Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Because There Aren't Enough People Blogging About This...

Yeah, I just watched the President's state of the union speech. Since I don't think anyone else in the blogosphere is going to write about it, I guess I should. Ah-hem.

I admit that I can't usually watch the man on television too long before I need to turn the channel or leave the room. He infuriates me. He's also usually incredibly embarrassing. It's like watching those poor people audition on American Idol. I find myself clutching a pillow and averting my gaze. It's just an ordeal all around. Tonight I sat through the whole speech and boy was I glad I did. First of all, there was Nancy Pelosi. Did you see some of the looks she was trying not to shoot at our fearless leader during that speech? Especially during the part about balancing the budget. I think perhaps she has a few ideas about that and I can't wait to find out what they are as this session of Congress continues.

While Nancy was great to watch, the few times the camera cut to Hillary Clinton were priceless. She looked like she wanted to leap out of her seat and bump him right off that podium when he started in on his half-assed health care plan. I sincerely hope she gets the chance. Both she and Nancy did that pursed lip thing that I used to see from my mom right before she lit into somebody. Formidable women indeed!

And I think I have a little crush on Jim Webb now. What was it he said at the end of the Democratic response to the President's speech? Oh, yes -

"As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the general who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War II. And as soon as he became president, he brought the Korean War to an end.
These presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this president to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

I'm exhausted and it's way past bed time here on the east coast. I'll come up with a more coherent post in a day or two. In the mean time, I'm going to get some sleep and try to have nice dreams where we get our people safely home from overseas and when they get back they find out that we all have affordable universal health care, our schools are well-funded, and all our cars now run on cow dung.

While I'm at it, I think I'll also dream that I've married Vigo Mortensen in an outdoor wedding ceremony that concluded with the release of little bitty flying pigs.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog For Choice

The theme for this year's Blog For Choice seemed pretty straight forward. They wanted folks to write about why they are pro-choice. As I thought about it over the last few days, though, it's not that simple. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to my opinion on this amazingly polarizing debate. My upbringing, religious experiences, education and medical experiences have all contributed in one form or another.

First of all there was my mom. She never really had to come out and say it, but I know that she held the basic belief that your body is your own and nobody has a right to tell you what to do with it, least of all some government officials. Whenever a news story would come on after dinner about Roe vs Wade etc., she just had a way of shaking her head at the television that made it perfectly clear what she thought of the mess. When she did mutter something under her breath at the news announcer, it was always in the pro-choice direction.

As a teenager I did the usual questioning of authority figures, pushing boundaries...that sort of thing. I was baptised in a Lutheran church as a baby, but ended up a practicing Wiccan. I read a lot, listened to my friends and made up my own mind about a lot of stuff that I had taken for granted for most of my life. I think we all do that to a certain degree. Luckily, I never had to make the decision about whether or not to go down to the Family Planning Clinic in my town, but I know some girls that did. A few of them chose to go there and came back to school a week or two later...changed. Others chose not to and disappeared from our school hallways a few months later. It wasn't the kind of thing you talked about much, but it happened and we knew it. They (and their parents, I'm sure) were able to decide what was best for them at the time. They made their own choice and lived with it afterwards.

Another very real factor that I think solidified my position on the matter occurred a couple of years ago. I got very sick with an infection that threatened and finally destroyed my reproductive system and landed me in the hospital multiple times. I wasn't allowed to make some incredibly important decisions about my own care at the time because the male doctors believed that I was too young and didn't know what I really wanted. Now, I'm sure they did what they thought medically best (and probably financially best as well) but I couldn't get them to listen to me. It was not a good feeling. I learned the hard way that I need to be able to make fully informed choices about my health. It was terrifying to have that basic right so blithely taken from me. I don't want to live in a world where we make any pregnant woman feel that way as a matter of law.

Being pro-choice does not mean you are pro-abortion. It means that you respect another person's ability to make their own choices for themselves. I don't see how an institution like our government can seriously try and make that decision for anybody. Governments are good at large, sweeping policies that help run a nation of millions of people. They are not designed to dictate the complex, personal decisions of that citizenry. Whether or not a woman is able to carry a pregnancy to term emotionally, financially and realistically are all decisions that are best made at home, by the people involved, not in a courtroom.

I'm pro-choice because I don't think that I have any right to tell another person what is best for their family and neither does anyone else. I don't know if having a baby would make your life complete or ruin it. I don't know if you are a devout Catholic or an agnostic. It seems very strange to me that America is supposed to be founded on this idea of religious freedom (among others), yet our lawmakers continually make decisions for everyone based on one religious ideal. I'm pro-choice because I want to make my own decisions about my health and because I believe other women have the same right.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cars and Birthdays and the State of Being Female

What a week! Not only did I turn 30 on Monday (whoo-hoo!), had a great dinner with my friends and another with my family, but I also got to experience the joy of a free AAA tow and the wonders of public transportation in Los Angeles.

Perhaps I should back up a bit.

On Saturday night I drove out to my parent's house, about 45 miles away from where I live. My thought was to go out there and help my mom and some of her friends put up fences at the horse ranch where they will be moving to soon. Horses need fences, y'know? I'm the helpful sort and I thought it was better than sitting around my new apartment all alone. I mean, a girl can only vacuum the carpet and organize her spice rack so many times.

So, I help the horse folks for a while, then go back to mom's and grab a nice bite to eat with my good friends Marz and T3. After dinner, I thought I was going to drive back to my place, feed the cat and get to sleep. My car had other plans. I turned the ignition and it sputtered. Tried again, more sputtering, the sound of squeaky belts and a smell of burning rubber. Not good.

I spent the night at the 'rents.
My cat went hungry.

Really, really not good.

Not to worry, animal lovers. I borrowed my mom's car Sunday morning and went home to feed the kitty. I had to go back out to mom's place though, 'cause I wasn't about to tow my car the 45 miles back to my mechanic.

Long story not so short - I got the car fixed on my birthday and took the Metrolink train to work.

Which brings me to my topic of the day - Women and car buying/fixing.

I actually ended up with a decent mechanic that my cousin and his parents have used a lot. After I got the car towed to this guy's place, my couz stopped by in the afternoon to check on the prognosis. Basically, I had a guy go check it out for me. When I went to pick the car up on Tuesday, my ex-boyfriend was in town and since we're still friends, he came with me and grilled the mechanic about what he did, which parts he replaced and how much he charged for labor. I am very grateful to these men for helping me out, but I'm a little pissed off that I needed their help in the first place. I mean, why is it women have made fantastic progress in the workplace and government positions but dealing with cars slams us back to the 1950s?

I dumped rather a lot of money into my 1990 Acura Integra and I'm thinking it's about time to cut my losses, sell the thing, and go get myself a car loan like a grown-up, thirty-year-old person. This is going to involve negotiating a decent interest rate, making sound mechanical decisions and being aggressive and informed about what I want. I'm fine with that. Hell, I just found out I got a "A" in Intermediate Algebra. I can do anything!


Since most car salesmen tend to either ignore women or try to sell us on how nifty the vanity mirror is, I plan on doing my homework. I found this website helpful as a starting place. It's sponsored by GM, but a lot of the tips and information are quite good. They have a list of things to consider when choosing a car and what to look for in a test drive.

Here's an interesting article by Julie E. Huston at Bankrate.com called Women's Survival Guide To Buying A Car. I take exception to the idea that I need a survival guide because I have ovaries, but I still found the article interesting. It's kind of a "what to look out for" thing.

Finally, this website has some invaluable information on buying and selling a used car and why it may not be such a good idea to stay with your broken down car on the side of the road. The writing is conversational and informative, always a good combination.
And of course, don't forget carfax.com. This is the incredibly useful website where you can enter in a VIN number for a car and see if it has ever been in an accident, sold with a salvage title, in a flood etc. It won't tell you if a six-teen year-old drove it for two years without ever changing the oil, but it will tell you about the major stuff.

It's going to be a process for me to find a nifty car that I like enough to make payments on for the next two years. I have a good idea of what I'm looking for and luckily, time is on my side. I don't need a car immediately. I intend to go into this process with all the tools necessary to get what I want at the price I can afford. And hey, if I don't like the way I'm being treated I can always walk the hell out of there. One nice thing about Los Angeles is that there are more than a few places to buy a car around here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A New Day

Happy New Year and stuff! I hope everyone of you had a wonderful holiday season. I hope you survived the family fun, the exsessive amounts of food, the holiday travel. I hope your New Year's eve was fun and that those of you who wanted one, got a kiss at mid-night.

'tis the season for resolutions and I have a couple this year. Not only is it a new year, but it's a rather momentous birthday for me. I'm going to be turning the big 3-0 in a few days. I don't feel quite so old. David Bowie will be turning 60 on the same day and poor Elvis is dead, so it could be worse...or better depending on your perspective I suppose. Anyway, in light of all this I thought I'd make a list. Here goes...

2007 - To Do

Submit an article (or 10) to a real publication, magazines, newspapers, websites, whatever.
Get an article published.
Find a better job or get a substantial raise at this one.
Tell my mom that I love her more often
Write in my blog more
Keep working on positive thoughts. Such as - instead of looking in the mirror and thinking to myself "Ugh, I look like crap today." I will think in a loud and confident inner voice "Damn, I'm cute...and SMART!" Hell, I may even say it out loud.
Take my cat to the vet for a check-up. No matter how much he yowls in the kitty carrier
Learn more vegan recipes
Try more veggies that I used to not like as a kid. Mmmmmm...broccoli

Learn to touch type a little faster
And of course..get to the gym/out for a jog/go hiking more often.

Now for the whole 'thirties' thing. There are a few things that I would like to accomplish in the coming ten years. Let's see...

To Do - over the next Ten Years

Graduate with a B.A. in journalism
Get a good job with a newspaper or magazine and write great stories

Travel more

Get my masters degree at some fabulous place like Berkley, Harvard or NYU
Meet someone nice who isn't A.) manipulative B.) cold, compartmentalized and distant and C.) (a' la Bridget Jones) an emotional f*#k-wit.

I'm sure there are others, but that's all I can think of right now.

What's on your New Year's resolution list?