So I Married an Alien

Sept. 8, 2016

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I thought I should post this little confession. I married an alien. She invaded America in 1998, coming from a strange land called Mexico. Now if she was a white person we would just call her an “ex-pat,” but Americans prefer to refer to non-white visitors who weren’t born here as “immigrants.” If they came here to escape war or violence or just the American dream of economic mobility but they didn’t come through the very tiny door controlled by the federal bureaucracy we all love so much, they are called “undocumented immigrants,” or what the Trump crowd prefers, “illegal aliens.” I’m going to compromise and refer to my wife as an undocumented alien. It sounds more X-Files. And sexy. Hey, I saw a cute alien finger and I put a ring on it! (Or rather, she graciously allowed me the great honor.)

Now before Donald sounds the butt bugle for his quasi-fascist “deportation force,” let me say she now has papers. Thanks to immigration reforms under the first Clinton administration (See what I did there?), a loophole opened and she earned a green card that establishes a right to permeant residence in the USA. I just hope we can find it if Donald’s thugs kick down our door in the middle of the night as they round up the “very bad people” the Mexican government is “sending here” to “kill us.”

I mention this because, like most intelligent Americans, I have whiplash from trying to figure out what the fuck Trump’s ever-changing immigration policy is. Is he planning on asking “his generals” to come up with the answer to that one as well? It seems his policy is based on who his audience is and if his teleprompter is working or not. It certainly was a lot of xenophobic screaming after he returned from his brief trip to Mexico.

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There are a couple of reasons this matters. First, as I’ve written about many times in this blog, he is using scare tactics to whip white voters into a frenzy. His recent cavalcade of “angel moms” whose kids were allegedly killed by undocumented immigrants is a classic example. Of course it’s heartbreaking to have a family member murdered, but most people are murdered by people they are closely connected to, not the neighbor’s gardner. According to FBI crime statistics, only 12.3% of homicides are committed by strangers. Donald Trump is more likely to be murdered by Donald Trump, Jr. than an documented immigrant. But he’s successfully made brown immigrants into this season’s Willie Horton bogey man.

Despite his claim that America is a “complete disaster. Believe me.” – the crime rate has steadily been dropping in this country since 1993 at a rate of about 5% a year. And not only do immigrants have lower rates of crime offending than non-immigrants, studies show that cities with higher undocumented populations have lower crime rates. Think about it – If I’m here without papers, I’m not even going to jaywalk for fear of being discovered by police who might deport me and send me far from my family and my job. (And by the way, as Mexican President Peña Nieto pointed out to Trump’s confused face, illegal immigration to the U.S. has also been steadily declining, but, you know, THE SKY IS FALLING.)

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The second reason this is important is that all those “illegal aliens” that the Trump mob loves to hate and are convinced are stealing “their” jobs (picking strawberries) have stories. Some are escaping the insane violence of El Salvador and sending them back would be a death sentence. Some just want a better life for their children. Andrea wrote about her crossing so beautifully in the new collection, A Journey of Words. She didn’t come here to steal anybody’s job or rip anybody off. She came to live and to make America greater, as generations of immigrants, both legal and illegal (whatever that really means), have before and after her.

I feel like we’re at a turning point. So much of the political rhetoric from the Trump mob sounds like Germany in 1933 or even the United States in 1942, when 120,000 Japanese-American citizens and Japanese immigrants were ripped from their homes and thrown in desolate concentration camps until the end of the war. I wonder if my daughter, who Trump has hinted is not guaranteed citizenship just because she was born here, will be safe even if America’s favorite con artist loses in November.

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It’s clear that many of Trump’s thugs could care less about the facts, whether it’s Trump lying on TV about his past statements (that happen to be on video) or just repeating the “Crooked Hillary” mantra in hopes that truthiness beats out the truth. I’ve given up trying to convince these people. But I think if they just knew somebody like Andrea or any of the twelve million people who are here without papers, Trump’s fear mongering would fall on deaf ears.

Remember when pretty much every gay person outside of San Francisco was in the closet? (Maybe you’re not old enough.) As those people found the courage to come out, attitudes changed. A guy in Omaha had a harder time going off about “them queers” because he probably knew (and liked) some people who were gay. Just think of all the people in the Bible Belt who watch Ellen Degeneres five days a week. They must be pretty conflicted about the “hate the sin, love the sinner” crap they are supposed to believe.

It’s time for these same people to get to know their neighborhood undocumented immigrant. Who knows – they might also find love.

 

My Unhealthy Attraction to Kelly Ripa

January 2, 2015 OK, first let me be clear. I am madly in love with my super foxy wife. She is the be all and end all of all I will ever need. This is not about another  woman. It is about the weird state of daytime TV that I have recently been exposed to. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

My morning routine of heading off to work on bike to dazzle Portland State students with feminist theory and stories of Nazi skinheads has been put on hold while I’m on parental leave. Here’s the new dad routine:

7 am Get up and make coffee and help my wife get ready for work.

8:30 Take Andrea to work at Planned Parenthood.

9 am Clean the kitchen with baby in her frog chair and we listen to podcasts.

10 am Maybe baby naps so I can work on this blog. She’s probably crying so I’ll give her some applesauce and try to not let my blood pressure explode. But a baby face covered in applesauce is pretty cute.

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11 am Bottle Time! Baby gets her first bottle of mother’s milk while we watch some Regis & Kathie Lee.

Noon Some tummy time and exercise. I put the baby in the bouncy seat and try to do some housework. I check to see if I won the lottery and check how many emails I can ignore. Eat a sandwich.

1 pm Often we go to pick up a fresh bottle of milk from mom and go to the store to get food for dinner. I notice that bars are open.

2 pm Nap time please sweet baby Jesus.

3 pm 2nd Bottle Time! We put on Ellen, Cozy’s favorite show. She falls asleep by the first guest.

4 pm More housework before mom gets home. I might squeeze in an episode of Justified for my manly moment.

5 pm Go pick up Mom! Baby gurgles in happiness.

It’s surprising how fast the day goes (how little gets done). It’s given me a chance to drop back into the world of network daytime TV and it sucks. When I was a kid, daytime TV was geared towards stay-at-home housewives, so there were lots of soap operas designed to bring a little passion into their dull day. (Oh, All My Children, take me to Pine Valley.) There were also plenty of mindlessly fun gameshows, like Hollywood Squares, Matchgame and Joker’s Wild. A day home from school meant The $25,000 Pyramid and the Price Is Right prize models.

The daytime line-up seems more geared to women than ever. From The View to The Chew, fashion, cooking and celebrity gossip seem to still be the main themes. But between the informercials for Proactive and Kathie Lee and Hoda baking cupcakes with firemen there are some bright spots. This is not 1965. In 2015 it is understood that women actually have brains and can tackle tough issues between their shopping tips. I think the legendary battle between Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasslebeck over the Iraq War in 2007 on The View was a turning point on television. But like the “debate” on evolution (Sorry, creationists, you lost a while ago), the chatter is never framed in larger issues of oppression. Maybe I’ve missed Whoopi Goldberg’s position statement on patriarchy and intersectionality. Has Angela Davis been a guest on The Talk? At this point I’d settle for bell hooks as a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal dressed as a mariachi.

And of course Ellen DeGeneres has single handedly turned the tide on marriage equality. What red state Ellen fan is going to say, “Those queers are all going to hell. Except for Ellen.” Her dancing has won hearts and minds. Or maybe it’s the cute baby videos. Or the heteronormative hunk-fest. But we’ll give Ellen a pass on that one. Demographics!

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There is some real entertainment value sprinkled in. I find Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan (Live!) a real highlight in our TV day. I remember Ripa’s first arrival on All My Children in 1990 as the rocker kid Hayley Vaughan. Her hair was dyed black and she was headed to a Metaluna concert (Great fake band name). She had a spark then and now the 44-year-old mom is tearing up daytime TV with her neurotic energy (Sometimes she spins around so fast I worry that her bobble head will come flying off). Her chemistry with Strahan on Live! is infectious and, like a train full of beautiful people crashing into a bus full of serial killers, you can’t look away. I have to wonder how a chat show featuring a petite white woman and a large black man would have gone over in 1965, but in 2015 it’s more about the manic energy of Ripa played against her gentle giant than any larger social issues, for better or worse. I’d say better. Who wants a debate on GMOs when Ripa is on a six left-turn tangent? Watching Kelly is like having Sugar Mountain liquified by the bright light of the sun and carried by a Keystone XL pipeline straight into your cerebellum. You think the baby drools a lot. But it’s a drool of bliss.

Taking care of a baby can be tiring. Sleep is not an option. I just want to thank Kelly for providing me an alternative to snorting lines of crank. Kelly Ripa is the new crank!

Yeah, I should use this time to read more. (I’m almost done with Linda Ronstadt’s autobiography.) I’ve got a volume on Eco-feminism to get to but it’s hard when the baby is crying. The TV is a pacifier. It always has been. But dad needs a binky, too.

UPDATE: Here is another reason to love Kelly Ripa:

Kelly Ripa Gives Inspiring Speech at 2015 GLAAD Media Awards

This book is available at Powell’s by clicking the cover below.