Archive for the ‘Awesome’ Category

The dream

Monday, January 20th, 2014

 

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ ”

 

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“….when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

Manuscript Monday: “Legalize Love”

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Today’s excerpt is dedicated to two people I love dearly, who appear in my book under the pseudonyms Kelly and Gretchen.  They are very important members of my family, and whenever anybody asks me why a straight middle class housewife gives a crap about marriage equality*, I mention them.  In fact, Kelly took this picture of Elliott at a marriage equality rally our families attended on February 12, 2009:

 

I remember that rally well–I delivered a speech on behalf of Minnesota NOW that was received warmly by the less then the few dozen people who bothered to show up.  Today, my friend Kelly is back at the Capitol, with THOUSANDS of  ecstatic people ready to celebrate marriage equality in our state.  Among those thousands are Kelly and Gretchen’s two daughters, who can’t wait to be bridesmaids in their mothers’ LEGAL Minnesota wedding.

LEGAL!  

I can’t believe it.


Kelly and I were both good American girls, born in the land of the free, rewarded with Social Security Cards and easily obtained passports.  Had I fallen for a lederhosen-wearing Bavarian named Matthias Schwarz (instead of a professor’s brat born within a mile of UC-Berkeley), his road to citizenship would be assured.  Kelly, on the other hand, had no such opportunity.  She could not legally sponsor the citizenship of the foreign-born person she loved.

“Ugh,” Matt said, his usual eloquence failing him.

Deep in the throes of liberal guilt, I blurted, “you’re lucky, then, that you’re a white European and not a dark-looking terrorist.”  Post-9/11 hysteria brought new reports daily of Muhammads and Fatimas kicked off airplanes, hijab-wearers taunted with racial slurs, rocks thrown in mosque windows.  Gretchen admitted that her citizenship class had zero attendees of obviously Arab descent.  The Muslim students took great pains to announce that they were Somali war refugees.  Well into 2003 there was still palpable fear that al-Qaeda lurked in every (swarthy, hijab-clad) corner.

Matt returned us to the original point. “It shouldn’t be against the law to sponsor the person you love.”

Kelly shrugged.  “We can’t get married,” she said simply.  “If we’re not legally married, our relationship doesn’t exist.”

“But we have some domestic partner laws,” I said.  “Are you able to register as partners?”

Gretchen lifted her head from her thick textbook. “We can register all day long, but it still doesn’t mean anything.”  Then she returned to The New Citizen’s Guide to the Constitution.

Kelly shrugged.  “I guess it would be nice to have a big party,” she said, “but it’s true that it doesn’t mean much.  I still can’t give Gretchen any of my job’s benefits.  I can’t even carry her on my health insurance.”

“I have to buy my own,” the student of American law announced.

I decided, after draining my Summit Extra Pale Ale too quickly, that The Happy Hetero ought to state the obvious.  “That’s really expensive.”

Kelly nodded.  “Yes,” she said.  “Yes, it is.” At least [their son] Morgan could be added to Kelly’s coverage without any trouble; unmarried mothers, once a category as publicly shunned as homosexual couples, were wholly unexciting in the 21st century.

Gretchen passed her citizenship exam easily, returning home from her swearing-in ceremony with the gift awarded to her by the Customs Bureau, a tiny American flag stapled to a barbecue skewer.  “USA! USA!” she taught Morgan to shout.  He ran around the yard, chanting and waving, chased by Elliott, who shrieked that he wanted a turn.  Frustrated, Elliott grabbed Morgan by his overall straps and threw him to the ground, WWF style.  The home of the brave, indeed.

 

 

 *though anyone who would ask me such a stupid thing deserves a kick in the crotch, not a polite answer

 

 

It’s time

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

I know it’s time.  You know it’s time.  We all know it’s time.

Yet whenever I read this phrase, so casually and coolly dropped into news articles on the happenings at my state capitol today….

“Minnesota is expected to become the 12th state making same-sex marriage legal”

….I have to do a little:

!!!!

OH MY GAWD!

IT REALLY IS TIME!

 

The unemotional can watch the Uptake’s live stream, but I am already a bit too verklempt, especially since the person introducing the bill in the House is Rep. Karen Clark, the longest serving openly lesbian member to serve in a state legislature in the United States.  Since 1980 she has kicked all kinds of butt for equality and justice in Minnesota, and everyone exulting today (on the live stream you can hear them chanting, howling, and screaming outside the House chamber) owes her an enormous debt of gratitude.

Now I just have to break the news to Elliott that he’s probably a little too old to be a ring bearer.

 

 

 

One from the heart

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

 

I have started and stopped this post more than a dozen times. Here’s the conversation I hear as I type, delete, type, hit save draft…

Head: “It’s time to write a blog post.”

Heart: “Yeah, probably, but I don’t wanna.”

Head: “You have stuff to say, publications to plug, yadda yadda.”

Heart: “Ugh, I would rather sit under a blanket and watch Scandal, the best show on television.”

Head: “You streamed every episode available.  There won’t be a new one until March 21. WRITE THAT POST.”

Heart: “Dammit.”

 

In last month’s issue of the Minnesota Women’s Press, themed “Matters of the Heart,”  I wrote a fan letter to feminist men.  It was pretty good, I think–at least good enough to warrant many hetero women to inquire where I found my awesome feminist husband (behind the counter at Cheapo, of course).  But I didn’t do the usual thing and hawk it here, for an uncomfortable reason.

My big fat feminist heart is in pieces.

On January 30, my friend Pam Taylor passed away from brain cancer.  She died with her family at her side, at home, in typically stubborn fashion–her doctors gave her just weeks to live, but she pushed that out to fourteen months.  If you knew Pam, you knew she was not about to leave her two daughters THAT quickly.  No way.

Usually, I respond to upheaval by writing.  I wrote volumes when my dear friend Liz passed away in 2007, also of cancer, also at home, also leaving behind two young daughters.  At the time I kept my blog on MySpace, a charmingly mindless place to vent about the ugliness and unfairness of life.  As a plus, you could add the music you were listening to at the time, which in 2007 was always Paul Westerberg’s “Let the Bad Times Roll“:

The good times hide/and so do I/out of my control/I dig a hole/I’m gonna let the bad times roll

It should be noted that this song was released in 2002, a decade before Scandal was available to cheer ol’ Paul up.

In the years (yes, years) that I’ve been working on The Radical Housewife, the book, I’ve utilized the services of a number of industry professionals who advised me that my blog should be a place where I “build my platform,” such as it is.  I must be vigorous about promoting myself and my work at the Women’s Press, at MPR, at the Minnesota NOW Times, at any analog and/or digital publication that would have me–nevermind that this is contrary to every introverted cell in my body.  I find that this push towards “branding” has strangled my natural impulse to write directly from my heart, whether it’s broken or whole.

And more and more often I see bloggers are clashing with each other (and with their readers, sometimes) over anything and everything.  Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg seem to have reinvigorated the Mommy Wars for 2013, and every feminist writer I know has taken a side.  Page views and well-placed editorials are the reward for the winner, dontcha know!  The Feminist Breeder was so fed up she put up a paywall on her site.  Kinda makes you wish we were all gluing up zines at Kinko’s doesn’t it?

Goddammit, whatever happened to GIRL POWER?!  Forgive us, Bratmobile and Sporty Spice!  We need you!

Ultimately, waxing nostalgic for long-lost “good old days” is as unhelpful as wishing very very VERY hard that people wouldn’t die.  You can give it a go, just don’t expect results.

The heart is a fragile thing.

 

 

And now a message from RuPaul…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

 

 

Photo credit: the sickening minds at Logo TV

 

 

Lesley Gore approves this message!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Not many people know this, but I am a massive Lesley Gore fan and have been ever since I heard her wail on my mother’s scratchy old 45s.  I love her so much that I sat through all of the cheapie 1965 B-movie “The Girls on the Beach” to watch her star as the primmest Alpha Beta sorority sister.* She sang “Leave Me Alone” and she fucking KILLED it.

But who knew that her greatest performance was yet to come?  In a You Tube PSA for the 2012 elections, no less?

 

 

Says Lesley: “I recorded ‘You Don’t Own Me’ in 1964. It’s hard for me to believe but we’re still fighting for the same things we were then. Yes ladies, we’ve go to come together, get out there and vote, and protect our bodies. They’re ours. Please vote.”

I love it. And it gave me a brilliant idea.

Could 2016 be the year that we have a new and improved Clinton/Gore presidential ticket??  

OH MY GAWD, I HOPE SO!

 

 

*okay, okay, I also watched it for the Beach Boys.  You got me.

 

First we fix health care

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

….then we fix education.  Why?  THIS:

Yeah, indeed.  I learned this handy fact in ninth grade.  Why didn’t he??

Happy Affordable Care Act Day, everyone!

 

 

 

 

A small victory against heteronormativity

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Though I try to model critical thinking for my kids, like most parents I assume that they’re not paying attention.  This is especially true when they reach an age when pop culture becomes infinitely more alluring than their boring old mama.

Last week, my daughter Miriam turned seven.  One of my favorite things to do with her is play Just Dance for Wii.  On Just Dance 2, the designers’ interpretation of Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” is a duet with two girls dance-arguing with one another.  It’s one of Miriam’s favorite songs, and she especially adores its cheerleadery chorus:  ”HEY! YOU! I DON’T LIKE YOUR GIRLFRIEND! I THINK YOU NEED A NEW ONE!”

 

 

In the game, the girls snarl at one another, throwing fake punches and baring their kitty-girl claws.  It’s all a very predictable interpretation of how girls act when they’re fighting over a dumb boy…..like Miriam’s other obsession, Betty and Veronica.

 

 

Meeee-ow!

Now I loved Betty and Veronica, too–in fact, the comic books that got Miriam hooked in the first place were my beloved old Double Digests, saved since I purchased them from the kind of dingy old corner stores that have long since turned into yuppie patisseries and wine bars.

But back to the Wii.  At one point in the song, the dancer in the Velma drag assumes a pleading posture, as though she’s begging the rocker chick for something.  I thought I knew what it was (a freckle-faced dork from Riverdale High?),  but today Miriam corrected me.

“She REALLY wants the rocker girl to be her new girlfriend,” she announced.

You think so?

“Yeah.  But the rocker girl doesn’t wanna, so the other girl is saying ‘please, be my girlfriend, please!’”

I looked twice, and Miriam was right–with no redheaded boy in sight, it did appear that the cute nerd was appealing to the rocker to join her for a romantic date at the Choklit Shoppe.  I was doing a better job than I thought!

A small victory for boring old mama.

 

 

 

 

Zoe Nicholson, continued: “We are all leaders and followers and the ones we have been looking for”

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Today we have more from my conversation with activist rockstar Zoe Nicholson.

Read part one here.

THE RADICAL HOUSEWIFE: Reading your writing is really a balm for me.  You are a Second Wave vet who harkens back to the First, with arms and heart wide open for the Third, Fourth, and others yet to come.  I wish this weren’t such an elusive quality, but it is.  We become activists because we are compassionate and sensitive, yet those qualities often lead to frustration and burnout.  Some who claim a desire to dismantle power structures cling to the power they do have and refuse to let go!  How do you cultivate your own openness?  What advice do you give others?

ZOE NICHOLSON: I am so very fond of being open.  It is the ultimate coming out.  And shared power is the only way to insulate from self-importance.  I like the new non-hierarchical movement.  I think one advantage is I went to professional computer school in 1985 and got my first PC in 1982.  I love technology.  Of course, I also love to write so there is no loneliness in using a keyboard to communicate.

 

(Zoe is pictured at left.  Read more about her strike for the ERA in her book The Hungry Heart. )

There is a calling to sit together.  I want someone to push my wheelchair and I want to be in on the latest joke or gossip or political coup.  Recently I went to an event for the Second Wave  at a college.  All the Second ladies had an elegant luncheon in a private college dining room with a shut door.  I refused and ate in the cafeteria with my old friends, my new friends and we had a blast.  Weeks later, a student wrote about that.  She honored Grace Welch and me for sitting with the students.  I hope they will remember it for a life time and use it.

On the other direction – I can tell you that I went to a Second Wave party and the President, Jacqui [Ceballos of the Veteran Feminists of America], who is my mentor, started walking across the room to me while holding Kate Millett’s hand.  ”Zoe, there is someone here who wants to meet you.”  I stopped her in her tracks and put out my hand, burst into tears and said, “Yes, I know who this is, and thank you, Kate, for changing my life.”  After that exchange, I got my coat and left.  It was all toooooooooooooo  much.  Just too much.  I am as in love with the women of the Second Wave as anyone could be.

 

Finally, let me say that the older ladies just don’t know what to do except what they perceived worked for them.  They thrived on meetings, rules, printed material, phone calls and Sisterhood.  They were lonely to have like-minded sisters.  Non-hierarchical movements, intersectionality, it all sounds and feels like chaos.  There is only one other who genuinely gets all this and that is Gloria Steinem.  And the Second Wavers are consciously looking for a successor.  I hope that does not happen.  We are all leaders and followers and the ones we have been looking for.

The Radical Housewife gets awesome!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

It has come to my attention that my recent blogs have been using the category “Idiots” far more often than the category “Awesome.”

Perhaps that explains why I am so far behind in the 2012 Circle of Moms Top Political Mom Blogs contest.  As of this writing, I am #23 in the rankings.  Though I don’t mind losing to The Mamafesto, Blue Milk, PunditMom and current leader Monologues of Dissent, I MIND VERY MUCH that I’m 12 places behind Pamela Geller, a racist so virulent she’s being watched by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Sigh.

I hereby vow to be more proactive about sharing all that is awesome with my readers.  I’ll start with an heartfelt appreciation of my representative in Congress, Keith Ellison, shown here at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair with two adorable constituents and their dorky mom*:

 

Rep. Ellison issued the following statement yesterday, after previously confidential reports showed that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is using a race-based strategy to pursue its decidedly non-awesome agenda:

The exposed documents reveal that NOM’s ‘strategic goal’ is to ‘drive a wedge between gays and blacks – two key Democratic constituencies.’

Our nation was founded on the principle of liberty and justice for all people—regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. NOM is clearly opposed to these basic ideals that so many Americans hold dear.

I call on people from all backgrounds to speak out against NOM’s agenda and vote NO on the anti-marriage amendment this November.

Isn’t that awesome?  I bet you’re jealous that Rep. Ellison doesn’t represent you.  

But there’s more!  Check out this video from the House floor, taken only hours ago:

 

 

Damn!  I wish Rep. Ellison had done that, and I’m so glad Rep. Rush did.  But since no one can vote for either of them until November, please make sure you vote for me, NOW!

AWESOME!

 

*Confidential to Ms. Geller: yes, I did let a practicing Muslim near my children.  Shortly after this photo was taken, my children and I were killed in a terrorist attack.**

**Just kidding!  Pamela Geller is a racist idiot!  Please don’t let her win!  Vote for ME!