Saturday, November 27, 2004

Hope?

On Wednesday night I happened to catch the final episode of the latest "Bachelor" reality TV show on ABC. In this version of the romantic reality tv show, the "Bachelor" was Byron Velvick, a professional bass fisherman and as usual over the past few months he has had about 25 women to date, fall in love with and choose to possibly marry. I got bored of this story-line and stopped watching "Bachelor" shows months ago (oh yeah, months), but I would have paid a lot more attention to this one if I had known that one of the 25 women was Mary Delgado, one of the three finalists from the 2003 "Bachelor" show that featured Bob Guiney. I had noticed Mary Delgado on Guiney's show because she was a Latina and she was old: 35 years old, in fact, almost as old as me. Incredible. Who let her on? Well, in that 2003 "Bachelor" show Mary fell in love with Guiney, but he picked someone else and I felt bad for her because she had said she really wanted to get married and have a family and I knew she was 35. Thirty-five. That's a serious situation.

So I tuned in to ABC on Wednesday night for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, but instead I got this grinning, tall, blonde white guy (Byron) who has narrowed his choices down to two women. In this final episode, only two women remain and he introduces his family to each woman in turn and in the final moments of the show, he'll make his choice. One of the women, Tanya, is tall, blonde and beautiful which is to be expected (she's also 31). But when I recognized Mary, I thought, "Oh my god. That's -- what was her name? Mary! Oh, no she already got rejected once. She's doing this again??"

I couldn't believe it. I guess I expect network producers to be cruel enough to put people through whatever brings in ratings, but I was genuinely surprised to see Mary Delgado going through this again. Now she's even older - 36! - and I imagine even more desperate for a mate. Maybe Mary's chances are a bit better now since Byron is 40 years old (the oldest "Bachelor" yet), but I still don't like the odds: she's up against a younger, blonde chick. In dismay I watched the standard ending where the two women are decked out in their finest and ride separate limousines to meet Byron and find out who he wants to spend the rest of his life (or at least the weekend) with. Of course, both women are in a nervous state as they confess to us (that is, to the camera) their love for Byron and make clear their intention to be his wife. Each says she will be devastated if he doesn't pick her.

So here I am, a 38-year-old Mexican American spinster, watching this 36-year old Cuban American spinster lay her heart on the line again, like a big, swollen watermelon balancing on the very edge of the open bed of a pickup truck and I know that truck is about to lurch. I know this great American fisherman guy is going to pick Tanya the Blonde. How can he not? She's white, they belong together, they color-match. He's going to pick the tall blonde and I'm going to see poor Mary get rejected and humiliated all over again. I can't stand it.

So, of course I have to watch. In the final minutes, I see Tanya willow across the romantic fake setting to where Byron stands with "the final rose." Mary is still on her way in her limo, and the way they edit these things you can't tell who the winner is by the order in which they appear. So I watch Byron look deeply into Tanya's eyes and profess that he's not in love with her. What? Oh, my god. He's not picking Tanya?

Sure enough, Byron escorts Tanya back to her limo (where she looks like she wants to sucker-punch him before she leaves, and who could blame her), and then returns to his post to wait for Mary. When she tremblingly arrives, he asks her to marry him. He even struggles to do it in Spanish because he knows her parents are watching and they don't speak English.

Mary is 36. Thirty-six. She has never been married. She has wanted this so badly, with her whole being, more than anything else in the world. And she got it. The buzz is that their union is so solid that this will be the first "Bachelor" show that actually results in an actual wedding.

I was stunned. I'm still stunned. I don't know if I'm more stunned that Byron picked Mary over Tanya, or that Mary opened herself up to have her guts ripped out again. After all the pain she had been through, this woman actually let herself fall in love again (and under similar national-TV circumstances). She took the exact same risk again. And he picked her.

I'm stunned.



Friday, November 26, 2004

From Now on, I'll Be French

From 2003 to 2004 I worked very hard to achieve a 15-pound weightloss. It was a long and expensive experience and was much harder than I expected (details here). I feel proud to be maintaining the weightloss, which I do with daily exercise and a relentless vigilance to calories, but I'm aware of a vague panic at the back of my mind that keeps me fearful: if I don't exercise each and every day or if I don't constantly resist my desire for snacktime or if I drink anything besides water, I fear I'll blob out immediately. It's not a secure way to live.

Today I notice an article that Mo Pie has linked on her blog Big Fat Deal that shows me another way to live, a way to enjoy food without the fear of sudden blobitude. It explores how French women eat a much richer, fattier diet than English or American women, but stay much slimmer. "Let Them Eat Cake," in the U.K.'s Guardian Limited, describes how French culture treats food completely differently from how we do in the U.S. and in England. Basically, French people are slimmer than we are because, while they eat richer foods, they eat less of them. The French treat meals as small events, worth sitting down for and spending time on. Mealtime for them is a social time to be enjoyed and a sensory treat to be savored slowly. They pay great attention to their food, chew it with relish, rest their fork between bites and as a result consume less food and calories.

I guess as long as American society keeps moving faster and faster, keeping mealtimes short or non-existent, and shoving food into our mouths as we walk/type/watch tv, we're going to be fat. Sometimes I can be satisfied with much less chocolate if I eat it slowly and give it my full attention, but even as I type "full attention" I can feel how foreign the concept is of giving a mouthful my full attention. No one stops everything to give a meal their full attention in the United States; to us it would seem like an unforgivable waste of time.

I've decided I'm going to start paying more attention. It will be a challenge with my new restaurant job, but an excellent practice to put in place to keep me from the weightgain that restaurant jobs often include. I am going to make a point of sitting down each time I eat, focusing on each mouthful and really paying attention to what's in my mouth. I will turn off the tv and put down the paper. No more eating while walking or while talking on the phone. I will make real time for real food (I'm embarassed to have ever considered energy bars as food). From now on, I will strive be more "French," enjoying food more and eating less.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Come see me perform

Regina's Holiday Set
Sun Nov 28
9:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Uncommon Ground Cafe (Wrigleyville)
1214 W. Grace (near Clark)
Neal Alger on guitar
no cover


I have a gig this weekend. I'm worried that no one will come. I wouldn't have picked the Sunday after Thanksgiving for a performance, but that was the only day Neal Alger had free and he's my favorite guitarist to work with. We'll perform during the 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. timeslot at Uncommon Ground Cafe in Wrigleyville (1214 W. Grace, near Clark). I almost want to get on the phone and call everyone I think might be in town that evening. I want to say, "Please come to my gig. Every time I perform at Uncommon Ground I really enjoy it and am impressed with their excellent sound system and engineer, but I've never managed to fill the cafe even half full. Please come to my gig on Sunday night so I can reach half full or more." But that would be begging and would be unprofessional. I might do it anyway.

I'll perform mostly originals (including one brand new one, but I don't know why I'm saying it since it means nothing to anyone besides me and Neal. It amuses me when singers announce a song as "brand new" because for most of us our repertoire is so unknown that a brand new song sounds just like all the rest, so why bother announcing it?). Since it's close enough to the holidays, I'll also do one Christmas cover song that I'm sure you've never heard before and an original holiday song that I wrote years ago. It addresses a part of the holidays the mainstream never wants to pay any attention to: the loneliness of the season (in fact, I'd guess most people don't have a good time during this season, but I won't dwell on it).

So, if you're reading this before Sunday, Nov. 28th at 9:00 p.m. and you live in the Chicagoland area, consider yourself begged to. Neal Alger is an amazing guitarist and I'm a great singer, plus we're cute! And there's no cover, either, so stop by! (please)

Regina's Holiday Set
Sun Nov 28
9:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Uncommon Ground Cafe (Wrigleyville)
1214 W. Grace (near Clark)
Neal Alger on guitar
no cover

Please come!

Monday, November 22, 2004

I'M HIRED!

Yes, it's true: my long nightmare of 9 weeks of sleeping in, staying out late, performing, dating, and throwing dinner parties with lots of leftovers, is over. TOday I re-join the ranks of the employed. I'm excited to begin my brand new career in the restaurant business as a server and I'm particularly excited that I'm employed at a restaurant that's open on Christmas. Finally, I'll have plans that day! As a spinster with no family in the area, I never know what to do with major holidays, so I greatly look forward to being the cheerful waitress who happily works the holiday shifts!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

What Do Leftists Do Now?

Okay, now that Bush has been re-elected and the world has ended, etc. and I've gone through my despair-and-kleenex stage and then had my inspirational moment of "I helped make Wisconsin vote for Kerry. I am powerful. What can I do next?" it's time to actually start doing the doing. To that end I have been talking to people about where to begin my fledgling personal effort to make the world a better place. Here's what we've come up with so far (if any of this seems obvious and elementary, please bear with me. I need my process of discovery and discussion):

POLITICAL SYSTEM
Volunteer to work with congresspeople.
Become part of their support staff.
Research problems YOU think are important and draw their attention to them.
Write letters to your representatives about the issues you want them to act on (writing letters is much more powerful than we think because politicians know that one letter from a concerned person really represents a lot more people who just don’t bother to write).

GRASSROOTS
Donate to organizations with specific causes.
Volunteer with those organizations, helping to raise consciousness (and funds) about those causes.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Join the discussion about re-focusing the Democratic Party.
Prepare for 2006 and 2008 elections.
(This feels like a huge one to me and I don’t know how to break it down into smaller pieces. We didn’t go into a lot of discussion of this subject).

AS CONSUMERS
Look at the companies you do business with and find out who their political contributions go to. Go to http://www.opensecrets.org for this (and buzzflash?).
Avoid patronizing companies whose politics clash with your own.

Other parts of the discussion:

We also talked about the importance of identifying your personal core issues so you don’t get overwhelmed by the millions of good causes you can give to. Focus your actions and charitable donations this way so you don’t feel guilty about not giving to every good cause you receive info on.

Avoiding burnout:
It’s important to focus on specific acts that lead to measurable goals. For instance, I volunteered with the Kerry campaign, specifically working on Wisconsin’s electoral vote on November 2nd. That was a finite, measurable task that I could feel a sense of accomplishment about. Something like volunteering to end world hunger, while also a worthy effort, is harder to measure and feel a sense of accomplishment about. Figure out a smaller, measurable piece of it to focus on so you don’t eventually feel discouraged and burnt out.

Changing from rich, fat, stupid Americans to aware, involved, active Americans:
“My political responsibility begins with conquering denial of my disproportionate access to resources in a global context.” - rr.
We talked about how many Americans don’t become politically active because it’s painful to face how many resources we dominate at the expense of others in the world. But it’s important to work through that denial, and through the guilt that often follows it. Guilt is not a sustainable motivator and people will only embrace political awareness/activity if they are driven by positive things like hope. Guilt doesn’t go as far.

ITEM FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION:

Attend a Move On House Party on Sunday evening, November 21. I’ll be at one. Move On.org was instrumental in the 2004 election, and the grassroots network they have in place is ready to focus on other issues. At tomorrow’s house parties we’ll be discussing what issues are important to us and what we want to do next. The field is wide open and the network is in place. Come and help determine the focus! Go to http://action.moveonpac.org/future to find a house party near you.

Regina’s personal ending note:
The things I feel moved to do are attend a Move On house party and start writing letters to my reps about the things they should be working on. That’s where I will start.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion so far. It really is helping me focus on what’s possible, keep up my spirits, and feel the support of others. This process has to be communal for me or I won’t do it (maybe that’s true for many?). There will be more...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Election 2004 is not over yet

Look at this: because two election races have yet to be decided in Louisiana, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is pushing hard to get these last two Democratic hopefuls into Congress. Of course, they want donations, but they're willing to pay all food and lodging expenses (and possibly travel fare?) for anyone who's willing to head down to Louisiana right now and canvass for these last two seats. Oh, man! I could have done it again, but the timing's off. This week I began my job search in earnest and I'm currently considering two job offers. As of next week, I'll be among the employed again. Yes, I accept all congratulations, but this cuts short my political careeer as a national canvasser-for-hire.

Oh, well, it was a good ride while it lasted. Now I'll be experienced when it comes time to work on Dennis Kucinich's campaign again in 2008. Hillary's? Barak Obama's?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"Would you say music is your passion?"

Sometimes people who have just met me say things like, "So you really enjoy music?" I never know what to say to this. To me this question is similar to "So you really enjoy breathing?" Singing is simply what I'm hard-wired to do. It's not a choice, I don't evaluate it and I can't stop. Just as it wouldn't make sense to call breathing someone's hobby or a passion, it doesn't make sense for me to call singing a hobby or a passion. For me singing just is.

When people make comments about how hard it is to do music and how impressive it is that I stick with it, I also don't know what to say. Writing songs is part of how I process life and make sense of it. If I had no outlet or audience for any of my songs, I would still write them. It's just part of how I deal with things. I "stick with" music the same way I "stick with" breathing. How can I not? I admit that after I've written a song there are some conscious choices to be made, but they don't seem like hard ones. Once a song is done, it only makes sense to share it with someone else. If many people (including me) like it enough, then it makes sense to record it. Once it's recorded, I want to share it even more so I carry CD's around and sell them. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, George W. has to cut taxes, and I gotta sing.

Everyone does things that are impressive without realizing it. I'm floored by parenthood. Heck, I'm floored by girlfriend-hood. I'm also impressed by anyone who holds the same job for more than three years. I haven't managed that yet. And I'm impressed with accomplishments such as maintaining a car in the city, saving to buy a house, spending major holidays with people you're related to, and being one of those people who takes initiative. I see in help wanted ads this description of a person who's a "self-starter," "can work independently," and "takes initiative." I'm totally amazed by people who fit that description. Everyone does something that draws admiration yet feels to them as easy as breathing, or as easy as singing is for me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Sorry, Everybody Dot Com

I can't believe it's been two weeks since the election and I'm just finding out about this site www.sorryeverybody.com. The goal of the website is for us Americans to apologize, in photos, to the to the rest of the world for failing to get Bush out of office. Anyone can post a photo and it's heart-wrenching. There are not only photos of remorseful Americans, but also some of sympathetic foreigners who know we tried our best. If you ever feel the need to cry about something, but can't quite reach the tears, just browse this site.

note 2

I apologize for making anyone feel nervous with my suicide post. It was not a "cry for help," but a discussion of some things I think about. I appreciate the comments and emails of those who responded as if it were a cry for help. I know these things have to be taken seriously because you never know and it's better to respond as if it were a crisis than assume it's not when it is. But I'm okay.

I feel particularly grateful to Lawrence for his comment on my suicide post. Only his response didn't seem to have a "suicide is horrible/selfish/pointless, don't do it" tone to it. I appreciated his comment that the brain is just an organ like the liver and it doesn't have a supernatural dimension with a special power over the body. And I really liked this comment from Lawrence: "Suicide is not consistently preventable. What irks some left behind, is that they feel powerless. But their feelings are not the main point. What is most important to the suicidal person is that THEY feel empowered themselves to choose." THANK you. That is a huge part of why I'm discussing this at all. I need to see suicide as an option even if it's one I never consider. Another person who commented said he knows that the way a depressed person thinks cannot be argued or changed. That's true. When I'm depressed and convinced that I'm screwed for life, it's impossible to talk me out of it. Now, I know the true reality is that I always have choices and plenty of them. But when I'm in the shit, I believe the following: "There's absolutely nothing I can do to change anything." When I'm in that state, the option of suicide is empowering because if suicide is an option, then the statement "There's absolutely nothing I can do to change anything." becomes false. Do you see? Do you see why I need that? Anybody?

I am an angry person. I inherited rage and have added to it over the last 38 years. I know suicide is an act of anger and revenge. I know it's the stupidest thing you can do with your life. I know it devastates those who are left behind. I know that if you believe in "karma" or "reincarnation" or whatever, suicide only prolongs the pain your soul stays in after you're dead (as ridiculous as that sounds to me, there are those who believe it). I know it's a bad idea, doesn't solve anything, some see it as a "permanent solution to a temporary problem" (I don't believe that either), etc. etc. I know, I know. And I still need to hold it in my mind as an option for those times when I need to see something as an option.

I also wonder if anyone is interested in engaging on this subject in a more philosophical way? If I promise, promise, promise that I'm not writing these things because I've bought the razor blades, can someone respond to me as if this is an intellectual exercise, like a college philosophy class assignment? If a person has a "God"-given RIGHT to live, doesn't a person also have a "God"-given right to die? Are we not the stewards of our own futures? Is it my right to decide everything else I do, but not my right to end it all? Is a human being not entitled to choose their death the same way a human being is entitled to choose their own life? There are people willing to break the law and go to jail and die in order to stop abortions because they believe every fetus deserves a chance to live. Are we not also allowed a chance to die?

This the last thing Lawrence wrote that I like: "Hopelessness is not necessarily rational, but then neither is hope." Lawrence is starting his own blog. I'll be watching for it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Hire Me

My last day at my last job was in Septemeber. Since then I have lazily looked for work and applied to some regular 9-to-5 jobs, but I was very distracted by the election. After volunteering six straight days to the end of the Kerry campaign, I am finally ready to turn to the job hunt with full attention and energy. Today I go out and "pound the pavement." My current goal is a an entry-level job in a restaurant. Yes, I'd like to get into food service. Why? Because it's the best way I can think of to earn a living but not have to be up early in the morning. I'm very devoted to my music and the best thing for it is to get out to the open mic's and stay visible to other musicians and see live music and play regular gigs, etc. The only drawback is that I have no restaurant experience, so I guess I'm looking for a hostessing job or a serving job that will train me. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 12, 2004

note

Okay, look: forget about the suicide thing. I'm beginning to regret having posted it. I don't mean to bring people down or make their lives more complicated with yet another nuanced subject to develop an opinion on. I just get angry sometimes that mental illness is seen as completely different from "physical" illness even though mental illness actually has physical causes and should get the same sympathy as "physical" illness. For anyone with close family or, worse, dependents, suicide has devastating effects and should be avoided if at all possible. And those of us who don't have close family or any dependents...well, I don't know....it doesn't seem like as many people would notice if we disappeared...

Anyway, for the record, I would be against suicide in most cases...unless the person is really, really in unbearable emotional pain. In that case, I have to say I still believe the ending of an individual's life should really be left up to the individual and I'm puzzled at how anyone can think otherwise.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

In Defense of Suicide

Yes, it's Regina's "anything goes" blog, where anything on her mind ends up in print for the whole world to see. Even I feel self-conscious about how different today's post is from the previous one, but here it is anyway: what I've been thinking about today. This is the article that prompted me to publish today's post: "Author Iris Chang Found Dead from Self-Inflicted Gunshot Along California Highway.".

There are plenty of people who believe that no life should ever be terminated, whether it's an embryo, the aged and infirm or those "at death's door." This piece of writing does not address them. It addresses those who see euthanasia as a viable alternative for those who live in great physical pain from a life-threatening disease. I agree that a person should have control over her own life and be allowed to make all major decisions regarding that life. If someone is in unbearable pain for which there is no remedy, and knows she'll be in that pain until death, she should have every right to decide whether the rest of her terminally ill life should be suffered or cut short. But if helping to facilitate the death of someone in that situation is merciful, this consideration should also allowed to those who suffer from mental and emotional pain.

Our culture has a strong prejudice against the very idea of mental illness as we can see in our health care system that only recently has begun accepting mental illness as a condition covered by their policies. Mental illness affects almost all of us, whether as part of our family secrets or because many that we see each day, including many of the street people we try to ignore, are people who don't have the money or health care to stay on their medication. Mental illnesses are often seen as character flaws that should be overcome with discipline and a strong will. Too many people still don't know that mental disorders are genetically influenced, biologically determined and can be helped when drugs balance out the body chemistry.

Maybe when mental disorders are seen as legitimate, treatable illnesses our opinions will stretch to include them in our list of diseases that can make life unbearable. And when that happens maybe we'll look with more sympathy at the mentally diseased who just can't take the emotional pain that drugs can't help. If we accept the euthanasia decision of someone in unbearable physical pain, we should be able to accept a similar decision by someone who suffers from unbearable emotional pain and mental torment.

Some would probably say that if suicidal tendencies are part of the symptoms of a mental disorder, then that symptom should be treated rather than accommodated. This view nullifies the person's right to decide her own treatment. Many can accept the decision of a cancer patient who chooses not to undergo treatment, but instead live out her life "naturally" and die earlier than she would have with treatment. If that's acceptable, why can't a person with mental illness likewise choose not to accept treatment and die earlier than she would have with treatment? It's wrong that a disease that attacks the cells of the body is seen as a legitimate reason for euthanasia but a disease that destroys the chemical balance of the brain is not. Just as a person with a terminal disease might have a strong will to live that the pain eventually overpowers, so a person with a major mental disorder might have a strong will to live that the pain eventually overpowers. Why isn't that seen as legitimate?

Some would argue that the difference between a physical disease like cancer and a mental disease like depression is that cancer doesn't affect the very organ with which decisions are made, and thus a cancer patient's decision to die is more of a reasoned choice. They might further argue that since the nature of depression distorts one's perception of reality, a depressive is fundamentally unable to make major life-or-death decisions. But to deny a depressive the option of suicide is like denying a person in extreme, terminal pain the option of painkillers. Let's say the cancer patient has always been a reasonable person who would never do anything illegal or that might cause long-term addiction or harm to herself. Consider that while in unbearable pain, that person might demand painkillers, even if she knows the drugs are illegal or addicting or harmful in the long-term. In the moment of extreme and unrelenting physical pain, a person's reasoned judgment can certainly be clouded or absent, but that's no reason to deny them the relief they are unable to objectively consider. Likewise, a depressive's desire for suicide should not be ruled out just because the depressive isn't "in her right mind." Who's to say a depressive wanting to die is any less in her right mind than a cancer patient in a delirium of physical agony? I believe a person in extreme and unbearable mental and emotional pain should be given the same access to relief as a cancer patient. Judging a mentally disordered person as unfit to decide her own fate is the ultimate unfair dehumanization.

I know suicidal tendencies are an aberration of human nature in which the desire to die must overcome the much more basic instinct to survive. But chronic, unbearable pain sometimes does overcome the survival instinct. If we accept that a patient with nothing to live for but prolonged physical agony is capable of deciding her treatment and death, then we must accept that a patient with nothing to live for but prolonged mental agony is also capable of deciding her treatment and death. The right to life must include each individual having the right to live or die as she chooses.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Bra Freedom

(No, this has nothing to do with the election. Life goes on.)

I have stopped wearing a bra. I just can't be bothered with them anymore: they're uncomfortable, expensive and structurally ridiculous when you really think about it. Imagine a male equivalent that all men were expected to wear at all times, such as a cup to hold the testicles in place. Wouldn't that seem superfluous? And yet we believe bras actually serve a useful purpose. Why do the breasts need to be held in place? They won't fall off. Maybe people think that if I don't wear a bra, my breasts will become saggy and droopy and the tissues will be damaged with strong force such as when I jog. I don't buy it. And even if that were true, what difference does it make? If my breasts droop or fall off or whatever, so what? No one's using 'em and I don't expect anyone will be, so the shape they're in doesn't matter. I'm tired of lugging them around and having to keep them encased in this ridiculous structure that mainly exists to make the breasts look more attractive to men. That's no longer a priority for me.

And if not wearing a bra makes me seem tacky or slutty, let's remember that not so long ago the standards were reversed: just a couple of generations ago, "good girls" didn't wear bras and the ones that did risked being seen as cheap. Most women didn't wear brassieres and the ones that did were usually prostitutes, presenting their wares.

So, no bra for me! And I make a new goal of losing weight until I no longer have any chest at all. Ah, freedom...!

Friday, November 05, 2004

17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists (by Michael Moore)

Dear Friends,

Ok, it sucks. Really sucks. But before you go and cash it all in, let's, in
the words of Monty Python, 'always look on the bright side of life!' There
IS some good news from Tuesday's election.

Here are 17 reasons not to slit your wrists:

1. It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.

2. Bush's victory was the NARROWEST win for a sitting president since
Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults
(Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always
wrong and you should never listen to them.

4. In spite of Bush's win, the majority of Americans still think the
country is headed in the wrong direction (56%), think the war wasn't worth fighting (51%), and don't approve of the job George W. Bush is doing (52%). (Note to foreigners: Don't try to figure this one out.
It's an American thing, like Pop Tarts.)

5. The Republicans will not have a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority in the
Senate. If the Democrats do their job, Bush won't be able to pack the
Supreme Court with right-wing ideologues. Did I say "if the Democrats do
their job?" Um, maybe better to scratch this one.

6. Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of
our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West
Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that's a start. We've got most of the fresh water,
all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in
lava. And no more show tunes!

7. Once again we are reminded that the buckeye is a nut, and not just any
old nut -- a poisonous nut. A great nation was felled by a poisonous nut.
May Ohio State pay dearly this Saturday when it faces Michigan.

8. 88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will
no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If
you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly
golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.

9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married
in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't
have to buy now.

10. Five more African Americans were elected as members of Congress,
including the return of Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. It's always good to
have more blacks in there fighting for us and doing the job our candidates
can't.

11. The CEO of Coors was defeated for Senate in Colorado. Drink up!

12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.

13. At the state legislative level, Democrats picked up a net of at least 3
chambers in Tuesday's elections. Of the 98 partisan-controlled state
legislative chambers (house/assembly and senate), Democrats went into the
2004 elections in control of 44 chambers, Republicans controlled 53
chambers, and 1 chamber was tied. After Tuesday, Democrats now control 47
chambers, Republicans control 49 chambers, 1 chamber is tied and 1 chamber
(Montana House) is still undecided.

14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than
the one he's having this week. It's all downhill for him from here on out --
and, more significantly, he's just not going to want to do all the hard work
that will be expected of him. It'll be like everyone's last month in 12th
grade -- you've already made it, so it's party time! Perhaps he'll treat the
next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the
ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn't he? He's already proved his
point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.

15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very
dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two
scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn't ever need to pander to the
Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear
that he should spend these last four years building "a legacy" so that
history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for
too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and
arrogant -- and thus, reckless -- that he will commit a blunder of such
major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from
office.

16. There are nearly 300 million Americans -- 200 million of them of voting
age. We only lost by three and a half million! That's not a landslide -- it
means we're almost there. Imagine losing by 20 million. If you had 58 yards
to go before you reached the goal line and then you barreled down 55 of
those yards, would you stop on the three yard line, pick up the ball and go
home crying -- especially when you get to start the next down on the three
yard line? Of course not! Buck up! Have hope! More sports analogies are
coming!!!

17. Finally and most importantly, over 55 million Americans voted for the
candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate." That's more than the total
number of voters who voted for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore.
Again, more people voted for Kerry than Reagan. If the media are looking for
a trend it should be this -- that so many Americans were, for the first time
since Kennedy, willing to vote for an out-and-out liberal. The country has
always been filled with evangelicals -- that is not news. What IS news is
that so many people have shifted toward a Massachusetts liberal. In fact,
that's BIG news. Which means, don't expect the mainstream media, the ones
who brought you the Iraq War, to ever report the real truth about November
2, 2004. In fact, it's better that they don't. We'll need the element of
surprise in 2008.

Feeling better? I hope so. As my friend Mort wrote me yesterday, "My
Romanian grandfather used to say to me, 'Remember, Morton, this is such a
wonderful country  -- it doesn't even need a president!'"

But it needs us. Rest up, I'll write you again tomorrow.

Yours,

Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
www.michaelmoore.com

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"NOW your vote doesn't count."

The title of this post quotes from the South Park episode that parodied the 2004 election. If you read my previous post, you can see that as discouraged as I've felt, I don't believe I worked hard for nothing. We did win Wisconsin. The volunteers in Iowa, now THEY worked hard for nothing. Kerry has conceded and Bush has started planning his new administration, but today they were still counting ballots in Iowa, can you believe it? Now those are some voters who can wonder why they bothered to go to the polls. Very, very sad for anyone who put any effort into the Iowa campaign.

Here's an excellent article, "Lessons learned from this election" by someone with some very concrete plans for getting the Democratic party ready for 2008. He focuses on fighting fire with fire, learning dirty pool strategies from the Republicans, and wielding language for OUR purposes.

reg

This Is What We Do Next

12:48 p.m. Wednesday, November 3, 2004

I'm typing this into my laptop as I ride back to Chicago on the day after the election. John Kerry and John Edwards must feel like their whole lives are lying around them in pieces, everything disrupted and pointed towards a White House win that didn't happen. Didn't Edwards give up his congressional seat? I wonder what he'll do now.

I guess I think about Kerry and Edwards and their families at this moment so I won't think about how I feel. I'm so disappointed in my country right now. We are that scared. We are. I didn't want to believe it, but we are. I feel ashamed before the international community. This is my country and my president and I have to own them. I am a part of this and there's no living in denial about it, as I have for the past four years. I also feel despair, like I'm trapped inside a nightmare that I used all my energy to try to escape.

On election day I canvassed and canvassed, three shifts of hustling up and down residential streets, knocking on dozens and dozens of doors, searching for any Kerry people who hadn't voted yet. I canvassed until it was dark, until a light rain began to fall, until the vague tiredness in my body became achyness and then an almost flu-like exhaustion. I squinted at darkened houses, trying to make out addresses with a flashlight and knocked on the doors of residents were still at work or already at the polls. I hung dozens of pro-Kerry door-hangers, hoping they'd be part of a Kerry win and faced stone-faced Bush voters in between the Kerry supporters. I believed and I hoped and I believed and I thought I knew.

Finally, unable to squeeze any more work out of my body, I returned to headquarters. At the Wausau victory party I used my daypack as a pillow and laid down to watch the early CNN broadcast. Tables and chairs were set up and many people crowded the free-beer-and-soda bar, but I lay myself right down on the hardwood floor because I really felt sick and didn't even want to sit up anymore. With my physical strength depleted, discouragement and doubt overtook me. I pitied myself for working so hard when it was all about to fall apart, and I wondered where these dark thoughts were coming from. I still had to believe that Kerry was going to win. He had to because electing the other was unthinkable.

What do we do when the unthinkable happens? Live in denial for a while, rail about it, remember again that there is no god. And then we get on with life. Our individual lives, but also life in general. On Sunday night I got caught up in a PBS biography of Robert Kennedy's life. I learned of his reaction to the violent racism of the southern whites and how he aligned himself with the civil rights protesters. I saw how he made a difference in the lives of the poor in Bedford-Stuyvesent, New York and how he supported the United Farm Workers in California. I never knew about Robert Kennedy's awakening to the plight of the disenfranchised and his determination to work on their behalf. I never understood that losing him was almost worse than losing his brother because Robert Kennedy had just taken ownership of his own life and determined its direction and was poised to begin what would have been a rich and uniquely altruistic political career.

After seeing that biography, I thought about all the things Robert Kennedy might have done and all the things that countless others could have gone on to accomplish in his absence, but didn't. Reading Anna Quindlen's observations (in Newsweek) of how little we as an American public care about the nightmares of countries like Sudan also makes me consider how much work there is to be done, so why not do it? What have I been doing with my life and my narrow attention? I consider how much time I carved out of my life to work for the unseating of President Bush, and I wonder if I'll let this political pulse die in me now that this short-term goal is over. Unaccomplished, but over.

This is my hope: that the vision and determination that we poured into Kerry's campaign, we will now direct towards everything else there is to do, from the poverty-level families in our own cities to the Sudanese that are being systematically killed and raped in Darfur. I have learned something absolutely brand new about myself in the last couple of months: in the face of crisis, once I make the connection between the situation and my own two hands, I act. I have the time to act, I have the energy to act and I have the resources to #$%-damn act. I had just never realized the connection before. I just hadn't realized that what I do as an individual does affect others and can affect the world. My potential to affect others is being wasted every year that I assume that my responsibility as a human being only goes as far as the ends of my own fingertips.

I am 38 years old and it's time to get on with it: time to get on with a global focus that takes me outside of my own lonely life. With no husband and no dependents, what else to I have to spend my time on? If I could squeeze six days out of my life to help successfully deliver Wisconsin to the Democrats, what else can I do? In my last post, I wrote that I couldn't control the election, but I could control my participation in it. Robert Kennedy and countless other activists are dead, Kerry's campaign and the Democratic plan to re-take the Senate lie in tatters, but I'm still standing. I'm still standing and although I can't control the world, I can control my participation in it. Now all I have to do is decide what to work on next.

Here's another hopeful point of view that emphasizes straightening out the anemic Democratic Party, for god's sake.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

note

And I'm sure I'll stop crying soon.

Worst Possibility Didn't Happen

At least I'll be able to sleep tonight knowing I honestly did what I could to get George Bush out of office. That's way more than most Americans can say. I'm grateful for my brilliance that defined my personal success in this election: I can't control the election, but I can control my participation in it. And I did good. Wisconsin went Democrat. It's just that Wisconsin wasn't enough.

I feel bad for the canvassers, including me, who travelled to Wisconsin and worked hard but kicked ourselves today because we think we should have gone to Ohio. We shouldn't blame ourselves. We were called and we came forth and we did our job: we won Wisconsin. It just wasn't enough.

Wisconsin Won

Now I lay me down to rest
a second time we've failed the test
and when the world wants us to burn
I'll shrug and know it's just our turn.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Winning Wisconsin, Part 5

[BTW: many thanks to my "partner" who drove here from Chicago with me and who is sharing a hotel room with me and who's as big a cybergeek as I am. I'd never met her before. We were paired by Illinois for Kerry who organized this whole "vacation." We both brought laptops with us, but she actually has the equipment to log on from our hotel room. I'm SO GLAD or else I'd be cyberless for 6 whole days - unacceptable!!]

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has sent me encouraging emails and comments. It really helps to know you appreciate my efforts out here. And it makes me feel less lonely (Wausau reminds me of Ithaca: population 38,000 and out in the middle of nowhere). So thank you!

Today I and two other Chicago canvassers headed out to Tomohawk, WI. I canvassed 20 houses. Of those that were home and willing to talk, 5 were Kerry voters and 1 was Bush. One woman answered the door, took one look at my Kerry button and said, “We’re not interested,” and closed the door. Some people are like that and I’m used to it by now. Some are really, really, really sick of the whole election.

As I watch tv back at the hotel, I can see why. Sometimes an entire commercial break is a political ad for Kerry, then one for Bush, then one for Kerry, then one for Bush, then back to the program. Of course, these ads aren’t really “for” anyone: it would be more accurate to say they’re “against Bush” and “against Kerry,” etc. It’s bad. I can’t imagine watching tv and having to put up with this for months. It’s been months of these increasingly emotional ads. When I add to that the number of phone calls and canvassers the average Wisconite has had by this point, I feel sympathy for the people who close the door on me.

We came back to the headquarters after Tomohawk (which was a 40 minute drive away), had cold pizza and cookies, and it was back out to canvass in Wausau. Tonight we were going back to the houses where there was no answer before. I talked to a few more Kerry people, including a man who said he wanted to vote for Kerry, but he’s a hunter and he heard Kerry is going to take people’s guns away. I told him Kerry is a hunter, too, and has been since he was a boy and has no intention of taking people’s guns away. I also said that he does have the right to bear arms and that’s a constitutional right. I never expected to be saying pro-gun stuff like that! Euw. Oh, well. He kept saying, worriedly, that he’s a hunter and each time he did I said that Kerry’s a hunter, too. I think he was reassured by the end of our exchange. I told him one thing that I truly do believe: I said, “If everyone who says they’re going to vote for Kerry actually does vote for Kerry tomorrow, he’s in. Kerry will win.”

After canvassing all day, some of us prepared door-hanger literature to drop off for tomorrow. I thought we'd be making more phone calls, but apparently all calls have been made. The organizers were saying that we are really on top of everything right now. In fact, not only are we not rushing around at the last minute, but the organizers are triple checking to make sure they haven't missed anything because we are so well-accomplished in our phone calling and canvassing.

Tonight I and the other volunteers feel happy, optimistic, excited about election day, “E-Day." We know Kerry’s going to win and it’s going to be so great to celebrate it here in Wisconsin. These people have worked HARD. There will be a big victory party and I’m looking forward to being able to relax and stop knocking on people’s doors! The weather has been excellent, which is to say it’s been dry and not too cold. I’m SO GLAD there has been so little rain. But tonight it was in the 30’s and that was a bit chilly. I have to be healthy for my gig this Saturday at the Red Line Tap!

Here’s the plan for me for tomorrow:

7:00 a.m. “Visibility” which means waving signs and showing great enthusiasm for Kerry at the busiest intersection in Wausua. Getting the spirit up for Kerry is important in this relatively conservative area.

10 am to 7:30 pm CANVASS, CANVASS, CANVASS and call, call, call. Anyone we find at home during the day who hasn’t voted we beg, cajole and wheedle to the polling booth because the poll lines will be LONG after work. We go back and re-call and/or re-visit every single home where we have identified a Kerry voter. Every single one. We make sure they vote. Whatever it takes, we get very single one who said they would support Kerry to the poll by 8 pm when the Wisconsin polls close. Maybe there will be a lunch break, maybe not, who knows. We’ll probably grab slices of donated pizza and keep going through the afternoon and evening.

7:30 pm Stop canvassing and calling. Go back to headquarters and watch giant tv at our Wausau Kerry Victory Party!

Hope for final announcement of Kerry’s victory by midnight. Relish Bush’s concession speech. KNOW WE HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD.

I’ll blog again after Kerry’s been elected….! It’s like Christmas eve!

Winning Wisconsin, Pt 4

We had to stop canvassing/calling during the Packers game because any campaign that interrupts a Packers Sunday will do their cause more harm than good. The Packers won, of course, because Kerry's going to win, too.

I canvassed from 3:30 until after dark. I was out there with the trick-or-treaters which was fun, but these badly lit streets and spooky houses were not fun. I felt afraid that I’d twist an ankle on an uneven flight of stairs and as the houses began to look more and more like abandoned frame houses from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remember I was alone), I decided I’d had enough. It was a bit scarier than I’d like.

Out of 45 houses, 16 were voting Kerry, 3 were voting Bush. I got the meanest Bushie yet. This guy opened the door, heard my “Hi, I’m Regina and I’m with the Wisconsin Democrat Coordinated Campaign. Can we count on your vote for Kerry on Tuesday?”

“Do I look that dumb?” he growled. I didn’t get it at first and smiled back, but he said, “I’m serious: do I look that stupid? Do you really think I’m voting for Kerry?”

I smiled brightly and said, “I am.”

“Well, you look that stupid.” I hesitated, then asked, “So, you’re voting for Bush?”

“You know it was you people that I saw out there the other night yelling at children and throwing things and spitting on them.” I had no idea what he was talking about, so I just said, “Oh no, that’s terrible,” and I turned away to leave.

“That was your people! Spitting on little kids!” he called after me. I said again, “Oh no, that’s terrible,” and kept moving.

“It’s a shame what you all are doing!” I was at the sidewalk now. I said in the exact same tone of voice “Oh no, that’s terrible,” and walked away. He was quite worked up by now.

Maybe the Bushies are getting meaner as they realize it’s all over for Bush. And here I go again, two more days of canvassing!