Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The reality TV show that is our lives now

How hard can it be to write a blog post? Shouldn't be that hard. I'm reading books, we just finished watching season one of Happy Valley, we saw Hidden Figures (quick review: a well-executed, sanitized version of racism as presented by Hallmark wherein Kevin Coster breaks down the barriers by chopping a "colored" restroom sign down), and the dog keeps doing cute things. BUT. What I'm most preoccupied by leaves me inarticulate. Every day, I read check in with The Washington Post and The New York Times (I have digital subscriptions to both now because it has suddenly become very important to me to support journalism with integrity), and the headlines are always about some new and outrageous thing DT has done, or said, or mandated or some white crazy inexperienced billionaire he's appointed, or some bullshit he's tweeted, alternately accusing President Obama of wire-tapping Trump Tower or insulting Arnold Schwarzenegger for quitting The Apprentice, or it's about the slow to unravel Iron Curtain story about how he colluded with Russia to win the election. I mean, it's not like there is one thing to be frighted or enraged by--it's a whole buffet of bad decisions and actions that I truly think endanger the security of our country. I imagine that if we were ever going to be attacked, now would be the perfect time, because our government is in chaos and led by a lot of people who don't actually know how to get it functional.

The agenda he's setting is so against everything I believe in. He wants to spend billions of dollars building up an already bloated military. He wants to keep out people from other countries based on their religion (this is not an immigration ban for our safety. It's a Muslim ban). He's hired someone to run the Dept. of Education who went to private schools, has never worked in a public school, and has no clue about how that system works. He is eager to roll back all of the environmental protections in the face of global warming. And I'm not talking about ducks covered in oil, I'm talking about the water we drink and the air we breath. He talks about sending federal officers into inner cities (synonymous to him with problematic black people) which will lead to more shootings and violence, not less. He wants to deregulate the banks so that they can go back to giving out bad loans to people who can't afford them. He is not going to bring back coal, he is not going to increase manufacturing jobs in the United States, he is not going to help your kid get through college without becoming utterly mired in student loan debt. He hates the free press and is doing the best he can to suppress it, he cannot distinguish the difference between a world crisis and a television, and has no ability to be self-reflective and realize that his rants on Twitter take away from his credibility. And that's just off the top of my head. It's every day--it's something new every day that's terrifying. But it's hard to keep feeling surprised, because he is behaving exactly the same way he did before he was elected. Only now, he has the power to kill people. Lots and lots and lots of people.

What's strange is that sometimes, I'll see a picture of him and feel sad--for him. Because he looks so unhappy all of the time, and because his tie is always flying in the wind with a piece of Scotch tape on it, and because he has a comb over that gets messed up, and because I do not think he wants this job at all. I think his ego will force him to keep it, but I think he could actually possibly enjoy life if he wasn't having to try to run the country.

So, how can I write about it every day? And how can I write about anything else?

Monday, February 20, 2017

His initials spell NAVY

How about a short story called, "Whatever happened to him?" That's what I wonder about the exes who don't appear on Facebook and can't be found anywhere. This one today was someone I dated for a few months while I was working at DePaul Law School in Chicago. He was a law student--handsome,with a shaved head and bright blue eyes. Freckles, and a raspy voice. When his hair started to grow in, it was this strange blond/gray color. He had been a philosophy major in college and there was some mystery surrounding his dad--I think his dad died when N. was eight or ten, and then he also claimed to have survived cancer in college though was never specific about what kind of cancer that was. I do not think it was testicular, if memory serves.

He lived in a garden apartment with very little furniture, possibly an unfriendly cat, and had books stacked up in towers against the walls. He would alternate between being super weird and mean (verbally threatening and saying things like, I could strangle you right now) to being normal and funny, as if that other part of him was a joke. He liked to take baths rather than showers, and he wore almost the same thing every day--a white t-shirt and corduroy pants. When he first kissed me, he had come over to my apartment to make dinner and brought his own colander. He would only kiss me if I laid down on the sofa with my eyes closed. He fluttered above me and I stayed still, and then he kissed me lightly, a series of kisses. That was odd, and yet I kept seeing him because he seemed smart and interesting and possibly just pretending to be violent.  Also, I was lonely.

And then one day I stopped seeing him--I can't remember why--perhaps he did something to my cats or threatened to do something to my cats, as it is only in observing someone mistreating another creature that I can acknowledge his dysfunction, but I stopped seeing him. He then made me a mixed tape and I took it home to listen to it and it was opera, what sounded like music from The Omen. I wrote about him in a story called "The Last Dead Boyfriend," but that didn't exorcise him from my brain. I  must have dreamed about him last night; otherwise, I don't know why I would be thinking about him. Perhaps he is a lawyer, practicing happily in Shebogan. Or perhaps he is dead from a suicide. That was the thing about him. He could go either way.

Addendum: I found him alive after only minimal cyber-stalking. He was being interviewed on NPR Chicago for his work. I recognized his voice. It's very distinct. It made me think of another possible short story idea or poem that someone should write that starts with "I should've broken up with him when..." And then you list all of the moments in relationships when you knew it wasn't going to work, but didn't leave. Like, "I should've broken up with him when he told me he would cut my hair if I fell asleep."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The White House or The Royal Regional Community Theater goes to Broadway

We are learning that Donald Trump is in collusion with Russia and has agreed to give Putin sanctions in return for leaking negative information about Clinton.  I hope his fall is swift and not graceful. Filled with non-grace.

It feels like what happened is that someone took a community theater show produced by amateur actors and a director who has a full time job as an office manager, and producers who have supported the wine and cheese art gallery show in downtown Clearwater, and you said to all of these people, You open on Broadway in two weeks! And the cast is so excited and believe in themselves and think it can't really be that hard to create a Broadway show, they've all learned lines before, they know about the prop room and they will get a set built because they're going to hire the lead character's uncle Frank who has a workshop in his garage. And the costumes...Well, we'll have Tim's teenage son sketch up the costumes, he's a little weird, a little emo, but he's great at sketching and so then they sit down to look at what Tim's son has brought in on sheets of real drawing paper (the kid's name is Sam but he goes by "Tink") and the drawings are okay, I mean, the forms are recognizable as human. He has a little trouble with the hands. They sort of dangle at the end of the arms like puffer fish, and he seems to have a thing for capes, but that's fine, we can work with this plan, and then one of the lower members of the cast (a mere walk on with no lines) raises her hand and goes, "So, like, who's going to like, make the costumes?"

The room goes silent, and all you can hear is the director's little Chihuahua, Cher, licking herself.

They're gathered in the director's living room. It's a nice sort of room, with a puffy couch from Raymour and Flannigan's with a built in chaise lounge, and the director's wife has made mini quesadillas in the microwave and everybody brought chips and dip and soda, and the best thing about the room is pictures from the previous shows hanging on the wall above the faux fireplace mantel. The photos are all professionally mounted in frames from Michael's Arts & Crafts store, look, there's All My Sons; the matinees were always sold out for that one, and remember Carousel, or maybe best not to bring up Carousel, because that was the first musical they attempted and they had some trouble getting the orchestra involved, and so it ended up being accompanied by these kids who had a band, not the most dedicated group, so forget about Carousel, that was a rush job and forced on them by the arts council. Hey, there's Noises Off, holy cow, remember how everybody was so impressed by the British accents they did? And sometimes, a fun thing to do is to go into TGIFriday's and pretend you're from England and order the buffalo chicken wings in the accent, adding, By jove! at the end. The waitresses totally fall for it every time.

Fine, maybe they haven't thought through every detail, but what does it matter, anybody can put on a play, in fact, it's best if you don't have all these hoity-toity Shakespearean types who've studied at like Julliard or Oxford or wherever, because they always think they're so great, and complicate everything by wanting rehearsals ad nauseum or to follow the script. They have no imagination and are stuck in this old way of putting on a show, I mean, how hard can it be?

Then opening night rolls around and the curtain is about to go up and half of the actors are missing because someone (no one is naming names, but possibly Misty, the stage manager) forgot to email the time to show up. The audience waits, rustling in their seats, hands empty of programs because who the fuck was supposed to get the programs? Isn't anybody in charge of those little booklet things they have at the shows, where the bios are listed and there's a cover of the Phantom and people keep them as souvenirs for ten years before throwing them out? Playball or whatever it's called.

Take your marks, the lights are going down, except that no one knows how to turn down the lights or how to turn up the lights and the set isn't finished and the actors have run scared due to lack of preparation and the director has a sudden, stabbing flash of fear in his stomach that they may close after just one night.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Who will be his Watson?

I missed last week, but my  guess is that maybe two of the black girls went home. Chris lets them know there will be no rose ceremony tonight, but Corinne has a rose for possibly riding Nick while traveling on a hot air balloon. The women are scared and their hearts are beating very fast. This is BBC or whatever channel this is trying to create drama where none exists. He wears a hounds tooth suit and looks a bit like a young Sherlock Holmes.

First rose goes to Christina.
Second rose goes to Raven, with the very high forehead and fake accent.
Third rose goes to Vanessa who has put him in his place once or twice.
Fourth rose goes to Danielle who I like the most because of her perfectly placed birthmark.
Jasmine gets the fifth rose. Ladies and Nick, this is the final rose. It goes to Whitney. I was wrong two black girls are going home tonight, alongside one blond and the girl who was like one of the guys (Alexis, who says how much it sucks and who also asked him to celebrate her one year boob job).

It's clear that he should pick that one lady with the great blunt hair cut who acts like an adult. Side note, they are remaking King Kong again, with 15 leading men, maybe one woman, and a lot of Pixar magic. I can't watch any movie that suggests the end of civilization because it zings too close to home.
They are flown to St. Thomas so that we can see them all in short denim shorts and bikinis. They are being put up in a super deluxe Holiday Inn. Nick arrives in a plane that lands on the water. The women scream. He wears a tank top and pastel shorts from OP circa 1992. His one-on-one is with little bitty Christina. They take off on a sea plane. Christina confesses that she kind of knew she would be chosen. Tears are shed by the ones who did not get chosen.

He and Christina clink a beer and she says that she is one of 8 or 9 siblings. They have no chemistry. Maybe Nick will fly her to Russia as part of that date. They kiss enthusiastically and then change into their bikinis so she can wrap her legs around him as they float in the sea. I think he may send her home. That is the feeling that I get.

P.S. Is Grey's Anatomy still on?

I wonder if this was being filmed during the campaign and if anyone would be talking politics at all?

Christina thinks today's day has been fun. He orders her lobster. Christina tells her story about being born in Russia and how she used to eat lipstick because she was hungry. She was then put into an orphanage and her mom never visited. This woman's life is in total direct contrast to Corinne who likes the black lady who is helping out around the house. She was adopted at age 12 and had to leave her sister behind. She makes Nick cry. He has to give her the rose now because she almost had to become a prostitute and her life is utterly so much more difficult than his or possibly anyone's in the house. This story may be why she is so distant and doesn't like to run around laughing in her bikini. Cue drums.

Back at the house, the women are sitting around with nothing to do but grasp huge fluffy pillows. Date card including Rachel, Raven, Vanessa, Corinne, Danielle, and Jasmine. That means the next date will be a two on one where someone has to go home. They contemplate his reasoning despite the fact that he doesn't really have any control over the way the show goes.

Group date where all the women are wearing bikinis and ready to frolic. I would hate to have to wear a bikini for ninety percent of the time. Nick is goofy. He forces them to take shots. I think he belongs with Corinne. Oh, the girl I thought was an adult has what looks like it might be tiny little letters tattooed on her chest. Or is it sand? Vanessa is just now realizing that she's on The Bachelor and having to compete with other women for his attention. Nick says that his plan has back fired. He might be drunk. Corinne decides to take a nap.

The women have showered and are now back in their beachy ball gowns. He steals away Rachel. She explains how she felt one hundred percent out of her element. Nick says he's glad she didn't say peace out and throws a sign, which may be racist. Or not...But maybe? Nick doesn't know how to fix the situation. Jasmine is expressing how disappointed she is and she may have had too much to drink. She lets him know that is sucks not to have a one-on-one and to get to know him at all. She thinks their conversations have gone well, and he clearly feels they have not gone well. I think he thinks she talks too much and she also jokes around about choking him and actually grabs him by the neck. He does not want her to choke him. She offers to do it several times. Now, he's sending her home. This is what too much red wine does to a person. Why do they even go through this pretense of having diversity on this show? In 20 seasons, not one person of color has made it even into the top four. It's a joke. 

Snoozer two on one date where he sends home the more calm Pilates instructor with the lovely and impassive face and poise like someone in a Renaissance painting. Some big fat guy comes back to take Whitney's suitcase. It's hard to even pretend to care. The sucky thing is that Nick and Danielle take off in an helicopter and leave Whitney stranded on the beach, eating their dust and getting bits of sand stuck in her contacts. She didn't see that coming. She will now have to go back to her job posing for ethereal portraits. 
I just ate half a pint of Ben and Jerry's Fro-Yo Fish Food and that was the best part of this show. 

Nick and Danielle go to drink wine and he wears another in an unending series of patterned button up shirts. He doesn't make good eye contact and he's a mumbler. Also, he's sweating. She is sweating too, but in a not gross way. She, by contrast, has excellent eye contact. He wants a relationship that is raw and adventurous. Maybe he should date a sea crab or a Jack Russell Terrier. He pauses like maybe he's going to send her home. 

I watch this show to escape the tweets of a president who writes things like, "So-called judge. Very bad!"

He has dead eyes as she speaks. He does not feel like he can give her the rose. He won't because his heart feels differently. I have never in my life talked this much about what my heart wants or doesn't want. My heart basically just doesn't want dogs to get hurt or cats to be strays or people to be treated like garbage because of where they were born. My heart wants Dan to be happy and not as stressed as he is right now. 
Nick walks her out and she is nearly stumbling in her Grecian dress. Maybe he has someone else in mind the whole time? She berates herself for not being perfect even though she is very nice and extraordinarily beautiful."You can't make people love you," she says. Nick begins to doubt that he is capable of love. We agree. Dan says, "Maybe it is you, Nick." I like Rachel the best and would love it if he would pick her. He is saying that same thing over and over again. He walks into the house. He needs a group massage. He's crying and pouring his heart out to them and I think he would be a great guy to have as a friend, but a disaster to date. He exits the room on cue. He's going to the bar to see if maybe he can meet somewhere there. 

Next week: hyperventilating and many tears because Nick might want to drop out, but he won't. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

From women's march to a march of women

Enough with that feminist stuff, let's watch a show focused on one man choosing a wife among a bunch of women who must pretend to be in love with him.

Rose ceremony time as the women all gang up on Corinne, who is taking a nap. They should mesh this show with Intervention, because a lot of the bad stuff that happens is a result of drinking 15 gallons of wine before 10 a.m. Nick gives a speech telling the women to continue to express whatever is on their minds.

First rose goes to Raven, with the raven colored hair.
Second rose goes to Taylor, also with the dark hair.
Third rose goes to Quimby? She will of course accept this rose.
Fourth rose goes to Christine. He definitely likes dark haired women.
Fifth rose goes to Chastine or Justine.
Sixth rose goes to Alexis, the goofy one. He's keeping her for fun times.
Seventh rose goes to Astrid, who is about to faint from not eating for six days in a row.
Eighth rose goes to Danielle, the only blond and the only adult.
Ninth rose to Jamie who has a thing in her nose and has had her hair straightened.
Josephine will accept the tenth rose.
Eleventh rose goes to Sara with either an "h" or not an "h."
The final rose goes to...Cue dramatic music...Corinne will get it, for sure. It will be...Corinne. You know why? Because he doesn't have any choice in the matter. It's scripted.

Going home will be two women, including one with the roundest face and she was her full self and he didn't like her full self. Another woman I don't remember goes home, and she's crying and she says she's tired of being single.

The woman are travelling somewhere, but I was reading FB and so not paying attention. Cue footage of an airplane. They scream as they go into a really huge AirBNB in Waukena? Where is that? Hawaii or Kansas? We see Nick's mom with her mod haircut in a diner with dad in his mod glasses. They are totally hip parents. Mom has an earring on her upper lobe. Mom is a crier. Oh, and she has a nose ring, a tiny diamond nose ring, which is the kind I would have were I brave enough to pierce it.

He picks Danielle L., age 27, for the first one-on-one. She's a giggler. Here's where the black girl who is disappointed that she wasn't chosen and she doesn't understand why. Nick first takes Danielle along a river walk. Her brown and golden hair shimmers down her shoulders as they walk jauntily around his home town and Nick mentions making out with girls from high school at the library. The local bakery has a cookie of Nick. They spend the date making cookies of Nick's face. We wonder if they will have anything in common. They make out with frosting on their tongues and pass fifteen women that Nick used to date. He spots one that he dated for three months perched in the coffee shop window. This is a set up. The two women hug and they decide to sit down together. Nick tells the ex that she looks great. Amber tells Danielle that Nick will only be in it if his heart is also in it. They share a group hug. The date is boring. Why would any woman want to date him? All he talks about is all of the other conquests he's had. Again, can't one of the women say that they're not into him? That never happens.

Now they are on a date where Danielle has to maintain super good posture she's one slump away from a nipple pop in this dress. Nick wears a faux leather jacket and his intense listening face. Danielle talks as though she's being interviewed. She's very poised. Nick thinks she has an incredible heart. He gives her the rose. Cue the performance of someone I never heard of as they are forced to make out on a mini-podium in front of the stage.

This is a baby rhino
Group date on a farm. The women notice that the farm smells like poop. Nick is bottle-feeding a baby calf. I bet he has never done that before in his life. They are trying really hard to portray Corinne as a spoiled brat, by having her say things like how she wants a taco and doesn't like flies. One of the women notices that he's not very good at handling teats. Next, they must shovel poop. The women will do whatever they are told, even though Nick does not, like, work on a dairy farm.

Later, the women go en masse to castle where they will...do what? Duel? Astrid is worried about not standing out enough. She takes him aside and holds his hand. She wants to open up about her past because it's probably filled with tragedy. Nick says he appreciates her zest for life and they tongue kiss. Meanwhile, Corinne compares herself to a corn cob. Vanessa and Nick share a blanket and Vanessa gives Nick a book that her students made for her that show her in only the best light. Corinne explains how she is ready to marry Nick, even though she is only 24.

Nick makes out with the black woman, which is refreshing and almost never happens on this show. Corinne explains that she has a serious condition that makes her behave the way that she does. An anxiety disorder. She goes to Nick and tells him that the girls are giving her the cold shoulder. He congratulates her for being very mature. Time to give out the group date rose. It will not go to Corinne. It will go to Astrid or Christina, who fell asleep for a moment.

Just an aside since nothing is happening on this show. I wish they had cat cafes in America like they do in Japan.

One-on-one with Raven and I am totally prejudiced against people with Southern accents. For the record, I have never once run up to a guy and thrown my legs around him, but that seems to be the standard greeting on this show. If I tried to do that with Dan, we would both break limbs. Turns out that the date also includes his youngest sister, Bella. He is training them how to do stretches and how to get ready for soccer. Raven stands around awkwardly. Raven appreciates how good he is with the girls, not realizing that three of them are his illegitimate daughters. Next, he takes all of the girls to a skating rink/arcade. 

Nick and Raven are having dinner in a giant aquarium? An amphitheater? A deserted airport terminal? Raven relates walking in on her boyfriend having sex with another woman and then recounts the violence she wrecked on her naked boyfriend with a shoe. Nick's mouth barely moves when he talks. The retainer again? He gives her a rose. It was the best day of their lives and they are still wearing roller skates. She believes she is falling in love with Nick. Good luck, sister. 

Rose ceremony that will be interrupted in the middle because there are only nine minutes left. Nick tells the women that he had a great time. Another cleavage dress from Danielle L., who already has a rose. This pisses other women off. He kisses everyone. They are in a giant out door barn. Corinne confronts Taylor and says she's being disgusting to her and being mean. Fake fight developing which is the best that they can do for a cliffhanger. 

Hey, producers, you know how the outtakes at the end are the most interesting and funny parts of the show? That's because they actually seem real, and not forced into a certain shape. It's like the difference between a Barbie doll and an actual woman. The show is all Barbie (and Ken)--sanitized, numbly familiar. Consider giving us the version that doesn't air brush out the actual people. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

What I learned from the #women'smarch2017

One thing I learned at the march is that there is no one type who attended. I expected to see the stereotypical angry feminist (work boots, no make-up, fist in the air) or the stereotypical hippie activist (dreds, pink glitter, hemp hat) or the stereotypical professional organizer (bullhorn, buttons, chants on a sheet of paper). Those types were there, but so were the not-expected types. It was everyone you can imagine. It was a buttoned up shirt wearing white guy in his mid-fifties and his suburban looking wife. It was a mass of slow moving older women with canes and pink hats. It was college-age frat boy-looking guys with red Trump hats that read "America is great." It was Native Americans in full dress, little boys in Superman capes, beautiful New Jersey-black haired girls in perfect red lipstick holding signs that said "Unity, Peace, Equality." It was black men, black woman, same sex couples, families with their kids, mothers and their daughters, a cluster of older black women, including one  who said, "Lord, I thought we did this already." It was Dan standing in the cold, fingers freezing, holding up the sign he made that read "Make American women safe again." It was incredible. It gave me hope.

It was also all kinds of signs: raunchy signs ("feminists fuck better")  and thoughtful signs ("make America kind again") and funny/horrible signs ("Free Melania") and mean signs ("you can't comb over racism") and one-word signs ("Resist") and controversial signs ("I love my abortion") and exasperated signs "(OMGF stop tweeting) and angry signs ("Fuck this shit") and many, many signs with cats and claws on them. And lots and lots of pink pussy hats. There was chanting: "We need a leader/Not a fascist tweeter." There was, on occasion, the smell of pot, which we all inhaled in hopes of getting a contact high. There were port-a-potties with no toilet paper (you go in, you get out, you endure), and people lining the streets on the sidewalk and performances, such as a Native American chant and a woman representing lady liberty floating around all in white with a white cloth over her eyes. And there was tedium too. Because more people than anticipated showed up, we spent most of the time standing and waiting to march and it was cold and there were lots and lots of people and we mostly waited. But then when we were walking, it was crazy how many people we saw all around and down the block and there in the background was the Capitol Building and it seemed unfathomable that Trump could be there. It's like two separate realities--the TV show that is our presidency now and the people in the streets who refuse to watch it.

It was not anything that I feared. We encountered no one who was anti-protest.  People honked from their cars as we were walking toward the march, and those who were watching from the buildings were waving and hooting back. We saw one ambulance and watched as the sea of people parted to let it pass. I saw maybe five cops all at once, but nothing alarming. Peaceful protest. There was no "khumbya" or magic---you know, we were cold, but we were not in peril or in pain--we were waiting and chatting and I guess the other thing that I realized is that I'm not by myself in feeling that this is all wrong. There are thousands (millions?) of people who feel the same way, who are having the same frustrating arguments with the people they love who don't agree (those who don't see this as a catastrophe, despite the fact that every time Trump takes an action, it's done in anger and reactivity) and who are willing and ready to spend 16 hours of their Saturday to be part of the resisting this TV show billionaire who is supposed to lead the country made up of all different kinds of people.

Before the march, a Rutgers journalism student interviewed Dan and me about why we were there, and he asked first what we were worried about and then what made us hopeful about the presidency. I've been thinking about this too because it's difficult to continue waking up with a sense of despair and disbelief and anger. It's like we were going toward a progressive future, one that is inclusive, global-minded, environmentally-centered, interested in the well-being of the most disenfranchised---and then someone pressed a reset button and possibly also rewind, and we have to start over. I wasn't really much involved in that change before--now, I have to be. Where there was complacency, there's now purpose.

What do I do next? I don't know yet. Keep writing, keep thinking, keep paying attention, keep talking to those you disagree with, keep fighting back.

Addendum to the post after speaking to a friend who didn't go, and feels guilty about it...

There are many reasons that you may not have been able to attend marches near you. Work conflicts, childcare issues, lack of money, lack of transportation, sickness or injury (Lisa Marie), lack of support from your partner or spouse, fear of crowds, fear of going alone, scheduling problems, personal inertia. I happen to be lucky enough to have been given an easy path to go. I knew a lot of women from the School of Social Work who were going, including the Dean. I had a supportive partner who said he would go with me (despite not wanting to leave Luke alone all day), and a mom who agreed to take care of said child, even though she'd just gotten back from a trip the day before. I work at an university (Rutgers) that supports a union that provided really easy-to-access, cheap transportation ($30 round trip with a bathroom, wi-fi, and personal chargers in every seat. The cost included a Metro card pass, a warm knit hat, lunch, hot coffee, snacks, a sign making operation, and dinner, cookies, and fruit on the way home--thank you, Rutgers AAUP/AFT).  I was luckier than most--Liz Webster, my Brooklyn bestie, paid $75 to take a slow moving, bumpy school bus with no bathroom, no wi-fi, no charger and a chatty woman next to her who fell asleep on Liz during the long ride home. Liz could have much more easily gone to the New York march. She's a dedicated mo-fo and she kicks ass all day, every day. See?

If you got to go as easily as I did, you're part of a privileged class in some ways, and I try not to forget that. That wasn't the case for lots and lots of women and men.

Let yourself off the hook if you didn't go. There will (unfortunately?? Fortunately?) be many other opportunities and ways to show your support and to share your resistance. I'll try to come up with a list in another post this week. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 20, 2017

Why I'm going to the Women's March on DC tomorrow

Somehow, I've managed to have a lot of opinions about things without ever taking an real action to support them. I voice my thoughts, but generally only to people who tend to agree with me. Bryan Stevenson, the head of the Equal Justice Initiative, came to talk to Rider and he said a lot of things that make sense to me. The two that relate to this march: be willing to do uncomfortable things and get proximate to the problem. 
There's nothing too uncomfortable about the march--though we have to be at the bus at 5:30 a.m.--and the weather is supposed to be good. Many people from my work will be there, as will several of my girlfriends (Liz, Jodi) and I'm certain the walk itself will be manageable. I have some anxiety about some nut shooting everyone, but that's unlikely.
In terms of getting close to the problem, it means that we go to DC the day after Trump is inaugurated and illustrate that he and his ultra conservative inner circle should not ignore half of the population by creating legislation that cripples rather than helps them. That's one of my main things with Trump--I want to find some points of connection--like, I want him to be a hard core, no nonsense LGBTQ rights supporter. Or to be apathetic about Planned Parenthood. I would take apathy as a way to connect with him.

I can't fathom why he would want to assist in de-funding Planned Parenthood, or why he cares at all about women having the ability to make choices about their lives. You can't have it both ways. You can't tell women not to have abortions AND make it harder for them to get birth control (not unless you are also going to develop some campaign to control men's ability to produce sperm or an anti-jerk off campaign: "Every sperm you waste while thinking of Melania is a potential baby.").  If you don't want to help women be safe and make their own choices, create legislation that holds men equally accountable or make sure that pregnant women have access to good healthcare or get reasonable paid maternity leave and job flexibility. But really, stay out of it. Only a small percentage of women who go to Planned Parenthood do so to terminate a pregnancy. Most go so they can have health checks, mammograms, get treated for UTIs, or other sexually transmitted diseases, and have preventative care for other problems that could be life-threatening.

Mostly, I can't believe that we actually have to be defending the right to reproductive-related healthcare and the right to take care of ourselves.  I saw this bumper sticker the other day: "If you don't like abortion, don't have one." Here's another one that should be created: "If you don't like abortion, adopt five babies." Every time some white dude claiming to be a Christian says he is anti-choice, I want to ask him how many children he's fostered, how many times he's abstained from unprotected sex or sex at all, how much money he's willing to shell out for women's health care, what kind of father he is, how he would feel if he knew that having a baby would decrease his likelihood of keeping a job or getting promoted. 

The third reason I'm going to the march tomorrow is because I am amazed by the lack of conversation around the ongoing misogyny in our culture.  I want us to talk more about how's Clinton gender impacted public perception about her ability to lead (from men and women). I want to talk about the fact that a large portion of our population would rather elect someone with no experience, a track record of fraud, bankruptcies, lawsuits, and rape allegations and a dangerous personality disorder over a candidate with decades of experience, great understanding of policy and process, years of dedication to public service, a track record of impactful global philanthropy, and a vagina. The vagina gets us every time.  It is wrong that we're not talking about this continued denigration of women based on years of spoon fed stereotypes and oppression. It's wrong that women don't trust other women to lead, in part because our whole lives, we've seen mostly white males in positions of power across the board--doctors, lawyers, politicians, airline pilots, military leaders, police force, movie directors, writers, scientists---male, male, male, male, male, male, male. Our culture remains disproportionately represented, and I want so much for that to change. And I would also like it if we would stop having the argument about how he won fair and square. Because, people, it was not fair and square. Not by 100 miles.

The fourth reason I'm going is because I find this particular individual to be one of the most appalling representations of the male species who has been in the public eye.  He wants to appeal to the Christian right and meanwhile: He's been married three times, his current wife is a former bathing suit model, he's self-admittedly cheated on his wife while she was pregnant, he jokes about how power gives him the opportunity to grope and take, he judges women's value based primarily on their physical appearance, he sexualizes his daughter, and he thinks that rape and assault are an okay part of locker room talk. For starters. One could speculate on how he has used and abused his power, but this list should be enough. I don't care how many times you've been married, I don't care how many women or men you've slept with, but I do care if you're going to use your position to coerce people to do what you want, or that you're going to stand on a platform of family values when you have not been able to maintain them in your own life.

Those are a few of the reasons I'm going. I don't know if it makes a difference. I do know that it's the same thing as voting or not voting---it's my duty to stand by what I believe in. If I do nothing, I am complicit, and I lose my voice.