Friday, July 07, 2006

About Rebecca

Tonight, I'm writing about Rebecca. This is a Friday when we watch Joyce's kids so she and her husband can go out and have some fun. We is Ramon, my boyfriend, and me. Joyce is my best friend. And I'm Sunny. Elaine's on vacation in case you've been away from your computer for awhile. The kids are asleep and Ramon's watching some sports thing (I don't think he's into it but he acted like he was to make sure I knew it was okay to write -- I don't think he's into it because I can hear him flipping the channel right now).

Rebecca and C.I. are two voices I got to know almost immediately. They would call. C.I. probably calls and leaves a message at least three times a week. It's always a polite and apologetic call but I'll write about C.I. on Monday. Rebecca?

Did you ever see the film For Pete's Sake? One time I told Rebecca that I felt like the aunt in Texas that Barbra Streisand calls in that move and before I could finish my sentence, Rebecca interrupted with, "For Pete's Sake!" She's a big Barbra Streisand fan so, even though we were already laughing on the phone by that point, I was "in."

Rebecca calls multiple times during the day. Whereas C.I. has boiled the message down to no more than two sentences before calling, Rebecca will run it by me first. She'll offer up something and then, after, wonder how the message should read? (She's considerate and always checks to make sure I'm not busy and will say to put her on hold if I get busy.)

Rebecca can tell a story that will have you laughing so hard you'll have to insist she stops before you pee your pants. She's very funny. She's smart. If she makes you laugh, she's thrilled. So I wondered what she looked like. Elaine has a photo of the three of them in college and showed me it and I thought, "Well, that was college."

She still looks the same. When she's in the area, she'll stop by. What does she look like? Like a cover girl. She has this wonderful blonde hair that she swears she doesn't do a thing to, doesn't brush it out, doesn't comb it, and it just looks wonderful. She's actually not like a cover girl because her look is really soft. Like John Stamos' ex-wife, if you know who I mean. I'm forgetting her name. She's in the X-Men movies. Rebecca's just really pretty.

I had a hard time believing her stories about when she used to work but one day she showed up with her hair pulled back and piled up, in this very business like women's suit and I could see it.
She said it was like wearing a straight jacket day after day.

She flows. She's as light as air. If you were picturing an angel when you were a kid, or an angel you'd put on top of a Christmas tree, you'd be picturing Rebecca. But with really big boobs.

She's just the most relaxed and at home with herself person. She's a lot of fun.

I think she's got such a female following online because women get her. (Some men do to. Wally loves her. The one committee I served on for the community was with Wally, Eli, Keesha, Brandon and Erika. Wally had just become part of the community and when he found out I knew Rebecca, he had a million questions.) If she's having PMS, you know it. There's no front with her. If she's ticked off, you know it. If some man's thought he's a bit more important than anyone else in the world finds him, you know she's going to cut him down to size.

She is our warrior woman. I really think that. She's not going to be silent or cowed. No one, especially no man, is going to tell her what to do. She's that older sister or cousin that you grow up with and think, "Oh, I want to be that cool! I want to be that fearless."

I knew about the miscarriage shortly after Elaine found out because Elaine called me to say we needed to cancel appointments. She called on a Sunday and it's rare that I ever hear her sounding upset. She explained what was going on and that she was going to the doctor with Rebecca on Tuesday so we were going to have to clear Tuesday and Wednesday.

So I knew what was going on. I wondered how she'd explain it online. Monday evening, there it was. No, "Well, something's happened." It was Rebecca being Rebecca, I had a miscarriage, I'm dealing with it, I'm not interested in going into it at length, I haven't changed and let me demonstrate to you that I'm still the same woman who's not going to take any crap.

It's easy to forget how strong she is when you see her in person because she's so soft. Her hair looks soft, her features are soft. I've told her many times that I wish I had her guts and she'll always tell me that I'm stronger now than she was at her age.

She said she had to learn and re-learn that no one's going to love you because you're nice. You're not storing nuts for the winter by being nice and not making waves. The minute you have something to say, strongly, you're still going to be labeled a "bitch" so you might as well know that going in and speak about what matters to you.

When I was 19, I cried and cried because my then boyfriend called me a bitch. I cried the whole next day, Joyce told me to get a grip, because he had apologized. I was blubbering to Joyce about how "He-he-he-he [sob] he said he was sorry for calling me a bitch." I then added it was the sweetest thing.

How Joyce avoided slapping me, I'll never know.

But "bitch" was the word I feared. I think a lot of women do. I've learned from a lot of strong women in the last years but Rebecca, as she always does, cut right to the chase: "The choices are doormat or bitch. Which do you want to be?"

And that's really what it boils down to in most cases. You speak your mind (even slightly) and you're a "bitch" or a "ball buster" or worst. You go along like your seven-years-old (except in the bedroom, then you better be ready to take charge or you're "frigid"), nodding and agreeing and all you are is a doormat.

I'm not talking about what we really are, I'm talking about how women are seen.

And guess what, I can be a bitch.

Realizing that and saying it, in a phone call with Rebecca, was very liberating.

Guess what else, sometimes the situation calls for me to be a bitch.

There was a dry cleaner I used and they treated me like crap. They destroyed a silk blouse I had and then insisted that the three inch hole in it must have been in it when I brought it in. That wasn't the first problem I'd had with them.

I was mad still the next day. Rebecca calls and asks, "What's up?" and I tell her. She says, "You need to scream bloody murder." I said, there right by my apartment, they have a quick turn around, and that they've said they're sorry before.

I was the ultimate doormat that day. Rebecca listens until I'm done and then says, "They've said they're sorry before? What else have they destroyed?" I list a few items but start saying that they do a lot of clothes and mistakes happen and just being the ultimate sap.

Rebecca set me straight. After work, I went home, grabbed the silk blouse and went back. I let them have it. It felt good after surpressing it for so long.

I went in saying, "I know accidents can happen but this was a blouse I only wore once and now it's ruined." Not by us, they kept insisting. Then the manager says, "You can't prove that we did it."

That's when I let my inner-bitch come out to play. I let them have it , it must have been for five minutes straight, and they were staring at me in shock. This guy behind me goes from yawning loudly to saying, "Yeah and they ruined about twenty of my ties!" I told them I was never coming back and I didn't.

I found another cleaners.

Now I could've done that (and should have). And I could've done it 'quietly' and been 'a good girl.' But they knew they ruined my blouse and I knew they did it and knew they knew they did it.

We really didn't shout in my house (unless it was "Oh look at the tree!" or something like that). I think Rebecca is all about taking off the emotional corsets. Burning them. Saying, "This is who I am! Deal with it or get out!"

And that someone so small and soft can do that really gave me the guts too. I think Rebecca's the woman saying, "You can do it. I am and you can too!"

One day, she took Elaine and I out to lunch (she's done that many times, but I'm thinking of one time in particular) and she made Elaine back her up on how she was always considered the "sweet" one and the "nice" one and she rarely ever spoke out. I believe it. But it's so hard to take the Rebecca in front of you and picture her ever being like that.

My mother loves her. Rebecca loves the telephone. I told her my mother thought she was "marvelous" and she said, "Give me her number, I'll call her today." My mother had a problem with a neighbor, they ended up talking about that and figuring out how to deal with it. (And it worked.) That's Rebecca.

If she were running for president, we'd all be a lot better off because she would deal with things. She wouldn't leave them for someone to deal with in the future and act like there wasn't a problem (the way Bully Boy does with the environment -- and Rebecca cares about the environment big time). In office or running for it, if someone tried to Swift Boat her, she'd torpedo them. She wouldn't go hat in hand begging to the press.

She is strong. That's why when she wrote about her miscarriage, I knew she was going to be okay. I knew she was in pain, that was obvious. But it was also obvious that she wasn't fronting. When Goldie or any of the girls in school talk about how much power she gives them, I understand. I read that and think, "I hear you!" Because that's what she is, permission. Permission to be angry, permission to be happy, permission to be enraged, pissed, sexual, you name it. In a world where so many of us are either playing 'good girl' or toying at 'bad girl' (usually because we grasp that we can't be the 'good girl') she says, "You can be it all."

She's like Catwoman in Batman Returns. I told her that once and she laughed. That's probably the best thing she has. She's gorgeous and you could stare at her all day trying to find a flaw without success. She's strong and that's amazing. But her laugh . . .

It's a deep throated, full laugh. Not a little tinkle or a girlish giggle. Her laugh is who she is.

So, I'll close with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot." But before I do, thank you again for the kind e-mails. I'm not really sure how much I have to say any given night. Monday, I'm writing about C.I. I'm thinking about writing about Mike or Wally or both on Tuesday. Elaine will be back on Wednesday. I know some of the others when they call but I've seen Mike and I've seen Wally. I'll write and make sure it's okay to write about them. Elaine was fine with anything. Rebecca's only thing was, "Don't make me out to be a goody-goody." C.I. said, "Just note that they're your opinions." So I'll check with Mike and Wally and make sure it's okay to write about them. They're both very nice men and they're both very attractive. Wally's blonde and Mike has dark hair. If they say it's cool, I'll be able to share more than that. They're both handsome. The first time I saw Mike, I thought, "I hate Nina!" (In a joking way. Nina is Mike's girlfriend.)

Everyone's been so supportive and besides the ones I've mentioned, I want to thank Dona who called to ask how I was holding up, Ava who called to say everything was wonderful and Cedric who called twice now and both times, after the greeting, asked, "What's giving you the hardest time?" Everyone made their numbers available and everyone's been so sweet to me which isn't surprising but it is appreciated. Before I read the e-mails about my first post, I was ready to slit my wrists and Cedric was so kind and made me laugh repeatedly. So thank you to everybody and, if you can hold out until Wednesday, Elaine's back then.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Iraq was rocked with bombings today. As Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show, "As many as 17 are dead and at least 50 wounded following attacks on mosques." The BBC reports that the bombs went off "in Baghdad and Baquba following Friday prayers." Al Jazeera notes that, in Baghdad, a car bomb went off near one Sunni mosque and a mortar round landed on another. In addition to the mortar attack on the mosque, Reuters reports another one in Baghdad that took the lives of at least three people and wounded at least 30. Reuters also notes a car bomb exploding near a mosque in Tal Banat ("killed six and wounded 46") and that three people were gunned down in Mosul. The Associated Press reports that, in Sinjar, at least eight died and 48 were wounded when "a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque".
Along with the above, the
AFP reports that two sheikhs may have been kidnapped. Sheikh Said Mohammed Taha al-Samarrai of Mahmudiyah is reported kidnapped and killed according to Sunni members of Parliament. The second sheikh believed to be kidnapped is Sheikh Alaa Mohammed Abbas al-Rikabi -- and that's according to Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Sammarai who also states "that 181 Sunni clerics have been killed since February."
Mahmudiyah was the hometown of Abeer Qasim Hamza, the 15-year-old who was allegedly rape before being killed (along with three of her family members) by US military forces. Steven D. Green is the only one charged so far. In court Thursday, his attorney Scott Wendelsdorf "entered a plea of 'not guilty on all counts,'"
Reuters reports.
In peace news,
Bay Area Code Pink is fasting and picketing . . . outside the home of War Hawk Di Fi (the home warbucks is building): " Senator Diane Feinstein recently voted against John Kerry's amendment calling for the troops to come home. Let's make sure she doesn't disappoint her constituents again. Gather with us, as we encourage her to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S. CON. RES 93) -- no permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq; no attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006 - which ever comes first."
CODEPINK also continues their fast in DC and elsewhere as people across the country continue fasting or begin to show their support. Kris Wise (Daily Mail) writes of West Virginians taking part in the fast and quotes Janie Poe: "I'll go for as long as my body can hold out or until my group tells me to stop. It's probably detrimental for us on our bodies, but it's us screaming out to people to wake up."
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning (info on tonight's event below) on the subject of Iraq. On the issue of the alleged rape and the murders, Dahr Jamail said, "This type of thing is happening on a regular basis in Iraq . . . [rapes during house raids] even in the capital city of Baghdad." Mark Manning pointed out that the legal immunity given to contractors and the military has created "a huge problem" and that the Iraqis have seen too many incidents being wiped away without investigation.
Event tonight:
An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822)Mark Manning will be screening his film
Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

About Elaine

Day two or night two. Sunny with you filling in for Elaine while she's on vacation.

Thank you for all the great e-mails. I've still got a few more to read but they really made my day. Everyone was so supportive.

I'm going to write about Elaine tonight.

Okay, let's start with physical. She does put her hair in a pony tail some mornings when she's rushing. She can carry that off. She's very pretty. Her hair is almost black during the winter and then gets lighter when we have more sunshine. By the end of summer, it's amazing and looks like she got it streaked, but it's natural. I told her once she should get it done so it always looks like that but she said if she started coloring, she'd have to worry about roots and she didn't want to add another task to her list.

She has incredible posture and I spent months waiting for her to slouch, even in a chair. She never has. She took ballet and if I have a girl some day, she will too because her posture just gives her this great bearing.

She's really graceful. So even when she thinks she's being messy, it doesn't come off that way. A few months after I started, we moved offices. She said, "Wear sweats or something, we'll be in boxes forever." She did wear sweats but I felt like an 9th grader in gym class standing next to the homecoming queen.

So that's her looks.

She's very smart but I guess you already knew that.

Did you know she can be funny? She really can be. And she really loves to laugh.

So she's a really cool person.

But, and this is what I wanted to write about her, she's also a really cool boss.

This job was a huge step up for me. I needed it because I had rent coming due shortly and had just been laid off. I put in applications everywhere. She actually called for an interview and I went in. I was overdressed (looked like I was going to prom!) and so nervous.

I stumbled through about 15 minutes of questions. Then she said, "Okay, the interview's over."
Not in a rude way. I apologized and explained that I knew I wasn't qualified but I was trying to find any job I could. We talked for forty minutes and then she had to stop because she had a session that was about to start.

I left, went to the movies, had a HUGE thing of popcorn and just thought, "I can't afford this movie! Oh shut up and focus on the movie!"

I got home and there was messages from my friend Joyce (a job lead and just saying hi), two from my mother and Elaine. She said call so we could figure out when I should start.

I was just standing there shocked.

I had to play the message again. Then I called Joyce and got her to come over to help me pick out what I could wear to work. While Joyce was there, I made her listen to the message. She goes, "Yeah, you got the job."

My first 2 weeks were non-stop mistakes. I made one mistake after another. I thought each night, "When I go in tomorrow, she's telling me I'm fired."

That didn't happen and then mid-week of my third week, I asked if I could talk to her. I told her I knew I was screwing up and that I should start looking for something else. She asked me why I felt that way and I said because I keep making all these mistakes.

I said, "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there are like a million."

She said she'd noticed but what she'd paid attention to was how I fixed the mistakes.

That was so different than any boss I'd had. She really gave me a sense of confidence. After that meeting, I didn't worry so much. She said that every day there were going to be mistakes and that the issue was to learn from them.

When we do evaluations, we do them. She expects me to come in with some critical comments of her. She tells me I'm not doing my job if I don't have them. And she really listens to them. Which is really cool.

I make a very nice salary. I have health and dental. I've got a 401K (which she says is a joke with the current stock market). It's just a really great job.

Once I got comfortable in it and got the job down more, I realized I'm mainly waiting around. When she noticed that, she said that since I had the swing of things, if I wanted to bring in a TV or magazines that was cool and not to worry about acting busy. So most of the time, I look at what I need to do that day and pace myself so I'm not just sitting around. There's probably four hours of office work. The rest of the time, I'm just answering the phone or monitoring the office.
It's pretty cool and laid back.

She's joined my mother in saying, "You need to get your degree." I did two years of college without even getting an associates. So this fall, due to pressure, I'll be going back. Elaine always points out, "I could drop dead tomorrow." She says too I may get bored and want to move on at some point. I don't think that's likely but I know she also thinks about closing shop. I don't think she ever will. I think she'll be sixty and still doing this.

But right now, I've got a cool job with enough money to go back and I don't have kids so it makes sense to use the time.

What else?

Oh, Rebecca's always writing about how Elaine doesn't get how pretty she is. She is very pretty. I don't know if she doesn't get it or if she just doesn't think it's all that important?

She also doesn't take any crap which probably surprises a lot of people because she's really soft spoken. I don't mean shy or timid, I just mean soft spoken. At the old office, there was a guy next to us who would always find a reason to come in and talk to me. He really got on my nerves but I just ignored him. One day, Elaine came in without him noticing and she just tore into him, asking him, "What gives you the right to speak to her like that?"

He was really oily personality wise, you know, like a used car salesman? And after I started ignoring him, he just started getting really vulgar. I would ignore him and think "Jerk." But that was it. After he left with his tail between his legs, Elaine told me I never had to tolerate that kind of thing. She said if it made me uncomfortable to say something to let her know and she would.

I think the thing I'm the luckiest on (and I'm pretty lucky, I know) is that she's against the war. I have some friends who can't talk about the war at work because their bosses (or their managers) freak out. When the invasion started, I was really depressed and still get that way sometimes. I can always talk about that with her. She gets depressed about the war sometimes too. Other than Guantanamo, the war's the only thing that gets her down.

She's dating a guy right now who seems really nice. And another cool thing about her is it's not all about him. Until Ramon, I really made my whole life about whatever guy I was dating. Elaine keeps her perspective. I admire that about her so much. If I were to dime-store it, I lived most of my life like a love junkie. Maybe it's getting older but I'm not so lost now. I can spend time with Ramon and enjoy it. I hope it's going somewhere but if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. The first time I said that to Joyce, she gasped because that was so not me. I mean, I've dyed my hair before when a guy said he thought Julia Roberts was beautiful. It's been a long process. I think I owe a lot of it to Elaine who would be the first to reject it and tell me that I did what I did. But she's provided a really strong role model of what I can be and she's always believed me making her the only one besides my mother and Joyce who has. My mother has to believe me, come on, she's my mother. Joyce is my best friend. If she stops believeing in me, what do we do? Talk about how my life is over before I'm thirty?

So Elaine's just really cool.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Substituting for Elaine

Iraq snapshot.
Violence and chaos continue. Monday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dahr Jamail told Nora Barrows-Friedman, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."
How long before the mainstream press admits that?
In kidnapping news, Raad al-Harith and his body guards have been released. al-Harith is the deputy electricity minister in Iraq who
was kidnapped Tuesday. The AFP reports that, "after being held for 10 hour," the bodyguards and al-Hareth were released but that is not the case with regards to Taiseer Najeh Awad al-Mashhadni who was kidnapped Saturday. al-Mashhadani's kidnappers, the AFP reports, "issued demands including special protection for Shiite places" and "called for the release of detainees in US custody and a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops".
Both al-Harith and al-Mashhadni were kidnapped in Baghdad. Remember Baghdad? The "crackdown"? The press seems to have largely forgotten it. As the
AFP notes regarding the continued bombings in Baghdad: "The series of blasts come despite an ongoing security plan that has put some 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by US forces on the streets."
Basra, which was also placed under a state of emergency also appears largely forgotten.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The state of emergency ended Saturday, but residents said that little had changed: Shiite militias and tribes still control the city's streets, political factions still fight for control of the city, and Shiite Muslim militias still threaten Sunni Muslims with death. Morgue officials report that the number of people killed in sectarian violence remains unchanged."
Baghdad? The
BBC reports that a car bomb near a mosque resulted in at least six dead and at least 17 wounded. AFP notes a bomb "outside a restaurant . . . noteworthy for the massive banners praising Shiite martyrs it displayed" that killed at least one and wounded at least seven as well as another bomb that went off in a market and wounded at least ten peopole. Reuters notes a car bomb in Kirkuk that left three wounded and a roadside bomb that left two wounded. In Mosul, AFP reports, a police officer and a civilian lost their lives when a car bomb exploded (at least four other people were wounded).
Near Kirkuk,
AFP reports, "a headless male corpse" was discovered. Reuters reports the discovery of two corpses in Kerbala. AP notes the discovery of a corpse ("shot in the head) in Baghdad.
Shooting deaths?
AFP reports a Kurd was killed while driving his car in Kirkuk. In Mosul, Reuters counts four dead from gun shots. In Baghdad, AP reports that a drive by targeted a Shi-ite family, "killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding his brother and two other relatives."
Reuters reports that the central morgue in Baghdad places the body count for June at 1,595. Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi states: "June is the highest month in terms of receiving cases of violence since" the Februrary 22nd bombing of the Golden Mosque.
To underscore, the waves of Operation Happy Talk that the peace plan/scam was a 'turning point,' that the death of Zarqawi/"Zarqawi" was a 'turning point,' go down the list -- there has been no 'turning point.'
On Tuesday, Iraq's justice minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli made a call for an independent investigation into the alleged rape of an under-age Iraqi female as well as her alleged murder and that of three of her family members. Today, the Associated Press reports, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraq prime minister and puppet of the illegal occupation) is following al-Shebi's call for an independent investigation. Canada's CBC notes that today was the first time he spoke publicly on the matter . This despite the fact that Green was arrested Friday (news broke on Monday) and the US announced the investigation on Friday. Though various reports mention the alleged involvement of others, thus far only Steven D. Green has been charged. Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that the military has gone from referring to Green having an alleged "personality disorder" to his having an "anti-social personality disorder." Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Safiyya al-Suhail and Ayda al-Sharif (both serve in Iraq's parliament, both are women) are asserting that al-Maliki needs to appear before parliament "to give assurances the US troops would be punished."

The thing at the top is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday. My nickname is Sunny and my grandfather gave me that nickname. It's what everyone calls me. I work for Elaine and, for three days, she called me by my given name. Then my mother, who was dying for three days, dying to come up and see my new job, shows up (she'd promised to wait one week but didn't make it) and it's all Sunny this & Sunny that. Elaine asks about my name and my mother says, "Everyone calls her Sunny, you call her Sunny, everyone calls her Sunny, it's because of her smile." Though that reads like several sentence, I didn't make them several sentences. If you knew my mother (who is very sweet), you'd know why.

I want to give a big shout out to Mike who Elaine told me to call if I had any questions. I called him. With a big question - "How do I start?" He said put C.I.'s snapshot up and then I'll have something and won't be staring at a blank screen. That helps. Mike blogs at Mikey Likes It! and if you come here and don't know that already, let me see when Elaine has an opening and pencil you in for a session. :)

I asked Elaine if it was okay to write about her and she said yes. Then I asked if I could write about C.I. and she said yes. So if I add Rebecca to the list, I have three posts. Elaine's back on Wednesday so that means I have three posts that I think I can do.

This is just my intro post. I'll talk a little about me so you'll know somethings. I'll talk about myself tomorrow when I'm talking about Elaine too. Heck, I'll probably talk about myself all week.

I'm 26 years old as of last month. I'm single but steady-dating a guy named Ramon who is very wonderful, too wonderful. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop and for him to explain that he's on parole or married. I've had other jobs before but they didn't pay that well. They paid crap. I had just gotten my first apartment when I was fired from my job. They had cut backs and called it a lay off but it was fired in my book. I was in a panic and started applying for everything, including dental hygenist, whether I was qualified or not. Elaine took a chance on me, she'd disagree, but she did. I'll talk about that some more tomorrow but what you need to know right now, if you didn't already, is that she's a really cool person. We have a lot of fun.

In high school, my best friend Joyce and I were working fast food. That was a lot of fun because we'd always be able to laugh. That's the only job I've enjoyed before this. And I didn't enjoy that work. I do enjoy the work I do now.

Joyce. Joyce has a two kids, both little girls. She got married three years ago and I kid her that she'll have a third baby any day now. Her girls are so pretty, sweet and precious. I see them and think, "I want babies!" Then I see how much she and her husband, both work, struggle and I think, "I should wait." Those girls are wonderful but they better appreciate all their parents are sacrificing for them. My parents did as well but, like my mother says, a dollar went further back then. Ramon and I babysit every other Friday for them because they need a night out.

Joyce said it was okay to write about their money situation and that she really wished I would because she turns on TV and sees all these women who don't work or give up working and feels like no one knows what her life is like.

She works a forty-hour week and so does her husband. Her mother watches the girls during the day. With two full time jobs, meaning two full time paychecks, they still struggle. Her sister works at a clothing store so when the girls are older, if her sister's still there, clothes shouldn't be a problem but right now, everything is.

They have no cable. When there's a game or a concert, I always invite them over. Ramon follows sports so he's better at it than I am. (Ramon and I do not live together, in case you're wondering. We've only been dating a few months.) Their bills are down to rent and utilities. Everything else goes to taking care of the kids. Baby food is not cheap. Nothing is.

I think it's disgusting that two people work so hard and they still have to struggle. Joyce was really worried when their second daughter was born because she stayed home on family leave and her husband started talking about quitting his job and going somewhere else. It would be great if he could get a better paying job but her concern was that, with the economy, he might end up without any job. So he agreed to stay because it was really stressing her out, to the point of high blood pressure. Joyce and I are the same age, there's no reason in the world she should end up with high blood pressure but that's the sort of story you never hear about in the news that just focuses on "Oh, I've got my new house and my new baby."

When I was growing up, I watched Roseanne. There doesn't seem to be any show like that today. Everyone has money. Sometimes they'll whine about not having it, but they don't have to do much, it just shows up. Dan and Roseanne were always struggling and that was reality in my family. That's still reality for a lot of families. But you turn on TV and there's Deborah Barone, stay at home Mom. There's one after another all over TV. I know of two women from my high school graduating class who stay home with their kids. No one else can afford it. But you don't see that on TV.

When I was growing up, it seemed like being a woman was a good thing. Nothing to be ashamed of. But if I watch TV today, I always get the impression that it's a bad thing to be a woman. I really wonder where the Roseannes and Murphy Browns are today? I thought Murphy Brown was funny. It was nothing like my life, but I loved how she didn't take any crap and had this life that was so not like mine. Not in a "unreal" way the way the stay at home moms are. But more like, "Maybe when I grow up . . ."

So that's my problem with TV today.

My other problems? Oh, don't get me started. I should be one of Elaine's patients!

Iraq is a big issue with me. I'm a member of The Common Ills community. I'm a lazy member because I mainly read, but if you look around, you'll find me weighing in with a suggested link or a favorite thing every now and then.

Why do I like The Common Ills? Because it's funny. It really is. I laugh so much. And it's funny while tackling serious subjects. One of the big subjects there is Iraq and I really can't believe how little attention the war gets elsewhere. The Iraq focus has only gotten beefed up and Joyce goes that's because C.I.'s carrying the weight for a lot of people. I agree with that.

But it's told or written in a way that you can relate. Maybe you'll get a laugh like "Dexy's back under the red light" or that hilarious one where C.I. had Dexy saying, "So soldier, you got a girl?" Ramon printed that one and posted it at work.

Ramon says that there are a million stories that never get told about Iraq from the big slaughters to the individual stories. Like the pregnant woman that was shot and killed at a checkpoint back in May. My mother watches the evening news, I think NBC, and she was talking about how there's no follow up and there's no connections being made. Each massacre or slaughter is treated as an exception.

I agree with that. There's so much going on and there's so little coverage. You really have to work to find it. That's why I love the "Iraq snapshot." In the gina & krista round-robin poll, I voted to keep it and lose the highlights because to me, it's the best thing you can get. I've seen the Reuter's Factbox each day and it's . . . okay. It doesn't provide many connections and it doesn't offer an opinion because it's news. All afternoon, I'm checking The Common Ills looking for the snapshot. I'll compare notes with my mother on the phone later and she'll say, "I didn't hear that on the news."

Jake Kovko was a story she never heard about except from me passing on bits from The Common Ills. At first, like the first three days, she didn't believe it because she kept saying, "That can't be true or it would be on the news." If you don't know the story, Kovko was a soldier in Iraq. He was Australian. He died. His body was sent home. But it wasn't. They sent the wrong body home. Then their equivalent of Secretary of Defense started telling their news that Kovko committed suicide and this other stuff that really upset the family. When his body finally made it home and they had his funeral, when I was reading about that, I was crying at work. I felt so sorry for that family, his parents, his wife Shelley. They were for the war and that really doesn't matter to me. They lost someone really important to them and that shouldn't have happened. The war should never have happened. I remember that one of the songs they played at his funeral was by James Blunt, but I'm forgetting which one. I'll try to look that up.
But no one should have died but people keep dying and that's because we won't rise up and say "End the war!"

One CD I will mention is The Complete Cass Ellioot Solo Collection 1968-1971. You can get it at Elaine mentioned it last week, I do read her blog, and meant to note the title. I got it at amazon. It's a two disc set. "Darling Be Home Soon" is my favorite song.

Okay, I just called Mike, read this to him and he was so nice to listen. He says it's great but I bet he's being very generous. I'll see you tomorrow night.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4, 2006 News

Fourth of July. Enjoy it and do something. I may blog once or more during the next seven days but Sunny will be subbing for me and blogging at least twice (she has two entries in her, she's decided) and maybe more.

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue. As Dahr Jamail said on Monday's Flashpoints, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."

As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's KPFA's The Morning Show, former US soldier Steven D. Green was arrested and charged Friday with raping an Iraqi female while he was serving in Iraq and then killing her and three members of her family. The twenty-one-year-old Green was a member of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army before being discharged with what The New York Times termed a "personality disorder." The BBC notes that Green's next appearance in court will be July 10th. Various press reports note that four others are suspected of involvement but Green has been the only one charged. The Associated Press reports that Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli, Iraq's justice minister, has "demanded" that the United Nations provide oversight to ensure that those guilty be brought to justice.

Though the United States military has maintained that the rape victime was at least twenty-years-old, reports beginning with Ellen Knickmeyer's (Washington Post) on Monday have placed the female's age much lower. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister".

In the United States, members of CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace have gathered in DC and are fasting: "While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq."

Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Ghandi statue at 3:00 PM where Cindy Sheehan spoke: "This war is a crime. We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government." Others participating include Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Dick Gregory. On yesterday's WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, Janet Coleman spoke with several members of Granny Peace Brigade about the fast and other actions. Among the women Coleman spoke with was former WBAI programmer Vinnie Burrows who sang a portion of one her songs: "The kids are dying far away in a foreign land/ I must keep on trying, their lives are in our hands."

In Scotland last weekend, members of Military Always Delivers (an activist group like the Billionaires for Bush in the United States) participated in a pro-war march and rally on Saturday. Scotland Independent Media Center reports (text and photos) that many pro-war marches were not in on the prank as members of MAD shouted slogans such as "Cut Welfare, Buy More Bombs!"; "War is the Health of the State"; and "Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun" while passing out "deception dollars."

Today, in Iraq, Reuters reports that Raad al-Harith, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in Baghdad. In other violence thus far today, a roadside bomb in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least two police officers and wounded at least four; in Hawija, a mortar attack claimed the lives of at least one and wounded at least two others; and, in Falluja, "[g]unmen wounded a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars."

An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822) Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

To date 2538 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq (official count). And 150 members ofAlpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry are headed for Fort Dix and then Iraq.

Around the globe. The AFP reports that confronted with a direct threat of nuclear strikes, from North Korea, the White House shrugs and White House spokesmodel Tony Snow declares, "It is still deeply hypothetical." However, the Bully Boy demonstrates no reluctance to play Wallflower with Iran. The Associated Press reports "Western powers" are demanding a July 12th dealine for beginning talks and ceasing nuclear enrichment -- after that, it's a nuclear dance off! This despite Seymour Hersh's reporting that "Pentagon planners and other experts" are not in support of Bully Boy's plan to nuke Iran. Korea? Iran? Iran? Korea? Michael R. Gordon's head spins as he attempts to figure out which war is a "go" in order to start marketing his own brand of home-made (war) porn. (Seymour and Shane -- what have you wrought!) And in the occupied terroritories? The 'jokesters' at the Associated Press, reporting on continued armed agression, dub their story "Israel keeps up pressure on Gaza." In the real world, Nora Barrows-Friedman, on KPFA's Flashpoints, noted that over 130,000 Palestinians have been left without water; that sonic booms are being used to terrorize the population throughout the night; that Israeli forces, in the last week, have abducted " one-third of the Palestinian government. No one in the international community has yet expressed any outrage at this or the Palestinian political prisoner's conditions."

In election news in the United States, Robert Parry writes on the campaign "tool" that benefitted the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004: Osama bin Laden's rush-released video timed to debut four days prior to the election. Though it didn't fly off the shelves at Blockbuster, CIA analysts studying the release came to the judgement that "that bin-Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term." Meanwhile, professional politician Joe Lieberman, who never met a baby or an ass he couldn't kiss, has thrown down his Zell-Miller-like marker announcing that if he doesn't win his party's nomination (Democratic), he will run as an independent to hold on to his Senate seat. Particularly surprising to Lieberman may be no cries of: "Say it ain't so, Joe!" This as fellow Democratic War Hawk Maria Cantwell appears to hope she can just wish the war away from constituents' minds. In contrast to Cantwell's fiddle-dee-dee approach, newly declared Democrat Jim Webb stated in Saturday's Democratic radio address: ""I have believed strongly that when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops. Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."

In other election news: Que una sorpresa -- another election in Mexico is rife with accusations of fraud and rigging. Possibly, next time an election approaches, US media outlets could spend less time shoring up the lite candidate as "left" and more time exploring the system that continues to fail the people? (We mean the system itself, but if it's easier to focus on the voting mechanics, even that would be preferred.) The BBC reports that conservative Felipe Calderon is the winner and the less conservative Manuel Lopez Obrador is waiting for a recount while the people of Mexico wait for a real leader to emerge. (The actual count of the votes will not begin until Wednesday, as noted by the KPFA Evening News Monday.)

In science & techonology news, the London Free Press is reporting that: "A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early yesterday, passing about 433,000 kilometres from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon." Meanwhile, Jane Kay (San Franciso Chronicle) reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science which has found the world's bird population to be disappearing at an alarming rate: "The study, the most thorough analysis of global bird species, says 12 percent of existing species -- about 1,250 -- are threatened with extinction by 2100." La loco bird flies on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post where the always laughable Eugene Robinson shows up days late, without a tardy slip, and rushes to shore up the justifiably (long) tarnished image of Star Jones (a modern-day Joan of Arc burned at the TVQ pyre, to hear Robinson tell it) in a column that will provide laughter for years (print it up, it's doubtful the 'collected works' will ever be published). The always late for the train Robison trots out a seventies spoof of Barbara Walters but seems (not surprisingly) unaware that Star Jones has been spoofed repeatedly in more recent years on both Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. For the record, roaches weren't used in any spoof revolving around Walters. Alleged homophobe, peace-activist hater, and attorney Jones will apparently next argue the case that her firing from The View just because the audiences hated her was a case of wrongful termination at I-Hops and truck stops across the country. Chances are that she won't draw a crowd there either. Meanwhile Robinson is prepping his next hard hitting column: an exploration of Shannen Doherty's public firings. [Note: C.I. participated in the writing of the previous six sentences only after consulting with friends at the Washington Post.] In a better use of space, investigative journalist and internet sleuth Ron Byrnaert discovers that a certain Free Republic poster is apparently better known to many as a voice of the left or 'left.' Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) searches for the answer to the question of "Who is Vis Numar?"

Monday's Democracy Now! offered "We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger" while today's broadcast will feature:

StoryCorps: A national social history project records the voices of ordinary people -- citizen and non-citizen, old and young -- telling their stories to each other.

Musical question of the day from Carly Simon's "Playing Possum" (written by Simon, title track to the CD of the same name):

We lived up in Cambridge
And browsed in the hippest newstands
Then we started our own newspaper
Gave the truth about Uncle Sam
We loved to be so radical
But like a rugged love affair
Some became disenchanted
And some of us just got scared
Now are you playing possum
Keeping a low profile
Are you playing possum for a while?

This joint entry written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; Wally of The Daily Jot; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; and Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report. [With additional help from Dallas and Tracey.]