Anti-Women’s Health

I was sitting around with the Missus this afternoon (not my Missus, obviously, but the woman with the nickname “The Missus”) and she was saying that, in the wake of all the HHS stuff and just the general nonsense we face, that she’s not going to worry about framing people’s stances as anti-abortion or pro-choice or whatever, because we’ve moved beyond that at this point, into whether you’re pro-women’s health or anti-women’s health.

I was thinking about that on my way home, going over in my head my own situation.  Here I am, thirty-four years old and when I went into Walgreen’s to get my birth control prescription filled, I was momentarily concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get it.  That was a strange moment for me, to think that I, a grown woman, who has been responsible for all my own health care choices, might get that far and find I had to justify what I was doing to my own body to a total stranger.

Especially because I’m now on the Pill because of all this PCOS shit and the birth control is just a nice side effect.  It’s not just to bring my hormones into line, but it’s also because my endometrium is on the verge of being too thick, which puts me at a risk for cancer.  Apparently the Pill will help with that.

But as my doctor and I were discussing that, she said, “Yeah, much thicker and I’d be carting you downstairs for an emergency D&C.”

Yep, that’s right.  I was a millimeter or two away from having a D&C.

I think you see where I’m going with this, but let’s walk through it.  A D&C is method of medical abortion, but it’s also a necessary medical procedure for women in my position.  And as more and more medical students decline to learn abortion methods, you’ve got to wonder, where does that leave women like me, who might need a procedure that can also be used as an abortion procedure?

When anyone at all who works in healthcare and who comes in contact with me can refuse to work with me on the basis of their discomfort with my medical care, it of course impacts my medical care.

This, my friends, is like bizarro world here.  I, an actual person, am at risk of having medications and procedures I need denied to me because other women use them in ways that people find objectionable and, apparently, I might hypothetically use them for objectionable purposes.

I cannot stress enough how important it is for women to have control over our own bodies, to plan if and when and how often we get pregnant and if and when and how often we give birth.  Without that basic ability–to have just that basic level of autonomy–we aren’t equal to men.  Period.

Heh, period.

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Things I Have Seen on My TV

1.  The Illusionist, which, when it came out in theaters, had the unfortunate luck to be an obvious rip-off of The Prestige, and released at basically the same time as The Prestige.  On my tv, it still had the unfortunate luck to be an obvious rip-off of The Prestige.  The other thing that’s weird about it is that it’s set in Germany, right?  But no one speaks German, obviously, right?  So why do they have weird distracting pseudo-German accents?  Just speak in plain English, if you’re not going to speak in plain German.  And

[Spoiler alert]

If there was no reason for the Crown Prince to kill himself–he was, after all, actually not a murderer–even if it were better for the country that he not ever be Emperor, why does the movie treat his suicide as no cause for concern?  Why are the main characters treated to an unironic happy ending?

2. The Devil’s Backbone.  I still have no idea why this movie is called “The Devil’s Backbone” but I’m going to pretend that it has something to do with more than just the dead-baby rum Dr. Casares sells to impotent men in town.  Maybe it’s a metaphor for something I don’t understand about the Spanish Civil War.

Aside from that, it’s an awesome film and I can’t recommend it enough.

One of the things that works so well in the movie is this.  You know how in most horror movies, when you actually get a good look at the ghost or monster or whatever it’s kind of a let-down because it’s never actually as scary as you’d like it to be and it’s motivations–to kill you ususually–become utterly apparent?  But the movie continues on as if the appearance of the ghost has made it more scary instead of less?

This movie does not do that!  This movie understands that once you know what something is it becomes less scary and this movie uses that knowledge to brilliant effect.  I love it.

3.  Gustav.  I just feel this terrible pit in my stomach.  I really, really hope this somehow sputters out over the Gulf, though, I know that’s impossible.  And yet, it’s hard not to watch.

Mrs. Wigglebottom Goes Visiting

The Butcher is in Cincinnati under… shall we say… mysterious circumstances that involve a curly-haired blonde Republican, so Mrs. Wigglebottom and I have to entertain ourselves until he returns, assuming he returns in one piece.

We were out driving by the new house when the Professor called and invited us to stop by her place.  So, of course we went.

Mrs. Wigglebottom was just hilarious.  She was rolling around on the floor, barking, running around, watching the neighbor out the door, eating ice, getting up on the couch, getting off the couch, rolling on the ground some more, eating the lunch the Professor brought her (a burger), sniffing everything, drinking out of the toilet, rolling around some more, and just basically acting like a puppy.

She fell asleep almost the minute I put her in the car and she’s now sprawled out on the floor snoring.

Palin

I really think this is an interesting choice.  On my way to lunch, the guy behind me was on the phone and he was all “I don’t understand it either, but I’m sure there’s a reason.  I hope there’s a reason.”  I think there are a couple of reasons.  One, at least from where I’m sitting, she seems like a with-it, interesting, firecracker.  Do you think aids are going to have to (or even be able to) take Palin’s cell phone away from her to keep her off message?  Do you think she has any hesitancy at all about using the internet?  And the picture of her over at Uncle’s?  With the gun?  Fucking hot.  And she effectively ends the ANWAR drilling issue, I think.  If she says we should do it, that carries weight.

I also think it’s interesting that election marks the end of a long line of Southern administrations.  No matter who wins, there won’t be a Southerner among them.

The interesting thing to me, though, is that she doesn’t seem to be a political insider.  And she seems to be kind of a bad-ass.  And while it’s true that it’s probably what McCain’s candidacy needs, I do wonder if it’s what McCain’s administration wants.  She doesn’t seem like the type to play Washington games (though I could be wrong).  She very well may be the maverick McCain wishes he were.

None of this would make me vote for her.  I’m not voting for someone so anti-choice and the national Republicans lost my vote for at least a generation with their response to Katrina.

But, if they win, I will be rooting for her to cause as much trouble as she can.

You’ve Got to Walk that Uncanny Valley

Though it’s not often directly referenced, one of the things that’s always held over the heads of people who want social justice is Reconstruction.  Just think back to Nina Simone singing “Mississippi, Goddamn” when she talks about “people keep saying, ‘go slow.'”

Go slower than what?  At the time it had been roughly a hundred years since the Civil War.  Asking one hundred years after the Civil War to have the voting rights and the social equality the amendments passed right after the Civil War actually upheld seems pretty damn slow.

So, slow.  Why do you have to go slow?

Because of Reconstruction.

Let’s talk briefly about the reality of why Reconstruction failed.  The reality is that Reconstruction failed because southern whites opposed it and the Federal government, in order to smooth the reincorporation of the South into the Union, threw black Southerners to the wolves.

But the story we’ve been told is that Reconstruction failed because black people were failures at governing.  Not just failures, but completely unready.  No, more than that, not just unready, but incapable of ever being ready.

Take a look at this cartoon:

You don’t have to be a great cultural theorist to see how this cartoon works.  The black people are drawn with thick dark lines while the white people are drawn with thin lines.  The white folks look like drawings of white people, but the black images are more clearly caricatures.  And the point is clearly that these central figures are a joke, that they can’t really govern, because they’re just “aping” leadership and governing, not actually leading.  I mean, look at how they’re drawn.  Not only aren’t they politicians; they’re only almost human.

And this, America, is always there in the background, images like this, of black people who can’t handle the responsibility of governing, drawn up by white people who are afraid of black people governing.

In the shower this morning, it got me thinking of the Uncanny Valley.  This is a… thing… they talk about in video game development, how the more something looks human the more humans respond positively to it–up to a point.  Then, after that point, if something looks almost human, but not quite, we have a very negative reaction to it.  This also, clearly, is one of the reasons we find certain kinds of robots and sex toys kind of viscerally repulsive.

In general, though, I’ve only ever heard people talk about the Uncanny Valley in terms of things moving closer to resembling humans and what happens when they become almost human.

But it seems to me that there might be very, very fertile ground for thinking about how that applies when the movement is the other way–from human into the Uncanny Valley, when we move people from the status of “human” to “almost, but not quite human.”  The more I think about this, the more I think there’s something to understanding how images such as the one above or other types of racial and ethnic characterizations work.

Look at the image again and look at how the tallest black dude is portrayed.  You could read it as suggestive of him being monkey like, with the shape of his mouth and the arm raised above his head.  But I think that the reason it worked/maybe still works to repulse the intended white audience is that it portrays him as something that is not human coming too close to being mistaken for human.

I don’t know.  I’m going to have to give this some more thought, but for me, it starts to put some pieces in place.  If people can come to believe that a group is almost, but not quite human, they will feel a gut revulsion towards that group and the terrible treatment of that group seems justified and natural.

Anyway, it got me thinking that these portrayals of black politicians from the Reconstruction era still shape at some level our ideas about black politicians and our notions of needing to go slow, to take our time, to not try for too much, less it backfire on us, are a direct result of our common understanding of Reconstruction.  And the Uncanny Valley.

I don’t know what to make of all that.  But it seems to me important.

“Liberal” Candidate?

Oh, Tiny Pasture.  A truly liberal speech would have included strong language in support of women’s rights and gay rights.  A truly lefty speech would have announced plans to withdraw from the WTO.  This is not a “very liberal case” for anything.  But it tickles me that you think it is.

On the other hand, I’m glad to see the Post letting you do some real analysis.  That’s nice.

Liveblogging the DNC

7:45–Did Al Gore just mention Bin Ladin?  Is he the first one to?

7:47–More nice stuff about McCain.  I think that’s smart.  Makes his attacks look petty and weird.

7:49–Where was this Al Gore earlier?

7:50–Good to hit the borrowing money from China to pay Saudi Arabia.  And more on the strange change of McCain from someone everyone used to respect to Bush, Third Term.

7:53–Gore’s underlying message seems to be that the Republicans are nice folks, but the leadership has gone dreadfully wrong.

7:55–Good stuff about the importance of young people.

8:02–I missed the end of the speech since I was on the phone.  Well, I’m sure it was fine.

8:04–My dad called so I missed more.

8:11–I wonder what’s going on on Rate My Space?

I wonder what my personal style would be… I once thought that my style would best be described as “Haunted Old West Brothel” but I more think that I’m looking for something vaguely creepy, but with elements of Dia de los muertos and primitive decor thrown in.

8:18–I’m craving bananas, frozen bananas covered in chocolate.

8:19– You know who twitters shit like this?  People who are there.  I’m not there.  I’m blogging.  Keeping it real.  I need more than 140 characters.  And I am considering making my own dildos.  The question is–do you go for something that looks like a penis or do you go for something designed for use not for aesthetics?  And, if you did go for a penis, who would you ask to contribute?  Christian?

8:26–Oh, god damn it.  I’m being sucked in by Biden.  Doesn’t he look like he’s having a great time?

8:31–I’m still watching HGTV.  I can’t be bothered to hear Olbermann read Obama’s speech ahead of time.  But tell me what you think of this: I have my great grandma Teckla’s china and it looks like this.  I’m thinking of painting my dining room the magenta in that pattern.  What do you think?

8:45–Why do we have to take Pat Buchanan seriously?  I don’t know.  It’s just that seeing him on my screen is a constant reminder that the news I watch is much more about theater than about actual information.  And I’m just going to admit it.  I don’t get Twitter.  I always feel like I’m missing something.

8:52–Snerk.

8:53–Oh my god!  Joe Biden just kissed a woman on the forehead!  Where’s her husband to… Um, what’s the proper dudely response to a forehead kiss?  A wet willy?

8:54–It’s packed there, huh?  Wow.  And there are a ton of American flags, which we know Democrats hate, so clearly, those must just be lost Republicans, or something.

8:57–A lot of folks wearing dark blue suits and light blue ties.  I like it.  And more Lincoln references.

8:58–The thing I like about this speech is that dude is doing such a good job of selling this with his eyes, like “Holy shit, we’re doing something wonderful here, aren’t we?”

9:00–I know most of this is just the shit politicians say, but dang, I don’t mind being caught up in it a little.

9:02–Oh, baby Barack!

9:06–Okay, I’m tearing up.

9:07–Knowing my people, I can say that part of Obama’s appeal is that he looks like a basketball coach and if there’s one thing we love, it’s high school coaches.

9:11–Here he is.  Whew.  I’m nervous for him.

9:14–That place is packed.  And my dog is a stinky farter.  Blegh.  Be glad this blog doesn’t have smell-o-vision.

9:15–Props to Clinton!  Though I would say that she’s not just an inspiration to women.  At least I hope not.

9:17–I want Michelle Obama to be my wife!

9:19–I’m glad he actually points instead of doing that weird thumb pointy gesturing thing.

9:22–Oh god.  The ‘Eight is Enough’ thing was cute before they started chanting it.  And here’s more with the John McCain is a good guy meme.  “What does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right 90% of the time?”  That’s a good line.

9:24–This stuff about the auto workers and the soldiers and their families not being whiners is really really good stuff.  It’s not that McCain doesn’t care, he just doesn’t know.  That’s good, too.

9:26–“You’re on your own.”  I find that a very compelling critique, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who reads me.

9:29–Some nice gender stuff in here but I’m waiting to hear about health and GLBT stuff.

9:32–Spelling out change: Tax code reform, job creation, elimination of capitol gains taxes for small businesses, cut taxes for 95% of all working families, set a clear goal of 10 years to eliminate our need for oil from the middle east, tap natural gas, clean coal (urg), nuclear power, bail out the auto industry, 150 billion dollars into renewable energy, every child a world-class education, invest in early childhood education, new teachers with higher salaries and more support, if you commit to serving your community or country, we’ll get you into college; affordable, accessible health care for everyone; insurance companies cannot discriminate against the sick; paid sick days and better family leave; change bankruptcy laws to protect pentions, equal pay for equal work; (I missed something here); closing corporate havens and loopholes; eliminating some gov. programs; renewed sense of responsibility and we each must do our part; dads need to get involved; folks need to turn off the tv; individual and mutual responsibility; keep America’s promise abroad.

9:42–Let’s go after Bin Ladin.  Lots of good sound-bytes here.  And how even the Bush administration has adopted Obama’s timetable.

9:43–Dog is barking in her sleep and kicking me.  Mrumph, Mrumph.

9:44–Squandered legacy and restored legacy.  Whew, this is a long speech, but good.  And giving troops a clear mission, enough equipment, and the care they need when they come home.  It’s nice to hear someone in power say this.

9:48–Restoring a sense of common purpose.  This is the part I want most desperately to believe, but have the hardest time.  And here’s the GL… uh, sorry BT folks… stuff.  Good.  Well, half good.

9:54–Invoking King.  The crowd roars.  I choke up.

9:57–I guess you don’t drop balloons in an outdoor stadium, huh?

But wow.  I thought it was good  I’m sure the pundits will pick it apart soon enough, but my initial reaction is that it was good.  Oh, hey, they got some streamers going, at least.  But yeah, it seems utterly plausible that he could be our next president.

Okay, one last thing.  The weirdest moment of this whole evening has to be having Chris Matthews hitting the high points of the speech like he was giving it himself while whoever is there with him and Olbermann cheered again.  Very, very weird.  But I do like that they’re talking over the benediction.  Classy, gentlemen.

Ugh

The metformin is kind of kicking my butt.  I took it with dinner and then lasted about an hour before I was like “Ugh, drink up, Butcher.  I’ve got to get home.”

Now I’m just sitting on the couch waiting to see if I’m going to be sick.

But before then, I got to see a shit ton of people at Brittney’s party and I was happy.

And I’ll Call My Utilities “Gifts” and Stop Paying My Bills!

Cecily Friday brings us word that McCain’s healthcare adviser’s solution to all our healthcare problems is a.) to stop referring to people as uninsured, presumably because if we don’t call them that, they’ll cease to be that, and to b.) just let them go to emergency rooms, presumably because each hospital also has a vast counterfeiting operation in the basement and so, whenever it needs money to cover someone’s medical bills, it can just print some up and not pass along those costs to patients and insurers who can pay!

Crinkly Fries oh Crinkly Fries

All I want for lunch is a shit-ton of crinkly fries.  I hope the Professor gets here soon and comes with the knowledge of where some crinkly fries might be procured.  Whoever was talking about the side effects of metformin was not lying, that’s for sure.  Whew.  Bleck.

Peggasus

I remember that moment, early on in my blogging career when I was blogging along with a readership small enough to encompass people I could call on the phone… well, if I could find their numbers on scraps of paper shoved in the bottom of my purse.  And then one day Peggasus showed up.

A commenter I didn’t know.

And even though her arrival heralded a bump in my readership from 29 to 30, I was thrilled and freaked out to discover that I had a reader I didn’t know, who didn’t know me, but who came back again and again anyway.

I saw this commenter–Erratic Dragonfly–over at Tiny Pasture’s and I click on her name and I see that she’s been writing for all of six days.

So…

I’m sticking her in my feed reader.

I’m curious to see what will happen and I hope some of y’all will go over there–to this person I don’t know (I don’t think at least) and read her.  It’s just my way of passing along the great kindness Peg did for me.

Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream On

Some days I regret even opening my feed reader.  Tiny Pasture reports that there are actually people up in arms about Obama kissing Joe Biden’s wife.

Let me just say that, if you are worked up over this, you are either twelve or a jackass.  Perhaps you’ve never kissed anyone.  I don’t know.

This is, though, why I hate the public greeting kiss.  First, there are lip-kissers.  A small group, but there for sure.  And there are the air kissers, a practice so vile and disgusting that it causes me pain to even mention them.  But mostly there are two schools of cheek kissers.  There are the people who kiss on the cheek, about half-way back between the corner of the mouth and the ear and the people who attempt to kiss just next to the corner of the mouth.

If you are a public figure, needless to say, you should aim for being a cheek kisser who aims for that spot between the mouth and the ear.  That way, even if you and the kissee misunderstand which cheek you’re going for, at worst, you just end up kissing them next to their mouth, not on it.

Because, of course, if you are not a kiss-upon-greeting kisser and believe me, most of us midwesterners are not–Good lord, I don’t even like to kiss my mom.  And I don’t believe I am alone in that.  Well, I mean, about midwesterners wanting to kiss their mothers.  My mom’s pretty cute, so I’m sure that there are unrelated people to her that would not mind at all kissing her.–you are running a pretty high risk of having an accidental mouth kiss.

Do you go left or right?  Does the person you’re trying to kiss-upon-greeting go left or right?

Who knows?

Can’t we just shake hands?

Anyway, though, the idea that Jill Biden is somehow dishonored because Obama kissed her?  That Joe Biden should have punched him?

Okay, clearly people feel that way, but it seems like a joke.  Do they not know that there are people, weird people mind you, who kiss each other upon greeting?  I mean, they cannot truly be outraged by this, can they?

And, if so, what exactly is it about seeing a very common social custom on tv?  Some people kiss upon greeting, even on the lips.  Tiny Pasture alludes to the spectre of misegination in the title of his post and I can’t help but think that that’s what people are outraged about–that a black man would kiss a white woman in public, even as a greeting.

In which case, I say, Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Sucks to be you.

Blues Women

So, I’m flipping through Publisher’s Weekly, and I see that there’s a new book coming out: Delta Blues: The Life  and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music by Ted Gioia.  And I’m immediately irritated by the PW review.

Now I want to be clear.  I haven’t read Gioia’s book and it seems to me from the title and subtitle of the book that he’s being very careful and specific about his subject.  And authors have no control over what reviewers say about their books.  So my beef is not at all with Gioia.

But look at this, from the review:

Gioia (The History of Jazz) succeeds admirably in the daunting task of crafting a comprehensive history of the art form known as the blues, depicting the life story of the music from its cradle in the Mississippi Delta all the way to its worldwide influence on contemporary sounds. His sweeping examination focuses on the legends in detail, including Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King and many more. He often deconstructs myths, such as the story that both Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson made midnight deals with the devil at the crossroads, and digs deep to clarify many murky stories, including untruths and wild speculations about the life and early death of Robert Johnson. His narrative follows the northern migration of the blues to Chicago, where Muddy Waters recorded for Chess Records, and along the way he analyzes the influence of Delta blues on Elvis, the Rolling Stones and other rock ‘n’ roll icons. Gioia dissects many songs, but he doesn’t write beyond the understanding of general readers, creating the rare combination of a tome that is both deeply informative and enjoyable to read.

See?  See?!

This is the story, as we are constantly told, that the blues came out of “its cradle in the Mississippi Delta” came spurting through the bodies of a long line of men who can each trace their knowledge back to a teacher who should, in turn, be given props, from Waters to Johnson to House to Patton to Sloan to… someone back there in the mysterious past who learned from someone further back in a mysteriouser pastier past, that someone being, of course, another man.

I think we might benefit from bringing Nolan Porterfield in for a second.  Shall we do a little time traveling of our own?  Let’s go two and a half years back.

Yesterday I got to hear Nolan Porterfield talk about the history of recording devices.  He was talking about how someone was all excited about their new mode of inquiry.  They were going to set out to discover why all old songs were three minutes long or less.

No great reason, just that that’s how much recording time you had.

So, then, he turns to this question–”Why does all our American music have its roots in the South?”

Is it because of the unique mixture of religion and culture, with a dash of “too hot to do anything else?”

Or is it because the South was just far enough away from New York City and Washington DC to seem exotic but close enough that you could easily get there by train?

I’ll give you three guesses which Nolan Porterfield is leaning towards.

In other words, it’s imperative that we not tell the story the evidence points towards without understanding why we have the evidence we do.  Old songs are three and a half minutes long because that’s how much music fits on a record side.  We have a bunch of awesome music from the South not because the South was necessarily unique in its production of music, but because that’s where the folks with the recording devices went.

That’s part of it.

I mean, we know Alan Lomax recorded in prisons not because prisoners are somehow more musical than the rest of the population, but because prisoners were more available to him–because they were happy to have something novel or because the warden said they would.

And yet, there were pockets of unusualness, too–fife and drums in the hill country, strange fiddle concoctions up in the Appalachians.

It’s just this.  Charlie Patton is often credited with being the father of the Delta blues.  Patton, born in 1891, was said to have learned the art form from a Henry Sloan, a Mississippian born around 1870, and he and Patton would have been living in the same area around the turn of the century.  And so, yes, it makes sense and tells a certain kind of compelling story–that there’s this guy, Sloan, who knows this weird form of music that he dug out of some even more remote exotic corner of the Delta, that, when young black men heard it, they wanted to learn it and play it, and that, eventually, it spilled out all over the nation and then the world and became rock and roll.

All these poor, itinerant musicians doing this strange individual thing that we now know as the Blues.

The story starts to lose the weight of truth even if you just learn that Muddy Water(s) had a band he played with there outside of Clarksville, that Robert Johnson traveled not just all over the Delta, but all over the country.

But it really starts to feel like a myth when you tilt your head just up the road, between Clarksville and Memphis, to where Bessie Smith died.  And you might wonder, just who is this Bessie Smith and how does she fit in?  Bessie Smith, born in Chattanooga at the turn of the century, not much later than Charlie Patton, who was singing in clubs by 1913, and who learned the business of the blues from Ma Rainey, who was herself born in Georgia in 1886, and who learned the art form we call the blues from a girl in St. Louis in 1902.  It’s not as if St. Louis is a world away from the Delta, of course, but these women–Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey and so on–were extremely popular, widely traveled, and widely heard.

America, I ask you this: what influence did these women, so popular and so widely recorded and sold, have on those men?

I, myself, don’t know.

And yet, I see Bessie Smith in the Delta at the end of her life, there at the same time as Johnson and Morganfield and all these guys and I feel like I haven’t been told that story.

And I feel cheated.

A Change in the Terms of Use

The Terms of Use have been modified as follows:

Edited again to add: If you are commenting on a subject and your IP address reveals that you might have a vested interest in the subject you’re commenting on–for instance, if you write in support of ICE or in support of the Sheriff, and your IP address comes from a federal .gov in the first case or a nashville.org in the second–and you have not disclosed the potential bias (and understand, I’m not saying that you have to disclose who you are and who you work for but you damn well better say “As a federal employee who sees first hand how ICE works, I think…” or “As a county employee who knows the Sheriff well, I think…”), I will. If you comment here, understand that you are giving me your implicit permission to release your IP address to the world and then make your decision about whether you want to comment.

It’s insulting to me and my readership for you to try to pass yourself off as disinterested ordinary folks if you are operating as propagandists (unsolicited or not).

Please make note.

Hurray, Clinton!

Before we get started, can I just ask if I’m the only one who was reminded of both a high school football coach and Orville from The Rescuers by Brian Schweitzer, up there flapping his arms around?  God that tickled me.

The main thing about Clinton’s speech last night that sticks with me is how very, very young we still are as a nation and, really, how rapidly change happens.  Clinton’s mother was born before women could vote.  Clinton came close to being President.  Yes, we’re almost a half a century from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but that’s only half a century.  People alive and vital now were there.  People alive and vital now knew people in their youths who were slaves.

Two hundred and thirty two years is just not that long in the course of human history.

I was proud of her.  Up on that stage, she was a Statesman.

I know it’s corny, but I’ve really enjoyed this convention because I know we’re seeing history.  This is change, just at its most basic and clear.  Even if we don’t beat McCain (and, please, let us beat McCain), our visions for what America looks like are inspiring and those ideas are shaping our future.  I mean, shit, as GoldnI points out, even Congressman Blackburn finds our ideas about women’s rights to be compelling.

I’m proud to be associated with these folks.  That’s not always true and it won’t always be true in the future, but right now?  Seeing Clinton on that stage being so gracious and powerful and really shaping the discussion and knowing that she’s not just going to be pushed off the world stage, but that, at the end of the day, she’s just another career politician we’re going to be stuck with for the next twenty, thirty, years like the rest of them.

I don’t know.

It makes me happy.

An Open Letter to Jeff Atwood

Dear Mr. Atwood,

I am a regular reader of your blog and have been for a long time now.  I think carefully about what you say, even when I disagree with you and it is because of you and your ability to make me stop in my tracks and think, that I have stopped using the words “retarded” and “fucktard” even though, quite honestly, I adore the word “fucktard.”  I don’t adore it enough to hurt other people by my casual use of it and so I’ve worked to erase it from my vocabulary.

I am speaking to you tonight in that same spirit, hoping that you will consider my words, even if you disagree with me, as carefully as I’ve considered yours.  Your post this evening, your memo to the Woodland Middle School teachers, stopped me in my tracks:

It’s OK. You can say the “C” word.. We all know what you mean when you say “Winter Break” anyway.  We live in Tennessee. We still celebrate Christmas.

You don’t have to do a rundown on the Luke 2 story when you say the “C” word, just use it as a demarcation of time in the school year. Know that you have a lot on your plate what with your spending time with my kids and a zillion other jacked up junior highers, just wanted you know that no worries over the “C” word here.

Yes, we all know what “Winter Break” means, but no we don’t all still celebrate Christmas just because we live in Tennessee.  Is it really so important to you to score points for Jesus that you would exclude non-Christians in your definition of who gets to be Tennesseans?

I recall Jesus spending a great deal of time reaching out to people who believed differently than him, showing them compassion and extending friendship to them.  But perhaps I’ve skipped some chapters where Jesus encouraged his followers to set up little exclusionary in-groups where they could make sanctimonious cracks at non-Christians in order to remind them repeatedly that they aren’t “real” Tennesseans the way the Christian Tennesseans are.  And I’ve perhaps forgotten the verses where Jesus encouraged his followers to do what they can to make the children of non-believers feel like outsiders and like they aren’t ever going to really fit in because they aren’t a part of the state religion.

But perhaps you can bring those to our attention.

If not, I’d ask you to remember that the separation of church and state is for the well-being of both the church and the state and that the man you profess to follow has a soft spot for children and maybe act towards those teachers with the compassion and understanding that comes from remembering those two things.

I’ll see you around the blogosphere.

Aunt B.

All Endocrine All the Time

My dear friend Mark, who I’ve known since I was born, has a wife, Candy, who is just awesome.  And when she had her first kid, Mark’s parents were right there in the delivery room filming it.  I always thought “Hmm, that might be just a little more family togetherness than I would care for” which is why I did all I could to keep my mom out of the room when my oldest nephew was being born.

And yet, here I am at 34, with my cooter and its disfunctions being the topic of conversation all around my family.  It is, in a way, more family togetherness than I would care for, but what the hell?

Apparently my cousin A.–not the younger one who I talk about regularly, but the older one who acquired a divorce after hearing stories from her four year old about Daddy’s girlfriend*–also has PCOS, as I’ve learned it’s referred to by medical folks.  And I emailed my younger cousin, A., just in case she might want to have her doctor check her for it.

I’ve been kind of dwelling on it all evening and most of all, I just feel really relieved.  On the one hand, I have no problem with being fat and hairy, and so if that changes or it doesn’t, fine.  I have mixed emotions about my weight as it is–I love the shape of me.  I know people say that and other people think “Oh, she’s just saying that because she’s fat and what else are fat people supposed to say?” but I really do.  I love having great big boobs and chubby fingers and cute fat toes and I like being soft and ample.  It makes me feel substantial in ways that are hard to explain.  I know it’s not for everyone.  Neither are tattoos.  And yet tattoos can be really beautiful.

But I hate that it’s always an issue.  That my family makes it into an issue of whether I’ll ever find a man who’s willing to put up with it, that it renders me practically unlovable**.  That doctors assume all my health problems are caused by fat.  That even this gynecologist, who I really like, assumes that, of course, I’ll want to lose the weight if I can.  The assumption that being fat must be something that I hate, rather than something that just is a part of me.

Being fat has always been looked at as the cause of all my problems, current and future, and something that I must bring under control, for that reason.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down with nonfat people and listed for them how much I eat and how much I exercise because… I guess because I just assume that, if they know that I’m trying to lose weight, even if I’m failing, at least I’m trying as opposed to not.  As if I should run around justifying the way I look to anyone.  As if I have to get their approval.

But when you give that up–the urge to justify–that’s considered weird, too, like you’re some kind of militant lunatic committing slow suicide in front of everyone.

And fuck people for thinking that, that I just don’t care about myself the same way “good” “normal” people do.

I just don’t ask my body to do something I’ve never had any luck making it do–lose weight.  But I do want my body to do the things I know it can do–like sleep through the night and not cause me pain–and so that’s brought me back into the realm of medical science.

And here we are.

I have a disorder in which my body, along with producing too many hormones, doesn’t process insulin correctly.  Being fat is not the cause of it, but a symptom of it.

All my life, other people have told me that being fat meant there was something wrong with me.

And it turns out, they were right, kind of.  Except that it didn’t mean that I lacked willpower or value as a person or dignity or self-respect.  It meant that I had a medical condition that went untreated for… well, if I started menstruating in my early teens, about two decades.

I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with being fat.  But I feel… I don’t know… something that’s like if anger, regret, and resignation had a baby… about the fact that my whole life my being fat has been seen as and taught to me as a sign of personal failing and not seen as a potential symptom of a problem that should be dealt with.

I don’t know.  I’m going to have to think on that some.

————–

*And gentlemen, may I just say, if you’re going to cheat on your wife, perhaps you should find a sitter for the children, because they will blab, especially if you take them to do something novel like visit your girlfriend.

**Being too bossy is just the icing on the unlovable cake.

Come into My Ovaries, Where All the Excitement Is

So, I went back to the gynecologist and got the results of all the crap she took out of me and tested and it turns out that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which used to be a disease, but now has been downgraded.  She gave me a bunch of stuff to read and a bunch of prescriptions–iron to counteract my anemia, the Pill to bring my hormones back into whack, and something, the name of which I forget, to fix my insulin issues.

I read everything the doctor gave me, but I’m hoping Rachel will enlighten me some, too.

So, that’s that.

She asked me if I had any questions and the only one I could think of is if I’m secretly chromosomally male, and she laughed and said I was the first person to ever ask her that, but no, I wouldn’t get out of my problems that easily.