Friday, December 28, 2012

(Incalculable Joy) x 46

The first year we were back from Russia with Laney, I told anyone seeking adoption advice to avoid Russia.  I've forgotten about that over the past seven years.  I am a person, generally, for whom time seems to diminish pain and exaggerate joy.  Besides, I've had seven years of my daughter.  Seven years of proof positive that the agony of getting her was worth it.  Well worth it.

But that first year, I'd have told you to steer miles clear of Russia. Look to Eastern Europe, Africa, foster-to-adopt in America.  But avoid Russia.  Because Russia made adoption uniquely difficult.  Seven years ago, we traveled to the Eastern edge of Russia, met Laney (Lena she was then), hugged and cuddled her.  Saw her bleary eyes and pale-to-the-point-of-translucent skin.  Saw how hungry she was.  And then we went home. And we were home for ten weeks.  Ten agonizing, horrible weeks, powerlessly waiting for the proud, creaky Russian bureaucracy to tell us we could come back.  Those 10 weeks were the worst 10 weeks in my life.  Worse even than the week my father died; and he died suddenly and tragically.  Those weeks were unimaginably painful.  I survived them on a steady diet of nicotine, alcohol, and spite.  I don't recommend this as a coping mechanism.  It worked for me, but damn, was I unpleasant to be around, hungover, stinky and prone to nasty comments.

If I hadn't ended up bringing my daughter home eventually, I think I'd be broken in some fundamental way.

Right now there are 46 families going through what we went through, only for them it's so much worse.

I don't think we can fix Russian/American adoption.   This ban is enormously popular in Russia because there are a variety of crazy theories about what happens to Russian kids adopted in America.  I don't judge this too harshly since we're far from immune from wackadoo paranoia here.   Russians don't seem to want their children adopted at all, but they are especially leery of American adoption. So, I am hopeful that the 1000 kids adopted annually from Russia by Americans will be adopted into Italy or England or one of the other countries that groks adoption like we do here.

But maybe we can do something about those 46 families.  

I think that the worst thing about having real political power in America must be that you know how fucked up the world really is.  I imagine that's the reason presidents (most of them) age so much.  Why Barack Obama's hair got so gray.  Why Hillary Clinton seems so tired.  Children are starving everywhere.  Children are raped and murdered and devalued in a million places in the world.  American children go to bed hungry every night too, also with bullets whizzing down their streets.  And the 650,000 kids in Russian orphanages have little chance at a good life.

But, like I said, maybe we can do something about those 46 families.  So, let's contact Hillary Clinton, and ask her to help them.  And Barack Obama.  Write your congressperson.  I'm writing to Vladimir Putin and including the letter Laney wrote.   And let's throw some full-throated encouragement their way to, at the very least, let those 46 adoptions be completed.  Let's encourage these powerful people who see so many horrible things to give themselves the gift of enabling incalculable joy, 46 times.

I hope you do.  46 families are going through a kind of pain it's hard to imagine.  And 46 children have the chance to be part of a family.  It's worth a quick email, right?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Open Letter to Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama

This is in response to the proposed Dima Yakovlev Law working it's way through Russian legislature.

I met my daughter for the first time on February 28, 2005 in Blagoveschensk, Russia.  She was 19 months old but no bigger than a year-old baby.  She had beautiful blue eyes and had been sick with a cold, I think, for her whole life.  The first year of her life she spent in hospital because there was no room for her in an orphanage.    When there was room in the orphanage, she moved there.

I don't know much about the orphanage.  We were only ever invited into particular rooms when we visited her in the orphanage.  So I don't know if she shared a crib, if she had friends.  She wasn't very strong.  She was always sick.  She never had enough to eat, she never got enough love.

But I know people cared about her.  And I know that the people in that orphanage looked out for her, wanted the best for her, and were so happy to see her get her own family.  I know the wonderful people who helped us with her adoption cared about Laney and wanted our family to be put together almost as much as my husband and I did.

I ask you to think about your own children.  I ask you to imagine them spending a year in a hospital because there was no room for them in an orphanage. I ask you to imagine them sick and hungry for almost two years.  Think of that before you play politics with the lives of the children in those orphanages.

My daughter is now nine years old. She is strong and tall and smart and beautiful.  She almost never gets sick.  She laughs all the time.  And she is very proud of being Russian.  She knows who she is.  She knows where she's from.  She is Russian and American. And she is my daughter, she is my whole world.

Russia gave me my child.  In return, I give her all my love, I focus my life towards her, I make her my most important priority.  This is a good deal.  This is the way the world should work.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guns, Guns, Guns


I could never have a gun in my house.  Perhaps surprisingly, this is not down to an intrinsic moral objection.  It is practical.   I would probably murder my husband if I had a gun in the house.  Not that he drives me to murderous rages (often).  But because I go to bed every night with varying degrees of paranoid terror and Don works nights.  So many nights the poor guy comes upstairs, ready to rest his weary bones and is, instead, greeted in the dark by the eerie specter of his beloved wife bolting straight up and saying something super eloquent like "WHO THE FUCK IS THAT!!!!!  AUUUUGGGGHHH!" (I totally scream like Lucy Van Pelt).   Imagine if I had a gun by my bed... I'd shoot him.  And even if I didn't out and out murder him, I'd certainly do enough damage that he'd never feel obliged to clean the bathroom again.  And, you guys, I HATE cleaning the bathroom.

So no guns in our house.

I do not actually have any moral objection to gun ownership anymore.  If you want to have a handgun or shotgun around your house, I agree that (with certain provisos) this is your right as an American. I am like most gun control advocates in this county.  We are not standing eagerly by waiting for  legislative wiggle room to take your guns away.  We have no plans to pry a gun from your cold, dead hands because, really, given rigor mortis and whatnot, this seems like a dangerous proposition at best.  When we talk about gun control, we're talking about AK47s and gun show loopholes and putting the brakes on the myriad super easy ways that anyone can get a goddamn assault weapon in this country.

On the other side is that evil troll Wayne LaPierre who's got his followers convinced that any gun control legislation, no matter how patently obvious, will lead invariably to Barack Obama personally showing up at your door where he will demand your gun and hand it over to the Black Panther he totally hangs out with when there are no cameras on him.  Gun nuts suffer from a much deeper degree of paranoid terror than I do.  They are also not embarrassed by their paranoid terror.  Paranoid terror is really only ever successfully managed when it occurs alongside a healthy dose of embarrassment.

All that said, the most disheartening thing I've noticed in this gun crazy country of ours is the sexual thrill we seem to get at the idea of shooting someone threatening.  They've gone and legislated that pornographic fantasy in Florida to just super great results.  And Wayne LaPierre may actually believe that more guns means less murder because Wayne LaPierre is an evil troll and doesn't understand math. And this story was all over Facebook as some kind of awesome lulz.  Look, I get it - feeling threatened is horrible and incredibly scary.  And I'd be a big old fat liar if I said I'd never indulged in the fantasy of blowing away some motherfucker who threatened me.  But, if someone breaks into your house to steal your TV, they didn't just spring into existence at the moment they kicked your door in.  They are living people, with complicated lives and while they might not be good people, can we not, at the very least, have the common humanity to regret their death?  Can we not at least recognize that killing someone, even someone who's threatened you, is a significant act?   And that while there are times when it might be justified, it's not something we should celebrate?

I feel like such an old lady saying this, but we don't like in a Michael Bay film (shit... movie.  Michael Bay does not make films).  Killing matters.  It signifies.  It is not fun.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Lustrous Winter

I think I sing the praises of winter around this time every year.  I am a member of the distinct minority that enjoys the short days and the long nights.  I also like the short nights and the long days.  I like any season until I get sick of it.  Pretty much my favorite kind of weather is "the first day it..." I love the first day I put on a sweater, the first day it snows, the first day I can go out in shirt sleeves, the first day I can swim in Lake Michigan without freezing my nards off (my friend Danno told me that women also have nards and he's pretty smart so I'm sticking with the expression).

But December is much maligned by us earthwalkers.  Most people just really super duper hate it.  We hate it so much we designed this whole festival of lights with inside trees and brightly colored ornaments and twinkly lights to get over our collective depression at getting only seven or eight hours of light (look.. I know many of you believe in Jesus and love him and stuff... but we do this whole Christmas thing as a mechanism to help us get through the long, cold night.  That's for realz the reason for the season.  Everything else is just tacked on.  WAR ON CHRISTMAS!  SOMEONE CALL O'REILLY.  STAT!)

And I do love Christmas, with the pretty pretty ornaments and the presents and stuff.  But, come on you guys, here in this first world place we live in, can't we give a little love to the long lustrous night?  To the coziness of home fires?  To just doing a little fucking less and enjoying the opportunity to kick back?

It's dark out.  Let's just pour a glass of wine and play a little Uno, read a book, watch a movie we haven't seen in a while. Let the kid skip that class.  The world won't end if the rug goes unvacuumed.  Don't go checking your work mail during commercial breaks.  It's dark out.  The world is giving us a break.

And I'm blogging through it.  In the old days, the pre-kid days, I'd spend these nights hanging out at the bar.   Playing Uno with Laney is probably a little better... but those nights at the bar sure had their charms.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Abortion



I suspect you've heard this horrible story:


Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she miscarried and died last month. Ireland's government confirmed Wednesday that Halappanavar suffered from blood poisoning and died after being denied an abortion, reigniting the debate over legalizing abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.

My time to worry about my own body like this has passed.  But I have a daughter.  Can you imagine how Savita Halappanavar's mother must  be feeling?  She went home from a visit the day before the miscarriage happened.  She probably left Ireland thrilled by the prospect of a grandchild and then three days later her own daughter was dead.  Just try to imagine the depth of despair and the height of rage Savita Halappanavar's mother must feel, knowing her daughter died senselessly, after agonizing pain. 

But that's what illegal abortion does. It doesn't result in fewer abortions.  It results in more abortions.  And it results in dead women and girls. 


Access to contraception lowers the rate of abortion.  A lot.  Access to sex education, absent that toxic abstinence only bullshit, lowers the rate of abortion even more.  But in countries where abortion is illegal, they have more abortions and more dead women and girls:

Unsafe clandestine abortion is responsible for an estimated 100-200,000 deaths among women in developing countries each year and accounts for 25-50% of all maternal deaths in some regions, especially Latin America. A third of the population of the Third World lives in countries where abortion is illegal or permitted only in extreme cases. Mortality from clandestine abortions in developing countries may be as high as 400/100,000 procedures compared with 6/200,000 in situations where abortion is legal. 

Of course, Savita Halappanavar didn't die of an unsafe abortion.  She died from being denied a safe abortion.  

And can you imagine how her mother feels?

I can't.  All I know is that I I hope I never do.   


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Let's All Remember Nice Things

All day I'd planned to blog tonight on this idea I had about an amicable divorce between the two Americas.  I had a whole thing worked out in my head and I thought it would be trenchant, poignant and possible hilarious.  But, you guys, I'm not just sick of politics.  I'm heartsick of politics.  I want to crawl up under my bed with a bottle of bourbon and stay there until Wednesday.  All I'd need is the bourbon, a comfy blanket and maybe Netflix so I could finally catch up on Dr. Who (I'm just BARELY into the skinny 26 year old doctor and still sorta missing David Tennant). Politics, you guys.  How can anyone stand it and was it always like this?

Fuck it.  Let's talk about something COMPLETELY different.

Laney and I are reading The High King, which is the last book in the Circle of Prydain which is a series of YA books by Lloyd Alexander written in the 60s that you have most likely never heard of.  But I can recall, with a stunning clarity, the library shelf where I first spotted The Book of Three (which is the first book).  It was on the lower shelf of a two shelf bookcase that was sort of outside the main bookshelves, on the way to where you'd check out.  And, fellow nerds, I read the SHIT out of those books.  It is not an exaggeration to say I've read each of the five books in the series at least 50 times.  Quite likely more.  I was probably eight or so when I discovered them and have never stopped reading them and, you know, I am WAY older than eight now.

I think Laney likes them OK.  I think she likes them like my brother liked them (he read them too).  He thought they were pretty good. You know, they were a good read but once read, no need to go back. Or maybe she likes them because she likes me and I loooooooove them.  She has a similar passion for Rick Riordan books (which are pretty great, you guys).  Those are the books that I suspect will shape and form her childhood the way the Circle of Prydain shaped and formed mine.  They may provide the pathway back to her childhood the way the Circle of Prydain keeps me tethered, in the loveliest way, to my own.

I was talking to Don about it and asking him if he had anything like that from his childhood and he thought and then said, "sports."  And you know what?  That's fair.  I loved nerdy fantasy novels rooted in Welsh mythology and Don loved football.  And baseball. And he started talking to me about the way he loved those things and called up images from his own childhood with the stunning clarity that I have for that library shelf.

Our lives can't be just about adult fascinations, like politics (and she brings it right back around).  We have to keep these childhood passions engaged.  What were yours?  Do you share them with your kids?  Shit, you guys, I don't know what I'm going to do when Laney and I get to the part where....




SPOILER ALERT






... Coll dies.  Y'all should read those books.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Get A Little Ranty

I've read two stories in less than a week about teenage girls who were hounded into suicide by taunts of "slut."  It's goes without mentioning it, doesn't it, that the boys they were slutting around with were spared any abuse.

It breaks my heart.  It breaks my heart that this never seems to stop happening.   And goddammit!  It makes me so goddamn motherfucking mad!

I remember being in high school like a million years ago and a classmate had the word "SLUT" written all over her locker.  She'd allegedly given a blow job to some boy in the school parking lot.  I remember another girl telling me "she deserved it."  The boy deserved his high fives.

We send such fucked up and, GOD, complicated messages to girls - we force them to walk this increasingly narrow line between being hot and being respected.  I wonder if men understand how complicated this whole "lady in the street/freak in the bed" thing is?  I'm 43 years old now and I still haven't figured it how to walk that line.  Instead I figured out how not to give two flying fucks about it.

But our girls, you guys!  What about our girls? We're sending our girls out into a world where they HAVE to be hot.  But not, you know, WHOREY hot.  Slutty girls are disgusting, amirite?  I ask you: why does Charlie Sheen get to be charming, secondthirdfourthfifth chance rogue while Lindsey Lohan ain't nothin' but a train wreck? You know why, motherfucker?  Because we write SLUT on the girl's locker while we high five the boys. 

On the other hand, girls, you better make sure the boys want you!  I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with a couple of guys about Lady Gaga.  These grown ass men were disgusted by how un-pretty Lady Gaga was.  Fucking butterface.  Where does she get off being famous without being pretty.  You HAVE to be hot.

But keep it classy.  Otherwise: you're disgusting. Slut.

I'm a little ranty.  Forgive me. 

You know what?  I started this off wanting a feminist "It Gets Better." But as I write this, the less I want it.  I don't want gentle assurances that eventually most people grow out of this and stop calling girls sluts.  Because they don't! There's still this large segment of American society that insists that girls fit this narrow, uncomfortable FUCKED UP lady in the street/freak in the bed binary.  Powerful pundits who are also disgusting middle-aged fat fucking fuckwits call Sandra Fluke a slut and people laugh and applaud!  And then they laugh and applaud when the same fucking fuckwit waxes disgusted by how old Hillary Clinton is!  How fat Michelle Obama's ass is!  There are great big grown up men who think the prime directive of women is to make them come and then make babies.  There are duly elected senators who think that rape is something feminists made up!

And, GODDAMMIT!  It makes me so mad.  It makes me so angry that this fifteen year old girl got hounded by kids (boys and girls) who are, in their own sad stupid way, victims of our fucked up cultural norms where girls get SLUT written on their locker and boys get high fived.  

We owe ALL our kids better.  We owe our boys the chance to see girls as, you know, people.  And we owe our girls the opportunity to be who they want to be and to stop, GODDAMMIT, punishing them so dreadfully when they step outside the respectable/hot binary.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I Ain't Livin' Vicariously

When I'm at work, I like to have someone talking in my ear.  Not someone I know, mind you.  Random strangers on the Internet.  I usually have a podcast happening or last night's Rachel Maddow.  But since I'm at work, and working, I generally don't really take in what any of these people are saying.  It just makes me unavailable to the other folks in my office because I am exactly that kind of asshole.  Today I listened to an hour and a half long episode of the Marc Maron show in which he interviewed Jimmy Walker.  My takeaway from that is that Jimmy Walker says "fuck" sometimes, which I was surprised by.  I also discovered that Jimmy Walker is only eight years younger than John Amos (who played his dad on Good Times).  But I didn't learn that on the podcast.  That showed up when I decided to look up John Amos on Wikipedia because I remembered hearing that he was disappointed by the mugging and dyn-o-mites of Jimmy Walker.  According to Wikipedia, it was a little more complicated than that.  But seriously, isn't that crazy that only eight years separated the actors who played J.J. and his father? 

Anyway, I digress.

This morning, I clicked on a video of Lana Wachowski giving a speech as she accepted an award from the Human Rights Council.  I don't know what she said because I was working through other stuff, but according to Gawker, it was really wonderful.  Here's the speech in case you want to pay attention.

But let's take a look at her:









Doesn't she look like someone you'd like?  Well, I don't know you.  Maybe she doesn't look like someone you'd like.  But she looks like someone I'd like.  She looks nice.  She looks fun.  She looks smart.  I actually don't have any fucking idea what she looked like when she was Larry, but I bet Larry didn't look nearly as great as Lana.  I just love the way Lana looks.

But enough about Lana Wachowski.  Let's talk about me!  I'm going to take her heroic act and make it all about me in the shallowest way possible.  Aren't you excited?

I've long regretted my misspent conservative youth.  I don't mean politically.  When I was a Sophomore I wore a "Fritz is Hitz" button to school (ask your parents). I've always been a liberal politically.  But socially, culturally? Look, it was the 80s.  It was the south.  I went to Catholic schools.  I had bangs and wore Firenze sweaters.  And my hair was dirty blond, and completely natural.

In my late 20s or 30s (I can't remember exactly when ), I started coloring my hair.  But always blond.  Lighter blond, but blond. Well, there was this one time when I flirted with red. But when I showed up at Aunt Katty's house in my temporary red dye, she looked at me with such profound disappointment.  "But, Meg," she said.  "You're a blonde!"  I am.  She was right (and blond too!).  I dyed it back posthaste.

And then there was this Girl Scout Meeting last year. We were doing hair and nails and girly stuff like that.  I brought some of that spray on hair color and put a pink streak in my blond hair in between dolling up the girls.  I loved it.  I loved the way it looked.  I loved it way more than I loved my hair when it was red.  I loved it more than I've ever loved my hair before.  But I washed it out because I am a woman in my 40s and, as such, far too old for such frippery.  I sighed and sighed through that shampoo.  And afterward, I told Laney, "Oh, I hope when you're in high school you dye your hair crazy colors!  It's so much fun.  And I wish I'd done it."

But today I looked at Lana Wachowski and thought, "well, look at her!  She's got pink hair!  She's in her 40s!  And look how great she looks." And goddammit, she was brave enough to make herself the gender she wanted to be and that's, man... that takes real courage.  Also, and not for nothing, I'm not going to get a chance to relive my misspent conservative youth.  And it's not fair of me to put the pressure on Laney to relive it for me. 

So I bought some pink stuff and I put a pink streak in my hair.  And I love it.  I don't wear much jewelery and I ain't hardly a fashionista.  But I love my pink streak.  And I don't care if it makes me look like I'm clinging to a distant youth or being silly or inappropriate.  It makes me smile when I see myself in the mirror.  And, lordy, couldn't we all use a little of that?  







Sunday, October 14, 2012

So , My Night So Far...

I read this piece on Gawker about various famous people's experiences with "The Talk."  And in it I learned that Jennifer Weiner has talked about "your changing body" with her nine year old.  Which got me to wondering about MY nine year old.

Laney and I have had talks before.  She knows how babies are made (if you are wondering, I highly recommend a book called It's Not the Stork for your little ones).  But tonight she got out of the shower and walked around naked, as is her wont, and something about her little girl body just seemed so on the verge (an expression from my mother).  So we had a chat tonight about the hair that would grow and the periods that would come and the like which led naturally to what will shortly become a mantra in the Bon household:

Me: Who owns your body?
Laney: Me
Me: Who else owns your body?
Laney: No one else owns my body

I'm going to start doing it in cheer form.  I'm going to make up an interpretative dance to go with it.  I'm going to print up bumper stickers for her skateboard.  As the FSM is my witness, I'm sending that child out into the world with the fundamental understanding that she has sole dominion over her body and that stands equally for the boys who try to Nice Guy (tm) her or the queen bees who critique her weight or the GOP fuckwits who try to wrest reproductive control from her.

And then I told her she could come to me with any questions, any questions at all, and walked away hoping that she would.

And then I sat in the bathtub and cried and cried.

It's ridiculous, you know.  Laney is a little girl.  She has a couple of years left to be a little girl.  But I remember so well when she turned three and my friend, Claire, said, "I can't believe she's three already!  Well, of course, she's just three."  I'm pretty sure Claire said that last week.  I write about this a lot, don't I?  My mother says I've always felt the passing of time too acutely.

Ah, but you know that thing they tell you when you're dealing with babies?  That thing about how the days are long but the years are short?  After a while the days get short too.  They hurtle by with the fierce force of a speeding locomotive.

Sigh.  Sunrise, sunset, right?

(In the interest of full disclosure I should also mention that I am PMS-ing like a MOTHERFUCKER right now.  This is a side effect of menstruation that I have not yet shared with Laney.  She'll probably figure that one out on her own.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lightening Up - Now a Post about Bacon and Vagina

Actually, I've tricked you!  I am also scolding you in this one.

It seems like last year, folks around the world decided that only by using the word "vagina" they could ensure that their readers/listeners would collapse in heaps of uncontrolled laughter.  But this was never true.  It wasn't the word "vagina" itself that was hilarious.  It had to be used in appropriately humorous circumstances in order to be funny.  Like this:



That's funny.

Bacon is the new vagina.  Consuming bacon is not inherently hilarious.  Enjoying bacon is not inherently hilarious.  Stop it with the easy humor.  If you want to make hilarious bacon jokes, do the work around making it really funny.  Like this:



Seriously, you guys, why don't more people watch Parks and Recreation?  If you watched Parks and Recreation, you'd know about Ron Swanson's Pyramid of Greatness, in which Bacon is covered under the category of "Pig Protein," because Parks and Recreation is funny:














War and Guernsey and Drones and Stuff

I've been derelict  in my blogging responsibilities. I imagine my legion of fans has been mourning and worried and feeling neglected.  I apologize for this.  Work has been so very nutso crazypants and also there is so much good TV on right now.  I mean, in a world where Modern Family has once again become awesome, and there's that whole Bota box of Cabernet in the pantry... how's a gal supposed to find the time to snark all over the Romney campaign or mockingly sooth the easily terrified breast of the anxious liberal?

But I skipped pilates this morning in favor of sleeping a whole lot (ahhhhh) and thought I would take the time this rainy Saturday morning to blog a little.  Unfortunately, the topic kicking around my head over these blogless weeks is pretty depressing, even if it was started by a good book.

I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society a couple of weeks ago and just loved it.  It's like Pride and Prejudice in that on the one hand it's witty and charming and ostensibly about this super romantic love story but is really about the imminently painful and difficult circumstance the characters are forced to live in.  In P&P it's about the tenuous, powerless position women occupied.  In Guernsey, it's about war.  And this got me to thinking about war.

During WWII, everyone was part of WWII, right?  Certainly, the soldiers (as they do) did the lion's share of the work.  But, in WWII, everyone sacrificed, everyone contributed to the war effort.   In America, there was rationing and blackouts.  In England, they carried on while bombs dropped on their cities and had to make agonizing decisions about whether to keep their children with them or send them away (cannot imagine making that choice...cannot).

We've been at war now for over 10 years in America, and the sum total of sacrifice is done by the slimmest percentage of Americans.  Our taxes haven't gone up.  We can still buy whatever we can afford (which is, to be fair, less and less).  War is something other people do, something that happens to other people.  The rest of us (which is most of us) are required only to "support the troops."

So we display magnetic "support the troops"decals on our cars.  But our support doesn't extend to paying the tax which would provide services for these returning veterans.  And our facile, simple "support" allows us to ignore the human effects of our distant war in distant lands.  This article should be required reading for every American.  Those drone attacks are the great shame of the Obama administration and the great shame of our nation.

War should be hard for everyone. And we should be aware of the effects of war. All of them. When we take the time to know what's happening, when we make the sacrifices to pay for what's happening, we're less likely to wage war without a good goddamn reason,  the very thing we've never had in our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Instead we have easy platitudes and smug moral certitude. And we've filled our power ranks with war profiteers and politicians that use our sacrifice-free patriotism to make gravy on the corpses of 19 year old American soldiers and countless Pakistani children.

At the very least, we should be paying a tax to pay for war.  Sadly, that little sacrifice is probably all it would take to force us to take war seriously.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The TV Post!

I just told Don about my awesome new pitch for a sitcom:  a Northern Exposure-esque dramedy set in small cafe in Rogers Park, Chicago.  The cast will be made up of differently aged, but very attractive people who represent the lovely cultural diversity of this neighborhood while affectionately tweaking its lockstep urban liberalism.  Like, everyone will be really nice and smart but will also believe that their Coexist bumper stickers are meaningful political statements.  They will drink wine all the time but never get drunk and never pay for anything.  At the end of every episode a handsome twenty-something will play pretty songs on a guitar while the older people smile at him benevolently, all the problems of that episode resolved.  There will be romance!  And wacky hijinks! I would totally watch that show.

But until I figure out how to write a spec script or write one and then completely fall down on the part where I do the work to make it a real thing (oh, how my novel languishes!), I thought I'd take a moment to enlighten my readers (both of you!)  as regards my theory that we are now living in a real Golden Age of Television.  This means if you are a person who tells other people that you never watch TV, what the rest of the world assumes is that this is most likely because reception is kind of spotty ever since you crawled up your own ass.

I am particularly fond of the sitcom.  Here are my ten favorites, in descending order.

10. Suburgatory - As much as I love the principals and as impressed as I am with Cheryl Hines' ability to give so much heart and nuance to what could easily have been just another sitcom trope, i think I could watch 22 minutes of this girl:



9. Apartment 23 - That's not the name of this show, but it should be.  This show is super weird. I love that in a sitcom.  And while I'm too old to get all the Dawson references, I think James Van Der Beek is a hoot.  But, really, it's mostly about Kristen Ritter.  I feel like this all the time:



8. New Girl  - I know people hate Zooey Dechanel.  I think she's a doll, though.  And this show is tight and funny and filled with unassailable logic like the following:



7. The Middle - Look, Patricia Heaton is an asshole.  I think we can all agree about that.  But I love Sue Heck with passions approaching Leslie Knope levels.  Don't write this show off because Patricia Heaton is an asshole.  Also some more unassailable wisdom:




6. Cougartown - I have made clear my feelings about the word "Cougar."  But I am heartened in my disdain for this term by the fact that the people behind this show also hate that word and want nothing more than to change it. This is a hangout show.  It's like Scrubs.  It's funny.  Courtney Cox is hilarious.  Here she is answering the following question from her fiance:  Once we find out I'm not the father, which Maury Povitch Show celebration dance are you gonna do...:






5. 30 Rock - The old girl's still got it.  I mean the show, not Tina Fey.  Tina Fey is not old. Although I expect the following assertion comes as much from Tina Fey as it does Liz Lemon.  And me:



4. Happy Endings - This show fires out good jokes so fast that you need your DVR to keep up.  This is one of my favorites:




3. Community - It pains me how many more people watch Big Bang Theory than this show.  I like Big Bang Theory, too.  I have a DVR.  I watch them both.  But it's like preferring a Nilla Wafer to a Chocolate Sundae.  Nilla Wafers are yummy, but there's a big old Chocolate Sundae RIGHT THERE! Also, and this seems to be a bit of a theme in this post: some funny ass women.  I am particularly fond of Britta:



2. Parks in Recreation - There is LIT'RALLY no fictional character I want to be friends with more than I want to be friends with Leslie Knope.  And while it is the most passionately feminist show on TV, at this juncture I'm going to let Ron Freaking Swanson drop some wisdom on us:



1. Louie - I'm not going to do a gif here, because Louie's not a show that lends itself to Gifs.  It's brilliant, it's complicated, and it makes you work a little. But it's worth it. Also, it is VERY funny.  Here's a little something you may be able to relate to.  I can:



And now the dishonorable list.  These shows.  Sigh:

1. Two and a Half Men -  Hoky jokes that rely exclusively on gendered assumptions that were stale 30 years ago are not funny.
2. Two Broke Girls - This pains me a bit because I really like both the lead actresses on this show and wanted to like the show so much.  But racism does not equal daring political incorrectness.  It's just racist.
3. Modern Family - Look, this is a pretty good show.  I watch it and laugh sometimes.  But, man, did it start coasting last year.  It's like it built up a big audience and then said, "We can do a pretty good impression of that good show from the first season instead of all that hard work and people will still watch." And they're not wrong.

And, with that note, I've offended someone!  My work here is done.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Moms Moms Moms

Every election, I start to really hate the word "Mom."  This year during Michelle Obama's otherwise glorious speech, the phrase "Mom-in-Chief" spewed forth from the teevee and I shuddered with an ancient revulsion.  I hated it with the white, hot passion of 10,000 sun.  But I get it:  It is of paramount importance that Michelle Obama not scare anyone. Yet (and I cannot overstate this), if you ever thought Michelle Obama was scary, that's really your damage not hers.

But let's take this out of the strictly Michelle realm while being clear that I just love Michelle Obama to bits and would like very much to be her IRL friend.  I want to hang out on the couch and drink wine with her.  I totally bet she says "fuck" sometimes and thinks dirty jokes are hilarious.  Outside of the Michelle realm, though, I think the "momification" (god, another shitty word that's entered our ridiculous vernacular) of accomplished women is part of an ongoing sexist tradition that insists that women absolutely have to fit neatly into one of two roles: fuckable or nurturing.  It's damaging and belittling and, for lack of a better word:

It. Bugs.

So, for the purposes of posterity, I would like it henceforth committed to the public records that I am only "Mom" to my daughter.  The rest of you bitches can call me Meg. Ms. Bon if you're nasty (ask your parents).

_______

Here's a question for you guys, on a different topic: I bought Laney a skateboard today.  Laney has a uniform of tee shirts and jeans cut off into shorts.  To be clear:  not cutoffs;  Laney insists that hers go all the way to the knee.  Laney will not wear dresses.  Laney cannot stand for her hair to be pulled back.  Laney thinks princesses are bullshit.  Except Merida.  Merida is cool.

Laney's reached that age where she's starting to think of who she wants to be more than who she just is.  She's donning an identity.  Don said to me tonight that Laney is definitely a skateboard girl.  Not a tomboy, though.  Something else.  She's Sam, not Carly, for those of you that'll get that reference.  The cool girl, maybe?

Examining the pop culture references from my own youth, she's not Marcia, Jan or Cindy.  She's not Justine Bateman or Tina Yothers.  She's not Denise, Vanessa, Rudy or Olivia.  She is architecting this new identity from something she perceives in pop culture that I think might be something new.

Am I right?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oh, the Sweet, Sweet Hypocrisy

It'd be nice if we exposed hypocrisy because we're noble people carrying a light in the marketplace in search of one honest man.  But, let's be for realz here: exposing hypocrisy is super fun.  How great it is when the anti-choice zealot gets caught shipping his daughter off to Europe for an abortion?  How giddy does it make us when the "family first" activist gets caught getting his luggage lifted?   Schadenfreude is cheap, man.  But so is a McDonald's soft serve.

And, goddammit, they are both delicious!

On the other hand, if you're the one accused of hypocrisy, it really only makes you mad if you're really being a hypocrite.  If you're not, I find it's way more bemusing than rage-inducing.

Let me give you an example from my own life: I am a vegetarian.  I haven't eaten meat in like ten years.  And so so so many times as this fact of my life is exposed in conversation does some dude work HARD to out me as a big old, low energy, needin' some protein hypocrite.  But I'm not wearing a "meat is murder" tee shirt.  I'll have dinner at the Chop House with you (if you're paying).  And I (like, I wager, most American vegetarians) agree that PETA should really just STFU. So when some guy is all "ah ha! Those shoes you bought at Goodwill are made of leather," my general reaction is, "Why yes they are!  And they were only THREE DOLLARS!  Couldja just die?" 

In much the same way, I was bemused by a recent Facebook status proudly outing Democrat Nation as a bunch of nitwit hypocrites for featuring video of Ted Kennedy.  This hypocrisy is twofold, apparently: the Kennedy's (like the Romney's) are rich!  And also Kennedy killed a woman in a drunk driving accident, so suck on that, war on women.

Let me take these one at a time:  Liberals don't mind rich people.  We love many rich people.  Many of us hope one to be rich people! We're all quite fond of George Clooney and think Bill Gates is doing the (metaphorical) Lord's work.  And we are, of course, all taking orders from the super rich George Soros in advance of the great migration to the Soviet Socialist State of Americastan (but don't tell anyone!  This is a SECRET!).

What we take issue with are policies which privilege rich people to the detriment of the poor and middle class and are bemused (and, I confess, a little rage-induced) by people who don't seem to get why we think rich people should pay a fair tax rate.

As for the War on Women - this isn't about who talks a better game to women, who panders more to the Moms (lordy... I really grow to loathe the word "mom" every election season) and sets up the pinkest Women's station.  This is about policies which affect women adversely, make it harder to get health care, and harder to get paid, motherfucker (was it clear that I was doing a white lady riff on street talk?  That's what I was going for, in case that wasn't made perfectly manifest by my crystal clear writing.)

And while I normally abhor the silly faux-centrist bullshit known as "both sides do it," I will say that both sides engage in the fuckwittery of political theater.  Both sides parade out veterans and women and people of color and gay people to give the appearance of diversity and inclusiveness. This is exhausting and more than a little embarrassing for everyone.  But the Democrats are actually putting forth policy that helps the poor and the middle class achieve some kind of economic parity; the Democrats are putting forth policy that helps women achieve equal status in this country.

The theater doesn't matter.  The policy does. And that's why we like Ted Kennedy.  And that's why we're voting for Barack Obama.

And if this is not as yet clear, let me just give you one more example: I don't give the tiniest rat's ass that Marco Rubio speaks Spanish better than Julian Castro.  Tell me which candidate is going to throw his weight behind the D.R.E.A.M act (not for nothing, the failure to pass this bill is the biggest blightiest bit of tea party poison on our beleaguered and just terrible congress)!

See?  Policy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Seriously... It's Gonna Be SUPER Embarrassing

Just to expand on a recent Facebook post, I will reiterate this public service announcement: if you are trafficking in birtherism you will, barring a spectacular level of racist delusion, one day, be very embarrassed by this.  I am telling you this for your own good.

Further to this, even right now your loathsome commitment to othering the duly elected leader of this country is causing great pain and embarrassment to someone who loves you. To illustrate this, I want you to imagine that you're standing in the silent but crowded halls of your own high school. Next to you is the person you have a crush on and the coolest person in school (this may or may not be the same person).  Suddenly your Mom, who is also there, farts audibly and then laughs loudly and says "Whoa!  Must have stepped on a duck."  Imagine how embarrassed you are.  Someone you love is that embarrassed and more every time the words "birth certificate" are vomited carelessly from your mouth.  In this example, your mother has been very rude and clueless as to the effects of her audible farts on your social standing.  But she is not being a racist asshole.  Your bitherism is more embarrassing than this loud, maternal public fart in front of the head cheerleader.  By a long shot.

And while I know too that the pundits and politicians you admire may have convinced you that the worst social travesty in the world is to call someone else racist, but they are wrong.  You know what's worse than pointing out someone else's racism? Racism.  Racism is worse.  And birtherism, I promise you, is one hundred percent racist at its core.  Well, at its core, around its core.  It's pretty much a thick core of racism surrounded by self-deluded dumbness.  Which may itself be the definition of racist.  Regardless of how much of it is racist (it's all racist) it's all super dumb and embarrassing.  

And I know... I know it seems unfair that all the poor black people in the world are getting rich on welfare checks and also get use the N word and are also cooler than you.  But this is a fiction!  There are more white people who get welfare than black people, and no one gets rich on welfare.  And it is also not unfair that black people get to use a word that you shouldn't (and it's pretty dumb to resent that anyway).  On the third point, though, you're probably right.  If you are trafficking in birtherism, you are not cool.  You know what would make you cooler?  Not being a birther!

I tell you this not because I care about you, per se.  If you are are a birther you are also a racist shit-for-brains and I'm not particularly interested in maintaining a relationship with you.  But the more you air your paranoid, racist delusions, the more the rest of the world begins to think this is something Americans in general do.  And, dude, it's EMBARRASSING! Knock it off.  For real. You sound like an asshole.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Holy Crap! Andie Did Pick the Right Guy

I was going to write about these chick flicks I've been watching through various domestic chores over the past few weeks.  There is nothing to soothe the weary domestic through her day like the Lifetime Channel for Women.  I was going to write about how fucked up Legally Blonde is for making Elle Woods smilingly agree to protect that vile woman who's built her fortune "perfecting women's bodies," all the while lying about "perfecting" her own on the plastic surgeon's table.  WTF, right?  Or even worse, that moment in the Sex and the City movie when Samantha shows up with like the tiniest gut and the whole crew pretends that the only way to avoid a bikini-ready belly at 50 is to shovel endless piles of junk food into your gaping maw.

The way women's bodies are dealt with in pop culture is endlessly frustrating.

But it was my kabillionth viewing of Pretty in Pink that really astonished me.  See, I have been on Team Ducky my whole life.  Why, just this morning I said to Don, "I cannot BELIEVE she picked that vapid rich boy when sweet, funny Duckie was right there..."  But even as the words were coming out of my mouth, my feminist brain suddenly went, "Wait...no."

Because there's this thing we talk about in feminist circles:  The Nice Guy(tm).  This is the guy who believes that girls are a commodity to be purchased with a currency of courtesy.  It doesn't matter if a girl is out of his league, lookswise, or if they have nothing in common, or (for crying out loud) if she just doesn't like him.  Once the guy puts in the nice time, the only reason a girl might have for not throwing her panties at him is that she's a shallow bitch.  It's a nasty notion that never seems to go away.  

But in Pretty in Pink, Duckie goes from Nice Guy(tm) to nice guy.  He knows that Andie doesn't want to be his girlfriend and so he stops trying to make her feel obliged to be his girlfriend.  And Blaine recognizes that he fucked up, ditches his gross friends and walks out of the prom, away from pretty Andie in the seriously fugly dress (amirite?) with no expectations of her.  At the end of Pretty in Pink, Andie has agency over her own romantic life.  She makes the choice and chooses, wisely, the one she's attracted to.

(I'm just going to gloss over how Duckie does get rewarded with a girl for being nice.  Because I have a heart and am therefore  happy that Duckie got laid on prom night.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Frank Ocean and the New Normal

I have been flat out obsessed with this Frank Ocean song, Bad Religion, for the past few weeks.  If I am in the car, I will literally play it five or six times in a row. I'll embed a link to a video below, but don't feel like this blogpost is one of those, "OMG, you guys, you HAVE to hear this song now."  Because, god, who can handle the pressure of feeling obliged to wait for a video to load and then if you don't like it are you polite or do you risk being the jerky person who's all "This song sucks"?   Consider this a non-obligatory recommendation.

If you don't listen to it and haven't heard it, it's this yearning R&B song about loving someone so bad that just will not love you back.  And this kid can sing!  When he gets to the lyric "and if it brings me to my knees," I'm like "Oh, yes! Frank Ocean!  I can feel it! I can feel what you're feeling!"

The person on the other end of this unrequited love is a straight man so it's a song about a man in love with another man.  But Bad Religion doesn't aim to raise anyone's consciousness and it's not a song where the singer is all disco sexy and outrageous and there's no caginess about pronouns to cast doubt on the gender of the parties in question.  It's just itself right there in the pantheon of great, yearning unrequited love songs.  It just makes you, like I said, think "Oh, yes!  Frank Ocean!  I can feel what you feel!"

Which brings me to the new normal.  I read this post some time ago on T.Lo (a blog which EVERYONE should read daily because not only is their pop culture analysis really thoughtful, they also manage that awesome thing of being really funny without ever stooping to mean) about an episode of Glee.  The post (which is so good, I'm linking to it twice) blew my mind as something that would never have occurred to heterosexual me: how lovely and significant it must be for a gay teenager to see their idealized love stories on TV.  This is the thing that pretty much composes the sum total of teenage pop culture for straight kids!  But for gay kids?  It was genuinely revolutionary.

I have been on record that I think Glee is a terrible show now (fwiw, Tom and Lorenzo agree).  But it was an important part of this late culture wave of normalizing sexuality that is not only heterosexual.  So, while my aged ears fell in love with Bad Religion because I have felt what he's feeling (who hasn't become a grown up with some painful experience of loving someone who doesn't love you back?) .  But, I also remember being a teenage girl and listening to John Waite yearning and aching his way through Missing You, and thinking "Oh, John Waite, I will love you if she won't!"  And this is a teenage fantasy so common it's banal.

How great is it that we're living in a world where some gay teenager can see Frank Ocean (who is, not for nothing, a really cute guy) and indulge in the same silly teenage fantasy that's been served up to every straight teenager since Shakespeare was writing about Romeo and Juliet? And indulge in it in a world where being gay isn't some exotic abnormality?  Where it's Top 40?  In a song that's not about how hard it is to be gay, but how hard it is to be on the wrong end of an unrequited love?

It's just, I think, a wonderful new thing in the world.



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Journalism is SOOOOO Sexy!

This is a quick bloggity written as I make dinner and Laney watches Adventure Time (which, with all apologies to Phineas and Ferb and Animaniacs, is the greatest kids show evaaaaa).  I'm a little behind tonight because on the drive home Laney and I got to talking about fireworks which reminded us of a trip to Iowa in which a much younger Laney had been frightened by some impressively close fireworks. This in turn reminded me that during those same fireworks they played Lee Greenwood's odious anthem to jingoistic codswallop which is such a fucking awful song that sometimes I find myself blaming America itself for its execrable existence. So I decided we'd better go for a swim in Lake Michigan in order to purify our souls in one of the great glories of this beautiful country and celebrate the truly inspired city planning that gives Chicago its miles of lakefront even if they would almost certainly not survive a referendum vote in today's world where even grown up people and vice presidential candidates proudly announce an almost sexual passion for Ayn Rand.  When I was young, by gum and golly, Ayn Randism was the purview of simple-minded adolescents who would have been much better served intellectually by getting really high and earnestly pondering how we really know we're not living in a dream, man.  Also back then grown up congresspeople understood the difference between macro- and micro-economics instead of the ones we have now who seem honestly perplexed as to how we can't balance the budget without anyone paying taxes and have all the wars we want simply by using a simple Excel spreadsheet or that Quicken thing they saw an ad for on TV one time.

Anyhoo, I got distracted by thinking about the terrible, terrible Lee Greenwood and our (FSM, save us) even worse congress..  Journalism is sexy.  You know what's not sexy?  This thing I heard on NPR this morning when they were talking about the campaign and played a Romney ad which included two verifiable and quantifiable accusations about the Obama plan for social security. This was followed by the following from the intrepid journalist covering this story, "The Obama campaign says that these two verifiable and quantifiable accusations are untrue for the following verifiable and quantifiable reasons."

End of story.

And you know what I bet?  I bet that the intrepid NPR journalist (by which, obviously, I mean pinko commie socialist atheist liberal homo) never even thought to himself, "I wonder if I should use those fancy journalism chops of mine to find out, you know, which quantifiable and verifiable claim was true."   Because actually fact checking a story is totes for nerds.

And all of this reminds me of my favorite Adventure Time quote, which is actually coming out of my TV now:  "My life is like a fart."

In case you're reading, Shawn, thanks for turning us onto Adventure Time and IT'S YOUR TURN!!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Enjoying the Aging Process

Oh, lordy, I'm not talking about my own!  The only thing I like about being in my 40s is the realization that at least I'm not in my 50s yet.  Don't get me wrong, there are some pluses, added confidence, sweating less the small stuff.  But let's be honest here: everything I eat makes me fat and tweezers are my new best friend.  I'm pretty sure if I were just to let everything go, I could run away and join the circus.  Sure, it'd have to be a circus from 1934 where Nick Stahl brings Grandma Joad back from the dead, but you take my obscure literary-cum-pop-culture point.  Or maybe you don't - I'm talking about the preponderance of chin hairs - if I were to just stop plucking, I could easily be mistaken for a billy goat.  An attractive billy goat with a nice rack and good legs.  But a billy goat nonetheless.

I'm talking about Laney's aging process.

I'm not a baby person.  I like to hold babies and coo over how cute they are.  My coos are honest coos, they are not just-being-polite coos.  But I also like handing babies back to their parents.  This might be because I never had Laney as a baby.  I don't really have a typical parental frame of reference for babies.  I like to talk (I know, that's shocking) and especially like talking to kids.

I tell Laney that I like her more every day and, much like the coos, I'm not just being polite.  It's true!  I like being able to sleep eight hours every night (that's a lie... I prefer nine).  And knowing that Laney can bathe herself and brush her own teeth!  And that I can take the dog for a walk and leave Laney in front of Adventure Time.  Oh!  And the TV they watch!  Dora the Explorer is blissfully blessedly a thing of the past. Dora the Explorer is literally the worst and Adventure Time is fantastic!

But more than that, we can have conversations and read the same books.  She's so smart and so funny.  And still so snuggly and lovey!  She's my little girl, but she's my little girl who can wipe her own butt.  This is a lovely place to be.

Alas, though, I know this time will go too fast because we got here from two years old in about 15 minutes. Soon she'll be getting her period and having those girly dramas and going to high school and getting really embarrassed of me (I actually look forward to that part... I can have a lot of fun with that).

I remember when I was Laney's age and we'd go to church in early December and the priest would light the first candle on the Advent Wreath. It took a million years before Santa came.  And now, I'm thinking already about what to get Laney for Christmas, knowing I'll have to go shopping like next weekend.

It just goes so fast, doesn't it?  And it's such a hard balance to strike among mourning the child that was and enjoying the child that is and looking forward to the child that will be.  I suppose this is something best intellectualized less and accepted/enjoyed more in the moment.  I'll always be wanting to slow it down and she'll always be wanting to speed it up. In the meantime, I like Laney at 9.  A little more than I liked Laney at 8 because I have an extra year of getting to know her and of her getting to be who she is.   I'll probably like Laney at 10 even more.

I expect, though, a slight dip in the graph will occur with Laney at 13... if she's ANYTHING like I was.  If you're reading, Mom, sorry!  I'll make sure to email you when Laney starts rolling her eyes and flipping me off behind my back.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Casting The Big Problem into a New Light

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but have been traveling and working and being lazy and stuff and, as such, have not been writing.  But I was struck by a recent interview Rachel Maddow  did with former climate change skeptic, Richard Muller.  He said something remarkable that I wanted to, uh, remark on.

But first, I learned recently on Facebook that Rachel Maddow is a hate monger who routinely sacrifices integrity and ethics at the altar of a grossly partisan agenda.  Although I am a routine watcher of her show and a fan from way back, I had been, prior to this context-less Facebook exchange, sadly unaware of her journalistic decrepitude.  But I have since removed the mote from my own eye, stripped off my liberal tinfoil hat (which makes me hear only the words coming out of her mouth instead of what she so totes means) and see, finally, the hateful, agenda-driven-y subtext.  I shall translate the first part of the interview:

Rachel: So, bitch, you heard what I had to say. You want to call me a liar, you corrupted Republican fucktard?
Muller: Well, now, Ms. Maddow, I don't want to call you a liar.  I would just like to point out that the Koch Brothers didn't make the funding of my research contingent upon coming up with a specific result set.
Rachel:  Oh, puh-leeze.  You think you're so smart, but you're not better than me.  I know the Koch Brothers hired hookers to blow you through million dollar bills.  Besides, everything is politics, man.  Open your eyes to your own foolish conservative fucktardedness.  And if you're going to stick to being an agenda-less pussy, at least explain why you broke ranks with those Koch bastards and did your damn science?

Which takes us to the part that I found revelatory.  Muller responded to the question (which was really why he thinks it's so important that we know that climate change is caused by humans), with:


If we are at cause, we can do something about it.  If we're not at cause, if it's the solar variation, which we ruled out in our current study, then it's hopeless.  We just have to wait for it to happen.  But if we're causing it, we can do something about it. 


This viewpoint blew my mind.  Granted, I have a long and storied history of thinking I've struck upon some truly radical way of seeing the world but when I, all goggle-eyed, present it to other people they often say, "Uh... ka DUH!"  (I like to hang around with people who articulate at the same lofty rhetorical standards to which I hold myself).  So, it might be that this is just obvious to people who are smarter than I am. But I think seeing the fact that global warming is caused by humans as a relief rather than an awesome burden is a radical reframing of the issue.

It's like you think your house is going to burn down at any minute and then suddenly realize, "Oh, what a relief!  It's not that a fireball is hurtling inexorably towards my front door.  I just have to turn the burners down on the stove!" It's not all doom and gloom. It's not God's judgment.  It's a problem that is within our control to fix.  Let's crack a beer and get to work.

I don't know, made me feel better anyway.  It enables us to cast global warming in a way that feeds our substantial egos (we can fix this!) rather than scolds us for our substantial over-consumption (god, turn down the AC, you fat lazy fuckers).

Do you think Barack Obama has thought of it this way?  I'd better send him a note. He'll be so relieved.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reagan! Reagan! Reagan!

This morning while riding the elevator down in the parking garage, I was reading Cheers and Jeers on DailyKos because GOD FORBID I should stand quietly in an elevator for 16 seconds with nothing else to do.  How boring would that be? 

I like and admire DailyKos because they put our hella content and they are also a happily partisan website with a stated goal of getting more and better Democrats elected, which is a goal I can get behind.  But, it's not a perfect website; e..g, if you were to only visit the user-recommended diaries rather than the front page diaries, you might get the impression that the website exists entirely up its own ass.  That said, Bill In Portland Maine, who writes their Cheers and Jeers column, is a super funny guy and a pleasure to read.  I read this on that achingly long elevator trip from the 7th to the 1st floor:


(Do I need to write down that this was a joke?  It was a joke.)

I giggled and then thought, "Damn, those Righties really do love their Reagan."  And then I thought, "Damn, those Righties are really good at writing and then sticking to their hagiographies." We Lefties tend to be some equivocating motherfuckers.  We're all, "Sure that whole Bay of Pigs things was good, but WTF, Kennedy, were you some kind of sexual predator?"  And "Clinton, good job on the economy, but WTF DOMA? Welfare 'reform?' Seriously, dude?  You totally DID have sex with that woman!"  And even if he's known as St. Reagan of the Giant Testicles amongst the RedState readers,  if you got in your TARDIS and carried Reagan up to 2012, he'd totally fail the Tea Party Purity Test.  But they don't care!  They have created a Reagan and the Reagan they've created is the one they're sticking with.

It's a level of delusion that I can't help but admire. 

Look at the way they want to name everything after Reagan.  There are Reagan highways and Reagan byways and the airport in our nation's capitol is named for him.  And they're not done.  They want Reagan on our money. They want him on Mount Rushmore. I think they want to paint his face over the Capitol Dome.  They LOVE Reagan. They want to live in the United States of Reagan.

But Reagan was terrible!  Let's take a look at some of the hits:
  • Dog whistled LOUD at the most virulent racists by kicking off his campaign in Philadelphia, MS 
  • Put a knife in the family farm
  • Made student loans harder to get and harder to pay back
  • Introduced the economic abortion known as supply-side (lookit, it hasn't trickled down for 30 years; it ain't trickling)
  • Tripled the deficit
  • Failed utterly to take any leadership when AIDS was devastating the country
  • And, good googly moogly, the man sold arms to IRAN!  Iran, you guys! IRAN!!!!
In the interest of bipartisanship, and in service to our national obsession with elevating our public discourse, I would like to provide a list of things that I think should be named for Ronald Reagan:
  • My butt
Sigh. This is what I'm reduced to when I encounter the Church of Reagan.  I say things like "My butt."  Because it seems so shockingly obvious to me that Reagan deserves not a hagiography, but a WTFiography (I'm trademarking that term.  It's mine. You can't have it). But, I'm not ready for the Thunderdome, I do need another hero.  And the only one I can think of?  Is a goddamn Republican, who's been dead for 150 years.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I Swear to the Ghost of Dorothy Parker this is Not About Chick-Fil-A

Well, it's a little about Chick-Fil-A, although I'm embarrassed because the word "Chick-Fil-A" is a kind of embarrassing word. Is it even a word?  And why is it "Fil-A"?  What is with the hyphens?  It's a lot less weird to say than to write, because then you think "fillet," only I guess that would wreck their chances of franchising in England because I'm pretty sure they pronounce it like "fill-it" since they talk weirder than us and "Chick Fill-It" just doesn't sound as good as "Chick Fil-A." Less French, which is good on the one hand because the fucking French but also bad because I think their food is supposed to be better than ours and also because apparently there are no fat French people.  There. I just figured it out. Skinny gustatorial Frenchiness outweighs smug superior Frenchiness.

Anyhoo, a friend of mine from way back asks a question about whether or not it's intolerant to boycott Chick-Fil-A because the owner disagrees on a moral issue. This is a guy I'm happy to engage because while his politics are not mine, he is also unfailingly civil and always wishes a happy birthday to aging rock stars which I find totally sweet.  I think he's wrong on this issue, but I also take his point.

An anecdote (yay!  anecdotes are the BEST):

Many moons ago, Don and I were on a road trip and pulled off to spend the night. The hotel on our left looked kind of shitty.  The hotel on our right looked a little less shitty but had put on their marquee, "This hotel is American-owned."  Now, I'm a big advocate for buying American whenever possible, but this marquee really meant, "White people own this hotel."  So we stayed at the shittier looking hotel which was owned by an Indian family and was, while shitty, clean enough and the continental breakfast was the same as it is at any roadside motel, which is to say shitty, but certainly no less shitty than the continental breakfast the white people across the way were serving.

This was an easy one.  The actual owners of the hotel had decided to appeal to their consumers via xenophobia and bigotry.  So we had a clear moral choice and gave our $59.99 to the other guys (Don and I always stay at the nicest hotels).

The Chick-Fil-A thing is also easy.  The owner of the business decided to make a point of announcing his homophobia because he is proud of it.  This is his right but it is also my right to think he's a bigot and a doof for being proud of his own bigotry.  But, it's not just easy, it's too easy.  The gay rights culture war is all but over and the good guys won.  When the famously cowardly Democratic leadership decides to put gay rights on their plank, dude, it's over.  I'd put good money down that gay marriage will be the law of the land within 10 years. It's all but normalized and that's thanks to folks who fought the hard fight.

I wasn't one.  I was all "Hey you mean gays! Leave Barack Obama alone because if he supports you he'll lose and then President Palin." Other people took the prez at his word, put their passion to the test, decided against cautious equivocation and made him change.  

And the prez, along with most of the American people, changed.  And I felt like a big cowardly coward... mostly because I was.

But Chick-Fil-A?  The only awesome power Dan Cathy has is over chickens. Literal chickens.  If chickens want to take on Chick-Fil-A, I'm with them.  But, of course, as a vegetarian, I tend to be on their side.    

 If the good guys' victory in the culture war has taught us anything, it's that the only way to effect change is to take some risks.  So whaddya say?  Let's take some real risks. Let's start boycotting processed meats* all over the place!  Who's with me?

Anyone?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

*I am also a coward on this issue because I will totally buy Laney a Lunchable on our road trip Sunday.  Or McNuggets.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Class Warfare



Thanks to my old teacher and Pal, Ruthie, for this picture.  Leave it to Dorothy Parker to just hit it on the head.

See, Laney goes to camp in this super chi-chi neighborhood in Chicago.  It's a Park District Camp, so the camp isn't too pricey - but the neighborhood it's in is lousy with rich people.  And every time I drop Laney off or pick her up, I get annoyed. 

I get annoyed by the cars.  My car has dents and a piece of pink duct tape holding on the trunk handle. I don't mind too much because I think if you gotta have duct tape on your car, pink is the way to go.  It's sort of cute.  It's like the back of my car is smiling at you. But it's hard to park my adorable old POS by Laney's camp, because the streets are glutted with Lexus SUV's and practical little Hondas.  The Moms drive the Lexus SUV's and their nannies drive the practical little Hondas.

The Moms. The Moms piss me off even if I am sure that they are probably all lovely people who love their children and watch Parks and Rec and drink wine and say "fuck" sometimes when they talk.  But, GOD, they are are all so fit and have such nice clothes! They wear $80 yoga pants over $140 Reeboks and are like 4% body fat.  I'm carrying a laptop in a bag I bought at Goodwill and tottering around on uncomfortable heels that I bought on sale at Payless.  I like to think that if my yoga pants cost $80, my body would transform itself into 4% body fat because of shock.

I would love to have a membership to East Bank Club and a nanny and be 4% body fat and lease a new Lexus every two years.  I am annoyed by these people because I am jealous.  Sometimes I fantasize about scraping a Lexus as I parallel park.  You'd never notice it on my car.  Their cars though... ha HA!  A scrape would really stand out on a Lexus three months into a two year lease.  But I don't because that would be rude and also because I am very proud of my parallel parking skills and couldn't stand for someone to think I'd done it accidentally.


If I were to start randomly scratching the paint off new Lexuses out of spite that might reasonably be interpreted as an act class warfare (more an act of desperate pettiness... but whatever). You know what's not class warfare?  A progressive tax code in which people who make over $350,000 a year pay 35% in taxes and are not enabled to stash money in overseas accounts and don't get a $77,000 tax credit for having a $100,000 horse. Because I had to pay over $3000 last year in taxes and have DUCT TAPE ON MY CAR!!!!! Mitt Romney got a $77,000 credit because he's rich enough to have a $100,000 HORSE!

I got off track... I wonder if the horse's dressage saddle is held together with pink duct tape... Do dressage horses have saddles?

Anyhoo, to summarize: bursting into tears and throwing punches when you see someone at 4% body fat who drives an unbesmirched car and buys shoes at Macy's that aren't even on sale is not behavior anyone should indulge no matter how fat you feel that day and how cute the shoes are.  Progressive tax rates?  Those are fair.  And rich people should quit whining about it and pay them.



Friday, July 27, 2012

Nature... Nurture... Dunno

I've had adoption much on my mind lately.

A few years ago, this wouldn't have been unusual.  When Laney was new to me, I thought about it constantly because I felt not only unequal to the task of being a mother, I felt unworthy.  This is probably true for all parents, since being someone's parent is a uniquely humbling experience.  But I think it was aggravated for me after years of failing to get pregnant and, at least how I saw it, failing at being a woman.  And I worried and worried that a failure like me was lacking the fundamental skills required for mothering.

But, finally, that fucked up mindtrip came to an end and I grew some confidence.  Laney is my girl.  She's mine until she grows up and then she's her own (but still a little bit mine, right?).

Which brings me to lately, in which my cousin's husband, Michael, has begun poking around Ancestry.com. This led to some emails among me and my cousins and my brother discussing my paternal great-grandfather, a fellow named Francis Patrick Nolan.  I found myself very curious about old F.P.  I wondered what kind of man he was and if he was funny, or quick-tempered, whether he was musical, whether he was mean.  This curiosity left me curious about why I was so curious and what all this curiosity meant for my own kid.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Am I curious about F.P. because his blood runs through my veins?  Or because he was my grandmother's father?  I lean towards the latter.  As my grandmother's father, he had a material effect on the woman she was; a complicated woman, hilarious and loving but also prone to a kind of coldness.  She could be mean.  She could be wonderful. It stands to reason that when confronted with the specters of her parents, I'd be curious about who they were, since the parents they were to their daughter informed the woman she was, the mother she was to my father, and so on and so on.

But there's that blood stuff too.  The blood and the DNA that have been passed down for generations.  Biology binds us to the ones that came before too, right?

I can't help but think that my father, whom she never knew, has had a much more significant impact on who she is than her biological grandfather, whom she may one day find.  But that is a question of the past that'll be resolved in the future.

We'll have to wait and see if she'll be interested when her cousin's husband starts farting around on Ancestry.com.  Will she want to know about my mother's father in the same way I'm curious about my grandmother's father?  Will she want to know about him because that will help her to understand her own grandmother?  Or will she, lacking any shared DNA, feel no connection to him at all?

There's no way to know until we know.  The quality of having been adopted is not, after all, monolithic.  Different adopted people have different relationships to their own adoption.  For now, as I wonder about this stuff, I have to accept that it is what it is; which is a bit of tautological rhetoric loathed by some (like Laney's grandmother).  But I think it's a convenient idiom: this is a situation over which I have no control.  Laney will have to work out her own connection to the past. I'm blessedly, blissfully done with feeling like less of Laney's mother because of biology.  


She is a curious kid, though.  I wonder who she gets that from?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stupid New Yorker

I have very nice neighbors.  My immediate neighbor planted a rose bush in the corner space because I once told her I loved roses.  The next neighbor down brought Laney Halloween cake mix and frosting last year.  But the best gift* comes from my neighbor, Michael, who subscribes to The New Yorker but reads it on his iPad - he gives me the print copy.  It's a weekly treat courtesy my nice neighbors.

Well it was.  Until today.  Today I was leafing through the issue he brought by yesterday and I started this article that I thought was about sex. I am delighted by the idea of super-literary, softcore New Yorker style sexiness.  But it was a story about corn sex.  And corn sex is difficult.  Just to be clear: not people having sex with corn. I'm talking pollination.  I'd just as soon not think about corn sex with people.   Apparently, it's radically difficult for corn to get pollinated and this weather exacerbates exponentially the difficulty.

Furthermore, according to the article I could not stop reading and which I expect is true because, well, it's The New Yorker, the effects of our current climate abuse won't be felt until 2048, when Laney is my age.  I'll most likely be dead, so what do I care?  Except, all things being equal, I'd prefer for my daughter to live in a world with food and where she can walk outside and stuff.

In short: it scared the shit out of me.

Because what can we do?  Neither Obama nor Romney are going to talk about it because American politics are stupid and rather than admit there's a problem, it's a lot easier to construct convoluted Kenyan, communist conspiracies and ignore the derechos and droughts. And we have a media that seems to believe that despite the science having been decidedly decided on the very real threat of climate change, that guy with the Bachelors in Metereology from University of Phoenix that James Inhofe put on the Exxon/Mobile payroll should still get TV time. And also, all the rest of the retired senators and congressmen will have made so much dough from the revolving door between the Capitol and K Street, that they can buy their progeny a future.

But I am not prone to pessimism (I am, however, prone to alliteration).  So, I'm putting my faith in the next generation.  As I've mentioned before, my own generation is pretty sucky, but we feel OK about that because at least we're less sucky than the baby boomers (although, to be honest, that's a pretty low bar to clear).  But the next generation is just going to have to be awesome and fix it.   Leaving those of us in my sucky generation with two obligations: (1) make the kids aware of the issue and (2) teach them science.

I try (and fail... but I try) to make our obligation to the planet a theme around this household.  I'm going to redouble my efforts.  We all should.  We need our kids to believe in this and to believe they have the power to do something.  Because we're too crazy to fix it now.

But we're less crazy than we were.  I know that seems hard to believe when you turn on Fox News, but remember Freeedom Fries and that whole Dixie Chicks thing?  We're a little less crazy. 9/11 broke our national brain and it takes a while to recover from that.  But I think we are.  And I am hopeful that when Laney enters the adult world, those people running for office on the God Will Take Care of Everything ticket will be like Larouchies were in the 70s.  And the only media figures saying that there's no such thing as climate change because it's cold in winter (which is sort of like saying "there's no such thing as gravity because, look, planes"), will be broadcasting from the tissue box in the local looney bin.

And I'll turn down the AC.  And ignore James Inhofe.  And encourage our elected officials to quit being such pantywaists and at least TALK about some climate legislation.  Because this shit is seriously scary.

* Actual my favorite Michael gift is that sometimes he drinks with me and makes me laugh.