Confession

I saw my older sister this weekend.  We have a strained relationship.  She tends to want to talk about childhood hardships and suffering while I choose to focus on the future.  Conversations with her are the emotional equivalent of scab removal from large wounds that I forget exist until I see her.

That being written, I don’t know where to start.  I am just feeling overwhelming compelled to write this.

I don’t remember much from my childhood.  My parents divorced when I was very young, probably around 4.

This weekend, my sister shared a memory with me that made me cry.  Not because I could remember it, but because I knew it was true despite the lack of memory.  That probably doesn’t make sense but I don’t know how else to explain it.

She said I was crying one night.  And I wasn’t a “cry baby” so my crying was notable.  My biological father went into the room where I was sleeping, on the floor, and he “beat the hell out of me” because he had to get up early the next morning for work.  Despite being hit, I continued to sob and scream, inconsolable.  My mother came into the room and decided to take me to the hospital.  This is a big deal because most of my life, we did not go to doctors or the hospital.

Now this part I do remember.  I remember being rushed down a brightly lit hospital hallway on a gurney.  I remember crying.  I remember being given a fireman’s hat and thinking that was the most pointless thing ever.

That is, of course, all I remember.

I was suffering from appendicitis.  They took my appendix out.  My sister said I was bruised on my bottom, legs and arms.  In hindsight, she was surprised they let me go home after the surgery.

When my sister told me about my dad hitting me, I cried without really knowing I was crying.  The tears came and yet I felt nothing.

She then shared that it was obvious I was sexually abused because whenever I came home from a visit with my dad, I was masturbating.  Five years old and masturbating against the vacuum and on the back of the sofa.  I asked her to stop talking about that because it was deeply humiliating.  She said it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t help it.  I know she is right but the shame is so profound, I lack the words tonight to express it.

And yet, for some reason, I felt the need to tell her about the needles.

(Bear with me, because this makes no sense and maybe you, dear reader, can tell me what the needles mean.)

I was 28 and was having severe abdominal pains.  I finally went to the ER.  They x-rayed my stomach.  The x-rays showed what looks like two sewing needles in my lower intestines.  They had me drink a substance to promote bowel movement and then took the x-rays again.  The needles had not moved.  So they took a CT scan.  One needle appears to be imbedded in my tailbone and the other in my right butt cheek.

Now this is where it gets weird.  Or interesting.  Or something.  Part of my right butt cheek is missing.  I have a divot, so to speak, so the two cheeks are not the same shape.  I was told when I was young that a dog bit me on the butt.  I always thought it was weird that I was not afraid of dogs considering I was supposedly the victim of a dog attack.

I called my mother and I asked her if she actually WITNESSED the alleged dog attack.  She said no.  I came back from a visit with my father.  I was six or seven.  She took me upstairs to shower.  When she was cleaning me, she saw a wound on my right butt cheek.  She asked me what happened and I told her that I had no idea what she was talking about.  I had already blocked out what happened apparently.  She noted that it looked painful yet I exhibited no pain.  She called my father and he said I had been bit by a dog.  Of course, now we know that is not true.  Something happened and I have two metal objects in my butt cheek and tail bone.  I wish I could tell you that I knew what happened but I still do not.

My sister said she believed my dad hurt me to hurt our mother.

A few years later, when I was pregnant with my second child, the doctors wanted me to get an MRI (I had a difficult pregnancy).  I was filling out the MRI paperwork when I saw the question about metal objects in my body.  I told them that there may be two metal objects inside of me.  I was denied the MRI because the MRI could have killed me and/or my unborn child by pulling the metal through my body toward the magnet of the machine.  That really pissed me off because it was only through chance that I learned about the needles two years earlier.

I don’t know why I am writing this.  I guess I am just hurting and I am hoping that by admitting that I was hurt by my father, in sick ways, maybe I can start healing.

You see, I have few memories before the age of twelve.  Most are bad.  Like my dad hitting me when I knocked over his glass of alcohol.  Or my dad calling me into the bathroom to take a bath with him.  He was naked and I was 11.  I was confused and scared.  I left the bathroom, called my step dad’s parents and asked them to come get me and they did.

I never saw my dad again.

I don’t ever talk about or even think about my childhood, which was also marked by poverty, homelessness and what I now see as mental illness by my mother.  But I don’t focus on the past.  I have always focused on the future.  I never saw the point of focusing on the past.  It is done and over with.  Thinking about it doesn’t change it, does it?

Yet here I am, at 9 p.m. drinking wine and reflecting on the fact that I self-medicate with food and/or wine.  And I feel like my heart is breaking and I don’t really know why.  I just know I’m lonely and my heart hurts.  And maybe I need to say out loud that I was sexually and physically abused by my father.  And I need a therapist who can help me get over this because even though I NEVER think or talk about it, it might just be the reason I engage in repeated destructive behavior.  Or not.

I don’t know.  I just know I am in pain and I don’t usually acknowledge that.  But denying the pain doesn’t make it go away, it just makes it manifest in sneaky ways… in ways that prevent me from loving myself, forgiving myself, protecting myself.

I hope this journal entry is the first step in a much bigger process.

Please don’t pity or feel sorry for me.  There is contempt in pity and I have plenty of that (contempt) for myself.  What I need to learn is how to love and care for myself… how to overcome the shame of actions I could not control…  because although those actions do not control me today, the shame undoubtedly does.

If you have read this far, thank you.  I know I am not alone and I am hoping my confession tonight will help others know they are not alone either.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  This blog was that one step for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shut Up and Get Over It

I support Hillary Clinton as much today as when I voted for her.  In light of the latest round of Hillary attacks, I want to explain why I believe in her as much as I do.

I identify with Hillary.

Hillary is flawed but Hillary is a fighter. The fighter in me recognizes and respects the fighter in her. 

see in Hillary the resilience that keeps women alive around the world. In fact, I believe Hillary is offensive and threatening because she is the display and embodiment of the strength that quietly resides in every woman.

Hillary Clinton’s candidacy was evidence of the intelligence and independence that many men fear exists in the women around them.


Hillary exhibits on a public stage the same sheer will that enables women every day to survive sexual assault, sexual harassment, sex-based discrimination, domestic violence, social trivialization and professional marginalization. The facts may vary, but in many ways, the story is the same.

Hillary remains standing despite attacks on her character, her gender, her appearance, her motives, and her marriage.


Hillary remains steady despite the attacks on her performance not only as a politician, but as a wife and mother as well.

Although my background and life path differs from Hillary Clinton’s, I nonetheless identify with her when she is assailed by people who want her to suffer and be shamed for having the audacity to not only survive, but to fight for that survival.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect, but neither is anyone else.


Hillary’s detractors are now attacking her book and the related tour, saying that she should just shut up and get over having the presidency stolen from her.


That’s good advice actually for her detractors. 


This is Hillary’s life and it is her story to tell.


Shut up and get over it.

All Politics Are Local (Reflections on an Election)

I’ll be honest, I had no idea what I signed up for when I submitted my paperwork to run on the last filing day. I have learned a great deal and I would like to share these lessons with you.

 

1. Nonpartisan elections are surprisingly political.

 

2. The politics within one’s own party can be worse than the politics between the parties. Moreover, the politics within our own parties are notably more painful because it is like having a fight with a loved one rather than a stranger. I don’t care what a stranger says about me, but I care a great deal about what a friend or loved one says.

 

3. You will like some candidates on the other side as much as you like some on your own side. This should not be a source of discord and yet it usually is.

 

In the last three months, I have befriended candidates and candidate spouses, some of whom were on a slate or affiliated with a group of candidates other than my own. Party or slate loyalty should not, and does not, preclude genuine respect or affection for anyone else.

 

I consider myself to be incredibly blessed by these new friendships, some of which may be short-lived, but others I expect to be long-term. In either case, however, my life has been enriched by these relationships.

 

4. Even though I look at my campaign and identify many missteps and mistakes, I am comforted by knowing that I was not alone.

 

I have a great deal of respect for every person who ran their race while I ran mine. In particular, I feel a deep bond with the many candidates who, like myself, had never run for office before. Together, we navigated the choppy waters of local politics. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday night, I am proud of all of us.

 

5. I have been humbled by the people who have supported me in this process. I wish I had the words to convey my gratitude to each and every person who has given me (and my campaign) their time, their attention, their support, and their money. Every kind word, every phone call made, every block walked, every person my name was passed to, every dollar donated… I am grateful for every single one of these things. I am grateful to all of you.

 

6. You will anger people without trying to and you will be misunderstood, more than once. The people who matter are the people who come to you directly to address these instances. Some people, however, will not do that and you have to let those misunderstandings, and those people, go.

 

7. Politically active people are passionate people. Conflict is inevitable. But forgiveness follows (or should follow) in short order because we are essentially a family. The people who piss me off the most are also the people for whom I feel a great affection.

 

Dysfunctional or not, I love the misfits of my party. I can only hope the feeling is mutual.

All Politics Are Local (Early Voting)

Early voting: Day One

I started at CP Library. A.V. (Rep candidate for city council) and A.R. (Tea Party candidate for city council) were both there with three volunteers each. The volunteers had set up camping chairs and coolers. Very well organized. (Naturally.)  In addition, AV had two firefighters poll greeting for him (nice touch).

Most of the people who came to vote were Republicans who eagerly accepted the tea party slate sheet from AR. I kept overhearing about keeping our growing ciry “suburban”

I saw a series of candidate yard signs that had been pulled out and put against a tree. Mostly Dems but also three Republicans. I put everyone’s signs back up and left.

Next stop was the school district’s adminstrative building with volunteer Laura. I was grilled by a voter who was clearly conservative. It was fine but I know he didn’t like ANY of my answers.  (Damn you bonds!!)

I then went to SH Library.  Again, all the voters seemed to be conservative. 

 I’m not going to lie, it was a bummer.

I lost 15 minutes of my life that I will never get back to a woman who thinks that boys should use the boys room and girls should use the girls room and we are either male or female and none of this “it” nonsense.  She said she is gunning to replace the current mayor because he surreptitiously passed a law that “lets boys go into the girls bathroom!”  (Oh, and she will never shop at Target again, FYI.)  She was practically frothing at the mouth.

When I pretended my phone was vibrating, she moved on to the tea party person and I could hear the sheer delight of two hate mongers who have found each other after being adrift in a dirty sea of kindness, acceptance and civility.

The highlight, however, was when another woman came up and said, “just tell me who the conservatives are… so I can not vote for them.” That was great. I stepped in and pulled her away from the other poll greeters because she was clearly mine. 🙂

The second highlight was turning to the tea party guy, grabbing one of his handouts, turning to her and saying “these are the people you DON’T want to vote for.” (This was highly satisfying because: 1) the tea party goon heard me; and 2) the handout was really nice and laminated… i.e. not cheap.)

Outside of that, everyone else that came was conservative. They hate apartments, they hate equality, they hate protesters.

Finally, I returned to the first library with my son. He was tasked with approaching voters to give them my card. Nothing warms a candidate’s heart more than an ambivalent teen saying, with no enthusiasm, “vote for my mom. She’s great.” I actually started to worry that he was making people less likely to vote for me.

N. K. (Tea Party candidate for school board) was also poll greeting. I got an earful about a dem supporting sending out a PR piece about NK being a creationist. It took every ounce of restraint I had to not say, “that was nothing, wait until you see the one comparing the local tea party to the KKK.” 

Speaking of which, word on the street is that my opponent, JR., is not supported strongly by the right.  All I know is that she is on a tea party slate.  I want to win but I’m not prepared to sell my soul to do it.

This is what Dallas looks like…

And so the fight continues from Northern Texas.

Tonight, I took my son (13) to Terminal D at DFW Airport to protest Donald Trump’s refusal to comply with the federal court order to allow green card and visa holding foreign nationals to enter the US.  I was picked up by fellow resisters Margie and Laura, two women I met on the lonely Dealey Plaza protest in December.

I wasn’t planning on going but decided to at the last minute, causing me to engage in my now trademark mad dash sign making process with unsuitable tools (like acrylic paint, which sounds like it would work but it’s not great as a sign-making medium).

My son proved less malleable this time around as I tried to foist upon him a sign that read, “President must comply with court order.”  He stood his ground and insisted on holding the “Trump is Anti-American” sign, admittedly the catchier of the two.  There is a real art to this sign making business.  Not an art I’ve mastered, of course, but other people are killing it.

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This face says, “my mom’s a lawyer and she made my sign.”

My fellow resisters picked us up around 4.  Margie brought her 13 year old son, an industrious young man who had the foresight to actually video tape all of these events with a video camera and not with a cell phone that would die an hour into one’s efforts to document the beauty of civil unrest.  (Yes, that was me.)

Laura brought her 17 year old daughter, who IS mastering the art of sign making because her sign read, “The Greatest Commandment of All is Love” and it was beautiful.

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Sorry, this is the only pic I have of her great sign.

I sat in the back with the three teens and was subjected to comments like, “Facebook has been taken over by adults.”  Just for laughs I told them that being an adult was awesome.  (Not to get too political here, but they should have the same unrealistic expectations about how cool that is as my generation did.)

We parked in the garage and as we unloaded our signs from the trunk, I saw that Margie had been accumulating sign making tools.  She had poster boards of various sizes, at least a dozen wide markers of various colors, small dowels and tape.  It was quite impressive and a testament to the mistake of pissing mothers off.

We, the women who start off carrying a small human’s weight of accouterments for our infants, frequently spend the rest of our lives being trying to be prepared while mobile.  If we don’t have something the first time around, you know we will have it the second time around. (In fact, when my phone died, Margie reported that she had a portable charger in her backpack.  I marveled at how prepared she was, to which she responded, “I’m getting better as I go!”  Aren’t we all?)

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In the parking garage!

We went to the main floor in terminal D, passed baggage claim and walked down a long, wide hallway toward arrivals.  On our way, we passed Muslims in prayer, persons lined up along the walls who had clearly been there for hours (if not since Saturday), and small children sleeping on the chairs nailed to the floor.   The hallway opened up into a large well-lit area into which the double sliding doors of the arrivals gate would open.

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Prayers.
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Children.

There were hundreds of people: men, women and children of all ethnicities.  The Dallas police had cordoned off the walkways leading to the sliding doors and protesters were amassed behind yellow tape. The police looked beleaguered but, to be fair, millions of Americans are feeling equally beleaguered, hence protests like this.

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We looked for a place to stand and several protesters made space for us to join them.  We chanted (“Let them go” and “move Trump get out of the way,” “we are one, we are free, this is the land of liberty,” “this is what democracy looks like”) and held our signs above our heads.

We talked to the people around us and took photos of protesters and signs.   (Having torn my son away from the x-box on a Sunday resulted in several photos of him looking like a detainee himself. His face said, “set THEM free?  how about setting ME free?”)

We cheered people who came through the arrival doors, although the process of cheering seemed a big haphazard to me.  Was it just based on entrants who looked Muslim?  Clearly this was an imperfect albeit well-intentioned process.  People were handing out warm pizza, fried chicken wings and bottles of water.

I was thanked by several women in hijabs, which broke my heart.

The entire experience, however, was beautifully and quintessentially America (from the chants to the chicken wings.)

In the end, all persons being held were released.  A representative of the families involved spoke to the crowd.  He thanked the protesters, the police, the attorneys.  He reminded the crowd that we have to continue to be prepared to amass and to protest.  We have to remain vigilant because the attacks on marginalized groups will continue.  He said that the protests are part of why everyone was ultimately allowed to enter.  The protests brought the attention of media and attorneys.

As we filed out of the terminal, I told my son why we were there.

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Diversity is what makes America great.

We were there because the world needs to see that millions of Americans, indeed, a majority of voting Americans, do not support Trump and his agenda.

We were there because hate is not an American value.

We were there because fear makes us weak, not great.

We were there because we are a nation of immigrants and refugees and the conservative agenda is painfully, comically, hypocritical.

We were there because protests matter.  The history of America is a history of protest and dissent.

We were there because when you have a chance to be there, you should be there.  

If you ever wonder if you go and join a group of people gathering to fight injustice or governmental wrongdoing, please go.  Just go.  Showing up matters.  Go alone if you have to because you will not be alone once you get there.  

And you know what else?  You may actually change someone else’s life by going… and you will definitely change your own.

You have a voice.  I urge you to use it… preferably in-person. Signs are optional.  Chanting is fun.

When in doubt, just go.  (Tell your kids that there might be pizza.)

And blog about it when you’re done!

(Please note that yes, I realize that fathers can be super organized and prepared too.  I speak about moms because I am a mom and the people I spend time with are, frequently although not exclusively, mothers as well.)

This is what freedom looks like, Texas.

This is my third protest installment.  I seem to always be writing and posting shortly before midnight, and I’m starting to suspect that there are more optimal times to publish a blog.  I could “schedule” to publish later, but I’m a terribly impatient person, so, it is what it is.

Immediately after the election, I had created a meet-up to bring together progressives who were anxious to show up, in person, in real life, to voice dissent to the Trump administration.  We had named our group the Liberty Tree (in an effort, in part, to reappropriate our revolutionary heritage), but many of us came from the newly formed Pantsuit Republic (the Texas action-oriented arm born of our membership in Pantsuit Nation prior to the election).

Now it seems that our Collin County/North Dallas group is morphing into Indivisible TX-3 (for the third Texas congressional district), a part of the Indivisible group.  I share this with you simply because I am marveling at the powerfully fluid process of grassroots movements.  We are swimming in a sea of resistance, my friend, and the tide is swelling.

As a fledgling protester, I wanted to share some observations.

When I left my temp job to go to Senator Cornyn’s Dallas office at lunch, I didn’t know if I would see or find anyone I knew.  But the beauty of activism is that you don’t have to know anyone.  When you show up with your sign or just willing to answer (“Fight Back”) a call (“Stand Up!”), you are immediately among friends.  Today, there were about 250 people present (as part of Trump Tuesdays), most of whom did not know each other, yet there was not a stranger present.  It is really so much more comforting and welcoming than I ever could have imagined.

If you are thinking about showing up to some random protest, do it.  Even if you come alone, realize that you will not be alone once you come.

I made a FB Live video, asking participants why they came.  Many came because they opposed Devos as possible education secretary.  We all see her appointment for what it is:  dismantling public education so we can further divide Americans between the wealthy and the poor.  Others were there because they see our democracy devolving into an oligarchy.  We are not melodramatic, we are observant.

I then thought about and answered my own question…

I came this afternoon because I wanted Trump to know that the Women’s marches were just the beginning.  I want him, and all the Republicans who support him, to realize that their opposition is just warming up.

I also came because the best way to protect a right is to exercise it.  I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that my right to assemble and protest has been significantly abridged.  If you are going to restrict my rights, I will be a witness to that process.  I will not lose a right from lack of interest or inadvertence.  You will pry my rights from my cold, dead hands.  And that is what makes me a quintessential American.

When we walk, carry signs and chant, we are performing a civic duty.   We are preserving the rights that our forefathers and foremothers fought to secure for this new nation.  And every person who has come to America and who identifies with its freedoms has an obligation to fight oppression.

To Trump and the merry idiots supporting him, I offer this warning:  revolution is our inheritance–more so than any other country in the history of the world.  We are revolutionaries.  We resist and oppose and dissent and, ultimately, we prevail.  

At Cruz’s office last week, we had 40 people.  Today, at Cornyn’s office, we had 250.  Every week we will have more.

Senators, we are just warming up.

(This was originally written at http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/1/24/1624788/-This-is-what-freedom-looks-like-Senator-Cornyn)

Thoughts on Dreams… well, thoughts on La La Land

When I was younger, I loved acting.  As the youngest of four daughters, I was always very melodramatic as a child.  As a teen, I was in a play in Richmond, California (at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts) and I felt like I was home.  Then, when I was 17, I was actually cast in an independent film.

I had learned about the film from an acting class that I was taking in someone’s living room in Berkeley (no, I’m not joking).  For several weeks prior to the audition, I watched “Mississippi Burning” so I could master a southern accent (which was sought by casting). Three weeks prior to leaving California to attend the University of Montana, I went to the audition.

The movie was to be set in the 60s, so I wore a cotton tank top with wide straps and narrow-legged capris.  I pushed my dark hair back with a thick headband and curled the ends of my hair inwards.  After the audition (which was filmed by a massive camcorder ala Sex Lies and Videotape), I was complimented on my accent (“I thought you were really from the South,” the casting director commented approvingly).  I loved everything about the experience.

About a week after getting to Round Up, Montana, and before classes started, I had a message on our California voicemail to call the producers of this film.  From a pay phone in front of a small diner near (but not on Main Street), I called the filmmakers.  I was offered the role.  But I was in already in Montana and my mother told me I couldn’t return to California for the film because I was “too smart to be an actress.”

So I spent one semester at the University of Montana and it was universally awful.   A year later, I ended up at a different college.  After graduating from college, I went to Georgetown for law school.

I loathed law school.  In my second year of law school, I was cast as the ingénue in a community theater production of a British sex farce entitled “Not Now, Darling.”  This was one of the happiest experiences of my life.

But I was too smart to be an actress.  So I graduated from law school.  I never found my way or my passion.  Now I have $180,000 in student loans and I’m a single mom working a temp legal job living in a small apartment with no saving and no college fund for my kids.

And at 43, I’m sitting on the carpeted floor near the entrance of theater number 17 in Plano, Texas, typing this on my cell phone while La La Land plays on the big screen.

La La Land is about fidelity to things your love.  The irony is not lost on me.

I know my mother thought she was doing what was best for me when she refused to let me go back to California for the film.  But opportunities to do something you love are few and far between.  If you get a chance to pursue your dream, no matter how far-fetched it seems, then do it.  Just do it.  It seems to me, in hindsight, that the smartest people are those who follow what they love.