Category: Politics


This post might meander a bit. I’m feeling meandery.

First – I composed this post in my head sort of. I haven’t done that in awhile. Remembering when blogging was new and I was sort of obsessed with it, and maybe just maybe the blog might have taken the place of the companionship that was missing in my marriage, because I remember very clearly thinking in blog posts as though I was thinking of clever ways to communicate a story to my lover, or my best friend, or my husband. It would be nice to regain that a bit. Writing to the muse – being the conglomerate of all of the inspiring people I have in my life, and my desire to offer inspiration and hopefully BE inspiring.

But I was composing a post in my head in the car driving home from a friend’s house. Because my head was still buzzing with thoughts sparked by our conversation.

There’s this awesome part about parenting where you sort of get to remember how you unfolded as your children unfold before your eyes. When they reach that age that you remember was integral to you becoming who you are, which was, apparently for me, probably between the ages of 16 and 17. And while my eldest son is a completely different person than the person I was, I respect that he is who he is. And even though I’d like to mold and change him – even if I could – I need to remember that he’s still unfolding. I can’t force him any more than I was forced. I can only live my life regardless of him, and set whatever example I can set, and accept that he might or might not learn the lessons of my life until/unless they become lessons in his life, too. And just hope that he sees the lessons for what they are before they become “learning experiences.” Hopefully I can pass those lessons along, the important ones. The ones that were difficult for me. And hope that he finds his own difficult lessons to learn, and that he learns from them.

My eldest son. He turns 17 next week. Can you even believe that? 17. As he told me last night, my work is done. He’s already become the person he’s gonna be. I can’t influence him anymore. These things were walked back a bit after further reflection, but in a sense – he’s right. And yet, he’s not done growing. And I’m certainly not done influencing. And as long as he’s alive, he’ll be doing the former; and as long as I’m part of his life, I’ll be doing the latter. Even if from a distance – physically or emotionally. And from what I’m being told, I need to brace myself for some emotional and physical distance from that child. And I need to not take that too personally. And understand. And abide. Which I’m known to be good at for all of the wrong reasons, so I might as well be good at it for the right ones.

I respect that my children have known some degree of tumultuousness in their lives. As does any child of one parent who has a somewhat unconventional way of doing things and another parent who is vastly more conventional. I respect that it must feel like a warzone to those guys. And they are smart. And they are sensitive. But they might both need distance at some point in their lives to decide exactly how they feel about it all. And I have absolutely no control over whatever conclusion they come to. And I feel like I need to accept that, slowly, starting now. Starting sometime last year, actually.

And this all made me think about my own growth through the years, and who I’ve forgiven and what I’ve mended and all I’ve left behind. When I’ve made dumb mistakes, and when I’ve made smart ones. Things I rejected, only to accept and embrace later in life. Things I miss and things I wish I could get rid of. And all of the growth, forgiveness, leaving behind, mistake-making, rejecting, accepting, embracing, missing, and letting go I’ve yet to do.

***

The other thing I was thinking about was how absolutely beautiful it was today to meet still more new people doing food distribution to survivors of the Halloween Onion Creek flood. Two women who I hadn’t met were there today. One had worked with the group before, but I hadn’t met her. The other woman was brand new. They were both older than me by probably 10-15 years. The woman who had worked with the group before was telling the new woman “What I love about working with this group is there are no bosses. No one tells anyone what to do. We just show up when we can, figure out what our resources are, work out a plan, and it all comes together.” Perhaps it was presumptuous of me to assume this woman didn’t know she was perfectly expressing the principles of anarchism, but it made me happy, regardless. We live in a world where helping other people in the spirit of empathy and community is a radical act, and yet it instantly makes sense as soon as you participate. The most radical action is the most mundane.

 

I feel fine

Image stolen from Strike Debt UK –  http://www.strikedebtuk.com/

My son likes to argue with me that Occupy didn’t achieve anything. That it failed. I try not to engage with him, because who really wins an argument with a 16-year old who has a very black-and-white way of seeing the world? But, really, it seems like everywhere I turn I see ways in which the politics and tactics of the Occupy movement are being carried out in to do good in the world. Partially because Occupy brought so many good-hearted people together, and now we kind of all know each other and know who to call when something needs to get done. But also because the politics and tactics of the Occupy movement were just another iteration of politics and tactics that have been evident in activist/social justice movements forever, and in some ways they are becoming more and more refined.

This weekend in Austin, amidst the ridiculous conspicuous consumption of the F-1 spectacle, a representative of Strike Debt New York paid a visit to help facilitate a Debtor’s Assembly and participate in a Debtor’s Carnival. Both events were aimed at destigmatizing debt and bringing people together to discuss the effects of debt on their lives and what might be done about it. I was unable to attend the assembly, but did attend the carnival today, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to talk about this project with one of its organizers. In addition to the Rolling Jubilee – which raised money in order to buy huge amounts of debt for pennies on the dollar and forgive the holders of the debt that was bought, the organizers of Strike Debt are trying to find ways to form Debtor’s Unions and some are holding Debt Clinics to empower people who are in debt to get out of debt and/or deal with debt collectors in an informed manner. It’s an amazing movement, and just one of many examples of how the tactic of gathering random people together in a park for weeks on end spawned ambitious ideas and action. I’m really looking forward to working with my activist community to hold debt clinics and work with people on fighting back against debt collectors.

Image Courtesy of Austin Common Ground Relief – https://www.facebook.com/atxcommongroundrelief?directed_target_id=0

I also continue to be impressed with the hard work of the Austin Common Ground Relief. After floods hit the Dove Springs area in Austin, hundreds of people were left homeless, and it took several days/weeks for significant help to arrive. Now, two weeks after the flooding, the agencies that were helping are packing up and leaving. With F-1 racing happening in the city, hotels that were housing displaced residents are putting people back out on the street so they can accommodate wealthy tourists, and the shelter is closing down. Meanwhile, members of Austin Common Ground Relief are still preparing daily meals and distributing them to people who were impacted by the flooding (which is really just a symptom of climate change and environmental racism.) While distributing meals, they are also having people fill out intake applications listing their needs and desires, and providing assistance with cleanup and whatever else the residents are looking for. Because of the work activists have done in Austin to create an infrastructure of support, the infrastructure of information sharing and organizing was quickly put into place. Decentralized planning, volunteer-based assistance, and ubiquitous social media presence enable the Common Ground organizers and participants to be flexible and respond immediately to the needs of the community. The hope is that once there are a sufficient number of community members who are out of crisis, those tools can be provided to the community so they are able to provide mutual aid for their neighbors, and call upon the larger group when necessary. It’s truly a beautiful thing, and another example of the influence of Occupy on local organizing. I couldn’t be more proud of the folks who are doing the really hard work. While I can only spare a couple of hours a week towards the effort, it feels so much better to know that the time I do volunteer is having a direct, positive impact on those who need the help, rather than being filtered through the ranks and red-tape of a large organization like Red Cross.

These are the things that sustain me and help me get through my own struggles. I’m really proud to be part of a community that is invested in doing good things for other people and actively working towards making the world a better place.

 

So, this week I tried something new. Instead of considering the feelings of every single person in a situation except for myself, I chose to actually consider my feelings first. I realized I didn’t have to be angry at someone to reject what they were offering, I just had to think about what I really wanted, and whether what was being offered was in alignment with what I really wanted. And though the short-term effect of that decision is painful…from past experience I am almost 100% certain that the pain I’m feeling now is nowhere near the pain I would feel if I were to have accepted that offer. Sometimes really wonderful people won’t have what I need. And just because it still hurts doesn’t mean it’s not progress.

Yay! (she feebly celebrates…) hahaha.

In other news – it’s nearly mid-month and I have not done much for the zine. I need to kick it into high gear these last two weeks! Oddly enough, it’s the writing that’s giving me trouble. I don’t know what my deal is with the writer’s block, but I wish it would just stop. I have plenty to write about. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. It’s that I allow myself to become distracted. Writing needs to become ritualized. It needs to become something I do at a specific time every day or at specific times throughout the week WITHOUT FAIL. Once I’ve established the habit again, I can be more lax about when it happens. I need to remind myself that writing matters. Perhaps overcoming minor heartbreak will be a good impetus. I definitely did a lot of journal processing these past couple of days.

Also, just when I thought I was going to completely run out of money, I discovered double-time-and-a-half holiday pay at my job. I’m working pretty much every holiday through the end of the year, so…hopefully that will help me take care of some of these things I’m behind on and/or have been waiting for money to take care of. Things like new bras, fixing my kid’s computer, A FREAKING HAIRCUT FOR ME, and I was thinking I could really use a new dress. Something swing-y and retro and comfy. Oh, and…you know, catching up on my stupid utilities and fixing my damn a/c on my car. You know – stuff that piles up when one is living paycheck to paycheck. And funding the zine, though I’m hoping I can just take advance orders to fund it.

Oh, randomness. I’m loving the cold, though I spent much of the day today stubbornly refusing to turn on the heat – blowing on my hands between calls and shoving them in the pockets of my sweatpants while on the phone. It occurs to me that I should drag my footie pajamas from the storage bin under my bed. How very awesome that I can wear footie pajamas while working. What a frikking coup that is!

And…just when I”m feeling like hibernating in my little Hidey Hole and not socializing – here comes a busy weekend filled with plans. Most of which I really can’t cancel. I’m going to need to look hard at my schedule and plan another “lay in bed and read comic books all day” day sometime soon to make up for it. But some truly exciting stuff is happening. For one thing, I feel like I need to contribute to all of the great work that’s being done to help folks who were flooded out of their homes on Halloween. I’m really proud of all the hard work everyone is doing working with those communities. For another, I’m truly excited that some of the folks from Strike Debt will be here in Austin this week to hold a Debtor’s Assembly and Debtor’s Carnival. I can’t make the assembly because I have to work, but I’m super stoked about seeing people at the Carnival – though I wish it could happen in my bedroom with me in my jammies and the covers pulled up under my chin. hahaha. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I had the power to just travel everywhere in my comfy bed – all tucked in? I feel like there needs to be a movie about that if there hasn’t already been one. Or, wait…was that a Kids In The Hall sketch?

No matter – I’m just dreaming. Dreaming about sleeping and dreaming and floating through life in my comfy bed in my jammy jams. ❤

(Not sure how that lyric plays out of context, so here’s the context.)

Today’s walk included several songs in a row that were fighting songs. As in, don’t stop fighting. As in “You Can’t Win ‘Em All, But You Gotta Win All of the Right Ones.” And, you know, in order to win the right ones…you gotta keep fighting. Maybe a better example would be:

Or my old standby pep talk song:

Anyway, you get the drift. I believe we have emerged, victorious. Yay!

(I knew we would, but it’s still nice to celebrate that we have.)

I’m celebrating by dying my hair and earnestly working on drawings for my zine. And FINALLY getting that tattoo that I’ve been wanting to get but have never been able to justify the expense of. Fuck it. It’s expensive. I can’t justify it. Well, I can, actually…it’s justified because it will be awesome, and it will remind me of my strength. And all of the strength it has taken to get here.

I’m slowly pulling things back together. I have another week of a weird work schedule, and after that I feel like I’ll be able to really participate in all of the things I enjoy participating in again. Slowly, and with priority. I’m already starting to read more…trying to take walks or dance every night. Really haven’t been seeing friends as much as I’d like, but I’m also feeling kind of introvertedy lately, so that hasn’t really bothered me. Working really hard to make sure we have at least SOME family time carved out so we don’t all lose touch with each other. These are the things I am prioritizing.

I’d like to keep participating in actions against ALEC and TPP, for sure…but probably not leading or organizing. What I’d really like to focus my energy on is housing justice. It was going to be what I focused on this year, but then I got laid off. And everything kind of got all weird. And then the state of Texas went to war over my uterus, and I kind of had to stand and fight that one. I’d like to get back to figuring out how I can be helpful in achieving truly affordable housing in Austin, and how we can ensure the protection of people who are being exploited or abused by apartment managers. That’s what I’d truly love to spend my activist energy on.

I don’t feel adequately educated to speak in any depth on Syria. I’m against all war, so I’m sort of working backwards from there. It would take a LOT of convincing to get me to support ANY war. Which makes it easy to oppose war, but is also kind of a cop-out. I still need to educate myself. I’m working on it. Slowly.

Underdog

 

8 months ago, it was decided that my youngest child would start school this fall, against my better judgment, after having been homeschooled his entire life.

5 months ago, I attempted to initiate a dialog with my ex in order to better facilitate this transition. My ex responded with suspicions of my “agenda” and refused to negotiate with me unless we were in front of a mediator and would end the session with a legal document that could be executed. A legal document that would take into consideration any of a thousand different decisions that need to be made on a regular basis, such as “who will buy pens when he runs out.” “Who will be able to pick the child up at the last minute on a rainy day.” and “who’s going to pay for the field trip next week.” Decisions which, by the way, default to being my responsibility in the absence of agreement, so there’s really no motive for negotiation on his part. Previously, any attempt on my part to request financial or logistical assistance for activities and events has been soundly rejected, with the explanation that since it was allegedly my sole decision to homeschool my children, it was my responsibility to bear the burden of that decision. He ended our back-and-forth email exchange by asserting, in a rare moment of admission of intent, “This will hurt you” (meaning me) “more than it will hurt them.” (meaning my children.) I chose to not continue the conversation.

In absence of this fabled legal agreement that would magically address the myriad of issues that crop up in the day-to-day life of a child, my ex refused to speak to me at all for several months. Any attempt on my part to negotiate was met with either silence or insistence that I communicate through my lawyer (unfortunately, I am not able to retain a lawyer, so there wasn’t a whole lot I could do to get through to him.)

Meanwhile, the date of registration drew closer, and in spite of my attempts to negotiate the tasks that needed taking care of, I received silence. Until, finally, last month, an attempt was made by him to initiate a legal order by which some of these questions would be answered. The very same questions I had attempted to negotiate about a month prior to that.

While we waited for lawyers to pass information back and forth, deadlines loomed. An attempt was made by me again to define roles and responsibilities. The response was unequivocal that absent a legal agreement, I was not to expect my ex to be responsible for the mundane tasks of school enrollment.

Rather than arguing, I took it upon myself to take care of those tasks, now near the deadline for completion. My ex’s response to my lack of response THIS TIME was to call the school to check up on whether or not I was doing what he had already made exceptionally clear that he was not going to be doing.

Let me be clear that I have never once failed to care for my children. In spite of many and varied obstacles, many of which have been caused by my ex, I have always managed to get done what needed to get done so my children have the things they need. It is an abusive tactic to continually act as though a person is unreliable when they have done nothing but prove themselves to be reliable. And it’s an abusive tactic to drag a third party into the thick of things and make it seem as though the target of abuse needs to be checked up on.

Unfortunately, when my ex called to “check up on me” – he was given different information than I was. So now EVERYONE is confused, and EVERYONE is dragged into this endless loop of manipulative and manipulated communication. And after months and months of refusing to communicate, suddenly we are down to the wire and I’m being treated as though *I* have procrastinated, *I* have delayed, and *I* am irresponsible.

Last night, my eldest son was looking at the scores from the standardized test he took a year ago. The one that was supposed to prove he wasn’t learning. The one that he scored VERY well on. He said to me “Mom. I don’t understand how dad can look at these test scores and insist that homeschooling doesn’t work. He’s not dumb. It’s obvious from these tests that homeschooling is working.”

I honestly didn’t know how to respond to that. I’m tired of being put in that position. I’m also really fucking tired of having to be silent about it.

So, fuck it. This is my life. I hope I won’t have to continue to post these frustrated rants much longer. I hope a rhythm will soon be established, these issues will be resolved, and I can move forward and not have to pay so much attention the the negative energy this person attempts to drown me in.

Cross your fingers. Remain calm. Listen to Sly. ❤

 

 

I can’t remember what I came here to say. Just that I wanted to write something. Because it’s the end of the day. Because these next few weeks are going to be difficult. Because the last few weeks have been difficult. Because I’m telling myself I have nothing to complain about. But I do. Because anyone can engage in comparative anguish and come out feeling not-so-anguished…but sometimes it’s important to feel the anguish. Just a little. Not too much.

Did I ever tell you about the time that I declared the word “Bitch” a forbidden word in this house.

My eldest son must have been around 7 or 8.

So, when he would get mad at me, he would say “You are a FORBIDDEN WORD!!!”

Sigh.

Also…did you ever think the New York Times would run a story that basically confirms what formerly used to be dismissed as paranoid fantasies?

For the next week, their preparations followed a similar pattern — when they entered Snowden’s room, they would remove their cellphone batteries and place them in the refrigerator of Snowden’s minibar. They lined pillows against the door, to discourage eavesdropping from outside, then Poitras set up her camera and filmed. It was important to Snowden to explain to them how the government’s intelligence machinery worked because he feared that he could be arrested at any time.

Meaning this song needs a serious lyrical adjustment…

And, in looking for that song, I stumbled upon this article:

THE NSA KNOWS YOU’VE GOT AWESOME TASTE IN MUSIC. 10 SONGS FOR THE SURVEILLANCE STATE. #SOUNDCHECK

And, with that…

Things are gearing up in Chicago. It’s going to be difficult to keep my eyes off of my feed and on my work tomorrow.

Right now, I’m freshly showered and staring at tiny lights in between words/thoughts.

Being a mama is so freaking difficult, you guys. My goal, as a parent, is to allow my children to have as much freedom as I feel like they are capable of handling responsibly, and to allow them as many choices as I can.

Sometimes, that makes things a lot more difficult. Sometimes…I’m not entirely sure I’ve made the right choices as a parent, so how can I expect my children to make the right choices as children?

I found this poem fragment in an old journal:

Usually my relationships die like Elvis

on the toilet.

This one

Kurt Cobained – offing itself

before it had a chance to become what it swore it never would be.

(I’m glad I still have heroes. I’m glad I still have dreams)

I haven’t much to say, really. It’s been a tough week.

I took a short walk tonight. Did some writing. Am in the process of dying my hair again. I didn’t have gloves, so I thought “fuck it. I’ll just have to deal with having purple hands for a bit.” And I can do that, because I am working from home now. Yay.

Not sure how long it will take for that to come out. hahhahaha.

I’m thinking tonight’s blog post will be one of those long, rambling, music-filled posts. In honor of my brothers and sisters in Wisconsin, who were arrested for SINGING in their capitol building.

The police come in waves, five times in the noon hour of singing. There are dozens. They surround a singer (why that one?) and grab him, grab her, asking if they are dispersing. No one consents to disperse. Zipties are ratcheted around wrists. I watch a cluster of black shirted black gloved grim men surround a middle-aged woman. They perform their wrist-twist jobs with the satisfaction of bondage well done. Craft. Take pride in your work. After all, she knew the new rules, and she was singing. We cannot have people expressing dissatisfaction with our government without permission from our government.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/25/1226622/-Songs-in-the-Key-of-Resistance-The-Police-Came-in-Waves-Today

The Solidarity Sing Along began in March, 2011, as a way to maintain an oppositional voice to Scott Walker’s government and policies after they rammed through Act 10, the law that all but busted public sector unions in the state. The law is being challenged and is still working its way through federal and state courts.

People who came to the capitol to sing in those early days did so out of a deep sense of frustration that the legitimate concerns of hundreds of thousands of people in the state were simply disregarded by the Republican controlled legislature and governor. If they had no power to influence legislation through their elected representatives, they would bring their concerns directly to the public forum that is the capitol rotunda in the form of song.

http://www.progressive.org/why-my-parents-got-arrested-in-madison

Dude. That’s fucked up.

So, in honor of the Solidarity Sing Along, I’m posting some non-political songs that I like to sing along to. Badly. Because it’s not illegal to sing in my own home…yet. And some songs that I just like to listen to. In no particular order, except they sounded good together…

 

Have a lovely today and a lovelier tomorrow… ❤

 

So what you might have missed today was that Rick Perry reserved all of the rooms in the Capitol extension, so we were unable to have food delivered to us, and we couldn’t view the streams like we were able to do previously. Police were staged in the auditorium. This reservation extends, conveniently enough, for the next 30 days.

They brought mounted police in all the way from Houston to give more of an appearance that the peaceful protesters were an Unruly Mob of Rioters.

The State Preservation Board (which is essentially Perry and his cronies) made up rules about where we were able to stand and/or sit that DPS troopers attempted to enforce several times before they finally made us move. I don’t even think DPS could deal with the cognitive dissonance of telling someone they were safer sitting in the middle of a room than they were with their backs against the wall, so we did manage to stall them until they decided to call upon the power of “we have guns and handcuffs and we say so. So you must do so.”

A whole lot of women made a WHOLE LOT of noise. People who came to our assembly at 7 PM tonight told us they could hear us from outside, and those in the gallery could hear us from there. It was a beautiful, wonderful, glorious din.

I observed that pro-life people seem to be in a constant state of funeral dirge, and I wondered if their children (some of whom were praying on their knees on that hard marble floor, and I felt really bad for them) felt wistful about the celebratory atmosphere surrounding those of us who were singing and chanting and fighting for our rights

The people’s filibuster, which was an amazing idea, got drowned out by the energetic noise in the rotunda. Some amazing stories were shared by Quinn. Other stories were submitted by email and via livestream. I really would like to continue to do this action for the duration of the session, if we can get more women to tell their stories on camera. They inspired me.

I  got to hold an adorable baby.

We had an incredible march with over 1500 people.

The dems backstabbed the radicals and activists by continuing to make threats and attempting to block them from participating in the rallies outside.

 

I am one wore-out motherfucker. Tomorrow is a work day, but there is a hearing that starts at 3:30, and I’m probably going to head over after work.

I discovered I’m not a huge fan of livestreaming because I can’t keep up with twitter or facebook while livestreaming, and I prefer to just take pictures, but I have concerns that our main livestreamers are dudes…as is our main Twitterer. How can they step back if no one is stepping up? Still working through that one…

Regardless, There’s really nothing like being packed into a crowded room with a few hundred people you know and love dearly. There’s some amazing video on my ustream account: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lainieduro

Mostly, it was a long, loud, beautiful, exhausting day. Tomorrow, it’s requested that people get to The Capitol early in the morning (7 AM if possible) so they can be ready to sign up to speak at the hearing. I hope a lot of people show up.

 

OH, and…the people united will never be defeated.

(alternate title: How not to talk to your children about the impending apocalypse)

I’ve been breaking good habits. But I guess that’s allowable on occasion. Important work is always getting done. Even when the important work is completely “unproductive.”

Mostly, though, this week has  awakened a whole lot of interesting events around the world. And a whole lot of overcoming, although that never seems like enough…

969981_617509108260071_861063669_n

 

And in this time of visible and tangible overcoming of it.

in Turkey

a protester reclining in front of riot police in Turkey

Arduous, painful, but joyful overcoming of it.

1053518_212351812247058_1930211094_o

And, you know…You just gotta stay inspired…and appreciate the overcoming of it.

Revolutions In The Park – thanks to Austin Audio Co-Op ❤