the one with the politics

I’m gonna assume that if you stumbled across my tiny angry queer blog somehow and didn’t run away screaming, we’re not in violent disagreement about Right Versus Wrong or Should Babies Be In Prison or Are Black Or Indigenous Or Trans People Human or any of the other hotly disputed issues of the day. I started calling my members of Congress the day after the 2016 elections. I’ve written fistfuls of postcards. I got so active in my local Indivisible group, they eventually drafted me into leadership. My first order of business was partnering with SwingLeft to canvass in our local GOP-held Congressional district, CA-10.

CA-10 stretches from the foothills of Mt Diablo right across the Central Valley to the Sierra. It’s all of Stanislaus and a big chunk of San Joaquin counties. The big towns are Tracy and Turlock, Manteca and Modesto; the big industries are agriculture and being a bedroom community for Sili Valley. You can get from Tracy to San Jose in just under two hours on the Altamont Corridor Express. My first impressions of Tracy, back in January, were grim. Much of the town was carved out of cow-pastures in the 1990s, that nadir of domestic architecture where success equalled building a beige cube to occupy the maximum municipally permitted volume over its lot. My first day, I canvassed with a clipboard in a depressing mall on the suburban/rural border, complete with flashbacks to my adolescence as a supermarket cashier in same. It was rainy and cold. I talked to two Trump voters, one of them a woman. It was awful.

Things got a lot better when I started taking cronies from SF and knocking on doors. Even the Trump voters were pleasanter, and our fellow Dems are family. Tracy is much nicer in the sunshine, and it’s sunny most of the year. The very significant upside of those cow-pasture subdivisions is that the gardens are glorious. The most memorable was a little bungalow that had ripped out its lawn and replaced it with gorgeous native meadow plants – talk about life goals – but everyone had something amazing: vigorous bougainvillea or California poppies, jade plants spreading into whole jade trees, mature redwoods, tree ferns from my island home, and the wildlife to go with them: cheery, chatty murders of crows, raptors soaring on thermals, hummingbirds buzzing among the fuchsia, SO many butterflies.

I got fond of the drive out, through Crow Canyon with all its mustard plants, over the Altamont pass. (Less of the drive home through the traffic in the Maze.) I recruited enough folks that I had to drive a minivan to hold ’em all! Then I broke my leg. My good friend the esteemed Jack took over the minivan, and reports that almost 200 people showed up on Saturday – we used to get 20-30. I’m gonna miss the big finish in person, but today I signed up for texting all over the country. Man, has the technology ever moved along! It’s a far cry from Hillary HQ. I’m with Red2Blue, a class operation focused on cleaning lists and setting us up for success in future campaigns. We’re using Slack, GDocs and Relay. We survey. We sweep.

Some days, I can almost convince myself there are gonna be future campaigns.

But whether we win or not – and not seems likely; I’m not sure we can retake the Senate even if we retake the House – I’ll keep doing this. I should’ve been doing it all along. It’ll take more than electoral disasters or broken bones or rapidly collapsing democracies to stop me. I’ve been training for the resistance all my life.

long overdue catchup

Goodness, it has been a while, hasn’t it? We had a pretty good summer. We went to Los Angeles and saw the Bladerunner building and a spaceship.

We went to Portland and saw some waterfalls.

Oz, obvs.

Then Alain and Ross came to visit, and I dragged them over half of Northern California. Santa Cruz, Monterey, Muir Woods, Yosemite, Calistoga. They were thoroughly good sports about it.


All this and we saw Ray of Light’s Jesus Christ Superstar, the Berkeley Rep’s Angels in America, Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy in concert. I’m so lucky I did all those trips and went to all those shows, because the Monday after the boys went home, I had to do an emergency dismount from this gorgeous and wholly blameless fellow:

Suffice to say that for once I did not stick the landing. Now I have an ankle full of titanium and I’m on crutches till Thanksgiving. Still, though. Worth it.

band sinister, by kj charles

“It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just, I’ve spent my whole life not saying anything to anyone, barely to myself in my own head, and now you want me to say it all out loud, and I can’t.”

exit strategy, by martha wells

Note to self, never, ever jump into a gunship with a bot pilot and fight off a construct Attacker code again. You almost deleted yourself, Murderbot.

all we can ever know, by nicole chung

We were sisters, at last, because we had decided we should be.

the rules do not apply, by ariel levy

My mother was happy in a way I never knew I could make her, and this made me love her with an openhearted abandon I had not experienced since childhood.

spinning silver, by naomi novik

And I was so tired of being afraid all the time. It felt like I had been afraid and afraid without stopping forever. I did not even know how afraid I had been

from “housing inventory snapshot”

When we left for the hospital to have our first child, that was our cozy Mission district nest. When we got home, sleep-deprived and terrified, with a six pound baby girl, her eyelids thin as membranes and her fists clenched on air, that house was a wreck, an unmaintained hovel with a deathtrap fire escape and peeling lead paint at toddler eye level.

the fact of a body, by alexandria marzano-lesnevich

They are dead. I am alive. What I feel standing on the grass of their grave isn’t release, not exactly. It’s grief, but not a bad kind.

there are more beautiful things than beyoncé, by morgan parker

When I drink anything out of a martini glass I feel untouched by professional and sexual rejection.

the trauma cleaner, by sarah krasnostein

…pain is a sacred puzzle…

secret historian, by justin spring

He…told me of the sad discovery he had made when he was 40, namely, that ‘pleasure doesn’t really make one happy,’

the road to jonestown, by jeff guinn

Everyone loved San Francisco, but Jones couldn’t suppress his fears that it would soon disappear in a mushroom cloud.

from “truman springs”

They played a podcast about a gay clockmaker in the deep South, as depressing as it was fascinating. The moral seemed to be: throw yourself into your work as much as you want, become the very best in the world at what you do, it doesn’t matter, nothing matters, you’ll still die alone.

Erica slumped in the back of Stephanie’s RAV4 and drank in the scenery. It was a cold, bright spring day. Snow lingered in the high Sierras, even as Hope Valley spread out a brilliant blanket of wildflowers. Past Markleeville, the redwoods gave way to the high desert and Bodie, the ghost town, lonely and severe. Then a twist of the highway revealed the pastel pink and blue moonscape of Mono Lake, its tufa towers menacing as alien monoliths.

rogue protocol, by martha wells

I hate caring about stuff. But apparently once you start, you can’t just stop.

circe, by madeline miller

How many times would I have to learn? Every moment of my peace was a lie, for it came only at the gods’ pleasure. No matter what I did, how long I lived, at a whim they would be able to reach down and do with me what they wished.

lower ed, by tressie mcmillan cottom

All institutions require our collective faith in them for them to work. We call that legitimacy.

the brothers, by masha gessen

“I’m sad. I feel like I’m watching the last perfect justice system in the world destroy itself.”

from “a bloody business”

Every day I wake up and find myself on a planet of barely-sapient chimpanzees, so, you know. I’m already dealing with a lot. Sasquatch has been on my mind, probably because we took the girls camping in the redwoods over July 4th. There seem to be a couple of things going on with our friend the Bigfoot. One is America’s class dynamic: the hoaxers, those clever rural con men, trying to get one over on gullible city folk like me.

The other is bears. The Sasquatch sightings in the Pacific Northwest that aren’t obviously faked, coincide with the distribution of grizzlies. In this age of a video camera in every jacket pocket, we’ve learned that bears with sore front paws will walk on their hind legs.

Bigfoot, in other words, is a wounded bear. And this is not just a case of mistaken identity. It’s about how lonely we are. How much we long for the other animals to requite our terrible love. How frightened we are at all the death we’ve caused, and how many more extinctions lie in wait.

little fires everywhere, by celeste ng

Izzy had the heart of a radical, but she had the experience of a fourteen-year-old living in the suburban Midwest.