Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Angst

I was in my bed, hiding under the covers when my husband texted me and said, 'It's done.' I had somehow imagined that polar bears would meet, make a decision, and then a unicorn would take form out of the mist, tap the orange one with pink hair and tiny hands with a glittering hoof and make him small again. But that didn't happen. Then, not being able to sleep, I got up and paced for a while. My friends texted me to see if I was protesting today. I've been protesting lots of days, sending letters to Congressmen, and wildly signing petitions, but today I just couldn't. So, I paced for a while longer, then finally sat down to a black screen on my computer. Then, I remembered you, Jenny Lawson. I looked for you and you gave me cat hugs and bunnies.

And I knew it would ultimately be okay. Even if I couldn't fight today, even if existential angst threatened to climb into my throat and choke me, my kitten would still bat at the string from my hoodie, my son would still be hungry for what I cooked, my husband would still make snarky comments in the kitchen, and my dog would still need long and wandering walks by the river.

Jenny, thank you for the cat hugs and bunnies just when I needed them most. 

Thank you for listening, jules

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Metaphor of Being Grabbed

I woke up in the middle of the night, about an hour ago. There's no use trying to go back to sleep. None. I just know it.

Getting online to find a bus to Judkins Park on Saturday for the Women's March on Seattle was no help at all. The buses I usually take into Seattle are either weekday buses or aren't running because of the March. 

Well, shit.

See, I'm getting more and more nervous about this event as it comes closer. It's going to be hard to get there. Warnings about writing phone numbers and medical information in Sharpie on your skin is not easing my burden. People posted that agitators might do damage and try to blame peaceful protestors for it. I really just want to protest peacefully. I do. I want my name on that long list of women who marched for tolerance, for equality, and for a non-pussy-grabbing state of our nation.

On Facebook, some people actually questioned my motivation for joining in the protests. Seriously. I'll admit I had written something smarmy, that I didn't intend to do anything illegal or lowering my standards because I was protesting that our incoming government was illegal and lowering our standards.

He who must not be named. Is it going to help to resist putting the big T label onto my rant? Can I avoid retribution by leaving his name out of this. Really?

Another person commented on my Facebook post by saying it was serious business and I should take it seriously. I AM taking it seriously! That's why I'm braving the crowds on Saturday and maybe Friday night too, despite the difficulty I'm going to have getting there and back.

So these irritating Facebook comments got me to thinking about my motivation. I'm telling you that I'm motivated to protest this new administration. I've got my pussy hat ready, along with my Sharpie, some saline solution, snacks, and a bottle of water.

See, I really have to tell you about when I was grabbed, don't I?

It's not just one time. I was cute, naive, and in the engineering field where women weren't exactly expected to be in the late 70s.

My first summer job after a year of engineering school at Purdue, I worked at the Navy Base where my dad had worked. It was great! I was going to so some important work. I knew I was. My dad had worked on some amazing technology. I could sign on to that.

The first day, the woman at the table next to me, the one charged with training me, said I was making everyone look bad and I should relax, slow down. We didn't need to show the bosses what was really possible when everyone else was taking a week to produce what I'd just completed in one morning. These people were jaded, disinterested, and were not going to tolerate my accent let alone my productivity. Just the twenty miles I traveled to work crossed a line of demarcation from a Northern accent to a Southern one. It wasn't appreciated. I was high falutin.

Then, my bosses assigned me overtime.


I was told by the irritated employee next to me that if they didn't use it, they'd lose that line item in the budget next year. This is why the fucking toilet seats cost $800, people.

Ultimately, I made some people mad, those adults who were just trying to keep their civil service jobs from one year to the next. I was some snot-nosed kid in a baby blue pant suit who thought I'd shit gold because I'd finished one fucking year at Purdue? I'll admit I was pretty smug about it. I'd worked hard to get into that engineering school and I was working hard to stay in and get decent grades. I was proud that I was smart, but that wasn't appreciated in this environment. Oh no, it was not.

Then, the managers, my dad's old cohorts, decided I'd learn more on my own project than on a line of production with disengaged civil servants. I was assigned the job of calibrating theodolites, surveying instruments. The room they put me into had a ten ton granite table that went through the floor and connected directly to the ground without touching the building. The theory was that the ground was stable and any delicate work that needed to be done couldn't tolerate  vibrations or shifts inherent in the building or the equipment running inside it.

I never did find out what that table was really used for. I'm sure they didn't design something that thoroughly just so I could calibrate a couple dozen theodolites. I'll bet it was good, but it was 'need to know,' you know. And I was not in the know.

So, I went happily to work on my theodolites. The job was fun, technical, and delicate. I loved it.

And there was still overtime, so I worked hard and they put extra money into my college fund. It was great.

Then, one night, at about 5:45, one of those original guys came and sat across the granite table from me on one of the dozen tall stools positioned around it. The hair on the back of my neck rose whenever this guy was around. He was surly and big. He was as proud of his ignorance as I was of my smarts.

He must have been about 6'4" and about 350 pounds, muscular and fat at the same time. Deep pock marks scarred his face. I'd have said he was ugly if I'd been brave enough to do it.

He had called me a cunt under his breath on that first day when I was just a little bit too enthusiastic. I heard him though.

That night, my radar didn't disappoint me one bit. I immediately went on guard. This big guy ramped up a rant about what the fuck I was doing there. He used the word 'cunt' a few more times and with more volume. I hate being called a cunt. I do. Back then, it was infuriating and embarrassing.

I was sweet when I was nineteen. Plus, I looked like I might be about fourteen. And I smiled too much. My mother had taught me that a lady never makes waves, that a lady never talks back, that if anything goes wrong, I'm to continue smiling and find some excuse to slide out of the problem which would be labeled my fault if I weren't courteous. How my mother survived her entire life on this philosophy, I'll never know.

It didn't work for me and this was one of the first times it was tested.

"What the fuck are you going to do all night here by yourself?" the big man said with sly grin coming across his angry face.

I can't remember what I said to him, probably something about getting some work done. But I stood up, shoved the work stool out of my way, and put my hands onto the cold black slab of granite opposite him. He hadn't come to my side of the big table or it would have been awkward, according to my mother's politeness philosophy, to move away from him without a sweet excuse.

He kept talking and leaned out across the wide table. I leaned back a little. I remember leaning back but keeping my hands on the surface where the coolness kept me breathing evenly. Then, he roared the line that shot all my hair, invisible and not, straight out from my spine.

"All this overtime. Who's going to protect you now? Who's going to protect you , cunt, when you leave here at night?"

And he smiled at me and dodged a little to the left.

I'd played this game with my big brother. I moved right. Courtesy be damned.

He kept talking, getting louder and cruder, telling me what might happen to a fucking cunt who stayed at work too late on a weeknight as we dodged back and forth around that table. He was much too graphic.

Ultimately, I grabbed my bag on one of my passes, and I ran, flat out in my sensible heels, out two doors and into to my baby blue Granada. I slammed down the locks on my doors once I was safely in. And I kicked up some gravel as I injected my keys, started my engine, and fled the parking lot.

I never did any overtime at that job again. I was afraid to turn the man into his bosses, but by the next day, I'd arranged to carpool with my dad's old buddies and they, without needing to hear any specifics, never left me alone after 4:45 pm that whole summer.

That, my friends, was one time I got away without having my actual pussy grabbed or violated in any other way. But my story remains a metaphor for the real thing. I am not a fan of that kind of behavior. I am truly not.

And that man who called me 'fucking cunt' is just one reason I am marching against the incoming administration this Saturday.

Thank you for listening, jules

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What Am I Afraid Of?

I have to tell you that I almost didn't go into the Resist Trump meeting in Seattle today. Outside the doors, people were handing out fliers. Socialist fliers. I have trouble labeling myself as a Socialist. I'm not really a Socialist, am I?

I believe in universal healthcare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

I believe that the minimum wage should be a living wage, that even small businesses shouldn't thrive on the backs of its workers.

I believe that people of different ethnicities, sexes, religions, and beliefs should all be treated equally.

Does that make me a Socialist?

The funny thing about this meeting was that I agreed with most of what the speakers said. There were some local issues I hadn't followed, but I was there with everything else. Yet, I wondered about the group's label, how it fit me.

What is alt-socialism?

Wikipedia says, "Socialist Alternative (SA) is a Trotskyist revolutionary political party active in the United States. It describes itself as "a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day."

If I had to label myself, I'm more of an ordinary mom, a middle-class woman. My husband once called me a fiscal conservative and social liberal. It was true. It may not be as true as it used to be, but the studies have shown that universal healthcare actually lowers costs of healthcare because people aren't waiting until an issue is an emergency to see a doctor.  That's me being fiscally conservative. 

I'm not sure I want to be alt anything. I'm not even a big fan of alt music.

I went inside and sat down anyway. I wanted to hear what they had to say. The woman who sat down next to me was friendly. She smiled. We chatted about how she'd managed to find a Starbucks that was open before the meeting started. Still, I felt a little strange being there. All I wanted was to find ways to resist the trump regime. 

If I sit at home and do nothing, say nothing, and write nothing, trump will drain the resources of our government right into his own pockets. He said he was not averse to making a profit while he was in office. Of course, he didn't use the word 'averse.' Would he know what that means? He would deport people, jail people, waterboard people. He said he would. I wanted find a way to block that in any way I could.

So, I sat and listened to the Socialist Alt speakers. Not bad messages, really. We all wanted to protest the upcoming inauguration. We were all worried about deportations, misogyny, the seeming intent of the new Cabinet to eliminate beneficial arms of the government.

And yet I sat with my discomfort. Will McCarthyism come back? Will there be photographs of the attendees, interrogations in the future, accusations with labels?

What am I afraid of?

I am afraid of the incoming government.

Thank you for listening, jules

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Petty Partisan Politics

I received an email from Paul Ryan that was a load of crap about the Affordable Care Act. Not a thing was presented about how he would fix it, just a call to repeal it.

So, I sent him a reply:

Dear Mr. Ryan,

As you no doubt have heard, repealing the Affordable Care Act without having a reasonable replacement for it would be a colossal mistake that would cost many American lives. It would also cost more more than I, as a taxpayer, expect to pay. Though the Affordable Care Act still has some wrinkles, it is your job to improve it, not just repeal it over petty partisan politics.

Get your act together and work to run this country instead of running it into the ground!


Will I receive another email full of propaganda? Probably. We can go back and forth on this all day, but ultimately, they're trying to sell me something I won't buy. My guess is that they're going to jam this down our throats whether we want it or not.
Remember when Republican obstructionism halted the government budget until we, the people, started complaining that they needed to do their jobs?
Why not send Paul Ryan your own email about the Affordable Care Act at Maybe you'll get a different response than I did. I'd really like to hear something real, not all the propaganda.

Thank you for listening, jules

Monday, January 9, 2017

Making My Banner for the Women's March on Seattle

I am not usually an activist. I'm an overweight stay-at-home mom with bad hair who's just mad about our messed up election. The cool thing is that I'm not the only one who's mad. Have you listened to Rachel Maddow?

In twelve days, I'm going to cover my bad hair with a pink hat and join the protest on the street. The organizers expect 50,000 people at the Women's March on Seattle, the one that's happening in support of the Women's March on Washington. In DC, they're planning to see 150,000 people join. At least a hundred other cities have organized sister marches. It's going to be a huge statement, but what's our message?

The organizers say that it's not a protest against Trump, exactly, but exactly what am I trying to say by going? Some of my friends knitted pussy hats. Other friends posted updates on the conflict of interest, the wayward appointments to Trump's crazy cabinet. Yet others posted petitions to support the American Care Act and Planned Parenthood. Multiple messages are coming from the smart and powerful women that I know.

I'm convinced that the only way to have an impact is to keep pushing on a daily basis so I've tried to sound intelligent as I sent out letters to my politicians, signed petitions, shared articles from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Rachel Maddow. That woman is so smart and so furious. I want to be more like Rachel Maddow!

Personally, I'm going straight for the 'impeach him' message when I march in Seattle on January 21st.

The framers of the Women's March are more diplomatic with their mission statement. They say:

"In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us."

Beautiful, isn't it?

I'm trying to figure out what seven words to put on the banner I'm going to carry. I don't think I'll be as eloquent. What is my mission statement?

'Impeach him!' might say everything. I also like 'Pussy grabs back!" but I didn't come up with that on my own.

What about: "Use Emoluments! Impeach tiny-hands-pussy-grabber!" I can't even pronounce 'emoluments.' How can I put it on my banner?

This is a time for exclamation points, people. I could write:

"Trump grabs more than pussy. Impeach him!"

The hard part is that I have to make this sign in my sewing room and I'm not sure I want to encourage my teenage son to use the word 'pussy.' What are the rest of you smart and furious women doing about that?

So, my sign might be more demure, but only a little. Or maybe I could paint my sign while Nick is in school and hide it in my backpack like I did with the tiny shorts I wanted to wear to a pool party when I was sixteen. I loved those tiny shorts. I still have them in my closet. They were an emblem of my rebellion.

I need an emblem of my rebellion.

The funny thing is that Nick is totally on board with this movement. I love him. When I told him how many people were expected to march, he asked me if it was going to be dangerous. I told him I hoped I wouldn't get arrested. He wanted to know if I'd to borrow his gas mask in case there was tear gas. See, when he was ten, he saved his allowance for eighteen weeks and went to the Army Navy store to buy his treasure. It's gotten mixed reviews at Halloween. Some parents think we were crazy to have let him spend his money this way. I thought maybe they were right, but I went along with what Mike said: Let him spend his money on what he wants. It's not like it's a dangerous article. It just looks bad.

But is it going to be dangerous to protest on January 21st?

I don't want to need a gas mask. If there's tear gas, I'll probably skedaddle out of Dodge. I won't need a gas mask, will I? I think I'm freaking out a little bit here.

I doubt I will need a gas mask except for the attention it might garner.  Do I want my picture on YouTube, my fat ass and bad hair? I don't think I'm brave enough to make the statement that a gas mask would bring. Have I told you I have no courage?

But if I did wear Nick's gas mask in the Women's March on Seattle, wouldn't it send quite a message? What a mission statement! Would people be reminded of the photos of old women and children wearing gas masks during World War II? Am I ready to make that accusation? People already have. There was the poor teacher who got fired for comparing Trump to Hitler.

I've begun to think that Trump is somehow less stable than Hitler. Can you imagine that? Did Hitler pop a cork when movie stars spoke out against him? Did Hitler melt down when people mocked his comb-over or his tiny hands?

Did Hitler also have tiny hands?

 At least Hitler wasn't orange with pink hair. I think I have an idea for my banner!

Thank you for listening, jules

Friday, January 6, 2017

I Wrote to Paul Ryan But Will It Do Any Good?

A letter to Paul Ryan:

Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act!

Tell me about your family values and I'll tell you about mine. My family values include healthcare for children and those who cannot afford it.  In the end, it costs less because these children and poor people don't end up in an emergency room with illnesses that could have been managed with a simple doctor visit.

Especially because there is no plan to improve or replace it, the Affordable Care Act should be left alone.

You need to spend your time more wisely than participating in petty partisan politics. Your position should be one of public service rather than a grab for power. PUBLIC SERVICE!

Thank you for listening, jules