Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Tribe

Ain't it beautiful?
So unusual
Life's a gas and it's running out
Living a cliche
Gonna seize the day
Bottle rockets and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate

~~ “Carpe Diem” by Green Day

It was a great night last night in downtown South Bend.

Our own Mayor Pete Buttigieg invited his supporters to join him for a holiday celebration at CJ’s Pub, a great local haunt and burger joint. We met Shane and Matt there and had a great time getting caught up on everything and talking about how to deal with things.

Mayor Pete gave a brief welcome to us all and said he was keeping it brief because he planned on talking to all of us who attended, and he did indeed keep his promise. He visited with everyone in the room and spent a good 10-15 minutes chatting with the four of us. (We also got to meet his partner, who is a very nice guy!)

We asked Mayor Pete about how we go forward from here, and he reiterated what he wrote in his op-ed (link above). Talk to people. Interact as a community. Grassroots politics is key and we can all participate, whether it is running for office, attending city council meetings, or working with the local Democrats to get out the vote. But his main focus is on connecting with others and taking the time to listen to them.

He is a remarkable guy and I couldn’t be prouder to have him as our Mayor. He is also very easy to talk to and is not intimidating at all. I get the impression that he really wants to hear from everyone and wants to make a difference in our community. It was a pleasure to talk to him and I look forward to seeing what happens in South Bend as we go forward. I see many good things ahead of us!

I was also very touched by something Matt told me. At some point, I guess I wrote something to him and Shane about how while we might be dismayed, disgusted, and downright despondent over this election, those of us who love each other have to stick together and support each other. I said that we are all part of Our Tribe and we will get through this by hanging tough and sticking up for each other. Matt said that that really spoke to him and he took it to heart. It did my heart good to hear that something I wrote made someone feel resolved and ready to support those who are feeling disenfranchised.

It really is all about being stronger together, isn’t it?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why doesn’t she stay home with the kids?

Like a Chinese drama and conspiracy
It’s the death of a nuclear family staring up at you
It’s looking like another bad comedy

~~ “Nuclear Family” by Green Day

I recognize that there are generational differences but man, sometimes I just want to flip a damn table.

I won’t go into specifics because one never knows who might be reading this ([waving madly] Hi Vlad!), so I’ll just say that I heard an older woman criticizing a younger woman for going to college and heard the words, “She should just stay home with those kids.”


A few things here.

I applaud anyone—ANYONE—who wants to further their education. People with a college education earn more on average than those without one. Fact. So if you are raising a family, it makes perfect sense to get a college degree if at all possible. It’s not just about the monetary benefits, though. It’s also about learning for the sake of learning. Some of us still see the value in that. It’s why I am thrilled with the Rise of the MOOCs. I can take worthwhile and interesting classes online, continue to learn, and more often than not, I can do it for FREE. How super cool is that??

I know things were different “back in the good old days” *COUGH* (for whom?) but there is a new reality in the 21st century. If you are renting a two-bedroom apartment that isn’t a Roach Motel, you’re going to be paying at least $700 per month. Heck, it was 15 years ago that I was renting and my nice 2 BR in an apartment complex in a small city in northern Indiana was close to $800 per month. The price of food has gone up. The price of clothing has gone up. Utilities, gas, health insurance, you name it—it’s all gone up. This isn’t the 1950s, no one can raise a family on minimum wage, and that is a fact.

If people are working minimum wage jobs, it is a given that both parents will have to work. Maybe it’s comforting to live in your Leave It To Beaver world, but how can anyone ignore reality and not realize that it is just not the current reality and it never will be again? I suppose I know the answer to my own question. Low information voter.

Finally, there are plenty of women who find great satisfaction in working. Before anyone gets pissed at me, I’m not knocking any woman who chooses to stay home with her kids. If you are able to do that, more power to you! It is a very personal choice. But plenty of us enjoyed our work and found it stimulating and rewarding. I recall having a conversation with my ex many years ago about having children (it happened in front of others, which made it extra special) in which he said that he thought I should stay home and raise any child we might have. I was in my mid-20s at the time and was just embarking on my career in the laboratory and I was enjoying myself. I said, “What are you gonna do? Chain me in the basement?”

That attitude was bad enough coming from a guy (I think he attended one too many Promise Keepers rallies), but I find it especially bothersome coming from a woman. Again, I understand the generational differences and I get it that there is a wide gap between their reality and mine.

That doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it or that I will stop defending anyone who chooses to try to further their education. What was enough for you when you were raising a family might not be enough for a whole lot of us.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Irish Yam?

Notre Dame, our Mother
Tender, strong and true
Proudly in the heavens,
Gleams thy gold and blue.
Glory’s mantle cloaks thee
Golden is thy fame,
And our hearts forever,
Praise thee, Notre Dame.
And our hearts forever,
Love thee, Notre Dame.

~~ Notre Dame Alma Mater

The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of asking sitting Presidents to speak at their commencement ceremony every spring. They don’t always accept but most of them do.

The president of the university, Father John Jenkins, is struggling with whether or not to invite Trump. Apparently, he feels that Trump has exhibited a lack of Christian charity in his words and deeds. In fact, Father Jenkins has reassured all undocumented students who are there under DACA that they will be safe there and continue their studies; he has also considered designating Notre Dame a “sanctuary campus.”

Father Jenkins isn’t unfamiliar with controversy. He got a lot of flak for inviting President Obama to give the commencement speech in 2009. The Democrats’ pro-choice stance is antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic church, and there were many protesters in the city that weekend. He defended his decision by saying that as a University, they are committed to open discourse and discussion of all points of view. He got in some trouble with the Archdiocese, but he stuck to his guns.

I’m not a Catholic and I’m not even religious, but I’ve always admired Father Jenkins for his open-mindedness in the pursuit of truth, knowledge, and justice. I feel that Notre Dame does good things in our community and in our world and that they are committed to racial and social justice. Father Hesburgh was a vocal and active supporter of the Civil Rights movement. So while I don’t subscribe to the tenets of the Catholic church (or any church, for that matter), I give credit to anyone who seeks to help others and alleviate pain and suffering in their fellow human beings.

Heck, you don’t have to be religious to feel that way.

The student Democrats at Notre Dame have written a letter that will be sent to Father Jenkins urging him to not invite Trump to speak at commencement in 2017. It is worth a read because it says quite eloquently my feelings on the matter. Although I am not an alumna, I signed the letter as part of our community. I grew up here and have had a lifelong connection in that way, so I felt justified in signing.

While I share Father Jenkins’ commitment to open discourse, the reason I am opposed to Trump speaking at commencement is that what he says and does is not just antithetical to Catholic teachings; it is antithetical to basic human decency. The moment that I came to the conclusion that he is a contemptible person is when he mocked the disabled reporter. That is vile behavior and it shows a complete lack of empathy, charity, and kindness. His subsequent actions only added to my feelings, including his attitude towards women.

I am proud to be from South Bend, and a big part of that is Notre Dame. We love taking out-of-town visitors to see the campus, which is absolutely beautiful. I feel a certain pride of place about Notre Dame and I feel that Trump’s message would sully the good name—and the mission—of the University.

If Father Jenkins does invite him to speak, and he accepts, I plan on voicing my opposition by protesting and I have many friends who feel the same way.

See you on the protest line!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lost in the Supermarket

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily

~~ “Lost in the Supermarket” by the Clash

I spotted this at the grocery store today and of course, I had to have it. While I’m looking forward to reading it and I’m sure the articles will be excellent, I think there is an element of wanting to hold on to him and never let him go. I find myself feeling increasingly bereft as his time in office nears its close. There is also a sense of impending doom as the next administration nears, and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

I feel fortunate to have lived during the eight years of Obama’s presidency. We have had our ups and downs but there is no denying (at least among the rational) that he is a good, decent, extremely intelligent man who has the best interests of the country at heart. So buying this special issue was my little way of falling to the ground, grabbing him around the knees and wailing, “NO! Please don’t go! Don’t leave me this way!”


But since it looks like he’s not going to declare martial law in order to set himself up in the Oval Office for life, I know he has to say goodbye.

It seems that I’m not the only one who is experiencing this feeling of loss. At the checkout line, the clerk rang it up and slid it to the end of the lane for the bagboy to put into a bag. As she did it, she glanced at it and read the headline: “The Obama Years.” The bagboy looked sad and said, “I’m going to miss him.”

The clerk said, “Me, too.”

Naturally, I chimed in with, “Me, too!”

Here is where it gets really interesting. The clerk, who is an older lady I see there often (I won’t mention her name for privacy reasons), seems to be close to retirement age. She is sometimes a little gruff, but mostly just all business. She seemed in a good mood today and was quite a bit more talkative than usual. She said to me, “I fear for my life now,” and flashed me a little smile that didn’t seem to quite reach her eyes. The bagboy, a youngster who could possibly have been of Hispanic heritage, murmured, “Yeah,” and I said, “I think a lot of us are concerned.”

The bagboy put the magazine into a bag and said, “He’s been great.”

The clerk wasn’t done. She said, “Like my daughter says, grab your picture ID and run for your life!”

At that point, we all did chuckle a little bit, but I would describe it as “rueful chuckling.” As in, “We have to kind of laugh about this, right? Even though we are scared and sickened by what is happening?”

I found this encounter intriguing on several levels and it has stuck with me all day.

First, not everyone in the Midwest is onboard the Yam Express to Hell. There are plenty of us right here in Indiana who are unhappy about this.

Second, it goes beyond just being unhappy. I’ve been unhappy with election outcomes before. We are now in the Fear Zone. Here were three disparate people: an older woman close to retirement, a young man of uncertain ethnic origin (I don’t mean that in a bad way...I just have no idea what his ethnicity was, but I could tell he wasn’t total whitebread like me) who is just starting his life’s journey, and middle-aged me who worries about erosions of civil liberties and about setbacks in all the progress that has been made in the last several decades.

Three very different circumstances, but a common sentiment: we are all afraid.

Afraid of what is going to happen to retirement funds and Medicare; afraid of what is going to happen to our gay friends and family; afraid of what is going to happen to women’s reproductive rights; afraid of what kind of life is going to be waiting for any young person when they get out of college—if they can even afford to go to college. We were all feeling afraid enough that we actually talked about this a bit in a place of business. I think we all are trying to find comfort where we can, and perhaps my purchase of this magazine reassured the clerk and the bagboy that there are people out there who are feeling the same way. I hope so. I hope that gave them a little boost today. Hearing their words sure gave me one!

It also made me feel angry. Because we shouldn’t have to feel afraid of the leader of our government and what he is going to do to our country and to the world. None of us. I’m not going to say that it’s unfair, because I know that life isn’t fair. I think it’s reasonable to say that it is unjust, though. It is unjust that a significant portion of our population is now living in fear. I remember being afraid of nuclear war a few decades ago. I feel that same pall over my life now and it seems that my compadres at the supermarket are feeling it, too.

Finally, it makes me think that the coalition is still there. The Democrats just need to figure out how to bring us all together so that we can work on progress for all, not just a select few.

I just hope that by the time they figure it out, it’s not too late.

This song is going out to the current Commander-In-Chief. You may not be in the Oval Office soon, sir, but you’ll always command my heart...and my respect.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Man in the High Tower

I am a lover of blank journals and have different ones going at various times. I have one for current books I’m reading, in case I want to jot down a note about something I read, one for the Modern Library list of novels I’m reading (I’m a little behind on that!), and one that I call my Idea Book.

The Idea Book consists of things that I think might make a good story or book. I don’t know if that will ever happen, especially a book, but it’s important to me to write down those ideas when they occur to me. I usually write in the Idea Book when I get up in the morning because I have very vivid dreams and that is mostly what generates the content of the Idea Book.

I had a rare late night idea tonight and went to write that down when I discovered something I wrote on October 13th. I don’t think this came from a dream...I believe I was speculating on a worst case scenario. I think I was planning on writing a blog entry about this but never got around to it because I was so focused on reading political blogs. I was rather stunned to read this because it seems that my worst case scenario pretty much came true. Here is what I wrote, with a little editing to expand upon my abbreviations.

I titled it “The Man in the High Tower,” a riff on Philip K. Dick’s novel “The Man in the High Castle” (as well as an excellent Amazon series).


How does The Yam get elected?

  1. Complacency
  2. Early freak blizzard in New York or New Jersey
  3. Late freak hurricane in Florida  

Attorney General Christie jails Hillary—ACLU gets her out. Christie indicted, replaced by Giuliani.

First two years—slim Democratic majority in Senate so no SCOTUS appointments.

No major harm in the first two years.

2018 midterms—all Republican Congress. SCOTUS appointments, Roe v Wade and marriage equality overturned. ACA repealed, millions with no care. All same-sex marriages nulled—CHAOS!

Taxes cut on wealthy. No money for infrastructure, etc. Money for military WAY up.

Persecution against gays, women, minorities.

Underground forms. Contact via Net but elaborate code.

No solution—YET. Hopeful.

Oh, and theocracy—mandatory church attendance? New cabinet post for Falwell, Jr.?


I was obviously wrong about some of these things. Christie is persona non grata in the Yamistration. The Democrats did not get a slim majority in the Senate. But it seems that much of my nightmare scenario isn’t all that far off the mark. Jerry Falwell, Jr. was really being considered for a cabinet post.

I’m half-tempted to delete the part about speculating on an Underground because it might actually be necessary! I’m laughing now, but I’m not sure I will be in the coming months.

Like many of you, I am feeling powerless right now, and I can’t begin to tell you how much it pisses me off to feel powerless. I am still trying to wrap my brain around this and figure out how to proceed. One thing I know is that if I see or hear any sort of discrimination or bullying of anyone, I will speak out. Zero tolerance. I also will push the decent people who voted for him to denounce those supporters who are racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and bigoted. Seriously, you have to step up here, people. If you disagree with the bigotry, then fucking say so! Denounce it with your loudest voice! I sure as hell will.

I am also calling on the media to stop pandering and call it like it is. Do your damn job! One of the foundations of our democracy is a free press, and you’d best start exercising that right before it is taken away.

Sometimes nightmare scenarios come true and sometimes I write scary things in my Idea Book.

But we can’t give up. Note that word “hopeful” in what I wrote. We have to hang on to that and we have to help each other.


Monday, November 28, 2016


Scream with your hands up in the sky
Like you want to testify
For the life that's been deleted
Sing like a rebel's lullaby
Under the stars and stripes
For the lost souls that were cheated

~~ “Revolution Radio” by Green Day

I’m still not in a great place.

Oh, I’m doing all right. I’m living my life, having fun, all that stuff. I haven’t been gunned down in the street, had my uterus ripped out, or been told “Hush your mouth, little lady.”

A stranger hasn’t grabbed my pussy, so there’s that.

I am still not feeling real happy about things right now.

At the moment, there is not a whole lot I can do about it. We’ll see what happens in the coming days, but for now? I guess I have to see what plays out.

In the meantime, I’ve been focusing on meeting my reading challenge. I have met the goal of fifty books per year in my Facebook reading group, but my personal goal is 52, and I am two books away from that. I think I’m going to make it! I’m going the distance! I’ve read some great books this year, but I’ve read a few stinkers, too. Quirky does not always equate to good.

Reading is always a refuge for me. I’m not retreating from the world, but diving into a good book and losing myself for a while is always a good thing.

We’ve also been watching “Aquarius,” the show starring David Duchovny (I lurv him) and about the Manson family. It’s fascinating, disturbing, and a great diversion.

As always, music is the best retreat. I’m listening to a lot of different things, but Green Day is the band that is perfectly matching my mood right now and their new album “Revolution Radio” is getting lots of airplay at Nutwood.

We’ll see what happens going forward and we’ll see what response is needed.

For the moment, I can immerse myself in books, movies, TV, and music.

To be continued.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Meme That Could Save Us All

Well, Pink Flag Joe
He does the flambo twist
With the finger motions
That you can't resist
~~ "P.F.J." by Ric Ocasek
Yeah, it’s been a rough week. I’m still vacillating between disgust, horror, anger, and other feelings that I’m not even sure there is a name for.

Music has helped. I’m listening to a lot of Green Day because they have the right mix of rage and sweetness. “The Reflex” came on the radio one day when I was in the shower and I belted it out at the top of my lungs. Thanks, Duran Duran...I needed that! A couple of good movies, a lot of reading, a Notre Dame basketball game today, and a late lunch/early dinner with Shane and Matt. We had a chance to talk about things and even had some laughs. Margaritas and beer helped! Seriously, there is not enough booze in the world right now.

The personal healing has begun, in other words. We are in the situation we are in and we go forward from here. That doesn’t mean we’re going to shut up about it. Far from it.

But what has brightened my world more than anything is all the Joe Biden memes that are making their way around the Interwebs. (Click on photos to embiggen.) I don’t know exactly what it is about them that delights me so much. Is it putting these silly words into VP Biden’s and President Obama’s mouths? Is it the sheer goodness and coolness of Joe Biden? Is it the earnestness of Joe and the serious Obama trying to calm him down? I have no idea, but there is something so goofy and endearing about the memes that it totally eases the pain in my guts. It feels good to laugh.

The Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. It’s been way too much of the latter this week so I’m happy to get a little more of the former.

Here is a little more Biden joy.

And here is a Joe song. Imma miss him.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

American Idiot

Yes, I feel quite a letdown today, but the sun came up, and we have beer in the fridge.

~~ Ken

I had a quiet day at home as I reflected on and processed what happened Tuesday night.

Boy, I sure called that one wrong, didn’t I? I take zero pleasure in the fact that it wasn’t just me. Almost everyone was wrong about it—the pollsters and the pundits—and they get paid to do that stuff!

To say that I am heartsick doesn’t do it justice. I am also disgusted, appalled, and embarrassed. What might be the biggest blow is that my eternal optimism and unwavering belief in the innate goodness of humanity has been shaken. I truly did believe that we would find our better angels.

But we didn’t. Some of us did. But not enough.

I’ve seen enough recrimination to last a lifetime today. Everyone wants to lay blame. I’m not going to target any particular group of people or any age group. We failed collectively as a country. We allowed our paranoia and fear and hatred to cloud our reason and judgment. Many of us did our part by contributing and voting and advocating for reason. But this didn’t happen overnight. The Republican party has been fomenting this unrest and anger for years, and this is the culmination of that effort. Should we have made more of an effort to speak out long before this? Would it have made a difference? Or was the worldwide sweep of nativism and populism inevitable in our country, too?

I honestly have no idea and it’s above my pay grade, anyway. All I know is that this is where we are right now.

So what do we do now? I have a couple of ideas.

First, we must speak out. I fear that a massive wave of bigotry, sexism, and hatred has been unleashed. We’ve seen some very ugly scenes lately and I am afraid that we will see more. I know that a lot of us have not been afraid to stand up for someone who is being bullied or abused. We must have zero tolerance for any such behavior. If you see it happening, make your stand! (With regards to Stephen King and my all-time favorite book, The Stand. I might be due for yet another read of it, because there are lessons to be learned and relearned there.) Those who are most vulnerable among us will be under attack and all of us must stand up, speak out, and defend and protect them. We must not let hatred become routine or ignored.

Second, we must speak out against policies that are antithetical to what we believe. We have elected a new president whose policies (what little he has proposed) I find absurd and whose personal behavior I find repugnant. But he has been elected president. That is reality, and unlike most of his supporters, I’m a big fan of reality. I will respect the office. I will no longer call him the Yam, the Vulgar Talking Yam, Yamboy, or any of the other things I’ve called him. (Tool, Asshole, A-hole, and many others.) I will refer to him as the president or as Trump. Not even Mr. Trump. He doesn’t have any respect for women, so why should I have respect for him as a Mister?

I’m not going to call him names, because as Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” It drove us all crazy when people called President Obama and Michelle names, right? So I’m not going to resort to those tactics. However, while I am forced to accept that he is the elected president, I absolutely, unequivocally and forever reject his brand of hatred.

I refuse it. I will speak out against it whenever I see it. I will post about his lies and misdeeds (and there will be many...have you been paying attention?), I will post about the lawsuits against him, I will post as much as I want, when I want. All based in fact, of course, because I don’t traffic in conspiracy theories.

I know many of us feel disheartened and bereft. I felt that today, too. (The nausea was a side effect.) But listen to me and know this: we are not done. We have work to do and it begins with us. Speak out. Do not be ruled by the politics of fear. Reject bigotry, sexism, homophobia, and hatred of any kind. Do not let this negate your belief in what is true, what is right, and what is just. They have not taken those things from us...we still have them. They have not taken our country from is still ours, too.

We still have a voice. Let’s use it.

This song has never been more appropriate.