Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

"Don't wish it were easier, wish you were better."
~Jim Rohn
There are days in the beginning of summer and in between summer and fall in Southern California when the temperature barely touches your skin. The wind sleeps the day away, the morning dew goes on vacation, and the sun works quietly with the clouds to neither burn nor chill you. It's not hot, it's not cold. The only way I've ever been able to accurately describe this is to say that the air is just...there. That air brings with it a sense of peace and balance. And maybe even a little good fortune. Which is what I've been able to experience this year.

Last year I spent Thanksgiving week in Hawaii absorbing all the positive energy I could get my soul around and carried that back home with me. I made some difficult decisions that hurt others, but ultimately became the best decisions I could have made in order to find peace within myself. When I came home I resolved to make no resolutions, but to just live my life. And still I found a way to make resolutions.

12 sunrises and 12 sunsets from a minimum of 12 different locations, combined. The sunrises I wrote down were in Runyon Canyon in March, Phoenix in April, Long Beach in October, and San Mateo also in October. There were probably 3 or 4 others, which count, even though I failed to document them. Which means I fell short of my goal by 4 or 5, but the sunrises I did get to experience were amazing. So this year the goal is more of the same. The goal involves no specific number, only a desire to see as many as possible. As for the sunsets: Corona Del Mar in March, Crystal Cove in April, Long Beach in June and August and October, and Seattle in August (thrice). Lather, rinse, repeat my sunrise goals: as often as possible.

I wanted to watch 6 MLB games in stadiums I'd never been to before. There was the Astros vs. Padres on opening day at Petco Park, Cubs vs. Astros at Minute Maid Park, Astros vs. D'Backs at Chase Field, and the Twins vs. Mariners at Safeco Field. We had talks of AT&T Park or McAfee Coliseum when we were up in SF for a tournament but it didn't pan out. We talked about US Cellular Field, but then a trip to Chicago never materialized. There were even talks of National Field if we visited DC, but like the Chicago trip, we never made it to DC. 8 down, 22 to go. Or maybe that's 7 down, 23 to go with the closing of The House That Ruth Built. 2009 holds trips to Dallas and Chicago, for sure. And possibly to NY, SF, and/or DC. If we reach all of those between April and October, we'll e able to get to at least 5, possibly 8. We'll have to wait and see what's in store for us. 

I also wanted to play 26 rounds of golf in 2008, and this I accomplished. Long Beach Little and Big Recs, Westchester, Aliso Creek, Bixby Village, El Dorado, Robinson Ranch, Heartwell, Dominguez Hills, Lakewood CC, and Rancho Mirage CC were the golf courses I played. Some rounds were solo, others with friends, but all brought me closer to myself. Golf is not about winning, only about doing better than my last round. I've gone from shooting a 130-something to shooting a 103. So this year the goal is to break 90 at least once, but that of course will be after I break 100. 

Speaking of doing better, the only resolution I have is to be a better person in 2009 than I was in 2008. I believe I accomplished this in 2008, and I believe this will be my only resolution for years to come: be better than you were before. 

As the year comes to a close tonight it will be spent with good friends, much laughter and some of the best energy I've encountered in all my years. This is what life should be. And may yours be the same.

Happy New Year and may 2009 bring you many days of balance and good fortune. And maybe even a few days of air that's just...there. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Every Day

I've been working on this book for just over two years now and I'm finally starting to feel like I'll finish it. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, only that I thought I could finish it in a year and that I'd be sitting at home writing something else and living off the fat paycheck I'd received for 7 Days. Things don't always work out the same in real life.

In real life it takes work. Daily work. Everyday this book requires me to write it. If I don't write it, it doesn't get written. And so I found myself 18 months into my dream project with it barely even started because I'd started and stopped and trashed it and started over time after time after time. And after umpteen times of this, I wondered if I was even capable of writing a book. 

I mean, people have told me they like my writing, and I've even gotten published (although one of the publications went out of business a year or so ago), but I've only ever written short stories. I've written essays and blogs and small pieces here and there, but nothing of the magnitude of a real book. With a front and back cover and more than just a few pages in between. 7 Days is no book report or short story or school assignment. 7 Days's life.

And how do I get life down on paper? The answer is the same no matter who I ask: "You just write it." Apparently that's the only way things get written. I've tried staring at the computer waiting for the book to write itself, and two years later, it still is not written. But six months ago I decided not writing was for the birds.

I started doing what I do best: short stories. I looked at other books I've read and can relate to (Dark Nights of the Soul, The Year of Magical Thinking, Dog Years to name a few), and I realized that a book is nothing more than a collection of short stories that tie each one together. They can be tightly or loosely woven. There can be ten stories (I hear they call these chapters) or twenty-four. It all depends on the story I'm telling, and the way it ends up together. 

So these little excerpts I've been posting are the beginning to each short story. They all relate to each other in that they all are my experience with my father's death. And they all relate to what I learned from that experience. They all simply tell the story. Which means that unbeknownst to me, I've been writing this book all along. It's nice to finally figure that out.

Now that I know that I've been writing the book, I'm starting to worry that when I put it all together it won't make sense. I'm trying to put that worry aside and just concentrate on the writing. Every day. Every. Day. 

Monday, December 15, 2008


Rain soothes my head and calms my soul. I don't know how it happens, only that it does. I suppose this is true for a lot of people. Early this morning I woke up to the sound of rain falling on the concrete patio just outside our bedroom window and recalled several random childhood memories.

The first was of sitting on the hearth warming my hands to the fire as we watched the rain fall in the backyard of my grandparents' house when I was nine. The next was a quick snap to stomping in the rain gutter with too-big yellow rain boots in the alley behind my childhood home. And then came sitting on the beach with my mom in Hawaii when I was five. Sun shining, rain pouring in a small wave as the clouds passed over and just as soon as it came, it went, and I ogled the sky for the rest of the day looking for the next shower.

I'm sure my love of rain is sustained by living in a climate which rarely offers anything but sunshine, even in the "winter" months; there is no time in which to grow tired of the rain that is rarely here. I am also certain that I don't have the personality for Seattle or Portland, and am positive that depression would set in during the first solid week of grey skies (average number of clear days ranges from 58-71 in these two cities--which is better than the 66 minutes Barrow, Alaska offers, but still).

I love a cool morning where I can curl up on the couch with my girl and watch football, watching the rain fall outside the living room window. Or in this morning's case, where I can curl up in the king chair with our furballs while posting a mid-morning blog in my favorite pants and slippers. 

Hope everyone else is enjoying the rain as much as I.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Visions of Inspiration, Update

I posted my Vision Statement a couple of months ago and have been watching this every so often to keep myself motivated to accomplish everything I want to. I started out watching every morning, but have since allowed myself to slip into watching once a week, if that. So I'm making a commitment to myself to watch every morning for the rest of the month. The goal is to create a habit of watching everyday so that it will no longer be something I think about doing, but will occur without thought, just as my morning cup of coffee does. 

I've decided to update the Vision every 6 months, for several reasons. 
  • 6 months is just often enough to keep the visions in the forefront of my mind, should I fall to the wayside and watch sporadically versus daily.
  • I can reevaluate my visions and make sure everything from 6 months ago is still a priority--I've given myself permission to add and delete as priorities tend to shift with the ongoing changes in life. 
  • Once I've accomplished things, I can also move Visions from the "What I Want" list to the "What I've Done" list. It's a simple gratification system that allows me to acknowledge some of the things that I feel good about having done or accomplished.
I recently went through some photos to remind myself of some of the things I've been able to do and accomplish in my life. Time flies so quickly sometimes, whether in good or bad times, and it's easy to forget some of the great things I've been able to do in my short life. Maybe it's that way for you, too. The photos I put together range from being brought home from the hospital after being born to graduating to traveling Japan and Europe to sunsets and skylines and random happy moments along the way. Maybe it will inspire you to create your own!

I've set it to the music of Dave Matthews Band's "Lie In Our Graves", which seems to compliment and relay my sentiments quite well. Enjoy!

And here's a link, if you don't see the video above. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Excerpt: Last Chance

From 7 Days:
He looked so sad. So helpless. Gray whiskers sprouted from his face where dark brown seemed to have grown just a few days ago. I held his hand as he tried to pull it up to his face. The IV line into the back of his hand made moving his arm uncomfortable. I asked if he needed something. He nodded. He opened his mouth and pointed. "Another swab?" I asked. He nodded again.

Because of the tube in my father's throat he was unable to drink water. He was also unable to flush his mouth out after the mess of being intubated. Which left his mouth open and bloody and dry. I wasn't there for the event, only the aftermath, which went unnoticed for the first day and a half. Dried blood caked on his teeth and the roof of his mouth. Caked in the crevices that had started to form on his tongue from his mouth being wide open all the time. 

He would let me swab a little of it away at a time, but if I kept at it for more than a minute it hurt him. I knew he was done when he clamped the swab between his tongue and the roof of his mouth to release the rest of the water from the swab into his mouth. The cool medicated water felt good, and the excess of it could be spit out, along with the bits of decay that I'd broken free for him. 

I recalled a moment from childhood when the sight of blood on my fingertip left me with on the ground with cartoon birdies flying around my head. When I dropped to the floor I nearly cracked my head open on the porcelain sink on the way down. Blood, fresh or otherwise, had no place in my line of sight. My body was very clear on that prior to taking care of my father.

I don't recall it being a conscious choice to not faint at the sight of his blood; it just sort of stopped happening after he got sick. I don't recall being afraid that I would see his blood and then pass out. And yet I know I did in fact see his blood, and not once did I so much as turn away, let alone fall to the ground for flying birdies.

My soul seemed to have flipped a switch at the final turn of my father's life. I no longer thought of the pain he was in, but focused on relieving him of it. It became more important to take care of him, more important than whether or not I saw a spot of blood to make sure was as comfortable as he could possibly be. Because I knew. I understood. That these were my last opportunities to love him while he was still alive. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Burglary Thwarted

I heard my neighbor's door bell ring. And ring. And ring and ring and ring some more. Sitting in my living room workstation, I said aloud, "Who the hell is ringing the doorbell incessantly?!" and got up to check it out. By the time I walked the 5 steps to the door and peeked out, I only caught a glimpse of a sandy-blondish man walking hastily away from the apartment complex. 

No more than a minute later, I heard the ringing again. Without a word, I peeked out the door again. The same man stood outside my next door neighbor's (we'll call her Delilah) door, knocking and ringing the doorbell. Dirty mustard color shirt, dirty khaki shorts, dirty scruffy face. Something in my gut did not like that man. But I couldn't quite put my finger on what I didn't like, aside from him being a dirty man knocking on my neighbor's door.

Unrelated, I decided to move my car from the garage to the street for Erin so she'd have a space to park when she got home from work. When I stepped out my door the same man was again walking away from the apartment complex, just past my neighbor (we'll call her Petunia) who lives just across the courtyard. I walked to the back of the complex where the garage is and proceeded to move my car to the front of the building. 

As I pulled into a space just in front of the building I see the same man reaching over the bushes just outside Delilah's window. He sees me and starts walking away. I get out of my car and walk towards him. He rushes to a bright red Ford extra cab pickup and gets in. As I'm processing what I'm seeing--the corner of Delilah's window screen cut out and this man fleeing the scene--the man starts the truck, backs up and drives down the street. My heart racing, still processing everything, I run into the street and look at his license plate. A hitch is in the middle of the plate, but I can still read it: 8B86446.

I repeat this number in my head over and over and over again all the way back to my apartment. I knock on Petunia's door to see if she has Delilah's phone number. I call the police and Petunia gets a hold of Delilah. We wait for the police and Delilah to arrive. I give my statement to the officers and Delilah and her husband check their apartment to see if anything is missing. Nothing. A report is filed and the officers leave. All is well. With one exception: Delilah and her family will now be moving.

They have a sub-1-year old baby and value the safety of that baby, so unfortunately for all of us in the building who enjoy her fresh baked cookies (which were a factor in the attempted break in, as the window was left open to cool them while she went to the market, child in tow) they are looking for a safer place to live.

While Delilah was grateful that not only was I home and my presence stopped the guy from breaking in, but that I took the time to get a plate number, contact her and call the police. I know there are people that wouldn't have done that, but I can't imagine being one of those people. I did it partially because Delilah is my neighbor and friend, and partially because it was my building this man was attempting to break into. If one apartment is unsafe, we all are unsafe. 

I'm not saying I would have chased the guy down, but it really took no more than a few seconds to get that guy's plate number and call it in. A few more minutes to give a statement to the police. But it gave Delilah and her family at least some peace of mind knowing that the people she lives with are good, kind people. And saved her the stress of having to live in a place with her child that had actually been broken into. I'm just happy I helped. 

Let this just be a reminder that some people like to take what's not theirs. So lock your doors and windows when you're not around, and be aware of suspicious activity when you are around. I hope it's all for not, but better safe than sorry. 

Friday, December 5, 2008

Excerpt: Prized Possession

From 7 Days:
I can’t quite bring myself to display it. Yet. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the right showcase for it. Maybe I just haven’t gotten around to it. Or maybe I just don’t want the daily reminder that he’s gone.
I can count the number of times my father spoke of his days in Vietnam on one hand. He joined the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army, like many 18-22-year-old guys of the late sixties. He was rewarded by not having to serve on the front lines and suffer the way many Vietnam Vets did. At least, that’s my perception of it. As for my father’s view, he held silent the details of his experiences at sea, his experiences at war. And his silence held the details of what those years meant to him, and how they might have shaped him.

My father’s funeral brought clarity to me. But not in the way I thought it would. One Petty Officer’s actions and emotions revealed what may have very well been my father’s own emotions about serving in the United States Navy.

A Seaman Apprentice and a Petty Officer Second Class folded the flag draped over my father’s—I still have a hard time with whichever word comes next. Pine box. Casket. Coffin. Any and all of which mean he’s dead. No getting around it. The flag was draped over my father’s coffin.

The flag folding ceremony was held after Taps was played. While the notes of Taps coming from the trumpet brought tears to my eyes and I was awed at the sight of the flag being folded so meticulously and with such care, neither of those events are what stand out. It was the flag being handed to me.

The Petty Officer in pressed black dress uniform, sailor collar caped over his broad shoulders. His shiny black shoes. His crisp white gloves. The precise movements in his march towards me. The flag sandwiched between his hand on top and the other beneath. His sense of gratitude in transferring the flag from his hands to mine.

The Petty Officer said something to me as I we both held the flag in transference. My hands on the flag, I looked him in the eye, unable to hear a word he said. And then I focused on his eyes. I noticed welled up tears in them. His words became loud and clear.
"Please accept this flag in honor of your father’s great service to this country. I am truly sorry for your loss."
His voice quivered slightly, and I recognized something immediately. Emotion. Unequivocal, raw emotion. And in an instant I felt closer to my father. There was an immediate understanding of the bond that had been created between this man and my father, simply by being a part of this brotherhood I had never even tried to understand. I'm not sure he could have explained it, anyway.
These men had been trained in the same way. With the same standards, the same faith, the same expectations, the same humility, the same honor. If I had any ill feelings about the military, they were gone with this Petty Officer’s tears. These men were brothers, and they had never even met. There was no doubt in my mind the sincerity with which the Petty Officer’s words were spoken and tears fell. I began to understand just how human we all are. And I began to understand my father, if just a little bit more, and found comfort in the prized possession I held in my hands.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Human Soul Project

A little over a year ago I started a project with my best friend. We had the best of intentions, but a little dash of turmoil, a sprinkle of chaos, and a whole lot of "holy crap, what now" and voila: project on hiatus before it really got started. 

I just finished reading The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, and am re-inspired to stop doing things that don't inspire me and start doing things that do. And with that, I'm revamping The Human Soul Project. Briefly, the Project is looking for coming out stories that inspire the soul. For details, visit

I'm in the process of contacting Jack Canfield's office to see if this idea can be added to The Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A small note: the submission guidelines for stories suggest that Chicken Soup for the Soul(tm) stories are "NOT" about controversial issues. Coming out is for sure controversial, but the guidelines also specify that the story must "uplift and inspire." Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not? In the meantime, the plan is to take submissions from readers and writers everywhere, and get it published ourselves.

What would inspire me to start such a project?

I remember the fear I had of coming out to my father in my mid-twenties. He had become a born again Christian by then, which was probably my main fear in telling him. I'd always known him to be a decent guy. Only once did I ever see him truly angry, and that was to come to my defense when he felt my grandfather was attacking me. I had no reason to believe that he would be angry with me, disown me, stop loving me, or think less of me in any way. But there it was. The fear that all these things would come true. I feared that his love of God would overrule his love for me, and that I would no longer be deserving of my father's love once I told him I was gay. It took me nearly 2 years to work up the courage after using excuse after excuse for not telling him. And when I finally did, my fears were unfounded.

My father and I dialogued, although not regularly, about what he viewed as my "choice" to act on feelings for the same sex. As I was just trying to figure it all out for myself, it was difficult to explain it to someone else. And it took me years to be comfortable with who I knew myself to be, regardless of what others thought. Most of my friends were straight. My coworkers. My family. I had done all this searching for myself, my soul, my self and was discouraged by the misunderstanding of who I was by nearly everyone I knew. Sure there were people I knew of who were gay, but they weren't me. They didn't know what I was going through. They couldn't possibly. 

If I could have read stories about others who had come out, others who put their fears on paper, their doubts, and then detailed how they overcame those fears, detailed how they triumphed, how they survived, I might have found the strength to be honest not only with myself, but with my father much sooner than I was. I might have added 2 years to of understanding to our relationship had I found the strength to come out sooner. 

So if just one of the stories we end up publishing helps someone find that strength, then this is all worth it. The whole point of life is to live it, love it, and help others do the same. We are all human. We all have emotions. We all feel good, we all feel bad. And we all go through slumps. We all need to be uplifted, to be inspired...we all need to feel connected. And that's what the Human Soul Project is all about.

This first Project is about coming out. The next project will be about...well now, I can't give everything away. Let's see how this project goes and then we'll get started on the next one. What I can tell you is that the vision and purpose of the Human Soul Project will remain the same: to create inspiration for the Human Soul everywhere. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Change of Plans

This morning I got sidetracked by Thanksgiving. Yes, I knew it was coming. But an invite turned into an un-invite, and a little portion of my family decided to just cook dinner ourselves. Which meant a trip to the grocery store on the morning before Thanksgiving, hoping there was still a fresh turkey smaller than 47-lbs to bring home. There was (10.06-lbs if you can believe that!), and aside from the few things I forgot to write down, I was able to get everything I needed--and most of it was on sale. 

I love Thanksgiving. Always have. When I was a kid I remember it being the only time everyone got together and sat at the dinner table without arguing. Not that we argued all the time, more that we (the entire family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins) all made an effort to get to Grandma's house on Thanksgiving Day to enjoy the entire day together. 

Grandma cooked everything herself and insisted that she needed no help. And she didn't. Grandpa expertly (and proudly) carved the turkey by himself. He presented the deliciousness as the last item of business before anyone was allowed to begin piling plates of potatoes and cranberries and yams and green bean casserole and stuffing. Dinner may have been cooked by Grandma, but it was always served on Grandpa's terms.

We sat around the table and talked about the things we were grateful for in our lives. We were thankful for each other, for our jobs, our homes, the food on the table, the friends we had, our animals. The usual things. And I was always afraid to say what I was really thankful for. We all tried to say something different from everyone else, and I thought all the good ones were taken. I also thought the things I was thankful for were dumb. 

I was thankful for my mom; and that of all the dogs that ran away from our backyard (we usually had 4), I was glad that Shuzbutt (my little scruffy blond mutt) wasn't one of them; and that the gutter down the middle of the alley behind our house filled up with enough water for me to stomp in whenever it rained. But even though these things were different from theirs and I was grateful for them, these things just weren't like what they were thankful for. I often believed the things I thought and said were dumb. My grandfather usually agreed. I didn't want to ruin the good time with my lame thoughts. Being a kid in my family made me wish I was an adult. And now that I'm an adult, I wish I could relive parts of my childhood. Like Thanksgiving. 

Maybe now I can. The details of why we had to change our plans are unimportant. What's important is that I get the opportunity to spend this Thanksgiving with 3 of my favorite people. And we'll have our own discussion of things we're grateful for. We'll all sit at the table and call it the kids' table, and we'll talk about things, silly and serious, that we're thankful for. There will be no such thing as a lame item of gratitude at our table. 

Silly things might be things like the home run over the fence in the Golden Bear Tournament, Sly's paws wrapped around my neck as he tries to make out with me, and the "your mom" banter that's part of our daily life at home. 

More serious things might be things like the clothes, the food, the home I have. And the people in my life. The opportunity to love those people. And to be loved by them. My little circle of close-knit friends brings consistency, accountability and humility to my life. These people love me for who I am . They encourage me to grow and change in positive ways. They support me in difficult decisions. And they also point out when I'm being stubborn or irrational. And then they love me just the same. We all accept each other with our differences and faults and changes and inconsistencies and humor and cooking skills and all the things we are separately and together. 

So I guess I do get to relive that part of my childhood. In my life today I am able to be thankful for all the things and people and opportunities I want to without feeling like anyone else's gratitude is more important or somehow better than mine; we are all equal, the adults we are and the children we used to be and still hold onto.

I will say what I think, what I want, what I feel in our discussion of things we're grateful for at the dinner table tomorrow. We all will.  

And all this from a small change of plans. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back In The Saddle

I've been MIA on vacation and while I've promised myself I'm going to write about the trip, it just hasn't materialize thus far. I'm working on it, in case anyone is interested, and should have something up by tomorrow--at least to get us through the first leg.

As for the writing of 7 Days, it's still coming. Slowly, surely, steadily. I find that writer's block is getting harder and harder to come by, if I just keep writing. Even if it's about nothing. Especially if it's about nothing. I feel so focused on this book that everything somehow reminds me of something I need to add, something else that relates to my father, one more thing that I want to delve into. If I keep writing about nothing I end up writing about something. It's genius. Not me, but the whole process. 

And then there's trying to fit it all together...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On This Day

In light of today's National Protest Against Prop 8:


About 250,000 protesters against the Vietnam War, the largest war protest ever, converged peacefully on Washington, DC.

Now typically I'm not against anything...I'd rather be FOR equal rights than against discrimination...positively speaking. But since they went ahead and made all those fancy posters, let's make today's protest the largest anti-gay discrimination protest ever, and follow suit in converging peacefully across the nation.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catch Up

I've been hunkering down the past couple of weeks and really been getting some good writing done. Which also means I've been MIA, aside from the few excerpts (which have been the result of said hunkering), and the election posts from last week (which have been the result of not being able to ignore any of it).

I'm not usually a political person. Which isn't to say that I don't follow politics, I just don't talk about it all that much. My family was big on keeping opinions quiet when it didn't suit the surrounding company (and if I wasn't sure what they thought, even better to shut my pie hole about it). I'm comfortable talking about politics with my friends because most of them have a pretty similar line to mine. And when we disagree, I get all clammy and uncomfortable. Thanks, mom. 

So I'm breaking out of that, little by little. First I learned how to tell my father I was a lesbian, and next thing you know I'm marching down the street in Long Beach protesting the civil rights of gays and lesbians across the land. Sure, it took 9 years, but slow progress is progress, nonetheless.

Of course, this doesn't mean I've become an activist, by any means...simply that when I feel strongly about what I believe in, not only is it okay for me to have an opinion about it, it's also acceptable to voice that opinion. And it's okay to talk to people about those opinions, even if their view is (gulp) different from mine. It's a lovely country we live in, this United States of America. I just wish we were a little more United. 

In other news, I'm going on vacation. San Francisco calls. Flying into SF, then driving back via rental hooptie, so as not to destroy our own vehicles. Not exactly sure how long it will take us, but we have the whole week to decide. Planned stops are in SF (mainly because that's where we fly into), Santa Cruz (because I want to go to the arcade on the boardwalk), and some sort of wine tasting in Paso Robles ("tasting"). Other than that, we're playing it by ear.

So far we've gotten a few suggestions as to stops: Cambria (about 20 mins from Hearst Castle), The Phoenix Hotel (SF's world renowned "rock n roll hotel"), and The Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo). Any others?

We've also taken to the idea of rescuing a pup. 25-40lbs at adulthood would be ideal. We're entertaining the idea of puggles, mutts, and other mixes that won't terrorize the kids. So far we've learned that puggles can be a bit hyper and yippee (which would irritate me more than the kids), so that's working as 2 strikes against the cute little buggers. We're definitely intent on getting a rescue, as well as the rescue being a pup. I'd like to train the pup myself how to poop on the carpet and pee on the couches. 

That about catches us up. So how are you?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Excerpt: At Peace?

Excerpt from 7 Days:

Journal Entry: October 28, 2006

I feel at peace with my dad's death. I can't believe it. I feel like he's in a better place, and although I miss him at times, it's not overwhelming like I expected. I wonder why it seems easier to be here without him. I don't have to feel guilty about being gay because he's not here to have the uncomfortable religion talks with me anymore. I don't have to feel guilty about not going to church with him on Easter Sunday. I don't have to see him in that hole in the wall room he rented from [Edward]. I don't have to shield myself from the way he lived. Hard to admit to anyone but this journal that I was ashamed of him sometimes. There were things about him I was ashamed of. I wish it wasn't so, but it was. The truck he drove. I told myself I just wanted him to drive a nicer truck, just wanted him to be safe, to stop getting things stolen out of it. But I was embarrassed that he drove such a crappy truck. That he didn't have the material things that impress people, that sometimes still impress me, even as I try not to let them. I don't even think—it's not the truck I was ashamed of.

I don't believe that a car tells the whole story about a person, but there is something to be taken away from it. I know he just couldn't afford a better truck. I know he wasn't a bad person because of the truck he drove. But then, he never felt like he deserved a better truck. He felt like he deserved what he had, that God handed him this life he was living. That he had no say in the events, only his actions and reactions. His life ended up being a reaction to everything going on around him. 

I wonder when the last time he really lived his life was.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Real Quick...

I find myself if a conundrum. Civil rights ought not be voted upon, but the only way to get one of my civil rights back is to vote on it. 
Sign it. 

And put your energy towards being part of a free nation that does not base civil rights on religious beliefs.

Seems Gloria Allred isn't satisfied after the election, either (

Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the first plaintiff couple named in the historic lawsuit that overturned California's ban on gay marriage and the first same-sex couple married in Los Angeles County in June, wasted no time filing a new lawsuit with California’s supreme court Wednesday morning.

Read the details here.

And have yourselves a lovely Thursday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope. Change. Open Mind.

Someone in my network wrote this morning that she felt a little less free today. I feel the same way, but quite possibly for very different reasons. She is a McCain supporter, I am an Obama supporter. In all likelihood, she voted yes on Prop 8. I most certainly did not.

The workplace has often provided me with an opportunity to broaden my social network with people I may not have willingly befriended had I simply been handed a list of their life's agenda and personal beliefs.

I understand that people have ideas about what's right and wrong, that we all have the right to our views on such things, and that there will never be 100% agreement on every issue. What one believes is right or wrong does not decipher a good or bad person. The parts only tell some of one's story. The sum of those parts tells the whole story.

If someone looked only at my teenage years, they would see drugs, theft, sex, deceit, lack of motivation to do more good than bad. If someone looked only at those years, they would see a girl in turmoil. A girl who looks like she will never recover from her choices. A girl who ought to be disregarded and deemed a liability to society.

And then comes the growth. The learning. The changes. Slowly but surely, a new person emerges. She begins therapy. She graduates high school. She holds a job. The drugs are gone. The theft is gone. The deceit dwindles to near nothing. The sex is responsible. A shift in motivation happens to do more good than bad. All this in the midst of becoming an adult and figuring out that there is more to life than just what she knows.

I believe in the good of people. I believe that the more people know, the more good they can and will do. I believe that when you offer an opportunity for someone to think and do the right thing, 9 times out of 10, they will do the right thing. If they have an open mind. We must all believe in the possibility that we are wrong. If we do not, our minds are not open. And certainly unwilling to hear the other side.

In light of my friend's comment this morning, I thought about the possibility that I am wrong in my elation of the election of the presidency. I considered the idea that I am wrong in my sorrow that Prop 8 passed. And I questioned whether or not I ought to remain friends with this person who is so openly against many things that I support. And I have made some decisions.

I am not wrong in my elation of Obama being elected our 44th president. This act proves that dreams are possible with hard work and the encouragement of open minds. Obama's landslide victory proves that the people of the United States of America are capable of change and actually believe in the diversity that we live in, versus simply talking about it.

I am not wrong in my sorrow that Prop 8 passed (all though there was a report on KTLA this morning that some 4.5 million vote by mail ballots have yet to be counted in LA County...there is still hope). My sorrow is less in the Prop 8 being (potentially) passed, and more in the Proposition even landing on the ballot. Civil rights ought not be debated, but protected at the highest level. More eloquently, Fannie says

"...the civil rights of minority citizens should not be up for majority vote and that it is profoundly un-American to restrict people's rights in constitutional documents that are usually used to grant people's rights."

As for my friendship with this person who feels less free today, I can say that my mind is open. She is a good person and I respect her opinions. I also respectfully (and strongly) disagree with her on some of those opinions. That being said, I cannot look at just the parts, but must sum up her parts to see her whole. She is passionate and humane. I believe she is misguided in certain aspects of her opinions, but overall she means well and has a healthy, kind, giving heart. The fact that we are friends at all gives me hope that one day she will open her mind just a little more and see more of what I see—more of what millions of Americans who voted for Obama see: hope. And change. And the possibility—the probability—that there is more to this life than we can even imagine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Excerpt: Feeling It

From 7 Days:

Journal Entry: May 4, 2006

I may be intuitive in this world, but I know nothing of the world my parents exist in now.

I feel sad and angry. Sad for being left here without them, and angry that on some days there is nothing and no one to comfort me. I must suffer alone, bearing witness to my pain, as no one else can understand or console. No matter how hard they try, what words they use, they are of no use to me. All that is left is to mourn; I can only grieve now. This pain will not go away without suffering. This pain will linger if I neglect it, if I treat it with alcohol, if I ignore it and live my life as though nothing is wrong or nothing is missing. The only way to make the pain subside is to feel it in full.

This is my grief and mine alone to tend to, to nurture, to let go of.

Catharsis: "the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, [especially] through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music; discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition."
The only way to work through the pain, the anger, the sorrow, the grief, the denial was to actually feel it. Only by feeling these things, allowing these emotions to push their way through, could I let them go.  
The pit in my stomach that had been gradually rising up and through my heart, my lungs, my throat...I needed to feel that pit, understand that pit, and release that pit. Only by feeling my emotions would I be able to keep them from eating me alive.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Difference: 1 year

December 27, 2004:
...crap. I just realized I never called my dad on Christmas day. He must feel like I'm slipping further and further away from him. I don't know how to relate to him much anymore. I see the relationship [my girlfriend] has with her dad, and for the first time in a long time, I'm envious. My dad is a loving and caring man, but he's rigid in his religion. And even though he doesn't say much in the way of how he believes I've "chosen" to live my life, I can see it in the way that he looks at he's losing the older he gets and the closer he gets to dying, the closer he gets to the last time he'll ever see me because I didn't live my life "good enough" to get to his afterlife. And it makes me sad that he thinks this way.

December 27, 2005:
My dad's so tired lately. Can't get up for even short periods of time without becoming out of breath quickly. Has to rest between getting dressed and putting his shoes on and walking out the door to the car when I take him anywhere. Sometimes he still talks about recovering and being able to work, but I think he's fighting a losing battle with himself. I think the part of him that hopes he'll recover is slowly fading away. The part of him that knew he was going to recover has already died. And the part that's taking over is the part with the cancer. The part that tells him his life is over and he better just sit back and relax, wait to die.
I'm sad. I’m mad. I'm frustrated. I have this aching in my soul to just be normal again. To just find normal and stick with it for a while. To stop finding these places in my life that are so uncomfortable and painful. I don't care how much I’m going to learn from this whole experience; I just want it to be over. I don't want to learn anymore, I just want my dad to be well again. I wish I could believe that God will come and save him from this pain, take away this cancer and let him live 50 more years. But I can't. I don't. I won't.
Researching a memoir isn't like researching a novel or any other random article. I'm not reading about someone else, I'm reading about me. What's odd about that is that sometimes I feel like I'm reading about someone else. Both of these spaces feel so so far away from me now. Sure, it's 4 and 5 years ago (could it be? no....), and while I can vaguely recollect feeling those things, the fact that life is so different now makes it feel like I'm reading from someone else's journals.

Makes me think about how much things change in a year, how much people change, and how much I've changed. One year to the next it's hard to see, but only if we don't look.

Remember to Breathe

As I continue to go through my journals of yesteryear in writing 7 Days, I come across entries that remind me of growth. I read these entries and don't remember that I felt that fucked up. But the words are there, spilling the thoughts, the streams, the echoes of what must have been going through my head at the time I wrote them. 

This is one such entry:

june 29, 2005

i have moments of untrust. even with myself. especially with myself. trying to find things about myself that i like again. not just things in my life, but about myself, my being, my whole. i'm like my mom. sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad. good when i'm funny and intuitive, bad when i'm paranoid and judgmental. balance, balance i keep telling myself. i'm more good than all the bad i've picked up along the way. more good than bad, i am. it's not even about that though. what is it, what is it? this self evaluation is killing me. the 30 the debt the love the work the life the relationship the mom. yoga. can it really be the answer? part of it maybe. take better care of yourself, dian. why must i keep reminding myself? more music. more baseball. more tennis. more yoga. more breathing. stop holding your breath, dian. nothing bad is going to happen. i will protect you. you can breathe you can breathe. no really you can breathe. back to good will hunting. i know it's not my fault. some things are though. not my mom. not steven. not grandpa. not tricia. not mike. not being gay. being in debt though. that's my fault. buying that stupid car i never really wanted anyway. that's my fault. get over blaming yourself, it's no good. can you change it? then do it and quit crying about it. just fucking do something about it if you can. and if you can't then shut the fuck up about it already. don't be so hard on yourself. don't yell at yourself. don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to vickie. to jenifer. that you wouldn't want them to say to you. be kind. share yourself. remember to breathe. look into that yoga thing. that's what you should spend your money on before therapy. help yourself. grow yourself. try it on your own. if you need guidance it's ok, just try it on your own. be kind, be kind. trust yourself, your intuition. you've never been wrong when you listen to yourself. and the battle wages on inside my mind. toy soldiers. i hate that song. will i ever be able to end the war? happy thoughts. find your happy place. find a happy place even if it isn't yours. eat breakfast. stretch. love yourself. listen to more music. go to the bowl. take someone. enjoy their company. take care of your cats. life is good. hard but good. why me? why do i have to deal with all of this? because the strong ones are the only ones who can get through this crap. i am one of the strong ones. accept that. struggle struggle why must everything be a struggle? right now. just right now it's a struggle. don't generalize everything. ha. everything. be real. where are you? what makes you? what breaks you? separate. divide and conquer. know what your battle is before fighting it. breathe. why is it so hard to remember to breathe?

Three weeks after that entry I had a nervous breakdown:

july 18, 2005

…bad breakfast. after driving around for 30 minutes trying to find a place that was open. driving around after our hard-to-find bad breakfast and terrible waitress. trying to find a quiet place to be leisurely while waiting for the dealership to call back saying her car was ready. already feeling angsty, ready for a fight. palms clammy, heart pounding, mind racing, looking for something to grab onto, something to lash out at. slowly turning around a corner to a side street, contemplating whether or not this was the right place. slowly, a look to the right. an impatient SUV behind me honking and speeding around me. me speeding up trying to not let him pass and screaming out the window: "
FUUUUUUUUCK YOOOOOOOOUUUUU!!" [______] looked at me. astonished. scared. calmly, quietly she reached for the wheel and said "baby, pull over." i did. without turning the car off, head in my hands, sobbing. tears streaming down my face, unable to control themselves. audible sobbing. first time in over a year allowing myself to cry like this. first time in almost 10 years allowing myself to be this way in plain view of a civilian. it's been like a military operation, this crying business. i sat and sobbed for what seemed like an eternity…

I had just learned that my father's liver was giving him some problems. His skin was jaundiced and he was lethargic from morning to night. He spent two weeks in the hospital, and still the doctors had no answers. My grandfather fell while vacationing in Florida and landed himself in the hospital. He waited 9 days to call and tell anyone what happened. His body was finally giving out from a 30-year battle with Scleroderma. When he returned home I was expected to take care of him. In the house my grandmother died in. The house I found my grandmother dead in. I was working 60-hour weeks at my job and volunteering 20-hour weeks to Outfest. My relationship was falling apart and I wanted to be blind to it. This outburst, this breakdown made tunnel vision impossible. 

Sometimes listening to your gut—your self—is harder than it sounds. I've not since had a similar episode. I could tell you it's because I've worked hard at being more balanced and more in tune with myself. I just don't know if that's true. If I ever figure out what I'm doing/have done right about this, I'll let you know. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Excerpt: Away From It All

From 7 Days: 
Journal Entry: December 28, 2005 
Phone therapy session with [Dana] this morning. I can't even remember what we talked about. Dad. Hospice. [Edward]. Don't even think [Edward] knows my father's terminal. So now I have to tell him. I don't even know if I should. Not really my place. Guess if I can sign DNR forms and decide when to pull the plug, I can't tell [Edward] why my father won't be paying rent anymore. DNR. Is this for real? Consent forms signed. Power of Attorney. Hospice intake. Something about a nurse coming daily to wash him. Didn't look too thrilled about that. Is it wrong that I want him to die? It's not for me, it's for him. And still, it's for me. I don't know how much longer I can take this. I don't know how much longer I can see him like this. In this defeat, in this constant state of weakness, of not being able to tie his own shoe without getting short of breath. I just don't think I'm cut out for all this pain. Again. And God, I know it's not about me, I know, I know. But still. That's my argument. Make it stop, God, for both of us. I just can't take it anymore.
Shortly after this therapy session and journal entry, [Reese] and I went for a walk in the woods behind her parents' house. Out the back door, we walked past the swimming pool and up the rolling hill that [Reese] had grown up playing on. Past the garden on the left, we walked towards the top of the hill on the right, where a small trail began. The path led in several directions: up this hill, down that one, around another. It was wide enough for a horse and buggy in some places, and narrowed down to just enough space for a small child to squeeze either through or under the brush and branches. Downpours during the week prior left most of the trees waterlogged and damaged, and in some areas the branches drooped so low they bent and were broken beyond repair.

There were wet fall leaves in the trees—brown and orange and yellow, even some purple (although [Reese] swears I was just seeing things that day). Green bushes, dense and full of plump red berries, lined our paths most of the way. Squirrels, lizards, and the likes, hidden in the bushes scampered away from our footsteps as we passed, while birds above flew from this tree to that, seeming to enjoy the crisp afternoon air and the fact that it wasn’t raining. (Why do I assume animals experience our emotions?)

[Reese] and I didn’t talk much. I kept my head down and hardly said a word. Thoughts of my session with [Dana] earlier in the morning, along with my father sitting at home waiting for his new hospice care nurse, swirled in my head and led me down roads of “What If” that I didn’t care to venture down.

What if I can't handle this? What if I need [Dana] and she doesn’t get my message? What if there’s another storm and I can’t get out of here? What if I can’t get home for weeks? What if my father has fallen? What if he dies and I’m not with him? What if I never see him alive again? What if he doesn’t know I love him?

I heard [Reese] talking at least twice, and even though I wanted to respond, I found neither the words nor the will to speak. I pretended not to hear her, and fell behind—far enough that I couldn’t hear her speak, but close enough that she wouldn’t slow down for me. I knew the trees, the bushes, the dirt, the entirety of the nature that surrounded us was her home. I would not allow myself to disturb her home with my depression.

It's still strange to go back to that day and know it was real; it seemed so surreal at the time. I was hundreds of miles north of my ailing father, and feared I was trying to escape the inevitable. What I found was the strength I would need to get through my father's immanent death.