Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I tend to reflexively shut down when people start getting all dewy-eyed and nostalgic. I distrust and dislike nostalgia. It really bugs me when people talk about the "good old days" without acknowledging that those days weren't so good for a good chunk of people. The past is complicated. And we as a people actually keep getting better, not worse. Mayberry makes for a nice rhetorical turn, until you remember that the real Mayberry was most likely a place where Jim Crow laws were the rule of the land. But, hey, people were more polite or something!

At another level, I think people rarely recognize that the happy times of the past might have been so happy because they were children when they experienced them. Good parents make the world their kids live in a safe and wholesome place. But that doesn't mean that the grown up people around them weren't sweating the bills and the changing cultural norms. I'm freaked out almost all the time, but I'm hoping Laney looks back at these parlous times as comforting and safe.

That said, lately, there seems to be so much hysterical concern about demographic winters - fear that America is in danger because there aren't enough white babies being born. And I can't help but remember the halcyon days of my own youth when we talked about melting pots and how Freddie Prinze was as much an American as the old white dude he worked for (ask your parents). It seemed like when I was growing up, the idea that Being American=Being White was being challenged and well on its way out the door.

And I miss that. I despair when Pat Buchanon shows up on the purportedly "liberal" MSNBC and waxes paranoid about the looming threat of more brown babies being born than white babies.

So, I confess, I'm nostalgic for the 70s. I miss the melting pot. I mourn the notion of American diversity as the greatest American strength. I hate seeing the notion that the only real American is a white American getting any kind of traction. It's so toxic and retrograde.

And that's all the nostalgia you'll get from me.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Tears, Idle Tears

We raced home after Laney's birthday party to catch the end of the Women's World Cup and, oh, it was a heartbreaker, wasn't it? I mean, since I'm not generally invested in women's soccer, it wasn't too much of a stretch for me to feel happy for Japan because there's a country that could use some spirit lifting. And no matter how you feel about sports, moments like these do lift the spirits of a nation.

And how awesome was it to see all these men so invested in women's sports? At the bowling alley (where we held the birthday party), I commented about all these men so riveted by those women playing soccer and this guy turned and said to me, "This is great!"

U.S.A. lost. But I still found some stuff to cheer for.

Still, my heart broke for those players. Imagine being THAT close and falling short so close to the end? Crushing. Devastating. I know it's only a game, but, damn, they worked so HARD, didn't they?

I watched the postgame interview with Abby Wambach answering those ridiculous questions, and she answered them with so much grace and aplomb and spine. She kept her upper lip stiff, answered the questions, and walked off the field with her head high.

Me? I break into tears during the cuts episodes of So You Think You Can Dance.

I would love to be as self-possessed and graceful as that Abby Wambach, who can actually answer questions like "Did you mean to not win?" (which is about the level of questions they ask) without crying or rolling her eyes or punching the reporter in the neck.

I wonder if you can learn that? Because, honestly, the older I get the more prone I am to irritating displays of emotion.

Maybe I should take up soccer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Problem with Reversing the Ism

A quick list of things I don't believe in: ghosts, rational libertarianism, that the Cubs will ever win a World Series, and reverse racism/sexism. Let's talk about that last one.

Racism and sexism aren't a series of individual acts. They are systemic problems in American culture. In other words, racism isn't something that happens to a black person. It's the experience of Black People (and Muslims and Latinos) Sexism isn't something that happens to a woman. It's the experience of Women.

So, while an individual black person might act like an asshole to an individual white person because that individual black person doesn't like white people, white people in America are not victims of racism. And while a woman might be an asshole to a man because she doesn't like men, men in America are not victims of sexism.

When you start using those words to label isolated experiences, you cheapen them.

We don't live in a bias-free America. There are a different set of rules for women than for men and there are a different set of rule for races other than Caucasian. It's not cool for people who have no experience living under these differing sets of rules to appropriate those fights.

There are times when I'd love to get a giant megaphone and just announce loudly to the world, "STOP ACTING LIKE ASSHOLES AND START BEING NICE TO EACH OTHER." And while that is certainly a valid wish and one, I'm sure, we all share. We can't get there by just being nice to each other. We have to start with genuinely trying to recognize and remedy systemic unfairness. And the quickest #epicfail on the road to recognition is appropriation.

In short: Shut it, Fox News: there's no war on Christians. No one's gunning for whitey. And feminists don't hate men. Be aware of your privilege.

(Also stop acting like assholes and be nice to people)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Something Else I Wanted to Say

I go a couple of weeks without blogging and then I get two BAM BAM. But I was thinking this evening that I'm starting to understand why people go ultra-conservative and fall in political love with the likes of Michelle Bachmann.

Being a member of the reality-based community is really scary, you guys. The things that make your average liberal struggle to fall asleep at night (climate change, pending economic catastrophes, pending economic catastrophes that could make the current president so unpopular that Michelle Bachmann actually BECOMES president, shit like that), are all plausible and genuinely terrifying.

But if you're one of those conservatives who love Michelle Bachmann you're terrified of things like creeping Shari'a law and gay marriage; where the latter is fundamentally unscary, and the former is just an incredibly stupid fucking thing to be afraid of.

I get it. I think I'm going to start focusing my fear on creeping Shari'a law and gay marriage. It's way better than being afraid of pending economic catastrophe. Anyone want to join me? Look! Over there! A couple of gay guys are holding hands! AUGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

I'm going to sleep so much better.

The Value of Work

It's been a spell since I checked in here at this old blog. Miss me? What? You didn't notice I was gone? God, you guys are total assholes! I could have been DEAD IN A DITCH... Oh, you saw me on Facebook. Never mind.

I'm a busy lady, as are you all (except, of course, those of you who are gentle fellows). What with my job and my kid and my panicky freakouts about the economy and how that will impact my job and how that would impact my kid, I barely have time to have my nightly bourbon. I make time for that, but some nights it's after 10:00 when time is made.

So, you know I wrote this book, right? Took me a couple of years of scrabbling together 30 minutes here and an hour there, but I wrote the fucker and then rewrote it and then decided to put it out there. I got a couple of bites from literary agents but nothing panned out.

And after listening hard to the polite opinions of people who'd read it, and trying to dredge out what what they were avoiding to spare my feelings, I decided I needed to go back in. And so, as a particular exercise, I made myself sit down and read the thing, cover to cover, without taking notes, without making edits, without losing myself in this scene or that line of dialog. And what did I did I discover? This motherfucker needs WORK, you guys. And I mean that as literally as I can.

No one will ever tell you writing is easy, unless you're Bristol Palin or Octomom or someone else with a ghost writer... But the ghost writer would tell you that writing is hard. And the reason that it's hard is because it's not just finding the right words or really knowing your character. It's hard because you have to be willing to go back into it, again and again, and fix the things that are wrong. You have to do the work. You have to do the part that doesn't feel creative and doesn't come easily. You have to do the work.

Such is the lesson for life. There's always work to be done. But everything that is worth doing, is worth doing well. Cliche, sure. But things don't generally achieve cliche status without being true.

So, I'll meet you back here around Christmas and will hopefully have fixed the many, many things that are wrong with my beloved book. The plot points that come off as contrived, the character that drops out and then reappears in a manner that makes the reader (shit, made the WRITER) go "wait... who's that again?", the points when my voice completely drops away. A million things that are just a little bit wrong with it.

I'm doing the fucking work.