Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Door County, Wisconsin 2014

We are back in Door County this summer. Week two is coming to a close, but my head is still very much here. It is beautiful, it is home in a certain way, and it is vacation–time together for my sweetheart, M, my daughter, N, and me. The past two and a half years in my job have taken a huge toll on my real-time connections to both partner and daughter and I’ve literally been at work and missed more of our lives together than I can really stand.

My mom is with us for the whole trip and my sister, J, and her son, J-J, are on their way to join us tonight. We all love being with them. I have never stopped missing Lake Michigan since moving to the East coast. This big dose of looking at the lake at all times of day, while biking along the shore, driving, swimming and sitting on the sand helps me feel solidly connected to myself and to what is real and important.

We’re in a rented house right in Fish Creek and on my bike we are less than 6 minutes (yes, I timed it) from the entrance to the Sunset Trail in Peninsula State Park. We spend a lot of our time in Peninsula State Park and counting all members of the family who are with us for any part of the trip, we join the other 999,994 visitors to the park this summer.

The house we rented has been the perfect set-up for N in this phase of still-young-girlhood-and-now-a-teen life. There is a loft bedroom up a flight of stairs. The loft is her room and she keeps her stuff up there out of our sight and she stays up there for a few hours of “alone-time” at night after dinner and other times of day. From the living room I can hear her laughing while she watches silly you-tube videos and tv. Then she comes downstairs by her choice at about midnight (some nights well after I have gone to bed) to cuddle up and sleep. The teen and the young girl who needs her moms.

My sister, J, came by herself last Friday night for the weekend. Even more than Lake Michigan, I love being with her. We do our own thing which includes getting up earlier than the rest and heading out for a look at the water and decaf cappuccino from the nearby café. She is training for a half-marathon and last Saturday morning I biked with her on a ten-mile run/ride as her water carrier and sag wagon.

I have also fallen in love again with M on this trip. Not that I ever fell out of… but slowing down and being away from work has me able to feel why I loved her to begin with, why I love her now. We’ve been together so long now, have so many sweet memories of beach vacations together– with my sister and nephews and without, with daughter and before.

Tuesday was the 2nd of only two rainy and cool days. I woke up desperately fearful, worried about what is to become of me in terms of work. My job, which I want to leave, hopefully to regain some flexibility and resume mothering in the way I want to, ends December 31. But until I have something secured, I’m once again facing the possibility of unemployment. I’m scared and often hopeless about finding a right spot for myself. The combination of sexism and ageism aimed at women as we push well past 50 is fierce and it often feels as though those forces will win this battle and my desire for good work that I like and feel respected doing, will lose.

Those worries weighed heavily when I woke up Tuesday morning and I sat in the living room, twisting in my hard feelings. After a couple hours, as people were getting up, I figured that seeing Lake Michigan on a cool, windy, cloudy day and making my body work hard were the only ways out. So I biked alone to the state park and shore. I wasn’t exactly happy or hopeful, but I loved the dark gray choppy water, the wind, the hard work and loved being in my long-sleeved shirt, hoody and windbreaker. I arrived at Nicolet Bay calmer on the inside and spattered with gravel and dirt on the outside.

I know I have a battle ahead– against my own insecurities and against the real live sexism that will try to thwart me. I wish I could wage it with mighty Lake Michigan (and these particular people I love) a lot closer, but these two weeks are a start.

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Weeks since I’ve written. 11 years old, urban hair.

Someone is, many of you are– hanging in there with me, as I move back to the workaday world and into longer silences.  I am appreciative.  I have many things to tell, rejoice, laugh about and complain about.  There are musings and things I am excited about– perhaps a few secrets to share.  But I am teetering on the edge of a nasty cold– trying to stave it off– so I won’t write much here.

Back at work after vacation, I look at and handle some beautiful, smooth rocks from Lake Michigan, now off the beach and on my desk at work.  And I miss Lake Michigan and wondered when we returned to our city, to the East coast, I wondered again if we should move to Wisconsin.  My sister says to me that having me close would be great, but that I need to remember that living in Wisconsin– dealing with work and daughter’s school and schedules and bosses, even very near her, would be nothing like being on vacation in Wisconsin.  That much of what I long for when I return home is to go and be on permanent vacation in Wisconsin.  That I do like the life of living with a group  (my sister and mother and nephews high on my list) of people I love, the pack of young people around us keeping things lively, looking at the lake, being with my daughter, my parter, being outdoors all the time.

My older nephew is back at school here and we had a lovely 24 hours together– labor day weekend with my daughter and one of her best friends.  My partner was away in NYC giving care and attention to one of her very most beloved people who is going through chemotherapy.   The day after 24 hours here, my nephew called to say he has strep throat, which explained, perhaps, his desire to nap here and to stay longer than we are usually able to hold onto him.  All good– good to be the aunt-on-call for sickness and comfort.

And in the last two weeks my daughter has started middle school.  More to come on that.  Much more to come.

For now though, creativity and invention.  Hers.  Here was the key component of her back to school outfit.  My beautiful and inventive girl.

Checking it out.

She wanted and we got, an orange streak in her hair. August 24, 2012.

Vacation. With iPhone.

We are on day five of our 2012 vacation and day three of our 2012 Door County, Wisconsin adventure. I am trying WordPress posting from my iPhone for the very first time. And though it’s a cool thing to be able to do– my note to self and to you is that in general being in a place like this (so beautiful,no work and time with my daughter, partner & mother)– spent on iPhone and not just looking, looking, playing and enjoying is wrong… Nonetheless here are scenes from days one, two and three– today.

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Michael Moore in Wisconsin, Saturday, March 5, 2011

It’s Sunday morning and it is still snowy and wintry cold in Wisconsin.  I have another post– one about mothering and adoption that I promise will go up very soon, but I continue to write about Wisconsin here, because it has certainly moved me.  And I believe that what is going on is so very important.

In Wisconsin, a certain kind of immediate drama has ended.  The teachers have gone back to work, the Capitol has been cleared– but teachers, workers, students, parents– still have not gotten discouraged, given up or stopped.  The Fab 14– the Democrats who have gone to Illinois to block a vote, still have not given in and returned to Wisconsin, not one of them.  They remain in Illinois and they continue to refuse to be part of what Governor Scott Walker is trying to force on the state and its people.  A movement is building that is not dependent on more dramatic events (though important) like occupying the Capitol or staying out of work.  This movement, the people there, seem to be digging in for the longer haul.

Wisconsin is like the one young person you once kept your eye on in school– the one who did something brave or out of the mainstream; the one who reminded you of who you were but were too scared.  But after watching that other young person for days or weeks, or maybe years,  you said to yourself, “maybe, just maybe I could be that brave.  Maybe if she could do that or could just be that much herself, maybe I could too.”

I am hungry for this news about Wisconsin, this growing resistance to things gone so wrong, this growing understanding of our strength and power– the strength of of our ideas about what is right and the strength of our unity.  More and more of us are watching.  The Wisconsin workers don’t know where this will end, and neither do I.  But it seems more possible than it has seemed in a long time that we could get for ourselves something better than we have imagined as we have shaken our heads with sighs and resignation as things have gotten worse and worse.

I am hungry for news each day.  I leave cell phone messages, I email and await the calls from my sister and her sons in Milwaukee, my close teacher friend and another of my oldest friends, in Madison– to hear the things they don’t report in the press.  As much detail as they have time to give me.  I sat and read a long, long email from my friend M. about last weekend and the discomfort and the beauty of falling asleep on a cold marble floor, looking up at the Capitol rotunda.  Yesterday in the midst of two car rides– hers in Wisconsin and mine here– my friend, A., who is the teacher in Madison about whom I’ve written here, called and told me about her Saturday– going with her own family and a bunch of people and gathering in the fire station.  What it was like to march with the firefighters with their bagpipes and the ancient, soulful sound they make, the cheers of the crowds as they marched to the State Capitol.

The filmmaker, Michael Moore is feeling the way I am.  He made the spontaneous decision very early Saturday morning to get on a plane and go to Madison, to join for the day, what has become a huge, regular Saturday protest in support of teachers, public workers and all working people.  Below is the Youtube link to hear the speech he gave.  The camera is dizzyingly shaky early on, but hang in and it settles down.  The crowd, however, appears to be settling for less and less.  Moore’s speech, America is Not Broke– offers a perspective (that I believe is accurate) about what has happened in the economic life of our country over the past many years.  Michael Moore is unabashedly excited and very proud of Wisconsin and so am I.  

Gallery

Wisconsin. Hope.

This gallery contains 4 photos.

What is going on in Wisconsin is not just theoretical to me.  Nor as distant as you might think.  Besides having many close relationships there– I am still unemployed, after all.  There is something about this; about what does or … Continue reading

Wisconsin; 68,000-strong, continues to rock

I had the privilege of spending time on the phone with a woman very close to me who is a teacher in the Madison public school system– listening to her describe the local union meeting of attended by almost 3,000 people yesterday. She told me stories that made me laugh and cry– about how they didn’t have the technology to count votes on many issues on which they had to vote, so many times over they all filed out of the room and then walk back in either through the yes or the no door and be counted. She told me that she took the microphone and spoke of Nachshon who, when the Jews were fleeing Egypt and slavery, was the first to step into the Red Sea– not knowing, of course, what would happen.  As things always are– in a critical moment, there is always a person or a small group who take that first step.  Uncertain of what will follow, but knowing that they must take that step forward.

She told me how deeply teachers worry about public opinion and that the teachers worried about what is being said and thought of them.  She spoke of Rosa Parks, saying that when Rosa Parks sat down and refused to move to a different seat on the bus, they thought this would be a short, perhaps one-day or days-long boycott.  Which went on for a year.  And that when the all important bus boycott began, public opinion had not been on their side. That what was on their side was that they were right.

I listened to her as she figured out what she wanted to communicate when she will be one of a panel of speakers on a Madison radio station today– representing the viewpoint of teachers in Madison. As I have watched and listened, I understand more and more about how we can make each other hopeful and inspire each other to take bold action, to keep going, to do right, to not be passive and to believe that we can do big, significant things.   We need to keep letting them in Wisconsin know that we are watching, behind them, proud of them, on their side and standing with them.

There are about 68,000 people protesting in Madison today. I caught a glimpse of a protest sign that sums up my perspective on the meaning of preserving collective bargaining rights. It read: “Teachers’ Working Conditions are your children’s learning conditions”.

Today I cheer for the teachers, the parents who are supporting the teachers, the students out in support,  the firefighters and police who have resisted Scott Walker’s attempts to divide people, the working people not grumbling but figuring out alternative arrangements for their school children and for all of stand-up Wisconsin.

Here is the link to a NY Times op-ed piece called Wisconsin Power Play— about why this matters to all of us. The tag line is “What’s happening in Madison isn’t about the state budget.” I am glad that at least some parts of the mainstream media and the East Coast are catching on here.

http://nyti.ms/gv1l75

Wisconsin

If you long for many things to change in the world as I do, you may think a lot about the hopelessness and sense of defeat that seems so endemic (both of which feelings– defeat and hopelessness, I often experience myself).  When you periodically come upon the thrilling surprise, the amazing mystery of moments where a wildfire of activism, courage and dedicated, thoughtful, collective risk-taking, speaking-truth-to-power–are set in motion, you may wonder, “why did this moment result in forward motion rather than more hopelessness and inertia?”  I want to understand better and better what allows these hopeful, forward moving times to happen.  I want to bask in these moments of thoughtful, hopeful, determined action, and hopefully be part of one or more movements in which many of us will generate more moments that give way to action and forward motion.  So let’s talk about Wisconsin.

On Thursday, midday, I ran into a friend and neighbor who unexpectedly took me to lunch.  At the very end of our time together– she tossed out a quick comment about the wild uprising in Wisconsin.  I had heard from neither my sister nor one of my closest friends, both of whom live in Wisconsin.  I had no idea what she was talking about.

I raised a questioning eyebrow, she told me a tiny bit and we said goodbye.  I promptly searched the internet, and turned on CNN (despite an almost immovable policy to never watch tv during the day while unemployed).   I learned that in Madison, a mass protest was (and is still) underway led by roughly 35,000 school teachers, other public sector employees, and I think many students– in response to a bill that the recently elected, utterly dishonest Tea-party Republican governor, Scott Walker, introduced a week ago Friday– which would strip away most of the hard-won collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin public sector employees.

The bill was introduced on Friday, February 11 and slated for a vote on Thursday, February 17.  And the protest was going strong.  There are thousands of people who were and are still sitting in and protesting at the State Capitol in Madison.   I called one of my closest friends, a Madison public school counselor and learned more from her.  She had been at the State Capitol on and off for days and was involved as a member of her union, in the decisions made that set all of this in motion.  The reporting by CNN about Wisconsin consisted of truly reprehensible and utterly biased verbal attacks on the Democratic State Senators who had left the state house, in a legitimate strategic move to block a vote on a terrible piece of legislation that was going to be forced on the state of Wisconsin with less than a week’s time for public discourse, debate or amendment.  The CNN anchor kept throwing out accusations that in leaving the state to ensure that there wouldn’t be a quorum, that the Democratic State Senators were “not doing the jobs they were elected to do”.   In the most vicious and derisive tone.  When the spokesperson the anchor was beating up on, countered that the Governor had given no notice, no indication in his campaign that he intended to pass legislation that would strip workers of collective bargaining rights, the anchor said “Oh that’s just politics”.  Apparently lying in electoral campaigns is ok, but taking procedural steps, as an elected official, to block a vote on legislation with which you and thousands of your constituents have disagreement, is simply lazy.  If it helps to put all this in context, the Governor had sent the police out after the missing Democratic State Senators– to try to drag them to the State Capitol to ensure a quorum for the vote on Thursday.  I could and should go on and on about the distortions and bias of the CNN anchors on Thursday afternoon.  That what I heard from two different CNN anchors on Thursday afternoon pass as legitimate journalism astounds me.

But back to the subject at hand– I am deeply proud of the solidarity that is being demonstrated by the Wisconsin protesters.  And although I won’t try right now to articulate why; I think it is no coincidence– that this uprising, this saying of “No, we are not going to take these lies and moves to further silence working people” is happening in the Midwest.  I am proud of the Wisconsin protesters, of the history of protest in Wisconsin and I am proud that this is happening in my Midwest.

Although I have lived on the East Coast for over 20 years, I am a Midwesterner through and through.  This truth about me shows itself in many ways– for one, when I open my mouth and speak.  I was born and grew up in Chicago and suburban Chicago.  I got a lot of excellent higher education in the 70s and 80’s– all of it in Madison, Wisconsin.  I lived in Madison for about 10 years.  I learned a lot there– both in and out of the classroom.  I have often said that Chicago is my hometown but Wisconsin is my state.  So look beyond the mainstream media, and dig deep to follow this.  Although you won’t find much helpful or honest on CNN, Rachel Maddow, the Christian Science Monitor and many others have had some interesting things to say.   Wisconsin is important and what is going on there is profoundly important.  To you and to me and to all of us.