lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I don't remember the last time I called my congress critters.  I've been thinking it's probably time again. I don't want them thinking that we've lost faith, but I think I finally had that 'OMG I can't cope/too much' moment a couple of weeks ago. I need to pull myself back together and get back on the letters and postcards and phone calls.

The world isn't going to save itself.

The other thing I've slowed down on is my Japanese.  I didn't listen to my CDs at all while I was away in LaCrosse and, even though I've been back a couple of days already, I've not picked them up again.  I will have to throw the "Japanese: A Short Course" CDs I got from the library into the car's CD player so I can at least have something for the times when the radio sucks (which is kind always these days, I've noticed.)  

I have to head off to work in about 45 minutes.  Probably, since it's White Bear Lake, I should head off a little earlier than that, because the construction on Snelling has been a bear.  I worked last night at Roseville, which was busy (as usual) but fairly stress free.  They were still behind from Memorial Day weekend and so I spent the last two hours on the desk dashing back and forth between answering patron questions and helping the volunteers shelve the requests.  SO MANY requests.  On the flip side, I FINALLY got a copy of A Closed and Common Orbit, which I started reading last night.  I think I was #47 on the list... and I'm sure there's someone waiting for it after me.  

I watered the front and the new transplants a little bit this morning because I somehow, miraculously, have grass under the maple tree and I'd like to keep it alive.  Plus the little fuckers squirrels dug up one of the violet plants I carefully transplanted all the way from LaCrosse. So I had to replant yesterday, so I thought it could use a little boost of wet today.  It's actually supposed to be kind of HOT this weekend, so I think I'll finally be able to move my bonsai tree outside.  (*whispers* I can't believe I've managed to keep this tree alive this long. Normally, I suck at keeping anything resembling a houseplant alive....)

I'll close with a funny story from yesterday.  I have cash again because Mason bought a game using my PayPal account (he always pays me back in cash from his allowance).  As I do the moment I have "folding money" I stopped by my regular coffee shop, Claddagh, to get my morning infusion of caffeine.  The barista there said that she was thinking of me over the weekend because the coffeeshop team had a working retreat over Memorial Day.  One of the games they played was "try to name as many customers, their drinks, and one fact about them as fast as you can in five minutes."  Apparently, EVERYONE, every single barista there, named me.  They all remembered my drink and most of them remembered that I was a writer.  But, this cracks me up on a deep and profound level, because... yes, I'm THAT customer. Yet another sign that I am definitely not "from around here" was that Tim, one of the guys who is even MORE regular than me, was remembered only by half of them and most of them had trouble naming a fact about his life.  Tim is much more typically Minnesotan.  Personally, I could tell you several things about him: he plays Fall Out 4 on his phone, his son is the exact same age as Mason, loves to hunt, and has a dog named Chester.  But, see, that's because I'm THAT GIRL the one who talks to everyone about EVERYTHING.

:-)

I did joke though that I think I would have failed this quiz of theirs on their retreat because I am pretty sure I can only name about four of my barista.  I know the owner and Becky... but the woman who talked to me?  Maybe Molly?  There's a Lydia there and I know this because we talked about how I'm often called by her name and she is tattooed so I had to sing her the "Lydia, oh Lydia, Lydia the tattooed lady!" song.  But, the rest of them, even the ones who know me so well?  I would be hard pressed.

Now I have a new goal.  I need to learn all my barista's names.
lydamorehouse: (shield)
Today Democracy looked like Senator Klobuchar's town hall meeting in an overcrowded room in the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall in Maplewood, MN.

Democracy, today, was a little milquetoast, not unlike the senator herself.

This was a last minute town hall in response to a petition started to get her to give one, yet I think certain things were calculated on the senator's part. Maplewood is a suburb. If I had needed to take a bus to get there it would have taken an hour and 28 minutes--and that's presuming I caught my transfer on time. I actually live fairly close to this particular suburb. It's on my side of the Twin Cities.  

5 pm, when this was scheduled, is the beginning of a lot of people's dinner hour.  Luckily, my family was already planning on "yoyo" (you're on your own,) and so I just waited until we wrapped up at 6:30 pm to eat leftover wild rice soup.  She even said, a little surprised, that there were a lot of us for a Saturday at such a weird hour (like that was out of her control.)

Even so, the room was standing room only.  Apparently, the hall had the capacity to fit 400 people. 

That gave me hope that this was going to be a good meeting. But, literally no one asked Klobuchar anything hard. No one even shamed her for being slow to agree to filibuster or her shameful vote on Pompeo, nothing.  It was all "thank you for you hard work!" and "how can we help you do your job?"  

Seriously, if I didn't know better, I would have thought some of these question askers were plants. 

But, it was clear from her opening remarks that Senator Klobuchar was expecting hostility.  She painted a very clear picture of herself as someone who gets things done and who answers to The People.  She used strong words against Gorsuch and Trump--even though she's lagged behind Franken (and in some cases the rest of the Democratic Party) on every turn.  She kept telling us that 'the movement' (apparently she couldn't quite commit to calling us the resistance) was the driving force behind any of the wins, no matter how small, that have been happening in Washington, D.C.  

She was a good politician, reading the room.

What I found most interesting was her clear rivalry with Franken. She brought him up several times and poked subtle digs at his ego and showmanship.  She even told a story talking about how they both like to say they inherited Hubert Humphrey's seat (apparently, they both did, since he was both senior and junior senator at different points in his career), but, we should know, she actually has Humphrey's DESK. 

I was weirdly pleased to hear this bitterness because it's been my biggest leverage point when I talk to her staff or write letters (or faxes). I always, ALWAYS point out that Franken has taken a stance, etc., and then I needle her about being the senior senator who really should be out front.  Because I'm evil like that. (While I might be a Gryffindor, I play a Slytherin on TV.)  

Even though I was disappointed by all the softball questions, it was still interesting to go. I was surprised to hear one question asker identify as a Republican.  (It should be noted, no one booed him or mocked him.  Everyone was very respectful in general.)  But, even he asked an easy question--particularly for her--about what she's done to work with Republicans.  Answer: tons.  She's always making legislation that requires co-signers, etc., from the other side of the aisle.  (I personally think this is why she's so reluctant to make a stand in this time of need. She still thinks it's business as usual, and so she wants to keep her Republican allies sweet.)

So not what this constituent wants.  Yes, I know, governance equals compromise.  IN NORMAL TIMES.  These are not those times.  Clearly, the Republicans will nuke their own future ability to filibuster in order to shove their Supreme Court pick down America's throat.  This is not the time to play nice, and I was really hoping someone in the audience would tell Klobuchar that.

Ah well.  I suppose next time that "someone" will have to be me.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
...An overcrowded, stuffy room in the State Capitol building, apparently, at least for me, today.

Sometime ago I got invited to the "traditional constituents luncheon" for district 64. It sounded like a very relaxed sort of affair, boxed lunches for $11 from Cecil's deli, and "conversation" with my Minnesota Legislators: Dick Cohen (Senate), Erin Murphy (House 64A, my district), and Dave Pinto (House 64B).  Senator Cohen looked out over the standing room only crowd with more than a little trepidation and apologized profusely, "We don't have enough seats. Honestly, we normally expect about ten people."

Well, they got at LEAST 50, possibly more. I'd guess close to 80.

These are Democrats, representing staunchly Democratic districts in Saint Paul.

Let me tell you something, these people were all woke.  When they spoke, they mentioned specific bills, by number! (I was really pleased that I'd been following WatchYourReps MN enough to at least know which ones were being talked about by reputation, if not actual number.) And more than that, most of the people in the room leaned HARD Left. The biggest applause (nay, it was more of a spontaneous CHEER,) happened when Representative Erin Murphy suggested they push for Medicare For All for Minnesota.  

Meanwhile, poor Senator Cohen was having a little trouble reading the room. After her big cheer, he cautioned that he'd be behind that, but it'd have to be economically sustainable, (which I actually agree with, but DUDE. CLEARLY, the 80-some people here want to hear you leading, radically, up in the front of the pack!)  But, I ended up liking Cohen. He reminded me of our governor, honestly. Kind of a slow build to any kind of fire, a bit plodding, but secretly very, very liberal.  Also, he's a career politician, with simple ambitions. It was a little hard to trust Rep. Murphy because she's running for governor.  So, she has been reading the room and knows EXACTLY what we want to hear. My sense was that she was at least somewhat sincere, but I watched her playing that room--calling certain people by name, waving to others as they came and went.... so, you know, grain of salt there.

The room was also damn near lily white. Only two easily discernible PoCs in the crowd that I noticed, which given the population of my district is... wrong.  On the other hand, this "luncheon" was clearly meant to be something for retirees and self-employeed people like me who can make time to be at the Capitol at 11:30 am on a Tuesday.  Especially since it officially went until 1:30 pm.  Also this was NOT MEANT as a town hall type meeting (though it kind of turned into one) and Senator Cohen kept stressing that normally this is very informal, but because so many people were there they basically were forced to make it a rapid-fire Q&A session rather than a conversation.  Apparently, there is a town hall scheduled for my district, so I'll have to look into attending that, too, and see if it's a different population or if this is basically my SUM (Stand-Up Minnesota, our Indivisible breakout) District group. (The invite to this luncheon got shared on my SUM group e-mail, which I'm not sure was 100% kosher, since I *think* this was an invite only event. They asked for RSVPs.)

Things I learned as far as activism goes:
     1) Go ahead and call and write the governor's office if something passes that's egregious. He's not likely to veto EVERYTHING, but he'll probably veto MORE if he knows we have his back.  This was good to know. I've been hesitant to bombard his office like I have been the legislators'. 
     2) You can contact representatives out of your district on bills/issues, but they really stressed that should only be done if you have a strong, specific story that relates.  Better to get friends and relatives who ARE in that district to bug their legislators.
     3) Corporate interest show up at these things. I was really, really surprised to hear someone in the audience identify as a business owner (NOT RESIDENT) in the district, and they pointed out several other people in the room who were the same.  I'm really, really glad residents--actual constituents--outnumbered these people or this would have been a very different meeting, at least with a very different tilt, I suspect.  As it was our legislators all heard that what we wanted was strong defense, strong leadership, and for everyone to go as hard left as they possibly could.

So, that's about it. It was a fairly interesting time, I'd say, honestly.

Now I'm getting ready for my Loft class (12 students!) which STARTS at bedtime.  OMG, I don't know how I'm going to do this whole starting teaching at 7:30 pm gig.  WISH ME LUCK.
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 A cinnamon pull-apart loaf is rising in the kitchen. I hope it turns out.  It's a new recipe and so I have no idea if I did all the steps right, you know?

I managed to write and submit a 300-word short story to the Queer SF Flash Fiction Contest.  300 words is a serious challenge, especially given the amount of stuff the contest expects you to try to pack in, but it was a good exercise for me. These last few days I haven't much felt like writing anything, not even fan fiction, which is VERY unusual for me. I blame Trump, I really do.  I find myself so very anxious about the news and when I'm anxious the last thing I want to do is sit still and write. Instead, I tend to want to do something physical.  I had had a really good method of dealing with stress in the past. There used to be a web site called Project 1491 that sent out daily progressive activities. I found that if I made the calls they asked of me first thing in the morning, I could feel like I'd done my part for the revolution and I could go on with my day.  They disbanded.  And I've been hunting around for other similar organizations, but I've not found anything that works quite as well for me.

I signed up for Daily Grab Back, which offers daily actions, but I find some of them kind of... I don't know, but today, for instance, they want me to donate my gently used shoes to some organization or other. That's a great idea, if I had a lot of extra shoes lying around.  But, that's not who we are. If we buy shoes, it's because the soles have fallen off the last pair, and I have LITERALLY worn shoes that other people left behind. Plus, this doesn't feel like direction action to me.

I also signed up for Do a Thing. Do a Thing is very much set up for the revolutionary who wants and needs simple, yet-sometimes abstract things to accomplish.  Do a Thing is for the activist who is in survival mode, who really needs to be able to participate, but who also has to do a lot of self-care. I signed up for this one knowing it wasn't going to fulfill the same shoes as Project 1491, but as a counter-balances for those days when I can't even. Like one of the things Do a Thing suggested was "Feel Feelings." This is good advice, but not exactly frontline revolution, you know? They do also offer concrete things, however, like donating to Meals-on-Wheels and or signing up to volunteer.

I just found this one: The Loyal Opposition, which looks to be more what I was hoping for--something with a daily phone call to make. Because part of my problem is feeling overwhelmed by all the things that are ON FIRE in this administration and not knowing where to pour water first.

I still, of course, get information from MoveOn.org and Daily Kos.  I like MoveOn.org because they have a local group that does #ResistTuesdays where they gather at the local offices of our senators to protest and to talk directly to the senior staff there. For the last few months I haven't been able to go, however, because I've had to work on Tuesday mornings. I should be able to get back to it starting in April.

All that went on hold, too, during this last week, dealing with Mark. In his honor I feel like baking a lot and bringing stuff over to Joe. :-(
lydamorehouse: (gryffindor)
 ...you get an invite for a meet-and-greet at the State Capitol from the office of your district's Senator.  

It's not a fundraiser, either. Believe me, that was the first thing I figured and I thought, "Good luck! I can NOT afford 'luncheon' prices!" I've seen those things come through my in-box before and they're out of my league in _so_ many ways.  

But, this is not that. It's a RSVP/invite-only event, from what I can tell, BUT you can brown bag it if you want or they will provide a box lunch from Cecil's for $11.00.  Eleven bucks?  I can afford that! So I hit the RSVP button and emailed the staffer my lunch preference.  Because why not? The ironic thing is that I'm NOT all that up on what's going on locally. I mostly just follow what Watch Your Reps MN  tells me to do. But that DOES mean I've been e-mail a LOT.  

With the local representatives, I haven't been calling that often, honestly. I called about the transphobic bathroom bullshit bill and I broke down in tears on an answering machine that seemed to be shared by several Minnesota Senators. Most of the bills I've been e-mailing them about aren't as personally important to me, so I've decided it's okay not to call unless it feels (like the bathroom bill did) urgent and personal.

Anyway, that's near the end of the month on a Tuesday, in the middle of the day (11:30 am - 1:00 pm). I'm guessing it will be one of those things where you mostly sit and listen to boring speeches and shake a few hands, but I love Cecil's Deli, so why not?


lydamorehouse: (shield)
 I'm wearing red today, but, like a lot of woman in my economic situation, I *have* to go to work today.

What are you talking about, Lyda? You're a writer, you don't have a job.  Actually, I have a couple, but the one I can't skip today is my job as a library page. It's not an IMPORTANT job or a critical one like being a police officer or a firefighter.  I don't get scheduled often, and, had I been thinking ahead, I could have remembered that today was a day I was supposed to try to stay home.  I didn't think of it, because I tend to say yes to whatever hours fit my schedule because we need my extra income.

I don't get sick time. I don't get vacation. I don't have to work often, but the fact is: if I don't go into work today, I don't get paid.

Shawn is going to work, too. Ironically, if she had not had her back go out, she might have been able to stay home.  But, she's up to the line: any more days off and she has to go on unpaid leave.  We definitely can't go without her income.

I like the idea of this.  It would be very powerful, indeed, if every single woman could just not show up.  I feel like, if we could really do it, certain entire economies would collapse.  I heard on the radio that there are several school districts that had to close because so many teachers were asking for the day off.  (I hope that's true.)

I stand in solidarity, however. I'm wearing red. Hopefully, people will notice all the women around them wearing red, if nothing else.


lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 I'm trying to convince Shawn that she's having a "pajama day," rather than day eleven of her back trauma.  I'm not sure it's working.  But, we are cuddled up in bed with several cats, the Sunday paper, and I have a nice hot cup of coffee and my laptop.  If Shawn wasn't still so miserable, it would be very pleasant.  

Unfortunately, Shawn is still really miserable.

Nerve pain is like that, though.  Last year, when I woke up with searing pain in my upper back, that was nerve pinch pain. It was the only time in my life that I screamed, "EIGHT, totally EIGHT!" to my doctors when presented with that ridiculous pain chart.  I think most Minnesotans, including myself, don't really like to be a bother and so even if we were legitimately bleeding out, we'd say, "Oh, I don't know? A four?"

If you've never read Hyperbole and a Half's 'real pain chart' you totally should. I always think of it at times like this.

Shawn's doctor finally consented to prescribing a fairly heavy-duty painkiller, though at a low dose. I think that's helping some, even though Shawn is convinced she's going to be crippled for life.  Like Shawn, probably a lot of you are wondering 'what the hell did she even DO???!!" Thing is, Shawn has had a bulging disc for the past, oh, nearly the entire time I've known her, so maybe 25 years or so?  A lot of people who have bulging discs don't really notice them until THEY SUDDENLY DO.  For Shawn, I think her first OHSHITOHSHIT episode happened when she sneezed.  Seriously, a sneeze brought her down. The doctors all said, "Yep, this is a thing that happens."  So, it really does not take much for her to end up bedridden. 

Usually, however, there isn't this nerve pain, and so she can slowly exercise her way back to better health.  This time, just moving her leg or putting pressure on it was excruciating (see: "I have seen Jesus, and I am scared" on the REAL pain chart.) So, that's played a big role in Shawn's slow recovery.  One of the reasons Shawn's doc agreed to the serious painkillers is that she (the doctor) really wants Shawn up and moving so that she can do the PT that is really going to help.  Pretty much everyone, including Shawn, agree that PT is the real "miracle drug" for back issues.

But, Shawn really needs to get back to work tomorrow.  Not because she's so vital (although I think she is as State Archivist), but because she's out of sick and vacation days.  If she stays home too much more, she'll have to go on unpaid leave and we really can't afford that.  Ironically, I think being stressed about that is actually tensing up the muscles that her muscle relaxants have been working so hard to unwind.

:-(

The only thing I really have planned for the day is to take Mason to Barnes & Noble.  We want to buy him a fancy, up-to-date Atlas as a reward for having gotten this far in the geography bee.  Plus, we haven't been to Barnes & Noble in forever and it would be nice to do a little window shopping. (Also I have two overdue books that need to be returned to the Roseville Library.)  Ive been thinking about attending a revolutionary song sing-along at Merlin's Rest today, just because I love singing rebel songs and it might be good for my soul.  We'll have to see if the timing works out, though. If you're interested (and local) here's the FB page for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1496323087074798/.

Yesterday, I briefly entertained the idea of going to a counter-protest at the Capitol yesterday.  Apparently, it was a Trump supporter rally day, and the SDS organized a "Make Racists Afraid Again" counter-protest.  The SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) are... well, I remember them from my college days.  Augsburg was hardly a hotbed of activism, but we had one rabble-rouser Biology teacher who was the head of our campus SDS. One of our colleagues got caught up with her and ended up constantly being arrested down in Chicago where they would go an join laborers on strike or what have you. I think I would have been down there with them, if I'd been able to get along with this teacher (which I really couldn't.)  The point--and I do have one--is that when I saw it was the SDS organizing this my first thought was, "Someone's gonna throw a punch."

Sure enough.

Apparently six people were arrested and there were, shall we say, fisticuffs (and pepper spray?)  Here's an article about what happened: http://www.fightbacknews.org/2017/3/4/minnesota-protesters-disrupt-trump-rally-capitol.  

You know I'm all for Nazi punching. The NY Times wrote an article about what happened in Minneapolis between the Wobblies and the Nazis (no, this is not an article from 1937, though I swear it could be:) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/27/arts/design/anti-trump-protest-minneapolis-institute-of-art.html?_r=0  

How do I feel about all this?  

I'm not surprised that the Socialists and the Wobblies and the far-left of of our vanguard is reacting first, reacting hard.  Should they go to jail for assault? Absolutely. Am I just as glad I wasn't there? OH HELL YES.  Would I go their bail? I dunno, but I'd certainly throw some change in a bucket.
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)
 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: (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: (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!!

Sheesh.

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: (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?

F*ck.

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.

Sheesh.

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.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
THIS is what democracy looks like!



(Photo credit: Thaiphy Phan-Quang).  

The march today in Saint Paul officially hit 100,000. Somewhere in that crowd was me, my friend Naomi, and her sister Abi. 

Like a lot of people, we almost didn't make it.  Originally, the plan had been for Naomi to come by about a quarter to 10, so she could park in my neighborhood and we could take the light rail into downtown. That plan would have worked great if only a few thousand people were headed to the march.  As it was, the train platform was swathed in pink pussy hats.  Trains were passing by filled to the brim, unable to take on more passengers.  

We walked back to Naomi's minivan, picked up my neighbor James and a straggler named Adellle, and Naomi managed to find us parking just over a mile from the meet-up point of Saint Paul College.  We hoofed it to the march, managing to arrive just as the crowd surged forward with a cheer. We were on the move!

It was amazing.  I have never been a crowd, much less a protest, that big.  The signs I saw were funny and inspiring and heart-breaking.  So many women. So many men. So many children.  So many people! 

My only hope is that we all take this momentum and run with it!



lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 This morning, for some reason, I found myself feeling "politically anxious."  (I feel, by the way, like this should be a thing. Like social anxiety, there should be political anxiety.)  I paced around and did the dishes, but just couldn't settle. I didn't feel like writing; I couldn't concentrate to read. When it was nicer out, I solved these feelings by doing yard work. There really wasn't much yard work to do, it being winter and all, so I wasn't sure what to do with myself until I went back to my computer and discovered that I'd marked myself as "interested" on an event at the capitol today at 10 am.

I could probably have done some house cleaning, but who wants to do that?

I decided to go.

The rally was being held by [Our] Mnisota/Voices for Racial Justice.  It was in the state capitol rotunda and they had speakers and poets in attendance.  I wasn't required to do anything, but sit and listen.  The rotunda (which is GORGEOUS, by the way,) was filled to the brim.  A school (or maybe a couple of schools) brought a high school class, so there was a crowd young people on the upper level, looking down on us.  It was not as personally gratifying as marching and shouting, but I learned a lot about progressive issues and various local organizations that fight for peace and justice and the like. 

Perhaps most importantly, it worked. I felt a lot better having DONE something, even if it was just attend a sit-down-and-listen rally.

The rest of the day was it's usual busy-ness.  I noticed that I'd checked "interested" for another march tomorrow, but the timing is wonky--starting an hour before I need to pick up Mason.  So I think I'm going to save my energy for Saturday.  

Tomorrow might have to be "aggressive self-care day."  I might just have to hide from all the news outlets. I don't know if I can take seeing this nightmare become a reality.  Luckily, Q Library asked me to come and help them.  Hopefully, they will provide busywork and pleasant chatter in the company of queer folk to keep me sane and functional.  

Take care of yourselves!

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