Monday, April 17, 2017

Dusting off the Old Blog-a-roo With Some Entirely Unrelated Gifs

Hello, old blog, it's been a while.

There's this old Faces song called Ooh La La that I'd always kind of casually liked.  You know it - the hook goes "I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was a younger/I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was stronger."  When I joined the Spotify family (that's how we all talk now, right?  I'm a literal actual member of the Spotify family, right? It counts.  I'm in the will), they put it on my Discover Weekly and I added it to a playlist and was one day all plugged into my iPhone, just walking down the street, chilling to my tunes, all "Ooh la la... wish that I knew what I know now..." like this:

When I started paying attention to the lyrics.  Like these:

Poor old Grandad, I laughed at all his words
I thought he was a bitter man
He spoke of women's ways
They'll trap you, then they use you before you even know
For love is blind and you're far too kind.

And I was all, hmmmm:

The song continued:

They come on strong and it ain't too long
For they make you feel a man
But love is blind and you soon will find
You're just a boy again

When you want her lips, you get her cheek
Makes you wonder where you are
If you want some more than she's fast asleep
You're just twinkling with the stars

At which point I was convinced and annoyed and all:

I'm not here to litigate some song that is almost as old as I am.  Rather, I'm here to talk about my reaction to it, because I've noticed that I just have no patience for any of it anymore.  When I encounter misogynist bullshit, I'm not interested in tolerating it or making the man behind it comfortable anymore.  I don't care anymore if he's old or if he's simple or if he's otherwise a sterling individual because I'm just capital-D Done with smiling through it to make things more pleasant. Rather, I am inclined to:

And why am I so done?  I'll give you one guess.  I bet you know.... 

The duly elected (?) president* of the United States said that and almost half the country didn't care; shoot, a bunch of them thought it made him seem like a real man (... it ain't too long before they make you feel a man again).

The slap history of humankind is replete with weak men requiring and being granted female humiliation just because they're men.  But I'm done. No more obliging smiles when some man on the street orders me to it. No more cool-girl chuckles at the hacky sexist jokes from the guy on the subway or in line at the Walgreens. No more conciliatory smirks with the "you know how the ladies are" cracks during business meeting.  I'm no longer even able to bop along in a "well, it was a different time but I dig the tune anyway" to the MRA Theme Song (which is 45 fucking years old - those bastards have been around forever, they just recently got an internet). I'm done.  And I'm done because being obliging, going along to get along, being pleasant because it's accepted truth that pleasantry is women's work is what led to President Pussygrabber.

And, look, I don't want to be a killjoy feminist.  I really don't.  No one does. Well, that's not true. Some people live for it... but I promise I'm not one.  I'd much rather live without ever hearing any of it again, without being among men who think it's no big deal. But I don't live in that world.  I live in the world where you either live with it and pretend to like it like a cool girl or you're a feminist killjoy.

And y'all, I promise you:

I have this daughter who doesn't seem to privilege pretty and doesn't seem to feel beholden to male approval. Sometimes I worry about how she thinks the idea of makeup is bizarre and prefers her hair short and her clothes capacious and comfortable, because what will people think?!  And then I realize that she'd never let some guy get away with casually insulting her gender and expecting a smile in response. And then I think a lot of this will suck less for her.

Monday, February 13, 2017

You Guys, Trust Me, This is Solid Advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

From the Land of International Adoption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, you know, don't do that.  :)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The New Normal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Being White on MLK Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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