Saturday, December 22, 2007


Is this thing working again? The last time I tried, it made me keep creating new passwords each time I wanted to post something and then it still didn't work, so we'll see.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blogspot got all funky on me...

I haven't been posting because I was simply unable to do so. I just flat out could not post. Today, though, I had the bright idea to change my password, getting in through the back door in a way, and the gods of the Internet smiled upon my feeble but earnest efforts. Yay, me! I don't have much to say, though, as I've spent most of the past few weeks working on The Novel and all of today, pretty much, cleaning up a four-year-old's barf. Even my dog puked today, a nice pile on the rug, which greeted me as I was on my way to the laundry machine with a freshly-besullied blanket. All this puke must be foretelling of something but I don't care to plumb the depths of my soul at this moment. And the dog puke, it's still sitting (piling?) there. It's gross to have unattended vomit, but none of us is in the room with it so I'm leaving it for John. John has been greeted at the door with all manner of disgusting chores that await him, from a stinking baby to an overflowing toilet, so I don't think the chore o' the day will be too traumatic. And, if it is, well, tough titties. I was looking forward to spending the afternoon at the library writing but children have a way of getting sick at the most inopportune times. In any case, my son was very sweet and mild all day, barely rasping out, "Mom, I need some water," with the occasional whimper all day. He's my sweet love, and when he's sick - pretty rarely, all told - I get to reconnect with that quiet, placid soul he was as a baby I had to care for, which is a nice change of pace (occasionally!) from his hyper-talkative, kinetic boy energy of today. If he's still sick tomorrow, though, we'll see how my mood sustains itself.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Boo! It's Nader. EEEK!!

I normally don't shy away from disagreeing in a friendly way with my friends on a variety of topics. Many of my friends are not vegan, for example, and that is something that I believe in to my core and I have a hard time understanding how anyone with strong social justice convictions, which all of my friends have, can disregard as it seems to me that the connections are undeniable. I do accept that our beliefs about what Carol Adams calls "The Other" are complex and not necessarily consistent or rational. We also might disagree about a variety of other topics, from what time a child should go to bed (our son is the rock star of the group, not ready to quit the non-stop party that is his life until around 9:30 or so, an hour inconceivable to those whose children go to bed when Denny's is still seating for their Early Bird Special) and other sundry issues, but for the most part, we are a pretty simpatico bunch. That is, unless someone should bring up the Name That Shall Not Be Uttered, that bugaboo of the Democratic Party and unholy scourge of anything decent and good, Ralph Nader. Truly, his very name inspires such a (at times) hysterical response among good and decent lefties that I have learned to keep my support of The Beast to myself, because that one fact of my life has threatened to derail otherwise solid friendships. I have been told outright that I was personally responsible for the war in Iraq and other Bush-era atrocities; I have had friends shake their heads in disbelief at my seeming naivety and selfishness. [Ignoring, perhaps, the Electoral College and the fact that Al Gore was all but guaranteed in my home state.] I have learned to feel out a person if she should bring up Mr. Nader so I can brace myself for the degree of vitriol that will be slung my way once my convictions have been brought to the light of day. I tend to not bring up my views on this particular subject unless it is clear that a friend wants to have a calm discussion because I have learned that it is almost too thorny a topic for even the most accepting of friendships to bridge. So I tend to quietly state my opinion and try to change the subject.

Yet I supported Nader in 2000 and am unrepentant. If he ran again, say, against Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Guiliani, you can bet your sweet patootie that I would be voting for Ralph Nader. Rather than attack me, though, I think a good question to ask is why would an avowed progressive vote cast a vote against a pioneering Second Wave feminist? Because Hillary Clinton is as anathema to me as a Republican - she gave her unapologetic consent to invade Iraq, after all, killing thousands of women, children, soldiers and civilians - and to me she is the personal embodiment of the ethical and strategic failures of the Democratic Party. In the same way that some liberals cannot look at Nader without the knee-jerk reaction of "He Stole The Election", I cannot look at Hillary Clinton, as well as the overwhelming majority of her Democratic peers, as anything but abject, worthless failures. They were the ones, by and large, who voted in support of the war. What is wrong with these people? Ralph Nader has been an outspoken critic of the war since before troops were ever deployed.

Leaving behind my general loathing of the Hillary Clinton and her fellow senators (with the possible exception of Dick Durbin, Obama and a few others), though, I have to ask, as I did back in the day: is a democratic system a unwavering two party system? Isn't my right a voter to vote for the individual who is most reflective of my core values? Were we too perilously close during the 2000 election to seeing a dynamic and true democracy in action (we didn't really as Nader was shut out of the debates and most of the public eye in a decidedly undemocratic fashion) and we scared ourselves with its potential for a true multiplicity of views? Ralph Nader was anti-war (Gore was not), pro-choice and possessing of a critical, sharp and passionate mind. He had a stellar reputation of taking on corrupt businesses and politicians no holds barred, his legacy is nothing if not admirable. How could I not vote for him? I had never had the opportunity of voting for someone so close to my own values and casting that ballot was a joyous occasion that I do not regret for a moment. I was finally supporting someone in the political world who I truly believed in and I felt like I was participating in a real democratic process for once. It was exhilarating.

The 2000 election was Gore's to lose and lose it he did. Putting aside Republican ballot corruption in Florida, which most certainly occurred, it was a razor-thin race. (Gore technically DID win, but that's a whole different topic.) The fact that after eight years of prosperity, eight years of relative peace, Gore could not win the election handily from that goon from Texas speaks volumes about the man and his ability to inspire the voting public. He didn't even carry his home state of Tennessee, for crying out loud. The fact that voters were (almost) as likely to support an executin', coke snortin', drunk drivin', National Guard desertin' ( I have to admire the Family Values of the Republican Party, once again) IMBECILE, well, the blame for that rests solely on Gore's shoulders. Again, that election was his to win or lose: all he had to do was bunt a little and he could have run home safely. Now, as I said, there was malfeasance in Florida and who knows where else, but unless we're talking about an epic fleecing of the voting public, it was a stupidly close race all things considered. Gore should have contested that much more vigorously given the fact that he technically won Florida and thus the race, but he didn't and GWB assumed the throne with all the grace of a robber baron who simply set his beady little eyes on something he wanted but didn't deserve or properly win: the presidency. I was heartsick and disgusted the way that the Supreme Court appointed him to office, with his basic argument of, "I want it, so everyone better shut up. I'm taking it."

This is all to say that I'm really wanting to see the Nader documentary that is out now, An Unreasonable Man. The thing that's complicated for me about Ralph Nader and pretty much anyone who would run for President (with the possible exception of Kucinich) is that he seems like someone I wouldn't like personally very much. Those same traits that make him so admirable, particularly his dogged, rigorous pursuit of what he believes is right despite what those around him thing, well, that could make him on the sociopathic side. Like even if you had been friends with him for years, it wouldn't deter him from ramming you into the ground if you did something he considered suspect or dishonest. That unwavering pursuit of justice would likely make him a difficult friend to have, especially if you have any inconsistencies, as most of us do. Still, I would not mind those qualities in a world leader. I am a believer in democratic principles: we need to demand that our politicians start living up to that degree of integrity. Does Hillary Clinton? If not, come 2008, I urge you to look elsewhere. Isn't that democracy in action?

The charges leveled against Nader seem specious at best. One such charge is that he's selfish. For not walking in lockstep with the Democratic Party? For articulating the sense of betrayal and discontent so many millions of voters already felt? For highlighting the corruptions and failures of the Democratic Party. No, that was his gift as an engaged citizen. The charge of selfishness itself seems to be a particularly "liberal" one: haven't we all been called selfish at one point or another in our lives for holding true to what we believed? It is an attempt at guilt-tripping someone for upsetting the status quo, pure and simple. Second, doesn't it seem like the qualities we claim as American traits, as well as the traits all Hollywood movie heroes embody, dogged determination and independence, the very same traits that were seen as flaws in Nader. It seems to me that we don't so much admire these traits when they are applied in real life. Second, the charge of megalomania seems confusing: isn't that a trait of any one who would run for leader of a nation?

So this is all to say that if you voted for Gore in 2000 and plan to vote for whomever the Democratic party nominates in 2008 because that's what you believe in your heart is the right thing to do, than go for it. But please don't hold against me the pleasure of engaging in true democracy and voting for the individual I hold in the highest respect.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let's hear it for shopping malls!

Tomorrow I'm going to see a good friend of mine, who woke up one morning and found herself pregnant. She is pretty much the last female with a fully functioning set of ovaries that I ever expected to have a child, and I'm pretty sure that she would say the same for herself. This is not to say that she'll be anything but a fantastic mother, because she's going to rock (especially with my mentoring program), but just that this was not part of her five-year or ten-year plan or plan of any configuration. She may be going at this as a single mother - signs are pointing this way - but she has been very brave and forward-thinking about the whole thing. Pretty much like when she found out she was pregnant: her reaction was like, "Hmm. This was not what I was expecting, but what the hell? Bringing up a little feminist vegan hellraiser sounds kind of cool." (I don't think that she's going to need much of my mentoring after all.)

We're going to be meeting in a shopping mall in her town, a massive one, a mecca of unbridled consumption, and I'm going to have my son with me. When I first suggested meeting there, my friend was a little surprised.

"You want to meet in a shopping mall? I thought you rejected all that consumerism." She wasn't judging me, just surprised.

I explained to her that this shopping mall was really perfect, because, it being winter in Chicago, we'd be able to walk and talk, not worrying about being cold or having to break up our conversation every few minutes to duck into somewhere else. We also wouldn't have to be concerned about taking up a table for a couple of hours in a coffee shop and deal with my son when he would start to get bored. At an enclosed shopping mall, my son can run up and down the ramps and we can talk as we wander around. These are the sorts of things that never would have influenced my choices even five years ago; all that I needed was my coat and purse before bolting out the door, even less in the summer. Now that there is someone else, though, going places requires much more consideration. That first year of having a baby - and, oh, the two years after that of toddlerhood - was a challenge for someone who is spontaneous by nature. Did I have a pacifier? A back-up pacifier? Extra clothes? Extra diaper cover, just in case? A couple of toys to distract him with if he got upset and he wasn't tired or hungry? Sunblock? A sun hat? Snacks? A drink? I was not one of those mothers with a diaper bag big enough for penguin to comfortably reside in, but, still, I needed those things for our outings not to result in a disaster.

So my son will be spending tomorrow afternoon in a shopping mall. Despite my own misgivings - my disgust at the purveyors of clothing made by children in sweatships for children in wealthy nations, my distaste for the branding that is wrapping its tentacles around our children and their imaginations at such a young age - he will have a great time. I explained to my friend that he doesn't know Disney or most of that consumerist "stuff", and that doesn't matter to him: what matters to him is that he'll get to run up and down ramps and ride on escalators. I know that he is still going to be influenced by what he sees and that it will help shape his beliefs about consumption, but every day he is out of our carefully managed home environment, he is exposed to this world of materialism and consumption (of women, of animals, of junk). The best thing that I can do is try to raise a child with a healthy skepticism of mainstream values and strong convictions about the things that really matter to him: happiness, fairness, compassion and vegan cookies.

So I'm going to a shopping mall tomorrow with my son, and we're both going to be fine.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Okay, I'm not so sure how this works...

For someone as technologically unsavvy as I am, this blogging is going to be a steep learning curve, I think. Basically, my computer skills amount to knowing how to type [hunt-and-peck style, I think my typing teacher called it disdainfully (no, I'm not an octogenarian: they really had a mandatory typing class in high school in the 1980s - Go, Trevians!)] and save. I don't want to sell myself short, though: I can also copy-and-paste like a fiend.

I don't have much to say right now except that I will be going to my four-year-old son's preschool performance tonight, in the auditorium and everything. He'll be singing some song that I gather is titled "Oh Hey, Oh Hi, Hello!" from the singing he has been doing around the house. He has excellent pitch, I must say, (I read today that only one person in ten thousand has what is considered perfect pitch) as he is the spawn of at least one parent (me) who is practically tone-deaf. Which leads me to a horrible memory of my past: I went to New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL in the 1980s. That itself would be a nauseating memory - or one giant, ever-mutating blob of repressed teenaged tragedies - but I am speaking of one specific event.

When I was a freshman, (or, as my feminist cohorts in college would call a "first-year student", ever-eager to excise that 'man'), I took chorus because that was what was expected of us, and, back then, I did what was expected of me. Anyway, New Trier in the mid-80s practically wrote the handbook on preppy, snooty horridness. All the Christie Brinkley and Ken doll lookalikes with their four season tans (in the Chicago area, of course) and their Lacoste oxfords and penny loafers. Plus, the duck motif: it was everywhere. Insert one little ethnic girl with crazily curly hair and a second generation American lineage. One of these things was most decidely not like the other. I know that there were others like me who were not tall, blonde and of English-Irish-German descent, but during my first year in this petrie dish of hyper-competitive, airbrushed perfection, I felt pretty much like the goth girl who crashed homecoming.

Anyhoo, one day we were practicing some song in chorus and I was probably daydreaming about Morrissey when the teacher, a cranky, older woman with white, beehived hair, abruptly stopped playing the piano.

"Wait a minute. Someone is off pitch," she said.

We all sort of looked around, like, what were we supposed to do about it? She played the part again on piano and asked the altos, soprano twos (that's what they were called), and sopranos to sing a few lines again, one group at a time so as to isolate that naggingly wrong voice. Finally, it was my turn, as a soprano. I considered just miming the words as I feared that I was That Voice, but I was afraid that she would detect my deception. So I sang with the sopranos. She stopped playing the piano again, stood to face us, squinted and leaned her ear in like a bird dog, and had us sing a cappella so as to hone in on it. She put up her hand and the group hushed immediately.

"Ms. Rose. Please come up here."

I looked around the room with my best expression of nonchalance as she strode back to the piano bench. She started playing the piano again. "Sing again, please."

So I had to stand there alone, about fifty Heather-esque Ice Queens silently, most likely smirkingly, watching me as I tried to sing some show tune for this woman.

"Louder!" she commanded. "I can barely hear you."

I must have only been up there for fifteen seconds but it was truly one of the most wretched experiences of my life. If I could have disappeared right there by snapping my fingers, I absolutely would have. She finally, FINALLY, stopped playing the piano and my heart rate slowed down to about 350 beats a minute, my beet-red face returning to its former ghostly pallor.

"You are a soprano two," she declared. "Go sit with the twos."

Wasn't that horrible? You'd think that once she isolated the off-key voice to be mine, she would have had me sing a few bars after class. No. Why do that when a little humiliation (that still haunts me more than twenty years later) could do the trick? But I'm not bitter or anything.

I am home now from my son's concert and I am happy to report that he sang happily and unself-consciously, without interruption from his teacher. That's m' boy! He's breaking the cycle.

Tossing my hat in the ring...

A dozen good reasons to blog that are occurring to me as I write this:

1. A blog is the perfect place to rant and ramble about any topic I find of interest. I'm sure that I am the first one in the history of blogging who has conceived of such a novel application of this technology. Look for LOTS of posts about rainbows and unicorns and baking that perfect banana bread. Ha. Unless we're talking about a kickass double rainbow that alerted me (along with a few notes from a harpsichord) that a once-captive unicorn had been liberated from the sketchpad of a Disney storyboard drone AND incarnated so that I could feed the magical beast some fantastic banana bread (fair-trade, of course). Well, I would most certainly write about that, because I think that sort of a rainbow-unicorn-banana bread story would be neat. I'm not trying to be glib; I really do. Unless that happens, though, expect the rants and ramblings to be more in the line of a modern vegan, feminist mother and all that implies.

2. I don't have a lot of time, so writing in short bursts of passion is really a good outlet to offset any creative ruts I get into with the Big Project I'm currently working on, which threatens to suck me dry of true enjoyment I might otherwise get from writing. Or just suck, period.

3. Opinions? I've got plenty. Name your pick: I have opinions on Bush (entitled nimrod who would merely be pitiable if he weren't so damn despicable), Cheney (Darth Vader), Republicans (I'm thinking that the only excuse for voting Republican is because you're either ignorant or rich), strangers who criticize your parenting (they suck), Hillary Clinton (cannot form the words to describe my loathing for this woman, but suffice it to say that I think she is worse than a Republican, and I don't hold them in terribly high regard), Gary Francione (I think he rocks), PETA* (I loathe this organization, which has become, really, a mouthpiece for one person who embraces the exploitation of women as some ill-thought out and poorly executed "strategy" for ending cruelty to animals. Yeah, you try to wrap your brain around that one), sea lions (how cute are they?!) and more. I realize that I've got way more opinions about things that bug me than not. So sue me. Isn't that usually the way that opinions work?

4. I used to have a really cool website, in my humble opinion, called Vegan Street. We (my partner and I) started Vegan Street in 1998 as a way to help build a dynamic and creative vegan culture. For the most part, I think we succeeded: people still implore me to revitalize Vegan Street (it's been dormant since 2002). We also sold clothing, including a cute black camisole with the words of this blog on it (plus 'for peace', but that seemed too long for a URL), but that was more of an after-thought for us. We were too busy coming up with articles and ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed working on Vegan Street and I met sooooo many cool people through doing it. We may activate Vegan Street again, who knows what the future will bring, but for now, I'm thinking that my Big Project and this blogging are going to be my main creative pursuits.

5. I've read that keeping a blog is a useful thing to do if one wants to be published (this has NOTHING to do with my Big Project), just, 'cause, like, in the future, I might want to be published. Send all serious offers this way, big honcho o' publishing, where you light your cigars with hundred dollar bills and step on the homeless people as you hustle from your downtown office for the limo. I totally promise not to rag on you if the seats in your limo are leather. (If you find a 'Leather = Death' sticker on the seat, it must have fallen out of my bag and somehow adhered itself there.) Oh! I also should add that I self-published a book in 2004 called Marla's Vegan Guide to Chicago and the Universe, and it is two books in one. Literally, you flip the book over, and there's another book on the backside of essays and that sort of thing. For the ADD in all of us. Write to me if you want an out-of-date but entertaining restaurant guide for $15.00.

So it looks like I 'm about seven short of a dozen good reasons, but you'll have to accept this. I'm busy, people. What do you want from me? I'm really looking forward to this blog, though, I must say.

*Except for a couple of really cool, committed friends of mine who work there), I should say.