Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy New Year?

I have reached a level of insanity that is not healthy. Today is Rosh Hashanah. In our public school district, we get the day off- along with Yom Kippur. The kids are thrilled- a day off and they don’t have to do anything because we are not Jewish.

We are Unitarian, Zachary pointed out. We could celebrate if we wanted to.

I nodded. We could.

A restless pack of teenage boys showed up at my house. They are all way too comfortable here. I was lying down upstairs in my room with a terrible headache. I had just downed a couple Advil. Suddenly, there were boys in my bedroom, yammering away at me, messing with my cats, who were of course on the bed, too.

I would like to know where the fear of the evils of lesbianism resides in these kids!

They wanted me to drive them to a movie. Or pick them up. Something. I said, My head hurts. Can you see I’m lying down here?

Yeah, just a ride one-way.

I paused. I thought about what gave me the headache. I thought about the insane markets going up today- NO NO NO, you stupid idiots, we need to go down. Lower. Or stay even. But even I have to agree with President Bush on a day like today- you’re all acting drunk.

No, I said. We have on demand. Go pick a movie and hang out. I’ll get you pizza. You don’t need to be spending 8 bucks a piece at a movie theater when we have plenty of movies here.

Somehow, the crowd grew a bit larger by the time I walked downstairs to order. Hmm.

Forty bucks and a house full of teenagers later, I realize I have clearly lost my mind.

The Senate promises action. The markets go up. When the Senate fails to pass something? The markets will crash. If they pass it? We’ll be back in La La land again, where earnings are not only unachievable, the money being thrown at them is unsustainable.

Then the House Republicans, enjoying their moment of historic glory, will vote it down again. The market will tank again. The American people remained glued to the news while people on Wall Street continue to make some seriously big money.

It’s ironic, that today starts the High Holidays, the beginning of a new year. I am not sure how this year will turn out. What will happen to our country as we face a defining crisis of our generation?

No doubt, we are headed towards a few more days of awe- my guess is a few more than the ten between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I doubt there will be any atonement happening on Capitol Hill or Wall Street in ten days, or ten years.

I can’t keep up. I’m not sure I want to.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Vote fails

Now what?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Need a Little Help?

Here... watch the original interview:

And then watch Tina Fey's rendition. Frighteningly the same...

I can't wait till Thursday.


Last night, I finally laughed. A lot. It was Walter’s birthday and a bunch of us sat around the dinner table and told the kind of stories that are long in nature, but come out in sound bites.

Everyone knows the history; a few words are enough to send everyone into hysterics. Sure, the wine helped.

It felt good to unwind a little. I’ve felt so tight over the last two weeks. Too much is at stake not to listen carefully, to be sure I understand what I can. It’s been exhausting.

Looking in the mirror, I saw new lines and heavier bags under my eyes. Enough.

Larger global issues loom large right now and there is nothing I can do about it. No, I have done what I can- I vote, write my representatives, contribute to campaigns. Now I have to sit with the anxiety, the wait.

They came to some kind of agreement last night about the bailout package. Or so they say… one has to raise an eyebrow if they are trying to ease the early morning Asian markets.

Nothing to be done. All we can do is wait and see. Or riot in the streets but that time in our history seems to have past. We wait anxiously, chewing down another celexa, drugging ourselves into a false sense of calm.

I need to remember to gather with friends and hold them close. Tell stories and be present in the moment because the moment is rich with joy. While there is fear and uncertainty with every clock tick, it competes- if I let it- with the life I have planted and grown, tended to carefully for so many years. It is big table, good food and playful history bantered about.

It is my oldest son leaning his head against my shoulder asking when cake will be served.

Today I’m going to try letting go for a while. It’s not my nature but at 45 I can’t afford any more lines grooved into my skin. Fold laundry, take the recycling out to the curb, have dinner with a different group of friends. Yes, Morgan, take the dog for a walk even though it’s raining.


And laugh.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

FW:FW:FW: Urgent Secret Message

"Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of
800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a
former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the
American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds
in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a
reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to
wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully

Minister of Treasury Paulson"

Thanks to whoever wrote this because while it didn't make me laugh the day I got it- a little to scary- it is pretty funny. I wonder if this is how we look to the rest of the world.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Who are we?

We are about education, about opportunity, we are about hope...

I hope Obama scored those points deeps.



Clean coal technology?

Please tell me he did not just say that. It's not just about no offshore drilling. This is about becoming energy independent.



Obama is fighting back... go for the war. Go for the 2003 "mission accomplished" because you've been getting your ass kicked.

Go... hit the war. Hit it hard.

Whoa, wait a second

I'm watching the debate. McCain is kicking Obama's ass. I forgot what a terrible debater Obama is...


McCain just said people can buy health insurance for 5K a year????

What country does he live in?

What's Next?

I spoke with a friend yesterday who said she was so enraged she could no longer watch television or read any news. She was going to lose it. I don’t feel enraged. I feel helpless.


I cannot change anything that goes on in Washington, DC. I wish I could be blissfully ignorant and think that everything will work out fine. I’m watching my kids’ future go into a free fall and there is nothing I can do about it.

Stay the course. Remain calm.

I don’t feel calm but I also don’t feel rage. I’m looking at poll numbers that put McCain and Obama neck and neck- how can that be? Adding up the numbers of people that came out to vote in the Democratic primaries doesn’t add up with what the media is saying.

Obama should be trouncing this bozo. Can it be possible that the election is being stolen again?

No, no, no. That is crazy talk. This is America. We have freedom. We get one vote per person and each vote counts. Our systems work and democracy will prevail.


Then the icy fingers of anxiety clutch my throat. No, that’s not what happens in the country. Electronic machines have replaced any traceable ballots. Who owns Diebold? Why do we liberals trust everyone so damn much?

We have no reason to have any faith at all. My biggest fear is if Obama loses- and there is no way he can lose- we will all gaze at our navels and wonder why we are such a racist country.

Racist or crooked?

Is this all being stolen right under our noses? Are we so numb we don’t know how to march in the streets and demand action from our government? I don't care how many times Bush says the word "panic," I know what he is proposing will fail.

Why aren’t we learning from what Sweden did, in 1992, in the exact same crisis?

Why has Wall Street, typically in total control prior to a Presidential election, waiting to weigh in just after, gone nutty now? To what end? Did they really expect a 700 billion dollar blank check?

The timing is beyond disturbing to me. And yet there is nothing I can do but sit and watch it all unfold. What’s next? A terrorist threat? Tucked in the news today were two articles about terrorists getting caught- one in Germany , one in Canada. Are we being set up?

Maybe I’m paranoid. Maybe I’m projecting my ingrained mistrust onto an easy canvas. In all my adult years, I have always loved a good conspiracy story but felt like it was just that- a story. I believed in our government as basically good.

I don’t right now.

And it has me completely frozen in fear.

John McCain Will Show Up!

As Washington erodes into a bigger mess than Wall Street, John McCain announces he will be at the debate tonight.

So glad to hear it, Johnny. I'm sure they will all struggle along without you, especially since it seems you did pretty much nothing while you were there.

Loan Meeting

oops, had the wrong thing up...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From the Repblican Party Platform, 2008

"Rebuilding Homeownership

Homeownership remains key to creating an opportunity society. We support timely and carefully targeted aid to those hurt by the housing crisis so that affected individuals can have a chance to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home’s market value. At the same time, government action must not implicitly encourage anyone to borrow more than they can afford to repay. We support energetic federal investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage industry and investment sector. We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all. We encourage potential buyers to work in concert with the lending community to educate themselves about the responsibilities of purchasing a home, condo, or land."

Funny... I don't see anything about massive government bailouts in there. Do you?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kid in the Candy Store ala Rachel Maddow

This is great and far more simple than what I wrote.

Again, thanks Sue!

Politicians Playing Politics

John McCain has asked for a delay to the debates on Friday. Seems he wants to go back to the day job for a bit.

As a colleague so eloquently pointed out, if I were getting my ass kicked as badly as McCain is, I'd want to take a couple days off, too.

No one should stand for this. Taking 90 minutes to debate the future of our country is probably the most valuable thing he can do.

McCain's absentee rate is the highest in the Senate. This should be seen for what it is- political grandstanding.

Forget it, Johnny boy. Get up there and debate.

DON'T PANIC... but we must make change

I'm sorry I have not posted much the last few days. I've been up to my ears in financial documents, papers, calls, taking notes, and trying to learn as much as I can about the current situation.

Anyone with questions about how to invest their money or what to do now should consult a financial advisor. If you have money put away for your kids college tuition, or retirement, I cannot give you any advice as to where to put it.

But I can explain a little about what has been going on, and here it is...

We have over the last week, entered a new era in finance. In fact, a Senior VP at JP Morgan stated, it quite literally changed over night, from Sunday to Monday, with the announcement of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, a bell tolled and the investment banking industry died.

While markers have been on the horizon for some time- stagflation- a situation in which inflation and economic stagnation occur simultaneously and remain unchecked for a period of time- T bill rates at historic lows not seen since the 1930’s, reverse return cures, over consumption, over valued dollar, no savings, high debt, and outrageous military spending- we seem to all be caught by surprise at this collapse.

This is not a time to spend more, as our esteemed president is urging us to do, but to realize that current price to earnings ratios have dropped to an average of 20. The historical average is 16 and in order to end the bear market we’ve been in since 2000, we will need to see them drop to mid to high single digits.

Simply put, that means there is still a long way to go.

While a traditional response is to move towards value managers, with P/E ratios continuing to decline, be very careful. It is going to be a fraught market- it will be heard to determine when is something undervalued and a great buy and when will it become worthless.

Like Lehman’s. Bears Stearns. AIG. We’re not talking about quirky little micro cap companies.

Some mega cap companies have money on the balance sheets and are using it to buy back stocks- Nike, HP, Microsoft all did this on Monday in response to the fed’s bailout plan. This is an extremely defensive position.

The Fed has tried to come in and save the day with a proposed massive 700 billion loan repurchase program, whipped up over night, much like the decision to nationalize AIG was. The bailout creates more questions than it gives answers. Without getting into the nitty gritty, simply put it does not identify a pricing mechanism for the buy back. While its intention is to bring liquidity back to banks, it may in fact, accelerate losses in the very banks they are trying to help.

I’m not even going to discuss the absurd golden parachutes tucked into the bailout. The excuse is that the high level of management must be retained in the companies in order to keep them running- the same management team that in fact ran the them into the ground. As Rachel Maddow said, this is like asking a 7 year-old to watch over your 6 year-old and his mother lode of candy. When you get home, the 6 yr old has eaten it all, and the 7 yr old says, "You need more candy." (thanks Sue!)

Or telling Americans to go spend more.

It’s dumb.

We have to recognize our economy and financial systems are in extreme distress. This is not a time to sit by and hope for the best. It is time to start saving money. Remember that? When you didn't use credit cards but actually saved money up to buy something you wanted? Paid cash?

This is a time to live simply. Going to Crate and Barrel to buy candles is not living simply. Neither is, as I explained to my son last night, having three pairs of Nike sneakers because you want them in different colors.

It's about making due with what you have and since most Americans are living in obscene amounts of debt from over consuming, you should all have enough stuff to last for a while. When credit card companies charge more than loan sharks, it's time to say enough.

Enough with the war. It has not paid for itself. There is no oil revenue coming into our coffers. We are not liberating anyone. All we have to show for our years of war are dead soldiers, continued chaos and an unstable government unwilling to stem the violence as long as they have someone else there to do it.

Enough with the constant barrage of bullshit coming from the White House trying to push through a financial package that will continue to emphasize consumer spending as an answer.

It isn't. Consumer savings, raised taxes- yes, I said raised taxes, end of military spending at the current unsustainable level, is the only way out.

We must make change.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dead Mothers

It's amazing the strength dead mothers have over you. Their judgment, their acceptance or cold shoulder. I don't know as I move forward as steward of her legacy whether I would make her proud.

I only know what will make me able to sleep at night.

I want a world where we all care for each other. Where people have places to sleep at night and children are educated to the best of all of our abilities. I want a world where a piece of paper or nationality makes no difference when it comes to work, education, and support. I want competition but not at the sake of other's safety. I want a world where great ideas excel because they are great.

I want equality for all.

I want fairness.

I want honest government.

Maybe I do want too much.

But damn if I'm not going to give my all to get it.

Ultimately? I'd like to think my mother would be proud. Not of my journey but of the result.

Monday, September 22, 2008

As Calmly As I Can...

I'm going to try and say this as calmly as I can.


I don't think I can say much more. It makes my stomach hurt. There are clauses for money for executives- little golden parachutes provided by the taxpayers for those pigs who made millions already.

When the Bush government says, "Trust me, and hurry up?"

It's time to grind to a halt and read every single word.

There is no basis in history for this kind of effort. We don't run into it screaming as if our pants are on fire.

We did with the Patriot Act and look what that got us.

A Word From California

I love this!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Deep, Man Voice

Every time I hear it, I look to see if Walter is here. If someone has come in the door I didn't know about.

A deep, man voice.

It's Ben's. His voice has almost completely changed into a deep baritone. I don't expect it in my house. I have little boys. Babies, really. Not almost grown men with hairy legs and voices with resonance.

The words that come out of the madly growing body don't quite match the maturity of the sound.

Jake! You smell like farts! Doesn't scream responsibility and social awareness. When those words come out, I'm never surprised, or caught off guard. It's the single words, or the chatting with the cats- to whom he is enormously polite- that I find jarring.

Who is that man?

My son is going to be thirteen this fall. Most of his friends will have bar or bats mitzvah's. They have studied long and hard a difficult language and how to read from the Torah. Even with candy studded events or sparkling disco balls twirling, there is a moment of being welcomed into the community as a man, or woman. A full member.

Of course these kids are still kids, by our American, modern standards, but there is something powerful about having to work for something that has a long tradition. The process does change them.

As an atheist, I'm not sure what makes the most sense for my boys. We attend the Unitarian Universalist church but have become lax in the last couple of years. But I'm not sure I want the passage to manhood be marked by some religious event.

I don't believe in religion as much as I don't believe in God. I think Karl Marx was right in that religion is the opiate for the masses. It sooths people into accepting plights they should never accept.

How does my son transition into being a man? The physical changes are clear. The emotional ones are harder to define. He has more responsibility now than before and more freedom.

And he still tells his brother he smells like farts.

It's going to be an interesting year, with this growing young man in my house. He will need to learn to be a part of a community, to be kind when it's hard to, to lose at times and graciously win, remembering the sting of being on the other side. He needs to do for others outside himself- more than buy a slice of pizza for a pal out of cash. He needs to start to understand there are great injustices in our world- and has been for centuries.

He will need to understand some people will hate him without even knowing his name.

At the same time, he is exploring a body full of new and amazing sensations. With all the tingles, excitement and joy comes responsibility. First loves. Heartbreaks.

He's not a baby anymore. All these years and you'd think I'd be prepared. I'm not. His deep voice, though, startles me back to reality.

I have a young man in my house.

With much to learn.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where Do We Live?

I don't want to chase the stars anymore. I just want to watch them. Especially when they streak across the sky with long trails of bright dust.

I came home early because Ben was home "sick" and Jeanine had to work late. With all the news of doom and gloom making its way to Downeast, it was time to come home.

I need to import the calm of Maine to my daily life. I'm working on it.

The financial turmoil scares me. When it all washes out, I'll still have a lot of money, property and promises to my kids education and future lives. That's the truth. But that I'm looking at a country that is almost foreign to me. I mean... they bailed out AIG? Why? Did they pay more in campaign contributions? Does anyone even care anymore to follow that paper trail? Why did those execs, in dying companies, still earn so much damn money?

Where are our values, as a country? Do we only care about moose burgers and lipstick?

It's easy to go to Maine and hide. No one is around to talk to you. I read the headlines of the papers when I got home and felt my head start to pound. All I can think is turmoil for the next few years with money going to blankets and care rather than advancing policy. Because you know we democrats can't have people starving on the streets.

The republicans can.

Where do we live, people? Where?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I love to be alone. Part of the reason is that I have very low tolerance for too much stimulation. Take me to a casino and I stand there, stunned. Or, as my friend Terry found out, I walk from one end to the other and then I leave.

She really wanted to play the penny slots. I couldn't focus long enough to figure out where to get the change.

Being in Downeast is alone. I mean, ain't no folks for miles, alone.

Allan stayed up here for three weeks, mostly by himself over the summer. I spent yesterday and most of today alone. All I can say is when he said it was different, I had no idea what an understatement that was.

The only noise is the wind, the ocean and the birds. Occasionally, a lobster boat rumbles on the horizon.

That's it.

There are people here, no question. I ran into two women walking their dog on Monday. We smiled and acknowledged the beautiful day. I assured them Beanie was not an attack dog, and they let theirs off the leash.

For a moment, we stood on an old road, now not much more than a rutted trail, steam rising off the wet wood around us. And then we both continued, I covered their old steps, they mine. The dogs lingered, as dogs always do.

It's simple. Most live by the old Yankee adage: I don't want to know, just keep it neat. Privacy is respected above all else.

It has let me start and stop and start and stop with a bunch of essays. Some might be good, some are not. All need more work. I find myself goofing off- a long kayak trip this morning- and seriously writing at different times.

Have I finally found a place that doesn't require me to handcuff my self-esteem while waiting for the judgmental police to come? Maybe... maybe this is enough. Maybe it would even fill me if I stop stabbing leaks in the line.

I keep going back to Jake's soccer game on Saturday. Standing there with ten little boys yelling "Coach, Coach!" to me, I felt calm. All the storms about what is good enough, should I do more, how am I changing the world, quieted.

I was doing something valuable. Maybe not changing the world but changing something. It's not huge. It will never make the history books, or the national news. I was a mom, coaching a team of boys who I told to play hard- but fair. No pushing- you have mad skills with your feet. And when we went ahead by many goals, I said, okay, let's help (boy) to score- a quiet kid who would never rush to the goal on his own.

He smiled one of those grins you know aches a little to do but you can't help it. He never scored but that wasn't really the point.

I feel old requirements slipping off my shoulders. If raising three boys to be decent, good men isn't enough, then what is?

Sometimes, it's simple. It's about being what you can, when you can, as well as you can. Instead of listing what's missing, I want to list what's here.

Trees, and the smell of pine. Moss filled paths in the woods. A great fishing spot off Hen Island. Being able to sit and listen to the fire crackle for hours without another word or sound. Stars for miles. A dog quietly snoozing.

Small things amplified by the silence all around.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mental Whiplash

We are such creatures of routine in our daily lives. Coffee, let the dog out, make lunches… over and over. And in a moment, you’re thrown into the sterile- or not so sterile- environment that takes away the sun, a sense of time and hope. The language is unfamiliar and the struggle becomes one where you try to listen through stunned ears, getting every third, maybe fourth word.

It’s mental whiplash.

In the years of my mother’s long decline, I spent four crisis moments in the hospital with her, certain each time she was going to die. The reality ended up she died at home. When she was finally ready.

One time, she was sick in Florida. Uncontrollable rectal bleeding left her weak, and on that edge she visited often before finally letting go. I flew down, as was my unnamed sibling (I’m not allowed to talk about that one) and unnamed sibling’s spouse.

Nurses whispered to all of us that it didn’t look good.

Doctors ordered more tests to try and locate the bleeding source.

My mother was high on drugs, smiling. Except for the fact that she wanted a cigarette. I told her I couldn’t wheel her outside to smoke; too many things were attached to her.

The social worker arrived one day and we knew it was not good. She was recommending an evaluation for hospice. Would we be able to get her home or should they set it up for her in Florida?

It was horrible news. I didn’t want her to die in some horrible hospital. I didn’t want her to die, period. The social worker carefully explained all the options. She did what she had done many times that week, that month, that year. When the appropriate, respectful pause was reached, she left the room.

We digested the news and decided to wait for the last tests to come back.

Too weak to sit up even but finished with the pause, my mother asked if then she could be removed from all the tubes so she could have a cigarette, since she was dying anyway?

I got the nurse. I figured, what the hell…

She put another nicotine patch on my mother.

I had been in Florida a week. It felt like a month. It was wintertime and while I leaned towards the rejuvenating sun trying to break through the thick, plexiglas windows, it was to no avail. I was stuck indoors. Walking hallways where doors that should have been closed were wide open.

I’m not afraid of dying. I am afraid of dying without dignity. What I saw along those corridors were people who probably all wanted the same- but were not getting it.

My mother started to make lists. She always made lists, no matter what, where or when. Going through her papers after she died, I smiled every time I came across one. Always handwritten, neat, ordered, and eventually with check marks, she kept them all, it seemed as if to mark her progress through life. Thank you notes finished, coffee purchased and a small present for a friend’s grandchild. Every moment carefully attended to as a practice; she wrote lists even when I was a small child, long before her memory slipped.

Barely able to open her eyes, she decided who would get what of the major art work she had. She continually reminded us if we fought over things after she was dead she would haunt us. There were people she wanted to have small gifts of money- I carefully wrote down names and amounts.

I made her list.

I left the room to cry. Often. I didn’t want to cry in front of her. It was a time in our relationship when we were very close. I knew she wouldn’t let go if I still held on.

I didn’t want her to suffer.

We still cared about each other. That wasn’t true at the end. Yes, we still loved each other, fiercely, but I no longer left to cry and she no longer tried to pull her body out of the muck.

Twenty-four agonizing hours ticked by before the test results were in- they found the bleeding. They thought they could stop it- or slow it down at least. A new course of medicine started, and a blood transfusion from “a strapping 20 year old” was hooked up.

A few hours later, my mother sat up.

Now, I am going to go have a cigarette, she declared and pointed towards her purse. I found a wheelchair and the nurses came in behind me telling her no no no…

My mother started to remove some of the little sticker monitors on her chest, still smiling, still polite. I don’t think a 300 pound orderly could have kept her in that room.

The nurses finally helped me wrap the tubes in neat piles and my mother held onto the wheeled stand with the blood and medication bags, and I took her to the small courtyard so she could smoke.

Better? I asked.

Much better, she said, blowing out her first puff in over a week.

Within two hours after that, she explained to the doctor she was going home now, thank you very much. It had been a pleasure but she was not going to stop drinking nor stop smoking and she was ready.

In a moment, with the same speed as the fall that lands you, it’s over.

I drove her home. On the way, we passed a McDonalds. People who admired my mother, who saw her as a stately woman and patron of the arts, never knew she had a serious thing for junk food. She had dined at Charlie Trotters, at the Windows on the World, in Paris and Saint Petersburg when it was still Leningrad. But give her a cheeseburger and fries, she was in heaven.

Oooh. I want a cheeseburger. Let’s go to the drive thru.

48 hours had passed since the social worker ripped my world out from under me, and there I was ordering my mother a cheeseburger.

Don’t forget the fries! She said, And a chocolate milkshake.

Of all the times my mother was sick, in the hospital, that one is etched in my skin. It was funny at times, horribly serious, and I remember feeling like I understood what “bone tired” really meant. I made lists when I wanted to cry. It wasn’t about my needs. It was about hers.

I handed the burger over, resisting the urge to unwrap it, as I did for my kids.

There was nothing to be done but to go through it. I wish I remembered to step outside every two hours so remember it’s a day- or night. To remember the city of Jacksonville was functioning beyond the hospital walls, full of life. To see birds, and feel the wind and see people walking with clothes on, not lying on their sides with open backed johnnies.

It was one of the most surreal moments of my life, driving away from a McDonald's to a high end, exclusive resort, taking my mother home, still wearing the hospital slippers. Happily munching on her burger.

So simple.

A few days later, I was home again. Coffee, the dog, lunches, as if it never happened.

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Fasten Your Seatbelts

Lehman Brothers fails and Merrill Lynch becomes part of Bank of America, which soon will be called, The Only Bank IN America, and the Federal Reserve "loosens" guidelines on loans to banks clearly not having learned any lessons through the subprime crisis, I have to wonder: How are we different than China?

I sincerely believe in fifty years, people will look back at the rise of the middle Class in China and the demise of it in America and see parallels so simple it'll be taught in elementary schools.

Are our working standards oh so much better than China's? I would argue, considering the level of wealth in this country, no. While very serious human rights abuses happen in China, especially in rural areas, I look to our own middle class and see people working 50, 60 hours a week at jobs once touted as "9 to 5."

We have one bank. "Private" corporations get to do whatever they want as long as they pay the government it's piece of the action, also known as lobbyists. People in positions of power do well. People blocked from access to that power remain stuck in the previous century's economic opportunities.

We'll look so ridiculous in the history books, banging out Patriot Act chests saying "But we have FREEDOM."

We aren't free. Our electoral system is a joke and it's not a huge conspiracy that voters in Michigan will be under scrutiny as the Republican party are planning to man the polls with lists of people in foreclosed homes, requiring an additional proof of residency for them. They are doing it out in the open, in front of the media.

Back to the landowners only days, I guess. Don't want any dissidents in the voting lines.

Oh, wait, only the Chinese have dissidents. We have crazy, irresponsible people who are imagining a fiscal crisis in this country.

Why do I have a feeling the kind of vote caging in Michigan is going to happen across the nation? That we will all be called again to stand behind the American Flag in unity rather than contest another stolen election, as we were admonished to do in 2000?

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman, Merrill, and AIG running around like a crackhead begging for money and the only one fool enough to give it is the Federal Reserve.

Fasten yourself belts, folks. There is more to come.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Coq Au Vin

Yesterday, after coaching Jake’s soccer team, after watching some of Ben’s game, I went to the grocery store to get ready to go to Downeast Maine. Jeanine had given me the green light to go, supporting my efforts to work on my book, and I jumped at the chance.

The grocery store usually means me preparing by wandering around the kitchen, opening cabinet doors, checking the refrigerator, and finding out what we have and don’t have in the house. Then I go through the store, picking up Jake’s favorite olives, Zachary’s beloved Asian pears, Ben cheddar rice cakes, and Jeanine’s limeade. I fill the cart with what I know everyone likes. Broccoli, one of the few vegetables the kids will eat aside from salad, vanilla yogurt, and whole wheat bread without seeds.

Walking through the aisles yesterday, I felt like I had won the lottery. I got to pick out food for me for the next few days. White peaches so ripe it’s like eating flavored sugar. Red leaf lettuce. A giant heirloom tomato. Thick, dense bread with nuts and seeds even on the outside. Country pate, thick and chunky.

And those little tiny really expensive yogurts no one in their right mind would ever buy.

I spent almost an hour, wandering and looking at the same shelves I’ve seen a thousand times before to see what I wanted.

What I liked. Of course I’ll share with Beanie, the dog, but she’s not very picky.

Tonight I’m cooking Coq Au Vin for Donald, who has come to repair a water line. There is no hurry. The fire is roaring and the fog settled just beyond the islands across the cove.

I have a lot to write in the next few days. I had an epiphany yesterday, out on the soccer field. I’m ready to make some changes. Not huge, enormous ones but it is time to evaluate some of the ways in which I find myself trying to achieve flashy, “note worthy” accomplishments instead of living with clarity and simplicity.

More on that later. Right now, it’s time to start searing the chicken, and frying bacon. Just after I put another log on the fire.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

John McCain Not Fit to Serve

I didn't say it. One of his fellow soldiers said it. Please watch.

Thanks, Sue!

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Friday, September 12, 2008


is for a bridge to nowhere....

Right Or Happy?

We went to look at the house in JP. You must understand, when Jeanine and I look at a house, we are the bring the checkbook, hire the Uhaul kinda gals. We decide, quickly, if we like something and then make it happen.

I did not want to move. I do not want to move. I have a gorgeous lap pool, office area that I am in love with. The rest of the house... well, there's boogers stuck to the walls next to the kid's beds, streaks of hand prints down the staircase wall, doors loose from slamming... it's lived in, to say the least.

But I love my office.

Jeanine has, for all the years we've been together, always tried to get us back to Jamaica Plain, where she was living when I met her. She loves JP, as we call it around here, as much as I love my office.

My mode, when faced with something I am not happy about, is to put my foot down and say NO. No debate, no discussion, I pull out my entrenchment shoes and do not move. I don't listen, I don't consider, I simply say no. It comes from not being heard, being pushed into corners and fighting for my dignity as a kid. I get stony cold and simply stop discussing the topic.

This, as you might expect, has caused great problems in our relationship.

Today, I did something different. I was open to the discussion, although I had a fairly firm opinion. I knew that Jeanine has always felt the pull to JP, and here was a chance to look at a spectacular house.

There was not a single aspect to the house that was not wonderful, or did not perfectly fit our needs. Newly renovated, plenty of space and a separate carriage house for Jeanine's studio. Or for her mom if she wanted to come visit for an extended period. Or both.


I have always found it interesting the lack of connection Jeanine feels to the Newton community. I have been here 22 years and I love it. I volunteer to coach the kid's soccer team (not brave enough to take on the baseball crowd), I know the local stores and some of the staff that has been around for a while. When I walk down the street to pick up the kids at school, I wave and chat along the way to neighbors.

Newton, no question, is also losing some of it's soul to McMansion builders who will rip down old Tudor homes they bought for 2 million dollars and replace it with a monstrosity. Nothing to be done about it. As I went to coach my team yesterday, I could pick out three boys who are going to be very difficult- the attitude and privilege grate on my nerves.

I still love it here.

Jamaica Plain, on the other hand, is a funky, diverse section of Boston. It has an enormous LGBT community. There is a pond there where everyone walks and gathers. Great restaurants, public transportation- it's fun. when I worked down there, I always walked to the center, if to do nothing but get a cup of coffee, so I could soak up the life. No McMansions in JP. It is also where Walter and Allan live.

We went to the house. We both looked at each other on the way out, knowing it was perfect and stepped in our separate cars to drive home.

As I made my way, I thought, I have to be open to this. It really is a great house. It could be a great home for us. I could walk the dog around the pond everyday. Jeanine could take public transportation to work. We would be with our people. The kids would be close enough to walk to their dads' house.

I was ready to listen, not from a place of NO but a place of, okay, I can see this but I still have some issues with it.

When I finally made it home, Jeanine said, No. I don't want to move there. It's great, no question, but I want to make this house great like that. I want it to be ours, not someone else's idea of great.

I turned to the witness in the room and told her, she was there to hear this.

I also said, this is it. There isn't going to be a more perfect house- this is it for thinking about JP.

She agreed.

We'll talk tonight. I want to discuss it a bit more before we walk away- it really was that perfect. But I can't help but feel that being willing to consider something deeply important to Jeanine with an open heart made a huge difference. Instead of having to fight back, she could consider all the options.

Think about the entire reality, not just dig in her corner, ready to fight back.

All I keep thinking about was the question my therapist has repeatedly asked me...

Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?

I wasn't right today. I was willing to listen.

And tonight? I'm happy.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

President Palin

There is a very real chance- at least a 25% chance- that McCain, due to his age, will not survive the first term. I'm not pulling the number out of my head, it comes from actuary table, life expectancies.

President Palin?

I don't know what scares me more... that she could be president or that people are really excited about her being on the ticket.

She's tried to ban books from her town's library. I may not like all that's written by the Christian right, but I don't try to keep their books of the shelves of a library.

What kind of country are we?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sara vs. Sarah

Today, my post is on gaywired.com "Sara vs. Sarah: The Whitman/Palin Showdown."

I think I kick her ass.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Minefield on a Thread

Today I did something healthy… and then I did something really not healthy.

I dealt with what felt like a rejection almost immediately. I started to walk around that rabbit hole of narcissistic injury, making it all about me me me me me, and I stopped. I felt the surge of abandonment and said to a friend, damn, I’m having that surge of abandonment.

I stopped. I looked at that deep stagnant well and remembered stepping in it sucks. I rarely find my way out without a lot of misery and to be honest, it’s been miserable enough lately.

I did. I addressed the rejection to find it wasn’t that at all. It wasn’t about me. Okay, a small part, but not a big one. In the long run, it was a productive conversation. I got clear, the party in question got clear, and all is well with the world.


Nope. Step into my world where triggers dot the landscape, with barely covered trip wires.

I went and did something really unhealthy. I can’t get into the specifics for fear of retribution. It doesn’t matter. I heard myself take care of someone who has been … well… I’ll leave that part for the book. Let’s just say I stepped into my dead mother’s skin.

It took a while to slowly work through my veins. The first piece was not about me- surprise- I heard myself asking someone who came from a far more abusive past than my own to face an open trench with my own rotting bones in it.

How could I do that to her?

Like poison, it finally clenched my heart. Why was I doing it to me?

It’s an issue my wife has slowly circled, like a cat. She never takes her eyes off it, waiting. Does she rush in and take over? I’ve shouted out lines of furious defense- I will do it my way. I need to take back the power stripped from me. I need to be in control.

I saw today, I am not in control. I think cautiously, and play a game of make believe. I look for permission. I make deals that crush my spirit. And I asked for it all.

All at once I am humiliated again. I am small and powerless. I smell the carpet of my youth pressed hard against my face. The weight on my back. I’m scared and I don’t see doors, only four walls. I feel every muscle grip for impact.

The kids are in the backroom, doing homework. An argument breaks out over who gets to use the pencil sharpener next while they share a snack of peanut butter and crackers. One of my old cats lies at my feet- the dog has abandoned me for hope of a dropped crumb. The carpet is hand woven silk with a beautiful tribal pattern, not olive green shag.

I’m trying to pull myself back through a minefield. Meditate on to the minutia of daily life, searching for the thread to pull me back. In my dreams, I feel the ground, I know I have to find it but I can’t see through the dust. It’s a tiny thread and no matter how hard I try, I can’t open my eyes.

No one can take anything away from me. No one can break me.

Dinner to cook. Baths, practicing instruments and reading time. I keep telling myself I can’t cry. I can’t break down in front of the kids. I can’t let them see this pain.

How many more times can I make it back?

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Berklee College of Music Establishes GLBT Leadership Fund

This Saturday night, the one and only Melissa Ferrick will rock the Berklee performance center in Boston, with all the proceeds benefiting a brand new GLBT leadership fund at the college.

Berklee has a history of being... well, male dominated, jazz only school. Under the leadership of Roger Brown, the college has been working hard to be more inclusive, have a more diverse population.

When my wife went to Berklee, she was one of the few women there, especially in the Music Production and Engineering department. When she was originally hired, we laughed it was so they could make three checks- one for a woman, one for a Latina, and one for a Lesbian.

Now, there are far more women on staff and at the school. Jeanine worked hard to bring the GLBT group into a more prominent role on campus. Since the money raised will go to the leadership fund, I urge everyone who can, to come attend.

If you can't attend, give. It's important when a college takes steps forward to reward their efforts. More importantly, we must support our youth taking "out" roles on college campuses across the country.

I hope to see you there!

Moving Forward

It’s been a difficult start to the school year for me, which is like saying a root canal can be uncomfortable. September is my beginning, my time of renewal and reflection. I evaluate what I’ve done and lay down what I hope to accomplish.

The years of buying new shoes, pencils and getting all the burdock out of my hair from a summer playing in the woods made this time of year both exciting and painful. I never wanted to give up summer; I spent so much of it at my friend’s house, whose mother wore an apron, baked pies and never raised her voice. We played “Indians” and made our feet tough walking on her stony, unpaved driveway allowing us to walk barefoot anywhere without a sound. I loved the heat, the buzz of the cicadas and the freedom from the bourbon splashed on my mother’s glass filled with ice cubes.

As I grew older, I had other ways to escape- a car, a job, and team sports. School became my haven. The friend next door grew distant and summer was spent in the woods drinking beer, smoking cigarettes with friends by a campfire. School meant structure, places I had to be, and teachers who tried to cajole me into some effort, seeing something in me I did not see in myself.

Always, though, there was Labor Day, the mark of the shift. Feet were stuffed back into shoes, books carried, and work was more than getting cash for gas, beer and ‘butts. It’s ingrained in me, to this day. Once the day has passed, I search for my schedule. I look to my clock and wonder what I will have done before the kids get home.

What will it be worth, if anything.

This fall, I’ve been particularly hard on myself. I feel lost, inefficient and pointless. The kids are back in school, lessons lined up, appointments made, tutors called, laundry done. Yet I find myself looking at the clock thinking of how little it all is.

How small the circles of my world are.

I feel a familiar pang, a pull I’ve felt for the last couple years- I miss my old job. If all I did was to put stamps on an envelope and carry it to the post office, I was still judged by the world as being “employed.”

I could see myself as valuable.

I’ve been struggling with the tangible pros and cons- it was an amazing team of people and we did good work together. We took on the corporate world and it was a challenge to consider all the different angles. It was fun. Energy came from everyone and the burden to be good enough or busy enough fell on the business- not me. If I spent a day being stupid, my boss understood the balance was some days I would be extraordinary.

It was easy. Except when it wasn’t.

Over and over, my head has been full of doubt. I have no career, no focus, no point... It doesn’t matter that I have been writing since I was young. My first mystery series I finished when I was 12, fancying myself a Sam Spade clacking away at the typewriter, wishing to dangle a cigarette from my lip.

Writing is the only thing I've ever done. Writing is the only thing I've ever wanted to do.

Looking in the mirror this fall, I realize I have left the kind of writing that fills me. Writing that comes from my heart, my experience. I left it because I thought it was boring. No one cared. No one wanted to read that drivel.

I stayed focused on politics and current events. I know I can make people laugh, and even when I was miserable, I went for the quick, easy giggle.

As if I was all better. See? The amazing recovery. Nothing ever slides back, no doubt ever creeps in. I’m like the bionic woman- built better, stronger, faster than before.

I started a book this summer. I sat with a pen and paper, in Downeast. Old school. It came out faster, more clear, and deeper than anything I've ever written.

It scared the shit out of me. It made me cry, sending me back to being a little girl, trying to fight out of a corner or hide under the dining room table as my mother threw things at my silent father.

I stopped.

And then I thought my old job was a better idea that my book.

I know it’s not. I need to move forward. I need to be more than what I was. I need to grow. I need to do what is the hardest to do. My old job was not the hardest- it was the easiest.

Going backward is not moving forward.

The job was a normal thing to do. Get up, get dressed and go to work. I wanted to be normal but I'm not normal. I have not ever lived a normal life. Going behind that desk again is giving up. It’s letting my fear rule me.

I’ve done that most my life. I’ve fought hard to be where I am today. I can’t give up. There would be no point to all the places I’ve gone, all the memories, holding all the pain if I give up now.

I wanted to go home again. I wanted to put on the new shoes and walk through a path someone else pointed me down. To be six again, sitting at my mother’s feet in the kitchen, listening to her hum a song.

I was safe there.

I'm going to go to Downeast next week by myself for a few days. Kayak. Go fishing for tankers. Haul wood. Walk with my dog.

And write. If I don't write this book? I will be a failure. In my eyes. It doesn't matter if anyone even reads it.

It’s about telling my truth about scars filled with shame. Holding it as if I deserved it.

As if I asked for it.

It’s about pulling off the tar and feathers and finding something worthwhile underneath. It’s about loving myself not because someone else has beamed down a golden light of acceptance through a narrow break in the thick clouds of judgment but because I value me.

I don't want to die afraid.

And I have to move forward.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Cindy McCain

I watched last night as Cindy McCain spoke. It was a little painful. Mostly because before she spoke they showed a video of her doing some great work in the world around children's issues.

She looked happy, engaged and the hair screamed "lesbian."

Cut to today and she looked tight, miserable and like a woman who had been stripped of her dignity. Maybe that's my projection because I've had someone call me a cunt and it's not anyone I ever want in my life again. She continues to live with a man who degraded her publicly.

I watched her make what felt like a colossal mistake with her adopted daughter- as an adoptee I cringed when she said she picked this baby to help. It makes the world a little less safe when you know you were picked- it means you can be traded back in.

But I respected her passion for helping. I respected her willingness to put her face on issues that meant a great deal to her. I also heard my own mother's voice when she said her father told her to make the world a better place than when she came in it.

I don't wear diamond earrings worth an estimated 280,000 dollars. My favorite designer is... um... The Gap. I haven't had plastic surgery- yet. But I share something with
Cindy, and that's a desire to do good in the world.

It's easy to poke fun at a woman who stands frozen next to her jerk of a husband. She, after all, has all the money and could leave at any time. It's easy to say she's plastic and fake. why else would she be there?

That's not what I saw. I saw a woman who looked miserable and trapped.

For a party trying to capitalize on women's votes, I think the Palin choice missed the mark. She's a joke, at best, with her lack of experience. Cindy McCain, on the other hand, is the Chair of the Board for her father's company. That's not a position that requires moose stew making but rather a complete and thorough understanding of a 300 million dollar a year company since 2000.

Palin? Don't get me started.

Maybe I'm a fool. Maybe it's just the hair that got me. But I think the Republican party missed the mark by putting their hopes in Palin to get women voters.

Overall, though, it was painful. No one can watch Cindy without thinking about the drug scandal. The smear campaign in South Carolina in 2000 by George Bush. The forced smile and the predictable speech written by someone other than herself.

As the commentators remarked on her long presentation, I only could think of someone who had lost so much.

Her passion for doing good.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sick Day

First day back and I have a wicked cold. Or bad allergies. I dunno which but I'm fairly miserable.

sick day for me.

Sarah Palin... well, I'm gonna let Jon Stewart tackle that one:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Last Night of Summer

As I sit here and wait for Sarah Palin to speak, I'm quietly anticipating tomorrow- the first day of school.

It's a parent's delight.

A kid's demise.

The beaches are empty. The last couple days in our town were spent frantically catching up with friends, gathering supplies, and finding pants to fit bodies grown so long in the summer heat.

Tomorrow, we'll all wake up early, rub sleep from our eyes accustomed to opening then closing again, and stumble down the stairs. Hot coffee, cold milk and bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Lunches made, backpacks stuffed, we will begin another year of school.

I can't wait.

It's a new year for me. I have thought long and hard about my book, my work and my world. I'm ready to make a few changes. I'm ready to have the quiet morning to myself again.

The solstice comes mid September, but for my family, summer ends tonight.

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Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin

"political bullshit"

Watch this clip. Off camera, at about the one minute mark, Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and 2000 McCain Campaign Manager Michael Murphy reveal their true feelings on the Palin.

This isn't Democrats laughing, it's old time Republicans talking- when they don't think anyone is listening or being recorded- about the absurdity of this choice.

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What's her Name Again?

or did they pick someone new?

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Not Funny Anymore

Palin slashed 1.1 million dollars- 22% of the budget- from funding that would benefit teen mothers.

Gloves off. This is ridiculous. She supported "abstinence only" sex ed- and that got her to be a grandmother at 44 years old. I'll admit that sex ed does not stop teenagers from having unprotected sex.

What exactly does Palin want for American teens?

Hell ya.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Quite a Day of Republican Blunder News...

Every time my email buzzes- and it's been buzzing all day pretty much non-stop- it's another piece of news about the Republican party.

First off, I have to ask the question, who the hell did the vetting on Sarah Palin? Oh, wait, there was none. McCain spoke to her for 30 minutes and made up his mind. THAT'S the kind of decision making we need in the White House. Gut feelings. Instinct.

Personally, I think they should have hired the "liberal bloggers" who have come up with quite a bit of dirt. Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant- something the Republican "party officials sought to keep... secret."

Um... nice try.
Then there is that speech Palin, made this June "before the Assembly of God, Palin painted the current war in Iraq as a messianic affair in which the United States could act out the will of the Lord." Wait, aren't the religious extremists Al- Qaeda? Aren't they the ones fighting a "holy" war?

Then there is the small problem with her new son in law, Levi Johnston, who seems to be quite a charming, young man. "On his MySpace page, Johnston boasts, "I'm a f - - -in' redneck" who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes.

"But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some s- - - and just f - - -in' chillin' I guess."

"Ya f - - - with me I'll kick [your] ass," he added.

I can only imagine what he would wear to the Inaugural Ball.

Is that all? Oh, no. Please.

Palin's husband was arrested for DUI in 1986. Hey, we all make mistakes. He was young and foolish, no question. But where was the due diligence on this? What kind of campaign is McCain running?

It also seems Palin "was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede." Is that her foreign policy experience? Planning on being in her own country?

My favorite? The leak that Johnny Prozac McCain- who must have been slipping his meds to the family dog- he had a fit over being denied Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge as his running mate by the powers that be. No one had even been to Alaska to ask any questions. They are there now, and I think that's what we call, a day late and a dollar short.

But then, the Republicans are kinda big on being a dollar short. The current administration has landed us in an estimated 9.5 trillion dollars of debt.

Oh, wait, there are the "anarchists" who were arrested for peacefully protesting the RNC yesterday. I never knew Amy Goodman was an anarchist but I guess asking questions and taking pictures is pretty much against the law in this country now.

I bet there is a lot of prayer going on at the convention right now- for another storm to take the spotlight off what is due to go down as the most ridiculous, ill-advised, blunder-filled, campaign in American history.

Wait... I have another 20 emails... I'm sure there is more...

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Amy Goodman Arrested at RNC

Amy Goodman, a long time, well respected journalist was arrested today at the RNC.

From Democracy Now,

"Goodman was arrested while attempting to free two Democracy Now! producers who were being unlawfully detained. They are Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. Kouddous and Salazar were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman's crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press."

A video of the arrest:

Are we all still watching the rain drops in New Orleans?

It's time to get outraged, people.

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Tear Gas and Pepper Spray at RNC Protest

While Gustav hits land and we all hold our collective breath for the city of New Orleans, far away up north, there is another storm brewing.

In St. Paul, Minnesota, the police are using tear gas and pepper spray on anti-war protesters.

It seems while the levees are holding with very mainstream newspaper there to cover ever gust of wind and drop of rain. I'm waiting to see them cover the protests, the police retaliation in St. Paul.

I'll keep looking but so far, it's only the blogs that are covering it.

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Sarah Palin Comes Out: Her Daughter is Pregnant

Sarah Palin just came out and acknowledged her daughter Bristol's pregnancy.

I was wrong. Palin did not fake her pregnancy. I have no idea how she looked like that but she did.

I have to admit, I was not only quick to judge, but quick to jump on the bandwagon that said she had faked a pregnancy to cover up for her daughter. If it were a man running for office, would I have drawn the same conclusions?

Am I being sexist in taking this tact against Palin?

I think so.

Time for pause.