Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Totally OOC

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.  Cyril Connolly

I have had an awfully hard time writing a blog post lately.  It's due to a variety of reasons. Time is a big one. I'm writing an article a day for the freelance site I was hired by a few months ago when I got it in my head to take Dave's advice and "go for it."  

It's also getting to be that time of year. You know that time. The political time. I owe two candidates a supportive letter to the editor.  I can't seem to get those written either.  I get so angry trying to write the letter that everything comes out passive-aggressive.  The same holds true for trying to blog. And then all I do is alienate myself at a time when I'd much like to make friends.  But it seems I just can't get that done.  Every time I turn around, I've pissed someone else off.  

I respond by backing down on my stance, apologizing, and feeling like a real ass.  It seems I don't know how to have an opinion without being offensive.  "God, Shannon. You are SOOOO opinionated," mom would always say to me, as if it were a bad thing.

It's never my intent to hurt people's feelings with my opinion. And I often, as do most all of us, forget that it is simply my opinion. 

Dave ran for DFL state rep twice. He lost. Twice. Because --here comes the passive-aggression--  we live in a white, conservative, uber-christian, anti-abortion, homophobic, rich suburb.  I hate politics. I didn't even declare what party I was until two years ago.  And that's because I got really fucking mad.   So I joined the party that I thought would best fight for the people who need someone to fight with them or for them. But lately, I'm not sure there is such a party. Anyway...

I was mad that a bunch of politicians cut funding so that social workers were very limited in helping their clients.

I was mad because a bunch of politicians tried to make a medical decision for women and say they couldn't have an abortion. 

I was mad because a bunch of politicians said that people who love each other can't get married because it threatens heterosexual marriage. 

I was mad, that as an EAP counselor, the resources I needed for people-- people who were JUST LIKE ME -- working, educated, responsible -- were disappearing more and more every year that Bush was in office.  These people had crap for health insurance, and one serious hospitalization caused them to lose all they had, no money to pay hospital bills, home foreclosed, they were SCARED.  I'd love to have plastered my car with the bumper sticker I saw the other day.

Faded, but still glorious, it read:

"Practice Abstinence. No Dick. No Bush."

I was mad that no one would do anything to fix welfare or health insurance.  But that rich, white CEO's with anti-social personalities were getting away with murder.  

And I was fucking pissed that a bunch of politicians cut funding so that people with disabilities and their families lost SIGNIFICANT services.  That some people with disabilities are, in fact, without services.  This most vulnerable crowd, that we ought to take care of, we are shunning. 

Nobody, and I mean nobody, messes with my family or other families like that.  And so when Dave ran, my shyer-than-shy little ass hit the campaign trail.   I had 6 week old babies the first time I campaigned for Dave. Pregnant with Andi during Dave's second run, I had two year old toddlers AS WELL as severe morning sickness and weighed below 100 pounds.  I dragged all three (or four) of us around in wind, cold, and rain.

I stuck signs in people's yards (after banging on their door, explaining Dave's platform, and gaining their permission).  I took voter registrations to folks who were housebound or without vehicles. I helped people submit their absentee ballots and then raced to my car, chased by a set of pit bulls. 

I, oddly enough, put up with the Independence Party Candidate, C.L. spreading lies about my husband. Normally, while I never stand up for myself, I will stand up for family or for anyone else being stomped on.  

C.L., the little CSMF, went from running against Dave as an Independence AND Green Party Candidate to the 2010 DFL candidate. Dave's not even running anymore, but C.L. still spreads untruths about him. C.L., who stuck a sign in a woman's yard in a trailer park without her permission. C.L. the party hopper.  

The other night, the DFL called for Dave.  The phone was set to "speaker" and I heard the volunteer ask Dave if he'd be willing to join them for a door knock in support of C.L.


I howled with laughter. 

Dave articulately declined, but then sat and stewed the rest of the night, thinking of all the things he should have said before he hung up.  He got no work done.  

I knew just what he was going through.  And tonight, I pulled a post that, upon re-reading it, realized it needed major editing.  "Stop letting perfection stop you from getting anything done," Dave told me.  He lectured me on practicing writing, writing for myself, and getting better as a writer after I lamented "but if I can't even write anything on my blog that people want, then what publisher will put a book out for me?" 

"I hate that you are right," I had told him, realizing I had fallen back into the habit of letting perfectionism rule me.

Damn myself for saying that because he then wanted it in writing.  (So there you go Dave)

Still discouraged though, I went to turn off my computer.  I was done.  

In fact, maybe I'd just shut down my blog.  Just before turning off the computer, I clicked on a link that led to a website with sayings.  I read them for fun.  I love words.  They attract me like a moth to a light. It's almost like I can feel them in my mouth. The better they are put together, the more I can almost feel myself chewing on them.  It becomes physical for me. 

So I'm going to keep writing -- though this inhibition has got to stop. Be forewarned, I might swear in my writing, or slam some asshole republican "with values" who wants to "keep marriage between a man and a woman".  

I'll slam those who say that an Islamic Community Center nearby, not EVEN VISIBLE to Ground Zero is a travesty.  A travesty?  What is wrong with someone practicing their religion. Are you so stupid, that you don't get that the peaceful people in that community center were just as much a victim as everyone else?  

I just don't get the big damn deal.  Why can't we all accept and embrace differences  -- meaning disabilities, sexual preferences, religious preferences, even political preferences.

I listened to 9-11 survivors over the phone and counseled them.  They in NY, me in a call center in Eagan, MN. 

Some of those survivors were Muslim.  And they were traumatized.  They were outraged. But the worst part, was that not only were they fearful of another attack BY EXTREMISTS, but they were fearful of being attacked by an American with a need to seek vengeance. Sometimes, I am ashamed of us.  

I'll never understand folks who are offended by the word "fuck," though I'll never understand folks who are not offended by bigotry, discrimination, alienation, prejudice, racism, sexism, and I could go on. 

I may only have one reader once I let loose and write not only parenting stuff, but stuff from the rest of my being, too.  "I think I'm my biggest fan," I told Dave.  

"That's ok," Mr. Laid-Back-From-L.A. said. 

But I like words, opinions and fighting for causes.  I like to tell stories.  And I like to create a record of my parenting journey for my kids.  Any maybe, someday, this will all amount to nothing.  I'll die, never having made it as a writer, but instead only be known by a few as "that neurotic crazy woman who was a flaming liberal."  But, at least, I will have stayed true to me (yikes, this is a tall-order for someone who just wants everybody to like her).  

And you can't beat that.



  1. This one will be remembered as a turning are on your way now. And I am a fan (and was before I was a friend), and I know others.

  2. I have always enjoyed your writing. I believe that we should write what we WANT to write, not to please "the masses." It doesn't matter if I disagree with some things you say, or raise my arm in solidarity.

    Some times I feel like my blogs are a giant mommy whine because I'm too tired to put a humorous spin on it. Sometimes, I want to just vent, but I hold back because I'm not sure what my family who reads it will think. And I probably shouldn't.

    Our blogs are for us. To write. To practice. To utilize the brain cells that mommy hood hasn't atrophied. To have a record so we can always remember the journey our children make as they grow. As a bonus, it can also entertain. Unless that is what we want, we don't have to make it that way.

    At least until we can get paid to do it.

    Speaking of, how does one find freelance paid work? :-)

  3. BraVO!!!! You have more than one reader and perhaps, with this one, you will have more than you realized. I know you've said you aren't articulate when angry, but well said, sista, well said.

  4. I enjoy you too. And ultimately, what other people think doesn't matter. Most of the time, I feel like I'm just venting, complaining, and generally whining about the world. You make me laugh. (In all the good ways.)

  5. Though we may disagree on some or many political issues, I still love you. I am a cheerleader for opinions...we are free to have them and that is the wonderful thing. I always say, if you don't like it, don't listen (or read, in your case). lol

  6. I am so delighted to have discovered this side of you, which I never knew at Ceridian. You don't have the benefit I do of being able to proudly wear the title, "curmudgeon." so I understand your challenge with expressing opinions and worrying it will hurt someone's feelings. But EXPRESS THEM ANYWAY. My favorite saying, on a button given to me by another curmudgeon on his retirement day: "The more you complain, the longer God lets you live!"

  7. Yes!!!! :D I'm glad your MY friend.

  8. Shannon --

    This is an impressive piece. I was sort of surprised, then not so much by your words. They are strong, authentic and personally narrative. We need more passion like yours. Democrats, particularly, have a hard to embracing this Wellstone-ish, Humphrey-ish, passion. And their "introversion" and polite rhetoric, is being drowned out by rage-rhetoric that is effectively brain washing us all to believe that nasty, manipulative methods are not only effective, but unavoidable.

    Passion like yours is far different than take em down trigger tactics. I look at these methods, and like you, see dissonances (both good and bad) in suburban areas. My work is in civic engagement these days. I mix positive agitation (in activism realm) with critical analysis of how "real people" citizens of many sectors and public institutions differ and can/should be equally engaged. You might take a look -- perhaps there are ways to connect your very strong voice with this or other work I'm involved in. Here is the blog for Nonpartisan Productive Dialogues:

    Andrea Grazzini Walstrom (Weston and Lucia's mom ;-).