Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making dinner for Steve

Sometimes it's wiser and gentler to remain in your fantasies. Your fantasy probably smells better, owns his own home and doesn't degrade the environment.  Your fantasy thinks you are the most attractive woman ever, but mostly when you are not either busy already or feeling very tired. Your fantasy will notice dirty dishes and wash them. Your fantasy will babysit your sick children and when you come home from a long day at work your child will be sipping juice from organic fresh carrots, rosy-cheeked and eager to show you their paper mache project, and the evidence of making this project will be thoroughly disposed of. Your fantasy plays guitar for a successful band in which you are the lead singer, but also is a devoted and adoring partner. In most cases, fantasy will have a more favorable outcome than reality for you and possibly your children.

Fantasy is not only preferable, it is also more real to me than most things. Fantasy is majik. Fantasy is locomotion times potential. Mathematically speaking: l(locomotion) x p(potential) = fantasy.

And we all know how important a person's potential is. Usually more important than what they're really like! It's what a person talks about, the magazines they read, their fictional self that says volumes more about who they are on the inside. If you want to get to know someone, explore their fantasy for a while. Or a least until you become a little frightened. 

This particular fantasy begins in the streets of downtown Spokane. Lincoln to be exact. And it's first Friday. Leticia, Jaeda, Shannon, Carly and myself are leaving Terrain to drink cherry Schnapps and vodka outside of Leticia's car. Most of us are working at lowering the veil but Jaeda wants to prepare her set list for her performance that night. As we pass the Sapphire Lounge, Leticia spots a guy. A cute guy.   She yells, "Hey! I just drank shots with your mom and your sister! We were drinking on the street and we were like, 'Hey! You want a shot?' and your mom was like, 'Shit yeah, I want some.' Come with us! Come drink some shots."
Like most men, my fantasy is morbidly curious about Leticia. He smiles in an enchanted way, and eagerly follows us to the car. While some men that follow Leticia are no fantasy, I begin to notice that he is not trying to screw anyone, and he's dressed rather, stylishly.
In other words, clearly his shoes were not purchased at Rite Aid and his coat had been laundered recently. He didn't appear to be homeless.
He went straight for the schnapps and introduced himself as Steve. Not the name I had imagined, but I'd roll with it, we were after all, drinking without as much as a brown bag across from the Davenport Hotel.
Steve tells me and Carly he is in town from Seattle playing music with his Dad's band at the Sapphire Lounge. Blues. White guy Blues. My favorite genre. Then he tells us about his Mom and her lesbian lover crashing the show where Steve and his Dad are playing the white-guy blues. And she's been drinking shots on the street with Leticia.
Sounds like his fantasy could use a little fine-tuning frankly, and I do believe I can provide whatever delusion he may need. I accurately peg him as a bass player. We establish a connection with James Brown. I talk about his frequent costume changes, he talks about his cable access show with him all cracked out and all too shortly, Steve disappears into another Spokane night.
I drink a shot to console myself and figure I'll run into him later.
The night plays out. Leticia uses Jaeda's set list to wipe her ass, we get our picture taken in the photo booth. Shannon gets tired and we leave Leticia and Jaeda dancing up in the window at Terrain.

Sunday evening I begin to prepare the ritual delicious vegan dinner. I think of Steve as I prepare the marinade for portobello mushrooms. Even though he was drinking on the street with us I didn't get the impression he was an alcoholic. His skin looked too good for that. He's probably a vegetarian. "Put a little more ginger in there," I can hear him say. He would love my cooking. I put on my import James Brown record. We would come up with a cool Zumba routine for "Payback."  Steve would be envious of my Slint albums.  He would laugh when I informed him that my youngest may have pin worms, and then offer to launder all the sheets. He would insist on nothing but dinner dishes and a foot massage. And in between making arrangements to move back to Spokane and playing some tunes on his bass, he could tutor the kids in the foreign languages he picked up on tour.

Fantasy, you're too good to me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Slut Walk

In response to some comments made by a Toronto police officer, women all over the world are taking to the streets in "Slut Walks." Apparently in a safety seminar the officer stated that if women wanted to avoid sexual assault they should refrain from dressing like "sluts." I know the officer thought he was enlightening us all with a simple no-brainer. The key to not getting raped? Dress like a Tabernacle Choir singer and no one will want to have sex with you. As though rape doesn't happen any other time. As though ugly or unattractive women have never been raped. As though the entire arch of the female sexuality isn't determined by a male agenda. As though the very power dynamic of sexuality doesn't codify and permit the subjugation of women sexually and in every other way.

It's a complex issue. One that I am unraveling here in my late thirties. Female sexuality is complex. It doesn't begin and end with just sex. For me, my sexual identity began when I was very young (the same as it does for most women) and first became aware of myself as a sexual being. The process certainly included having sex, but the entire trajectory included pregnancy, childbirth, child rearing and menopause. And I feel at every step, the terms and process by which I have understood myself as a sexual being have been determined by systems of oppression (thank you Christianity.) I try to conjure a moment on the arch that wasn't mediated by oppression and can only come up with the home-birth of my youngest daughter, which took place in my own home, on my own terms, and was attended by women. The very language we use to discuss and legislate sexual behavior, the spiritual mechanisms that determine sexually acceptable versus unacceptable, the medical practices particular to sexuality are all most efficient at oppression and the least likely to lend itself to a healthy sexual identity. If you find yourself thinking I am a femi-nazi bitch, read more here:

Most likely, I am a bitch. Most likely, I am somewhat extreme. Most likely, I feel a certain calling to change the terms about how women experience their sexual selves. But, I am least likely to identify myself with "slut." Which is why I started this post with talking about the "Slut Walk." I don't think I'll be there, and not because I don't identify with the issue. Not because I want women to get raped, and not because I believe that the burden of proof should be placed on the victim in sexual assault cases. I won't be there because I don't feel like a "slut" and I don't feel like calling myself one, or that "taking back ownership" of the term will do a lick of good concerning the deeper issue of female sexuality.

Oh, it's time to organize. The reality is, there needs to be an organized women's movement. I believe women need to create organized support systems to enable each other to seek and attain real representation. Women's presence in the political, legislative and governance sphere need to be directly proportionate to their numbers. Women need to organize  medical treatments and facilities geared toward honoring women's sexuality. Women need to institute their own labor unions, HMO's and election campaigns. Or perhaps women just need to raze the entire system that hasn't served them since the birth of Christianity and begin anew. Whatever the method, I would like the need to be determined with the full participation of women, innovated by the inventions of women, and implemented with leadership that fully includes women.

I don't feel that this goal can be reached with a bunch of  slut schtick. I don't want to have to be called a slut in order to draw attention to women's needs. I don't want the male perception of what female sexuality is to determine its validity.

Invite me to a meeting about how to organize women. Invite me to strategy sessions about how to organize a women's health clinic where a treatment plan can be created by a women who was trained by other women. Invite me to a protest about how to create inclusion for women in the Legislature.  Invite me to participate in a real way in the discussion.

Or better yet, I'll extend the invitation. Male or female, slut or not, let's have a potluck and discuss a real strategy. I'll host it at my house once a week.

See you soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


So, since I'm no longer panicking about money, and am now less focused on the periphery, I've decided to take a little break on the whole food stamp balance updates. I realized how personal sharing my dismal financial outlook can be in such a public setting. Not only do I wonder whether or not I want Great Aunt Gladys in Ohio knowing about my monetary prowess, I really need to consider my dating prospects.

I see the sparks flying with a potential date now:

Potential Date: "So I saw your blog."
Me (chuckling uncomfortably): "Cool. You're paying the tab tonight, right? I think I left my Quest card at home."
Potential Date: "Uh...... I live in my parent's garage."


Which I guess leads me to THAT discussion. About prospects. Fellas, if you're living in your parents' garage I don't want to discourage you. If you're living in your parents garage and you do not wear socks with your skate shoes however, I would like to openly and vigorously discourage you.
Not judging. I've been known to have a little foot odor myself. I've been known to have a meltdown in my adult life and end up living with my parents, washing venetian blinds at my mother's request. After a full work day. I can roll with some shiz man. I am probably too tolerant, too invested in my romantic interest's potential. I literally have  found myself trying to convince my friends and family of my sanity regarding my choice in men.
Perhaps I should provide fair warning here. Those crazy nights after a fun date with wild and animalistic lovemaking on the floor of the living room? They can get a little awkward when interrupted by a  smarmy teenager. Mexican cruises? They have toddler suites on those things, right? I mean, those boats are huge!
I am a full time Mom. Opportunity is limited. Many opportunities are limited. Sure, I'm lucky to have work. I'm fortunate to work for people who understand and are willing to be flexible for a Mom. Ultimately I have chosen to forego my brilliant career in law, my creative writing career, a Pulitzer, first prize in the State Fair for best apple pie. Did I mention gold metal in the Logger Olympics for axe throwing? I have chosen to be home for my children after school. I have worked so many low-paying jobs and for so long that minimum wage almost seems decent.  I have chosen to put entire vacations on credit cards, and wrack up student loans with not even an Associates. But what I lack in materialism I certainly exceed in looks and charm. I am funny when I am not taking it too far, and I am also a terrific cook. One should not overlook the benefits of a woman who knows a little thrift.

Is this a blog or a bio for I'm starting to annoy myself.

So life changes. I haven't written here in awhile, things are changing, dizzyingly so. And I am happy to bob the surface of it.
A little over two weeks ago I started a new job as a legal assistant for a criminal defense attorney. I love it. I love using my brain. I love not having to answer stupid questions about gelato. Situations that make me want to scream like:
Stupid Customer: "So, what's gelato?"
Me: "It's Italian style ice cream. It's made with whole milk instead of cream so it has a slightly different texture than ice cream. Would you like to try it?"
Stupid Customer: (stares blankly at gelato case, licks lips) "Is it cold?"

I love that I get to research. I love that I work for people where being intelligent is appreciated and encouraged. So if anyone needs unsolicited, very amateurish legal advice let me know. I will trade for food stamps.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Union plucking

A crowd of union members, including myself were standing freezing our asses off tonight at the Division/Ruby split.
Hey, if that was you driving by honking, giving us the thumbs up, thanks. Or perhaps you were honking because it was so frigid that my upper lip had frozen and I didn't notice the sheep's legs running out of my nose until I got to the car. If you were honking to let me know, thanks for that too.
Really, all that was missing was a megaphone and some Wobbly songs, but I intend to fix that at future rallies. You could even stop by and get a song book, and maybe sing a couple tunes. I'll be the one dressed as Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, with the chains. You'll see me.
It was a good show of about 100 people, standing in solidarity with union members in Wisconsin. Numbers at the Capital Building there are estimated to swell later in the week to an estimated hundred thousand. I saw some youtube videos today on Democracy Now that made me all verklempt.

"This is what democracy looks like!"

And now's the time to step it up a notch, since the bill denying union collective bargaining was passed today in the assembly. Spooky. This is getting spooky. I am really getting spooked out now. Okay, I'm always the one who's up-in-arms about some thing or another, but this is serious.
The Koch Brothers are buying their way towards a non-union society. And it's working. And now I'm getting a little freaked out.
Most of the feedback from drivers tonight was positive. Still,  I couldn't help but notice some of the sour looks, the middle fingers, the head shakes.
Who were these people? I try to create a little of this world just as a fun exercise for the imagination, kind of like trying to imagine a bully in their underwear in a last ditch effort to disarm their potency. I had some fun for a little while reminiscing a photo essay from a 2004 Harper's magazine:

But then I just got depressed. It seemed macabre. Why would someone not be in favor of workers unionizing? I mean, I understand if you're already filthy rich why you don't need the union, but Ford Tempo lady, why don't you need it? It seems to me that a Wobbly song book might be exactly what you need.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dear GOP

So with a GOP majority we had better prepare for unprecedented attacks on issues like abortion, women's health and the legislation of rape. I'm sure many of you have seen the FB petitions circulating about re-defining rape so that a situation where a woman is drugged and raped it would be considered consensual and therefore would limit a woman's access to an abortion. Just wow on that one. I can unconsciously consent to sex. So like, if I don't know someone is asking me or that it is even happening, and can't talk or move, I can give my rapist the thumbs up?  Sounds like a date. And if I don't put up a physical struggle then I must have made the choice to have a baby? Of course! The fertile grounds to start a family.
Did I miss something?
In reality, just until the last few years (thanks to roofies and urinalysis testing) rape was nearly impossible to prove in court without signs of a struggle. A woman in Central Park in NY was thrown from her bicycle by a stranger, choked and raped but was unable to see the perpetrator to jail because there was insufficient evidence to support that a struggle had occurred. A woman in Seattle threatens to jump from a building downtown in the middle of a rape trial in which she was the victim because she can't handle the stress of being cross-examined by the defense. The perpetrator. Who had decided to represent himself.
People erect three-story graphic images of aborted fetuses, tear at their hair, cry out passionately to God, "What is the value of human life?" But what do we really care about? How much can we ignore the inconvenient parts and still have the consideration of life? Don't we have to decide as well about the QUALITY of an individual's life? Can the two exist autonomously?   Fuck. Anything is tantamount to women and their need for sexual and reproductive rights. A cute hedgehog video gets more contemplation on a societal level than what rape REALLY is, or what reproductive choice REALLY means.
It's sad. One step forward three steps backward. There's proposed legislation to eliminate federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The appointed committee committed to getting the task done? You guessed it, mostly white Republican males. It's sad that Republicans would want to revert back to the archaic days before birth control, when women were miserable and children spent their childhood in front of the TV. After all, this is what Planned Parenthood does. Provide birth control, hence the name of the organization. And in low-income situations, an annual pap smear at Planned Parenthood may be the only time a woman sees a doctor. Contrary to popular belief, Planned Parenthood is not a death dispensary. The majority of women they see are there for contraceptives, not abortions. I always wondered when I saw the picketers outside the office on Indiana, why they would have a problem with poor women using birth control, or women whose health insurance refused to pay for their contraceptives. It seemed like they were making the "right" decision to me.
I met a woman on Friday whose life was saved by Planned Parenthood. She was in for her annual, and the nurse discovered lumps on her lymph nodes. She referred her to a specialist who diagnosed the lumps as non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She was treated in 2003, and has since given birth to a beautiful girl and enjoys a normal life. Thanks to Planned Parenthood. The reality is, PP is providing medical services to women (and men for that matter) who may not receive ANY other health services. I think that's worth the funding. I believe a woman's health is vital to our society.
Recently, I spoke with a friend who 6 weeks after giving birth via C-section to her third child was cut off from her DSHS medical benefits. She was unable to go to her 8 week check up because she had no medical coverage. The GOP would paint a picture of a welfare Mom, casually reproducing in order to increase her food stamp benefits. The reality is, she's married to a disabled veteran and managed a coffee shop full-time where she was not offered medical benefits, but not that it would matter to the GOP, after all isn't every sperm sacred? Every life special? Doesn't everyone deserve a chance at existence? Is that valuing family? What is the value placed on her life?
Which leads me to the next issue, the GOP wants to eliminate abortion, honoring the sanctity and sacred life of an unborn child. I would agree that children are special. I should. I've birthed two of them myself, but I just wonder if Focus on the Family is aware of the struggles faced by mothers who choose the "right" thing and raise their children from an unplanned pregnancy? I'm pretty convinced that if all pregnancies were planned, most of us wouldn't be here but that's another story. It seems to me that these conservative anti-choice groups want to place this extreme value on life, right up to the moment a child is born, and then forget about them and their mothers.
The reality is, single parent households are on the rise. It's a complex issue, with complex reasons, but the reality of single parenthood is harsh and appears to have little to do with society's value of life. Women having children are obligated to support them financially, and in order to receive assistance from the State in the form of food stamps or childcare they must return to work sometimes when their babies are as young as twelve weeks old. That's barely enough time to establish breast feeding, let alone an adequate parental bond. What else is there for a twelve-week-old?
I propose if this were truly a family-focused society that we would insist the State give the monies they would spend on child care for a parent with an infant to the PARENT. There are multitudinous studies done mostly by conservative religious think tanks that sending your infants off to daycare creates sociopathy and learning disabilities. I'm not necessarily agreeing with those findings, but these are the same people who say there are no circumstances that would warrant a woman choosing to have an abortion. Including rape.
Obviously, the agenda here is a moralistic and religious one, not a preservation of family one. The GOP means family as defined by extremely rigid terms. It must be defined as a man and a woman, they must embrace fundamentalist Christian values, and they cannot be poor. As long as you fit this criterion you may be considered a family. If you do not, then here's a fire extinguisher, because your kids might get burned the afterlife.
As soon as the GOP can recognize what family really means, adults (or an adult) who's goal it is to prepare our children for the mess we're leaving them, then we may begin to evaluate what a family needs. And as soon as a society we demand that a woman's life is just as important as that of her unborn children, and that the success of both can contribute greater things to the world, we can begin to paint a picture of our future.
Also, I just made my private donation to Planned Parenthood today. You can too:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Good Grief

We spend so much of our lives accumulating stuff. We work and work and work in order to buy stuff or pay for stuff that we've already bought. We spend lifetimes apart from the things that are important and the people that we love. A lot of times we buy things that we hope will make spending time around the people we love more fun. We buy things for our loved ones so they will know we love them. We make arrangements to get away from loved ones so we can make more money, and then buy food to eat with them. Largely, we are apart, lonely, wishing we could just feel happy. We wish we weren't social. We even tell people, "I'm kind of a lone wolf. I don't really hang out with anyone." We are ultimately terrified of intimacy, needing it so much, but afraid to indulge it. Masking this with staunch individualism, independence, and a cavalier attitude. The reality is, we need each other. When all's said and done, that's all you get, just this life and the memories and connections you either make or break. And that's it.
I visited my friend last night, in the depths of despair and grief. He recently lost a lot and is trying to piece it back together, attempting to reconcile the fact that life doesn't stop when you lose someone, the world marches on oblivious to your pain. I think the thing that is most heart wrenching is his regret. Now that the person he loved is gone, he just wishes he could have been better at intimacy. He wishes he could have gotten closer, could have allowed himself to ignore that fear of cloistered, claustrophobic, intense shared emotion. After all, there is some responsibility in it. If you're going to be close to someone, you are volunteering yourself to work at understanding and considering their feelings as though they are as true and important as your own. And not only is the effect of this intimacy all you get in the end, it turns out it is one of the single most important aspects of human psychology:

He also talked about vulnerability. He said tragedy makes you feel so vulnerable. Suddenly, every thing that ever made you feel vulnerable in your whole life is there, salient, standing in the room, watching you, blinking. Sure we forget, the images slowly fade, but really the only thing we have to buffer these tragedies is our connection to others. Our desire not only to be close to others, but to allow others to get close. Easier said than done.
I think of my own experiences with intimacy, some of it lovely and confidence building, some of it a scene I would just prefer to look away from, the same intuitive sense that tells me not to look at a Youtube video that will ruin my faith in mankind. I see myself watching a movie in my bedroom alone while Hazel is on the computer in the other room alone. I see myself choosing to text throughout a face-to-face conversation with a friend. Why does this distance seem easier? Why do I avoid people? Why am I so afraid of the very thing I need?
I'm going to push myself through that wall of resistance. I'm going to reach out a little more. It doesn't take some dramatic psychological catharsis. I don't have to join a cult of caring. It's really as simple as saying it. As brief as a hug, as non-imposing as asking someone how they're doing and really listening to the answer. I want the people I love to know that I care. I want to embrace them when I have the impulse to push them away, hug them when I want to scream at them. I only get this one chance, and it's worth a try.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Merry income tax return

$1.48 cash
$9.87 food stamps
4 days 'till payday

It's income tax return season.  You can tell a person's income bracket by their giddy eagerness for a W-2 form.  I just filed mine and look forward to a hefty return. This time of year is the real Christmas for poor families, believe me. I've thought about changing the date of our celebration many times. It's the one time of year we can spend with abandon and join the ranks of all the "real" American Dreamers. The singular annual moment we can get that plasma TV, or hell, I would even settle for  bra without a broken underwire that impales me in the ribs. 
But just for a second,  I would like to take pause and consider, what do we spend our money on? Head to Walmart about now and you'll see us income tax returners on a buying spree. We're like an insincere alcoholic after rehab at the liquor store, but with a huge chunk of money. It's hard when the only cash you've had for months went immediately to bills. It's tempting to go to Walmart and buy cartloads of shit. I've been there. I know this might sound like a dirty word, but I wold like to figure out how to save money. I mean, if I can have the discipline to spend right up to the very last penny, can't I have the discipline to save 5%? I like to say this, but I won't be doing it. What, you ask, will you be spending your tax return on Kristy? The glamorous answer is: I already spent it.
All my tax return is going to  good ol' Sears Credit Cards. Which is like saving 5% every month and I won't feel like I'm licking the man's balls every time I drive my payment up to Northtown because otherwise it would be late. I admit, part of my financial hardship is due to credit cards. I thought I was missing out on some vital part of life, and that if I charged a vacation and some meals out and those super cute kids clothes that were on clearance at The Gap it would somehow complete me. Completion I suppose, complete retardation. Now I get to pay for it. I knew this was coming, and now have to look for ways to enjoy my austere life as a fiscal monk. 
It's a double-edged sword really. Sure I would like to make more money, but honestly, I kind've like the fact that the federal government sends me money every year. I really like the fact that my money doesn't support a war in Iraq or Afghanistan. It's astonishing to consider that the US military spends $1.4 trillion dollars (that's as large as the federal deficit!) on military spending each year.  

Meanwhile the desperation mounts, a DSHS recipient goes to jail for firing off threatening e-mails to Christine Gregoire because he was panicked about his medical benefits being cut. 17,000,000 children live in food insecure households in the US and an elderly person goes without medication because it's too expensive. In droves, we plunge into the precipice. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if everyone elected to make incomes that put them at zero tax liability? What would happen? Would the war machine come to a grinding halt? Would congress get laid off? Would the Postal Service implode? What would happen if we insisted that the money is re-directed towards improving quality of life? What if poverty became a form of protest? If we don't have a choice in the matter, we can at least make it sound cool. It's not so bad if you can celebrate Christmas on Valentine's Day.