lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I finally got around to reading Lumberjanes written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis / art by Brooke Allen


Here is a picture of the cover of volume one which you might not be able to see. It features the five main characters: Ripley, April, Jo, Molly, and Mal (in Stevenson style, which is hard to explain so go look at the cover of Nimona). Lumberjanes are a kind of Girl Scouts on steroids estrogen, plus these five particular girls keep running into monsters that are far from the average. Each issue collected starts with a little excerpt from the the Lumberjanes handbook, done in a tongue-in-cheek "Miss Manners" style, about how proper young ladies should behave when confronted with the Wilderness. Each one starts out sounding like something horrible from the 1950s, but ends with implications of bad-assery, ala, "A young lady should be well versed in how to cook. After all, her knife skills may come in handy when confronting a mutated grizzly." (That's my example. Stevenson and Ellis are cleverer than I. Unfortunately, I already returned the volumes or I'd give you something actually from the text. But they're very much in that vein.)

At times, for me, the characters were trying a bit too hard to be... hip? I dunno, I guess I mean whatever you kids are calling 'cool' these days... or clever. Mostly, however, I liked them. Jo was, of course, my favorite even before Read more... ) Likewise, Mal and Molly, the lesbian (or at least in love with each other) couple were runners-up.  Of them, though I liked Molly a little better, if only because she seemed nerdy in a way I could relate.  Mal, though, at least, physically looked like me--in college--but, in college, I used to complain that the butchest lesbian we ever saw on TV was Willow from "Buffy," and that wasn't saying much. So, it's really nice to see the butch, punk girls not only being represented but also allowed to secretly/not-so secretly be very NOT butch when it comes to being brave, etc.

The stories themselves impressed me less than the characters.  If you're really hoping for something whiz-bang in terms of storytelling, I'd say go read (or re-read) Nimona. But, if, instead, as one of the Lumberjanes slogans goes "Friendship to the Max" is more your thing, then you will enjoy the heck out of Lumberjanes.

I will say that, in this current political climate, Lumberjanes was exactly what I needed. I got through many nights by pouring myself a hot bath and settling into soak for a good long time while reading Lumberjanes. I used Lumberjanes the way I used "Free! Iwatobi Swim Club" and "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" ... which is to say, I turned to them when my brain needed something vaguely mindless, but ultimately happy/satisfying.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
...Or $11.50/hour as the case may be.  

I'm not really sure what possessed me to agree to EVERY Tuesday and Wednesday at the library for the entire month of February.  It's not that I mind putting in the hours themselves, but routine of it... Okay, I realize that most people have to go to the same job every day, five days a week.  I used to do the same thing. I don't know how you do it, okay? Honestly,  don't know how I used to do it.  Maybe it bothered me less when I knew that was just what it was.  I think what's starting to bug to me about this all this regularity lately is that one of the things I've really come to enjoy about my library job is that I go different places at different days and times.  

I don't actually like consistency or regular hours.

If I'm honest, I don't think I ever did.  If I could have found a career that allowed me to keep odd hours, I probably would have done well at it. I liked university life because it was different every semester--so maybe I should have been a college professor. But, I think one of the reasons that I used to hop from job to job was because I'd just get to a point subconsciously where I'd be like, "Yeah, okay, I've done this one thing enough now. Time to move on!"  

Though, I did find several that I lasted years at, like the Immigration History Research Center and the History Center. (Of course, by that time, I was also writing novels on the job.)

Hmmmm, so maybe I'm good at staying at jobs I don't really work at?

Oh well, my proclivities have made for an interesting resume. Too bad I never developed any really useful skills.  I can answer the phone like nobody's business, though.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 MNs love Muslimes

Starting with a picture again. If you can't see it, it shows the street-view crowd at Saturday's Solidarity March with Immigrants and Refugees and the back of a woman holding a sign that reads, "Minnesotans Love Muslims, dontcha know."

This was Mason's favorite sign out at the march.  We weren't able to go for very long, but I was pleased that we passed one of the crowd counters before we had to peel off.  It was a good march.  I'm realizing more and more that I need a release like public yelling to deal with the anxiety that the Trump administration fosters in me.  If I don't yell constructively, it comes out in other ways. And my family does not need me going ballistic over directions to Shoreview.  :-)

We drove out to Shoreview yesterday to look at a possible new car.  It was a Ford 500 and had high miles on it, but it seemed like it could have been a good car for us.  But, when we got there it was in much worse shape than advertised (and by "advertised," I actually mean as Shawn's brother described it to us, not an actual ad.)  The windshield was cracked, the interior was filthy, and, most importantly, it wouldn't start... not even with a new battery.  So, that was a bust.  I'm only disappointed because the price was right.  It would have cost us under a thousand bucks, because the guy is pretty desperate to get rid of it, since he's living in Ecuador right now.  

On the other hand, we had a nice time chatting with Shawn's brother, his wife, and our ex-nephew-in-law (eh, he's still our nephew,) Ray.  Shawn and I had never had much of a chance to talk to Ray since the wedding (it was a very short-lived marriage), and, at the risk of sounding like an old lady, i just want to say he's a very nice young man.  Should I also say he "seems to have a good head on his shoulders"? What are the other cliches I could use?  Seriously, though, it was a pleasant time with all of us standing around in the driveway looking at the sad Ford. 

Then we had Rosemary over and I finally managed to make her something she enjoyed eating.  To be fair, it was very simple.  We just had black bean and cheese quesadilas with Spanish rice on the side.  I kind of figured they'd be a hit, since it's the sort of thing I make myself all the time.  But, we're slowly working up to something more complex.  

Today, Shawn is headed up to her brother's house (catching a ride with her other brother) because they're doing some kind of renovation to the basement and there are items up for grabs.  I'm just as happy to be skipping that. It seems very much like a Rounds thing, if you know what I mean.  Mason and I will hold down the home front--do a little house cleaning and whatnot.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
I'm off to volunteer at Quatrefoil in about fifteen minutes.  I don't think I'm going to last very long there.  You can ask my family, but I'm not in a very sociable mood.  (I would actually have said no to this, but I haven't been able to go for the last few weeks, and so I felt guilty).  Plus, Shawn had to make a same-day appointment at the doctor's.  She's developed a fluid filled lump on her elbow (bursitis?)  But since I'm the one who harassed her to make the appointment, I can't complain that I need to cut my day short to take her in.  (Well, I CAN, but it seems disingenuous.)

And I didn't have big plans for the day, anyway.

I was thinking about starting a short story. Every once and a while, I go trolling through the anthology listings at  Yesterday morning, I found something that seemed like a  fun idea--post-apocalypic military horror--and I did some brainstorming with the ladies over coffee and got a pretty good plot idea that's percolating right now in my head.  I'd much rather stay home and do that than deal with... people, even the nice people at the Q.

Although I will say that the idea of horror and post-apocalypic stuff are really depressing... I mean, we kind of live in a horror apocalyptic world right now. 

On the other hand, I got a lead on a job yesterday that's pretty exciting.  I can't say too much about it, because the actual listing hasn't been posted yet, but a friend of mine alerted me to work as an acquiring editor (non-fiction) for a local publisher.  It would be a good fit for me, actually. So I polished off my resume and sent it off.  Fingers crossed.  
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 First, I need to kickstart my career by 2018.  I just got an invite to be one of the GoHs for Minicon next year. It would be nice if I had something to promote by then.

This summer Mason and I are planning a road trip.  Normally, we tag along to Shawn's annual COSA/NAGARA meeting (Council of State Archivists/National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators). This year, however, it's in Boise, Idaho.  Nothing against Idaho, but I'm not sure there's enough stuff there for Mason and I to entertain ourselves for 5 whole days.  So Mason had this brilliant plan.  When mom flies off for Boise, we hit the road.  We drive through the Dakotas and Montana and meet-up with her in Idaho, then we all travel back by car and see Yellowstone in Wyoming and the South Dakota badlands.  

I think this is brilliant. Shawn agrees (especially since she hates flying and this saves her a return trip).

We're going to do it!

In fact, at the library yesterday I picked up some guidebooks because I have no idea what's even in Montana. Glacier National Park is, for one, although that's at the far western end of the state--(though we are talking 5 days to get from point a to point b, and driving straight through we could make Boise in 24 hours.)  Shawn is activating our AAA membership and ordering all the road maps and AAA tourism guides to all the states we could potentially drive through.

The best part is that Shawn's conference isn't until this summer, so we have lots of time to look at maps and guidebooks and plan. I found a couple of really fun guides to interesting backroad attractions in Montana and it's been fun to page through them. A nice distraction from the political barrage. 

I've never travelled much in this direction (that I remember. My parents, of course, brought me back to Wisconsin from my birth place in Sacramento, California, but I have zero memories of any of that as I was an infant.)  I've been to visit Colorado a couple of times, but both times I flew.  I know that a lot of both Dakotas are pretty flat. We drove through some of that to see Mount Rushmore, when Shawn and I went with Karl from Czech. I'm pretty sure we're going to do South Dakota on the way back, though, ironically, all of Shawn's relatives are in North Dakota so we may have to figure out a way to reverse this while also saving Yellowstone for Shawn.  Previously, when we'd talked about road tripping while Shawn was stuck in Boise, the thing that made Shawn sad was the fact that she'd be missing experiencing some of these major landmarks with Mason, particularly Yellowstone which she hasn't seen either. She'll still miss some this way, but not all. Shawn likes traveling when it's by car, so this really is a two-fer. (This really is a brilliant solution. Go, Mason!)

And we will very likely have a new car by then.  One is in the works, in fact, though the one we're looking at has more milage than the one we're currently driving. However, it might be worth it if the price is right AND it has fewer issues. Our current car has sprung an oil leak on top of its preexisting radiator leak.  Not something you want to traverse mountain passes in. 

Doesn't this sound fun?  

Plus, as I said, the planning for it has been a welcome distraction.  It's nice to have a future thing to look forward to and be excited about.

Now I just have to figure out how to re-launch my career!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 OMG.  So, this is an activism first. I ended up breaking down into tears while calling my state House Representative Erin Murphy.  There's a bill that was introduced to the MN State Legislature, HF1183, which, if passed, would allow health insurance companies to deny health services related to gender transition to trans folk.  I was doing pretty well on the answering machine until I got to why this is important to me.  This is LITERALLY what the friend of a friend killed herself over--a fear that something like this would come to pass and she could no longer get access to the things that are critical to her life.  Two of my other friends have considered (and attempted) suicide over the same thing.  

So, I started balling.

I'm sure Erin Murphy's office will remember the call.

I was lazy with my Project 1491 project. I was supposed to call Senator Franken (who is, of course, on the committee that hears this) about S.J. Resolution 13, which, if passed, with give states the authority to defund Title X programs, which is just the Republican hating on Planned Parenthood some more. I wrote him a postcard on my fancy new post cards that I purchased just for this reason. (Bummer? The card is shiny and slick on BOTH SIDES, which actually made it really hard to write a letter that didn't look like it came from a crazy person.)

Otherwise, I put in 4 hours at Shoreview. Today was labor intensive... but I survived because of our usual Tuesday bagel.

I just finished reading LUMBERJANES Vols. 1 -5, because the library had them.  I will probably write a review here in the next couple of days.  Generally though, I enjoyed them.  Good clean fun, as grandma used to say.  Today I checked out a couple of books about Montana because Mason would really like to plan a summer road trip there. 

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
A friend and I drove up to North Branch today to door knock to get out the vote for Laurie Warner, who is running in a special election (Feb. 14, Valentines Day) for MN House seat 32B. We all met at the candidate's house, listened to a few speeches and were handed a clipboard with a map and a list of registered Democratic voters.  At this point, we really weren't expected to try to change minds or convince voters to do anything more than show up on Valentine's Day to vote.  

Democracy is cold, tiring work.  

We probably had about forty houses on our list.  We knocked on all the doors, left literature at most, and maybe talked to a half dozen people?  The responses ranged from "Yay, Laurie!" to vaguely annoyed people who used their barking dogs as an excuse to take the literature and shoo us off.  No one was openly hostile, however.  Face it, even *I* don't like it when strangers show up at my door--especially when one of them is holding a clipboard.  So, I feel it went as well as expected.  

I was very glad we weren't knocking on every door, only ones already left leaning.  The whole thing was a huge flashback to the weeks or so that I worked at various "activist" jobs: Clean Water Action Project and ACORN (both jobs I quit very quickly because I HATED the work. It was all the hassle of door knocking and phone banking PLUS having to ask for money.) On the other hand it was also the sort of thing I grew up watching my parents doing... so the circle is unbroken.

At least the weather was fairly decent and this was yet another one of those things that makes me feel less anxious. 
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Today was the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop. I was a guest critiquer, which meant that I got about 10 pages of a manuscript to read and review ahead of time and 10 minute slots in which to give the good news/bad news to the submitters.  It was a very... intensive process, even though I only had three.  (Four writers had submitted, but one decided not to show/couldn't make it for whatever reason.)  All of my critiquees left with a smile.

Long ago--actually it was my first Loft class, one I took, no less, that's how long ago--I learned something important about critique.  No matter how far along you are in your career, it's more... palatable to hear about the things you did right, that excited or thrilled the reader FIRST. After you get a little praise, then it's a lot easier to open your ears and really listen to what didn't work, where you need improvement, the GLARING HORRIFIC PLOT HOLES, etc.  So all the people who got critiques from me heard how much I liked the sassy heroine's witty repartee or the depth of their world building, etc., before I doled out the bad news.  One person was so happy with my critique that her mom sought me out afterwards to give me a giant bear hug.


I found out later that wasn't really the typical tone.  I poked my head into a workshop called "First Pages," where the first pages of anonymous contributors (presumably at the conference?) were read aloud and given an on-the-fly, off-the-cuff critique by a panel of about seven agents/editors (who also had a paper copy in front of them). My friends.... it was brutal. I don't think I would've submitted the first page of my published novels to this group! It was like "American Idol" only more vicious!  To be fair, I think it was all accurate and excellent advice.  I don't think people were being mean for sport or gratuitously.  But, it definitely was hard core.  No one was pulling punches.  

Writing is a tough business, no doubt. If you can't handle blunt, albeit constructive criticism then, yeah, maybe this business isn't for you.  BUT... I tend to try to be more sensitive.  I believe in honest critique, but I have made my writers' group stick with the strengths first model because I really believe it works to... well, not soften the blow, but to be more receptive to it.  The point of critique is to really listen and try to honestly consider what's not working in your piece, right? 

But, some people like the other method. For them, it feels more 'honest' if you go for the jugular right out of the gate (just to mix my metaphors.) In fact, at lunch, when I was talking to the other agents and editors who were doing critiques and hearing pitches, they were saying that a lot of people were saying to them, "No, I want you to hurt me."  

Indeed, one of the critiquees that I was the most kind to told me that she had come prepared to listen hard and take copious notes. She'd steeled herself for the "this is going to take a lot of work" speech.  I was like, "Nah, girl, you're good. Send it out." (Hence the hug.)

The conference was in the Riverfront hotel in downtown Saint Paul which was a nice venue. There was a nice lounge area in the middle of everything for hanging out and recharging phones.  It was much smaller than I expected. I think because of the number of writers I know, I assumed it would be packed. But, I think it was fairly expensive. I only saw one local author I knew (probably most people were out at one of the three big protests today--there was a rally in support of Planned Parenthood, a #BlackLivesMatters march, and Caravan of Love - marching in support of immigrants and refugees.) I told all my critiquees that, if they lived near here, they should really be attending local science fiction conventions. I also plugged the heck out of WisCON's writers' workshop too.  Hopefully, we will see a few fresh faces at various cons.

A good day.

The other funny thing about the workshop was the fact that in pretty much all of their correspondence to presenters they mentioned "there is no coffee available on site!" I took this dire warning very seriously and stopped at Claddaugh's Wee Shop on the way in. Undercaffinated critiquing seemed like a really, really bad idea.

Oh, yes! The other nice thing that happened is that I reconnected with a former student of mine who has gone on to co-found a publishing company called  Wise Ink.  We made a date to get together for coffee. So, that's cool.

lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 The revolution will long and hard, my comrades, so I have followed the advice of every columnist out there and have chosen Thursday as my "Aggressive Self-Care Day."

What this means is that, for the most part, I try to stay away from political news.  I say "for the most part," because it's fairly impossible to miss all of it and I don't actively stop listening to the radio shows that give me comfort like "The Stephanie Miller Show" (because humorous) and "Democracy Now" (because solid, steady.)  Both of those are highly political, but neither of them TEND to stress me out.  What tends to stress me out is the all-caps frenzy of social media.  

Basically, I take a day where I stay away from Twitter and Facebook, and where I actively consider doing things that refresh me: reading, writing, drawing, practicing Japanese, and watching shows. Downtime things.  The fun downtime thing I've been enjoying lately is watching "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" on Netflix.  

Do you ever have things that get recommended to you on various venues? "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" was one of those things for me.  Sometimes, it works out badly (see my review of Tokyo Ghoul on MangaKast,) but this time I've been really enjoying That Thing That Got Rec'd a Bunch. As I told another friend, the simple, sweet stories are a perfect antidote for this political climate.  The only drawback? Every episode makes me hungry. Basically, the set up is that somewhere in Tokyo there's a small, one-man show diner that opens at midnight and stays open until 7 am.  Our proprietor has a simple menu, but he'll make anything his customers request, so long as he has the ingredients for it. Each episode is named for a customer's custom order and the food, in some way, features in the story.  As I say above, the stories are simple and mostly end happily... certainly with the promise of happiness. Then in a typically Japanese way, there's a weird, short omake at the end where everyone kind of breaks character/doesn't quite break character and silliness (and probably puns I don't understand) ensue.  The episodes are anime length--about 30 minutes each.  PERFECT for washing dishes.

Also there are several food ordering, food related vocabulary words that come up a lot, so I can pretend I'm also practicing Japanese while watching.  

Today, I was supposed to be at Shoreview again, but Mason woke up with a stomach flu type thing. I bailed in favor of taking care of him.

How's you?
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 It's been a long time since I reviewed a comic book here.  But, when I was working at Shoreview today, I saw that they had the first collected volume of FAITH.

Don't know if the picture thing is going to work, so I will describe the cover: Faith is a plus-sized white woman with blond hair. She's featured on the cover sitting on a telephone wire surrounded by confused-looking pigeons while she types something on her thinly-disguised Mac Book (the actual Apple logo is not there, but there's a perfectly round bit of light where it should be). She is dressed in a white outfit with a flowing train. Her cheerful face is illuminated by the blue computer light in the twilight. Her name, Faith, is in bright yellow almost comic sans font.  The comic is produced by the independent publisher, Valiant.

faith comic book cover

What I like about Faith is not her size.  It is refreshing to see a woman of substance doing the superhero-ing for once. It's even more refreshing that there's not a single lick of fat-shaming to be found in the title.  The worst that happens in that vein is that Faith's ex's new girlfriend mutters, "You sure traded up." 

What I ended up liking about FAITH, though, is that it starts to struggle with real-world issues of being a hero.  As any of you who have read this blog for any amount of time (or who have heard me speak on comic book/graphic novel-related comic books) knows, I'm a big fan of this kind of thing.

I really like it when the concept of hero-ing is taken seriously.  

In the second issue of FAITH, we see this dealt with in terms of collateral damage.  Faith has gone to investigate a missing person report and the bad guy minion she encounters in the abandoned house has rigged the place to explode. Faith is protected because she has a kind of telekinetic shield, but the houses on either side of the abandoned house ALSO CATCH FIRE.  I can't say you never see this sort of thing in comics because the Marvel Universe (both in the comic books and the MCU) have been very cognizant of the idea that superheroes are actually fairly hazardous to civilians, but I never get tired of seeing writers taking on this particular issue. Francis Portela does a great job showing the pain on Faith's faith in the aftermath.  Generally, I should say that as much as I like Jody Houser's writing, it is very much highlighted by Portela's art style.  (There also also funny imagined/day-dreamed asides/omake drawn by Marguerite Sauvage that were in a very distinct style that I also liked a lot.) 

Also, FAITH fits a new trend in female comic lead characters. Like Kamala Khan, Faith is a fangirl.  The dialogue is chock full of geek insider references. Faith even swears in "Firefly" Chinese, at one point. As a day job, Faith works for some kind of web content place, like io9 or Mental Floss (though with a more celebrity gossip bent, since this takes place in LA). Her colleagues are all pop culture nerds, and they have no idea she's a superhero in disguise.  Did I like this or did it feel like it was trying too hard to appeal to the base?  I'm not sure.  Goodness knows, I appreciate any fan fic references.

The other issue FAITH addresses is the extent to which having a secret identity is socially isolating.  I'm not sure how often that idea has been touched on before, but I found it very compelling here.  

The last thing to know is that Zephyr/Faith has a history as a Valiant superhero.  I'm not a big Valiant reader so I have to trust Wikipedia on this one, but apparently she was part of a superhero group (referenced in this reboot).  Apparently, she was a walking fat joke (she was known as Zeppelin--she's dressed all in white and can fly) in a group called Harbingers (or maybe that was the title and her team was the Renegades?) At any rate, some of that bleeds through into this issue, but I can attest from experience (or perhaps LACK of experience) that it's not necessary to have read any of her previous appearances to appreciate this reboot.   

I give is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  My hesitations mostly hinge on the fact that I'm not sure I really needed all the nerd-sassy references, and that some of the issues touched on could have gone deeper, IMHO.
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
So today's calls were much more successful.  Project 1490 alerted their subscribers about a specific bill that was introduced to the Senate (S.291) which is intended to strengthen oversight of the National Security Act. Basically, it's a 'kick Bannon off the NSC table' bill.  I called Betty McCullum's office first and talked to a wonderful young staffer who let me know that McCullum was actually a co-signer on a similar bill (HR.804) for the House. So, go Minnesota!  (I actually checked the cosponsors of S.291 because I thought Franken might have been listed.)  I was able to get through to a human at Klobuchar's DC office and he told me that Klobuchar has not yet made a statement about S.291 (of course she hasn't, the wanny-woo.)  Fanken's office was still swamped, but I was able to leave a message.  

Yesterday, I wrote personalized emails to my Senators about the Session's appointment to Attorney General (I've called them already about Sessions when he was first nominated--probably more than once. I did call Franken's office to thank him for taking part in #HoldtheFloor over DeVos and let him know I was watching and supporting--I managed not to tell him 'I love you' but it was pretty close!).  Alas, we all know how well the Sessions thing going, what with the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  

And, of course, yesterday, DeVos was confirmed by an historic tie-breaking vote. I'm devastated by what she will mean to our country's public education system, but I'm heartened to see all the Democrats holding the line, for once.  I keep telling Klobuchar that this is what's required of her. She really ought to step up and lead some of these charges, but, at the very least, pledge to stand with her Democratic colleges.  I don't have a lot of faith in her, however.  I did listen to her speech against DeVos while the Dem's were holding the floor, so she did her part, at least I did note the tone of surprise when she was called to the podium.  There was this uptick whoever was announcing, like, "the senior senator from... Minnesota????" like they were shocked she showed up or something.

It's sometimes hard to believe that Franken is the junior senator. He seems to be on a lot more critical committees.  

I'm headed to North Branch to door knock to get out the vote for Laurie Warner on Sunday.  Talk about on the ground democracy.... It's going to be a busy weekend for me, since I have an all-day writers' conference on Saturday.  But, the resistance never rests.
lydamorehouse: (shield)
Tonight the Senate Democrats are holding the Senate floor for 24-hours as a last-ditch effort against the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.  I'm literally sitting here listening to the live-stream.

I read a short piece in the Washington Post that suggests that all this does is show how weak the Democrats are to stop this (or any) nomination. I object to the idea that it matters that they win.

Democrats are doing two things that I have wanted from Democrats for a long, long time. 1) STANDING TOGETHER and 2) Fighting out loud and in public forum.

As I have been saying in all of my messages to Franken and Klobuchar, this is literally the most risk-free thing they can do. Voters know that the cards are stacked against Democrats. We know they don't have he majority needed to stop anything.  Standing up and speaking out is risk-free right now. This is the time to show us who you are. Show us how strong you are on the issues and values.  It's literally the easiest time to be a radical as you are comfortable being, because no matter what you do, you are just standing there saying "No" while they steamroll their crap through.  

That's kind of all that the constituency wants. To know you're trying to stand, trying to fight. Yes, of course, we want to win, but sometimes it's important just to have TRIED TO FIGHT evil. 

What I'm learning listening to this is that not every senator is a firebrand public speaker, but they are ALL quoting numbers of calls and/or reading actual letters received.  it really does seem that the Dems got the message that we want to see this kind of action.  This is GOOD.  Even if they can't win.  Despite what the Post thinks, this alone *is* a win.

So, in other life news, I work three days this week, starting tomorrow.  I'll be working Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday all at Shoreview, all during the day.  My boss really wanted me to work tonight, too.  I begged off, though, because I was anxiously working on my critiques for the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop (you have to scroll all the way down to see the critiquers.) I managed to get those done, so I feel pretty good.  I'm all set now for my part in the workshop this Saturday.  Yay!

It's a busy work week for me, but money is a good thing, especially since we're going to need a new used car sooner rather than later.  *sigh*

If you don't hear from me, though, it's because I'm spending my daylight hours at the day job--you know, like most people out there. ;-) 

lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 Shawn has been low on fabric for her rugs, so we did a Good Will fabric run today. We live very close to the Good Will outlet, so we drove over there and hunted through the bins. The outlet is kind of neat in that the stuff that's out in only minimally processed. Shoes, shirts, luggage, swimsuits... all the clothes stuff is all together.  Plates and household stuff in other bins.  Whatever you find? Is paid for by the POUND.  I can't remember how much per pound, but we filled a shopping cart with fabric and paid sixty bucks.

I am attempting another photograph.  In case this one does not show up, it is a pile of clothes and our curious cat, Buttercup, sniffing around the edges.
good will haul

Otherwise today has been fairly low-key.  I just finished making a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Mason to take over to Rosemary's house tonight.  This morning I got up bright and early and met my friend Michaela for coffee and to practice Japanese calligraphy.  That was nice. Michaela is someone I don't know terribly well. I mostly know her wife, Anna, from conventions. (If you've ever seen me in my shinigami cosplay, the uniform is actually Anna's. I borrowed it YEARS ago and have never managed to get it back to her.) Anyway, yay for spending time with new-ish people and doing art-type things.

With Mason out of the house tonight, Shawn is insisting on her favorite dinner: homemade pizza.  Mason, who would like to have my chicken curry in a hurry EVERY NIGHT, has explained that he is officially sick of my homemade pizza.  I'm just glad that I'm a sufficiently competent cook that both members of my family have favorite meals I can make them with ease.  

This is the thing. I've had some clashes with friends/family of mine about vegetarianism. I tend to get really mad when half-way through a meal I discover that I've made something they can't eat.  People always assume I'm grouchy because I have something against vegetarianism or vegans of vegetarians themselves.  I don't.  What gives me the greatest pleasure as a host is seeing people so enjoying a meal that they stuff their faces and beg for more. To me, that's success.  When someone is left out or is unhappy because the meal excludes them in some way, I'm cranky.  I want everyone to be full and happy, you know?  Rosemary has decided to be vegetarian. I don't know the extent to which she's "out" at home, but I've been desperately trying to accommodate her when she eats over her.  Only, it turns out that she hates all meat substitutes.  Of course, I find this out by failing her.  And, I know it's tough to offer suggestions to the host when you're only thirteen, but... ugh.  


This weekend has been low political action for me.  Mason and I were scheduled to attend a protest on Friday night at the airport, but we decided last minute not to go.  I might have nudged him, but I've been in need of an aggressive self-care day.  I pretty much avoided the news (except a little from social media about the "Bowling Green Massacre.")  So, it was absolutely fine with me to keep on with the day's theme and just leave the revolution to someone else for the day.  It's far from over, so I am conserving my strength for the long fight.  

lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Yesterday, I had to work.  For the entire month of February, actually, I'll be working fairly regularly at the Shoreview branch of the Ramsey County Library.  Shoreview just had a huge remodel, which is good in a lot of ways. The old place... well, I think I wrote about it here before.  I used to actively avoid working there, because once I was call to the carpet for "having too much fun." Seriously. I was told to stop enjoying myself--(I was listening to music and dancing a little in the stacks.)  I mean, maybe it was distracting because I'M JUST THAT AWESOME, but, seriously, I felt like the joy was sucked out of me.

After that, I decided that that particular branch was haunted by Dementors.  Any time my boss called to ask me to work there, I had to wash my hair or pretty anyTHING else.

But the new building has a lot of windows and sunshine and that has seemed to, so far, kept the Dementors at bay.  

It helps, too, that there's a new person in charge.  No more Umbridge.  (The previous branch head had a very shrill 'no problem' that had a passive-agressive subtext : "YOU SCREWED UP!" She didn't exactly have the pink kitten sweaters, but she did have that sweet smile that was totally hiding pointed teeth, if you know what I mean.)  So, I think I should be fine.  I'm a little bummed because the schedule I agreed to interfere with some of my favorite socializing, but mama needs a new pair of shoes, as we say around here.  We're going to need a new car sooner rather than later and so we need to put some money in the bank so that can happen BEFORE the emergency break-down.

I also ran into David Lenander, which was a nice surprise.  I think that David makes about four fandom-friends that I've run into at various library jobs.  In some ways, I'm surprised I don't see more.  Then, again, my hours and locations are very random and sparse, so maybe it's more impressive than it seems.

This morning I called my Senators.... again.  Lines were swamped, but I was able to leave a message with Franken's office... and went off-script to enthuse to him about how happy I am to see him being fierce. I accidentally signed off with "Love ya!" Oops. On the other hand, my goofy message probably more enjoyable than whatever hate mail he might be getting.  

Klobuchar was nothing but a busy signal, so I sent a fax. (As I was telling a friend, I kind of adore how quickly people are coming up with work-arounds to Republicans turning off their phones and/or busy signals. I'm not accusing Klobuchar of blocking calls--she is a Democrat after all--but it's still a good solution when I can't get through.) The nice thing about that was that there was no way to go off-script and I was able to remind her that it doesn't matter if we win. It's not about winning any more, it's about being seen STANDING UP.  

Though it was funny. While I was composing the letter, I literally forgot the actual format of a written business letter. I had to look it up!  And, I'm old enough to remember actually taking CLASSES in how to compose business letters!!


Meanwhile, right now, Shawn is testifying in front of a congressional committee..... in the Minnesota Senate.  And, technically, she's just giving a committee information about how government records are managed by the state archives, but when she left for work this morning she was nervous, to say the least.  I listened to her speech (twice) last night, and I'm sure she'll do great.  

I had plans to attend an airport protest on Friday, but I don't know if that's still on now that our attorney general has joined in declaring a stay on deportations, etc. I suspect people will still go. I mean, the Dump and his minions will keep pushing.  Like I told Klobuchar, it's our duty to keep pushing back.

No more Dementors.
lydamorehouse: (shield)
First, I'm trying something new with the photos. This one is embedded. Hopefully, it will show up as a Facebook photo.  (Edited to add: nope, that just showed up as a big empty space for me.  I'm going to try another way.)

If you can't see it, I'll explain it. There were probably 50-80 of us outside of Senator Amy Klobuchar's state office today. Which, given that this protest was at noon on a Tuesday, I think we did pretty well. Apparently, this particular group does something every Tuesday.  Last week, as well as this one, the plan was also to take a group inside at around 12:30 to meet with a senior staffer of Senator Kloubchar's.  The organizer told the crowd today that they felt that the meeting was particularly effective.  They were able to get answers about Kloubchar's vote on Pompeo. Not, good ones, mind you, but questions were answers and objections to her response were voiced. Everything I've read makes it sound as though these kinds of in-person meetings are the number one, very best way to light a fire under your representatives.  So, even though I didn't sign up to do that this time, I'm glad to have been part of a group that the organizers could point to and say, "all these people want answers."

The funniest thing that happened while we were doing our usual chanting and sign-waving thing was that some Trump-supporting yahoo yelled out his window for all of us to "Get a job!"  I turned to one of my fellow protestors, many of whom had clearly been doing this sort of thing since the 60s, and said, "He forgot to say 'get a haircut.'"  

I was also really torn about what a person should yell back. I mean, some of the people were clearly retirees, who maybe didn't have a job.  There were students, though, too.  This was also planned for the lunch hour on purpose.  Then there's me, who, in point of fact, has three jobs--all of them super part-time (teaching at the Loft, working at the library, and writing/other freelancing/book reviewing.)  But no one was organized enough to shout back, we just alternatively gave the guy the finger or a peace sign.  

I ended up leaving after only about a half hour because my hands got cold.  I had originally thought that the plan was to occupy her office, indoors, so I was not quite dressed warmly enough.  The weather is really changeable today, anyway. I was almost hot when I went out earlier to Menard's to get kitty litter and then, at the protest, the sun went behind the clouds again and the wind picked up.  Tonight, when Mason and I go off to the Anti-Ban protest, I'll have to be sure to have scarves and mittens and hats in case it stays chilly.

Because some days are two protest days....

we the people

Sign says: "We, the people, are SPEAKING.... Listen!"
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Today, I decided to try to call my representatives in Congress and just voice my opposition to the Muslim ban. My script even says, "I know that Senator _____ was in Minnesota speaking out against the ban, but...." because both Klobuchar and Franken came over the weekend. I saw some clips of Franken's speech.  At any rate, the lines were busy. Like, not even a roll into voice mail. Just the busy signal.

Except for my "lowly" little House Representative, Betty McCullom.  I got straight through to a staffer who not only very carefully checked the spelling of my name and asked my zip code, but seemed genuinely pleased to have heard from a constituent.  

So, yes, I'll probably keep trying to get through to my senators, but, remember, a lot of this sh*t has to pass through the House first!  

lydamorehouse: (shield)
In response to the latest bullish*t, I joined a couple thousand people outside the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis today with the Resisting the Muslim Ban folks. Mason really wanted to go and so we ended up meeting his friend Rosemary, with whom he had plans with tonight, at the center. It was both Rosemary and Mason's first protest. There was a discussion indoors at the center, but priority was given to the people who were most affected by this ban. The Center is in the Cedar-Riverside area which is heavily populated by Somali immigrants. Most of the people outside were "allies." We stood around outside the building basically being a presence, shouting chants, and holding signs. My favorite sign this time was a little tiny tot who held up a glittery pink heart on a stick. Pretty much says it all, IMHO.

There were people gathering at the airport, of course, but that protest started at 1 pm and we were expecting a guest (Shawn's friend Liz came for the afternoon.) Plus, Mason really wanted to get his Project Linus blanket dropped off and Treadle Yard Goods and that opened at 1 pm. We were waffling about this one, too, but everything worked out for us to go. I have no idea if bodies on the street count, but this is one of those things that I've determined makes me feel... active, like I'm doing my part.

I ended up Skyping today with a friend of mine who is living in Hong Kong and I found myself basically inarticulate when trying to talk about the current political situation.  Like two good former Wisconsinites, we agreed "ah, geez" and talked about the weather.  :-)  But she told me that she joined a women's march there. There were only 150 people and as she put it, "the police were ready to disperse us." 

It's a crazy time we live in, people. 

lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
I went to the laundromat to wash a few of our rag rugs. We have a lot of rugs, which is good, because washing them is a pain in the butt. The cats, meanwhile, LOVE to puke on our rugs, so there are always rugs in need of washing. This morning, Suds America was pretty quiet. Just me, the attendant, and a bearded, middle-aged white guy who very meticulously folded each of his socks.

Mason technically has the day off school today, but his LEGO team decided to meet to work on their various projects. I dropped him off at 8:30 am, and will be picking him up at noon.

Shawn went in late today, too, because she's starting to get migraine-related nausea. Because I guess the migraines and the tingling limbs aren't enough.

So not the BEST Friday, so far.

Despite my burst of productivity at the laundromat, I also feel weirdly wiped out. I woke up and promptly had some kind of allergy attack. Much sneezing and a runny, drippy nose (and one eye teared up). Q Library had wanted me to come in--as did work, but I said no to the one and agreed to tomorrow for the other.

We had a nice get together at the Randall's last night (these are Mason's not-girlfirend's parents). Lisa made a fun slow cooker "stir-fry" with chicken and peanut sauce. We talked politics a little, because she and I are considering starting some kind of Sunday get-together thing where women share resources and energy and ideas for political projects. But, mostly, it was just hanging out and chatting, which was badly needed.

I was telling Shawn this morning that I'm so pleased that both Mason and his not-girlfriend really enjoy listening in and occasionally joining the adult conversation. I was very much the same way at their age, and I think I learned a LOT listening in at my parent's knees, as it were. Both of the kids are very articulate and smart, too.

I'm reading this book right now--a non-fiction book-- about communication in the Digital Age and the author makes a lot out of the fact that most teenagers (in particular, but really, EVERYONE) allows technology to intrude into the natural silences or meanders of conversation.

That didn't happen last night. Everyone was very present, even the kids. I mean, to be fair, there are always conversational gambits that are more engaging than others, but, like, no one checked their email during the downtimes (they might have stared into space, but we all do that as an indication of 'you lost me'). But no one actively pulled out a phone to check out of the conversation, as it were.

At any rate, I'm glad Mason and his friend are more interested in what people are talking about in-person than they are with whatever's happening on their phones.

Gives me hope for the next generation.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
In my attempt to do this resistance thing, I made one call so far today.

I'm insanely disappointed that my senator, Amy Klobuchar voted to confirm Trump's CIA head, Pompeo. So, I called her DC office this morning and asked what she's doing on Session's confirmation. I realize that there just might not be enough Democrats to stop any of these confirmations, but I want reassurances that they're going to stand together in their "NO." If it's a symbolic vote, anyway, why not go with THE RIGHT F*CKING SYMBOL???

Not that I was this articulate on the phone.

The script I have in front of me is actually about the Dump's short list for Supreme Court Justices. But, I was sitting here, muttering to myself about the whole Pompeo thing, and I thought, "Well, sh*t, Lyda, if you're so wound up, maybe you should just call now and vent to a staffer about the whole thing."

So, I did.

I no longer hesitate to punch in the numbers. That used to be the hard part. Now, I'm pretty good up to the point where I inevitably lose my cool and start babbling incoherently about the end of democracy.

But, okay, so, I think this staffer was a nice, young twenty-something, because after I frothed at the mouth about spineless voting for Pompeo, she just said, "Hey, no worries. I get it."

So, f*ck it, they clearly have to deal with crazier people than me, and if the revolution has to start by flooding the damn phone lines, I can do this thing.

Okay, should I just do Franken now? Probably.

Edited to add:

Okay, called Franken.

Right, so even with the right script in front of me, I still suck. I'm finding that asking the question, "Are you the person I should be talking to about 'x' issue?" is a non-starter. They don't want to transfer you and so far both staffers are like, "You can talk to me about that." So, I think I'm going to drop that part of the process.

I've been adding to my script, "So, I guess I'm supposed to be sure to give you my zip code..." and then I give it to them. This part, I'll keep regardless. It does show that I live in an area that votes for Franken/Klobuchar.

So, how did this one go? Well, it's always awkward, but I've just kind of accepted that. I asked the staffer if Franken had plans to filibuster any Supreme Court nominees. She made a vaguely agreeable noise and so I said, "Are you saying he WILL filibuster?" and that seemed to wake her up. She said, "Oh. I don't know." I said, "You don't know if he would?" And she confirmed that she had no idea what his plans were.

So, I went off script.

And I said (only less articulately), "Okay, well, that's how this needs to work. I want Senator Franken to know that I expect him to resist the nominations. One of the things that has made me very proud to be represented by Senator Franken is his willingness to stand up where needed. I want him to join any filibuster efforts. If you can't commit to him doing that, can you at least assure me he will vote against any of Trump's nominees?"

She said she could.

I told her I guessed that was something, and signed off.

About as frustrating as calling Klobuchar's office, but in a different way. I mean, girlfriend, were you checking Facebook as I was talking to you? Second, if Al F*cking Franken isn't sure he's going to stand up and filibuster, we've probably already lost.

So, even though they say this makes zero impact, I sent off an e-mail to both offices telling them I expected a united filibuster of ALL nominations for Supreme Court put up by Trump. They blocked Obama's pick, this is fairsies.

If I make a third or fourth call today, I'll do it after lunch. I really don't want to hit the same staffers in the same day.
lydamorehouse: (shield)
It's so much harder now that the inauguration has happened to not lose... everything: my focus, my hope, my faith... my sh*t.

Plus, the daily horrors keep piling up. There are so many, it kind of scatters your mind. DAPL, Muslim Registry, Nazi/moron cabinet picks and staffers, walls... it's daily, sometimes two, three times a day. This is how they're going to break us. It's just going to be a constant stream of offenses, we won't know where to focus our tremendous efforts on. People keep saying this: pick one or two issues and focus on those.

Easy to say, harder to do.

Especially when everything seems so critical.

Then, stuff gets circulated that puts me in a weird kind of panic mode. My friend Mary Anne Mohanraj had a great link to advice from a high-level staffer at the US Senate. I read it, nodding along until I hit this part:

"1. The best thing you can do to be heard and get your congressperson to pay attention is to have face-to-face time - if they have town halls, go to them. Go to their local offices. If you're in DC, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs. Go to the "mobile offices" that their staff hold periodically (all these times are located on each congressperson's website). When you go, ask questions. A lot of them. And push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those the better.
2. But, those in-person events don't happen every day. So, the absolute most important thing that people should be doing every day is calling. You should make 6 calls a day: 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators & your 1 Representative...."

Wait, what? SIX CALLS a DAY???

I'd been feeling pretty great that I managed, um, let's see, three so far since the election. What is that, 1.5 a month?


I think despite this crushing sense of responsibility, what I have to do is *not* try to jump into this whole six calls a day insanity. Maybe I can work up to a call a day... MAYBE. I mean, I'm super out-going, but I kind of have always hated phone calls for some reason. It's ten times more awkward when it's not someone I know on the other end. So... six? A day?? No, but I can try to do one every couple of days. I'll put it on my schedule or something. Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 1:00 pm. If that starts to feel comfortable, I can add more.

Not that there aren't things I could call about every flipping day.


On my current list to to remind my Senators that can, NOT to confirm DeVos. Apparently, Trump has also made a short list of nominees for the Supreme Court and they're, of course, all awful. So, I have a script ready for that, too. I guess that's four calls...

Cripes. Wish me luck tomorrow.

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