Little Alyson, angry no more?

Where's Mr. Smith when you need him?

There’s a song I used to listen to a lot and that I related to differently than I relate to it today. It’s Billy Joel’s, Angry Young Man. In those days, I related to this part:

There’s a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working-class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl
He’s always at home with his back to the wall
And he’s proud of his scars and the battles he’s lost
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross
And he likes to be known as the angry young man

After decades of working in politics, a lot of my views have changed. I remain the same (or close to it) ideologically as I was back then but I have softened in a lot of ways. I have never had a political litmus test for friends but I have learned (the hard way) that some of my friends do.

Today, these lyrics resonate more:

I believe I’ve passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
I had my pointless point of view
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right

I still work and fight for the causes I care about (genocide prevention, voting rights, healthcare reform, gun control, …) but I also see the value of having friends who both share my views and hearing from people who disagree with me. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber.

You don’t have to be angry to make a difference. Even if it is a small difference.

To recap my career, I have spent most of it working on campaigns, for the government, nonprofits, or the United Nations. When I could make a difference, I took the opportunity. A great example is my proudest moment.

In 2007, I worked for Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was up for reauthorization. I opposed that. The Legislative Director in the office thought our boss should vote for it because it would look bad politically. As he was a former Admiral in the Navy, I thought he could do the right thing and not have an issue. I texted him the Benjamin Franklin quote (or a version of it), “Those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither.” When he said it on the House floor, I felt like I made a difference. He voted no but it still passed. When I left work that day, after 18 hours, I felt I had fought the good fight.

Example two: When I was an intern in the White House in 1993, I was in the correspondence department and they were sending out letters from Hillary Rodham Clinton from “Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton.” I was horrified. I was actually assigned to the Media Affairs Office but was down there because there were more computers.

The person who got me into the Media Affairs Office told me to “keep quiet.” I didn’t listen. I asked if the First Lady’s Office had been notified and it hadn’t been. That’s just the way they always did things. I cannot say for sure that this is why this policy changed but I never saw that again. This may not seem like a life changing difference I may have made but I think it means the way women are thought of at the White House is a little different because of me.

These aren’t monumental changes that I caused. Nor will they win me any prizes or awards. They are just examples of when I stood up when I was told to sit down.

I am proud of the work I did as an advance person. The letters and cards I got after events I helped put on thanking me for my hard work make me think that maybe people stayed active in politics after I left. The people with whom I remain friends after I left the housing nonprofit make me think that I made their lives a little better.

Today, I support President Joe Biden and am grateful he beat Trump. As a progressive, my patience is not endless but he did say he needed a year to fulfil his promises. I will give him that. I am heartened by the Squad members who are fighting the centrists to get that $3.5 trillion bill passed. If they back down or Biden does not come through with most of his promises by January 20, 2022, I will have a different view. Nothing happens in Washington quickly.

Recently, a friend whom I have known decades has stopped talking to me over politics. This person and I are actually on the same side of a lot off issues but they think I am a shill for the establishment. That makes me sad because I hope I am not that. It also makes me sad because we had reconnected a few years ago and have very similar senses of humor. I can also relate to the anger this person feels at the government right now. I was in that boat back in the 90s. That’s when I wrote this. It’s all about how disappointed I was in the Clinton Administration and Congress for doing nothing in Bosnia and health care reform failed (and we had a bigger majority on both sides of Capitol Hill). Back then I was desperately hoping the Democrats would “grow a pair.”

I am still waiting for that to happen but I refuse to let the “perfect be the enemy of the good.”

The title of this post is a play on the title of a movie about Gloria Vandebilt’s childhood. It was called, “Little Gloria, happy at last.”

Abortion is never a simple decision

abortion is never a simple decision

Politically, I think the anti-abortion law in Texas will be good for abortion rights. You can read my thoughts here. If you think this opinion is new for me, you can check out this piece from 2013. Or you can read this.

I didn’t write this post. I copied and pasted it from a friend’s Facebook page. I think the message is too important to not share with everyone, everywhere.

Trisha Ingle

No one is “pro-“ abortion. Copied this from my friend Jacquelyn’s page: I’ve literally been waking up in the middle of the night with stress dreams about what’s happening to Roe v Wade in this country and the women in Texas and in Mississippi who had their access so viciously limited…this speaks to a lot of my concerns.

Abortion, and the reasons for it, are not simple, nor are they black and white. I’m not pro-aborting fetuses.

I’m pro-Becky who found out at her 20-week anatomy scan that the infant she had been so excited to bring into this world had developed without life-sustaining organs.

I’m pro-Susan who was sexually assaulted on her way home from work, only to come to the horrific realization that her assailant planted his seed in her when she got a positive pregnancy test result a month later.

I’m pro-Theresa who hemorrhaged due to a placental abruption, causing her parents, spouse, and children to have to make the impossible decision on whether to save her or her unborn child.

I’m pro-little Cathy who had her innocence ripped away from her by someone she should have been able to trust and her 11-year-old body isn’t mature enough to bear the consequence of that betrayal.

I’m pro-Melissa who’s working two jobs just to make ends meet and has to choose between bringing another child into poverty or feeding the children she already has because her spouse walked out on her.

I’m pro-Brittany who realizes that she is in no way financially, emotionally, or physically able to raise a child.

I’m pro-Emily who went through IVF, ending up with SIX viable implanted eggs requiring a selective reduction in order to ensure the safety of her and a SAFE amount of fetuses.

I’m pro-Jessica who is FINALLY getting the strength to get away from her physically abusive spouse only to find out that she is carrying the monster’s child.

I’m pro-Vanessa who went into her confirmation appointment after YEARS of trying to conceive only to hear silence where there should be a heartbeat

I’m pro-Lindsay who lost her virginity in her sophomore year with a broken condom and now has to choose whether to be a teenage mom or just a teenager.

I’m pro-Courtney who just found out she’s already 13 weeks along, but the egg never made it out of her fallopian tube so either she terminates the pregnancy or risks dying from internal bleeding.

You can argue and say that I’m pro-choice all you want, but the truth is: I’m pro-life. Their lives. Women’s lives. You don’t get to pick and choose which scenarios should be accepted. It’s not about which stories you don’t agree with. It’s about fighting for the women in the stories that you do agree with and the CHOICE that was made. Women’s rights are meant to protect ALL women, regardless of their situation!#roevwade#prochoice#abortion#women#womensrights#mybody#mychoice#mybodymychoice#prochoiceisprolife#mindyouruterus

❤COPIED & PASTED – you can, too!

From Facebook

If you are interested in more of my thoughts on abortion, you may like this.

Random thoughts on a windy day

That’s my friend, James Thompson. I met him when I was living in Gainesville, Florida. Yesterday, I learned that he killed himself earlier in the week. Just before I read about this tragedy, Harvey Ward posted on Facebook about men and suicide. This is unbelievably sad. I wish I could have done something. It felt so random to read of his passing.

This is what Jeremiah Tattersall told the Gainesville Sun:

“He was a very, very kind man. There are very few things that happened progressively in Alachua County that didn’t at least have his fingerprints, often behind the scenes,” Tattersall said. “It was always great to talk with him. We would start talking about something small, like the school board and the unions, for maybe 20 minutes and then talk another two hours about art, life, children, friends. It was also like that with him.”

James also wrote this piece in the Iguana.

It’s hard to think that James was suffering. I am comforted by the fact that he was surrounded by people who did care about him. That might seem strange, given how things turned out but it goes to show how little we know about what’s happening with the people around us. I can be in a crowd of people and feel totally alone.

I also understand, more than I would like, the thought process he may have been experiencing. I have struggled with depression and anxiety and have had thought that I am not going to explain now. I just hope if anyone reading this ever feels they aren’t worth much (as I have felt) or that they need help, I am always here.

This has actually been a tough week for me. Not so much emotionally but physically. I went in for an upper endoscopy (EGD) on Monday and while the procedure itself went fine, it takes about ten to 15 minutes, the experience was harrowing. It felt random the way I experienced this test, which I had had before.

The problem, as it always is, was getting the IV in. I always tell the nurses that I am a “hard stick.” Do they listen or believe me? Of course not! They were all, “we do this every day, all day.” It seemed a nurse got one in but it didn’t work. It took an anesthesiologist about 45 minutes and an ultrasound machine to get the job done and I am back to looking like a domestic violence victim or heroin addict.

I am not looking for sympathy here when I write this, it helps me to get this out of my system, but I experienced something I never have before. Lying on the stretcher, with the medical people trying to get an IV in, I felt more scared and vulnerable than I ever had before. One nurse kept poking and prodding and saying, “If that doesn’t work, I’ll go here!”

No, no you won’t. They tried my foot (hurts a lot). They tried my hands (never happening again). The doctor who finally got the IV told me to never let the nursing staff try and to just ask for an ultrasound.

I am lucky. I have good insurance and access to decent care but that was scary.

I had a city adventure on Tuesday

Fresh off my EGD on Monday, I went into the city on Tuesday

But there’s good news! I have lots of comedy shows coming up!

  • Thursday, September 16 @ 8 pm EDT. Zoom show. This is a fundraiser for the International Campaign for the Rohingya, the parent organization for the Campaign for a New Myanmar. You can get tickets here.
  • Saturdau, September 18 @ 8:30 pm. Coasters in East Meadow. Come on down!
  • Wednesday, September 29 @ 8 pm. The Broadway Comedy Club in NYC. Tix are normally $22 but give the guy my name and your ticket will be $11.
  • Friday, October 1 @ 9 pm. Contest show at Clyde’s in Mt. Sinai. This place used to be Barton’s Place.
  • Friday October 8 @ 8pm. Vagisilly at Coasters in East Meadow.

Did you see this?

My birthday was a few weeks ago and there is still time to donate to my fundraiser for the International Campaign for the Rohingya. You can learn more about that here.

We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.

Birthday Selfie

For some reason, a post on birthday needs to start with that thought from the immortal Hunter s. Thompson. The only other quote I can think of right now that sums things up comes from Keanu Reeves in River’s Edge.

You just come around here to eat our food and fuck our mother. You motherfucker. You food eater.

Hey, this seems like a lot of self-indulgent drivel! It is! It’s my birthday and I am going to indulge in some drivel.

Yesterday, I went around my neighborhood and passed out invitations to my birthday get-together and comedy show. At the end of my block, I talked to my neighbor, Peggy. Peggy has lived on Arbutus Lane for a very long time. She knew my grandmother, Judy. She knew me when I was a kid. I babysat her kids when I was in high school. When I bleached my hair at the same time, it turned green from swimming in her pool.

Since I got back, I have been back in touch with people I have known most of my life. One friend I met when I was three. Another friend came to see me perform at the Broadway Comedy Club. I met her when I was in the first grade.

As I get messages from people on FB from all parts of my life, one story popped out.

I once went to Mexico City to work for President Clinton. We had an event on Cinco de Mayo at the National Palace. We tried to get there by car but the traffic was too bad. We tried to get there by subway but the stops around the National Palace were closed (because of the event we were working on). Being intrepid advance staff, we hopped in rickshaws. At the time, the White House didn’t issue advance staff any kind of ID proving who we were and what we were doing. The security was dubious that the four people getting out of rickshaws in business suits worked for the White House but we talked our way in.

Or there’s the time my boyfriend and I got into a raft boat and hit the West Meadow creek and got swept out into the Long Island Sound only to require rescuing by the Coast Guard. It was midterm season in college and he was sure we were going to die.

Or there’s the time when I was in the Himalayas and we were trekking back and it started to now. We hadn’t seen a soul in hours and came to a corner of the path where we had to climb over a bolder and one bad move would have spelled the end. I did not sign up for this.

Or the time I moved in with my friend Arielle (high school). She played the soundtrack to Rocky Horror Picture Show so many times (over and over and over and over), her father begged me to put something, anything different.

Since your mother cast her spell
Every kiss has left a bruise
You’ve been raiding too much meaning from existence
Now your head is used and sore
And the forecast is for more

Memories falling, like falling rain
Falling rain

James

Like the kids in IT, I had forgotten about my childhood home until I got back here. Since then, it has been like a strange journey through the strange journey I have already taken. It’s all good.

While I was born in San Francisco, this feels like where my life started. So now, I am back where I always expected to end up. I have a few grays now and there are wrinkles around my eyes that weren’t there when I lived here before but I’ve been around the sun a few more times.

So, do come by (August 28) if you are in town. Don’t worry if you don’t know me well. And if you’re a little mad, you’ll fit right in. We’re all mad here.

If you build it, he will come

Trump

This is the most personal thing I have ever written.

I just rewatched Field of Dreams. I am not sure how many times I have seen it before but enough to know large parts of it by heart. It has always choked me up because it is a beautiful film and I love baseball. My reaction was different tonight was different. For the first time, watching Ray Kinsella reconnect with his father, John, hit me on a very personal level.

My relationship with my father, John Gill, was the most important of my early childhood. I lived and died by what he thought of me. I was a Met fan because he was. I loved the Niners because he did. It is possible that I volunteered on Democratic campaigns (starting at age 8) because maybe it was what I thought would make him appreciate me. I am not going to lie. I am feeling a bit rudderless right now. Who exactly am I?

There is something that happens to you when the one person from whom you get your sense of self and self-worth rejects you completely.

It took years of mental and physical abuse for me to turn on him. I mean years. Even after he tried to kill me, several times, I wanted to go home to his house.

I took the hurt of that early rejection and I mummified it in a coating of anger. Anger is a secondary emotion, hiding something else. That hurt was so deeply buried that I thought my anger was a primary emotion. I had (and have) plenty of real reasons to hate my father. He beat me, tried to kill me, sent private investigators to follow me. He made me feel unsafe in my own head and when I had nightmares about him, I soothed myself with you never have to get married.

This facade fell briefly when I came back to his (and my grandmother’s) house. I found dozens, if not hundreds, of letters from writers he had helped. My first reaction was that old rejection he helped all these people and he never helped me. I went back to hating him almost immediately. How can you feel sad about his death? He was an awful person. He was but that isn’t the point.

When Ray reconnects with his father, I cried because that reconnection was something I have always craved. Something I have always longed for. Even if I didn’t know it. Watching that scene made all that anger and hate fade away.

You don’t forgive people because they deserve it, you forgive them because you do. This anger has been eating me up for most of my life and I just cannot hold onto it anymore.