Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I like Obama a lot

A dear friend of mine spoke highly of Obama in my presence and then said, "Oh I'm sorry, do you hate him?"


So I thought I'd put it on record. I am a huge fan of Senator Obama. He's one of my home state Senators. I'm a big fan of writing to my elected officials and the best letter I've ever gotten back came from Obama's office (on reproductive rights... naturally). (Already noted on this blog here.)

When I've got multiple good options -- as I believe we have had in this Dem primary -- I don't stop liking some of those good options just because they're not my first choice. Especially when I can see November lurching towards us. No candidate in this race is perfect for me. But I'm not exactly mainstream America, so that's no surprise. I appreciate the issues that are getting real airtime for the first time in a long time -- poverty, universal healthcare, renewable energy -- and that's thanks to the whole field of Dem candidates, not any single person (except maybe Edwards on poverty). The policies in this Dem primary are the best we've been offered in my lifetime.

Still, I do get seriously frustrated by sexism, racism, homophobia, age-ism, implications that atheists have no morals, religious bias, and any other type of bigotry. I get particularly worked up about sexism. It's probably my bias as a woman, but it's also because I worked on those issues professionally for a good while. These issues are part of my life's passion. (See the blog post below this one.)

Truly, even if I'd voted for Obama in the primary, I'd be just as worked up about the sexism in this campaign. I don't think I'm any less offended by the racism circulating just because I voted for Clinton. But if I am, shame on me. We'll never be rid of all the -isms unless those of us not affected by certain -isms still speak out against them.

But I digress. I'm proud my party is nominating such an excellent candidate... Barack Obama. I love that I'll be voting to break down a barrier in the fall. I love that his name is Barack Obama. I'm excited for change. I don't regret my vote this primary. I also don't begrudge the votes of the majority of Dems for Obama. It's why I'm a fan of democracy. It works.

A New Must Read

There is much to blog about but time is short, so here's something quick that I want to say sooner rather than later.

Buy this book. And tell other people to buy it too.

During my last 2 years of law school I worked as a research assistant for Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as she wrote this book on gender equality and the status of women in America. It's exactly the type of book I love to read, want to see more of, and wish someone would pay me to write. So I was honored to ride Congresswoman's Maloney's coattails, so to speak, and be a part of her fantastic book.

The book was (finally) published about two weeks ago. (See how behind I am in my blogging!) If you buy it, you'll also get the thrill of seeing my name in the acknowledgments section alongside some very kind words. Whoo hoo!

You may wonder what parts of the book I worked on. Well, the chapter for which I had primary responsibility, and of which I wrote significant sections, got cut. Perhaps not surprising to regular readers here, that chapter was on women and the media. A subject I care about a great deal. But I also worked on the women and the workplace and women in politics sections, so there are tidbits of my work to be found in the final version of the book.

More important than my contributions, however, the book is a straightforward read about the progress women have and have not made. Unlike most social critiques, the book also gives real suggestions for all of us to follow to help America move closer to real gender equality. It's written by a great elected official who also happens to be a woman. It was a thrill getting to know Congresswoman Maloney as part of this project. The issues in this book are her life passions. No strings attached... which is far too rare in politics these days.

Please do give it a read. I really think you'll enjoy it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rob the Writer

Some folks reading this might know that I used to write for a soccer web site back in the day (and still occasionally cover the US Women's National Team for the site). Gone are the days when there's a women's professional league to cover though, but there's still the MLS.

The MLS, of course, is much more Rob's cup of tea than mine. So Rob applied to the site to start covering the Chicago Fire. They published his first article yesterday and it's great! Soon they should be publishing his game preview for the Fire vs. NY Red Bulls match this weekend.

Rob will be covering the Fire all summer, so we'll post the links to his articles here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No, we're not ignoring you

I keep meaning to blog lately, but I keep not getting to it. I haven't even been reading blogs lately... which is crazy unusual for me.

This past weekend was really nice for us. We finally got some sunshine. Although only on one day. And only on part of that one day. Nevertheless, Saturday morning was so gorgeous that Rob and I abandoned our normal couch potato ways and walked to the lake.

One of the very best things about living in Chicago is living right next to an enormous body of water. I love driving down Lake Shore. I loved staring out the courthouse windows last year at the lake. Yet sadly, Rob and I don't get over to the lake to hang out very much save for the occasional 5K.

We're a straight shot down Belmont Avenue to the lake -- less than a 2 mile walk. We meandered there on Saturday, stopping for bagels and coffee along the way. Then we wandered down the shore for a while before circling back home.

Rob relaxes by the lake.

The view looking towards downtown.

The view looking straight out on the water.

Sunday we headed downtown to the Green Festival. We collected a ton of brochures about ways we can live greener lives -- and then felt guilty for all the paper we'd collected at a green festival. Hmm. We particularly enjoyed the booth of an awesome retailer of green home improvement products, which coincidentally happens to employ my sister to run their marketing efforts. And we got some free energy efficient lightbulbs from the city of Chicago. Nice.

Monday night brought one more adventure -- me and Justice Scalia in the same room! A very large room, obviously, but the same room nonetheless. The Seventh Circuit Bar Association annual conference hosted Justice Scalia and his colleague Justice Stevens at their big dinner event. It was interesting to hear Justice Scalia speak in person. I thought he was pretty entertaining for a lawyer making jokes about the practice of law. I'd imagine non-lawyers/legal types would have been a little bored. I also enjoyed the playful back and forth between Justices Stevens and Scalia.

The real bonus was that I got to say hello to my former boss, Judge Wood, and her husband, as they were also in attendance. Ah, to be a clerk again....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Yea Indy!

We are home sweet home from a very fun weekend in Indy. We went down for the Teb's Troops Third Annual "A Call to Arms" event. I've blogged about Teb's Troops before, but it bears repeating! Teb's Troops is an organization founded by law school classmates and dear friends of Tricia E. Black ("teb"), who lost her battle with Stage IV melanoma nearly two years ago. Teb's Troops is dedicated to raising money to fight late stage melanoma -- a cause Rob and I enthusiastically support. Tricia was a grade school friend of mine and my twin sister's... dating back to our kindergarten carpool.

This was our third year sponsoring "A Call to Arms" but the first time we got to attend in person. I got to see several grade school and high school friends who I haven't seen in ages. So that was really special. The whole event was fantastic, to say the least. Fantastic food and wine along with a silent auction. Rob and I bid up a storm and won a suite for an Indiana Fever game and... dinner cooked by Top Chef contestant Valerie in our own home!!!! We still can't believe it!

Even better, of course, the women behind Teb's Troops raised thousands and thousands of dollars more for cancer research. Awesome.

So here are a couple pictures from our great weekend.

Rob's and my names have never been on a banner before, so we had to take a picture. :)

Here I am with Teb's Troops officer and kindred spirit Nadine... at a bar in Broad Ripple after the event. (For a before shot, click here. :)

Here's Liane after the event. She and Michael hosted us for the weekend and we had a blast with them.

Ah, the late night picture we took of ourselves at the bar.

And what would an evening be without some air guitar courtesy of Rob. Here he's joined by Nadine's husband Roger.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Politics, Bigotry, and Other Stuff

I have two different things bouncing around my head today.

First, Hillary Clinton should not have explained her strength as a candidate in racial terms. I'm sure anyone reading this blog has also read Clinton's post-Indiana comments. I'm angry, I'm frustrated. Strength as a candidate has nothing to do with whether one particular group supports you (unless, I suppose, that group is "all Americans", but even that support shouldn't come at the expense of all the other human beings on the planet).

Even more importantly to me, strength as a Democratic candidate should never, ever be measured in broken demographics. We are not the party of just blacks, or just whites, or just women, or just gays, or just Christians, or just anything. That's the deal. We are the party of everyone. It's why I'm a Democrat. So the only folks worthy of exclusion -- and in fact warranting exclusion -- are those who seek to divide us along those lines. I've long said that I'd give anything for Obama to stand up and say, "If you're voting for me because you think a woman can't be president, I don't want you." Same goes for Clinton. She should reject any vote cast because her opponent is black.

This is what happens when we let racism and sexism fester. When we pretend like we're past all that. We're not. And when things get tight, we expose ourselves.

I won't try to justify what she said with things Obama's said or that his supporters say. That's not what this post is about. Nor would it matter if Obama were sexist every minute of every day, which he is decidedly not! Clinton should apologize for the implication -- intended or not, it doesn't matter -- that white Americans are better than black Americans. And she should fire her damn pollsters who have been setting this up as a strategy. The fact that her poll numbers are so racially polarized should trouble Clinton greatly, not be viewed as an advantage. No excuses. No pointing fingers. Apologize. Take it back. Regret it sincerely.

The only winner in the oppression sweepstakes is the oppressor. We lefties should keep that mantra, which I'm sure I've borrowed from someone else, on repeat. The only winner in the oppression sweepstakes is the oppressor. The only winner in the oppression sweepstakes is the oppressor. Let's get real.

Leadership means making people's lives better without cutting down others to do it. We are sorely lacking that kind of leadership in politics today. Politicians are too scared to take stands on issues that would make people's lives unquestionably better (ahem, reproductive justice, affirmative action). And the few that do take stands seem all too often to take them in an effort to demonize fellow citizens (ahem, the so-called "war" on Christianity). Americans need to start demanding more. Asking our leaders to be actual leaders is just the first step.

And because oppression is getting me down today, here's the second thing, something about the rising attacks on feminism and acceptance of those attacks. If it were my graduation, I would stand up and turn my back on Schlafly and Matthews. Schlafly is a veteran of anti-women hate speech. There is a world of difference between accepting her right to openly hate women and giving her public accolades for making a career out of that hatred. For shame, Washington U. For shame.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Operation Get Organized

Rob and I have spent a good part of the last two weekends organizing our lives a bit better. The biggest project was clearing out the third bedroom in our condo which has been pretty much unusable since we moved in... packed full of boxes and utterly lacking in furniture. We have been meaning to turn it into a home office, and finally it's getting there.

Last Thursday we picked up a desk we'd ordered from Pier 1 and Saturday we bought some shelves from Ikea. Some of you may have seen these shelves in our previous homes... a set exactly like this now resides in Resa's home and another set like this, but lighter wood, left Philly with Valerie. Yet here we are with more. Couldn't beat the price and fit. Rob's become a pro at assembling them.

These shelves mean that our guest room closet floor is now free of books. Sadly, but perhaps fortunately, we seem to have lost all my law books somewhere between here and Philly via DC, so the bulk of our books fit on these shelves. We've probably given away 10 boxes of books in the past couple years -- always so painful to give away books. There's another two boxes of books to give away following this latest round of organization. But the Happy Hollisters and classic Nancy Drews are staying with us. :)

We still need a real desk chair, but Rob also assembled this lovely desk. Purchased in large part because it is "no tool assembly." Whoo hoo! Now my computer has a home besides our dining room table. Except I'm still at my dining room table right now. Hmmm. Anyway, you can see the rough draft from my 8th grade "obituary" sitting on the desk. Along with an awesome Chicago neighborhood map Resa gave to Rob a while back that we need to find a place for.

The next stop on our organization tour was our deck. We have this lovely outdoor rug made of recycled plastic, purchased in Saugatuck, but it kept getting blown away. Enter planters. We now are, in theory, growing heirloom tomatoes, parsley, two types of basil, dill, and something else I forget. Thanks to Target and Home Depot.

Last but not least was something for the downstairs. A lovely bar from World Market, a store we love. I've been eyeing this bar for a year and finally caved. We thought we might want to something that held more of our china, but in the end this was the right pick.

Now most of our bar ware, wine and liquor can be stored outside the kitchen. Note the Portuguese clay pitcher, the lovely decanter from Nick and Resa last Christmas, the champagne flutes and beer glasses from Lib and Colin, the bar tools from Hugh, and other stuff from other folks I'm sure I'm forgetting.

I know this is a much less interesting post than my adolescent plans for world domination, but I have to say, we're pretty darn psyched to be making use of all the space in our home. We feel like real adults or something.

The real good news is that work has been a lot less crazy since Resa and Nick's wedding. Rob and I have nearly had entire weekends to just take care of all the things we've been putting off. That's been quite a relief. :) It also meant that Friday night we got to hit the town for a fun concert with Resa, Nick and Jason. Saturday night we got to head out to the 'burbs for some extended family time and then have dinner with Al and Jen. And Sunday we got to have brunch with Bishop and Karen, and then enjoy chillin' and playing a random but really fun German puzzle game in which I achieved domination by starting up a lot of monasteries. Who knew.

And who knew weekends could provide so much free time.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Some things never change

Rob and I have been doing a ton of organization lately, finally setting up a workable home office. In so doing, I've had to sort through a lot of boxes of old things. Saturday night I found a box of papers from my middle school and early high school years. In 8th grade, my social studies teacher wanted us to ponder the rest of our lives, so he had us write our own obituaries. Sounds kindof morbid, but I remember the assignment being pretty fun. Well, I found my "obituary" in that box of old papers on Sunday night. Pretty hysterically accurate in capturing my adult personality, if not my ultimate achievements. Unless I'm running for Senate next year.

Here it is in full (although my last name and the last names of my grade school friends referenced are redacted):

Former President Katherine Gr--nb-rg M-n-r-k died of natural causes on her 100th birthday, Jul. 21, 2076. Ms. M-n-r-k began her political career by attending Harvard law school and always being very active in protests she believed in. After graduating she worked for a prestigious law firm in Boston for 7 years. She actually began her career by running for the Senate from the state of Mass. at age 33. She easily defeated her Republican opponent with a 4 to 1 majority. She served 3 6-year terms getting many pro-equality bills passed and working hard at keeping abortion legal. With all her work she caught the public eye and decided to run for president. She and her supporters worked hard and their efforts paid off. In 2028 she was elected President and served 2 terms, keeping America out of all foreign wars. In 2037 she went back to the Senate and served 12 more years. In her last year, 2049, she finally got the congress to make all anti-abortion laws void. In 2050 she retired and lived in a small cottage in Boston with her husband and 2 kids. She lived to see her daughter graduate from Yale and her son from Princeton and get 5 grandchildren. Many famous people will attend her funeral such as the famous actress Kelly N---, the renowned astronaut Sarah S---, the heart surgeon and peace activist Tolly G---, the famous pediatrician/heart surgeon Nzinga A--- and the not-so-famous advertising agent Cara J---. She will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday. The funeral is closed to the public. Her assets were equally divided between her family, charity, and her close friends.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Total awesomeness

If you want a feel good moment today, check this out. My eyes totally welled up, but I cry at everything... like that commercial when the older brother comes home at Christmas just in time to sing with his little brother.

Anyway. I can't remember who told me about this earlier this week. (Sara, was it you?) I'm glad I finally found the story somewhere. Thanks!

Thursday, May 01, 2008


On the one hand, as a liberal, I desperately want the Dem primary to be over so that we can stop the infighting and prepare to win in November.

On the other hand, as a woman, I see Hillary Clinton getting treated in a way no candidate has ever been treated before. It makes me want to scream.* So when I read this article today, my heart broke a little.

I was telling Rob the other day that I think part of the reason my affinity for the Clinton campaign has cemented lately is emotional. I can't wait to vote Dem in November for whoever our nominee is, which is why I didn't make up my mind about who to vote for until shortly before the Illinois primary. But as the days go on, the reasons that keep me in the Clinton camp are not the ones that originally brought me there -- the policy, the experience. Instead, it's identity politics. I wonder if that is reasonable or proper or for the best. Whether it is or isn't, though, it's the truth.

I see this woman who is hard-working, unconventional, nerdy and ambitious... and then I see her being derided. The derision is allegedly based on substantive things. But when you put it in the sunlight, you see that at its core is a lot of misogyny, a lot of hating Hillary Clinton because she's female+ambitious, a lot of mocking Hillary because she's female+nerdy, a lot of sneering at Hillary because she's female+unconventional. If you didn't have the female+, you wouldn't have anywhere near the level of derision. That sucks. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And I have started to take it personally, as much as I wish I wouldn't.

I think about my life as a hard-working, nerdy, somewhat unconventional, and (let's face it) extremely ambitious woman. I think about the times I've been kicked around for my ambition, while my male colleagues and counterparts have been praised for the same ambition. I hear commentators criticize Hillary Clinton's tone of voice and I flashback to the time I questioned a co-worker for getting mad at me during political debates, but not getting mad at another co-worker when he expressed the exact same opinions. The explanation? My tone of voice. Seriously. My response? An internal vow to work on my tone of voice. Seriously. I immediately assumed my co-worker was right.

Maybe I do have a really irritating tone of voice that has nothing to do with my gender. Or maybe high-pitched voices + intense political debate is a bit more striking in this day and age than it should be. Or maybe a bit of both. Maybe I am more obnoxiously ambitious than my male counterparts. Or maybe a petite, young-looking Midwestern gal + overt ambition is also a bit more striking in this day and age than it should be. And we all know that different is typically grating at first. Until you get used to it.

I don't discount the possibility that I might just be particularly annoying. In truth, especially lately, I'd rather that be the case. But the thing is, I don't think Hillary Clinton is annoying. Or evil. Or conniving. Or a bitch. I think she's pretty awesome, but still a politician. Certainly no worse than the average politician on the scales of human decency.

Her voice has never bothered me. Her ambition, her self-assurance, her perseverance have only inspired me, never angered me. Her politics? Well, mostly I like them, sometimes I don't. (In particular in the fall of 2005 when she gave a speech I felt did a disservice to reproductive justice.) But I've never forgotten that her policy speeches during her 2000 campaign gave me goosebumps. They were so smart. They were so well-considered. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be that smart, that bold, that fearless.

So yes, I want this primary to be over. But I also don't want Hillary to leave the race. (Something about cake and eating it too comes to mind....) I'm dreading that day. Because I am afraid that it will legitimize society's kicking around a woman who dares to be as ambitious as men. Because I am afraid that it will mean that our country is way too far away from hearing a woman speak about policy and only hearing the policy, not the tone of voice. And most of all, because I am afraid that it will mean that maybe I'm not annoying, maybe the truth is that me being female+whatever is annoying. And that would just suck.

*I sincerely hope it goes without saying that I write all this without in any way discounting the mistreatment Obama has received at times in this campaign, including some attacks from the Clinton campaign. The fact that both candidates have been wronged does not, to me, lessen the impact or offense of any particular wrongs. I am just choosing to write about some of those wrongs here, not saying they are worse than any other wrongs.