Category Archives: Politics

Be The Change You Want To See

If we’re going to be totally honest, I am still in shock over last week’s election results.  I haven’t yet listened to Hillary’s concession speech, I am trying to moderate the amount of news I consume.  Of the news I do consume, I am frightened by the stories I have read about the increase in hate crimes since the elections ended.  I worry for my own family, I worry for the families of people I do not know.  This is not the America I recognize.

As I scroll through my Facebook news feed, there are so so so many friends who agree that now and over the next four years, we need to come together and we need to start doing the hard work.  The place that starts for all of us is right in the communities we call home.

Posting links on Facebook and re-tweeting news stories is all right and good, but if we are going to change lives, we’re going to do that with our hands and feet.  I don’t often talk about my volunteer work on The Blog but it is something that has been such an important part of my life and one that has brought me great joy.  The non-profit I volunteer with works to bring food, housing and employment security to others in my community and truly there is nothing better that I could be doing with the time I am able to give them.

If you have been feeling called to action in the last week, but are not sure where to start, this is a chance to find your beginning.  Some of you might find that in volunteering with non-profits, others with mid-term campaigns.  You might be reviewing your existing charitable contribution budget, you might be deciding to start one.

I don’t know where we go from here, but I know that right now we all have to do the best that we can.  If you’re already giving your time and/or money, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.  If you’ve started to make your own plan to get to work, I’d love to hear about that too.

p.s. If you live in Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits has a member list that includes organization websites and locations.

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Enough Already.

In 2000, my little brother’s reading teacher was murdered by her husband.  He failed to kill their two children.

In the summer after eighth grade, my parents bought me a Nokia cell phone with a 75 minute a month plan. It was for calling for rides home and because Columbine had happened not so long ago.  Just in case a similar massacre took place at my very large high school and I needed to call for help or them.

In ninth grade, a boy in my physical sciences lab group told me he was going to kill me.  He drew a map to my house, explained how he was going to do it, mentioned that he might also like to build bombs in our school, started lighting bags of dog shit on fire on our front steps, and left skull candles behind as well.

My mother and I went straight to the principal’s office, and got an in-school restraining order against him.  We installed a surveillance camera on our front porch (we lived on a huge hill so it really did see everything) and you can understand how after that incident, I started looking for exits and escape routes everywhere I went.

In eleventh grade, we had a lockdown drill and since the sub didn’t know what to do, it was me who calmly explained that we would turn off the lights, lock the door, shut the blinds, barricade the door and sit in silence.  This was our new normal. I was 16 years old.

We have made it difficult to research gun violence.

We have made it difficult to file lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and dealers.

We allow suspected terrorists to purchase weapons.

In 2012 a man shot 154 bullets in five minutes into an elementary school full of children and teachers trying to save them and instead we got into arguments about how “criminals don’t follow laws” and “he was deranged” and nothing changed.

NOTHING CHANGED.

A TV anchor got murdered on live television and nothing changed.

NOTHING CHANGED.

People meeting in a prayer group got gunned down at their church and nothing changed.

NOTHING CHANGED.

It is insane.

I know that “criminals don’t follow laws” but as my mother (legit smartest woman in the world) says, PEOPLE RUN RED LIGHTS AND WE STILL HAVE LAWS ABOUT THAT.

We shout people down because they don’t actually know about what kind of guns should be banned or what kinds of bullets are used or how long it actually takes to buy a gun or what is or is not actually legal right now.

You don’t have to be a gun expert to be able to say that we have to do better.

I have no problem with people who conceal and carry. In fact, I am happy for them to do it. Having attended a gun safety class, I know it’s not for me and that’s okay! However, I am sure that you, dear reader, and they (the carriers) can understand that I would prefer not to rely upon them as some sort of personal security system.  That is because outside of my family and friends, I do not know who or where these other would-be good guys with guns are.  Even in the case of my family and friends, I cannot guarantee that they will be with me always.  If I am with someone I know who carries, and even if I am in the same area as such a stranger who would be ready to leap into action, there is no guarantee they will successfully be able to protect me.

We have to do better by knowing who does this or why.  We have to do better by knowing what we can do to prevent these things or at the very least, please God, slow them in their frequency.

Can we at the very least agree that this should not be happening all the time?  Can we agree that people should not be getting gunned down at school, at work, in movie theaters, at their places of worship?  Can we agree that this is not okay?

I should not have to worry or wonder about when it will be me, or my husband, or our baby son, or one of our parents or sisters or brothers or friends next.  If I will be using my body as a shield to protect someone I love or if they will be using theirs to protect me.

At 9:00 PM on the night of the Democratic filibuster, I called my senator to send my support.  Frankly, at this point I am just one voice among many and I don’t know what else to do.

Until things change, I guess I, along with the rest of our nation will continue to send my prayers to Newtown, Charleston, Orlando, Blacksburg, San Bernardino, Littleton, Red Lake, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and so many other places.

The State Of The Union Is Tonight.

And of course, we hope that you will be theme-ing and watching right along with us.

Election Day

As you know, we’ll be pre-gaming with the odd drink and a festive combination of FOX, MSNBC, CNN and PBS.  I don’t know about y’all, but I’m just feeling extremely blessed that we will be treated to another speech where we get to not only hear from Our President, but we get to watch Joe Biden and John Boehner sit next to each other for the better part of an hour.  These are memories waiting to be made.

#YesAllWomen

When I started to read the #YesAllWomen tweets last weekend, in the wake of the UCSB shootings, I will honestly say that I knew not very much at all about the horrors that had taken place on that campus or what drove another young man to destroy so many lives that were not his to take.

As I read more articles and watched more CNN, as we all did, I was horrified to hear his misogynistic rant and his “reasons” for unleashing a hellstorm.

And then I sat back and thought to myself, what else is new, really?  These are not New Things or even Different Things.  These are the leering men, the crass jokes about our bodies and our gender, the cat calls and the honks that we silence daily.  The things that we are forced by our mothers to ignore at an early age because Those Are Bad Men, and as we grow-up, we end up ignoring because It Never Ever Stops.

Hundreds of school girls are kidnapped in Nigeria, daughters are sacrificed by their families in honor killings and still more wives are attacked by their husbands with acid in the world over.

And yet, this is all just noise, because it is only a matter of time before a new and different atrocity replaces the school girls and the honor killings with something else equally as dark and terrible.

So I write about this today, about me, and about my sisters because this is our reality.

I remember in middle school, I was sitting through some self-defense seminar or other and one of our instructors was enthusing about the virtues of self-defense in parking garages/parking lots/really any time we found ourselves alone.  The tactic we were taught was to take our set of keys, separate them, and place each key between our fingers with the ring in the palm of our hand.  From there, by making a fist, we became able to fashion something reminiscent of a bear claw.  We were to use this technique not only to keep our keys at the ready so that we could get into our cars and away from these abandoned spaces quickly, but also to turn upon our assailants, fight back, and through the virtues of our sly thinking, be able to provide the police with a DNA sample via these newfound metal talons of ours.

Gold stars ladies.  Getting attacked is inevitable, but at least we’ll have their DNA.  What a comfort that is.

Then there was the time when I was 21 (or maybe I was 22). Marcus and I went out to the bar with a bunch of friends.  Even though It Doesn’t Matter If You Are Or If You Aren’t, I wasn’t drunk and I wasn’t dressed provocatively.  Plus, I was with my boyfriend.  We all know that often times the presence of a “boyfriend” or a “husband” provides us with a sort of shield.  So imagine my surprise when one of his friends took it upon himself to full frontally grope me, in front of everyone.  Both hands.  My breasts.  All eyes glued on me.

And the reasons offered up for this behavior?  It’s funny.  He’s just drunk.

No. No. No.  I am now a sexual assault statistic.

But those are just the things I have personally experienced.  There are also the things I haven’t experienced, but I now almost instinctively know.

For example, danger is everywhere when I run.

Yes All Women

There are gorgeous trails in our community that I will not run alone on because (1) I know women have been sexually assaulted on them and (2) there are areas secluded enough where if I were to be attacked/taken, I know that no one would even begin to know where to look for me. (3) It is no secret that people attempt to and successfully kidnap women while they are running.

And if that does not make it real enough for you, Dru Sjodin is buried a mile away from our cabin.

The day that they found Dru Sjodin’s body was the day that my mother started teaching me the most sober lesson of all: if someone ever comes after you, in a parking lot, on the running trail, in the mall, you have to be ready to fight them right then and there and die in that parking lot because the alternative to dying in plain sight will be worse.

That is my truth.

Cheers to: The State of the Union

The State of the Union is tonight, party-kittens.  It should come as no surprise  I had to dig through the Costume Box yesterday to get my ensemble in order and I immediately laid out my outfit.

America

I am actually having dinner with a girlfriend tonight – when I realized it was double-booked over the State of the Union, I asked her if we could push our date just a bit earlier so that I could get home in time to watch.  Her response: that would be great, because I want to watch it too.  (!)

You might need something to guide your viewing, in which case I am happy to provide a festive game.  I’ll probably be pressing the Camo Koozie into service, but you know it is just as effective with Root Beer floats.  I’ve kept most of the rules from last year with a few edits.

Take a drink when…

  • Any time the commentator refers to the event as The Prom (or tries to reincarnate any other high school dance) and our congressmen as dates.
  • We have to reach across the aisle. Take another drink if: the President actually gets a full standing ovation.
  • For each member of congress who is not wearing a tie that matches their party affiliation.
  • You make the same face as Joe Biden. Take another drink if: well, you’ll know if you’re supposed to take another drink.
  • You make the same face as John Boehner.
  • Whenever we ponder economic recovery.  Take another drink if: we name someone who is part of the long-term unemployed and we tell their story.
  • We talk about the bright future of American jobs.
  • Every time the camera pans to a named member of the audience.
  • We talk about taxes and the middle class. Take another drink: each time you ponder whether you’ll be paying in this year or getting paid.
  • You get confused about what the marginal (or any other) tax rate really means.
  • Each time we quote someone else in the body of the speech.
  • If you see an election night-style hologram.
  • Slam your drink if: any congressmen try to do that scary grab to President Obama that Michele Bachmann did to W.  An illustration:   It was weird.  And yes, she’s ours.  No, I can’t talk about it.

Cheers to America!  Have fun.  Stay safe warm.

HF 1054

Yesterday, our state legislature passed HF 1054, to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

I listened to the live debate on the radio as I drove home from work.  Which meant that I finally learned what station MPR is.  It’s 91.1 FM if you must know. The sunroof was open.

As I made my way down 494, I thought about how very strange it is to live a day from dawn to dusk knowing that you will remember it for the rest of your life.

These are Intentional Days.

I pulled into the garage, the debate continued.  I learned how to live stream radio on my phone as I sat out on our deck, tanning with a Coconut La Croix in hand.  A pair of geese sat across the street from my encampment, nestled together.

It was a perfect day in Minnesota yesterday.  Sunny, warm, clear with just a light breeze.

There was something So Surreal about the fact that in the age of television and the internet, all I could do was listen.  And type.  And wait.  To listen some more.

They passed the bill and I sobbed.  I think for the most part we all sobbed.

In our kitchens.  In our cars.  At our desks.

Mom called.

We went to celebrate at the home of some friends who are family and will now legally have the right to marry in Minnesota .  We brought champagne.  I wore my favorite (best) dress.

Cocktails

We toasted.  We laughed.  We breathed a sigh of relief.  We breathed a sigh of exhaustion.

And after we were through there, Marcus and I headed out to a few other bars, on an impromptu-date night of sorts.  No need to end the celebration early.  You only get to do this once, after all.

Our itinerary: the Fulton Taproom, El Taco Riendo and Grumpy’s NE.  Hello, Dive Bar Date Night.

Cheers

As people complimented me on my dress, I told them I was wearing it to celebrate marriage equality.  Because it is days like these that you save these things for.

These.  These are the garments of rejoicing.

I did not frock-up with the intention of becoming a conversation piece.  This is the dress I wore for Our Engagement Party.  Our Rehearsal Dinner.  My Birthday.  Best days.

But as I high-fived and was hugged by total strangers who had been at the Capitol that day, all I could do was smile.

Today?  Governor Dayton signed this bill into law.  On the steps of our Capitol, in record-setting heat.

Today, Love Wins.

The State of Our Union

Hello, patriot vest State of The Union.

AMERICA

Y’all know I could never resist one last chance to drag out the denim incarnation of Old Glory.  And you know, my deep love for good old fashioned American politics.

But we all know that friends don’t let friends actively participate in democracy without a little bit of something happening on the side.

So, let’s go.

First order of business: This game looks like an LOL.  Read it and have a laugh.

For the main event:

Take a drink when…

  • Any time the commentator refers to the event as The Prom (or tries to reincarnate any other high school dance) and our congressmen as dates.
  • We have to reach across the aisle. Take another drink if: the President actually gets a full standing ovation.
  • For each member of congress who is not wearing a tie that matches their party affiliation.
  • You make the same face as Joe Biden. Take another drink if: well, you’ll know if you’re supposed to take another drink.
  • You make the same face as John Boehner.
  • We excitedly discuss Marco Rubio’s post-speech-speech.
  • Whenever we ponder economic recovery.  Take another drink if: we name someone who is unemployed and we tell their story.
  • We talk about the bright future of American jobs.
  • Every time the camera pans to a named member of the audience.
  • We talk about taxes and the middle class. Take another drink: each time you ponder whether you’ll be paying in this year or getting paid.
  • You get confused about what the marginal tax rate really means.
  • As the President tells us all about immigration reform.  Take another drink if: anyone on TV or in your party brings up that ridiculous fence.
  • Each time we quote someone else in the body of the speech.
  • The hard work of gun control is brought up.  Take another drink if: we invoke the fact that Americans already largely agree that there should be universal background checks.
  • Slam your drink if: any congressmen try to do that scary grab to President Obama that Michele Bachmann did to W.  An illustration:   It was weird.  And yes, she’s ours.  No, I can’t talk about it.

Bottoms up!