Tomorrow I’ll be 52. When I turned 50, I felt quite liberated from so much: what a gifted woman called "the tyranny of the male gaze," the opinions of fools, the insecurity which haunted me so much of my life. On the eve of my 52nd, that feeling of liberation has a layer of calm and ease.
Impending birthdays can’t help but engender some retrospection. I have led a full life, largely because of the random luck of having been born into a family with two parents who valued and insisted upon education. I have a wonderful job in a time when so many in Michigan are unemployed. I have the joy of an informed life. My son and I live in comfort unimaginable to most in the world: a secure future, a warm home, a safe neighborhood and the blessings of interesting and supportive friends and community.
We don’t hide from bombs falling on our street, we don’t fear death by random violence, we have plenty of fresh and healthy food, Ben has a wonderful school and supportive speech and occupational therapy. The lies and idiocy of our own national leaders haven’t made our lives difficult because we have the insulation of social status and class, and nationality. Bush didn’t invade our country, he just stole the presidency, twice.
Benjamin knows who Barack Obama is. We see his picture in the paper, Ben wants me to read the article. He wants to see him on TV, thinking that we might be able to just turn it on and find him. He knows he will be our next president.
I wonder what Mrs. Palin would think of our family. Trans-racial, single parent by choice, favoring HPV vaccination, socialized medicine, zero population growth. I am anti-war, pro-choice by experience and philosophy, and for the teaching of family planning in all levels of public school.
I know my family would strain her idea of family values.
But then, at 52, I live a maverick life rather than talk about it. And I am glad for it, because for me, that maverick life has included defending criminals, welcoming strangers, sexuality unconstrained by conventionality, siding with the oppressed, wrestling with ideas every day.
And I think pit bulls should be neutered or spayed, whether or not they wear lipstick.