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Script for Calling Congress


Hello. Well. Hi. Hey there. You guessed it, I'm nervous. I haven't done this before. And frankly, I don't feel a hundred percent awesome about that.

But here it is. I've sat on the sidelines too long. I'm getting up there on the dance floor. Hair is gelled. Faded jeans that are way too baggy for me. The DJ is playing Dancing too Close and I'm in the Iona Grammar gym smelling like a quart of Polo Ralph Lauren cologne and this is it. I'm going to ask Diane to dance. Because it's now or never right? Now. Or never.

Well. Okay so bad example because that time, I didn't. No. No, the thing is that it was too suggestive a song. Couldn't they have been playing something else? She was also taller than me. I thought that may have been a problem for her, geometrically speaking. Also I knew she probably smelled awesome, and what the hell was I going to do with that kind of information once my body started to receive it? And Jesus was my mother really at the door? Oh God. Standing in the light like that so that everyone could see? Forget that. God, the yellow light of the hallway and the trophy case behind her. She was there standing with the other parents. I was dead. I died.

I'm a dead person now.

Just. Well. Give me one second. Actually it's not even that scary as that time. I was just a freaking kid, anyway. You know what? It's more like jumping off the high dive for the first time in Switzerland. Sure. The moment of going over the edge finally, and then the delicious fall and pure joy on the way down. I did it. It wasn't even about falling. It was about having chosen to fall. About pushing oneself over and into the 13 meter chasm.

No. No wait again. Bad example. I screamed. It was truly terrifying. And when my chin hit the water, it banged my lower teeth into my upper teeth. And I bit my tongue, chipped my tooth, and came out of the water bleeding.

So. Shoot. Bad example there too.

It's more like. I'll tell you this. Let's do it this way. It's more like deciding, just as I handed in my last college paper, that I was going to go streak. To run naked and free. And I dropped my clothes into a pile on the main quad. Out there in the majestically cool breeze, with the buildings hushed and dimly lit, the world itself opening it up before me on the warm souther spring night. And, well yeah, I was a little bit drunk and free and thinking about what could come next. All that promise and hope.

Until.

Hmm. Right. Also another example that's going to turn out not to work. Because yes, there was a local police officer (who, by the way, had totally drawn the short straw that night) right in the middle of the grass, shining a flashlight directly onto my pale, hairy, naked bod, shouting "Son. Son stop right there!" Just like that. Like a freaking cartoon policeman. "Stop right there!"

So I high-tailed it directly to my clothes and then to the library.

Where they'd never look for me.

Okay so it's none of these things. It is also nowhere near as terrifying as any of those things as it turns out.

Let's try this:

Hello, voicemail box of Charles Schumer, United States Senator. Chuck, if I may. My name is A-J Aronstein. I am proud to live in the State of New York, where I was born and raised in solid public schools. And where my parents used to take me to vote at Mount Vernon High School, just down the hill from our house.

My great-grandparents came to the United States through Ellis Island. I remember taking an impression of their names with red crayon when I was little on a white sheet of paper. Leo and Molly Kushner. Their names are on the plaque there. They built a life here. He had a tailor shop and she helped out. My grandmother can still describe every detail of it and she turns 94 next month. Many of the immediate relations of her parents -- the ones who did not leave -- stayed behind.

Not to be melodramatic about it, but they were murdered in concentration camps. That's a fact.

When I was little, I was obsessed with the Statue of Liberty. Or, as you can hear my voice saying on a recording that I will not play for you, the "Satu-ligerty." Before I could read, I memorized the inscription on the plaque that she holds -- "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. [or, okay, on the recording bree-free and then my dad saying "good boy. God he's so sm-- and then the tape ends]."

Anyway. I don't mean to over share!

Here's the important part: I am leaving this message to record my opposition to the President's ban on travel for individuals coming from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. I stand with the good people of these faraway places. And I will be calling every day for as long as I need to. I know my friends will be calling their Senators and Representatives as well. Because we've all done much scarier things than that.