Friday, February 29, 2008

Are the politics over yet?

I'm exhausted by the coverage of this primary. And as the primary drags on, I'm getting de-inspired by both candidates. I know as a liberal I will never be satisfied. But I feel more abandoned than I should lately, especially since the Dem primary is full of liberal voters. I just want it to be over so that I can focus on the real opposition and get so angry that I don't care if the Dem has de-inspired me lately.

So in the mean time (and because my vote was cast long ago), I am going to renew my focus on pondering equality and wondering if real equality is possible in my lifetime. In that spirit, here's an interesting article pondering gender equality and the Academy Awards, which I found depressingly thoughtful. (Although I would have liked a "So now what?" moment at the end.) The age-old question about separate but equal, but with the gender twist that seems to make it more complicated.

I also have been loving Melissa McEwan's (who, again I have to say, is the best liberal blogger out there) Feminism 101 series at Shakesville, in which she debunks myths about feminism. Her latest piece is Feminism 101: "Feminists Look for Stuff to Get Mad About." It resonated with me particularly because I am constantly plagued by the dilemma "to speak up or not to speak up" when it comes to sexism. Speak up too much, no matter how correct you are, and people will stop listening. Speak up too little and you're allowing sexism to thrive. I don't speak up every time I see/hear sexism. And I feel terribly guilty every time I don't. So then I get frustrated when I get a reaction like "You need to learn let some things go." That's what I'm always doing!

Melissa closed her piece with this wisdom, which I couldn't appreciate more. Emphasis mine, as it's exactly how I feel:

"Irrespective of intent, the recommendation to "ignore the little stuff," so often intertwined with accusations of looking for things about which to get offended, is not just ill-advised, but counter to the ultimate goal of full equality. It's like a knife in my gut when I see feminists accusing other feminists of "hurting the cause" by focusing on "the little stuff," because that's It—that's the stuff, that's the fertile soil in which everything else takes root and from whence everything else springs, that's the way that the fundamental idea that women are not equal to men is conveyed over and over and over again.
Which, quite frankly, means that if even we had to look for it, we'd be right to do so."

Amen sister. Amen.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reproductive health blog post of the day

As if I blog about one every day. But here's a good one with presidential ramifications.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Some pictures

Some pictures until I get everything uploaded.

The view at lunch during our snowmobiling day.

Rob feeds a bird during lunch.

The snow was pretty deep in the mountains.

The view while skiing, Day 1.

The weather on skiing, Day 2. Yes, that's me underneath the layer of snow.

Home sweet home

We are back from the wild west. We had an amazing time in Jackson Hole. I was just flipping through our photos and am still in awe of the scenery we saw. I'll upload everything soon and post a link.

Rob hit the nail on the head when we were trying to figure out why the pictures -- gorgeous though they may be -- still can't capture how breathtaking everything was. We were constantly surrounded by 360 degrees of unbelievable beauty, but all you see in the pictures is one view, one angle. It's not nearly enough.

Our trip was Thursday until today (Monday). We stayed at the stunning Four Seasons in Teton Village, where we could literally walk down the hallway from our room, pick up our boots and skis, and walk out the door to the ski lift. We snowmobiled. We skied. We hit the spa. We ate delicious food. We drank fabulous wine. We skied some more. And I didn't do a lick of work. Seriously! (Although I did check email and voicemail every day... but my co-workers awesomely gave me nothing to do. :)

Skiing in a snowstorm on untracked snow was definitely a high point. So peaceful and so much fun. I had to take off my scarf after fifteen minutes because it was soaked from the snow. My chin was chapped and raw after just an hour. But I never would have guessed that I could have such a good time skiing!

There was so much to take advantage of, and we really didn't want to come home. We will certainly go back to Jackson Hole. Many times, no doubt. We will certainly ski again (hopefully soon). Although we are beyond spoiled from the mountains in Jackson Hole. We will certainly snowmobile again (hopefully soon). Although who knows when we'll next ride through acres and acres of untouched snow-covered mountains. And now we have an enormous appreciation for a part of the country we had never before experienced.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wyoming is gorgeous (as is Idaho)

We are having an amazing time out west. Here are a few pictures. When we realized how close we were to Idaho, we decided to cross the border last night. When are we ever going to get the chance to go to Idaho again!

On Thursday we went to the National Elk Refuge -- on a sleigh! We saw several thousand elk. We learned that they grow new antlers every season, and their antlers are bigger each year. This one is notable because of the symmetry of its antlers.

Yea Idaho! (Kyle, I beat Rob into Idaho!)

This is the Marlboro Man cabin. Seriously. We're in our snowmobile gear. We went on a snowmobile tour through the wilderness today. The scenerary was phenomenal.

We stopped for lunch at an old trappers' cabin that is now a historic site. Here I am in front of an outhouse that has been snowed in. The way snow hangs off rooftops here is like artwork. This particular snow made the outhouse look like a smurf house. :)

And here's Rob rockin' it out on his snowmobile. Don't overlook the beautiful scenery in the background. We got to ride past acres and acres of untouched snow. We didn't see any other snowmobile riders (apart from our guides) the whole day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Off to Wyoming!

We're packing our bags and shipping out in the morning to Wyoming. If we can, we'll post pictures while we're there. More likely, we'll post lots when we get back.

Tomorrow we're hoping to take a sleigh ride into the elk preserve. Friday we're snowmobiling. Saturday we're skiing. Sunday we're spa-ing. Monday we return.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Articles I enjoyed today

Some light reading:

-- Silly censorship in California. Love the activist response the next day.

-- Psychoanalyzing media coverage of the Dem primary.

-- And if Mitt Romney's mention of a "demographic disaster" in Europe during his concession speech made you nervous that he might be talking in code about racism, you were right. (Silly me, I thought I was just paranoid.)

Busy weekend

We had a really busy weekend. Libby and my mom both arrived on Friday night. Before my mom got here, my cousin Alan and his wife Jen stopped by on their way to a party.

Rob and Alan got distracted for a while playing Guitar Hero.

On Saturday, Libby, Resa and I got manicures and pedicures and then headed back to my place to start assembling things for Resa's shower. (We didn't let Resa do any work!) Here's Libby and my mom in the kitchen.

And here's Rob and Resa chillin'.

Saturday night was family dinner, as my Uncle Joe and his partner Joanna came in from the suburbs. Rob and I got to fully extend our dining room table for the first time, and Rob made his awesome lasagna. We bought dessert from The Bleeding Heart Bakery, and it was delicious!

Then it was out to the suburbs on Sunday for the shower. My Aunt Barb graciously hosted everyone. Here Resa is showing off one of her favorite gifts -- a pink, rhinestone-studded toolbelt from Home Depot.

My sisters and I went out for dinner with my dad and his partner Sharon on Sunday night. Then Libby took off on Monday morning. It was a busy weekend, but it was great to see so much of my family!

Friday, February 15, 2008


Some of you might know I worked for the Dean campaign a bit back in 2004. I never met Dean in person though -- although he did once give me a shout out on a massive conference call. :P

Finally, this week, I got to meet the man in person. Pretty cool. I still wish he'd been on the ballot in November 2004.

Um, yeah, apparently I gesture a lot while talking.

The second time is kindof closer to the charm

I wouldn't say my second attempt at skiing worked perfectly. But it worked better.

Rob and I went skiing last night for Valentine's Day back at Wilmot. En route, we stopped and had a romantic dinner of McDonald's and Taco Bell at a rest stop. I also took advantage of the Starbucks there to buy some chocolate covered espresso beans for Rob. Rob made more of an effort for Valentine's Day because he actually planned in advance and got me a card. (A pretty darn sweet one.)

We hit the slopes a little after 7:30. I took on the bunny hill while Rob hit the real slopes. Then Rob dragged me up to one of the "easy" "mountains." We had to use a different ski lift this time, one that carries you over a very steep "mountain." So you end up a lot higher off the ground. I hate heights, but I've gotten good at wrapping my arms around the ski lift chair so I don't feel like I'm going to fall off at any second. At the really high parts I would start singing to myself as a distraction. Seriously.

My ski lift experiences were not entirely without adventure, as I lost a ski pole climbing onto the lift the first time. The attendant had to stop the lift and half toss the pole up to me. Thank god it was dark out. But every time save once, I managed to stay on my feet while dismounting the ski lift. On our last trip, I fell every single time while dismounting -- often requiring the ski lift to be temporarily stopped... so mortifying. But even the one time I fell this time did not require stopping the ski lift. Whoo hoo!

Even better, that was the only time I fell all day. Crazy!!!! I'm also starting to learn how to stop using my left leg (which you need to do if you ever want to turn right and then stop).

So for anyone out there who lacks athletic ability, is afraid of heights, is afraid at travelling at high speeds, and is generally all-around physically wimpy, take heart... it is possible to ski for a few hours without completely humiliating yourself.

As for Rob, he kicked butt once again. He even advanced to the "more difficult" slopes while I stuck to the "easy" ones. If you're curious about Wilmot, here's a slope map. We spent much of last night going up ski lift 1, and then going down "Fanny Hill." (The bunny slope is "Little Turtle." :) Rob also went down "Stateline," "Broadway" and "Paradise." "Stateline" goes right along the Wisconsin-Illinois border and is way, way, way too vertical for my taste.

All in all, it was a very fun and great Valentine's Day. We even got to drink some hot chocolate by the fire in the lodge. Awww. And Rob and I marvelled about how we spend all our time together and still haven't gotten sick of each other. Not that either of us can ever be annoying....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Skiing at Wilmot Mountain

Since we're going to Jackson Hole next week (!) we decided to go skiing last week to practice. Or rather learn... seeing as I've spent a total of an hour on skis prior to 2008.

The first picture is misleading because I spent the majority of our ski trip with my butt on the ground, not standing upright. I was awful. Words wouldn't do it justice. But by the end I could handle a wee bit of speed and made it most of the way down a minor "mountain" without falling. A minor miracle.

The second picture is much more accurate because Rob didn't fall once. Damn that natural athletic ability thing he has going on. So unfair.

The last picture is on our way out, which is why I look a little beaten down....

Can we please think strategically?

Someone mentioned to me recently that she couldn't figure out who I supported in the primary from reading my blog. That's probably because up until recently I've been pretty undecided. I also know lots of great people working for Clinton and Obama, both of whom I like a lot, so I just didn't feel like saying much. But I had to vote on Super Tuesday, which means I had to choose someone. And I chose Hillary.

There have been times in Hillary's political career that I have found her too moderate, or even conservative. Of course I recognize that no national politician is likely to be liberal enough for my tastes, which only makes me miss Paul Wellstone all the more. Had Russ Feingold run for president, I would have been one of the 1% of voters voting for him.

More recently, there have been times where I found Obama's discussions of the role of faith in politics to be disconcerting. He even has a section on faith on his website. I do not discount the role of faith in Americans' lives. In fact, I would call myself Christian, specifically Episcopalian, a faith I found while trying to work through a significant loss. It means a great deal to me. Still, that faith is so intensely private to me that I don't understand how it could have a place in public policy. I know I'm in the minority on that one though, by a wide margin. But it is an important consideration for me. Fruitless though it may be.

On the flip side, Obama is currently one of my Senators. When I wrote a letter of thanks to his office for voting against a particularly vicious anti-abortion bill, I got one of the most thoughtful letters back that I've ever received in my long history of writing letters to my congressional representatives. I was both thrilled and impressed. Yeah, it was a form letter. But it was a form letter with a lot of thought behind it.

And that's what it comes down to. I like policy choices with a lot of thought behind them. It's the opposite of what we have now with the current Administration. Or maybe they just employ the wrong kind of thought.

I first worked for Hillary as a volunteer on her 2000 Senate campaign. I transcribed her speeches. They were amazing. Filled with smart, real, workable plans for New Yorkers, especially upstate New York women. No surprise they bucked the polls and voted for her in the end. So despite my dislike of her stance on certain welfare issues and the way she once talked about abortion, I like her approach. I like her thoughtfulness. I like her smarts.

When I first heard about Hillary's healthcare plan during this primary season, I thought it sounded strange. The more I thought about it, though, the more I thought it was the closest thing I've heard to a real, workable solution to the nightmare that is healthcare in this country. Obama's plan seems fine to me, but I don't think it's trying to solve the whole problem. I think there are pieces that won't quite work. It needs some more thought.

Little things like that started to add up. I hear more specifics from Hillary, as much as I love Obama's ideals and rhetoric, as much as I enjoy Obama as a speaker. Then I found myself sad when Hillary failed to win Iowa.

As the media more openly turned on her, I was filled with disgust. Another reason to support her became apparent. The media loves Obama. They couldn't be critical if they tried. The opposite is true with Hillary, and yet she still commands respect from thousands and thousands of voters. I like that she doesn't give up. I don't know if I could stand it myself.

I won't agree with everything Obama or Hillary offers up as president, but I am confident I will appreciate a lot of what they do. I think Hillary is more prepared for the task though. I know less about what Obama wants to do as president, and I worry that calls for unity could lead to more compromise than a liberal like me could bear. I don't believe in bipartisanship as it's currently practiced. It just seems like capitulation to me.

And as the sexism continues to mount against Hillary (well-documented on blogs like Feministing and Shakesville, if you're interested... and I highly recommend them... Shakesville has a depressing round-up here), I become more and more invested in her success. All the while, I think it's more and more likely that Obama will win the nomination.

Which brings me to the title of my post. Can we please think strategically? If you were a Republican, how would you attack Clinton? How would you attack Obama? Well, you'd attack Clinton by calling her an evil, man-hating, humorless, principle-less, b**** (and worse variations thereof). We know this because we've already seen it.

So PLEASE for the love of equality, civil liberties, religious tolerance, a fixed economy, a saved Supreme Court, air we can breathe, water we can drink, real choice, legal birth control (yes, birth control is under attack!), and on and on.... PLEASE don't play into the Republicans hands. They tell us to hate Hillary every damn day. But she's a good Senator, a good lawyer, a good mother, a good wife, a good former First Lady, a good policymaker, a good DEMOCRAT. She's not just "likeable enough." She's not un-inspirational. She is certainly inspirational to me, she is to so many. She reshaped the role of the First Lady in American life for the better, for which many have never forgiven her, but that didn't make her fold. If you don't agree, fine, but at least agree that she is better than the alternative in November and stop cutting her down.

And for all you Hillary supporters, Obama is not naive just because he hasn't been in the Senate that long. Experience is a real differentiation, sure. But naivete is the way our society has far too long described non-whites and non-males when they seek to effect significant change. We know that's what Republicans will say about him. They'll say he's too naive to take on terrorism. They'll say he's too naive to protect us. But he is not. He is not. So for the love of everything I've already mentioned, PLEASE don't play into the Republicans hands.

That goes for the candidates themselves too. Obama might tip the balance in my mind if he called the media on their unfair treatment of Hillary instead of allowing it by his silence. Hillary would keep me for good if she withdrew the naivete theme from her campaigning.

Still, we've got good candidates. To call either the establishment candidate -- a woman or a black man? as if! -- is preposterous to me, so I think they both should cut that game out. But they are probably the best in years. For now, I think mine's better. You think yours is better. So let's stick to the things that matter. It's fair to think someone is more electable because of their personality or lack of baggage -- but we don't have to say the other one is unelectable or so laden with baggage to be worthless. It's fair to think someone is more electable because of experience or specific policy proposals -- but we don't have to say the other one has too little experience for the job period.

We don't have to reach into the dirt. At least thirty percent of the country is ready and waiting to do that for us. They love it when we do it for them. Let's leave it them. Please.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend wandering

We took a road trip to Indy over the weekend. (Indy = Indianapolis, for those not in the know.) We've been meaning to go for a long while, but something kept getting in the way. So we were glad to finally make it.

We got in late Saturday afternoon, so I got to show Rob a little bit of downtown Indy. My hometown. We got to see the progress on the Colts' new stadium. Then we met up with friends for dinner -- my long-time email (but never before met in person!) friend Nadine and her husband Roger, and my long-time ACS buddy Liane and her fiance Michael. We had a delicious meal at R Bistro. And we had a great time! Dinner with friends is one of my absolute favorite activities and Saturday was no exception.

On Sunday we met my friend Dave, who drove up from Cincinatti, so that the three of us could have lunch with Mike and Mary. Mike and Mary are the parents of Zak, a friend of mine and Dave's from way back when we studied in France during the summer before our senior year of high school. We lost Zak a few days after we returned from our summer in France. Dave and I have stayed in touch with Zak's parents, who we love, ever since.

The five of us had a great time at lunch on Sunday at Patachou. It had been way, way too long between visits. (All the way back to Rob's and my wedding.) Afterwards, Dave, Mike, Rob and I caught the end of the IU-Ohio State game, which IU won! Dave, Rob and I hung out for a little while longer before we all hit the road to head back home.

So all in all, it was an excellent weekend. But I found myself getting emotional on the drive back to Chicago and throughout the day today as I thought about Zak. It is strange to think that I only knew him at the age of 17. Somehow in my memories, he always seems the same age as I am now. I think that must be because Zak was one of those timeless souls.

I trace a lot of things back to losing Zak. My fear of flying. My fear of heights. My fear of random accidents in general. And I stopped thinking that everything in life happens for a reason.

Still, thankfully, there's another side. Although Dave and I met Zak on the same trip, Dave and I did not hit it off right away. I thought he was ridiculously obnoxious. He probably thought the same of me. But when we lost Zak, Dave was the one person who understood, the one person who would always listen, the one person who shared my exact grief.

Ever since, despite all our crazy bickering, Dave and I have been the closest of friends. Opposite in every way, but the closest of friends. And somehow, I think Zak gave us each other to make sure we were okay. For the long haul.

So today I've been pondering friendship old and new. Remembering little moments with Zak. Thinking about the plans we'd made. And newly reminded to appreciate the time I have with people I love, whether long or short.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Don't forget to vote today!

Not that anyone who reads this blog would forget... but if you live in a Super Tuesday state, don't forget to vote today if you're eligible.

Rob and I voted this morning. I think it was our first election as Illinois voters. Go team Dem!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Exactly why am I a Giants fan?

For better or worse, I am best known for my abiding faith in and zealous following of the New York Football Giants. When I have an occasion to educate someone about "my Giants," I am almost always asked why I am a Giants fan. Afterall, I grew up in the DC area, home to the city's beloved Washington Redskins. The answer is simple... I was born to be a Giants fan.

Being a Giants fan in the Gonzalez family (my mother's maiden name) is akin to breathing. My grandfather, Rene Gonzalez, actually tried out for the Giants back in the 1940's. Not having the ability to make the team, he lived the remainder of his life as a passionate fan of the Giants. He passed that passion onto my mother, Joanne, who in her own unique way brought Giant fandom to absurd and comical heights. Among many of her odd foibles, you were not allowed to root for any other team while in her house. You also were required to pray in front of the television every time the Giants were attempting a game winning field goal (and in the 1980's, that occurred quite often). Casa Gonzalez (or later Pezold-Gonzalez) was strictly Giant country.

Now, one might say that I have taken the torch passed to me by my grandfather and my mother to even more absurd heights. But my history with these two passionate fans goes much further and much deeper. My family lost my mother on the evening of the Giants stunning defeat of the Buffalo Bills in January 1991. It was a tragic twist of fate and irony that my mother would pass on the very day that her beloved Giants provided perhaps the greatest upset in NFL history. But even more stunning was my grandfather passed away exactly one year later, to the day. Within the span of one tragic year, our trio had been reduced down to one... me. I was left to carry the torch alone.

That is why the victory of the New York Football Giants last night is even more special to me. Sure, it's just a game. But for me, it's a little bit more. It's a trip down memory lane, that as time passes along, becomes increasingly harder and harder to remember. But for one brief evening, my memories of our time as Giants fans becomes as vivid and memorable as I remember growing up.

Now, I have to end this post. Draft day is just over two months away and because the Giants were doing so well, I've had very little time to research the prospects. That's right people... it's 24/7/365(6)!

Sunday, February 03, 2008


That might have been one of the most exciting sporting events I've ever seen.

Needless to say, our household is thrilled beyond words.

Rob, looking the happiest I have ever ever seen him after the game.

Through the post-season, Rob has moved to this spot on the carpet right in front of the television once the game hits the late third quarter. This time Rob gets to cheer on the trophy presentation from his lucky spot.

Rob and I celebrate the Giants win... with the balloon Resa brought over for good luck.

We were joined by many other spirited football fans...

And some more... except Bishop who has no excuse for not smiling at the Giants victory. (Oh, and Bishop and Karen -- on the couch -- are newly engaged. Yea!!!!)