I had (politely) submitted two factual corrections about one of his reviews to a generic rogerebert.com email address, assuming that it’d either be ignored or some intern would deal with it. Not only did he make the corrections, he very graciously replied to me from his personal email address. It’d be an understatement to say I was thrilled to see an Ebert missive, however perfunctory, pop up in my inbox. It made my week. “At The Movies” was required Sunday night viewing in my house growing up, Ebert’s “Movie Yearbooks” populated our bookshelves and were ideal summer reading (tip: look for the no- to one-star movies), and his Sun-Times columns were the only reviews I ever bothered with, because why waste your time with the Armond Whites of the world when Ebert is always right and never a dick. He was a legend to me, so him emailing me was goddamn wonderful and probably exactly what I was secretly hoping for all along when I set my little know-it-all fingers to emailing him. Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for being so kind to write me back. You were a class act all the way.
A lot of stuff that I encounter on the Internet makes me angry. Like, on a soul-deep level. Internet behavior towards my friends, but also real-world things I just happen to find out about on the Internet, because what are news-pap-ers? And a lot of times it can feel really overwhelming, all this terrible shit out there in the world and no one FIXING IT and righting the scales of justice and making it better. And because you are already on the internet, it’s easy to waste a lot of time raging against the badthings in all kinds of time-sucky, ineffective ways. I wish I was the sort of person who could write one perfectly-worded comment on an organization’s Facebook wall and walk away, but alas. Reading comments, writing comments, searching out editorials that affirm your opinions, writing angry Facebook posts, reading people’s comments on your Facebook posts, writing replies to their replies. It’s easy to spiral once you encounter something that really hits a nerve.
So anyway, I’ve been slowly instituting a new personal policy I’m calling Don’t GET Even, GIVE Even. The way it works is, every time something really, deeply enrages me, I give a donation to a related, positive cause. I try to make the donation roughly equivalent to the amount of anger I feel. And I try to do this instead of continuing to rage about the thing, because raging and trying to get even never works and it turns you into a dick in the process. So yesterday, for instance, I gave $100 to Gilda’s Club of Desert Cities (the closest Gilda’s Club to me) in honor of the Gilda’s Club in Madison (aka “Cancer Support Center For Cancerous People With Cancer” or whatever the fuck they’re calling themselves now). I also gave $20 to Planned Parenthood in honor of Kate’s troll (see above). I have been doing this all year, whenever some politician calls rape something other than rape or somebody throws a bunch of voter registration forms in the garbage, and over time it’s become the rule for me rather than the exception.
I know this isn’t a particularly novel or radical idea, but as something of an internet-rage-aholic, it’s been really helpful. Not only does it usually stop me from, say, reading every single comment on a controversial blog post or engaging with trolls on Facebook, it also channels all my negative mental energy into positivity for causes I support. That’s what the Los Angeles Daily Examiner-Journal would call a real humdinger of a Win-Win, daddio!
On Friday, we’ll be airing a very special episode of Sesame Street.
A hurricane has swept through Sesame Street and everyone is working together to clean up the neighborhood. When Big Bird checks on his home, he is heartbroken to find that the storm has destroyed his nest. Big Bird’s friends and neighbors gather to show their support and let him know they can fix his home, but it will take time. While everyone on Sesame Street spends the next few days cleaning up and making repairs, Big Bird still has moments where he is sad, angry, and confused. His friends help him cope with his emotions by talking about what happened, drawing pictures together, and giving him lots of hugs. They also comfort Big Bird by offering him temporary places he can eat, sleep, and play. Big Bird remembers all the good times he had at his nest and realizes that once it is rebuilt, there are more good times and memories to come. Finally the day has come where most of the repairs to Big Bird’s home are done and his nest is complete. As he is about to try it out, though, the city nest inspector says it not safe, yet, because the mud isn’t dry. Big Bird is sad that he has to wait another day, but Snuffy comes to the rescue and blows the nest dry and he passes the test! Big Bird thanks everyone for being his friend and helping to rebuild his nest and his home.
My grandmother was born in October of 1920, just after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified and before the first presidential election in which women were allowed to vote, an election that sent Warren G. (Harding) to the White House. My grandma and her right to vote both turned 92 this year.
I think it’s easy to forget that women have been voting for less than a hundred years. One lifetime! It boggles my mind to think that my right to vote is only as old as my little Grandma Betty, who still seems so girlish when she gets to giggling. How can something that’s so fundamental, so righteous, still be so new?
It’s been a long year and I’m so sick of women’s bodies, choices, our basic equality and our autonomy being challenged at every turn, or used as game pieces on some dusty old-man chess board. But if my great-grandmothers could fight and fight and fight some more to be heard and seen and valued as equals, I can keep doing the same even if I’m tired and angry and want to go retire to my fainting couch for the foreseeable future.
Get out there, ladies, and pull those levers and let’s keep moving forward.