Monday, November 30, 2009

The Unspoken

I haven't checked in for a while about my sister. She's been in great spirits, has a new rental house less than a mile away and all is good with the world. The kids adore having her around- well, maybe not Ben because she gets on his case, but for the most part it's good.

Jake ran downstairs last night and asked if he could have a sleepover at Aunt Cathy's house. Not tonight, I said, it's a school night. But Friday would be fine.

He beamed.

Jeanine, too, said to me later in the night, It's really nice to have your sister around.

All of which doesn't speak to the unspoken. She's still losing weight, and lemme tell ya, she's eating. She has an odd lump on one side of her belly- probably a hernia.

Not good. Not good at all. I don't think either of us could take the emotional roller coaster of another surgery. I remember my mother's second surgery- the first ended with a temporary colostomy. The second, six months later, to reverse it- much smaller, easier surgery, they said. No problem.

She almost died.

I know it's a rainy, gloomy day. I know I'm in a bad place. I know everything will probably be fine. She has great doctors, and is getting the best care probably in the world. But for all the steps forward, all the positive, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I can see your eyes roll, Donald.

Time for that long nap.

It's That Time of Year...

One holiday down. One to go...

I wish I could say I loved the holidays. I don't. I never have. I doubt I ever will. Even though I've had more wonderful celebrations in my adulthood than horrible ones as a kid, I can't shake it.

I brought out my mother's china and my sister said, That just gives me the creeps. I put it away.

There are times I miss my mother, still. When I went to the White House, all I could think of is how proud she would have been. She and I did love to talk some politics. Even as she edged closer and closer into Republican territory, we both were adamant about accountability in the process and the candidates.

Around the holidays, though, I do not miss her one bit. She was bitter and angry at every one. I try so hard to be positive because I do not want my children to have the same memory. When I get overwhelmed, I step outside or go do dishes. I sat out on the deck Thanksgiving day, after dinner was over, for a few minutes alone. Pulling my knees up against my chest, I let all the ghosts have their moment.

And only a moment. They all needed to be heard, their wails and pain. Why? Please, they wanted to know, why?

I have no answer. I can only listen and acknowledge. Be strong enough not to let it suck me in, pull me into a black hole.

It is the best and hardest part of having my sister here. We can sit around like two war veterans, laughing and telling crusty stories that are not funny. We don't, though, for the most part. It's like giving espresso to a nightmare and dancing with it until you can no longer stand.

No more.

We are creating new moments to remember. The corn pudding- which is a better recipe- the list of thanks everyone gave, laughter and pumpkin pie. It should be enough, I tell myself.

A friend of mine said to me, if I can get through it? So can you. It's true. She went through far worse. Know what you do well and know it deep inside, she advised. I try.

I have an amazing family. A beautiful, loving wife. A home filled with love. No one can take this from me, I remind myself over and over.

Jake couldn't fall asleep last night. He kept coming down the stairs, wide awake. We told him to read, or lay quietly. Finally, I went up and sat with him, rubbing his back. He kept opening his eyes and smiling at me. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep.

No one can take this from me.

Except myself. I tried and almost succeeded once. It is when I try to banish the ghosts I get in trouble- I must give them their due. Sometimes, I wish there were a pill I could take that would fill me with bubbly happiness.

Instead, I'll clean the house today. Shift from one holiday to the next. I will make soup or go walk the dogs out in the woods. Without a doubt, I will allow myself a ridiculously long nap.

And try to accept the fact that the holidays will never be easy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New and Improved Strategy: End the War

Comprehensive new strategy in Afghanistan will be unveiled by the President soon.

You know what this will mean? More troops, and the war will now be his. No longer Bush's mistake.

Eight years. How many more? Two? Ten?

I want out. I never wanted in, to be honest. Sure, the night of 9/11, I was mad. Angry. The missile strikes felt righteous, in some way. In a way that a impulsive teen yells at a parent to get something they want.

Doesn't work that way, though.

I'm tired. I'm tired of losing political battles. I'm tired of losing real battles, with real soldiers dying, being wounded, having their lives shattered. For an oil pipeline, because that's the only thing, aside from the opium trade, that is going on in Afghanistan. Let's at least be real about that.

"New" strategy. Just like a health care plan that promises to be all that, and ends up with abortion restrictions tagged on by some nightmare right wingnuts at the last minute. Not to mention, it really isn't universal, it really isn't going to help those who need it the most. New and improved- it never is. It's the same old shit, packaged with a new advertising campaign.

We sit with a majority in both houses, and nothing gets done. All this "working across the aisle" is utter bullshit. I don't remember Bush ever working with Democrats.


We owe billions of dollars in short term debt- money we don't have, mind you- and yet we are still at war. Want to pay for health care, real health care? End the war. Want to pay the debt we owe without madly printing money that will lose value? End the war.

Want to bring thousands of moms, dads, brothers, sisters, home?

End the war.

The mess in that country was there a thousand years ago and will be there a thousand years from now.

If the President is really serious about new and improved? End the war.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Mother's Thanks

This week of thanks, gives us all pause. It is time to be grateful for so many wonderful things in our lives.

Miriam Mercado, however, is thankful for support. Her son was horribly murdered simply because he was gay. Please watch. And give thanks, on Thursday, this hasn't happened to you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cha-Ching! The Insurance Companies Win?

So lemme see if I have this right... women are to wait until they are 50 for a mammogram, till 21 to have a pap smear, and all the research that showed otherwise is in the toilet?

Do you hear the wheels of the insurance industry crushing women's bones? Because I do.

Every woman, except one, I know who was diagnosed with breast cancer, was diagnosed in their early to mid 40's. Every one. And isn't pap smears about checking up after sexual activity starts? How many women do you know that waited until they were 21? Even in the "old days" that wasn't true.

And yet we have these recommendations, on the tail of restricted abortion access tagged onto the health care bill. But you can be sure, Viagra is still covered, 100%.

I find this appalling. Women's lives risked by profit margins. It doesn't matter how stunning your doctor is, how thoughtful, they will be tied by these rules. Don't worry- you can pay out of pocket for these procedures. Just like abortion has always been available to wealthy women.

Cha-Ching. The insurance companies win again.

A Few Pieces of Good Advice

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary

I know, I know, I know. I've been away for a while. Partly, I needed a break after the loss in Maine. I needed to stop and think about where I am in my life, where I was heading and what the hell I was doing.

And the other part was that last Friday was my 19th anniversary. Yup, 19 years. Yup, on Friday the 13th. All I can say is the 13th was the only day the church was available. No, it's not the "real" anniversary- that would be march 2nd- but after a few years of not knowing when to celebrate, we decided to go with the legal marriage date.

Too confusing. But don't ever say to me I've only been married since 2004 because lemme tell you, every year counts.

I was inspired on very short notice to go and meet Jeanine. She was at a conference in San Francisco and I hated being apart on our day. It felt like 19 years deserved more than a phone call.

I was also inspired by a very very odd coincidence. On Thursday, the eve of our wedding anniversary which, by the way, is also Walter and Allan's as we had a double ceremony that included our vows to be a family, to raise the boys, Walter was walking by an antique shop in Jamaica Plain. He looked in the window and saw two pieces of glass that looked very familiar.

Remember the story about Don't Touch the Chihuly? You'd have to be a long time reader, mind you, but when my mother died, I inherited a great deal of her artwork. One piece was a beautiful piece of glass by Dale Chihuly. So beautiful, and so fragile, I had a cabinet built in my office for it. (Thanks, Donald!) For the first year it was here, you could hear me shouting to the kids, DON'T TOUCH THE CHIHULY! Now, they know better.

Well, it seems that the two pieces of glass Walter was looking at are almost an identical match to the Chihuly I have. He went in, found them marked at a ridiculously low price. He stayed cool, hemmed and hawed, eyed the signature, and negotiated an even lower price. He then put them on hold. He said he'd have to think about it.

What he did was to come to my house, compare the signature, found it identical, along with the series number and... went and bought his very own Chihuly for a price that would have made my mother proud.

Think about it... the eve of our wedding anniversary, and a piece of art that if he didn't know me, if my mother didn't have, he would never have realized was basically beyond an antiques roadshow find. Something about all that made me feel like my mother, who was pretty miserable at the wedding itself all those years ago, was trying to say something.

I heard celebrate.

I also heard that as hard as it's been at times, this crazy four way relationship Jeanine, Walter, Allan and I have, it's worth it. It's worth it because we are family. While my mother was alive, she was cautious about the whole deal but appreciated my belief that this was best for the kids.

As hard as it was for her, at the time, to get over her narcissistic injury that I had not told her about the wedding in a way she needed to hear it, I know she was amazed by the community we had around us.

I know deep down she was proud.

When Walter brought his find over to compare, and we all oooed and ahhhed over it, I knew I needed to do something.

I did.

Don't ask me what we did, because it won't pass the Weezie meter. Just know that I was gone, and gone in a really good way.

Happy anniversary, Jeanine. I still love you as much today as I did all those years ago. And I would marry you again in a heartbeat.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Church of Equal

I've had a few hard days. News out of New Hampshire is looking like a referendum on marriage equality there. Maggie Gallagher grinning and smiling about the NOM win in Maine.

It makes me sick.

And disheartened. I feel like every step forward we have to fight for, fight over and over for.

Then my son handed me his weekly essay. I edit it for him. I started to cry when I read this. He was asked to write about a religion he would start. These are his words:

"If I could make my own religion, it would be called Equal. It would be called Equal because everyone would be equal with rights and responsibility. There will be no supreme lord that created everything, it would be created by everyone, in some way. Everyone will have power, also to be heard and listened to. When you go into a meeting house, it doesn't have to be on any particular day of the week, but when do you, you don't have to sing. You just talk about things going on and what you can do about it. Then you would just hang out and get to know people.

Equal would not only be about having people equal, but also getting to know people and help out with society. By that I mean helping out with community service, to be helpful in any way, that's because when you help other people it makes you feel good about yourself.

Equal will help you, if you are in need of help with problems in your family or just have problems in your life. If you had to insist on having a god, Equal believes in two gods- the god of luck and the god of misfortune. They have no names. Also, you can come from any background to join Equal, if you were from a Jewish family, Christian family, Muslim family, it doesn't matter. You can still believe in your background's religion- everyone has the right to be Equal.

Equal makes people feel equal, I may have said that but it really does. I would feel really different in a good way and that would happen to me. It just may work for you. I would recommend Equal for anyone who wants a change or wants to be the real person they are, because everyone has something in them that is held back, but with Equal you can let that part of you free! Equal can change you and I would recommend it to you.

Equal has the power to change the world- all you have to do is believe in yourself and Equal. It doesn't matter who you are, you will fit into Equal. Equal will be your guide in life and you won't regret it."

Tonight? I am so proud. No one can take this away from me, no vote, no bill, no legal court case.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Roundtable on Kalamazoo, Washington and Maine

If you want to hear me rant and rant more, go to Bilerico and listen to the roundtable.

Roundtable on Kalamazoo, Washington, and Maine's ballot initiatives

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Down but Not Defeated

It's hard to think of what to say today. My heart is broken. I am exhausted and sick (literally and figuratively). I keep checking the Bangor News site to see the last of the numbers trickle in, hoping it gets closer.

It won't.

I'm proud of being involved with the campaign in Maine. I still love Maine. As I sit here and type, I can hear the buoys clanging in Perkins Cove. The leaves are mostly gone, and the sun is out.

It is still beautiful to me.

As devastating as this loss is, I am beyond grateful we won marriage in Massachusetts. We narrowly evaded having marriage go to a popular vote- and I believe we would have lost that vote if it had taken place. Even today, I have to wonder if we'd win, so many years later.

The rights of a minority should never be voted on by a popular vote. In the MA state constitution, that notion is very clear. Unfortunately, not every state has the same rules.

Today, I have to make dentist appointments for my kids. Zachary runs in a cross country meet today. Jake has to finish up a project for class and Ben will come home, eager to chat with his friends online. My life hasn't changed. No one can take my family away from me.

In the coming days, the campaign will be sliced and diced. I do think it's important to learn from it, but it makes me sick to see us turn on each other, as we did after California.

I am reminded that ten years ago, I never thought we'd see the day that marriage equality would even be considered in my lifetime. A day when I would be a part of 100 plus LGBT activists being welcomed to the White House, to watch a President sign the first ever LGBT positive bill.

And while we continue to be denied, in so many states, the very basic protections from job loss, housing discrimination, health care disparities, we have come far. Openly gay candidates were elected across the country yesterday. Each election is a few steps forward, a few steps back.

We cannot win every fight. We continue to learn, every time, more about how to move forward.

For me, I know the most powerful thing I can do is to continue to raise my family. To be out, every step of the way, proud and willing to have any conversation to help people understand better what it means to be a lesbian in this country.

What it means to be a second class citizen.

Because deep down, I believe people will do the right thing when they have direct contact with what they fear is so different. That it's not about sex but humanity. It's about love and respect. It's about valuing human beings, all human beings, equally.

We are all God's children, to quote a friend of mine. I don't think you have to believe in God to believe in the sentiment. Someday, this nation will understand that.

Someday soon.

But not today.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

In York Maine Today: No on One!

My friend, and fellow board member of Mass Equality, Pete and I hit the road this morning to knock on doors. Specifically, we were in Kittery. The campaign was set up at the York Harbor Inn, and set up with incredible efficiency.

We signed in, were processed, and sent out with marching orders in less than fifteen minutes. Yes, this even included a brief training on how to approach folks.

The sun was out, the air crisp- it doesn't get any better than this for a voting day. We parked and set off in opposite directions. Most people were not home, but those who were were adamantly for No one One. It felt great. One elderly woman said to me, Betta believe I'm votin' no... Making my husband, too.

I think that's what has struck me the most about this campaign, here, in Maine. When I was in California for Prop 8, I didn't see any older, or elderly people. I have, over and over again here. Life long Mainers, who have an opinion and a strong one. Who are at the campaign headquarters, or driving around knocking on doors today, making calls, organizing food, coffee... it's stunning to see.

And they say that's the generation that needs to die off to get marriage equality. I say, come to Maine before you wish that.

So far? I have a very good feeling. The campaign is organized, stocked with volunteers, and running smoothly. It's a perfect day to vote.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

I Got a Feeling

I drove up to Maine tonight. I'm ready to go tomorrow.


More Yes on One signs lined the roads. It was disappointing to see. When I walked in the door, the house was freezing, so I started a fire, and turned on the TV. Political ad after political ad. I've never seen anything like it.

Well, ok, last year's presidential election. But this is Maine.

I meet up with other Mass Equality folks tomorrow morning. We will be working in York county.

On the drive up, I heard the song by the Black Eyed Peas... I got a feeling.

And you know, I got a feeling.