Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another Answer You Would Not Expect

I've had great responses to my post about Mr. Uniformed's restaurant hijack. Many were impressed by the fact I managed to keep enough presence of mind to say compelling things instead of "F*ck You!" (me too, that doesn't always happen.) Some thought, though, that I should have said "F*ck you." Loudly.

Today I read a Washington Post article about the landlord of an abortion clinic. He gets a lot of protesters calling him at home, making creepy comments about his daughters, showing up at their schools, and generally getting in his life in a really creepy and menacing way. The article was about how he turns the tables on these people, and gets friends and other people to call the original callers back, to give them a taste of their own medicine. Apparently it's grown into a national movement. It made me think of the release of personal information about the cop who violently mis-used pepper spray at Davis, and how people were encouraged to contact him.

There's a young and angry part of me that says "Hell, yeah! Get them back! The only way to change the system is to be revolutionary, and information is the new revolution." And I love that part of me.

There's another part of me, though, that has gotten much mellower with age. That thinks that as horrible as these things are, to stoop to that level isn't really right either. That part of me has gotten a lot louder since Beatrix was born; I am not saying that parenthood does or should do that to everyone, but it certainly has to me. I love my daughter with an aching internal fire, and I would fight tooth and nail against any threat to her.

And what to do about the fact that, in either case, the situation dis-humanizes people. Are the people threatening the landlord's daughter with harm and/or death honestly able to turn off the fact that this is another person, and that this is NEVER a way to treat someone else, no matter how little respect you have for them? Is the counter-response equally de-humanizing?

So, for me, do I take the "safe" route and put protecting my daughter paramount? Or do I take some risks, in order to (hopefully) make the world a better place for her?

What are you doing?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not The Answer He Was Expecting

So today Patrick and I were at a CatManDo for lunch, a little Nepali restaurant near Macalester. Soon after we sat down, a 40ish gentleman sat down at the table next to us, and proceeded to hit on the college student sitting along next to him. Amusing as this was, we had a lot of things to discuss and did not eavesdrop half as much as we might have been tempted to.

When the student got up to leave, the man turned to us and held up his newspaper, then said "I don't know your politics but...

...this is ridiculous! How could anyone be AGAINST needing an ID to vote?!"

(uh, dude, you picked the wrong table).

I started out by saying that there were lots of people who don't have IDs, and for whom it was difficult and expensive to get them.

"Well, how much is it? 20 bucks?"

"Yeah, and for a lot of people that's food for a week."

"Oh, come on, that's not true."

Patrick corrected him and described how many people (including his family in the past) lived on less than $20/week. Mr. Uninformed then went into a rant about how much fraud there is, another blow that we neatly parried by asking him to describe this apparent fraud and how he knew about it. He was patently unable to do so.

Just as I was getting my arguments ready about how difficult it can be to get an ID (because really, how many of us know where our original birth certificates and social security cards are — hmm, I don't see a lot of hands raised), and how most fraud is by people consciously voting twice and an ID would not stop that, and how in any case a driver's license in particular is not meant to stand in for a national ID card and if a faction wants to create a national ID card I invite them to Bring It On — just as all that was swirling in, Mr. Uninformed, sensing a losing battle, switched topics. "It's like that union thing."

"What union thing?" (imagine icy tone)

"You know, the thing in Wisconsin that they are trying to get here."

"You mean Right to Work?" (icy tone)

"No, the thing with the dues. Tell me, how is it legal for the government to just take dues out of paychecks like that?"

"Well, because they are not the abstract Government in this case, they are the employer and the employer is in charge of payroll deductions?"

By this point my blood pressure was sky high and so I walked over to pay the bill while Patrick attempted to explain how payroll deductions work, and how it was part of the union contract, and how an employer was welcome not to contract with unions if they wanted to but good luck finding anyone to work the job.

We left the restaurant shaking our heads. I'm sure that the gentleman was truly shocked, that he was just stuck so completely in his spoon-fed world of mis-information that it did not even occur to him that our opinions might be different. I was also struck by how weak his arguments were, and how he was just so poorly equipped to argue his points.

So I guess it gave both of us something to think about.

(I understand that others — often roughly half of America — don't agree with me. But I expect you to be able to competently defend your point. Otherwise, what use is there in even having said opinion?)

(and why would you even think this was appropriate behavior to just launch into a political conversation like that with strangers?)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grapefruit Olive Oil Cake

Ok, here's my secret. I think Kate In The Kitchen is amazing. If you don't already, you should follow her blog, or on Twitter. She's smart, funny, and amazing with food and more so with writing. Though we have a lot of mutual friends, I have only met her IRL once, at a crowded conference, so for her part, Kate is probably either bemused or annoyed by how much I look up to what she creates.

In any case, Kate tweeted about making a grapefruit olive oil cake, and pear scones, the other day, and that really hit the spot, enough so that I felt compelled to try the cake with some rather-past-their-prime grapefruit sitting on the counter.

I zested the rinds and mixed the with sugar to infuse them.

Juiced the grapefruit.

Mixed the fresh juice with some yoghurt and added eggs and the oil.

Actually mixed the dry ingredients (including whole wheat flour, see, it's healthy!) separately and added them slowly, and then baked in my favorite bundt pan.

Whipped up a glaze and it was delicious.

Easy to make, unusual, and delicious. I love the fact that being part of social media brings things like this to my life. Thanks so much for inspiring me, Kate!

(earlier this week I made a rich red wine cake I saw on Pinterest, next up, the pear scones)

Monday, March 19, 2012


When I was young, my mother would often have to take me with her to meetings and such, since her childcare options were limited. The Junior League was then located at the Burbank Livingston Griggs house, and for one such meeting, my mom set me down in one room, with a big box of raisins (not the individual size, but the full 16oz package). When she came back to check on me 10 minutes later, I had already eaten the entire box.

To this day, I can't eat raisins.

Other than that, I was the kind of kid that was excellent to take to meetings and events — well behaved, charming, could entertain myself. Patrick too reports that he could sit through his mom's classes and rehearsals, with a book or some Hot Wheels cars, and nary a peep.

I thought of that tonight, when I had a meeting and Patrick was at a concert. Beatrix is great at events — she loves parties (her first one was a 400-person cocktail party, which she attended in a sling), and going to shows. I was worried about how she would be at tonight's meeting though, since there was not really anything to entertain her. But she was a total rockstar — quiet, sweet, and well-behaved. My daughter is amazing.

I won't offer her any raisins, though.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Calgon - Take Me Away!

It's been an insanely crazy week (I would say it's been "awful," but I have such good and supportive friends that they have made it much better!) between some major/emergency house issues, being behind (and thus ticking off) clients, a hitch with one of the boards I serve on, it would be a hard enough time. Add to that a major (emergency hospitalization) crisis with my father-in-law that has sent Patrick out to DC on a moment's notice and for whatever time it takes, and you add in a lot of worry and concern and fear, plus expense, and a solo-parenting week that has been nothing short of all-consuming. In short: It Sucks Right Now.

During times like this (mainly when I am trying to fall back asleep after Beatrix's 4th, 5th, 6th-or-beyond wake-up of the night), I try to think of some way I am going to reward myself "when it is all over." Top fantasies include:

- A couple of hours shopping, even if it is just window-shopping
- A couple of hours to just hang out and read in a coffeeshop
- That lovely new lipstick I am coveting
- A makeover
- A spa day, or even a mani-pedi
- Uninterrupted time to paint the front living room
- Cloth to make a new skirt
- A date night at a fabulous restaurant with my husband
- Or even just cocktails — mmm, cocktails
- Or any meal out at all!
- My files and computer magically organized
- Pretty new hanging file folders and sharpies
- A movie (and I think I missed out on good early-order seats for THE HUNGER GAMES, dammit)
- A cleaning lady
- The new bedframe I love at Ikea
- Flowers
- A letter in the mail
- A digital camera that's not my phone
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Yoga or pilates

Of course, the problem is that I think of these things, and then I get "through it," and then I never do them. So I need to find a way to fix that.

What about you? What are your rewards?