Monthly Archives: May 2007

rant alert: disgust doesn’t begin to describe it

Where “it” is my reaction to the latest SCOTUS decision, making it virtually impossible for women to hold employers accountable for discriminatory practices. I am so angry, I could spit enough nails to frame a McMansion.

But this, in addition to the infantilization of women ruling a few weeks back, are only the newest in a series of obvious assaults on the rights of citizens, supported by a largely media-illiterate electorate and an especially manipulative Federal administration, on its knees along with the US Chamber of Commerce, K Street, and the televangelistic industry in worship of the almighty dollar.

And this is only the beginning. The number of career and political appointments at the Dept of Justice (US) in the past 6 years cannot be considered anything but suspect. People who decry and have worked to dismantle voting rights and Affirmative Action have made it policy only to hire minorities – namely white religious zealots who call themselves Christian but show no evidence of ever having read the New Testament – into decision-making positions, regardless of any other skill or qualification.

And where the zealotry and gender issues meet, say in a Monica Goodling, we get the good little girl act, making no assertions other than to say some men made her feel uncomfortable, and that the problems she would encounter with women who earned their positions through relevant credentials were “queen bees”.

What happened to this country, or, at the risk of sounding corny, my country?

Being married to a legal alien foreign national furriner, and having spawned (isn’t that how one would reproduce with a furriner alien thingy?) has made me all the more aware that I am very much an American, no matter how good my ability to mimic accents and be mistaken for an internationalist in airports.

I remember visiting family about a year after 911 and being regarded as a traitor for recounting a conversation with European colleagues, where they had said it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, the US would be attacked. (Had I not known someone on UA 175, the talk may have become even more disrespectful towards me.) My alien hubby asked me not to write letters to the editor about the bogus propaganda around the Iraq invasion, as he has a green card.

But now, I wonder if any letter can have any significance. I wonder how thinking people, particularly Americans, can look at where we are now, and what is coming to light, and not be paralyzed with rage and disgust. What can we do? How can we restore reason, compassion, ethics, and the rule of law?


Filed under discrimination, Feminism, frustration, legislation, misogyny, politicization of justice, Politics, rant, sexism, sexual discrimination, us attorney scandal, US Chamber of Commerce, women's rights

serendipity and giraffe attacks

Here is the newly most viewed photo in my flickr collection. Views started increasing in the last two weeks, and I have no idea why it’s a hot item now.

It’s from 1994 doh! 2004. I uploaded it after establishing a Flickr account. Googling “giraffe attack” delivers it as the 3rd result.

I’ve got a history of being the person who can find something, anything, anywhere, whether in atoms or bits. But this one has me stumped. I’ve been unable to find anything that links to the URI of the picture.

Long live serendipity!

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Filed under babies, child, cute, funny, giraffe, infant, mystery, picture, serendipity, web

five years and counting

Last night, before turning out the light, I smiled at himself and said, “We did it!” He smiled back.

“It” was complete 5 years of marriage. We begin year six today, under a slightly more hazy sky that in 2002. Entering the competition for understatement of the year, I’ll say it’s been bumpy. I feel like we’ve been through some sort of horrible full-body version of truth or dare. Yet at the end, we’re finding ourselves on the same team. Peonies to the winners, or at least, to the survivors.

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Filed under ambivalence, anniversary, autonomy, Love, marriage, partnership, post-parenting marriage, relationships, struggle


The sap’s clearly running, and pollen swirls in the tops of puddles and streams. All around the daycare center, there’s evidence of new potential students, as mothers of Ben’s classmates waddle in with bellies or carriers.

But the peonies in the backyard – not the boring, omnipresent rhodies – the lush, sensuous, small-creature sized blossoms are enough to put me over the edge into barefoot and …. territory. Even in the face of sleep-deprivation, or the financial demands of a second sprog, those pink beauties are driving practice runs, so many bees and blossoms keeping us from the sterile hums of 520 and the dishwasher.

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Filed under bees, flowers, garden, Love, men, peonies, sensuality, sex, spring, tingles, women

the daddy inside this mommy

Apologies to those with saucy expectations, as this isn’t a parental sex post.

It’s about a twist on the old “Oh my god, I’ve become my mother” I recently experienced – instead, I’m becoming my father, which is a far more loaded realization.

I click my ring bands on the steering wheel to the rhythm on the cd carousel or to a song in my head. I’ve been doing it as long as I’ve been driving.

I remember the rush of excitement when we could hear the chimes of the ice-cream truck lumbering up our street, tinkling through the dull roar of Rte 128. How we’d run to my father if he was home that night, and he’d reach into his pants pockets with dirty calloused hands and pull out a handful of change for us to cherrypick. His hands were never smooth, and often grey from solder and god knows what else.

So, of course, where did I reach when Ben decided it was time to ride a carousel horse? My own pockets, rife with lint, and receipts, and quarters. Marks I couldn’t account for all over my hands (probably as much lipstick as dirt.)

Then there is the tickling. Or as Ben calls them, the kickles.

In all the time growing up, I don’t remember a single day where my mother looked like she was having fun with us. No sustained smiles, lots of anxiety, frayed nerves, all the time. (In hindsight, it’s amazing she was able to function at the level she did, given the terrible things she bore in the marriage.)

I also decided I would never be that way. Instead, I would see where charm, smar-tee-pants, and humor – with a shiv of sarcasm in my sock for self-defense – would take me. I remembered how much fun it was to be around my dad, unaware of where he was falling through. I saw how kids loved him, instantly: how he was always present with them.

From my mother, I learned fairness, caution, reason, anxiety, moral compass, and responsibility; but from my father, I learned the happier presence, the charmer, the engaged conversationalist, the passionate teacher. The entertainer. And more darkly, sarcasm and anger as power; power as essential. I am hoping I can keep the best, and be rid of the worst of it.

At least I’d like Ben to know, without always having to say so in words, that I’m happy he’s here, and to be his mommy.


Filed under children, father, fatherhood, Feminism, feminist, mother, Motherhood, parenting, role models

“there are no alligators here”

In response to the warning, “You’ll need to be good at the restaurant, or we’ll have to leave,” Ben said, with perfect intonation, “I’m good right now…”

In an effort to discourage him from picking his nose, I told him that picking boogs brings out alligators. (I know, bad mommy. Don’t worry, vindication is coming.) A few days later, we pulled up to daycare, and, of course, that right index is making a play for it. I asked “Don’t you remember what mommy told you about that?” Ben looked at me, stuck his finger in firmly and said, “There are no alligators here.”

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Filed under bad mommy, children, funny, kids say the darndest things, Motherhood, mothers, thinking, toddlers

his separate world

I remember the days I went to pre-k, at the community center in my town. I usually wore a striped t-shirt, and I spent what felt like a long time there. (In fact, it was 2 hours, twice a week.) There was no easel for me at painting time, so I would wander and look at what the other children were painting. I remember the room was cramped. I also remember getting hit by a teacher when I ventured over to where some people were burning trash. I had a world inside, though, that allowed me to be an observer, to make sense of the detachment I felt in this environment – not unlike the detachment at home.

I was relieved, many years later, to find no smoking ashcan by Ben’s daycare center. But I agreed to let him start making his own connections to other people independent of me pretty early on. For more together mothers than myself, I suppose it’s a bigger leap of faith. In my case, I felt it was the best thing for him.

I still do.

Though I realize the adventure he began at 13 months has become his world, a place where he has become familiar with his surroundings, the interactions, and the rhythms of things.

In his first year, his wonderful teacher would take pictures and print them out for us, a glimpse into his daily world. It would tug hard to see none of the smiles that were a regular feature of our time together. He smiles now for posed pictures, but the shots of classroom action still reveal a serious little boy. (For some time, he has had out-of-control giggles at home, with lots of kisses and “kickles”.)
I wonder what’s going through his head. My own memories weren’t that I was sad to be away from home; instead, I remember being disconnected from other people. I see Ben starting to play with other children – not just next to them, but with them – and I see he’s already doing better than I. But I wonder about that world. Maybe someday he’ll have a blog.

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Filed under childhood, independence, Love, mother, Motherhood, separation, son, thinking, Toddlerhood

The real Mother’s Day (US)

Did you know that Mother’s Day in the US was, in fact, a day for peace?

While I will never forget a day where my son walked around saying “It’s I love Mommy day! It’s I love Mommy Day!” to me and every woman we met, the real reason we celebrate it (sorry, NYT) was for peace – for women to say, in a firm voice, the time for violence against our children must end. There is still time to help many needy mother whose children have been savaged by war, whether you give to this effort, or volunteer at a VA hospital. After all, every soldier, on every side, is also someone’s child.

Mother’s Day Proclamation – 1870
by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

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Filed under charity, children, daughters, julia ward howe, mother, mother's day, Motherhood, mothers, outreach, peace, sons, the big picture

the decision and epiphany of motherhood

I’ve been thinking about Mother’s day – I nixed all gifts in favor of helping another mother – and what makes me one. And I had a quiet, bright epiphany while walking to the kitchen sink.

Becoming pregnant didn’t make me a mother. Even giving birth didn’t do it. What made me a mother was making the conscious decision – this is who I will become, this is where I will take my life, this is what will change my regard of people around me, of children for whom I have community responsibilities, if not legal ones.

My eyes were swapped out, and with a blink, and I could see the world the way other women have for millennia. A place in relation to not just my child, but to all children. A place where ferocious kindness, thought and action are required.


Filed under children, choices, epiphany, families, Feminism, feminist, mother, mother's day, Motherhood, pro-choice, Uncategorized, women

Just do it – to yourself.

This has been in my draft file for a while. I’ve been working on taking out the anger, but this is the best I could manage.

I wish I had a share of Berkshire Hathaway for every time I’ve read “I’d do her” in comments connected to a blogpost about a woman. Any woman. Any context.

You wanna know why the bits-based blogosphere is even more of a misogyny-condoned playground than we might expect in our atomic world? It’s because in any post concerning the actions of a woman, it’s always reduced to – and unerrringly expressed as – this. Her “doability”.

Even if the poster agrees with the substance of her actions, his idea of praise is to say he finds her sexually acceptable. Don’t give me any of this crap that “oh, it’s playful” or flattering or any other bullshit excuse. It’s because that’s what they ultimately think we’re here for.

I see these posts, and it reminds me of being online 20 years ago – that’s right, 20 years ago, before the Web, when the Internet was almost entirely a boys’  club and the vast majority of today’s “doers” had no access in more ways than one. As a young conventionally attractive woman whose academic pursuits were literary and artistic, I was the equivalent of the man from mars arriving in Kansas City, or Providence.
It wasn’t enough for there to be the workplace attitude that young female hires were there to primary serve as eye candy or provide a social outlet for the young gifted men there – the online environment lacked even the spin of “social environment”. And since I was in my 20’s, and my looks got attention, I used that attention to rail against the sexist presumptions of the workplace, with a smile. (My first week at work I brought in a copy of “Captialist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism” as my lunch reading, and left it on the desk in lieu of a nameplate.)

Now, it’s not so much than I’m not a martian – there are just more of us. Our increased numbers mean that we’re more likely to talk about our lives, put pictures of ourselves on our professional and personal Web sites, and connect with each other.

So now, it has morphed into this “doable” angle. It makes me think of the Yummy Mummy phenomenon or the NC-17 version that is MILF. (Both labels are serious objectifiers – why are thinking women and men not taking this on? Tori, I’ve followed you for 17 yearsm but your irony is lost on me.)

The madonna-whore socio-industrial complex looks easy to navigate compared to the good mommy/hot mama protocols. (First, give yourself up to the needs of dependents. Then, somehow get 8 hours sleep – in a row – and in between cosmeceutical treatments and your dayjob, remain sexually awake and available.)  And remember, no matter what you do in that dayjob, no matter what achievements you bring to this day, or what you may accomplish tomorrow, it will come down to this – would some troll in pajamas find you doable?

So, readers, I’d like to encourage you to do as some people are starting to do in different ways since the Kathy Sierra incident. The next time you see “I’d do her” in comments, consider telling the do-er to keep it, or perhaps “do it” to himself.

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Filed under Blogging, blogosphere, citizen action, degrading, Feminism, men, misogyny, objectification, sexism, women