Bold Fortune

fortune favors the bold

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The rent you pay

by mollykl

A family friend recently responded to something I’d written in support of vote-by-mail, saying “Voting is a privilege”. I beg to differ. Living in a free democracy is a privilege. Voting is a right and a responsibility. It is, in fact,the rent you pay for living in a working and evolving democracy.

We need to change our view of voting – of the process and what it means. Voting itself evokes a myriad of reactions: some think their vote doesn’t count “so why bother”, others see it as a sacred duty, and still others as a reward, a privilege. Voting is how we level the playing field, and voter suppression is simply an attempt to keep the status quo. The beautiful thing about democracy is that, in theory, we are all equal. Voter suppression, in the form of restricted polling places and and voter I.D. requirements under the guise of voter fraud protection, supports the notion that voting is a privilege, and as such is reserved for the privileged few. If we cling to this vision of voting as a privilege we are not serving this country or its citizens.

If voter fraud is your only argument against making voting easier, then you should look at the statistics. An Arizona State University study found only 10 cases of voter fraud in the years 2000-2012, as quoted by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Voter fraud is the monster under the bed that politicians use to defend voter suppression. Kris Kobach’s Presidential Commission on Election Integrity claimed that there was widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire, only to have that argument fact-checked (quoted by USA Today) and found to be bogus. 

If you think that voting is a privilege that should be undertaken with ceremony, e.g. lining up at polling places and not easy,  then perhaps you have a job whose schedule fits around polling hours. I work a semi-swing shift in grocery, and when I get off from work I pick up my child after school. As I’m not about to miss out on voting I am registered as a permanent absentee voter so that I may vote by mail. Does this make my vote count less? Am I not taking elections seriously enough because I fill out my ballot while in my pajamas? I read my voter pamphlet and weigh my decisions. Yes, I miss out on the camaraderie of the polling place line. I do not miss worrying about whether I’ll be late for my shift because of that line. Would you rather people working in retail just not vote? What about doctors working in emergency rooms who can’t leave a patient to go vote? Or EMT? Firefighters? Police? What about the minimum wage worker in an assisted living facility taking care of your parents? Do they not deserve to have their voice heard because they are on a 12 hour shift?

We should be making it easier to vote and to include more people in the process. The State of California should be promoting Vote by Mail as an option. People should not be turned away at polling places, they should be welcomed with open arms. Let’s stop seeing voting as something for the privileged few, but as the duty we owe this country to keep it moving forward and reflecting its citizens.

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A Thanksgiving Letter

by mollykl

Dear Secretary Zinke,

I spent this Thanksgiving morning standing in a river. The American River, to be exact, between the Howe and Watt bridges. I’d gotten up at 5 a.m., and waited anxiously till dawn. I made coffee and figured I’d use up some of the time making the cranberry sauce (might as well get that out of the way). When dawn came I was already in my boots and vest. I tiptoed into the bedroom to leave my husband a cup of coffee and whispered “I’m going fishing” to which he mumbled, “ermmm….have fun.”

I was feeling quite smug, thinking I’d have the river to myself, but no, there were already 2 guys there when I arrived. Another joined us soon after. I’ve been fishing for over 40 years, but only took up fly fishing about 2 years ago. I’m still pretty unsure about my casting, so I tend to stay away from where “the real fisherman” are – that is, the riffles by the Watt bridge. But this morning I waded out, and took my place. I grew up here, so my early memories are of travelling over the Watt Avenue bridge and looking out and seeing the fishermen lined up when the steelhead were running.

I stood in the water and marveled at the human invention that is neoprene and how could my feet and legs possibly stay so warm in this water? I listened to the hawks and kept an eye out for otters (they’re usually farther downstream but you never know). I remembered the story my mother once told about her disastrous water ski adventure.

When she was younger she went water skiing with friends on the Sacramento River where it meets the American, just a few miles from where I stood this morning. Now, my mother was not athletically inclined, but bless her heart, she tried. (She once ran over her own hand while snow skiing. She explained that skis used to be much longer so it was possible, but not likely. It took skill for her to manage that.) She gave it her all, but spent most of the day being dumped into the river. The next day she was so sick that a friend had to take her to the emergency room. When the doctor asked what she’d done the day before, because he could not figure out what was wrong with her, she told him she’d been water skiing in the river, and he immediately knew what was wrong. He told her to go home, and wait for everything to get out of her system, and to stay out of the river, because at that time it was so polluted that it made her sick.

This morning you would never know that this river , along with the Sacramento, was such a mess. When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the American River Bike Trail, but I don’t remember ever seeing a hawk. Now they perch in my neighbor’s tree and when I’m at the river I never fail to spot at least one or two. When I take my son for walks along the river we keep an eye out for tracks – deer, coyote, and yes, the occasional, mountain lion. This river, and the region, have been transformed over the past 50 years. The river is clean and we protect it now.

You have a choice before you, the immediate or the lasting. The immediate is the cold, hard cash that can be gotten from mining rights to public lands or drilling in the Arctic. There’s a lot of money to made in selling out the public lands that you were intrusted to protect. And, in case it wasn’t mentioned when you were first nominated for your job, that job is to protect the Interior of the United States of America.

Your other choice is to be remembered. Remembered for having stood for our public lands. For saving them from those who would think that leaving our lands to future generations means less than a nice check today. The second choice is harder – you would have to stand up to your contributors, to the Senators that voted to approve your nomination, and to the President himself.  Teddy Roosevelt is remembered to this day, and revered by both conservatives and liberals, because he stood up for what he believed in – in our public lands and the incredible beauty of this country.

“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value.”
– Speech by Theodore Roosevelt in Osawatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910.

You and I are lucky – as fishermen (um, fisherpersons?) we experience that mystery, melancholy and charm every time we’re standing in a river, throwing a loop, watching the water and waiting for a strike. Let’s leave it be, so that future generations can have those moments too.

Sincerely,

Molly

 

10 Free and Easy Acts of Resistance

by mollykl

I know. It’s January 20th and some of you, well quite a lot of you if the popular vote was any indication, are feeling either angry or sad. Or angry and sad. And what I’m about to say will sound unbearably childish to some. Naive. You’re probably right, and if you want to write to angrily tell me off, I won’t argue with you. (Hey, if you’ve got an intelligent argument, go for it.)

But hear me out. I’ve spent the last month of so writing and calling senators and the Speaker of the House, donating to causes that I feel are worthy (SPLC to name one), and trying my best to stay informed while not losing my ever loving mind (cue the DMX). I don’t regret a minute of it, despite the fact that I have anxiety and calling was the hardest thing I’ve done. Also, I realized I talked to Paul Ryan’s office more than own mother for a two week period.

I’m not going to stop, but I can’t go full bore every day without (again, cue the DMX) losing my mind.

So here are 10 free and easy acts of resistance to get you through today, tomorrow, and the next four years.

  1. Go to the public library and get a library card. Take your I.D., you’ll need it for the card.
  2. Check out a book while you’re there. Read it. Congratulations, you are now more well read than the leader of the free world.
  3. Smile and say hi to a total stranger. This is actually an expectation at my job, and it’s my favorite. You will discover that not everyone appreciates it, but the ones who do make it worth the while.
  4. Email a Senator and tell them you support their vote on an issue that is close to your heart. If you don’t have a computer, see #1, because at many libraries you can use the computers and access the internet for free. It’s true that most elected officials don’t care about complaints from citizens not in their district, but who doesn’t love to get positive reinforcement, regardless of where it comes from?
  5. Listen to your favorite song. Mine is the Beatles “Let It Be” (which is funny, ’cause I don’t really like the Beatles)
  6. Send your favorite vegetarian recipe to your Catholic friends for Lent. If you find Halal lamb on sale, text your Muslim friends.
  7. Take a walk. If you can walk in a natural setting, great. Appreciate that you have access to it. If you’re walking in an urban setting say hi to everyone you meet. Stop to appreciate architecture, early blooming camellias, or animal tracks.
  8. Make someone laugh or smile.
  9. Tell someone you love them.
  10. Enjoy your life and live it every day. That is really the best “fuck you” in the world.

 

The Princess and the General

by mollykl

I was 9 when Star Wars was released, and to my memory it was the first movie I saw in a theater. I didn’t want to be a princess because I simply was never that sort of girl. But I saw a glimpse of what I did want to be: a smart-mouthed, brave, feisty chick who could handle a gun, and who could still glower while staring up at her captor. I wanted a light saber and I wondered if I would ever have the courage to stand up against a seemingly all-powerful enemy.

The politics of the movie escaped me at that age, and honestly, I wish they still did. I might be able to blame the movie for my obsession with World War 2 history because my understanding of totalitarianism, and resistance, started with it.

I learned some great lessons that I carry with me today: that a girl can do everything a boy can, that she can fight for a cause, that she can change things. Leia was a role model I could identify with, and one that I knew I would have to actually work hard to live up to. An actress is not her character, but in Carrie Fisher’s case it sure seemed like there was a lot of her in Leia. They were both mouthy, brash and willing to speak up. In Leia, Fisher created the perfect feminist icon, perfect because, well, she wasn’t perfect, neither Fisher nor Leia, but rather relatable. The thing about fiction and fictional characters is that we’re able to carry them with us, but in Leia’s case we had her embodiment here with us.

In an awful year, and the awful four years to come, Carrie Fisher’s death was a particularly harsh blow. Yes, she was more than the princess/general she played in movies, but that image meant so much to many women of my generation. To lose our icon at the moment we need her most, when women are in danger of once again being relegated to being nothing more than “a piece of ass” is depressing.

So be sad, mourn, and then follow the sage advice of, my quotes here, “some guy on Twitter”:

Be Princess Leia in 2017.

Fight on the front lines. Strangle fascists with the chains they would have you wear. Be a motherfuckin’ general. 

-K O’Shea

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland.”

by mollykl

But this is California. Central California, no less, which hasn’t seen snow since 1986 (or so J tells me), but when I lived in Spokane we saw snow. First big, real snow of the season, I’d find a comfy place to hide out, usually in the english department building, curl up nice and warm, re-read James Joyce’s “The Dead” and watch the snow fall.

It’s a dark and stormy night here, perfect for the reflective mood that the dark days of winter and the end of the year bring, an ideal time for some Joyce.

Grab a port, or a scotch, and a comfy chair and a copy of “The Dead”, reflect on your mortality and the concept of grace, remember the friends you’ve lost and those that you keep close, and enjoy the snow falling softly and some of the finest words ever written in the English language.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly on the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crocked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last, upon all the living and the dead.”

James Joyce

Age appropriate

by mollykl

Son j is reading The Island of the Blue Dolphins for class. He’s in fourth grade, and they are all reading it together – two chapters in class each day, and one chapter at home. Husband J and I were thrilled that he’d get to read it and excitedly told him how great it is and that he is so lucky.

Yeah, that was all well and good until he gets to the point where otters, his favorite animal by the way, are killed and skinned. He was inconsolable. We dealt with it the best way we could, and we think he understands what we were saying, or at least trying to say. The whole thing’s been on my mind a lot today.

On my lunch I used Google to see if any other parents had advice or reactions. You know what I got? I got “why is this book being read by such young children!” “this book is too violent for this grade”.

Last night at the dinner table Husband J, when asked about his day, said that he had trainings, one of which was an “active shooter” training. Son j asked what that was and we had to tell him, our 9 year old, that he does active shooter trainings every year and has since first grade. He asked, “Oh, is that the one where we have to hide and keep very very quiet?”  He didn’t really understand why they had to do it, but he knew it was important. We felt the “why” of that one was best left till he is older.

My kid sees practicing response for a shooting as normal, but you’re worried that a story of survival that is a freakin’ Newbery Medal winner is too violent. For that matter as children my generation had to practice the stupid and utterly worthless “dunk and cover” (newsflash, we were surrounded by three Air Force bases, in case of nuclear attack, that desk was not going to be much help.)

Yes, he’s upset about the otters being killed. Good for him. He’s not a sociopath. You know how I’m going to keep it that way? I’m going to have him continue to read books that challenge him, and make him feel, and make him question.

 

Harriet Vane

by mollykl

I honestly have no idea how many books I’ve read so far in my life. Oh, I take those “How many of these great books have you read?” tests online (here’s a hint: not as many as you’d think) for fun, but at the end of the day I’m not worried about adding to my “great books read” list – I’m just looking for the next thing to read.

I firmly believe that if you’re a reader you are, in fact, a conglomeration of all you’ve read, of every hero, villain, personality quirk, vicarious experience and life that you’ve absorbed, the good and the bad. I am all that I have read.

Of course if you’re a reader you have favorites. Mine are Phryne Fisher, Julia Grey-Brisbane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Elizabeth Bennet, Irene Adler, Barbara Gordon (Oracle), Meg Murray O’Keefe and Amelia Peabody Emerson, just to name a few. But if I had to pick just one, it would be…

Harriet Vane.

She of claret gowns and scholar’s robes. She’s quiet, unassuming, fucking brilliant and her marriage to Peter is an unintended foreshadowing of the approaching class-crisis in England. She has the brains of Oracle, the self-preservation of Irene Adler, the stubbornness of Julia Brisbane, the drive of Phryne Fisher…well, I could go on.

Yeah I know, I’m none of those things, but…I am…a little. And a little is all that’s needed.

I don’t read to impress you. I read to learn, to grow, and to experience. I’ve found that as long as I can form an emotional attachment to a character I’m able to do just that.

So tell me, who are you?

5 words I’m removing from my vocabulary

by mollykl

Effective immediately I’m removing the following 5 words from my vocabulary.

I. Am. Done.

I realize I’ve been using most of them as a form of false modesty (let’s be realistic, I know I’m not stupid), but using them at all isn’t doing me any favors. I mean really, if I can’t stand up for myself, to myself, who can I stand up for?

Say goodbye:

5. Fat – What the hell does this word accomplish unless you’re making a salad dressing or a marinade?

4. Ugly – So I don’t ascribe to the accepted norm of beauty – that doesn’t make me ugly. What it does make me is appreciative of all forms of beauty.

3. Bitch – I will stop referring to myself as a bitch simply because I am calling you out on your shit.

2. Stupid – I love my friend K because whenever I say “Oh my God I’m so stupid” and she hears it she gets angry and says, “Don’t say that about my friend.” It’s a little thing but it reminds me that the crap I wouldn’t put up with being said about a friend I will gladly heap on myself. And, come on, we all know I’m fucking brilliant.

1.Sorry – I’m tired of apologizing all the time. I’m not sorry, I’m learning. I’m not sorry, I have something to say. I’m not sorry, I’m standing up for myself. I’m not sorry, I want service. I’m not sorry for my existence. I am sorry that it took me this long to figure that out. But I won’t say it out loud.

10 authors I think you should read

by mollykl

No, I don’t know everything, but yes, I do know some authors. Trust me, you’ll be better off having read these.

1. Madeleine L’Engle. She might sound familiar to you for A Wrinkle In Time (which, not coincidentally frequently finds itself on the list of most banned books). I’m a particular fan of An Acceptable Time (the culmination of the time series) and A House Like A Lotus (which was actually my first exposure to M.L. )

2. Jane Austen. Oh come on, you knew this had to be on the list. Just read Pride and Prejudice. You won’t be sorry. If you’re one of the guys I work with who think Jane’s either too far above you/beneath you? Just read, and do everything D’Arcy does. Trust me. And then thank me.

3. Ian Fleming. Read the books. No, don’t say, “but I’ve seen the movies!”. Read. The. Books.

4. David Quammen. Want to know a little of the world you live in? Read David Quammen. The guy explains natural science in a way that any idiot can understand (and that’s this idiot’s opinion). You’ll have a better understanding of the natural world and a greater appreciation for the fact that you’re still alive in it.

5. J.G. Ballard. I’m a huge fan of The Drowned World, which is classified as sci-fi, but is really more about the psychological breakdown of the human mind. Also, it’s a chilling reminder that we never truly escape certain moments of our past – we just keep reliving them. (Oh, and please note that it’s about global warming – 50 years before there was such a notion as global warming)

6. Dorothy Sayers. What can’t that woman do? Her translation of The Divine Comedy is one of the most accessible ever done – it makes Dante’s concepts understandable (a feat, since most translators focus of the poetry rather and the context). Oh, and as mentioned to a couple of college guys I knew in 1987 who thought that Lord Peter was a bit of a ponce, “Hello, dumbasses? these girls are telling you, in detail, what they want. Shouldn’t you be taking notes or something?”

7. Mark Twain. The moment in Hucklberry Finn when Huck says, “alright then, I’ll go to hell” because he’s willing to sacrifice his soul just to be friends with Jim is probably the greatest moment in American literature we’ve ever seen. At some point, with luck, the country will realize it.

8. Robert Browning. Just read My Last Duchess. Read it several thousand times. I think I have. It’s beautiful and frightening and beautiful.

9. Antony Beevor . Stalingrad The Fateful Siege was a Valentine’s Day present from husband J. (Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…most girls get flowers or jewelry I get a book about 500,000 people dying in the freezing fucking cold). But it wa one of the best presents I ever got and one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read.

10. Arturo Perez Reverte. The Club Dumas is amazing. No. Do not watch the movie version. I don’t care of Johnny Depp was in it. It is awful and has NO RELATION to the movie. Oh, and pay close attention to Irene. Also, it helps if you’ve read Milton first, but is not essential. In hindsight, having seen Sherlock would help also. You’ll understand after you read. If you don’t, give me a call and we’ll have a drink and I’ll expound. At length.

If you feel like commenting add your two cents and tell me who I need to be reading.10 authors I think you

5 things I learned from Batman: The Animated Series

by mollykl

1. Never underestimate a girl (see: Barbara Gordon/Batgirl)

2. The aesthetics of the 1920’s never loses it’s charm.

3. Never underestimate a woman (see: Talia Al-Ghul, Zatana, Selina Kyle/Catwoman)

4. You can never go wrong with red lipstick and black eyeliner.

5. Did I mention never underestimate a woman?