Black Woman Blogging

One black woman's views on race, gender, politics, family, life and the world.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Got Sou-Sou?

I've never been an avid supporter of reparations for slavery. One, you don't have to go as far back as slavery to find civil rights violations for which reparations should be paid and for which you can find identifiable victims. For example, the banking industry, complicit with the federal government, made sure that mortgage loans weren't made to black homebuyers in the 40's and 50's seeking to buy in white neighborhoods and, in many cases, in black neighborhoods, too. The wealth transfer that a home represents, or the failure to be able to transfer such wealth, makes a tremendous difference in economic advancement. For those who can prove that their grandparents or great-grantparents were denied home loans based on their race, it wouldn't be too far of a stretch for the federal government to pay reparations, as it would be relatively easy to determine the value of the intergenerational wealth transfer that might have happened had they been able to buy a home and pass that home or the equity in it down to subsequent generations.

That said, if I had my way, instead of reparations for race-based housing discrimination, I would support just giving those who can show that their generation was affected by this housing discrimination an 800 FICO score. Why? Because with the mortgage meltdown (and you're fooling yourself if you think it's only the subprime mortgages that are going into foreclosure), I predict two major economic shifts in the financial landscape of black folks: 1) Lower FICO scores; and 2) Reductions in net worth as a result of being upside-down on mortgages.

And, with the mortgage meltdown and ensuing credit crunch, black folks are going to have a harder time getting access to capital to start businesses, especially with damaged FICO scores.

That is, unless they're of Jamaican or Trinidadian ancestry. Because Jamaicans and Trinidadians know something that those of us with Southern roots might not know: The power of the sou-sou.

What's a sou-sou, you say? A sou-sou (the Trinidadian term, I'm told) or a partner (the Jamaican term, I'm told) is nothing more than a saving circle. Each person in the group contributes a fixed amount on a regular basis, with each person taking a turn at getting the entire proceeds contributed for that installment. For example, if you have four people contributing $250 weekly, each person take turns getting $1,000 each week until every person has had a turn getting the entire week's contribution. It's not a Ponzi scheme or "Friends Helping Friends" -- and don't act like you don't remember "Friends Helping Friends." I think I was the only black person living in Oakland in the 90's who wasn't in "Friends Helping Friends." Anyway, assuming everyone in your sou-sou or partner can be trusted, everyone should get the benefit of a large payout. A sou-sou is a common means of helping someone start a business or pay off debt. And we all know that businesses are the key to wealth accumulation.

The sou-sou, I'm told, has its origins in West Africa. And it may be the cultural alternative to banks in these hard times to come. Whether we were greedy or just ignorant, many of us got taken in during the housing bubble run-up and are paying for it with lowered FICO scores, depleted savings, depreciated assets, and no access to capital. We might have no choice but to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, remember that "a bought lesson is a learned lesson," and turn to each other for the capital needed to start over. We might just learn something from our West Indian and West African brothers and sisters.

Got Sou-Sou?

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Black Women of South Carolina: Just Vote. Please.

I'm told by the press that one-sixth of the voters in the South Carolina Democratic primary will be African American women.

In short: Ah Sookie, Sookie now! (For those of you who didn't grow up with black mothers, loosely translated, this means "Watch out, now" or, as my older sister would say, "It's on like Donkey Kong.")

Sisters in South Carolina will be the first significant group of African American women to weigh in on the Democratic primary. No offense to our Nevada sisters, but they simply didn't make up one-sixth of the Democratic voters in the state.

I've made my preferences known on this blog since December. And yes, my Obama lawn sign is in the mail. But all that I would ask of my South Carolina sisters is this: Vote. Just vote. I don't care who you vote for. Just vote.

You will be the first significant expression of the will of African American women voters. Women voters whom Gloria Steinem seemed to forget about in her offensive January 8 New York Times op-ed. Voters whom the polls seem to leave out when they say, "Women voters went for Clinton, while black voters went for Obama." To borrow from Soujourner Truth, ain't we women? And ain't we black, too?

Let's face it. The Iowa caucuses weren't diverse, and both the New Hampshire primary and the South Carolina Republican primary were pretty much devoid of black voters. Nevada was more diverse, but we black women weren't represented in nearly the numbers we will be this Saturday in South Carolina. That is, if you do your part.

And your timing couldn't be more perfect. Sandwiched in between the not-so-diverse primaries and caucuses and Super-Duper Tuesday, your numbers will be in large part a bellweather for the Democratic candidates. You just might be king- or queenmakers. This is a wonderful catbird seat to be sitting in.

So all that I ask is that you vote in the large numbers you are projected to represent. We can fight about the candidates later. Just speak in significant enough numbers so that the candidates will have no choice but to pay attention to the rest of us sisters when they come to our states.

I'll be supporting you in spirit, staying up, watching the returns. And making sure no one steals my Obama lawn sign.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Real Mothers Never Give Up; Just Ask L.Y. Marlow

I never for a minute doubted that if I had gone missing, my late mother (referred to in this blog as “SWIE," for “She Who Is Exalted”) would have come to find me. I grew up knowing – and I mean “knowing” in the intrinsic, deep-in-my-bones, there-can-be-no-other-truth sense – that: 1) There is a God; and 2) My mother loved me more than anyone else in the world loved me, with the possible exception of my father. Even today, when I get pissed off at BMNB, I tell him that the only two things I know for sure is that there is a God and that my mother loved me; everything else is subject to debate.

If I had come up missing, I knew that SWIE would have hunted to the ends of the earth to find me. That she would have probably loaded up her Olds ’98 with my aunts – one riding shotgun, the other in the back, all smoking cigarettes and wearing house slippers – and set out looking for me and the poor sap who made the mistake of snatching me up in the first place.

I would imagine that hostage negotiations with SWIE would have gone something like this:

SWIE: Do you have my child? I said, DO YOU HAVE MY CHILD? . . . . Excuse me, DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO? Put my baby on the phone. I SAID, PUT MY BABY ON THE PHONE, GODDAMN IT! DON’T MAKE ME COME THROUGH THIS PHONE AND KICK YOUR ASS! You are getting on my one good nerve . . .

And, once apprehended, the offender would have been castrated. Why? Because SWIE believed that men who brought harm to children should be castrated as a matter of course. No judge, no jury, no due process of law. Castration on the spot. Period. Knowing her, she probably would have used a boulder, too. Or a butter knife.

I also knew that if I had gotten in trouble with the law, SWIE would have sought my release until she was released from this earth. Mind you, I’m not saying she would have condoned the behavior that got me in trouble with the law in the first place, but she would have sought my release nonetheless: “Now, Baby, you know what you did was wrong. But I’m going to write the governor to see if we can get you some clemency. You have to pay your dues, but maybe if you act right, we can get the governor to let you out a little early.”

That’s how strong a mother’s love is. Real mothers never give up. It’s just not in their contract.

Just as L.Y. Marlow.

L.Y. Marlow is the author of “Color Me Butterfly,” a nationally recognized book telling the story of four generations of women who endured domestic abuse, L.Y. being among them. The abuse she describes is “domestic” not in the sense that it only involved husbands and wives; it was “domestic” in that it permeated the entire household, with children also being abused by the male head of household. Ms. Marlow recently held a book reading and signing at Underground Books in Sacramento, and she was unabashed in wanting to tell the truth of “intergenerational domestic violence” in hopes that it might change at least one woman’s life.

Perhaps the life of her own daughter.

You see, for all of Ms. Marlow’s success in the literary world and as a domestic violence prevention advocate, she has been unable to eliminate domestic abuse in the life of the most important person in her own life: Her own daughter. Yes, Ms. Marlow’s daughter is in an abusive relationship with the father of Ms. Marlow’s granddaughter, the granddaughter that this abuser has threatened to kill. And despite the fact that Ms. Marlow has moved her daughter three times to get her away from her abuser, the daughter persists in staying with him.

So at her book readings, Ms. Marlow tells her daughter’s story, her fears for her daughter and her granddaughter, and her efforts to enact national legislation through her campaign, the Saving Grace Campaign, to allow relatives of battered women to step in as guardians and get restraining orders on their behalf. The idea, although novel, isn’t new. Ruth Jones, a professor of criminal law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, published an article in the Georgetown Law Journal advocating guardianships for coercively controlled battered women. Ms. Marlow plans to testify before Congress on this proposal because it could save so many women’s lives, including the lives of her own daughter and granddaughter.

Ms. Marlow recognizes that she can’t make her daughter leave her abuser. That moving her daughter won’t matter if the daughter isn’t ready to break ties with him. But she hasn’t given up. She continues to encourage her daughter, to try to build the self-esteem that is crucial to leaving an abusive relationship, to advocate for changes in the law that will help mothers like her not remain helpless while some person who probably never knew a mother’s love abuses their adult children. Ms. Marlow hasn’t given up, and she probably never will.

A real mother never does.

For more information on L.Y. Marlow, domestic violence abuse prevention, and the Saving Grace campaign, please visit colormebutterfly.com.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gloria Steinem: I Call BS

I never thought I'd have to choose between my race and my sex in a Democratic primary. I guess I should feel blessed for my choices. But somehow, I don't. And Gloria Steinem didn't help with her January 8 New York Times op-ed entitled, "Women Are Never Front Runners."

Ms. Steinem describes Barack Obama's career trajectory in a hypothetical, changing his sex to female:

The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, age 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father -- in this race-conscious country, she is considered black -- she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

If you answered no to either question, you're not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House.

N.Y. Times, January 8, 2008

As they say on the housing bubble blogs, Gloria Steinem, I call BS.

First, Gloria Steinem has not had the "pleasure" of living in America as a woman of color. She will never know the double bind of race (other than white) and gender. From where I'm sitting, she's got no valid point of comparison, IMHO.

Second, let's for a moment consider the qualifications of someone most jurists would have agreed did not have the "biography" to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Unlike her predecessor in the glass ceiling shattering department, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor didn't have the federal appellate court experience now considered required to even dream about sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court. (Note: I think the last law professor appointed to the court was Justice Felix Frankfurter, and I can't think of the last Justice appointed from a state supreme court). Not only that, she had spent the majority of her career as a jurist in an elected judge position -- four years with the Maricopa County Court -- followed by a two-year stint on the Arizona Court of Appeals. Not the Arizona Supreme Court, mind you; the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona's intermediate appellate court.

In short, President Reagan had to look long and hard to find a Republican woman like O'Connor. And he obviously had to overlook her lack of generally expected experience. Sure, Justice Marshall preceded her on the court, and well he should have: He had served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and as Solicitor General, not to mention his numerous arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the NAACP, including Brown v. Board of Education. I would suspect that he knew more about constitutional law when he took the bench than O'Connor did when she took the bench.

In fact, one might argue that -- dare I say it? -- O'Connor might have been less qualified than Justice Clarence Thomas.

Yet and still, despite her "biography," Justice O'Connor staked out and held the center of the court during the Burger and Rehnquist years. When I was in law school, my law school advisor, Professor Martha Minow, described the process of writing a brief for the U.S. Supreme Court back then: For the most part, you were only really writing to persuade O'Connor because you already knew how the rest of the Court would vote.

Yes, I'm aware that being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court is different than running for and winning the Presidency, but to say that women are never the front-runners? I call BS. White women most certainly are the front-runners. Unlike Geraldine Ferraro, you didn't see Jesse Jackson ever seriously considered for the VP spot on the Democratic ticket. What the Democratic front runners back then wanted to know was, "What Does Jesse Want?," as if he were an annoying child to be dealt with and dispatched to round up black votes for the eventual "real" nominee.

Gloria Steinem continued: If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago.

Perhaps, but not because of her sex -- because of her race and sex. And this is an experience Gloria Steinem will never, ever know. And since she will never, ever know -- and isn't this the never-ending problem with the mostly white female "feminist" movement? -- perhaps she needs to talk to those of us who do know before lobbing such a half-baked op-ed piece to the N.Y. Times.

Now, if the "lawyer described above" had been just as charismatic but named Sandra Day O'Connor, she might have had an excellent shot at being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And who knows? Perhaps President Obama will appoint Hillary to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nah. She doesn't have any experience sitting on a federal appellate court.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Oh No She Didn't! Now I'm Hotter Than Fish Grease!

"I think they have decided to run a relentlessly negative campaign, and I don’t think anybody who’s watching would deny that . . . . I gather that she’s determined that instead of trying to sell herself on why she would be the best president, she’s trying to convince folks that I wouldn’t be a good one.”


Sen. Barack Obama, N.Y. Times, January 14, 2008

And so it goes -- against my wise counsel (see my January 11 post), Hillary has decided to go negative on Barack Obama. Again. Based on events that happened in the past -- who was most responsible for the gains of the Civil Rights Movement. And she's even got the chief peddler of Black Cultural Porn, former BET President Robert Johnson, joining in the chorus, with a less-than-oblique reference to Obama's drug-using past.

And now, as my friend Sheila in Denver says, I'm hotter than fish grease. (Note: For those of you who lack Southern roots, black Southerners fry catfish in large quantities of peanut oil heated to extremely high temperatures. In fact, peanut oil is the oil of choice for frying fish because it is one of the few oils that can withstand being heated to extremely high temperatures without bursting into flames. Hence the term, "hotter than fish grease." Sheila's family is from Virginia.) What this Democratic primary is turning into is what I perceive to be a generational divide between the older Civil Rights Generation of blacks versus my generation and younger, and, IMHO, Hillary is trying to go negative on Obama to shore up her Civil Rights Generation support. At the risk of speaking out of turn, I know that as far as I'm concerned, enough is enough. I'm tired of the negative campaigning from the Hillary campaign. This little tiff seems to be much ado about nothing, yet another war of words to distract us from the record Hillary ought to be running on -- her own.

And I don't think I'm alone. I'm tired of the whole "politics as Washington bloodsport" approach to political campaigning. I don't care who said what about things in the past -- what I want to know is why each candidate should be President of the United States. Make your own damn case for your own damn candidacy. This time around, you don't get to win by default by trying to detract from and destroy all the other candidates. Not this time around. IMHO, this is a different kind of primary, primarily because of Obama.

Despite the fact that my political jinx status is still in play, now I'm hotter than fish grease and might just have to get involved. I just might have to make another donation to the Obama campaign. And buy an Obama lawn sign. And walk precincts, like I did for Gore and Kerry. I might just have to go all out because I'm tired of the negativity and the lack of fair gamesmanship (gameswomanship?). Enough is enough. I'm hotter than fish grease, and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Memo to Hillary: Don't Campaign for the Job; APPLY for it

To: Hillary Rodham Clinton

From: Black Woman Blogging

Re: Your Campaign for the Democratic Presidential Nomination

Congratulations on your recent victory in New Hampshire. As you acknowledged in your victory speech, it was indeed a comeback -- a comeback that, IMHO, resulted from you exhibiting a more humane and less perfect image of yourself. I would imagine that you hope to repeat the process in Nevada and South Carolina. If I may make a suggestion that I think will help you succeed down the line and possibly in the national election, it is this: Instead of campaigning for the job of POTUS, apply for it.

Yes, you read correctly. Apply for it.

What if, instead of opening each campaign stop with a canned stump speech, you simply said to each crowd, “I’m Hillary Rodham Clinton, and I’m applying for the position of President of the United States. And all that I ask is that you give me fair and equal consideration.”

What person in your key demographic, women ages 40-65, hasn’t had to actually apply for a job? What woman in that demographic hasn’t been denied a job for reasons unrelated to her qualifications? In addition to your “application,” instead of going negative on Edwards and Obama and their respective records, why don’t you circulate a brief “resume” that actually substantiates the thirty-five years of experience in making change that you say you have? The problem you had coming into the primaries and caucuses was that (1) people already knew you; (2) they decided they didn’t like you; and (3) nobody wanted a coronation of a candidate given all that’s at stake. Perhaps if you take a more humble approach but emphasize that THIS IS a job interview, albeit with an interviewing committee of millions, and not AMERICAN IDOL, you can continue to campaign on your record and accomplishments instead of having to well up in tears at every campaign stop to make people like you. You’re not going to win on the likeability factor, so you need to change the paradigm – should anyone be denied a job that they are perfectly qualified for just because they’re not liked? Think of how many women this has already happened to. If you put yourself in the position of an applicant, you make yourself a more relatable candidate AND you put voters in the empowering position of thinking more about qualifications and less about “likeability.” In short, if you treat it like a job interview, perhaps the American public will, too. And they may want to "interview" all the other candidates, too.

Now, when you circulate that resume at campaign stops, be brief -- not a five-pager, but a one-pager with bullet points, your objective (“To become President of the United States), a brief summary of your skills and accomplishments, and, most importantly, your references. You could even put it on a webpage (hillarysapplicationforpresident.com –which, by the way, wasn’t taken as a domain name as of this morning).

And once the crowd knows you’re serious, sit down, shut up, and take questions, period. No plants, no shills. Ask them to please treat this as a job interview because it's THAT important. Then just plain talk to people -- respond to their concerns and tell them why you think you’re the most qualified person for the job, eschewing that stump speech and Stepford candidate approach that made the woman in New Hampshire who asked you, “How do you do it?” actually vote for Obama because he moved her and you didn’t.

Mind you, you’re going to have to be comfortable not being in control. You’re going to have to be good on the fly. You’re going to have to be . . . well, I hate to say it, but you’re going to have to be . . . Bill.

Yep, Bill. What set Bill apart was that he could handle questions from an unscripted audience and make a good argument. He was engaging, not defensive. Sometimes he just agreed to disagree, but he was respectful in speaking to people on an individual basis.

Once you turn the paradigm on its head, you shift the playing field to your advantage.

Now that’s thinking like a woman.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Rise and Fall of the Moman

Moman: A woman who believes she can succeed in competing against men by acting more masculine than men.

I think Hillary Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire is due in large part to one factor: For a brief moment, she stopped being a moman.

Now, I don’t have anything against strong women. I am one. But I also believe that women experience the world differently, and to ignore those differences in service of the idea that a woman has to be more masculine than a man to succeed is a disservice to women. When Hillary allegedly “found her voice,” I would suppose it was more feminine this time around.

Not girly, but feminine.

We all experienced the momen of the ‘80s, with their uptight suits with the padded shoulders and blouses buttoned up to their chins. With their newly minted degrees, they were determined to out-man men to succeed in corporate America – putting off childbearing and demeaning those to whom family and children were important as not committed to women’s equality; working more hours than men, no matter the cost to their family relationships and health; walking and talking like them. Momen dictated to the rest of the female sex what success was going to look like, and oddly enough, it looked just like the flawed American white male paradigm. The quintessential moman is Margaret Thatcher, and I don’t think anyone in American wants a Thatcher clone.

The '80's momen discovered that, no matter how much they tried to imitate men, they would never be accepted as equals to men. Too bad they didn’t figure this out before their fertility waned. It took until the ‘90’s for momen to wake up and say: I’m going to flip the script. I’m going to succeed on my own terms without playing like a man. I’m going to succeed as a woman, not a woman imitating a man.

The problem with Hillary coming into New Hampshire, IMHO, was that she had morphed into a quintessential moman – talking about the issues in strident, nasal-inflected tones, going negative on Obama and Edwards when she really needed to be more like second-term Bill Clinton, “feeling our pain” in words that didn’t sound stilted and scripted.

Well, I think she broke through her moman shell with her display of emotion. And it resonated. And women flocked back to her. If she’s going to win the nomination, it will be because of 40-70 year-old old-guard feminists who, pardon the expression, have the balls to stand up to the nation and say: We got next. It’s our time. But in order for Hillary to keep these women on her side, she has to campaign like a woman, with the promise that she will govern like a woman. The moman thing just wasn’t working. Hell, if we wanted another guy in the White House, not only is this year’s field of male Democratic candidates interesting enough, but they're eye candy, too. And they don’t have any problem disassociating themselves from the Iraq War because, unlike a moman, they’re not afraid to admit that they were wrong on the issue in the first place.

So, memo to Hillary: Stop with the moman crap. Run like the woman you are. Give voters your vision of why a woman-governed U.S. might be different and better and more inclusive. Then, just then, you might just win this thing.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 7, 2008

Obama, Hillary Got Barack'd! Obamaudacity On The Move

"Obama, he Barack'd my world!"

Grace Adler, commenting on her "dream" about Barack Obama, Will and Grace

Well, it looks like 1) I might not be the political jinx I thought I was, and 2) Hillary Clinton got Barack'd in Iowa, and not in the same way Grace Adler from Will and Grace describes her "dream" experience with Obama. Clinton didn't even tie or come in second; she came up a bit short behind Edwards.

Looks like we have a real primary going on, not some insipid coronation.

And, as I referenced in my previous Obamadacity post, it was, in large part, due to young voters turning out, many for the first time.

I couldn't be more proud.

That so many young voters -- most of them college students, I understand -- turned out in bone-chilling weather to send a statement not only to the country but to the Democratic Party Establishment that, this time around, they would not be denied, makes me proud.

Proud that perhaps young people are taking their country back.

To all those young voters in Iowa, and those young voters who have yet to but intend to vote, I applaud and salute you. Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) and Dr. King would applaud you and salute you were they alive. They knew that the brightest and most fervent hope for an American that lives up to its principles of freedom and democracy lies with our young people.

And I love that, in a state that is 95% white, Obama was judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. If he keeps this up, he might not even need the African American vote -- so take note, those of my brothers and sisters who said that he's not "black enough." He might not have to be, whatever that is.

To those young voters in Iowa, I say, Barack on with your bad selves!

Obamaudacity -- coming to a Democratic Primary near you!

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, January 3, 2008

If Obama Loses, It's My Fault. No, Really.

If Obama loses in Iowa today, you have no one to blame but me. All me, all the time. Me, Me, Me.

Why?

Because I’m a political jinx. No, really, I am. And I can prove it.

Every political candidate whose campaign I have made a contribution to has lost. Let’s see:

Al Gore, 2000: Made a political contribution, walked precincts, even put a lawn sign on my sister’s lawn against her will. Lost. Well, at least he lost in the Electoral College, which, to me, is obsolete. But I digress.

John Kerry, 2004: Made a political contribution and walked precincts. Lost to a candidate who had already demonstrated himself to be inept and incompetent.

Harold Ford, Jr., 2006. Couldn’t even walk precincts for him since he’s from Tennessee. Of all the African Americans who were running for the U.S. Senate in 2006, he was the only one whose campaign I contributed to. Trust me, I had inside knowledge. I used to live in North Mississippi which, many would argue, is really south Memphis. That meant that, on the weekends, I pretty much lived in Memphis (and if you ever get a chance to go, do check out the ducks at the Peabody Hotel, Memphis in May, and the Pottery Barn outlet). I couldn’t imagine that this son of a seasoned (but somewhat scandalized) Tennessee African American political family wouldn’t be elected to the U.S. Senate. Southerners don’t seem to mind political scandal, to wit: Governor Bill Clinton.

But Ford lost.

And what do all these candidates have in common?

I made a political contribution to their campaigns.

So, with the knowledge that I am a political jinx, I held out on making a contribution to the Obama campaign. Even though I signed up on the Obama website and had received many entreaties to give, I didn’t. You have no idea what a political jinx I am, I thought to myself as I read these pleas from the Obama campaign. Because if you did, you’d be asking me to make a political contribution to Hillary.

Even some of my family members have asked me to make political contributions to politicians they wanted to see lose, knowing the full power of my jinx. Since I didn’t want to be listed as a contributor to any of those folks, I declined.

But, like a moth to a flame, I was drawn in by the December 31st request from no other than Michelle Obama – or at least someone who sent an e-mail using her name. Mrs. Obama told me that if I gave a minimum contribution of $25.00 before midnight, December 31st, my contribution would be matched by another contributor in the U.S.

That’s like a 2 for 1 sale at Macy’s. That’s even better than the BOGO sales at Payless Shoes. (Yes, I shop at Payless Shoes. Get over it.)

Like the cheap consumer that I am, I was drawn in for what amounted to a sale price for my political contribution. And as soon as I clicked on all the boxes stating that I wasn’t affiliated with any political PAC, that I was making the contribution on my own and not on behalf of anyone else, yada, yada, yada, a box popped up informing me that my contribution was going to be matched by Donna W. of Bethesda, Maryland, and would I like to send a personal message to her?

Indeed I would. Indeed I did. Not only did I effectively double my contribution, but I got the pleasure of human connection with a fellow Obama supporter from the other side of the country. It wasn’t until I clicked the “send” button, flinging my personal message to Donna W. in Bethesda into the ether, that I realized just what I had done.

I doomed Obama’s candidacy. All by my lonesome. I knew I was a jinx. I should have gnawed off my fingertips rather than make a political contribution, online no less such that I couldn’t cancel a check, to someone I actually wanted to see succeed.

So, if he loses, you have no one to blame but me.

Now, where’s my checkbook? Might as well make a contribution to Mitt Romney . . . .

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Day!

Instead of celebrating the arrival of each new year, what if we were to celebrate the arrival of each new day? What if we greeted the arrival of each new day with, “Happy New Day!” and treated each new day, and not just each new year, as a chance to begin again, as a repository of hope, as a wellspring of optimism?

Well, here’s your chance. Because with the arrival of each new day, not just each new year, there comes the promise of yet another opportunity to try to it get it right, whatever the “it” in your life is at the moment. To paraphrase from one of my new favorite books, “The Kite Runner,” “There is another opportunity to be good again.” Because if you look at all of the end-of-the-year in memoriam articles, and if you’re now reading this, the one thing you’ve got over Ike Turner, Benazir Bhutto, Merv Griffin and many others who made the news in 2007 is that, as one person so aptly put it, you woke up on the right side of the dirt this morning.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have your usual annual goals. Lord knows I have mine, which I’m still putting down on paper. But one of my goals for the year is to not let the perfect get in the way of the good. To take each day as an opportunity to improve on the day before, without too much punishment, or praise for that matter, for yesterday’s performance. Because, IMHO, we women have a tendency to use each new day to punish ourselves for what we didn’t accomplish the day before instead of embracing the new day as yet another opportunity to get it right. And part of embracing that opportunity is actually using it to try to get it right. Otherwise, it’s just another new day. Don’t you think each new day deserves more of your respect than to treat it as just another day? Especially since none of us knows how many of these new days we have in store?

So with that, my entreaty to you this day is to celebrate this day and each and every new day individually. Embrace the opportunity it presents. Acknowledge the hope it brings. Respect it.

Happy New Day, everyone!