Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Open Letter To President Obama

Dear Mr. President:

I followed the story of your grandmother with heartfelt interest because mine was also a huge influence on me. She was the one constant in a dysfunctional family with a father who was absent most of the time and a mother who worked all of the time. As the oldest child it often fell to me to take care of my younger brother and sister and the household too, especially since my grandmother was already a senior citizen when she came to live with us.

My grandmother immigrated to America a couple years after we did. It took that long to save the money to sponsor her, and during that time she struggled to survive until we could send for her. As I was growing up, she was my support, my encouragement, my source of hope. And she had endless stories of what it was like to live through two world wars, how she managed to stay on the safe side of political struggles that redefined the boundaries of her home every few years, and all the ways she escaped the horrors of the Nazis and the Fascists.

But there was one story I did not learn until after her death, and it was about one of her sisters who remained behind. In retrospect, she probably suspected her sister was a Lesbian, but in the period of time that extended from the turn of the century through the 1960's, it was not a topic one discussed lightly in any of her homes: the former Yugoslavia, Italy, or the United States. But it is a story that haunts me because it is one that is far too common even today.

My grandmother's sister lived with her partner for most of her adult life. I can only imagine what it was like to live openly with her "roommate" all those years. I'm sure they had friends. I'm sure her partner had family. But we never knew any of them. We never knew if she was safe, if she was fed, if she was afraid. She disappeared into a world where secrets are kept for life. She disappeared into a world where it was impossible to immigrate as her sister had done, as just about everyone who was related to her had done. She was left alone with only the woman she loved, a woman we could never bring here because she was not related to us by blood. In the eyes of the law, she was not family, no matter how many years she lived with my grandmother's sister as her life partner. The law would let us bring her but not the woman she loved. The law would make her abandon her partner. She chose the path of her heart and stayed behind.

I think of what my life could have been like with more than one granny, more than one adult who could nurture me, who could help me grow, or who could just help me in the many small ways that left me exhausted when I should have been playing with all the other kids. And I think of how lonely my grandmother's sister was when her partner died, how alone she must have felt. I can't even think of this without breaking into tears. I can't even begin to comprehend the unfairness of it in any way that would sense.

Mr. President, I tell you this story because this story is still being played out all over the world. I have American friends who are gay, who fell in love with citizens of other countries. In so many cases these other countries have afforded them citizenship rights and recognized the legality of their marriages. I have friends who have lived in other countries with their partners for many years and now they want to come home to the America that has new promise, new hope because of your Presidency.

But in order to do so they still have to make the choice my grandmother's sister had to make. I want to believe we are a better people than that time. I want to believe that we no longer split up families, people who love each other because of bad laws. But all the evidence says we still do and will continue to do so.

That's why I'm asking for your help in passing the UNITING AMERICAN FAMILIES ACT. It's time to bring home your citizens who want to help make America realize it's true potential as a beacon of hope and promise to the rest of the world. They want to be part of what we're creating together. But please, Mr. President, don't make them choose between love of country and love of their partners. Please help pass this vital piece of legislation for all Americans, no matter what their sexual orientation.

A bouquet of roses in red, yellow, green, lavender, pink, red,
black and brown requests "Equal rights for everyone." A better world is
built by equal citizens. Click on magnet to purchase on visit my Zazzle store for more selections here

Familiar recycle symbol in purple, green and blue says "Peace, Love,
Equality" in different colors. Support equal rights for all people or
the better world we want to build will stay just a dream. Click on sweatshirt to purchase or visit my Cafepress store for more selections here

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

This lifelong night person is tired from getting up so early to watch the Inauguration, drained from all the tears of joy, relief, and sense of awe, and still I can't get enough. I've been dancing around the internet tubes to try and take in as much as I can and there were several times that I lost it and just starting sobbing. One of the images was of people in Kenya celebrating:

(AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

and the other was this row of TV's in a store window in Palestine.

(Associated Press)

To me, these two images are the essence of what this election is all about and the most heart-wrenching.

But then there are these:

(AP Photo//Sayyid Azim)

Kenyans say goodbye to Bush by throwing their shoes at the TV.

(Associated Press)

I think Bush should have this one on his front lawn.

But this one from Cake Wrecks with the crotch-grabbing, cigarette smoking (or flipping someone off?)
Obama just says it all, whatever the all is they meant to say.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Hope Thing

I was raised on hope. It formed the foundation of a childhood  built on a precarious ledge that could break off at any time. Most of the time I'd wake up in the morning relieved we were still in the same house, apartment, or motel room. Hope was defined as a small wish, an unvoiced plea that we could stay this time,  that we didn't have to sneak out in the middle of the night because the money was gone again, gambled away by my father when he managed to hold a job for more than a couple months, or just gone because there was never enough to last more than a couple days, no matter how hard anyone worked.

Hope was the sucking in of my breath and thinking if I was completely quiet, if I never cried, if I was just invisible enough, my father wouldn't notice me and I could escape his wild rages, the beatings that he inflicted on everyone unfortunate enough to be in the same room with him. Hope was sometimes wishing he'd get hit by a truck so all our bruises could finally heal and I wouldn't have to wear long-sleeved shirts to school in a 110 degree weather anymore.

Then there was the kind of hope that wished I didn't live with a grandmother who spoke no English, a mother whose accent was so thick she might as well have been speaking Martian. Or the even more unreasonble hope that I would no longer be short and dark but tall and blond and thin. Or those days when I was so exhausted I'd wish I didn't have to be the responsible adult so often, and that someone would take turns  being the grownup so I could finally get enough sleep.

When I left home at 17, it was a home I'd only lived in for a couple months. I'd never gone to the same school for an entire year in my whole life. I had penpals I was closer to than the temporary friends I made before we had to move on again. But every time we moved, every time we arrived in a new town, every time I was the new kid in a room full of strange faces, I hoped that it would be different, that the pattern of my life would change, that the paradigm would shift, that I'd wake up safe, secure, and living in a stable, loving and constant never-changing life.

And for a few days, for a few weeks, and in some extremely rare occasions that I remember well because they were so rare, I realized my hope through the sheer act of hoping. I lived it and knew it, however brief it was. Maybe it was because I knew it was only temporary,  and so I had to jump in and indulge myself completely before it went out like a candle flame burning in the momentary lull of a hurricane.

My life is made up of those patchwork moments, those times when I let myself believe and dream and hope that no matter how bad things were, they would always get better--even if only for a few days or hours at a time. I learned to let that be enough, to settle for the moments because they were better than no moments at all.

I write this to explain what is happening to me now with the upcoming inauguration. I find myself afraid to hope, afraid to believe until Obama takes that oath and officially becomes President, that the Bush years are finally over. This is how deeply that bastard has stolen hope from us, from me, from someone who had it dashed over and over in my life and yet still believed enough to move forward until Bush came along and did what a lifetime of shit couldn't do: he took my hope.

And on Tuesday I'd like that evil, shit-faced, smug little son-of-a-mean-ass-bitch to know that I'm taking it back. I'm taking it back along with the belief that America will never be anything but a racist, ignorant country. I'm taking back my hope that once again we will be a nation of adults and those of us who are always stuck being the responsible adults can finally take a break. I'm taking back the hope that we will become the kind of people who draw strength from what we do for others instead of from what our armies do to others. I'm taking back the hope that we will stop letting the greedy powermongers divide us so they can more easily pick our pockets, empty our bank accounts into their own, and then blame us for what they did to us. I'm taking back my hope that together as one people, one planet we can build a world that builds dreams instead of destroys them.

And no, it is not President Obama who can do this. It is me and you. It is us. It is being the change we wish to see in the world, because more than anything it was the small bits and pieces of hope  Bush didn't kill that elected Obama President and if we combine them again, who knows what we will do with that much power next. I can hardly wait!

You voted for change and now it's time to put it into motion with
the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Show your support and your
activism with this design of a peace dove, a candle, and the words "Be
The Change" that comes from the Gandhi quote "Be the change you wish to
see in the world." (Click on shirt to purchase or visit Crazy Old Lady Of Peace store)

A rainbow of raised fists proclaim "Power to the People." Wear it to
show your part in electing Barack Obama as the first people's President
who will represent us equally. (Click on shirt to purchase or visit Ursine Logic store)

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dubya, The Loser and His Legacy

I tried to watch Bush's speech tonight because it was the last one and there's so much pent up anger, despair and disgust at what he's inflicted on America and the world that I thought it might feel like a celebration to see the beginning of his end.

I lasted only as long as the moment he began the obligatory pandering to 9/11, neglecting to mention his administration ignored all warnings that it was about to happen.

-----"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John
Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida
strike on an American target that was given to the White House two
months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." read more------

I couldn't watch any more because he's a sick piece of crap who doesn't think he did anything wrong...ever. He's the kind of rationalizer who always finds someone else to blame, who always has an excuse, who always has a scapegoat waiting in the wings to take responsibility for his actions.

He's just another stupid, spoiled and pampered rich fuck who serves as a living example why an inheritance tax might be a good thing. If daddy and his corrupt cabal didn't steal the election for him, Dubya's life would probably have been a series of drunken driving arrests, cover-ups of times neighborhood pets were found tortured to death, and a series of insane moments where he would shoot at innocent people from inside his pickup truck while screaming that he was the Decider.

Instead, the bought and paid for Supreme Court stole the election for him, an act that history will condemn them for in perpetuity. As a result, he drunkenly drove the country into a financial ditch, wiped his ass with the Constitution, made torture synonymous with his legacy, and created concentration camps for people who were mostly guilty of being Arab. Those who were actually guilty of something can never be tried for their crimes because the laws he didn't manage to defile with his signing statements and politicized (in)Justice Department, will never allow their extracted confessions to be considered evidence.

In the last few days he's given more speeches than he's given in the last year. It's all about the legacy for him now and he's delusional enough to think it won't be the most horrendous shadow that will follow him to the grave. I have a few suggested legacy "designs" for him and his adminstration that he can't blame on anyone but himself.

Click on images to purchase or visit Ursine Logic for these designs on t-shirts and memento items.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hey Sarah! I can see the end of your career from my house!

The poster child for right-wing Christian Taliban fundie crazies thinks anyone who isn't out hunting witches or popping out litters of babies are out to get her by way of their blogs.

""Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me....I'll tell you, yesterday the Anchorage Daily News, they called again to ask -- double-, triple-, quadruple-check -- who is Trig's real mom. And I said, Come on, are you kidding me? We're gonna answer this? Do you not believe me or my doctor? And they said, No, it's been quite cryptic the way that my son's birth has been discussed. And I thought, Okay, more indication of continued problems in the world of journalism." read more

This latest rant comes in on the gas vapors of her latest rant over Caroline Kennedy's rumored appointment to Hillary's senate seat:

“I’ve been interested to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she will be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope also,” the governor replied. “It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. And I think that as we watch that, we will perhaps be able to prove that there is a class issue here also that was such a factor in the scrutiny of my candidacy versus, say, the scrutiny of what her candidacy may be.” read more

First, for the sake of trying to coherently explain the Palin Train Wreck Express, let's set aside the fact that Caroline Kennedy's underage daughter didn't get knocked up by a dude whose mom was busted in a classic trailer park drama involving oxycontin and narcotic's officers.

"The mother of the boy who got Bristol Palin, the daughter of 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President Sarah Palin, pregnant has been arrested on drug charges. " read more

or that MR. Caroline Kennedy was not involved in a group that advocates the violent overthrow of the United States government:

"This afternoon, the director of Division of Elections in Alaska, Gail Fenumiai, told TPMmuckraker that Todd Palin registered in October 1995 to the Alaska Independence Party, a radical group that advocates for Alaskan secession from the United States." read more

And although I have an extreme disdain for the homophobic and racist politics of the Catholic Church, I don't see Caroline Kennedy marching off into the constitutional sunset to replace that piece of paper with official Catholic dogma. But I do find all kinds of indications that Sarah Palin's church has every intention of replacing the constitution with their crazed interpretation of the Bible, a book written by the same people who believed the earth was flat.

"No less than the official newsletter of the Assemblies of God of Alaska  promotes her proudly as one of the denomination's own, and she was actually feted at an official function of the Assemblies' Alaska District as recently as this year: "  read more

But what I see more than anything with all this howling and wailing and whining is the end of Sarah Palin's fifteen minutes of fame. Like it or not, it's time for her to return to the small town brain deathness of Wasilla and work on her next witch hunting trip as she shoots darts at the baby name book and fails to notice it's really a dictionary of very simple words.

It's not a matter of class warfare, Sarah. It's a matter of your novelty act wearing off and exposing  there's nothing underneath but just another whacked out right wing lunatic whose fifteen minutes are up.

Penguins standing in a crowd saying "Hey Sarah we can see the end of
your career from our house" is a perfect anti-Palin memento to honor
McCain Snowbilly VP choice. Button can be purchased by clicking on image or visiting Ursine Logic stores.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Strong Women and the continual battle to stay strong

I know so many strong women, so many capable and intelligent women, so many women who have advantages some of our own mothers only dreamed about. I think of my teen years when I followed the path of the women in my own family and worked to bring equality to my gender. I remember the jobs where I did the work and the male manager got the credit. I remember the difference in pay between me and the man hired months later for a higher salary than I received for the same job. I remember having to lie and say I was engaged in order to get my first prescription of birth control pills in the 60's that were only for "married women." I remember my neighbor telling me in the 70's that I was going to the polls because she had fought for women's right to vote as a young woman in America.

I also remember fierce arguments about whether women belonged in the military or in politics because of their hormonal instability as newspaper headlines screamed about men who snapped and shot up schools, shopping malls, post offices, and work places. I also remember the Mormon Church in Las Vegas loading up the big yellow school buses with stay at home moms, driving them to the polls and directing them to vote against the equal rights for women amendment so it wouldn't be ratified. (It never was) I also remember wondering if they dragged out those same school buses in California to vote against the right for Homosexual-Americans to marry.

I remember the Reagan years and the power suits that women wore so they would look more serious, more like men, less feminine so they would be taken seriously. I remember men wearing pink shirts and no one accused them of looking less masculine because they had all the power and that was masculine enough.

In the next few years, I watched the religious shackles start to appear again and grab for the ankles of women as more and more restrictions were imposed on a woman's right to choose. I watched in horror as pharmacies denied women the means to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and then made her drive hours and hours out of town because abortion clinics were suddenly few and far between. I watched these same religious groups lose interest and financial support for the fetus once it was a real live human being.

I watched young women start to have babies they couldn't afford nor were able to care for because they were still in high school with no job or parenting skills. I watched the churches interfere more and more with freedoms that women of my own generation fought for: the right to choose, the right for safe access to birth control, the right to learn about our own bodies, the right to run companies, the military, and our own government.

And now I am watching us go backwards. I am watching 16 year old celebutards given rock star treatment for having babies so that insecure and unhappy teens can eat it all up and start popping out more responsibilities they can't afford to feed nor care for adequately.

I am watching women who are strong, opinionated, educated, intelligent and smart run for office and get called castrating bitches and other put downs drawn from the most ignorant of 1950's insult banks. I am watching the news media judge women by different standards than they do men. I am watching them do wall to wall coverage of bad women, naughty women, evil women who kill their children by drowning, shooting, strangulation, starvation. And I am watching them do wall to wall coverage on men who kill their wives by shooting, strangulation, drowning, starvation.

I am hearing young girls say I can't more often than I'm hearing them say I can. I am hearing them ignore the strong women they see on television and focus on the Palins and Spears instead. I am seeing them dress up as mini hookers because brains aren't as sexy. I am watching them vote for Palin and not care that she is dumber than a rock because it takes the pressure off them to be smart. I am watching us go backward in time.

I would hate to see my long ago neighbor's work to get us the vote go to waste, I'd hate to see all the work my friends and I did to get some semblance of equality in the workplace, some fairness in hiring practices, some equal standards for handing out both academic and athletic scholarships get sent back to the 1950's. I would really hate to see women lose the right to choose what they want to happen to their own bodies. I would hate so much to see women die in wars that they can now participate in but have no say in determining whether they are fought or not. I want a woman president who doesn't have to wear a power suit to win respect. I want a world where young girls have heros who do something instead of having something done to or for them.

So I opened a store just for women and young girls to spread the message once again that we are equally smart, capable, strong, and able. I am sorry that once again the message is needed. I had hoped after all these years, all these battles, that I could just sit back and watch the seeds of equality, tolerance, respect, and peace take hold. But like all gardens, it needs constant tending or it will die. Here are some of my seeds to keep it alive.

Powerful words to wear on a shirt, bumpersticker or other way to
express what many need to hear and read for true equality to take hold
"My inner child is a strong woman." Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

A rainbow of women with hands connected illustrate the words "The
strongest fabric, women supporting women." Show your woman power as a
piece of this powerful weaving. Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

Bright orange red pow shape forms the background for "packing awesome
inner strength." Show off your woman power with style and confidence
that what's inside matters as much as the outside. Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

Starburst shape in pink colors and bolts of lightning form the backdrop
for the rainbow colored words "Girl Power." Lead with your strength and
help women and young girls find their power. Click on design to purchase or visit the Strong Woman store

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Child-Free By Choice: What It Means To Me

I'm often asked about my reasons for remaining child-free. If I set aside the personal issues, what's left are the common experiences that defined my choice and continues to define it. First and foremost, it's about overpopulation for me. Here's a few places that do a good job of explaining exactly what the term means and some examples of how it contributes to the damage done to our planet.

What is Overpopulation?

"Overpopulation is not a function of the size or density of the
population only. Overpopulation is determined using the ratio of
population to available sustainable resources. If a given environment
has a population of ten, but there is food or drinking water enough for
only nine, then in a closed system where no trade is possible, that
environment is overpopulated; if the population is 100 individuals but
there is enough food, shelter, and water for 200 for the indefinite
future, then it is not." read more

From Why Population Matters October 20, 2008

"The population of the US is projected to reach 300 million by October -
a population growth rate comparable to that of China. Because of
immigration, the number of people in the US could reach 400 million by
2050. About 76 million people are being added annually. This year's
world grain harvest will fall short of consumption by 61 million tons.
That's the sixth time in the past seven years that production has
failed to satisfy demand. The world carry-over stocks of grain will
fall to 57 days of consumption by the end of this year, the shortest
buffer since a 56-day-low in 1956 doubled grain prices. Despite
continued growth in world food output, the developing world had 815
million hungry people in 2002, 9 million less than in 1990." read more

My other concern is the overall health of the planet. Humans are a greedy species and everywhere we go we destroy something, use up something, or wipe out the population of something. With an Obama administration we will see a reversal of some of the most extreme of the Bushies thieve and destroy mentality, but we need to look deeper and prevent problems from developing into future disasters. Here's an excellent series of articles on what exactly it means to destroy a natural resource.

"Human activity on Earth has always altered the land. When populations
were small enough, and productive and accessible land was abundant,
people could abandon land that had been damaged by overuse and move on.
While some countries still have excess land available, if population
growth continues at the expected rate, virtually all arable (fit for
cultivation) land will be in use.
" read more

Then there's the issue of war. It's usually about land grabs, resource looting, and profiteering off human suffering. But it's also the greatest manipulator of human spirit there is. Those who want war will play on patriotism, fear, and differences to fill their uniforms. But a prosperous society where most are fed and clothed don't pay as much attention to the propaganda as those who are hovering around the poverty line. The military seeks out these desperate people and promises them housing, medical care, benefits ranging from home ownership to job training, and a steady paycheck to lure them into war. In a society where there are enough resources to go around, peace takes on greater importance than war. Overpopulation almost guarantees a ready supply of cannon fodder.

"In 2003 the Pentagon spent almost $4 billion targeting high-achieving low income youth with commercials, video games, personal visits, enlistment bonuses, and slick brochures." read more

I came of age during the Vietnam War. I lost those I loved, those I went to high school with, those in my immediate and extended family to that war. I swore I would never give the government a child of my own for them to kill in their evil wars. I've kept my promise to myself.

Finally there's the issue of a rising religious extremism that has as little respect for individual beliefs as the Taliban have for those who believe differently than they do. This loudly obnoxious Christian Reich Wing wants to ban birth control along with abortion.

"Supporters have pressured insurance companies to refuse coverage of
contraception, lobbied for "conscience clause" laws to protect
pharmacists from having to dispense birth control, and are redefining
the very meaning of pregnancy to classify certain contraceptive methods
as abortion. In increasing numbers, women and men opposed to
contraception are marshaling health facts and figures to bolster their
convictions that sex for anything but procreation is morally wrong and
potentially deadly." read more

As a child-free by choice woman I believe it's way past time for those of us opposed to these absurd policies speak out and let the world know these loonies do not speak for us. Here's a couple designs I made that gets the message across that I'm not buying their crap and if they try to mess with my rights, they're going to get a real battle in return.

The Condom Cross

Fight back against the religious reich's war on reproductive freedom
with this unique design of two condoms in the shape of a cross. Tell
them birth control is YOUR religion. You can buy it on everything from sweatshirts to buttons here

Or you can buy this one that I turned into a statement on birth control and religion:

Looking for an in-your-face response to those who want to ban birth
control for their personal religious reasons? Cross made of condoms and
"Church of the Holy Birth Control." Buy it here on many different items including t-shirts and other apparel.

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