Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last Day

Muir Woods

Walter said, I could live here.

Allan was at Grace Cathedral for morning service. We were at the woods for our service. Both stunning.

I, uh... wasn't really thinking about God, though.

Zachary woke up in a mood. He stayed in a mood all day.

Smile, Zachary.

This was as good as it got today.

Not even some stern fatherly words helped.

A friend once said, of a trip to France with her 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son, the boy almost ruined the whole trip. Nothing made him happy. He didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. Finally, she said, tough, and dragged him along.

When he got home, he talked glowingly to his friends about the trip.

I'm sure Zachary will do the same.

He may not remember his brother's effort to cheer him up. But I think he will remember how rich the air was and the size of the trees.

We leave early tomorrow morning. I hope we beat the storm.

tommorrow, a list of new years resolutions.

Bond. James Bond.

Shaken, not stirred.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best Burgers

Another beautiful day.

A trip on the cable car to start, we headed for the tourist mecca.

We headed out to Alcatraz. I can't explain why I love old buildings, military monuments and army forts but I do. I guess growing up with southern relatives who insisted on taking us to every Civil War battlefield made me want to see something other than an empty field of grass. And a taste for history.

Jake asked me if there were any bad guys out there now. Any robbers, Mom?

Nope, just ghosts, I said.



There are no such things, Ben said.

Allan and I shrugged. Depends on what you believe.

I managed to stay out of lock up this time. The boys would not go into the solitary confinement cells. I don't know why. They had not been particulary naughty.

We had to go see the sea lions on Pier 39. This picture is the same pose I took of the boys five years ago when we came here.

And then onto the best fast food burgers, only found on the West Coast.

I mean, the best burgers. Get a Double Double, no onion. Onions ruin the nuance of the rest of the burger flavor. You lose the fresh ground beef. The special sauce.

I'm telling you, no onions. Trust me.

It was a long walk from Pier 39 to the In-N-Out burger stand.

Can't I have a hot dog? Zachary asked as we passed a stand on the way.

Nope. Trust me. It's worth the walk.

What about a corn dog? Ben asked.

You can get corn dogs in Boston. Better ones. Trust me. It's worth the wait.

Are we there yet? Jake hoped.


Burgers consumed. The kids watched in awe as they saw the guy cutting fresh potatoes to make the fries.

Was it worth the wait? I asked.

Oh yeah.

You have to trust me when it comes to food, I said.

Well, Ben said, you have to trust me when it comes to music. And movies. And video games.

Tonight, dinner out in suits and ties.

Jake fell asleep at the table last night. Not before trying potato pillows with caviar and crème fraise. We'll see if he makes it tonight. Ever the adventurous eater, it's sad when he can't stay away for his main course.

Only one more full day till we head home.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Safe Haven

The boys enjoyed the drag show last night.

Ben thought it was better than the show he saw in Provincetown.

Jake watched like a little man. The girls all waved at him from the stage. He raised an eyebrow. I’m telling you right now, that boy has a way with people.

Zachary was a little horrified. Not that they were men dressed as women because when we walked in and the girls came over to chat with us, find out about our family, he was perky and pleasant. The minute the dancing started? He shrunk down in his seat. It was soooo embarrassing.

Feel free to ask any questions, Jasmine said to us.

She conferred with her fellow waitresses and came back to the table. Can I ask some questions about your family?

And we explained our story.

It was great, I said to Walter later, to be in a room full of our people. People who smiled and said, Great kids! Gay men, lesbians, transgendered… it felt safe. The whole city of San Francisco is one giant sigh of relief. Even at the hotel we’re at, everyone knows our family structure and not a single eye has been batted.

I once complained to a friend how sick I was of always being different and having to explain, over and over, who we are, our family design- it gets exhausting to always fight the fight. To be a good role model. To be the only ones.

And then I read an article yesterday in the New York Times about gays and lesbians in Kansas. How, after the anti-gay marriage amendment passed, they realized they had to come out in their conservative state. They had to be seen, known, recognized not because their lives were cramped or closeted but because people didn’t know they existed. Neighbors needed to know who they were, all of who they were. So when they voted for such hateful legislation, they would know it was not a faceless enemy but the woman they borrowed a cup of sugar from, or waved to as they passed on the road.

This city is a haven. Like Provincetown, except so much larger, it is safe. A place to recharge the batteries. And go forward with the daily fight.

Because the one thing that struck me last night of the girls, the show? They were so excited and nervous to see these children in their midst. I said, you know, it’s not a big deal to them. It’s their life.

And I know, not only my children have this comfort but all the friends of my kids who come over and hang out. Two moms, two dads, no divorce? No big deal.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Golden Gate Park

I was a little tired and cranky this morning. I did not want to get out of bed. I did not want to walk around and shop. I get overwhelmed with too many decisions and wanting to make sure everyone is happy. Jeanine said, stay. Rest a while. Take a break. I know. You're not good at this.

I'm not.

Today started a little slower. We went to Golden Gate Park. No more sitting in the car, the boys all chanted. So we took them where they could run.

Walter, Allan and I went into look at flowers. Jeanine stayed outside and let the boys run like mad.

The boys ran and ran. We gazed. We all walked down to the Japanese Tea Garden.

A couple pit stops on the way. Hills to be rolled down. I turned to Jeanine and said, I simply have to let the grass stains go, don't I?

Yes, you do, she said. And she slipped her arm through mine. The sun was warm and the moment rich. I am often the one to reach out, take her hand, pull her close. It was nice to feel pursued. Wanted.

By Tea Garden time, some were tired- okay, I was tired- and ready to go back. Others ready to move on. Some very reflective of the atmosphere.

Tonight, dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the Castro- special twist of all the waitresses are men in drag. We haven't told the kids yet. We want to know if they'll even notice.

I'm blessed with a great family. Even when I'm tired and cranky.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jelly Bellies, Skylines and Beautiful Sun

A great morning start. Everyone slept till 6:00AM. We headed to the Jelly Belly factory.

Long tour ended with free candy. But we of course bought more.

After a fabulous lunch of duck burgers, oysters and grilled cheese (guess who had what), we headed to the Marin Headlands.

The wind was intense but the views spectacular.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Years Dream

Do you have any idea how early 3:30am is?

For some reason, Jeanine thought it was a good idea to let Ben set his clock for 3:30AM. Okay, we did need to leave at 4:30AM, but still...


I miss Jeanine. We’ve been so mad with each other for so long, I miss her. Holding her. Being with her. I thought for a little while that something else would have been better. To fall in love again without all the resentment and anger built up.

I was wrong.

I thought the fresh new rush of energy that inevidibly comes from making love for the first time would be better than her familiar touch, my lover of 15 years.

I was wrong about that, too. I cannot imagine – and I have a great imagination- having anything feel better than when she holds me after we’ve made love. Or holding her.

I know. Have to be careful. Anymore detail won’t pass the Weezie meter.

I miss her. Everytime I think, I can’t do this anymore, I remember how soft her lips are. How gentle- or not- she can be. I think about fifteen years of holding, touching, mouths, fingers and I know I am where I need to be, where I want to be. Where it feels right to be.

No, it’s not only about sex but how you have to love someone, the level of safety it takes to be that free. That has never come easy to me. It has taken years to be able to trust her the way I do.

I wish I could erase the last six months. I wish I never remembered anything. I wish I could go back to a time when I had my job, my mother was alive and I loved Jeanine without hesitation.

Of course, I felt like it was okay to get just a little bit. I believed it was all I deserved.

Still, I wish I could go to sleep and wake up, finding it a dream.

A nightmare I can wake up from.

The only thing grounding me is my own certainty that these things did indeed happen. Some, I’ve always remembered. I say that over and over too reassure myself I am not crazy.

I need you, Jeanine.

It’s not only about love. Or the touch of your hand. I need you to hold me through this piece of my life. This part of our marriage journey really is almost all about me. I’m so sorry. It’s not fair.

I need your touch.

Your kindness.

Please, no more fighting.

Let us be kind with each other.

Begin the new year full of promise and hope.

That’s my New Year’s Dream. One I don’t want to wake up from ever again.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Call

Hi, Mom. Merry Christmas!

It’s been great. The boys were up at 6AM- maybe before but we told them they could not wake us up until then.

Yes, they were very excited.

Santa was very good to them. Zachary was astounded he got the one and only present he asked for. What is it with that boy?

I know. He’s sweet.

I know. He’s going to be trouble.

Ben was actually very grateful for everything. I know. It was a nice change. Of course, Allan threatened him last night if he was whiny about something he would take it away.

Yes, I made cinnamon buns. Of course. Christmas can’t happen without them. No, they were not as good as yours.

They were better!

Well, Mom, you haven’t been in the kitchen for about a hundred years. Sorry. I make them better now. Perhaps a little underdone, though. I know. fifteen minutes. Not a minute less.

Dan sent me a gift to remember you by- a beautiful glass penguin. When did the penguin thing start? It was Dan, wasn’t it? Why do these fabulous gay men in our lives decide we need to collect something? Walter ended up giving me Victorian ink well. It was a fake one, of course. He told me to watch out, my blog can come back to bite me.

Hey! I'm collecting books. And the art you have left me... well, that is a huge start.

The blog? I know. As if I didn’t know that already. But, Mom? I have to. I just do. It's like Jeanine writing music. I know. Music is far more special. But it's all art... No, Mom, it is.

Tonight? Dinner will be with friends and their kids- twelve all together. Well, I invited one more person, and I hope she’ll come but… my guess is no. Someone who has had a harder year than me.

No, Mom, we’re not going to go there right now. It’s Christmas. She really did have a hard year. Me? Let's not argue.

The kids were stunned- I mean stunned- by Cathy’s gift to them. Pokemon cards. Ones she collected years ago. When they opened the binders, that was it, Christmas was over, they would not leave the books of cards.

You always give the perfect thing. The gifts from last year? They will cherish those forever. Beautiful, funky, Christmas decorations. When we were opening gifts today there was a huge absence for me. Where was Grandma’s gift?

I know. Nothing to be done. You’re dead. I can buy the gifts but only you had the sense of what was perfect.

Yes, Mom. I’m okay. I’m really going to be okay.

I know you didn’t think so but I am. It’s not easy, I mean, you are my mother. But something about losing Pearl made me feel sure about my goals. How my life should look. How it’s starting to. How important it is to continue the work for the next generation. The girls, my boys… what a treat it will be for them.

No, Mom. Not a burden. Not if we do it right. I know money was always a burden to you. We can do this, though. I know we can. All of us, together.

It’s been a great Christmas. But you know something? At about nine o’clock this morning, after breakfast? I missed you so much. It was time to make my call. Tell you what was happening so far. What was to come. How the table was set. What we were serving. I had to go upstairs and cry. Where was my mom? It was Christmas morning and where was my mom?

I could hear you tell me about your late dinner at the Ritz on Christmas Eve with Dan and Jimmy. How beautiful the lights were on Amelia Island. About sitting out on the porch, watching the shrimp boats.

We’d hang up- I had to go set the table, stir the stew and make sure Jeanine had all the tools to put together whatever needed to be put together.

There would be the next day to talk.

There are no more next days.

Yup. Gotta go. Seems that Jake has picked up Ben’s new Nintendo. I know. Serious trouble.

I love you, Mom. Merry Christmas.


Christmas Dinner

Table set.

Casseoulet cooking.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

At 11AM this morning, Jake asked me if it was time to go to Margaret’s house.

For dinner.

No, honey, it’s not even lunchtime yet.

Oh. Are you sure?

Yes, I’m sure.

We hit the road to deliver some cookies. We dropped off the first tin and Zachary asked, What time is it?

One o’clock.

Oh. Is it time to go to Margaret’s house?

I turned around in my seat and raised an eyebrow. What do you think?

Naw, too early.

I wish this day would be over, Ben sighed.

It can’t be over, I said. We still have cookies to deliver. Food to cook. Things to do.

When we returned to the house, Jake asked, Now? Now is it time?

Mind you, this is about thirty minutes from the time Zachary asked.

Nope, not yet. Maybe you all should go down to the school and play on the structures for a while.

Ben and Zachary left. Jake doesn’t want to miss a thing.

No, I’ll stay here, just in case.

Okay, I shrugged. Not time to go yet. Not until it’s dark out.

I think Christmas Eve day is the longest day of the year for kids, the fastest day of the year for adults.

Tomorrow I will not be writing a blog. Unless, like Thanksgiving, something spectacular happens. I hope not. Hopefully, we’ll have a quiet day, with good friends, happy children and great food.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Almost Time

Santa is all set.

Food bought. We will have a wonderful casseoulet and hearty red wine for dinner. Few last things to be done.

Like wrapping presents. But I’m not going there tonight.

We cleaned the house today for the house cleaners. But not because they were cleaning but because they were coming by to visit. To bring presents for the boys. And we gave them gifts, too.

Fresh cinnamon buns need to be made- an old family recipe. I make them every Christmas, just as my mother did.

Cookies to be delivered tomorrow. A call to Santa- it’s a phone number, I told my kids, that you get when you leave the hospital with your first baby.

Dinner at my friend Margaret’s, as is our tradition.


I’m ready.

Except for the wrapping…

Friday, December 22, 2006

Back To Work

In some ways, today was harder than my mother’s funeral.

Maybe because I wasn't 'on' and didn’t have any responsibility to the community coming to grieve.

Maybe because it was one more big loss after losing my mom.

I really lost it today.

My friend and fellow co-worker held me and said, she loved you. You were her project. I could not stop the tears. I knew I was her project. She would grab my arm and introduce me to people and say, she gets it. She understands. She knew I had a deep belief in social justice. When I only had a glimmer of what I thought was right, she said, yes, and here’s how to do it. I only hope to live up to her standards. I only hope to do half as much.

I had to take the shovel, at the grave, and put two shovels full of dirt- one with the shovel upside down to show my reluctance, as the rabbi explained, one to show our understanding of the end- and I could barely see what I was doing. I stopped and looked down at the very plain, pine coffin with a Star of David carved on top... my friend was in that box. Her death was very real in that moment.

So hard.

A friend leaned in and said to me, this tradition doesn't let you hide, does it?

No. It really doesn't. It makes you face your grief.

She's buried in the same cemetery as Fredrick Douglass. She's in good company.

Now I'm working on a story to send her kids to be read at Shiva tomorrow night... or Sunday. Or Monday. Three days. Shiva is usually five but true to my friend, she would say, enough already. Get back to work.

I will write something beautiful. And then I will get back to work.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

God, Fate and One Last Trip

I took Zachary to a Celtics game last night. Lots of cheering, hot dogs and popcorn. We lost by a point. The grace of the game came back to me- on TV, I find the antics too much. In person, it was a different game.

The players are so quick. The level of skill they bring to the most mundane tasks is lost on the TV screen, no matter how large. Our seats are so close you can hear them breathe.

I had my boy right next to me, completely engaged.

One the way home, Zachary and I had a very interesting conversation. Weaving through Boston traffic, he asked from his back seat, Mom? Do you believe in God?

Uh... I'm trying to miss the Land Rover trying to cross three lanes from the left.

Kinda. Well, not really but … what do you think?

I don't think so, he said. It sounds like a legend to me.

Ah, I thought to myself. This is the “I don't believe in Santa anymore” time.

Well, legends are very powerful. The bible, to some, is the word of God. I think it's a great book, or as you say, a legend.

So you believe in God?

I believe in fate.

What's that?

Believing in fate is to believe things happen for a reason. I believe that. That we meet people, or go to places or make decisions in certain ways- I think that's driven by fate.


The conversation ended because the traffic was... well... Boston traffic. Not paying attention could cost you a fender or worse- have someone get in line in front of you. I needed to concentrate. I missed the Santa angle but I'll pick it up later.

I thought about my friend. My teacher, she showed me how to ask the kind of questions that get right to the heart of the issue. Look behind the curtain and don’t let anyone’s praise ever go to your head. They are grant seekers and you are a big wallet walking around. Stay grounded.

My friend, she would grab my arm and pull us both to the buffet- of a party we were not invited to but simply guests at the same hotel, or participants of another conference- grab a glass of wine and start to eat. She was always eager to hear every word about my life, my family.

She died last night.

It was, I believe, my fate to know her. And such a gift.

Tomorrow, I'll make one last trip to Rochester. At least, for this year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Clean Shirts and Quiet Mind

I’m exhausted right now.

I can’t wait to go away.

Only a few million things to do before getting on the plane Tuesday morning at 6 AM. Like packing clothes for the kids.

Even if we are only going away for a couple days, I do not let the kids pack their own clothes. When left to their own devices, ten stained, ripped tee shirts, a pair of shorts- summer or winter- and one pair of socks ends up in the suitcase.

I can specifically tell them- three shirts, no holes, three pairs of pants, it’s snowing, and three pairs of socks AND underwear. Pajamas. And don’t forget your toothbrush.

What ends up in the bag? See above.

This time we are going to San Francisco. Four adults, three kids means perfect ratio for nice restaurants. You can’t be in San Francisco and go to McDonalds.

Suits, ties, dress shoes. Black socks. Raincoats. Layers of clothes.

They all need haircuts desperately but I have no idea how I’m going to get that done.

Which brings me to 12 people for Christmas dinner, finding someone to come check on the cat and two basketball games to go to- who is watching the kids on Friday?

My mind is racing fast right now.

Not as fast as the kids outside, in tee shirts (soon to be ripped and permanently stained), stealing each other’s shoes and running away as fast as they can.

I hung a picture light today- first ever for me- finished moving furniture into the right places and the Chihuly is resting safely on my new desk.

Jeanine showed up at 4:50pm and wondered why I was annoyed. The rental truck is due back and closing time is 5PM. The concept of rush hour traffic, having to put gas in the truck before it goes and why ten minutes might be pushing it too the limit is beyond her. Forget about how nice it is to show up during the holiday season as someone is locking the door. Jeanine time rarely takes reality into consideration.

And quietly, inside, I’m waiting to hear about my friend. Last night it was only hours. So much, all at once.

I can’t wait to rest a while. Find a safe place and rest.

I'll put that on my packing list. Clean shirts. Shoes. Plenty of underwear.

And a quiet mind.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All My Love

My mentor- my friend- is dying. I never thought she would. She was ten years older than my mother and a hundred times faster. My boys always talked about her in awe- she was going to live forever.

The cancer is winning. I'm hearbroken.

When I think of her, I think of the Dylan Thomas poem.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I don't wish her pain. I wish her peaceful release. Warm loving arms around her. I send her all my love.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Making a List, Checking it Twice

It’s almost Christmas,

And all through the house,
Not a creature is stirring,
Not Spike, not Beanie, Not even Sofia after a mouse.

But Sara is not done with her shopping… and online times are drawing near to a close.

I’m not in total panic.


I have six hours in a truck tomorrow with Walter- we can plan dinner on the way. Check lists. Make sure everything is done. Set up a mobile command center with our cell phones.

One more trip to Rochester to pick up the last of the things from my mother’s house. Maybe after that I can start thinking about Christmas cards.

Not that I’ve done the thank you cards for the funeral. Think there might be an all in one card out there? Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah- you choose- and thanks for your loving support after my mother died? There must be a Hallmark card. One with a small puppy on the front, with sad eyes, dressed in a Santa suit and a Star of David necklace.

Of course being away means one less day to get ready for Christmas. Once I’m sure of the food, though, everything else is easy.

I hope.

Of course there is some wrapping to do… but I’m not going there today.

Personally, I only have a few Christmas wishes. I wish there was snow on the ground. Here, the Artic Circle… you know. Where it should be this time of year. I wish I wasn’t going through a list of kid’s stationed in Iraq so my own children can adopt a solider this year. They know I hate the war. It’s wrong, it has always been wrong; too many people have died over poor policies, ineffective strategies and an idiot for a president. Not just Americans, but the thousands of Iraqis. Not soldiers but babies. Children. Grandmothers. Our soldiers are mere pawns of power hungry bureaucrats in Washington, DC who care only about keeping the rich rich, and the poor out of the voting booths.

I have always made sure my kids talk about the war at least once a month. It is so easy, in our comfortable home, with plenty of food on the table, and quiet nights only broken with the sound of the train rumbling nearby, to forget what it’s like in a war zone. If American children- and let’s face it, the soldiers are mostly 18 to 22 years old, they are children- are over there fighting every day, I’m going to make sure my children are aware of it.

I find most War supporters are eager to wave their flags but rarely talk to their children about the war.

So, we are adopting a solider. Going to send some non-perishable goods they have requested- Shaving cream. Razors. Beef jerky. Gum. And a letter from the boys describing why they wanted to do this-

Because we want to help them and make them feel like they are home, Jake said.

It’s George Bush’s fault we’re at war, he adds. Not theirs.

From the mouths of babes, as they say.

Honestly? All I want for Christmas is a little less global warming and the end to the war.

Not such a big list. And maybe I won’t get it this year but you know what? I’m raising three boys to think they are both pretty reasonable things to ask for.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Beam Me Up

Ah, I promised to write about truth in writing today.

I had to go Christmas shopping instead. Walter and I went out on a trip to “pick up books.” Wink wink.

The four of us have been having hushed conversations, silent nods and hand signals. The Christmas gifts are almost all purchased. Walter and I stood in the parking lot of Toys R Us today on our cell phones, checking in with different resources, so we were sure of our mission.

Don’t ever walk in Toys R Us this time of year without being sure of your mission.

I’ve been accused of being mad with the world. (See comments to “Stunted Package Wrapping Skills,” Dec. 12th.)

No, I am not mad with the world. Nor am I “going through the drama of finding myself.”

I believe I found myself in the Playstation Two games aisle.

It’s as if I’m on some aromatherapy induced hallucination. I'm not sitting on kiln rugs discussing the depth of my karma. I'm not tucking crystals under my bed to align my chakras. I was sexually abused as a child. Small child. Anyone have a five-year-old girl? Look in her eyes. Imagine what it would be like to have her father take advantage of that trust.

You’d think I was looking for welfare payments.

No. Not even compassion.

It was what it was. Mad at the world?


Almost finished Christmas shopping today. Life is pretty good.

At least the way I see it.

Anyone else is welcome to see it any way they want.

Signal to the mothership… whatever.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


We gave away the ugly table we’ve had since before Ben was born today. And the chairs.

I had Jake and Zach help carry out the chairs. Jake made a sign that said FREE.

Zachary was very unhappy.

I love these chairs, he whined. He stretched out across them.

Zach, we have a new table coming Tuesday, and the old dining room table is moving to the back room.

But you don't CARE when we draw on this one. You CARE about the other one.

Zach, you're not two anymore. You can avoid drawing on the table.

He buried his head in his hands.

Zach, is this about the table? Really? Or are you tired because you and your friend stayed up half the night last night?

He had a sleepover. No sleep is ever really accomplished at sleepovers. I don’t know why they call them that. They should be called wakeovers.

Within ten minutes, the table and chairs were gone.

The moment of sorrow over, Zachary and I danced to Christmas music in the empty space the table left.

Can we always keep it like this? He asked.

I love their flexibility.

Nope, I said and we kept dancing away.