Why I protest

February 16, 2017

activism is not an event, it’s a daily commitment.
normalize advocacy

i have been involved in protest movements since i was 17, when my principle concerns were the nuclear arms race and political prisoners. i moved into anti-apartheid and anti-colonial work shortly after. i’ve repeatedly been let down by the traditional Left but i go where the people are or i go alone – i must resist.

i am least interested in whether a mass protest achieves concrete results right away. that rarely happens. and it’s not the point. the point is to build a movement that lasts and grows over time so its cause can no longer be avoided.

look at all the progressive movements of the early 20th century, the civil rights struggle, the protests against the war in vietnam. they all took time. they all took commitment. and they took repeated actions by a wide swathe of society to get results. that’s how mass movements work.

the immediate effect of mass rallies and the like are to change the narrative for the day; this is what happened with the 2017 women’s march in DC and elsewhere. and if the protest/rally is large enough, or widespread enough, it remains a marker in the news that reporters keep referring back to. why does bernie sanders still get so much coverage? because large numbers of people got off their butts and went to his rallies. these are the kinds of results you can see.

[while i find anything related to the bible extremely tedious, i’m including this for my parents and other christians. do you think the money lenders in the temple stopped lending money after jesus trashed their space? no. then was jesus doing something utterly pointless? seems weird for the son of god. and for the church to think the story important enough to keep in the bible. protests matter.]

i protest because i am a doer. i must ACT. i feel so much physical pressure building up inside my body, so much psychic dissonance, that i MUST take action. sometimes that’s going to a rally or a march. sometimes that’s standing alone on the corner of kirkwood and walnut holding a sign. sometimes that’s singing peace songs alone to agitated cops. i pick actions that are committed to nonviolence. i pick actions where i will be educated. but i ACT.

i protest because the children and young women in my life are watching. i want them to know they too have a voice, that they have power, that they matter. and i want them to be conscious of the power of solidarity so they can take strength from it when they are most bowed down.

i must resist. for my self, my spirit, my soul. i could not live with myself if i just said, “this has nothing to do with me.” i believe that each step towards freedom for one group without privilege is a victory for all. i believe in the morality of resistance. i don’t want anyone coming to me 30 years from now and asking, “where were you when the world needed you?”

i resist because it is the right thing to do. i believe in goodness. i believe it is a process. i believe we have to work at it to grow and become more human. i want to be good. i want to walk the path of justice, equality, wholeness, diversity, and freedom. this is what i’ve chosen for myself. so whether you stand with me or stand aside asking, “what’s the point?”, i will resist. i resist because it is the right thing to do. a better world is possible.


i wrote this on my phone, so please excuse the lower case.

Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, and me

January 9, 2017

I was on holiday in California when I got the news that Carrie Fisher had gone shining. I didn’t want to ruin my holiday groove so I buried my feelings until I got home.

I was 10 years old when Star Wars came out. Princess Leia just exploded off the screen. I’d never seen a strong woman onscreen before. Films during the ’60s and ’70s showed women as victims or men’s appendages if they showed up at all. I couldn’t identify with any of them. But when I saw Princess Leia, I saw courage and grit and power and sarcasm and resourcefulness and a clear, principled will. Here was something I could identify with! She had a huge impact on me. And Carrie Fisher was spot on, save for the occasional English accent wandering in (in books, they say she was mocking Tarkin, but I feel like that’s trying to cover up a bad directorial decision).

I have seen A New Hope probably 50 times and she is still a revelation to me. And when she reappeared in episode 7, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. In the expanded Star Wars universe, Leia is one of the only Jedi who is never even tempted by the Dark Side. She has a clear moral compass and is willing to do whatever it takes to bring peace and justice to the galaxy. She’s smart, she’s sassy, and she’s no one’s fool.

So that’s a little about Princess Leia. Many years later Carrie Fisher did a one-woman show that was translated into a book I read: Wishful Drinking. In it, she talks frankly—really frankly—about mental illness and her experiences with treatment. While she first entered my life playing a fictional heroine, now she was a heroine in the waking world. Instead of speaking in hushed tones about her challenges, she is sarcastic and funny and informative. She helped me see that I didn’t have to be ashamed of my own mental illnesses, and she gave me courage. And a new hope.

As I write this I realize how paltry the words are in comparison to the vastness of my thoughts and emotions. She burned brightly, fiercely, and I owe a part of my self to her. Thank you, Princess. Thank you, Carrie. Go shining.

An Open Letter to the Monroe County Fair Board

August 1, 2016

Monroe County Fair Associaton
PO Box 1446
Bloomington, IN 47404

cc: The Herald-Times

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

I enjoy taking my two goddessdaughters (ages 8 and 13) to the fair each year in part for its celebration of American values. That’s why I was stunned and dismayed last Friday to see a vendor displaying a Confederate flag for sale.

I was overcome with emotions: outrage, nausea, even fear. I’m white — I can’t imagine how an African American would feel. And I was faced with the difficult decision of what to do: face down ignorance and even downright racism or keep my girls safe? I chose safety but I have been conflicted ever since.

The Southern white narrative about the flag is that it celebrates Southern culture. If that were true, there would be an awful lot of Southern African Americans flying that flag, too.

We cannot escape that flag’s history, first as a banner for the continuance of the lash, rape, and abomination of slavery and the concomitant treason against the federal government, then its symbolism of Jim Crow, then its adoption as the banner of the anti-civil rights movement. To this day it remains, along with the swastika, the pre-eminant symbol of white supremacy.

This is the flag of blood. This is the flag of oppression. This is the flag of Dylann Roof and white terrorism. Is it appropriate to sell such a thing at a family-friendly community event celebrating American values?

You would not approve the selling of Ku Klux Klan robes at the Monroe County Fair. I call on you to reject the legacy of white supremacism and put an end to the sale of Confederate flags.



February 7, 2016

A repository of the dream summaries I post on Facebook.

dreamt that i helped an american-accented neil gaiman select a paper stock. he chose a milk finish (my fave, big surprise). no worries, i steered him away from all that garish gold foil.



i dreamt i was gloria steinem, traveling from the old world to the promises of the new, and there wasn’t enough rope. then i was james bond, planting concrete markers underground throughout florida. why? ask M.


dreamt i was mr rogers’ roadie camera operator as he went on a quest to win back an old flame who was now married with a son. mr rogers took us to gallifrey, which he said was his home. that part i believe.


dreamt i was in the military of a police state, very regimented, stationed in antarctica when a global warming catastrophe hit. everything was falling apart and going to hell and i was running around with a huge grin on my face. the world was lost. none of the rules applied anymore. no one could touch me. i was finally free.

the same dream featured matt smith’s doctor who, caprica 6 and baltar from battlestar galactica, and the penguin from fight club: “sliiiiiide.”


dreamt i was with the standing rock water protectors, singing with roger waters and eating twizzlers. i got my dad and Rob Palmer on a conference call to convince them to come join me. “a better world is possible,” i said.


i dreamt i stuffed Jeanne into a black knit sock with me so we could fly to new york and see “cats.”


last night i dreamt i was supposed to be helping Janiece find a house but i kept bouncing off to join the collins open house/orientation party, attracted by the enormous slip-n-slide. sorry i’m such a flake, janiece.


last night i  dreamt i was touring catal huyuk in britain (yes, britain, not turkey) with soldiers from the boer war as guides. sting and i were at the final stop in a grocery store, taking pictures of an elaborate grave and old-fashioned type presses with our digital cameras and eating jammy dodgers (whatever those are — but they were yummy).

last night i dreamt of planting grain, glaucoma, and the iliad. all to a beatles soundtrack.

this morning i fell back asleep after my alarm went off and entered this technicolor extravaganza where i was ice dancing accompanied by an orchestra featuring my high school sweetheart. then suddenly the music stopped, a spotlight hit the suddenly open rink, and Laurent Castellucci came sliding out on his knees across the ice and starting dancing like prince to some mad beats someone was throwing down. then he gestured to me, the beats stopped, and i opened my mouth to sing. all my inhibitions about improv fell away and this amazing tune came out of me (now unfortunately obscured by tangle eye) and it was in my old voice, full and rich, not this thin reed i have now. it was freaking amazing. i didn’t want to wake up.

last night i dreamt i was adding lucky charms marshmallows to a bunch of trail mix my family was making, all to the tune of “only you” by yaz.

i dreamt about economic development to the soundtrack of “the headmaster’s ritual” by the smiths. wth?

i dreamt Mike Price and i were swing dancing like crazy at Angela and Janis‘ housewarming party until i lost my purse made out of my grandma’s bridesmaid’s dress. joy found, joy lost?

i dreamt the bad guys had locked me up with olivier and anthony hopkins doing shakespeare. oh, would that it were so!!

i was dreaming of space travel when jar jar binks showed up. that killed THAT dream.

this morning i had a twilight dream. i had just become a vampire and was running all over the place and reveling in the speed of it. it was exhilarating. i noticed edward at work on a little house on dunn and changed my route so i could ogle him. cut to the narrator bringing us together and revealing that we’ve just been married. edward got that huge gorgeous smile on his face where his eyes crinkle up and my heart just melted. he loved me so much. we were so happy. he had an infant son (parthenogenesis??) that immediately became mine. he had a job in politics that really interested me and it turned out they were hiring me, too. so we’d have this fulfilling work and then be able to share our days on the drive home. it felt so incredibly good. life was so full of love and promise. but then i started to wake up a little and then went back in and all had changed. two years had passed and i had lost him long ago. i went up to his new house near our old apartments on 8th street and jane was there—his new wife. because she and i had been friends long ago, in horrible pain i made stilted small talk with her. she casually mentioned her son that called her “mom” and i realized with a sharp stab that she meant edward’s son, who had been my son. i had lost him completely and irrevocably. edward wasn’t even in the picture. it was all gone, so long ago. i woke up shattered.

last night i dreamt that someone hurt my feelings so i said, “well, i was going to design your logo for you but now you can use microsoft clip art with times new roman!” then i flounced out of the room in front of their stunned faces. so there!

i dreamt melissa etheridge had carved onyx and diamond studs in her eyes. then i realized this is not new — for years i have been dreaming of women rockers like joan jett and bonnie raitt with pierced eyeballs.

i dreamt i got a kite at the UU church. then my alarm went off. fell back asleep. dreamt i got a kite at first presbyterian. alarm went off. fell back asleep. dreamt i took both kites to main square in highland, indiana to fly them together but i couldn’t remember my username and password to get in. when the alarm went off i said screw this and got up.

i dreamt that donald trump hired kaia to perform at a fundraiser for the library. he was throwing a fit that Google maps showed the building address rather than Trump Towers when Susan Armstrong Lantzer stepped in. he fell in love with her and became putty in her hands.

susan, you have a duty to the nation. time to step up.

i dreamt bryan and i were competing in a figure skating competition to the death and our opponents were the new barbie dolls.

i dreamt johnny depp and i were together, singing and writings, outwitting vladimir putin.

i dreamt i was running for president so i was in a wheelchair to get more votes but then at the gas station my dad behind the counter wouldn’t give me an eclair so i wanted to nip around and get it myself but i was afraid someone would see me and not vote for me.

The best Star Wars video ever

December 24, 2015

I would kill to have this experience before I die.

My favorite poem

December 19, 2015

I was introduced to this in Mrs Karp’s high school English class. The typewritten copy I made then has followed me around for over 30 years since then.


The trouble was they left her too much alone,

feeding on books and dreaming of love

and watch willow tree shadows

sway across the polluted river.


Instead of running about and laughing

and talking of nothing with the other girls,

she grew wistful and wan and dangerously thin

and after hours of pondering such things as

frost on a window

or the frail filament fingers of an old nun on a bus,

she would look weaker than ever

and complain of a terrible pain in her chest.


Until late one night they rushed her to the hospital

and worked over her for hours in Emergency,

removing a huge tumorous verse

so horrible that even the nurses grew sick when they saw it.

For days afterwards

she was draining words where the stitches were

and then only a few letters now and then

until the wound was completely healed.


But there’s still a large scar where they made the incision

and even now when she sees things

like a bird on a twig

or the shadows of leaves on the sand

or a butterfly wing washed up on the shore,

the scar turns pink or a livid red

and you almost wonder

if they succeeded in getting out all the infection.


John W. Dickson



The creation of policy

December 17, 2015

I found this in a file folder and don’t know where it comes from. At the bottom is a handwritten note: “Euphemius Chl vi,” but I don’t think this is from the 9th century. 😉 This little story is exactly why I hate working for big organizations.

In the beginning was the plan

Then came the assumptions

And the assumptions were without form

And the plan was completely without substance

And darkness came upon the faces of the clerks

And they spake unto their Supervisor saying:

“It is a crock of shit and it stinketh”

And the Supervisor went unto the Team Leader and sayeth unto him:

“It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odour thereof”

And the Team Leader went unto his Manager and sayeth unto him:

“It is a container of excrement it is very strong and none may abide by it”

And the Manager went unto his head of sub-division and sayeth unto him:

“It is a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide its strength”

And the Manager of sub-division went unto his Divisional Manager and sayeth:

“It is a container which aids plants and is very strong”

And the Divisional Manager went unto his Director and sayeth unto him:

“It promoteth growth and is very powerful”

And the Director went unto the Board and sayeth unto them:

“This powerful new plan will promote the growth and efficiency of the company”

And the Board looked upon the plan and saw that it was good

And thus the plan became policy.