lydamorehouse: (shield)
 Today, democracy looks like a mad scientist (photo credit to Curtis Johnson, Stand Up Minnesota.)



My own sign was less clever, but I did manage to make one before I left for the March for Science (Saint Paul, Minnesota):

400

This march was smaller than the Women's March, but there was still a HUGE turn out.  I can't believe the reports that are only counting us at 10,000. I would easily have said 50 or 60 thousand.  I went with Mason and his friend Rosemary and her mom (and a friend of her mom's).  We were able to get fairly close to the Cathedral to be dropped off.  We could even have found parking, but the plan was for a drop-off. It may be that with the nice weather, a lot more people were finding non-car ways of getting to the march.  I know that my friend Naomi biked, and she reported that she could hardly find a spot to lock her bike.  Given that this march took place on Earth Day, I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of people biked in (there was still snow on the ground for the Women's March.)

The signs were all amazing. So many math puns. 

As I remarked to Rosemary's mom, it was impressive how "on theme" everyone was.  I mean, there were a couple of re-treads. I saw at least one: "Things are so bad, the Introverts are here!" and one or two on the overarching theme of Trump Sucks, which could have been recycled from the Women's March.  But, from what I saw, science really was the main theme. The T-Rexes were there. Someone (people, probably,) had a giant wholly mammoth puppet.  Lab coats seemed to be a bigger theme than the knitted "brain" hats (which were meant to the be science version of the pussy hats.)    

The sun was bright.  It was actually kind of hot, despite the typical Spring-like weather.  Me and the kids gave up early (the acoustics for the speakers were still really very bad) and we hopped on the light rail and went to Ichiddo Ramen for some sustenance.  Then we light railed it the rest of the way home.  

It was a good march, I'd say.  Am I fired up to keep fighting?  I hope so.  I hope everyone there is still making all the calls and sending the postcards.  We must continue to resist!

Via la revolution!
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: (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: (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: (shield)
I'm starting to become a protest connoisseur. Yesterday, I attended the Anti-War Committee's march for Human Rights.


Hopefully this photo show up complete with credit (David E Romm). Apparently, WCCO did a short segment about us (it needs flash. I could NOT get it to work on my Apple products, but Shawn was able to watch it on her Kindle.) The TV segment makes us look better than I think we were. It was not a large crowd, in my estimation. As I've said before, I'm fairly bad at guesstimating groups of people, but I wouldn't have thought we had more than 50, but maybe 100?

Also the Anti-War Committee folks are a bit more radical than the previous group. You can tell by the list of sponsors, which include: Natives Lives Matter, Minnesota Neighbors for Justice,MN Peace Action Coalition, UMN Students for a Democratic Society, Veterans for Peace, Welfare Rights Committee, Women Against Military Madness, Women's Prison Book Project, Young Muslim Collective,Black Lives Matter Saint Paul, Saint Paul for Justice, Blue Lies Matter, and Black Lives Matter St. Paul. They were also slightly less organized.

It was REALLY cold out yesterday afternoon--probably 7 F / -13.8 C. I got there only about fifteen minutes to and by the time we actually hit the streets, my toes were throbbing from the cold. The problem was that the Anti-War people, like the Minnesota Immigrants Rights Action Committee, had speakers planned ostensibly to fire us up... but theirs SUCKED. The first one was so depressing that I think we lost some people. I mean, yes, America has been sh*tty on human rights, particularly international human rights, for a long time. But, no one there, except a few crusty radicals, really wanted to hear a speaker dump on Obama and talk about how they'd planned this march initially thinking we'd be protesting Hillary. This is the apocalypse, people. Let's look forward, not back. The police were also blocking traffic already by the time they started with their speakers and a lot of us were anxious to get going. I found myself muttering unhappily when they tried to get us jazzed to chant because no one could hear us besides ourselves with the roads blocked.

But, when we finally got going, it felt good. I really do like the feeling of being in a crowd, no matter the size, and shouting. Does it make any kind of impact? Does it do any good? I think we have yet to see. If protests get coverage like this one did, albeit brief, it still raises awareness, I think. I don't know.

The other thing that was different from this group than the previous one is that the parade route was a straight line. The MIRAC people had us march back up Lake Street, essentially in a circle, so we were spared a long trek back up Lake Street alone. I mean, it wasn't a huge deal, but we marched 30 blocks down to a church (for more speakers and a warm-up), but I bailed on that, so I ended up trudging the 30 blocks back to retrieve my car.

I guess this is the price for democracy, right? (Sore feet and cold toes).
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
I'm thinking about going to another protest.

There's one called "A March Against Trump to Demand Human Rights at Home and Abroad." It's happening this Saturday, December 10 at 1 pm (in Minneapolis at Nicollet & Lake again.) The only potential hassle is that it's also a day that Rosemary and Mason are going to a Harry Potter concert that starts at the same time. However, Rosemary's dad is doing the drop-off at the concert hall (I'm doing the pick-up.) So... it's still do-able. I imagine it's not going to last more than a couple of hours, if that. It could actually work out, actually, since I will already be in Minneapolis for the pick-up. I like these protests that are endorsed by various groups, because they are often the types of folks who did this sort of thing a lot and know what they're doing... even if the event still FEELS like herding cats, there is actually a decent structure underneath the chaos, if you know what I mean. (Like the last one I did? Also sponsored by a ton of people and there were medics and a police escort, etc.) This one has been endorsed by: Natives Lives Matter, Minnesota Neighbors for Justice, MN Peace Action Coalition, sds @ the U of MN, Veterans for Peace, Welfare Rights Committee, Women Against Military Madness, Women's Prison Book Project, and Young Muslim Collective. Also this also means that I might get to hear from a representative from each of these groups (which expands my list of resources for more of these types of events.) It's officially run by a group called The Anti-War Committee and is about human rights, because Saturday is apparently International Human Rights Day.

There is also a protest planned at the St. Paul capitol called "Fight for the Popular Vote" both Sunday, December 18 (from noon to 8 pm) AND Monday, December 19 (8 am to 5 pm). Even if Sunday doesn't work for me, I could totally attend the Monday one at some point during the day. That seems like another possible fit for me. This one seems to be organized (at least on Facebook) by *one person* and has no list of sponsors, which makes me slightly dubious. However, the fact that the hours are such a huge range, I feel like a person could drop by at any point during the day and stay for as long as they like. Which means, that this is the sort of protest I could potentially bring Eleanor to (she'd asked to be a protest buddy at Thanksgiving.)

This protest obviously meant as a rally for those of us angry about the Electoral College system, which... while, I'm not convinced is anything that's going to be changed anytime soon (and so the idea of protesting, really is just to protest, not expect change), I agree with the idea that 2.5 million voters should not be disenfranchised because of something invented by a bunch of guys who were not necessarily expecting their country to span an entire continent and beyond. There are not a lot of other countries in the world that use the electoral college system, Italy being the larger/well-known ones after us, along with Burundi, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vanuatu. Britain uses a simple majority. I feel like maybe the time has come for us to adopt the same. It's one thing when Gore's margin of win was 825 votes. It's another thing entirely when it's close to 2.5 million votes.

At any rate, those are two actions up-coming for me in the month of December.

Stand up! Keep fighting!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 My weekend was pretty good.  As I mentioned earlier, I was invited sort of last minute to do a signing at the Holiday Geek Expo.  The only time I really had available was early Sunday morning, but that worked pretty well.  There wasn't a huge amount of foot traffic, but I had a secret weapon:  I was giving away my books.

I have an overabundance of copies of RESURRECTION CODE.  That book was the one that was published by Mad Norwegian Press and when they reverted rights to me, they shipped me, like, three or four boxes of printed books.  Each box contains about 40 books, so that's a lot of books not only taking up room in my already cluttered house, but which I have to count as "inventory" for my taxes every year.  I could have taken the books to sell; I am set-up to charge sales tax.  I don't, however, have a smart phone equipped with "Square" or whichever lovely small business app I should really have, and so I would have had to have cash on hand AND MAKE CHANGE, which I dread.  

Plus, let's be honest.  I've been kicking around the Twin Cities a LONG time now.  I'm sure there are plenty of people who have never read a word I've written. HOWEVER, I'm not likely to run into those people at a very geek-specific event run by a lot of the folks connected with CONvergence, now am I?  So, giving the books away seemed like a lovely way to get rid of them.  Who can resist a FREE... well, anything? Even a second copy of a book you already have seems like a good deal when it's FREE.

I ended up being able to give away at least half of them. The books I couldn't give away, Anton took.  I told him to give them away to charities or as freebies at cons or use them for doorstops for all I cared.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  RESURRECTION CODE is a lovely book. I just don't need boxes and boxes and boxes of them cluttering up my house, is all.

So, that was Geek Expo. 

I came home and picked up Mason who has been agitating for a haircut ever since he started swim team.  His hair was not only starting to curl at his ears (something which *I*  find adorable, but which he hates,) but also the constant chlorine exposure was making it kind of frizzed and frazzled looking.  That took up all the time I had before rushing back out to Claddaugh to finally meet up with my contact at Quatrefoil, Nanette.

Nanette and I had a lovely talk. I have no idea if I impressed her or not, but she did invite me to the next board meeting and talked a lot about what kind of commitment being a board member would entail.  So, that felt cool. When I was talking to my friend Josey about this position, she said something that's been sticking in my mind a lot.  "It's such a grown-up position!"  It really it. Being a board member of a non-profit?  That's like totally something people who are ADULT do.

In all seriousness, I do think supporting a queer library is super-important right now in this time of ever growing darkness. If we are saved at all, it will be not only by our history and out stories, but also locally--city by city, county by county.  One of the things I learned about Quatrefoil that I didn't know, was that they now have a space that they can offer to any GLBTQ+ group that needs one. (I don't think they charge, but you'd have to double-check. I just went and it's not terribly obvious from their website.  But I did just discover they have a monthly D&D group!! What? Why did no one tell me THIS!!????)  

Otherwise, I've been doing a lot of letter writing.  My membership in International Pen Friends nets me 15 names of people all over the world, as I think I've written about here before.  That's a LOT of letters.  Plus, I'm discovering that this does NOT seem to be a one-to-one exchange.  For instance, on Saturday I got a letter from a woman in Germany who was _not_on my list.  So... my thinking is that I may be getting an additional fifteen pen friends... ?? .... Eep!  But, I will say, the letter from Germany was pretty cool. The woman who wrote is about my age and LOVES stickers and fun paper and she inspired me to get crafty and make my own stationary from the scrapbooking supplies we have leftover from Shawn's mostly-brief foray into scrapbooking.  I may have had WAY too much fun doing that yesterday.  It's also amazing to me how doing silly little artistic things like this actually brightens my mood.  Highly recommend as aggressive self-care during the Orange One's reign.  

Speaking of, my friend Theo Lorenz has made a lovely "Aggressive Self-Care Coloring Book" to help you survive the end of 2016 and onward: https://gumroad.com/l/YyBkJ  This is a "pay what you want" project, so your self-care doesn't have to come at a steep price!  it's a print-your-own, so it won't make a good stocking stuffer unless you get crafty yourself, but... you might just need to hide under a blanket, turn off the news, and color while more horrific cabinet posts are filled by people less qualified to run the country than you are...!
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
This has become my new battle cry: "Don't be Rory!"

For instance, after writing up my whole long screed about the Gilmore Girls mini-series, it occurred to me that a good journalist would actually try to pitch that as a column. So I did. You can now read my thoughts at: http://bitterempire.com/gilmore-girls-year-life-whiny-baby-rory/.  Ha! Take that, girl with no ideas to pitch!

Then, today I got a reply back from Quatrefoil Library about the volunteer positions I was interested in.  The woman who contacted me said she would love to have a resume.  My first thought was a very Rory-like, "What? For a volunteer position??" and then I thought, "No, don't be Rory."

Thing is, I think there's a real shot that Quatrefoil might consider me for a board position if I play my cards right.  So, I actually spend a good deal of time a professional resume that highlights the skills and experiences I have both in the GLBTQ+ community, professional fiction writing, and in various library and archives positions I've had over the years. (I'm still actually fine-tuning and making sure Shawn, who gets a lot of resumes as part of her job, not only reviews it, but proofs it too!) 

The upside? You know what? I actually look pretty damn good on paper.  I've worked in libraries/archives for a LONG time: my current work at the Ramsey County Library system is very focused on practical library skills, but I also worked as office manager/processing assistant/receptionist at institutions like the Immigration History Research Center, the Ramsey County Historical Society, and the Minnesota Historical Society. At all of those jobs, while I wasn't always doing actual archival work, I learned a lot about what the point of archives is and how they function. Add to that the fact that I have a lot of general publishing knowledge, have been a teacher for DECADES at the Loft, and, you know, even my reviews of yaoi/yuri count towards a broader sense of the GLBTQ+ book/writing community. I mean, I used to be a regular contributor to Equal Time!  (Oh! I should find a place to note that on the resume!)

And now, to complete my "Don't be Rory" I'm reading the History of the Quatrefoil Library so that when I go into this meeting, I won't be completely clueless about the organization!  

So yeah, always ask yourself: what I can *I* bring to this organization?

Am I right!?

But I'm also excited to be volunteering for them (potentially) because I really feel like in this up-coming political environment, we're going to need our history.  Particularly the history of marginalized and minority groups. Who knows, maybe we'll need these collections as a resource for how to rebuild a revolution, you know?

*sigh*

But one day at a time.  Stand up!  Fight!


lydamorehouse: (Default)
me at protest

Often these pictures don't show up, but hopefully this one will. Photo credit to: Thaiphy Phan-Quang.
lydamorehouse: (shield)
I just got back from a protest march sponsored by the Minnesota Immigrants Rights Action Committee. I'll be curious if they post on their Facebook page the number of people who turned out, but just eyeballing I'd guess a couple hundred..? I'm really not very good at guestimating crowds, but it was a pretty good turn out considering how cold it is (and how close to the Thanksgiving holiday.) We met up at the K-Mart parking lot near Nicollet and Lake Street and marched east on Lake somewhere past Chicago, did a little loop behind the hospital (?) and then back up Lake.

I learned a few chants in Spanish and generally enjoyed the usual yelling of things like "What does Democracy look like? THIS is what Democracy looks like!", and there were new ones specific to the President-Elect that I no longer can remember, but I'm sure will echo in my dreams. Speaking of echoing we passed under the underpass and our whole group sounded like some cacophony of noise. Probably this sound horrible to some of you out there, but, being an extrovert, just walking in the crowd energized me. Many passing cars waved, honked, and gave the peace sign. I think one guy heckled us, but he was a rare exception. It was coolest when the city bus drivers honked. That made everyone cheer. People came out of their workplaces to watch us pass. Phone cameras were up and recording everywhere.

We actually had a police escort, which was unexpected, but cool.

Of all the things I've done so far since the election, I'd have to say marching was the most energizing/fun. Like a lot of the things I've been doing, I have no idea if it's at all effective.

I also called both Senators for Minnesota (because they BOTH happen to be on the Senate Judiciary Committee) and asked them to oppose the appointment of Jeff Sessions. OMG THAT WAS HARD. I completely dorked out at the end of my recorded message to Franken's DC office (his MN box was full) and then spaced in the middle of the script I'd prepared while talking to a live human staffer at Kloubcar's, but she waited patently for me to remember the word "OPPOSE." As an extrovert, my voice doesn't shake, but I still need a script (CLEARLY) or I start to blather and/or space out. Calling is a LOT less fun than waving signs and yelling, though I suspect that calling is a lot more useful at the end of the day. Especially targeted calling like that.

So now after that chilly walk up and down Lake Street, I think I will take a warm bath.

Up the revolution! (I do have to say, it was kind of fun to be at a march supported Twin Cities IWW General Defense Committee Local 14.)
lydamorehouse: (shield)
I have a cousin, Cindy, who is mixed-race.  She recently posted on her Facebook wall, "Trump is a bitch if you like him unfriend me."  And, because she and I are friends, I got to see what *her* friends said to her.... a LOT of Cindy's friends voted for Trump.  

Their responses to her range from "I live in coal country..." and basically have a sincere belief Trump was a better choice for our economy to posting YouTube videos entitled "Christianity Mind Control and Its Terrifying Power Over Believers" with a nonsense post that goes like this, "queen England and Hillary needs to stay in the devils democracy of the devils England the terrorist MuslimsChristianity Mind Control and its Terrifying Power Over Believers and wake up." (I don't even know how to parse that. And I have no idea how it relates to the argument at hand.)

At least one person felt free to use the c-word to talk about Hillary Clinton (several used the term "Killary") and the sheer amount of misspellings and misinformation is staggering.

I look at this and get several conclusions:

Fox News and its radio talk show affiliates are to blame for a lot of this.

We need a better educational system in this country.

And, possibly, America is legitimately doomed.

...

On that last one, I try to remind myself that 1.5 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than did for Donald Trump.  That may not save us, however.  I don't see how, given the reality of the next four years we can dismantle the things that spread this kind of hate and misinformation. If anything, it's likely to get much, much worse.

When people try to compare what's happening now to what happened in any other time in American history, one of the pieces that is missing is the fact that the news used to actually report facts.  Even back in the darkest days of the 1960s, the news was still a source of INFORMATION.  Opinions were still strictly kept to the editorial sections.  Now entire "news" channels lie on a regular basis and claim to be the "antedate to the 'liberal' media."  There are people out there who think scientific facts are debatable or subject to the will of their god.  Some of them are now in charge of key positions in this country.

The problem with 'reaching across the aisle" to the people like the ones on Cindy's feed is that the truth has been well insulated from them for years now. If you present them with a fact, they will tell you that you have "liberal bias" and counter with some kook report they read on Brietbart.

Back when I was young, I used to think about Republicans as "the loyal opposition."  They were people who believed differently from me, but who still used the same facts as I did to base their arguments on. We could agree to disagree, because, at the foundation, there were common facts and figures.  The real difference between us was actual opinions on the same set of truths, facts, science, etc. 

This no longer seems to be the case.

lydamorehouse: (shield)
 The guy isn't even in office yet....

Meanwhile, I'm still struggling to find things to *do* that feel honestly effective.  Yelling about things on the internet, specifically on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, don't feel productive.  The subsequent arguments that inevitably follow also just make me feel more anxious.  I'm still waiting for my Planned Parenthood volunteer orientation, so that's in limbo.  I haven't heard back from Quatrefoil Library, which I also offered to volunteer at... so again, that feels stalled out.

But I did find a couple of Facebook events that seem worthy of my time and energy. The first is a solidarity with immigrants march on Wednesday, November 23 here in the Twin Cities. They are meeting at Lake and Nicollet at 5 pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/199733550476396/.  I have not yet taken to the streets and so this might be a place to start.  Hopefully, I will actually get my butt out the door and attend.  That'll be the real trick.

The other thing I found seems kind of innocuous and probably won't actually have an effect is a "postcard avalanche" to denounce Bannon: https://www.facebook.com/events/174763619653288/. Will Trump car? I doubt it.  On the other hand, I love sending postcards and it will give the post office something to do...? I don't know know.  This is where things get really difficult.  

Years ago, Shawn and I actually successfully ran a postcard avalanche for a local issue. We made pre-printed postcards for our neighbors to send in to the city council. I think this was for allowing our neighbors to have a variance for parking, though it might have been part of our push to get the roundabout at the end of the block planted.  (Both of those were successful, partly because they were super localized and specific and if ten people show up to a city council meeting it's a big f*cuking deal, as our Vice-President would say.) Somehow I don't see this having the same kind of effect, but my feeling is that at least it's more concrete than reposting some article or other or signing a petition... I mean, maybe petitions can work? But, every organization seems to have one already. Still, I don't see it does harm, so I'm signing all the ones that seem legit.

Okay, well, I'm headed off to go get groceries.  We're out of everything and Thanksgiving is looming.  So it's going to be a huge list.  Our friends the Jacksons came early, but we LOVE Thanksgiving and so we've invited our friends Eleanor and Patrick to join us.  It should be fun, or will be if we have enough potatoes....
lydamorehouse: (shield)
1.  The "You Weren't There For Us Before" argument.

Okay. We were really shitty allies.  I didn't even know that there had previously been a registry for Muslims. This is horrible.  There's no excuse for those times we didn't stand up. I'm not about to make one.  If anything I feel the crushing reality of the fact that by not protesting this kind of thing earlier is EXACTLY how we got where we are today.

But, we fucked that up.  That's not the question. In fact, that seems really obvious. The question is what do we do now?  

Reminding us we fucked up is fine, but it makes me sad because I think there are some people who are being pushed away by this rhetoric.  People who are finally showing up, waking up, and want to NOT fuck up this time. Can we please hand them the tools they need without the slap on the wrist?  

Okay, I realize that people are tired of having to deal with "white fragility," but I'm actually scared that the Neo-Nazis are watching us bicker and doing _their_ ugly work while we sputter and stall out over stuff like this.

2. Safety Pins

I'm sad people are being pressured to take them off.  It happened to me again. I got a random smile from a guy who looked like he might be a recent Somali immigrant at the coffee shop.  I can't be sure he smiled at my pin or because I was saying rather loudly that the hassle of growing old is that I swear I have to pee every five minutes.  Maybe I'm just the sort of person people smile at.  But, it's also possible that seeing a symbol of solidarity made someone feel a little less alone.  

A friend of mine and I were talking about this and she told a story about the AIDS ribbon.  You remember when those were trendy?  I do.  She remembered a friend being incensed to see ribbons on Hollywood stars, because they made is seem like all you had to do was wear a ribbon and your sins would be absolved.  I get that.  I've been mad about a lot of token gestures in my day. (Don't get me started on Willow in "Buffy.")  But, I said, okay, yes, all of that is true, but that mainstreaming of gay people and gay causes that, in a way, led us to the acceptance of freedom to marry. So, okay, so a bunch of people adopted AIDS Awareness as a fashion statement.  Did that cure AIDS? No.  But did it raise awareness?  I'm going to say yes, yes, it did.

I know I'm supposed to shut up and listen to PoC on this one. I'm reading the articles, I'm really trying to listen.  But, for instance, in the article that's listed above I'm supposed to tell off my racist relatives, contribute to anti-racism causes, etc., and then ends with a note that wearing a pin is going to get me the side-eye from PoC.

This makes me sad. What if I don't have any racist relatives that I talk to any more because I shut them out years ago for this exact bullshit? What if I don't have money to contribute (and did anyway and am volunteering)?  

Look, I don't have a burning need to prove I'm your ally or to get a cookie for my non-effort efforts, but I have literally been giving the side-eye to other white people wondering, "Did you vote for him?" Maybe the safety pins are for white people.  Maybe that's absolutely accurate.  But, maybe this white person needs to know which other while ladies/men are on her side.

And maybe the Somali immigrants in my neighborhood didn't get the memo.  Maybe I'm going to wear the safety pin until THEY start giving me the side-eye.*

--
Edited to add: am now starting to believe this _is_ actually me. I just went to Menards and had another Somali woman in a hijab smile at me. I paid attention this time and I realized that I was smiling first and cooing at her crying child (like I do to all frazzled parents with crying children.)  

It occurs to me one way in which we're all showing some privilege is the assumption that anyone but insiders even know what the heck the safety pins are.  Working at the library has really made me aware of the number of people who do NOT have access to the internet, newspapers, or cable TV.  

Ultimately, the lesson might be this simple: smile at people. I'm still wearing the safety pin and my pink triangle (though I lost my nice enameled one, so I've been stuck with an old political button for some organization or other, but it has a pink triangle and the word community on it, so I guess that will have to do.)
lydamorehouse: (shield)
 I almost wish I lived in a red state.

Almost, being the operative word here, but the problem is impact, right? I mean, there have been a lot of calls to action to get on the phone to your congress reps to tell them to denounce Steve Bannon.  I plan to do that, but it's not going to have a lot sway when it comes from Minnesota, which is not only very blue, but also represented by the likes of Al Franken.  Also, I'm not sure what we can actually get done there beyond symbolic statements.  Of course, I'm not saying we shouldn't try.  I sincerely feel every effort is worth doing.

I wonder if another thing I could do is write or call various media outlets and demand they stop using the term 'alt-right' and start saying Neo-Nazi or white supremacist, which is, in point of fact, accurate.  Maybe I will see if anyone is organizing that sort of thing. If not, maybe I should just start planning a lot of letters to the editor.  I am a writer, after all, this is one skill I can loan to the revolution.

Speaking of feeling like a drop in the bucket (while also feeling extremely proud of my city and state), when I went to sign-up for new volunteer orientation at Planned Parenthood, I discovered that the entire month of December is already booked. They do two orientations a month and have space for 50 people. 50! That means that, locally, over a hundred NEW people have committed to volunteering for PP.  This is where I wish they could bus us into states where more help is needed.  Although, maybe, they will send us out to rural spots--those of us who can and will travel.  I certainly could do that.

I've been talking to people about how *do* we go forward from here, how *do* we talk to people who might have voted for Trump, and I don't know the answer to that one at all.  Most people in my life are very much taking the stance of 'never surrender' and no compromise. I think that's absolutely appropriate.  I really loved (though was also harrowed by) the article by Masha Gessen, "Autocracy: Rules for Survival,"  which makes a very compelling case for never normalizing any of the hate or craziness of this new regime we're facing. I really think, too, that if people close to you, like family, voted for Trump it's absolutely appropriate to say no to Thanksgiving with them.  I think people who voted for hate need to disavow it in some real and concrete way (like, not just words; I want to see your donation to the ACLU or hear about how you called your congress person to repudiate bigotry) before I make any step towards them.  They need to be the ones coming to us to bridge the gap, not the other way around.

But, like, how do you chat with the bus driver on the way to work? I think it is important to continue to make connections. Maybe now more than ever.  I took a chance saying 'stay safe' to a white neighbor and discovered that he was gay, like me.  This is one way in which I feel like the safety pins can be more than a hollow gesture. If I see someone else wearing one, maybe we can get to talking, maybe we find some common ground, maybe I make a colleague, a friend.  And maybe our talking about this stuff on the bus/in a public space gets overheard by someone who needs to hear it, someone who needs to wake up to it or who maybe had been feeling lost and alone.  

Tiny steps.

But the ways in which we might need to be there for each other might not come with the obvious, righteous sound of the horn of Gondor.  We might just have to hold each other's hand as we pick our way through Mirkwood, and try to stay on the path.

All the while, we also have to remember to save energy for the daily protests.  I just found this wonderful group that's pledging to give us something to DO every day that Trump is president.  It's called Project 1460 and you can sign up to get daily emails with calls to action.

Meanwhile, life goes on.  Last night was Mason's student conferences. In a surprise to no one, Mason is more than passing all his classes. Washington does this very odd thing where they have the students give reports to their parents. This is sort of self-defeating, in a way.  The good students prepare and do a good presentation.  I have no idea if the kids who are failing even show up, you know?  I suppose that's true, no matter what, and maybe the idea is to get the middle of the road students to feel some kind of shame in having to face their parents and tell them that their grades are NOT awesome.  Maybe the idea is to get a dialogue going about what kids are feeling and what parents can do to actually help.  I don't know, but it's kind of an odd practice and feels somewhat useless for us when Mason is just reading a script.  On the other hand, we FINALLY got to meet his 8th grade math teacher, whom we've been trying to connect with since Mason took 8th grade math in 6th grade.  Mr. K kind of cracked us up because he made a point to say that of all the advanced students he's ever had in his classes Mason was the "most well socialized."  I took full credit for that, jokingly.  

The other Mason news is that we went for his once-every-few-years check-up on his hydronephrosis and got... cautious news.  We've been expecting Mason's doctor to sign off and say that the major problems have been cleared up with gravity and growing older, but the kidney is not improving as fast as they'd hoped.  We're back on a more frequent watch.  Not good news, but not panic-enducing yet either. Mason's kidneys continue to grow and the hydronephrosis affects his left kidney far more severely.  Everything is still working, but we were very bummed not to get the sign-off/all-clear we were hoping for.

One day at a time. One day at a time.

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