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.

“It’s the economy, stupid. ” Bill Clinton’s campaign coined the phrase back in 1992 and successfully defeated Bush 1 by focusing on economic issues. And judging by the 2012 presidential debates, American political players are still narrowed in on the economy. One blames China for a lagging economy, the other agrees; one blames the poor, nobody blames the mega-rich money hoarders.

All the attention paid to “economic recovery” this and “recession” that fails to consider a few things. Humans, more and more, are creating our own economies based not on how much money we can stockpile in the bank or how many 2-story houses and SUVs we can buy, but on how our earning and buying align with our morals. Humans don’t do things just to make money, like so many businessfolk and politicians seem to believe and would have us believe. There is a renewed interest amongst us human beings in bartering, reusing, DIY, repurposing, and recycling products that doesn’t give 2 shits who is or isn’t POTUS.

My friends and fellow humans truly interested in progress are going back to small-scale, in-house production for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with earning a buck. We are growing our own food when possible, turning our yard space into garden space, and brewing our own beer because it makes us happy. And then we share with our friends because that also makes us happy. We are repurposing grandma’s old dress into new baby clothes and pillows and stuffed toys because handmade is better than store bought. Always. Objects with a creation story last beyond the material expiration date and have value beyond a number.

What’s more is that humans care about the Earth. Because of our increased awareness of unresolved environmental problems, we are cutting our purchases of disposable crap. We are choosing, instead, to buy lasting or buy used, and we are returning to systems of trading and bartering. We are also buying local, so that we don’t use as much gas \ spend as much money on gas. We are looking up videos on how to fix stuff on our own or with our children, and we are helping other friends in our community with services they might need FOR FREE.

This black market economy has not been an accident. While we humans – my generation especially – were accused of being apathetic, uninformed and lazy, we were actually re-wiring an old economy to work better for us. And we’re not just employed\ unemployed workers or confident\ unconfident consumers because democracy is not a business. After all, this is ours. Call me idealistic but my vote isn’t about the economy, and I don’t even like the word ‘stupid.’

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.

This chilly morning while driving my daughter to school, Queen’s “Somebody to Love” came on the radio. (Yes, the regular radio. I still listen to it.) Here it is in case you need a reminder:

An excited conversation between my kid and me ensued. Me: “I love how this song is rock ‘n roll plus theatrical plus sweet.” Her: “I know! I love theatrical! Also, the background vocals sound like gospel music.” Me: “You’re right; they do!” And then she went on to tell me about all the new bands she likes.

Last night during dinner, she told me that Mitt Romney wanted to cut funding to PBS. I said that yeah, I heard. She told me that made her mad because she grew up on PBS since we never had cable. I told her about what Neil DeGrass Tyson tweeted in response: “Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive.” We laughed.

Sometimes I get down on myself about parenting, as if I’m not good enough, rich enough, consistent enough, full-time employed enough, etc. But all that hogwash doesn’t matter, really, when she has ideas all her own, she expresses her ideas freely, and she has a sense of humor. AND she has appreciation for old music and is a knowledgeable fan of public television. These things make me proud to have been given the task of raising her.

 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

Governor Mary Fallin, first female Governor of this state, signed 2 anti-abortion bills into law today. They are strict. From the Tulsa World article:

The first bill is called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” and is based on the premise that a fetus can experience pain after 20 weeks of gestation. It includes an exemption for abortions performed when the life of the mother is at risk or if there is a risk of physical impairment of a “major bodily function.”

This bill also seeks prison time for doctors who perform abortion after 20 weeks. If you were a doctor in Oklahoma, would you just stop offering abortion services altogether considering the irrational vitriol aimed at your practices? I wouldn’t either, but I’m afraid many more will, as many already have. Oklahoma has 6 abortion providers. 6. In the whole state. And that was in 2008. Oklahoma women already have an extremely difficult time finding safe, private birth control services. 96% of Oklahoma counties have NO abortion provider.

And, as if we didn’t have enough anti-choice legislation (SEE), now we have more. And now we have a woman telling all the other women in the state that they don’t know what’s best for them. What a self-hating, SCUMbag. What do all these anti-choice politicians want? To make abortion totally illegal? Um, yes:

“Abortion is currently legal in Oklahoma, but I believe a majority of Oklahomans would vote to eliminate elective abortions if they were given the chance to do so,” Rep. Dennis Johnson (R-Duncan) said.

All this ignorance grossing you out? Me too.

Spring