Every few years now, a fatal tornado hits a newly and inexpensively organized suburban area in a state otherwise filled with nature-rich landscapes as old as the Earth herself. Oklahoma, land of the Red Human and land of the red conservative, is made diversely of green hills, ancient rocky mountains, and dry prairie. Through all of her body, rivers and creeks spread like veins carrying water to and from lakes like organs giving us more shoreline than any other of the United States. She’s beautiful and hearty. But listen: Hell hath no fury like Nature unconcerned with humans who try to squeeze quick buildings into spaces she has claimed forever. Competitiveness between our natural state and our modern state may be inherent, but high death tolls don’t have to be the result.

I cried myself to sleep last night on my boyfriend’s shoulder after watching the news as the 2nd round of deadly tornadoes hit our state. My love for this place and her people are deep. Her pain is my pain. Oklahoma’s environment has provided her people with some of the most awe-inspiring views available from Earth. Those views can go from breathtaking:

oklahoma storm

Photo by Sterlin Harjo.

to heart-breaking:

moore tornado

Photo by Sue Ogrocki, AP.

in less than an hour. Oklahoma has given me soil to garden and sun and rain to grow food. Oklahoma has given me people unlike any others, strong women and sweet men. Oklahoma deserves our respect and intelligence. As her people, we should vow to work with her temper in order to keep each other healthy and safe.

If we build structures, especially public and other high-traffic structures, we must consider the environment in which we build. It is clear that environment includes the natural disasters an area is prone to. City planners, building contractors, and architects constructing facilities in Oklahoma should consider the frequency of tornadoes past. Take note where folks who came before us to this land did not settle. Avoid those areas. If not, make sure all buildings have tornado shelters. For public buildings paid for by taxpayers, like schools, people will gladly support such preparedness measures even if it means a bit more money. Safe rooms can double as music rooms, like the one I went to as a child in the 80s at Wewoka Elementary (go Tigers!). Our kids are worth it.

C’mon lawmakers, city leaders, citizens, make this happen. Other states do it. California has building codes created to try to keep people safe from earthquakes. They work. Buildings that already existed which did not meet building codes can be and have been successfully retrofitted. We can encourage this type of safety measure on the state or the city level. There are also federal grant moneys that towns can use to build community shelters. Look here on FEMA’s website.

Speaking of FEMA, a note to our Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn and other fiscal hawks and anti-government types: While Oklahoma does not have the preventative measures in place or the relief and helping funds available to take care of this giant disaster, we need as much federal relief help as possible. Your politics are out of touch with the people and the state you represent.

To my fellow Okies, voters, and citizens: The politics of our US Senators matter. Did you know that our Senators both voted to block funding to FEMA when the agency’s resources were exhausted during Hurricane Sandy? Did you know that the city of Moore was in the midst of applying for a FEMA grant to help build tornado shelters for the community when the tornado that has killed 24 people, some children at the end of a school day, hit? The shelters were supposed to have beed approved and built by now, but paperwork stalled the process and FEMA didn’t have available funds.

I’m not saying that every single tragic death could have been prevented. But Oklahoma files more federal disaster and fire declarations than every other state, save California and Texas – both states way bigger and more populated than OK. Our geographical position and topographical constitution make for incredible storms, and these storms can be destructive. And so, we must learn to live and build in better harmony with our storms, and we must elect  representatives who understand our particular needs. Environment and politics are connected.

Surely this is one area where progressives, liberals, moderates, and conservatives can all agree. We don’t even have to rely so heavily on big, scary federal relief to clean up our mess if we can take precautions to reduce the size of these messes. So let’s. Until then, Okies need all the moneys available to retrofit and adapt existing structures. I’m not going to resort to name calling; I’m just gonna say that guys like Inhofe and Coburn are out of touch with modern needs of our people and our state. I suggest we vote them out of office. And if you’re not registered to vote, C’MON. SRSLY.

Oklahoma deserves our best. Now to begin the healing process.

This Wednesday is good news\ bad news reporting day. First the bad news: Big banks are still being assholes. Citigroup will close over 80 branches worldwide and cut over 11,000 jobs as they record profits and re-allocate billions of federal bailout money. I thought the whole point of the ‘too-big-to-fail’ bailouts was to save jobs. Ha.

Now, moving one to the good news: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled two dangerous anti-abortion laws unconstitutional! O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma, O-K!

Watching the 2nd Presidential debate last night while simultaneously social networking, I was dismayed at how many people want the president to “put more money” in their pockets. People believe so hard that a president can control an individual’s finances, that the majority of 2 presidential debates was spent on back-n-forth over how one fella can guarantee that a college grad has his\her dream job upon graduation. Or how one of them could “create” more jobs than the other, a pretty lame creation if you ask me. Watching the debate last night, it became more and more evident to me that the person who occupies the office of POTUS has little to no influence over my financial life. I don’t believe that Obama or Romney can or will directly effect my personal economy.  I am in the same situation I have always been in, more or less. I will probably always be in the same tax bracket. And I’m really not being cynical. It’s how social mobility doesn’t work for women and workers in a free market.

In my neck of the woods, my feminine woods, our work is still seen as supplementary or token by the ruling class. Apparently the “jobs” worth mentioning in presidential debates are jobs in male dominated fields. To those of us who are not in the business of business, not happy working in a corporate atmosphere, not mathematicians or scientists, not looking for a long-lost manufacturing position, not working in the oil\ coal\ natural gas industry, the political script is not written with us in mind. The unemployed get more mention than us.

Granted, a couple of points go to Obama for mentioning nursing briefly and some points go to the producers of the show for including a question from a mom in the audience with 2 kids in college. Still, NO mention of the secretary, the average worker in our exploding service industry, the child care worker, the waitress\ barista, the artist, the clerk, the freelance writer, the musician, the social worker or the teacher only serves to reinforce the myth of the male breadwinner. But for many of us women breadwinners, single and married alike, nothing. I guess we’re just supposed to rest on the hope that we could be one of Romney’s binder women. Daddy Romney will take care of us eventually. But we shouldn’t think we deserve access to basic health services like birth control or cancer screenings.

The thing is that many of us will never be one of those people that politicians seem to think symbolize the middle class: he who makes 50K a year. We will probably never top 40K. Cuss, at the rate I and many of my friends are going, and with the dearth of good-paying jobs in female-dominated fields in my area of Oklahoma, most of us probably won’t top 30K for a while.

The over-valuing of the traditional, hetero lifestyle choice was disgusting. Marry, then have children like us presidential candidates did. And to those of us who can’t get married because we’re gay? Or who happen to think marriage is a disgusting invasion of the state into personal matters? Or who have tried marriage but it didn’t work out? Or who just don’t want to because this is America and we should be free to make that decision for ourself and not penalized? Psh. Step aside. Your kids will be out in the streets selling AK47s to drug lords in no time. The story these guys told America last night was this: ladies, deal with your small loaf, change your profession and your passions, or marry up.

Whatever theater was played out on that stage last night was a fiction and a myth as crude as male superiority. The swordfight that happened last night is a shining reminder that we need women to fight for women and for the future of our daughters. ‘Cause those chodes running for president are more worried about calling China cheaters than creating a free market that works for me and you and everyone else we know.

But I’ll choose to deal with my small loaf. And I’ll tell ya something else. I’m actually quite okay with it. My income is supplemented by friends and family, my garden, my creativity, love, curiosity, and fun. They bring me butter and okra and fun and cupcakes and coffee and wine and love. We have potlucks instead of fundraising dinners. Srsly. This is my reality; it includes women at every second, not just for a few seconds during an hour and a half debate.

Friday Not-so-fun Fact

April 12, 2012

In Oklahoma, if you assault and kill someone and it’s a first conviction of the state’s hate crimes law, it’s a misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail, the exact same penalty as unlawful possession of marijuana. 

Crazy, eh? I don’t know what’s more nonsensical, the fact that you can plan out and murder someone, even multiple people, because of your perception of the color of their skin, their religion, or their disability and it’s considered a lesser crime, a not-minor but yet not-quite-major crime. Or the fact that carrying around some weeds is considered just as criminal. But it gets even crazier! ‘Cuz if you hatefully mess with any religious inanimate object, like a holy chair or a picture on a wall, or maybe you spray paint the side of a church, you’re facing a felony.

I’m not a lawyer, but for piss sake. File this under: learning can be infuriating.

 We supporters of women’s health and freedom have a very important date coming up here in Oklahoma.

On this upcoming Tuesday, MARCH 27, the House Public Health Committee will be hearing a couple of nasty bills aimed at limiting the freedom of adult women:

1. SB1433 –  Creating the Personhood Act, which gives all rights of citizenship to a blastocyst.

2. SB1274 – Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, which makes it mandatory for a doctor to ask a woman seeking an abortion if she would like to hear a “heartbeat” before proceeding with the procedure.
This may be the last chance for the public (that’s us!) to defeat this bill. Just as a reminder, SB 1433 declares a fertilized egg (a microscopic blastocyst) a person, AND SO threatens legal access to and use of contraceptives, IVF treatment, and on and on. We can stop this in committee! If you make only one call and write only one email, please let it be to the chair asking that these bills simply not be considered. They aren’t worth the time. The chair’s info:

Representative John Enns (R)

john.enns@okhouse.gov

(405) 557-7321

Here’s the email addresses of all the committee members. It would be awesome if we could all email them all. Just create one email, copy and paste. NBD (that’s hip, young, cool lingo for No Big Deal).

ed.cannaday@okhouse.gov

weshilliard@okhouse.gov

jadine.nollan@okhouse.gov

sean.roberts@okhouse.gov

corey.holland@okhouse.gov

ronpeters@okhouse.gov

colby.schwartz@okhouse.gov

randy.grau@okhouse.gov

jeanniemcdaniel@okhouse.gov

mike.ritze@okhouse.gov

A body has only one owner.

Today was a good day to protest the “Personhood Amendment.” I went to the Capitol building in OKC with my daughter and friends Daniel, Amanda, Sara, and Amelia. Here’s Daniel and his super sweet sign:

Daniel of Tulsa.

I was also happy to see people of various religious affiliations – and none – all on the same page.

Ashley Combs of Midwest City, Baptist. Micala Wood of Mustang, Lutheran.

Sarah of Choctaw.

Eva from Tulsa. Christian. Or, as she put it, "super churchy."

 

Michael Ashby of Norman. Professor.

LaDonna Hunt of OKC. Secretary of OK County Democrats. Unitarian.

 

Jessica and Anthony of Mustang.

And I want to be her when I grow up:

Nancy Zorn of Warr Acres. Protestant.

Proud to be an Okie,

Spring

All right, people of Oklahoma. We have got to do something to stop Senate Bill 1433 – AKA “The Personhood Bill” –  from passing through our great state’s House of Representatives. Here’s what we need to do. We need to write AND call our Representatives. BOTH write AND call.

The bill passed the state Senate yesterday in a 43 – 8 vote. Next, it will go to a House committee, after March 1st. We can stop this bill in the House committe. But you have to tell your Representative that you don’t like it, and you want her or him to vote against it. If you know why this bill is no good for us, you can stop reading now and call the capitol: 1.800.522.8502.

In case you want to read this poorly written, vague piece of poop (it’s VERY brief): SB 1433.

If you don’t know how you feel about this bill and you feel like reading more, here is a quick list of reasons why this bill is a bad thing (in my humble, completely objective opinion).

1. HEALTH. The good ladies of Oklahoma need to keep our right to basic, safe, preventative birth control completely legal. Even if a couple uses a condom EVERY SINGLE TIME they have vaginal hetero intercourse, sometimes the condom breaks. Then she or he has to go get a back-up method of birth control. Usually it’s PLAN B, or some other form of emergency contraceptive. THIS IS NOT AN ABORTION PILL. This is basically a high dose of oral contraception. But if this bill passes, this form of birth control could become illegal. Not OK. Very scary. We are trying to avoid becoming pregnant in the first place, and we don’t need to make it more difficult.

2.  STATE IMAGE. Seriously, if you want to attract young, smart, professional women and men to Oklahoma, don’t go inserting laws into the bedroom and make having sex here so risky.

3. SANITY. Thinking that a zygote needs rights and protections like a tax-paying citizen is insane. It’s nothing more than professing morality loudly, not out of concern for another’s life and health and happiness, but for personal gain. People actin’ all holier-than-thou.

A special note to men: we really need your help on this one. We need you to talk about it at work. We need you to call and write letters. We need to show the author of this bill, who happens to be a man, that Oklahoma men are taking responsibility and owning the fact that they play a part in reproduction. Husbands, brothers, boyfriends, baby daddies, co-workers, fathers… please?

A special note to Republicans and social conservatives: I come from a politically split family, and I’m registered as an Independent. I really don’t think this is a partisan issue, but the fact is that Oklahoma’s Republican majority is championing this bill. To me, and my Libertarian tendencies, this is about government intrusion. I know you were all pissed when Wikipedia went down and the government was trying to censor the internet. I know you get mad about TSA pat-downs. Now apply the same back-off logic to your/ our internal organs. It is nothing less than hypocritical to decry big government and at the same time try to restrict reproductive freedom. Trying to control citizens’ bodies is paternalism at its worst.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can call the author of this bill, Senator Brian Crain and express yourself to him or his secretary: 405.521.5620.

We have until the beginning of March to do this, folks!

Together!

Spring