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A Little Citizen Goes to Washington

IMG_3647One week ago as Donald Trump took the oath of office, I boarded a plane for DC with my six-year-old daughter, Lucette.

In the days after November 8th when the first rumors of a Women’s March on Washington began to surface, I told my husband Bruce, “I’m going. And I want to take Lu with me.”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why. Not so much why I myself would want to go, to put on a pink pussy hat, to march with sign held high down the streets of our capitol—I knew I needed to do something drastic, to get up off the couch, out of my safe San Francisco bubble and make my voice heard. But why, as my Dad asked me a few weeks ago, why would I “put a child in that sort of situation.”

Because, I said. Because she is a Little Citizen. Because she will one day be a woman, and the things that are happening in our country today will directly impact her life. Because I want her to know that her mom stood up, not only for her, but all women and girls—of all colors, creeds and concerns. Because someday I want her to be able to say, “I was there, too.” Because I want her to know that she can say No. That it is very American to resist. That protest is patriotic, too. That this is what democracy looks like. That she has power. That her voice matters, and so she should stand up and shout.

She’s only six, but she gets it—she gets the heart of why we were there. She spent hours crafting her very own march sign that on one side said, “It is not OK to be mean” and on the other, “I can teach you to be a better person, and you can be a kind person.”IMG_3750

“Will Donald Trump be there, Mom?” she asked me, “will he see my sign? Because I wrote it so he knows that he can be a kind person. He should be a kind person. It’s dumb to be mean to me just because I’m a girl.”

The metro to L’Enfant Plaza was incredibly crowded—Lu’s Auntie Kathy handed her an iphone playing My Little Pony to distract her from the absolute crush that was honestly starting to freak her out.

But when we hit the streets, when people straightened their pussy ears and lifted their poster board signs and began to chant, “Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!” I watched Lu’s eyes get wide with wonder. “Mom,” she whispered, “there are so many people here! Are they all here to march with us?”

And when I told her “Yes, we are all marching together today,” and I saw the white dome of Capitol Hill just blocks away, surrounded by a sea of pink hats, I started crying. Not sad tears, I had to explain to her—proud tears. I was so fiercely proud to be there.


For most of the day, our “march” was more like a shuffle. But I have never been crushed in a crowd of kinder, more polite people. There was no pushing. There was no arguing. Other women helped me lift Lucette up to my shoulders so she could see (and breathe). Other moms gave me the wink and nod as they shouldered their own kids.

I honestly don’t know how much of that day Lu will remember. It was inspiring and empowering, yes, but it was also emotionally draining and difficult—and I’m just speaking for myself as an adult! Hanging around in a crowd of half a million people wasn’t all fun and games for a 6-year-old either (although I did find her a tree to climb and an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles).

I think she’ll remember the hats, and the signs, especially the ones that she thought were hilarious. I think she’ll remember that there were more people there than she’s ever seen in her life, and they were all laughing and smiling and helping each other. She’ll probably remember the pink hair spray she asked me to color her pigtails with. But I hope somewhere, the knowledge that she can make a difference remains and sinks down into her very bones.

The day after the march was pretty special, as we spent it visiting monuments and memorials—Lincoln and FDR and Korea and Vietnam, where I had to explain the concept of war.


Her favorite was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—she had just finished learning about him at school and I overheard her telling her Aunties, “Did you know that Martin Luther King changed the world? People thought that if you had brown skin you weren’t as important as if you had light skin? Isn’t that stupid? But then Martin Luther King told people, ‘No, we’re all the same inside.’ Just like how if you have two eggs and one is white and one is brown, it doesn’t matter because inside the yolk is still yellow in both of them and you can’t even tell them apart!”

One of the hardest things about being a parent, to me, is the ever-present and awesome responsibility to do right by this small human being. To love them unconditionally, yes, but also to equip them with the knowledge and confidence and fortitude they will need to be a good citizen of the world.

Our world today is not the one I want for my daughter. But going to the March, I think, was a way of showing her that hope is greater than fear, and that she herself is brave and strong and powerful. And she is not alone.


It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

Although honestly I don’t actually feel like crying. I did that yesterday when I woke up to what certainly felt like the end of the world as I knew it. The dawn of a new world helmed by a misogynistic, bigoted, fascist, racist, hate-spewing, violence-inciting, completely unhinged orange despot-elect.

But then I got mad. I got together with my tribe of strong and powerful and brave women, with my men of quality who do not fear equality, and I made a commitment to raise hell. To say No More. To stand up for a better world, a kinder world, a more open and connected and curious and inclusive world. A world that embraces Love and rejects fear. This is what I will fight for what I will work for, what I will pray for–for the next four years and the next four decades and however long I have breath.


Change is coming. This election, this crisis, this unbelievable unfolding of events has awakened the Katniss in me–and in thousands and millions like me. We are not sitting this one out, crying and scared in a corner. We are standing up. We are marching forward. We are linking arms and  raising voices and moving mountains. Hope trumps fear. Love trumps hate. Even now. Especially now.

I worked on this poem for 4 months, earlier this year and finished it about 4 weeks ago. It feels more true and more powerful now than it did when I put down my pen.

2016 has been an almighty shitstorm of a year. And maybe we’ve just barely seen the worst of it. They say things get worse before they get better, don’t they? But here today, on my birthday, I–the natural-born pessimist–am saying that I BELIEVE it will get better. Because we will make it better. We will.




I want to give you the world
but not this one.

Not the one where a boy
with dirty fingers
can stuff you with leaves
behind a dumpster
and get off easy
because he can swim 200 meters
in a hot fucking minute.

Not the one where a man
with a grudge and a gun
turns a dance floor
into an abattoir
where rainbow lights pulse
on the tortured limbs of dying men
who came out for the music.

And those bullets, oh child,
you have to dodge them everywhere,
take care, take cover
at the office
at school
at concert halls and cafes.
Even first graders here
know how to cower in a closet
while their teacher lays down
her body as a barrier.

Not for you, a world
ruled by moneyblind megalomaniacs with
big fears and small minds
and small hands
and small opinions of women
of poor people
of gay people
of brown people
of people in general.

There is no equality here
so don’t expect understanding
if the gender gifted you at birth
makes your very skin crawl
and you require stitches and knives
to make it right.
Don’t expect impartiality
if you share a bed
a live
a love
and genitalia, too.
That rainbow flag waves
in defiance here
more often than joy.

I want for you no limits
not the size of your curves
or the shape of your smile
or the purity of your unsullied sheets.
I want for you the assurance
that your sex does not determine your worth
or your health or your wealth or your freedom
of choice.
of voice.
Because this world does not want to listen, child,
this world will not give you ground and I

want to give you the sky but not this one
where dispassionate bombs
fall from the blue
obliterating schools
and hospitals
and hope.
Death delivered by remote control.

And people flee that death
and horror, that loss and
ruin unleashed by all the powers that be.
People run and they crawl and they swim
and even as their children sink beneath waves,
we won’t let them in. There is no room in this world
for the war torn
for the foreign born.
No vacancy for the burqa bearing.
No clemency for the keffiyeh wearing.
One whiff of otherness and
the door slams in your face.

I want to give you a window
to crawl through. I want to give you
wide open space. I want to give you
the ocean-deep depths. But the water
is choked with plastic and the prairies
are plundered for oil and
this place, child, this place
is headlined by blood by bullets by bastards

I do not want for you a world
where a cop fires his gun into a car
regardless of the
Baby on Board
the man behind the wheel was black
and then he was dead
and he was unarmed
and then he was dead
and his hands were up
and then he was dead.
And white men kill black men kill white men kill people
kill sons kill fathers kill sisters kill mothers kill brothers kill daughters kill people
kill kill kill.

And still
another man in blue will strap on boots
and his badge and his wife
will wait red-eyed by the window
while across town a black man slips on shoes
and his wallet and his wife
will wait red-eyed by the window
because this world, sweet child,
this world is ruled by fear.

I cannot give you this world, child.
Not the world that makes me
want to lie down and die
day after day after
24-hour news cycle.

But for you, for you
I will get up and go on
for one more day
and then another.

For you I will stand
and fight
for you I will kneel
and pray
for you I am woke
I will speak
I will vote
I will write
I will see
I will love
I will hear
I will hope.

For you, I will.



-Lo, who found her voice.

The Tyranny of the Mirror

Mood: exiting stage left | Drinking: tea, naturally


In honor of the impending neuroses of swimsuit season, I have a six-part poem for you…

The Tyranny of the Mirror

earth suit
Sometimes I forget how to lie
to myself
how to steely stare down
my mirror eye
and convince my reflection
she is good enough,
she is smart enough,
and goddammit, people
like her.

Some days I forget that what I see
doesn’t matter.
That what is housed invisibly within,
floating somewhere between bones and skin,
is more everlasting than its cage.

thick around the middle
I think about my body
every day.
Make lists
of unsatisfactory parts.
with no joy
the increasing distance
between hands
spaced on either side
of my waist.

I remember when
muffin tops
were just delicious
and bore no correlation
to shame.

grande y bonita
For weeks now, the Mexican man
behind the counter at the Shell station
has been flirting.

He woos me with free fountain sodas
and appreciative stares.

Finally today he asks if I have a boyfriend
and shakes his head in dismay
when I reply.

“When I come to America, I dream
of meeting girl like you,”
he says, looking up to meet my eyes.
“Strong. Big. Beautiful.”

I blush and pay for my Diet Coke
and all the way home, wonder if “big”
can be construed to mean “tall.”

skinny jeans
The “Diet for Dummies”
costs $40 to download
and I pay the price
without blinking,
print out the menu
that reads “broiled halibut”
and “carrot sticks,”
dream of slimming body image
solutions while couching
in sweat pants, munching
white cheddar Cheez-Its.

cell memory
Just because you wear new skin
than you did 2,556 days ago
does not mean the old you
has been forgotten.

Cell memory gets passed down
from regeneration to regeneration.
The new cells are born with collective
knowledge and an inferiority complex.

What you focus on the most is remembered,
is held within muscles,
whispered from vein to vein.
Even the smallest of cells knows
exactly how much you hate yourself.

seven years of bad luck
Somehow the tyranny of the mirror
remains through the ages unbroken,
undiminished by intelligence
weight loss
and the compliments of lovers.

Seven years ago I thought I was fat,
posing for pictures with a cheek-pinching
smile, stomach sucked
concave. Now I see

what that girl never could,
that she was traffic-stopping,
jaw-dropping, heart-popping

But standing sideways before the glass,
I think that seven years is a long time –
things grow. sag. wrinkle.
To find this woman beautiful,
I will need seven more.


-Lo, whose bikini days are behind her.

Girls Will Be…

mannekinMood: Distracted
Drinking: Diet Coke

They say what goes around comes around, and sometimes it’s true. Though not as often as you’d hope.

The evildoers don’t always get their comeuppance.
The naysayers are not always proven wrong.
The good guys don’t always get the credit or even the white hat.

But sometimes, sometimes it all works out.

Lately, the goings and comings around here have been a surprisingly pleasant resurgence of people from the past.

Most of it started on myspace, which is not, as the talking heads would have you believe, just a “teen website”. There are a whole heckuvalot of us non-teens on there, mostly because we’ve discovered that if you do enough clicking around, you’ll run into some long-time-no-see faces.

Sometimes during the expected lifetime milestones (like high school graduation), you look around at all those familiar faces and think to yourself, “Weird. I may never see these people again.” In my case, that thought was quickly followed by a “Thank God!”

But many times the milestone rolls by unnoticed and you transition from this thing to the next without taking notice of the names and faces that will soon be forgotten or, at the very least, grow a bit musty there in the back corner of your mind.

Then years later, when a name resurfaces unexpectedly in your myspace inbox, the recognition kicks in, with a whole host of unbidden memories of the time when that person was just another fixture in your daily routine.

One of the familiar faces that has recently reappeared in my virtual world belongs to AP, a girl I knew just in passing for about 4 years or so in my mid-twenties.

And here’s where the part about girls being (catty, competitive, backstabby) girls comes in…

AP and I could never honestly have called ourselves friends back when. True, we shared mutual friends and often collided at parties, but usually we shook it off and kept on walking. Much of it was my fault.

You see, one of the people I chose to let my little light revolve around during that time was Queen of the Misfit Social Club, and fought tooth and sparkly silver nail to keep her crown. She never wanted anyone to shine brighter or longer than she did.

As her unspoken understudy, it was my job not only to keep my own wattage on the dim side, but also to fend off the advances (real and imagined) of other “unworthy” luminaries.

So I’m afraid that AP got the brush-off, more than once. I didn’t give it much thought at the time. There was so much else going on and, let’s be honest, most of us don’t have the brain-space to think about anyone but our own sorry selves in our twenties, during that mad rush to figure out who we are, with accompanying whys and wherefores.

Fortunately, AP and I have gotten another chance to collide here on the far side of 29. It’s going much better this time around.

We’ve exchanged a very long and ever-growing string of emails, getting reacquainted and reconfiguring our perceptions of each other. And for the first time, we’re actually building a friendship.

I said to her recently, “I don’t think you and I would have ever had this conversation in our 20s. But here we are now, and it’s a lovely thing.”

So here’s to girls being kind to each other, to girls being unthreatened by another’s brightness. To girls just being (supportive, understanding, tag-tucking-in) girls. Woman power and all that.

It’s a lovely thing, indeed.

-Lo, who relinquishes her misanthropy on a case-by-case basis.


Mood: Determined
Drinking: The Usual

Can’t eat yet.
Can’t call my sister back.
Can’t finish checking email.
Can’t move can’t blink can’t breathe
until I get this down.
Until I get it out.
Get it aaaaall out.
Until I drag the
scantily-clad secrets, the
cats trapped in bags, the
brittle breaking skeletons
until I drag them all screaming
from the closet
and dash them to dust
here on the sidewalk
here on the street
here on the internet
out in the open
where everyone can see
just how deep the deception goes
just how much they really don’t know.
(They thought I was satisfied.)


I found her today.
And she’s better than me.
She’s LaDonna 3.0.
She has everything that I’ve got
but she’s added nifty new features
new buttons and bows.
And once you see her,
you’ll be begging for an upgrade.

She’s got accolades
and book deals. She’s got titles
and teaching certificates. She’s got
dreadlocks and baby bangs. She “writes
in the dark with an
exacto blade.”

I write by electric light.
I write with a black ink pen.

I am so soft core.
I am off the rack.
I’m the kind of drug
that requires no prescription.
I am midwestern.
I am milquetoast.
I’m the $6 matinee
with the conventional happy ending.
The one where the girl always gets
her guy.

That’s why they still call me sweetheart
no matter how cold my shoulder gets.


And I want to be one of the dark girls
one of the tough girls one of
the girls with the history and
the mystery and the dirty dirty laundry.

But I use too much bleach and salvation.

I want the heroin friends and
the industrial tour bus. I want the fan
girls and the band aids. I want
the suicide scars and the razorblade
haircut. I want the rollercoaster ride
after hours. I want the cigarette voice and
the whiskey fingers. I want some goddamn street cred.

I want to see her. I want
to be her.
I want to be better
than she ever was.

-Lo, who has dreams of cultivating a cult fan base in Germany.

Sugar, Give Me Sugar

Mood: Slightly breezy
Drinking: Cran/Ras Snapple

Had a little virtual banter yesterday with some blog commenters, most of whom were perfect strangers, about how hetero girls often get crushes on other girls. I don’t think it’s a big deal and don’t really get what all the hullabaloo is about. I’m a straight little arrow, but come on, women are SO MUCH PRETTIER than men. I’d rather look at a naked woman than a naked man any day of any week of any year. So I got a little sugar in me, as my friend C would say. But I’m not a gay lady. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

But some of the more uptight people in the world seem to think that if you start crushin’ on someone who shares your version of genitalia, well, then, you must be a little light in the loafers. Going the wrong way up the turnpike. Playing for the other team. Queerer than a $3 bill. A Bon-Bon Jovi. A real soprano. A jughandler. A friend of Dorothy. Must I go on?

All of which is just ridiculous. Actually, I think the whole homosexual “issue” in this country is ridiculous. I have many gay friends and there’s nothing “abnormal” about any of them. So there are boys who like boys and girls who make out with girls. SO. WHAT. Why does anybody want to make such a big deal out of it? Are we as Americans, as left over Puritans, *that* afraid of sex that we must banish homosexuals to dark basements and keep our precious marriage licenses out of their grubby hands? (Which could lead to a raging tirade about the “sanctity of marriage” in the age of Britney Spears. Puhleese. But I will refrain.) It’s just one more thing that makes me ashamed of my country.

But I digress. Because the real reason for this post is my list. See, I keep a Top Ten list of girls that I have crushes on. The top 5 rarely change, because they are goddesses.

And so, (trumpet toot), here’s my Top Ten “Sugar” List, the Famous version. I have a real-people version, too, but you’re not gettin’ your hands on that one…
(Click on the names for evidence…)

10. Scarlett Johansson:

Scarlett’s fairly new on the list, b/c my friend C’s gotten me hooked.

9. Gwen Stefani:

Gwen comes and goes, but with this new Harajuku/Alice in Wonderland thing she’s got goin’ on, she’s definitely on the list!

Selma Blair:

She’s kinda super skinny, but I have this picture of her dressed as Emily the Strange. Uh-huh.

Amy Lee:

Evanescence is my guilty pleasure. And I just have a thing for the poetic girls with the smooth pale skin, long black hair and big stompy boots. (Does that mean I’m in love with myself?)

Asia Argento:

Gotta love the Scarlet Diva. The Italian accent doesn’t hurt a bit, either.

Kate Winslet:

Kate jumped up to the top 5 after Eternal Sunshine. Love. Her.

Liv Tyler:

Something about those lips, that hair, those super-long legs. I’ve had a crush since that first Aerosmith video where she was swinging around a pole. Alicia Silverstone was in that video, too, but I had eyes only for Liv.

Monica Bellucci:

As our Gnashville friend M once said, “Monica Bellucci is sex.”

Shirley Manson:

Such a naughty redheaded Scottish lass. She had me from the first with her smudgy black eyeliner. (And the big stompy boots, once again.)

Angelina Jolie:

If I have to explain this to you, you’re not going to get this whole entry, anyway, so you might as well troll about the ‘net elsewhere. Angelina is the goddess of all goddesses and that’s all there is to it.

-Lo, who thinks that Britney is a skankier ho than Christina ever could be!