Saturday, October 23, 2010

Angel Goes to Work

Lizanne has a little cat
Her coat is white and black
She follows Liz to work each day
Despite protests, “Go back!”
To meetings with her laughing boss
Angel sits right on the chair.
Just some burger, Liz did toss.
Now she’ll stay right there.

My daughter, Elizabeth, works at the Volo Auto Museum. For more information, go to

Friday, October 15, 2010

Political Activism

I’ve been a social and political activist since the Clinton Administration when I worked for a lady named Dr. Gail C. Christopher. We ended up moving to DC where we worked with the Howard School of Divinity Information Clearing House where we helped churches develop programs to take up some of the slack for social program cuts; Americans All, a multi-cultural education program that Gail designed and for which she wrote the curriculum and traveled around the country teaching faculty to use it; and the Alliance for Redesigning Government which was Al Gore’s pet project at the time.

I was almost planning not to vote this year despite really strong feelings about the subject. I believe it’s our civic duty to vote, not just a privilege, but I was really disenchanted with President Obama because I felt he hadn’t made as much progress as I’d hoped. A volunteer called me and not only did she persuade me to vote after all; she got me to volunteer to go out and make phone calls as well. If I don’t like what’s happening in Springfield or on the Hill, I don’t have the right to gripe if I didn’t vote. If I don’t know who to vote for, I certainly know which way I want to vote on issues.

I’d like to have trees and clean energy and water and our current coastlines intact for my great-grandchildren to enjoy. I’d like everyone to be able to afford health care. I don’t want anyone to ever have to tie a string around a door and kick it like I did when Bush was in office and no one was willing to tell me I could get dental work done through Public Health. I think that if a woman needs to have an abortion, she should be able to have it in a clean clinic with an MD and real nurses and she should be able to survive it. If you want to know what it was like when I was a teenager and thought I may be pregnant, watch Dirty Dancing. If I'd been pregnant, I would probably have committed suicide and not bothered with the back-room abortionist. It would have been faster, less expensive, and easier than facing my mother. We don't need to go back to that world.

So there I was in a room with a whole, walloping four other volunteers when someone came in and told us our Congresswoman, Melissa Bean, was having dinner next door and we should come over and say hi. I was actually on my way out because I hadn’t eaten in something like eight hours—a long time for a diabetic. One of the other people making calls paid for my supper (fifteen dollars) and we went over to meet her. Melissa’s a darling girl, probably not much older than Elizabeth. She believes in the same things I do, and she’s a hugger. This was a coffee shop meeting with her staffers. There was no podium, only sixteen people in a restaurant that’s owned by a gay couple, so of course the decor was exquisite and the food was wonderful. We all gathered around a lovely antique dining room table and chatted about the issues. Not only that, but they’re shooting a commercial Sunday about Veterans and I’m going to be in it!

My Congressman downstate represented Big Business and seemed not to care about his constituents at all. I was afraid to deliver petitions single-handedly, because I might have gone off on him and ended up either in jail or back on the locked ward at the VA-- neither of which would have done whatever cause I was representing any good. I plan to make calls three nights a week until Election Day. I’m really excited about re-electing my Congresswoman now, and less ambiguous about the other candidates as well.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Mother's Voice

Last week while riding from the far Northwest Suburbs of Chicago to downstate Paris, Illinois, when the song “Dream On” by Aerosmith came on the radio, a voice said, “Now that’s real music, not that rap or hip-hop sh**.” It sounded just like my mother.

We’ve all been there. We all swore we’d never, ever be like our mothers. Well, most of us, except for those lucky few who had really great mothers who they try to emulate. I didn’t. My mother was a harridan who wouldn’t even admit that Peter, Paul and Mary or Simon and Garfunkle were melodic, or that the lyrics to “Turn, Turn, Turn” were worth listening to even though they came straight from Ecclesiastes. They were set to “that damn rock music,” and that was all there was to it. I wonder what she’d have thought if I’d actually preferred hard/acid rock to top forty and folk.

Mama liked her swing. It wasn’t “real” music unless it was Guy Lombardo, or Glenn Miller, or Les Paul and Mary Ford. She liked Rosemary Clooney and Julius LaRosa. She abhorred that terrible “Elvis Pelvis” who did such obscene things on the Ed Sullivan show they had to show him from the waist up. And those long-haired Beatles! God would punish them. She didn’t like that long-haired Beethoven, either, and she only tolerated Bach or Handel in church. She didn’t quite know what to think when I fell in love with The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Bach and Handel all in 1965. If it wasn’t one kind of "long-haired music," it was another.

So, imagine my shock in the car last week when I heard my mother’s voice coming from my daughter’s mouth referring to a song that was recorded in 1973, the year she was born. We really are the cool generation, aren’t we?