Real love stories for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is mostly about my children. I think it’s because my first child was born in late January and Valentine’s Day was the first holiday I celebrated with her.

rowdy-vulcan-valentines-day-NICU-2003

Valentine’s Day in the NICU 2003

She was 9 weeks premature and was in the NICU for 5 weeks. Valentine’s Day was a chance to have a celebration with her while she slept under heat lamps. Her dad and I cuddled and warmed her tiny 3-pound body, careful not to dislodge the wires and tubes in her. What a terrible experience it was — brightened momentarily by Valentine’s Day, when we dressed her and shared cards with other parents. And unlike some, we had a happy ending. She turned 14 a few weeks ago. She’s healthy, brilliant, ambitious, creative, talented, and challenging.

When my son was born one year later, our family was complete. The circle of love was complete. I felt it the minute I saw him. He is, even today, love incarnate. His presence is calming, so much so he’s the only one some days who can get me laughing rather than shouting, or sleeping rather than stressing. By 2004, I was living within a bursting circle of love. I knew my good fortune but didn’t yet know how to live it. It took time to settle into my new life with new priorities.

I was 40 when I had my first child. I had lived 40 years knowing all kinds of  love but not motherhood. When my brother had his first child, he told me he had no idea that he could love so much. He told me the love I had for my dogs, my family, my friends would never compare. At the time, I thought he was full of shit. How could he know how I felt? How could he put my love in a hierarchy in which he decided the pinnacle? Now, having experienced it, I agree. No other love compares — for me. But I know that not every parent feels this way. I know a person can love things that may seem odd to me, but for which they will lay down their lives and their principles.

There are romantic loves, family loves, pet loves, friend loves, religious loves, country loves. I don’t know if these experiences compare to the love I feel for my children. I know only that for me, none of them do. It’s not a decision. It simply is. My kids are the loves of my life. If all I’ve ever done or will do matters not at all and I’m simply here to have created these two children, it will have been enough. More than enough. It will have been the best life I could have imagined.

But that’s not the end of my love story

rowdy-vulcan-valentines-day-husbandBefore I could ever have been a mom, I had to meet someone who made me want to have children. When I met my husband, I was 37. No plans to have kids. I knew nothing about children. I had done little babysitting as a teen. I was always the youngest in a group of kids. I was the “fun aunt” for my siblings’ kids.

I had just ended a relationship with a woman who essentially conned me. I had a knack for attracting survivor types, abused and abusive in turn. But he was so different from anyone I had dated. Within a month of dating, all I knew is I had to keep him alive forever, and that meant having his children. This man, who was, you know, a man…and so much younger than me…and whom I barely knew…was absolutely mesmerizing to me. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing him from this earth. I remember fearing he was going to die — I can’t say why — and I had to do something to keep him here. I wanted his baby. And I told him so.

He was incredibly honest and open. He wore his heart on his sleeve. No pretension or artifice clouded who he was. He was smart, ambitious, hard-working. He was just so…himself. And he loved me so thoroughly.

He has taught me so much about love. He has taught me through his patience, his acceptance, and his effort. Yes, love takes effort, especially with me. I guarantee that. Somewhere along the way, he made a decision to love me and to continue loving me no matter what. And the “what” was a roller coaster he could not have imagined. His love has pulled us through more than anything I have done. He is my sun. His love is life to me, and everything grows because of him.

And still, that’s not the end of my love story

rowdy-vulcan-valentines-day-girlfriendOf the many changes to our fifteen years together was the opening of our marriage. Although I’m happily married to a man, I don’t feel straight or even bisexual. I still identify as lesbian. Having an intimate woman partner is vital to me. Marriage and motherhood consumed my time and soul for years, but I came to miss that feminine connection. My husband’s view of the world was different from mine. And our family and friends, too. I was living in the suburbs of a conservative state. Mainstream America tells us that love is a commodity. Romantic love, we’re told, demands choices. Only one to a customer…

Two years ago, I met my moon. Like my husband, she’s also younger than me, and in the same fascinating way, she is solely herself. No pretension, no vanity, no manipulation. Just a vital young woman in love with life. Hours pass in reverie when we’re together. As much friend as lover, she has also become part of our family, sharing our holidays and movies, chores, even shuttling our kids. The unique polycule we live seems effortless now. Her husband is our friend. Even her cat likes me, and cats never like me. I know it’s not effortless but the result of her unique self-awareness, emotional insight, and the effort to love that anyone needs to have in order to stick with me.

Here is where it started

The openness to love is itself a gift. It’s a gift I got from my mother.

Who would imagine a woman born nearly eight decades ago into desperate poverty among rural evangelicals would be a champion of unconventional love? But she is. Her life has been at times a tragedy of love lost, and she knows what matters. This is why I know what matters. It’s not the pedantry of bored or frightened critics telling everyone how to live as unhappily as they do. What matters is love. And love is limited only by you.

I love my two children with all my heart. Not one more than the other. Don’t tell me I have to choose. In the same way, I love my partners, my sun and moon.

Thanks, Mom, for showing me how to love and putting no limits on me.

 

 

Facts are now “bias” 

Trump aides are trying to convince you that if you use facts, you’re now “biased” reporting.

Here’s the CNN screen that Kobach says shows “bias” because it points out the soundbyte about voter fraud has been shown to be false by every metric.

Trumpsters keep repeating it as if that makes it a fact. It does not. My 13-year old would fail her geometry proofs if she tried that shit.

And Samantha Bee’s whimsical tweet about it:

How to Find Good Journalism

Disturbing, but accurate, analysis:

The Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov drew upon long familiarity with that process when he tweeted: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

Mr. Kasparov grasps that the real threat is not merely that a large number of Americans have become accustomed to rejecting factual information, or even that they have become habituated to believing hoaxes. The real danger is that, inundated with “alternative facts,” many voters will simply shrug, asking, “What is truth?” — and not wait for an answer.

In that world, the leader becomes the only reliable source of truth; a familiar phenomenon in an authoritarian state, but a radical departure from the norms of a democratic society. The battle over truth is now central to our politics. NYT

I saw a plea on social media from a right-leaning friend who asked for suggestions about what media to read. She said it’s all slanted, so much so, that the headline “telegraphs” their opinion. She misunderstands, as do most people who are trying to sound fair-minded despite their own disinterest in analyzing arguments. 

Journalism isn’t about reporting mere facts but about reporting facts and providing context. Doing this usually provides the critical thinker with what they need to decide their opinion of the matter. What is happening is that most readers aren’t critical thinkers: they want to be told what to think. 

Two things are happening with media these days. 

As the above opinion piece explains, the right have been convinced that not only are they slanted but mainstream newspapers actually lie. Major newspapers do not. The New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post — these are venerable news outlets that examine the world with people trained in journalism. 

Yes, when these newspapers’ articles seem critical of their subject, they likely are. But you know what? They provide facts and links to facts, and they build a rational argument without inflammatory language or epithets.

That’s the point of a free press, of real journalism: be suspicious, require proof, challenge the story that the powerful in any field are feeding you. Any newspaper that sweeps away the critical aspect of their reporting is not journalism but PR. Supporting outlets that defend the powerful while that power delegitimizes actual fact is the fastest way to bring despotism to the US.

Trump knows this well. That’s why he keeps saying whatever the hell he wants with no facts to back his statements up. The right-leaning will defend him, will want to believe him, which leaves them only the option that mainstream media is lying or — for those tired and despairing — that ALL media is lying or slanted or “telegraphing” their opinions in the headlines.

Trump constantly tweets that the NYT is reporting lies. They are not, of course, and we can verify it easily. But too many of us don’t. We’d rather just tell the naked king we like his clothes. 

The second thing that is happening is that readers conflate the news articles they read with opinion blogs. Every newspaper has them, and when you follow a link to one from social media, all you see is the newspaper’s URL. You think you’re reading a journalist, but you’re not. In addition, news conglomerates like Huffington Post, Drudge Report, and Breitbart mix news and opinion together and push the most popular (i.e. the most sensational) to the top. These are not journalistic sites.

You’re lazy, America. Quit reading conglomerates and you’re half the way there.

Civics 101: Checks and Balances

The Trump administration thinks it has a unilateral authority to bar anyone from this country it chooses. That is, Trump asserted he could ban anyone entering based on his judgment alone and that the courts had no right to question it.

He is ruling by fiat alone, writing executive orders left and right and not bothering to consult Congress or seek to form coalitions. Why? Because he knows nothing about governing. And when his orders aren’t followed, he bullies. This has worked in his businesses — bullying and suing those who disagree. He neither understands nor respects our democratic republic.

Several courts have now disagreed with him, so Trump questioned their integrity. He made it personal. This man is demeaning the office terribly.

But thank god for our judiciary and our Constitution. The ninth circuit Court of Appeals had this to say:

[T]he government has taken the position that the president’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. … There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy. [Pages 13-14]

The Trump administration has argued that the judiciary should stay out of the case. The appeals court strongly disagrees as a matter of constitutional first principles.

NYT

His supporters seem to be doubling down, digging in, and ready to accept a scorched earth policy. But they need to realize they made a very big error in judgment.

This land is your land, this land is — no it isn’t

Now I get it. Trump has decided he owns this country. He’s that obnoxious man yelling at his neighbors to stay off his lawn.

In its argument for an appeal, the Justice Department had said the president had an “unreviewable authority” to suspend the entry of any class of foreigners.

The Justice Department argued that the president acted well within his constitutional authority. Blocking the order, it concluded, “immediately harms the public by thwarting enforcement of an Executive Order issued by the President, based on his national security judgment.” NYT

“Unreviewable authority”? You mean, like a dictator?

His “national security judgment”? You mean the man who avoids the security briefings and has seated inexperienced yes-men as his advisers, like Steve Bannon, former Goldman-Sachs executive and alt-right news mogul, was given a seat on the NSC usually reserved for generals?

I just keep watching SNL to stay sane.

The one thing all terrorists have in common

The Economist conjectured on the current decade of terrorism compared with previous decades. They had this to say:

Especially in America, it is all too easy to buy high-powered automatic weapons that can kill scores of people in moments. Neither great planning nor great intelligence is required to carry out such attacks. Even when the perpetrators are on the radar of the police and security services—and by no means all are—there is no guarantee they can be stopped, given the sheer number of potential jihadists.

Thus it seems likely that much of Europe and America will have to get used to acts of Islamist-inspired terrorism becoming, if not routine, at least fairly regular occurrences. The challenge for open, liberal societies is how they should respond to that threat, particularly at a time when popular confidence in traditional political elites has sunk so low. Above all, the danger is of over-reaction. (The Economist)

But the article makes these good points;

Last year General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s adviser on national-security issues and a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, did just that. He described the terrorist enemy as “fuelled by a vision of worldwide domination achieved through violence and bloodshed” that was “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life”. That may indeed be how IS thugs see themselves. But why should anyone sensible be so keen to validate their boasts?

To his credit, Mr Obama has consistently warned about the consequences of using hyperbolic language to describe the terrorist threat. In a TV address last December, after the San Bernardino shootings, he explained that success against IS and other terrorists “won’t depend on tough talk or abandoning our values, or giving in to fear”. Instead, he said, America would prevail by being strong and clever, resilient and relentless. Mr Obama is right. Defeating terrorism depends above all on good intelligence, a degree of stoicism and a refusal to allow it to undermine the principles that open societies are built on.

In other words, all this banning of Muslims entering the country is so ridiculously irrational and unhelpful that only Trump supporters are capable of thinking it’s a good idea.

If, indeed, you want to be safe from the greatest threats of violence, let’s consider the facts:

  1. Muslims commit terrorism.
  2. No, radical Muslims commit terrorism.
  3. But radical conservative Christians have killed as many in the US, some years they account for more and some years less than Muslims
  4. So maybe this is all a religion thing
  5. But wait, it’s not just religion. Despondent adolescents and angry workers have killed even more
  6. But wait…what connects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE GROUPS?
  7. They’re all almost exclusively men
  8. Men are the greatest risk to our safety in this country and the world

 

Maybe it’s time to ban men. Not only are they nearly every single terrorist, they are also almost the entirety of the violent criminals, murderers, abusers, and rapists. If this post seems ridiculous to you, you need to really spend some time thinking about risk assessment, patriarchy, scapegoats, and red herrings.