One of the podcasts I listen to, Women on the Line ended with this poem recently. And I love everything about it.
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home
When we say, “I don’t want to become my mother,”
that isn’t an invitation to laugh.
Thinking about your mother-in-law.
And maybe the way she talks too loud
Or repeats herself when she gets excited.
Or maybe you hate
your children love her
more than they do you.
‘Cause usually men don’t understand
that to their child,
“that woman” is also their mother.
There is no distinction.
If you listen to us,
you would hear that when we say,
“I don’t want to become my mother,”
what we are really saying is
“I want to be like my mother never had the chance to be.”
Or maybe even,
“I want to be like my father never let her be
or even understood she was.”
Because when we say,
“I will not become my mother,”
What we are really saying is,
“I will leave you
if you buy me a big, square house
in the ‘burbs
and especially if you present it to me
like we’re a match made in heaven.”
We are saying,
“Who are you?”
“Do you even know who I am?!”
What we are really saying is,
“As bad a mother as you may think I am for it,
are just my children.
And not my dreams.”
I would’ve been about seven
the first time I saw my mother on stage.
It took me seven years to realize who she was.
When I say, “I will not become my mother,”
What I am really saying is,
“I am my mother’s dreams.
I can’t afford to fail.”
She was our mother,
I loved that, but damn,
she could’ve really been something.
When I say, “I will not become my mother,”
What I am saying is,
“I am going to be.
I will be.
What my mother was.
Before the world and his dog told that girl to stop.”
And I am saying,
“If you love me,
then when I say,
‘I will not become my mother,’
and be frickin’ smart about it.”
It’s from this episode (iTunes link; poem at 25:40) and I copied it while listening to it, so apologies to Maxine Clark if the punctuation or line breaks are all kinds of wrong.
The best part of the countdown to the War on Christmas each year is, in my estimation, Secret Santa Can Suck It, organized by the Caretaker over at Shadow Manor. It’s a virtual gift swap which means that money is no object—one is only limited by one’s imagination. And possibly by how well one knows (or doesn’t know) the recipient.
This year I was super excited because I drew the Caretaker herself! (She had me one year and I got a Cthulhu makeover, eeeeee!) I immediately began scheming about what I was going to get her. Muahaha. Read more >>
[All linked YouTube clips have NSFW audio.]
I have just discovered Macklemore, an extremely irreverent musician who walks the line between hiphop and nerdcore. (I recently tweeted his Thrift Shop, which is simultaneously Ke$ha’s fashion anthem, my approach to steampunk, and an indictment of corporate fashion culture. So…yeah.) I think what I love most about his stuff is that he’s having so much fun!!!, which makes it so much fun to listen to.
[Aside that will be relevant to readers of MoF: Macklemore did an amazing piece called Same Love in advance of the vote on Referendum 74, which eventually legalized marriage equality in the State of Washington. It's a beautiful song: I cried.]
But this song is currently my favorite.
Read more >>
Happy Armistice Day. Today in 1918, we celebrated the end of the slaughter of millions of boys and young men, and non-combatants of all ages. Here’s to the hope that someday humanity will outgrow this children’s crusade. I’ll be commemorating this day with a moment of silence at “the 11th hour on the 11th day of this 11th month.”
I also respect American veterans today. I’m grateful to those who have sacrificed and those who are willing to place their lives on the line. I honor them by speaking out and holding our leaders to the highest standards, so that no one has to lose their life or health or sanity to further the avarice and vain ambition of a few.
Our soldiers deserve our political participation and our unrelenting vigilance–they’ve pledged themselves to defend these. Let’s not dishonor them with our uncaring acquiescence.
Much has been made (often by atheists) about the necessarily contradictory beliefs that theists must hold. It may be that the “iron of
Calvinism” Catholicism is wrapped ’round my bones, but I still manage to hold intensely contradictory beliefs. I am absolutely an atheist, but it comforts me to believe in the Divine, and so I do. I know I’m wrong, but I believe I’m right. I don’t know if that’s helpful at all, but I ran across this quote recently and I can pretty much get behind every statement in it.
I can believe that things are true and I can believe things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen—I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of casual chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.
What are your contradictory beliefs?
If you haven’t yet started listening to On Being, I can highly recommend it. It’s a respectful and varied trip through people’s belief systems. I rarely do not enjoy it. Some memorable—and perhaps pertinent to MoF readers—shows include an interview with Terry Tempest Williams and two recent episodes focusing on Istanbul (one an interview with a local Dominican friar).
But today, if you only listen to one, let it be Alain de Botton on atheism and keeping the good parts of religion. He has organized what he calls “the School of Life” to fill the community and thinking-deep-thoughts void of areligion. It includes nightly “sermons”, a word he uses instead of lectures to encourage people to take what they learn—or think about—and apply it to their life outside; to keep it from remaining a purely academic pursuit.
This is a place I’d love to visit. I hope that, next time I’m in London, I get the chance to. I hope that it branches out and opens one down the street from me.
One of the major points he makes in this interview is that we are not born knowing how to live—we need to be taught morals, how to love, and how to deal with death. Religion does this well; atheism generally does not. To this end, he’s written a book, Religion for Atheists: a Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, which I have not yet read but which has definitely been added to my List.
I went to Burning Man for the first time in 7 years this year. Every year, it flits in and out of the news, with some calling it proof that civilization is doomed and others finding in it proof that there is hope for humanity.
What I have come to realize after two weeks on the Playa is that Burning Man is a giant Rorschach.
Seven years ago, my fiance and I headed out to Black Rock City and staked our claim to a little plot of land in the Alternative Energy Zone. I found people who ran their cars on biodiesel, baked cookies in solar ovens, and lived off the grid. I found people who realized they were in a desert and water was precious. I found people who knew that what they wanted from life wasn’t what the default world considered the “norm” and found ways to get what they wanted on their own terms. In a desert in Nevada, I found respect for the desert in Los Angeles that I lived in, mediated by the religions of a desert in Egypt. I found peace that, even though I’m a child of the mountains—of cold, wind, and rain—I could be at home in a place of heat, sun, and cloudless skies. I found exactly what I needed 7 years ago.
This year, I was talking with my co-blogger, John, about going this year and about what it was. Is it a rave? Yes. Is it a nudist colony? Yes. Is it a pagan festival? Yes. But it’s more than that. It’s whatever you want it to be—and sometimes, whatever you need it to be.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I headed out to Reno, where we met our campmates for the first time. Although we were the same people who made pilgrimage seven years ago, we were absolutely not the same people. We waited in line with playa-siblings for four hours as the sun set and the moon rose. We laughed, we played, we danced. And then we got to the gate and were welcomed home. We claimed a plot of land for our campmates to meet us at and, in the pitch-black night, cobbled together a perimeter of emergency tape and bike lights. And then we slept. In the morning, our campmates joined us and set up a compound (RVs around the perimeter for protection from wind and dust, a geodesic dome in the center for camaraderie and food, hexayurts inside the perimeter for sleeping). And we were home.
This year, I was reminded of the importance of disaster preparedness and came home with resolutions to do better (I’m going to get my ham radio license!). This year, I watched the sun rise over the Temple with thousands of others—some who had woken for this purpose, others who were still up from the night before—dressed in white. I mused about the concepts central concepts of Burning Man as a sacrifice to no god and a Temple with no priests. I participated.
I got exactly what I needed.
Does it make me sexist if I think this is a hilarious song? In fact, I don’t know any man to whom all of these apply—and many women to whom at least some of them do. So: here’s a good song with some tropes but a good beat.
Before I start, I have to say that I’m overjoyed at the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act today. Friends and family members who sacrificed their health because they couldn’t afford coverage, or those who were denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, can now rest a bit.
The key figure in today’s decision is Chief Justice John Roberts. He has voted solidly with the conservative justices, with Anthony Kennedy responsible for the swing vote in most cases. Today, he chose to vote with the liberal bloc. The headlines are declaring, “The Roberts Court is Born.”
I’m a little bit of a US Supreme Court history junky (maybe it’s that undergrad degree in Political Science), and I’ve been intrigued by Justice Roberts since he was first appointed. While there is no doubt that partisan politics and political ideology molds a Chief Justice and impacts their decisions, there are two other primary influences that I believe grow over time:
- They are the chief representative and embodiment of the institution of the US Supreme Court.
- They have a strong sense of their historical legacy.
There have been only 17 chief justices in the 223 year history of the Supreme Court. John Marshall’s career spanned that of six US Presidents, four of whom served two terms. Much of their job is defined by the precedents set by their predecessors: their decisions today are constrained by and they continually defer or refer to decisions. Perhaps even more than any other official in the US government, including the president, single decisions made by one or a handful of justices have tremendous power over the lives of millions. Think of Dred Scott v. Sanford, Brown v. Board of Education, or Roe v. Wade. Roberts is a relatively young chief justice. He has the potential to to be one of the longest serving (it’s hard to beat Marshall’s), and to be one of the most influential people in the history of the United States, and he is fully aware of this.
Combine this sense of historical and institutional perspective with the following fact (from the SCOTUS blog), and Roberts’ decision makes more sense to me:
No Supreme Court has struck down a president’s signature piece of legislation in over 75 years.
He wasn’t willing to break this long streak, and expose his court to criticism of judicial activism. But he’s not suddenly embracing liberal politics, either. Scanning through the decision this morning, it seemed to me to be largely technical. One of his key arguments was to say that by imposing a penalty for those who don’t buy insurance, Congress isn’t forcing citizens to engage in commerce (something beyond its authority), but is instead imposing a tax (an enumerated power). This morning Rush Limbaugh ran with the ammunition provided by Roberts, calling Obamacare the “largest tax increase in the history of the world.” Romney launched a similar barrage, saying that “ObamaCare raises taxes on the American people by $500 billion.”
Roberts, in defecting from his bloc to uphold the ACA, accomplished the following:
- He protected the Court from accusations of judicial activism and continuing partisanship,
- He gave the Republicans powerful tax ammunition to use against Obama in the upcoming election,
- He established his own legacy–He showed that he could resist the overt taint of partisanship while still playing a deft political game.
Well played, Chief Justice Roberts. Well played.
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