reasons I would make a terrible politician

1. I procrastinate.

2. I generally dislike people.

3. I have low tolerance for bullshit.

4. I say things like bullshit.

5. I don’t care who you love or if you have matching genitals.

6. I really think people who have more should help people who have less.

7. I like to stay at home too much.

8. I can’t pretend to like you if I don’t.

9. I am fashion challenged.

10. I am not photogenic.

11. I can’t keep secrets.

12. Sleazeballs make me stabby.

13. I am not neat.

14. I would probably get my feelings hurt. Daily. Hourly. Minutely.

15. Legal documents generally frown on made up words.

Being legitimate

Someone had to know I would broach this. It was inevitable.

 

In an interview aired this past Sunday, Todd Akin, a Republican candidate for Senate in the great state of Missouri, made this statement when asked about his feelings on abortions resulting from rape circumstances.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He really said that. Really and truly.

 

Now, let me start by saying, as a woman – he has no right to an opinion. Really. I don’t get all up in his scrote and he’s never carried a baby, so we should just agree to keep our politics out of each others’ crotches.

And secondly, as a rape victim – fuck you, Mr. Akin.

Legitimate rape?

What are the other kinds? Illegitimate? Imagined? Maybe she didn’t say no loudly enough? Maybe she was “asking” for it?

I realize that people are falsely accused of rape. I know that happens, and it is a sad thing to know that someone would abuse such a delicate area for whatever reason.

But the majority of rapes (60-68%, according to a quick Googling) go unreported, and do you know why? Because of douchebags like Todd Akin. Because the first thing asked of anyone claiming rape is not, “What can I do?” not “How can I help?” it’s…..”Well, what happened?”

Because its not enough to be taken advantage of. It’s not enough to be violated. It’s not enough to matter so little that you don’t even get a choice in what happens to you.

You have to justify. You have to prove what you’ve claimed. It’s no wonder that women and men in staggering amounts just choose to opt out. Why prolong things and expose yourself to embarrassment…criticism…shame?

It happened to me. And just because it wasn’t a stranger in a dark alley doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. It doesn’t mean I deserved it. It doesn’t mean I hurt any less. It doesn’t make it any less legitimate.

 

So while Mr. Akin sits in Missouri with whatever opinions he wants to have about situations he will never face, I will try with all my might to let everyone know that things like this are not okay. It’s not okay to trivialize someone else’s hurt. It’s not okay to make blanket statements when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Help a little more, talk a little less. I think that’d do some good for everybody.

 

Can I be that mom?

Crisis.

Today I might be serious. Perhaps.

I don’t really know how to ease into this, so pardon me for not being graceful with my writing here – I’m just going to kind of dump this all out.

I want my children to know what I stand for. I want them to know, above all, that I believe in choosing your own path and building others up – not tearing them down.

I also do everything that I can to show my support for (and non support of) companies who take stands. I try and support stands for equality, for freedom, for love. I do what I can to keep from supporting stands that I see as hate, bigotry, or exclusivity. Less sugar, more healthy hippie, such as no shampoo. Things like that.

We don’t eat at Chik-Fil-A, we don’t do Boy Scouts, we buy and eat local when we can to keep from giving our money to The Man.

My parents brought me up with their own version of this: there was no alcohol, no gambling, no famboyantry. I didn’t watch the Simpsons or go to the beer tent at the Slugburger Festival. There was no nakedness or anything similar. We lived in a bubble of church people, prayer, family vacations and classic car clubs.

And that’s fine. FINE. I grew up never doubting for one moment my parents’ position on most things. They did a damn fine job.

But I remember things I missed out on. I’d never seen a bottle of wine in person until I was seventeen. I didn’t understand blended families (which, looking at my situation now, is freaking hilarious), I had no idea why people believed differently than me – only that they were wrong.

My children – while they definitely won’t have the problem of having restricted cartoon viewing or lack of alcohol exposure (we have all already had discussions about when they are old enough to drink and how we’ll make cocktails for each other) – may, despite my best efforts, still come out of childhood feeling slighted.

It’s hard to explain to your eight-year-old why you won’t match her in wearing her Susan B. Komen regalia when she thinks it’s so cool. To your ten year old why you don’t want him to be a Scout. To either of them why chicken nuggets and waffle fries have to be passed over.
I don’t want to dictate my kids’ beliefs – I also want to give them the benefit (like I had) of having parents with principles. Things they believed in and stuck to even when it wasn’t easy. I want them to know what it is that we deem important – even if they choose differently for themselves later.

Oh, North Carolina…or my unrequested opinion

Well, it happened. In North Carolina.

It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific.

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Notice the wording – not just “we won’t recognize your marriage,” but your union is not valid.

I married, I divorced, I married again. My marriage now is certainly valid, just as my first one was. I, as a heterosexual person, am permitted to marry and divorce and marry again at will, simply because my husband and I have opposing genitals. What if I had no vagina? What if I dressed as a man but still maintained my female parts?

What if I put a dress on Josh, called him Jessica, and tried to marry him in North Carolina? Would they just deny us outright? Or would they ask for physical verification? Is there a pants-dropping section in every city hall in North Carolina?

I grew up a hardcore Baptist. I live in Mississippi. I certainly understand the Bible driven, morality police mindset. For the most part, I think it comes from a not-terrible place. I think the opposition is fairly good hearted and they believe in their convictions.

But while I understand the mindset, understanding does not mean condoning. It’s just not okay.

There are people I love who are being told they cannot be recognized as a united couple with someone they love. There are people I love who are being told how they feel is invalid.

And whatever beliefs or convictions are behind it, it’s not okay.

I don’t like onions. I hate them, actually, and I wish I never had to encounter them in a salad or a sandwich or my pizza. But other people seem to love them, and so they endure to ruin my life. I’ve accepted this. I do not deny those I love the joy of their stinky, vapory vegetables.

My point is that just because I feel one way doesn’t mean I plan to push those feelings on everyone else.

America is many things – but haven’t we always maintained that above all, we are free? What is more basic than the freedom to commit to someone you love?

In my deepest romantic girly roots, I believe that when you love someone – truly love them – they become the most beautiful thing you can comprehend. And how sad is it if you see that beauty, that breaking off of awe…only to be told that what you feel is invalid?

I want you to believe whatever you want. I want you to support it to the core. But when you try and tell me that I have to abide by your rules, just because…well, I can’t believe that’s the way Jesus would have done it.

 

In progress.

I’ve found that it’s easiest to be frustrated with change when it’s disappointing.

 

I had, like everyone does, a picture of what I expected from my life at whatever point. This point. Three years from now.

 

I wouldn’t be upset if, say, I were a millionaire this time next year. That’s not in my plan, but I think I could handle it.

 

(On a completely separate note, I’m watching the State of the Union and DAMN MY PRESIDENT HAS BALLS. Just saying.)

 

It’s when things go wrong that I don’t handle things well. 

 

When there’s less money than I need.

When a little girl looks at me to make it feel better and I can’t.

When I’m presented with a fourth grade math problem and I have no clue ho to begin it.

When the house looks like a cotillion of hobos took it over the night before.

 

I know I sound like a whiny brat. A pampered little simp. I suppose I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I am totally at a loss. A loss of drive and fervor, a loss of confidence and security.

 

I suppose I need to buck up. Have a backbone.

 

I’m working on it.

My first two-part series. Thanks, Netflix

This has been a weekend full of eating. It’s a good thing I didn’t make any resolutions to eat less or lose weight, because I would pretty much have already sabotaged myself.
We’ve been doing a good bit of Netflix-watching over the past couple of weeks. Saturday night we went to see our friends Marty and Erin in Tennessee, because Josh has this kickass beef that he’s started making and they had yet to eat any. So we went.

Whenever we go to Adamsville for dinner, Josh and Marty wait until we arrive to buy any of the preparations. We get there, we unload into the house, and the boys immediately leave to go get groceries for the meal.

And go to GameStop. And Taco Bell. And buy pies at the nearby gas station.

So Saturday night while the guys were gone, Erin and I decided to watch a movie (much to Lucy’s chagrin – she would be happy to watch the Birthday episode of Yo Gabba Gabba for the rest of her life).

Erin chose a documentary called Dive! which, in a nutshell, is about a bunch of people (and their families) in California who live primarily off the food they retrieve from dumpsters behind grocery stores.

I know, right? I think Erin chose it because she thought they were going to talk about dumpster diving for furniture or clothes or whatever – I know that’s what I thought.

But yea and verily, I was wrong. It was TOTALLY about food.

Initially I was grossed out. But then they showed the food they were retrieving…bread, meat, produce. All tossed out because of a cracked egg or a looming sell-by date. Stuff that was top-of-the-line shit…and perfectly fine. It just happened to have come out of the store by the back door, instead of a reusable shopping bag.

My snobbery started to wane when I realized that these people were eating organic, free-range, antibiotic free meats and veggies and most of the time I don’t even look at that stuff because it’s so expensive.

Then they started talking about the amount of waste the US produces and I felt like a greedy asshole.

Did you know that the US wastes 96 billion pounds of food a year? One year of our waste could feed the entire population of Haiti for like five years.

Yet, because we don’t share, and because everyone is so focused on profit, we still have hungry people in our country. That’s so bizarrely wrong on so many levels.

It’s sobering to be told things like that. Stuff we all know in the back of our mind and don’t really think about.

So while I won’t be scaling the dumpsters behind Kroger anytime soon (I totally would, by the way – but Josh said it was too close to the sheriff’s department and so he refuses to drive the getaway car), I am now actively searching for ways I can help do my part and reduce this terrible deficit between what we have and what we use – and what we need.

You can sign the online petition to Trader Joe’s here. It’s a start.

Tomorrow, I’m talking about catfish…kind of.

Today

Today is Election Day.

People all over will go and vote yea or nay or red or blue.

And I live in Mississippi, where the only time we make national news is because we gave birth to Elvis/Oprah/Britney/a million fantastic southern writers or because we’re the fattest state.

Well, now we have a new claim to fame – today we vote on Initiative 26, and if it passes, it’s a big deal. It’s a precedent for the whole country.

Now, I have opinions about this. Of course I do.

For just a minute, though, let’s not talk about what I think. Let’s talk about what this will mean.

Less birth control, in a state with the highest number of counties (17) featuring 40+% infant poverty. Not to mention the infant mortality rate (10.5 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births), or the scads of children waiting in foster homes or institutions so they can be placed.

Fertility treatments….sure, as long as they don’t involve selective implantation or frozen embryos.

Raped? Pregnant? You carry that asshole’s baby because the law says so.

There are far reaching consequences regarding ectopic and molar pregnancies that I don’t even have the stomach to research (this is not hard hitting reporting, people).

Under this law, the miscarriage I suffered in January of 2008 may well have been the death of me, because only an abortion stopped the bleeding and saved my life.

The thing that bothers me about this is not that people disagree with my sentiment that this is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard. People disagree with me all the time.

No, what bothers me is that there are fifty bintillion churches who – over and over and over – have pounded into the hearts and minds of their faithful followers that this initiative is penned directly from the heavens. That by voting yes, they are personally winging their way into each Mississippi womb and cuddling thousands of fertilized eggs that may or may not become people.

It bothers me that if my preteen niece gets assaulted and molested, there won’t be a morning-after pill just in case. Her life could change and it wouldn’t have been her choice at all.

I respect the right of everyone to believe what they want. I do not respect anyone telling me how I have to believe and behave. Especially when they do it simply because a pulpit told them that was the right thing.

So go vote. If you live in Mississippi, please know what you’re voting for.

On a lighter note, tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from Lindsey at Campfire Song. This will be totally fun, you’ll see. She even mentions maxipads.

One of the 99%

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In general, I’m not a political person.

I mean sure – I like Presidential elections. I like being able to follow things and stabilize my beliefs about things and know that I’m not alone.

After all, I have to leave this world to my kids. It’s cliche but it’s true.

And in case you haven’t noticed, things here in the US haven’t been going so great.

To be fair, we are very, very lucky. We have it better than so many places. But knowing that, and thinking it through, even that may not be so great.

Here in America where we have it better than so many, people are having to choose between food and rent.
Sick people go without medicine not because it isn’t available, but because they can’t afford it.
Babies ride in cars that are unsafe, unmaintained, uninsured.
Families huddle together because heat is too expensive.
People lose livelihood so that someone in a suit can keep a bonus.
We pay a group of ill-behaved miscreants on the Jersey Shore hundreds of thousands of dollars to do absolutely nothing.
Families are removed from their homes only to have the houses sit, hollow and sad.
Celebrities tell us how and what to think, while wearing a pair of jeans that cost a month’s salary.

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I know that here in America we are lucky. We don’t have warlords or Gestapo and we are, on some levels, free.

As long as we don’t ask for certain things, like freedom to marry who we love. Freedom to be a woman with choices regarding her own body. Freedom to go to the doctor without worrying how we’ll pay.

As a people we have stood up for so many things. We’ve overcome so much.

And yet we allow ourselves to be corralled and silenced when we say things that are over a line.

99% of the country is either on the verge of or totally immersed in despair. We live under a cloud of worry about bills and jobs and food and gas and electricity. We have allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of and forgotten.

All over our nation people are standing up to be heard. To say that something must be done and that the majority is not inconsequential.

It’s history. I can’t wait to see what happens. It’s going to work.

This won’t be earning me any friends

Generally I refrain from posting things I know will upset or irk people.

I suppose that’s not really true.

But given the general temperament of my Facebook feed, this may raise hackles.

Meh.

Last week, we were fully immersed in getting ready for the return to school. Backpacks detrashed, lunchboxes found. Ava’s obnoxious feathers placed.

Late one afternoon, I received a call from the number I have saved in my phone as “AUTOMATED SCHOOL DEMON” – the number that calls when roads are flooded, a kid has disappeared, or cattle are loose. I turned on the speaker (but didn’t speak – I’ve caught myself talking to that machine too many times and now I’m wise to the game), expecting a reminder about not bringing guns or knives, or maybe a last minute nevermind-school-is-postponed-forever message.

Instead I got a recorded message inviting me not to forget about the upcoming “prayer walk” for parents of kids in the schools.

Now let me make one thing very, very clear.

If you are a kid in school and you want to say a prayer before you eat your lunch or take a test or walk on linoleum, I support that.

If you are a teacher and you want to send up a silent plea for mercy before you try and explain the branches of government, I support that.

If you want to bring your prayer rug and face Mecca between classes, I say go for it.

If you want to organize an event where people who are so inclined walk the halls and sidewalks of the school and pray for the students who will soon be present, I’m all for it! Bathe the desks and walls in prayer, and maybe that way my kids won’t eat boogers or mouth off (I may find religion if that works).

I will defend your right to do these things until my very last breath.

What I do not support is the use of school equipment, funds, and information to promote a religious function.

I never said, “Hey, sure, keep me posted about your rituals and gatherings.”
I didn’t say that because chances are I’m not coming.

It’s not because I don’t believe in God or I hate all religion or I think everyone should know that they know that they know whether they’re going to The Hell or not.

It’s because school is for LEARNING ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN’T RELIGION.
It’s because my son has already teared up more than once because he’s afraid his parents are going to hell.

Church is for religion.
Church schools are for the people who want everything to line up with what they believe.

School is not church. Amen.

I would rethink my stance if, say, I knew everyone’s beliefs would be equally welcomed. If the Muslims wanted to have a Q&A. If the Jews wanted to explain all the candles. If Pentecostals wanted to demonstrate hairspray usage. If the Mormons wanted to model Jesus underwear.

But that’s not happening. At least not here, because the vast majority of people believe the same way.

And that’s fine. What you believe is your business.

It’s when it starts being shoved at me and make it my business that I start caring.

I realize it’s election time and the superintendent was making sure everyone got catered to so as to put a good face on his campaign.

But just because the majority of people won’t care about the prayer walk phone call, or may even celebrate it, doesn’t make it okay. I’m not even sure it’s legal.

So please, pray. Fast. Sing. Speak in tongues.

Just don’t make me listen. Or watch. Or use the money I pay in taxes to promote it.

And in return, I will refrain from being an ass. Kind of.

Or not.