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Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse


February 8th, 2017

Dialing for Democracy @ 02:13 pm

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So today's calls were much more successful.  Project 1490 alerted their subscribers about a specific bill that was introduced to the Senate (S.291) which is intended to strengthen oversight of the National Security Act. Basically, it's a 'kick Bannon off the NSC table' bill.  I called Betty McCullum's office first and talked to a wonderful young staffer who let me know that McCullum was actually a co-signer on a similar bill (HR.804) for the House. So, go Minnesota!  (I actually checked the cosponsors of S.291 because I thought Franken might have been listed.)  I was able to get through to a human at Klobuchar's DC office and he told me that Klobuchar has not yet made a statement about S.291 (of course she hasn't, the wanny-woo.)  Fanken's office was still swamped, but I was able to leave a message.  

Yesterday, I wrote personalized emails to my Senators about the Session's appointment to Attorney General (I've called them already about Sessions when he was first nominated--probably more than once. I did call Franken's office to thank him for taking part in #HoldtheFloor over DeVos and let him know I was watching and supporting--I managed not to tell him 'I love you' but it was pretty close!).  Alas, we all know how well the Sessions thing going, what with the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  

And, of course, yesterday, DeVos was confirmed by an historic tie-breaking vote. I'm devastated by what she will mean to our country's public education system, but I'm heartened to see all the Democrats holding the line, for once.  I keep telling Klobuchar that this is what's required of her. She really ought to step up and lead some of these charges, but, at the very least, pledge to stand with her Democratic colleges.  I don't have a lot of faith in her, however.  I did listen to her speech against DeVos while the Dem's were holding the floor, so she did her part, at least I did note the tone of surprise when she was called to the podium.  There was this uptick whoever was announcing, like, "the senior senator from... Minnesota????" like they were shocked she showed up or something.

It's sometimes hard to believe that Franken is the junior senator. He seems to be on a lot more critical committees.  

I'm headed to North Branch to door knock to get out the vote for Laurie Warner on Sunday.  Talk about on the ground democracy.... It's going to be a busy weekend for me, since I have an all-day writers' conference on Saturday.  But, the resistance never rests.
 

February 6th, 2017

Literally Live-Streaming #HoldTheFloor @ 06:33 pm


Tonight the Senate Democrats are holding the Senate floor for 24-hours as a last-ditch effort against the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.  I'm literally sitting here listening to the live-stream.

I read a short piece in the Washington Post that suggests that all this does is show how weak the Democrats are to stop this (or any) nomination. I object to the idea that it matters that they win.

Democrats are doing two things that I have wanted from Democrats for a long, long time. 1) STANDING TOGETHER and 2) Fighting out loud and in public forum.

As I have been saying in all of my messages to Franken and Klobuchar, this is literally the most risk-free thing they can do. Voters know that the cards are stacked against Democrats. We know they don't have the majority needed to stop anything.  Standing up and speaking out is risk-free right now. This is the time to show us who you are. Show us how strong you are on the issues and values.  It's literally the easiest time to be a radical as you are comfortable being, because no matter what you do, you are just standing there saying "No" while they steamroll their crap through.

That's kind of all that the constituency wants. To know you're trying to stand, trying to fight. Yes, of course, we want to win, but sometimes it's important just to have TRIED TO FIGHT evil.

What I'm learning listening to this is that not every senator is a firebrand public speaker, but they are ALL quoting numbers of calls and/or reading actual letters received.  it really does seem that the Dems got the message that we want to see this kind of action.  This is GOOD.  Even if they can't win.  Despite what the Post thinks, this alone *is* a win.

So, in other life news, I work three days this week, starting tomorrow.  I'll be working Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday all at Shoreview, all during the day.  My boss really wanted me to work tonight, too.  I begged off, though, because I was anxiously working on my critiques for the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop (you have to scroll all the way down to see the critiquers.) I managed to get those done, so I feel pretty good.  I'm all set now for my part in the workshop this Saturday.  Yay!

It's a busy work week for me, but money is a good thing, especially since we're going to need a new used car sooner rather than later.  *sigh*

If you don't hear from me, though, it's because I'm spending my daylight hours at the day job--you know, like most people out there. ;-)
 

February 4th, 2017

Good Will Fabric Run @ 02:51 pm


 Shawn has been low on fabric for her rugs, so we did a Good Will fabric run today. We live very close to the Good Will outlet, so we drove over there and hunted through the bins. The outlet is kind of neat in that the stuff that's out in only minimally processed. Shoes, shirts, luggage, swimsuits... all the clothes stuff is all together.  Plates and household stuff in other bins.  Whatever you find? Is paid for by the POUND.  I can't remember how much per pound, but we filled a shopping cart with fabric and paid sixty bucks.

I am attempting another photograph.  In case this one does not show up, it is a pile of clothes and our curious cat, Buttercup, sniffing around the edges.
good will haul
 

Otherwise today has been fairly low-key.  I just finished making a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Mason to take over to Rosemary's house tonight.  This morning I got up bright and early and met my friend Michaela for coffee and to practice Japanese calligraphy.  That was nice. Michaela is someone I don't know terribly well. I mostly know her wife, Anna, from conventions. (If you've ever seen me in my shinigami cosplay, the uniform is actually Anna's. I borrowed it YEARS ago and have never managed to get it back to her.) Anyway, yay for spending time with new-ish people and doing art-type things.

With Mason out of the house tonight, Shawn is insisting on her favorite dinner: homemade pizza.  Mason, who would like to have my chicken curry in a hurry EVERY NIGHT, has explained that he is officially sick of my homemade pizza.  I'm just glad that I'm a sufficiently competent cook that both members of my family have favorite meals I can make them with ease.  

This is the thing. I've had some clashes with friends/family of mine about vegetarianism. I tend to get really mad when half-way through a meal I discover that I've made something they can't eat.  People always assume I'm grouchy because I have something against vegetarianism or vegans of vegetarians themselves.  I don't.  What gives me the greatest pleasure as a host is seeing people so enjoying a meal that they stuff their faces and beg for more. To me, that's success.  When someone is left out or is unhappy because the meal excludes them in some way, I'm cranky.  I want everyone to be full and happy, you know?  Rosemary has decided to be vegetarian. I don't know the extent to which she's "out" at home, but I've been desperately trying to accommodate her when she eats over her.  Only, it turns out that she hates all meat substitutes.  Of course, I find this out by failing her.  And, I know it's tough to offer suggestions to the host when you're only thirteen, but... ugh.  

ANYway.

This weekend has been low political action for me.  Mason and I were scheduled to attend a protest on Friday night at the airport, but we decided last minute not to go.  I might have nudged him, but I've been in need of an aggressive self-care day.  I pretty much avoided the news (except a little from social media about the "Bowling Green Massacre.")  So, it was absolutely fine with me to keep on with the day's theme and just leave the revolution to someone else for the day.  It's far from over, so I am conserving my strength for the long fight.  

 

February 2nd, 2017

No More Dementors @ 08:06 am

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 Yesterday, I had to work.  For the entire month of February, actually, I'll be working fairly regularly at the Shoreview branch of the Ramsey County Library.  Shoreview just had a huge remodel, which is good in a lot of ways. The old place... well, I think I wrote about it here before.  I used to actively avoid working there, because once I was call to the carpet for "having too much fun." Seriously. I was told to stop enjoying myself--(I was listening to music and dancing a little in the stacks.)  I mean, maybe it was distracting because I'M JUST THAT AWESOME, but, seriously, I felt like the joy was sucked out of me.

After that, I decided that that particular branch was haunted by Dementors.  Any time my boss called to ask me to work there, I had to wash my hair or pretty anyTHING else.

But the new building has a lot of windows and sunshine and that has seemed to, so far, kept the Dementors at bay.

It helps, too, that there's a new person in charge.  No more Umbridge.  (The previous branch head had a very shrill 'no problem' that had a passive-agressive subtext : "YOU SCREWED UP!" She didn't exactly have the pink kitten sweaters, but she did have that sweet smile that was totally hiding pointed teeth, if you know what I mean.)  So, I think I should be fine.  I'm a little bummed because the schedule I agreed to interfere with some of my favorite socializing, but mama needs a new pair of shoes, as we say around here.  We're going to need a new car sooner rather than later and so we need to put some money in the bank so that can happen BEFORE the emergency break-down.

I also ran into David Lenander, which was a nice surprise.  I think that David makes about four fandom-friends that I've run into at various library jobs.  In some ways, I'm surprised I don't see more.  Then, again, my hours and locations are very random and sparse, so maybe it's more impressive than it seems.

This morning I called my Senators.... again.  Lines were swamped, but I was able to leave a message with Franken's office... and went off-script to enthuse to him about how happy I am to see him being fierce. I accidentally signed off with "Love ya!" Oops. On the other hand, my goofy message probably more enjoyable than whatever hate mail he might be getting.

Klobuchar was nothing but a busy signal, so I sent a fax. (As I was telling a friend, I kind of adore how quickly people are coming up with work-arounds to Republicans turning off their phones and/or busy signals. I'm not accusing Klobuchar of blocking calls--she is a Democrat after all--but it's still a good solution when I can't get through.) The nice thing about that was that there was no way to go off-script and I was able to remind her that it doesn't matter if we win. It's not about winning any more, it's about being seen STANDING UP.

Though it was funny. While I was composing the letter, I literally forgot the actual format of a written business letter. I had to look it up!  And, I'm old enough to remember actually taking CLASSES in how to compose business letters!!

Sheesh.

Meanwhile, right now, Shawn is testifying in front of a congressional committee..... in the Minnesota Senate.  And, technically, she's just giving a committee information about how government records are managed by the state archives, but when she left for work this morning she was nervous, to say the least.  I listened to her speech (twice) last night, and I'm sure she'll do great.

I had plans to attend an airport protest on Friday, but I don't know if that's still on now that our attorney general has joined in declaring a stay on deportations, etc. I suspect people will still go. I mean, the Dump and his minions will keep pushing.  Like I told Klobuchar, it's our duty to keep pushing back.

No more Dementors.
 

January 31st, 2017

First Protest of the Day @ 01:04 pm

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First, I'm trying something new with the photos. This one is embedded. Hopefully, it will show up as a Facebook photo.  (Edited to add: nope, that just showed up as a big empty space for me.  I'm going to try another way.)

If you can't see it, I'll explain it. There were probably 50-80 of us outside of Senator Amy Klobuchar's state office today. Which, given that this protest was at noon on a Tuesday, I think we did pretty well. Apparently, this particular group does something every Tuesday.  Last week, as well as this one, the plan was also to take a group inside at around 12:30 to meet with a senior staffer of Senator Kloubchar's.  The organizer told the crowd today that they felt that the meeting was particularly effective.  They were able to get answers about Kloubchar's vote on Pompeo. Not, good ones, mind you, but questions were answers and objections to her response were voiced. Everything I've read makes it sound as though these kinds of in-person meetings are the number one, very best way to light a fire under your representatives.  So, even though I didn't sign up to do that this time, I'm glad to have been part of a group that the organizers could point to and say, "all these people want answers."


The funniest thing that happened while we were doing our usual chanting and sign-waving thing was that some Trump-supporting yahoo yelled out his window for all of us to "Get a job!"  I turned to one of my fellow protestors, many of whom had clearly been doing this sort of thing since the 60s, and said, "He forgot to say 'get a haircut.'"

I was also really torn about what a person should yell back. I mean, some of the people were clearly retirees, who maybe didn't have a job.  There were students, though, too.  This was also planned for the lunch hour on purpose.  Then there's me, who, in point of fact, has three jobs--all of them super part-time (teaching at the Loft, working at the library, and writing/other freelancing/book reviewing.)  But no one was organized enough to shout back, we just alternatively gave the guy the finger or a peace sign.

I ended up leaving after only about a half hour because my hands got cold.  I had originally thought that the plan was to occupy her office, indoors, so I was not quite dressed warmly enough.  The weather is really changeable today, anyway. I was almost hot when I went out earlier to Menard's to get kitty litter and then, at the protest, the sun went behind the clouds again and the wind picked up.  Tonight, when Mason and I go off to the Anti-Ban protest, I'll have to be sure to have scarves and mittens and hats in case it stays chilly.

Because some days are two protest days....

we the people

Sign says: "We, the people, are SPEAKING.... Listen!"
 

January 30th, 2017

Don't Forget Your House Rep! @ 02:21 pm

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 Today, I decided to try to call my representatives in Congress and just voice my opposition to the Muslim ban. My script even says, "I know that Senator _____ was in Minnesota speaking out against the ban, but...." because both Klobuchar and Franken came over the weekend. I saw some clips of Franken's speech.  At any rate, the lines were busy. Like, not even a roll into voice mail. Just the busy signal.

Except for my "lowly" little House Representative, Betty McCullom.  I got straight through to a staffer who not only very carefully checked the spelling of my name and asked my zip code, but seemed genuinely pleased to have heard from a constituent.  

So, yes, I'll probably keep trying to get through to my senators, but, remember, a lot of this sh*t has to pass through the House first!  

 

January 29th, 2017

Resisting the Ban @ 07:13 pm

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In response to the latest bullish*t, I joined a couple thousand people outside the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis today with the Resisting the Muslim Ban folks. Mason really wanted to go and so we ended up meeting his friend Rosemary, with whom he had plans with tonight, at the center. It was both Rosemary and Mason's first protest. There was a discussion indoors at the center, but priority was given to the people who were most affected by this ban. The Center is in the Cedar-Riverside area which is heavily populated by Somali immigrants. Most of the people outside were "allies." We stood around outside the building basically being a presence, shouting chants, and holding signs. My favorite sign this time was a little tiny tot who held up a glittery pink heart on a stick. Pretty much says it all, IMHO.





There were people gathering at the airport, of course, but that protest started at 1 pm and we were expecting a guest (Shawn's friend Liz came for the afternoon.) Plus, Mason really wanted to get his Project Linus blanket dropped off and Treadle Yard Goods and that opened at 1 pm. We were waffling about this one, too, but everything worked out for us to go. I have no idea if bodies on the street count, but this is one of those things that I've determined makes me feel... active, like I'm doing my part.

I ended up Skyping today with a friend of mine who is living in Hong Kong and I found myself basically inarticulate when trying to talk about the current political situation.  Like two good former Wisconsinites, we agreed "ah, geez" and talked about the weather.  :-)  But she told me that she joined a women's march there. There were only 150 people and as she put it, "the police were ready to disperse us."

It's a crazy time we live in, people.

 

January 27th, 2017

Friday, a Day of Rest from the Resistance @ 11:07 am

I went to the laundromat to wash a few of our rag rugs. We have a lot of rugs, which is good, because washing them is a pain in the butt. The cats, meanwhile, LOVE to puke on our rugs, so there are always rugs in need of washing. This morning, Suds America was pretty quiet. Just me, the attendant, and a bearded, middle-aged white guy who very meticulously folded each of his socks.

Mason technically has the day off school today, but his LEGO team decided to meet to work on their various projects. I dropped him off at 8:30 am, and will be picking him up at noon.

Shawn went in late today, too, because she's starting to get migraine-related nausea. Because I guess the migraines and the tingling limbs aren't enough.

So not the BEST Friday, so far.

Despite my burst of productivity at the laundromat, I also feel weirdly wiped out. I woke up and promptly had some kind of allergy attack. Much sneezing and a runny, drippy nose (and one eye teared up). Q Library had wanted me to come in--as did work, but I said no to the one and agreed to tomorrow for the other.

We had a nice get together at the Randall's last night (these are Mason's not-girlfirend's parents). Lisa made a fun slow cooker "stir-fry" with chicken and peanut sauce. We talked politics a little, because she and I are considering starting some kind of Sunday get-together thing where women share resources and energy and ideas for political projects. But, mostly, it was just hanging out and chatting, which was badly needed.

I was telling Shawn this morning that I'm so pleased that both Mason and his not-girlfriend really enjoy listening in and occasionally joining the adult conversation. I was very much the same way at their age, and I think I learned a LOT listening in at my parent's knees, as it were. Both of the kids are very articulate and smart, too.

I'm reading this book right now--a non-fiction book-- about communication in the Digital Age and the author makes a lot out of the fact that most teenagers (in particular, but really, EVERYONE) allows technology to intrude into the natural silences or meanders of conversation.

That didn't happen last night. Everyone was very present, even the kids. I mean, to be fair, there are always conversational gambits that are more engaging than others, but, like, no one checked their email during the downtimes (they might have stared into space, but we all do that as an indication of 'you lost me'). But no one actively pulled out a phone to check out of the conversation, as it were.

At any rate, I'm glad Mason and his friend are more interested in what people are talking about in-person than they are with whatever's happening on their phones.

Gives me hope for the next generation.
 

January 26th, 2017

Calling Sucks, But I [Bleeping} Did it, Anyway @ 09:05 am

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In my attempt to do this resistance thing, I made one call so far today.

I'm insanely disappointed that my senator, Amy Klobuchar voted to confirm Trump's CIA head, Pompeo. So, I called her DC office this morning and asked what she's doing on Session's confirmation. I realize that there just might not be enough Democrats to stop any of these confirmations, but I want reassurances that they're going to stand together in their "NO." If it's a symbolic vote, anyway, why not go with THE RIGHT F*CKING SYMBOL???

Not that I was this articulate on the phone.

The script I have in front of me is actually about the Dump's short list for Supreme Court Justices. But, I was sitting here, muttering to myself about the whole Pompeo thing, and I thought, "Well, sh*t, Lyda, if you're so wound up, maybe you should just call now and vent to a staffer about the whole thing."

So, I did.

I no longer hesitate to punch in the numbers. That used to be the hard part. Now, I'm pretty good up to the point where I inevitably lose my cool and start babbling incoherently about the end of democracy.

But, okay, so, I think this staffer was a nice, young twenty-something, because after I frothed at the mouth about spineless voting for Pompeo, she just said, "Hey, no worries. I get it."

So, f*ck it, they clearly have to deal with crazier people than me, and if the revolution has to start by flooding the damn phone lines, I can do this thing.

Okay, should I just do Franken now? Probably.

----
Edited to add:

Okay, called Franken.

Right, so even with the right script in front of me, I still suck. I'm finding that asking the question, "Are you the person I should be talking to about 'x' issue?" is a non-starter. They don't want to transfer you and so far both staffers are like, "You can talk to me about that." So, I think I'm going to drop that part of the process.

I've been adding to my script, "So, I guess I'm supposed to be sure to give you my zip code..." and then I give it to them. This part, I'll keep regardless. It does show that I live in an area that votes for Franken/Klobuchar.

So, how did this one go? Well, it's always awkward, but I've just kind of accepted that. I asked the staffer if Franken had plans to filibuster any Supreme Court nominees. She made a vaguely agreeable noise and so I said, "Are you saying he WILL filibuster?" and that seemed to wake her up. She said, "Oh. I don't know." I said, "You don't know if he would?" And she confirmed that she had no idea what his plans were.

So, I went off script.

And I said (only less articulately), "Okay, well, that's how this needs to work. I want Senator Franken to know that I expect him to resist the nominations. One of the things that has made me very proud to be represented by Senator Franken is his willingness to stand up where needed. I want him to join any filibuster efforts. If you can't commit to him doing that, can you at least assure me he will vote against any of Trump's nominees?"

She said she could.

I told her I guessed that was something, and signed off.

About as frustrating as calling Klobuchar's office, but in a different way. I mean, girlfriend, were you checking Facebook as I was talking to you? Second, if Al F*cking Franken isn't sure he's going to stand up and filibuster, we've probably already lost.

So, even though they say this makes zero impact, I sent off an e-mail to both offices telling them I expected a united filibuster of ALL nominations for Supreme Court put up by Trump. They blocked Obama's pick, this is fairsies.

If I make a third or fourth call today, I'll do it after lunch. I really don't want to hit the same staffers in the same day.
 

January 25th, 2017

Keeping the Faith @ 04:24 pm

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It's so much harder now that the inauguration has happened to not lose... everything: my focus, my hope, my faith... my sh*t.

Plus, the daily horrors keep piling up. There are so many, it kind of scatters your mind. DAPL, Muslim Registry, Nazi/moron cabinet picks and staffers, walls... it's daily, sometimes two, three times a day. This is how they're going to break us. It's just going to be a constant stream of offenses, we won't know where to focus our tremendous efforts on. People keep saying this: pick one or two issues and focus on those.

Easy to say, harder to do.

Especially when everything seems so critical.

Then, stuff gets circulated that puts me in a weird kind of panic mode. My friend Mary Anne Mohanraj had a great link to advice from a high-level staffer at the US Senate. I read it, nodding along until I hit this part:

"1. The best thing you can do to be heard and get your congressperson to pay attention is to have face-to-face time - if they have town halls, go to them. Go to their local offices. If you're in DC, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs. Go to the "mobile offices" that their staff hold periodically (all these times are located on each congressperson's website). When you go, ask questions. A lot of them. And push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those the better.
2. But, those in-person events don't happen every day. So, the absolute most important thing that people should be doing every day is calling. You should make 6 calls a day: 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators & your 1 Representative...."

Wait, what? SIX CALLS a DAY???

I'd been feeling pretty great that I managed, um, let's see, three so far since the election. What is that, 1.5 a month?

F*ck.

I think despite this crushing sense of responsibility, what I have to do is *not* try to jump into this whole six calls a day insanity. Maybe I can work up to a call a day... MAYBE. I mean, I'm super out-going, but I kind of have always hated phone calls for some reason. It's ten times more awkward when it's not someone I know on the other end. So... six? A day?? No, but I can try to do one every couple of days. I'll put it on my schedule or something. Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 1:00 pm. If that starts to feel comfortable, I can add more.

Not that there aren't things I could call about every flipping day.

Sheesh.

On my current list to to remind my Senators that can, NOT to confirm DeVos. Apparently, Trump has also made a short list of nominees for the Supreme Court and they're, of course, all awful. So, I have a script ready for that, too. I guess that's four calls...

Cripes. Wish me luck tomorrow.
 

Day in the Life of an Idiot

The Journal of Lyda Morehouse