. The entire North American population, which now numbers more than 200 million starlings, is descended from those birds…”
“You Can Do Anything,” essay and featured column, Corporeal Writing
I was invited to write a featured column on bestselling author Lidia Yuknavitch’s site, Corporeal Writing. “You Can Do Anything” is my first piece, and you can find my column, Secret Circus, on the second Friday of each month. At a time when government secrets can be revealed in 140 characters and our nation loves a show, Secret Circus blends personal essay with political commentary.
“Lowercase v-a-g-i. Capital N. Lowercase a.
“Can she read?” The policeman asks.
He asks it like I can’t hear, like I’m not right there, sitting on my father’s lap. I want to tell the policeman that there is no time in my memory when I could not read, that there was never a time when I couldn’t put the letters together and throw myself into any world offered to me and disappear, but I stay quiet.
“Yes, she can read,” my father answers.
The policeman slides the report across the kitchen table and hands me a pen…”
“Still Gonna Do (#ShePersisted),” The Manifest-Station
“White House staff visited our programs and invited us to Washington. When it came time for the final interview that we hoped would lead to funding, I spouted literacy and poverty statistics while stressing the need for the separation of church and state. I emphasized the importance of program quality, replicability and scale. After two hours of questioning, they began to wrap things up.
“One last question,” said the man from the White House. “Is there anything about you that could be potentially embarrassing to the President?”
I squinched my eyebrows. Refocused my attention on the American flag waving at me from his lapel. “Other than being a lesbian Democrat running a faith-based initiative for the Bush White House, I can’t think of anything…”
The Right to Bare Arms, ENTROPY Magazine.
“Who cares what anyone thinks?” Amy opened her locker and pulled out the registration form. “I’m telling you, it will look good on a college application.”
“It will look ridiculous. It’s for bimbos. A total waste of time.”
We were feeling fresh from a trip to Albany to defend a piece of mock legislation we’d drafted ourselves, something that would make it illegal to put children with physical or mental impairments in nursing homes without providing therapeutic support, an issue we were preternaturally passionate about at sixteen – and it passed. Five years later it would become part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but who knows, maybe we thought of it first, we were feeling that full of ourselves.
Maybe too full. Good schools didn’t care about public school girls from dinky little Snowbelt towns.
We had to work harder. We had to get out.
About Leigh Hopkins
Leigh Hopkins is a writer, speaker, and educator. In 2010, she left a career in social policy and education reform to move to Brazil. There, she launched a retreat center and founded Viva Institute by rigging a satellite dish to a boulder in a banana field.
You can read Leigh’s monthly column, “Secret Circus,” on bestselling-author Lidia Yuknavitch’s site, Corporeal Writing. Her essays have been published in Elephant Journal, ENTROPY Magazine, The Manifest-Station, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Viva Institute, and at LeighHereNow. Leigh lives in Philadelphia with her wife, a painter, and their jittery Jack Russell Terrier.