NFL Draft Experience.

Here are ten things I learned today, in no particular order:

  1. In case I ever thought it was just coincidental before, I now know for certain that standing in bright sunshine and high heat for a while will lead to a panic attack.
  2. Some people who smoke are very indignant about it, even when there are kids around.
  3. People will stand in line for a long time to do very little.
  4. Kids are often more logical than adults.
  5. I will pay $6 for a lukewarm bottle of Gatorade if it’s hot enough and I am thirsty enough.
  6. The NFL’s viewership must really be suffering if they’re willing to do all this for the draft.
  7. It pays to be a Patriots fan in Eagle-town at an event like this. Shorter lines for photo ops.
  8. Sweatbands are a good giveaway idea.
  9. The new ice cream store on our street is super.
  10. Video games in air conditioned basements is the perfect end to this day.

Work.

I have only ever been a stay-at-home mom. This is not to say that I haven’t worked, because in fact, I have worked consistently since 6 weeks after The Who was born. But it has never interfered with the stay-at-homeness of my momming.

Until now. I’ve wanted this. I’ve been thinking about getting out of the adjuncting game for years and only finally just pulled the trigger on it when the exact right full-time job came down the pike. And now, with my start date simultaneously approaching and looming, I am starting to get sad about all the things I’ll be missing. Even the things I complain about — like the morning routine of getting him dressed and out the door. My face won’t be the last thing he sees before he runs down the sidewalk into school. My “I love you” will be faint in his head from hours earlier. And when other parents show up midday for classroom volunteering, it’ll never be me.

When he comes out after school, sweaty from an afternoon PE class, shucking off his backpack and asking to play on the playground, it won’t be me who is greeting him. In fact, he won’t even be coming out to the playground most days. He’ll be riding a bus to a friend’s or being greeted by someone else’s parent.

I am grateful for the help of my village. I think that’s important to say. That I recognize that in my absence, he will be sent off to school by his other mom, he will be picked up by good friends of mine who also love him. It’s the best possible scenario, so I recognize how lucky I am (and he is) to have that. But it won’t be me. And I will miss it. I will miss him.

Do better.

So, we saw Shrek: The Musical today at the high school. It was totally impressive in terms of production. The music, the acting, the singing, the costumes, sets, lighting — it was all better than any other school performance I’ve ever seen and better even than some “professional” productions. I was actually pretty blown away by the talent in our little town.
As a show, however? A wicked bummer. Admittedly, I’d never seen or heard or read anything about the musical. I’d always found the premise of the movie a little off-putting (You’re beautiful to me because I love you, but you’re pretty much hideous to everyone else (when Fiona is an ogre)/I’m falling in love with you, despite your looks (when she’s a “beautiful princess”)  and I suspected this theme would carry through to the musical. But what I didn’t expect was just how actually offensive and hateful some of the lyrics would be.
Like these lyrics from “Don’t Let Me Go”:
You and me, we belong together.
Like butter and grits,
Like kibbles and bits,
Like yin and yang,
Sturm and Drang,
Like Eng and Chang, attached at the hip
But not an old lady hip that might break
I’m gonna be on you like a fat kid on cake!
I mean, the conjoined twins joke aside (which is pretty crappy) there’s a “fat kid on cake” joke. Really? The best they could come up with to draw a laugh was to perpetuate the stereotype that fat kids can’t stay away from baked goods? (And, not for nothing, but my kid, whom the school nurse seems to think is underweight — a blog post for another day — loves cake more than anyone I’ve ever met.)
Then there’s this one from the same song:
DONKEY (spoken):
Like Cupid and Psyche, like pop rocks and Mikey,
we’ll stick together like that Velcro stuff, I’m the fuzzy side; you’ll be the spiky.
Ooh! Like little kids and pajamas with those funny things at the bottom, you know, feeties.
Like donuts and’ oh, what goes with donuts’
DONKEY:
Donuts and diabetes!
Do I really need to unpack this one? Two things inextricably linked? Kids and footie pjs. The two sides of Velcro. A pastry and a disease. Obviously.
And here’s this from “When Words Fail”:
Oh look the moon
Is out tonight
You remind me of that moon
Because it’s big and bright
And by big I don’t mean chubby
Obviously you’re not fat
But your personality is biggish
Is what I meant by that
Sorry ’bout that fat thing,
I’m on the hefty side myself
I have to blame the gene pool
Ok, first of all, if he’s talking about loving her for who she is and finding her beautiful inside and out, why is he obsessed with describing her physicality? I thought it didn’t matter. I thought that was the message. And second of all, why is fat an insult? (I mean, this is rhetorical; I know why the world thinks fat is an insult.) Why wouldn’t he have called her a redhead by mistake and tried to wiggle his way out of that? And why does he have to qualify his calling her fat by calling himself fat, too? And why does her personality have to biggish? Why ish? why can’t she have a big personality and have that be admired? Again, all rhetorical. I get it.
And then, finally, in “Finale”, Fiona says:
You take me as I am
Love me as I look
Standing here in all my glory
I am sweetness
I am bratty
I’m a princess
I’m a fatty
I’m a mess of contradictions in a dress
I’m glad you’ve gotten to a point where you’re cool with who you are, Fiona. Except you haven’t. You’re cool because someone loves you anyway. Despite your perceived hideousness. And that doesn’t give you the kind of ownership over “fatty” that I say needs to exist before you use it so cavalierly. There’s way too much body hatred, way too many insults, way too little self-acceptance in the lyrics of this show for anyone to be at the point where owning “fatty” as a self-description feels ok to someone who actually is one.
Obviously, there’s a lot more in the lyrics that are problematic, too, (like when the Big, Bad Wolf laments being called a “hot ‘n tranny mess”) and I think we’re all expected to overlook it because it’s a cute show for kids. Right.
So, again. I enjoyed myself today. My kid and his pals enjoyed themselves, too. And the high schoolers and everyone involved in the production did a stunning job. But y’know, shame on you, writer of the book and lyrics. Do better.

Bullets. 

  • I can blog, but I can’t write. I tell my students to just write and not get caught up in how it’s supposed to sound. And yet, I am mired in the notion that writing has to have a certain diction from the gate. I do not — nor have I ever — given myself the excellent advice that I have for others. 
  • I am prepared to take on the pasta machine for a third time. This time, it is a major part of my only dinner plan, so I must feel more confident than the last two times. I am determined to make this purchase worthwhile. I plan to keep at it until it’s perfected. The first time, too gummy. The second, too sticky. Third time’s a charm?
  • I have seen more turds fall from that giraffe’s backside than I have ever wished to see. Really, one would be more than I ever wished for. It’s been way more than one. I actually got a text from a similarly obsessed friend last night in the middle of my feminist/racial justice book club: “Her tail is way up and she keeps banging her head into her side.” This is what it’s come to. 
  • Mid-March snowstorms can kiss my ass. I no longer have any use for winter. I understand why my people move south when they reach a certain age. 
  • Speaking of age, less than a month until 43. For reals middle age. If I had enough money, I’d go get myself a fancy Jaguar. (Except not really. Maybe just some fancy jewelry.)
  • Sunday, we rally. Because — to quote my nephew — This right here? This is crap.

First.

When I was a little kid, I overheard my grandmother making dinner reservations. Although her last name was Cohen, she made the reservation under “Johnson” and when I asked her why, she told me that sometimes restaurants gave the worst tables to Jews or didn’t hold tables for them at all. This was in the mid-80s and I remember thinking that her paranoia was unfounded. I could certainly understand from where it came and could even see how it might have been true earlier, but not then. That would never happen in 1984.

Years later, on my first job interview, I tucked the Star of David pendant I always wore into the collar of my shirt. I had never been ashamed of being a Jew — or afraid of being treated differently because of it. (What a lucky life I had lived.) But as I walked into the office for the interview, my grandmother’s words echoed in my ears and I thought, “why risk it?”

While this might sound like two stories of persecution, it’s really two stories of privilege. How fortunate my grandmother was in 1984 to be able to simply give another name and pass as a non-Jew. How lucky I was in 1990 to be able to tuck a necklace in and pass as a non-Jew. And how lucky I still am today with my diamond wedding band and mascara to pass as a straight woman.

I don’t have any big revelation to make. Simply noting and checking my privilege so that I don’t get complacent.

Bullets.

  • We’re on the road to a video game system. The Who has been casually asking for one for several months and I have always said he’d have to really beg for one for a long time before we got one. He’s definitely amped up his asking lately, so we devised a sticker chart earning system tied to behaviors and habits that need changing anyway. He can earn up to 5-6 stickers a day and needs 150 to get the system. A month is about the right amount of time to create a new pathway in the brain, right? He’ll totally be putting his clothes in the hamper and getting ready for school on time by the time the chart’s filled, right? RIGHT?
  • Basketball season is over. Saturday morning (at EIGHT AM, THANK YOU VERY MUCH) was the last game and it was bittersweet. On the one hand, ending basketball means getting ready for spring and Little League. On the other hand, this was an incredibly rewarding entrée into the world of team sports. He got to be on a team with one of his besties, made a bunch of new friends, and had an awesome coach, who actually made decent strides with this bunch of 1st and 2nd graders. We definitely saw improvement throughout the ten weeks. Plus, it gave me a new appreciation for basketball as a sport, which was never anything I either understood or cared about.
  • I’m feeling a lot less misanthropic these days. When DeVos was confirmed, it was really an all-time low for me. I felt like no matter what anyone did, nothing would matter. Since then, I have seen reports about her confirmation being the only one that called for a tie-breaking vote and that was due in large part to all the calls people have made. I have seen Under Armour walk back their support of 45 (in a sort of weak way that didn’t make much sense, but nevertheless…) and Ivanka’s clothes are being sold for $1 at Marshalls. Plus, I am a little bit jazzed about some guerrilla art projects that are taking shape in my head.
  • I’m finding it hard not to be petty and aggressive lately. I have had to bite my tongue a number of times over the past month — and there have been an equal number of times where I probably should have bitten my tongue and didn’t. A combination of approaching my mid-40s (43 days ’til 43, but who’s counting?) and a general laissez-faire attitude about making my opinions known has led to some a couple of uncomfortable social situations. I’ll blame Trump (why not?) Ever since the election (and the months leading up to it), I’ve been intentionally controversial on social media. I’ve been making conscious decisions to say exactly what I think of Trump supporters and policies. I’ve made no apologies, even when people accused me of name-calling or stooping to a level lower than was expected. It’s true. Sometimes when they went low, I went lower. I’m not exactly proud of it, but I’m not ashamed of it either. Unfortunately, though, this attitude has carried over into realms where it shouldn’t. I took today to check in with myself. I did no work (save the dishes, laundry, and hard-boiling a dozen eggs for the week) and instead watched movies and intermittently sought advice from trusted friends. I think I’m ready to pull up my big girl pants again. It’s not going to be easy.
  • I’ve been eating through bags and bags of clementines. The label advertises them as “candy sweet” and I’ll cosign. It always feels like a kick in the ass, though, when my intake of fresh fruit and vitamin C are at an all-time high and I still come down with a cold. I’d like to blame global warming and this irrational weather, but I know colds come from germs and nothing else. I’ve also developed a batch of sores in my mouth from all the acidity. Still, it’s worth it. Especially when the collection of mandarin peels and poured out coffee in the sink make the scent of sunshine and morning swirl through my kitchen.

Tired.

Oh, you guys. I am really struggling here. It’s starting to feel really hopeless and when the action-oriented, optimistic idealist says that, it’s time to panic.

I mean, it’s possible that I overdid it. It’s possible that the entire weekend in DC (including all 5 hours of the rally) plus the all-day Examining Whiteness workshop, plus the impromptu protest at the airport all in a span of eight days tapped me out. Or maybe it’s my “can’t stop won’t stop” attitude toward reading Instagram memes, Twitter posts, and Facebook alliance group posts. It could just be simple saturation.

But it also could be the fact that no matter how many emails, faxes, phone calls, and postcards we send to our senators, they’re still supporting a useless, wealthy campaign financer for Education Secretary. In the face of jammed phone and fax lines and overflowing mailboxes, my state’s senator still issued a statement in support of that elitist, ignorant tool. No matter how many hours we stand in the cold, holding signs and chanting, “This is what democracy looks like!” they still detained a BABY, trying to enter the country for a life-saving surgery. A fucking baby. Nobody cares. “We listen to our constituents,” they say. “Call your sentators; it matters.” “Protest and march.” I call bullshit.

Today, it just seems useless. And this from the daughter of bonafide letter-writing, sign-holding, campaign-running activists. I have never felt this disheartened about my voice and its strength and power — or lack thereof.

I vote in every. single. election. And I have since I turned 18. Even when I lived in Massachusetts and I knew that my primary vote wasn’t going to move the needle, I voted. I vote in mid-terms and off-years and special elections and I take my kid with me every time so that he knows that I believe that every voice counts. Or at least I used to believe that. I’m starting to question it.

How in the actual fuck did we end up in this position? With a bumptious, arrogant fascist leader of the free world and a band of unqualified liars falling in behind him. I didn’t believe it would happen. Maybe too many of us didn’t believe it would happen. I am embarrassed by my election-day optimism and horrified by the enactments of the past week and a half.

I don’t know what we’re fighting for. I can’t see what the end game is. I know an 8-year-old who marched in Philly today, holding a sign that said, “Inpeach.” I smiled at both her spelling (it reminded me of when The Who used to call it a “soupcase”) and her confidence that an impeachment might actually solve something. I looked at the Presidential Succession list. It’s not pretty. Mike Pence? Paul Ryan? We’d have to burrow pretty far down to get to someone who’s not just as scary or scarier than who we’ve got.

So, what then? It’s been proven time and again that this president won’t be bullied into submission. What are we hoping to gain by protesting and marching and writing and calling and emailing? Maybe just to stay aware? Stay engaged? As fruitless as this all seems, I can see that complacency would probably be worse. Is it just so he knows how very much we hate him? (He’s got to know that already, right?) If all of this isn’t going to yield something very tangible very soon, I don’t know how long I can maintain it. I don’t know how long any of us can.