A new day

I was upset yesterday when the doctor’s office called and told me Wednesday was the only day I could get an appointment. I had planned to spend the morning here in Australia watching the chaos/joy unfold overseas and now I would be deprived due to the drive up to Perth.
In the waiting room I saw the news that Obama won and JM and I did ‘the wave’ in our chairs. Being the only ones there it wasn’t too obnoxious, except perhaps to the receptionist, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
Now we’re back home watching all the speeches, reading the stories, and raising our glasses in celebration, a stark contrast to four years ago. I was told today that eventually I’ll have to have my parathyroids taken out, but I knew that already. I “look good” the doctor said to his colleague over the phone. No immediate worries. I feel good too. Happy day.


We can.
Because we don’t get tv reception at home, at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, The Fella and I headed out to meet some friends at a neighborhood bar, have a few drinks, hoot in delight and relief, and watch history as it happened.
For almost a decade, I’ve felt an increasing sense of alienation from my fellow Americans. As our national narrative became ever more mired in fear and a willful disregard for reason, as education became a thing to sneer at, as the blindness of religious zealots became a point of pride in the highest reaches of our government — our government! — it became clear to me that I simply didn’t know these people. They lived in a different world than mine, they feared and valued different things than I do.
And I never thought they’d do this. I didn’t trust them; I didn’t trust us. I didn’t believe I would live to see a primary contested between a black man and a woman. I certainly didn’t think I’d live to see a black person elected President.
I know it’s early days yet, and there are challenges ahead. I know we’re still a jingoistic, frightened power. I know we overconsume and under-educate. I know. I know. I know.
But it’s something. It’s something huge. We, as a nation, did something sane, something wise, something historic. For the first time in years, I feel some sense of belonging here. This nation may be my home after all.

One more thing

I tolerate Palin
You know, the way she “tolerates” gays. Yes, I’ve included it for sale at Cafe Press.
One of her more eye-opening/rapid-blinking statements of the evening:
“Also I’m thankful that the constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the Vice President, also if that Vice President so chose to exert it in working with the Senate. And making sure that we are supportive of the President’s policies…”
Um, no, not really, not at all.

Mary Poppins: subversivecalifragilistic

From the very beginning, Disney’s Mary Poppins burbles with subtext: Mr. Banks’ stodgy hymn to the well-regulated Edwardian British household’s predictability (a theme underscored by Admiral Boom’s admirably punctual timekeeping cannon) is undermined by Mrs. Banks’ spirited rendition of “Sister Suffragette,” by the unsettling absence of their recalcitrant children, and by the chummy overfamiliarity of the bobby who brings them home.

Clearly, the order imposed by privileged men will be sabotaged by rebellion — specifically the rebellion of women assisted by children and by men of the underclass.

It’s no surprise, then, that the abrupt departure of yet another nanny disrupts the Banks’ rigidly conventional household. Seeking a stern replacement, Mr. Banks is instead outfaced by Mary Poppins, a pert young governess who flouts her prescribed submissive role by refusing to give references and demanding the family submit to a probationary period.

Mary proceeds to introduce the children to members of a lively underclass, including street peddlers, carnival workers, penguin waiters, her decidedly odd Uncle Albert, and of course Burt (Dick van Dyke sporting a hammy accent), the raffish charmer who, between his makeshift enterprises, accompanies Mary on her many secret adventures. Unlike Mrs. Banks’ flighty clamor for equal rights (which is silenced instantly by her husband’s presence), Mary’s subversive influence begins to color the attitudes of the entire household, and even infiltrates Mr. Banks’ place of work.

Tellingly, though Mary seems at first to overthrow the prevailing power structure, she — and her subversive influence — vanishes at film’s end. After her disappearance, the power structures of the privileged are tempered by familial affection, but otherwise they remain intact and authoritative.

Palin comparison

A friend pointed me toward this Salon article comparing Sarah Palin’s simpering simulacrum of feminism with the powerful (and for some unpalatable) personal and professional presence of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

We began this history-making election with one kind of woman and have ended up being asked to accept her polar opposite. Clinton’s brand of femininity is the kind that remains slightly unpalatable in America. It is based on competence, political confidence and an assumption of authority that upends comfortable roles for men and women. It’s a kind of power that has nothing to do with the flirtatious or the girly, nothing to do with the traditionally feminine. It is authority that is threatening because it so closely and calmly resembles the kind of power that the rest of the guys on a presidential stage never question their right to wield.

I don’t think this article even begins to uncover the gender politics that have been lurking, half-submerged, in the rhetoric of this political season, but it’s a starting point.

Yes, I can

I’ve officially sent in my form for absentee voting. I even bought a cheap printer so I could print it out and send it in. The things I do for Obama…

Why local?

Bizarrely, I’ve been named commenter of the week for the local paper’s online youth culture section, written by Justin Ellis. (It’s about the Young Persons, with their crazy hair and their loud rock & roll combos and their persistence in walking on my lawn. Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!) The prize: a guest column. I’ve written my rant, and I’m testing it here.

Why Local?

If you hang around the Old Port, you’ve seen the BUY LOCAL stickers and signs and t-shirts, and probably heard the apparently endless ways BUY!ing LOCAL!ly bolsters the community. Yeah, keep income local and support our downtowns, stick it to the big box stores!

And it’s true. It’s all true! But let’s cut the pretense that we’re always (or, y’know, ever) so noble and community-centered. I’ll tell you a dirty little secret:

You should buy locally for your own selfish reasons.

When you buy locally, you develop a relationship with the business. (Not like that, you perv.) Respect yourself: support businesses that respect you and cater to your tastes, whether you’re shopping for shoes, movies, music, or just a cappuccino.

Mass-market retailers don’t have the luxury of tailoring themselves to a niche market. Their resources and research are too unwieldy to maneuver around local idiosyncrasies. This is bad news.

That’s a little-discussed (and deeply disgusting) effect of Big Box Business: the whittling away of individual tastes and serendipitous discoveries. Yeah, they’ll sell you the same food and pants and books and movies that you’ve already heard of, and that everyone else has already heard of — sometimes at a discount! They can afford to: they’ve got a truckload of ’em out back, loaded up to sell you and everyone else. And that’s all they’ve got; everywhere you go, it’s the same bland pap.

Locally operated businesses have personalities and quirks. They’re downright peculiar, just like you and me! (Mostly you.) The owners and staff spice the inventory with their own tastes (and, sometimes, obsessions), so they can recommend all kinds of offbeat things — bands and movies and shoes and coffees and beers and whatever — new stuff! Stuff you might like! Stuff you’ll never discover if you do all your errands at TGIBlockTopicBucks™.

Your results may vary

My prescription for tonight:

Hostess cupcakes and ice-cold milk for dinner.
Skip your homework for once in favor of two episodes of The Simpsons, during which the line “too late, mom, the mob has spoken!” will cause you to bark in sudden tearful laughter, and one episode of Jeopardy, and God help you if tonight is the night Ken Jennings loses.

Remember how grateful you are for your friends and family, and how pleased you are that they voted, no matter for whom. Be grateful for victory in local initiatives: the library will get badly needed repairs and refurbishments, and the mass transit budget will not be devastated this year.

Then early to bed, and up early in the morning to prepare for 2008, and a few of the causes that will need extra support between now and then.

You say potato, they say starchy edible tuber

This morning I was shocked to read on wikipedia.org that Bush had won the election when no news service had declared as much. It’s now been changed to reflect the current limbo state we’re in. But then it’s not so much a state of limbo as it is a special circle of hell.
So I cried a bit, wrote Elsa a lot, watched CNN, ate cookies, watched the speeches, shouted an expletive at Dick, cried some more, called my father, listened to his wise, loving words, ended up laughing more than I had cried, and felt grateful for my friends and family.