"In the Republican Party’s war on unions, corporate interests are represented by two separate but equally important groups: wealthy shareholders, who contribute campaign funds, and legislators, who receive them. These are their stories."
Planned Parenthood is the target of this legislation, and American women the primary victims. This isn’t about abortion — it’s about cutting access to health care for women. One in five American women has used Planned Parenthood’s services. The vast majority of care — more than 90% — offered at Planned Parenthood health centers is preventative. Every year, Planned Parenthood carries out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer — screenings which save lives. Every year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses give more than 830,000 breast exams — exams which save lives. Every year, nearly 2.5 million patients receive contraception from Planned Parenthood — a service which prevents enormous numbers of unintended pregnancies and, by extension, an enormous number of abortions. Every year, Planned Parenthood administers nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV — tests and treatments which save lives, extend lives, preserve fertility, and maintain reproductive health.
That’s what “pro-lifers” in Congress are against: Health care access for the poor. Health care access for women. This is not, and has never been, about abortion. It’s certainly not about affirming “life.” It’s about an ongoing assault on women’s lives, and the lives of lower-income women in particular. It’s shameful. Stand with Planned Parenthood.
PHYSICAL: Halfway through a 42-pound weight loss plan, and arguably in the best cardiovascular shape of my life. Finding muscles where I didn’t expect to; my back feels like it almost has an exoskeleton now from all the fast, high-incline time logged on the treadmill. Aching joints and dry skin from the cold weather. New glasses arrived, so hallelujah, I can see again. Chronic insomnia, which is why I’m writing this note.
EMOTIONAL: Anxious. Not in the way I used to be—I can hold myself together better than I’ve ever been able to in the past—but I feel jittery, cagey, and a little depressed. Some of this is just the usual January/February dance of waiting for spring to come. Some of it, I think, is emotional fatigue from how much I’ve changed over the past year.
HOUSEHOLD: Reorganizing bedroom and office. Both are in better condition than they’ve probably ever been.
ACADEMIC: Doctoral dissertation is wrapping up, and I’ve decided to apply for an external LL.M. in human rights law after I’m done with it. I’m making progress in short twitches, like a zombie, but I show no signs of slowing or stopping. I’ll meet my goals. No fear here.
WORK: Right now I seem to have developed a pattern of scrapping 9/10ths of the stuff I write, which still leaves enough to work with but frustrates the stew out of me. I want to increase my productivity, and I will this week.
SOCIAL: I’ve come to the realization that I can’t be close to everybody, and that when I wish I was closer to some people than I am, what I’m also wishing—and don’t intend to wish!—is that I’m less close to the people I spend time with right now, who already appreciate me for who I am. I need to focus on them and stop wondering why person X or person Y doesn’t care for me anymore.
ACTIVISM: I recognize signs of burnout in myself, and have done the same thing I recommend that other people do: broaden horizons and add new things into the mix. Inspired by Egypt, which reminds me that the bought-and-paid-for cynics are not always right, though it often feels like they are in Mississippi.
POLITICAL: Sick of the process. Increasingly grateful that my activism is issue-focused. Egypt rewards my decision to focus on changing culture instead of exclusively focusing on the next election or the next policy.
RELIGIOUS: Have begun shifting my religious identity over from agnostic to agnostic Christian, not because of any change in belief but because I’ve come to realize that I do in fact use the vocabulary of Christian tradition, and Christian inculturation, to frame my contemplative life.
ROMANTIC: It is Valentine’s Day, and I am single again. Still. But what makes this more manageable, this year, is the realization that I can’t think of any one person I “should” have been with. Realizing that the “problem” is that I probably really haven’t met the right person yet, and refuse to settle for anybody else, gives me peace.
So there’s this thing going on, with Penny Arcade and dickwolves and feminist and neckbeards and whatnot. I play video games, but I’m not a gamer as such; my exposure to gaming culture comes primarily through Mr Machine, who is a long-time fan of Penny Arcade and passes along the…
"You know…," Sumire said, letting a delicate pause intervene—like an old gatekeeper closing the railroad crossing gate with a clatter just before the train bound for St. Petersburg passes by. "It’s really silly to say this, but I’m in love."
"Um," I said, switching the receiver back to my left hand. I could hear her breathing through the phone. I had no idea how I should respond. And as often happens when I don’t know what to say, I let slip some out-of-left-field comment. "Not with me, I assume?"
"Not with you," Sumire answered. I heard the sound of a cheap lighter lighting a cigarette. "Are you free today? I’d like to talk more."
"You mean, about your falling in love with someone other than me?"
"Right," she said. "About my falling passionately in love with somebody other than you."
I clamped the phone between my head and shoulder and stretched. “I’m free in the evening.”
I think it comes from working independently for basically my entire life—first when I was homeschooled, then when I did my degrees by distance learning, then when I became a freelance writer—which gave me no peers with whom I could compare my quantity or quality of work.
I’ve done 24 books; assuming something doesn’t interrupt the process, there will be a 25th, and a 26th, et. al. I’m about to finish my Ph.D. and supplement it with an LL.M. I hold multiple positions of responsibility in multiple nonprofit organizations, and since I keep getting elected to new ones, I must be doing a pretty good job.
But doing a good job and actually working are two very different things. In Mississippi, because of our poverty and agricultural/military economy, work is implicitly blue-collar anyway—if you’re not getting callouses on your hands and breaking a good sweat, it’s reasonable to ask if what you’re doing is really work. So you have to prove you’re not getting everything handed to you, especially when you’re in the company of men.
I’d like to think I worked for everything I’ve got, but I don’t believe in bootstraps—mine or anybody else’s. I think we’re all products of our biology and environment. I don’t think any of us ever earn anything in a cosmic, objective sense.
So maybe my fear of laziness is rooted partly in the fact that I don’t believe there’s any such thing as working hard “enough.” But I do know this: I never feel happier than when I feel productive, and it’s very hard to feel happy when I don’t feel productive. To that extent, I’ve internalized the Protestant work ethic.
People who do this are not necessarily “better than,” or more attractive in a general sense than, people who don’t—most of the items on this list are probably not, strictly speaking, under anybody’s control. But you asked how to win my heart, not how to win a heart, and this is my honest answer:
Demonstrate a healthy interest in the world. Show that you care about other people, and have a vision larger than your own life.
Understand and respect my life choices, and have a history of generally making life choices that I can understand and respect.
Be kind to the people around us, especially children, the elderly, and waiters/servers.
Find me attractive, physically and spiritually.
Have a sense of humor. This does not necessarily mean you have to crack jokes, but it does mean that you have to find some things about the world funny.
Don’t drink heavily or use recreational drugs. At this stage of my life, “I don’t drink” is arguably the sexiest thing you can say to me on a first date.
Comprehend depth and beauty; the poignancy of everything, our involuntary solidarity in the way we all must confront or deny death, the way flowers bloom in the spring and leaves wither and die in the fall.
"[x] is trying to manipulate me with guilt" usually means "I feel guilt surrounding [x], and this guilt is affecting my behavior more than I’d like." It may or may not have anything to do with anything [x] is doing, and/or it may be legitimate guilt that should affect my behavior.
Emotional abuse and manipulation are real problems, and obviously there are cases where what I’m writing here doesn’t apply, but I’ve found that in general the word “manipulation” has achieved a level of power historically reserved for astrology, black magic, and the whims of the gods. Manipulation is just what happens when somebody notices your personality attributes and intentionally plays on them to get what they want. It’s not really all that sophisticated, and in most cases it’s not really all that successful in getting people to choose a course of action they don’t already want to choose. (The best manipulators know this, and choose their subjects accordingly.) “I was manipulated,” in my experience, is usually an excuse—not an explanation—which is why I’ve made an effort to stop blaming my foolish behavior on other people’s alleged powers of “manipulation.”
Also? Let’s stop pathologizing guilt. Yes, we need to confront guilt when we experience it so that we know whether it’s legitimately grounded in something we need to deal with or not—but the fact that we feel guilt is a good thing, and some people are naturally inclined to experience more guilt than others. For my part, I’ve inherited my maternal grandmother’s scrupulosity to the point where excessive guilt can really screw up my day if I’m not careful. But if I write all of these guilty tendencies off as other people “manipulating” me “through” guilt, I’ll never learn how to process and contextualize my guilt.
The guilt I experience lives and dies between my ears, period. Other people can help play it up or play it down, but the responsibility for dealing with it rests with me.