Of hopes, dreams, and women.

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Here on this election day, I find myself thinking nearly constantly of my Aunt Marie*.

Aunt Marie was a woman with flaws. Our relationship was at times wonderful, difficult, and eventually, non-existent.

Aunt Marie was staunchly feminist. She offered no apologies. She was abrasive and impenetrable. She pushed people away with her harsh, unveiled opinions. She was judgemental.

She also cared deeply. For people of all colors and backgrounds. To her, that a child should be hungry was simply unacceptable. She fought against injustices that left children without clothing, shelter, and education.

She lived her life true to herself, even when it was impolite. Even when it was offensive.

Aunt Marie supported Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries. I supported Barack Obama. She did not try to hide her frustration with me. To her, it was time for a woman. It seemed to me that she was voting on that one issue – gender. I was 27. One of those young people who came out in force, inspired by the man who could be our Nation’s first black President.

I proudly voted for Obama in that primary and general election and have proudly supported him since. Aunt Marie proudly voted for Hillary Clinton in that primary and when her candidate did not win, she graciously put country before person and voted her conscience – for Obama.

Aunt Marie died unexpectedly in June of 2014. She was 66.

When Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders announced their candidacy what seems like a million years ago, I was adamantly against Clinton. I did not want to continue the Clinton/Bush oligarchy we’ve seen for so long. I was inspired by Sanders and his far left policies that spoke – and still speak – to me.

The eternal election season went on and over time I learned about Hillary Clinton – and Bernie Sanders. I learned, or maybe finally allowed myself to see, that Hillary Clinton truly is the most qualified candidate we have ever seen. Finally, at 35, I read more and thought more about the suffragist movement. I watched my daughter learn and grow and mimic things she has clearly learned from me. I watched her take in the world around her.

I listened. To Donald Trump and his supporters. To Hillary Clinton and her supporters. To Bernie Sanders and his supporters. I wrestled. When my state’s caucus finally rolled around, I cast my (absentee) vote for Hillary Clinton.

And I thought of my Aunt Marie.

I can’t stop thinking of Aunt Marie. I can’t stop thinking of my little girl. I can’t stop thinking of the little girl I used to be and the older woman I will be before long.

My feminism has grown with me. It is stronger now than it was when I was 27, though thinking back I know that it has always been a part of me. My parents raised me a feminist. My Aunt Marie, from 500 miles away, raised me a feminist. I am raising my daughter a feminist.

I feel my feminism so deeply now. It is visceral.

Make no mistake – I voted for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. Proudly. I also voted for Hillary Clinton because she stands for every single one of us. Like my Aunt Marie, she will not accept a hungry child. A child whose basic needs are not met. It matters not to her whether that child was born in the United States. She doesn’t care about the color of the child’s skin or the choices the parents did or did not make. She fights for women. She feels her feminism deeply.

She is the President we need. One who will fight for all of us. Even if we didn’t support her. She will come back stronger and more powerful every single time she is knocked down, as she has always done.

She is the kind of person I want to be. The role model I want to be for my daughter.

And in her strength, her unwavering care and concern for others, her willingness to continually fight and not to blame, she is the role model my Aunt Marie wasn’t for me.

What would Aunt Marie say today, I wonder? Would Hillary Clinton and our feminism unite us again?

Today I voted for the women who couldn’t, the children who can’t, and for all of us. And I voted for my Aunt Marie.

 

*not her real name

 

 

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Midsemester

Howdy.

Wow, this semester is just flying by. Training and travel since my last post have kept me very busy and meant too much time out of the office, so I’m even more behind. As I sit at the kitchen table watching the snow fall, it seems like a good time for reflection and a look ahead.

The second year on the tenure track has certainly been an interesting one thus far. Most times it feels like a roller coaster – the kind people stand in line for hours to ride – lots of twists and turns, steep drop offs, and maybe some inversions just for kicks. The scenery flashes by as the coaster careens around bends but occasionally there are mechanical problems and the roller coaster comes to a complete, and jolting, halt. This seems to especially apply to my research this year. Currently I have 10 papers at some degree of completion. Eight of them could be submitted in a matter of hours if I could just gather the hours (when I have enough mental power remaining) to polish them up and send them out. On top of that I’m percolating several ideas for new studies and really need to get grants out for at least a couple of them…but which? An opportunity opened up completely unexpectedly last week and necessitated pushing one of those ideas to the forefront when I’d really been planning to wait a year or more on that one. That leaves me with the options of pushing another idea back for a year or submitting something extra and taking the chance of winding up with more funded projects than I’d planned on. Of course, nothing’s ever guaranteed til the money actually comes through, so…

We’re settling into a routine at home though I have to admit I never really feel caught up there, either. Now and then – like earlier this week – my old fears of doing a mediocre job of everything come roaring back in again. I mean really, how hard is it to fold and put away laundry? Nevertheless, two-thirds of my wardrobe seems to be piled in the corner of our bedroom. At least most of it is folded. The baby is doing well at her new daycare facility and learns something new every day. She is sitting like a champ and no other position will do. Unless, of course, she can put her feet in her mouth and then she’s happy on her back for ages. She isn’t trying to crawl yet but as active as she is in her relatively immobile state I think we’re in for it when she can figure out how to crawl.

Finally, it hardly seems possible to blog this week without mentioning the large issues surrounding sexual harassment that have surfaced on twitter this week. To be honest, I’m having a hard time keeping up with it all amidst everything else that’s going on, and I find myself having a hard time coming to grips with it all and forming coherent thoughts to share. It has been an eye-opening week as a young scientist and someone who is relatively new to twitter. Prior to this week I would have told you I’ve never experienced any sexual harassment. Some of the stories I’ve read – particularly the blog post by Hannah Waters – have made me rethink that and question why I interpreted things as harmless in the past when maybe, really, they weren’t. Perhaps one day soon I’ll have contemplated this enough to have clearer feelings but for now I just feel…lost.

The snow is really coming down hard now, it’s becoming quite the winter wonderland out there. Baby is sleeping and I think I’ll make myself a cup of tea before the roller coaster starts up again.