Category Archives: politics

interview series! stephanie simmons

Stephanie and I met on twitter, and to be honest (because my memory is terrible), I am not sure if we’ve met in real life. Stephanie, do you recall? She now lives in Oklahoma, but we followed each other when she still lived in Phoenix. The Phoenix twitter community is pretty well connected supportive of each other, so it’s no surprise that she answered the call for interviewee volunteers!


Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.

Stephanie: Things I love: winter, the smell of rain in Oklahoma, music, okra developing from beautiful blooms to edible perfection, fresh garden dirt, baseball at every level, patriots & soldiers, and pie.

Things I don’t: people that do the wave when the home team is up to bat, early leavers, bigots, inconsiderate drivers, money, liars and arguments.

I’m a country girl at heart and a city girl at heart. Seems contradictory, but my two favorite places in the world are rural  Green Country (Tulsa) and New York City. I love the quiet kindness and generosity that comes born in Okies, and I love everything about NYC.

I really mean it when I say I want the world to be a better place. I am a socially liberal Republican mostly because I can’t fathom that anyone can actually believe that every human being doesn’t deserve the same rights as everyone else.

Jamie: I know the rain here in Phoenix smells like an interesting mix between asphalt and mesquite. What does the rain smell like there? I’ve never been.

Stephanie: You’re right. I’ve always described the Phoenix rain smell as rust. It’s unpleasant. Here rain smells like spring, like things fresh and new. It smells slightly like the cold water out of the garden hose on a hot summer day.

Jamie: Tell me more about this love of NYC. I’ve only been there once as a girl; it was so brief. But I am fascinated by it. I love television and films set in the city. I have a friend living there now, and his instagram feed is so beautiful.

Stephanie: It’s hard to sum up what New York City feels like. It’s something different to everyone. The first time I went it was in the heat and humidity of summer, garbage bags on sidewalks everywhere, but beautiful tall buildings.  You’re surrounded by history and culture… There’s a little different something to be found every few city blocks. I’ve only been twice (once for NYE on Times Square, I highly recommend the experience) but after the second time I went, I came home and felt lost in the city I grew up in. But, I could have told you where to find anything in NYC. It’s just that comfortable to me.

Jamie: Explain “sports” to me. I’m afraid I lost my interest in playing them in sixth grade, and as an adult, I haven’t enjoyed going to professional games. What am I doing wrong?

Stephanie: For me I have the feeling that it makes you feel like the world is smaller, like there aren’t so many strangers in the world. There are these people, that you really don’t know anything about, that are similar to you in some way. They get excited about the same things you do.

While so many think baseball is the most boring of sports to watch, I find it to be fast paced and interesting. I like to keep score (on a scorecard I design, print and bind every year) so it keeps me constantly interacting with what’s happening on the field and helps remind me what’s happened earlier.

Jamie: Ahhh…that makes some sense to me. I think I have felt that in different ways through theatre and also as an entertainer at the Renaissance Festival. I used to work in the joust arena, and it was the heyday of rennie-led crowd cheering. I don’t think I have ever felt anything quite like it since. And confession, I do find baseball the least interesting to watch, although I will admit I have enjoyed a live hockey game or two!

Would you like to share an internet link? (or two?)

Stephanie: The only site I read daily, and the one that will give the most insight into my missing blog posts is I Wrote This For You. He published something I wrote on there once. I was honored.

Best writing by a dad / rockstar / tormented husband on the Internet

Funny correspondence from this guy to random people / companies / coworkers. This is one of our favorite sites to read at work.

And of course, I’m on twitter and flickr

I actually have been blogging since 2002, but semi-recently I had to begin to rebuild a corrupt database so almost all of my almost a thousand posts are in a text file that I lost when my OS crashed earlier this year.
Jamie: So are you a writer?

Stephanie: Actual writers might take offense to me saying I’m a writer, but I feel like I really could be. I’m pretty good at putting my thoughts in words, and I edit and re-edit constantly. My hurdle to jump is that I’ve always been hesitant to let people read what I write for fear of letting people in too close or being judged. I’m most passionate writing about relationships, but doing that (like giving advice to other people) is so much easier than putting my own issues out there. I think i have a lot to say and it might help me if it were heard. It’s therapeutic to write, just scary. Also, sometimes I’m too wordy (for example: now).

interview with erin

Erin and I met in high school. We were in some of the same classes; we also both hung around the drama room. (She was much more into the debate scene though). We shared many of the same friends, but I don’t think we actually became good friends until college. She ended up leaving the state, and returning to her southern roots to attend some random Oklahoma university. I still have no idea how she ended up back there-maybe that should’ve been an interview question, eh? We’d always make a point to hang out when she was in town, and she eventually moved back .  She hosts an annual party involving the Salt River and karaoke; she makes all her friends come and bring her presents. This year’s party was held at the most podunk bar I’ve ever been to. No really. When I walked in, there was an old man with no teeth trying to sing and dance with Erin.

JM: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

EM: I am sort of a non-interesting, interesting person….like I believe most of us are at heart. I am judgmental and curse like a sailor. I used to be a card-carrying member of the NRA as well as the ACLU. I reflect on the past far more than I ought to. I read every book I can get my hands on, as well as watch far too much television. I love political discourse but deplore name-calling. I think I am kind while being not at all selfless. I believe that civility is a lost art form that may never make it’s return. Assimilation has always made me fearful. I fall down a lot (literally and figuratively speaking). I would make a horrible crime scene detective but an awesome motivational speaker. I love the Counting Crows and hate Creed. I coulda been a contender….

JM: You love movies and television but also books. Talk to us about what draws you to both.

EM: I love a good story, even going back years and years to when I was a child. I like to hear stories. I often thought I would make a good biographer. I have a tendency to lose myself in fiction . I love the written word because when someone writes a story, most often, the author comes out in the pages, even if the book is a new subject matter that the author has never experienced. I love the investigation of people – whether it be the character or author — I love the nasty bits I feel like I wasn’t supposed to know, like I have uncovered a great secret that deliciously is mine to keep or tell. I also love reading a writer’s interpretation of emotion — easily the hardest thing to convey on the page. TV and movies are different…everything is in front of you, sometimes just a few feet from you on the screen. I become the voyeur.  This is a much more intimate place, watching the actors . The writing has to be succinct (unlike my ramblings), as the emotions and feelings aren’t described for the audience — this is why solid acting is key – it has to be believable. I have to immediately be invested in the outcome. In books I can imagine anyone I want to. On the screen it is already there. The page offers the starting point for imagination. The screen, if done correctly, allows you to be part of the drama. And, I love good drama.

JM: Are books always better than the movies?

EM: Oh God, yes! Well, no…well, most of the time. OK, yes, with the following notable exceptions:

– Fight Club – Book by Chuck Palahniuk

– Children of Men – Book by P.D. James

– Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

JM: Recommend one movie every adult should see.

EM: I hate this question. I have 25 movies that every person should see. But to name one? One? Ugh. I won’t give you my favorite movie as the answer (which is The English Patient) nor will I give you my favorite movies as a child/teen (Reality Bites, Dazed and Confused, and Pump up the Volume). I also won’t share my favorite TV shows of all time (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The West Wing). Oh wait…i just did….oh well, deal with it. Here are 3 (sorry, best I could do).

– Way of the Gun – stylized, gritty, great story. Just a great film for everyone — who doesn’t love a little sex and violence and Violent Femmes, plus I don’t think most people have seen it, and I am always happy to have someone discover it.

– BBC Pride and Prejudice  — I am actually surprised at how many people have not seen this adaptation from the 90’s. Men, if you want to know what women want, watch this film, get a morning coat, and speak with a British accent.

– Lonesome Dove – this is the greatest mini-series of all time – back when mini-series were actually a “waited-for” event. It has everything and everyone in it, and I find it to be a good adaptation of the classic McMurtry novel. This will tear you up.

JM: Recommend one movie every child should see.

EM: Labyrinth – I think we all need to go back and watch a movie that has perfectly respectable CGI for its time, music that everyone loved, and an obscure love story — it’s like Glee, Avatar, and Harold and Maude all rolled into one, right? Perfect for your children. I am not kidding.

JM: you also love politics, tell us how a true third party would change things.  what would the ideal third party look like to you?

EM: Well, call me a pessimist, but I don’t think a third party would change very much. For a multi-party system to really work the current aim of politics (at least in the current state) would have to be redefined. We spend so much time berating and charging others with accusations based on their sound byte-belief system that we rarely discuss the problems of our society. We discuss hot-button issues that have replaced true ideals and passionate party politics. I am all for political parties. I really am. But the “issue of the day” is a product of 4th Estate. The free press has never been free — at least not in a mainstream way.

We all have our agendas. I don’t want your candidates in office so I will do whatever is necessary  to prevent that from happening. Even if it doesn’t work, i am going to do everything in my power to make sure you can’t get anything done once in office (no matter the office). i won’t try to find a way to work on the problems, I am just going to make sure that the problem of “you” goes away as soon as possible. This happens on both sides of mainstream politics, but also agenda/issue-based 3rd parties, no matter the size.

I think for a third party (or, a real multi-party system of actionable people who represent more than one thought and don’t run on the, “I am a former porn-star platform”) to be effective you have to start at the local level. that is where most of the actual work happens. There isn’t as much grandstanding or hands to shake. That is the place to penetrate with multi-parties, but, more importantly, multi-ideas. It isn’t “one size fits all” politics. Politics should be about the generation of ideas to better the community and respectfully debating the ideas and deciding whose ideas seem to better benefit the community. Then supporting each other, even while respectfully disagreeing with it.

JM: What is the 4th estate?

EM: The 4th estate is really any non-elected institution that has power or clout but isn’t really recognized as part of the political process — ie, the media, especially the 24hr news cycle that has made “hot issues” the main story, instead of a byproduct of the real issues. Sound byte edutainment from pseudo-experts who wear too much makeup (speaking about the men here) and rehearse their stories for greater impactful sighs and head nods. These are not my political teachers. These are not well-intentioned patriots. These people not only serve the lowest common denominator, they wallow in it. These are puppet masters…with too much makeup. I detest this type of greedia, er, I mean media.

JM: It’s interesting that you say all the actual work gets done at the local level because no matter who’s president, they seem to get blamed for all that goes wrong. I heard this idea on West Wing, but I kind of liked it: what about a Regent? Someone to be the face of the country while someone else is the President who does the work.
EM: I don’t know if a Regent would be much better in this celeb-u-tant society that has been created. Where did the Regent eat? Who is she sleeping with? Did she get fat? Is he gay? Is he bi? Does he have hair plugs? I keep having this picture of a Kardashian or a Snooki with a sceptor and cape. Shiver. I don’t know if a figure head is the right idea — I think the President, in a lot of ways, is already like that. A mouthpiece. So, the idea is to separate them…and in a perfect world it just may work. However, we then have an elected Regent — who kisses babies (not Snooki, gross) and acts as the glorified Supreme Wal-Mart greeter, and an elected President that does the work. We wouldn’t be able to leave him/her alone to work. We would start looking at them the same way…then the Regent would overstep their boundaries and attend a budget meeting and before you know it “GTL” is the national slogan of the US of A!!! OK, maybe not that extreme, but I don’t see how a separation of duties would really be beneficial. I don’t see American being able to really make that transition. Sigh.

JM: What if the regent was not an elected office but an appointment?

EM: Who appoints? The President? The Congress? It becomes a pissing contest of whose appointment goes through, like the Supreme Court. It is political, even if it is a baby-kissing position. My fear is who is behind the promoting of the appointment. What spin do they want? What is their endgame? Do we start on the role of palace intrigue by having a monarchy? I think not!

JM: Would you like to share an internet link?

EM: For all your bacon needs:

I want to thank Erin for being an interview volunteer! You’d make her a very happy woman if you asked her a million questions in the comments below!

And by the way, here’s a link to her blog. Maybe the pressure will get her to blog more often!

health care

I believe the people of this country are holding back their creativity.  I believe that many never follow their dreams because they are held back in fear of lack of health insurance.  I know so many fathers and mothers who don’t strike out that idea for their personal passion whether it is a t-shirt company, a restaurant, or a music career. Instead, they take a “safe” job which deadens their heart and leaves them feeling as though they have betrayed themselves.

When I  travel to other countries, I am always delighted by the individual shops and businesses.  The small flower shops, the chocolatiers, the music stores.  The restaurants! The small food carts!  We are being robbed!

I believe that we as a country had more than enough money to pay for health insurance for all.  At least for all the children.  Instead we squandered it on war and bad loans.  We could rebuild our economy with actual dreams this time around.  I hope that this is something that happens in my lifetime.

And here’s a link that got me all fired up about this topic again.

MLK day

I encourage you to spend some time reading, listening, or watching videos relating to Martin Luther King Jr. today.  A friend of mine has put together a wonderful post that includes links, videos and quotes.  Please honor the significance of the day by learning something new about who Dr. King was.  He was an incerdible orator and trulyunderstood the power of nonviolence.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate.