Happy birthday, K

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday. My mom is in town, visiting. We had a lovely party with K’s friends at Zero Gravity (one of those trampoline places) yesterday. Today I’m taking my mom and the kids to a museum.

All is well.

My mom is *also* as hyper-engaged with current politics as I am these days, so we’re talking about the actions we’re taking and the things we’re doing for the resistance. My mom’s neighborhood Huddle on Chicago’s south side sounds wonderful!

All is well. I have a great family, and feel extremely fortunate.

*

*

Riverdale’s Veronica and Betty

I have been watching the new tv series, Riverdale. It’s a rethinking (AU?) of the Archie Comics Riverdale intellectual properties — Archie, Jughead, Josie and the Pussycats, etc. It is EXACTLY in line with current teen-oriented dramas like Pretty Little Liars, or Gossip Girl. There are murders, secrets, and sex, and everyone is gorgeous.

You can go look up reviews of the show. It’s pretty fun so far.

But I want to talk about Betty and Veronica.

On Riverdale, the characters of Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper are capturing something true about female friendship, something complicated and messy and real. Their relationship highlights how women struggle with the roles we embody, ESPECIALLY when they are roles we have chosen for ourselves. The relationship underlines how we are attracted to friendships that nurture the parts of ourselves that we suppress, that don’t fit who we are working to be.

No woman is the Good Girl, no woman is the Bad Girl. Betty and Veronica are excruciatingly self-aware of this point. But rather than double down on impossible goals, they befriend each other and help each other be complete people. Veronica wants to support Betty, both in being the good girl AND in not repressing the rest of her feelings. Betty wants Veronica to be her best self, but ALSO admires and respects Veronica’s outsider strength.

Nearly every character in Riverdale is playing a role, and only a scant few seem to realize it. Archie yearns to be seen for all that he is. Jughead has fled to the land of cynical detachment. Kevin knows his gay part and plays it. But, so far, only Betty and Veronica understand that EVERYONE is playing a part. That EVERYONE has hidden depths and needs, and wants to be whole.

Now, Riverdale is a teen drama. There will of course be betrayals, misunderstandings, secrets, and conflicts. It’s that kind of show. But as of episode three, Veronica and Betty’s friendship is weathering the storms of plot and contrivance. As the only two characters who seem to be entirely realized, the show’s very best moments are when those two are interacting. The writers, thank goodness, so far recognize this.

*

*

Women’s March Huddle

The Women’s March people have been putting together followup events since the Inaguration. This month’s is a Huddle. The website lets you find Huddles near you.

I, as you might have gleaned from my social media, have been really sick. Some sort of chest-plague-thing from hell. I am mostly over it, but I’ve lost my voice. This makes me too sick to WORK, but perfectly well enough to go do other things.

So, yesterday, I went to my neighborhood Huddle.

Where it was:

My closest Huddle was at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, a few blocks from my house. A perusal of other Huddles in the Twin Cities reveals that a lot of them were at people’s homes, or in small coffeeshops. A fair number were in churches. A few people I spoke with said they ended up at St. Matthew’s because the Huddles closer to them were in smaller venues and filled up.

This Huddle is in my neighborhood. I mention this because my neighborhood is demographically white, with small groups of poc largely in conjunction with the university. We also have a small but significant group of immigrants and resident aliens, again, many of whom are associated with the U of M. We’re also primarily single-family detached homes, but there’s a certain amount of renting and subletting that goes on. We have a strong and thriving community, with strong local-and-locally-owned businesses, as well as seasonal neighborhood events that are well-attended. People are engaged and aware.

Who was there:

The organizers, all from St. Matthew’s, anticipated ten-to-twenty people. About seventy RSVP’d on the website. About eighty-five showed up. I saw two people who presented as male, and three people who I would hazard are people of color. About 3-6 folks looked obviously younger than me, about 15-20 my age more or less, and the rest were probably older. (I will note, two of the younger women were also two of the people of color. Thank you, black feminism, for representing even in my neighborhood.)

Roughly 75% of the people in the room were first-time activists. For these people, the Women’s March was the first thing they have done, other than maybe signing some petitions or donating some money. All of them said, “I just feel I can’t do NOTHING.”

What we did:

People sat around tables, in rough groups of 6-8. We introduced ourselves, and spoke briefly about what brought us to the event.

The organizers introduced themselves, explained they were all desperate introverts who have never done this before, and gave us the first activity.

We envisioned the future, four years from now, and wrote down as a group what we hoped for. Then, as groups, we talked about what we would need to do to get there. Each table briefly presented their results.

We watched a video of folks from the Women’s March in Washington, with some inspirational words from the national group.

We each brainstormed upcoming events — political, social, artistic — through April 30th that are happening locally, and put them on a wall timeline. The organizers said they would compile the results and send it to us all in an email.

We then each picked ONE thing to focus our energies on for the next few months, and wrote it on a sign. Then everyone held up their signs. We all meandered around the room, coalescing into smaller groups based on common interest. Each sub-group made a list of names and emails, and turned it over to the local organizers for them to use to make smaller email lists.

At that point two hours had gone by, and most of us had to leave.

My thoughts:

Overall, positive.

It was very heartening to see SO MANY people determined to not take this administration lightly or quietly. And, these are basically comfortable white women. There’s not a TON of risk factors in this group, other than “women.” But I met educators, and journalists, and artists, and librarians, and so many of them are just angry and frustrated and worried. They are angry that children are afraid of our government. They want to be people who are on the side of good, and they (we) have a certain amount of power and privilege to throw at the problems.

There wasn’t a ton of focus. I’m hoping that this will change, that focus will grow. I mean, this was the first meeting! I hope that we can organize around specific action items.

There was a great deal of concern for immigrant rights, Native rights, rights of people of color — but all from a white point of view. It’s what my neighborhood has to work with. But, more positively, there were a NUMBER of calls to make sure we LISTEN to more marginalized and threatened groups, and help in the ways that help is wanted.

Y’all … these sixty-year-old white ladies are really pissed off, yo. And they have time, and they have privilege, and they have grandchildren to defend.

Overall, a good start.

*

*

Rubble Kings documentary

I watched a documentary, Rubble Kings, on NetFlix last night. It’s about the New York City gangs of the 60s and 70s, and the peace treaty brought about by the Ghetto Brothers. The interviews were good, and I enjoyed the old news footage of the time.

What I liked most, though, was this:

In the ruins of the Bronx, abandoned, despised, maligned, the Black and Latino youth of the city made a choice. They decided to stop fighting and killing each other. They decided to organize. To assist their communities. They decided to give aid to the needy, food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless. They made peace with each other on their own terms, with no authority from above telling them what to do.

There’s a moment when the leaders of the Ghetto Brothers are being interviewed by a wall of New York media. And they announce a peace plan, and the cameras start to turn off, turn away. And these two young men realize that the news is there to see poor Latino men die, not see Latino leadership. And they vow in that moment to be something better. Out of *sheer spite*, if for no other reason.

Organize.

Resist.

Persist.

Out of sheer spite, if for no other reason.

*

*

What have I done to stop fascism this month?

I have a calendar item that recurs on the 8th of every month. It reads, “what have you done this month?”

In the last month I:
Called my Senators to oppose Betsy DeVos.
Participated in Refuse Fascism’s social media and awareness campaigns
Participated in #NoDAPL social media campaigns
All my recurring donations are recurring
Gave money and giftcards to Bridge for Youth
Wrote my City Council and state rep about freedom to assemble peaceably
Emailed my congresscritters about the ACA, again
Went to a constituent meeting at Senator Franken’s office
Met local Indivisible activists, signed up for mailing lists
Signed up for my neighborhood email list
Went to the Women’s March in Minnesota
Asked my union rep to look into union support for legal resistance for federal employees

In the last month, the inauguration took place. And then the Women’s March. Trump launched a failed covert mission in Yemen, killing a lot of people. The Cabinet appointments have all gone through so far, including DeVos last night. But DeVos was a near thing. Sessions is being voted on today, and he will make it. Trump has named the free press to be his enemy, calling it the opposition party and saying that every news story that disapproves of him is fake news. He’s announced a federal hiring freeze, except for hiring 15,000 more CBP agents. The CBP remains loyal to Trump. Trump announced a Muslim Ban on immigration from seven countries, leading to chaos in airports and the triumph of decent humans who protested for an entire weekend. Lawyers, especially from the ACLU, worked around the clock to free illegally detained residents. Judges declared it an illegal order and told the CBP to not enforce it. Trump fired Attorney General Sally Yates for defying his order. He has called the judges who oppose him fake judges, and pre-emptively blamed them for any future terrorist attacks. Melania Trump has announced that the bad press is cutting into her profits from being First Lady.

I finished reading The Coming of the Third Reich.

As of right now, no-one I know has lost their job, home, or healthcare due to the incoming administration.

*

*

Illness, blea.

We are all sick, here.

Well, not all of us. M is already over this cold, and Cavorter hasn’t gotten it (yet). But the rest of us?

Sick.

This one has a TERRIBLE cough, I strongly advise against getting it.

*

*

I appear to have caught a cold

I’m sick.

Blerg.

I have a cold.

Just in time for my work week.

See y’all later.

*

*