Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Seeking Peace...

I see so many of my friends suffering battle fatigue these days. We are all exhausted. I have been reminded that we must nourish ourselves for the long fight. That means we must sleep more, laugh more, eat well, remember to exercise our bodies in ways that please us, and nurture our souls with art and music and literature. Here is music that could be the main course in a banquet. Fill yourselves up, friends.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What A Difference A Day Makes!

My, how the world can change in a day!

Okay, so maybe it wasn't actually that the world changed when Hilary Clinton lost the White House; maybe it was just my perception of it that has forever shifted.  Election Day 2016 will go down in my own personal history as the day I lost the faith.

It's not that Clinton was ever my first choice for the presidency.  In fact, she wouldn't have made my personal short list.  It's just that her opponents are so profoundly unprepared for the presidency, such intellectual light-weights, that her greatest rival was (and is) what I consider to be the incarnation of everything that is wrong with America -- I really could not imagine Clinton would not trounce all of her opponents in the general election.  No matter what beefs I have with Hilary Clinton, I have always respected her experience, her intelligence, her endurance, her incredibly thick skin. Regardless of my reasons for not loving the idea of a Clinton presidency, I have always respected her as a woman and a politician.

Last Tuesday (election day), I really couldn't imagine that most Americans saw the options open to them differently than I did.  Clinton might not be the perfect poster girl for common Americans, but she was so much better than any of her opponents that she was destined to win.  That's what I thought.  It really and truly was.  I voted for her because she was the best of the lot by a long shot, so most people would do that too, right?

Wrong.  In the end, Clinton narrowly won the popular vote by the population of one major city but she lost the vast majority of states, thus losing the electoral college and the presidency.  I went to bed election night crushed.  I woke up the next morning crushed and I stayed crushed for the day after that too.

I was crushed to realize that a woman like Hilary Clinton could lose anything at all to a man like him, a man who has zero political experience, an entertainer known for putting women down, a racist who talks about "his African American" (referring to one black man attending a campaign ralley), a man who threatens to jail his opponents, who stands accused of raping children and committing fraud in his businesses, a businessman who has filed for bankruptcy five times, a man who bragged on video about sexually assaulting women.  I was utterly crushed to realize that even a woman as unbelievably well qualified for the job she sought could be passed over for someone like him, to realize that if Hilary Clinton couldn't be elected, there really might never be a female president in my lifetime. That's when I realized we still have a very damned long way to go, baby.

I was crushed to realize that so many of my fellow Americans are able to look the other way when a candidate admits to sexually assaulting women, when his followers revere him as the second coming of Hitler.  Yes, I saw them raise there hands in a sieg heil that would have made that olden days fuhrer proud.
Image result for trump supporters sieg heil florida
From The Washington Post
I was crushed to realize America voted for a man who publicly makes fun of the handicapped and who belittles women for their appearance on a regular basis.  I was particularly crushed to realize that, under that man's leadership, American men and boys would get the message that it is okay to use and victimize women.  I was heartbroken to know that many of my fellow Americans approve of this man's plan to exclude Muslims from our great nation, to label them all as potential terrorists and have them accounted for like criminals.  I was saddened to realize how many Americans approved of his plan to build a wall to keep Mexicans from crossing our border, hoping to escape the poverty of their own homes.  This man chose for his running mate one who has promised to overturn Roe V. Wade, one who believes you can torture the gay out of young people.

Now, I fear for every person of color and every person who does not walk in lock-step with the religious right.   I fear for my daughter and all my friends' daughters. I fear for every non-straight, non-white, or non-male person in this country.  Under the president elect, we are none of us safe. What evil he does not commit himself can now be carried out by his followers who take their cues from the example he has set.  

Those were the reasons I was devastated by last week's presidential election.  I won't get into the blame game here with regard to whose fault it is Clinton lost.  There is plenty of blame to go around and I may address that in a future blog, but for now I just want to talk about losing hope, because that is what happened to me last week.  

The election of our president elect, whose name I'll never say again because I don't want to give a narcissist undue attention and because I really am that petty, has broken my spirit.  That's saying something.  I am a rape survivor who grew up in a verbally and (sometimes) physically abusive household.  I have survived the loss of a child and two marriages.  I've lived through more than one catastrophic illness and multiple surgeries.  I've lived in more than 30 homes in my lifetime, lost the best friends of my adult life to early death and watched my own mother die unnecessarily due to unchecked health problems.  Still, none of that broke me.  It took the election of a fascist and the rise of theocratic extremists to accomplish that.

Recognizing that this cannot be the end of my world, that the horrible election of 2016 cannot be allowed to destroy America, I gave myself 48 hours to grieve.  Then, last Friday I rose up, determined to be more aware of the injustice and hate that must have been all around me all along.  I rose up determined to do more to change the trajectory our nation has recently taken (a trajectory that does not look much different from that of pre-WW2 Germany) than just making opinion posts in social media.  That and a nickel won't even get me a cuppa coffee.  I decided to get politically active in a much bigger way.  Many others are rising up too, demanding that government be given back to decent people.

Possibly the only good outcome of the 2016 presidential election is that it has spurred many of us to political action.  I have contacted my congressmen and senator almost daily for the last week about various national issues and have been in touch with my county commissioners on a couple of local issues.  I have attended a couple of local groups with plans to work for social and economic justice and have decided which ones will get my time and energy as well as my voice.  I have chosen the causes I feel qualified to support and I've gotten to work.  

What's your plan to help take the nation back from fascists and extremists?  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Crying As History Is Made


The other day I heard a friend say, with tears in her eyes, that she never thought this day would come in her lifetime, that she never believed she would see a woman elected president.  I understood her tears, though I did not share them.  

I've been giving that some thought.  Why am I not tearfully joyful that tomorrow we will elect our first female president?   

Unlike my friend, I have *always* assumed we would elect a female president in my lifetime.  It has never occurred to me that we might not.  I think it's because I grew up along with the feminist movement.  My own mother was a take-no-prisoners sort of feminist who never allowed me to believe there was anything men could do that I could not.  My grand-mother and great aunts were extremely competent women who could have run the country if they'd decided they wanted to. Golde Meir became Prime Minister of Israel when I was in elementary school and England has had a woman on the throne for my entire life. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug were major figures in my formative years.  They were the women who showed me that power was mine for the taking.   It just never occurred to me the US might never elect a woman president.  It was just a matter of the right woman coming along with the right vision for the country in the right historical moment to win the vote.  

Of course, I was never so naive as to not think our first female president wouldn't have to be ten times as qualified as the men who ran against her.  I knew that and it pissed me off.  Just a little.  I knew this woman would have to be made of iron to withstand what her opponents and the press would put her through.  I understood male candidates get ripped apart too, but none of them face what Clinton has faced or what any other viable female candidate would have faced.  Yep, that pissed me off a little too.  

And then there's the timing-- As I said, I have always believed we would elect a female president in my lifetime.  What I did not expect was that it would take more than half my lifetime to see it happen. I simply can't believe nearly fifty years have passed since Shirley Chisholm announced her candidacy and we are only now electing a woman to the office of the president.  The time it took infuriates me. Here we are in 2016, finally electing a single woman to take her place in the line of male presidents who precede her, 44 of them.  Forty-goddam-four men before we give the nod to even one woman.   

And here's the real rub -- even as we elect this woman, there is still no equal rights amendment and my own state fails to protect working women from discrimination in the workforce.  There are still politicians trying to control who we marry and what happens in our own uteruses. Men frequently get away with rape and women are not believed when they report it.  We have a presidential candidate who actually brags about assaulting women and roughly half the country seems to think that is A-Okay.  As a nation, we still think women are not equal to men.  

I'll be joining thousands (maybe millions) of American women tomorrow in commemorating the historical significance of the election of our first female president.  We'll be wearing white in remembrance of the suffragettes who fought and won our right to vote.  We'll be watching history made.  Finally.  

I am not shedding tears of joy; Mine are tears of fury.  It's about fucking time, America.  About fucking time.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Vote The Bastards Out!

The shootings in Orlando sent me into an emotional tailspin.  I have risen up from that pit more bitter about politics, the state of the nation, and the state of the world than I was before.  This shooting hit close to home, not just because it occurred an hour from my front door or because it was, at least in part, a hate crime directed at people I did not know personally but who share common ground with people I love dearly.

Part of what has sickened me about these shootings is the quickness of both politicians and religious leaders to make professional hay of the deaths that occurred at Pulse in Orlando.  From Donald Trump using the event as an excuse to say "I told you so" and the assholes at Westboro Baptist deciding to get themselves a few more headlines by showing up to harass mourners at the funerals of people who lost their lives two weeks ago when a lone whack job decided to shoot himself some queers in the name of Allah to House Democrats deciding now was the time to make some headlines by planting their asses on the capital floor for 25 whole hours demanding votes on legislation for gun control.

Please, sisters, I spent more time than that in labor and that only ended when I had a daughter to show for it.  What can dems show me for the measly 25 hours in which they got their faces on camera for NOT accomplishing something they should have done long ago when they still held the political sway to actually do the job we hired them to do.

And while we're talking about gun legislation -- why is no one addressing the fact that the Orlando shooter not only got his guns legally but was actually certified as an armed security guard even though he was under investigation by the FBI for association with more than one terrorist plot? While I agree that we need stiffer gun laws, I am not at all convinced our government is up to the task of enforcing such laws. This shooter was actually taken off the terrorist no-fly list and deemed not a threat by the government we think can protect us.

Right.  If you believe that, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I am sure  the republican charlatan running for president would be willing to sell you.

Personally, I see no reason for any private citizen to own the sorts of weapons the shooter used to murder 49 people in Orlando, but at this point, I don't actually trust our government to decide or enforce that.  The house dems look like a bunch of publicity hounds to me, demanding action they know will not occur,  but getting their faces on newspaper covers and all over social media.  They go on record for saying they want stronger gun laws but do so at a time when no one believes the measures they propose could pass. 

I imagine this is a great comfort to the billionaires and corporations who buy themselves congresspersons on both sides of the aisle every election cycle.  For a variety of reasons, those billionaires and their companies do not support gun control.  Is it really surprising that the congresspersons they fund fail to pass gun control laws?  If you think so, maybe someone at Westboro baptist can sell you that bridge after all.

So, yeah, color me skeptical and bitter.  I am a firm believer in progressive ideals.  I believe we must make major, sweeping changes to our system of government and the ways in which we distribute wealth and fund elections.  I also believe we need stronger gun laws.

But here's the thing: no one in congress now, no one at all, is going to upset the applecart enough to make that happen.  Our current crop of legislators in both houses of congress are far too dependent on big money and super pacs to make the sort of enormous changes we need.  If we want real change, we must vote the bastards out, every one of them, and start looking hard at where a campaign gets its funding before we cast our votes.  No legislator (or president) who owes their campaign to Big Business and Billionaires is really working for the people.  Every time we vote for a candidate with a super pac, we are voting against our own best interests and that, boys and girls, is just plain stupid.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Monkey On My Back...

There has been a nasty old monkey on my back for most of my life. Seriously, I cannot remember a time when this particular monkey did not have me in a choke hold.  My monkey is recognizable to many.  He is dieting and an unhealthy focus on weight and weight loss.  My own, no one else's. (And, yes, I choose to believe my monkey is a male construct.   Don't like it?  Quit reading or go eat rotten rutabagas or somthing.) 

I've written an entire book about my life as a fat woman and the dieting treadmill I have been on since childhood. I have written what I believe is the truth about health and weight, that the two are not as linked as the medical community and media would lead us to believe.  There is money to be made by keeping us all afraid of fat, so anything Big Business has to say about weight is to be taken with several tons of salt.  Make no mistake about it:  the media, the medical and pharmaceutical industries, the diet industry -  they are all in it for the money and money has the potential to make anyone untrustworthy.  

I am convinced that fat itself is not necessarily unhealthy.  I have been healthiest when I was at my heaviest.  I have also been least healthy at that same weight.  The difference was not the number on the scale but the quality of my diet and the exercise I did or did not do.  

Right now, I feel pretty darned well.  I swim a couple times a week, walk a fair amount, and lift weights.  I also eat well-- meaning I eat REAL food, do not drink soda pop, eat no red meat, and try to limit sweets to things that are just too wonderful to resist. I don't do exercise I don't enjoy and I only eat food I do enjoy.  I will not be giving up cream in my coffee or brown sugar on my oatmeal. You won't get me to eat squid or kale, no matter how good they are for me, because I've tried them and I don't like them.  By the same token, I am not about to take up  rock climbing (sounds hurty) or riding an exer-cycle (boring). I prefer my exercise to be somewhat social, painless, and interesting.  

In spite of all that and in spite of knowing better, that blasted monkey still wakes up from time to time and harshes my mellow.  I am just coming off a scale-obsessed bender that lasted a few months.  It started when I was diagnosed with NASH induced Cirrhosis.  The diagnosis scared the crap out of me and my docs told me the condition could not be reversed.  The best I can hope for is a slower progression of the disease and its symptoms.  The way to accomplish that is to change my diet and exercise more.  I was already a pretty healthy eater, but admit that, in the years since moving to Florida, I'd become more sedentary.  There were also specific diet changes I needed to make in order to protect my liver.  My doctor told me to give up soda-pop, what little alcohol I consumed, and red meat.  I did all three without a moment's hesitation and, as a result, have felt MUCH better than I did a year ago.  I also stopped eating so many processed foods and upped my exercise a lot.  I am sure those changes contributed as well.  

Sounds good, right?  Well, it has been.  Mostly.  The problem was in my own head, where any health issue is interpreted as a weight issue.  Yes, I know better, but I am a product of my upbringing and culture and the voice in my head is Oprah's, insisting that the only way to health and happiness is through a scale.  For several months after the diagnosis, I weighed myself weekly (sometimes daily). When the weight went down, I rejoiced; when it rose, I sulked or ranted or both.  (Yes, it is possible to sulk and rant simultaneously-- ask anyone who has ever lived with me.)  

Then, having dropped about 60 pounds, the weght loss stopped.  No matter what I did -- and some of what I did was pretty extreme -- I could not get below that barrier.  I felt like a complete failure.  That is what happens when I focus on the scale instead of on my life.  There I was, having lost almost 20% of my starting body weight and hating myself for being a failure.  Sheesh.  It took a couple weeks, during which I treated my body like the enemy it never has been,  for reality to set in.  

The reality is that I am much healthier than I was a year ago and I continue to get healthier every time I go for a swim, take a dance class, or get outside for a walk.  I get healthier every time I enjoy a good meal made of real food I love.  The number on the scale is not a reflection of who I am as a person.  I am the strongest person I know in more ways than one; I have eight books on the market and a play I wrote in production right now;  I have raised a fabulous child and am still friends with her father, inspite of the differences that led to our separation; I am engaged to the greatest love of my life, who happens to be the best and kindest person I have ever known; I have friendships that have lasted most of my lifetime; I am a kind person, though I am not always nice.  I am a great big f-ing success, no matter what the damned monkey whispers in my ear.  

So, for the time being, I have put the monkey to bed and had my daughter hide my scale.  I am still focused on kicking NASH and cirrhosis in the nads, but I am sane once again and glad to be here.