Monday, January 28, 2008

Liveass Possum Chasin'

I was settling in for bed to try to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for what I’m sure will be a long day at the Capitol, when I hear my roomie Anne’s voice from the living room.

“Sara! There’s a po-[something something very high pitched squealing] in the living room!!!” Huh? There’s police in the living room? I headed out towards her to see what was going on.

I saw I immediately: a liveass possum scurrying about in my living room. Holy God.

I’ve always seen possums in my yard; I’ve even given them cute names, like Blossom the Possum and her son, Awesome the Possum. This liveass, cat-sized, ghost-faced possum in my living room, however- not awesome.

After a couple minutes of squealing and carrying on – in which time the possum got itself nestled all snug-like up against the wall under a table – we started strategizing.

We considered the cat, then he waltzed in the house and right past the possum without batting an eyelash. We deemed him fired for failing to protect us from the beast and must now be locked in the craft room as a pre-emptive measure. I then called and text messaged the boy, aka the many-home-owner-landlord-type to see what suggestions he would have. No answer from him- he too is fired. This situation was clearly being left up to us girls.

Now I’ve had birds in the house that I’ve had to chase out, and the cat has brought in tiny garter snakes in that I yanked from his teeth and tossed out the door—but this was a whole different universe.

We started by opening the front door, the side door, and the back door. We decided to hurl a couple paperbacks (The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Caramelo) underneath the table to try to startle him out. Nothing. It appeared…dead. Oh yeah. Possums play dead. Hmm. Perhaps we should shove it out towards the open front door with something with a long handle.

Armed with a broom and a mop respectively, Anne and I screamed a bit more and proceeded to try to push the possum out. Of course we should have known it wouldn’t be that easy when it instead ran further into the house and hid behind a couch. Pardon my language but fucking HELL. You would be cursing too if you had a liveass possum sliding around on your hardwoods.

So then we decided to create a barrier-wall out of the furniture to try to guide it out the front door. We again persuaded it to move with the broom- out the door it did not go. It ran further back into the house and straight into my bedroom and under my bed. Oh it is ON.

I am SO not having any liveass possum sharing pillow talk tonight. Oh HELL no.

That’s when she came out, emerged from my soul, my chest: Possum Warrior Princess. Armed only with a broom and a tenacity to purge her lair of all things giant and rodent-like, I ran, chasing that little bastard from one corner to another back and forth in my room until it ran out the door. My heart was pounding and I felt the wheezing coming on- Warrior Princesses sometimes have asthma afflictions, unfortunately.

After emerging from my room, the possum nestled itself back behind the couch. Now Anne and I were wise to its tactics so we had a better idea of strategy: I would push it out from the couch and based on our now wealth of possum-behavioral-experience, we knew that it would likely run toward the back of the house where Anne would guide it out the door with the mop.

What really happened is that I pushed the possum from out of the couch, it ran towards Anne who screamed. So I screamed. And then we both screamed and started running after it shaking our weapons in the air. And we chased that little fucker straight out of the back door!

High fives, hugs and giggles were abundant. We sat at the dining room table and caught our breath and thought that perhaps a couple shots of liquor might help to settle the nerves for sleep. We did it- with no help from anyone!

We are Badass Possum Warrior Princesses and succeeded in protecting our home from being ravaged by the string-tailed, small-dog sized, creepy as hell invader.

Here are the Lessons learned from the Great Possum Invasion of 2008:

Close all internal doors, especially bedroom doors, before starting the hunt;

Hurl heavier books than politically right on / magically real paperbacks, something that might actually make an impression on something pretending to be dead – try an unabridged dictionary;

And finally, I am simply too damn old for liveass possum chasing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Earl's Blah Girl

It's been a while since I've posted a new Blah Girl! I'm happy to bring you this one, fresh from a Hawaiian-themed Dunch at The Earl. They decked the place out with pineapples, cocnuts, bamboo; there were tropocal print shirts and leis everywhere. Tag Team played. I saw old friends, Ryan from Berry, lovely rock n' roll Vanessa and even my old coworker Palmer. What a great way to spend Sunday afternoon!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dear Gaza, You Are in Our Hearts

Palestinians in Gaza gather in front of the Rafah border crossing at the border with Egypt, 22 January 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)

Call 202-667-3402 or email the Egyptian Embassy and demand that Egypt open the Rafah crossing.

Here's some more information from sources I trust:

As the Lights Go Out in Gaza Kim, Live from Occupied Palestine
"As the world sits by and does nothing, Gaza enters its 85th day under complete siege since Israel began “phase I” of its illegal collective punishment of the people of Gaza on October 28, 2007."

Gaza Blackout Day 3 Mohammad, KABOBfest
"Most Gazans have now lost their running water, with several neighborhoods, including the large Zatoun neighborhood east of Gaza City, flooded with sewage."

Gaza's Last Gasp Sonja Karkar, Electronic Intifada
"Israel might find that giving the Palestinians theirfreedom and allowing them the dignity ofself-determination in their own land might be far moreeffective in bringing about a peaceful solution than all this bloodshed and misery."

"After six days of strangulation, thousands of Gazans dramatically entered Egypt Wednesday morning after a border wall was blasted open. Afterwards, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak claimed to allow the Palestinians entry so as to not starve..."

The Lessons of Violence Chris Hedges, Truthdig
"This is not another typical spat between Israelis and Palestinians. This is the final, collective strangulation of the Palestinians in Gaza. "

Dear Gaza, you are in our hearts...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Goodbye Old Flag

I just found out that the new Iraqi flag was approved by Parliament today. The sad sad thing is that they removed the beautiful three green stars, and left the Allahu Akbar- not in Saddam's script though.

The green stars were originally placed there for the proposed union with Egypt and Syria, which both had flags with two stars in the middle at the time. As a child I had no knowledge or connection to this fact- I just loved that there were three beautiful green stars on MY flag.

This hits one more time the ridiculousness of choosing to fight religious fundamentalism by invading one of the most secular countries in the Arab world- the result, now we have a flag with a religious phrase on it. And the least of the problems. So now we join Saudi Arabia as the only two flags in the world featuring religious phrases.

This makes me revisit the idea of getting three green stars tattooed on the inside of my wrist. It would be a memorial, a goodbye to the Iraq that I remember.

What the Huck??

My sister blogged today about her experience listening to NPR this morning and hearing yet another doozie from Mike Huckabee. He said that the reason we need to "import" immigrants to fill all our jobs is most likely because we've aborted over a million "people" in the last 30 years, people that could have filled those jobs. In my head I imagine her choking on her coffee or perhaps turning off her radio in disgust and opting for some Pantera instead of the dismal news.

Rebecca was thinking along the same lines today and sent around a quote from an article called "What the Huck?" a April, 2007 interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board: "There are some forms of birth control that really are the destruction of a fertilized egg." One of the editors offered a follow-up question, "Should the government ban that sort of birth control?" Huckabee replied, "Yeah, I personally think there are better ways to deal with contraception than destroying a human life. So, again I'm going to say that I'm always going to make my position on the side of protecting human life."

I’m not just writing this to highlight his horrifying position on abortion, but to share what Huckabee was doing in Georgia today, which was speaking in strong favor of HR 536. This proposed Georgia law would ban not only abortion, but many forms of birth control including the Pill, the patch, the ring, IUD, etc. Yes, you read that right, ladies Every day last week one of HR 536’s sponsors would go to the well in the House to speak in its favor. And that's when I would have spat my coffee- if I drank coffee that is. Ok, so maybe I choked on my protein bar. And the crumbs went down the wrong way. And there was lots of coughing. You get it.

I have been on the Pill for years because without it, my menstrual pain is so severe that I struggle to stand, much less run around in heels on those hard-as-hell marble floors at the Capitol. It would be an understatement to say that I am deeply, urgently appalled and offended that this is a "legitimate" proposal to be considered this year.

I feel the outrage particularly today, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Today is a personal anniversary for me as well, the 15 year anniversary of my first leadership role in a political action. In high school in Chicago, I worked with a group called the Emergency Clinic Defense Coalition (ECDC- great acronym). We did clinic escorting, helping women seeking health care (from breast exams to birth control to abortions) to get inside the health clinic safely with as little harassment by anti-choicers as possible. The anti-choice activists were crazy, yelling things in the couple years following the Persian Gulf War like "You're killing our future troops!" Absurd.

In any case, I was 16 years old on January 22, 1993, the 2oth Anniversary of Roe. Parental consent and notification laws were rearing their ugly heads throughout the country, and the women at ECDC encouraged and supported me in stepping up into the role of being the Coalition's media spokesperson for the day, because I was one who would be most effected by these laws if they did indeed pass. I attribute much of where I am at and what I am doing with my life now to those women who took a chance on an odd, stripy haired girl with a vampire obsession.

It was such an awesome experience; I'll never forget sitting in the family room of my parents' home later that evening watching the TV coverage which my non-English-speaking grandfather. He had no idea what I was saying when my face came on the television, but his eye shone with pride nonetheless.

My 16 year old mind never entertained the thought that 15 years later reproductive freedom would be in dramatically worse shape. That a man making such inane statements would be a viable candidate for president-ok, maybe based on the last 8 years that doesn't surprise me so much. That we would be fighting a proposal from the radical right to take our medication away. Its heartbreaking and outrageous. Sick.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Reality TV gets a little too real OR Me + Bret = 4Ever

I don't want to admit it but I have to because its just too good: last night I dreamt that I was competing for Bret Michaels' affection on Rock of Love. It wasn't just one dream either- I tried to use my womanly wiles to lure Bret in two separate dreams last night! Mica was also competing in the first dream, and wearing a fabulous tan lace kinda army looking dress- it doesn't sound cute but I promise it was super cute. And even though we were technically against each other I was still all "hos over bros, yo". The second dream was all me on my own with all the typical blondy blonds that are on the show.

In the dream, Bret and I stepped away from the group for our "one on one" time and I realized at this point that I actually had to think of something to say that would impress him and make him want to keep me around. OH the stress! My mind raced, should I tell him about my work and the terrible outrage that the criminal injustice system wages against poor people and people of color? Should I charm him with my natural hilarity and stories about my family? Should I ask him my old reliable first date question of what-are-your-top-five-favorite-live-concerts-you've-ever-seen?

I settled on telling him a true story about how he and Poison made all the difference in my world after one of the hardest weekends of my life. Some serious shit, real trauma, went down in my life and as a result, I was going to skip the Poison show in Atlanta even though I had been looking forward to it for months. At the last moment, I decided to buck up and go, and Mica jumped in her car to pick me up. The show was totally chill and perfect. About 50 steps from the car I look down and there's a redtail hawk tail feather on the ground in front of me. I knew I made the right decision then.

My Poison boys were just wonderful- working the stage and performing like hell. Bret and Bobby did the backwards kick thing in sync and CC did an electric guitar and piano version of Ray Charles' "Georgia". They played every song I wanted to hear. And Mica threw her first devil horns and I nearly cried with joy! (At this point Mica was back in the 2nd dream because I was trying to make sure Bret knew that she was a great contender for his love too.)

So after telling him about this day, I thanked Bret for the many many times he and his band and his music were like salve on my wounds, from times when I was 14 years old through my current ripe old age of 31. And he was sweet and supportive and humble and I knew this was the beginning of the love of my life. That I would get a backstage pass that night at elimination. That we would be deliriously happy and rock the eff out forever and ever. Me and Bret FOREVER. Best dream ever! But I probably need to chill on the old reality television for a minute.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cooking Adventurously

In addition to finally working up the courage to sing Pantera at Metalsome, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to cook more adventurously. I have a tendency to rotate between the same types of dishes and stick with some solid standbys. I want to be more intentional in trying to make dishes that I’ve eaten and loved, from restaurants or at the homes of family and friends, but might take some extra effort, ingredients or skills. It's a much less ambitious version of The Julie/Julia Project -- and without all the liver and marrow-involved dishes -- but conceived along the same lines.

One of the recipes on that list that is in my head is Mulligatawny- a delicious Indian soup that we ate in Cashel during our November trip to Ireland. It was the most flavorful, sweet and spicy soup that warmed my bones on a rainy Irish winter day. Another dish is Mango Sticky Rice, a Thai dish I ate at a party that tasted like angels. Less crunchy I suppose, but just as heavenly.

So I took my first step in fulfilling this resolution this evening, when I made for the first time a vegetarian white chili. I ate white chili once at Ria’s Bluebird Café and couldn’t get it out of my head- I loved that it more cumin and garlic toned than tomato spicy red chili. So I researched it for a while and combined a few recipes that I found online and came up with my own combination and it is SO good! The recipe is below- try it! After a snowy cold weekend, its so nice to make something hot and hearty. I'm excited to share this tomorrow night with Ela and Malissa for craft night.

2008 White Chili!!

2 Tbs butter
2 cups chopped mixed bell peppers, red, green, yellow
A couple handful of coarsely chopped mushrooms
2 medium sized onions
3 tsp. minced garlic
2 cans vegetable broth
1 can each of Butter Beans, Black-Eyed Peas, Garbanzo & Cannelloni Beans, rinsed & drained
½ cup of frozen corn
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 cup sour cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms and cook until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add all the other ingredients (except sour cream) and bring to a full boil, about ten minutes. Reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 40-50 minutes. Add sour cream and stir. Salt to taste and serve with shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow at Oakland Cemetery

3 degrees and sunny in Chicago, but 31 and snowy in Atlanta means its a perfect day to play and take pictures at Oakland Cemetery.

It was beautiful, quiet but alive and we'd occasionally come upon kindred spirits out with their cameras and dogs in sweaters. I left pieces of bread along our path in hopes that hungry birds would find them. I wanted to create a bird swarm. We would come upon the occasional miniature snowman, left smiling to greet us by its creator.

Mohammad said he'd buy me a cocktail if I did a snow angel on the graves. I very much enjoyed that vodka and soda with lime along with a way too large plate of the most delicious fries with cheese, scallions and jalapenos at The Standard afterwards.

Secret Agent Snow

For the second time this week, snow is falling from the gray Atlanta sky. This time, I get to watch it from the 3rd floor on the Secret Agent's balcony.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fairy Godmothers and Godfathers

Sometimes I'm amazed at the incredible fortune I've had in my life. In particular, I'm amazed at some of the most incredible people I've been so lucky to know and call my friends.

Like Steve and Charlotta. Sitting in their home last night, feeling the warmth, history and character of all they are. Charlotta, the most loyal and dear friend you could ever dream of having- her love like a quilt, complicated and careful, sewn strong to keep you warm and safe against all odds. And Steve, the one who took a chance on an insecure 23 year old and opened doors in my world that I never dreamed possible. When I think about him in his element, particularly in the US Supreme Court, it brings tears of pride to my eyes and incredible humility to my heart. I still blush when I receive his messages of praise. I am hesitant to contemplate my sadness of the them ultimately leaving Atlanta.

And Sandy and Jack. Sandy's fearlessness and tenacity for all we believe in- unrelenting courage despite everything in opposition. Her strength, not yielding as she takes hit after hit so publicly from those who don't know yet that we are right. And Jack, whose experiences surpass my imagination who described to me tonight how they passed the law that made it illegal to execute mentally retarded people so many years ago. As he spoke of the conservative legislator who confessed that he had a challenged niece who would do anything anyone told her to do, he clenched his chest and tears crept up in his voice.

I am so moved by you all; I am so lucky.

I don't know what I did, but I am confident that I did something right to have these people, these opportunities in my world. I thank my lucky stars and fairy godmothers. And then I remember that two of my fairy godmothers are in fact, Charlotta and Sandy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snow and Speed Metal

After a day of Capitol-based super stress, high stakes and adrenaline coursing through my veins, there's nothing better than 1) buying some pre-sale MEGADETH tickets and 2) SNOW falling from the gray Atlanta Sky.

It should be noted that when my Mom heard that I had bought the Megadeth tickets her response was "That's nice. Reem and I just bought tickets to see Dolly Parton!" Familial musical eclecticism gives this worn out lobbyist big grins.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sugar Sugar Honey Honey

I just realized in horror when I reached down for just one more that I had already eaten the last Twizzler in the bag. It was a movie-size bag too. This is in addition to 3 lollipops earlier and swedish fish for breakfast. And lots of gum.

This is what happens when they schedule your most important legislation for a hearing and give you just over 24 hours notice. Despite this, I am happy to say that for once in life I am READY and have stellar opposition to their evil. I am the Sugar Superwoman.

Unfortunately, I think my body will likely act differently now than how it did when I was a teenager and subsisted for months on nothing but gummi bears and strawberry yogurt. The name of my zine then was Sugar Witch. I actually LOST weight on that diet. Not anymore....

Are there any cocktails that are candy-based? I could use one of those by tomorrow evening.

Monday, January 14, 2008

First Day of School Picture

Gotta love this first day of school picture- it's my very own legislative "Where's Waldo" taken by the AJC. Such a typical scene to be captured in that hallway! I'm grateful once again for the super 20/15 vision thanks to Lasik surgery or else I'd be in the front row playing on my Cranberry.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Getting Ready to Walk the Line Again

The Georgia legislative session starts tomorrow. This weekend has been all about getting ready, from some successful suit shopping to downloading new rock n roll (LOVE Thurston Moore's record) that will get me going in the mornings to getting caught up on bills and housekeeping. Freedom is fleeting this time of year for me.

My fabulous friend and lobbyist sister Shelley shared with me that she buys a case of wine at the beginning of each session to see how long it will last. It’s the small joys that get us through these trying times you know. I decided to copycat her and bought my own case yesterday. I'm deeply grateful to Governor Sonny Perdue helping me with my time management by forcing me to buy on Saturdays because of the blue laws. Thanks, man!

In honor of the beginning of the session -- and the premier tonight of Rock of Love 2 YEEAAHH!! -- here's a repost of my tongue-in-cheek pre-session blog from the beginning of the 2007 session.

What's the difference between a groupie and a lobbyist?

Whether we're putting out for justice or putting out for rock n roll… I'm realizing that there's very little that's different between being a groupie and being a lobbyist.

… we flirt with the not-so-cute guys that we're not remotely interested on the way to the guy(s) we like/need.
…we do things that that are morally suspect or cringe-worthy maybe, all in the name of getting what we want/need
…we wear outfits that might otherwise be ridiculous to get attention
… we reward attention from the guys we like/need with way too much, uh, kindness
…we trick them into thinking its their idea to begin with
…we get our way!
…we really get to be the stars we always were

That said, the outfits are better as a groupie for sure!

Sexy Results Indeed

Funny things happen when my sister is bored from never ending Wisconsin snow and has been at the drink while watching Packers games. She figures out stripper names and emails them around. Its not the act of doing this that's so much worth noting, but the people she chose after getting sick of just family names:

Brett Favre: Montana Leather Rock
Abraham Lincoln: Sugar Lusty Ridge
Rosa Parks: Candy Leather Thong
Barack Obama: Sugar Dream Hooter
Pete Dagher: Raquelle Leather Side
Walter Payton: Dallas Leather Lick

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cherries on top

Over-priced tapas can be overlooked when experienced with your favorites. When the cherry is forgotten from the manhattan, semi-frozen gummi bears and red licorice from Mica's floorboards make up for the mistake. And coming home to the Simpsons episode with "See you in the car! Best wishes, Milhouse" makes the night perfect.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

At least it wasn't a dickey

For once in life, the Wisconsin judicial system is slightly more laughable than Georgia's.

The Associated Press reports that Milwaukee Circuit Judge William Sosnay held up court for three hours because he was outraged that a prosecutor showed up wearing a eye-popping red ascot instead of a tie. The prosecutor's fashion faux pas was not only apparently a blatant violation of court rules, but according to the Judge, "bordered on contemptuous".

Never fear though, the prosecutor is taking it all in stride and promises to continue his kicky neckwear rotation of long ties, bow ties and ascots- but leaving the latter for non-court days.

Happy Birthday Habibi

January 8, 2008 - Two Urban Licks

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Never Underestimate the Power of Speed Metal

What is it about the legislative session looming that makes me listen to nothing but speed metal? I can't seem to get enough of Anthrax or Megadeth. It makes me feel like I'm 15 again and rebelling against the first day of school. It also makes me feel strong and like I'm secretly giving the finger to the jerks that I will soon be smiling and laughing politely with. God, how's that for deep-seeded angst?

If anyone has any Slayer or Helloween, holla at a girl. I also need a recording of the Anthrax/Public Enemy collaboration of "Bring Da Noize."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007 in Photos

Taking a cue from Audacity, here is the 2007 review in photos.

January: The winter sky on the drive from Chicago back to Atlanta. I rode in the backseat and Reem and her BFF Sarah were my chauffeurs for the longest hitchhike in history.

February: Flying into Chicagoland

March: Springtime appears in Atlanta with the dogwoods blooming at Oakland Cemetery during my parents' visit.

April: The very first Blah Girl picture. Driving documentation begins.

May: Rain, wind, 800 cocktails, Irish music, kisses, bliss, 2 am in Savannah.

June: Spiderweb Houseleek on a trip with Dad to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

June: Eek gets shaved and looks like an old man

July: Jamaican Sunset for Ela's birthday

July: Mica's Metalsome birthday

August: Troy Davis gets a Stay of Execution. We hold a press conference featuring exonorees Gary Drinkard, Darryl Hunt and survivor Jennifer Thomas Canino

September: Dad and I share another birthday party. Note the bite already taken out of the front of the delicious coconut cake.

October: Greatest Halloween party in Atlanta made perfect by the sister and brother plus 4 cousins.

November: Mom, Reem and I go back to Ireland.

December: Steve Bright argues Snyder v. Louisiana in the US Supreme Court. I marvel and choke back tears as he makes friends of Justices Scalia and Alito. One of the most amazing experiences of my life.

December: Christmas at the Hodi's with the Clan

Leaving me in pieces

There’s a moment from Christmas Eve that keeps replaying in my mind. It was late, almost 2 am, and my family was awake playing a game that Reem had gotten for us.

I had been laughing and enjoying the time with my most-loved, but I started feeling pretty terrible. Just the previous day, I had slipped on ice and cracked a bone in my elbow. I laid back on the floor, propping my head up on the edge of the couch. I stopped engaging in the game’s debate, simply tossing in my contribution on the table and laying back down.

We finished up the game. As they all started moving I found myself paralyzed and tears become pools in my eyes. I was in a lot of pain, generally frustrated, and codeine sickness was creeping through my belly. Words of concern came from my parents; support was abundant, but it just made the tears come faster. My dad helped me stand up and I tried pulling myself together to little avail.

It was that moment that my brother Emil turned back slightly from walking out of the room and expressed sympathy asking simply, “Oh, Sara! Do you need a hug?”

Feeling so vulnerable, I didn’t even meet his eyes. The moment passed quickly and when I didn’t respond he continued walking out.

It was exactly what I needed and wanted, not to mention an unusual expression of love from my brother. We just don’t usually connect like this.

A couple weeks later now, I replay it over and over in my mind. Instead of letting my eyes drop and tears fall on my pajamas, I look up into his eyes and allow myself to be enveloped by his 6’4” body. This time it’s his shirt that absorbs my tears.