Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Upon Electing a New President

Dear Bryce,

One day, you're going to learn about all this in school. One day they'll talk to you about this "historic" election, and you'll think, gee, that was so long ago. I was just a baby! I don't remember a thing! When that day comes, I want you to have something to look at, I want there to be a record of how it felt to be here. My parents always tried to explain these historic types of things to me, and it was never really "real". I hope this helps it to feel real to you.

This is an excerpt of an email i sent to my father, your grandfather, a person from a different generation than me and a waaay different generation than you. He's a person who has spent his life in a small, rural, racially-divided area that is incredibly dependent on a large military base. In other words, he has a different political outlook than I, and I was explaining to him why I supported Barack Obama for president:

What it comes down to for me is this. I see Barack Obama, this intelligent, well-spoken natural leader who has an overall calm presence. Even when he speaks passionately, he has none of the quiet undercurrent of anger that even someone like Martin Luther King exhibited. Just a calm, reasonable presence (I never saw Lincoln, but imagine that is how he was as well). On the other hand, McCain has been erratic at best, a crazed lunatic at worst. (Just his choice of running mate alone shows an incredible lack of judgement!) His record is nothing if not unreliable (the circa 2004 term "flip-flopper" that was bandied about during Kerry's campaign comes to mind).

I see the rallies. The people at Obama's are chanting that they want change, that they want to make our country great again. That they no longer want to feel ashamed, they want to work hard to make things better. McCain, on the other hand, has been using hate and fear to fuel his campaign. It's at his rallies that people yell "Muslim!" and "Kill him!" about Barack Obama. It's at his rallies where people who show up with Obama signs are roughed up and threatened.

Again, the crazed anger vs. the calm desire to make things better.

Mostly, I look at Bryce. I look at him and I know that one day, probably sooner than I want, he is going to look at all that's happened. He is going to see the history of things like Abu Ghraib and the president who is currently trying to push a bill pardoning himself of his own war crimes through congress. He's going to see all the women soldiers who are being raped by their supposed comrades, the men coming home in bodybags who were killed by the contractors our government hired. He's going to see the guerrilla forces that we are paying not to attack our troops, who we're arming by doing so. He's going to see this neverending war, where as of now we're more than 2000 days past "Mission accomplished!", where we've spent enough money to pave the entire US interstate highway system in 24k gold leaf. He's going to look at this bank bailout, where as soon as it passed some of the recipients of our money sent their employees on $3 million dollar spa
retreats. He's going to see the voting machines that are manufactured and run by huge monetary supporters of the Republican party that are "malfunctioning" and not recording votes properly. He's going to see the images of the anger and racism and intolerance and hatred that people use religion to justify, holding up their bibles as some sort of twisted weapon. He's going to see all of this, and he's going to ask me, "Why? How? How could you let that all happen?"

And when that day comes, I want to be able to look him in the eyes and say; that it was a dark time, a terrible time. A time that most of us couldn't understand, a time thick with corruption and shame. But that we fought, all of us, we fought together to take back our country and change things, to make them good again. I want to tell him that he will never have to fight and die for corporate greed, that he will never have to decide between buying food for his children and paying for their medical bills. I want to leave him a better legacy than this. And I'm scared right now, even with the numbers swaying violently to Obama's side. I'm scared of those fucking Diebold voting machines, I'm scared of the anger and violence that the McCain supporters are threatening. I'm thankful as hell that I live in a blueBlueBLUE state, or I'd be just terrified.

Mostly, I'm scared of not doing everything I can to make things better, so he won't have to grow up in the shadows of war and financial disaster.

I hope that I can help to make things better for you, now. I hope that things will get better. Now, we have a mixed-race president-elect, and a woman Speaker of the House. We live in a state where you can marry whoever you love. I hope that things will be so much better for you, and I hope that I am a strong enough person to fight so you can have the world you deserve. So we all can have the world we deserve.

After the election, people danced in the streets. Your father and I could hear the whooping all the way out here in the suburbs. People lined up for hours, demanded paper ballots, and wept for the joy of voting. People who had never before voted came out of the woodwork and finally let their voices be heard.

I don't know yet what kind of president Barack Obama will turn out to be. But if I had to tell you one thing about this time, it would be that this was a time when the majority of the country banded together and demanded change. A time when we moved forward as one, leaping into a future that we hope holds more promise.

I love you, and I hope that one day you will look back on this day in history and smile at what it made possible.


Monday, July 07, 2008

On Soup and Environmental Artists

When people ask me what I do, in the capitalized sense of Do, as in, (whilst smiling without their eyes), "What is it you Do, Redpanda?", I sometimes have a nearly irrepressible urge to tell them that I spend my day picking up soup cans. Really, it's not exactly a lie. It's just that it makes me sound like a grocery store stocker in a starched, unflattering blue smock when really I'm just the mom to a toddler. A resourceful toddler. One who enjoys carrying around soup cans. One who screams loudly and stamps his tiny feet if said soup cans are removed from his vicelike grasp. One who drops aforementioned soup cans around the house like breadcrumbs of Christo-like proportions.

That is all.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Things you never thought you'd say before becoming a parent

My favorite thus far is: "Do NOT blow your nose on the elephant!"

Today's unlikely entry comes via the excellent Sesame Street:

On broken beds:

Harry Monster: I'm Ok, but I have to ask, did you test this bed before you bought it?

Maria: You mean, did I exercise on it like a monster? No!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I loathe the phrase "stay-at-home-mom" (and the acronym SAHM actually causes me to retch), but it is some of my current (retch) SAHM brethren that I feel compelled to write about today. Not all of them, just those who verbally stamp their feet begging for recognition and the corresponding verbal back-pats. I take exception to women who cry, stuffed full of righteousness and self-induced martyrdom, that they do work! They work at home! All day!

Ladies, you disgust me.

I am home with my fantastic son now. I am not working right now, period. I'm not even dabbling at freelancing or dribbling through any contracting. I am just home with my son. (Notice how I don't describe myself as a 'stay-at-home-mom'? As if that's all I am and all I do? But that's another topic...) He is an often-challenging toddler. And I would never, ever, unless you pulled at my ears and jabbed things into the soft flesh under my fingernails, describe what I do with him all day as "work".

"Work" is something you do because you have to. You do it because you need the money, you need the validation, you need to justify your student loan debt. "Work" is a somewhat unpleasant requirement that tends to get in the way of how you'd really like to be spending your time.

Being home with my son is not and never could be "work". Is it difficult? Yep. Is it rigorous? Sometimes. Do I occasionally fantasize about being on a no-children-allowed tropical island with unlimited umbrella drinks instead? Oh hell yeah. But that doesn't make it "work".

Spending my days and nights with my pint-sized tornado, my wee imp who can and does undo all the steps I've taken towards cleanliness with a mischievous grin, that's not work. Witnessing him learn to chase the dog, laughing gaily with unabridged mirth? Not work. Beckoning him to me enthusiastically as he took his first tentative, wobbly steps? Not work. Holding his chubby hand as he gingerly picks his way up the stairs, focusing intently on not falling? Not work. Sitting placidly as he screams his indignation at being confined to his high chair and not being permitted to play with the kitchen knives? Again, though not my favorite past-time, still not work.

Sharing my days, my nights, my life with my son is a privilege. It is an honor of the highest level. I can't imagine taking such a precious thing for granted by flippantly calling it "work".

My husband spends his days at actual "work", coming home weary but game shortly before our son's bedtime. He wears his heart on his sleeve, his love for his son painting his face with joy. Their time together is sweet but scarce. I can tell him about the first wobbly steps, about the first taste of crimson strawberries, about the new songs sung in the car. But he can't be here to see those small momentous occasions. That is the sacrifice he makes every day. That is work.

Raising and loving my child is not.