I’ve been here in northern Michigan, at my folk’s home, working remotely, hiding from the news cycle for several weeks. (Mr. CL was here too, but had to head back earlier.) I’ve spent my days weeding the garden, moving mulch, wearing sweaters, seeing family and friends. Feeling a sort of calm I haven’t felt in a long while.
(Part of that zen is that there’s no TV here. Just wifi. So, I’m blissfully out of the news cycle.)
And then RBG died Friday night.
And like millions of people, I felt deep loss at her passing. And dread about the upheaval to come. And gratitude that such a woman lived and accomplished so much for human rights.
Wait, Tracy, isn’t this place apolitical?
It is. About elected officials. Per my Job job. RBG is dead. So I think I’m in the all clear. And if you feel a delicious schadenfreude about that (shockingly, there are people who do), I’d ask you to skip today. If you feel you must share your anti-choice abortion views on today’s blog, don’t. I’ll delete them.
“This is something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she’s being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.” — RBG
If you find it incongruent that you like my advice, but you hate my political views — I’d consider that an honor to RBG. She had a gift for talking across the aisle. She was dear friends with Antonin Scalia FFS.
I loved how common sense, how clear-headed, RBG’s voice was. No snark. No edge. Just the pure power of reason. Why of course women, LBGTQ, minorities, are fully human. Let me walk you through it…
I used to work for the D.C. Bar Association as the staff writer and I got to cover RBG a few times. Once when she was addressing the incoming freshman class at Georgetown Law school. She spoke about her friendship with Scalia:
But more than a fellow lover of opera, travel companion, and renown wit, Ginsburg said that Scalia was a “discerning shopper” who once helped her pick out a living room rug. “It’s worn very well,” added Ginsburg.
Such small intimacies underscored a larger lesson about talking across the aisle and finding commonality among people with whom you disagree.
She quoted Scalia on their friendship as saying, “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. Some very good people have very bad ideas.” Ginsburg said she was strengthened by Scalia’s “attacks.”
That is the epitome of mighty. Attacks only energized her. She said she’d read Scalia’s criticism and used it to shore up her opinions. Let him find the weak spots. She’d learn from it, patch that shit, and make it stronger.
There’s a life lesson.
What couldn’t this woman do, except be immortal? She put herself through law school while parenting a toddler AND her husband Marty had testicular cancer. She did his homework for him. Nursed him through it, while maintaining her own stellar grades. She had a marriage of equality and mutual support, of deep love and respect. She could die on that accomplishment alone. A woman of her generation finds a mate who loves her brain. But nope, she goes on to break jurisprudence barriers, and kick cancer’s ass.
And she was gracious.
One personal anecdote. I once pulled off an epic Valentine’s Day coup — I got Mr. CL a signed copy of RBG’s “My Own Words.”
Long story short how I managed this: I wrote an obsequious letter to her about Mr. CL, that he was a civil rights lawyer in Texas who admired her greatly. How he once demanded a sexual harasser’s shoes in a lawsuit, so the creep would have to leave mediation in socks (he didn’t get them). I told RBG I was sure she would’ve gotten those shoes. I enclosed a picture of Mr. CL at the 2016 women’s march in Washington holding a sign that read: “TEXANS UNDERSTAND BULLSHIT WHEN THEY SEE IT.” And I put the letter inside a card I purchased at the Neue Gallerie in New York, a portrait of a fierce girl.
She signed the book.
Not only did she sign it, she wrote a personal note on the back of her gold-embossed Supreme Court card. How did I know how much she loved that particular painting? Cheers, Mr. CL! RBG.
The woman gave so much of herself. Hell, she officiated a wedding in the last months of her life. Attended new immigrants citizenship swearing ins.
I hate that she is gone. I hate that we still have to fight so hard to keep the rights she spent a lifetime trying to achieve. The woman was an OPTIMIST. When a law student asked her if she got discouraged, she looked at that class of Georgetown freshman and said “No.” This room is half women. When she went to law school, the number of women students was in the single digits. And today women lawyers could be employed. (Famously, RBG — being on both the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review, graduating tops in her class, could not get a job after graduation in the 1950s, so took up teaching.)
We can’t go back.
I think of her example. Accept the challenges. Learn from them. Strengthen your resolve.
Then crush it.
Rest in peace, RBG.