Script for Calling Senators About Sessions

The vote on the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the US will happen on January 31. Sessions is a dangerous choice for AG, because of his staunch opposition to legislation that protect civil rights for people of color, women, and LGBTQ people. In 1986, he was deemed to be far too racist to be allowed a federal judgeship. That is certainly still true today. It is vitally important that we call our senators to apply pressure on them to reject Sessions. So far, only 17 of Democrats in the Senate have said they will oppose his confirmation! That is unacceptable. CALL TODAY. Here’s a script.

“Hi, I’m (name) and I’m a registered voter in (place). I’m calling today to ask that (senator) oppose the confirmation of Jeff Sessions both publicly and with their vote. Sessions’s opposition to the Voting Rights Act and numerous other key pieces of civil rights legislation (like the Violence Against Women Act) indicates that he is not committed to protecting all Americans. Because his record indicates that he is not committed to protecting all Americans, he cannot be allowed to be our country’s chief law enforcement officer. If (senator) votes to confirm Sessions, I will be unable to continue to support (senator), and will be forced to take my vote elsewhere in future primaries.”

Don’t know how to contact your senator? Find them here: If you’re having trouble getting through, call at another office. Senators have lots of offices!

Script for Calling Senators About Sessions

Postcards to Save the ACA

The Affordable Care Act has done tremendous good for millions of people by eliminating horrors like pre-existing condition exclusions and lifetime caps on treatment cost. The Republicans in Congress are planning to repeal the ACA, dooming 27,000 people annually to their deaths.

Force your Congressional leaders to confront the real people they are trying to kill by sending them a postcard of your beautiful self, explaining why the ACA is necessary for you.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Take a selfie!
  2.  Choose a postcard printing and mailing service! I like Touchnote, which you can get from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, or in your browser. Other options are MyPostcard, Cards in the Post, and Postcardly.
  3. Upload the selfie you took as the image on a postcard.
  4. On your postcard’s message, write about why the ACA is important to you. This is a great place to say you support expanding it to include a single-payer universal coverage option!
  5. Sign up for an account to add the mailing addresses for your senators and representative. (Find the mailing address for your senators and representative by entering your zipcode at )
  6. Select the addresses for your senators and representative as the addresses to send your postcard to.
  7. Pay for your postcard and you’re all done! Touchnote (or the other postcard service of your choice) will print and mail it for you!

If you don’t have the scratch to send a couple postcards, drop me a line! I have 60 Touchnote credits I would be happy to use to support the ACA.

Postcards to Save the ACA

Script for Republican Senators about the ACA Repeal

Late tonight, in a straight party-line vote, the Senate Republicans voted to start the process of repealing the ACA. Not only is a repeal unimaginably cruel–Republicans are voting for people to die from lack of healthcare–but it’s fiscally irresponsible. If your senator is a Republican, call them IMMEDIATELY to voice your horror at their cruel, callous, foolish plan. I have made a script for you, full of pointy yes/no questions that cannot be easily weaseled away from. If your senator and their staff provide unsatisfactory answers, please share that information with your local newspapers, via a letter to the editor. (Update: note that Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, voted no. He will not vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement.)

“Hi, I am [name] from [city, state] . I am deeply alarmed by Senator [senator’s name]’s vote  in the middle of the night to begin the ACA repeal process. Does [senator] want Americans to die? Already, 45,000 Americans die a year because of lack of access to healthcare. Is that a number that [senator] wants to increase?

If [senator] is unmoved by the fact that repealing the ACA will directly result in deaths among [senator’s] constituents, perhaps they will be convinced by the utter fiscal irresponsibility of this plan. Repealing the ACA will gut the economy–as many as 3 million jobs could be lost. Repealing the ACA will add 353 billion dollars to the federal deficit! Does [senator] really care about our economy if they are willing to accept those disastrous economic consequences?

The ACA’s high premium problems primarily resulted from the Republican’s refusal to accept a single-payer option and the subsequent obstructionism during which the Republicans refused to reimburse insurance companies as they had previously promised those companies. The ACA’s failures, then, are on [senator] and the rest of the Republican caucus.

Will [senator] continue to try to repeal the ACA, given all of that? What steps will [senator]  take to prevent the repeal of the ACA and ensure healthcare for all Americans?

If [senator] insists on continuing with this foolish, cruel endeavor, I will be forced to look for a new Republican senator who is the compassionate, economically responsible conservative that [senator] claims to be.”

Don’t know who your senator is? Find out here:

 If you want to customize your script with numbers for your state, you can find the estimated ACA repeal death toll for your state here.

Script for Republican Senators about the ACA Repeal

Satan’s Favorite Seedballs and the Good Snack Fairy

On our way to brunch on Christmas Eve, my friend Melissa and I walked past a stretch of grass littered with the seed pods of a sweet gum tree. I remarked that I really like the Sweet Gum trees–they have fantastic fall color–but that the spikey seed pods balls were a problem. I had considered, at some point, spray painting them shiny metallic colors to use as Christmas ornaments, but we both agreed that sounded suspiciously like work.  We concluded that the seed balls are only good for children to throw at each other and everyone else to roll their ankles on.

This point was driven home to me today as I scurried across a parking lot surrounded by sweet gum trees. I stepped on one of the spikey brown balls, rolled my ankle, and went down like 250 lbs of human flesh in a Shadoan-shaped skin sack. Which is to say, hard. I may have shouted a curse: mostly I recall the sting of a skinned knee and the clang of my water bottle against the pavement.

I have previously hypothesized that children cry when they fall down not so much because it hurts, but because they feel shocked and betrayed by gravity, their bodies, and the universe at large. I certainly felt shocked and betrayed as I tried to gather my wits and inspect my smarting ankle.

A nearby woman had seen me go down, and rushed to my aide.

“Do you need help?” she offered.

“I think I’m all right,” I answered, still blinking back bewildered tears and poking at my ankle.

“Do you need a snack? I’m in charge of snacks, I can bring you any snack you need!”

I declined her kind offer, and once she was convinced that I could get to my feet and walk, we parted ways. I limped off to yoga and she, presumably, went off to bestow snacks on someone else. She did not mention which entity she was in charge of snacks for.

Had I been slightly less befuddled by surprise and pain, I would probably have accepted her snack offer. Snacks are great! I love snacks!

When I relayed this story on Twitter, Melissa remarked, “this sounds like a dream where you meet a good fairy.” Surely, this is the correct interpretation–my fall was witnessed by the Good Snack Fairy, who offered to soothe me with the skills she had at hand: snacks.

Portland is full of people like the Good Snack Fairy, who rush to my aid when I am obviously distressed. This is quite different from my prior experiences. Once, while biking home to Oklahoma City from Norman, my tire hit an unexpectedly mossy puddle and I wiped out spectacularly. One minute I was zipping along, thinking, “Huh, I wonder what temperature the water from this puddle will be when it hits my legs,” and the next I was on the pavement with the bike on top of me, feeling once again dazed and betrayed. I remember staring up at enormous bowl of blue sky and wondering if anyone was going to stop and check on me.

Then a pickup truck passed, splashing me with the water from the unexpectedly mossy puddle, and I concluded that I should not wait to find out.

It’s nice to live in a place where people help me when I need help. I hope that in your hour of need, the Good Snack Fairy finds you, too!

Satan’s Favorite Seedballs and the Good Snack Fairy

Scripts for Calling your Representation and Asking them To Denounce Bannon and Muslim Registry

This morning I called all of my elected representation to ask them to publicly, loudly oppose the Muslim registry, Bannon, and the general authoritarian policy that Trump is trying to put in place. I also asked my national representation to demand a congressional investigation into the Russian interference in our election. These are the scripts I used. Note that my representation at the federal level have already denounced Bannon. If yours have not, use the line from my state-level scripts to demand that your representation denounce the appointment of a white nationalist to the cabinet. If you don’t know who your representatives are, click on the links to find them.

US Senators and Representatives:

Hi, my name is and I am a constituent of <Senator/Representative>

First, I want to thank <Senator/Representative> for <her/their/his> leadership in denouncing the appointment of white nationalist Steve Bannon as chief of strategy. That public opposition is so important because authoritarian leaders use our lack of opposition to escalate attempts to consolidate power and erode the rights of marginalized groups. It is vital that we not cooperate with people who have openly espoused fascism until they have capitulated on their attempts to put fascist policy in place. To that end, I would like<Senator/Representative> to:

– Denounce the racist, authoritarian policies of mass deportation and the Muslim registry. Make it clear that we will not cooperate with any authoritarian policy like mass deportations or a registry of Muslims. This includes denouncing the No Fly List, which was a dangerous policy even under the control of a thoughtful, even-tempered president.
– Demand an immediate congressional investigation into the Russian interference in the presidential election and the Trump campaign’s relationship with Putin

State Senators/Representatives:

Hi, my name is  and I am a constituent of <Senator/Representative>

First, I want to thank <Senator/Representative> for  <her/their/his> leadership on progressive policies.   is a great place to live because of leadership like Senator Burdick. Now especially we need strong leadership to push back on the racist, authoritarian policy that our President-Elect and his team are pushing for. I would like <Senator/Representative> to:

– Demand that the appointment of known white nationalist and anti-Semite Steve Bannon be rescinded
– Denounce the racist, authoritarian policies of mass deportation and the Muslim registry. Make it clear that the will not cooperate with any authoritarian policy like mass deportations or a registry of Muslims
– Refuse to criminalize protest
– Release a plan detailing how   will thwart policies that infringe on the rights of all Americans


Hi, my name is and I am a resident of .

I appreciate taking a stand against hate; however, I would like her to take a go further and be more specific in denouncing the racist, misogynist authoritarian policy that has taken hold of our national government. Specifically, I want to

– Demand that the appointment of known white nationalist and anti-Semite Steve Bannon be rescinded
– Denounce the racist, authoritarian policies of mass deportation and the Muslim registry. Make it clear that Oregon will not cooperate with any authoritarian policy like mass deportations or a registry of Muslims. This includes denouncing the No Fly List, which was a dangerous policy even under the control of a thoughtful, even-tempered president.
– Refuse to criminalize protest
– Release a plan detailing how  will lead in thwarting the policies that infringe on the rights of all Americans.

Scripts for Calling your Representation and Asking them To Denounce Bannon and Muslim Registry

Palate of a Food Critic with the Temperament of a Toddler

Casual inspection might lead one to believe that Zack is the person in my household who is difficult to feed. After all, there are lots of foods he doesn’t like: coconut, cucumbers, mango, mushrooms, vinegar, mustard, eggs in most formulations, mayonnaise (except in Waldorf salad), sauce of any kind when applied to sandwiches.

This conclusion is incorrect, however. His pickiness is deterministic: avoid the things on the list and he’ll eat whatever you serve him, delighted to have someone else making the food decisions. My pickiness, on the other hand, is mystifying. What I am willing to eat changes dramatically from day to day, and convincing myself that I have to eat a thing because food is necessary for survival is an uphill battle. At thirty, my body seems to have the palate of a food critic with the temperament of a toddler and the sass of a surly teenager. Consider tonight’s internal discussion:

Brain: We’ve got to eat again.

Body: We just did that like three hours ago. I’m not interested.

Brain: Yeah, well, we’ve got to do it anyway. Can’t you hear our stomach rumbling?

Body: Meh.

Brain: *sigh*

Brain: So what do you want to eat?

Body: A fresh corn and tomato galette with goat cheese.

Brain: We don’t have any goat cheese. Also I don’t want to make pastry. How about a bowl of cereal?

Body: UGH. FINE. Fried rice with the broccoli rabe we thinned from the garden today.

Brain: There’s no rice made, and it’ll take forty-five minutes to make more. By the time the fried rice would be ready, we’ll have passed out from hunger. How about scrambled eggs with the rabe thinnings and tomatoes?

Body: Do you have goat cheese? Because I’m not eating scrambled eggs with tomatoes unless there’s goat cheese involved.

Brain: *rubs at temples* Would you eat a sandwich?

Body: I’d consider eating a charred corn crepe with tomato salad …

Brain: You would?

Body: … if there was goat cheese.

Brain: …
Brain: Leftover cauliflower paneer?


Brain:  What about cottage cheese with tomatoes? We had that the other day and you enjoyed it! And the tomatoes are really fresh–we just picked them this morning!

Body: That’s not even cooking. Also, too cold and squishy.

Brain: You’re a jerk, you know that?

Body: FINE. I will accept your paltry offering of a sandwich, but it had better be a FANCY FUCKING SANDWICH. WITH PEACHES, SLACKER.

Brain: *googles ham, arugula, and peach sandwiches to solicit cheese suggestions*

Body: I notice that all of these sandwich recipes call for goat cheese.

Brain: Well, our options are Swiss, havarti, or cheddar. So you’re gonna have to deal.

Body: UGH

Body: I can’t believe you’re not grilling this sandwich

Brain: We’re out of propane and we don’t own a grill pan. Also, I didn’t want to get our fingers oily when we ate.

Body: *side-eyes the sandwich in the toaster*

Brain: I should have just let us faint from low blood sugar.

Body: *picks every piece of arugula off the sandwich*

Brain: I thought you liked arugula.

Body: And maybe if you’d grilled it, I would.

Brain: Why do I hang out with you?

Body: *shrug* Also, I’m still hungry.

Brain: *ragequits*


Honestly, it’s amazing that I’ve survived as long as I have.





Palate of a Food Critic with the Temperament of a Toddler

Sweet and Sour


I take my tea sweeter than I used to, when I take it with lemon and honey instead of black. This is interesting to me, especially given the list of things I have rejected just this week for being too sweet (pad thai, Russian apricot cheesecake, lemonade). When I was younger, I took my tea bracingly acidic, half a lemon squeezed into a mug with only a scant teaspoon of honey to temper the sourness. I could tell I had achieved the appropriate quantity of lemon juice when the tea bleached out.

My voice teacher, who introduced me to the practice of tea with honey and lemon, made me a cup almost weekly over the course of two decades. He’d put a moderate squeeze of lemon and two or three teaspoons of honey in the cup–styrofoam when we were at one of the Baptist Churches where he was music minister, sturdy ceramic when we were at his house or the university. It was usually too sweet, and I would add an extra squeeze or two of lemon when I’d drunk enough for there to be space in the cup.

Of course, in high school I used to peel limes and eat them like oranges. It’s amazing that I have any enamel left on my teeth at all.

My family would say that I come by it naturally. One of my father’s sisters was once pulled over by a cop who suspected her of drinking while driving. He wanted to know what was in the cup she was drinking from. She explained that it was lemon juice. He didn’t believe her, so he took a swig.

It was definitely lemon juice. Undiluted lemon juice, poured straight from the Real Lemon bottle.

She didn’t get ticketed.

She also didn’t have any enamel on her teeth by the time I was around.

I don’t know when I started preferring my tea to be a little more balanced than a hot lemon punch in the face. Maybe in Scotland, when I discovered heather honey, which spread like jam and clung stubbornly to the spoon in my cup. Or maybe it was that Thanksgiving during my second master’s when I spent the whole weekend in the lab drinking lemon tea until I ended up in the ER with listeria (I have avoided entire classes of things I ate that weekend). Or maybe it’s just that now I only make tea with honey and lemon when I am feeling particularly cold or sick, and in need of a little extra soothing.

I guess sometimes we all need a little extra sweetness.





Sweet and Sour