Just Fucking Get It Done.

So I know I’ve been kinda quiet lately.  But this is not where I tell you ‘Oh I’ve been busy’ (I have) or ‘I just haven’t had much to say lately’ (I haven’t). 

See, everyone’s talking about this health care thing.  And me, I was all revved up here to give you my two cents about it.  Until I found out that a friend of mine, well she pretty well summed up what I wanted to say.  So, I’ll just share her words with you, my ever faithful readers.

All I will add is this:  The current system does not keep our country healthy or help us when we are sick to get better.  The current system just makes insurance companies wealthy.  So instead of regurgitating the shit that you’ve been force fed without actually using your brain, let’s work together and get this shit fixed.  Once and for fucking all.  For fuck’s sake.  This is not about political ideology.  This is about me, paying doctors, to keep me healthy and heal me when I’m sick.  Don’t distort the issue by bringing ideology into it.

Health Care Debate: Doing it Wrong

Of patriotism and pride

I really love this country I live in.  I always have, and I always will.  But like parents with a difficult child, I have to admit that liking this country has been a real challenge for the past decade or so.  I found it hard, near impossible in fact, to hold my head up high and say that I am an American.  I questioned the ethics of my leaders, their motives, and I watched as policies and actions were carried out which seemed to have ambiguous value for the country, as well as very little moral ground on which to stand.

I don’t feel that way now.

I’m not saying it’s perfect; far from it.  But I can certainly hold my head up again.

Happy fourth of July, everyone.  I leave you with one of my most popular blog posts.

Remember, remember the fourth of November

A picture I took from my friend's deck. Pretty amazing view!

I jaywalk because I’m jewish.

I’ve been driving around in downtown Portland a couple times in recent weeks.  Did you know they totally revamped the whole bus mall area?  Yeah.  Now when you make right turns you have to turn into the FAR lane.  Because the bus and the streetcar are taking up the normal lanes you’d turn into.

It’s kinda weird.  But whatever.  I”m all for mass transit, here, people.  ALL for it.

But in conjunction with this whole bus mall revamping, I heard that the local PDX police were cracking down on jaywalkers in the bus mall area.  Cracking down hard.  Like they’re some sort of hardened criminal element, like oh say drug dealers.  Because we never have THOSE in downtown Portland, right?

Ha. Right.

I am a proud jaywalker.  I would gladly pay any fine for the privilege of crossing a street with intention.  I cross with intention by checking both ways and seeing whether or not there are any cars coming, and then crossing, regardless of what some stupid machine is telling me to do.  It’s a minor rebellion, but it’s important to me.  Allow me to explain.

Fully half of my mother’s side of the family died during World War II.  A relative did our family tree and of the 10 or so siblings alive before the war, less than half were alive afterward.  Under each name of a sibling (some very, very young) who did not survive, was just one word: Holocaust.  It’s a chilling thing to see.  And then there is this, from Pastor Martin Niemoller.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not protest;
I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

What does this all have to do with jaywalking, you ask?  Relying on my senses instead of relying on a rule is my one small way of affirming to myself that I will never blindly follow rules.  I will protest rules that persecute others.  For all my relatives who died, I risk punishment for not following a rule that makes no sense to me, because I think that using my eyes, ears and brain works much more effectively.  Much like I protest against rules that prohibit gay marriage, or gays in the military, because they truly do not make sense to me either.

True, it may be a stretch to remember victims of the Holocaust by jaywalking.  But every time I step off that curb, regardless of what the sign indicates…it is the millions who died that are in my thoughts.

Old Model Army, or Why I’m Not Emo Anymore

I was an angry, disillusioned, totally emo chick in college. 

I’m not exactly sure how it happened. 

(Translation: it would take far longer than this blog post to explain, and I’m not sure we’re at the stage in our interwebs relationship where I open up that much.  )

Right.  So, angry.  Emo.  My writing 101 prof called me a nihilist existentialist. 

Wow.  Really?  No, really?

Well.  What sort of music does a nihilist existentialist listen to?

Why, New Model Army, of course.   My favorite album of theirs, The Ghost of Cain.

They were angry.  Oh, so very angry.  I submit the following selections from the track list as evidence: 

The Hunt – Vigilante-ism at its finest:

“No police, no summons, no courts of law | no proper procedures, no rules of war | no mitigating circumstance | no lawyer’s fees no second chance”

“We can spend our whole life waiting for some thunderbolt to come | Or we can spend our whole life waiting for some justice to be done | Unless we make our own”

Lights Go Out – The worker’s lament:

“I went to my father, said please make me king… | He said son, well you gotta do your time | I’ve done 53 years and I haven’t yet done mine | You’re just one of the millions waiting in line”

“Though we asked for the money, and money they gave | God how that made us easy to enslave | So today at the office, we picked up the check | A chain of gold, a stab in the back | The old men went home, silent and bowed | And the young men went drinking, drowning it out”

51st State – Great Britain’s anti-american anthem:

 “Yeah tip your hat to the Yankee conquerors | We’ve got no reds under the bed | We’ve guns under our pillows”

“Here in the land of opportunities, hah | Oh watch us revel in our liberty | Well you can say what you like, but it doesn’t change anything | Cause the corridors of power, they’re an ocean away”

All of This – Western foreign policy rant:

 “Frustrated and impatient and intelligent sharp and twisted like a child | Death is an aphrodisiac now | There’s fuses on the table slowly wired”

 “Soldiers out at the discoteque pick up a girl and drink to home afar | Spending money like water on the watered drinks available at the bar | The ones who never were given much never asked much of anything in recall | But there’s a black bag in the corner and it doesn’t bel0ng to anyone here at all”

“In the name of the people, all of this done | In the name of the people”

Western Dream – i.e. the american dream, uh, is a dream, but media is gonna shove it down your throat:

Gather round and listen and I’ll tell you how it’s done | How they managed to make idiots out of everyone | Take a human population with their hunger and their pain, and the weaknesses that cripple them again and again”

“All lies all lies all schemes all schemes | Every one of you is a loser in the western dream” 

Ballad - Most depressing “we fucked up the world” song EVAR, complete with sad harmonica:

“When they look back at us and they write down their history | What will they say about our generation | We’re the ones who knew everything | Still we did nothing | Harvested everything | Planted nothing”

“Floating in comfort on waves of our apathy | Quietly gnawing away at our body | Till we mortgaged the future | Buried our children”

“Well I stand on this hill | And I watch her at night | A thousand square miles and a million orange lights | Wounded and scarred she lies silent in pain | Raped and betrayed in the cold acid rain”

“Not foolish and brave, these leaders of ours | Just stupid and petty, unworthy of power | Just a little leak here, and a small error there | Another square mile, poisoned forever”

Master Race

“And the opposition, well we ain’t doing so well | Our understanding is weak here, and  knowledge is small | Though the kids scrawl frustration on a backstreet wall | Well most of them can’t even spell ‘bastard’”

  

 Ouch.  Ouch ouch ouch.  Sometimes, it’s hard to listen to this album. 

So where am I going with this?

I listen to this album still.  And I enjoy it, for the memories, and the emotion, but so many of these songs just don’t ring true for me anymore.  And that makes me glad…nay, grateful.  Thankful.  To be  perfectly honest, I really must give some of the credit to our newly elected president for laying much of those feelings to rest.  Not that last year I was all RAWR I HATE MY COUNTRY, but it sure was painful to watch the things that were happening.  They’re still happening, it’s true, but there’s a pervading sense of hope now. 

Thank you, my country.  I’ve always loved you.  But as Michelle Obama said, I’m once again proud to be an American.

Of politicos and prose

What a week this has been.

I mean seriously, people.  Half the country will remember where they were yesterday for the rest of their lives, for starters.  For me, this week has been…Momentous.  Thrilling.  Moving.  Confusing.  Thought provoking.  Surprising.

So how many blog posts have you seen about the Inauguration?  I know, me too.  Tons.  And I kinda didn’t want to just add to the Obama mania noise with my piddly two cents.  So this is just an amalgamation of a couple things swirling around my head, including (I mean really, come on, I have to say something, right?) my little Obama plug.  Call it another house cleaning post.

 

So without furthur ado…OBAMA!

That's my president.  Isn't he shiny and new?

That's my president. Isn't he shiny and new?

I recorded the exact moment in his speech where I lost it.  It was right about 10 minutes, 17 or so seconds into it:

“…to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more. ”

…and queue tears. 

TIKVA. 

I’m resolving to get my carpentry on for Habitat for Humanity this year.  That’s what I’m doing, for starters.  What about you?

Also, check out my buddy @dieselboi’s post on OurPDX.  He was THERE. And he has PICTURES!

 

Et Tu, Sam?

Sam.  We're all disappointed.

Sam. We're all disappointed.

What the hell??  My twitter/FB community has been, well, a-twitter with the news of Sam Adams’ announcement, and the repurcussions.  So he slept with an 18 year old intern.  Big deal!!  (as long as he was, in fact, 18.)  He should not have lied about it.  Especially when he was asked directly.  He could have skirted the truth, but no, he flat out lied.  And asked Beau Breedlove (yeah, what a name, huh?) to lie about it as well.  Which says clearly, I’m afraid that people will use this against me because I’m gay.  So I’m gonna hide my gay (legal) indiscretions.  Sure, it may not demonstrate the best judgment in your personal life, but it’s your personal life.  Your record of service speaks for itself.  If you’re gonna be our out and proud mayor, Sam, be out and proud.  You broke no law.  But now, the city is clamoring for you to step down, because they feel betrayed.  I personally don’t think so you should step down, despite my disappointment. I think the city would be best served by you staying in office, especially now that you will do your damnedest to improve your reputation. 

Some fellow bloggers who feel the same:

-http://develonizer.com/?p=1663
-http://catherder.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/why-sam-adams-should-not-resign-as-mayor-of-portland/
-http://inyourwater.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/leave-sam-adams-a-lone/

 

Nao fala portuguese!

I’ve been reminded just how much I love Portuguese.  Such a beautiful language.  I remember the first time I heard it.  I was at a friends house, and she was playing some music.  It was in a language that at first, I thought was French.  But soon realized it couldn’t be French, since I couldn’t make out a single word.  Spanish then?  No, again, don’t recognize any words as Spanish.  Yet I felt so sure that I should be able to understand what they were saying, it sounded so…familiar.  Thus began my love of the Portuguese language.  Mostly the Brazilian flavor.  

I was also introduced to Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet.  And I heard beautiful words, placed in such a way as to make my heart hum in rhythm with the sounds.  Pitter pat, pitter pat:

If I could tell the future and if I knew all secrets,
and if I had all knowledge,
and if I had enough faith to move mountains,
but if I didn’t have love,
I would be nothing.

Eu tenho saudade.

I think I need to do something with those lines.  Like, something that will go on my walls.  I know, I’ll paint them, right on my wall.  In big fancy letters.  Big swirly fancy letters, that go across my walls.  So I can be reminded every day of the essence of my heart. 

See #7 for the reason why.

 

Ok, so maybe working here ain’t so bad after all.

I did a really hard thing.  I told people that I had made something of a commitment to, that well, it doesn’t seem to be working out.  It was a possible break up, and I was interested in someone else.  Or at least, something else.  I had to do it several times.  No one freaked, and I didn’t get fired.  Everyone was supportive, and understanding.  It was not painless (I do develop loyalties tres quickly.  Tres.), but they were at least conversations I could walk away from with my head held high, and no hard feelings, and mutual positive spin.  And it wasn’t even really spin, really.  I learned a lot.  No really, my brain is full of stuff, and I’ll take that with me, and be better for it.  But I have to follow my passion.  And even better, I was told I *could* go back, if I wanted to.

I can be a total geek at work again.  Joy!  Yeah yeah all you open source peeps out there, it’s .NET.  Yes, there is a bajillion hoops, some of them on fire, and politics and crap.  But I understand it.  I’ve maneuvered those roads, they’re familiar, and now that time has passed, they don’t seem so bad, in exchange for being able to be a code monkey again, and get PAID for it.

I haven’t decided for sure that I’m going back yet.  But I can, if I want to, and everyone knows I’m thinking about it, and it didn’t hurt (much) to tell everyone. 

I can even – maybe – be agile again.

Remember, remember, the 4th of November

On November 4th, America decided to give one of the hardest jobs in the world to this guy.  There were parties.  And speeches.  Lots of warm fuzzies to be had. 

I partied pretty hard along with everyone.  (not as hard as I used to, or as hard as I would’ve liked to, but hey, I’m not in my 20s anymore right?)

But for me, it hit home on November 5th.

I shed quite a few tears that day.  I felt like a member of the world community again.  I felt…redeemed.  LIke the US is not doomed, and …well…like this.

I wouldn’t feel like this again

I spent a lot of time looking at those pictures four years ago.  It was the only thing that gave me hope that my country had not turned its back on people like me, with my ideals, my dreams, my beliefs. It sure felt like it at the time, though.

But now, in less than a week, all that work, all that hope, all that struggle, will culminate on January 20th, Inauguration Day.

So I thought I’d post a few of the moving things people said on November 5th that I collected.  Just so we don’t forget what it felt like. 

 

This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten.  America is rebecoming a New World.
“On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes…”

- Rama Yade, France’s black junior minister for human rights, on French radio.

And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man — Barack Hussein Obama — won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States.
A civil war that, in many ways, began at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, ended 147 years later via a ballot box in the very same state. For nothing more symbolically illustrated the final chapter of America’s Civil War than the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia — the state that once exalted slavery and whose secession from the Union in 1861 gave the Confederacy both strategic weight and its commanding general — voted Democratic, thus assuring that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States.
…there also may have been something of a “Buffett effect” that countered the supposed “Bradley effect” — white voters telling pollsters they’d vote for Obama but then voting for the white guy. The Buffett effect was just the opposite. It was white conservatives telling the guys in the men’s grill at the country club that they were voting for John McCain, but then quietly going into the booth and voting for Obama, even though they knew it would mean higher taxes.
Why? Some did it because they sensed how inspired and hopeful their kids were about an Obama presidency, and they not only didn’t want to dash those hopes, they secretly wanted to share them. Others intuitively embraced Warren Buffett’s view that if you are rich and successful today, it is first and foremost because you were lucky enough to be born in America at this time — and never forget that.

- Thomas L. Friedman, NYTimes

We have so many hopes and wishes that he will never be able to fulfill them,”

-Susanne Grieshaber, an art adviser in Berlin who was one of 200,000 Germans to attend a speech by President-Elect Obama there in July.

President-elect Obama thanked all of us tonight — his speech was an acknowledgment that we all had hired him with the responsibility to better our world. He humbly accepted our mandate, both with a profound sense of history and a compassionate appreciation that we and he have changed the entire world for the better.
And what of the world? Tonight, it just sighed with relief – good things can happen to good people, it seems, and Americans are good people again.

-Shirin Sadeghi

In America’s journey toward a more just and truly democratic society, tonight is another milestone. And not just because the son of a Kenyan father and a mother from Kansas is now President-Elect. But also because tonight’s outcome is a declaration that we are once again a nation more driven by hope and promise than a nation driven by fear.
But these challenging times also will provide the new president with the opportunity to really transform America. As Gary Hart points out, “Great presidents do not emerge from quiet times; they arise in times of chaos and crisis.”
It’s a theme Michelle Obama touched on many times on the campaign trail. “Barack Obama will require that you work,” she said at a rally on the eve of Super Tuesday. “He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism; that you put down your divisions; that you come out of your isolation; that you move out of your comfort zones; that you push yourself to be better; and that you engage.”

-Ariana Huffington

I want Obama to win with 99 percent, like Saddam Hussein.  I swear if he doesn’t win, I’m going to take it personally.”

Hanin Abu Ayash, who works at a television station in Dubai and monitored early returns on his computer

The margin of victory was emphatic and, whatever else follows, today the world changed,” said an editorial in The Times of London, and The Guardian newspaper proclaimed: “They did it. They really did it. So often crudely caricatured by others, the American people yesterday stood in the eye of history and made an emphatic choice for change for themselves and the world.”

 

When he was preparing for the Democratic primary debates, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that's green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

Just when I thought I couldn’t love the man more.

Comment on Huffington Post by “cantbehavingwiththis”

 

As we start fresh with a constitutional law professor and senator from the Land of Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial might be getting its gleam back.
I may have to celebrate by going over there and climbing up into Abe’s lap.
It’s a $50 fine. But it’d be worth it.

Maureen Dowd

And a final thought from me:  Good luck, President Obama.  I know that’s not your title yet, but I’m just trying it on for size, you know?  Your country is 100% behind you.  Or at least I am, and pretty much everyone I know.  We’re five by five, and Ready to Go.  Let’s get back on track, shall we?

But first, time for another party!

Lying is good. So says the Pentagon.

Yep.  Lie to me, because I just DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH.   I like my head in the sand.  It’s nice and warm on my …sinuses.

In other words, “Don’t ask, don’t tell”.

A Military Times poll recently released states that 58% of soldiers don’t want “don’t ask, don’t tell” repealed; 10% would not re-enlist, and 14% would consider ending their careers.

Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness states that soldiers shouldn’t have to endure ‘forced intimacy’ situations with gay soldiers, and that ‘sensitivity training’ to learn to get along with their gay brothers and sisters-in-arms would make their jobs that more difficult.

Um, right. Some things you may want to consider:

Gay and straight soldiers are already having to endure ‘forced intimacy’ in the course of their work.  Only now, the gay and lesbian soldiers have to keep their sexuality a secret.  Kinda works against the whole trust paradigm that is so important when you have to rely on someone to keep you alive.   Some gay and lesbian soldiers choose to risk all for the sake of truth, and reveal their sexuality to a few of their peers who they trust.  I can only assume this is because they want to be kicked out of the military, right?.  No?  It couldn’t be because they are trying to build a trust relationship with their peers…   For the sake of argument, if you were a soldier, and had a (quite unreasonable) fear of gays and/or lesbians, wouldn’t it make you feel better to *know* who is one?  And then maybe, wouldn’t you realize that you really had nothing to fear in the first place?

You can not dictate to the human heart.  Just because male and female soldiers don’t bunk together, doesn’t mean that there are no hookups.  The lack of co-ed bunking is just a minor hurdle, and I doubt that has ever stopped any two people in the military who were determined enough to have sex.  Similarly, just because “don’t ask, don’t tell” was implemented, doesn’t mean that gay and lesbian servicemembers don’t hook up.  I happen to know that they most certainly do.  Seriously, sex happens, and a law on the books has done virtually nothing to impede it.  Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” will mean that gay soldiers will no longer be discharged for it.

Since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was instituted, approximately 12,000 gays and lesbians have been discharged for being gay, averaging about 1,000 a year.  Just for being gay.  Not because they weren’t good soldiers, the majority of them are.  When we are fighting two wars, one in Iraq and a far more difficult one in Afghanistan, can we really afford to lose that many willing and able servicemembers?  Many of them with necessary skills (Arabic speaking)?  These numbers don’t include all the gay and lesbian Americans who have tried to enlist and been refused, or those who would try to enlist but don’t, because of  “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Keep in mind, these are only the ones who have been discharged, because they slipped up and got caught.  How many gay and lesbian soldiers are still there, fighting the good fight for our country, dying for us, for the betterment of our planet, and are forced to lie to their brothers and sisters?  I firmly believe that even the smallest lie, told under extreme circumstances, can begin to eat at you.  Imagine lying about something so personal, so intrinsic to your life as your heart, to men and women who share that deeply with you.  Your compatriots, who need to form such deep bonds in order to stay alive.

I wonder if more gay and lesbian soldiers are killed in action, because of such a seemingly little thing.  Perhaps it’s unlikely, but who knows?  We don’t, because we’ve told them not to tell us.

Don’t shoot your whole wad, Barry!

Ok I know, in my last post, I was talking about how I was doing housecleaning and all, and there were a couple thoughts I had that just didn’t warrant a whole blog post.

This one, short as it is, definitely does.

So I’m reading this McClatchy Newspapers article by Steven Thomma.  It’s all about how the nation is in a big huge soul-sucking funk.  (Duh.)  Comparing Obama’s hurdles with the ones that FDR and Reagan encountered, they quote John Zogby of Zogby International on what Obama needs to do to pull the country’s pysche out of the figurative trash heap, and I quote:

“He has to manage this carefully. He has to make sure that expectations don’t rise too quickly,” pollster Zogby said. “If he shoots the whole wad at one time, and people in April or so don’t feel they’re better off, he could be in trouble.”

Whoa.  Ok.  How does shooting your wad play here?  Sex and politics.  How droll.  I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at that one.

Even I’m not so much of an idealist to not know that sex and politics have, and always will be, the best of bedfellows.  (get it?  bedfellows?  hahahaha haa   ha …ok.  nevermind.)

Maybe Obama just needs a big fat Viagra prescription.  Think Dr. Gupta will write him one?

Five Years Later

Five years later, the Senate finds no link between Iraq and al Qaeda

Five years later, we are no safer, just more aware.

Five years later, there’s a both a big-screen and a made for TV movie. In my mind, the deepest travesty.

Five years later, our country is torn apart by bipartisanship.

Five years later, the American people have little trust in their leaders, and no faith in those leaders’ vision.

Five years later, I am proud to be a New Yorker at heart, but am embarrassed to call myself an American.

Elephants vs Donkeys

From what I remember of my US History class in high school, the major difference between Republicans and Democrats was how much power the federal government was granted. Republicans favor less power, with more power going to the states; Democrats prefer the opposite. With that in mind, I realize that if that were still truly the only difference, I would be a Republican. But that is not the only difference as I see it. Republicans are completely controlled by religious right and big corporate agendas. Democrats are completely controlled by liberal agendas. What they both have forgotten is that they do not answer to the church. They do not answer to whichever business has and donates the most money. They do not answer to radical fringe groups, be they left or right. They answer to the people. They are entrusted to do what is right for the people, in the eyes of the people.

I’m tired of trying to choose the lesser of two evils. They’re both still evil, and their relative standing does nothing to change that.

Category: Thoughts