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.