Tuesday, July 31, 2007

kick to the SCOTUS: house votes to reverse Ledbetter decision!

Feminist Wire Daily Newsbriefs: U.S. and Global News Coverage

holy crap.
how fantastic is this??

there are 2 new pieces of legislation that need as much support as possible in order to fight wage discrimination:

The Court ruled that discrimination charges must be filed within 180 days of the original discriminatory action. If signed into law, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (HB 2831) would make it so that each paycheck could be considered a discriminatory action. The Act essentially restores Title VII, which covers wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, national origin, and religion, to its original status as previously interpreted by the courts.

Companion legislation in the Senate was introduced last week. Called the Fair Pay Restoration Act (S 1843), the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education, Labor, and Pensions.

awesome, awesome, awesome.
"each paycheck could be considered a discriminatory action."

have i said awesome enough?

Monday, July 30, 2007

bad mommy monday: celebs have moms, too

more on the way our culture judges and scrutinizes mothers - even celebs' mommies:

But the amount of derision directed at mothers seems out of proportion.
“We still have a virgin-whore binary in American pop culture, and this governs motherhood as well,” Professor Douglas said. The same way in which girls are labeled either good or bad, so are mothers. The same level of censure does not seem to apply to sons, whose risky behavior is often seen as merely a rite of passage.
Professor Douglas thinks the reproach directed at some celebrities’ mothers speaks to the particular kinds of lessons that mothers are supposed to teach their daughters — lessons Lindsay, Britney and Paris seem not to have learned. “It’s supposed to be a mother’s job to train her daughter into how to domesticate her various desires,” she said. “If we see a young woman who hasn’t done that, the mother has failed her tutorial.”

i love that phrase: 'domesticate her various desires.' good mothers are supposed to teach us how to tame desire, make them homey, safe, appropriate. make them 'feminine.' i also like the connection the piece makes to bourgeois values and idealizations of womanhood. so victorian.

and if you go to these different gossip sites (where female judgment runs rampant), you'll read that these lessons about appropriate motherly/daughterly behavior are well-ingrained. (though, apparently, easily discarded, as well.)

but, as the article notes, scrutiny of the father and of sons is not often done - and this perhaps is an oversight. where is the surveillance of fatherly behavior? where is the constant preying on the behavior of sons gone bad?

(where is the chastising of joe francis' mother, for instance? why has his home training gone unnoticed, while the parenting skills of the girls he preys on becomes fodder for vicious speculation?)

how would our popular discourse change if we, for instance, began a hyper-close look at sports figures and their daddy issues? (or their absent daddy issues?) would we say that doping and cheating and violence and dog-fighting and assault could be laid at the feet of these athletes' fathers? (even if the fathers aren't present, their absence IS a presence, one could argue.)

but no. that's not as much fun as looking at a woman self-destruct and then blaming her mother. so much better to kick a woman than scrutinize a man.

Sometimes Mothers Can Do No Right - New York Times

family leave and litigation

Jobs - Labor - Discrimination - Family and Child Care - Courts and Decisions - Lawsuits - New York Times

this is a pretty good article outlining several legal fronts on the war against working families.
(notice i didn't just frame this as a mommy issue - it's a family issue.)

what i notice is how enduring our culture's stereotypes and assumptions are about who should be caregiver, who must be breadwinner and how faithful our workplaces are in upholding really simplistic gender roles. (again, patriarchy.)

an example from the article:
Knussman is a churchgoing Christian and a conservative Republican. In 1999, he
also became the first person to prevail in a sex-discrimination lawsuit filed
under the Family and Medical Leave Act. A jury awarded him $375,000 in damages,
although a judge subsequently reduced the amount to $40,000. The suit was filed
shortly after his wife, Kimberly, became pregnant and began to suffer from an
array of medical complications, including pre-eclampsia, a potentially
life-threatening condition. Wishing to be there to support her, Knussman wrote
to his boss at the Maryland State Police to request four to eight weeks of
leave, to which he was entitled under the F.M.L.A. He was told there was “no
way” he could take more than two weeks. Later, after his wife gave birth to a
baby girl, he asked for 30 days off, as is available to primary caregivers under
Maryland law. A personnel manager for the state police, where he had worked for
17 years, denied the request, telling him, “Unless your wife is in a coma or
dead, you can’t be primary care provider.” The same person also told him that
God made women to have babies.
[emphasis mine]

incredible, isn't it? although the leave was available to him by law, his gender was the factor that made his employer deny his claim. 'there's no way fathers can by primary caregivers.' that's called a gender stereotype.

the lawsuits filed by working mothers and fathers, however, are showing how more families are resisting the untenable position of having to choose between their families and their paychecks. they also show how our workplaces and our society at large has failed in adjusting to the needs of the american worker. the office and the home no longer exist as separate islands, linked only by our travel to and from work; the office and the home are now connected to one another and are affected by one another.

what's even more disturbing is how workplaces are becoming even more hostile toward the working mother. i'll say what i will about having babies (ick) but in the workplace, this kind of discrimination is illegal:
Correll and other researchers asked volunteers to evaluate a pool of equally qualified male and female job applicants. On some résumés, a clue signaled that the applicant was a parent. Correll also sent 1,276 résumés for entry-level and midlevel marketing jobs to 638 real employers.
The results, as reported in the May 2007 issue of The American Journal of Sociology, are
striking. Among the volunteers, mothers were consistently viewed as less competent and less committed and were held to higher performance and punctuality standards. They were 79 percent less likely to be hired and, if hired, would be offered a starting salary $11,000 lower than nonmothers. Fathers, by contrast, were offered the highest salaries of all. Meanwhile, in the test run with real-world employers, the hypothetical female applicants without children were more than twice as likely as equally qualified mothers to be called back for interviews. Correll’s findings echo a discovery made by the psychologist Amy Cuddy. Cuddy asked volunteers to evaluate four imaginary professionals: a childless female, a childless male, a mother and a father. All these professionals had identical experience and educational backgrounds. Yet the mothers were given the lowest competency ratings, by both male and female evaluators, and were least likely to be recommended for hiring and promotions.

the message is clear: mothers are bad and fathers are good - except when fathers want to do the mothering. single women? we're given the possibility of economic reward but only until we become mothers. sucks, doesn't it? the game seems to be fixed.

in fact, the game seems to be sexist.

(the Center for WorkLife Law can be found here.)
this is my last week at the office, incidentally. next month is my surgery/recovery period and i'm anxious about how this long a leave will affect my work life. thankfully, since i work for a feminist organization, there is some comfort in knowing my leave has been approved; but others aren't so lucky.

i hear that parenting is a 'choice.' really? or is parenting something that's coerced from us (then punished, if you're a mother)? our tax structure certainly rewards childbearing; it makes it attractive and rewards it. seems rather coercive to me (and i've yet to see any tax breaks come my way for not having kids.) but at the same time our economy seems to privilege those with kids, there's this other aspect of punishing those with families; it's like our society is totally schizophrenic. we love families and we can't wait to punish them for existing.

the 'choices' some of us take for granted are determined by class and fortune. they're also determined by stereotype and deeply held 'traditions' that serve to, once again, keep a particular power structure in place. (fathers are inherently worth more than mothers? what's that math??)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

give me a break: gen y in the office

When Whippersnappers and Geezers Collide - New York Times

as much of an anti-authoritarian i am, i have a rocking work ethic and this article made me laugh but also roll my eyes. i mean, are things so bad that we need to have 'translating' services to communicate with Gen Y now? i mean, really? are they so functionally backward and entitled that they actually need to have things like 'business appropriate attire' explained to them? where were these kids raised? aren't their parents wildly successful and corporate parents?

i've had a couple of Gen Y interns working for me over the past year and they were great. of course, they have no office skills whatsoever, but that's what classes are for.

but what i especially like about this article is the glaring silence from Generation X, the folks standing between Boomer and Y. i imagine my generation looking at the others with this look of bored contempt, while thinking, 'you're both asses.'

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

on hillary

Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary

this was actually a really good piece. it takes a look at the different archetypes we've forced hillary clinton to inhabit in our cultural imaginations (and then taken her to task for them) and the article is a good, old-fashioned piece of textual analysis i haven't seen since grad school.

take a gander; it made me rethink my own discomfort with hillary clinton.
imagine! i rethought something!

Monday, July 23, 2007

vote for romney, vote for moroni

the conversation went something like this:

harry potter weekender #1: so who do you think will get the GOP nomination?
harry potter weekender #2: not giuliani.
harry potter weekender #3: ugh. please not giuliani.
hpw #2: it'll be romney.
harry potter weekendr#4: really?
ding: no way. not if they want and need the evangelical vote. say what you will about the fundamentalist, but they know their bible. there is no way in hell they'd vote for a mormon.

hpw #2: i don't know. at one point they seemed to like giuliani.
ding: yeah, because he's catholic. everyone knows catholic. but mormon? no way. let me put it this way. they'd rather vote for someone jewish than a mormon. jews are familiar. jews are the Chosen!
hpw#3: exactly. judaism is an incomplete part of christianity. and, eventually, they get saved, too.
ding: exactly. after the rapture and the tribulation, of course, but they get saved. it's the whole point.


hpw #4: i am constantly surprised at the two of you and your fundamentalist, whacko childhoods.


hpw #1: but mormons and christians worship the same God.
ding: nope. fundamentalists and evangelicals know there is a huuuge difference between mormonism and christianity. they wouldn't vote for a jehovah's witness, either.
hpw #4: for me, the issue is romney used to be pro-choice! and now he's not?
ding: exactly, where are the flip flops for him?

hpw #2: then what'll they do? vote for hillary? i think not.
ding: they'll sit it out. they won't vote.
hpw #3: they won't vote.
hpw #2: i think that unlikely.
ding: not as unlikely as it is to expect a true evangelical, fundamentalist, southern baptist christian to compromise on their doctrine. again, say what you will about the fundies, but they know doctrine and they know that being a mormon isn't the same as being a christian or even a muslim. they think it's a cult. whacky.

hpw #2: what if romney had a running mate who was normal?
ding: well, that's different. but romney's still a whacko mormon. to, uh, the average evangelical, that is.

hear that, democrats??
all you have to do is present folks with this choice: an adulterous, pro-choice catholic or an untested, flip-flopping mormon.
we win!

God - Religion - Presidential Election of 2008 - Elections - Polls - Voter Preferences - Mitt Romney - New York Times

Thursday, July 19, 2007

is ward connerly on really good drugs, or what?

Ship of fools: Johann Hari sets sail with America's swashbuckling neocons - Independent Online Edition > Americas

i tried reading the whole thing, at the behest of Bitch PhD, but failed somewhere around the second section. the vignettes were making me inordinately angry. so i took a break and started reading again. oho, i found my favorite part.

it's a conversation with ward connerly, anti-affirmative action apologist and favorite black man of the neo-cons, and in it he waxes sympathetically for the Klan (i'm going to highlight the most awesome parts for you):

He tells me plainly about his childhood – his mother died when he was four, and he was raised by his grandparents – but he never really becomes animated until I ask him if it is true he once said, "If the KKK supports equal rights,then God bless them." He leans forward, his palms open. There are, he says, "those who condemn the Klan based on their past without seeing the human side of it, because they don't want to be in the wrong, politically correct camp, you know... Members of the Ku Klux Klan are human beings, American citizens – they go to a place to eat, nobody asks them 'Are you a Klansmember?', before we serve you here. They go to buy groceries, nobody asks, 'Are you a Klansmember?' They go to vote for Governor, nobody asks 'Do you know that that person is a Klansmember?' Only in the context of race do they ask that. And I'm supposed to instantly say, 'Oh my God, they are Klansmen? Geez, I don't want their support.'"

This empathy for Klansmen first bubbled into the public domain this year when Connerly was leading an anti-affirmative action campaign in Michigan. The KKK came out in support of him – and he didn't decline it. I ask if he really thinks it is possible the KKK made this move because they have become converted to the cause of racial equality. "I think that the reasoning that a Klan member goes through is – blacks are getting benefits that I'm not getting. It's reverse discrimination. To me it's all discrimination. But the Klansmen is going through the reasoning that this is benefiting blacks, they are getting things that I don't get... A white man doesn't have a chance in this country."

He becomes incredibly impassioned imagining how they feel, ventriloquising them with a shaking fist – "The Mexicans are getting these benefits, the coloureds or niggers, whatever they are saying, are getting these benefits, and I as a white man am losing my country."

connerly's crazy ass minstrelsy has completely broken my brain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

pr0n preachers and dirty old men on buses

just think of the special homily he could give on pr0n sunday in october!

Man of the Flesh to Man of the Cloth - New York Times
i had to report a CTA bus driver today. after waiting for a bus that would take me back to my office i got on the #10, which had been slow coming up State street because of all the traffic and construction nonsense. between my stop on State/Randolph and my office, the bus driver had engaged in behavior so completely inappropriate i had to call the CTA: talking on his cell phone for the whole ride, being sexually lewd and suggestive to two african american girls on the bus and being so incredibly rude to the tourist passengers the rest of us took pity on them and tried to help them out.

was this some new CTA record? he was rude to 6 different people in under 10 minutes over the course of 3 bus stops.

but what really got me was the way he talked to the two young women. when they asked him if he stopped by water tower, not only did he ignore their question, he gave them that long, dirty look that older black guys so love to give a black girl and said very loudly to her, 'Unh, girl, just stand there! Come here and stand by me so I can look at you!' he said it twice: "Come here! Just stand here! Stand here!" then, when the tall girl turned away in disgust after not getting her question answered, he yelled down the aisle that she knew she was fine and she needed to come stand next to him.

yeah, dude, because that's what cute young 20-something girls are made for - to stand next to your nasty ass while you don't do your job.

i mentally made a note of the bus and route number so that when i got back to the office i could call CTA customer service immediately. after being on hold for 10 minutes i calmly described the incident, described the driver and gave the dispatcher my name and phone number. then i said to her: 'you know, he was unprofessional all over the place but as an african american women i was especially offended. no one should talk to black women like that. do you know what i mean?'

she said, 'ma'am, i'm african american, too, and you're right. i know exactly what you mean.'

here's to hoping some nasty old man gets fired today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

talk about unintended consequences

apparently, this is what happens when we export our mini-series: we play into the hands of genocidal insurgents!

Refugees fear sharing same fate as Kunta Kinte Chicago Tribune

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

on judgment and 'sisterhood'

i was thinking yesterday about the ways that groups of women look and talk about each other. particularly, though we say we support and respect one another, we can't help but make some really hardcore value judgments about our so-called 'sisters' or friends. i've found that they usually revolve around how we raise our children (or have decided not to have children) or who we have sex with. (funny how we don't spend quite as much energy when it comes to how we make professional decisions - just about reproduction and sex.)

let me know if any of the following sound familiar:

' how can a mother stand to leave her child in day care?'
'why go out with him if he's not, you know, The One?'
'i can't stand these women who can't control their kids.'
'if i had to be a stay at home mother i'd commit suicide.'
'why can't these women use birth control?'
'i just couldn't have a one night stand. it's not for me. i think i'm worth more than that, you know? but, hey, i'm not judging you!' (my favorite)
'how can you sleep with someone and not feel anything? it just seems so...cold.' (a variation on the above and also a favorite)
'why have kids if you're not going to raise them?'
'i would never have an abortion but i'd never tell another woman she couldn't have one. but i really think they shouldn't be allowed to have one after the first trimester.'

'i could never be one of those women who stayed with a guy after he hit me.'
'she's born again. whatever.'
'slap me if i ever tell you i'm moving out to downer's grove.'
'choices, people, choices! if you're drunk, you have no business being at a bar!' (strange logic but you know what i mean.)

the way we live; where we live; who we sleep with; how we act. our feminine censorious eyes leave nothing untouched.

i'll own up to mine. i've said at least half the things up there; if you do a thorough search of this blog you'll probably come across them. i've even felt superior while saying them, comforted by how 'together' my life is compared to some other woman's life. but that's what it is: comparison. by comparison my life is pretty good. i've made pretty good decisions in comparison to ... what? and if that woman's situation didn't exist for comparison, what then? would i still think i was hot shit?

that's a cheap sort of comfort.
i have a friend who would say 'it is what it is' when there was someone or something she didn't 'get.' she'd shrug and just say, 'ok. it is what it is.' and she'd move on. why can't we move on? why are we compelled to watch other women for perceived shortcomings and then prey on them? it's like we're baptist or something. (or HappyMom. remember her?)

but i'm not saying that we should suddenly become silent female switzerlands, neutral on everything. i don't think we have the capacity for that kind of forbearance. in my opinion, being judgmental comes with being human. we can't help it. our judgments make it easier for us to determine who's in the 'tribe' and who's out. but let's be honest about them, for honesty's sake, if nothing else.
and let's be honest about the limits of sisterhood. i was having dinner with a coworker tonight and we were venting about the office and one of us (cough) said: 'just because you're feminist doesn't mean you can act unprofessional and not get called out on it.' i guess i'm sort of conflicted about the 'all for one/one for all' model of sisterhood we get presented with alot.
eh, i'm blathering.
i made a list of my value judgments over lunch the other day. it was a list of binaries that accurately summed up the so-called 'neutral' values that inform my judgments on. (the privileged term is first):

middle-class/working-class AND middle-class/wealthy
whether or not i acknowledge them, these values color my world (and i suspect that it's not even a complete list.) they taint every conversation, every interaction and i'm not aware of them half the time.

it was a useful exercise; feel free to share some of your own, if you like.

posts i've come across this week about judgments we make:
The Park Slope Parent Trap - New York Times
Trusting Women Who are not You - Feministing
Broke, part 1
Broke, part 2

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

when religious dudes go nuts

is it the heat? the storms? the humidity?
because there's an inordinate amount of bad news and weirdness all over the place.
moving slightly away from gender politics, let's turn our eye to godliness which, if you listened to these guys, includes knowing how to make bombs to blow up other churches.

Star-Telegram.com 07/07/2007 Three men in jail over bomb at church

what the frak is going on??
from the article:

Cmdr. Chris Havens, the Police Department spokesman, said the suspects boasted about belonging to a leaderless group of 10 or 15 who share a belief that society has become too focused on self-improvement and self-gratification and has lost focus on the glorification of God.
"They admit to being Christian and being brought up Christian, but they believe there should be one denomination and one church, not multiple denominations," Havens said. "They did not say they had a name for their group, other than they were a radical Christian activist group. That was the way they explained their group," he said. The suspects said the group has three levels of involvement: Bible study, consensual fighting and destructive acts. Because one of their beliefs is free thought, however, participation in all three levels is not mandatory, they told police.

'consensual fighting and destructive acts.'
i love the escalation of the 3 levels: first you learn about the TULIP, then you beat your brother in christ, THEN you build a bomb.
good lordy.

here's an idea: let's build a big, fake, walled-in city and dump our crazy religious psychos with their crazy religious psychos, let them totally suicide bomb each other and then, when it's all over, we women will rule the world at last. it's not a perfect solution but at least we'd be frak-tard-free.

maybe they should have been more 'womanly'

i'd read a couple of alerts about this and i didn't believe it, at first.
i mean, a dude is choking a girl on the ground and HE gets off while the girl and her friends who are defending her get sent to jail, despite some forensic doubt that they did this.

i guess this is what it means to be a woman (let alone a lesbian woman): folks can attack you with impunity and when you step up you get sent to jail.

what a man that dwayne buckle is. what a man.

I SHOUT LOVE » Blog Archive » Help the Newark Women

however, that bill o'reilly 'maurauding lesbian gangs' story is still bullshit.

Friday, July 06, 2007

here's an alert i received from planned parenthood:

TV Networks need condom sense

Two television networks have decided to reject a new condom commercial. The ad is intended to cause a stir — turning the “men are pigs” maxim on its head by suggesting that a guy willing to take responsibility for safer sex by using a condom isn’t so bad. But the real controversy is coming from FOX and CBS, which have
declined to run the ad, even in the late-night hours typically reserved for
adult-oriented products like Viagra.
According to The New York Times, FOX’s explanation reads, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.” Yet, half of pregnancies in this country are unintended, and teen pregnancy is a public health epidemic. The truth is, condoms prevent sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy - making them a commonsense public health solution.

Learn more: View the ad on YouTube.
Take Action: Send a letter to FOX and CBS

ok. we can't talk about how condoms can prevent pregnancy?? since when? we're so squeamish about sex we can't even talk about preventing pregnancy?

the mind boggles. what utter stupidity.

Monday, July 02, 2007

horror, torture and misogyny! all mixed in together.

like a disgusting stew.

goodness knows i'm a fan of a certain kind of horror film.
self-referential horror that makes fun of itself while it scares me? check.
well-written old school ghost stories, vampires, haunted houses, monster flicks, scary cemetaries? i'm all for. (like, The Haunting, The Changeling, Ghost Story, Scream, and even The Exorcist because it was creepy as all hell.)
but there's a certain kind of film i can't stomach anymore: the Saws, the Hostels, the Turistas. all of them. can't. take it. the torture, the eroticized killing, the elaborate fetishistic murder just skeeves me out and makes me hurt the way looking at porn now makes me hurt.
just lately, i've been watching the quick tv ads for Captivity and it turns my stomach: stalker capturing a woman and some guy and torturing the hell out of her. this is entertainment? this is what we need to see to get our rocks off now? woman-hating death porn.
and, if you read solloway's column, you'll see the grossness isn't an accident. it's done on purpose; it's a thoughtful kind of 'accident'; the misogyny is how the film will succeed. it's built into the marketing and business plan. sick, really. and if you read here, you'll see that the disgusting dude who created it is counting on our shock and repulsion to drive more people to the film.
well, i don't want to drive folks to see the film. i want the film to disappear. so we're thinking about that at the office - how exactly to make it disappear.

i mean, if the fundamentalists can make a regular old movie about evolution disappear, can't we make a piece of woman-hating crap just fizzle out of existence?
[read about it at feministing and it's been bothering me all day.]

obama on the SCOTUS decision: school desegregation

from the archpundit:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barack Obama today released the following
statement on the Supreme Court’s diversity ruling.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling has placed a serious obstacle in the way of achieving the vision of America first outlined in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education, where we see racially integrated education as the best way to reflect our great diversity, unite our nation, and make real our promise of equal opportunity for all.

“Though we have come a long way in those fifty years since Brown, our schools remain segregated by race, as well as resources and opportunities. Three-quarters of black and Latino school children attend predominantly minority schools and white children are even more likely to attend racially isolated schools. And yet, hundreds of school districts across the country have taken noble, yet modest, steps to address this problem, while still accommodating parental and student choice. They have done so because they too believe that our nation’s prosperity depends on our children learning to understand each other better, work together, and solve problems together.

“This wrong-headed ruling underscores the critical importance of a President’s appointments to the Supreme Court and a Justice Department’s commitment to civil rights enforcement. It is the but the latest in a string of decisions by this conservative bloc of Justices that turn back the clock on decades of advancement and progress in the struggle for equality. Chief Justice Robert’s opinion reflects a disturbing view of the Constitution that equates voluntary integration with Jim Crow segregation – a view that is both legally and morally wrong. The policies that led to racially diverse schools in Seattle and Louisville are a far cry from the policies of racial subordination that led to blacks-only and whites-only schools in the pre-Brown era. To equate the two is to turn a blind eye to our nation’s history.

“I filed a brief in these cases, along with several of my colleagues in the Senate, which explained to the Court that a racially diverse learning environment has a profoundly positive educational impact on all students, and I remain devoted to working toward this goal. The Congress has the constitutional power and responsibility to address the resegregation of our schools, and I am committed to using that authority. I will immediately call for hearings to determine the most effective steps that Congress can take to move forward. And as President, I will appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the constitutional importance of
Brown. Those Justices will ultimately vindicate Brown’s promise, as Justice Breyer and today’s dissenters put it, of “one law, one Nation, one people, not simply as a matter of legal principle but in terms of how we actually live."

i highlighted that section because it reminded me that the supreme court is not necessarily the last resort - the Congress has the ability to void a ruling. i think it's time we all start writing some letters to our congressfolks.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

lovely day

roomie was out of town all weekend and i took the opportunity to catch up on sleep, read, attempt to buy a bed, got rejected because of weird credit, got depressed, bought a pair of shoes and comic books and then felt all better.

today was the kind of day i seldom take: slow, meandering. there was no point to this day. no meetings. no urgent appointments. no real schedule to keep. no one to answer to. that kind of untethered freedom is rare for me.

i showered and dressed slowly, pulling on a floaty sundress, and watched as my neighborhood came to halting life, pairs of neighbors shuffling down to the coffeehouse, jogging or walking their dogs. i listened to the cta bus rumble up to my corner and blow past. i caught my bus just as i made it across the street to the corner. everything going my way.

downtown, on the red line, i was stuffed in a train with cubs and brewers fans and even this did nothing to sour my mood. and the relief when the train emptied at addison - ah! heaven. is it cliche to say how good it felt to sit on the train in a window seat and feel the hot sun on your shoulders while the train rocked back and forth like a hand on a cradle? sometimes, the red line can be too gritty, filled with grizzled men who stare a little too long or wrigleyvillians who are too drunk and too loud to tolerate for very long. but this afternoon, the red line was perfectly empty (past addison) and i was able to fall in love with this city again.

in los angeles, the city passes in a blur of bland. it's the same stucco, palm trees or mock spanish villas. every corner has the same strip mall and they all seem to have an el pollo loco in it. but chicago on the el gives me the backside of the city - the porches, rooftops, soccer fields and the rare glimpses into city gardens tucked behind fences or at the end of streets with no exit. to see chicago's backyards and alleys is like waking up with someone and not minding their morning breath.

on bryn mawr, i walked west to clark and the walk made me wonder why i had moved from the northside. everything was so pretty, so feminine - the winking shadows, the warm red brick, the houses with their demure porches and shaded windows. (but then i thought about how long the train had been to get me up here and i remembered why i moved.)

i met my friend W- at m. henry and we had a long, slow gossip over brunch and a cold bottle of wine he'd brought. the silent crunchy couple sitting next to us sent us disapproving stares at some of our topics (i really don't think she liked W-'s story about being saran wrapped to a pole while his dom cattle prodded him) but that didn't stop me from enjoying his company. when the bottle was empty and there was nothing to do but settle our check, we strolled back down to GirlsTown and ate an ill-advised scoop of ice cream (we're both growing more lactose intolerant, the older we get) while sitting behind a tree (W- freckles) and watching the people parade.

after a couple of hours, i looked at my phone, caught the time and we hugged goodbye just as the clark bus appeared in the distance. passing wrigleyville after a game from the height and distance of a bus makes me think of wartime montages, like a scene from Saving Private Ryan: the soldiers are on a truck rumbling slowly through some bombed out town, staring silently at the carnage.

by the time i got home i was relaxed, tired, smelled of sun and diesel and sweat, with enough dairy and sugar coursing through me to fell an asian diabetic. i settled in to read my last comic book when my mobile buzzed. a text: 'we'll be at fresco in 10 min. come join us!'

i went into my bedroom to change into jeans. the sun had dipped lower and it was chilly out.

[edited because previous post sucked. this one is much better.]