Ann Friedman - I'm hot blooded

or, spring fever.
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Ann Friedman Weekly
John P. Soule, Skeleton Leaves (1873)   

This week

I read the Roe headlines on my phone, inches from my nose, while being barbecued from the inside by a 104-degree Covid fever. So I can’t tell you how coherent my thoughts might have been if I learned about legal abortion’s expiration date at another time, in another way, with a more humane body temperature. 


I can tell you that when I did see the leaked opinion, I was angry. Wantonly, searingly, angry.


Angry at the false notion that this is news. I usually love to say I told you so. But I’m with Maine activist Marie Follayttar, who told a reporter "there’s no joy, there’s no jubilation, there’s zero satisfaction in being correct.” 


Angry that none of the architects of this situation will ever, ever find themselves holding a positive pregnancy test in shaking hands, wondering how they’ll afford what happens next, unsure how they’ll endure. Even if they or their wife or their child has an ectopic pregnancy, or a miscarriage that needs to be removed with a D&C, or god forbid a plain old unwanted pregnancy, their scope of treatment won’t be confined by their cruel politics—and won't change those politics either. They will always have their options. They will always have their delusions.


Angry at posts and emails about any other topic—like, how dare the New York Times food section send me a recipe for strawberry lemon tart on a day like this!!—and also somehow angry at abortion commentary for interrupting my scroll when all I can process right now is toothless memes. 


Angry at myself because I couldn’t figure out what to post on Instagram about this news, so I didn’t. I could blame Covid, but truly: What is left to say about old hatreds, old betrayals? There is no more temporary relief to be found in pointing out the ethical contradictions and logical fallacies behind this wanton disregard for people who can get pregnant. I was a feminist blogger almost 20 years ago, friends. The grooves of my frustration are deep and overwritten. 


Angry that it’s hard to be nuanced, to talk about the broader and deeper work of reproductive justice, when you are also freaking the fuck out.


Angry at the persistence of stylized coathanger graphics. NO, I rasped in my little Covid isolation room, we have abortion pills now! Stop applying 1973 imagery to a 2022 fight—a fight that is going to be quite different in the details. Talk about the way illegal abortions happen, now and in the future: Pills. And prepare for the fact that, instead of being blindfolded in a back alley, we’ll be tracked online while trying to procure them. They’re not perfect but at least they’re healthcare and not self-harm. Talk more about the damn pills so no one gets the wrong idea and tries a coathanger.


Angry, yet again, at the way all issues have their turn as the outrage of the month, only to disappear when a new horror comes to dominate the screenshot galleries. Angry at how hard it is to stay focused on a long game. I wondered whether now is the time for a flood of donations. Then I clicked the “donate” button. Of course I did.


Angry at the waxen president of this crumbling republic—why am I incensed just looking at him? This guy, the physical embodiment of defeated compromise, of watered-down promises, of agreeing to the minimum and then settling for even less.


Angry at the emails saying now—NOW?!?—is the time to fight for this or that Democratic candidate. Angry that these are our choices.


Angry that these aren’t our choices.


Angry because ever since the day my temp clocked in at 103, all I can hear is the chorus of Foreigner’s Hot Blooded. In this feminist brain?! This week?! I BANISH THEE.


Angry because I cannot be in the streets protesting. And also secretly relieved to have an excuse not to march, because a part of me has stopped believing in the power of taking to the streets. Shhh, sorry, I know I shouldn’t put that in writing. Admitting defeat is a luxury available exclusively to people like me, an income-secure Californian. So pretend I didn’t type that. Pretend it’s not on the record here. Because it’s not really what I’m going to do. I’m not giving up, not at all. It’s just a feeling happening somewhere in there, waggling its eyebrows enticingly behind the anger. 

Angry because I fiercely love so many people who have had abortions. I have been honored to witness what they have done with their precious lives after making the choices they did. Actually, it's not anger I feel as I type this. It's a wash of profound gratitude that they are safe, that they got to make this choice and had a doctor to help them follow through.

Angry because I fiercely love so many people who have had pregnancies and miscarriages and childbirths. (There's a lot of overlap with the people who have had abortions.) I have sat, hands wrapped around a mug of tea or a glass of wine, listening to the details of their joy and their awe, their debts and their scars and their trauma. How do you acknowledge details like these and still want to make this experience compulsory and even more dangerous? How??? 


Angry at a sweet “checking in on your covid recovery” text from someone I love, someone who has spent a lot of time and money trying to make abortion illegal, and therefore stokes a deep, familiar urge to reply with a barrage of questions: What sense does it make to outlaw abortion in a country that refuses to guarantee health care or child care? Have you really thought this through? And if you have, how can you be this cruel? I learned long ago it’s not worth it to shout into this canyon separating our values—it only echoes. So I didn’t reply, but I did hold my hands over the still-radiant outrage of my younger self. I started writing this instead.


Now the fever has broken, I can see that all this anger is a hair’s breadth from fear. Or maybe there’s no distance at all. They are one, my fear and my anger. All knotted up. Both motivating and disgusting me. Forming a blockage that I don’t want to turn into apathy. It cannot.


There is some gratitude in there, too. Here’s to the people who have steadfastly done the dangerous and unsung work of safeguarding bodily autonomy, to both avoid this point and to prepare for it. The lawyers. The medical professionals. The activists. (One such person, Alison Turkos, has a great guide to taking action.) And here’s to those of you who are burning with me. There’s no satisfaction in being correct, but at least there is solidarity.

I'm reading
Adam Serwer on this Court's plan to repeal the rights guaranteed in the 20th century. Jill Lepore on women's conspicuous absence from the Constitution.

Mattie Kahn with a beautifully reported family epic about her great-uncle Arthur, the first Jewish victim of the Holocaust.

Best-selling author Kelly Williams Brown coined the term "adulting," then her life fell apart. And then Delia Cai talked to her about it. 

Amanda Kludt reconsiders her mom's 80s cooking: Stove Top. Kraft parmesan. Fruit cocktail. A tall glass of milk.

And two great pieces from this year's writing fellows: Autumn Fourkiller on the gift and burden of being a Native writer, and Celia Mattison on what Ben Affleck has in common with pro-wrestling villains.

Pie chart
What should be required before introducing an abortion ban? 15% Correctly answer the question, "Which people in your life have had an abortion?", 30% Allow a group of 25 opinionated but ignorant strangers to attend every doctor's appointment with you for the duration of your reproductive years; 20% Score 10/10 on a "cervix or asshole?" image quiz (no googling!); 25% Provide your phone number to a solo parent in need of a babysitter; 10% Attend a counseling session with a Wiccan crone
From the archive:
The Abortion-Ban Prerequisite Pie

This is where I usually ask you to consider becoming a paying member, but I'm gonna ask you to kick those dollars to an abortion fund instead.

I’m looking & listening
Why so obsessed with me? A beautiful, calming dance performance. The LA riots, 25 years later. A lost Fire Island soundtrack, found and digitized.

A moment
A fat fuzzy bee climbs into the cup of a yellow poppy
Inhale. Exhale.

You endorse: New growth
Last week I asked what's bringing you joy, and a lot of the responses were seasonal. I've edited a little selection:

SUNLIGHT AND WARMTH! It's back after a long Canadian winter. The golden crowned sparrows are singing their beautiful lilting song. Tomatoes are starting to grow in the garden—such joy! We are hunting down blooming lilac bushes and sniffing the hell out of them. We're watching our 7-year-old reading in a hammock in the sunshine, a pleasure that's even a tiny bit better than hammock-reading ourselves. The trees are clothed again, we can at long last hear our favorite sound: the wind in the leaves. Some of these rooted beings have been here longer than us, quietly passing the time.

We've been swimming. The first time we tried to swim laps, we couldn't make the length of the pool without feeling like we were drowning. We thought we'd forgotten how to swim! But then we signed up with a swim coach and learned: Our form was great but we were trying to swim as if we were racing. Slowing down. Building endurance. Those are the things that matter. 

We're finding any patch of sun we can and stretching, stretching.

We're in love.

Thanks to Kimberly, Brandon, Elizabeth, Kelly, Medha, Trista, Betty, Tricia, and several anonymous submitters. You're all poets. I'll share more of your answers in future weeks.

Quick programming note
I'm on vacation for the rest of May, which means a series of guest authors will be sending you the newsletter. I'll return, refreshed, in June.

The Classifieds

Want to eat better for yourself AND the planet? Subscribe to Prism + get “The Meat Issue” in your inbox this May. Edited by food writer Alicia Kennedy, this free, 4-week parcel deciphers current conversations around sustainable meat + plant-based diets in an honest, entertaining, + non-judgy way.
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Rev. angel Kyodo williams Sensei will help you take your leadership to the next level. Centering Leadership in Presence, May 29-June 3 at Omega Institute. #DoPowerDifferently

How to instill social justice values in your kids — when you're so damn TIRED? Dandelions can help. (Free newsletter 2 Sundays per month.)

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"From one newsletter writer to the other: I recommend you subscribe to
@annfriedman." -Sanne Breimer. Writers recommending other writers and newsletters recommending other newsletters is what makes my world go 'round.

This newsletter is less feverish and on the mend.
Forward it to someone whose blood is aboil.

Ann Friedman

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PO Box 26932 | Los Angeles, CA 90026
© 2022

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