Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Inevitable Trauma of Existing

Whenever I see a baby, my body tells me to make another one, but my mind tells me the opposite: that the future is too tenuous, too brutal, for the next generation; and a small pang of wistfulness bordering on envy rises briefly to the surface of my consciousness. Not wistfulness or envy for when my kids were babies, or having more babies, but about actually being a baby.

It must have been so easy, I think to myself. Sitting in a car seat just looking around. Waiting for a grownup to come along and give you a bottle or plop you down in a high chair and cut your cream cheese and jelly bagel into tiny bite-sized pieces. Sure, you're one hundred percent vulnerable and exist at the whim of the adults around you. On some level you know this, that you could literally be sitting in your own shit for hours. But if you're consistently well cared for, it probably barely registers. 

You're a blank slate of potential, cabined only by your genes, your environment, and luck. In other words: everything. You have no idea what's coming: the inevitable trauma of existing.

Life is a total shit show and it beats every last one of us to a bloody pulp in one way or another. No one wants to say that out loud because it’s a scary fact to face. No one gets out of here alive. And no one gets out without taking a few knocks and bearing a few scars. There are so many shitty things that happen to every one of us. You can feel grateful for your blessings while at the same time acknowledging how hard it is just to BE.

The vulnerability of infancy never really goes away. Yes, you're in control, but not really. You realize that you're the grownup now, and you can eat Apple Jax for dinner if you want, and maybe you feel like life is good but sometimes it's just awful and your sense of control reveals itself to be an illusion. 

Maybe your kid goes to rehab or overdoses, or is bullied in school, or is the bully, or gets into a car accident with a drunk driver. Maybe you get raped or molested. Maybe your best friend dies of breast cancer. Maybe you see their body taken away on a stretcher. Maybe you get fired from a job you loved. Maybe someone you trusted betrays you. Maybe you have a chronic mental illness that keeps you in bed, unable to move, for weeks at a time. Maybe you can't pay your bills. Maybe your spouse leaves you for somebody else. Maybe your ex is a stalker or impossible co-parent who doesn't pay child support. Maybe you fall down some stairs and end up in a wheelchair. Maybe your computer fries in the sun and you lose the novel you've been writing for five years. Maybe your house burns down and takes all your family heirlooms with it. Maybe you finally have to put your dog down--your loyal companion for so long. Maybe you screw up and go to jail. Maybe you run away from a good thing because you're self-defeating and scared.

Maybe that feeling of vulnerability--that inevitable trauma of existing--is enough to make you curl up into a tiny ball, put your hands behind your neck and your head between your legs and earbuds in your ears, under a weighted blanket, in the dark. As dark as you can make a room, and you feel like life finally has you beat in the seventeenth round.

But then there are glimmers of light. Like maybe you fall in love again. Maybe your kid wins a soccer scholarship. Maybe you stand on a mountain ridge under the sun with your friends, your cheeks ruddy and the wind in your hair and your damp butt on a mossy rock, and you look out over the ocean and taste sea salt on the smushed cheese sandwich from the bottom of your backpack, and it's the best thing you ever ate. Maybe tears form in your eyes while you're skiing down a mountain listening to the Beatles or watching the sun melt into the horizon on a faraway beach. Maybe something makes you laugh so hard you almost burst.

Maybe someone bakes you a pie, or knits you a hat, or invites you to a party, or buys you lunch, or writes you a letter, or a song. Maybe you write your own songs or buy someone else lunch. Maybe you feel the rush of performing in a play or telling a story to an audience. Maybe you get a promotion. Maybe you learn to play the guitar. Maybe you finish your degree. Maybe you save someone's life without knowing it, or they save yours. Maybe you put your head on someone's shoulder or they put theirs on yours. That's the good news.

The good news is that human connection, love, and empathy are First Aid for the inevitable trauma of existing.

Friday, March 8, 2019

When Love Comes to Town

Anonymous guest post from a dude in Juneau, in honor of International Women’s Day:

I once read a story that went something like, “Love is not two people gazing at each other, but rather two people looking in the same direction together.”

I’m well on my way to 50. It seems very apt, as you reach middle age and are single or unmarried, that you begin to feel a gnawing sense of doom. The sky, which for so long you have looked to and dreamed at, feels likely to come crashing down at any moment and crush you with the weight of the entire atmosphere.

With age you hopefully gain wisdom, a larger sense of respect, a truer sense of what love really is, and what you absolutely don’t want to repeat in terms of life and love errors.

And then you eventually meet someone. Someone who changes your whole paradigm.

This person might just challenge your very core beliefs. She might teach you a trick or two that you never thought of before. She has a sparkle in her eye that you’ve seen hints of before, in other women, but never at the level she brings it. You begin to realize that every mistake you’ve made or heartache you’ve endured was to teach you a specific lesson meant for a future together.

With her.

And then you tell her your entire life story. You tell her shit you wouldn’t even tell your mom about. You write songs about her. You talk about Bernie Sanders and what his presidency could mean for America. You share dreams of Val Davidson running for governor and winning.

My dad once told me, “Never touch a woman in anger, only in love.”

Even though my dad was my hero, we had a different view of life. But he was spot-on in this respect. For too many men, in too many sociocultural pods, the idea that we are above the women in our lives – our partners, mothers, sisters, daughters and otherwise – is pervasive. It’s an example of millennia of genetic muscle-memory that lets powerful males control equally powerful women with impunity.

Compassion and empathy, and even sympathy, are not taught as core skills to men by their fathers (or their mothers) for the most part. Boys aren’t allowed to cry, and girls aren’t allowed to hit back. Instead, many girls are told that they need to be good wives and mothers before good doctors, lawyers, teachers or otherwise. Many young boys are told by their dads that women are property and should be subservient to their authority.

The men of this world need to look in the mirror and— hopefully with some sense of equality and loss of entitlement—learn to honor and respect the women in their lives. This could be difficult and almost an exercise in futility given the centuries of male-dominated indoctrination in this hemisphere, but it’s possible with work.

The women of this world need to stand up and refuse to be silent any longer. Don’t take that shit, sister.

If we all looked more to the Celtic and Alaska Native cultures – where goddesses and the moiety are honored and revered – we might be in a better place as a society.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Charles Dickens, Budget Analyst

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of mercenary budget slashers from Michigan, it was the age of interrupting their shoe shopping with a legit budget beef. 

It was the age of wisdom .... oh wait no it def wasn’t. It was the epoch of the rank amateur, it was the epoch of the excommunicated professional Deep State™️. 

It was the season of flying first class, it was the season of doing it while simultaneously kicking little old ladies out of nursing homes and off public assistance. It was the spring of filing a budget, it was the winter of not actually knowing what was in it or what it did to the people we are supposed to be serving because we give zero fucks and also math is hard.

We had everything the Petrostate had to offer, except actually we didn’t because corporate capture. We were all going to hand out six figure pretend jobs to our cronies like they were Skittles, we were going to gas ourselves up to be the off-brand bag of cereal to the Trump Administration’s Kellogg’s Froot Loops™️.

In short, the period was one in which we suggested with a straight face that our children freeze in their classrooms and lectured college professors with letters about their uselessness, all while legislators from our own party quite understandably looked at us like we were some combination of clueless and insane.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Sick, Dumb, Mean, and Afraid

It is critical--and I mean truly critical--to understand that the governing power structure in this country right now, from the top down, is actively invested in four things with respect to the general population: making all of us--every last one of us--sicker, dumber, meaner, and more afraid. And it will swiftly punish anyone who tries to expose that fact, push back against it, or give it voice.

How and why? The answers are long enough to fill 17 books, but let's briefly unpack this in 500 words or less.

A citizenry that is uneducated, divided amongst itself, unhealthy, and afraid lacks the ability and the resources to push back against cronyism, corruption, and corporate capture. It is robbed of the tools--including the financial tools--necessary to assert both individual and collective rights. Keeping the populace in this condition allows a small cadre of economic elite and their elected-through-gerrymander foot soldiers to undermine human rights and the environment by exercising outsized influence over both domestic and international decision-making and public institutions. 

A population that is dumb, mean, sick, and afraid is easier to con and manipulate. These goals are reflected in public policies and funding decisions that are devoid of human empathy and intentionally starve the citizenry of the resources it needs to succeed in a system that is rigged in favor of corporate--not natural--personhood.

They want us dumb. They want to starve our children of knowledge, because they know that the more educated we are, particularly in science and civics, the more we understand the ridiculous con that has been perpetrated on us for decades, is reaching its apex now, and will ultimately kill us and the planet.

They want us mean. They use a divide and conquer strategy dating back to the Roman Empire that pits us all against each other for their systemic benefit. While MAGAs and Libtards are busy arguing on Facebook, the ruling class is raping and pillaging the planet and stripping the country for parts. They are doing this, mind you, on the back of underpaid, under-protected, blue-collar labor fueled by a mythical mirage of future financial success that--conveniently--never seems to arrive for hard-working Americans who can't pay their bills no matter how hard they work.

They want us sick. This is reflected in our broken health care system and the absolutely criminal insurance market in which we relinquish giant chunks of our piddling paychecks on the promise that these corporations will return our money when we get sick--but surprise!--when that day comes, they have an institutional policy of denying claims outright, so that only the people with enough moxie (read: time and resources) to fight back get the services they paid for. When we are sick, we are literally physically defeated. We are too busy trying to get insulin for diabetes to care about the reason we can't afford insulin for diabetes, much less do anything about it.

But most of all, they want us afraid. They want to punish anyone who speaks out against this mode of governing because telling the truth is the biggest threat of all. The second someone says the emperor has no clothes, you have the potential for a dangerous rebellion, and the ruling class knows this. That is why government employees cower in fear of exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and are summarily punished when they do. That is why loyal public servants are driven out of government and replaced by lickspittles, cronies, and hacks. 

Sick, dumb, mean, and afraid is no way to live. We may not have much control over being sick or dumb, but we can decide not to be mean or afraid. We have to fight this by refusing to argue with our fellow citizens, calling this venal system what it is, and simply refusing fear.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Adult Friendships Should Be Value Added. Full Stop.

Brevity is the soul of wit, which maybe is why I’ve been shying away from longer-form blog posts lately. That, and they’ve kind of fallen out of vogue as a medium, and also I’ve been feeling pretty depressed and uninspired.

But I’ve been thinking more and more about the role of friendship in adult life; what we as adults need (and don’t need) from our friends; and what we should seek from our friendships.

I can remember a time, mostly in adolescence and young adulthood, when nothing mattered more to me than my friends. I spent a lot of time fretting over who was “mad at me” or who was on the outs with whom or how I could navigate every little social interaction to maximize the goodwill of my peers. It was insanely stressful and occupied a shitload of mental real estate, which, at the time, I could spare.

But as you get older, your priorities shift and your social circles narrow. The perils of adulting rush in to fill the void previously occupied by friend drama. You start to contemplate your own mortality amid piles of bills, professional conflicts and setbacks, marriage troubles, and child-rearing. You find that you lack the bandwidth you once had for friend bullshit, because there is enough other more pressing bullshit to go around.

I realized a long time ago that I needed to adjust my expectations of friendship for sanity’s sake. That no one person can be all things to all people; that some friendships will always be one-way streets; that moments will arise when a person’s character emerges and you learn who your real friends are and who could really give two shits about you. I long ago gave up caring who was mad at me for no good reason and decided that my standard for friendship would be based on personal boundaries and mutual well-being.

The basic metric now is value-added. Adult friendship should support and buoy the rest of your life. It should add value. It should make life easier, not harder and sadder. It shouldn’t be a drain on an otherwise stressful and chaotic existence. It should be a refuge and a harbor—not yet another storm.

Here’s to calm seas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Does Everyone Eat Like Vultures? Or Is That Just My Family?

I’ve often wondered about this, but of course I know it’s not just my family, because I’ve seen it elsewhere. At the risk of stereotyping, it’s pretty much every Jewish family I know.

Our approach to food is lurkingly ravenous, like we haven’t seen a meal in a week and know for a fact that we won’t see the next one for another week more; even though there’s a refrigerator full of food that’s being constantly monitored and inventoried by my mother: 

“We need more cheddar cheese.” “We’re out of cookies.” “I’ll start a list.” Let’s go to Fred Meyer!”

Seriously my parents beg me to take them to Fred Meyer the way I used to beg my parents to take me to Toys ‘R Us. Except instead of an E-Z Bake Oven™️, it’s Tilamook Mountain Huckleberry ice cream and a pair of Carharts.

Like where does this come from? Is it the epi-genetic trauma borne of thousands of years of wandering in a desert, eating nothing but matzah and camel jerky? Maybe hummus if we were lucky? Is it some hold-over from the lower east side tenements where we lived off pickles and kept karp in a bathtub? Is it the competition for resources inherent in urban living?

Whatever the cause, the effect is the same: when a spread of food emerges, we descend on it like vultures, circling around and periodically dive-bombing a tray of brownies or a chicken carcass. There are quite a lot of people who don’t behave this way around food. I’ve seen it mostly west of the Mississippi: people at weddings and parties and such lining up in a calm and orderly fashion for buffets. And in my head I’m just like, why aren’t they throwing elbows and taking more of a locust approach? Or at least a vulture?

No, they come for those little mini-quiches with the laidback vibe of the undesperate; like they know there will always be more mini-quiches where those came from WHEN ANYONE WITH ANY COMMON SENSE AT ALL KNOWS THAT THE ONLY HORS D’OEVRE THAT FLIES FASTER THAN THE MINI-QUICHE IS THE PIGS-IN-BLANKETS AND IF YOU DON’T GET ON THAT SHIT STAT THERE’LL BE NOTHING LEFT BUT GRAPES AND CELERY STICKS! 


Friday, February 15, 2019

16 Real National Emergencies (Hint: Not a Wall)

1.  Climate change.
2.  Income inequality.
3.  Military-grade weapons for sale to kids at Wal-Mart.
4.  A quasi-dictator who creates fake emergencies to expand the reach of his power.
5.  Citizens who are complacent with their heads in the sand.
6.  Citizens who ignore other people's suffering.
7.  Citizens who remain silent.
8.  Citizens who shrug and say "it's not my problem."
9.  Citizens who don't vote.
10. Citizens who make up every excuse imaginable for their total inaction.
11. Citizens who willingly execute the illegal, unconstitutional orders of people in power.
12. Citizens without empathy.
13. Citizens who don't question the source of the information they are receiving.

14. Citizens who think they're not next.
15. Citizens who put their heads down and do busywork while waiting for this all to pass.
16. Citizens who refuse to take real risks for the integrity of their governments.

Most of the national emergency is behind a mirror, not a wall.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

It Will Not Surprise You to Learn That I Played Rizzo in the Camp Production of Grease

“A hickey from Kanicki’s like a HAWLMAHK CARD!” 

I still remember that line from my one and only tread across the boards in my tour-de-force role as Rizzo in the 1989 sleepaway camp production of Grease.

Today, as I reflect on what must’ve been the mindset of the teenage counselors who cast me in this role, I realize it wasn’t my captivating voice or embodiment of character that won them over. Nor was it the undeniable chemistry between me and Kanicki, ably played by my best friend, Chuck, who grew up to be a professional actor and thus quickly eclipsed me in the acting arena.

Quite the opposite: Those counselors viewed me as a promiscuous semi-delinquent troublemaker, and they thought the role wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. 

In retrospect, I’m not sure how kosher it is (at least by today’s standards) to type-cast a 12 year-old girl as a chain smoker who accidentally gets pregnant? And her solo is literally just bullying another girl for being a sober virgin who doesn’t curse? And her biggest laugh line is about hickeys? All in 50s lingo that sounds super dated and weird? Like that wouldn’t fly today, right?

I didn’t ever WANT to be bad though, is the thing. I actually wanted very much to be GOOD. I tried hard to be good, but my refusal to shut up was the thing that always did me in. I liked to rile up my friends with silly stories and one-woman showmanship. I got kicked out of class for talking almost every week, it felt like. I hand-wrote stinging, poison pen letters to my romantic rivals. In short, my words got me in trouble then and they get me in trouble now.

But you know what they say. Once a Rizzo, always a Rizzo.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled is Convincing Kids That Adulting is Okay

Real Talk: we were all sold a bill of goods on adulthood, and at 41 I see why. If anyone told kids how God Awful™️ adulting is, most kids would probably lose the will to live. I mean ... let’s be honest ... the gap between what you’re told adulthood will be and what you experience as an adult could not be more vast.

WHAT YOU’RE TOLD: Follow your dreams! You can be anything you want! Maybe even an ASTRONAUT or a FIREFIGHTER! You’ll be able to make all of your own choices and have freedom to chart your own path! You can travel the world and get married and have kids and live happily ever after! YAY!

WHAT YOU ACTUALLY EXPERIENCE: Oh hi! It’s way too late to be an astronaut. You failed calculus, remember? Also you’re not brave enough to light a wood stove much less fight a structure fire in 89 lbs of equipment and an oxygen tank. Did you know that in addition to carrying your crippling student loan debt until cremation you need cost-prohibitive health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, malpractice insurance, home insurance, flood insurance, fire insurance, and maybe even avalanche insurance? Also when you have babies you will bleed for eight weeks, be unable to shit for three, and leak milk from your titties for 52. Enjoy the heartburn from that Beta blocker you swallowed without water because you were rushing to adult daycare for toiling capitalists (aka work). Here’s some mail—so sorry it’s not a present from Santa. It’s a magazine from Costco and your utility bill and a reminder to schedule a colonoscopy. What’s that smell? Carbon monoxide? Wait, carbon monoxide is the one that doesn’t have a smell, right. It’s the silent killer. Like ovarian cancer. How is that motherfucking smoke alarm STILL CHIRPING? Oh look. The dog must’ve thrown up on the carpet again. Why do we have pets anyway? Also who is this person you’re living with, whose voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard and whose very socks you hate and want to burn and the sound of whose footsteps make you cringe? Uh oh the car needs to be serviced again for its 300,000 mile servicing and the dentist is saying the kids’ fillings aren’t covered by insurance even though we paid for it isn’t that something? Hahhaha. Also your boss is an asshole because that’s in the job description for being a boss, amirite? I wonder if today’s headache is a brain tumor or just the feeling of existing ...?

It’s a fact, fam. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing kids that adulting doesn’t blow donkey nads.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

I Guess I’m Moving to Baltimore Now?

Haha! JK! Sorry haters! I plan on staying right here in Alaska where I belong (COUGH COUGH sendmecontractgigs COUGH COUGH). Plus, I’d really miss being roasted on AK Twitter by low-rent RWNJ’s who think pizzagate is real and tell me I’m a deservedly unemployed whiner who should go kill herself. But that’s what gets me through my day and tells me I’m poppin’! 

Also, I watched my mom get mugged in Baltimore near the gazebo outside my aunt and uncle’s row house in the ‘80s, and it was kinda scary, so I don’t have the best association with the place.

Still, I gotta admit I was tempted by this Craigslist ad for “post-coital gnocchi with crab” wherein a 6’3 married, athletic man will come to my house in Baltimore “when I’m about to have sex” and then “let himself out” after making his “favourite dish” (OOOH A BRIT TO BOOT?!), which is gnocchi with crab meat.

Part of me is like, this has to be fake. Another part, though, feels like it’s WAY too specific of a kink to be a prank. He could have said chicken parm or lasagna, but gnocchi with crab is next level. I think more realistically there is probably a lie of omission at play here—like he could be leaving out the “special sauce” he uses after you spend $300 on your own crab. 

Finding a couple who likes Italian food and sex shouldn’t be a heavy lift. That part seems easy and straightforward. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy buttered noodles and fucking? That’s pretty standard entertainment fare for most people, I think. Also I kind of feel like he’s done this before. The way he puts “MUST” in all caps suggests he’s been burned in the past when he showed up to a gig and there was a misunderstanding about who was responsible for the crab.

Also, I wonder if his partner knows about this? I’m guessing no? I don’t think most spouses would be down with this kind of excursion, especially if he wasn’t also bringing home leftovers.

I remain, as ever, 100% confused.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Now What?

I liked this quote from the poet Mary Oliver, who died earlier this month. It's a good question, and one I've been struggling to answer lately. I don't know the answer and I'm spending more and more time trying to figure it out. 
Ever since I was unconstitutionally fired from a job that I loved and performed to near-perfection for over a decade, I've been on an emotional roller coaster of rage, hope, and uncertainty. 

The questions and ruminations keep spinning in a blur like hamsters on a wheel inside my head, and I keep giving myself the “self-care” task of moving on with the serenity prayer on loop: accept the things I cannot change or control; have the courage to change the things I can; and find the wisdom to know the difference. It helps me to divide the first two into categories:

Things I Can’t Control & Therefore Should Ignore

1. What other people think of me.
2. What other people say about me.
3. What people in power do with their power—whether it’s to victimize me or validate me.
4. How other people respond to difficult situations.
5. The content of other people’s character.

Things I Can Control & Therefore Should

1. My basic life habits (eating, sleeping, exercise).
2. Who I allow into my life.
3. How I spend my time.
4. How I expend my energy.
5. How I use my voice.
6. How I respond to threats and fear.

It’s helpful to just list these things for their general application to life and to help me answer Mary Oliver’s question. I don’t know what the answer is. Honestly I’ve been super depressed since early December, and I’ve spent some time since then just wishing I could be in a fentanyl coma and wake up when everything is easier again. 

But I know that’s not an option, and that I need to be patient and let the answer to what’s next for me just sort of unfold. Fortunately the things I can control outnumber the things I can’t, at least by my count. 

For now, at least, I’m going to try to focus on that.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Man, Those Were the Days, Amirite?

So I was back at my parents' place, and I found this pic of myself and LOOK HOW YOUNG I LOOK HERE YOU GUYS. Man, those were the days, amirite? Life was so much more innocent and easy then. First off, my back didn't ache at ALL because my spine had not yet undergone terminal differentiation into vertebrae and a spinal column. 

Also, WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT SKIN SO MUCH COLLAGEN OMG. That structural protein in extracellular space was LIT AF in 1977. Actually it's kind of hard to see here at 10000000000x magnification, but my skin (which also had not yet been through the process of gene expression) was SO FUCKING DEWY. Like legit Gwyneth Paltrow would be jealous of this glow. 

Also, and not to brag, but dudes were totally into me. Not that I can blame them. Look at all these dudes. They were like, ALL OVER ME. Every one of these bros was trying to get in on the action. I know, I know. Sharing this pic is a total thirst trap. I threw it up on my Insta and got maximum views. Not everyone has 280 million sperm Stanning them. Some people only have 270 million. 


Also I was sooooooo skinny! I think I weighed somewhere between 0.00177 mg and 0.0042 mg. and I didn't even go to PILATES. I guess technically I couldn't go to pilates (or yoga) because once again terminal differentiation of my muscle cells had not yet occurred to form the striated muscle tissue necessary to enter Warrior Pose during my second asana.


Also: ZERO GRAYS. You prolly can't tell from the pic because it's black and white (OLD SCHOOL) but I had not even ONE gray hair. Also I had zero hairs, because #ZygoteLife. Sometimes I look back at this time in my life and wonder what I was thinking. Probably nothing because my brain was just a few cells big and I had limited neurosynaptic capability available to even form a cohesive thought.

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE! Anyway guys, it's pics like this that really make me think how life comes at you fast. 40 weeks turns into 40 years in the blink of an eye. They say youth is wasted on the young and man, TRUER WORDS. If I knew as a handful of mitochondria what I know now as a complete disaster of a fully formed human, my #SelfCareJourney would have been a whole helluva lot easier!

Related image

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

No, We Are Not ‘Okay’

“Are you Okaaaaaaaay?"

Do people ever ask you that? Like, in that specific way?  It's like they know you’ve been having a hard time, or maybe they don’t. But maybe you look sad, and they don’t know what else to say, so they ask you a generic question that you know is well-intentioned, but that nonetheless makes you want to punch them in the junk.

I know, I know. Everyone carries around some unseen burden, which is what makes the question even sillier. The "are you OK?" asker typically has an air of condescension about them; you always get the distinct feeling that the person asking if you're okay is somehow pretty okay themselves, and already strongly suspects that you're not.

Which, in and of itself, is okay. Here's what I mean by that: Being "Not Okay" with where we are as women in this moment is extremely okay. In fact, it's excellent. It's the status quo that's not okay, and it's our job to say so out loud.

It isn't easy. 

Women are raised in a fog of fear and shame that obscures our vision of ourselves and the realization of our full potential. We are taught that our bodies are currency, that our sexuality is taboo; and yet we are blamed for our own assaults. We are told to be quieter, to smile more, and to comply with patriarchal standards of decorum and propriety that reenforce patriarchal systems. We are told we are bad at math or science or deal-making or governing, and that we should shut up and keep our heads down. And when we don't, we're called unlikable and punished. Often severely, and even when there are laws and systems in place that are supposed to protect us. We don't have true agency over our own health care. We're paid less for equal work. And all of it is to serve one end: to keep us in our place and to lull us into a false sense of okay-ness.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not okay. The President of the United States can't spell hamburger, our constitutional norms are under assault, and the entire mess is set to a soundtrack by Imagine Dragons.

And that's the way it will stay if we don't each do our part to change the status quo.That old Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote about well-behaved women seldom making history is truer today than it ever was. My plea to you now is to find the courage to misbehave. To put a monkey wrench in the inexorable march of fear; to fight the internalized shame and the stasis of silence that keeps us from moving forward. 

We are in the fight of our lives for our bodily autonomy, our livelihoods, and our agency. It's the biggest battle in a generation, and it's going to take every last one of our voices to win it.

I'll be doing a reading of this blog post to open LUNAFEST on Friday, January 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall. "LUNAFEST is a traveling film festival of award-winning short films by, for and about women. The Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition brings LUNAFEST to Centennial Hall every year in recognition of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and to celebrate the legacy of women's reproductive rights." Tickets are $15.00 and benefit the JPCC and the Cancer Connection.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Ribs Pass

I happen to be writing this at Pork & Pickle in the Anchorage Airport after my little foray into plaintiffing in a civil rights case brought by the ACLU. But despite Pork & Pickle being a ribs joint that sounds like a sex toy shop in Vegas, this idea actually came to me last night when a friend and I decided that the real landmark of this week will not be judicial precedent, but rather the fleshing out of the Ribs Pass.

The Ribs Pass is the permissive abdication of manners you get when you eat ribs. I love ribs and I’m not proud of it. Meat is a vice and it’s killing the planet and probably my colon. But IDGAF because I love a bacon cheeseburger, and I especially love a giant rack of ribs that I can eat like a caveman/woman/person. And since we’re all gonna die somehow, it’s like smoke ‘em if you got ‘em with ribs.

When you’re eating ribs, all bets are off. No one expects you to be polite or clean. You’re SUPPOSED to look like a lion after the kill, covered in gooey bloody looking sauce and people just kind of leave you alone and look the other way. Or look on in envy and respect. Like ohhhhh, she’s got RIBS. We’ll just leave her to that. And you are somehow allowed to gnaw on the actual ribcage of an animal at a table in front of other humans like that’s normal civilized behavior versus a feline monster on the Serengeti. 

I think I just need to take the Ribs Pass approach to this whole next phase of my life. I’m trying very hard not to pay attention to any of the press or mean, booooooring comments around my Civil Rights Warriorship. I’m just sort of approaching democracy like it’s a giant rack of ribs, and hoping people give me a pass and leave me to it. But I’d be remiss not to thank everyone for all of their love and support (and of course any interesting paying legal work) they wanna send my way! I promise to devour it politely yet voraciously.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Can We Please Talk About Bird Box for a Second

Bird Box? More like TURD Box, amirite?! BADUM-DUM-CHHH!  But seriously, folks. I just rowed in from the river last night, and boy are my triceps tired! Take my traumatized and blindfolded unnamed children, please. And don't forget to tip your waitress. 

God this movie sucked so hard you guys.

You get the sense that Bird Box was originally supposed to be released in the theater, but then someone quickly realized it sucked and that no one would pay $15 including popcorn for this POS. Someone at the studio rightly recognized that this movie's only redeemable feature was getting to ogle Trevante Rhodes and Sandra Bullock (quite possibly the two hottest people on earth) for 108 minutes. At that point, Netflix probably picked it up and hyped it like it was the next Silence of the Lambs.

Holy shit but what an unfresh tomato this movie is. And yet, I couldn't stop watching. I couldn't decide what was the most ridonks part: The extremely un-woke portrayal of mental illness? That we never find out what the "creatures" are? That the post-apocalyptic school for the blind has fresh linens on hand? That Sandra Bullock is legit some 30 years older than Trevante Rhodes and they look like a totes norms couple because Sandra Bullock sold her soul to the devil for eternal youth?  

Nope, none of those things. The most ridonks part was the fact that these kids listened to their mother. Now I know all you early childhood experts are going to come for me with theories as to why this is, but for now let's just pretend that I'm Sandra Bullock (YAY) dropped into rapids (BOO) with my kids (BOO) in a post-apocalyptic hell-scape (BOO).

Me/Sandra: Whatever you do, do NOT take off that blindfold. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!
Boy: But the blindfold is ITCHY!
Girl: I'm huuuuuungry. I only had like, ONE granola bar for breakfast.
Boy: *Wailing* FINE! I don't care! Just leave me on this river bank to DIE then!
Girl: Mommy you're scaring me! *starts to remove blindfold*
M/S: I SAID DON'T TAKE OFF THE FUCKING BLINDFOLD! Oh shit, the rapids are coming ... 
Boy: What are rapids?
Girl: This one time in Mr. Z's class this kid threw up and we couldn't leave for rece--
Boy & Girl: *Lift corner of blindfold juuuuuuuust to take one tiny peek?

Needless to say this would not end well. Kind of like Bird Box which ended in an aviary full of tropical birds in the middle of a temperate rain forest somehow.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Letter to My Grandfather

Dear Grandpa,

That's probably what I would have called you, had we met. As far as I know, I'm your only grandchild, and I think about you all the time. Especially lately. A couple of months ago someone asked me, "if you could have a conversation with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?" 

I said you. 

I have aaaaaaallllll the questions for you. What made you unafraid? Or were you actually secretly afraid constantly and pretending you weren't, like me? Why did you care about the things you cared about? What made you help start the labor movement? Even as you were being tried and convicted for sedition? And in prison all those years? What was it like there? 

Thanks to mom's research I only have the one letter you wrote to your mom and some history books, but that's not the same thing as talking to you obviously. Your mom clearly thought you were kind of a reckless nut job, but you'll be pleased to know that my mom (your daughter!) is totally on board with my reckless nut-jobbery.

You're very handsome in your mug shot, I must say. Like dude, you were kind of a ten! I wonder what you were thinking at the moment this picture was taken. It almost looks like you're laughing a little. I can see the fight in your eyes, and I know that little half-smile. It's a "fuck you, I'm playing long game three-dimensional chess, motherfuckers" smile. 

I see it in the mirror on my best days.

You would not even believe how stupid the world is now. Actually, you probably would. The President is a sadistic tire fire. The constitution is under attack and our whole democracy is in peril. Oh! And they hate us Jews again. Surprise! LOL! (That stands for Laugh Out Loud). Hating the Jews never goes out of style. If it's three things you can count on in this life, it's death, taxes, and anti-Semitism.

I think maybe you do know this, actually; even though I don't believe in God, an afterlife, spirits, or ghosts. (I bet you didn't believe in that stuff either). I want to believe in them, though, because when I do, I imagine you really are looking out for me and watching everything that's happening and telling me what to do next.

I cried a little on the chairlift today sitting next to Paige thinking about you. She asked if I was crying and I lied and said it was just the wind in my eyes. I bet they didn't have chairlifts in 1920s' Pennsylvania, just guessing. Paige is your great-granddaughter and she just turned 11. She's so cool. Like so much more well-adjusted than me. She makes me feel better about myself. I bet you would never imagine in a million years that you'd have a great-granddaughter who skis in Alaska. You barely even knew my mom because you died when she was a toddler and you didn't even get to meet Aunt Alexis. 

But I still feel like you know us. 

People tell me I'm a badass, but it's not true. I cry all the time under my weighted blanket, and feel like I totally fucked up my whole life just by banging pots and pans for what I think is right. 

People are so cold and mean, it's crazy. It's amazing the things people will do and say. The people and systems you think you can count on but can't. LOL. Look who I'm talking to. You totally know this already. I hope you're reading the shit people say on the internet and LOL'ing and exacting vengeance from above on all of my trolls.

Anyway, Grandpa, I wish you were here so I could tell you everything that's happening and ask you what I should do and how to stay strong in my convictions. If you could keep sending me signs, that'd be great.



Saturday, January 5, 2019

Impeach-the-Motherfucker-Gate is the Weakest Gate of the Year So Far

You guys. I legit almost pissed myself laughing this week at "impeach-the-motherfucker-gate," because this is the weakest gate of the year so far (granted the year is only a few days old).

For those of you who haven't been paying attention (and for your mental health, you probably shouldn't be), freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said at a party what literally three-quarters of the country is thinking and probably also said out loud at bars this past Thursday when she related her understandable desire to  "impeach the motherfucker." 

Needless to say, the faux-scandalized, faux-civility police establishment was insta-quick to decry four letter words uttered by people with vaginas. Need I remind you that these are the self-same folks who let brown toddlers die in cages in U.S. custody with a shrug, but God forbid we use a curse word. 

Trump's number one Bottom Bitch Mitt Romney went on Twitter to decry Tlaib's comments as "degrading our public discourse," and all I have to say to that--and you can quote me on this--is:
Need we remind Jell-O Mold Mitt and anyone else who comes for Tlaib for "degrading public discourse" that the naked emperor who has brought us closest to the collapse of our constitutional democracy in 242 years called Nazis "very fine people" and Haiti a "shit hole country" and bragged that he routinely "moved on women like a bitch" and "grabbed them by the pussy!?" 

Like that doesn't "degrade" us, I suppose? Like do we really need to stoop to this basic level of Sherlock's Logic to combat gaslighting? I guess we do.

But alright, let's do this shit, because it illuminates a larger point. I too have been tsk-tsk-tsked for cursing too much and using profanity by everyone from professional mean girls and knock-off Ann Coulters on the internet to Baby Boomers in my own family, and all I have to say to that is SERIOUSLY FUCK THAT SHIT. 

And here is why:

Cursing for women in the Trump era especially is an act of self-care and an expression of rage to which we are entitled. MORE than entitled. The command to women to stop cursing is not about civility in public discourse or "elevating" anything. To the contrary, it's about elevation's antonym: repression. It's about deploying a double-standard to silence women and cow them with fear while men can brag about grabbing our pussies and still be elected president. 

Sure it's fine for the President of the United States to call sovereign nation states "shit holes" in his official capacity, and boast about grabbing women's genitals. Oh. He gets a full pass for that. You'd better believe it.

But the second--THE SECOND--a brown Congresswoman or even a mid-level social media presence like me DARES to use a four letter word to describe the ABSOLUTE MOTHERFUCKING DISASTER we are in, then I'm "unprofessional," deserve to be fired, and should go kill myself. These are all things that have been said to me and/or have actually happened, by the way.

So here's the point: telling women to be polite and civil and not to curse or use profanity in expressing our justified rage and frustration at the collapse of the country that's supposed to protect us is a form of misogynist tone policing and repression. It's insult to injury. And when the government does it, it's unconstitutional. SURPRISE, Y'ALL! There's no "civility" or "professionalism" clause in the First Amendment. 

Tone policing is one more way of telling women to shut up and take what society dishes out to us right up the ass, with a smile on our faces. To SMILE more. To take our lower pay for equal work. To take our rape and sexual assault with a smile, and in silence. To take our unconstitutional and illegal firing and call it good. To take anti-Semitism. To take it all happily, but God forbid we use a four letter word to describe any of it. 

Because, you see, if they succeed in silencing our rage and policing the language we use to describe it, then they can continue to perpetrate injustices on us with impunity because they deprive us of one of the only tools we have: 

Our voices.

Make no mistake: the people who are in power right now want to take everything from us, including and ESPECIALLY our voices and our language of rage. But the problem is they lost the right to police our words when they elected a self-proclaimed "pussy-grabber" to the highest office in the land. 

I don't regret a single word I have ever put out into the world. Not a single motherfucking one. So here are three more for posterity, and I'll say them nice and slow so they can understand: