Miscellany

It’s been a long while since I’ve been here, y’all.

Oliver graduated from 4th grade, and we enjoyed our eighth annual family trip to Wrightsville Beach with Tom’s parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their darling girls.
Children are dying under pathetically inattentive, cruel “protective” custody on our southern border.
Trump is flirting with bombing Iran. His base is enabling his insane idiocy and excusing his many assaults.
Yet another has credibly accused Trump of assault -this time of RAPE.
I leave on Thursday to move the boys to summer camp, and I fly home on Saturday to commence six weeks without them.
Tom is soon to start a new job so we’re not traveling this summer.
Instead we are renovating our dining and family rooms and relearning how to rest and relax.
Nutmeg still doesn’t like Ruthie, but she is holding her own, and things are slightly better between them.
I have wonderful new writing students and last week taught a fun, energetic Canning 101 class.
I am deeply worried about and appalled by much of America.
Tom and I are driving to Brooklyn on Sunday in further pursuit of my passion for midcentury modern, Scandinavian-inspired design.
The fireflies are out, and my blackberry bush is thriving, and the orange calla lily I planted with hope two Junes ago is blooming magnificently.
It is PRIDE month, and love is love, and let’s just cheer that!
Today is Bourdain Day, and I miss the light that Anthony Bourdain was in the world, and I hate that depression lies so believably to so many.
I am so very tired, so very worried, and have so many books I hope I get through this summer.

In the meantime, I am thinking about connection and trust, relationships and self-protection. I am thinking of how wonderfully connective vulnerability and gratitude can be, and yet how exposed such porous borders can render us.

Here’s to peace and goodness, faith and the best of the unknown. Here’s to six weeks unplugged and in nature, to New York City and loving cats, to friends and also boundaries, and to the ways that appreciation and trust can make life richer.

#StopTheBans Day of Action for Reproductive Rights

“Excuse me, are you pro choice?”
”Yes.”
”But it’s not your body.”

-as told to Emily by a young white man in front of the Supreme Court

It’s been a long month since I last posted. A long time since Kieran died, since his funeral, since his mom started to meet each day without him. It’s been an honor to bear witness to some of her grief, to sit with her in it, to see a community rally together to help in any and all possible ways.

The past two weeks alone have felt horrifically oppressive. We have seen our “president” cross the 10,000 lies to the American people mark. We have seen Alabama and Missouri pass draconian anti-abortion bills; no abortion after six weeks, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, heinous punishments for any woman who seeks an abortion and any doctor who dares to help her. Meanwhile, the rapist can have parental rights. These bills were voted on by majority-white Christian men. Here’s the Alabama slate responsible:

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Do they look like people who have uteruses? Who can become pregnant from rape? They don’t and aren’t. And I am SICK TO FUCKING DEATH of other people, especially sanctimonious, right wing Christian men and women, attempting to regulate what I may decide to do with my body.

If you don’t remember, the right to abortion was decided in 1973. Forty-six years ago. And yet, for as long as I can remember, my mother has hoped desperately that women never need relive the pre-Roe years. I volunteered for NARAL while Tom and I lived in Boston, and marched in their March on Washington in 2005. I have listened ad nauseam as far-right pro-life supporters have demanded that I live by their rules and values while simultaneously denigrating mine and acting in stunningly hypocritical fashion all the while.

See: all the uber-Christians at my high school who sent out conversion caravans and preached abstinence but concurrently held the mantle of highest teen pregnancy rate in my town and area. Consider the one who had a painful, scary miscarriage in the toilet stall next to me in the school bathroom.

See: Alabama governor Kay Ivey carrying on about the sanctity of life as she signs the anti-abortion bill but who has also, while governor, executed seven men on death row. Alabama is notorious for the systemic racism that puts innocent men behind bars, including on death row. This is why the Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the lynching museum, are housed in Montgomery.

See: the publicly pro life GOPers [Tim Murphy (a PA senator and Elliot Broidy (former RNC deputy finance chair, for example] who have decried abortion while paying for their mistresses and girlfriends to have them. (And if you don’t think serial adulterer Trump has done the same, your head is buried in some dark sand.)

Perhaps most revoltingly, I have become aware that for way too many pro-life folks, pro life really only means pro birth and, ideally, pro-white birth. Just look at the lack of willingness to support programs for hungry children, diaper banks, free- and reduced-lunch plans at school, early childhood education programs, and so on.

Sixty percent of Alabama women seeking abortions are black. “Alabama is tied for fourth-worst place in infant mortality,” according to this article in the Los Angeles Times. In this piece you’ll find that “more than a quarter of Alabama’s children live in poverty; 30 percent of those children are under the age of five. Only half of Alabama’s 67 counties have an obstetrician.” The state has no equal pay laws protecting women from discrimination.

It’s utterly despicable to force children into this world and then refuse to care for them or their mothers. It is sick and cruel to force a girl raped and impregnated by a family member to have the baby and then share custody rights with her rapist. Read this heartbreaking article if you want a firsthand account. That’s not pro life. That’s pro birth and then shit on the mother and shit on the kid. This is anti-woman and control the women at all cost crap.

This morning, I hurriedly coordinated with two regular Resister Sisters so that we could attend the #StopTheBans women’s rights rally at the Supreme Court. All of us canceled or shifted plans, grabbed or made signs, water bottles, and backpacks, and headed downtown. I riffled through my library of protest signs past before remembering that I’d been forced to leave my favorite pro choice sign outside of the Senate building before entering last time.

I scrounged up a half sheet of foam core, Sharpied “I didn’t vote to live in Gilead” on one side and “If it’s not your body, it’s not your choice” on the other, pulled on my resistance shirt, and left with my friend Karen.

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Initially the turnout felt small, but by the official start time, the rally was thrumming with energy, camaraderie, outrage, despondency, and determination. My friend Julie arrived, and she and I set up camp just behind the speaker’s lectern, over to the left. This was fortuitous because in addition to the wonderful NARAL and Planned Parenthood speakers, including the wonderfully fierce Dr. Leana Wen (PP’s new president), a long line of Senators and Congresswomen and men, joined us and spoke.

Senators Klobuchar, Hirono, Wyden, Murray, Blumenthal, and Schumer. Congresswomen Pressley and Speier and Congressman Swalwell. Bernie was there but left before speaking. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, and because of early school dismissal I had to leave before the rally ended, but it was really an excellent turnout of support.

Julie felt pumped up and grateful to be in the company of like-minded resisters; Karen and I enjoyed ourselves, but really feel the bleakness of women still being treated like such non-beings. Things feel hard and as if nothing will ease in the near future.

Which was why I was beyond enraged when a young dress-shirt-and-tie guy came up to me and said, as I quoted at the start of this piece:

“Excuse me, are you pro choice?”
”Yes.”
”But it’s not your body.”

Yes it fucking is, man without uterus.

Karen sputtered and said, “Bless his heart,” before we turned around with utter disgust.

“It’s not your body” is really the essence of all this, isn’t it. If you see women as equals, with agency and selfhood, you couldn’t possibly divorce one’s physical self from one’s emotional self, reproductive desires and choices, and independent plans for life. You couldn’t possibly tell her that her body isn’t hers.

I am not just a goddamned vessel. No woman is UNLESS she chooses to be. The choice should be each of ours, as should safety and respect.

Notre Dame, 43, dear friends, spring, corruption, and NYC

What a hell of a week this has been. Good god, people. In short, Notre Dame burned, I turned 43, we had an exceptionally dear old friend and his partner (an exceptionally dear new friend) stay with us for two days, spring sprung and I gave part of our garden a happy do-over, the Mueller report was released to the public albeit more than lightly redacted and two days AFTER yam received it, Barr has confirmed for himself that he’s part of the trump crew upon which history will not look kindly, and tomorrow I’m taking the boys to New York for the weekend as my parents, post-retirement, decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in NYC by renting an apartment in Brooklyn for two months (April and May). We’re taking advantage of this unseasonal proximity to enjoy a quick visit!

I can’t tell you how my heart hurt on Monday as the news from Paris grew increasingly grim. When the Notre Dame spire, engulfed in flames, fell into the cathedral, my eyes filled and I gasped with sadness. We were just there. The kids, especially Ol, were and remain as sad, and yet we are all grateful that the structure’s shell and most of its many historical and artistic treasures were saved. Today I heard a report that another 15 - 30 minutes of burning would likely have brought the entire Cathedral down. Can you imagine? 845 years hinged on the dedication and training and refusal to quit demonstrated by the Paris fire department. I bow to them.

Hard to believe we were just there and now so much is gone.

Hard to believe we were just there and now so much is gone.

That afternoon, our friends arrived, and they lifted my spirits enormously. Tom and Colin went to college together, they lived together afterwards, and I met Colin several years into that- was it seventeen years ago? He and I became fast friends, and although we’ve never lived in the same city/country since, we’ve kept in close touch. He was in our wedding, we see each other when and where we can, and it was with joy that I received his note about staying with us while he and Emad passed through on their US road trip. It was if Emad and I had never not known each other, and I think the three of us talked for 8 hours straight.

Tuesday was my birthday, number 43. It was such an incredibly happy day. I took a long walk with one of my favorite people and most treasured friends, worked in my yard, felt an outpouring of love from family and friends, and went to a great dinner with Tom.

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Wednesday found me sadly saying goodbye to Colin and Emad (isn’t that the best, though? when you enjoy people’s company so much that parting is somewhat mournful), going bananas in the yard but finishing it enough to have one of my favorite neighbors over for wine in the new chairs, and calling it a day when I realized I’d way overworked myself in all respects.

Today, Barr gave an absurdly partisan, duplicitous press conference about the Mueller report and then released the 448-page report, some pages of which are almost totally redacted. Additionally, I got a crown, ran 98 errands, read hundreds of tweets by legal experts parsing the report, and feel like so much of the world is broken as fuck and full of destruction and evil and decline.

And yet, Notre Dame was saved, and I have such good friends, and such a loving family, and my perennials are thriving, and tomorrow I’ll get to hug my mom and dad and on Saturday see Burn This on Broadway, and I think I’m looking and doing really well for 43, and I’ll take it. I won’t stop fighting, but there is also a lot of good, and I’m thankful.