Friday, February 29, 2008

The time has come (to talk politics)

Dear E. and all.

I'm sorry I didn't write back to E.'s real letter as I've been busy, and spent Valentine's day at an aunt's wake in Boston. Then one thing and another came up. Thank you for writing fully on it.

Obama does have charisma, but that usually only makes me suspicious of a man. Seriously. As Bertold Brecht said, Woe to the country that needs Geniuses and Prophets!

Hillary does not have charisma, needless to say. And the truth is, I've never believed she was electable, so I don't know how I've ended up in the position I'm in. But in the past year(s) of her running, I've had to wonder why does she elicit so much enmity? Is it because she doesn't have charisma? (How could she have charisma? I remember when Vogue did the cover on her; the interviewer was looking for a newspaper in her office and asked Hillary's assistant what papers she read. The assistant explained that Ms. Clinton did not read newspapers. She read position papers from our government and others. I've never forgotten it, and I find it wholly believable.) Maybe it's because of those position papers, or maybe she doesn't have a persona that is interested in charm. What does it mean to be uninterested in charm, anyway? She married charm and knows about its dark undercurrents. (I've been reading a lot of poetics theory lately and it is well established that the death of the author is a good thing, like the death of an entrepreneurial authority full of quaint romantic values like "genius" and "charisma.") (Has Hillary been postmodern all this time and we never knew?)

Yesterday morning I woke up remembering my friend Andre's words about 9/11. It was the next month, and we were having breakfast at a cafe around the corner from my house, which was around the corner from the towers, and we were talking about the towers, of course. We didn't talk about anything else for months, it seems! He was raised in Soviet Russia, and is an architect and a professor, just our age, and he said, "We won't know what these towers meant -- maybe ever. Our children will know, but we won't, not really."

I thought that was so wise! And I still like it I certainly had a quite fixed idea of what the attack meant from the very beginning, but I was willing then and I'm still willing -- even happy to believe I'm wrong, and (what's more) that I can't be right, I'm too close to be right. But lots of people walked around like I did, dazed, taking the whole thing personally, whether they were on Wall Street or in Vermont, California, Peru.

So yesterday I thought (hoped) that must be how it is with Hillary. I've been rendered stupid on the subject by some proximity -- a proximity which isn't real at all! I just can't understand why she was so thoroughly rejected (and demeaned) by all the world's mouthpieces. Ten years from now I'll look back on her campaign and say, What the hell was that all about? Of course, I think I know -- I think she's complicated, I think she's a Clinton, I think she's taken politics too seriously. (Whatever the hell that means.) (Well, it means that she hasn't been able to play at politics, like you sense Bill did, and like you sense GWB did -- until the towers, the war going on and on -- and like Obama has come to look.) But I'll never believe that this damn thing isn't riddled with misogyny.

I've been thinking about when Diana died. Diana, princess of Wales! I can't recall if it was just after mother died or just before, but I was flabbergasted by the outpouring of insane identification from every magazine-reading chick in the country. Black, white, green, yellow, everybody was devastated about her. As if Diana represented some part of them, the princess inside who had been hounded through the French tunnels with a handsome billionaire boyfriend, and died. Oh the tears. Oh the drama. Psychologists had to write article after article about why Diana was so important, about why we connected so deeply to her.

And now we have an American woman who helped organize migrant workers forty years ago, registered Hispanics in the Rio Grande valley to vote, who worked for Civil Rights and for the ACLU and graduated at the top of her class then went to Yale Law -- the law school which has always had the reputation for churning out the best professors and philosophers of law, not the best practitioners -- a woman cheated on and humiliated by her husband whom she rightly saw, back in 1969, would be the president of the US -- but nobody identifies with this woman. Nobody cries when she works her ass off to make a health care plan that will work, to run for three years -- maybe she's been running for all 7 years she's been in the senate. Maureen Dowd, a self-hating misogynist if there ever was one, writes columns that repeatedly refer to her ankle size. If anyone was ever hounded by the press, it's Hillary Clinton, She made one crack about not staying home to bake cookies and she's been crucified ever since. Her hair has been a topic of much conversation since the 80's. (I've had about 45 colors since then.) I'm sure that some nights lately she wishes Rush Limbaugh and Dowd would go ahead and drive her into a nice thick wall and put an end to it all.

A day before the New York elections, a group of feminists including Katha Pollitt came out for Obama. I have been speechless ever since, and unable to write you back. Seriously. Every day I want to write the letter -- I had the stuff below in the drafts file in my computer -- and every day I could not. My husband of course voted for Obama, like almost everyone else I know in town. And still I'm walking around like I have personally been attacked, certain that the whole damned thing smells like misogyny, like our system's powerful hatred for a strong woman, our system preferring women who think they're just like Diana. Keep them thinking that way, racking up the credit cards, driving their SUV's. Our world loving the women eager to faint before Obama's Camelot talk.

A president like the Beatles, great. I just hope he's John or George -- Or Martin, maybe he's Martin.

I enclose the bit from Robin Morgan that I originally wanted you to read, and something a Republican friend sent about Obama in N.O.

I feel better having gotten some of this out. God bless America, babe,
love, Alexis

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexis Quinlan"
To: "E."; "Kate Parrish"
; "Victoria Jones"
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:19 PM
Subject: the time has come

to talk politics.

I've been sort of upset about Hillary and unsure about Obama. I can't help feeling that if Obama were the descendent of slaves there's no way he'd be in this position -- we can only stand him because he won't ever throw slavery/lynching at white America. I also can't help but think that 90% of Hillary's problem is misogyny. Peter voted for Obama, as did many of our friends. I voted for Hill, of course. I'd have done it with a little more pride if I'd read this article by Robin Morgan ahead of time.

Check it out as it is full of amazing comparisons and insight.

love, A

Ann Bogle (c) 2008 by Beez Johnson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Power & Control v. Equality

V = Violence
E = Equality

1V. Using Intimidation

Making partner (ex-) afraid by using looks, actions, gestures; smashing things; destroying property; abusing pets; displaying weapons


1E. Non-threatening Behavior

Talking & acting so that s/he feels safe and comfortable expressing herself and doing things


2V. Using Emotional Abuse

Putting partner (ex-) down; manipulation; name calling; making the partner think s/he is crazy; playing mind games; humiliation; creating feelings of guilt


2E. Respect

Listening to her non-judgmentally; being emotionally affirming and understanding; valuing opinions


3V. Using Isolation

Controlling what partner (ex-) does, sees, talks to, reads, where s/he goes; limiting outside involvement; using jealousy to justify actions


3E. Trust and Support

Supporting her goals in life; respecting her rights to her own feelings, friends, activities and opinions


4V. Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

Making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about abuse seriously; saying the abuse didn't happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior


4E. Honesty and Accountability

Accepting responsibility for self; acknowledging past use of violence; admitting being wrong; communicating openly and truthfully


5V. Using Children

Creating guilty feelings about the children; using the children to relay messages; using visitation to harass the partner (ex-); threatening to take the children away


5E. Responsible Parenting

Sharing parental responsibilities; being a positive non-violent role model for the children


6V. Using Privilege

Treating partner (ex-) like a servant; making all the big decisions; acting like the 'master of the castle'; being the one to define men's and women's roles; rigid gender roles


6E. Shared Responsibility

Mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work; making family decisions together


7V. Using Economic Abuse

Preventing the partner (ex-) from getting or keeping a job; making partner (ex-) ask for money; allocating an allowance; taking partner's (ex's) money; not informing or limiting access to family income


7E. Economic Partnership

Making money decisions together; making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements


8V. Using Coercion & Threats

Making &/or carrying out threats; threatening to leave, to commit suicide, to report partner (ex-) to welfare; making partner (ex-) drop charges, do illegal things


8E. Negotiation & Fairness

Seeking mutually satisyfing resolutions to conflict; accepting change; being willing to compromise


This list is adapted from two wheels (pie charts) distributed by:

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
Duluth, Minnesota

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fortunes in cookies, 2007

"One should always be in love." -- Oscar Wilde
(at Palomino after wedding dress shopping in Minneapolis, 2/17/08)

Fortunes gathered from cookies since last year:

Success won't taste so good, without failure as appetizers.
Your career is moving more and more towards service to others.
Your present plans are going to succeed.
Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may diet.
Do onto others as you wish others to do onto you.
Your goal will be reached very soon.
Your courage is like a kite; big wind raises it higher.
The only rose without a thorn is friendship.
Someone is looking up to you. Don't let that person down.
You will be extremely successful in business.
A good deed will make you feel good.
You find beauty in ordinary things. Do not lose this ability.
You are courteous, diplomatic and affable and find happiness in serving others.
You are a gentleman of outstanding wisdom.
When you speak honestly and openly, others truly listen to you.
You will receive fantastic support from someone who truly believes in you.
When one must, one can.
Business trips bring excellent results, especially for sales.
A clean conscience is a soft pillow.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
A small incident will develop to your advantage.
Your worries will vanish if you face them bravely.
Be careful and systematic in your business arrangements.
No real excellence can be separated from right living.
People will find it difficult to resist your propositions.
Happier days are definitely ahead for you. Struggle has ended.
A big fortune will descend upon you this year.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


From Robin Reagler's blog:

She Was Really Saying Something

... I mentioned last week that I wanted to throw a blog party, carnival, or harmonic convergence. Here's the idea. It's easy and quick. If everyone does it, it might be a lot of fun.

I'm not big on weddings. Never had one, except for this little bit of blogging. For the rest of the week, if you're game, follow this theme. You can post a photo, memory, poem, music, or a combination. Try to surprise us.

Tuesday 2/12 -- Something old

2/12 is the birthday of my favorite old lover, which sounds as if I mean he is old, but by which I mean our love affair is older. He asked me, please, not to refer to him on my blog as my "ex-boyfriend." I shall never be your ex-boyfriend, he said, but am your loving-friend.

Wednesday 2/13 -- Something new

212 is to be my new area code. 2/13 is the birthday of a beautiful man I met last year. He is not my old lover nor my new one. My new one is my old one. His old one -- her -- left a year ago. A year ago, the beautiful man was my new one, new then.

Thursday 2/14 -- Something borrowed

I borrowed a lot of money in my day & repaid it in paper wads and time. But let's not forget that I repaid much of it in hard-earned money, too.

Friday 2/15 -- Something blue

My engagement ring, a sapphire, see below (inset). I have become a mute woman since he gave it to me on January 15. Love is a very decent word when. We.

Friday, February 01, 2008

January was in New York

Here I have been in New York for five weeks. Today it's raining. In Minnesota it doesn't rain in February. Here the women walk by wearing black boots to the knee. For weeks, I shopped stores in Minnesota looking for the perfect tall boot. I found them, but it took effort. I looked out the window there and saw evergreens and birdfeeders and the cat. I look out the window here on E. 10th St., and it's as good as looking at the pages of a fashion magazine. There are, many of them, NYU students. The women's legs are pencil-thin! The dogs are family members. The taxis whisk by, as today, kicking up rain behind their tires.

Yesterday we heard from "the Doctor," our name for our good friend, Marty, in Denver. I hadn't talked to Marty in more than ten years, but once we were on the telephone, it was like today that yesterday was. He has married and has a beautiful little boy. We expressed mutual happiness for one another. We carried on a three-way phone call with T. Marty is happy to be teaching and to be a dad. I am happy because my depression, suffered years ago, following our experience in Houston, has abated. The absence of depression is, like happiness, palpable. We read poetry out loud and a scene from a new play Marty has written. Marty called T. the "new Ashbery." We praised each other lavishly and justly and noted still missing Houston after all this time.

Tomorrow I'll go to the AWP bookfair & then join AQ & Robin for supper. I can almost not wait!