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Its always been this way

January 5, 2019

Politics in the United States has been like a bad car wreck on the side of a familiar highway. You know that stopping to gawk just slows down the flow of traffic but its hard to look away. I find myself obsessively reading opposing viewpoints and feeling outraged by their lunacy, short-sidedness, bigotry, sexism, and falseness. It feels surreal at times that some people think the way they do.

I recall a coworker in the break room waiting for our shift to start at the hospital and the TV was on. It was the weekend and one of those Saturday morning shows was on. It was early December after the 2016 election and potus had not yet been sworn in and we had President Obama for a few more weeks. There was a “look back” type of segment on and my coworker remarked, after a nice recap of how the Obama’s were a terrific first family, she remarks “I can’t wait for them to be gone. The taxpayer money they wasted, taking their KIDS overseas, all at our expense. Why should we pay for their vacations? Why should their kids get all those perks? Secret service, first-class flights, its so shameful and wasteful. They are an embarrassment and its all just fine because he’s black. You know he’s a muslim not even born in this country? It’s just disgusting. They are disgusting” I think it went on and she had some other specific complaints but that is what I remember mostly.

Fast forward literally just a few weeks and flotus refuses to move to the WH because their son needs to finish his school year at his school and the first family would remain in NYC until the summer. potus plays golf at his own golf course every single weekend. Costing the taxpayers more in the first year than the Obamas spent in 8 years. The vulgar talk, the blatant name calling, incoherent speeches, the seemingly endless parade of WH employees who are either fired in shame, anger or who quit due to shame and anger. The incompetence is staggering.

I remember our daughter telling me during circle time at school (she was in 8th grade) that she was very upset by the election because she expects the potus to have a better vocabulary than she does and speak more intelligently. To her, he seemed poorly qualified because he name called, didn’t make any sense and didn’t seem to understand how things work.

I know, I know, I KNOW the supports like the way he talks. That he sounds familiar. He “tells it like he sees it” and isn’t politically correct (whatever that means in a good way is totally lost on me). What I want to know is why is that appealing? I think being potus must be very complex and is beyond my abilities for sure. The grasp of international, economic and domestic policy seems way too much for a regular person. And truly anyone who wants that shitty job must be a bit crazy and terrible because it’s an insane job.

I felt kind of shocked after the election by the onslaught of freeform racism, uncovered hatred and zeal for xenophobia. I came to realize it was always this way. potus didn’t make people MORE terrible, they were already like that. potus just made it socially cool and okay to be an asshole. And be proud of being an asshole. There is a whole group of them, they call themselves Proud Boys.

I remember the hatred of my coworker at that breakroom table for President Obama. She truly felt disgusted by the excess that was not seen as deserved. I remember well the people who thought Obama was not fit. Was bad for our country and a terrible dangerous leader. I get it. There are sides in politics. I always felt that those people were not operating in reality. I know they think, as a loather of current potus, that I do not accept reality.

I don’t know how we fix that divide. I don’t know how you can make someone see the same reality that you do. I don’t understand how so many things potus says and does just doesn’t bother them or more pointedly, it doesn’t trouble them. I think it is obvious that our country has always been this way. Our country has made virtually no progress in human rights. Our country is horribly racist, sexist and violent. We don’t care about immigrants, women, children or people struggling with medical issues. We care about corporations, the rich, oil and keeping rich countries buying our shit. That seems to be it.

I am heartened by the recent elections that saw more women and more people of color in important positions all over our country. I feel especially hopeful because 19 democratic women were elected as judges in Texas. I feel hopeful because a two native Americans women were elected, Massachusetts has its first black representative and its a woman and by the young women and men who ran for office and won.

I don’t know what turn that will do for us as a nation but it makes me hopeful. Our country is the same as it ever was but with more obvious terrible. So terrible no one should be able to turn away. Pull up to the table, pound your fist and join the conversation. If you are not helping to row the boat, jump off and swim on your own.

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The Goodbye Girl, and other movies that ruined my childhood

November 17, 2018

Have you seen The Goodbye Girl? Neil Simon wrote, Marsha Mason and Quinn Cummings and Richard Dreyfus stared in? He won an Oscar for that you know. This movie came out in 1977 and was nominated for everything. Its funny, it’s snappy, its a play as a movie and it’s charming. Totally charming. Its the grand love story every single kid of a single divorced Mom dreams of.

If you haven’t seen it, I will give you the quick and dirty. The movie is about two main characters who are mother and daughter. The daughter is intelligent, funny and paid attention to constantly. Her mother, making yet another bad romantic choice, is jilted when her actor boyfriend gets a movie role and leaves them behind. He also sublets the apartment. Enter charming-he sublets it to another actor. Eventually, they decide to live together because the actor subletee has a lease and she has nowhere to go. Comedy and romance ensue. Not only is the actor subletor lovely to the mom but he adores the kid because she is pretty perfect as far as kids go. They, the mom and the actor, fall in love and they all live happily ever after in an apartment. The parting line of the mom to the actor, as he leaves to go to work on a movie, is she will be right there waiting after he works hard and she will be working hard spending his money on their apartment.

This was problematic for me on many levels. Firstly, no dude ever loves the kid as much as the mom. Never. Most guys, unless they have kids themselves, are into chicks with kids. Not in my experience anyway. Secondly, why is the mom always waiting to be rescued and giving the impression she is only complete with a man? This was also my experience to be true but it was disappointing. Thirdly and lastly, how do all those grownups pay so much attention to the kid? In the 1970’s grownups were NOT paying attention to their kids. They were drinking, doing cocaine at parties, dating everyone, the sexual revolution, the pill, abortion, and disco.

I grew up a  single mom. My dad left, well my mom told him to leave I think when I was four. Divorced for real when I was six. He moved to California. I stayed with her. She went to parties, met dudes, did drugs and drank (driving me everywhere because who had money for babysitters when you could just tell your kid to sleep on the pile of coats?). I learned how to cook watching Julia Child on TV after school, latch ket kid, so my mom would sit and have dinner with me and talk to me. I was 12. My mom tried to pay as little attention to me as possible. Unless I fucked up and then there was a lot of attention. I did stuff. She drove me to some stuff. She told her friends how great I was. She was totally crazy. She picked horrible boyfriends who hated me. One, the one she married, told me he would never love me and as I threw my arms around his waist and cried his arms hung at his sides and my mom watched him completely reject me. The boyfriends were suspicious and did their best to ignore me. I was acutely aware of the burden I was. The burden I was all the time. I moved out before I graduated from high school when I turned 18 on March 29. I moved out April 1st-ish. My mom was furious and felt that I was betraying her on every level. I had a full-time job, was finishing high school and had the means and I left. I did not go to college, that was not an option for me. When I was about 14 she asked me if I wanted to go to college and I said no. When I was a senior and thinking that maybe I should do that she told me I said I didn’t want to go and she couldn’t help me.

Wait, back to the movie. The mom in the movie really adored her kid. Her kid was smart, funny and patient. Wiser than her age, so much so the mother tells the daughter in the first scene she was never four years old she was born 26. I had lots of people tell me that too. I was nicknamed the “little adult” with her circle of friends. Why was I so adult? Why is the daughter in the movie so adult-like?

The Goodbye Girl, thanks a lot Neil Simon, tried to sell me the idea that as long as I was precocious and cute, everyone would love me. It tried to sell me the happily ever after with a guy that would love not only a single mom with no job and but one that had a kid. Nothing like that ever showed up for me or my mom. She died when she was only 52 and I was 27. We never got to share war-stories of parenting and I never got to ask questions that I didn’t know I had until I became a mother. I think I know the answers to the questions anyway and I don’t like them. I certainly would not have liked hearing them from my mom and she sure as shit would have never wanted to tell me any kind of truth.

In some ways, my life has worked out like that movie. I met and married an artist, he was not necessarily my physical type that I was usually attracted to but he was decent and funny and smart. Even after 26 years we still have things to talk about. Sometimes I hate him and I am sure sometimes he hates me. That’s life though. People disappoint you, you are basically a burden to everyone and if there is a happily ever after, you are usually dead before you get to see it.

why I can’t stop rewatching the West Wing and refuse to like this country although I love it

November 11, 2018

I was very late to the party on a bunch of stuff related to popular culture, music and celebrity gossip from about 1990-1995ish. I was traveling, living on boats without TV, no car and was traveling in the months I was not working in the best place on earth, Provincetown MA on Cape Cod.

So, then, after about 1995 my mom died and then we moved and then I had a premature baby and then another regular baby and nursed for 7 1/2 years in a row and then whew, back to popular culture thanks to children.

SO,  I missed watching the West Wing when it was first airing but have watched the whole series, I think I am currently on my fourth time. I have watched the entire series almost 3 times (currently watching for the third) since potus 45 was “elected’. It comforting. It reminds me, even though its TV, that a smart articulate non-racist malignant narcissist may again occupy the presidency of the USA.

I am almost 48 years old and remember a former actor and governor of California being elected to potus. Watching the election returns with my grandparents they seemed to know all about the guy, the new potus. When I asked how they knew him since we lived in Maryland and not California and this was when we still only had like 5 channels on TV, rotary phones and no internet, they replied-laughing-” he used to be an actor!”. That seemed crazy to me and i legit asked, “how can he be president if he was an actor before?” they explained he was the governor of California and then ran for potus. I remember nodding my head as if I knew and understood the pipeline from acting in Hollywood to potus. But I didn’t, I still don’t. Not that the people with years of experience in politics would do a really good job at it either but it makes more sense, maybe, I guess?  I have always thought being potus would suck and that anyone who wants to do that job must be, to a small degree crazy and kind of a jerk (all that power, all that compromising, all that diplomacy, all that travel, all those choices, all those times you decide some people will die-sounds terrible).

So, here I am watching the West Wing again, for the 4th time because I am starving for smart people who can admit when they are wrong, who are articulate and are dedicated. I know its TV. I get it. But I don’t think that usually, the people in the WH are dumb and horrible. Maybe some, but not most. Most are what I see right now. There was recently an election and its filled with women, people of color, various religious backgrounds, and many LGTB folks. The various branches of the government are starting to look like our country a little bit more. We have a long way to go but we are getting closer. The WH, on the other hand, looks a bit like, well, I am not really sure what we look like right now. I think it looks a like a bunch of our country that because of the pink bubble I reside in,  I was only aware of in a peripheral sense. Now, I see. I see where are horribly racist. Sexist. Dangerous. Violent. Oppressive and cruel. We have always been this. We are still this and because of potus 45, we are getting worse.

So, I will watch the West Wing, keep voting, keep demonstrating, keep donating to campaigns I believe in and give unabashed elevator speeches to people I meet about how we can be better than this and the politicians who can help us get there. My bubble has popped, I no longer feel good about my former pink cloud and that is okay. I am not threatened and I am not deterred. I feel connected, responsible and determined to not actively make things worse, to not passively make things worse and to actively make things better.

guns are like babyfood

November 10, 2018

There have been 35 mass shootings since a classroom full of first graders and educators were murdered in Sandy Hook. 35 mass shootings in 5 years. A mass shooting is considered more than 3 people since the definition changed in 2013. So, murders of 3 or more people include that Dad that murdered his two daughters and his pregnant wife and other murders like domestic violence. But mass shootings, there have been 307 of them in the last five years so 35 of those were committed by a lone gunman.

It seems so weird to me that the idea that we need better mental health in our country because people go buy legal guns and kill a lot of people. Is that really why we need better mental health care in our country? By and large mentally ill people do not murder people. Mentally ill individuals are more likely to have a crime committed against them versus them committing a crime, especially a violent crime. I don’t think we need better mental health care as a means to avoid mass tragedy. We need better mental health care in our country because mental health care is health care but out broken health care system isn’t what I am talking about.

I think about the word motive a lot. When my friends like family were murdered 11 years ago this month there was a lot of talk about motive. As if a motive could provide some framework to digest the atrocity that happened. Once you have been closely associated with murder understanding the reasons why someone could do something so horrible don’t really matter. It doesn’t change how you think of what happened.

When Gail, David, Megan and Brandon were murdered it was natural to try and make sense of the enormity of what happened. To try and break it down into pieces that could be turned over, looked at closely and understood. There is no understanding of why someone would do something so horrible, so black, so terrifying to another being. I think, once a person has gotten to that point, that moment when it is happening, everything that occurs from that point is meaningless when it comes to understanding the impulse that would compel you to do it.

Gail was a victim of domestic violence and after many years she broke free from her marriage and made a new life with her children. She was required by law to continue to have contact with the man who threatened her regularly and hand over her children to him. He threatened her so many times with the gun that he eventually used to kill her and the kids that there are pictures of the gun because she went to court several times to ask a judge to remove it from his home.

The gun, a hunting style rifle was purchased legally at a gun show in Pennsylvania and the judge, despite the murderer’s domestic violence convictions stated that the law allows it to be legally owned and not removed from his home. That law is now changed because people like Gail’s sister Janet and many other people worked tirelessly to change that one tiny bit of the laws that support gun ownership.

I think that framing the issue of entitlement versus motive is more helpful. Gail’s ex-husband felt he was entitled to rape her, harass her, stalk her, threaten her and eventually murder her because he felt she was his. Once she broke off their marriage and left him, his sense of entitlement increased and he felt more and more threatened. Once threatened he became angry. So angry that he eventually murdered her and their three children and then himself.

Entitlement means you believe, above all else, that you can have what you want. That is the issue. What YOU want, regardless, well, of anything else. Take the second amendment and look at it from the side of the sensible gun owner. They are responsible, they are careful and safe. They are not a threat and consider themselves to not be a danger to society and the few (actually, a bunch) people who use them irresponsibly and murder people that don’t deserve it are not in the same category as the responsible gun owner.

I have problems with this line of logic on many levels. The second amendment says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Why do random joe’s think they are part of a well-regulated militia? The security of a free state, what does that really mean? What it meant at the time the amendment was ratified is not applicable to today’s way of living. We have an army. We have a national guard. We have four branches of military, police and a detailed and intricate structure of law enforcement and protection.

I have understood that many gun owners believe they need their guns to protect their property, their families and to be prepared in case our government rose up against the people. I have watched enough TV news to know that a bunch of people with guns are no match for an entity that has nuclear weapons, tanks, planes, helicopters, rocket launchers and submarines. Okay, so you can make your home a fortress against the government oppressors. What then? The natural conclusion is you would have to become a hermit in the woods and live off the land and be ever vigilant against threats way bigger than you with your guns. How is that a way to live? You feel entitled.

The same people who feel that there should be no regulation related to the second amendment also seem to be pretty excited about overturning the first amendment. Often I see those supports also support school prayer and attempt to heave their religion around in a manner that seems to me, to be against the first amendment. Our own president on a daily basis attacks the press and calls for his supporters to join him in demonizing the press. That narrative is so prevalent right now that another entitled angry white man with a gun murdered a bunch of journalists. Police have beaten and arrested citizens exercising their right to protest because they are brown people protesting the government and police violence. The same people who support the second amendment are angry about those protests.

So really, people tend to pick and choose what suits them and they object when others do the same thing.

I think the right to living peacefully supersedes the rights of people to own whatever and however many guns they want.

People who want gun laws changed want common sense laws. I think all guns should be illegal BUT I can acknowledge that some people could own a gun. Why don’t we require a written exam to own a deadly weapon? We do that for cars, which can be a deadly weapon. Why don’t’ we have mandatory training for gun handling and use? Why isn’t there a limit on how many and what types of guns you can have or sell? How can you buy a gun in one state without a background check (like at a gun show) and then take it to another state where that would be illegal? Why do some states have open carry laws but open carry is illegal in other states?

The laws that we have currently do not protect people. Its not because of mental illness. Mental illness is all over our country. All over the world. No other country has the problems that we do. None.

Is us. It’s the guns. Its the sense of entitlement. Its unreasonable arguments that are not based on reality but based on a vague and pervasive fear that the NRA tells people could be real unless they own guns.

The NRA telling us we need guns and no infringements on owning them are a lot like companies that make baby food. Baby food companies make it seem like their food is safe food. It’s the only food for babies. You have to buy premade food in individual containers because that is what babies are supposed to eat.

Baby food is a convenience food that the manufacturers have convinced the world is a basic need. Baby’s actually can just eat food you make. Its pretty simple actually if you just give them the food you make as long as they can’t choke on it. Are people that dumb that they would just give a baby a hotdog and grapes and peanuts? So dumb we can only feed them jars of food especially pureed? Really? I think most parents are capable of giving their kids food they can eat and watch them while they eat it. But the baby food company has convinced us that is what babies eat.

Guns are like baby food in little jars of individual servings. The NRA, with literally their millions of dollars budget, has convinced Americans they need the baby food because without it we will die at the hands of a tyrannical something.

53%

October 7, 2018

I am a white middle aged female American citizen. I did not vote for drump but I know white middle-aged women who did. I live in a bubble of like-minded, liberal, democratic, kind, inclusive people that are my friends.

This past month and the last two years since the election of a person who never expected to win the presidency and who ran to promote his brand only and is completely incapable of managing his own business without going bankrupt like, what, 5 times, is head of our country because 53% of white women voted for him.

Lately, there has been a rash of crazy racist white overweight middle-aged women who have FREAKED the fuck out and called the police because people of color were living their lives. Like barbequing in a park, selling water to pay for a family trip, going to their neighborhood pool, enjoying the amenities at the hotel they were staying at while on vacation, getting yelled at in various lines for various things while they were out doing errands and while driving their cars in their own neighborhoods.

Something wicked has happened, like a switch that has been turned on and the sane white people who are not racists are fumbling around trying to find a ladder tall enough to turn the fucking switch off.

Maybe its good its turned on. For far too long white people have been closetedly racist. They say they believe all people are equal BUT…but that list is way to fucking long to list it all but some of the buts I have heard include, “I’m not racist but…….

  1. Those kids (re: black) in my neighborhood riding their bikes looks suspicious, I bet they stole them.
  2. Those women (re: black) should not be getting food stamps because maybe they shouldn’t have that many children
  3. Those men (re: black) should just know better than to commit crimes, the police carry guns and they know that
  4. . Those millionaires (re: black football players) should stay in their lane and be grateful they make so much money

I lived my whole fucking life until about 21 years old riding the puffy pink cloud of basking in the shadow of white male privilege. I moved to a primarily gay resort town for many years and experienced discrimination for the first time in my whole life. My boyfriend and I would go out dancing on our night off and the dance floor would clear if we went on it and it happened to be ladies night. We got shitty service in restaurants. I would get left out of fun things with co-workers because I was straight. I was looked at with skepticism and doubt in many situations. I was not taken seriously many times. And you know what? It sucked and you know why? I can’t help being a straight cis white woman. It’s just what I was and am. I could have pretended to be a lesbian. No one would have known.

Can you imagine what its like for someone who is just who they are, waiting in line at the store and some middle-aged bitter bitch starts yelling at you? or you get followed around in stores? or pulled over because the car you are driving is too nice?

Bitter Betty, my white middle-aged sister, please just cut it the fuck out. While you have been busy trying to steady yourself on that pile of pillows trying to sit at the white dude table you are forgetting that those dudes, all the Bretts and Teds just want to keep you there. Looking up, looking over, vainly trying to have what men have.

I say fuck that shit. I don’t want what Ted has. Or Brett has. You know why? Because I am a fucking woman! I am the most magical fucking creature on earth. If I CHOOSE TO , I can make a person JUST FROM HAVING SEX and then feed it with totally legitimate food that comes out of my boob. EVERY FUCKING MONTH I feel like I am bleeding to death and that happens every month for about 40 years. That’s 480 months of bleeding. BLEEDING FROM OUR VAGINAs. I am so fucking powerful that if I choose to dress in a way that shows off my amazing body, men lose their fucking minds and commit crimes. CRIMES. Men are so fucking weak and stupid they commit crimes because they can’t control themselves. So Becky, push away from the table with all the white boys shaking their asses looking for the 2 and 4 (I love you Sheryl Crow) and join us.

Stop trying to fit in. You won’t. You never will because you are a woman. Make your own path, hold out your hands for all your sisters. The entire world of people, again, THE ENTIRE WORLD OF PEOPLE, flow out of us. We are so powerful we make fucking people. What fucking dildo came up with the idea we are the weaker sex? Seriously, it was not women. I assure you.

Come on bitter Becky, better late than never.

Elitism

February 9, 2017

e·lit·ism
əˈlēdˌizəm/
noun
the advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society.
the attitude or behavior of a person or group who regard themselves as belonging to an elite.
“he accused her of racism and white elitism”

 

There are so many things privileged white people take for granted and the security of elitism is the most precious possession. In order to feel secure in the world many people depend on their own fortitude to feel superior to other people. Subjugated and co-opted ideas for a perceived mutual benefit is a constant condition in our American Society.

There is a collectivism now that has shifted in our country. I feel it and see it now instead of just visceral knowing it exists. Racism is wide spread, this we have always known. Depending on where you live you can believe you live in a “bubble” of equality.

There is no bubble. #sayhername and #BLM and #PlannedParenthood #Momsdemandaction continue to pop the belief that there is some good in this country and it will prevail.

Being good can be a radical act. Turn toward the world and not inward. Face what is the reality and has been the reality for many people in our country. It’s not enough to say it exists.

Money, is what drives our country and when we stop allowing the $ to perpetuate the human condition we will we know peace. Know justice.

Who are we if we say some are beneath us? Tyrants and liars. There is an allusion that fairness is equal to less for all and giving/ keeping more for some will spread out to those that need it. The inclination to keep all the things is too great because we continue to measure goodness with wealth in this country.

A strong dollar is good for buyers and sellers but bad for makers. There is no one size fits all for our economy. The economically disenfranchised will believe anything because they have nothing left to lose.

Grapefruit Moon

October 31, 2016

The quest to get served in a bar is an arduous task for  underage adventure seekers. Constantly wanting to feel more grown up than you really are is enhanced while holding a beer.

There is this bar in my hometown that is the cool proverbial hole in the wall with live jazz, a sleek deep brown wooden bar with stools with backs you can fall into as you imbibe. Smoking a cigarette, laughing and talking a bold boy strikes up a conversation with me and my male friend I was at the bar with that night.

The boy had blue-green eyes, curly hair and a devilish smile. We laughed and talked and finally as the bar was closing he asked us back to his house. Of course I said yes, forgetting completely and not caring at all about the friend I had come with whom had crush on me and in my deep heart I knew I was making a clear choice to blow off this nice boy I had been friends and friends who have sex with for many years for this new intriguing person.

We sat in his kitchen listening to music, playing cards and talking. As it became later and later my friend who drove me wanted to take me home and leave, I am sure feeling like a neon pink slimy hairy third wheel.

Because of the magic of that night I do not even remember what happened but that the new boy and I became inseparable. I heard Tom Waits for the first time and found it the most amazing music I had ever heard. Where had this singer been all my life? Romantic, deeply personal and melodic despite his gravel.

Smoking, talking, laughing and falling in love felt grown up, similar to the feeling I was looking for in other boys, drinking, drugs and misadventure up to that point. I felt sexy. I felt desired. I felt unashamed of those desires and complete as they were reciprocated with ease. The loving of this boy was easy and intoxicating.

Laying in bed laughing naked and talking. Sitting in silence on the sofa each of us reading and not talking but completely engaged with each other. Feeling so completely happy.

Despite the fact that eventually he broke my heart into pieces and we had only one other night with each other before I moved away from my hometown and we didn’t speak again ever I loved him. Love him.

When I returned to my home town after my mother died and my husband and I moved into her old house to start a new life together I tried to contact him. I left notes for him at the bar. I just couldn’t find him. If my notes found him I assumed  he wasn’t interested in reconnecting in friendship which made me sad but I understood. A year later, back in the same bar, I inquired about him. The bartender, who had a kind but sad face pulled me aside and told me that he had recently died. Drowned. He was dead. And that was it.

I loved him. It was a first real love and I will be forever grateful.