Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here's what you can do with your cookies, Governor.

Yesterday, Governor Pat McCroy took a plate of cookies to a group of women protesting outside of the governor's mansion.

They chanted back at him, "Pat, Pat, Pat was rude. Would you give cookies to a dude?"

His spokesperson responded with this comment:

"Sometimes a plate of cookies is just a plate of cookies."

Wait. His spokeswoman released that statement. 

She's wrong. If I take a plate of cookies to a neighbor, it means something. Maybe they've had a bad week, and it's a plate of cookies that says, 

"I'm sorry it's been rough. This is me caring through cookies."

I might take a plate of cookies to our friend's monthly neighborhood happy hour. That would be a plate of cookies that says,

"Thank you for including us. This is me building community through cookies."

Maybe I send a plate of cookies into school when it's my child's birthday. Those cookies say,

"Let's celebrate together. It's a special day, and I'm sharing my joy with you through cookies." 

His spokeswoman knew better. She knows that a plate of cookies always means something. Nothing goes without meaning. Especially in Southern Politics. 

Here are some things that plate of cookies could have said,

"Sorry I broke a significant campaign promise and signed that bill."

"Sorry I signed a bill that we tried to pull off as being about women's health but really will be closing abortion clinics all across the state. Oh, and sorry we called it a motorcycle safety bill. We thought it was funny at the time, but I see now that it was degrading and hurtful."

"Sorry I took time to step out and play catch while you were asking for my time and attention earlier this summer. I should have known you had things to tell me that weighed heavy on your hearts and minds, and that it was my duty to listen."

"Sorry I've done nothing but mock you with my condescending ways and then called you the ones misinterpreting it because I was just being nice and you are too sensitive. I should own my actions and be more honest."

"Sorry I keep doing things that are ruining our state. I just can't seem to help myself. It's so easy to make all this political stuff about me and my buddies. Here, have some cookies to help you feel better."

They didn't say any of that, of course. What they did say was this,

"Aren't you pathetic, still outside my mansion, protesting the motorcycle safety bill. It's signed. It's done. Have a cookie and go home."

"Have a cookie. If you were at home, you could have made them yourself."

"It's not about your opinion on my policies. It's about COOKIES."

"I didn't have time for you when the Legislature was still in session, but look how kind I am now. I bring you COOKIES."

"Here are some cookies. Just because I'm a swell guy. Now go ahead and point out what they really are, and I'll release a statement dismissing you again, calling you overly sensitive. Making it seem like you really just don't understand how things in the big boys' world work."

I'm discouraged. I'm disillusioned. The state I came to 15 years ago is turning into the state I left behind. I can't count the number of times I've been told, "You are just too sensitive. This is just the way things are." 

I'm not too sensitive. I see things for what they really are. And that plate of cookies, Governor McCroy? Well, it would have been far better received if it had come with a main course of stop-screwing-our-state-over.

This is it. This is the time where we decide if we are going to let North Carolina continue on it's downward spiral, or if we are going to stand up and call out the cookies. I'm calling them out.

You will not trivialize this, Governor McCroy. You will not attempt to position protesters in such a way that you can shrug and say, 

"I took them cookies. I'm a nice guy. What more could they possibly want?"

You know what we want. We want our state back. Cookies aren't fixing anything. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Turning "no" into a flight home

By Sunday, I was really ready to come home. There were things I wanted to do - an invitation to the Art Institute or a sightseeing cruise - but when it all came down, I just wanted to see my boys before they went to bed that night.

Unfortunately, my flight didn't get in until 10:00 PM. They would have been asleep for hours.

Having used up every ounce of fabricated extrovertedness I could muster anyhow, I packed my bags and headed to the airport. I took a taxi to the train station and the train to O'Hare. It cost me around $10, mainly because I ridiculously over tip cab drivers.

My first stop was the American Airlines self check in. "I would like to catch an earlier flight home. Can you help me?" I asked.

"No, but you can do that on the self serve kiosk behind you."

"No" number one.

I move to the kiosk and begin typing in all of my information. The kiosk informs me that there are no seats available for an earlier flight.

"No" number two.

There is an American employee standing beside the kiosk, so I smile and ask her if I there is another option to finding an earlier flight home. She shakes her head and told me that the people at the desk have the same information as the kiosk.

"No" number three.

At this point, I was checked in for my late flight home, and I still had four hours to kill. I went and stood in line at the main American counters.

When it was my turn, I stepped up to the man behind the counter and said very calmly, "I would really like to get home sooner, can you help me get on an earlier flight? I know the kiosk said there wasn't anything, but I was hoping you might be able to help me."

He said he would try and began plucking away at the keyboard of his computer. No weather delays. Lots of standby passengers already. There was nothing he could do.

"No" number four.

I asked him what gate the next flight to Raleigh would be using, and he told me. He said I could ask the gate agent, but there wouldn't be anything for them to tell me.

After I made it through a very slow security line, I found the gate with the plane leaving for Raleigh.

FINAL BOARDING CALL the sign blinked above the desk.

I stepped up and smiled at an incredibly tired looking attendant.

"Yes? Do you need something?" she asked.

Pulling out my calm smile once again, I told her that I had hoped that she could get me on this flight to go home. I really just want to go home.

Sigh. "I have too many standby passengers as it is. I'm not putting you on my standby list."

"No" number five.

I smiled and raised my eyebrows at her.

Sigh. "I guess you can wait there and see."

I replied, "I've got nothing but time. Thank you so much."

She went through her remaining list of standby passengers. One by one they boarded the plane. Finally, she turned to me and said, "I guess I can take you, but it will be $75."

"Wonderful," I said. "I could just hug you, although that would be inappropriate."

A quick scan of my card (justified by not spending the money on the cruise or a cab home later that night) and an even quicker text to Kevin to tell him I was on my way, and I boarded the plane with not one, but two seats to myself. Ninety minutes later, I was landing in Raleigh and hugging my boys.

Turns out, they even delivered my luggage to me the next day instead of making me come back to the airport and pick it up. I did a lot of smiling at that guy too.

There are so many times when I'm told "no," and I just give up. It doesn't seem worth arguing or fighting back. Of course, this time I didn't argue, and I didn't fight. I just kept smiling and asking the question in a different way to a different person.

And come to find out, "no no no no no" in American Airlines vocabulary? Actually means "yes."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Me too

Walking through the expo at BlogHer is overwhelming. There are so many people and so many booths and so much of all the stuff in the world. I walk through alone because it's too much for me to be there in all that stimulus and carry on a conversation with a friend.

I stopped to learn about Yiva, a cool looking natural PMS symptom reliever, and the nice PR guy asked me,

"So, is this something you think you would write about?"

"No," I replied.

Simply put, no.

If BlogHer does one thing for me every year, it is to fortify me as a personal blogger. It stirs the desire to write and tell stories. It reminds me that the moments that drive me to blog are, simply put, the moments that make us say,

"Me too."

When Ann passed out these bracelets at the Listen to Your Mother brunch, just hours before I was supposed to head back home and into family life again, I couldn't stop myself from choking up a little. It was the perfect end to the weekend.

Thank you, Ann. Thank you, BlogHer.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

BlogHer 2013

It's that time again. Time to pack a bag and head to BlogHer.

I actually have goals this year. Having the honor of producing Listen to Your Mother in Raleigh this year has breathed new life into my desire to write and create a professional presence online. A new website is coming, and this blog will be laid to rest.

I have been blogging here for over seven years - an anniversary that passed without notice or flair. This space will always be missing something now that Susan is gone, and I decided awhile ago that I didn't want to be here without her.

But I do want to write. I want to be a part of this community still. I want to tell you about my children, my dogs, my guppies, the chickens that are on their way to my backyard. I want to share what I'm making because after all, making things is what keeps me going. 

So if you meet me at BlogHer, and by chance, come here to see what I'm doing, the answer is, regrouping.

I'll be at BlogHer honing my writing skills. Gearing up for more posting and less silence. Getting help on moving into my new space. Finding advice on starting a local writers' group. Thanking BlogHer for creating a place to nurture the relationships we have here. Hanging with my friends. Meeting some new people. Enjoying all of the "me too" moments that happen when you share your stories. And probably eating Cheeseburgers while wearing silly hats. Because all work and no play and all that jazz.

I'll keep writing here until the new space is up and running, but I hope you'll follow me on Twitter so that you can come say hello when I've moved. And if you are here because I met you at BlogHer, please leave me a link to make sure I come see you too.

I almost forgot - I'll be in my favorite place at BlogHer, the Serenity Suite, on Friday and Saturday from 1:00-2:00 PM. In the Sheraton, suite 1287. Please stop by this anxiety and alcohol free space and say hello. I'll share a Diet Coke with you, and if you know me, you know I don't share Diet Coke with just anybody. 

One more thing, that's one of my besties up there eating a cheeseburger with me. She's sitting this year out because she has a bundle of sweet goodness named Chase who needs her and her boobies at home with him. You should check out her food blog: A Little Nosh.