Since we made the decision to pull the Potato out of aftercare, I have been really struggling with the work-life balance. Having to stop whatever I’m doing to make it to the elementary school pick-up is challenging, and I’ve been working on a big event that is consuming a huge amount of my mental time.
Add it to the fact that last week, the Bee had to be at school every night at 5:30, and I’m feeling that old, doing everything half-assed and nothing well kind of feeling.
Not today, though.
Because today I baked brownies for the teachers’ appreciation lunch at school. And let the boy have a playdate with his best friend. And killed about 700,000 emails, phone calls, texts and IMs.
Why did I bake brownies on the day before what will possibly be the biggest event of my year?
Because I am a dumbass who likes to think I can do everything.
Also, non-custodial mother guilt.
That is all.
P.S.–the brownies weren’t even that good.
We briefly take a break from an analysis of post-separated life with kids, to discuss the outbreak of democracy in WI, OH & IN.
Last week, I was asked to speak at a meeting of activists, many of whom were trying desperately to figure out how they could get themselves to Madison (the only ones who weren’t doing that were trying to figure out how to get other people to come to Columbus or Indianapolis).
This is something along the lines of what I said to that group:
Here are two things you probably don’t know about me that are important to this story: #1, I’m a Jersey girl; and #2, I majored in theater in college. About 10 years ago, I was in a bookstore, and I saw this book called Striking Performances/Performing Strikes, the first half of which is about the Flint sit-down strike, and the ways that some groups of workers, particularly the Ladies’ Auxiliary, used street theater to sustain the strikers and get their message out. That’s the part that got me to buy the book.
The second half of the book, though, is about the occupation of the state capitol in Trenton, NJ by the Unemployed Council in something like 1935. Unemployed workers took over the state capitol, and they also used theater to get their messages across. And the thing that stunned me about that is that I grew up and was educated in New Jersey from the time I was in kindergarten until I graduated from college, and I never heard that story, never knew that part of my history.
It’s the same way that our history–working peoples’ history–is stolen from us all the time–we can actually see it happening in Wisconsin right now, where Fox News is constantly under-reporting the number of people coming to actions and the seriousness of their struggle.
What’s going on in Wisconsin is exciting and big, and if you’re any kind of organizer at all, you want to be there. But the thing that changed America in the 1930s was not every organizer across the nation flocking to Trenton–it was the fact that people in Unemployed Councils in other cities and states kept on organizing and kept beating a drumbeat for change across the nation.
If this feels to you like a moment where you can put your other work on pause, then you should think again. It’s a moment where we have to use the fights we’re in, in states and cities around the country, to amplify this moment, and make it larger–to use it to redirect the national conversation about who’s paying their fair share and who’s not; about who’s profiting and who’s suffering, in this economy. We have a chance to take our country back from the far-right ideologues who have gained control of too many state houses. Let’s take it.
I still wanna go to Wisconsin, though.
The US poverty rate has risen to a fifteen-year high.
It’s hard to imagine that’s not going to be politicized, this close to the election. The Republicans will be saying the president is driving the economy into the ground. The Democrats will be saying it’s a hangover from 8 years of Republican spending.
As an electoral organizer, I wish we could take it out of the rhetoric altogether. Not because I think it will swing the election–but because there is absolutely no chance of Congress doing anything to help poor people while they can make hay talking about them, instead.
In some ways, it seems like the 2008 election was a lifetime ago. It hasn’t even been 18 months.
Barack Obama has been president for less than 15 months. They may have been the longest 14 months of my life. Longer even than the 14 months that both of my pregnancies seemed to last.
I was in a bar on Sunday night with two other people that I work with, while the Congress was voting on health care reform. We were all glued to our phones, getting texts, emails & calls, and (at least in my case) reading tweets from people who were live-tweeting the vote count. When the vote passed, we were hugging and toasting, and generally being overall joyous.
I am disappointed by the results of the health care debate. I’m disappointed that the health insurance industry managed to scare so many people, and to gut some important provisions of the bill.
I am elated that health care reform passed. I am overjoyed that the health insurance industry, despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of the legislative process, did not get to have a Harry & Louise moment this time.
Right after the election, I wrote a post that described the price my family paid because of my decision to spend six months of 2008 working to get Barack Obama elected, and what I expected to get for that effort, to compensate us for that price. On Inauguration Day, I wrote another post, committing to help make change.
President Obama, I consider that debt paid in full (though I’m still hoping for an end to the Iraq War, and a de-escalation in Afghanistan). I did not work for you because of your winning smile or your eloquent ability to string some sentences together (although they didn’t hurt). I did it because I wanted to make the world a better place for my children, and I believed that you were the candidate most likely to fight for that change.
I’m glad that you kept fighting, even when I disagreed with the compromises you were making. At the end of the day, it feels like we have hope again. Change feels possible, again.
As regular readers of this blog know, I have a job that involves working in electoral politics from time to time. Here’s a tip for those folks who are not parents, and choose to work in politics:
If you are a political campaign manager, and you are trying to get my attention and/or support for your candidate, do not send me an email telling me that you live across the street from my kids’ school. It creeps me out, and makes me MUCH less likely to support your candidate. Also, it makes me worry that my daughter might not come home from her safety post someday.
I’m just sayin’.
I had a very instructive set of experiences yesterday around health care reform and the current state of our health care system.
First, I went to a town hall meeting that my local Congressman was having, and was blown away by the vitriol expressed by the right-wingers who were there to basically disrupt the event and to keep the conversation from getting to the real problems in our current system. They had a real plan to just shout down everyone who was for reform, and to raise bogus issues to redirect the conversation towards people who are afraid of the government.
One of the first people to ask a question who was in opposition to health care reform asked this question: “I already have to wait too long to see the doctor–if we add coverage to 47 million people, I’ll have to wait even longer. Why will that be better for me?”
*cue jaw dropping on the part of landismom
The second experience that I had yesterday was that the Bee broke her finger, and I got to sit with her for five hours at the ER on a Sunday night. The closest ER to us is an urban, Level 1 Trauma center–and I get that a broken finger is not as serious as a head injury, or a car crash, or any of the myriad of other bad things that can happen to humans. But the reality is that most people I saw there were there because they were using the ER for primary care. Because they don’t have primary care.
And I wanted to ask that woman from the town hall meeting who didn’t want to have to wait for her health care if she wanted me to sit in the waiting room with my daughter for five hours, because she was denying most of the people in the ER the right to access primary care from a primary care physician.
I‘m not going to post a link to your tragic death mask, because, well, this is a family blog.
But I am going to say thank you for your sacrifice.
And I’m sorry.
I tweeted earlier today that the images of your death reminded me of part of the Bertolt Brecht poem, “When Evil-Doing Comes Like Falling Rain,” and now I’m really hoping that no more Iranians will have to be butchered in the street, or die in their father’s arms, for the world community to rise up and demand an end to this violence.
I feel as if I’m looking for jobs for almost everyone I know right now. While the job that I have is secure, I have at least four friends who are looking for work, plus my brother & SIL are looking to move closer to us, and so I’m looking for work for them, too. Landisdad’s been looking for a new job on-and-off for at least a year–though I think that in this economy, he’s content to stay where he is for a while.
My friends who are looking for work now are a combination of the laid-off, the about-to-be-laid-off, and the seasonally unemployed (i.e.–they’re political consultants, and this is not a big election year). I know at least one person who told me recently that her unemployment is about to run out, so she will be in the “uncounted” unemployment numbers relatively soon.
Laura recently posted this link from the NY Times that shows national unemployment by county, and I found it instructive–the counties that I live and work in both have unemployment rates that are slightly higher than the national average right now, so it may not be that odd that I know a bunch of people who are looking for work.
In my current work life, I’m having the occasion to talk to lots of folks about the recently-passed economic stimulus plan, and am amazed by how many people seem to have a right-wing feeling about the idea of bailing out homeowners who got sucked into shitty mortgages. These people unfortunately include my own mother. If only I had seen this episode of the Daily Show before having that last conversation….
In 1992, I was a young canvasser, working for the peace movement in California, when Bill Clinton was elected president. On Election Night, a friend and I drove back to San Francisco after a day of canvassing for one of those Year of the Woman congressional candidates, and as we listened to George Bush’s concession speech on the radio, my friend opened the window of the car, and just started screaming with joy, yelling to all the passersby. We got back to the City to discover that there was a massive street party going on, and all around us, people were happy & filled with hope.
For weeks after the election, people opened their doors, invited us in, wrote us checks, gave us drinks, and let us use their bathrooms. Although most people I knew were disappointed that a DLC member had achieved the presidency, as opposed to a more progressive candidate, we were sooooo happy to see the end of George Bush I. As we moved into the inaugural moment, people were still excited and hopeful. But the sense that they had to do something—that people in communities all over America had to stand up and support the president, if they wanted to see change happen—started to fade. People stopped throwing checks at us, and went back to their TVs, and their dinners, and their regular lives.
And nothing really changed.
Don’t get me wrong—we won some things in the Clinton years. But we also lost a lot. We lost the ability to fix the healthcare crisis in 1993, when people bought the propaganda that the big insurance companies were shelling out via their Harry & Louise commercials. We lost the battle to maintain an economic safety net, seeing the right wing win major victories on welfare reform, that pushed thousands of moms around the country into the workforce, whether they were ready to be there or not. We lost on NAFTA, and saw millions of US manufacturing jobs move overseas.
I’m the age now, of many of the people that I canvassed back in 1992. I’m a homeowner, I have a full-time job, and kids, and lots of responsibilities. But the one responsibility that I’m not giving up is the promise to my country I made when I voted for Barack Obama. The promise to keep raising my voice and demanding change, and to make sure that my congressmen (and yes, they all are men) know that I support the president in his call for change that’s not incremental, for change that is sweeping and transformative for our country.
I don’t want to be sitting here, 16 years from now, wishing I had stepped away from the TV or the dinner, or even the kids, to take action that helped change my country.