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Friday, January 27, 2017

One Marcher's Message: A Guest Post From The Women's March On Washington

It's with great pleasure and many thanks that I turn over the Dept. today to a Guest Writer. Jill Meyer, a Dearest Reader and Subscriber travelled to Washington, DC, and attended the 2017 Women's March. She kindly agreed to write her thoughts and share them here with us. Jill wrote these immediately after the 21 January March, so keep that timeline in mind while reading.

Without any further preamble, here's Jill's account:


Many of you have asked me to write something about the Women's March in Washington, DC; my friend Elise and I attended on January 21, 2017. We went with her daughter, Sarah, and two of Sarah's friends who all live in West Orange, New Jersey.

Elise and I flew from Chicago to Newark on Friday, overnighted at the Marriott, and joined in on the West Orange group going to the March in DC. We left at 5 AM on one of the 14 buses organised for the group, and reached RFK Stadium parking lot at 9:30AM. The route down I-95 was jammed with buses, most of which we assumed were headed for DC. At that point in the day, I guess we assumed we would be among the 200,000 who were expected for the rally/March. That number went up and up as the day went on and people flooded the streets of DC around the Capitol. We heard that thousands of people were trapped in the Metro stations, trying to get up to the March, but the sheer number of people made getting out of the stations take up to 30 minutes.

When our bus - #14 - arrived at RFK, we quickly found Sarah and her friends. We couldn't decide how to get to the site; walking the 2 miles would take up to an hour and 15 minutes we thought, and we were by now hearing stories of people being trapped on the Metro. And this is when we caught a real break. We were directed to a nearby bus stop and told about a bus - free - that would take us directly to Union Station. We didn't have to walk or try the Metro and we jumped on the bus, amazed at our luck! We arrived at Union Station and walked the mile or so to the rally site.

By this time, the streets were filled with festive people of all ages and races. There were many men, both by themselves or accompanying the women in their lives. There were old people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers or carried by their parents, strapped to their chests or riding on their backs. Signs carried by many groups of families or friends identified them as rather varied; I saw one family group that proclaimed themselves "trans and gay, black and white". There were many multi-generational families, too.

And the signs! They were everywhere and were mostly handmade. Most were anti-Trump (along with a few anti-Pence) and ranged from fairly polite to downright scatological. I took pictures of a few signs; one was a drawing of Putin, naked and riding a horse with Trump's head. My fav, though, was a sign that read "Keep your tiny orange hands off my pussy", with a picture of a very cute looking...cat. Elise and I wore red baseball caps which read "Make America Great Again" -- in Russian. (We did verify the translation with a Russian speaker).

Our group of five managed to keep together for most of the afternoon, but at 2:30PM Elise and I walked back to Union Station and picked up our rental car. We had decided to rent a car to drive back to Newark because the bus we had come down on wasn't leaving til 7:30PM. We managed to pick up our Rav 4 before the Hertz office closed at 3:30PM and then - almost impossibly - managed to pick up Sarah and her friends! We made it back to West Orange at about 8PM, exhausted and happy to have survived the March - in all its glorious disorganisation and free-for-all fun. Elise and I flew back to Chicago this morning.

Here are my takeaways from the experience:

1. VOTING.  How many young women (and others) in the crowd either hadn't voted because "both parties are the same?", or had voted for a third party candidate? There's some statistic which states that in the three important states Clinton lost, the vote difference was 60,000 between Trump and Clinton (in Trump's favor) and an astounding 250,000 votes for third party candidates. What if those third-party voters had voted for Clinton?

2. SOCIAL MEDIA.  News of this March was mainly spread by social media. Supposedly, 500,000 attended the March. (The number may turn out to be higher, but for now, that's the number I'm seeing). How many of you remember seeing or reading about the Martin Luther King rally and march in August 1963? And seeing the pictures of what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of people? Well, according to Wikipedia and other sources, the attendance that day was between 200-250,000. That is half of what the numbers were from (The Women's March) yesterday. What a difference social media makes. I first became aware of this during the Arab Spring in 2011. And, of course, social media was responsible for the marches and rallies held all over the world. (A hat tip to Emily and Andy who took my grandgals to the Chicago March! Can't get started too early!)

3. NEWS REPORTING. I read several reports where the acts of violence done in DC on Friday night (20 January) were somehow included in the reports about the peaceful marching on Saturday. The Women's March had no violence whatsoever and at no point did I ever feel in any sort of danger. Why the disingenuous reporting?

4. THE NEXT STEPS.  What to do going forward? I don't have an answer to that, but I do think the world-wide marching and rallying makes it clear that people don't like the Donald Trump presidency and the working of the Republican Congress. All I know is that we can't stay silent and disengaged any longer. Maybe we borrow tactics from the Tea Party? They certainly went after what they wanted.

Let's try to make a difference in the days and months ahead. Organise, organise, ORGANISE.

--Jill Meyer

Note from Nance:  The Women's March website is active and moving ahead with some answers to Jill's question in #4.  And Activism remains what it has always been--getting involved, being heard, and making a difference on whatever level you can.  Don't let Them get comfortable.  This is Not Normal.  RESIST.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

They're Out There And They Voted: Making America Say "Huh?" Again

Imagine me having to drive past this in all its Bountiful Sad Wrongness at least one hundred times a year.


Heavy Sigh.

I. Know.

Just an FYI--this sign has been there for years and years and years in this teensy rural town where everyone knows everyone and the only restaurant is an ice cream stand.  Unless you count the Fried Chiken.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In Which We Discuss All Manners Of Distress And Patrick Henry

credit:  Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office
who rescued her; she's perfectly OK

I know how this cat feels, don't you?  Everything was pretty much okay, then suddenly, it's like your entire brain is held hostage and you have no idea what in the hell is happening.   Your world is suddenly a dangerous and unknown place to you, capable of great harm and terrible uncertainty.  And all you can do is wait.  Wait and hope that someone will come along and make it all okay.

Sigh.  Boy, do I ever get it.

In the meantime, we have to try to make our own lives more comfortable until Help Arrives. If you are a Chrome user--which I am--you can download the extension Make America Kittens Again. It, in its developer's own words, replaces images of the republican outrage "with kittens because, seriously, f*** that guy".  This extension works on lots of sites, with more and more being added. Instead of looking at the TIC*, I can instead see photos of sweetly cute kittens on news sites and on Yahoo when I check my mailboxes.  (*Toddler In Chief)

And speaking of Cats, there is a movement afoot with regard to the Women's March on Washington, being held on 21 January, the day after the Great Sadness inauguration. Dubbed The Pussyhat Project, this separate movement's goal is to amass enough pink hand-knitted hats (with cat-like ears) so that marchers can wear them in Washington. I'm extremely conflicted about a couple of aspects of this movement, which I first learned of over at Meredith's blog, and I'd like to hear what you think.

Firstly, the name is a problem for me.  I actively dislike it.  I find that using it in this way, and for this purpose destigmatizes the vulgar and demeaning way the republican candidate used it to degrade women.  I disagree that co-opting it takes away the negative connotation and in some way empowers women.  It doesn't.  It merely says, "It's okay after all.  Even they use it."  And knowing his mentality, that's exactly what he'll say.

Secondly, a multitude of women will be marching on the nation's capital to remind the new administration that We Are Here and that We Matter.  Our concerns are serious ones.  We want to protect our rights to equal pay, to reproductive choice, to equal employment opportunity and advancement, to marry and love whom we wish.  We want to remind the administration that we have voices to be heard in matters of education, immigration, economic representation, and medical research funding.  Women are fighting for their equality, even now in the year 2017.  Is the gravity of these issues best served by juvenilizing and infantilizing women marchers in a hat with kitty cat ears?

I am proud to be a strong American woman.  Proud to "Use My Words"--my best and most erudite ones whenever possible.  Proud that I did not fall for the carcass of hate and fear and bigotry that the republican candidate dragged in.  One of the brave patriots of this country seems like a mystic now when he said to Congress back in 1775:

"...it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it."

Oh, Patrick Henry!  What you must think of us now.  Just like that cat in the garage door, I'll bet.

Monday, January 02, 2017

A New Feature At The Dept. Of Nance: They're Out There And They Voted


Oh, Happy New Year 2017, Everyone!  I know that it is too much to ask that we all Get On The Same Page and call it Two Thousand Seventeen, which is my preference; that so many of you will persist in calling it the flip and casual sounding Twenty Seventeen.  I can live with that, I suppose, by discreetly sighing to myself and wishing it Were Not So.

Along with...Other Things.

But we must On to the Point Of This Post.

I was minding my own business in Home Depot (there as Rick's consultant) when I was brutally assaulted by the sign above.  Mind you, this was an Official Sign, large and placed there for customers.  It was prominently placed on an end cap in the main aisle.

Underneath it was the merchandise for sale that it purported to advertise.  Both of which probably contained labels with the words properly spelled.  (Not unlike this sign; remember?)  The sign maker probably couldn't be bothered to/didn't feel like looking at the labels on the stuff.  He or she probably had a cell phone but didn't think to ask Siri or Google how to spell the words.  After all, it's just work and no big deal.  It wasn't like it was the Most Important Thing In His Life.

And, if it's wrong, Somebody Else Will Fix It.

Besides, a lot of people said it was perfectly fine.

Oh, 2017.  I feel as if I have seen you before.  Dearest Readers, join me once again in keeping The Stupid (and Lazy) at bay.  Promise me that you will strive for Personal Brilliance every single day.

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