Monthly Archives: May 2019

New England Girl in the Desert

The kid and I are out in AZ for a few days visiting a dear friend from college and her hubby, who is also dear to me. We also went to a night time program at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. It was awesome and among other things we got to see Jupiter and 2 of its moons and more galaxies than you can shake a stick at. You can get a description of our night from the Kitt Peak blog. We also encountered strange things like seguaro cacti — those are the ones out of western central casting — warm temperatures, and dry air. Barely a week ago, Boston was 40 degrees and pelting me with ice pellets, so right now warm and dry is weird.

The last time I was in this state was 30 years ago on a road trip across country, where we creeped up on a landscape mile by mile, rather than land in the cactus-rich desert.

It’s disorienting, but maybe that’s a good thing, especially when you have good friends with a pool, a love of cooking, and a well stocked bar. Get a different perspective, another view, a better understanding of things that I don’t know much about.

Or that’s just wicked dumb jet lag talking because I don’t want to understand rattle snakes, cougars and coyotes in my yahd, never mind the desert animals.

See ya back in Boston!

We Interrupt This Programming to Breathe

Just as I was taking a brief rest — Cheeto flea’s ridiculous shenanigans hadn’t escalated to the OMG WTF? level lately — here comes an oldie, but goodie, abortion banning.

Another time I will tell you a story from a long, long time ago, in the 80s, when I spent many hours putting up flyers for pro-choice rallies and hanging out with NARAL members, mostly angry lesbians who cared a lot about the issue, which I was more at risk for than them. I don’t think I ever thanked them (I was young and sheltered and they kind of scared me), so thank you!

I have a thousand other things I want to say, but everyone is already saying them or ignoring them or arguing about them, so I’ll just say this: I have been learning more about racism as a system problem, rather than an individual asshat problem, and that has increased my understanding a lot. If I think it’s an asshat problem, I can say, I’m not an asshat, he’s the racist asshat. He’s the problem. And I can feel good that I’m not an asshat and go on my merry way. But if I can see it is part of a larger system that so big and widespread, I’ve missed it (because I’m only focusing on individual asshats) then, yeah, I can better understand my part in the system and that the system functions outside of my asshatness. Then I can figure out how I am allowing it to happen and how as a white person I am benefiting from it. If that doesn’t make sense or you’d rather have the non-asshat version, read Robin Diangelo’s book, White Fragility. She’s more eloquent about it than I am.

Her book has encouraged me to see the abortion issue in the same light. I could see it as talking about my right to choose or whether a fetus has rights, but that seems to miss some of the point. Regardless of whether you think it’s killing a baby or I think it saves a women’s life, isn’t it weird that a man’s role rarely comes into our discussion? It takes two to tango, doesn’t it? Even someone who only drives the getaway car in a bank robbery is considered an accomplice and can get sentenced; a man’s role in creating a baby sure as hell is a little more involved than that. I know some people don’t give a crap about facts, but I can’t help myself. It is a fact that a man is just as responsible, even culpable if that’s your flavor of viewpoint, in creating life (or a biologic process of cell multiplication). So why aren’t there any penalties for a man who creates life outside of whatever circumstance pro-life people find acceptable? I think that’s kind of a big huge asshat legal blind spot, don’t you? I mean if you’re punishing people for accidentally creating life and then regretting it, and the people who perform the procedure, why stop at the women and clinicians? Why do you think that’s where these bans stop? How might men benefit from a system that only holds women accountable and punishes them for the outcome of sex?

Wait, unless is really isn’t about individual women and men, but more about a system created to do some nasty things to a specific group of women.

An abortion ban mostly controls certain groups of women. Sure, you ban abortion across the board so you seem like you’re being *ahem* “fair.” But the reality is women of means (most of them white) will still have access to an abortion if they need one. And women in the snowflake states will march and use their votes to fight back, keep access, and kick your ass if you come here with your pro-life placards, just sayin’.

So who is left to control? This ban cherry picks women who are poor, women who are Black, women who live in rural areas. These women already have a hard enough time getting access to regular health care to stay healthy for crying out loud. Nevermind, trying to get an abortion.

Now that is a lot of women, don’t you think? You can call them names if you wish to make yourself feel better, to feel like they deserve what they get. But can they really all be asshats who deserve to be punished? All of them? As much as it pains me, even I have to admit that it is statistically impossible for all those white women who voted for Trump to be asshats. Statistically speaking at least 2 or 3 of them must have some good qualities. So an abortion ban ends up specifically targeting certain women, and absolutely 0 men. It hurts and, yes, can even kill these women, whether they are asshats or not.

If you want an abortion ban, then you also have to understand you are also part of the system that is controlling and hurting this vulnerable group of women. You are also turning a blind eye to men’s responsibility in this. You can’t be for an abortion ban and be free of the consequences of how that systemically plays out. I get it, it’s easier to call out a blatantly racist asshat than admit I’m a racist who has been upholding and benefiting from systemic racism by not seeing it. Tracking men folk down who have sex is difficult, if not impossible. It’s easier to just blame and punish women, who have to deal with the reality of pregnancy and who already conveniently come with labels like irresponsible, hussy, and loose. But, see, that is a really asshat thing to do.

Don’t be an asshat.

For my fellow pro-choice snowflakes, let’s breathe together; here are some actions you can take, from a great, well-researched website called Americans of Conscience. Created by Jen Hofmann, it’s a weekly checklist of to dos for people who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect.

▢ Action 9: Support reproductive rights. [h/t Planned Parenthood]

Spread the word: Abortion is still legal in Alabama,Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and everywhere else for at least six months until newly enacted bans and limits become effective, allowing for legal challenges as is happening in Ohio.
Donate:
Alabama Women’s Center: One of only three abortion providers in the state and the only one providing services up to the state-mandated limit of 20 weeks.
Yellowhammer Fund: Provides financial help for AL residents seeking abortion services.

▢ Action 10: Advocate for women’s equality and health. [h/t MomsRising]

Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I believe menstruation is a normal body process. However, the many who lack access to hygienic menstrual products often suffer indignity, miss work or school, and even contract toxic shock syndrome from using makeshift products. The problem severely impacts Incarcerated women. I’d like [NAME] to co-sponsor the Menstrual Equity for All Act (H.R. 1882) to improve access to these essential items.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Photo and item credits: Etsy

Muthahs

In 2015 I wrote a Mother’s Day post about finally getting over a Mother’s Day thing that happened when the kid was 4.  What can I say, I only have one kid, so I hold grudges, sue me. Then I had a run of Mother’s Days focused on my mother and mother-in-law, crossing state lines with the mother-in-law and kid in tow. These were mostly logistical events to endure. However, in that post, I finally just had a nice day with me and the teenager. No meltdowns over pancakes, no on location Oscars-level ceremony logistics, just movie and ice cream on the beach.

Then the kid went off to college, and it was a rough ride, and this time last year, he was in a bad place. Mother’s Day was only a reminder that I am always a mother, for better or worse. And this was definitely on the worse side. We had an intense summer, patched him back together and hoped for the best last fall.

The wheel of life and Mother’s Day keeps turning and here we are a year later. Now, it’s my almost 90-year-old mom who needs more attention, so my road trip included her, and then I went on to see the kid at his school. I’ve been a more attentive mother this year / feeling guilty and making up for it, so I knew he was in a better place, but let’s just say the kid has never been happy go lucky. Being in a good place can just mean he’s not miserable. That’s pretty much what I hope for. Not miserable.

And at first that’s pretty much what I got. I was there to pick up some of his stuff since he is coming home in a week. There was a lot of silence as he packed up, but it was cool because he didn’t look miserable. Mission accomplished. I wasn’t on mother red alert like I was last year. He finished and we went to lunch. I’m used to his silences, and I was tired from the trip to see my mother, so I thought it was all going pretty good.

And then he started to talk.

I went very still, like when a wild animal approaches you, and you know if you make any move, you’ll scare them off. So I held back my mother inclination to respond, and kept very, very quiet. And he continued to talk, mostly about the music he is listening to. He seemed to be comfortable, so I finally allowed myself small responses — you know that woman thing we do to encourage the speaker, which men don’t really need, but I’m a muthah, so I can’t help it.  “Wow, that’s interesting!” “How cool!”

It lasted pretty much the entire lunch. You could have knocked me over with a feather, and I wasn’t even drinking.

He apologized for not getting me a card, but he had been busy studying. I told him I didn’t want or need a card, and he had given me a great gift by sharing his music with me. Even that blatant, embarrassing show of affection didn’t seem to throw him off.

Being a mother has made me learn a lot of crap I’d rather not, but it does have its moments. And sometimes they can even be way better than not miserable.

Photo credit: https://thegraphicsfairy.com/10-free-vintage-mothers-day-images/ 

Déjà Vu All Over Again

My mother who will be 89 in a few weeks has been slowly losing her cognitive abilities, not in a straight line, more like a meandering path. She has no idea what time it is, what time of day or night, which, let’s face it is a completely human invention that makes most of us crazy.

So after telling her I’d FaceTime her at 6:30, she called me on the phone at 5 pm to say she was sorry she missed my FaceTime call and could I try again? Now let’s break this down. She has no idea what time it is and cannot track it, but she can still answer a FaceTime call most of the time. That’s meandering cognitive abilities, strolling though the meadow. Also, it’s not her fault she couldn’t answer a call I didn’t make because I was on the train making my way home. To call her.

I was in the park near my house when she called, and the previous week, I had spent a good 10 minutes speaking loudly enough for all my neighbors to hear trying to set up a FaceTime call. Did I mention she has hearing aids that don’t really work? Except when you say things you don’t want her to hear. That, plus not being a fan of yelling at the top of my lungs outside, I simply yelled, “OK!” hung up and ran the last few minutes to my apartment. Her not knowing the time is a double edge sword. On the one hand, it may seem only like 30 seconds till I call, or it could seem like an hour. Even money.

As I ran, I suddenly was transported back 18 or so years ago, when I’d leave work later than I had anticipated and have to run to catch the train or bus to pick up my son from daycare. At best you pay a penalty of $5 for every minute you are late. At worst, a teacher who doesn’t know you well can tell Family Services you are a bad parent, and then you have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do Lucy.

As I ran up the last steps, burst through the door shedding my backpack, coat, and grabbing my computer glasses so I could see her, I thought about the disappointment — hers now as she waited, maybe what was to her an eternity, or my son’s many years ago, as he was the last kid to get picked up, wondering if his mother had forgotten him.

Or maybe that’s just how it feels to me, running towards people who are counting on me.

I called, a little sweaty and breathing heavily and she answered right away. “I’m sorry I missed your call, boy, what a day I’ve had!”

“Really? Tell me all about it, mom.”

At least she can’t call Family Services on me and the call is free.

Photo credit: http://kcaneurology.com/home-page-3/attachment/woman-running-late-1024×1024/