Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five

1. This has been the first full work week for me since before Christmas. (I know, poor me.) Between two weeks off for the holidays, an ill-timed, kick-ass cold, and my week-long trip for the Inauguration, I haven't managed to be in my office for five full days yet.
This has been a LONG week.
2. Today is the first day this week I haven't worn long underwear under my clothes. I feel so freakin' light and free!

3. I caved in and accepted the friend request from my boss on Facebook. I figure it will keep me honest and I won't be inclined to focus and fester on workplace frustation; I won't spout off crap on Facebook that I shouldn't be in the first place. Also, I do care for her a great deal. She is a fantastic person.
4. Hopefully I REMEMBER that my boss is part of my Facebook network. 
5.  A. has taken to watching the Denver Fox news program in the morning. (I hate local news programs of any sort. HATE. And Fox and Fox affiliates? Don't even get me started.) 
As I am puttering around the house in the morning, I hear A. laughing his ass off. He is thoroughly entertained by the absurdity of that show. Since I love the sound of his laugh more than anything on God's green Earth, I find I am thankful he tunes in to the show.

Happy Friday to you! May it breeze by quickly, and that your weekend is slow and relaxed.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Oh! This is AWESOME! I love that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act is the first bill President Obama signed into law.

[Image via the Associated Press]
President Obama's statement, via the

It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign - the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act - we are upholding one of this nation's first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.

It is also fitting that we are joined today by the woman after whom this bill is named - someone Michelle and I have had the privilege of getting to know for ourselves. Lilly Ledbetter didn't set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job - and did it well - for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits - losses she still feels today.

Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court, and lead to this bill which will help others get the justice she was denied.

Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows this story isn't just about her. It's the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn - women of color even less - which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.
But equal pay is by no means just a women's issue - it's a family issue. It's about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition or child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where, when one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves, that's the difference between affording the mortgage - or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor's bills - or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month's paycheck to simple discrimination.

So in signing this bill today, I intend to send a clear message: That making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone. That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it's not just unfair and illegal - but bad for business - to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. And that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook - it's about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, though, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are - and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals. Whether we'll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put to paper more than 200 years ago really mean something - to breathe new life into them with the more enlightened understandings of our time.

That is what Lilly Ledbetter challenged us to do. And today, I sign this bill not just in her honor, but in honor of those who came before her. Women like my grandmother who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up and giving her best every day, without complaint, because she wanted something better for me and my sister.

And I sign this bill for my daughters, and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

In the end, that's why Lilly stayed the course. She knew it was too late for her - that this bill wouldn't undo the years of injustice she faced or restore the earnings she was denied. But this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting, because she was thinking about the next generation. It's what we've always done in America - set our sights high for ourselves, but even higher for our children and grandchildren.

Now it's up to us to continue this work. This bill is an important step - a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness to American workers - and I want to thank this remarkable and bi-partisan group of legislators who worked so hard to get it passed. And this is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did - and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did - we will close that pay gap and ensure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedom to pursue their dreams as our sons.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Picking Your Brain

I am really trying to finish The Thesis. A. graduates in May (wahoo!!) and we both want to be free as a bird to make changes come the day after graduation.

So - I am looking for some help. Do you have some yummy recipes that are not fussy and quick to make? A. is going to be helping out with making dinner and stuff to help me free up more time in the evenings, but he is not to interested in cooking anything that is too involved or requires more than a couple of pots and pans. Any suggestions would be welcome!


Speaking of The Thesis, I have been swinging wildly on the Pendulum of The Impostor Syndrome. On one end, is I Can Fake It Until I Make It and on the other end is I Am Going To Get Caught for The Dimwit that I Am.

Good times.


I need to pick your brains, again! I need ideas for some nice, thoughtful, tasteful, and rather inexpensive thank you gifts for folks who put me up in DC and helped me get my ticket. The recipients are female, smart, hilarious, and work hard as hell.


It has been really, really cold here the past few days (-25 degrees F and windy) so we have been leaving the dogs inside. They don't really do well inside without us, and I don't even know how to train them to be "inside by yourself" dogs.

They did great on Monday and Tuesday. I just talked to A. He just came home for lunch and Buster and Belle got into some food and made a mess. Bah!

It is mostly food and trash cans that they get into. They aren't chewers and don't destory stuff, just make messes.

Any suggestions? How to trian nine-year-old dogs how to stay inside and out of trouble? The older they get the more difficult it will be for them to stay outside in the cold...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Oh, and Inauguration History!

I am still on a high, having visited and hung out with my dearest friends for a week and making the trek together to witness Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. That's right - I made it to the Inauguration! Many people contributed to making this happen for me, and I am so, so thankful. Truly, participating in that day meant so very much to me.

Without exaggeration, for the first time in my life, I felt proud to be an American. I am sure that sounds trite and cliche at this point, but it is true.

I have always been committed to the great experiment that is America with equal parts ownership and criticism as is required by active citizenship. But last Tuesday -- and that Tuesday in November- - I was proud, rather than just acting out of duty, to be a part of such a wonderful day, to help write a new page in our collective history book.

I waved my little American flag with pride and hope, jumped up and down and shouted in glee, hugged total strangers in shared jubilation and was unashamed of the tears that rolled down my face.


I spoke with my father on the phone the evening before the Inauguration. I inherited my spirited engagement in politics and civics from this man, as well as my (righteous) anger at the Dodo Administration. For eight years, I have heard this man agonize over the increasing loss of civil liberties, increasing obstacles for working-class and poor Americans to make a living, and the increasing role of fear in our lives. My father has spent most of the last eight years angry. He had spent years before that angry and hopeless. In our household, "trickle down" is a naughty, cruel phrase.

Last Monday, however, his tone was entirely different. He was so hopeful. He voice was light; he laughed. He was proud of his fellow citizens, instead of flabbergasted by them. He was happy.

I cannot adequately explain how much it touched me to hear hope and optimism restored in my father's voice.


I flew in and out of NYC, so the logistics of getting from a small town in Wyoming to the final destination of Washington, DC and back were complicated and exhausting. One vehicle (that I drove), three shuttles, one bus, one train, and two airplanes were involved. Sometimes, travel happened in the middle of the night, after successive nights of two or three hours sleep.

And it was so worth it.

The night before the Inauguration, I stayed at a dear friend, Doe's, house with most of the crew I used to run around with in DC, including my two best friends, DPR and JelBel. Gatherings at Doe's house are what I miss most about DC; they are warm times surrounded by family, and they just mean so much to me. This evening was no exception and was one of the many highlights of the trip.

The day of, we all got up in the dark, many after arriving home only three hours earlier from a ball. (I didn't go; I used the opportunity to visit more friends. Hi M & E!) We were out the door around 6:30 a.m., about a half-an-hour later than we'd planned. Not bad for getting over 10 people up and moving!

After seeing that the buses did not look too full, we decided to take one into the city. Unfortunately, we hopped on the wrong bus and ended up at the Pentagon Metro Station. It wasn't too crowded so we decided to take the Metro in. The trains were full, but not intolerable.

Until we got off at L'Enfant Plaza. HOLY SHIT. I have never seen a place so crowded. We didn't really walk, rather we just sort of shuffled our feet and let the momentum of the crown move us forward. At one point, because the exiting crowds were so backed up, Metro LOCKED US IN and then let us out in waves. Nuts.

The crowds at the ticketed gates of the Capitol (I landed a silver ticket! Thanks DR!) were equally huge, slow-moving and frustrating.

However, even during the most frustrating times, whether we were hot or cold, I never saw a single person - of my two million neighbors - have a meltdown. Not a one. There were no threats, no scuffles, no shouting. Not even the children who were out and about and that we walked past during our 4+ mile walk home afterward were struggling. When folks started to feel tense while trapped in the metro, people started chanting "O-BA-MA!" or started singing celebratory hymns. It was such a positive, deliberate day of peaceful jubilation. (When I returned, all of my co-workers had heard that there had not been a single arrest. Does anyone know if this is true? I certainly did not see any trouble.)

I was so impressed with everyone. It was so strange - and so exhilarating - to be surrounded by people acting out of hope, rather than fear.

Yes, we can.

UPDATE: My only regret: Not managing to meet up with Jess and Alice. Next time, for sure!