Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blog Repair and Update: Site Down Until Monday

I wish I could say that because it would mean I actually had my own site and needed to update it. HA! I don’t- yet. And the reality is, I’m taking the next few days off.

I’ll be in a place with no power, no Internet, no phones, no connection to the modern world.

Walter, Allan, Jeanine and I bought a house up in Down East, Maine.

For about six years, the four of us have been in search of a house that we could all share as a family. Something that each of us owned a part of, and none of us had before- a home to go to, although there have been times we looked at homes to share as one family.

We decided there was too much invested in each of our communities to ever leave them. I love Newton. I also love Jamaica Plain. The way things are? I get both.

But for years we trekked to the Berkshires, we trekked to Maine, looking for “the place.” We looked at lots with doublewides parked on them, we looked at land with nothing built, we looked at so many houses, vistas, and views… over and over. Nothing fit. Nothing was quite right.

Two years ago, we agreed on a piece of land in Down East. The views were stunning and we could build from scratch what we could not find.

Yuh. Right.

Last week, at the end of ‘Dads camp,’ we went over to the land. We sat, well, I sat, Walter worked, Jeanine looked at possible layouts and the kids complained about being there. Allan asked me if I'd ever seen the cluster of Victorian cottages at the end of the peninsula. No, I hadn't, so Jeanine, Allan and I drove down the dirt road.

All these "cottages" are the size of regular homes anywhere else. They are huge and beautiful, crafted in another age and still true to their beginnings- not one of them have electricity or running water. It’s been their choice to stay that way since they were built in the 1880's through the 1900's.

As we drove in, we passed a realtor’s sign.

As we drove out, Allan and I said… oh, just pull in. We’ll go take a peek.

The kids groaned, Jeanine groaned, but the car stopped.

What we found was a cottage built in 1900 from wood found, it is believed, from a shipwreck by a sea captain for his daughter and HER FEMALE COMPANION. It's the only thing on that point I'd call a cottage- it's fairly small, there is a bathhouse that has compost toilets, it has solar powered pumps for the running water, - completely off the grid and completely green. There are propane lights and a propane refrigerator- stove... and…

There is a geodome on the property, just a little bit away. In 1975 a Buckminister Fuller a geodome was installed. Ugly as shit and yet... the kids love it. It has all propane lights, it's own kitchen, own bathhouse.

The whole place is 25 feet from the highest of high tide marks.

It's stunning. When we all went to look at it the next day, we walked around and were blown away by the whole space. It's what we've been looking for - the four of us- for 6 years.

It's perfect. It's green- what Allan and Jeanine wanted most of all. It’s antique- what Walter and I wanted all along- and it's on the water.

We bought it.

And I'm absolutely beside myself. I’m scared Jeanine’s going to walk out the door. The whole thing will crumble before I walk in the door.

On the other hand, it's a property that goes on the market once every 30 or 40 years. Could it wash away? Yes. We're basically buying the right to build close to the ocean on that parcel of land.

It's great and I'm really anxious about it.

And haunted? The hair on the back of my neck was standing on end in the driveway- but seeing as most of the history is of lesbians owning the place (from what we can tell, there were at least two lesbian couples as owners) I'm going with it.

When we walked through, Walter went to take a picture with Jeanine's camera- small digital thing with the screen on the back- nothing fancy- in the living room. There were about four horizontal, purple-ish "streaks" in the camera.

Clustered around the piano.

What's that? He asked.

Never seen it before, I said. We then turned it on and off, still there.


Maybe it's the light in here? I said. Beyond grasping for straws here. It wasn’t the camera.

Walter and I looked at each other. He said, Well, at least they are friendly.

Bottom line? It is what this "family," all of us, have been looking for. It’s perfect.

Yet... so much is still in turmoil and undecided. I want to shout with joy.

And I want to cry. It makes me so sad to think we’ve worked so hard and it could all fall apart in an instant.

Until Monday, I'm also going off line. I’m going to learn how to operate propane lights. I’m going to kayak in the sea out my front door.

And I’m going to learn how to use a compost toilet. Yikes.

Till Monday… and I promise a full report.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


There are some huge changes happening in my family right now. Great changes. Hard changes. Awful changes.

Ben is going to middle school. Jake is starting second grade not quite being able to read. Zachary is trying, as always, to balance the family on his diplomatic shoulders.

Walter, Jeanine, Allan and I have embarked on a new, amazing chapter of our family. I have spent most of today pacing, worrying, and being excited about what it could mean. I think the gray is starting to take over my hair but... no one will ever know.

More tomorrow. I can only say it's exhausting and fabulous. I am so proud of what we have become.

And even more frightened of what I have to lose.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Senator Craig: : Guilty of Act? Guilty of Denial? Or Just Plain Guilty?

Someone better hire this guy a new political consultant because after he plead guilty to charges stemming from a game of footsies with an undercover officer, he pretty much sealed his own deal.

I mean, what do you expect Senator? I believe at your level of government service, you should know a few of the very basic laws in this country. When the plea was offered, were you coerced? Did you not understand the law? Did you need a translator for the rich, powerful and arrogant to explain this was, in fact, an admission of guilt to cruising the men’s room for sex?

Personally, I hate the idea that public bathrooms are used to cruise for sex. I have three boys. I send them into airport bathrooms and stand right outside. More than three minutes pass and I’m in there.

Yes, I have gone in before and I will again.

To think that a Senator of this country was in there for a very long period of time- reports vary but it was way more than three minutes- and that’s all it takes my seven year old to take care of business and still have time to play with the automatic dryer.

Enough with the bullshit, Senator. We know why you were there.

The question of entrapment keeps coming up but you know, I think it’s missing the point. Not because there are very real issues around the fact that gay sex is targeted even when there is no money being exchanged while heterosexual lovers in cars tend to get the easy pass- slap on the wrist in comparison to a criminal offense. Undercover officers do some of the most important police work in this country so stop wasting their time and put a uniformed officer in there instead.

I promise, no funny business will be going on.

Don’t you feel yourself wanting to start to argue that point? But, people, that’s not the point here. We’ve been distracted by a larger societal issue that is VERY worthy of lengthy discussion. We’re talking about a man who pleads guilty to an offense he was in complete comprehension of and understood all the ramifications.

This isn’t about law enforcement or entrapment or even LGBT civil rights. It’s about a pathetic, clueless old man who thought he could break the rules, play all sides and never get caught.

And this is a man, who for his entire political career, has worked in fervor against any LGBT issues on the table. He claimed a higher moral ground while he was cruising for sex in bathrooms because… well, because his fundraising clearly depended on it. It’s doubtful that a gay man in Idaho would get elected Senator but I might be wrong about that. Regardless, if he wanted to be in the closet, still stay married, be a Senator, well, I can understand all of that. It’s not easy to be out, it means job discrimination, it means physical harassment and sometimes violence, it means not being able to have your loved one be your legal spouse or any of those benefits. It means, often, losing your family and friends. It’s not an easy path. I can respect anyone who chooses to live in the closet on one condition:

They don’t actively fight for laws in an elected office that allow for discrimination, hate and bigotry. If Senator Craig needs a pick me up every now and then from the men’s room, I think that’s pathetic, but … to each his own and understand, you’re going to get caught.

More importantly? All that banner waving, hate mongering anti-gay rhetoric is going to kick you in the ass.

We all know what he was doing. So did he.

Due process was served. I think that makes him guilty, guilty and even more guilty.

Monday, August 27, 2007

When The Sun Explodes...

In the car today, my son Jake asked what would happen when the sun explodes.

Not if the sun explodes, but when. Jake, at seven, takes things very seriously, especially anything related to the weather. As a small child, he would get very upset by a heavy rainstorm. He had heard about the Tsunami and Katrina and was certain the same thing would happen to him.

Well, I said, I don't think they expect the sun to explode for a few million years.

Yeah, but what will happen?

Everything blows up and everyone dies, Ben snapped. He has little patience for his little brother's question. At 11, almost 12, acne control is far more important than any dramatic sun blowing up business.

What would you do, Mom? Jake asked, If it was gonna happen in three hours?

It's not going to happen, I said.

Mom.... what would you do?

I would... sit at the beach with all of you, and Momma Jeanine and Walter and Allan and watch the sun explode from the most beautiful place I know. I'd just hug you all a lot.

I'd go take stuff from stores, Zachary piped in. I mean, no one would be there, so... I'd take stuff.

You'd spend your last three hours alive stealing? I asked.

No, it wouldn't be stealing. Just taking stuff because no one would be there.


Why not?

This comment, of course, bothers me. I've lost sight of trying to ease Jake's mind that the world is not going to end, the sun is not going to blow up and we're all going to be fine.

Zachary! It would still be stealing and why would you want stuff when the whole world was going to end? Everyone gone. Stuff, everything.

He was not to be deterred. Why not? I mean... why just sit? That'd be boring.

When is the sun gonna blow up? Jake asks again.

Right. Jake. I try to shift gears again.

Honey, the sun is not going to blow up.

How do you know? He asks.

People spend their lives studying the sun, the planets, the universe- they would let us know.

Jake, it's going to blow up in three minutes! Ben said, pleased with his ability to invoke terror in his brother.

Jake doesn't take the bait though- he starts to laugh instead. Quick, Mom! Drive to the beach!

I take a deep breath and sigh. The conversation has now shifted into three brothers bantering about the end of the world and silly things they would do like run around and scream on the top of their lungs. They all seem to know just enough about each other to slightly torture, somewhat tease, and ultimately send each other into gales of laughter.

It's the end of summer. Ten more days till schools starts. The sun is not exploding but not nearly as hot as a few weeks ago. The leaves, in Maine at least, have started to change colors. Today at the beach there was not a single cloud. The water was so clear you could see through the waves as they curled and broke. We had hot dogs and french fries sitting on beach towels, salty with that slight crunch of sand in each bite.

And if the world were to end in three hours, I could not imagine a more perfect place to say goodbye.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Next Summer...

I know where I'll be next summer.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In Hiding...

I am officially calling myself out as a big baby.

I wrote a difficult piece for Huffington Post and was called out, over and over again. I do not believe I did any race baiting- at all- nor was I advocating for leniency for Michael Vick.

Just pointing out the real difference in how crimes against women are cause no uproar in our society.

I do not think it was my best piece of writing. I tried to cover too many things at once. I will go back and address them again.

Because, you know, I have to be RIGHT.

The responses made me feel like I wanted to go into hiding.

I reread something I sent to a friend this morning and thought, Grow up, Sara. Much more to say, much harder things to say, this is nothing.

And what a privilege it is to have the chance to say it. Everyone better fasten their seat belts- especially me.

But today, I am in DownEast Maine. DownEast is as much of a location as I'm going to give.

It's the end of Dads Camp. It is tradition for the Moms to come up at the end of the week, bring a great Montrachet and have lobsters, corn and watch the stars.

Little cloudy today. Not sure we'll get any stars.

Some photos from the trip so far:

The view from the deck.

My dog being tortured.

Jake caught me hiding on the dock by the water.

Ben desperately needs a haircut.

Jake at the door... HA! it was locked.

Zachary showing off his shaving skills.

Dads camp closes tonight, the boys going down to the dock to get the couple inches of ocean water for the lobster pot. The Montrachet is cold. I'm going back out on the deck to see if I can get a picture of a Bald Eagle mid flight.

I feel refreshed and ready to go back tomorrow to write more, cause more trouble, stir up difficult issues.

I know I was being a baby.

I recover quickly, now.

Watch out...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fine Wine

Last night, Jeanine and I went to an amazing restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine. We have gone at least once every summer since they opened.

The food is beyond exquisite and you know when they ask you if you want the house butter or the trio of imported butters to go with your bread you are in for a culinary delight.

We had oysters, and duck wrapped in fresh grown lettuce leaves and goat cheese tamales and wild salmon and veal tenderloin with sweetbreads.... amazing.

The best part was the wine.

I eyed two in the extensive menu that stood out. One was a big, bold, fruit bomb from California. A wine with a silky texture and amazing berries so forward it’s like Dolly Parton on heels. The other was a a delicate, older phenom Bordeaux from 1995. It is quiet and graceful, like Nancy Pearl in a library.

1995 in Bordeaux was quite a year.

When wine ages, it changes character. The French winemakers acknowledge that change by layering wine with different grapes. A Cabernet Sauvignon from California tends to be- but not always- a single grape with a big flavor. A French Bordeaux is Cabernet grapes, and Cabernet franc, and Merlot and and and... whatever the winemaker thinks will bring out the best in the predominate Cabernet grape.

It’s an art. And a very delicate balance.

The Sommelier said, Well, the Viader is a great wine, no question. But the Pinchon... it’s not going to be around much longer. Can’t find it anywhere.

She was right.

The older wine was stunning. layers of cherry and some earth and a hint of leather made the wine something thoughtful to sip. Each taste, as the wine opened, grew more complex.

It’s like a long term relationship, Jeanine said as she admired the choice. You can’t get this without waiting.

No... you get something different. Big, explosive and of the moment. I love California wine. But you’re right... when you wait, when you have patience, you get this.

Last night we had an amazing dinner. Fresh herbs, lettuces picked from the garden and a complex wine reminiscent of our own relationship.

We could both trade in for a big, fruit bomb. But we’d never know the beauty of something that’s aged over time.

What is a long term relationship suppose to look like? Jeanine asked.

I have no idea, I responded. But if we separate, we can't do this- and I motioned to the beautifully set table. And we'll never know what twenty years together looks like.

Old love is like great wine. There are years it is undrinkable. Years it becomes a shadow of it’s old self.

And years when nothing in the world has as many layers and beauty in each sip.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Time to Say, Bye Bye Mr. Rove

Ever need a bitch slap?

One time, when Walter was cooking dinner for 15 people at his house and his friend was helping him (no, it wasn’t me. I was being charming at the table.) and Walter started to get lost in the kitchen.

He was turning around in circles, 18 thins to do, not doing any of them, and suddenly it had been thirty minutes since the first course was cleared.

His friend grabbed him and said, GET IT TOGETHER! and started to tell Walter what to do.

Bitch slap. Only a true friend will do that for you.

Right now? I think all the liberal democrats need a bitch slap. Enough about Karl Rove. I listened to an NPR story after Rove’s final Sunday morning talk show rounds and the commentators were trying to dissect what Rove was trying to do with his attack on Senator Clinton.

Was he afraid of her?

Was he trying to ”make” her the front runner by his comments because he thought she could be beat?

What was his scheme?

PEOPLE! Who cares? The man doesn’t have a job anymore. He was fired. He lost the 2006 elections. He is history, done, over, finished. Instead of looking in the rear view mirror, let’s focus on what’s in front of us instead.

Because no one in the Republican party wants to lose power. That’s why Rove doesn’t have a job.

I don’t know who I am going to vote for but I can promise you Karl Rove’s opinion or double opinion, or sneaky dirty tricks mean nothing to me. I don’t care if he’s gay, as is being speculated currently, or if he steals a pack of gum from the corner newsstand. At this point, any of his behaviors are aimed at one thing- trying to get back in power.

Even if that means bending over backwards. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

So, just as Walter’s friend did that night, I want everyone out there to be duly bitch slapped out of concern and a real desire to win this race in 2008. Even if Rove starts dancing in his underwear, we need to keep focused on the real goal.

The real obstacles.

Mr. Rove is no longer one.

Eyes forward, because I'm sure there is someone new.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dogs Rate

I posted this piece on Huffington Post today. I am currently getting hammered for being out of touch with my perception.

I believe Michael Vick did something terrible. Horrible. Sadistic. I also believe there are players in all the professional leagues who have been convicted of domestic violence that still collect a pay check and still get to play ball.

Hurt a woman? Who cares. But a dog? Dogs rate.

Here it is... if you think I'm wrong, let me have it.

Michael Vick: You Should Have Been Beating Women Instead

When the Michael Vick case first came out I was quick to jump to the conclusion this was the railroading of a Black man. Vick was probably not even remotely involved but the press was going to lynch him for it anyway.

Plenty of dog fighting rings being run by white guys that are still running this very second, getting busted and not a whisper of it in the news. Same ridiculous double standard the media always plays when it comes to crime and the color of someone’s skin.

Then I read a piece this morning by Sandra Kobrin, “Beat a Woman? Play on. Beat a Dog? You’re Gone.” ( I would add gay bashing, too, as Tim Hardaway, among others, still garner the adoration of many fans regardless of stating proudly, “I hate gays’” on national radio.

The double standard, it seems, is not only about race- I still believe race played a huge factor in the reporting of this case- but about what you are abusing. Hit a puppy? Go to jail. Hit a woman? Well, we all lose our tempers sometimes, don’t we? Rape a woman? You might lose some endorsement money. Maybe. It depends on how well you can humiliate and discredit the victim in the press.

Ask the football players at the University of Colorado. Better yet, ask all the victims.

Kobrin points out the professional sports leagues policies being adapted to insure no animal abuse will ever be accepted on any level at any time. Everyone is quick to insure the safety of small helpless creatures. Lots of very serious talk about unacceptable behavior and the cruelty of it.

No such policy exists about spousal abuse or any domestic violence. Let’s face it, in this country, beating or raping a woman is not as serious a crime as dog fighting or animal abuse. Michael Vick is facing FEDERAL charges. If he had women fighting in a pit, half starved and beaten to be violent? He could have sold the TV rights for millions.

Don’t get me wrong- I have a dog and cannot imagine ever hitting her for any reason. I also have a wife I cannot imagine ever hitting, either. Maybe it’s just me, but I think my wife deserves more laws and protections than my dog does. I do believe her life is more valuable, her experience more important and her safety far more paramount to our society’s well being than my dog’s.

Today, however, the message is clear- if Michael Vick had been beating women? He’d be in preseason games instead of court.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


For the next two weeks, I’ll be in Ogunquit, Maine on vacation.

I love vacation. I love Maine.

The best part? The boys have been at Dad’s camp since yesterday morning. Far, far away, in Downeast Maine, they are running around in sarongs, spitting and using potty language till Friday.

Dad’s camp is pretty much no Mom rules. Of course, the spitting and potty language still has to happen outside- the Dads are not that lenient.

For me, it’s a few days alone in my house. Jeanine is home working and just the dog and I are here. It’s a chance to try and catch up on a few things I wanted to do this summer.

I wanted to take more photographs. Not only recording events, like Zachary’s return home, but to walk around with a different set of eyes. Looking for different light, angles… or going through older photos and changing them into abstract images.

I wanted to finish my book proposal.

I wanted to play golf- my own form of Zen practice.

I wanted to spend more time outdoors in the sun and in the ocean. I cannot explain why the sun and the ocean mean so much to me this time of year, but it does. If I don’t spend the time, I end up miserable mid- November.

And I wanted to disconnect from email, news reports, and outrageous government mishaps to spend some time reading longer books. Like Susan Sontag’s book On Photography. And another I have about Alice Waters. Food and photographs.

I need to unwind a very tight knot in my chest. I need to let go for a while.

When Ben was getting ready for Dad’s camp, he said to me, I can’t wait to go and REALLY blow off some wild craziness.

I looked at him in surprise.

Yeah, I know, you think I’m crazy all the time but… well… you don’t know what I’ve been storing up.

Good, I said to him, just remember to do it outside.

I think Ben is onto something. I need a break. I need to get away from therapists, and processing and mountain of research waiting to be done at home. I want a week away from my anxiety and the constant deliberation about my marriage.

It’s what vacation is about- a chance to take a break from your everyday world, to look at things a little differently. To sleep in late, knowing nothing has to be done, nothing urgent is taking place.

Although Karl Rove is seriously bugging me. Someone needs to bitch slap that man.

For me, the year revolves around the school calendar. In a couple weeks, it’s time for a new one to begin. I love the first few weeks of school, the energy that starts pumping, seeing everyone again. Right now, however, is time to put everything in neutral and drift for a little while.

To renew and recharge.

Minus the spitting.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I had a dream last night that I was sucked in again by someone who I seem to desperately need to have approval from. In some ways, it was a mask and could have been so many people in my life- especially my mother and my wife.

I feel like I’m always at the edge of a whirlpool, swimming as hard as I can to keep from going under. the pull to be a good girl, to make everyone happy is so strong. If I simply let go, I’ll no longer have to do any work for myself. I can dedicate my life to other people, making them happy.

I went back to an old job in my dream, promising to work through my vacation. I was so happy that I was no longer held in contempt that nothing else mattered. I didn’t think twice about my own work, my kids, my family- all that mattered was the golden light of approval, acceptance.

Nothing else.

Awake, I wonder... am I just trying to please? to be good enough? to stop others from being disappointed in me? If I said, listen, my marriage isn’t going to work, not because anyone is a horrible person but because we’ve dug trenches too deep to recover from, would people be angry with me? Let down?

Yes, I believe they would.

Is that reason to stay?

Will I always make decisions based on other people’s perceptions? I don’t think I even have a place, deep inside, that is untouched by fear.

I’m amazed that a year later, I can still dream vividly about trying to undo someone’s rejection of me. The pain is still there. What do I get from carrying that around for so long? Tools to beat myself up with in case I run out of something fresh to use? I wasn’t good enough then, I’ll never be good enough- what do I need to do to make peace with that?

I keep thrashing away, trying to stay away from the whirlpool. I wonder if my efforts are creating the centrifuge I am trying to escape.

Deep down, I know the dream was about my marriage. The place I find myself right now. Looking in all directions, terrified of the choices, driven by the need to be accepted.

To have the approval dangling slightly out of reach but always in sight.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


It finally happened. My worst nightmare. My laptop- with everything I've ever written on it, all my photos- crashed.

Crashed hard.

I am working off the kids old machine.

Jeanine is working diligently to fix my laptop but... it doesn't look good.

Fortunately, I had just backed up the entire machine. In fact, it had not been backed up in two years. Phew.

So, today's blog is a little short. Sorry. I'll be back up to speed by tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Home Again

My baby is home again.

With a lot of dirty laundry.

I keep following him around the house. I just want to look at him. It's like when you finally give birth you are amazed at how much you can look at something so intently.

He doesn't seem to mind.

I missed him so much.

No long, weepy blog today. I'm going to cook him his ribs and corn bread welcome home dinner.

And stare a lot.

My baby is home.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Red Sox or Wicked?

Ben and I went to the Red Sox game today.

I should have asked a friend, instead. I love my son, I do but before we left the house, I knew I was in trouble.

Ben came downstairs in red shorts, a red Coco Crisp shirt, and Reef flip-flops. He pointed all these items out to me.

I’m ready.

Okay, lets go.

He looked at me and said, That’s what you’re wearing?

I had on a gray tee shirt, jeans shorts and sneakers.

Uh… yeah?


I changed my shirt to the traditional lesbian golf shirt.

Better? I asked him as we got into the car.

Whatever, he said, rolling his eyes.

We got to the game and the first thing had to be to choose some food. The game had already started and I was anxious to get to our seats. Not a chance. After perusing some of the options, he got some fries and a coke.

Want a hot dog?


It’s Fenway Park! Sausage?

EW, no.

I had the sausage.

We got to the seats just in time. The Sox scored six runs in the first inning. Very exciting.

By the third inning? Ben wanted to leave.

This is so boring.

Ben? Why don’t you count how many people have on Red Sox shirts?

Oh my God, mom. That is so stupid.

Ben, it’s the third inning. There are nine innings. Settle down.

I need cotton candy to settle down.


By the fifth inning? I was down getting him cotton candy. It did, in fact, entertain him for a brief period of time. Then there was the wave. Then a beach ball bounced through the stands. I think he spent about twenty minutes actually watching the field in the three hours we were there.

I think that guy needs plastic surgery, Ben said about one of the players pictures posted on the big screen.

The next batter up, for the opposing team, of course, he said needed to shave his eyebrows.

I mean, seriously. No one looks good with a bunch of fur over their eyes.

Seventh inning stretch. He won’t sing along but I’m sure to bellow out “Take me out to the Ballgame,” loudly enough for both of us. He does manage to crack a small smile.

Bottom of the seventh starts.

MOM. They already played the seventh inning.

Ben? I don’t know how to explain this but… no. They have not. And ... well… I can promise you that they would not make such a mistake at a professional game.

He folded his arms across his chest. He was certain they had played it already.

Eight inning and Sweet Caroline is blared. A tradition started about fifteen years ago, the fans all sing along to the song. As the first batter comes to the plate and the song has ceased playing on the PA, the fans continue to sing.

I sing. Ben frowns.

Papelbom comes out. The crowd goes wild. The Sox are ahead and we know the game is about to be won.

Is it over? Ben asks.

Almost, I tell him.

Finally, at the very end of the game, with the crowd on its feet, he comes around.

I bet it’s a pop fly to Coco Crisp, Ben said of the second to last batter.

Nah, he’s going to strike out, straight down the middle, I said.

Batter struck out.

Ben clapped. You should have bet me, Mom!

Last hitter? Pop fly to center field. Crisp caught it. Game won.

I was right! I was right! Ben was thrilled.

Walking back to the car I said, I know baseball isn’t really your thing but I do love spending time with you. Thanks for coming with me.

Oh, I liked it, he said. It was fun.

I’m not sure if it was the final few moments or that complaining was part of the entertainment for him. I’m glad he had a good time.

I have to find something to do with him, one on one, that fits his personality- his real personality. I know he goes to these things because he thinks he should like them. I know he doesn’t care about sports but when I ask? He’s downstairs in a flash, fashionably dressed.

Is it that he wants to spend time with me or that he’s hiding behind a façade of being a “real” boy? Over and over, he picks out things declaring he would never pick the other- it’s for girls. I feel his longing for the girl thing, like when we stood in line and he asked for the blue cotton candy instead of the pink.

Are you sure? I asked.

MOM, he said, looking at me as if I bared his soul to the cashier.

I thought it tasted better than the blue, I said.

He walked away and left me to pay by myself.

On the drive back, we passed a billboard for Wicked.

I loved that show, he sighed. We had seen it in New York City, as a family. It was simply the show we bought tickets for- he couldn’t say no.

Want to go again? I asked.

No, he said quickly.

I wish I could make this easier for him. I wish I could give him the words to be able to talk about it. I want to shield him from all the misery of middle school and high school. I want to save him from the pain and confusion.

I can’t.

But I can buy two tickets to see Wicked in Boston this November.

The next Sox game? I think I’ll take a friend to, instead.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Right or Happy?

Do you want to be right or happy? My therapist keeps asking me.

Both, is my response.

Can’t have it, she slowly shakes her head, not quite exasperated but getting close.

I know what she means. I’m having a hard time embracing it. Being right means nursing the narcissistic injury- whatever it is- and getting everyone around me to say, oh, poor Sara.

I realized it’s something I have done over and over when I've been upset with my wife. I triangulate- I want everyone to see what a horrible, mean person she is so they will take my side. It's because I'm hurt, angry and I want to be RIGHT.

It doesn’t, however, make me happy. Because being right also means not letting go. See? I told you, over and over again.

If I'm not trying to be right, I have to have room to say, well... okay, she's a good person. She's very unhappy with me. She's very unhappy for many reasons. Some have to do with me, some do not. I have to figure out my responsibility, my part and own it.

It sucks. It's a lot of work. It's much easier to say she’s an asshole.

She’s not.

If I can convince everyone around me she is mean, then I don’t have to do the work. I can bask in my narcissistic injury and feel wronged forever.

I’d be right. And she’d be wrong. I can plead my case far better and more sympathetically- I have a way with words and a lot of practice at the triangle. I find it a little ironic that I grew up in an A-framed shaped house (literally)- a big triangle filled with many small ones.

Being happy? Means being willing to compromise, each own our own stuff and work on it. It means making decisions together and not pulling a renegade end around because we feel, in a moment, entitled. It means so much impulse control I think I might need to give up caffeine.

It means looking to my friends for support with my work, instead of building triangles that leave everyone miserable. Our friends love us both- making them choose would be awful. When I call someone and whine about the latest assault, I see myself trying to win favor, trying to be the one more loved.

The right one.

I need to remember it takes two and what role did I have, if any? Is it about me? How can I acknowledge my hurt and still move forward?

Because I want to be happy a lot more than I want to be right.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Diet Fad

I have a new diet.

It’s called, pre-teen boy takes all your food.

It seems to be working. Today I had a sticky bun for breakfast.

OH, MOM, can I have some?


Half gone.

That was a bite?

Ben grins and I point him to the bag of them on the counter.

Get your own.

Lunch? I ordered Chicken Salad roll up. Chips. Water.

Hey, can I try that?


Half gone.

Want the rest? I asked.

Um... well…

I tore the other half in half. Handed it over.

Are you going to eat those chips?

Quarter of a sandwich and water. No wonder I’m starved right now.

It would be one thing if I hadn’t bought him lunch, too. But I did.

When the kids were little, I would nibble on their goldfish crackers, finish their half eaten plates of Annie’s Mac and Cheese. I hated both but I was raised with the "can’t let it go to waste" mentality. Thank god I never picked up my mother’s habit of folding once used paper towels and putting it back on top of the roll.

Well… I haven’t YET.

Now? Food is disappearing even when Walter the Hoover isn’t around. I could always count on Walter to finish anything left on any plate. I stopped packing on the pounds because he was taking care of it and my need to see nothing wasted was gleefully filled. I’ve noticed in the last few meals the Hoover title is shifting.

No, multiplying.

It’s like Ben has a tapeworm or something. He eats. And eats more. And more. Good stuff, junk, all goes in and he’s still skinny.

Yes, I am jealous because once upon a time, long long ago, that’s what I could do.

Things change, like metabolism in women over forty, and I’m trying to see it all as a good thing. I need to lose some weight. Ben is learning if he asks, I’ll hand it over. I think I’ll market it as a new diet trend.

The Tapeworm Teenager Hoovers All Diet. Get a teenager. Sit them next to you at all meals. Just try and finish what’s on your plate.

Don’t have one? Pretty soon I’m going to have three. I’d be happy to share. I mean... I have to eat something.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Summer Boredom

I’m bored.

You bored?

I’m bored.

This is the conversation my kids are currently having outside. I can hear them through my office window. I, however, am not bored. I have a pile of work on my desk that is more than a bit daunting. The house is a mess. Ben just returned from camp and promptly dumped a weeks worth of laundry downstairs.

Tomorrow? I’m going to take them to the beach. Today? I can’t.

I remember being a kid and climbing trees with my best friend. We’d sit high in our favorite Boxelder tree and talk about anything and everything. I’m sure we complained about being bored but never within earshot of our mothers for the fear we’d be put to work.

Not my boys.

They come right up to me and say, I’m bored. What am I going to do?

I have plenty of chores, is my standard response.

I don’t want to do that, is the wailing reply.

Then don’t ask me. Your rooms need cleaning, your clothes need putting away, there are piles of shoes everywhere…

OK, OK, OK! Is the typical response.

Does it mean they stop? No. It’s usually gives me about a five minute reprieve.

Why can’t these boys go climb a tree or build a fort or decide to dig to China? All the things I can remember doing, as a kid during the summer did not require one minute of my mother’s time. Out the door first thing in the morning, I came home for lunch and then back out till dinner. I knew my mother had things she wanted me to do- that’s why I stayed far away. Chores or bending over to watch a worm wiggle in the dirt? No contest in my mind.

If I repeatedly send them out, they will eventually find something to do. Jake is the best at entertaining himself. Give the boy a hose and he’s busy for an hour, spraying himself, carving deep grooves into the ground with the high-pressure spray. But when paired with either of his brothers, the ability disappears. When combined, they find things to do that require screaming “JESUS” at each other on the top of their lungs. Or worse. Rarely is it a game or activity that is about cooperation, unless you count Ben needing everyone to follow his rules.

Why can’t they just play? I know my friend and I would fight sometimes but for the most part, we were too busy doing something we thought up. Or we were thinking something up. There were times the thinking of the game was as much fun or took longer than the actual game. Like our game of “Indians.” We would decide we’d want to pretend we were Native Americans- we did not have that language at the time, mind you it was a many years ago- and the first step was to choose a tribe. We were in Upstate New York so we were quite familiar with the Iroquois Nation. Should we be Mohawk? Or Seneca? On and on we would discuss the various aspects of what our pretend world would be.

My boys? I hear them take characters from TV and start to play but then the inevitable, but they never did THAT before, comes out of one of their mouths. They can’t ad lib very well. I take that back- when they were younger they did a much better job. Now at 7, 10 and 12? They are far less willing to go outside the lines.

I know, every kid everywhere states, “I’m bored” right along with “There’s nothing to eat” in a house full of fresh fruit and vegetables. I know it’s normal and par for the course. Maybe I was an unusually creative kid and have unrealistic expectations.

Or maybe I simply want to get my work done minus the 18 per hour interruptions.

But like the vegetables I put on the dinner table, time and time again, regardless of whether they get eaten, I’m going to keep sending back outside. There will not be TV or computers or video games while the sun is shining.

Even if it means hearing JESUS screamed through the neighborhood.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What Does It Mean To Be A Man

This weekend, my kids’ dad, Walter, went out for Dad’s weekend at my ten year old, middle son Zachary’s camp. All the Dads bring tents and they have a weekend of games, competitions, singing, skits and campfires. At the end of every day, they have a time to sit around and reflect, as a group. The counselors give them a question, and everyone answers.

One night, Walter told me, they asked, What does it mean to be a man?

Zachary answered, To be strong and thoughtful.

Walter is very strong physically, no question. I love that Zachary sees his thoughtfulness, because to me, Walter’s strength is not his ability to lift a ninety-pound boy over his head and toss him across the swimming pool but his ability to emotionally connect on a very deep level.

It makes him very thoughtful.

Walter answered that a man is an individual who also realizes they live in a community and are a part of that community.

At the end of the weekend of festivities, the Moms are invited to visit from 12 to 4pm. My wife Jeanine and I drove out, picked up our other son, Ben, from his much shorter stay at camp and then went to visit Zachary. I couldn’t wait to see Zachary- he has been gone three weeks and has one more to go. I missed him so much. The big blue boo boo eyes trying to get something special, his kicked backed relaxed time on the couch first thing in the morning.

His wry sense of humor.

When we were driving up, Ben said, I don’t know why you are torturing him like this. It’s just going to make him want to go home. It’d be easier if you didn’t show up at all.

Maybe, I said, but… it’s not always about easy.

Walking down the path toward his cabin, we heard Walter’s voice. Jeanine called out and in the instant Zachary saw us, he jumped and started to run towards us just for an instant. He then slowed down and said, Hey!

We both hugged him the way Moms hug boys they have not seen for three weeks. He did not run away.

At the end of the day, we ended up by the lake at a basketball court. Zachary and I were shooting hoops, something Ben had a hard time letting happen- teasing each other a little, laughing a lot.

Show me your moves, I said to him. His moves included a great deal of double dribbling and traveling but… they were sweet.

I could tell all day that something was bugging Zachary. He had said, over and over, I’m not missing you, I’m having a great time!

On the way to the basketball court, I pulled him close as we walked and said, It’s okay to miss us AND have a good time.

I know, he said. He wouldn’t look at me.

Ben finally announced he was ready to leave, as Zachary and my game slowly wound down.

Don’t go, Zachary said, You just got here.

It’s not time yet, I said, glaring at Ben, But it will be soon.

His head dropped and he focused on the basketball.

Let’s go over there, I said, and put my arm around Zachary. I gave the look to Jeanine and Walter than meant, keep Ben busy. Alone time needed.

We went over to the water’s edge. It’s really beautiful out here, Zachary. I love it. I wish I could go to camp again.

He didn’t say anything but I looked over at him and his eyes were full of tears.

Hey, what’s going on?

No answer.

Buddy… I can see you’re about to cry… what’s going on?

I dunno, he said, shrugging his shoulders.

Come here, I sat down and motioned for him to sit in my lap. I wrapped my arms around him. We sat for a few minutes.

Do you know why you are sad?

He shook his head.

Has anyone been mean to you?

He shook his head fast.

Do you not like your counselors?

He shook his head fast again.

Any idea why you might be sad?

He sat for a while and then said, It’s weird that you’re leaving without me.

I hugged him tight- I know. I miss you very much.

He nodded. No words, just more silent tears.

It’s okay to miss home and to have a great time, you know.

It’s about feeling both things at once, Zachary. You can miss home and love camp all at the same time. You know, you might want to talk about it tonight with your cabin at circle time. My guess? Everyone feels that way today. At least a little bit.

He nodded.

We sat for a while longer, just looking at the water. My baby in my lap holding me as much as I was holding him. I know the experience is pure growth for him- he’s learning how to identify feelings and to talk about them. He’s learning how to miss home and still try something new and different.

I am proud of you, Zachary. Not because you can stay at a camp for a month on your own. But because of who you are.

He nodded. The bell rang calling the boats in off the water. It was time to leave. We both got up slowly and walked back to his cabin.

The camp is a beautiful place. I know it’s a great experience. As much as I wanted to bring him home, that minute, I knew he needed to climb up the stairs to his cabin and sit on the railing. I saw the tears in his eyes. I needed to let him go.

My definition of a man is a person who is strong enough to let himself be vulnerable. Someone who defines himself rather than let other’s dictate who he should be. Someone not afraid to champion those who cannot champion themselves. Someone who expresses fear and uncertainty knowing the definition of bravery is feeling scared and doing it anyway.

And on Sunday? My son was learning a small piece of what it is to be a man.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Love at First Sight: The iPhone

Okay. I have fallen in love with the iPhone.

Please understand, I have very few technical skills.

I rely on my wife to take care of my computer, to update whatever needs updating, to do back ups, and to fix it when it’s broken. She set up my blog site so I would only have to click on a couple buttons to upload pictures or enter text.

I must admit to having worked in the computer software industry for about six years. I did QA testing and wrote technical manuals. I left when I gave birth to Ben and ever since? It was as if all the technical skills I had left with the breast milk. I know there was at time when I could navigate in DOS, edit autoexec files, install software AND hardware.

No more. I use a Mac and anything I used to know about PC’s is so outdated it doesn’t matter. Kind of like being able to milk a cow by hand- sweet but not anything useful in today’s world.

My wife, on the other hand, is a technology freak. When we first started living together a million years ago, she was attending Berklee College of Music. There were pieces of equipment she simply had to have.

Everyone has one, she said.

What did I know? I went to a liberal arts school and studied psychology. Big equipment was a Skinner box and a rat for the learning lab- the school provided both. She was studying music production and engineering. Sounded very technical to me. Out of our fairly meager budget at the time, sound modules were bought, along with a MIDI capable keyboard.

Had to have it. Everyone did.

I believed her until I met one of her fellow students who said, OH MY GOD, Jeanine has the BEST set up on campus!


Still, over the years, I have come to accept- mostly- Jeanine’s love of gear and technology. New technology. She has gone from being a student at Berklee, to being a professor there and a highly sought after advisor all across the world about all things in musical technology. Not bad for a woman in a predominately male business.

Still, I do roll my eyes when the latest shipment of something comes to the door. Which is often. Her latest? The iPhone. As a Mac devotee, of course she had to have the iPhone. Everyone does.

No, that line does not work on me anymore.

Yesterday, she let me play with her iPhone.

I fell in love with it.

So cool. No buttons, just controlled by your fingertips. Not so tiny you can’t see the text. Ooo. It’s fun.

I could check my email, surf the next all from a little phone. With amazing graphics, I need to add.

I want one.

And then I remembered something a friend said to me the other day. Every weekend, she spends at her second home with her husband; there is no Internet connection. No cable TV.

I’d never see him otherwise, she said.

Maybe? Considering what a mess my marriage is in? All that constant connection is part of the problem. We start off our mornings with our laptop computers and cups of coffee. I go through email and newspapers- I still get two actual papers sent to my house but it’s so much easier to sit with it online.

Years ago, we’d both sit first thing in the morning with the paper and read it together. She’d grab living arts; I’d grab the local section. We’d fight over the sports page.

We don’t do that anymore.

On one hand, both of us have work that requires a great deal of computer time. On the other, what are we teaching our kids? We sit and wonder, over and over, in therapy how we got so far away from each other. I know technology isn’t the only thing to blame- it’s an easy target for a far more complicated problem.

But for now? I’m going to hold off on the iPhone.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to the blog! It’s been up for one year today.

I’ve written over 400 posts- in the early days I was so excited I’d post more than once a day. Now I’ve slowed down to five days a week, with two brief pieces on weekends.

At first, I had about 25 people a day visit my site- that was mainly family and friends- but have grown now to have over two hundred people a day visit. Over 25,000 people have visited over the year. It’s hard to tell exactly- I’ve tried a couple different site meters and they show different results so… I’m making an educated guess.

I did have someone from NPR on my site the other day- probably just an intern cruising the ‘net. Made my heart start racing, though, and immediately I went into a swirl of self-doubt. I read what I had posted recently and thought… crap… crap… more crap… my big chance to make an impression and it’s all crap.

After the initial panic, I remembered something so important about this year of blogging. I love it. I love to write. I didn’t start this to be widely read- I started it to make myself write everyday. To slow down and reflect on my life, my kids, my world.

Besides, no one from NPR is knocking on my door.

The greatest challenge for me, going into my second year? Is to stay true to my voice. I write in a raw, painful manner sometimes. I’m trying to find the balance to bring the reader in without oozing blood on them. As a friend said to me, you don’t want to sit next to someone on the plane who starts talking about his scrotal itch. You can’t slap people in the face- draw them in slowly.

I’m trying. I have another friend who refuses to read my blog. Too much, she said. I can’t take it.

Then you miss the funny pieces about mango loafers, I said.

I don’t think she took the bait.

Over the year, I have made people mad- no, furious with me for what I’ve written. I thought at one point I was going to be sued. There are a few earlier pages that I have actually removed some parts- with notation- because I was advised to do so. I used to causally mention friend’s names and I no longer do with a single exception- Margaret, the Martha Stewart of Parenting. But I have her permission to do so. Walter, Allan, Jeanine and I agreed early on that the benefit of creating an understanding about gay and lesbian run families was worth the drawback of having the kids identified.

Most important? I have never posted anything about Jeanine without her permission. People find that hard to believe but it’s true. The two weeks she and I were figuring out a separation this summer, I did not write about her. I could not bear to ask her to read and approve of what I was writing. She supports me as a writer even when she hates what I write.

And she’s hated it at times.

I have had one person actually stop talking to me altogether because of the blog. Not a family member, not anyone I knew that well, but I have heard through the grapevine she disapproves of what I write about. My guess? She still reads it anyway.

I’ve never meant to shock, horrify or hurt anyone with my words. There have been times when I’ve been blown away by responses to my words. I do not understand their power. When a friend wrote me and said the piece “One for You, One for Me,” made her feel sad and pathetic, I felt terrible. I paced in my office all day trying to find words to try and make her feel better. She is someone I see as one of the strongest people I know. How could I do that to her?

She was not the only one who got in touch with me privately. I turned to Walter and said, I’m not sure how to hold this… what have I done?

You’ve put their experience into words, Sara. That’s not a bad thing. But it is powerful.

I’m trying to take that in but it’s still bouncing off my skin. Last year? I thought of myself as someone who liked to write. Never a writer. Now? I will actually say to people I’m a blogger- not quite a writer. I’m getting there, little pieces at a time.

For this next year? I hope to continue to write in a way that hold people’s attention, pulls them in minus the scrotal itch. I hope to make you laugh out loud, too. I will respond to anyone’s comments or questions, whenever possible. I am trying to add an email link to the page but for now, you can reach me by direct email at

Maybe? I can learn to choke out the words, I am a writer.

Happy birthday to the Suburban Lesbian Housewife.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Spike Returns

Spike, the bat, was back this morning.

Jake named him last fall when he came down from his room and told me there was a bird flying around.

Not quite.

I woke up early this morning, trying to get a piece done for Huffington Post about the Presidential forum last night. The electricity was out, which means no Internet but more importantly, no coffee.

Still, I could work on my laptop. I walked downstairs, went to turn off the alarm and… Spike swooped over to say hello.

I ran back upstairs and woke up Jeanine because I do not do bats. Nor do I take care of or dispose of snakes, mice or spiders larger than my fingertip. I don’t care that I’m five feet ten inches tall and strong enough to lift a fifty-five pound seven year old over my head into the top bunk bed.

Jeanine, not a morning person, said, just shut the door, we’ll get it later.

Oh no. Get up NOW. There is a BAT flying around the HOUSE. NOW.

Jake was still asleep so I was doing the very firm whisper.

She finally did get up and there was Spike, happily circling our dog Beanie. After much confusion and me standing with a large blanket over my head doing… uh… pretty much nothing to help, the bat flew out the open door.

Jeanine raced to shut it as if the bat wanted back in. I don’t think so.

Now I have to get the bat guy back out here- not Batman as Jake has requested, rather just the bat guy who puts funny little traps on the places in your eves he thinks the bats are entering in- because you can’t kill a bat, they are a protected species. He then comes and checks to see if any have been caught.

Of course, the bat guy is very expensive. Which is why, last fall, when we only had one little bat at an odd time of year, we decided to hope it was a lost soul who would find better digs to hang in.

Maybe it was Spike. Maybe he does like it here. Or she. I have no idea how to tell a male bat from a female and I don’t want to know.

It was one of those starts to a day you know means trouble. Sometimes, when faced with that much adversity, you fight through it. Sometimes you need to surrender.

I crawled back in bed and surrendered.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Too Quiet

(photo by Jake Cowen-Whitman with very small assist by me)

It is so quiet here today.

Ben is at camp.

Zachary is at camp.

Jake is here but being exceptionally low key today. I went and checked his forehead to be sure he didn’t have a fever.

He doesn’t.

The quiet is a little unnerving. I am reminded of the brief time we lived in Honeoye Falls, New York. After the kids would go to bed, Jeanine and I would sit in our enormous living room and hear nothing - no cars, no trains, no sirens. It felt lonely.

An occasional coyote howling didn’t help.

This quiet makes me sad. I am reminded of how miserable I felt when Jeanine had walked out the door. I kept looking down a long road of many nights alone, without the kids, without her.

It felt more than lonely. I have always been someone who loves to be by myself, but in that moment? I thought I had to find someone to date immediately because I wasn’t sure I could sit with that much quiet.

I know someone who after her spouse left her, went through a mental list of everyone she knew and picked one that she thought might be interesting to date. And did.

She couldn’t stand the quiet and yet, no matter what, it surrounds her all the time.

I thought it was crazy at the time. Now I understand. I was in the process of doing the same thing. Impulsive, yes, but better than facing the unbelievably painful silence.

I didn’t want to find something new. I wanted my family back.

Jeanine and I are working at coming back together in a way that gives new messages to all the old hurts. I’m being asked to stretch in a way that requires patience and calm. She needs me not to come out fighting all the time.

In an instant, I feel backed into a corner and have my hands up, ready to defend myself. It’s a primitive response developed for good reason.

It’s how I survived.

She’s asking me to trust on a level I’ve never trusted before- on the heels of her leaving. I’m not sure I can.

I’m terrified not to.

All the horns and train whistles in the world won’t fill the silence I fear.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Lesbian Syndicated Columnist!!!"

I read the other day on the Washington Blade that I had been quoted about the LOGO debate tomorrow night.

The article quotes me, Sara Whitman a "lesbian syndicated columnist." ( And then quoted me questioning Melissa Ethridge’s ability to be a political powerhouse in the debate.

I’m pretty sure I’m not getting an invitation to perform onstage with her anytime soon.

I wondered, though… why lesbian syndicated columnist? It reminded me of a report on the O’Reilly Factor on June 21st that featured a segment on “The Lesbian Gang Epidemic.”

Lesbian Gang Epidemic… Lesbian Syndicated Columnist.

Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin noted that in reporting the sensationalist garbage from The O’Reilly Factor, he always used three exclamation points. Just seemed to fit- like a New York Post headline. (

Lesbian Gangs!!! Lesbian Columnist!!!

Nice ring to it, I must admit.

Meanwhile, my kids just call me Mom. Or the Mean Mom. No exclamation points just narrowed eyes and pouty conviction.

My son Ben, while walking to a local diner for lunch, was dreaming of how cool little Kingston Rossdale’s life must be. His mom is Gwen Stefani. His dad… well, some cool rocker dude. (Bush is a little too edgy for my boy.)

He is sooo lucky, Ben said.


Because his parents are famous. And they are cool.

Well… what about me? Am I cool?

He and Jake both burst into loud laughter.

Hey, wait… I play video games with you guys, I pointed out in my defense. Not many parents actually play video games. Not to mention play them well.

Yeah, AND? Hello? Do you see what you are wearing? Ben asked.

I was in jean shorts and a tee shirt.

At least I have crocs on, I pointed out.

So yesterday, Mom. Ben pulled his little brother’s arm and they kept a few paces in front of me.

Not too far- I was buying lunch.

I know that is as it should be. My guess is little Kingston could care less that his parents are famous when they say, No, it’s time for bed. Nor will he understand people pointing and gawking at his parents because they will be his parents and parents, no matter how famous are still parents.

I can see it now… ten years from now… MOM. That whole Lamb label is soooo yesterday.

Still, I can hope that I might edge up the cool meter a tiny bit. When Ben gets home, I’m going to tell him I’m a “Lesbian Columnist!!!”

Uh… any thoughts about what I should wear?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Pimples and Stuff

The other day at the beach, I caught a glimpse of what they talk about at Camp OUT. Very serious, deep conversations, like, where do your pimples come from? Mom? Dad? Donor? Surrogate?

It’s all about the pimples.

Ben asked me, as we walked to the water, Mom? Did you have pimples as a teenager?

Nope. Not until I hit my twenties, I told him. I spared him the detail that at 44, I can count on at least one a month.

Then the guy you got the stuff from… he must have had pimples.

Huh? I asked.

Well, one girl at camp? She didn’t have any pimples and neither did her mom or her dad, or her other mom, not that she mattered…

Not that she mattered?

Well, in causing pimples. You know what I mean.

I did but I was shocked to hear such a deep level of understanding not only of genetics but also of birthparents.

It’s not that simple, I said.

Whatever, he said, signaling his desire to end the conversation immediately.

When Ben was two and a half years old, he asked, over and over again, Where Daddy? Where Daddy? It tore me apart. I wanted to give him what he needed. I talked to a much wiser friend- with a PhD in psychology- and she said to me, he needs to know where he is from. He’s two and a half. He’s not looking for dad as much as trying to understand him family in the context of others.


So I started answering him with a very gender neutral, We’re your parents. Mom and I are your parents. Just like – and I’d name straight and gay parents configurations.

It satisfied him a little- but not entirely. As he grew older, he understood how babies came about and wanted to know where his father was. The line no longer worked.

I explained how he had a biological father- someone who donated sperm to help parents who could not have a baby on their own like his mom and I. He never wanted to be a dad. He never planned on being a dad. He simply wanted to help other people be parents.

It was at that time I explained that I was adopted- both my biological mother and biological father had no part in raising me- they did not want to be parents. Instead, they did the best thing they could which was to give me to someone who did want to be a parent- but couldn’t on their own.

I’m not sure if it was because he didn’t feel alone anymore or finally understood, but he stopped asking as much. Occasionally, he’d ask me about what the ethnicity of his biological father was or what color hair he had. But that was it.

Zachary never asked about a dad, or father- ever. He did have Walter and Allan in his life at the age of two on but I tend to think it’s because he had decided already. I asked him once – after a long talk with Ben that he was clearly tuned into about the biological father- did he have any questions?

No. He’s dead.

Zachary was about five at the time. In his mind, he killed him off. No disappointment if the man is dead. I understand that as an adoptee.

I don’t know, I answered. I only know he never meant to be a Dad to you. He was only helping your mom and I, and many others, have kids.

Jake, on the other hand, had Walter and Allan full force from the time he was born. He never asked about a Dad because he had two. And he knew it. Two moms, two dads, and two brothers. I’ve asked him, too, if he has any questions and he looks at me like I’m nuts.

The other day, I said to Allan, you are a good man. (He was being particularly kind about a difficult situation.)

Jake was at the table and he looked at me and said, No he’s not. He’s my dad.

Three kids. Three very different takes.

Before Ben dashed into the water, I asked him- obviously ignoring his desire to have the conversation end- Do you know what the ‘stuff’ is?

Yeah, he smiled shyly.

Is there anything else you want to know?

Nope, and he was off in the waves, clear about the pimples.

I mean, what else really matters?

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Hand Writing on the Wall

According to Mr. Claiborne, "the handwriting on the wall" goes all the way back to the Bible, specifically the fifth chapter of the Book of Daniel. It seems that Belshazzar, the King of Babylon, was having a major blowout, a fabulous feast for all his noble friends. Unfortunately, the King and his pals were also doing some serious blaspheming, drinking from sacred vessels stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem and worshipping heathen idols to beat the band. Suddenly a mysterious disembodied hand appeared and began writing a curious message ("Mene, mene, tekel, parsin," to be precise) on the wall of the palace that neither the King nor his cohorts could read. But Daniel could, and he informed the sinful King that it meant that a divine reckoning was afoot and that his hours in power were numbered, which turned out to be true. So to be "able to read the handwriting on the wall" has ever since been a metaphor for being able to see what's coming, especially when those around you remain in the dark.

Word Detective, March 26, 2002. (

My sister has been saved. As in born again, praise the Lord, Jesus loves you, saved.

She called me yesterday to check on me- it’s been kind of a whiplash week/month/year. My sister and I love each other very much. We live very different lives but always stay in touch. We have a deep bond because we hold each other’s experience; at times when no one else will, we give each other the essential reality test.

Yes, that did happen- you are not crazy.

Especially around what my father did.

Now? God is her number one man. There is a number two man, too, a very real person that brought her to this place. Call me a pessimist, but as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out.

I’m not a believer. Never have been.

Being born again is not a bad thing. I’m not against religion- I simply don’t trust it. I’ve studied a lot of different religions and my feeling is they are all pretty much the same- an opiate for the masses. Hey, I’m no Marxist, either, but I think Karl was onto something.

For a religion to appeal to me it has be one where everyone is welcome. Where Jesus doesn’t have to be some supernatural spirit to be important. I mean, love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, care for the sick and the poor- does that have to come from a fantastical virgin birthed son of a celestial spirit?

I also don’t buy that ‘us’ and ‘them’ crap. That feels to me more about fundraising and keeping money in the coffers than it does about a loving God only paying attention to the truly devote.

How can anyone believe in God and believe there is a waiting list or that being spiritual only comes in one size? The rant I want to go on about economics, oppression, poverty and religions role would send me into such a frenzy you might think I’m speaking tongues.

Rather than common sense.

As a lesbian, I’m unwelcome in many religions, like Evangelical, born again Christians. I don’t think my sister has reached that part yet. At least, I hope not. I’m tired of the bible quoters, what about Leviticus? What about it? Take some time to go through the whole Bible and find a bunch of contradictory statements because it’s a STORY written by MEN. What about all the books that were left out- and the conservative pushes in the church during different periods of history that caused more progressive, woman based texts to be discarded?

It’s not about God’s word. It’s about a bunch of men deciding, over and over again in history, what would be given to the people to digest. It comes from an oral tradition of telling stories to teach lessons. Stories. Did Sarah really bear a child at 90 years old or was that a story about devotion? Why is the Christian story of the seven days and God saying “let there be light” so much more important than the Inuit story of the Goddess Sedna and her chopped off fingers that created the whales, the seals, the walrus and the salmon?

My sister said she is living a true, Christian life because God can only listen to the real Christians- he can’t possibly listen to everyone so he chooses to listen to only the very best Christians.

Huh? Isn’t this the all-powerful almighty? And what about the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists? God only listens to Christians?

People ask me why I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe, if any of the wonderful stories of God’s powers are true, that God would ever let harm come to children. I just don’t.

Personally, the beauty we are surrounded by day to day fascinates me. The way a sunflower unfolds to the light and turns it head. How light is stored in plants and then how that energy is harvested, over and over again, in so many ways. And my sons, all three of them, their bodies growing, their minds learning- they were all just a clump of cells at one point. Not life, not anything more than a promise. To me, if there is a higher power or a greater force? It lives in children and in nature.

Besides, if we were a better Christians when we were children, does that mean God would have protected us from my father?

I don't believe a disembodied hand wrote on the wall warning Daniel. It is, however, a powerful metaphor that has lived on in our language and our culture. I sincerely hope there is no darkness hiding a ominous truth. I want my sister to be safe. And feel loved.

My sister has found religion. I hear in her voice it makes her happy. In the long run? Sometimes, an opiate is the right way to manage an unbearable pain.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Terrorist Act

“Security declines as more security machinery is put in place.”

E. B. White, “Bedfellows”, 1956

We’ve been through this before as a country. Will we ever learn from our mistakes?

"The Patriot Act has increased the flow of information within our government and it has helped break up terrorist cells in the United States of America. And the United States Congress was right to renew the terrorist act -- the Patriot Act."

George W. Bush, Washington, D.C. , Sept. 7, 2006

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hormones and Chicken Noodle Soup

Anyone who tells me I’m lucky to have three boys because I don’t have to go through a teenage girls hormonal imbalance has not met my son Ben.

After a week at a camp surrounded by 25 pre-teen and teenage girls, he has the hair flip (without the long hair but still the head tossed flip), sassy attitude and “chicken noodle soup" dances moves DOWN.

Chicken noodle soup is a new dance, rap/hip hop video of the young artist Webster.

Ben knows all the moves. It’s soooo cool.

Okay. I’m a little behind- I’m thinking Campbell’s mmm mmm good.

Not some freak dance hip nasty moves or something like that. I probably just said that completely out of order.

Last night, I was the meanest mother in the world because I asked him how camp was-

Can’t you just leave me alone? Why do you ask so many questions?

Allan and I looked at each other. I had literally asked one question.

He stormed off, then returned- telling stories about camp.

I made the mistake of opening my mouth again- some ridiculous follow up question like, what was the cook’s name?

And off he stormed again because I am the meanest mother in the ENTIRE WORLD.


The final meltdown was over clearing the table after dinner- he had done enough chores all week and he wasn’t doing anymore. By this time, his attitude, fighting with his little brother and general obnoxiousness had done me in.

Go to bed, then.

I’m taking a shower first, he said, with a full tilt hair flip move, walking up the stairs.

I counted to two hundred. Ten? I need a lot more than ten now.

Jeanine went up to deal with him- she’s calmer and tends to be more sympathetic.

I heard him scream at her. I looked at Allan and Walter. They gave me the “let it be” look.

I heard more screaming from him.

I didn’t look at Walter and Allan, I went upstairs.

That’s enough, take your shower and go to bed, not one more word.

Jeanine and I came downstairs and she said, he’s upset that he didn’t get a letter or care package…

Did anyone? It was only five days.

No, no one else did but that’s not the point…

After Ben’s shower, he came downstairs and hugged all of us.

I’m so sorry… I love you…

We all looked at each other like a psycho pod person had been dropped in our midst.

It’s okay, Ben… I’m just glad you had a good time at camp.

He drifted up the stairs, yes, it was so fabulous…

So anyone out there telling me I’m lucky because I don’t have any hormones to deal with? C’mon over. I’ll show you hormones.

And some “Chicken Noodle Soup” dance moves.

Freaky. Or cool. or… something.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Family Night

Family night tonight.

Ben is back from Camp OUT, Jake from his week with Allan in Down East Maine, and we are all converging in Ogunquit.

I’m making potato salad with twice as many hard boiled eggs as called for and my mother’s trick- sprinkle the hot potatoes with the juice from a jar of sweet pickles.

Fresh corn on the cob, home grown tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil. Hot dogs hamburgers, and cold fried chicken. Apple pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

It’s about a thousand degrees outside right now. Don’t’ ask me why I thought boiling potatoes and eggs was a good idea but I did. Something out having everyone come together again- minus Zachary who is still at camp- means good comfort food to me.

I take the hamburger, always 85% lean because lets face it, the flavor is in the fat, and form ¼ pound balls after breaking it up ever so gently. You can overwork ground beef- seems strange considering it’s been ground up but it’s true. Add some sea salt- big crunchy flavor and fresh ground pepper. Mash the balls of beef down just a little bit and I promise you, it’s always a great burger.

My kids like their hot dogs steamed, which I think is blasphemy. Hot dogs should be grilled, with thick dark stripes on them, but I will steam them instead. The buns are always New England style, and grilled with a little butter on the sides.

We’ll all sit on the porch and talk about the camps and adventures, although Jake has already told me he did “nothing” the whole time except go fishing and watch TV.

I think not.

I’m going to send Allan out to buy a quart of vanilla ice cream from Brown’s in York- some of the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever tasted. The pie, I have to admit, I bought at the store. Boiling water is one thing but turning on the oven would be over the top today.

I cheated with the fried chicken, too. I tried over and over again to learn how to make my mother’s fried chicken. Every piece she cooked came out golden brown, juicy and perfect. Her secret was to cook it in bacon grease. The temperature had to be just so and you could not leave for a moment, always checking to see if it was sticking. I finally gave up after dozens of failed attempts, even with her standing right next to me.

I don’t know why the food, the flavors and the carefully set table mean so much to me. We would have the same conversation and tell the same stories without them.

It’s like pulling out a fresh canvas to paint a new experience. I love doing it. I love the anticipation.

I have to go add the dash of dried mustard to the potato salad- almost forgot. Chill the Sancerre and 7 Up.

Not to be had together, mind you.

In a few hours, everyone will be here. The table set, wine opened.

The stress between Jeanine and I will be put away from a night. Questions we raised to each other last night will wait. Tonight is about our family.

I can’t wait.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Make Up Sex

Having been there and done that now three times in the sixteen years we've been married, I can say make up sex is pretty fabulous. All the emotions, good and bad, bottled up find a way to explode when you come back together again.

And I don’t ever want to have it again.

It’s a total distraction from the pain you both just went through. It may feel good in the moment but it’s not going to solve the problems that made one of you walk out the door.

We came to an agreement Sunday night to keep working on the relationship. To try again.

Last night was the hours long make up sex. No, I am not going into details because my mother in law reads this blog. I will say after a single gin martini before dinner, Jeanine was ready to plan the evening’s activities loudly enough to shock even me.

I always talk like that, although quietly enough so the next table can’t hear- she never does. Oh my.

For a little while last night, there were no boulders, rocks, or difficulties ahead. There were no kids in the other room either. No bills to pay, no schedules to negotiate, we were alone and it was wonderful.

But it’s not reality.

If we didn’t have jobs, or responsibilities? I know we could live happily ever after. We love each other. We like being together. We parent well together, providing a great balance for the kids. The sex, even when it’s not make up sex, is great.

You can’t live your life in the bedroom, though.

There are still rocks in the road. We have so far to go. We let too much build up over time. I only know one thing for sure; I will not have make up sex again. It might feel good in the moment but the pain you go through to get there? Isn’t worth it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Buster and the Miracle Cure

Buster is Allan’s dog. He’s cute, very little and everyone who sees him says, Can I pet your dog? What’s his name? Is he a puppy? The long, Ooooooooooh, such a baby, usually follows.

Buster has a problem, though.

His little penis does not go all the way back into the skin. It’s not attractive, not really cute and Allan has spent serious money for an operation- that did not work- and medication.

Buster and his perpetual hard on is never discussed by strangers reaching down for a little pat because, well, they think he’s just glad to see them.

No. It’s always like that.

After spending well over five hundred dollars trying to get the penis problem fixed, Allan gave up. The penis seemed okay and Buster was never in any discomfort. Unlike when Jake tipped the stool over on his foot- we all heard loudly from Buster that, in fact, his foot was broken. If he was unhappy, he'd let us know.

Besides, Buster is just a dog.

Before you throw a noose up for me next to one for Michael Vick, I think it’s important to know Buster is an incredibly well cared for dog. He is either sitting next to, riding next to and sleeping next to Allan at all times. He is allowed on the furniture, served an amazing amount of leftovers and has a small set of stairs to help him get up on the bed.

Buster has a personal chef in the form of a good friend who lives next door. She has been known to ask all the dogs, How do you want your eggs cooked?

Yesterday, I received an email from Allan. He was ecstatic. There has been, at last, a cure.

Was it holy water? A vision of Mary? Did Ernest Angley appear in spirit to “heeeeeeeeeealllll” the little dog?

No. He ran in the ocean, chasing waves and Jake. The salt water, and I am assuming the icy temperature, finally put the penis to rest in its proper place.

I bet you thought I was going to write about Jake… Allan wrote.

Oh no. Such miracle cures are a blessing and should be shared immediately. Lourdes for dogs with penis problems lies in the remote shores of Down East Maine. Be sure to book a room- I’m not sure the locals are aware of the great rush that will soon be upon them.


Listen, things might be hard- pardon the pun- but if I forget how to laugh? I'm in serious trouble.