Four Years Later: Indivisible

I can tell you that many, many things have changed in our home in the past four years.

From celebrating the election of President Obama, who I backed earlier in the race than some which got me into a good bit of hot water, to my first visit to the White House.

Yes, the first year of the Obama Administration was a whirlwind for myself and my family.

I had taken on my first full-time  job since having our first child and thrown myself in the same way I throw myself into everything- with all I have. I traveled, I spoke in front of small crowds, large audiences, students, and chatted it up with national news outlets.

My mission was to make sure the world knew that women online were a force. They could not only be the difference in elections but also change the world.

I’d like to think I succeeded in spreading the word and creating opportunities for every woman. The stay at home Mom, the career woman, the childfree, the childfull, the hobby writer, the hard core moneymaking writer, and even the just finding her way blogger.

At home, I would like to think I put just as much effort into my children and into my marriage. Making dinner when I could, making sure everyone was where they needed to be, had what they needed to have in their possession, got done what needed to be done, and was loved ridiculously along the way.

I was exhausted, but happy. It was chaotic, but fun. I looked forward to important conference calls, parent teacher talks, and husband wife romps later on.

And just as my life began to reach the peak of where I had always hoped it would be, everything came crashing down.

Everything.

And now nothing is where is should be. Where it was. Or where I want it to be. Parts of my body are missing. I do not recognize myself in the mirror and when I do, I struggle with what I see.

I try so very hard to keep the normalcy of what once was, only to find I’m the only one still trying. Or at least, the only one who seems to think life can go on just as it was.

Before Lupus.

BL. AL. It’s like Before Christ and After Christ, but without all the miracles.

I now cherish every moment I have with so much more enthusiasm than I thought possible, only to find blank stares from the kids with the typical ‘Mom, stop hugging me so tight’ eyeroll. And that romp in bed is more of a snore induced by drugs and the hope of maybe a kiss before work. Hope being a strong word.

I feel like I am living someone else’s life. Because this certainly is not the life I planned. It’s not the life I had. It’s not the life I want.

But it is, currently, the life I am given.

So I remain grateful that the stroke wasn’t even detected until after, and the rehabilitation was minimal. That I only lost part of my colon, not all of my colon, and I do not have to wear a bag…which certainly would have destroyed any hope I had of a sex life.

I remain grateful not having a gall bladder means I can only have one or two fried pickles instead of a basket full, keeping the 100lbs I have gained from steroids to just 100lbs.

And I will forever pretend I am grateful that the total hysterectomy, which finally rid me of the excruciating pain from the inflammation destroying my uterus and ovaries. I will never have another period and never have to carry tampons or pads or worry about any of that mess ever again. Even if it has destroyed me emotionally in too many ways to count.

I’m grateful my little family has grown closer in many ways, having gone through a tremendous crisis that my kids can now talk to producers on camera about it:

…the worst was when she got sick on Mother’s Day..WHY WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE THAT DAY!!

Now it only reduces me to minor humiliation and minor, inner sobbing.

Just like every single day when everyone finally walks out the door to go about their lives, and if I don’t have to leave for the doctor I sit here wondering what to do with my life…feeling again, only minor humiliation that I no longer am what I was to any of them, yet am something different. Some of which I am proud of, most of which I am not.

As I grow stronger, as we get a handle on this beast, I am getting a handle on me. And she’s pissed off.

I have no one to talk to about this anymore, because frankly no one should have to talk with me all the time about this. They deserve a break and a normal life. So I write here. After so many years- getting sick just after President Obama was elected, and now coming up on the next election, all of this is old old old old old.

And the truth of the matter is I hate it. And while I understand things will not be the same, I want them as close to the same as they can get. And I am fighting so fucking hard to get there. So hard. Too hard maybe.

I know I am the only one who can fight, I just miss doing it with locked arms all around me.  My husband, my mother, my brother, my father- all my biggest supporters have their own lives that must be tended to and they can’t spend four years on me, me, me, and only me. I don’t expect them to. And I do appreciate their support now when it’s given. They remain amazing and there for me. In very different ways now, of course. But they are there. For that I am grateful. So many have lost their family over so much less. I’m trying to remind myself of that as I trudge through.

So four years later I keep getting asked over and over and over again if my life is better than it was four years ago.

I got mail #Obama2012

No. No my life is not ‘better’- but that depends greatly how we are qualifying ‘better.’

It’s ‘better’ in that I am getting healthier. Stronger.

It’s ‘better’ in that our medical bills are becoming more manageable thanks to the Affordable Care Act aka ObamaCare.

It’s ‘better’ in that we did not lose our home due to foreclosure, or even get near foreclosure, because JP Morgan Chase worked with us to modify our mortgage (through HARP and HAMP) and I was finally granted the private disability check that took a chunk out of every paycheck I made with that full-time job I took after the President was elected.

It’s ‘better’ in that my daughter still has Title IX in place to play co-ed, PeeWee basketball, and she can score her very first every basket:

It’s ‘better’ in that the President has backed same-sex marriage, equal pay for women, he has repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he has taken care of Osama bin laden, he has put into place an Auto rescue of Detroit keeping many of my friends and family back in my hometown in jobs.

And, as always, his administration has taken the time to show the compassion to follow my illness and express their concern and thoughts when necessary. For that, I am grateful.

These are good people.

I don’t think any of us are where we thought we would be four years later. My family being probably more surprised than any of you.

But I know there is no way we’re going back. None. Just like I refuse to go back and allow this illness to overcome my mind, body, and soul…I refuse to let the political illness attempting to turn back the clock in this country to overcome our collective mind, body, and soul.

We are Americans and we do not give up. We have a strong family here in my home and we certainly do not give up.

I refuse to allow setbacks, and seeing that brink of the abyss, to scare me into thinking turning around is the right answer. I know nothing could be further from the truth.

I also know the hearts of all those involved. From my family, to my friends, to those working for me and you in the White House. And I know how hard *I* fight.

There is too much fight in me left to allow how far we have come to slip away with fast talking, slick, typical frat boys trying to sell me an easy fix.

There is no easy fix to Lupus, and as the President has said from day one, there is no easy fix to the mess we’re in. We will have to continue to work hard and continue to work together.

I know it is a lot to ask of anyone. We are all tired.

I’m willing to go this alone and shoulder it all for myself and for you and yours. But I ask that you join me, because we are so much stronger together. We are so much stronger when we work as a team.

We are so much stronger united.

…indivisible. Through sickness and in health. With liberty and justice…

…for all.

When A White Boy Wears A Hoodie

Hoodie
My son wears a hoodie every single day to school. He covers his head faithfully and rarely hears friends say hello as we walk inside or adults saying good morning as he tends to be lost in his own world, muffled by the hoodie around his ears.

My son would do anything for his little sister and happily get her candy. He would even question any adult questioning him for no reason- as we have taught him to stand up for himself, speak out for what is right, and question authority. He would run from strangers. He would feel safe with a police officer.

I think.

My son, however, can do all of these things without fear. He is white. He ‘belongs’ in that suburb. He looks like every other white kid in the area and a ‘neighborhood watch captain’ would easily dismiss his walking down the street as a normal, every day occurrence. As would a police officer. As would the community.

As a white mother to a white son, I’ve never had to explain to him what he should and should not do when confronted by police. I’ve never had to talk with him about how the world views him or prayed he wouldn’t be next.

Yet we live in a world where people deny racial issues still exist. They do not even understand white privilege. They actively cry ‘reverse racism’ as if they are the victim. They even have the nerve to call those who fight for racial equality ‘race baiters,’  ‘racers’ and have attempted to spin and twist and re-write history as if THEY have lost out because Americans owned slaves and those slaves were oppressed for generations, after which they were then oppressed under Jim Crow and then under the institutionalized racism that continues to permeate our culture today.

Yet these NON ‘of color’ victims’ have started a very dangerous trend, a very risky trend, a very uninformed and downright stupid trend that has them looking like very scared white folk, realizing their hold over the majority-and power-is slipping.

You see, as ‘one of you’ I get to hear all about it from family and friends and neighbors and others who seem to think that just because I am white I ‘understand’ what they mean when they say ‘our neighborhood is changing’ and ‘that school has too many kids who don’t speak like our kids’ or ‘you know the high school only recruited him because he can play ball.’

Then there are the comments on blogs and national media calling the NAACP racist, the United Negro College Fund racist, and those who support our President racist because we have the nerve to notice these overwhelmingly white people are angry and saying things and doing things they would NEVER do if the man occupying the oval office were caucasian.

They say all these things while innocent children, carrying candy in a suburb, are shot for walking down the street while black. As Jackie Summers writes,

“This isn’t some fresh new hell; it’s torn open old wounds most would prefer to believe have healed.

The concept that you are suspicious.
The concept that you have to justify where you are and what you’re doing.
The concept that there are people who are so afraid of you, they feel they’re protecting themselves and others, by killing you, even if you’re unarmed.
The concept that those charged with law can show up, knowing exactly what happened, and choose not to uphold it.
The concept that it requires a national outrage to incite justice.
The concept that there are those who would vociferously defend the murderer out of one corner of their mouths, and accuse the murdered from the other.

For no other reason than the color of your skin.”

Yet if you were to read a Right Wing blog today, you would think THEY were the victim or horrible racial attacks. The last I checked, white children like mine, even in hoodies, even walking in a suburb with candy, were not being shot for walking while white.

It is far from time for the white, right-wing to drop this act of victimhood in the American stories of racial inequality. It is embarrassing. It is ignorant. It is offensive.

Trayvon is not the first black child to die, he will not be the last. We owe it to every child to move the discussion on race FORWARD. Forward means NOT back to eras that have long past and have long ago put an indelible mark of hatred and evil on our nation that some on the right seem to think have been made up for, erased, or should be at the very least whitewashed, refusing to feel guilt for something they had nothing to do with. I don’t feel guilt as a white liberal, I feel anger. I feel anger that some conservatives say they see no color, claim to operate on an even playing field, and refuse to even discuss racial implications in any debate for fear they will have to be honest with themselves, our history, and the glaringly obvious fact we have NOT come as far as we would like to think.

We owe it to children of color to know the world MY children have grown up knowing. Where they don’t need to be told that they have to make allowances for other people’s racism because …’That’s part of the burden of being black. We can be defiant and dead or smart and alive.”

It is time to change the conversation, and it starts with the adults. I have no right to send my son to school tomorrow morning in his hoodie without fear, when so many other mothers will be sending their sons off wondering if they will ever come home.

 

Dear Senator Hillary Clinton, Please Step Down (the re-post)

 It seemed only appropriate that on the day where Senator Obama may get all the delegates he needs to end this primary race, I reiterate my call to Senator Clinton.

A  lot has changed since I wrote this post on February 12, 2008. I no longer have the respect for the Senator I once did. I no longer trust her campaign or her motives. My first inkling was way back when she swore she wasn’t running for office, or for the senate, or for president. And those Clinton haters wouldn’t buy it for a second. Here we are in 2008 and she’s a Senator from New York and a presidential hopeful.

Fool me once.

I’ve seen sexism played out against her, and I’ve seen her use it to her advantage. The Clinton campaign has denied gender is an issue and played the victim of misogyny on the same day, out-loud, in the media.

I have even watched her use the GOP fear-tactics we all have rallied against in the current administration.

Yet time and time again I’ve wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Time and time again, with my anger boiling over, I’ve conceded that she’s tough and brilliant.

She is not the candidate I thought I knew when this race began, and if Senator Clinton cares at all about winning back my respect or at the very least making sure there is a Democrat in the White House-she will finally, and with  all the humility she can muster, step down.

I do not believe she has the ‘popular vote’ because she is not counting caucus voters.

I do not believe she can sway any remaining superdelegates without having them turn on the voters they represent.

I do not believe she deserves the full seating of MI and FL at the convention. I am not arguing what the states deserve. I am arguing what her campaign deserves. And we all know Clinton flip-flopped on those states when it was clear she needed them to win. Normally one would call that ‘dirty campaign tricks’ and by far something done far and wide by politicians.  I’m over the far and wide way politicians do things and how we, far and wide, just accept it as normal.

This post was written months ago with emotion and conflict. It was written in the heat of the moment, while speeches played on the tv in front of me.

Instead of yelling. Instead of getting really angry again. Instead of using hate, I am simply going to re-post.

You can find the original post and it’s comments here.

This is a very hard letter for me to write, so please bear with me.

I’d like to ask you, with all due respect and humility, to step down as a Democratic Candidate for President of the United States.

Please understand this is not because I believe you can not or should not lead this nation. Please understand that I find you qualified, capable, and worthy. Please also understand I want nothing more than to see a female as the leader of the free world. I would be pleased and honored if you were that female.

However I am finding, right or wrong, many citizens of this country seem to react to you on an emotional level. Emotional, not practical. They can’t seem to see your record. They can’t seem to see your policy. They just hear or read “Hillary” and venom or praise spews.

I thought that with your candidacy, would come reason. I thought that you would be able to get a fair shake by main stream media, by voters, by sexists, and by soccer moms. I thought over time people would begin to see that you really are an effective politician.

I was wrong.

Tonight, I’m typing as I watch you speak in El Paso, Texas. I’m sad. There really is no other way to put it-I’m sad.

I truly believed you would be the best person for the job, and I had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that is now at the forefront. The thought that drove me on Super Tuesday to Vote for Senator Obama and the thought that is the driving force as I write tonight: Senator Hillary Clinton divides this country.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. And under just about ANY other circumstance I would go to the mat for you. However we are a wounded and deeply divided nation. We are a nation at war. We are a nation at odds with each-other. It’s ugly. I thought you could get people past it. I really did.

When I told myself it was gender that got people going, I refrained from asking and wanting you to step aside. Simply on principle, I wanted to see you run and win because they said it couldn’t be done. Because it was my belief, this was all about being a girl.

It’s not, and I was wrong.

I firmly believe while the gender issue has given you a handicap I hope we all one day overcome, it is NOT the reason people have a gut reaction to you or your campaign or your legacy.

Enter the Senator from Illinois, and what I think could be your true legacy. If you were to step aside now, shockingly early and shockingly un-Hilllary-like, you could galvanize an entire nation behind your party. If you were to throw your weight, and your tremendous political clout behind Senator Obama you could still change the world and make your mark in a way no one would expect and everyone would admire.

I don’t want to see you throw in the towel because the fight is too hard or the mountain too tall. I am asking you to throw it in because history is on the line. It is not the history either of us expected, however it is an equally important, momentous, earthshaking change in this country we sorely need.

Do something no one would ever expect. Do something extraordinary. Do something that changes politics as usual and changes history.

I could have never predicted having to chose between what my husband called “the lesser of two goods, not the lesser of two evils” when it came time to cast my vote.

It was agonizing.

But in the end, with no major policy difference and valid reasons on BOTH sides, I had to go with the candidate who I thought could best bring our nation back together. Who could cross party lines and gender lines and racial lines.

I wanted it to be you, but it’s not. For some reason you still get people very riled up, and not in the good way.

There is no way around it-it sucks. But after 7 years of nothing but fighting and head shaking and feeling like we’re living in two Americas, I can’t do it again. Not even if my team is in office.

I really hate asking you to do this, but I want you to please step down and let this nation heal.

We’ve been too angry for too long and your history and your name brings a suitcase of anger to the White House front door.

With the full weight of the Clinton name, behind the scenes, your true legacy could be written. With the full weight of the Clinton know-how you could help orchestrate the next chapter in American history where an African-American leads our nation.

It is this time in history your nation needs you.

As nation’s go, ours has never been one to do things the way we predict. Who could have seen when we finally get our first, legitimate, female front runner we’d see our first, legitimate front runner of color?

Our nation and it’s people need you to do what is best for this country. We need you to be true to what you say on the stump and bring us back together.

If you firmly believe that there is still time for you to change the hearts and minds of those rude and stubborn Americans who are voting with their gut when they see “Hillary” on the ballot-then please, prove me wrong. I’ll be at the Democratic National Convention come August and I’ll hold up my Hillary sign loud and proud and fall in line.

But I think you’ve tried. You tried with everything you had to overcome that Clinton-emotional reaction. Here we are, moving into Texas and Ohio and Pennsylvania-and it’s not you winning over hearts and minds, it’s the Senator from Illinois.

Let’s end the division in this country now. Right now. Let’s start with the Democratic Party early and provide a united front against the GOP months ahead of schedule.

Let’s take back this country for the people, with you playing a much different role than you envisioned.

Make history. Make us one. Step down now.

Sincerely,

Erin Kotecki Vest

voter, mother, woman, feminist, writer, dreamer, and Hillary fan

Are You Reading This On BlogNetNews.com?

*updated at 1150ampst with new email from ‘Dave’ at bottom. My site has been removed-has yours?

If so, find a way to click back to MY blog and be very aware they have syndicated this content without my consent.

MANY of you are being syndicated. If so, take action now-Email editor@blognetnews.com and tell him to REMOVE YOUR FEED IMMEDIATELY, and feel free to mention I sent ya.

Here is the email exchange with ‘Dave’ and I-

From: Erin Kotecki VEST <queenofspainblog@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 6:15 PM
To: editor@blognetnews.com, queenmediallc@gmail.com, Aaron <aaronvest@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Something new for parenting bloggers

Hi my name is Erin Kotecki Vest, owner of Queen of Spain blog.

I’m concerned about what appears to be my site’s feed streaming into BlogNetNews. It is a)taking away traffic from me and b)not sending anyone back to my page. I see no links back to my blog. I have no indication of any hits from your service. I also am not sure I recall opting-in, although I see the last correspondence I have from you is dated 2006.

I’m going to have to ask you remove Queen of Spain Blog’s feed immediately.

Erin Kotecki Vest

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 21:57:45 -0400
Subject: Re: Something new for parenting bloggers
From: “David Mastio” <editor@blognetnews.com> Add Mobile Alert
To: queenofspainblog@yahoo.com
CC:  

We certainly aren’t taking traffic away from you. Click on any headline or the “…” after the excerpts of your posts and you will appear on your site. (compare that to trying to get to a blog when it appears in a section front of technorati (here for instance: http://www.technorati.com/entertainment/celebrity/ )

You can find an archive of what posts are getting the most clicks here: http://www.blognetnews.com/parenting/most-clicked_archive.php

I don’t know whether any of yours appear there. Anyway, there is no place on our site where anyone can read your whole posts, people always have to click thru.

I’ll remove you from the site when I reopen the database in the morning, but I hope you’ll reconsider.

Best,
Dave Mastio

BlogNetNews.com
We Serve Blogging

Remember to visit our advertisers

Date: Tue, 25 Mar 2008 19:21:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Erin Kotecki VEST” <queenofspainblog@yahoo.com> Add to Address BookAdd to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
Subject: Re: Something new for parenting bloggers
To: editor@blognetnews.com

Your click thru is frames, correct? Or your re-direct.link has something going on?

You’ve essentially syndicated my content. I am not being paid for this syndication. I am not being compensated for this syndication. There are others upset as well. We work hard to protect our brands and keep readers on our own sites, not yours. If you were writing an article on parenting and linking to me occasionally, that’s one thing. But instead you’ve syndicated my feed and used loop holes to abuse my community. Even some indexing sites have the courtesy to only use headlines in order to be genuine in their want to drive traffic out.

You are exploiting, plain and simple. You are not part of our community, you are simply here to capitalize on this community.

Expect emails from about everyone else on your blogroll in the parenting and politics communities.

I appreciate your quick response and thank you in advance for removing my feed and the feed of everyone else who asks.

I hope that if your business is sincere you extend an olive branch to the communities you are pillaging.

Erin Kotecki Vest
http://queenofspainblog.com
http://blogher.com
http://huffingtonpost.com
@queenofspain on twitter
http://photrade.com

Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2008 10:04:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Something new for parenting bloggers
From: “David Mastio” <editor@blognetnews.com>  Add Mobile Alert
To: queenofspainblog@yahoo.com
CC:  

We do not do frames and I’ve just been on the site, the redirect is working just fine.

If you can tell me what browser and os you’re using, I’ll ask our programmer to check if there is a compatability issue.

If you can forward to me the email you recieved or the URL to the site you saw that gave you the idea we are exploiting anyone. I can give you many examples of how BNN is far more blog friendly than lots of other sites that are out there.

You’ll be removed shortly.

Best,
Dave Mastio

BlogNetNews.com
We Serve Blogging

Remember to visit our advertisers

So You Want To Talk To Mommybloggers…

I assume by now you’ve seen the bruhahaha? Yes? No?

Go look, I’ll wait.

Back?

So basically there are these big ‘ol corporations who are just salivating to get their money grubbing claws into women online. Oh, wait, I take that back-they are ignoring those of you who are childless, of color, breastfeeding, in need of childcare, lesbian, or anything other than Christian. Which leaves us with what-White. Straight. Jesus-Loving. Breeders.

White, straight, Jesus-loving breeders online are a big fucking deal. Apparently we’re the only ones who can communicate a message and influence other white, straight, Jesus Loving breeders to buy! buy! buy! buy! At least that’s the message I’m getting, you?

It’s a damn shame these companies, marketers, PR flacks and social media opportunists don’t actually READ the blogs of the Moms they target. They would learn an awful lot in a very short period of time if they did.

They would learn you might not want to ask the Mom with the newborn to ditch the baby and screw that whole breastfeeding thing to come try their products for a weekend. They would learn you might not want to ask the Jewish Mom to come celebrate Easter or say, attend an event during Passover.

Oy Vey is right.

But really, more than anything else, they would learn we have voices and our voices equal power. We can praise your product across the globe and make our friends buy it…OR we can trash it and ruin your reputation. It means we are…wait for it…real people. I know you marketing types are used to us just being a ‘number’ or a ‘demo’ but much like everything else in this world, real people can make a difference.

With that said, a little birdie I know was kind enough to give me a peak at the eMarketer Moms Online study. Want to hear my favorite part?

“It is important to be upfront. Tell mothers what you are doing and
that you value their opinion. Reward them with something
tangible. Use word-of-mouth and blog monitoring techniques to
track where mothers are discussing your brand and enlist their
help in promoting it.
Speak to mothers as more than just mothers. In a study of mothers
by Draft Worldwide, 34% said they are often offended by the way
that they are portrayed in advertising. More than 68% said they
would like to be spoken to as more than just a mother and 55%
said they would react more positively if marketers spoke to them
as a multi-dimensional woman, not just a mother.
For web sites aimed at mothers a sea change is under way.There
is still plenty of traction in sites such as BabyCenter, iVillage and
the online destinations linked to parenting magazines. However, a
business model based on published content from experts and
professional writers will be threatened by a new crop of sites built
from content that mothers supply themselves.

That emphasis up there is MINE. All mine. What did we all learn from this? (this is the part where all you PR/marketing types needs to sit up straight and pay attention): Do it how we want or we will do it ourselves.

That means you need to get touchy, feely and join our community and get to know us. I know, sucks for you huh. You have to engage us. You have to even learn to trust us, but more than that you have to make us trust you. And you’re not going to gain our trust if all we are to you is a statistic.

Scary proposition when a few tiny tweets the other day launched this discussion into overdrive.

Another important point that I alluded to above: Women control $.83 of every household dollar. That does not, necessarily, mean a household with children. You assumed it did, right?

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself here, how can I let my big corporation even think about talking to these incredibly influential, LOUD women? Easy (no, really it is) be human and use your brain. If you’re talking to Moms, understand they HAVE CHILDREN that need to be taken care of. If you want their time, their thoughts, their blog love-either pay for it or show them some good faith.

I’m not kidding.

We’re getting pitched all over the place. Just today Plain Jane Mom was telling me a story on Twitter:

I got an email asking me to join some sort of panel where they’d send me stuff to review every couple of weeks. I checked it out and the first thing I was presented with was a looong questionnaire full of things like ‘why do you think ….. you’d be a good fit for this panel? Tell us 5 ways you would work this panel into your life.’ And so on. Seriously? Ask me to be in this group, and then expect me to spend an hour telling you why you should ‘let’ me in? All for the privilege of giving you nearly free publicity on your new baby bibs? Fuck that.”

Fuck that, indeed.

I can’t speak for how these companies go about formulating these strategies to court bloggers, what I can tell you is what has worked for me, personally.

Recently I needed a new laptop and asked my friends via Twitter what I should get. Within a few hours I was speaking directly with Richard from Dell. He never pressured a sale, just asked me what I was looking for and made a few recommendations. He and his colleagues took the time to get to know me. And guess what? We had all been talking about other things like politics and conferences and parenting well before I needed a computer. They were already part of my community. People support their friends, their communities, be they actual or virtual. When I finally opened my wallet, you bet your ass I bought a Dell.

Customer service is not dead, in fact it’s key in this social media space. YOU need to be that friendly shopkeeper from back in the day who knows every customer’s husband and kids’ names and keeps a little something special behind the counter because she mentioned she likes pink accessories. THAT is what wins in social media today. THAT is what will have me yelling “I BOUGHT A DELL’ to the entire world. And hey-I PAID THEM FOR IT and they didn’t have to pay me anything to say it. Funny how that works, huh? Keep in mind it wasn’t all pretty either. I had shipping issues and Vista issues but the entire time the Dell Social Media guys and gals were around, helping, checking in, emailing, making calls. I talked about all of it in public and so did they. TRANSPARENCY.

Another company getting it right-Graco. I’ve chatting with Lindsay on Twitter, watched as they crafted a MOMblog that actually is written by Moms about things Moms write about. It’s not just product discussion. I’m thrilled to say the Graco blog, it’s bloggers, and the other people involved in the effort are part of our community. That’s right, they did it-we gave them the secret handshake and everything. Why? They’ve engaged bloggers in conversations, events, and they kept it REAL.

I really don’t think any of this is rocket science. I have no idea why many of you have turned it into rocket science. I can tell you, however, we’re happy to teach you more-but if there is one thing you’ve taught us is that we’re valuable. So if you want more, feel free to contact us about our consulting day rates.

What can I say-you started it.

I Want My Bra Back, Bitch

I’ve single handedly killed the women’s movement.

Sweet.

Mind you, it’s the women’s movement from the 60’s. The one that seems to assume anyone who doesn’t like a woman does not like her based on her vagina.

NEWSFLASH: People do not like Hillary Clinton for a variety of reasons-99.9% of them have nothing to do with her vagina.

It’s not some grand scheme by the patriarchy to make us think it’s not about her vagina. It is really, and truly, not about her vagina. And the current crop of females are really and truly not that easily fooled.

When you talk to the anti-Hillary crowd they say a number of things from “I hate her husband” or “I hate that she stayed with her cheating husband” or “I hate the way she voted on Iraq” or even “I hate the Clinton name” or “I hate the idea of Universal Health Care” OR they even say “I just really don’t like her at all.”

It is the last one that the old school feminist crowd is SURE means: “because she’s a tough broad and we hate tough broads.” Or they like to tell us it’s because we’ve been conditioned to think a strong woman is a bitch and should be hated.

I feel the need to list strong women that are generally loved by society right now, but I will resist the urge.

There are also women who are actually HATED because they are women.

Senator Clinton does not fall into either of those categories. She does not garner that “we hate hillary” happy fun time chant based on her gender. It would be so much easier if she did. Then we could all jump up and scream SEXIST! You men try and keep us down and you can suck it! …Or something.

Personally I am ok with Senator Clinton as a politician, she plays the game, she schemes, she gets shit done, she makes behind-closed-door-deals, she even launches negative ad campaigns and speaks in half-truths.

Senator Barack Obama plays this game as well. He does it as well or better than she does and THAT is why I’m voting for him. Despite his race (sarcasm) he seems to avoid the hate Senator Clinton does. Now, go ahead and fight over the race/gender issue but I really believe it’s all about personality.

The African-American candidate does not seem to be having issues winning over voters. The female candidate does.

A + B = sexism for the old school.

A + B =less than dynamic candidate for the new school.

If Senator Clinton could be a better public speaker maybe this wouldn’t be a problem. If Senator Clinton was named Senator Hillary Smith maybe this wouldn’t be a problem. But the default position that it’s all about her vagina is weak.

You see, we new school feminists don’t look too much at that gender thing unless forced. We’re over it because what is left of the patriarchy we tend to crush here and there when we feel like it or are bored with mommyblogging.

I refuse to vote for Senator Hillary Clinton simply because she has a vagina. And I refuse to be guilted into voting for her when there is an equally qualified and viable candidate, from my party, on the ticket.

I am not going to sit around and let people accuse ME of being a bad feminist. The problem is the majority of women under the delusion that my letter to Senator Clinton was for her to bow out due to pressures from the patriarchy are feminists still fighting the old fight. The one where women were not in the board room. The one where you were conditioned to stay-at-home with your offspring and have no life of your own.

I have choices. While I thank those same women for fighting to give me these choices, I loathe them for finding me ill educated enough to make a choice on my own and without their advice.

Is there still sexism? You bet. Are there still battles to be fought? Of course.

But speaking as the woman with two books by Senator Clinton on my nightstand, a signed letter by then First-Lady Clinton framed, and who genuinely thinks she has the ability to be President…this is not about gender. This is about the right person for the job.

Clinton divides. Obama unites.

The end.

I encourage all women to leave a link to their post on the subject. I know Mrs. Flinger already has her post rocking the Mom-o-sphere. Tell me, do you vote with your vagina? Do you make every decision in your life based on the patriarchy?

Also…I love bras-they keep the girls lifted. Burn mine and I’ll cut you.

*It’s been brought to my attention with the new design you can’t see the links very well, but if you click on the BRAs you’ll understand the sarcasm, or not. There are some links in the first sentence too. I know, hard to see. Working on it. Rome wasn’t built in a day here people.

Message To YouTube

On behalf of the League of Maternal Justice breastfeeding montage “banned” by YouTube, I give you my Message to the Asshats at YouTube. Apparently they prefer this over letters to the editor, so here goes…

and I’ll have you know I did this quick video despite this from the other day:

and THIS today: (look familiar?)

Yup, different kid, same couch. This one came with bonus hives!

Margaret Mead is on to something

Being an American is exhausting.

I spent the first part of this week in tears. Hanging a yellow ribbon from the tree in our front yard and showing my children the stars on the American flag billowing below the ribbon. Their uncle has gone to war, again.

As I struggled to explain to a 4-year old exactly what a “soldier” does, I thought of all the families involved in this monstrosity of a war, the children left behind, the Iraqi’s lives destroyed. Despite my 100% disagreement with this war and the idiots who started it, I found myself damn proud of our soldiers and their families. Of our stupid, stupid country and its stupid, stupid military.

So as I swelled with pride and wonder for my fellow Americans, imagine my disgust and bewilderment when I had to explain to a Canadian just how FUCKED up our government is when it comes to helping our children. Helping the poor. Helping one another.

It started simply enough, a post about us fat ass North Americans and our lazy, lazy, kids. I tried to explain socioeconomics. I tried to explain the lack of education. I tried to explain why a lard-ass Ogre, who shills for McDonalds, would be our spokesman for combating childhood obesity. I tried to explain that yes, Taco Bell can be found in our public school cafeterias and yes, our produce and healthy foods cost more than the average family can afford. They buy the shit, because the good stuff is more money and hey, it’s got our government’s stamp of approval.

The more I explained the more I shook my head. The more I explained the more embarrassed I became. The more I explained, the more I was moving to Switzerland.

Why does America do this to me? I don’t expect to agree with everything that goes on in the great USofA at every single moment. I also don’t expect to hide my head in shame when I think of the clusterfuck that are these 50 states lately.

Just when I had shaken my redhead so much it hurt, I saw a light. I got an email. I watched something I’ve been involved in since the start head in a new direction. One that made me swell with pride. One that reminded me it’s not about the country. Its not about the borders. Its not about who’s government does what. It’s about what we can do,together. Ladies and gentleman, may I present BlogHer’s ACT.

BlogHers Act

We are excited and honored to announce today, with Elisa, Jory and Lisa, the launch of BlogHers Act, a year-long initiative to harness the incredible power of women online. That would be you.

BlogHers Act will take on two things –

1. Making a difference on a single global cause

2. Identifying the top four issues that women online want the U.S. Presidential candidates to address in order to win our votes in the ‘08 Election.

Imagine the opportunity that’s in all of our hands right now.

All of us know the positive, productive, monumental ACTION of bloggers, especially women bloggers, when rallying around a problem, an issue or an event. Since we started blogging a few years back, we’ve witnessed – and been so lucky to be a part of – countless moments, big and small, when bloggers worked together to make a difference.

Hell yes. Now get off your fat ass you lazy American, Canadian, or um..non-North American and do something.