Archive for the ‘About Me’ Category

I’m going to pull no punches in this one. If you listen to me, you’ll look better and have more fun when you find your jiggly, dimply ass in the sand, in the surf, at the pool, by the lake. I am something of an expert at buying fat swimsuits. I did it wrong for many years, until I discovered the secret. It pains me to hear of women, particularly of mothers, who refuse to put on a swimsuit and join in summertime fun because of their weight. Some of these women weigh 130 pounds. Some of them weigh closer to 300 pounds. It doesn’t matter. If you have children, you need to play with them, and you need to dress for the occasion. If you have friends, same thing. Even if you have no children and no friends, but are blessed enough to have access to a pool, or a beach, or a mountain stream, get the #$%& over yourself and put on a swimsuit and play in the water. You deserve to do that, if only because you are a child of God, put on God’s earth, where God has given you some nice water to play in.

If you do have children, don’t be so self-absorbed that you deprive them of the memories of Mom playing in the water with them, or building sand castles with them, or whatever they might want to do. I know for a fact that American photo albums are full of children and their daddies (of all shapes and sizes, because men don’t give a rat’s ass) playing at the beach in their swimsuits. These are “intact” families, but the photos look like Mom and Dad shared custody, because Mom won’t be seen at the beach, the pool, etc., because there’s a dimple on her thigh, or because her thighs are the size of Parthenon columns. Again, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 130 or 330; it’s the same twisted thinking that says, “I must be something other than who I am right now, before I deserve…” It’s a lie. Stop spreading it.

I, for one, am way too fat to be seen in a swimsuit at the beach or anywhere else, according to societal standards. And you will see me at the beach. More often than not, in a very pretty swimsuit. The fashion myth that most overweight women have bought into is “I will look slimmer — or at least less conspicuous — in a simple black swimsuit.” No. You won’t. News flash: fat is not inconspicuous at the beach. It’s highly conspicuous. So is ugly. If you care what other people think — and be honest, you do, or we wouldn’t need to have this conversation — you really don’t want to go with both fat (which you can’t remedy right this minute) AND ugly (which you can).

So what do you wear? If you LOVE black, you can wear it. But don’t wear it thinking it will make you fade away. Nope. It could make you look like a fat woman in mourning for someone lost at sea. Although I wear lots of black, for summertime swimwear, I’m a fan of tropical colors, happy colors. Maybe you like florals, maybe you like geometrics, maybe a retro print. If the color lifts your spirits, makes you smile inside, that’s the suit for you.

What style? First, I’ll offer that when my daughter was a toddler, I discovered the one-piece “jogsuit.” This is ugly as hell, and makes even the shapeliest person look bad. BUT, you can have lots of fun in it, because you don’t have to worry about adjusting it — almost never. Which means you’re likely to be relaxed, smiling, engaged in life . . . which makes you look more beautiful! See, that’s what it’s about: engaged in life. That’s what makes you look beautiful; not the size tag sewn into your suit.

So, having given the jogsuit its props, let’s move on. Many larger women are in favor of the swimdress. If you adore your swimdress and feel happy in it, knock yourself out. My personal bias is that the swimdress stands on a proclamation porch and announces to all who can hear (see), “May I have your attention, please? There are thighs here that are not fit to be seen. I give you my word, I will do my best to cover them and keep them out of your way.” But that’s just me.

There are many lovely one-piece variations. Some now have coordinating pareos or board shorts, for when you want to be a little more covered. I’m not anti- pareo or board shorts. Again, the important thing is that you feel comfortable enough to not give your suit another thought, and get on with the business of enjoying the place, the people, the food, the activity.

My personal preference for the past few years has been the “tankini.” As covered as a one-piece, but just wearing a two-piece makes me feel younger and (let’s face it, this is the real appeal) it’s way easier to pee in. (Well, you don’t pee IN it, exactly.) Tankini bottoms can be bikini-like, or fuller coverage, or boy shorts, or even a “skortini.”

In my life, I have seen about a bazillion strange women in swimsuits. I remember exactly ONE of them. She was fat. Quite fat. And she was wearing a two-piece suit. Not a safe tankini, but a midriff-baring suit. I couldn’t stop staring. I’ll admit, first I was staring at her rolls of fat. Frankly, you don’t often see that on a white female at the beach. But what I remember most now is her face. She was walking down the beach. She walked with purpose. She looked people in the eye and smiled. I found myself envying that woman. Somehow she had figured out that she had a right to be there. I admired her tremendously.

Now, did everyone on the beach have the same reaction to her? I’m sure they didn’t. I’m sure there were people who ridiculed, even people who were disgusted. I don’t remember any of them. They didn’t inspire me.

There you have it. Buy the most beautiful suit you can find, put it on and then forget about it. If you’re fat on the couch, you’ll also be fat on the beach. And your boring, “inconspicuous,” or downright heinous suit is not going to disguise that fact. People will notice. Some people will even be mean. As I recently wrote to a friend when this subject came up, “… desperately trying to hide parts in a swimsuit only makes us look like someone desperately trying to hide parts in a swimsuit. I now buy the most beautiful suit I can find. I figure people are going to know I’m fat no matter what, and most of them are going to react negatively to that. So my choices are to have people react with, ‘Damn, that’s a fat woman,’ OR ‘Damn, that’s a fat woman, but that is one gorgeous suit.'”


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NY08-bay steps

“Relationship is primary…It is possible to cause seemingly biochemical changes through human emotional involvement. You literally have changed his chemistry by being his friend.” — a psychiatrist quoted in “The Soloist,” by Steve Lopez

Psalm 51:10
Ecclesiastes 4:10-12

I have been thinking a lot about relationships, these past few months. Well, maybe all my life, but especially in the past few months. The things I miss about my relationship with my mother. The things we never got right. My relationship with my husband, and the things we have yet to get right. My relationship with my 13-year-old daughter, and how almost desperate I feel at times, to get that right. With adults, there are more chances for do-overs. Kids are forgiving and resilient, but with kids, those moments in time can really stick. They remember a look, a tone, a few words spoken in frustration.

The more I learn about brain development, the more seriously I take this business of relationship. Of human interaction, and of being conscious of creating an atmosphere that nurtures growth and development. There was a time when my home and even my presence (I’ve been told) supported such an atmosphere. That’s not true, now. I say this NOT to have you kind, generous folks jump up and say, “Oh, yes, you do!” I don’t need that. And I live in my house and in my head, so I know better. Illness and relationships and life circumstances have taken a toll. I am in the process of trying to climb back to that place, to that piece of my identity. And I will. Because I choose to, and because God will help.

I am thankful for the words and the actions of those who continue to help change my chemistry in the right direction.

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Whereas, having been born on the day of the feast of the Epiphany, and whereas, “epiphany” is a very cool word to say, and inasmuch as I have, throughout my adult life, allowed myself a second chance at “New Year’s Day,” for purposes of resolution do-overs and the like, by proclaiming January 6th the REAL first day of the new year, and

Whereas, this year of our Lord 2009 has, more than any other in recent memory, gotten off to a particularly sucky start for myself and numerous friends, both online and off (as well as for various public figures); and having obtained endorsement of such a proposition by numerous, notable online friends, I do hereby propose (and decree, and maintain, and . . . PROCLAIM, yea that’s what I was going for, a PROCLAMATION)

that the New Year of 2009 shall, for all intensive purposes* begin on THIS day, January 6th.

Happy Birthday to me (and August95, and Shari’s husband, and I hope William’s baby but I can’t promise anything there THEY DID IT! THEY DELIVERED — AND BY THEY, I TOTALLY MEAN LAUREN — BABY JACKSON GREY ON MY BIRTHDAY! AND HIS, OF COURSE. WOOFREAKINHOO!!!!) and

Happy New Year to you!

*Today is the only day on which this phrase may be used; all other days, one must say, “for all intents and purposes.” Today is also the day that any and all other malapropisms (and/or “eggcorns”) will be most welcome here. After today, however, we must nick them in the butt.

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Rearview Mirror

It’s not easy coming up with a “year in review” post title that hasn’t been done to death. So yea, rearview it is.

Looking back, quite a lot happened here this year, especially for a place where not much happened. I mean, I simply didn’t write much in 2008. And yet…

Early in the year, I got stoopid and ventured into online dating.

Not long after that, firmly pinned to the mat by WTF Disease, I announced my retirement from blogging. And I stuck by that until and unless, I’d get so pissed about something that my fingers just wouldn’t be still . . .

Like early in the summer when I worked really hard on a motherfucking children’s party. I must say, I enjoyed that little slice of profanity pie.

And so I was delighted to see that my muse from the previous link was featured in a national magazine with his motherf… well, with his mother.

Then, in late summer, at long last I found and shared what is the most likely culprit as a diagnosis for WTF. I continue to suffer many symptoms, and continue to pursue the treatment I began back then. I am told that it may take years.

Politics played an unusually prominent role here at WWIT this past year. Perhaps my most controversial post, and the one that invited the most passionate, provocative comments was my defense of underdog Sarah Palin. I reread those comments today, and I find that I still appreciate them; and I find that I still hold the preference that one actually READ my post(s) before commenting.

Finally, in the twilight of the year, I shared my dissenting view of the hot cold one. I have since seen the movie, and I really liked it. And I really stand by everything I said about that sucker.

Tonight we will stay in, and eat and drink good bad things, and play games and watch Times Square on TV. I hope that wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you feel warm and loved and optimistic. And if you’re a resolution-maker, I wish you well with that. I’m kinda not; but I’m also kinda thinking about making one or two this year. Or maybe just changing some things and then announcing them, rather than announcing first.

I thank you for being here. You add much to my life. I offer each of you an imaginary gift for the new year, inspired by one of my favorite comedians, the late Mitch Hedberg:

I’m giving you a self-help book. It has all blank pages and a pencil.

And this quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce:

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.

Let’s write this one well, dear friends.

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Here we are again, friends. Welcome to the 4th Annual Blog Cookie Exchange! If you’re new, here are the basics for participating in the exchange:

Favorite holiday recipes
Special traditions
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel 🙂

But really, you can write or post pix of anything that tells us how you celebrate the holidays, or your favorite memories, or your wishiest wishes or scroogiest bitches.

Thanks to hand and arm trouble from WTF Disease, I’m afraid I’m not the hostess I once was, but you are most welcome to share all that I have managed to pull together.

Easy Reindeer Cookies

Susie’s Cookie Q and A
Q: Seriously, could these cookies BE any cuter?
A: No.

Nor could they be any easier. These days I am all about the rather impressive, but really, really easy. Like these reindeer cookies. Here’s how we roll:

Take a roll of store-bought cookie dough — sugar, peanut butter or ginger bread, and add 1/4 cup of flour (to make it roll out easier), and roll it out to about 1/4″ thickness.

Cut out the reindeer head shapes, using a bell-shaped cookie cutter. (An upside down heart-shape would work fine, too, don’t you think? OR, shape the long roll into a three-sided cylinder — kinda pyramiddy — and then cut it into 1/4″ slices.)

Use mini-pretzels for antlers.
Use M&Ms or chocolate chips for eyes.
Use M&Ms or Red Hots for a nose.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.


And I know I’ve shown you this before, but I don’t think I’ve told you how to prepare it:

The Fascinating Pinecone Cheeseball

pinecone cheeseball

1 (8-ounce) container garden vegetable cream cheese*
1 (8-ounce) container roasted garlic cream cheese**
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 scallions, finely chopped (use both white and green parts)
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
Fresh rosemary sprigs (or sprig of pine)

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Shape into an oval (pinecone shape); chill 2 hours.
Arrange pecan halves over cheese oval, pressing in lightly in overlapping rows, beginning at bottom and working upward. Arrange rosemary sprigs at top of pinecone. Serve with crackers.

*If Garden Vegetable cream cheese is not available, may use plain cream cheese with ½ packet of Knorr vegetable soup mix.
**If Roasted Garlic cream cheese is not available, may use plain cream cheese mixed with 2-3 cloves of crushed, roasted garlic.


We were invited this year to join a long-standing tradition of some distant friends of ours.

“distant friends”= we really like them, and think we would like them even better if we got to know them more, and they seem to feel the same about us, but we don’t see them enough for that.

Their tradition is a Carol Party. You take a small house, fill it with friendly people, a few of whom have actual musical talent, the rest of whom like to hang around people with actual musical talent (I belong to the latter group), add a couple of guitars, a keyboard, an impressive variety of percussion instruments and a box of kazoos, plus some drinks and cookies and a bunch of photocopied Christmas song lyrics, and there you go. It really was fun. Until they got to “O Holy Night.”

That is (or was) my favorite carol. I know people make fun of it, but doggonit, I like it. Even — or especially — the “fall on your knees” part. When the orchestra swells, and the choir goes all forte — it’s thrilling. And it’s real. I mean, think about what they’re singing about. If you were THERE, back in the day, and you saw that amazing star, and then you saw and heard a bunch of angels (ANGELS!) up in the sky singing at you . . . are you gonna tell me that wouldn’t knock you right on your ass? OK, then. But they can’t really put “knock you on your ass” in a church song, now can they? So, yea, fall on your knees indeed.

Back to the party. When it came time for “O Holy Night,” the host says all the men have to get together. So it’s men in the dining room, and women in the adjacent living room, and we start to sing. But, as is the tradition at this party, the men put their arms around each other and do a can-can to this song. (Except Jif was new, and never having been part of an all-male line-dancing holiday revue, he thought they were trying to do the Munchkins’ Lollipop Guild dance from the Wizard of Oz, so his moves were a little. . . spastic.) And then, at the “fall on your knees” part, they all did. And it just continued to deteriorate from there. Not pretty. Nor festive.

So, I don’t know, I may need a new favorite Christmas song: this one would be a contender. I really love it.

My favorite gift to give this year is a toffee apple, from here. I had hoped to post photos, but we’re slow here, so they won’t be in our possession until this evening. Maybe I’ll slip a photo in later. One of my students gave me one of Lisa Anne’s toffee apples last year, and it was so amazing we went right out and bought a few to give as gifts. This year, we’re buying a few more. The thing is, I’m not a big apple person. And I really don’t like candied apples — waste of a perfectly good fruit and perfectly good candy, I would have said. But Lisa Anne converted me. Huge, tart apple covered in high quality caramel, toffee . . . YUM. And the large size, I unapologetically gave one to a family of seven, and they each had a dessert slice and some left over. The coating is so thick and rich, just a little goes a long way. So, yea, I think you’d like them.

This might be a good place to say thank you to everyone who reads here, comments here, and to those who write on your own blogs. Just a few years ago, I was a big internet cynic. I did not trust that enough people were real enough on the internet. And yes, since I have trusted cyberpeople, I’ve gotten scorched a time or two, but mostly I am thrilled and delighted by how much more of life I have learned, that I could not have learned, had I not met you all online. You make my life richer. You even help me like myself more. You make a horrid illness easier to laugh through. And now you make me cry a little. In a good way.

Merry Christmas, dear friends.

Now gimme some cookies!

If you have a blog, I hope you’ll invite us in for your holiday post (and if today isn’t good, put it up when you can, we’re easy like that). Leave a comment to let us know, and please, visit the people who leave comments. If you don’t have a blog, share your holidaying here in the comments.

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Christmas Bitch

True Christmas confessions: I’m very laid back about many things holiday, but I’m kind of particular when it comes to cardage. Somehow, I developed the formula that the cards we send must have either animals or Jesus on them, (bonus points for Jesus AND animals), and even with no Jesus, they must have some religious reference. A time or two we went with the kid pic, but only when she was dressed as an angel or Virgin Mary for some pageant. Often, LG made our cards, and she stuck to the official Fairchild card guidelines. This year, I’ve run amok. I didn’t feel like reminding LG incessantly about getting our cards done. I didn’t want added stress for either of us, we have enough. So we were in a card store, and Jif, LG and I all agreed that we liked a card with penguins on it. Penguins. And not only is Jesus not in sight, but this isn’t even a “Christmas” card, strictly speaking. It refers to the “holiday season,” if memory serves. I’ll plaster Jesus stickers all over the outside, just to appease the angel on my shoulder.

Now that I’ve confessed my Christmas sin, allow me to move on to judging others:

If you are SO busy, and have SO many friends that your entire Christmas card enterprise consists of inserting a pre-printed card, including pre-printed family signature, into an envelope with a computer-generated label and a postal indicia from your place of employment, allow me to give you the gift of a few seconds of time. Clearly, you have no time. Take me off your list and save those few seconds of inserting.

I’m not asking for much. Pre-print everything else, but just sign it, for Prancer’s sake! Just a “Love, Trevor, Esmeralda and the twins,” would be great. Or a handwritten initial, if that’s all you can manage. Just something that says, “your personal name passed in front of my eyes and I thought of you warmly for a second or two as I sent you this card.” If your schedule doesn’t allow for that, cut back. Start with me. Let that be my gift to you.

(I blame WTF. I used to be a nice person, honest I did. Or at least I could fake it a lot more convincingly.)

So what’s your Christmas bitch? And you can’t say me, I’m taken.

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Before it’s all over, my final meandering, disjointed thoughts from my perch here on the island of misfit voters:

Vote. It’s easy for most to know for whom to vote. It’s still hard for some, I know. But pick one. Or write in. Just do it; you’ll feel better.

Some things in this election that have made me go, “hmmm”:

Amazed at how people really don’t want to hear anything that contradicts what they already believe. I guess I’ve known of this phenomenon, but I’ve never seen it so clearly at work before this past year. I’ve pictured it as people happily waiting in line for a popular amusement park ride, then getting on, getting strapped in, and refusing to listen to cautions — it might not have been inspected! You paid way too much for that ride! Whatever. Lots of “lalalala, I can’t hear you,” as the ride speeds off, with laughing, oblivious riders. I have an extra something inside that most people I’ve talked with this year don’t seem to have. I want to hear points of view that differ from my own. See, I can be mistaken sometimes. I have no illusion that people who think differently than I are evil or stupid. I appreciate new information. I feel nearly alone in that perspective. Not that I wouldn’t still go on the ride. I’d just like to know what the ones who chose not to stand in the line know.

During the primaries, I had my candidate all picked out. In fact, I picked him in 2004, and I predicted that he’d be elected this year. And I was thrilled. Then I lost the thrill. BUT, I am still tickled by how thrilled and excited most of my friends are. It’s GOOD to be passionate about something this important. Frankly, I envy you that passion. I hope I get it again someday.

If the candidate about whom you’re passionate is elected, I whole-heartedly congratulate you — and him — and I hope that he is humble in victory, and that his opponent is gracious in defeat. And that both the humility and the grace last through the next four years. Can you imagine? That’s how our country might rise to a position of honor again.

I hope the hatred of the president that has been in fashion these past few years goes out of fashion to stay. Thinking back over my nearly fifty years, sometimes I’ve voted for the winner, sometimes not. And I have never had one second of hating the president. This is another thing I’ve had a hard time getting my mind around. I was pissed at Nixon in the wake of Watergate (too young to vote then), and disgusted with Clinton in the “it depends on what your definition of is is” days, but I didn’t hate them. I thought they made poor choices, that were not in their best interest, nor that of the nation. But in my job, on any given day, I might make a poor choice. I understand how that can happen. I saw, and still see, what they brought to the job that was of value. Great value. It’s a really tough job. Some have argued that only seriously character-flawed individuals would seek it. I think there’s some truth to that. Both the excellence and the cracks will likely become apparent in the new president. And I think he’ll do fine.

And I wonder what the people (many, many people) who’ve spent so much emotional energy hating George Bush will do with all that energy?! Seriously, if it were now converted into something more productive than hatred, than verbal vitriol, imagine the good that could be accomplished. I hope we get to see that.

I don’t share the high stress level that many people are talking about today. I’m excited for the exercise of freedom, for the historic occasion, for the new beginning. But not stressed. MainlineMom twittered today that her faith is not in politicians. I think that’s why I’m not stressed, too. It’s the “peace that passes understanding,” that scripture talks about. And that has often been so elusive to me. But I think that is what I have, now. It’s not a bad place to be. Read more about this Christian perspective, if you’re so inclined: Philippians 4:4-7. (And the two verses following that, 8 and 9, might be my very favorites and the ones I tell myself most often.)

Another thing that struck me about this election was how many people wrote about feeling differently toward their friends, colleagues, neighbors once they realized those people didn’t share their political views. Again, my mind doesn’t go that way. I’ve never had any expectation of my friends sharing my political views. Many of my family don’t share my views, nor I theirs. My friendship with you is about how you treat me and how I treat you; how I talk about you when you’re not around, and how you talk about me. The fact that I rejoice when something wonderful happens to you, and cry or cuss when something awful happens, and you do the same for me and mine. And we could do that our whole lives without ever discussing politics for one moment. Probably about half the country will vote differently from me today; I’m still glad you’re here, thankful for what you bring. Just one more curiosity I noted during this election season.

As NessaLee posted on Twitter this morning, the new President will be up to his eyeballs in trouble from day one. This really is the time to come together as Americans, if ever there has been a time. I pledge my support to the winner. “Support” meaning I’ll look for the good, and that’s what I’ll focus on; I’ll look for what I can personally do to make things better; I won’t expend energy on hatred and ridicule, I’ll actively seek ways to put the energy to better use. And I’ll pray that the President and his advisors have wisdom, courage and serenity.

Congratulations and every blessing to you (and us), Mr. President-elect, whomever you are.

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And if she really is, or has the potential to become the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, then you have had an enviable life indeed.

Think about Republican Vice Presidents in the recent past. Cheney, Quayle, Agnew. I’d take my chances with Palin over any one of them, any day.

I’m not going to argue that she has the right stuff today to be President. I don’t believe she does. That’s never been our criteria for evaluating a VP candidate before. Indeed, until this woman was nominated, we’ve never bothered to evaluate the VP candidate quite so exhaustively. (This was my perception. I tried to do some research to back it up. The only person who came close to having been studied so microscopically was Thomas Eagleton, who withdrew after concerns were raised about his history of depression and electroconvulsive therapy — shock treatments. At the time of that scandal, I recall feeling sorry for him. As I read about him this week, I didn’t feel quite as sorry; he had withheld information about his history of suicidality and the very powerful anti-psychotic meds he was taking, from McGovern, the candidate who chose him. Turns out it was as much or more an issue of honesty as of mental fitness. That said, I stand by my perception that no one has been scrutinized like Palin.) Could it be that there’s an element of sexism there? Whether you are left or right, don’t be blind to what’s happened to this woman. No man in her position has ever been the subject of this kind of scrutiny.

Some say it’s more important to evaluate the VP in this case, because McCain is older and has had skin cancer. This argument carries no weight with me. As someone who’s spent my mid-forties being sick as hell, and at times having no expectation of reaching my 50s, and wishing I had the energy and wherewithal of some of my 70something friends and relatives, the age thing means nothing to me. It is not McCain’s age or health that has prompted what I will write about here. There’s something uglier going on.

When I first heard that she was nominated, I didn’t recognize the name at all. I just reminded Jif (because I like to call attention to the occasions when I’m right), that I had been saying all along that McCain would have to choose a woman to have a snowball’s chance in the election. People do vote based on race and gender. Not all people, but enough to make a difference in the outcome. If you don’t believe that, take it up with Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, two men whom I find exceedingly intelligent, both of whom have expressed this belief within the past two weeks. I, for one, would be thrilled if we Americans were issue voters, especially if we were big-picture (as opposed to single issue) voters. But we’re not. So, on that point, McCain arguably chose rather well. He chose someone who will appeal to many of the people for whom he held no appeal at all, or not quite enough.

When I did start hearing more about Palin, I remembered who she was. I remembered reading about her when her son was born. I believe the article was about older mothers giving birth, and of course, the risks of chromosomal anomalies were mentioned. And the fact that the Alaska governor and her husband knew that baby Trig would have Down Syndrome, and chose to keep him. And after McCain chose her, when I put that in context, I thought, “This will be interesting. The Republican base has been saying they’re pro-life forever, but there was never an opportunity for them to put their money (their time, their energy, their love) where there mouths are. It’s been middle-aged and old white men before, who couldn’t have had an abortion or a disabled child. And frankly, if push came to shove, and biology permitted, I’ll bet a lot of those men would have had abortions in that situation. I don’t know of any stories, but it would not surprise me to learn that some anti-abortion men have fathered some children who were aborted for whatever reason. So, yea, it’s easy to talk a good game when it comes to saying you’d keep a developmentally challenged child. Here, for the first time, is someone who clearly backed up what she claimed to believe.” Those are the thoughts I had, when I remembered where I’d heard her name before. And I admire someone who practices, at personal sacrifice, what they preach. And I’m a little suspicious of anyone who preaches loud and long about an issue which can never directly affect them anyway.

Then, when the media and internet vultures, and various friends and colleagues started ripping Palin apart, I was offended, as I am when I witness any act of human-on-human incivility, and my “defend the oppressed” buttons were pushed.

Example: A woman in my life, who can go on for days about what a feminist she is, and what a champion for woman’s achievement she is, came into my presence right after Palin’s selection was announced, and made an announcement of her own: “Sarah Palin is such a bitch.” I had just barely heard Palin’s name, hadn’t formed any opinion at all about her. What did she know about Palin that I didn’t? Nothing, it turns out. And that offends me. Agree or disagree with her political platform, this is a woman who has accomplished quite a lot in her life. In a state that, I have learned in recent weeks, is arguably the most unwelcoming toward and disrespectful of women (based on incidence of violent crime against women). Are “feminists” going back to the days when a woman who doesn’t take shit from powerful men is, by definition, “a bitch?” Where is the element of feminism that applauds an ambitious, achieving woman? Where is the element of feminism that says a woman is free to think as she chooses, even if I disagree? I’ve been profoundly disappointed in many women’s responses to this choice. If you don’t want her in office, the solution to that dilemma is to vote against her. Demeaning her and yourself by calling her names is not an appropriate solution.

::tangent::And it’s not just women, being vulgarly reactionary. Yesterday a friend recounted a conversation with a male colleague who agreed with her that Palin is ignorant and unfit to be Vice President, but added that he still may vote for her, because he’d rather look at her than Biden. And he added, “I’d fuck her.” I haven’t heard that “reasoning” as a consideration in evaluating a male candidate.::end tangent::

Example: I’ve seen Palin damned to hell and raked over the coals for her personal religious beliefs. Including beliefs about abortion and creationism. From everything that I have read (and I really am one who investigates as much as I can, I don’t just eat from one media spoon), these really are personal beliefs. I have not been able to find any incidence of her attempting to impose these beliefs on her city or state government. We know that these are her beliefs because someone asked her about them, both in old debates and in recent interviews. And every time I’ve seen her answer, she also says that she respects other people’s rights to their personal beliefs. So where is the problem? She’s not allowed to have beliefs that differ from yours? She doesn’t feel that way about you. And to my knowledge, isn’t calling you names because you disagree with her. She seems to have a firm grasp on the notion that she can hold her beliefs and not have to impose them on you. Why isn’t she extended the same courtesy? Again, I am perplexed by the intense reaction to her. We don’t skewer men who hold these beliefs. They’re all around us; a bunch of them get elected every couple of years.

Example: Her children. Truth be told, this is what pissed me off to the point of writing something that will no doubt lose me a lot of “friends.” The first horrifying thing I read was the essay “calling her out” in The Daily Kos. The one that explicitly called Palin a liar, and exposed the ugly “truth” that her teen daughter, Bristol, was in fact Trig’s mother. The appearance of that article is what forced Palin to “formally” announce Bristol’s pregnancy, in order to refute the internet wildfire of erroneous information. The family had not been keeping the pregnancy a secret. Everyone who knew them knew. It just might not have been the whole world’s business at that very moment. Except then it had to be. Funny thing; that was one of the most heinous uses of media I’d ever seen, and I checked back for days and never did see any sign of an apology or a retraction. What I did see, though, was, “See?! We knew there was something bad here! Yippee!” And that made me want to puke. Rejoicing over a teenager’s unplanned pregnancy, because it makes her mother look bad (or so you believe) and it furthers your political agenda. Am I the only Democrat who finds this abhorrent? Even if I am — I do. Absolutely abhorrent.

And a related point: Get over yourselves already with the, “That’s what abstinence-only education gets you!” You cannot be serious. You think there aren’t pregnant teens whose parents believe in comprehensive sex education? You think there are no members of Planned Parenthood who’ve had pregnant teens in their families? If that weren’t such a tragic display of ignorance, it would make me laugh.

There may not be a lot of absolutes in this election; maybe there aren’t many absolutes in life at all, but here’s one: Teen pregnancy does not discriminate. (And this might be an absolute, too: karma is a bitch; as a mother, you will NEVER see me taking joy in the misfortune of another mother and her child.)

Example: Then there’s the hunting. I don’t hunt. I don’t own a gun. I took my kid to the Million Mom March. But I do recognize that there are perfectly legitimate lifestyles other than my own. Lifestyles that include hunting and eating wild animals. Again, it’s not my thing. But the way some people write about this aspect of Palin’s life, you’d think she were a cross between Michael Vick and Jeffrey Dahmer. Aren’t Democrats the ones who have the monopoly on acceptance of others’ lifestyles? Once again, I don’t get it. I can’t say I understand the hunting laws in Alaska; some of them don’t seem right to me. But then, I don’t rely on caribou or moose for my protein in the winter, and certainly have never had to compete with wolves for my family’s dinner. The laws are apparently consistent with regional, cultural values. And Palin’s behavior is well within the law.

Example: Speaking of behavior within the law, many people like to write about “Troopergate.” Because (for those who’ve forgotten) this is the country where one is innocent until proven guilty, I don’t see how this is presently an issue at all. The “victim” is a man who was removed from one job (where, according to his superiors, he performed poorly) and offered another job, which he refused. The allegations suggest that maybe Palin wanted him to fire her former brother-in-law (that would be the one who tasered his own 10-year-old son and made death threats against Palin and her family). But the guy wasn’t fired. I don’t know, but as a family counselor on the outside looking in, it seems to me that Palin has bent over backwards to minimize the drama in an effort to spare her sister and her sister’s children the humiliation of fully airing the extended family’s dirty laundry. And I have strong feelings about judging people based on allegations that are made. False allegations have been made against me, in my work. Not one scintilla of truth. They’ve been made against my pastor, who was taken all the way into a court of law over the matter. Again, not the tiniest grain of truth in the charges. They were made against my husband’s family business, and picked up by the local media. And like the other examples, those were absolutely false, and nearly ruined a good man’s name and life’s work. Again, some common sense is in order. The fact that there are “allegations” made sometimes simply means that you’re in the public eye and you’ve pissed someone off.

Example: Palin went to X number of different colleges, and it took her X number of years to get a bachelor’s degree! That must mean she’s stupid. I suppose it could mean that; but here’s another thing that sometimes means. I went to three different colleges and it took me 7 years to get a bachelor’s degree. That’s because I paid for every dime of my education myself. I worked full-time plus overtime during most of my pursuit of my first degree. It takes a little longer, and life may take us in different directions during the process, than when the parents are footing the bill. It didn’t surprise me to hear Palin’s father say that all his children knew they would have to make their own way through college.

I have some sort of rebuttal for most of the personal attacks that have been made against Palin. As you might have gathered, I don’t like personal attacks made on people. I’ve defended, where possible, the same kinds of attacks on McCain and on Obama. There’s no place for this kind of crap in the political discourse of a civilized, well-intentioned people. I don’t understand the joy that people are taking in this. A woman I know, love, enjoy, recently told me about the movement to make donations to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s name. And this friend of mine had done that. I’d never do that. It’s a Golden Rule thing. (Remember that outdated concept?) I wouldn’t want someone making a donation in my name to an organization that I find objectionable. So I wouldn’t do that to someone else. I have no problem with anyone donating what they want, where they want. But I do find it offensive when you take a charitable donation and turn it into an act of hostility. How is it that you don’t see that is not the product of healthy thought processes?

Then there were those attacks that are almost too stupid to warrant rebuttal. Sarah Palin banned library books! Oh, wait, a lot of the books on that list hadn’t even been written when she was supposed to have banned them. And even though that one was debunked almost immediately, supposedly intelligent, well-educated, well-meaning bloggers continued to include it in their anti-Palin diatribes. Then there was that adorable (I thought) video of Palin’s little girl, Piper, holding her baby brother and smoothing his unruly hairdo by licking her hand and wiping his head. I saw a little girl whose family had taught her kindness, gentleness, love, and resourcefulness. Gross resourcefulness, yes, but still. I saw a little girl who had probably seen her very busy, yet attentive Mom, smooth someone’s hair with a bit of spit. Others, however, saw: OMG! That is so unhygienic! Palin is such a low-class redneck, not teaching her children about proper grooming and personal hygiene! Oh, come on. Just this past weekend, I read how “crooked” she is — as mayor, she accepted a spa treatment, and a bouquet of roses . . . and there is evidence of such unethical behavior, in the undeniable form of *GASP* handwritten thank you notes! Have we really gone that far ’round the bend?

The more of this kind of bullshit I’ve seen, the more I’ve thought, “Wow. She’s really threatening to some people. And what’s apparently worse, for Democrats, is that they can’t find anything substantive against her. So it’s all about her lifestyle, her faith . . . ” To me, the frenzy over her personal life and family seems to indicate that there’s not enough to critique about her public service performance.

What is it about this woman that pushes your buttons so? Why do we have such a problem with a pretty, smart, successful, ambitious, popular woman who has an interesting career and a family? If you are provoked by Palin’s candidacy (or her very existence) into behaving in the ways I’ve described here . . . you have work to do. And it’s not political work.

This is not a post about supporting Sarah Palin for Vice President. As I’ve suggested, I don’t think she’s ready to be President. But there are ways to say that without attacking her as a human being. Here’s an example of someone who disagrees with her candidacy based on at least somewhat objective (although there are some errors in timing and some spin on interpretation) criteria. That was tremendously refreshing to me.

I deliberately chose to publish this just before Palin’s first national debate. I have no hope nor expectation of how she will perform. Well, that’s not entirely true. I hope she does well. Anyone watching my Twitter during last week’s debate will see that I hoped both candidates did well there. I said I prayed that they both brought their best selves, their truest selves. I don’t take pleasure in seeing someone publicly humiliated. Maybe that’s just me. So, yea, I hope the same thing for both Palin and Biden. Voters will be better served if both of them can fully articulate their true personalities, their true beliefs and positions. So will you be watching the debate hoping you get a glimpse of both candidates’ real strengths, weaknesses and intentions? Or will you be watching hoping that someone fails, and not caring what they have to say? Sadly, I know the answer for most. And once again, I’m out here on the island of misfit voters, because I’d rather really understand what both candidates mean to communicate, than to have a “gotcha!” moment, a moment to laugh at later on YouTube.

Palin might make an impressive showing in the debate. Or she might fall flat on her face. And either way, she won’t deserve the kind of treatment I’ve described here.

As I proofread this, the TV was on behind me, and former Democratic VP candidate, former Congresswoman from New York, Geraldine Ferraro had this to say regarding Palin in tomorrow night’s debate, “I want her to do well, because it’s important for girls to see that a woman can stand toe to toe . . . ” Ferraro certainly doesn’t support, isn’t going to vote for Palin. But she gets that this is a first; this is an historic occasion. It may not be ideal; in fact, it certainly isn’t ideal. But women, this is the occasion we have. If we don’t want to vote for her, we can call her a stupid bitch, or we can acknowledge the achievements she’s made and celebrate the fact that she has been able to make them, express our disagreement with her policies and vote accordingly. We’ve only been allowed to vote for 88 years! Our kids are watching how we treat one another.

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Those of you who’ve been reading here a while may remember this, which I think will be my “official” 9-11 post. It’s almost all I remember about that time.

Almost. These past couple of weeks, I’ve been remembering a little bit more. About what happened in the days and weeks after that terrible day. I remember going to the grocery store to get just a few things. I think it was that very afternoon. I do remember clearly that while I was in the store, two songs played on the Muzak: “The End of the Innocence,” and “New York Minute (Everything Can Change)”. I just Googled the lyrics to that second song; they are eerily well-suited to the occasion. To this day, when I think of 9-11, those songs form much of the soundtrack in my head.

The other thing I noticed, on that day in the store, and for a while after that — Americans were nicer to one another. In that store, that day, we looked at one another with kind eyes and small, sympathetic smiles, that said, “I know. Can you believe what’s happened? We’ll get through it. We’re all in this together.”

I remember one of my clients, the one whose lunch was stolen, articulating so clearly who we are, and why we would get through it. What the terrorists didn’t understand. She said that they chose targets that represented our wealth (The World Trade Center towers) and our military might (the Pentagon), and had aimed at one that would represent our power (the White House or Capitol). To them, those targets were America. The terrorists got it wrong. Because they didn’t really understand who we are. She said that we are the only country whose existence, whose origins, are based purely on ideals. We are not a country formed from ancient political processes, or the convenience of geography that facilitated commerce and economy. There was nothing at all convenient about our birth. The common thread of those who founded America was that they held the same ideals: liberty and justice. Government of the people, by the people and for the people. You can’t bomb that. It won’t die.

I thought my client’s perspective was absolutely accurate. And it helped explain my desperate hope that “they” didn’t bomb the Statue of Liberty. And another blogfriend’s fear for the safety of the Liberty Bell. The targets that the terrorists chose, while important to us, aren’t what we’re about.

For a little while after 9-11, we seemed to have been reminded of what we are about. Remember the Republicans and Democrats from Congress singing together “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol? For a moment there, they got it.

In the grocery store that day, and for a while after, the people we all encountered were like us. Americans. We’d all been hurt, we were all stunned, we all remembered how very much we love our country. I haven’t researched other cities, but I know that here, in the major cities closest to me, even the criminals observed a moment or two of silence. People stopped killing one another for a few days. Violent crime went down for a minute. I think it was because we knew that we had all been attacked. So we stopped attacking each other. And it wasn’t just the criminals. We all looked each other in the eyes more. Said “thank you” more. Smiled at strangers more. All hurt, all in the same boat, all hoping for a brighter tomorrow.

It lasted a while. But there’s nothing like a presidential election to remind us that it’s gone. The goodwill, one American to another, it’s gone. We’re back to us vs. them (Americans vs. Americans). Back to “those who don’t see the world exactly as I do are idiots, or evil, or both.”

I don’t want another reminder. Can’t we just decide to remember? That we are a nation founded on ideals? The liberty and justice thing? Can you imagine for a moment that someone of the “opposite” political party says something with which you disagree, and instead of spouting off about how stupid they are, you find some small thread of commonality in their view and yours? And if no common ground can be found, can you imagine choosing to applaud their courage in speaking out, when they know some will hate and ridicule them for it? Or just being happy for them, because they live here with you in a land where even stupid people can speak their stupid minds? “You go, stupid man (or woman)! Good for you, exercising those rights that people have sacrificed so much to earn and maintain for you! Speak up! Don’t let those sacrifices go to waste!”

Sound crazy? I’m not kidding. That’s what I believe.

I don’t know for whom I will vote. I do not completely agree with the positions of either candidate or party. And frankly, I’ve had it up to here with the childishness, the pettiness, the vitriol of the discourse coming from both sides. As I’ve said before, if I wrote out my “platform” here, neither party would have anything to do with me. And frankly, I’m proud of that. I have a hard time getting my mind around the idea of fully supporting the agenda of any one political party. It’s not me. I hope to be more open-minded, more curious about others’ ideas than that. I saw one other blogger (I know there are more, I just happen to have seen only one) who, like me, watches both political conventions with a notepad, to write down what we like and don’t like, what we want to research further, to check out, to verify. I will do the same thing once the debates start.

That’s a big part of what being an American means to me. I don’t have to march in lockstep. Neither do any of us. And when we choose not to jump in a box with a label on it, I think it affords us more freedom to be tolerant, even appreciative, of opinions unlike our own. And if that’s our perspective, maybe it will be easier to go back to those few kind, united days after 9-11, and say to each other, by our words, our actions, our attitudes, “I know. Can you believe what’s happened? We’ll get through it. We’re all in this together.”

Recommended reading: I just received a link to another way of framing this same picture.

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Political Commentary

Jif: This is exactly the kind of thing that turns people off from politics.

Susie: Yea, sane people. But it sure fires up the insane ones.

(True confession: I have been known to cross the line.)

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