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07 September 2009 @ 10:15 pm
(please note anything that i say someone said that i put quotations around is an exact quote.)

Our MS NOW president Jenni Smith had sent through a flyer to me about a "healthcare forum" being thrown by the radical right. She thought that we should let people know that it was going on so that there could be a liberal presence there to ask some questions and counter lies if need be.

Tom & I decided that we would attend and hopefully ask some questions. I wondered if any of the speakers had actually read the 1,007 page bill (HR 3200) and also why Les Riley was one of the speakers chosen for the panel. I knew that the forum was at Lemuria Books in Banner Hall. I had never been there before but in my mind I pictured the gathering being small, 30-50 people in the bookstore the way it might be if an author was doing a reading and book signing. In actuality it was at the Lemuria annex, so we had to walk across to there and arrived right about 6pm. The place was already packed to standing room only and people had started sitting outside as there was a speaker that allowed us to hear what was going on inside.(According to Lemuria employees the annex seats 70 and that with standing would hold approximately 120 people.) I wanted to take notes so it was easier to do that sitting outside.

I had expected to hear some of the frequent misconceptions or lies about HR3200 so I had read up on it prior to the forum. What actually happened was quite different than anything I'd expected...

The question of why exactly Les Riley was speaking was answered in Angela McGowan's introduction. You see Les Riley is not a doctor, he's not an expert on healthcare, and if he graduated college his bio doesn't say so. Les Riley is the organizer of "Personhood" MS, a voter initiative that hopes to amend the MS State constitution to classify fetuses as people in order to stop abortion and cloning. Yes, cloning. He is also a speaker at the anti-Obama "Tea Parties".

Riley was the first speaker of the evening. He opened by talking about Romans 13:1 & 4: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." Riley interpreted this verse to mean the Government's (only) job Biblically is to punish evil. Even leaving verses 2 and 3 out I feel that this is a bit of a stretch. Reading verses 2 & 3 it becomes clear that this passage is actually telling Christians to obey the government and laws. In fact it's no surprise that Riley skipped verse 2 as it states: "he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." Not so much of a stretch to say that protesting the President is rebelling against authority but then, I guess God didn't institute Obama? We won't go there, it brings up too many issues. ;)

Riley then informed us that those who are outside Christ will be seen naked on judgment day with their sin piled around them. He gave no chapter or verse for that. He then told a story of an email he received from someone who disagrees with him, informing him that Jesus were He here today would support universal healthcare as it cares for the poor. Riley's response to this was that the government doesn't actually use taxes to care for poor children. He said: "Socialism creates more poor people and enslaves them...That's why politicans love it." He told us that when his wife was pregnant with their 9th (yes 9th) child that he had just changed jobs and had no health insurance. His wife had complications and spend 90 days in the hospital and even then he didn't want the government's help. She didn't say whether or not she wanted the government's help as she was across from us on the deck; a tired looking woman in a long denim skirt watching over a brood of children where all the girls wore skirts.

He then told us that the "Liberal Left" says that the government shouldn't be involved in healthcare as an excuse for not protecting "tiny people". Now seeing as I am the liberal left and am also in the National Organization for Women one of the most committed pro-choice organizations in this country I can tell you that I have never said nor have I heard anyone say that the "government shouldn't be involved in HEALTHCARE" as an argument for a woman's right to choose. As far as I can tell the only thing even close to what he was saying was when we say that a woman's reproductive health choices are between her and her doctor. That is true regardless of who her insurance is coming from, the government or private insurance. He also said that because the bill doesn't state overtly anywhere that government run healthcare will not pay for abortions that the bill can easily be changed later to say that it will. His main reason for not supporting this bill appears to be that he believes that someday his tax dollars will pay for a woman to have an abortion. I hope he's right! Just kidding; or am I?

Riley then gave us his "Six reasons" for opposing universal healthcare. He went back and forth telling stories and talking as he gave his FIVE reasons for opposing it:
1. It harms the people it claims to protect. (He gave no examples of how.)
2. It is economically disastrous and will reduce opportunities for his children and grandchildren. (He didn't tell us how or why.)
3. He is Anti-Abortion and "this bill is Pro-Death" (He gave no explanation as to how it is pro-death.)
4. He is a "Constitutionalist and advocate for liberty." (I failed to see the relevance.)
5. "The Government cannot solve all of your problems only the Messiah can."

When he realized he had only given five reasons he then ended with "Because I'm a Christian."

After applause for Riley, Dr. Ed Holiday a dentist from Tupelo began to speak. As Riley did, Dr. Holiday mentioned within seconds of beginning to speak that he is married and has children. He then talked about his positive experiences speaking with "Tea Party" rallies. He informed us that we are "living under tyranny" just as in the time of Sam Adams. He believes that HR3200 "is about control not healthcare. The government wants to control all aspects of our lives."

"[HR3200] is the pit of hell." "A new trail of tears will begin. The economy will nose-dive. It will rob from our children by raising the National debt." Dr. Holiday sounded to Tom like an auctioneer and to myself like a fire & brimstone Southern Baptist preacher. Combine the two and what you imagine is what Dr. Holiday sounded like. Pretty quickly into his speech I noted that he was using impassioned tone of voice, a sense of urgency, and catch-phrases such as "my fellow americans" and "give me liberty or give me death" to evoke an emotional response in the listener meant to distract them from the fact that he pretty much said nothing. Healthcare reform he says is like "Eve eating the tree of knowledge." "We need healthcare reform but not this Trojan Horse..." He tells us, "[meant to] rob, steal and destroy the economy." He ended his speech that contained very little by stating "The government wants the right to pull the plug on you." and that "Patriots are taking names."

He used the phrase "give me liberty or give me death" at least three times, and "my fellow Americans" no fewer than twice. When the third speaker Dr. Pat Barret began it was clear that they'd started off with the two most powerful speakers. Tom and I had been receiving suspicious looks from the time we walked in and sat down. This began when the young man with the "personhood" T-shirt asked me to sign their petition as we entered and I told him that I didn't want to miss any of the speeches and perhaps when we exited. I also realized that despite the fact I was wearing conservative business casual attire (black slacks, a pink tank top, a fairly expensive scarf, heels) that I obviously stood out as I have a nose ring, 2 visible tattoos, and was wearing pants instead of a skirt. In hindsight, I probably should've worn long sleeves and a skirt as to blend in better. I was the only one outside taking notes which also drew attention to me. As time elapsed I became more and more conscious of the fact that we were not among friends. I didn't feel safe honestly. I know in this state we are always around the "from my cold dead hands" types, the ones that wouldn't vote for Obama simply because he is black. I had never really felt surrounded by them in the way that I did then. Surrounded in a way that triggered my fight or flight instinct, and i knew there were too many of them to fight off.

I'm no coward mind you. I go to conservative Christian college in a car plastered with rainbow, NOW, liberal and pro-choice bumper stickers and it's often in the back of my mind that some crazy might get in my face about them. Worse, they might do more than get in my face. In a world where people claim to be pro-life and kill doctors i'm not sure that some of them aren't crazy enough to harm a person just for being pro-choice, or gay, or liberal even - as i stop at the stop sign that has a "lose liberals" sticker on it one block from where i have to park my car. I've honestly never wanted to blend in before. I let out a breath I did not know I'd been holding when we got up to leave. Unfortunately that would not keep me from looking behind me to make sure Tom was following and literally knock one of Les Riley's toddlers to the asphalt in the process. I was panicked and aghast because believe it or not, I'm pro-choice and probably want to have kids. He was fine, he didn't even cry. I was already incredibly on edge, which led me to shout out "Oh my God, I'm SO SORRY!" which probably earned no points as I used the Lord's name in vain. Mrs. Riley (as I am sure she would want to be referred to) assured me that he was fine and for a split second I felt like we were all just people. I wasn't a radical lesbian liberal feminist Christian who enjoys body modification; she wasn't a radical right-wing anti-choice mother of nine who won't wear pants and probably believes she should submit to her husband. For a split second there we were two people concerned about a child who had hit the pavement. People, just people.

That's something I think we all forget when we start thinking about politics. It's something we have to forget to an extent when we become activists for either side. "The enemy" becomes a theory rather than a flesh and blood human being. I fight for her right to choose to have nine children, she wants to take away the right of every other woman to not. It's odd to look into someone's eyes and for a split second forget all of that. In the end, I can give you no solid, statistical, valid reason for not supporting HR3200 because they didn't give one. If there are any, it appears that this particular group of people believe that their skills at playing on your fears, your inability or unwillingness to find out the facts for yourself, and your eagerness to be swept away in mob mentality are much more important than giving you concrete reasons to not support it. I'm pretty sure that alone tells you why you should.
girl feels: discontentdiscontent
03 June 2009 @ 10:18 pm
this is my latest blog post from www.nowms.org

jenni smith, president of MS NOW and nancy kohsin-kintigh, director of the jackson women's health organization

this is a difficult post to write, as it is a very difficult time. this past sunday may 30th dr. george tiller was viciously murdered in his church during the service as he served as an usher. by now most everyone has heard about this horrific act of violence. sunday was a blur of at first shock followed by disbelief, sadness and then activity. the fact that Jackson Women's Health Organization director Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh had to begin organizing a press conference when she should have been allowed to grieve the loss of her friend is just the tip of the indignity that the act of a gunman who was clearly out of his mind caused.

i'm not even going to try to hide the fact that i am angry.

i am angry that a movement that claims to be protecting life would take it. i am angry that these organizations will immediately (20 minutes after the act? really?) condemn the action but remind people that dr. tiller was "a mass murderer". whether or not they want to admit it, these pro-life organizations nurture and create killers like the man that took dr. tiller away from his family, his friends, and the women that he helped each day. i believe that organizations like operation rescue are directly responsible for the murder of dr. tiller.

these groups want to say that abortion is murder. ok, well what is murder? if anyone reads my blogs here and elsewhere you probably already know that i am a "wordie". i perhaps just made that up right now but it's like "foodie". i love words. so when i begin a thought or a blog post that has something to do with a word i start at the beginning - let's take a look at what the word means so that we can truly begin to understand it. let's start at the source. because words can get perverted, their meaning can be changed by popular culture, by incorrect usage, by slang, by any number of things. so before i go any further let's look for a second at the word: murder.

according to the random house dictionary which is used on the website dictionary.com murder is defined as: "the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law." or to be more specific look at what wikipedia has to say about murder: "Murder, as defined in common law</a> countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with intent</a> (or malice aforethought</a>), and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide</a>." so murder is something unlawful aka against the law, and as we all know abortion is NOT against the law it is legal. so when groups like operation rescue call dr. tiller a "mass murderer" what they are really doing is using inflaming language to incite people who are anti-abortion. incite them to what? well, we already know the answer to that don't we?

the truth is abortion is a tricky subject in the united states, and especially here in the south. in mississippi we have left today only one abortion clinic in the entire state. i had the opportunity to spend all day yesterday in the MS Dept of Archives & History reading room with our Starkville NOW President izzy pellegrine who is doing research on a personal project involving abortion in the state. as we looked at newspaper clippings beginning in 1975 a shocking pattern became clear: since roe v. wade the anti-abortion activists have had the exact same argument and so have we. a quote that we read from the 1980s could easily have been followed by the name "Jenni Smith" instead of the name of the then-President of MS NOW. izzy and i both remarked on that. the question became what have we been doing for the last 36 years? well i know what izzy and i have been doing, neither of us were born in 1973; but what have the feminists, the pro-choice movement been doing the last 36 years? because somehow we aren't changing any minds.

it's true that it's hard to argue with religion. we can obviously, and have and do, but how do you change the mind of someone who has a closed mind? you can't and it's clear that we are not. how do you identify an extremist? that actually is not so hard. it's easy to spot a ticking time bomb, just not so easy to see when he or she will go off. the new york times magazine featured a jackson area activist back in october of 1994. in her cover story "kill for life?" lisa belkin profiled "rev" roy mcmillan and his wife beverly. in the piece federal marshalls walk dr. booker into the now-defunct new woman medical center in jackson, to prevent mcmillan from killing him. fifteen years and the faces haven't changed. neither have the sides that they are on. in that same story it states: "The day after Britton [an abortion doctor in florida that was killed by mcmillan's personal friend paul hill] was shot, Booker's security guard says he heard McMillan shout, "You could be next, Booker."

what sense does it make to kill for "life"? it makes no sense in my mind but it's apparent that the people that do believe that the end justifies the means. kill an abortionist and you stop abortions. that's short-sighted in that another doctor will take the place of the doctor you kill. it's also short-sighted in that the same people who want to "save babies" have no interest in making sure that they have food or health care after they are born. this is what has always boggled my mind: the exact same people who stand outside the abortion clinics with their signs featuring mangled fetuses or whatever they claim to be "murdered babies" are also the people that want to do away with medicaid and welfare. as soon as the baby can breathe on its own it must fend for itself, literally. they want to protect it in the womb but they don't want their tax dollars to help pay for food for it to eat or insurance to get it shots or doctor's visits once it goes to wherever it will go to try and survive.

an unwanted child will not be nurtured. it will not be loved, it will not be adequately cared for, but that doesn't seem to matter to roy mcmillan and the other thousands of pro-"life" activists around the country. what about the babies that are killed? left for dead by teenage mothers that do not and never wanted them? why would you kill for an infant to live for ten or fifteen days of abuse before it is smothered and left in a dumpster? they scream "let us help you love your baby!" but how do they do that? they don't. they only want to confuse and intimidate young women past the point that they can obtain a legal abortion.

i know i tend to go on, and honestly with this subject i could go on and on. perhaps i will make this a series of blog posts. i want to end this post and leave you with this true story. a few months ago a friend and i were on a bench swing enjoying the sunshine at laurel street park in the belhaven area of jackson. it was a pretty day so the park was full of children and their care-takers enjoying the warmth, and one heterosexual couple swinging on the swings. a man entered the park a short time after we arrived with four african american children. something tugged on the back of my mind, but i wasn't sure what. i think i recognized the hat that he wore but all i thought to myself somewhat unconsciously was "that man doesn't look like he would have four adopted black children."

my friend and i continued our conversation until the man in the funny white hat approached us. he looked at my friend and said "do you know where i met these children?" she was a little confused and laughed but said "where?" he then began to tell us a story. it was about that time that i realized who the man was, "rev" roy mcmillan. i recognized his distinctive hat because i passed him each day on the way to work, he held up signs that said things like "abortion is black genocide" on the corner of state st and fondren place, the corner that he could stand on given the restraining order. i realized that he must've seen the bumper stickers on my car "pro-child, pro-choice, every child a wanted child", "i'll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy" and my HRC sticker and by process of elimination decided that of all the people in the park she and i would be the ones driving that car. he told us a story of a young woman who was homeless, living in her car with her four children. she had no job, no way to work with so many young children, and had no home for them except a car. she came to jackson to have an abortion because she was pregnant with her fifth child. he interceded and talked her out of having an abortion, he helped them find a place in a homeless shelter. (i imagine simms house. i know it because a friend lived there for a time and i have issues with their policies.) the baby was born on christmas day, a little girl. his voice was oddly calm and his demeanor was frankly a bit creepy even before i realized who he was. at that point one of the children ran over and told mcmillan that he had to go to the bathroom. mcmillan replied "that's ok. we are going to chuck-e-cheese now." and wandered away as inexplicably as he had wandered over. my friend looked at me confused and said "what was that?" i said "that was roy mcmillan."

what i took from that conversation is this. there is no ounce of common sense in convincing a woman who lives in her car with four children to have another child she does not want and bring it into homelessness and poverty. when it comes right down to it the reason that i am pro-choice is this: it is hard to raise a child even under the best circumstances. children deserve love. if you love a child he or she may never notice that they grow up in poverty, but they deserve to be loved and wanted. when someone does not want a child they do not treat them with love or respect. no child deserves to be abused. i can tell you stories of friends and acquaintances that you would think came from a lifetime original movie. no 8 year old girl should be pimped out by her father for money. no one should have their arm broken by a father when they make too much noise. children should be loved and wanted and i do not think that anyone should be forced to carry and raise a child that they do not want. abortion is still legal in this country and i will give my own blood to see that it remains so, but i don't think that anyone should have to die for doing something that is LEGAL, that is OPTIONAL, and that women seek out because they WANT and NEED it.

photos by vickie d. king of the clarion ledger

girl feels: sadsad
26 March 2009 @ 12:00 am
i was thinking tonight about statistics and the role that they play in my life. in my job (vp of outreach and communication for MS & jackson area national organization for women) i get to hear a lot of statistics. unfortunately they are mostly negative ones having to do with things like rape, violence against women, teen pregnancy rates, stds, etc.

the odd thing is, i like statistics, i always have. the give us a context for things. 1 in 3 dentists are suicidal, mississippi is number one in teen birth rates in the united states; they give us perspective. this is bad, that is good, we know how bad or good because we know how many people it effects or how many people think that way. of course we need to know where those statistics come from if we are to know their accuracy. one of my favourite sources to cite is the CDC (center for disease control). i don't always trust government statistics fully but i will usually trust the statistics from solid organizations like amnesty international, or the rape incest and abuse national network (RAINN).

it's nice to come into contact with statistics that are just random though, and what got me thinking about that tonight is oddly enough health magazine. my mom subscribes to it and gives it to me when she's done. i actually prefer fitness magazine if we are looking at healthy living magazines marketed to women in their 30s. the one thing i really LOVE about health magazine though is their very last page. while some women's magazines like to save that for the "all important" worst dressed lists and photos, health magazine has something called "vital stats." in that section they pick a theme and then give random statistics.

in the issue i was reading it was about success or the good life. it said something like (and i am doing this from memory so please don't quote me) 74% of americans believe they will achieve "the good life" and 52% believe that "the good life" is owning a second car. as i eagerly read over the statistics, musing and marveling at each one, i thought about the odd comfort that comes from knowing how many people feel the way you do about something. things like (once again i made this up) 89% of americans support the ERA or hate crimes bill makes you go "oh wow, that's great!" and things like (real actual statistic from the human rights campaign) a hate crime occurs every minute and 1 in 6 hate crimes are based on sexual orientation make you go "what world am i living in?"

statistics are sort of like a picture window - they frame our world for us. more than that, they tell us what we are looking at. i think what really motivates me when it comes to statistics is our ability to change them; to change people's minds, to work for the greater good. only 42% of americans support the hate crimes bill? how do we get the majority? how do we educate, who do we educate?

lately i have so many personal things going on that really the only solace i have found for my aching heart and my weary mind has been through the things i believe in most - my activism. the funny thing is, i was always more of a thinker than a doer. i'm a writer. i want to talk about what's wrong not get out there and CHANGE it. it occured to me tonight how much i have changed since i've been back in mississippi, and even in the last year. i said of certain people "they are thinkers and dreamers - ideas people. they're not DO-ers." i realized how long i had been a thinker and a dreamer, and certainly not a doer. the things aren't mutually exclusive. we need thinkers, people that can come up with really great ideas that just blow you away, and we need doers but you don't just have to be one or the other. one of the greatest examples of this is our jackson area NOW president ashley jackson. i don't say this to name-check or suck up, it's just true: ashley has phenominal ideas, things that would never in a million years cross my mind. if she never did anything though, those ideas would just be wasted.

i still have a lot to say, as is clear from this entry. i don't blog a lot lately because i'm just so exhausted on so many levels. but the truth is, we can think and say until we die and what good will it do us or the world? perhaps if we are a great philosopher but let's face it, who is these days? writing about why the ERA needs to finally pass may change some minds, but there is a lot more than just thinking and writing that needs to be done. i know a lot of good is going to come out of some of my ideas and the ideas of others, and i cannot wait to see them become firm and concrete physical visions of what we had in our minds eye.

in the end i'm not sure what that has to do with statistics but, you probably already know i meander wherever i can. :)
existing: bed
girl feels: thoughtfulthoughtful
melodies: the glorious thunder storm
16 March 2009 @ 10:45 pm
from facebook:

some of you know that i've had a very rough time in my personal life over the last 4 months. others probably surmised from things i've said in my status update or things i've posted on my wall. i guess some might think to talk about it publically is a poor strategic move, considering i use my facebook account for so much NOW business. i don't really think that it is though. sometimes we go through traumatic events in our personal lives, and reacting to them doesn't make us bad people it makes us human. i don't think there's an organism on this earth that reacts well to stress.

truthfully i'm very sad that the Social Justice NOW! Film Series is over because it was something realy positive that i got to focus my energy on, and it was so rewarding to watch it be the success that it was. i really believe in MS NOW and i don't think that you will find a group of really dedicated activists that care more than the officers of MS NOW and our chapters do - regardless of what the universe throws our way in other areas of our lives.

since december of 2008, the foundation that i had built my life on has crumbled before my eyes. my parents have separated and are divorcing after nearly 40 years of marriage. i lost someone i was deeply in love with, and i also lost one of my closest friends. these things in rapid succession sent me into a grief that i have never experienced before. love - no matter what type of love it is - is something that we want to be able to believe in unconditionally. the love of our families, our lovers, our friends, i think to do it we have to believe that there is a stability to it. in a world that is constantly changing we all have things that we believe to be CERTAIN, and people whom are our rocks. despite the fact that my parent's relationship was never overtly positive, the unit of my immediate family: my mother, father, and sister was something that seemed immovable. the rock that i used as a foundation for my future, because i knew no matter what life was going to throw at me i had a safe place to come back to and heal.

certainly none of us are strangers to divorce. most of my friends have divorced at least once. even my gay friends have had relationships where they wore rings and had committment ceremonies that while not legally recognized ended in a sort of emotional divorce. my first marriage ended in divorce as half of all marriages in the united states do. i know i have no corner on the grief that comes from being a child (adult or otherwise) of divorce. it's a difficult thing though, as an adult, to switch places with your parents. i've had many moments since being an adult where i realized that my parents were never as omiscient as i thought they were as a child; mostly because as i get older the more i realize how little i know. the progression from teenager to adulthood is a regression of sorts because we go from where we know it all to where we are pretty damn sure we never will :) i think that's beautiful in a way.

as a longtime student of psychology, i find myself challenging myself to take everything i know and apply it to myself and my own life in a way that we never quite can. it is hard to not be swept away by the moment when my mother calls me sobbing; when my father tries to become my best friend. . when i want to text something to the friend i no longer speak to, when something innoculous reminds me of the person i was in love with. . as carrie bradshaw of one of my all time favourite shows sex & the city once said, "as we journey down this road called 'who we want to be' i can't help but whine, are we there yet?" [paraphrased as i can't remmeber the exact quote].

i have started working again with the most talented counselor i have ever met (i say talent because i believe ultimately that there is a je ne sais quoi to the helping field. you need a tremendous ammount of education for sure, but in the end there is something that cannot be taught about helping others heal.) kimberly kinsey lmft. one of the things that i absolutely loved about the mental health technologies program i went through at sinclair is that they had absolutely NO stigma with counseling. as really no one in the field should. i remember one of my first classes, susan who is an LSW said to the class "are you in counseling? get in counseling. if you don't need it yet, you will." we learned how to lead group therapy by essentially getting credit hours for being IN group therapy. i also had the horror and priviledge to work for one of the best Gestalt therapists in the country, C. Jesse Carlock, PhD. Which would drive anyone into therapy were they not already there. lol.

i digress as i am apt to do which is why i rarely blog on facebook. about ten years ago i came to a personal realization that was this: lying to others about where you are is the second step that comes after lying to yourself. to that end i created a website that was essentially about baring myself to the world. after a while, that website wasn't really necessary. there are few things i believe in more than blunt, unrepentant honesty. not honesty that hurts others or honesty that absolves us of personal responsibility, but just honesty for honesty's sake. i think a lot of life is sadly based on trying to make sure that other people know how much better we are than they are. . things that don't hold up behind closed doors. perfection, status, i hope we have all lived long enough and true enough to know that there is no such thing as the perfect family, the perfect marriage, the perfect person. how boring would perfection be? still we have walls that protect us from strangers when sadly sometimes the ones we really need protection from are the ones that are already in our walls, who know our shortcomings and will use them against us in a way no stranger ever would.

so this is a quintessential stacey kind of note. :) it's hard to reach out to others when you are going through hard times. it's especially hard for me. i have been a student of "do as i say not as i do" for about as long as i've been alive. i have often urged friends to reach out when i myself was going through things that i refused to let others in on. i'm not sure what it is, this fear that most people seem to have of being vulnerable. are we afraid it will be used against us? probably. the truth is that no one can care unless you allow them to. if we had the ability to thrive alone we wouldn't have this need engrained in us to have friends. after we get burned time and time and time again we put up walls as a defense mechanism, but maybe those walls do more harm than good. so this is where i'm at for anyone caring enough to read this. . mending a broken heart, that has been broken not only by romantic love but by loss of friendship, betrayal of trust, and the breakdown of a family that no matter how dysfunctional was something i believed would last forever. i cannot harden my heart to this pain, nor would i want to.

it is in the times of hardship that one finds out what he or she is truly made of, and better yet what those one surrounds themselves with are made of. whatever pain i am going through - and truly at times i felt that my soul had died - i know that i am learning, i know that i am made better by the people who's love has proven unshakable, and ultimately it is rather freeing to remember that no matter what i do who i am is who i am. and i am really not a person that's ever been good at hiding :)
14 February 2009 @ 12:13 am
originally posted on my nowms.org blog

the last few days the internet has been ablaze with the news that singer chris brown allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, pop superstar rihanna. people are shocked, angry, and upset which i find surprising in a country where three women die each day as a result of domestic violence (according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence NNEDV.)

i guess that it has to take something drastic to make people understand the reality of what violence against women is. to see these young successful talented people in a new light is very difficult. rihanna is 20 years old and has won 3 american music awards, 3 billboard music awards, and a grammy - 46 awards all together. brown is 19 and has had two number one US singles and has done charity work for the st. jude's children's hospital. as we usher in a new era where it means something very new and exciting in america to be young, gifted, and black - we have the first african american president after all - it's a blow to our perception of the american dream.

we want to believe that violence against women exists in a neat little package that makes some sort of sense: a drunken husband, a trailer park. collectively we want to believe that educated, young, successful people are immune. this doesn't happen in "nice" neighborhoods to "good" people. it doesn't happen to me, it's not going to happen to my daughter because _______ [insert whatever faulty reasoning helps us sleep better at night here].

violence touches each and every one of us - gay straight black white rich poor and we don't want to believe that because if we do then we have to assess not only our risk but our culpability. this is not just a personal problem for some abusers or people who are abused it is a societal problam that cannot begin to be fixed until we fix our perceptions of it. it should not take a famous young women being harmed to make us focus on the reality of violence against women. NOW president kim gandy stated: "When it involves public figures, domestic violence gets attention - but what about the rest of us? We just watched the Senate attempt to cut the very modest Violence Against Women Act funding from the economic recovery package, in order to attract Republican support..."

so i ask YOU, you reading this right now: what are you doing to change your perceptions of violence against women? what preconceived notions do you have that need to be challenged? we all have them from the most informed activist to the layperson who doesn't want to turn on the news because it's so depressing. someone said of the alleged rihanna attack: "i wonder what happened to provoke it?"
what i heard was: "what did she do to deserve that?"

because that would make it make sense, and as human beings we look for answers, we want things to make sense to us. the violent beating of a young women doesn't make sense. we don't want to live in a world where a young innocent woman will be left with contusions on her face, a bloody nose and bite marks on her fingers and arm; where she would have to hear the man she loves say "i'm going to kill you." yet if we take a step back and really look, can anything she "did to provoke" that attack really warrant that? can you think of anything that would make that ok? according to the ny daily news sources close to brown says he "feels very bad". probably not as bad as rihanna feels.

take some time today to think about violence against women, REALLY think. it's time to make some changes.

for more information about what you can do to help stop violence against women visit the NOW national site.

V-Day is a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.

don’t forget to come out and support the people who are working hard to bring you the very first performance of the Vagina Monologues in Jackson, MS!!!

performances feb 20th and 21st at 7:30 pm in the plaza at rainbow whole foods. both nights are expected to sell out so please get your tickets in advance http://www.jfptickets.com proceeds benefit The Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence and The Women’s Fund.

you can also donate in addition to just attending and can also be a sponser of the event! for more info on sponsoring or donations contact ashley @ nowms.org

news and info sources: mercury news blog
new york daily news
splash news online
wikipedia bios of chris brown & rihanna
girl feels: sadsad
14 February 2009 @ 12:07 am

this is a video i made of photographs i took from our prop 8 protest in november 2009 and our ex-gay protest at morrison heights baptist church february 2009.

song "lullaby for the new world order" by matthew good, used with permission.
girl feels: creativecreative

according to diddy: there are no crackheads, black people, or crime in alaska.

one thing though...did is speaking for the youth in america? isn't he almost 40? (just checked, he's 39).
girl feels: gigglygiggly
01 September 2008 @ 03:57 pm

someone posted this on neworleans. it's just astounding! wow, i mean it sort of overwhelms me...fills me with dread and the urge to run. notice the streetlight near the end of the video, it gets so dark that it comes on!

thank God that nola was spared a second katrina.

edit: can you imagine what katrina must've looked/been like? christ. i am so happy that the people i "know" riding out the storm (all online peeps, no rl friends except i don't know if bridget stayed or went so she might be riding it out...) are all ok and that it seems to be peaceful. they're saying no looting, levees are holding but there's the water that came over them in the 9th ward.

i'm so so SO glad no one was having to use an axe to get out onto their roof. whew. and i've also decided that i have to live in nola before i die. i will.
existing: couch
girl feels: relievedrelieved
melodies: girlyman ~ joyful sign
30 August 2008 @ 04:37 pm
i do the majority of my blogging and posting links over on facebook, you should friend me over there. as i have said various places and to various people, i was feeling rather burnt out and apathetic about politics lately. probably because of the obama/hillary who was going to get the nomination. i felt like i just couldn't read anymore, but it was everywhere there was just no escaping it. it was hard to take a break from it because i really did feel like i needed to know as much as i could about those canidates, this election is so important.

so after a while i just went "bleh". anyone that knows me knows that i am the first to say that i am much too radical a liberal to support any political canidate. no one will take the stance that i feel is right as far as marriage equality, for fear of alienating the majority of people in america who either oppose us or want some "separate but equal" bullshit where we get some of the rights but don't call it marriage. i affiliate with not particular political party. i define myself as "liberal" and that is about as far as i will go. i'm definitely not a democrat. for a long time i was admittedly a two issue voter. choice and marriage equality were my only concerns. while it's true i would vote for a canidate who would uphold roe v wade even if they didn't support marriage equality, i didn't always like it. with the last election though i felt that my own personal politics were less important than getting bush out of the white house. too bad we didn't succeed.

lately though, my thoughts have shifted. i've been thinking a lot about the economy, about the huge divisions of class in america. as more and more people struggle to make ends meet i began seeing that things like marriage equality are a luxury when you can barely afford to put food on the table. so on the aniversary of dr. martin luther king's "i have a dream" speech i wrote a piece that you can read over at facebook where i posed a question to mr. obama as he had just won the democratic party's nomination. how can any elected official truly represent us if they don't understand us? certainly the gap between us and obama is smaller than us and mccain, one of the richest politicians in a sea of rich politicians. how can you understand what poor americans are going through if you haven't lived it? can you empathize enough with hunger to represent the hungry? have you made the difficult decisions about life and health and family that so many americans make every day that they don't even think about it anymore? do you understand that basic things can become luxuries when your focus has to be survival? things have got to change.

truthfully, i don't know that any politician can understand what the majority of americans are dealing with right now because it just doesn't touch them in the way that it does us. living here in jackson i see the huge gap between rich & poor every day. there is no discernable middle class in jackson. while i don't agree with everything that MS democratic nominee for senate erik r fleming says and believes, i do like his "main street" stance on the economy and how he wants to focus on getting MS back on track. we need to focus on getting this country back on track. i do believe that necessities become luxuries when your focus is survival. things that i used to take forgranted i no longer do. even though i make more money now than i ever have before i struggle because just in the last few years the economy has changed so much.

anyway, what started out as a brief introduction to the email i received from MoveOn about Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin has turned into a bit more of a blog post than i intended. I have never felt more firmly that Mccain and the republican party are out of touch with the majority of americans. this choice of vp is short-sighted. it flies in the face of mccain's contention that obama is not experienced enough to run this country; and it also highlights that the mccain camp know very little about the women that supported hillary. if they believe for a second that anyone that supported hillary did so just because she is a woman, they are mistaken. sarah palin is no hillary clinton. ha, that is the understatement of the year. sarah palin is anti-woman, anti-environment, anti-diversity, inexperienced, naive, and frankly what seemed at first to be a brilliant move on the mccain side i think will ultimately be a huge blow to them. their ignorance is not the only reason that they will lose, i only hope that america is not so racist as many people i've talked to fear, but here in the south i have heard people say that they will not vote for obama because of his race and that is sickening, saddening, and frightning.

at times i feel like my thoughts and emotions on this might be a bit dramatic, but then i remember that nothing i care about is taken with less intensity than this. i am dramatic, intense, high strung and infinitely passionate when it comes to anything that i care about; and i can't for a second believe that the future of the country where i live should not make me as passionate and dramatic as it does :)

i'm me afterall.


Dear MoveOn member,
Yesterday was John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected, he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.


Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

* She was elected Alaska 's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1

* Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2

* She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. 3

* Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4

* She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.5

* She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6

* How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

This is information the American people need to see. Please take a moment to forward this email to your friends and family.

We also asked Alaska MoveOn members what the rest of us should know about their governor. The response was striking. Here's a sample:

She is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the US in the volatile international scene that exists today. —Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

She is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She's a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska. —Christine B., Denali Park, AK

As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be. —Karen L., Anchorage, AK

Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.—Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She's vehemently anti-choice and doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. —Marina L., Juneau, AK

I think she's far too inexperienced to be in this position. I'm all for a woman in the White House, but not one who hasn't done anything to deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John McCain's part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume he'll get our vote by putting "A Woman" in that position.—Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

So Governor Palin is a staunch anti-choice religious conservative. She's a global warming denier who shares John McCain's commitment to Big Oil. And she's dramatically inexperienced.

In picking Sarah Palin, John McCain has made the religious right very happy. And he's made a very dangerous decision for our country.

In the next few days, many Americans will be wondering what McCain's vice-presidential choice means. Please pass this information along to your friends and family.

Thanks for all you do.

–Ilyse, Noah, Justin, Karin and the rest of the team


1. "Sarah Palin," Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008

2. "McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate," NARAL Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008

3. "Sarah Palin, Buchananite," The Nation, August 29, 2008

4. "'Creation science' enters the race," Anchorage Daily News, October 27, 2006

5. "Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science," Huffington Post, August 29, 2008

6. "McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy," Sierra Club, August 29, 2008

"Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past," League of Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008

"Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor," The Times of London, May 23, 2008

7 "McCain met Palin once before yesterday," MSNBC, August 29, 2008

Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 3.2 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. This email was sent to S on August 30, 2008. To change your email address or update your contact info, click here. To remove yourself from this list, click here.
girl feels: enthralledpassionate
melodies: dixie chicks ~ not ready to make nice
20 August 2008 @ 07:55 pm
(i posted this on facebook yesterday but not here because i don't get on lj at work. ever.)

i've just stumbled upon an amazing revelation. perhaps this is obvious to everyone, and i think i knew it but i don't know that i knew it before. to truly be in love you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to that person. no matter how many times you have been hurt before, even by them, you have to allow yourself to be open, to trust that they will not hurt you. the problem with that is that once you've been hurt by the same person over and over again you build up walls out of self preservation. it's a natural survival instinct. after a while those walls are impenetrable, and that's when the love may still exist but you cease being in love.

but if those walls were always there, if you never let your guard down, never trusted the person, never let them in any further than the surface, can you ever truly have been in love with them? perhaps it depends on your definition of love...i think this is mine. the belief - no matter how unrealistic it is - that the person that you choose to be with will not hurt you. a hope that is perhaps without basis, and then by proving you right time and time again that love can be sustained over time. that's not to say that someone you love will never hurt you, even inadvertantly, but that the depth of that pain is outweighed by the faith you have in their intentions and their ability to not cause you more pain.

when pain becomes linked somehow to your love or relationship, forgiving and forgetting is not really enough. it is only by proving day in and day out that our faith in them is warranted that we can begin to experience what a lasting love might be.

this is my latest theory at least. :)


and btw yes i blog on facebook, even though it's usually commenting on article links i post but you should friend me over there
existing: couch
girl feels: goodgood
melodies: garbage ~ only happy when it rains