Category Archives: Blogs I read

Conversations: Part 1

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I have been inspired by Vikki over at Up Popped a Fox and her posts reminiscing about things her kids said that she documented via twitter. Hilarious!

I have also already made a commitment to writing down more to remember.  I love every moment of my daughter’s life, watching her triumphs, holding her when she falls, and trying to instill the belief that she can always pick herself up and that no matter what, I will always always always love her.   But, I forget.  The vault of my minds is more a sieve.   I want to have this space to look back and cherish the tiny moments and conversations.

With that, I launch my new recurring sections: Conversations.  I hope to fill these posts with things Little Elephant says, so I can remember her as she was and see how she grows.

Our Nanny, Lisa, likes to cajole Little Elephant into doing things by saying “fine, you don’t have to, I will get J to do it”.  It is manipulative, reverse psychology at its best.  Usually, it works.  Lisa wanted a kiss goodbye today.  The conversation (as reported by Lisa) went like this.

Lisa: “Little Elephant, can I have a kiss?”

Little Elephant: “Noooooooooo”

Lisa: “Okay, I will give my kiss to S”. (Note: S is another boy and one of Little Elephant’s best friends)

Little Elephant: “Okay.  I will give my kiss to Zana”. (Note: Zana is Lisa’s sister).

Smart cookie, She already knows two can play at this game!

The internet and connection

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I mentioned earlier that life has been a bit rough lately and I am not feeling connected.  There is, however, one strange caveat to this.  The re-launch of Lesbian Family and subsequent re-branding to VillageQ has been phenomenal.

Look! Lesbian Dad kissing me! Ah-Maze-Ing!

Look! Lesbian Dad kissing me! Ah-Maze-Ing!

Let’s start with increased interaction with LesbianDad.  If you were anywhere in the world wide web of lesbian/ gender queer/ queer/ or queer parenting from the early days, then you know who Polly is.  She has been blogging since 2006 and also was a contributor in Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All  (Beacon, 2006).  I was a very early convert and a huge fan.  Honestly, I used to quote her!  Through Lesbian Family I sort of online met her.  Through VillageQ, I actually me her.

Truth time: she is just as inspiring, energy filled, and quote worthy in person as she is in paper.  I can only aspire to one day be as affirming and sunshine filled as she is!

Then, there have been all these other bloggers who have joined VillageQ.   People who make me question and think.  People who make me laugh out loud.  People who can take ugly and make it beautiful.  I am so happy to be surrounded by them.

Here are just a few of my favorite pieces posted on the site since the re-launch:

The Great Return: Lesbian Family dot com

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In 2006, Liza was pregnant and in search of other mothers to answer her questions.  She yearned for a one stop shop for lesbian moms to gather.  Not finding quite what she wanted, she created it. Thus, lesbianfamily.com was born.

In 2007, I started writing for Lesbian Family.  At the time I was living in Chile and trying to find other LGBT friendly-folk.  The blogging helped me find a whole tiny world of lesbian bloggeras (that would be the Spanish for blogging women).  I helped add a Spanish speaking section to the original page and am so proud to say that Julieta has agreed to be part of the reincarnation of LesbianFamily.com.

As a bisexual woman, married to a man, mother to a daughter (little elephant), and sole bread winner— I haven’t yet rejoined the ranks of Lesbian Family.  I am, nonetheless, so excited for the new content and new voices.  Check it out.  Lesbian family is not just for lesbians.  It is a great place for allies and gay dads and trans parents and anyone else who is interested.  It is a wonderful space for parents who want to discuss raising allies, feminist parenting, and getting toddlers to eat broccoli.

Happy internet-ing.

 

Also, in case you haven’t voted yet— go do it!

Identity Crisis

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I think my blog is having a bit of an identity crisis— also, the principal writer (me) is having a lack of sleep and lack of free hands when awake crisis.  I think a lot of blogs fall into categories.  Mommy blogs (hello Sarah and OkChicken), photo blogs (hello Kyle), travel blogs (hello Ayana), Chile blogs (hello Abby, Emily, and Joanna to name a few), Food blogs (hello Sara).  A few people managed to have mixed content and still keep a readership (hello Liza and Sara).

I have always had mixed content and not really managed to keep my readership.  I am sure this will continue; although I can’t tell you how easy it would be to talk about the little Elephant all day, every day.  Still, I want to be one of those people who can hold adult conversations.  So, this will not become a Mommy blog.  Still, my little girl is important and I am sure some posts will be about her.  Moreover, some of the Mommy Bloggers I read write monthly letters to their little ones.  I love this idea and started it to celebrate her being one month old. I hope to keep the letters coming. I also hope to continue to blog about Chile, Kazakhstan, travel, food, friends, daily life, the dog, and everything else that occurs to me and that I have time to jot down.

Moving up the google search engine

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Every so often, I like to do a post on how people find me. I think of my stat counter as a constant source of entertainment and disdain.  A while back Kyle turned me onto another photo blogger – Bobby Earle.  He did a really interesting twist on the how people find me, by looking at how far down the google list his blog showed up.

Let’s steal that idea and see the results here:

  • clare says – number 1 of 3,320,000
  • chilean men – number 2 (after Kyle) of 34,600,000
  • spring flowers – not on the first 15 pages and yet 216 people have found me this way.
  • pokemona – number 2 of 2,000,000
  • moldova sex – number 10 of 3,230,000
  • human trafficking songs – number 1 of of 309,000
  • fried bees – number 6 of 896,000
  • psychology of a prostitute – number 5 of 449,000
  • human trafficking chile – number 8 of 770,000
  • amok trei – number 4 of 3,550,000

To pimp or not to be pimped?

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This is from the Polaris Project Blog.  I think it is worth a read (and since I know that most people will not click over even with the scads of other interesting posts– and a thought so I am posting this one here.

An End to R-E-S-P-E-C-T for P-I-M-P-S

playersballmay16front_shirt

At the Karma Nightclub in Minneapolis a few days ago, April 5, there was a Players Ball.

Let’s stop for a minute.  That’s a publicly-advertised wild bash at a nightclub, celebrating pimps’ business… What’s wrong with this picture?

It’s bad enough that we look at the record of arrests related to prostitution and we find that manifold more prostituted females are arrested and punished than pimping males.  That is one reason the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008 aptly requires statistics on those arrested in prostitution to separate the numbers of arrests for prostituted people from the johns and pimps.

Pimps regularly engage in the force, fraud, and coercion that under the law qualify them as sex traffickers – whether or not the females they victimize are foreign nationals or U.S. citizens. But what’s worse is a culture which lionizes pimps.  Pimps are celebrated as hip – in film, in television, in music lyrics.  They are treated like they are admirable iconoclasts rebelling against the Establishment.  They are seen as cool for “sticking it to the man.”

But just think about how their true specialty is abuse of the woman.  To the woman from whom they take every cent received from johns, upon threat of punishment — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  To the woman they allegedly protect but regularly intimidate and beat.   The regular violence pimps employ is far from the glamorized image in popular music, videos, TV, and films.  Take it from Rachel Lloyd, a survivor of sex trafficking who leads Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), “So what’s it really like for us? They never tell us that we’ll never see any of the money we make…the beatings, the physical torture we’ll receive.”

Filmmaker Spike Lee said it all:As African-Americans we let artists slide,” he observed to an audience in Toronto four years ago this spring.  “I think that we have to start to hold people accountable.”  Of gangsta rappers he noted, “These artists talk about ‘ho this, bitch this, skank this’ and all the other stuff. They’re talking about all our mothers, all our sisters. ” Looking at the big picture, he commented, “[W]e’re in a time when young black boys and girls want to be pimps and strippers, because that is what they see. . . .Something is definitely wrong.”

Later that year in Tennessee, Spike Lee said most trenchantly, “We’ve put pimps on a pedestal.”  Exactly.

But lest you think this a moralistic sermon aimed at failings of the African-American culture, don’t.  We should be most concerned about the businesses serving as enablers of this cultural symbolism.

We are rightly hearing more about the need for corporate social responsibility—indeed accountability – for supply chains of products made on the backs of victims of human trafficking.   Yet that worthy agenda is typically aimed at human trafficking for labor exploitation – rather than for sexual exploitation.  It is aimed at the girls found two years ago in sweatshops embroidering blouses for the Gap in India; the children and college students forcibly mobilized into harvesting cotton in Uzbekistan; and the slaves clearing fields for cattle or chopping sugar cane plantationsto produce biofuel in Brazil.

Business fuels sex trafficking too.  Entertainment companies that make money celebrating pimps on TV and what’s on your family member’s iPod are partly responsible for a culture of impunity for pimps.   Take the movie “Hustle and Flow” whose main protagonist is a pimp or the HBO series “Hookers at the Point” which glamorizes pimp-controlled prostitution in Brooklyn.

This kind of glamorization of the degradation of women by men is why as State Department Ambassador to fight human trafficking, I picketed HBO in New York with feminist colleagues for its egregious series “Cathouse” last fall.

Players balls like that at the Karma Nightclub – gathering gross exploiters for an orgy to celebrate what they do– are only the most flagrant example of a perverse respect for pimps.  It’s time for some healthy disrespect.  They deserve to be “dissed.”  And punishment with significant jail time when a player is dehumanizing his fellow human being.  Not a party.

I have mentioned in the past my aversion to how we have glamorized pimping and pimping things(human and non human). It desensitizes people to the violence that is often a part of prostitution. 

If you want more of my views on prostitution and how it is intertwined with human trafficking, check out my 5 part series (with intro): Why Men Suck, A quick intro,  Legalization, As a form of violence, Human trafficking and prostitution, and The Swedish example.

Group Blog– I am planning it this time

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If you have been reading my blog for a while then you know that a bunch of us Chile bloggers, along with some non-Chile-but-living-internationally-with-someone, blog every so often on an agreed upon topic. Kyle often organizes, but she is off traveling. Fned has organized. This time I am taking the reigns.

So… group blogging has been slow. I say this weekend (Friday or Saturday)everyone write on the topic holidays away from home/ in the new home. This doesn’t necessarily have to be about upcoming holidays but just general about what you do, why it is hard, how it is different, suggestions or whatever else comes to mind.

Please post a comment on Clare Says and I will keep a running tally of who has participated. Also, it is always nice to keep a running tally on your blog if you can– that way everyone gets more exposure.

Rise to your feet and be heard

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A week ago this nation did a historic thing– it elected its first black president.  Simultaneously, various states decided to deny people equal rights and one state, California took away a civil right.  I have been mulling over what I want to say and have yet to find my words.  But I did find out that massive peaceful protests are taking place all over the country and I am inviting you to take part in one.

Join the Impact is helping to organize protests all around the country– not just in the states directly effected.  Please go to the website, find your closest city protest, and join them Saturday morning at 10:30 PST.  Honestly, I do not believe that only gay people should be part of this.  As a nation we need to think about what equal for all means; and what separation of church and state means.

Go HERE to find a location nearest you.  Or, see if you happen to be on my list: Alabama – Birmingham | Mobile | Dothan Alaska – Sullivan Arena | Fairbanks City Hall Arizona – Phoenix Arkansas – Little Rock California – San Diego | Los Angeles | Bakersfield | Sacramento | San Francisco | San Jose | Moreno Valley Colorado – Denver Connecticut – Hartford Delaware – Dover Washington D.C. Florida – Jacksonville | Miami Orlando Georgia – Atlanta Hawaii – Honolulu Idaho – Boise Illinois – Chicago Indiana – Indianapolis Iowa – Des Moines | Iowa City Kansas – Kansas City | Wichita Kentucky – Louisville | Lexington Louisiana – New Orleans Maine – Portland Maryland – Baltimore Massachusetts – Boston | Northampton Michigan – Detroit Minnesota – Minneapolis/St. Paul Mississippi – Jackson Missouri – Kansas City | St. Louis Montana – Billings | Missoula Nebraska – Omaha Nevada – Las Vegas | Reno New Hampshire – Manchester New Jersey – Newark New Mexico – Albuquerque New York – Syracuse | Albany | New York City North Carolina – Charlotte | Raleigh (check the page) North Dakota – Grand Forks Ohio – Cleveland | Columbus | Cincinnati Oklahoma – Oklahoma City Oregon – Eugene | Portland Pennsylvania – Philadelphia | Pittsburgh Rhode Island – Providence South Carolina – Charleston South Dakota – Sioux Falls | Rapid City Tennessee – Memphis | Nashville Texas – Houston | Austin | Dallas Utah – Salt Lake City Vermont – Montpelier | Burlington Virginia – Richmond Washington – Spokane | Seattle West Virginia – Charleston Wisconsin – Milwaukee Wyoming – Cody | Laramie

Some people have been able to explain the impact of Prop 8 (in CA) and other similar measures more eloquently then I have.  I would invite you to visit their posts.  What you see below is just a tiny snippet:

Four Plus Four Equals Ten:

But that is where the argument falls apart for me. Regardless of personal or religious beliefs- an amendment taking my rights away is wrong. Pure and simple. Yes on 8 was, and is, wrong. And I know I’ve said it before, but I cannot get over people in my community, in our school circle, people who know me, know my family, had Käri as their child’s first grade teacher, who voted yes. I can forgive it- slowly. I can buy their religious excuses as the reason behind their vote. I can’t or, admittedly, won’t forget.

Looky Daddy:

But listen, 52% of California: Back when gay marriage was legal, your days didn’t change, either. When there was marriage equality in your state, your mornings transpired exactly the way they had before. Your head probably hurt before your morning coffee. Your kids probably protested getting dressed. It’s even possible that your daughter also hid your keys in your glove box, and when gay marriage was legal, she still squealed with joy when you found them.

Lesbian Dad:

A friend from New Jersey calls, desperate to know any Prop 8 news: his Internet is down, and he’s stuck with local network news. He, like many other people far more heterosexual and far less Californian than I am, cared deeply about this. For the first time, my own voice cracks when I tell him that I don’t believe my father will live to see the day that this fight is over. My kids will for sure; I probably will. But my dad: no.

Don’t Call Me Gringa:

Prop 8 is a piece of religious legislation denying homosexual couples the right to marry. Last time I checked, we had a little thing called separation of church and state in the good old US of A. Living in a country where the Catholic church has a huge influence has made me really aware of how lucky we are to live in a secular society. Much as I love the abundance of long weekends (thank you, random saints), I do not love things like the fact that divorce only recently became legal, abortion is still illegal and the morning after pill, despite being legal, is almost impossible to buy since the old fashioned owners of the three main pharmacy chains don’t happen to agree with it. So how could I possibly support a piece of legislation that has no effect whatsoever on my personal life yet denies civil rights to some people, simply because some god somewhere said “thou shalt not kiss someone of the same sex?”

Unwellness:

I was thinking about how it would be dealt with if someone said the same thing about biracial marriage. Or a single mother by choice. And how it would most certainly not be allowed, not respected as a mere difference of opinion or teaching of different values in the home. It would be called out as the bigotry that it is. It would be the Topic of A Parent Teacher Conference or something. You can’t run around these days saying, “Well, I just believe biracial marriage is WRONG” or “A woman having a baby on her own is WRONG.”

Matthew’s Blog:

California’s social conservatives thought they’d be clever and claim gay marriage would require schools to teach youngsters all about same-sex nuptials, fanning the bigoted flames of fear.  They urge voters to vote “Yes” on Proposition 8, which would overturn the state Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling.

The Last Debate:

Proposition 8 does not protect religious expression at all but rather threatens the legitimate diversity of opinion on this issue among people of faith in the name of a narrow, fundamentalist orthodoxy. Legal recognition and protection of same-sex unions threatens no one and enhances freedom of religious expression in the State of California.

Well, those claims are simply not true, and California superintendent of schools Jack O’Connell (pictured, with two California schoolchildren) comes right out and says so and calls such claims “shameful,” for their exploitation of children.

*** If you are the author of one of the above posts and would like it removed, please contact me. ***

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and other banned books

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I almost missed it; but never fear I am making my entry on the last day. Yes folks, it is that time of year again: Banned Book Week.  Last year, I managed to blog twice when I wrote Bookworm and Forty-Three Percent, about And Tango Makes Three and how many of the 100 most contested books of the decade that I have read.  This year, I got a little behind because this past week has been crazy– not to mention I have so many political posts floating around in my head.

So, for those of you who do not know what Banned Book Week is, it is a week when we celebrate our freedom to read anything and not be censored by other peoples opinions, thoughts, morals, etc. It is also a week when we should be thankful that children can choose what they want to read.  According to the BBW site:

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

Without further ado, I am posting this years 10 most challenged books.

1. “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell; Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier; Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3. “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes; Reasons: Sexually Explicitly, Offensive Language

4. “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman; Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain; Reasons: Racism

6. “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker; Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language

7. “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle; Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou; Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9. “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris; Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky; Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Of the books on this list that I have read, I have loved everyone.  I already talked about And Tango Makes Three, which has now been top of the list for two consecutive years.  This year, I am going to jump further down the list to Lucky Number 8: I know why the caged bird sings. The title of this book is based on a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar, although often attributed to Maya Angelou,  that goes like this:

A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

I first “read” the whole book when I was traveling across the country with my parents. It was our habit, as we drove everywhere, to rent books on tape from our local library.  This kept us from arguing about what music to listen to and made the drive go faster. I know that over the years we listened to tons of books, but the only two I vividly remember hearing were Love in the Time of Cholera and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The latter was read by it’s author and the haunting of her voice as she read her own autobiography has stuck with me.  Yes, it was violent. Yes, it was filled with racism. Yes, it did contain brutal rape scenes. Yes, it did not paint a pretty picture of the American Dream. And, yes, it was her life; a life that has parallels to so many other children and so many pieces of history.  This book, through her reading, made the think about the dark history of this country.  It is a dark history that we have not completely left behind.  Not knowing it, censoring it, will not make it untrue. The story confronts racism, poverty, rape, the need children have for love and approval by adults, feeling like an outsider, and so much more.  In the end, I found this story also to be about strength of spirit and that, fundamentally, is what I remember.

Here are some other great blog posts for Banned Book Week:

To BID

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Blog friends are odd. They are people you know without knowing. People who you are close to, but whose names you may not know.  Sometimes the blog disappear and you always wonder what happened.  BID disappeared and her email isn’t working.  I am just putting this out there, because I do not know how else to reach her:  I hope you are well. I hope your family is safe.