A letter to the editor, No. 2

Just submitted this to my local paper. They did post my letter from last week; I didn’t check to see if it was in the printed edition, but there were only 3 new letters posted online, so I’m assuming yes. Pretty sad that I had enough material for a completely new letter just one week later…

(edit: I previously accidentally posted an earlier draft instead of the final piece I sent to the paper. This is the final piece.)

Last week I wrote about several strange and disturbing occurrences that took place in the first week of Donald Trump’s presidency. Unfortunately, this week has brought several more such events to add to the list:

Four senior State Department officials were relieved of duty before successors were confirmed, leaving a gaping hole in the department’s senior management team.

President Trump signed an executive order adding Steve Bannon to the principals committee of the National Security Council. The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national security were informed that they need no longer attend meetings that are not directly related to their areas of responsibility.

President Trump signed a rash and confusing executive order imposing a temporary limitation on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries. This order was worded in such a manner as to include legal permanent residents (“green card holders”) in those barred from entering the country. It was enacted so quickly that there was no time to plan for its implementation or to make sure those tasked with implantation fully understood the order. The administration later said that the order did not include permanent residents, but the jury is still out on whether the order was simply misunderstood, or deliberately unclear.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed Department of Justice lawyers not to defend President Trump’s executive order on immigration, citing it as unconstitutional. She was then fired, just days before the Senate was set to confirm her replacement.

This is definitely not normal.

A letter to the editor

I’m afraid this blog has morphed into a kind of action log lately (not that I’m posting everything I do here). I should get back to writing about other stuff, but my big introvert struggle right now really is activism.

I saw another good suggestion for introvert activism– writing letters to the editor of one’s local paper. The article I saw pointed out that though it seems like no one reads these, people do, often older people who tend to come down on the conservative side of the political spectrum. So, appealing to these people might not be a bad idea.

To that end, I submitted the following letter to the editor to my local paper today:

To the editor: Several disturbing events have taken place surrounding and in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

1. A group of eight people, two French nationals and six Canadians, were denied entry into the US when they revealed that their intent was to attend the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. Border agents said that attending the march was not a valid reason to enter the United States. The Canadians were told they would be arrested if they tried again to cross during the weekend, and the two French citizens were told that they would be required to apply for a visa for any future visit to the US. France is a member of the Visa Waiver Program, which allows French citizens to enter the US without a visa unless there is a pretty good reason not to allow them entry. Even if turning them away on this instance were justified (a claim that is debatable), requiring them to obtain a visa in the future because they had once tried to cross the border to attend a lawful protest is ludicrous.

2. Six journalists were charged with felonies for covering the inauguration protests. They are facing a $25,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

3. After the National Park Service re-tweeted photos of the small inauguration crowd, the Trump administration temporarily suspended the agency’s Twitter privileges, and imposed restrictions as to what could be posted on its official social media outlets.

4. The Trump administration has instructed the Environmental Protection agency to suspend its contract and grant programs, as well as all outgoing communication, immediately and until further notice.

These things are indicative of isolationism and an attempt to control the press, both of which are detrimental to a free and democratic society in a world that gets smaller with each technological advance.

This is not normal.

Introvert Activism… again

I haven’t written in quite a long time. Things have been busy. More on that later. For now, I am practicing introvert activism. Here is a letter I just wrote to Donald Trump:

***

Dear Mr. Trump:

Despite your instructions on 60 Minutes last week to those who would commit hate crimes in your name to “Stop it!” incidents are still on the rise. Recently, a white supremacist rally in Washington D.C. ‘hailed’ you as the president they’ve been waiting for. At Standing Rock, police used a water cannon in freezing conditions in an attempt to disperse crowds protesting a pipeline being built through their land without proper permission by a company in which you have substantial investment. All over our country, the demons of our worse nature are emboldened, and claim your victory as the reason.

In your victory speech, you said:

To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.

If you truly wish to be president for all Americans, you must seek to fairly represent the interests of Muslim-Americans, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled people, women, and Mexican-Americans. You must seek to represent the Muslim man who was not a citizen last week, but got his citizenship this week, whose friends and family members may not yet be citizens. You must seek to represent the children of undocumented immigrants, who were born here, who are US citizens, and who should not be separated from their families. You must seek to represent the woman who chose to undergo a late-term abortion because her baby was deemed “incompatible with life,” who does not deserve to be demonized and criminalized for making likely the most heartbreaking decision she ever had to make. You must seek to represent people like me, who believe that ALL are created equal and deserve the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

In your victory speech, you also said:

For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people… I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.

If you truly seek the guidance of people (like me) who did not support your bid for president, you need only listen: we offer it freely. Here is what you can do to begin to earn our trust:

  • Publicly and forcefully denounce racism: Your transition team has released a statement indicating you oppose racism, but this is apparently also not enough to end the deplorable acts I mentioned at the beginning of this letter. Sound bites filtered through a press your supporters do not trust will not convince them. If you truly oppose these acts, it is time for you to make your position undeniably clear in an unfiltered speech directly to the American people.
  • Fire Steve Bannon. He is a known racist and anti-Semite, and people of color, Jewish people, liberals, and progressives will never truly support or trust you as long as you keep his counsel.
  • Mitigate your conflicts of interest; prove to us that you are willing to make true sacrifices in terms of your businesses in order to lead this nation.
  • Urge your supporters in Congress to confirm President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
  • Accept responsibility for, and apologize for, your inappropriate comments towards and about women. Pledge to do better.

I implore you to please, take the advice you say you seek, and do your utmost to live up to the promise you made to be a president for all Americans.

Most sincerely,

[me]

***

There have been a lot of calls for people to call their elected officials and other politicians. I can’t call. So I’ve been writing letters and emails and donating money and signing petitions. Today, I sent a thank you note to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for charging the officer who killed Philando Castile. I also sent a note of thanks and encouragement to Governor Mark Dayton, who, with the state house and senate both going to Republican control in January, is going to have a hard job over the next two years (at least). I also wrote a letter to the chair of the Congressional Oversight Committee urging him to investigate Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest.

Why I Love Star Trek

I watch Star Trek pretty much every day. That probably sounds totally weird, and maybe it is. But Star Trek and I have a long history together. We’ve been through a lot.

My earliest memories of watching Star Trek were watching The Next Generation in the basement of my childhood home. We’d watch it while eating pizza and playing board games on family game night. I don’t know if I had strong feelings either way about it back then, but I have very fond memories of those moments, now. And I always held onto a love for the series and the values it espoused. Indeed, I attribute much of my commitment to equity and diversity to things I learned from Star Trek: coexistence, tolerance, not imposing your own values on other cultures, and appreciation of difference.

After college when I landed my first real job, I moved to the city, and discovered a nearby video rental establishment that had ALL of the complete Star Trek series on DVD. Heaven! I started watching them in order, starting with The Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine, and then Voyager (I’ve never been able to get into the Original Series). At the same time, I was struggling with a lot of anxiety: my beloved grandma was sick with cancer, which just happens to be one of my mortal fears. That fear is pretty well controlled with medication now, but at the time, I was having pretty regular panic attacks. Because I had/have panic attacks almost exclusively at night, I was also having a lot of trouble sleeping. So I took to just leaving Star Trek on until I fell asleep. I would often start the next episode on the disk when I was already dozing, and many times I drifted off to sleep to the opening them. The opening theme I associate most with those times is that of Deep Space Nine; to this day, that lovely, calm horn intro, followed by the same theme in the solo trumpet, played so mellowly and soothingly, it is very comforting.

I don’t have panic attacks very often anymore, thankfully. When I do, I now have Xanax for breakthrough anxiety, in addition to the Zoloft I take daily. But even when I take a Xanax, it often takes it awhile to kick in before I feel calm; in the meantime, the only things that can help calm me are lying on the cold bathroom tile floor and watching Star Trek. The latter is much more pleasant, and the soothing lullaby of DS9’s opening and closing themes never fails.

Happy things

Today I cried. That was not happy, but I needed it. My son, not even two years old, came over to hug me and pat me on the head.

Later, I was cuddling with my son under a blanket on the couch, watching Curious George before his bedtime. Both of the dogs came up, Gilly lying down between my and the kiddo with his head on my shoulder, and Trip behind my curled legs. Cuddles with all 3 of my babies at once. Doesn’t get much better,

Even later. Trip snuggling next to me, sarm, his fur so soft, his paws smelling like Doritos.

Words, Words, Words!

Warning: Gratuitous mommy-gushing ahead! Proceed at your own risk.

My son is coming up on his second birthday (in March) and he’s learning new words every day. I can’t believe how excited I get with every new word I hear! (As an introvert, I’m not usually too excited about people talking, haha 😉 ). But every time that little boy says a new word, it feels like I’m learning a small piece of especially delightful news. These are the words that he knows as of today:

Mommy

Daddy

Auntie

Papa

Nana

Baby

Coopie (dog name)

Bacco (dog name)

Kali (a friend)

TT (daycare provider)

Scooby (Cooby)

Puppy

Woof!

Cow

Moo!

Skunk (kunk)

Mouse (mou)

Eee eee eee [mouse noise]

[pig snort noise]

[monkey noise]

Doodle-doo! [rooster noise]

Sssss [snake noise]

Eyes

This?

Hi

Hello

Bye

Please

Sorry (I think)

Come on in

See him?

Zoom

Naughty (because of the dogs)

Pizza

Peas

Food (Foo)

Eggs (Ehhh)

Cookie

Num!

Bus

Beep beep

Choo-choo

Shhh

Uh-oh

Ow

Wow!

Bonk!

Boom

Muah [kiss noise]

Shoe

Bubble

Ball

Show

On

Up

No!

And, hilariously…. Nae nae (Whip Nae Nae) 😀

 

Dec 29th, just a few days later, we can add funny, nose, thumb, Koo Mouse (Mickey Mouse), hot, dark (dook), bunny, duck, owl, buppo (which, inexplicably, means “hippo”), meow, fie (five– as in give me five), bump (fist bump), key, chee(se), cup, and poop. 😀

Jan 8: Yes, monkey, nu-nu (noodles), off, go, apple, potty, book, bock (block), cock (clock!), Kaba (Kaiba), tractor, turkey, fumm (farm), cake

By Feb 6: Pig, pants, hat, coat, boots, dance, bounce, jump, [apple] sauce, beans, tail, Trip, Geedy (Gilly), ROAR, teacher, binkie (blankie), sleep, sheep, [Uncle] Mike 🙂

Feb 27: Moon, mountains, window, Grandma, rain, shovel, bucket, plane, bug, birdie, rocks, ready, (tor)tilla, moke (milk), mine, (re)mote, outside, jacket, bath, nuggets, help, please, thank you, toes, walk, hand, feet, face, seat, kulla (koala), horsey, penguin, fries, house, water, Jumpy, Hundley, Moki (Gnocchi), i-keem bus (ice cream teuck), signs, fishy, phone, Auntie (Em), Cushoo (Crusher), couch, chair, sit, Elmo, boni (Zamboni), man, phantanta (elephant!), and coffee. 😄

Ok, that’s over 100. I am going to stop counting now. Maybe. 😄

 

 

OMG Pat Rothfuss!

Yesterday I attended a reading, Q&A, and signing with one of my current favorite writers, Pat Rothfuss, author of the Kingkiller Chronicles. (Squeeeee! I do not often “squee,” but….squeeeee!) It was a great time. First of all, it was at my favorite local library, the Roseville library, which was awesome. Secondly, a few of my friends from Fest (namely, former Hardtack Jack members Jon and Chris, and Chris’s wife Rae) were also attending. I went to a thing! With people I know! From Fest!

There were several cool things that happened, aside from the fact that it was a reading/Q&A/signing with one of my current favorite writers. The first thing that was cool was that Pat came out about 20 minutes before he was scheduled to talk. Holding a stack of index cards, he announced that he wasn’t “officially here yet,” but that we’d be doing some Q&A, and that he realizes that “some people might be introverts.” So he passed out the index cards, for those who might want to ask a question but not shout it out in front of 300 people (and there were about 300 people there). I didn’t have a question, but I was so impressed that he addressed the introversion question head on, and took steps specifically to make the event introvert-friendly! Much appreciated, Pat!

The second cool thing that happened was that one of the questions he read was “What are your favorite words and what words do you dislike?” The word he liked was “incarnadine,” which is indeed a lovely word. But the really cool part was that the word he doesn’t like was “utilize.” He basically said it’s a synonym for “use,” and the only reason to say “utilize” instead of “use” is to sound smart/important/fancy. Ha! This was awesome because I had this conversation with someone just the other day and had come to the same conclusion. Awesome. I told him this while he was signing by book, and he seemed genuinely amused and impressed that we’d had this same thought process, which was cool.

Another cool (but sort of weird) thing that happened was this: When I entered the library and got in line to buy my copy of The Name of the Wind (having previously only owned it on Kindle), I started talking to the woman behind me. We continued talking as we went to sit down, so naturally we sat down together (also next to Chris and Rae). She told her her kids’ uncle was coming to meet her. When he showed up, his kids were with him, and I recognized his daughter right away, and subsequently, him– they used to live 2 houses down from me. Small world!

The reading and Q&A was a cool thing, too. Aside from the content itself, it was a great social activity for an introvert. I got there and chatted with like-minded people (okay, mostly people I already knew, but not entirely) for a while. We had a built-in topic of conversation. Then, we all sat together and listened to Pat read and answer questions. Then we all talked again while in line. A socially acceptable hour-long break from talking at a social activity! Fantastic!