Monday, February 13, 2017

You Guys, Trust Me, This is Solid Advice

So this post isn't really about adoption, but it starts with it. As mentioned here so many times before, international adoption is super stressful. The very worst part about it is that you have so little control - so much of it is up to the bureaucratic or political vagaries of government factotums who don't really care that they're holding your heart in their hands. The people making these laws are so far removed from it that your pain is little more than a distant noise to them.  If I had a nickel for every time Putin stopped and then re-started American adoptions during our two year process... well, I'd only have about 15 or 20 cents.  This was a bad analogy.  Just trust me when I say that it fucking sucked and I spent a lot of time really scared about how it would all work out.

If either Don or I started spiraling into despair, the other would remind them of our family motto, which we debuted during this process:


By the second trip to Russia, we'd had it honed down to something like:

Meg, with tears in her eyes: What is even happening?!  What is going on!?  I don't understand any of this!!
Don: Where's your towel?
Meg: Got it.

Panic, dear readers, is as helpful as a waterproof towel.  Panic has never helped anyone.  Panic doesn't spur people to action, it drives them under the covers.  Don't Freaking Panic.

So, what I said above about our pain being little more than distant noise?  Sound familiar?  I think my three or four readers are probably largely in agreement than in the weird little mind of Donald Trump, people only begin (and only just begin) to exist when they enrich or flatter him.  The rest of us are just distant noise.

And this is scary.  And even scarier having come from such a hoopy, frood president to such a strag teaser of one (note: the Google spellchecker really struggles with Hitchhiker slang).  But we cannot panic because panic doesn't help.

These two things do: action and humor. Be active in our democracy and, for the love of Zaphod Beeblebrox,  keep your damn sense of humor. It'll be hard. I know.  As the wonderful Charlie Pierce said, it's a long push up a dirt hill. But we're gonna pepper up that long push by throwing sand in the gears wherever we can.  And having a little fun while we do it.

(You know what's fun?  Wonkette is fun.  And if you subscribe for $5 a month, you can have guilt-free fun.  Just doing some little pimpin' for a fun website.)

Keep calling your senators and your congresspeople.  I know, we didn't stop anyone in Trump's Cabinet of Vogons from getting in (I'm fully committed to Hitchhiker metaphors now).  But, dammit, we're going to make their jobs a lot harder.  We're all hitchhikers in this weird, wonderful temporarily (TEMPORARILY!) Trumpian nation and all fully equipped with wily, silly, survival-y, towel-y, non-panicky brilliance. Remember that that ridiculous Betsy DeVos is no longer limited to an audience of thirsty whores who fawn and flatter with their palms out.  She's got to deal with teachers and parents now.  You know what parents and teachers have limited patience for?  Devos' bullshit, that's what. 

President Pussygrabber has filled his Cabinet with people who got where they are by throwing money at grateful and graceless hustlers.  But now they have an engaged and active population ready to go. And they ain't never dealt with that.

Make fun of the ridiculous person that our president is and the equally ridiculous people he's surrounded himself with. Don't cower in fear of those ridiculous people.  Laugh at them.  Call up the people who work for you and remind them that they work for you and that you're paying attention.  Do stuff.  

And be nice to everyone else.  And read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

From the Land of International Adoption

In this brave new social media world, sometimes you see comments your friends have made on news articles or blogposts that surprise you, or maybe even make you mad or hurt your feelings.  This is a post about that.

A few weeks ago (during those halcyon days when Barack Obama was still our president.  Remember that?  Sigh.  That was so awesome.), a social media friend posted a comment on some news feed in response to a question about international adoption that surprised me, made me mad and sort of hurt my feelings.  They said that the reason Americans adopt internationally rather than adopt American kids in need is because they want pretty Asian or white babies.

This is a person I like, so I'm not resting in anger or hurt feelings.  Shoot, I'm as prone as the next liberal to playing more progressive-than-thou myself and might well have cast the same aspersions  had I not found myself in a position where I wanted a kid but was unable to grow one in my body.

Besides, Ive heard it a million times. When you do an international adoption, you should be prepared to learn that the reason you did this is because you were too selfish to adopt an American kid.  (Side note: if you're reading this blog and have not yet become a parent but think that one day you will, you're not really a parent until someone on the internet tells you some parenting decision you've made is selfish.  It's a super cool rite of passage in this modern world.)

And I may even have written about it before, but I'm gonna again.  My Laney is as if my heart has been walking around outside my body for the past 11 years.  I am crazy about my husband, but it wasn't until Laney that I really fully grokked that whole loving someone to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.  Having that complex and profound relationship diminished into superficial selfishness, well, you guys, it kinda gets on my tits.

The reasons I had for choosing Russian adoption were not because I wanted a pretty white girl (although I got one  She's living in this nearly two-year ban on picture taking so you're gonna have to take my word on it). My motivations for international adoption came down to the following two factors:

(1) I had friends who did it and they'd had the gold standard adoption story.  Nine months, start to finish.  No crazy courts.  No problems.  Beautiful baby girl.  And they were willing to mentor us through it.  Adoption is hard.  It's really helpful to have someone who can walk you through it.

(2) The Baby Richard story freaked me the fuck out. Over 20 years later, I'm still freaked out by it.  I had Laney for years before I stopped being afraid someone would come and take her away. That's a lie.  I still wake up in a cold sweat over it from time to time. That video messed me up, you guys.  Messed. Me. Up.

I probably shouldn't care that people will cast our decision for Russian adoption as a narcissistic exercise in self-indulgence.  Like I said above, there's no such thing as parenting without someone telling you you're doing it wrong.  But, when my girl, and our complex, brilliant, beautiful imperfect relationship is reduced to nothing more than White Privilege ... like I said, it really gets on my tits.

So, you know, don't do that.  :)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The New Normal

It seems like every morning we wake up and read something new and something horrifying.  It's overwhelming and depressing.

But, remember, this is not the first showing of the hit musical America: OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.

We live in a country that went through a bloody, devastating civil war because half of our fellow citizens believed they had a god-given right to own a human person as property.

Yesterday, my fellow protester, Laney, and I saw Hidden Figures which took us back to a time where a 14 year old black boy was violently murdered because a white woman lied about him whistling at her and his murderers were acquitted.

Around the same time, Nixon was throwing a monkey wrench into peace talks in Vietnam so he could win an election.

When I was a teenager, tens of thousands of gay men were dying of AIDS and our president didn't even say the word. In the meantime, his vile press secretary was using the epidemic as a chance to work out a truly despicable comedy routine (I wouldn't click that link on a full stomach).

Trump may be worse.  He's only been president for one week and has in that time:

  • Issued an executive order that will strip millions of their healthcare
  • Refused our moral and legal obligation to refugees
  • Destabilized our reputation in the middle east, likely creating a whole buncha new recruits for ISIS
  • Put forth a plan to make American taxpayers pay for his stupid, fucking wall
  • Put a white supremacist in charge of the NSC
  • Declared the press the enemy
  • Decided #lolnope via executive order on the water rights of Indigenous Americans
He's a terrible president and a terrible person.

But we've been here before. This is not to say everything is fine.  After Nixon's vile politicking, 22,000 American soldiers died.  George Bush's excellent adventures in Iraq, cost about a million people their lives. 

People will die because Donald Trump is a thin-skinned, authoritarian know-nothing who doesn't seem to recognize the humanity of anyone who isn't Donald Trump and sees the presidency as nothing more than a booster for his ego and an opportunity to profit.   And the people who enabled his presidency will not see him that way because they are too invested in their fantasies about him and themselves.

But I remind you: we fought a civil war when half of this country believed they had a God-given right to own a human being as property (by the way, if you're a Trump or Stein or Johnson voter and you don't like this comparison, I don't care).  This country has a history of delusional evil and a history of fighting back against it.  Hard.

I don't think we're looking at the end of America. To quote noted internet journalist and all around brilliant mensch Josh Marshall, "People need to have a bit more confidence in themselves, their values and their country."  

So, don't despair.  Make a conscious choice for focused optimism.  We've faced the monster before and won. Even if victory came at considerable cost, the forces of good still won.  And here's the main thing: doing something will make you feel better.  Do these things:
  • If you got some $, give some $.  It doesn't have to be a lot.  If 1000 people give Refugee One $10 a month, that's $10,000 a month. The little bits add up.  
  • Support real news organizations.  I know this is getting expensive, but it's hard out there for real journalists when our president is operating under Fake News=They Don't Like Me/ Real News=They Think I'm Fucking Awesome and the internet is an aggregating force for people not gettin' paid.  So pay for a subscription to The New York Times or The Washington Post.  Unfortunately The Chicago Tribune can suck it since they endorsed Gary "Aleppo I Don't Even Know Her" Johnson.  I love Talking Points Memo.  They do yeoman's work and have a subscription service.  It's good.  I'm a total Josh Marshall fangurl.
  • Protest.  Protesting is a pain in the ass.  You're in a crush of people and sometimes it's hard to get out.  But, in my limited experience, protesters are the nicest people around.  They'll have your back. The whole point of a protest is to show the people in charge that we're not standing behind them. We're standing in front and saying NO.  Protesting has a long history as a force for positive change in America.
  • CALL YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES.  Do it every damn day.  This nifty page gets updated all the time with scripts.  And if you're struggling getting through (this is a good link!  You should click on that one), encourage those nifty news organizations you're supporting to find out why the hell we can't talk to our reps. 
  • Take a break.  This is important.  Unlike the previous dark epochs in America, we're living in a time where information comes out at us fast and furiously in a nonstop onslaught of OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.  So, take a break.  I plan to spend much of today in my PJs reading Harry Potter.  You don't always have to be in the middle of it.
So, to summarize: no, I don't think we're all going to be fine.  But I also don't think OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.  Do something, get in it.  And choose to be hopeful.

And, you know, re-read childhood books you loved.  Watch beloved series on Netflix.  Give yourself a break here and there.  

And if you start to feel real bad, remember, I think you're pretty cool and you look great today!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Being White on MLK Day

Today Rob Schneider, who is responsible for so many terrible movies, had the truly terrible idea to take to Twitter with this:


Oof.  It's a tweet so bad it made my stomach hurt a little (probably from laughing).  I think my favorite part is "he won Civil Rights" because it makes it sound like Civil Rights is like a Heisman Trophy, doesn't it? "Martin Luther King won Civil Rights, Rep. Lewis!  If you want them, you're just going to have to listen to Rob Schneider and work a little harder."  This tweet was a true masterpiece of misplaced condescension.

Of course, before we go getting soooooper smug about it....

I'm also doing this thing where I'm an admin on a Facebook group for the Women's March in Chicago - you should come!   It's gonna be LIT (and just like that I've ruined the term "lit" forever). As I checked out folks' Facebook profiles to make sure they weren't bots or trolls, I must have come across this MLK meme about eleventy billion times:


Look. This is a lovely message and in no way near the level of self-unawareness of our boy, Rob Schneider.  But it's also, you know, a little un-self-aware and, oy, so facile. Martin Luther King wasn't some lovebug. He was activist. He was angry. He was out there. He fought! And I die a little every time one of my fellow Nillas co-opts him as some gentle, toothless, avuncular arbiter for white approval.

And, y'all, I am white as hell!  I can only imagine how deeply irritating this must be for Black people.

Let me put it this way: when Martin Luther King Jr. was still alive, he wouldn't have been sitting there nodding gratefully at us just because we went "tsk tsk" as others were screaming the N-word at Ruby Bridges. In fact, it wasn't MLK's job to be grateful to us or to be in charge of our feelings. He was too busy leading a fight for systemic, structural, political change.  The legacy he passed to us white people is that if we believed in him, we fight too.  

This is not touchy feely stuff.  This is visceral.  This is real and it is tangible.

In other words: love is great. Sure. But call your congressperson.  Make yourself heard.  Demand systemic, structural, political change.

I am late to my activism (although my slacktavism has been ON POINT FOR YEARS!).  But join me in it.  One call to your congressperson is worth 800 MLK memes.  I promise you this.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

That's Right, I'm Resoluting, My Bitches!

Happy New Years!



There's one house in my neighborhood that had a Trump/Pence sign.  It's also the one house in my neighborhood where the shades are always drawn.  I think this is a pretty apt metaphor for Trumplethinskin and his supporters: folks so afraid of the outside world that they choose to sit in the dark.  But the man they voted for and believe in so passionately is just an empty suit who doesn't hear any words except "Dang! The Donald Is So Sessy!" This is what he hears when you say "I had a bagel for breakfast" or "Build That Wall!" This is all he ever hears. But the forces acting behind him are eager to divest us all of our social security and our healthcare.  They're gearing up to throw dollars at the oligarchy and deprive our children and grandchildren of a habitable environment.  They're ready to put a SCOTUS in place that will not only rob women of autonomy of our bodies, but will also insure that rapacious corporate interests can carry on untrammeled for a generation, so the CEO of Wal-Mart can buy and sell a whole state (a good one! not one of those ones where no one lives) while Wal-Mart's shelves are stocked by 80 year old grampas who can't afford to retire.

Tump voters made a bad choice.  And one of my resolutions this year is to never stop letting them know.  This is not because I am eager to be right (good golly to the holy FSM I hope I'm wrong).  But it's because the American right doesn't get to keep screwing things up and blaming the American left.  You made this bed that we all have to lie in and I'm not studying on being humble and claiming equal culpability for these short sheets.  I was dumb enough to think he'd never win, but you were dumb enough to vote for him, which means I'm dumb but also I'm less dumb.  And as part of less-dumb America (the majority of America, not for nothing) we need to make sure we are all grown up enough to identify dumb when we see it.  I am resolute.

I am actually a resolving kind of lady.  I am allatime resolving.  I resolve just about every Sunday night to Do Better and Be Better.  I don't think this is a terrible thing.  The primary exercise of life should be to Do Better and Be Better. Here are some of the ones I made for 2017:

Be Involved
- I'm marching on 1/21 to let Trump and his supporters know that we're not going to "get over it."  I am stunned, actually stunned, by the number of people who believe like faith that this dubious electoral college victory to the most powerful post in the world is like a football game where nothing counts beyond winner and loser. What is wrong with these people?  Can this be diagnosed? Is it just general dumbassery or has something gotten into the water where they live? To quote Joe Biden: this is a big fucking deal and, no, I'm not going to sit back and say "wait 'til next year."  Trump has made his intentions amply clear and I plan to take him at his word and loudly object.

- I'm not going to stop calling my Senator and Congresswoman.  We should all be doing this at least three times a week.  Make your voice heard.  Bug those staffers.  It matters.

Volunteer
- I've signed up to tutor an immigrant on the Citizenship exam.  I'm actually super stoked about this and I start on Tuesday.  There's no better resistance to the xenophobia that put Trump in place than helping to welcome new Americans to this IMMIGRANT nation. Every time someone is an a-hole to an accented-American their dead great-granny up in heaven weeps on account of how someone was a likewise jerkwad to her back in 1923 and she never thought her own progeny would be so mean (note: as an Atheist-American, I don't actually believe in an afterlife, so treat this as a metaphor but be nice to an immigrant on account of how you don't want to make your ghostly great-granny cry)

Be Kind

Here's the late, great Kurt Vonnegut in meme form:


Yes.  Even to Trumpeters.  I plan to make a solid attempt to be kind to everyone.  If you want to get in front of me in traffic and you have a Trump sticker on I will probably let you (note: only if you've turned on your blinker. I am a blinker-absolutist.  Non-blinker-users get no traffic allowances from me no matter what your politics are).  I think we can call out bullshit where we see it without being assholes about it.  And I plan to.

Stay Mad
Oh boy, I'm mad and I plan on living in it. I know that when they go low, I'm supposed to go high.  And that's part of this whole "be kind" thing.  But that doesn't mean we shouldn't stay mad.  Mad gets things done.  Mad moves nations. You can be loving and angry. Martin Luthor King Jr was mad at racism.  Jane Addams was angry at injustice.  Injustice and cruelty should make us angry and our anger should inspire us to action.  I'm planning to stay mad.  The anger staunches despair.  Don't let anyone tell you to stop being mad.

Cook
I'm a bad cook and so I eat bad food.  I don't think I will ever be a good cook.  But I plan to be a less bad cook and cook some meals so I can eat less bad food.  I may even blog my cooking attempts because, you know, it can't be all politics all the time.

It's almost 2017.  Let's all try to Do Better and to Be Better.  And to get rid of Donald Fucking Trump - because he is the worst part of 2016 which is really saying something since 2016 is when we lost Princess Leia (who we JUST got back, dammit) and Prince.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

All I Want for Christmas is to Stay Here in My White, Hot Rage

Other people have written about this better than I will.  I like this piece from Kara Brown. I like this one by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie even more (by the way, have you read Americanah?  It's so good).  But, I'm just gonna take my own amateurish stab at it and tell you why I am not going to reach out to Trump supporters because I could not find a way to be less interested in reaching out to a Trump fan if I had a Trump map and a Trump compass (fun fact: the Trump compass points straight to the flaming pits of hell and then breaks).

One of my beloved cousins, who is so smart and so cool, told me that I couldn't just call 62m Trump voters racist.  And, I get that.  I really do. I get how it could seem unhelpful.

Except ... of course, I can call 62m Trump voters racist.  I'm pretty happy to call a solid 60% of the country racist.

I count myself among that 60%. I am not immune from feeling a shiver of fear when a black male walks in my direction on the street.  And I hate that.  I hate that I have that feeling. And I find myself constantly fighting the racist inclinations that have been bred into me as a white American through 240 years of white supremacy.  I think and hope that I am winning this battle against my own racism.  But I'm not optimistic enough to expect anything less than a lifelong fight.

Until we acknowledge that racism is built into the fiber of this nation and stop thinking that racism only comes in white hoods and burning crosses, we're never going to get better.  The first step to solving a problem and all that...

Remember during the first debate when Hillary was asked if she thought police had an implicit bias and she said "we all have an implicit bias."  Jesus, to think how close we came to having another grown-up in the White House.  It's just devastating.

But we didn't get a grown-up.  We got President Pussygrabber, who racism put into the White House.  And as such, we white folks need to focus on the people who will suffer the most from this devastating presidency.

And that's not white people.

People are scared of Trumplethinskin's presidency.  I'm scared.  But I'm not as scared as the Mexican kid who's afraid that her parents are going to be deported (by the way, it doesn't matter to that kid if her parents are here legally or not: she's picked up on the tone.  She knows what they mean).  Black men are scared that they're going to be harassed by law enforcement with impunity (here's a fun thought experiment: imagine a rich white dude getting stopped and frisked).  Black mothers are afraid that their sons will keep being killed and no one will care.  Women of all colors are afraid of forced pregnancies, of sexual assault becoming even more normalized. LGBTQ Americans are scared of being forced back into the closet.  Muslim Americans are terrified of being put on a registry and then...

And that's where our focus as Progressives and Liberals should be: the people directly and explicitly threatened by President Orange Julius Caesar. The only message I've got for poor rural, whites who voted for Trump is "Hey, you may want to google Paul Ryan Medicare or Paul Ryan Social Security."  That's all the energy I have for them.

And look, I don't wish evil on poor, white Trump voters. I want them to have jobs and healthcare and decent public education.  I want them to be able to retire at a reasonable age instead of spending their golden years stocking shelves at the Super Walmart that drove their hardware store out of business.  As a matter of fact, that's why I vote Democrat!

But if we focus our fight on the minority people who are living through this noxious cloud of visceral hate, if we push our political will towards them, we'll be OK.  We'll be better than OK.  Remember almost 3m more people voted for Hillary.  We won and we need to politic like we did.

Two more things: this is a white people fight.  We have been sitting around too long waiting for the Magical Negro to come around and make us better and then forgive us.  We have been putting the burden of fixing racism and for forgiving white people on black people for too long.  No more.

Second, never forget, my fellow Progressives: plenty of white people who aren't suffering from economic insecurity voted for that walking Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  This guy doesn't have any economic insecurity.  Neither does this lady.  They just know They're Supposed to Get More. And you know what?  Fuck those people.  I'm sick of them.  And I'm ready to be louder and angrier than they are.







Saturday, November 12, 2016

Calling My Own Damn Self Out

So yesterday I wrote a post in which I complained about being called a "liberal elite" because I live in a city.  I made it seem that urban people are a lot better at not being racist than suburban/exurban/rural people.  And while I do think that it's easier to quell white panic in the face of black or brown people when you live among them, still...

See, I live in Chicago, which is a city in which over 600 people have been murdered this year already, the vast majority of whom were black men and boys. Much of white Chicago has convinced itself that these deaths are just an unavoidable consequence of life in some parts of the city.  But we all know the truth: if white men and boys were dying at rates like that, we'd give a shit.  We'd demand that law enforcement and the political powers that be do something about it.  We wouldn't just shrug our shoulders and sigh.

Donald Trump and his cartoon henchman, Rudy Giuliani, claim "they're killing each other" and that the only cure is to empower law enforcement to routinely harass black men and boys for crimes like walking down the street or having a public conversation. But imagine, my fellow white people, how we'd respond to that kind of humiliation.  We get angry when the cashier at McDonald's is insufficiently pleased to wait on us.

I grossly underestimated white resentment and white panic in America.  But I no longer will. This is what put Donald Trump in the White House.  And while we white people bear the blame for this, it's black and brown people who'll shoulder the burden.

We have to be better. All of us white people need to be better.