I’ll Wait For Answers Just Dance Me In

Obama Chief of Staff puts a stop to pending Bush regulations

WASHINGTON (CNN)– President Obama has wasted no time handling the Bush administration’s unfinished business.

White House officials tell CNN Obama Chief Staff of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent a memo Tuesday to all agencies and departments of the federal government. The memo halts further consideration of pending regulations throughout the government until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration.

Enough about them; let’s talk about me. This morning, after playing my usual game of How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up? and guessing 7, I sat in the attic on the crooked seat of an ancient rowing machine Pete and his brother have carted around and used since they misspent their youth and found enough pocket change to go drinking with the Vice Principal. In fact, every morning, I sit on this crooked seat and row while watching the news because being physically strong has always been important to me, because I will never have the kind of money gym membership requires and if I did I wouldn’t spend it that way, because I can row, which is above all else political. It is political that I have the ability as a middle-aged, lower middle class white woman to take care of my health, and it is political that athletics shaped my physical form. It is political that I color my hair, wear cosmetics and wear clothing that does not restrict my movement. My hair looks fab, by the way, and that’s political. Everything I eat, everything I do, my artwork, my job, the blog – it’s all shaped by politics. This blog has no ads, and that is a political decision; my ability to pay for this blog is political. I’ll never take a bite of a Domino’s Pizza or set foot in WalMart or Sam’s Club, and those are political decisions. I shop at Costco because Costco treats its employees well, and that’s political. Last week, my delightful compañera Jill was kind enough link to yet another of My Little Meltdowns with this note:

Now, my good friend Tata is usually given to blogging about delicious cooking and fabulous decorating and about her highly colorful family and her Coolest Cats in the Known Universe. But you know that a politically-related story is important when Tata gets her umbrage on, and this one takes the proverbial cake…

Frankly, I’m not that nice a person. I’m nice to Jill because I like her, respect her and know she’s smarter than I am, which I like a whole bunch. Writing about my family is political, writing about food is political, taking in stray animals is political, having shelter, creating a home and even falling in love are all political, and we skip over these points often to get to the funny or the tragic. When I write about the selfishness of movement conservatism, it always corresponds to my own selfishness because I am subject to the same human impulses that make people despots and saints. It must correspond, if I’m any kind of writer. Jill knows all this and she’s too kind to say so: when we met for the first time, Siobhan, Jill and I had lunch and went bra shopping and I said nothing about myself because for more than ten years everyone I met had heard about me – whatever I was, everyone I crossed paths with knew me in an abstract sense. Which is political, of course. Seeing myself through someone else’s eyes is political, and educational, and I have so much to learn.

The other night, Pete and I were making dinner.

Pete: Phil’s daughters just went back to school. The younger one, Ellie, who started college in September got kind of date-raped in her first semester.
Tata: Welcome to the World of Women, my dear.
Pete: She got herself into a situation she couldn’t get herself out of.
Tata: No. That is not at all what happened. She was going along and some shithead raped her. She didn’t do anything. She didn’t get herself into a situation. A rapist freaking raped her. He is responsible for his actions. Did she press charges?
Pete: Yep. He got three months’ probation. Phil’s more upset about it than Ellie is.
Tata: Good for her, because shitheads are literally everywhere.

Every microscopic bit of that is political. We may choose to overlook politcal aspects of our actions and identities but they exist and bear examining. Back to me on the rowing machine: my skin color, my free time, my good health, my control over my body including my uterus, my ability to feed myself nutritious foods, my job, my insurance, my sexuality, my desire to feel strong and take care of myself as an adult, my hope that I will someday retire, these are all the results of other people’s life’s work. I am who I am as a composite image of other people’s struggles, wins and losses, and I cannot really know who they are or were, but I have watched and listened, and I know when people are trying to rewrite, reshape or redraw me in an image more comfortable for uncomfortable them. That is what happened every day for the last eight years, one little rule here and one acre of national park land there, one drowned city over yonder and holes in the safety net everywhere, and let’s not forget the cowardice endemic in the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. It’s all political and it’s all exhausting, but at least for the moment, someone is thinking, and not just about himself.

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