Meme’ing in the New Year


English: Fireworks over Reykjavik on New Year'...

Fireworks over Reykjavik on New Year’s Eve (Wikipedia)

 

Last New Year’s Eve, I stole a meme from my husband’s blog that proved to be quite an enjoyable retrospective in an end of the year sort of way. I was reminded of it as I browsed stats today and noted that the post had generated a bit of traffic. So because I don’t make resolutions or really do anything to commemorate the change over from one year to the next, I decided to haul this Q and A out and see how it applies to the year nearly past.

 

1.  What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

 

I didn’t really write. I thought about it. Plotted. Vaguely outlined. Mused. But in the end, I didn’t write a single piece of fiction. A first in the entirety of my life really because I have always been a storyteller. Even when I was too wee to write them down – I told stories.

 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

 

Again, I don’t make them and I wonder at people who do as they don’t seem to follow through on their self-promises much or at all. If you can’t even keep a promise to yourself, why bother?

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

 

No. Rob’s niece by marriage and more marriage is expecting in the new year, but no one we know in person gave birth. Though a Facebook friend had a little boy on my birthday, I don’t think that counts. There are no flesh and blood babies in my life.

 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

 

No. Edie’s cat died not long ago. His name was Nike. 18 years old and with a personality and stories that have the potential to be a best-seller … in America anyway. They just love their feisty pets with personality plus adventures down there.

 

5. What countries did you visit?

Went to the States as we do at least once every year. Last time we will pull the holiday trailer however. Longest to and from ever. While we were there we did the tourist thing. Saw sites I hadn’t visited since I was a teen. House on the Rock for instances, which is a highly overrated hoarder’s heaven and Galena, which is little more than an arts and crafts sale masquerading as a hip artist enclave.

 

 

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I don’t lack. it would be awesome if we could finish the renovations we started in 2010, so we could think about selling and moving closer to, if not actually in, civilization, but it’s not the most pressing matter.

If I wanted at all, the want was a tablet and after much assessing and comparing – Rob’s boss gave him an iPad as a “thank you” for a job well done. Want granted.

Oh, I would like a new bike. My husband has an awesome bike. I ‘d like one like it. But again, not a burning in my soul desire.

 

 

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Um …. can’t think of one. Nothing really happened. Okay, things happened, but not events that impacted me in a way that would etch a date on my brain matter.

 

 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I have cemented myself as a local teacher of yoga. I am surprised by how many people know of me or what I teach and when/where. I consider that an achievement.

 

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

 

Hmmmmmm. Failure? I would have said chocolate angel food cake because I haven’t been able to make one successfully from scratch, but I pulled that one off on Christmas Eve. So, no big failures this year.

 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Well, if you want to think of perimenapause as an illness (which it is and isn’t depending) than that.

You know how some people are always laying blame for this or that malady on hormones being out of balance or something? Turns out mine actually are. Working on that.

 

 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

 

A pair of 1969 Curvy jeans from the Gap. Awesome. Also, a down filled winter jacket from Mark’s. Money well spent.

 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

 

Well, my husband, Rob, continues to be fabulous. He re-roofed our house this summer, single-handedly, in spite of tornadic weather and gout in both of his ankles. Seriously impressive considering the rook is a 12/12 pitch that even had professional roofers bowing to him in homage.

 

13. Whose behavior appalled you?

The whole POTUS campaign in the US and pretty much everyone associated with it. The level of willful ignorance and appalling amount of disinformation on both sides decided me on whether or not to hang on to my US citizenship once I have become a Canadian citizenship, which will hopefully be in the coming year. I am just not like homelanders and I think that I never really did fit in down there.

 

 

14. Where did most of your money go?

Necessities and home improvement.15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I let myself care too much about the outcome of the US POTUS race. Not that there was much of a choice between the resident evil or the evil wanna be. One of my Facebook “friends”, a blogger of some renown who doesn’t know as much about politics, or reality, as she thinks she does, replied to a comment I left about “lesser evils” to the effect that I was morally bankrupt for not realizing that Obama was clearly not the evil one. He’s a “nice” guy. After all, his wife and kids love him.

But that just prompted me to recall Sondheim’s use of the word “nice” in Into the Woods. Nice is a catch-all word that means nothing of the kind. It’s the word we apply to things when we don’t want to really say what we think for fear of what others will think about us.

I also got really jazzed up about the provincial election here in Alberta and was frustrated by my inability as a landed immigrant to vote. I am so glad that when the next federal election rolls around, I will be a Canadian proper and able to participate in the electoral process. Though I twisted my husband’s arm on voting the PC’s back in – because Wildrose was simply unacceptable – if Trudeau ends up leading the Liberals, I might have to change allegiance even though the Alberta Lib leader, Raj Sherman, is an utter nob.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Goyte’s Someone that I Used to Know or anything by Fun.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?  I continue to be remarkably happy.
b) thinner or fatter?  I am thinner and probably in better shape than I have been in years.
c) richer or poorer?  Personally, I am poorer because I have cut back on my self-employment, but on the whole, status remains quo.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Gotten away for short holidays. Especially over the summer. We were far too home bound this year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?.

Wasted my time on US politics.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With family. Children and Rob’s mom. Probably a bit more of the latter than we needed. There is a reason why after we’ve grown and moved out of our parents’ homes and on with our lives that we keep visits short and try to always stay in hotels when we do visit.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011?

I remained in love and blissfully so. I know that sounds unreal that approaching six years of marriage, I am still very much into it, but I am.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Don’t watch actual broadcast tv. Don’t even have cable. We do have Netflix and I have tried to acquire a taste for tv shows ala carte, but tv is so boring. The acting is “meh” and the writing is generally atrocious.

If you like tv, nothing personal, but I have to wonder why and if something might be wrong with you.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, I still have a general distaste for the same few. No outright hate but I wouldn’t shed tears if any of these people were to meet with an untimely demise.

24. What was the best book you read?

Hilary Mantel’s follow-up to Wolf Hall called Bring Up the Bodies was excellent, and Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden was brilliant.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Discovered nothing.

26. What did you want and get?

I wanted a tablet and lo, one appeared.

27. What did you want and not get?

I kinda hoped that Obama wouldn’t get re-elected simply because a new POTUS takes time to get up and running. Anything that would slow the evil that emanates from down there would have been a good thing.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

 

Didn’t see a single film in the theatre. Can’t stand going to movies.

 

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

 

We went to this great Indian buffet in Sherwood Park called A Taste of India. Excellent food. And I turned 49. It really feels about the same as the last two or three-ish years.

 

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

 

If I had gotten my letter from Canadian immigration telling me when and where to come to take my citizenship test.

 

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Still very yoga.

 

 

32. What kept you sane?

 

Rob, as always. Though I don’t know if I keep him sane, but that wasn’t the question, was it.

 

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

 

I don’t really do that.

 

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

 

The issues surrounding the extra-territoral taxation that the United States is attempting to foist upon Canada in contradiction of our Charter Rights. It’s clear over-reach and it threatens our sovereignty.

 

35. Who did you miss?

 

Not really sure what this question is asking, so I am going to ignore it again.

 

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Did I meet anyone new?

 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

If you can’t disagree without getting personal, foot-stomping or name-calling, you are probably not old enough to be allowed in a serious discussion.

 

 

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck.
Some nights, I call it a draw.
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they’d just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…

 

 

 

Wasting Myself on Facebook


facebook

facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

In contrast to the 2008 election year, I have barely written a word about politics or the POTUS race here on my blog.

One of the reasons is the fact that I have decided not to vote. After all, I am working toward the disgruntled American liberal’s unicorn known as Canadian citizenship.  In terms of immigration, a person should – in my opinion – be all in or all out.  I am moving towards “all in” and this means I need to disengage from America politically though I concede it is difficult for me not to give voice to my concerns and frustration as I watch the land of my birth spiral down the toilet.

But mostly I haven’t written much because I have Facebook, which makes it easy for me to share, cut/paste and move on.  Writing a blog post requires more of my time because I have to explain my views in my own words where Facebook just needs a link and a blurb.

This morning I shared yet another article stating that President Obama still isn’t hope, change or all that remotely different from Mitt Romney despite the valiant efforts of the MSM (main stream media) to keep actual facts about the man’s first term from a public that it has stirred into an irrational frenzy over vagina politics and health care.

After my husband read the following quote:

“…during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis.”

He looked up at me and said, “Is this true? You should really blog about this rather than waste it on your Facebook friends if it is.”

It is true.  The article goes on to state that Neil Barofsky’s book, Bailout, discusses how that tax cheat, former Goldman Sachs employee and now Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, revealed that the foreclosure mitigations were never about homeowners but about slowing down the process to allow banks the ability to slowly absorb the pain.  It was all about financial institutions for Obama – because he was their candidate not yours – before he even took his oath.

Obama the hope and change was only about hope for Wall Street, who backed his horse, and the change has allowed corporations to come to the point that they are at today. A place that allows them to pocket 93 cents of every dollar  as opposed to the mere 63 cents they collected during the administration of Bush II.

That Obama and Romney approach the near twinship on more topics than not was neatly driven home during the third Presidential debate when Romney seconded the POTUS so often it was almost embarrassing, but my Facebook friends, the majority of whom are female, many bloggers and/or political commentators in one form or another, have been drinking so much MSM kool-aid that a person might think they were already living in a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel, have their fingers in the ears or have muted my feed via the “unsubcribe”.

The truth can’t free them because the truth is too depressing to contemplate and they don’t want to hear it.

That they have been duped by yet another male politician who only finds his inner vagina when he needs actual vagina-possessors to vote for him.

If a person stops believing in the mirage the media pushes so relentlessly, the real Obama is not that inspiring. He professes to be in favor of immigration and making things easier for long-term undocumented workers to become legal Americans while sanctioning the aggressive deportation of them.  More illegal aliens – 93% of them law-abiding and productive – have been deported under the Obama regime than any other POTUS.  He’s launched a hard-ass crackdown on perfectly legal under state law medical marijuana businesses and their customers in states like California, for example, despite the fact that he has been an admitted casual drug user in the past and used that admission to sell himself as a friend of medical marijuana to get himself elected in 2008.

His administration has softly and covertly promoted Chinese investment in American infrastructure and actively pursued trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would off-shore American jobs even while it accused Republicans of being the reason so many American manufacturing jobs have disappeared over the last decade.

He favored charter over public schools and the linking of teacher pay to standardized test scores, removed labor protection from the FAA authorization bill, promotes the punishment of whistle-blowers, lied repeatedly about NDAA and has second term plans for expanding his kill or indefinitely incarcerate list over which he, and only he, is judge, jury and prosecutor.

In terms of women’s rights and issues, Obama is no less a man than any other man in Washington D.C., refusing to back Plan B for over the counter until it began to cost him political points with women and then refusing to make it available to teens under 17.  He supports the Hyde Amendment, which means that women who access health care via Medicaid programs have no access to abortion – even if their lives are in endanger.  He’s done nothing about predatory lending practices, which disproportionately affect women, nor has he done anything of consequence to stem the corruption in the foreclosure industry that hits women more than men as well. His amped up drug war and deportation jihad are also “women’s issues” because of the disproportionate effect that he chooses to ignore while touting instead his “johnny-come-lately” stance on birth control access.  Because it’s an election year.  And he crows about a health care act that is losing teeth by the day as employers began to strategically shift to the “part-time is the new full-time job” regime to avoid having to provide health insurance to workers once the HCA kicks in.

In 2008 he decried the Patriot Act, which as POTUS he fought to extend to 2014. He said he’d close GITMO but instead he is having it renovated. He said he’d get the troops out of Iraq, which he did, but only because the Iraqi’s kicked America out when it wanted to leave a few thousands troops behind and expected the Iraqi government to grant them immunity if they broke Iraqi law or … killed people without cause.  Apparently both things were a problem.

One of my Facebook friends responded to the article I posted with the following:

“The final point of this article is to vote for a 3rd-party candidate.  I have done so in the past, and found that my ideological stance did nothing to change things.”

But the point of voting is not to change things as much as it is merely a granting of permission or assent. Voting for X candidate or Z candidate means you are okay with what he/she is going to do and/or has already accomplished, and I find it hard to believe that anyone can be okay with the steady erosion of privacy, civil rights and the wholesale power grab of the Executive Office that includes – but isn’t restricted to – the arbitrary slaughter of civilians in the pursuit of alleged terrorists who haven’t been publicly charged or legally adjudicated.  Fine with that?  Dead children?  Or the support of Al Qaeda groups (the terrorists who supposedly caused 9/11) to topple the governments of other countries like Libya and Syria?

I wouldn’t begin to claim that Romney will be an improvement. He is such an enigma his own party is afraid of what he might or might not do, but knowingly casting a vote for Obama is to sanction all that he has done and all that he plans to do. It’s saying that you totally approve things like murder and skirting the Constitution whenever it is inconvenient.

My father, who died four years ago today, stopped voting for mainstream candidates after casting his ballot for Gerald Ford in 1976, which he did even as he encouraged my 12-year-old self to stump fervently for Jimmy Carter. He was quite proud of me despite not agreeing with me.

From 1980 on, he voted third-party. It was John B. Anderson in 1980 by the way. Unlike me, he went to his grave knowing that he never sanctioned politics that have effectively ruined what little credibility America has left as an actual democracy and plunged it -perhaps prematurely – into its twilight years though arguably that might not be a bad thing for the world in the longer run.  Dad changed nothing in the grand scheme but his efforts locally – through his work in building up a small parish credit union to an independent banking institution that has supported the efforts of thousands in my home town – counts for more than any ballot I ever cast – including the one for Obama in 2008.

Change is local. Your local candidates matter because you can access them, and they are more directly responsible to the people in their community than any POTUS ever was.

A week from this coming Tuesday, you will vote. Although I have promoted defensive and lesser evil voting before – I won’t ever again.  It’s bad for one’s karma, which always circles back at some point and it’s often bitchy when it does.

When Did Being Female Become a “lifestyle choice”?


1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

1926 US advertisement. “Birth Control” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was passively enduring talk radio on the drive back from Dee’s soccer game this evening and caught the FOX shoutfest that is Hannity. They were yelling over each other about small government, which no American under 55 can seriously claim to have ever lived under or even have the slightest idea of what small government means in terms of daily life, but nevermind. Small government diatribes these days almost inevitably detour through the vaginas of America’s women, who are the true root of the horror that is big government.

“If they want birth control (I love it when “they” refer to us as “they”, don’t you?) then they can pay for it themselves,” Hannity opined like a Catholic bishop from the pulpit. “I don’t need to pay for their lifestyle choice.”

Lifestyle choice?

Let’s see. I have breasts, a vagina, uterus and two XX’s. And that’s a choice I made?

Being female is not a “lifestyle”.

Why is it that everything small government conservative types are opposed to is slapped with the “choice” sticker?

First it was choosing to be gay and now, apparently, one can choose to be female too. Like anyone would, knowing the world as the female non-friendly place that it is. Who wouldn’t choose to the male? And straight and white while one was at it. Why not? If life were a simulated reality video game, as was recently pointed out, smart money is on picking the easiest setting – straight, white male. A penis is like finding a gold ticket in a Wonka Bar.

But here is the real beauty behind the “lifestyle choice” strawman argument, it allows “them” to define “us” as sluts. Only a slut would use birth control. My mother certainly never used birth control. Except if she is a baby boomer, she most certainly probably did. Just as your sister probably did. And your girlfriend because the god of your straight white maleness forbid that you deny yourself anything by stuffing your burgeoning manhood in a condom as opposed to a sassy wet slutty cunt.

But your daughter, and likely many of her friends, use birth control. Your nieces. Your cousins. The women you work with.  The one who checks your groceries at the store and the one who cleans your teeth, make your lattés and tells you to “have a nice” day when you are strolling out of Walmart, all have a better than even by a long shot chance of having used birth control at some point in their lives.

Damn slutty female lifestyle choice. Can’t escape them. They are everywhere, tainting the landscape with their tending to their femaleness and thinking you don’t know it. They should be ashamed of their lifestyle choice.

I know I am.

If only I had chosen to be my brother, who’s had two children out-of-wedlock to my NONE.

But no, I chose the female lifestyle. With its monthly bloody shedding of uterine lining and sole burden of child incubating and birthing and breastfeeding and putting nearly all my own wants, wishes and desires on hold for ten or twenty years, so it can grow, learn and hopefully leave home before I am too old to get back to focusing on me for more than snatched minutes here and there.

Being female is a perk-filled lifestyle. I can’t imagine why more men aren’t choosing it.

When we are not bleeding, pregnant or lactating, we are being paid less for the same work and bruising ourselves against glass ceilings, doors, and walls. We cart home the bacon after having shopped for it only to cook it, be criticized for getting fat if we eat more than a bite of it and then clear it from the table and wash the plates from which it was eaten.

If we show cleavage, we are whores, but if we try to disguise our breasts, we are anal prudes with no sense of humor who should, “Just smile, Sweetie, because you are so much prettier when you smile. Don’t look so serious all the time.”

We get to have a special “place” and straight white god in heaven forbid that we shouldn’t recognize it and plant the asses we should not let get too fat right there where they belong.

What kind of bullshit is this lifestyle choice crap?

No woman on the planet would choose to be female. Why? Because as lifestyles go, it sucks. Lifestyles should be rich, famous, and packed with privileges. Being female is none of those things.

When the small government folk go on and on about “lifestyle choices”, they are attempting – and in the US with great success – to redefine what being female, or gay, really is. It’s not a choice. It’s a condition of being. Part of being female is managing the plumbing, and no one gets to stick his nose up my plumbing unless he’s my husband or has an M.D. behind her surname.

I am female by random chance, and I have lived a female’s life of which I am not ashamed of. Nice try, Hannity.

The Man Without a Country: Acts of the Ex-Patriot and other Vindictive American Ideas


Biometric United States passport issued in 2007

Biometric United States passport issued in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was about the age of my daughter, I saw a television movie called The Man Without a Country with starring the late Cliff Robertson. A deadly dull teleplay in retrospect and I suspect wasn’t incredibly thrilling at the time, but it appealed and appalled my little girl sense of fairness in a way that I can still vividly recall today.

Cribbed from a short story written by Edward Everett Hale, who intended for it to stir patriotic fervor as the Civil War dragged on, it is a tale about a young Army officer, Nolan, caught in the treason trail of Arron Burr and impetuously shouts out at his trial, “Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”

Maliciously, the sentencing judge grants the young man’s wish and effectively renders him stateless by ordering that he spend the rest of his days as a prisoner on various Navy vessels, forever deprived of his homeland by word or deed.

I remember the last scene of the movie vividly. A young officer finds the dying Nolan in a cabin decked out in United States flags, maps and other symbolism. He grants the old man the dying wish of hearing about “home”.

It was very sad but my ten-year old self as incensed by the cruelty of the sentence. One impetuous outburst during a treason trial that was more of a political witch hunt (though at the time I didn’t know enough about Burr to really understand the politics in play) and this man was banished from his home while people who bore more guilt were not.

I didn’t know the story was a fiction or that the fiction was a propaganda tool to ignite Union sentiment at a time with the United States was more a collection of states than a country. I just know that it wasn’t fair. Regardless of where a person choose to live or the criticism he/she might have for his/her government, depriving someone of the place where they were born as punishment was wrong.

Because I am currently in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen, the idea of “home” is much on my mind. How does one have two homes? When push comes to shove, where lies loyalty?

And then the news of Eduardo Saverin broke via the recent IPO unveiling of Facebook and the fact that Mr. Saverin, as a co-founder, stands to collect billions more in profit. Saverin is a Brasilian who became a U.S. citizen when  as a child – probably through his parents much as Dee will attain Canadian citizenship through my application. With news of the IPO, it came to light that Saverin, who hasn’t lived in the U.S. in several years and who has obtained citizenship in Singapore where he lives, had renounced this U.S. citizenship. For purposes of avoiding taxes was the media assumption though as any ex-pat knows, relinquishing citizenship can carry a hefty exit tax for those whose assets exceed specified amounts.

Given the bitter and unrelentingly negative press about ex-pats (American citizens who live abroad) of late, the outcry in the comment sections of news websites was predictably jingoistic and devoid of much by way of actual facts.

“Love it or leave it!”

“America doesn’t need traitors anyway!”

As if anyone who has ever left the U.S. has only done so because they are dodgers of some sort with a sketchy grasp of loyalty.

Most of what has been written lately about those of us who make our homes outside the United States has been decidedly scathing and rather loose with the interpretations of why some of us seek citizenship in other places, often choose to never return and sometimes relinquish our accident of birth derived American citizenships.

America is and has been mostly always about money and the acquisition of it and the stuff that can accompany having wealth. Being so, it makes sense that those who buy whole-heartedly in the myth of the America Dream would see those of us who leave as being money/stuff traitors. What other reason than wealth would propel us to leave the richest most bestest nation on the planet? Nothing is as important as dinero and toys after all.

It could well be that Saverin was motivated to renounce because the hassle of yet another citizenship obligation – including taxes – got to be a bit much. My personal guess is that someone who has lived in more than one country has a world view that allows him to see that America is not the only desirable place in the world to call home and therefore doesn’t see the loss of legal status as a tragedy. It’s not like he is poor Nolan, stateless and barred from contact or news. I am sure he still has his Facebook account to keep him in touch and if not, there is always Twitter.

I have never been under the illusion that the United States is the only nice place in the world to live. It’s not the only democracy or the only place with indoor plumbing. Though some of those in my native land fervently believe otherwise. Canada is not the armpit of the Americas nor is it some red-haired step-child longing to be like its geographically smaller sibling to the south.

While I admit that those who renounce due to the onerous filing obligations to the IRS have a valid point, I am financially insignificant enough that my husband can still navigate my taxes every year, but that’s not the case for many others. It’s especially onerous, and not fair, to expect dual citizens to file taxes when they owe nothing – as is the case with many dual U.S./Canadians and the expectation that those who are married to non-U.S. citizens hand over their spouses private financial information can’t be considered okay no matter how the U.S. government tries to spin it.

Saverin’s case though prompted an additional slap at ex-pats in the form of a bill introduced by two Democrats called the Ex-Patriot Act, which would de facto label any U.S. citizen who renounces as a tax cheat and bar them from ever stepping foot on American soil again. The IRS will be the final arbitrator as to the whether or not the renunciate has a “good reason” for leaving (apparently marriage, children, having a life will not count) and everyone who lives in another country, whether as a permanent resident or a dual citizen will be treated as some sort of traitor to Uncle Sam. At least that’s my understanding. And given the comments of my fellow Americans, most of completely fine with this idea.

I came to Canadian because the man I loved, and was planning to marry and spend the rest of my life with, is a Canadian. Our life, quite frankly, trumps all other considerations including my birth on Plantation America.

I became a landed immigrant not quite four years ago and am eligible to apply for citizenship now. My reasons for becoming a Canadian came home to my quite clearly during the last provincial election here in Alberta. I want to vote. This is my home and I want to have a say in what happens. In fact, when I read about the special ward election coming up, due to our ward councillor being elected as an MLA, I realized that only my lack of citizenship stood in the way of my running for that office.

Not long after Dee started school, she asked me about a line in the anthem that they sing at the beginning of each new week.

“What does it mean to ‘stand on guard for thee’?”

I have known this was coming for a long time. A day when I felt my loyalty lay more with my adopted country than the one I was born in. It doesn’t pain me to begin to take the steps. It does irritate me that I am wrongly attributed base motivations for doing so. It probably pisses Eduardo Saverin off too, but as I don’t know him anymore than Sen Schumer does, I won’t cast him the villain. Of course, I don’t have a reason for grandstand pandering like Schumer does because I am not a politician. Yet.

The “Mommy Wars”: Militant Attachment Parenting Edition


Time Magazine jumped into the Mommy “War” fray this past week with a “provocative” cover story, which featured a good-looking millennial mom breastfeeding her big-for-his-age almost four-year old as the cover photo.

I am sure you’ve seen it by now. She’s garbed in the standard yoga uniform of the SAHM with one boob flashing a bit as her son peeks from behind it, his mouth firmly latched.

The outrage! How dare Time sexualize breastfeeding?! And how icky of them to use a hot looking mom as opposed to the dumpy beings we all know that moms are? And the kid? He’s a kid!! Kids don’t breastfeed! They eat. Lunchables and Happy Meals while drinking fructose infused juices and sodas. And finally, breastfeeding is all well and good for INFANTS (provided a woman CAN nurse … because you know, not all of us can. Failure to latch or lactate enough or you know, we have lives) but not preschoolers who can ask for a cup of milk and maybe even pour their own sippy cups. Pretty sure that sucking Mom’s teat (in front of people) isn’t something Jesus wants fully actualized feminists to do.

‘Cause Jesus loves the working woman.

Did you hear my eyes rolling on that last line?

Look, I breastfed Dee until she was a tad over four years old. Ask her. She’ll tell you that it was awesome and that breast milk is the tastiest stuff ever and she misses it … because she’s lactose intolerant and rice milk just doesn’t cut it for her, and I am mean and won’t let her have much cow’s milk. And no, she won’t be traumatized if someday her peers find this out because we have raised her to value what she knows over the often times misguided misinformation of others.

She slept with me too until Rob came along – because he is the world’s most finicky sleeper*. It’s the slippery slope that is “attachment parenting” for most of us who aren’t Hollywood actresses. Breastfeeding is an on demand thing and in pretty short order it occurs to most of us that letting the baby, toddler or kid simply latch on as needed while we sleep is the best way to not die from exhaustion.

As most people who know Dee can attest, she is neither emotionally impaired nor particularly clingy. She sallies forth into the world at her own pace, dictated more by her personality – which she inherited in more or less equal measures from me and her late father – and that no one would accuse her of being particularly effed up in terms of her ability to separate from Rob and I. She speaks up for herself. She doesn’t take crap from peers. She knows who she is and aside from her insistence that she is going to work at The Pottery Guild when she grows up (she is going to be an engineer because we’ve already decided that we can’t waste money on university without some sort of assurance that she will be employable and not destined to live with us for the rest of our lives), she is practical and – based on my observations of many of her friends – far more self-sufficient.

There is nothing particularly right or wrong about breastfeeding beyound the first 6 weeks or months. Once I got the hang of it, I found it much easier than messing about with formula and bottles. But I wasn’t slavish about it. I didn’t get the hang of pumping, so Dee took formula at daycare. Devilish smart wee one that she was, she figured out quite early that because she could nurse all she liked in the evenings and over-night, she didn’t need to take much formula during the day. More than once, a worried caregiver informed me that Dee had taken only 15 ounces of formula that day. She was too clever by half even as a 4 month old.

And I didn’t personally know anyone whose kid or kids didn’t take up residence in their bed. Honestly, I don’t know that forbidding this sort of thing promotes “independence” any more than letting a baby cry itself to exhaustion teaches them to sleep (which begs the question of how “sleep” – a natural human thing is “taught”). My parents forbade us to sleep in their bed. In fact, I vividly remember having to stand in the hallway outside their door and call to them ’til one of them woke up if I needed them in the night because it was literally taking life in hand to even stand next to their bed.

Most of the sanctity of the marriage bed thing stems, in my opinion, from the quaint notion that sex is why the bed exists in the first place and that a couple somehow loses precious bonding time when children “intrude”.  Aside from our days trying to conceive, the late husband and I rarely had sex in bed. And frankly, I am not at all sure how one bonds during one’s sleep. But given the fact that “bonding” for many couples consists of watching Game of Thrones on a flatscreen nearly as big as the bed – I am not really sure where the bed gets its sacred reputation. It’s a bed. Mostly you sleep in it and kids eventually will get tired of being squished and go find beds of their own. I don’t know a single co-sleeping family who is harbouring teens or 20 somethings in their beds.

Here’s what I think about the hysteria over the Time cover pic.

People project. A lot.

North Americas have  a puritanical streak wider than the Mississippi and twice as long. The media and the Pink Ribbon brigade has so twisted our notions about the female breast that we can’t see them and not think SEX. Breasts in our culture are about accessorizing, flaunting and power and not necessarily in that order. Men see breasts as enticing toys, and women pander to this view a lot more than is necessary.

Breasts are not just fatty tissue housing milk ducts, They are statements. Sexual objects used by everyone from the purveyors of capitalism to the pimps of the patriarchal religious right. More so than even our vaginas, our breasts are used to pit us against each other in pointless areola gazing.

Are you Mom enough? Time asks us. And by doing so is accused of stoking the next battle, but we willingly engage in one mom up-woman-ship all the time on our blogs, Twit streams and Facebook pages. Seldom have I witnessed Moms gathering (or women in general for that matter) where hierarchies aren’t quickly established with women knowing, without even asking, where they rank. Nothing about being female screams FEMALE as loudly as the endless competition we entered into at some point before junior high and continue to engage in to one degree or another until we drop dead (from breast cancer, if you are inclined to buy into the hysteria).

Time fed the distraction troll with this one. One could excuse it if one were inclined. I’m not. Nor am I inclined to cut much slack to the hysterical and squeamish who jumped into the fray while decrying it.

They are just boobs, doing what boobs are uniquely designed to do. I get that Mom on Time’s cover. Breastfeeders are constantly sent the message that we are freakish and should keep that shit in our homes – with shades drawn and maybe in a closet underneath a thick blanket. I’d have stuck it out there for all to see too had I been given her chance. And personally, I get a vicarious feeling of satisfaction knowing that cover is discomforting the judgemental and the timid conformers in every grocery and Target all over America. Take that, Mommy Clubbers!

Seriously, they are boobs and the kid is nursing. He’ll be fine. Get over it already and stop buying into your own manipulation by a media with a political agenda that is clearly not women friendly.

*I am lucky that I am allowed to share the bed with him because my tossing about has driven him to distraction on more than one occasion. And Dee is even worse than I am.

America: Home of the Freely Intolerant and Bravely Prejudiced


Fair & Balanced graphic used in 2005

Image via Wikipedia

Last week my husband turned down a work opportunity that would have relocated us to the Gulf Coast in either Texas or Louisiana. Horrorifically hot, humid weather aside, what truly renders both locales less than optimum from a residential standpoint has far more to do with politics, religion and stupidity than anything else.

Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I find the US’s deep south perplexing and more than a bit backward redneck anyway. The East/West Coasters may make fun of those of us in the “fly-over” states, but we have more common sense than the rest of the country as a whole and though we aren’t as “cosmopolitian” we also aren’t as steeped in “isms” as they think. That distinction is reserved for The South.

Neither Rob nor I care much for the weather here. It’s too cold for too long and our summers are hit and miss. A warmer climate is a powerful attraction  and has a selling point, but after the last few weeks of observing the increasingly noxious Republican primary and its pungent political fallout – there is really no question of subjecting ourselves or our impressionable young daughter to the  sexism, racism and police state mentality that is rapidly filling in the empty core of  America’s values, which were of dubious quality to begin with.

First take the GOP mud match to the nomination. We actually watched a few of the debates, which always begin with the candidates introducing themselves as if they were on a game show. In their spiels they rattled off their religious credentials, martial status and ticked off progeny like contestants at a Mister or Missus America pageant. Only Ron Paul had the grace and sense to smile self-deprecatingly as he did so, but I got the feeling that he was the only one who realized just how meaningless the whole thing was in light of what is truly at stake.

Religion increasingly has become a cornerstone on which everything rests. Despite the fact the Founders specifically tried to avoid building a new country on any specific faith tenets, the US seems committed, at this point, to becoming some sort of theocracy, which wouldn’t be such a horrifying prospect if the proponents of the idea weren’t hell bent on embracing every archaic, intolerant and prejudiced idea ever written in the Old Testament. Their ideas on women are Medieval and I won’t be at all surprised, given their new strident opposition to contraception, if they don’t soon decide that each municipality set up red tents on the outskirts and insist that menstruating women start using them. I’m not kidding. That’s about the only aspect of femaleness that Conservatives haven’t voiced a bat-shit crazy opinion on and I am sure it’s coming. After all, the use of tampons is ripe for euphemism and condemnation, don’t you think?

And the racism thing. Back during the 2008 Democratic primary, I commented that Obama’s victory over Clinton was only proof that when faced with two “evils”, Americans would go with the lessor. Clearly they were less racist than sexist and given the recent Komen debacle followed by the Catholic Bishops’ hissy fit about contraception, sexism is still in the lead, but racism is not far behind.

The irrantional attacks on the President, which are based on nothing factual, are so obviously about his being black. And it’s not like the guy doesn’t have obvious and glaring flaws – his whole-hearted endorsement of the police state thing for starters – but his “critics” insist on concentrating their ire on issues that aren’t or issues that are the result of something the last President (or even the one before him) should own.

Over the weekend, singer Whitney Houston died. Poor thing. Why is it that the most fragile and least able to cope end up rich and famous? Drowned in a hotel bathtub, according to the speculation. Xanax, booze and hot water shouldn’t be mixed. Xanax is an evil little drug that really shouldn’t be as widely prescribed as it is. Incredibly addictive. Not something a “former” cokehead should be allowed to take unsupervised in any case.

But her death provides an excellent example of my point about racism in America being very much alive and probably as stinky as it ever was. The Fox News site posted a story on Houston’s death. Just the facts, m’am and oh my god, the comments. The “N” word abounds and any racial stereotype you care to recall spews forth in comment after comment. 5000 of them.

Because she was black, and because she was a “she” and not a “he”. I am sure Michael Jackson didn’t provoke as much prejudice ire, protected a bit more by his gender.

We can’t raise Dee in a country so openly hostile to women and minorities. Nor could either of us stomach living in areas of the country that are far more open with their contempt and close-minded attitudes.

Rob remembers vividly from their time living in Kansas in the early ’90’s, the difficulty of being open-minded and not particularly religious. Texas and Louisiana are a lot farther south. Texas couldn’t be less tolerant of equality and there is no way we could allow Dee to go to school in a state that doctors non-fiction textbooks with fiction. Louisiana is even worse. The public school system might as well be scrapped entirely as under-funded as it is. Rob knows no one at the plant there who sends their children to the local public schools*. Private schools flourish down there for good reason.

And Dee isn’t the slightest bit Christian. Which is a problem if we are looking to live in areas that are mindlessly so and rabid in their quest to convert the “heathens”. While Rob and I can easily withstand the pressure and even the disdain. It would be harder for Dee, who is quite stubborn but just as sensitive.

I find it all rather sad that my native land has become a place where I can’t raise my daughter, and it’s not that Canada is without issues. People here are prejudiced too and probably more so than they are sexist (that exists simply because we are humans in a world with a long history of sexism), but it doesn’t invade the politics to the same extent. It’s also actively frowned upon whereas in the US, anymore, that’s not really the case. Being anti-female, in fact, seems almost to be a prerequisite for public office and is certainly not discouraged among the Evangelical Christian set or the conservative minded where public policy is concerned.

I was raised small town Iowa Catholic. I was taught that as a girl I had “a place” in society and in my church. That place was one of subservience and I was mostly supposed to be silent and accepting because some things just were the way they were. God willed it so.

But I never accepted that and I was increasingly less silent as I grew up. Now, I am not silent at all. Men have no business or right mucking about in aspects of femaleness that they couldn’t understand even if they cared to try. Women should actively resent and rebel against this meddling and the mindset that implies that women are dirty in some unspeakable way and that we are too dumb to be left in charge of ourselves. Because that is what it gets down to. Religion long ago, and for purposes of control/power, deemed women dirty and dumb. The politics of contraception are just another avenue of this prejudice that evolved purely to benefit men and to allow them to be dominant at the expense of everything and everyone.

Poor America. The rest of the world is waking up and catching up. Soon the only countries it will have anything in common with will be third world theocracies and dictatorships and that will be a sad day indeed.

*Although I will grant you that some of the reason that the “elite” there send their kids to private school isn’t academically driven. They want better educational settings to be sure but they also don’t want their kids going to schools where black children are half or better of the student populations.

My Cousin Heckled Romney at The Iowa State Fair. The Family is So Proud.


Or maybe just I am.

Dad’s first cousin on his mom’s side, Joe Fagan, got up in GOP hopeful Mitt Romney‘s eager to be POTUS face today on the subject of Medicare and Social Security. While I don’t disagree with Romney that given its current trajectory Medicare and SS benefits aren’t particularly sustainable given the current and projected worker to retired person ratio, I applaud Joe for exposing Romney for the corp whore twat he is.

“Corporations are people, my friend.”*

Dear Universe, hear me while I scream until my tonsils burst into flames.

My earliest memories of Joe are his visits when he was attending seminary in Dubuque. He would stop by in the evenings, sometimes bringing along a fellow classmate, and he and Dad would reminisce and argue about current events and politics. It was the late 1960’s. Joe was ten years younger than my Dad, who’d served in the Navy in the last months of WWII. To say that they disagreed in those turbulent times would be understating.

Joe admired Dr. King and supported Bobby Kennedy. Dad didn’t understand civil protests and voted for Nixon – every single time.

But Dad always said, “Joe stands up for what he believes is right.”

The organization Joe worked for in Des Moines for decades until his retirement not long ago has been accused of being “socialist”, which in Iowa – indeed anywhere in America these days – is code for “not American”. But they fought for the underprivileged, the working poor, the over-looked and the people who are and will continue to bear the brunt of the economic slide.

He never sought fame or power or riches. He was a working guy with a wife, who taught school before becoming a principal, and two kids.

By standing up and not letting Romney shush him with charm and platitudes, Joe Fagan was doing what every American has the right to do – question the motives of those who seek to lead us. To rule us.

Good on , cuz!

*This statement – destined to be a POTUS 2012 classic – is apparently already available on t-shirts with bumper stickers to follow I imagine.