Thursday, May 30, 2013


I feel about Photoshop the way some people feel about abortion.  It is appalling and a tragic reflection on the moral decay of our society... unless I need it, in which case, everybody be cool.
- Tina Fey

It's so unpleasant to talk about abortion even if you're talking with people who agree with you about it.  But it's less unpleasant.  So let's start from a place where everybody agrees: fewer abortions are better.

That's about as much middle-ground as we're going to get between the pro- and anti-choice movements.  For us on the pro-choice side, the best way to minimize the number of abortions is to make sure that contraception and contraceptive education are affordable and available.  I think free is best.  Schools should be mandated by the government to tell kids how babies are made and how you can prevent making them.  Anyone who tells girls to imagine they're a stick of gum and once they have sex they're like a chewed up piece of gum (seriously!  Did you know that was something people told girls?  Isn't that horrifying?) should be hauled in front of family court and slapped by someone feisty like Judge Judy or Jim J Bullock.   Anyone who wants contraception should be able to walk into a clinic and get it, no matter how old they are, free of charge and judgment.  A country with a populace that is educated about (and not terrified of) sex and a country where contraception is readily available is the country with the least abortion.

A country where abortion is illegal is a country with more abortion than a country where abortion is legal.

Let's talk about a couple of horrifying stories, shall we?  That oughta be fun.  Here is a 22 year old woman, "Beatriz," who is five months pregnant with a fetus that will not live beyond birth and who faces grave risk of death if she goes through childbirth.  El Salvador has decided it's better for this woman to die than it is for her to have an abortion.  This is why we call it "anti-choice" and not "pro-life."  Allowing this mother of a living, ex-utero child (she has a four year old son) to die is not hardly landing on the side of life.

And, as I often do in situations like this, I think of her mother and what she's going through.  It terrifies me to think that I'm raising a daughter in a country that's growing increasingly hostile to her right to control her own body.  But, I'm not super terrified because, while we ain't rich, we'd have the resources to get her someplace where her health could be looked after, where her right to autonomy over her own body is respected.  If you have a little money, you can always get an abortion*.  Fly to Switzerland or get your family doctor to deem it medically necessary.  Poor women and girls don't have the same chance.

Which brings me to the next horrifying story.  For some completely inexplicable reason the anti-choice movement has glommed onto the story of Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his chamber of horrors as more fodder in their endless campaign against abortion.  But Kermit Gosnell is not the face of LEGAL abortion.  He's the face of ILLEGAL abortion. Pregnant women don't die of overdoses of Demerol at Planned Parenthood.  Living babies don't have their spinal cords severed at Planned Parenthood.  

Kermit Gosnell was cheaper than Planned Parenthood, though.  Kermit Gosnell didn't need to pay a nurse since he was far more butcher than doctor.  And, Planned Parenthood can't take insurance money or medicare for abortion services.

In one of the great ironies of this whole horrible story, picketers at Planned Parenthood were the driving factor in sending one woman to this monster: "The picketers out there, they just scared me half to death."  Note they didn't stop her from getting an abortion, she just ended up getting an abortion from someone who could have killed her.

And that's what happens when abortion is illegal.  If you don't want there to be any abortions, start handing out condoms and volunteering sex ed.  You won't get to zero abortions, but you'll get less.  If, on the other hand, you want more dead woman and more abortions, keep waging your war against it.

* Having a little money, of course, doesn't always save your life in countries where abortion is illegal.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

In Which I Eulogize a Damn Cat

When I was about 22 years old, my friend and coworker, Joelle, somehow inherited a female cat named Elizabeth.  Joelle, in her uniquely Joelle way, renamed Elizabeth to Lizard and brought her into her home where she had a male cat named Chewie (I think Chewie had been renamed from Charles or something...).  Chewie and Lizard had too much to drink one night, or fell prey to some other kitty romance and some time later Lizard had a big old litter.

Maura (my wonderful friend and roommate) agreed that our home was down about a quart of kitty and so we brought home both Lizard and her little black baby which we were, having enjoyed too many Mel Brooks movies, initially planned on naming "Schvartze."  Better angels prevailed, and we noticed the kitty's propensity for scrapping, and we decided to call her "Scrapper." 

Maura recently reminded me that kitty Scrapper had a tendency to scale our screendoor and get caught.  So you'd open the door and here was this cute little black cat stuck midway up the screendoor, yowling. It was hilarious. 

Lizard died.  Maura fell in love and moved in with the man who's now her husband and Scrapper moved with me.  Oh, you guys, the boyfriends Scrapper saw me through! 

Once my father was petting Scrapper, who was always very scrappy, and midway through a stroke, Scrapper bit him.  Dad was hella pissed.  But I said, "Look, she lets you know when she's fixing to bite.  It's not her fault you weren't paying attention."  Dad was unimpressed.

My mother always liked Scrapper despite her allergies. I think for a long time, Mom thought Scrapper was the only grand"child" I would provide her. Speaking of allergies, when Don and I moved in together 14 years ago, I told him not to worry, "She's pretty old and won't be around for much longer."  Poor old Don suffered from allergies for 14 years.

When Laney first laid eyes on Scrapper she screamed in bloody, abject terror. Laney was so terrified, Joelle had to hold onto Scrapper for a few days.  But when I brought Scrapper home, Laney was glad to see her. They've been pretty good buds since then, despite Scrapper propensity for jumping onto Laney's head in the middle of the night.  Damn cat.

She was a damn cat.  She knew exactly what she wanted and if you didn't provide it, she would make manifest her displeasure with you.  She bit my father, made my mother and husband miserable, and terrified and then irritated my daughter.  She would wake up in the middle of the night and start yowling wondering why no one was paying attention to her at 3:00 am.   I loved her despite her epic capacity for being a royal pain in the ass.  She was an epic pain in the ass.  That cat pissed me off.   I loved her.

When I took her to the vet today, all of us knew what was going to happen - the very sweet veterinary assistant (whose comforting hugs I will always be grateful for) and very sweet vet and me.  We all knew that it was time for Scrapper, who had almost no muscle mass left, who was deaf and hadn't eaten or used the litter box in a week, to die.  But, oh lord, I was ugly crying the whole time.

Scrapper's last act before shuffling off her mortal coil was to bite the shit out of me, when the vet gave her a sedative.  That was Scrapper.  Scrappy to the very end.  And, thus, I am eulogizing my cat.  Who I've had for half my life.  And now she's gone.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Family Day 2013

Eight years ago on May 26th, Don and I walked out of an orphanage in Blagoveschensk, Russia with our daughter.  We celebrate this as Family Day here in Chateau Bon.  We'll go out to eat and look for all the Russian animals in Lincoln Park Zoo and we'll give Laney one of the presents we bought for her in Moscow on our first trip to Russia.  It's a fun weekend.

But I find myself feeling very melancholy nonetheless.  Maybe it's because I think I'll be putting my ancient and beloved cat to sleep tomorrow.  Or maybe it's just PMS.  Who knows. But before this post gets too heavy, let's let a four-year-old Laney tell us a joke:

All these milestones... birthdays, family days, first tooth lost, first period, they are all celebrations.  But they are also, all, edged liberally with such sadness.

As is this whole business of raising children.

That little four year old girl telling jokes is gone.  The nine year old who sleeps in her bedroom is amazeballs and the very joy of my life.  But that doesn't stop me from missing the four year old girl, and from feeling like I missed the four year old girl. These moments slip by, defying all our best efforts to grab hold of them, to slow it all down.

When it comes to Laney, I would trade nothing, I would do nothing differently.  But being someone's mother hurts.  And the only preventative medicine for the hurt is to remind yourself, again and again, that you can't grab hold of it.  Every moment is always just ending.

Let's quote the final voiceover from the unfairly reviled American Beauty (seriously, if you hate on that movie for being a banal send up of suburbia, you've missed the point all together.  Watch it again):

Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold onto it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Guns, Minus the Bombast

In the following blogpost, I am going to engage the topic of guns in America and I am going to do so without going ALL CAPS, without using any swears, and limiting my use of exclamation points.

But I am angry about guns.

To readers who are not currently residing in America, most Americans are angry about guns.  This is the current state of being an American: you probably weigh more than you should, are worried about money and angry about guns.  Most of us are angry because we are sick to death of the gross proliferation of guns and gun violence and our government's failure to do anything about that.  The minority of us (or as I call them, "them") are angry about how Barack Obama is politicking over the graves of dead children as part of his ongoing, insidious plan to take all the white people guns away and give them to illegal immigrant Mexicans who are Muslim and also Black Panthers, who are still totally a thing.

In the meantime, the NRA has long since ceased advocating on behalf of the purported "sportsman" (a rather nebulous, meaningless term itself) and is now focused with laser-like precision on enabling the endless profiteering of gun manufacturers which it does by fanning the flames of the tribal righty, whom you may recognize as that uncle or old college friend who believes there's a War on Christmas and that Barack Obama is a socialist.

We are ruined by tribal politics.  Most of us (a vast majority of us) are on board with broad gun control  measures involving things like mandatory background checks, banning large capacity magazines, tracking large scale ammunition purchases, etc.  But we are stagnant, suicidal, murdering and murdered, while our politicians vote against background checks after cashing NRA checks, muttering something about rights while a large, but quite narrowly focused chunk of our media maintains its relevance by endlessly flogging an increasingly paranoid Barack Obama conspiracy bombast.

I leave you with this quote from St. Ronald of the Huge Balls, Savior of America:

Certain forms of ammunition have no legitimate sporting, recreational, or self-defense use and thus should be prohibited.

And I ask you to imagine what Gretchen Carlson or Rush Limbaugh or, heaven forfend, Glenn Beck would have made of those same words had they come out of Barack Obama's mouth.  And that right there is all of the problem.

By the way, an eleven year old shot his twelve year old friend in the face today.  Just another crazy accident.  Fourth accidental shooting of children this week.  This is the only one where the victim lived.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Goddamn American Heroes

Let's talk about the towering intellects who carry big ass guns into public places to make a statement about freedom.  Like this guy:

And this guy:

And this guy:

Lookit: I know that you and your big swinging dick are a Goddamn Bona Fide American Hero (tm).  I know that if you were in that movie theater in Aurora or that classroom in Sandy Hook, you'd have been the Good Guy With the Gun.  Actually, you know that.   I don't.  I know that the only thing that makes a situation where a crazy person is firing an assault weapon worse is adding a stupid person firing an assault weapon.  And, let's be very clear:  if you are a person who thinks that walking into a place filled with people ... and I cannot overstate this... people who DO NOT KNOW YOU makes a bold statement about freedom, you are a stupid person.  Really stupid.  Like your parents are first cousins.  Like you are challenged to the point of profound frustration by a Word Jumble.  Like you wonder why Charlie Sheen hasn't won a Mark Twain award.  You are dumb.  Dumbity dumb dumb.  You are so stupid, you should be helped across the street.  You are so dumb you think it's a profound injustice that Jay Z can use the n-word and you can't.  You are dumber than your big swinging dick there and your big swinging dick doesn't have an actual brain.


Now owning guns does not mean you are dumb.  Let's say you are a person who has a gun that you keep unloaded and locked away. Let's say you teach your children that guns are not toys.  Let's say that when you clean your gun, you know to make sure that it is unloaded and that there is not a round in the barrel (or whatever the goddamn term is... we are all ALL of us over the idea that you have to be a gun expert to have an opinion on gun control.  That's stupid.  That's a thought process that belongs to Jackass George of the Jungle up there). If you understand that guns are dangerous, than you are not stupid and you jibe far more comfortably with all us pantywaist liberal pussies.  Because while we might not have guns, we understand they are dangerous.  The addlepated nincompoops up there don't get that.  They think of guns like god's awesome boner.  They are dumb.

So you gun owners who are not functionally retarded need to stop marching lockstep with the dimbulb dunce who carried a goddamn assault rifle into a JC Penny because FREEDOM.  Don't be that guy. He's a fucking idiot.

And stop letting Wayne Lapierre speak for you.  He's not dumb.  He's evil.  His main function in life is to pay the Congressional whores with dollars flowing his way from gun manufacturers whose pockets are, in turn, being lined by Idiot America who believe (because they are so profoundly stupid)  that Barack Obama is going to take their guns and give it to those two black panther guys from that one time in Detroit.  

Let me speak their language: it's us and them time.  "Them" are the idiotic, troglodytic, knuckle-dragging, moronic, dunderheaded nitwits from the pictures above.  "Us" are the people who understand that three kids in a week killing themselves with guns left carelessly lying about are not just three crazy accidents.  They are three preventable deaths whose prevention is thwarted by the greed of the gun lobby and weakness of our Congress.  Join us.  It's nice.  Fewer dead people.  Less Ted Nugent.  It's a win all around.