All Feminism Is Local

I clicked on the Baltimore Sun today.

I’m usually a Washington Post reader. In part that’s because I live right outside DC and the Post is my local paper. I can read it for the coverage of issues that relate directly to my county as well as for their reporting on national and world affairs. In the before-times I sucked up Post articles like they were oxygen.

But lately, I prefer the Baltimore Sun because it will tell me what’s going on in my state, without the distraction of knife’s edge analysis of what Nancy Pelosi is doing at any given moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Nancy Pelosi. But I need to know about the logistics of the new testing site the governor just authorized.

My world has grown so much smaller in these months since we all retreated to our homes to wait out the virus. I used to spent hours every week scrutinizing Congressional affairs and national election polling news. The arena of national politics is like my NFL or NBA and I study the game film like an aspiring coach.

But complete contracture of life has included my scope of attention. The borders of my interest have shrunk. I care about politics as much as ever but I’ve gone local. The arena that matters to me the most right now is my school district. I need that entity to be there for me and my family right now and I’ve become laser focused on the school board primary happening now.

I can’t pay attention to whatever jackhole think Donald Trump is saying when he struts in front of the mic. He’s too big for my field of vision. And he’s useless to me. He can’t do a thing to improve me life.

But I sure as hell can get on Facebook to remind my friends and neighbors that there’s this one guy running for school board on a platform made completely of racist dogwhistles and NO NO NO DO NOT VOTE FOR STEPHEN AUSTIN, DO YOU HEAR ME? I’m serious. He’s the dude who started that group to whine about the school boundary study and he kicked me out of it because I criticized the people who yelled at an 8th grader who presented at a town hall. He sucks and don’t vote for him.

This is where I am now. Crouched in my den like a trapped honeybadger, snapping at anyone who tries to invade my tiny slice of territory.

Maybe someday I’ll regain the focus I used to have on macro issues like reproductive justice and intersectional social justice but right now I can only see the landscape right in front of me.

But that’s ok. School improvment and equity in education are intersectional feminist issues, too. All politics are local and all feminism can be local, too.

PS: I voted for incumbent Shebra Evans in District 4 and chose Lynne Harris for the at-large slot after MoCo Students for Change endorsed her. I trust students to understand what is good for schools and I will follow their lead.

Photo By en:User:Jaganath – This file was transferred from English Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0,

Why You Should Wear A Mask

I can’t believe we are having a full-blown culture war over covering our mouths and noses during a pandemic.

OK, I kind of can. I do remember how at the beginning of this thing people started hoarding masks and everyone screamed about how masks won’t help and we should leave them for the professionals. So, we all got the idea in our heads that masks were the wrong approach.

Now the science has flipped and the latest word is that masks will help, but they won’t help you. Instead, the masks will help the person standing next to you.

All the science speak about nano-particles and how small a virus really is is apparently true and a fabric mask won’t stop the virus from crawling onto your face. (Can RNA crawl? I don’t know. Let’s pretend it can.) If someone sneezes a gust of corona-breath at you, your mask isn’t going to save you.


But if the sneezer is wearing a mask that holds the corona-breath closer to their face? Well, now we’re talking.

The latest models say that wearing a mask reduces spread of the virus by carriers. And we all have to assume we are carriers, since there is such a long incubation stage of the disease. We can have it without knowing it. Allegedly, if 80% of us started wearing masks all the time in public, we would cause the transmission rate from our own mouths and noses to plummet.

This of it this way: wear a mask for the same reason a surgeon wears a mask.

These doctors aren’t wearing masks because they are worried that a brain tumor or an inflamed gallbladder is going to leap up from the patient and infect them. They’re doing it so they don’t sneeze into the surgical wound. The masks aren’t about protecting them, they are about protecting you, the person lying helpless on the table.

Or to put it another way, the mask is your sneeze guard.

The little plexiglass window over the salad bar isn’t to keep the lettuce from jumping up and lodging itself in your nose. But it will keep you from coughing on the lettuce and contaminating it for the next person in line.

Basically, wearing a mask is a weird and uncomfortable thing that you have to do to help someone other than yourself. Unlike wearing Spanx, which is arguably weirder and more uncomfortable, but is all about improving the appearance of yourself. I get that it’s easier to resign yourself to discomfort when it has an appreciable effect on your own life, whereas it’s harder to put yourself out for others but…c’mon. For once we should all suck it up and be good neighbors.

This virus is crazy. People can walk around for days or weeks without symptoms and they spread the ubiquitous little spiky demons wherever they go. You could be one of those people and not even know it! And if you were and coughed on a shelf at Target? Boom. You’ve risked someone else’s life.

Wear the mask and keep your germs to yourself. Please.

Mona Lisa photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Surgery photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. from Pexels

Salad bar photo by 玄史生 – Own work, CC0,

Feminism and Mental Fog

I feel like I’m failing as a feminist.

Don’t over-read that statement. I don’t feel like I’m failing in general. In fact, in some areas of my life I am kicking some serious ass. Against all odds, this period of isolation and the chaotic learning environment have been amazing for my ADHD kids. We’ve all risen to this very weird occasion and we’re enjoying one another immensely.

It helps that our material needs are met. I have daily guilt over that. No, not guilt. More of a gnawing sense that I should be doing more for my community – the parts of my community that don’t live in my house.

I want to give myself a break because keeping a family fed and happy right now is an accomplishment. But then I remember that three months ago I was devoting hours every week to grassroots work for the Warren campaign and writing every day about social justice issues. And it’s not like I left the house much even before this all happened. I work from home. My daily excursions occur within a mile radius of where I live. I did my stuff from the chair I’m sitting in right now.

Why aren’t I doing more now?

I feel like my brain is swatched in cotton batting and I can’t push it away enough to formulate a plan for getting involved in some kind of socially distant social action. Most days I cant even compose pithy tweets. I gawp at posts from my friends online who are organizing grocery gift card distribution networks and writing books about reproductive justice. FFS, why can’t I pull it together and do some of that?

The answer, of course, it that I have ADHD and depression and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Something in my brain had to give and what gave was my SJW functions.

I desperately hope that this desire to rejoin the world of activism is the first step in actually doing some activism. But for now I am following the impulse to nest and giving money to good causes, even if I can’t give time or energy right now.

I know that’s limousine liberalism, armchair activism but it’s what I can do right now. And I have to be ok with that.

Ahmaud Arbery

LeBron James said it. White men hunt black people. It’s been going on for 400 years. We used to call it the slave trade. Then we called it the KKK. Now it’s gun culture doing the hunting.

I have said before that if you own guns for “self defense” that is really code for hunting people. You carry your gun, waiting for a person to do the thing that identifies them to you as your prey.

You say all you are doing is being prepared to address a threat but I don’t believe you. I believe you are HOPING a person will make a gesture that you can pretend is a threat so you can live out your sick lifelong dream of killing a person and calling yourself a hero for doing it.

For these two men in Georgia, the simple act of being a black man in the space they considered their own identified Ahmaud Arbrey as prey and they hunted him accordingly.

American racism and gun culture are indelibly intertwined. They both kill without remorse. Ahmaud Arbery is just the latest victim.

Thoughts On Joe Biden’s Assault Allegations

If I were sitting on a jury and told to come to a verdict based on the evidence presented so far, I would have to acquit. There is too much reasonable doubt to do otherwise. I realize this does not mean that the events didn’t happen as alleged. It just means that the evidence is insufficient to prove it. 

If Reade did, in fact, report this to the Senate ethics office as she claims now, the Obama campaign would have known about it while vetting Biden as a potential VP. It would likely have disqualified him from consideration. Obama jettisoned Tom Daschle for HHS Sec over withholding information on a financial disclosure. He would not have chosen a second-in-command with an outstanding assault allegation. Again, that does not mean the assault didn’t happen as alleged. It simply means there is reasonable doubt about the paper trail Reade claims to have left.

Joe Biden has a long and documented history of hugging and kissing women without their consent. However, those gestures have always taken place in public and, in the case of kissing, are not forcible kisses to the mouth but weird, awkward cheek or top-of-head kisses. These actions are disrespectful and inappropriate. However, from what I have observed of this behavior, it doesn’t appear to be the kind acts of sexual entitlement we have seen with men like Matt Lauer or Bill Clinton. It’s a more of a condescending paternalism. 

No women other than Reade have ever accused Biden of anything even similar to what she alleges. There is no pattern emerging. In other cases, such as that of Al Franken or Anthony Weiner, the pattern was unmistakable. If what Reade says happened did happen, it seems to be an isolated incident.

I concede that there is a possibility that something humiliating and traumatic transpired between Joe Biden and Tara Reade. I have no idea if it was what she says it was. I have no idea if Biden would even remember the event in the kind of stark relief Reade would remember it because it’s likely that a powerful man would view every event differently than a less powerful woman would. 

I will not engage in public scrutiny of Reade’s character. That isn’t at issue. 

I know exactly why Joe Biden and his team would lie about this if he is guilty. I don’t know why Tara Reade would lie about this if he is not guilty. I have opinions about it but they are rank speculation and I will keep them to myself. 

There is no such thing as a man who is not a threat to the rights and safety of women. Every man on every ballot has the power to make women less safe. That is also true of elected women but they have a shorter history of doing harm to women than male politicians in America do. 

On balance, Joe Biden will do less harm to women than Donald Trump has already done and will continue to do. Joe Biden has also made affirmative attempts to do right by women. Donald Trump never has. 

I will be voting for Joe Biden in November. 

Photo credit: Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

Let’s All Vote By Mail

Anyone who has ever talked to me or listened to my podcast knows that I think Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is wrong more often than he is right. I could rattle off a long list of policy proposals he’s made that I think are utter garbage. But I can’t fault him for a single thing he has done during this pandemic. The proverbial 2am call came for Hogan and when he answered, he was ready and willing to do the right things.

By now, everyone has heard about him and his wife leveraging her contacts in South Korea to purchase half a million covid-19 tests but that’s not what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about how he has handled the upcoming elections.

When he initially announced the first wave of shutdowns, Hogan postponed the Maryland primary from April 28 to June 2. However, he did NOT postpone the special election for the Congressional seat in Baltimore vacated by the death of Rep. Cummings. Instead, he announced that that election would take place as schedule but would be primarily vote by mail.

That was the moment when every argument against converting upcoming elections to vote-by-mail went up in smoke.

Hogan admitted that there is no barrier to shifting the existing election system away from in-person voting. Even time isn’t an issue; he was ready and willing to convert the system in under two months.

In the weeks since then, the process for how the June primary will be held has become clearer. The state board of elections outlined the procedure and the governor has signed off the on the plan. There have been calls from the state for voters to check their registration online and update any address information as needed to ensure ballot delivery. Ballots will be mailed to voters well in advance of the primary date. Hogan announced that primary ballots could be returned by mail or deposited in secure drop-boxes in all counties. There will be some opportunities for in-person voting but with social distancing protocols in place. There are rules for when vote counting can begin and when results will be released.

It’s comprehensive, thoughtful, and could easily be used for the November elections as well.

And it proves that any official who says we can’t change the November election to a vote-by-mail process so absolutely full of shit.

Full. Of. Shit.

If anyone tries to blather about all the reasons for why we can’t/shouldn’t be planning for the November election to happen by mail, just point to Maryland. We are making it happen and, after the Baltimore special election tomorrow, we’ll probably get a lot of credit for doing it well. The playbook for this is written. Written by a Republican, no less.

Pelosi and House Dems re working to get funding to help the states get ready to vote by mail in November. Since we know if can be done, there is not reason it shouldn’t be done. Tell you lawmakers that you want to see this change.

And you can tell them Larry Hogan is doing it right. I’ll be saying that myself.

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Pandemic Ramblings

I get dressed every day. I wear jeans and t-shirts, earrings, even a bra. I don’t like staying in my pajamas.

During my final quarter of grad school, all I was doing was writing my thesis. I didn’t have classes to teach or attend and my research was all online. I would get up every morning and have my coffee and watch tv on my couch. Then I would shower, get dressed, put on make-up, and sit down at my desk to work.

The desk was behind the couch. But it felt like a transition.

I still like that delineation of “Before” and “During” for my days. It marks the time in my mind even if no one else sees me. (No one else sees me. I don’t go anywhere – except the occasional excursion to a wooded trail to get some exercise.)

I keep my computer in my office space, too. When I have work to do, I work at a desk. I need the discipline of a designated workspace to change my brain over from not working to working. My office is pleasant but the age of Zoom has shown me how blank the walls behind my desk are.

The age of closed stores has taught me that I can only shop for art in person.

I want this space where I come, dressed for the day, to be a place where I craft something meaningful out of words but my creativity isn’t responding to my clutches at normalcy. My personal work has been on hold for weeks. I can write what I’m told to write. I can work for hire.

But the part of my writing where I am the creator? It’s tucked away somewhere. I can’t reach it in its hiding spot. This right here is just the kind of stream of consciousness writing that teachers nudge students to do to get them started. It’s the way writers crawl past writers block. It’s baby steps.

I’m going to hit publish now and put these words out into the world. I don’t deceive myself that they matter much to anyone but me. To me, today, bravely dressed and seated at my desk, they represent a step – a baby step – in the direction of real life.

Photo Credit: Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

In Praise of Praise

It’s been weeks since I tried to write for myself. I’m not even sure I can get through the cobwebs here to say what I sat down to say. My energy is all directed toward getting my family through this period of isolation. There is nothing left for words most days.

If you know me, you know I write like I breathe. To not be able to sit and make the words come feels like losing a limb. An eye. My voice.

But I’m trying right now and you can see that this is all filler and I’m hoping that by making my fingers go across the key board – like revving a creative engine – my writer’s mind will shift into gear.


Have any of you watched Joe Biden recently? He’s all over Facebook live and cable news. He does interveiws and talks about what he would do if he were president, all the stuff the current president isn’t doing but Biden can’t do because he doesn’t have the authority.

Then he does the one thing he and Trump both have the power to do*: he praises Americans. He talks about how proud he is to share a nationality with all the people on the front lines. He talks about communities pulling together. He lavishes adulation on EMS workers and nurses and doctors. He sounds like everyone’s dad making a toast at a graduation party.

Listening to Biden heap praise on everyone is balm for my soul.

I’m feeling pretty powerless myself nowadays but I, like Joe Biden, can praise people. I’m telling my kids what a great job they’re doing with all the online weirdness that their schooling has become. I email teachers and guidance counselors to thank them for all their efforts. I tell my husband how much I appreciate him. I get profuse in my thanks to customer service people I talk to on the phone. I tip BIG when I order from any delivery service.

None of us actually know how to to do this pandemic thing and we aren’t going to get to stop doing it no matter how hard we feel like we’re failing. Passing along some positive reinforcement to one another is probably the best practice any of us can adopt.

So thanks to Joe Biden for showing me how to do praise in the time of pandemic.

*Trump, despite having the power to praise people, does not use that power. He just whines like a little bitch.

Photo credit: Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

I’m A Public School Parent, Not A Homeschooler

Ok, I would like to get right to the point here. At no point in my parenting life have I ever considered homeschooling. I am not qaulified to educate students and I have not taken steps to make myself qualified.

That hasn’t changed in the time of coronavirus.

Sure, the schools where my kids go have shut their doors but the mission of the public schools hasn’t changed. They are there to provide a free and appropriate education to my children. Their methods have changed a lot in the past three weeks. However, they are still the education system I rely on to teach my kids academics.

That’s why I won’t call what we’re doing here homeschooling. This is public schooling. At my home.

Homeschooling is a choice to exit the public school system and use alternate curricula and methodology for teaching. People do it for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of ways. They exert tremendous energy in learning how to homeschool in ways that meet national education standards and also serve the needs of their families. They collaborate with other homeschool families and have access to all kinds of specialized resources.

That is not what is happening over here. I’m doing what I have always done: facilitating my children’s public school education. The schools haven’t dropped out of the picture. I haven’t walked away from the system. I’m not online looking up standards and measures and how to be legally compliant and all that. Rather, I am waiting for the schools to tell me what they’re gonna do and then I’m making sure my kids are present and ready to learn. Just like always.

During normal school, I get them up and fed and get them to school and hand the baton of their day over to their teachers. When they come home, I help with homework and talk over their day and get them ready to do it again the next day. I also provide enrichment for them like music lessons and sports and art projects.

Nowadays, I get them up and fed and to the computer to do the work assigned by their teachers. When they’re done, I talk over their day and get them ready to do it again tomorrow. I also provide enrichments for them…you see where this is going?

I am the mom. The schools are the schools. The physics of this have changed but our jobs have not. Sure, there were a couple of weeks there when the schooling ground to a halt while teachers figured out what comes next. But I didn’t try and take over their jobs in the middle of that. I gave my kids a break and waited for school to start back up. Now schools are up and running (for the most part) and I’m back to facilitating their education.

I’m not a homeschooler and I probably won’t ever be one. I’m just a parent who works in concert with the public schools because I trust in their mission. That hasn’t changed for me and I hope it never does.

Dispatch From The Pandemic: A Post For Public School Parents

Ok, so I have some thoughts on home learning. I am not an expert so take this all with a grain of salt and double check my work with your district. Also, this only applies to public schools – private and religious schools are doing their own thing.

As I understand it, public schools cannot expect parents to be providing education right now. Under the law, all students have to have equal access to education and in this situation, that isn’t possible. Some kids don’t have access to technology, some kids don’t have adults who can provide guidance, kids with IEP/504 plans don’t have their accommodations, and so on. We are currently living in an educational environment that is so far from the legal definition of equitable that it’s laughable.

Teachers I have spoken with assure me that all the materials public schools are sending home now are simply tools to help students review what they already learned so far this year. It isn’t new material. It isn’t even true homework. There should be no expectation that students will complete the work and be graded on it when school resumes. Since not all students will be able to do it, the school can’t insist that it happen.

SO. That means that we can all breathe a little bit about the packets and online assignments that schools tossed at us on our way out the door last week. Nothing bad will happen if the kids don’t do them, particularly the K-5 crowd. Middle school kids are probably ok as well. I have no idea what to do for high school kids because I haven’t gotten that far in parenting yet.

The other thing this means is that we are not the ones obligated to ensure our kids learn what they were supposed for the remainder of the year. It will be legally incumbent on the public schools to make a plan for all students to get the education they were entitled to before the pandemic. When schools know what’s happening, they’ll tell us how they intend to do their job.

Because they still want to do their job. They aren’t abandoning us all. Their mission hasn’t changed. It’s just delayed.

What all of this means for now is that we can all take a step back and plan for learning that works for our own families. We don’t need to become experts in homeschool or try to replicate the work of our neighborhood schools. Use the review materials as guidance but don’t assume they are a rigid set of expectations for students. You can focus on nature walks or crazy science videos on YouTube or read the entire Harry Potter series aloud to your kids. It’s ok. Any learning keeps the brain working.

And if you can’t do anything because earning a living is more important, earn your living. Survival comes first.

This is uncharted territory for everyone and we all need to figure it out for ourselves. it isn’t a competition. No one – adiults or kids – is getting graded on how we do this.

Do your best. That’s all we can do