Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Forgiveness and Fire

I have spent much of the last few days searching the word "forgiveness" on the internet. The act itself feels pretty shallow. Before I can get to renewal, I realize I must get to forgiveness first.

It is not easy.

I came across a blog of my old minister, James Ishmael Ford. I adored James, and loved listening to him speak on Sunday mornings at the First Universalist Society in Newton. He is a Soto Zen priest and a Unitarian Universalist minister.

He reached me, over and over again. At the time I was an exhausted mother of three young kids, an avowed atheist and only going to church to keep the wife happy. He did not speak of God so much as he spoke of being awake.

And in being awake, you will find God- or whatever you may wish to call it.

I searched through his blog, looking for pieces on forgiveness. I found a lot of different sermons I liked. I do love the way he thinks, how he wraps the universal with the local, with the personal.

And really, no god. Well, in the context of spiritual text, sure.

I don't know why I have such a hard time with God, except to say that my father was "religious" and it creeped me out. He told me god talked to him- or maybe it was the mafia. I always had the sense that his abuse of my sister and I came from him thinking god was telling him what to do.

Leaves one with a bitter taste about god, as you can expect.

Personally, I think you can find a deep sense of spirituality without a church, a cross, or little wafers. But it is those rituals that give meaning, I suppose, of the sense of awakening.

But I don't need to find God right now, I need to find forgiveness. I have people in my life that have meant so much to me and if I don't get to a place of forgiveness, I will lose them.

My sister always pushes me to forgive my father. And others. Forgiveness, she said, gives you the chance to heal. To let it go.

Ten million years later, it seems, I am still not ready to let it go. Not with him.

But I must find forgiveness. I am going to lose something too precious. I tried, with unfortunate results. It came across as vindictive, and angry. I am angry, mind you. With good reason.

But that is not the result I want. Fire against fire... what good is that?

I go back to Rev. Ford's words- he talks about fire, and the symbolism in Hanukkah.

"I suggest we need, each of us, to draw upon our own deepest resources, the fire within. We need to recall the many different flames that inform us. That atavistic flame, for a start, the fire that gave humanity warmth and food and, of course, weapons. We need to recall the fires on the altars of the ancient Greeks and Romans. And, of course, we need to recall how that fire, when it seemed not enough, lasted, for eight days.

It is that last flame, the flame which sustains us past all reason, that I feel we’re mainly called to reflect upon today. Swinburne got it right. It is the flame of love. It is the miracle at the heart of our lives, a gift passed on to us, and which we are honor bound to pass on to others.

That’s the miracle that births love into the world. That is the flame which burns and burns throughout time, and across space.


I don't want to use fire as a weapon. I don't want to fight anymore. I want forgiveness.

I just haven't found the right words yet.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Week

What's that I hear? Oh, right. Nothing... silence. Everyone is back at school today.


Except for my sister's dog who is absolutely certain there is something living under the deck outside my office door. She's growling a low rumble, but refuses to go out and deal with said creature.

It is Easter week. Passover tonight. I have very mixed feelings about Easter. For one, the whole rising from the dead thing is a little beyond me. Two, it reminds me of being at my father's parents house in Ithaca- not too much fun in those memories. I dreamt about him last night. Everyone was trying to get me to talk with him, that he was OK, really, it was OK.

Believe me, it wasn't OK. Even my mother was there, in the dream, trying to convince me. Now, THAT would never have happened in real life. It was the one thing she was very clear about.

This is not an easy week for me.

Not all the memories are bad, though. Easter in Lynchburg with my great aunts was full of pageantry- white gloves, china set tables and iced tea. And once, when we celebrated at home, I decided I would catch the Easter Bunny. I took my fishing pole and attached a carrot to the hook. There was a balcony between the first and second floor- I dangled the carrot from my second floor perch.

My mother was amused. I remember it was serious business.

This year we will have a very different Easter. When the kids were little, we took them to Drumlin Farms, and showed them the spring lambs all wobbling on their new legs. We talked about spring and the land coming back to life.

They are older now, and no one believes in the Easter Bunny. Last year they were microwaving Peeps early in the morning, before Jeanine and I woke up.

Nothing like a breakfast of pure sugar to get the creative juices flowing.

What else we have done, though, in the last few years must change. I am certain the shifts are the reason I have been dreaming of my father lately. I was not convinced in my dream and I will not be convinced awake that what I know to be wrong isn't.

My awake reality, though, has left me sad and heartbroken. I would say hurt but hurt is a word used by and for women when they are angry. I am angry I dug so deep for so long and tried so hard only to be disappointed over and over again.

It is Spring, though. It is time for rebirth and renewal. Each year, always, something new is given. Somewhere in this week, I will find what is new, positive. I can't change what has happened.

But I can welcome what is to come.

Monday, March 22, 2010

When Is Vacation Over?

Day one with Zachary on break with nothing to do, while I have a pile of work to do. It's not going well.

First, he plopped into my chair in the office and started to talk. And talk. And talk.

Now, when Zachary was little, he was so shy around other adults, everyone thought he was really quiet. HA! I can remember him sitting in the front of the carriage at the grocery store, yammering yammering yammering on about anything and everything.

He's still doing it today except he's not so shy around other adults.

He talked about baseball. How he needs new pants, new cleats. He talked about the beauty of the new waffle sandwich from Dunkin Donuts, how the waffle had just enough sweetness, and the ease of having all the good stuff piled into one bite. He talked about Miro, and how art didn't have to be realistic to be cool. He talked about pretty much everything that was on his mind.

This is going to be a long week.

What I need to do, is find a couple jobs for him to do- I believe I have just the thing- and get all my work done. Fast. Then he and I can have lunch out, go to the ICA, do some fun stuff.

Of course, he would point out, if I just let him play video games all day and night, he'd be quiet as a mouse.

Told ya the kid was smart- Miro indeed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Baseball and Clean Basements

Baseball season has begun. Quite early this year, mind you, as the sun is out and the fields are dry. The coaches are all happy- the kids? not so much. For me it means practice schedules, cleats, and a lot of driving.

Zachary and Jeanine, who have been in Philly this week exploring the city, are coming back today. I'm going to have a big, giant BBQ for them. I can't wait to see Jeanine- it feels like forever.

And I can't wait for her to see the clean basement. She is wary, of course, that I threw away something beloved, like one of her old friends (her computers). I did not.

See, I've had a burst of energy in the last few days. I feel renewed, rejuvenated and ready to go again. It's been months since I've felt this way. I became very very clear on how I wanted to move forward with a part of life that has been in limbo for a while now.

Again, apologies for the vague references. I cannot go into detail.

Once I did? It was like someone gave me a shot of adrenaline. I started cleaning. The kids know to stay out of my way when I'm like this- Mom is on a roll, let her be. I cleaned up the garage, got the patio furniture out, and then hit the basement.

The basement was kinda scary like the sun is kinda warm. And it had come to symbolize for me, how stuck I was.

After that, taxes, and the work on my desk seemed like a piece of cake. I still have a lot of filing to do but the work is finished. I feel like a new person.

Being stuck is no fun. Part of it, I know, was my very real effort to stay in the moment, not make decisions, and have the feelings. I did. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was an excellent session with my therapist, maybe... maybe it was just finally time.

In the meantime, with my clarity has come a eye-opening change in my son Ben. He is... a ... delight. I have so enjoyed spending time with him. Once he knew I would have his back, that I would protect him no matter what, that he came first- it was like a light switch was flicked and suddenly I had my boy back.

No, my young man. Being the best of who I know he is. Kind, sweet, funny...

Now, I don't want to give the sense that there are unicorns roaming about and hearts fluttering in the air, because he's still 14 and I'm still a mean, strict mother but it is not the war zone it had been for months.

Right now I'm high on a sense of calm. Oh, and clean. I do love clean.

And in a few minutes, I'm off to the baseball field. Honestly? I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dreaming of Tractors

I had a dream last night that I went out to visit some friends who had bought an old farm in Marin county... I fell in love with the place and couldn't wait to move out there to start a farm stand with them.

And get a tractor. Yes, I still miss my tractor.

I think I'm going through a midlife crisis. Again, some would say. Maybe it's that the house is a mess. Maybe it's three solid days of rain and gray. I'm not sure. But I realize this house we live in feels like purgatory to me. We bought it in a rush to move back from our brief stay in Upstate New York. It was in the same school district and while I did not like it very much, it was the right thing at the right time.

Now it feels like a cage.

"Mrs. Perkins" death made me think a lot about some of the things that I hold very dear. I love open space and the woods will always be my chapel. I miss riding horses, and the old barn we played in, making hay forts.

What strikes me, is I miss feeling grounded to the earth.

I know my kids are self proclaimed "city kids" and nothing about this appeals to them. When we did live on 70 acres of land, they played in the garage. Zachary wouldn't leave to explore the land without some toilet paper on hand because he thought it was so far to go. Ben was horrified by the one time we got Chinese food- it smelled like something dead and not chicken. Jake was probably the only one who had a great experience- he went to a fabulous preschool and didn't mind the 40 minute each way drive to get there and back. He was very little though.

For the most part, we were all out of place. Except when I was on my tractor- I felt very much in place and at home. I planted 12 ten foot elm trees with that tractor along our driveway. It was beyond awkward one day, though, when someone pulled into the driveway while I was waiting with my son for the bus, asking for a meeting to discuss a program to be funded.

My mother was very well known in town and by association, so was I.

Ultimately, it was the beginning of the end of my close relationship with my mom. It was, without question, a mistake.

So what is this about now for me? Am I running away? Am I looking for grounding? Do I just hate this house because of what it represents to me? I know Marin county is in my head because Jeanine was out in San Francisco last week. She went to hear a concert conducted by an alum and said even on a rainy day, going over the Golden Gate bridge was spectacular.

I really could live here, she said to me.

The dream was sweet. I knew I had friends there, so I wouldn't be lonely. I knew it would mean hard work, and I was excited about that. It felt like a new lease on life.

And I'm not sure where it comes from inside me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blackberry Season

I just heard that my best friend- from growing up- mom died. I do not want to use real names (I didn't in the original story), as I don't have permission. I can say that it makes me so very sad. Her mom was a role model to me, in many ways, on how to be a stay at home mom. How kindness sometimes comes in the form of fresh baked cookies and the smell of sheets hung on outside to dry.

Years ago, I wrote this story. It's called "Blackberry Season." It really was a tribute to the mom that was kind, sweet and a constant presence in my youth. I thought I'd post it here today. I'm going to light a candle tonight... and maybe? Make some chocolate chip cookies for the kids.

Because, after all, it's not blackberry season.

Blackberry Season

The window shade snapped up, the early morning sun poured into Maria's bedroom. "Good morning, girls," Mrs. Perkens said as she walked over and sent the next shade spinning, wrapping around itself. The two little girls, nestled in their own sleeping bags on the double bed, slowly started to open their eyes. Maria and Katie, both nine years old, loved playing their game 'whales tails' in the sleeping bags at night, make-believing they were the great beasts of the sea, frantically thrashing around, the long cylinder bag the tail. "Would you girls like some pancakes this morning?" Mrs. Perkens asked in her gentle, soft voice. Maria and Katie both opened their eyes widely, "With some blackberries on 'em?" Maria asked eagerly. "Sure," Mrs. Perkens teasingly shook the bottom of Katie's sleeping bag, "Sleepy head want some, too?" Katie smiled and nodded yes. She loved being at the Perkens house, where nights were quiet, mornings filled with hot breakfasts and Mrs. Perkens' smile.

Katie learned at the age of seven her mother was a "semi-alcoholic", a term she used when they were driving in the car once, her older sister in the front seat asking why she drank so much. Katie knew everything about it except the word itself, believing her mother's admission meant it was normal and okay to be that way, answering casually while explaining it to them. She also knew it was best to smile be a good girl, do whatever her mother asked her to do, so she could leave and go to the Perkens' house across the street. Her mother didn't like the Perkens, always saying they were "low class" people, snorting at the way they ate dinner at five-thirty and took Sunday drives, looking at houses they couldn't afford.

The two girls scrambled down the stairs, chasing each other playfully on their way to the kitchen. "Now, settle down you two," Mrs. Perkens said while stirring the bacon in one skillet, watching the pancakes in another. "We're going to pick a ton of berries today, Mom," Maria said, her blue eyes bright against her summer tan.
"Yup, we can go up behind the barn, there's some bushes there we didn't get yesterday," Katie said to Maria, her fair skin red from the week of blackberry picking. Mrs. Perkens placed filled plates down in front of them, "Here you go," spooning hot blackberries on each stack, then while holding the pan in one hand, she brushed Katie's brown hair out of her eyes, "And I'm putting some lotion on you today. You're getting real red." Katie looked up and smiled, then returned to her pancakes.

"Now you girls should be wearing shoes out in those bushes today. Don't want you comin' back all scratched," Mrs. Perkens called over her shoulder while at the sink doing dishes.
"Aw, Ma, we're not tender foots," Maria explained, both having spent the majority of the summer toughening the soles of their feet on the gravel driveway and other such volatile surfaces so shoes would not be a necessity during the hot months of July and August, not to mention the advantages playing 'Indians' with bare feet, being able to walk silently through the woods without the heavy, cumbersome addition of shoes.

Stepping outside, the sun was already blazing hot, warming the dry ground the girls walked barefoot on, each armed with a shiny, silver half-gallon bucket to fill with blackberries.

"Wanna play we're Indians gettin' berries for our clan?" Katie asked.
"Sure, but Indians wouldn't have metal buckets..."
"Well, we can be Indians after they met the white people, so we traded for 'em."
"That means our clan is really hungry and poor and we're starving," Maria pointed out accurately, as they always tried to played Indians close to the facts, pouring over books, trying to understand.
"O.K.," Katie said in seriousness, already getting into the role, imagining herself a young Seneca, hungry, desperate. When they arrived at the bushes behind the barn, they both were in their play roles, dashing over to the bushes, greedily filling their mouths with the berries.
"We must bring berries back, share them equally," Indian Maria said stoically.
"Yes, but we must also keep our bellies full enough to make long travel back," Indian Katie noted.
"Hmph," Indian Maria nodded sharply with a serious look as they continued filling their buckets and their mouths.
"Only thing white man good for is good carrying basket," Indian Katie noted, lifting the bucket, admiring it.
"Hmph, our baskets may lose berry through weaving, but it is nature's way. These," shaking her head, "are not nature's way," Indian Maria pointed out.
"Hmph," Indian Katie replied.

They played their game for hours, picking the bushes clean, contentedly discussing the woes of the white man's invasion of their land in broken sentences, the way they thought real Indians would talk, with no wasted words. When the buckets reached the brim, they headed back to the kitchen where Mrs. Perkens worked.

Mrs. Perkens looked up from the boiling pot on the stove where she was preparing the blackberries to become winter’s jam, seeing the two little girls with solemn faces. "Well, what can I do for you ladies?"
"We've come to trade our berries," Indian Maria spoke.
"Oh," Mrs. Perkens smiled, knowing the many games the two played, one being the Indian game, and she played along, "Well, let me check the goods," she eyed over the two buckets, "I can give you a meal for that. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches and a glass of milk."
The girls eyes widened, a favorite lunch. "Milk is so rare for us, we should build our strength with it," Indian Katie noted eagerly.
"Hmph. These good berries. Some cookies too?" Indian Maria, the tough bargainer asked. Mrs. Perkens broke out in a warm laugh, "Sure, some cookies, too. Why don't you Indians go sit down and I'll get the fixens so you can make your own. After lunch, Katie, you need to go home- your mom called and wants to see you."

Checking diligently both ways for cars, even though the old country road was hardly ever traveled, Katie carefully crossed, making her way home to her modern A-frame style house, much different from the Perkens' old farmhouse. Getting closer, she retreated farther inside herself, preparing for whatever mood her mother may be in. It was a hot summer day, and Katie figured her mom would be drinking something clear with a slice of lime in it.

Her mother was sitting on the back porch, cocktail in hand, just as Katie imagined. "Sweetheart, how are you?" her mother said to her.
"Fine," Katie grinned from ear to ear, hoping to please.
"Look at you, you're all sunburned. You shouldn't be out in the sun all day with your fair skin."
"I'm okay. Mrs. Perkens put some lotion on me this morning."
"Oh. Maybe it’s time for you to play on your own for a while,” her mother smiled a forced smile.
"We're picking berries, Ma. Mrs. Perkens is making jam and she needs us to pick berries."
"You can pick berries another day."
"No, Ma, it's the peak time right now. "
"You've been over there the last three days. It’s important to be able to play by yourself, too. You won’t always have a playmate, you know," her mother said, voice strained, looking annoyed. Katie figured they could pick berries in her woods and please her mother. Sometimes it was only a matter of what side of the street they played on, they could be acres deep in the woods but her mother would be happy with them on 'her' side of the road. She smiled brightly, "We'll pick berries over here, okay?" Her mother's face dropped, and sighing heavily she said, "Do whatever you want," and returned to the book she was reading. Katie's heart dropped into her stomach. She wanted to play with Maria, pick berries and make her mother happy, but her suggestion didn't work and she was left struggling to find an answer. "I'll go get Maria," she chirped cheerfully, fighting the tears rising inside.

Katie approached Maria sitting on the porch outside the kitchen, nibbling on a chocolate chip cookie. "Wanna go to my house and play?" she asked hopefully.
"I don't wanna play inside. Besides, I've gotta pick berries for Mom," Maria said.
"We can pick berries in my back yard."
"But there's only a couple bushes."
"Please," Katie begged.
Mrs. Perkens opened the screen door to the porch, the shiny buckets in hand, "Now, com' on Maria, you go on over to Katie's and pick berries," she said gently, firmly. "Okay," Maria conceded, taking the buckets.

On the way over to Katie's, Maria turned to her and said, "Your mom again?"
"Yeah. She wanted me home this afternoon and if I didn't then there's no way I could stay over tonight."
"Think she'll let you?"
Katie shrugged.
Maria nodded, between them there was a silent understanding far beyond their years. She looked over at Katie, "Still wanna play Indians?"
Katie's eyes lightened, the child returned, "Yeah, except now it's been days since we've seen our clan..."
"Many moons," Indian Maria corrected.
"Yes, many moons," Indian Katie stoically replied.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Husbands and Husbands

Kids always get what adults often don't.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Health Care: What MA Thinks

Monday, March 08, 2010

Haunted Memory

Oh dear, I've been sick as a dog for the last few days. Children with germs- what can you do? And they wonder why I yell at them when they come and drink from my ever present glass of water.


I've been pondering for the last few days a picture my sister posted on facebook of my great aunts house in Lynchburg, VA. She was driving to Georgia to pack up her last things, and stopped on the way. What was once a grand, beautiful home is now in shambles. It breaks my heart- my great grandfather built that house. My great aunts all born there, and died there.

So many family members died there. The place was incredibly haunted.

As a child, I loved going there. I can remember the smell of ham cooking, biscuits, and always iced tea.

You havin' some tea with your sugar? My great aunt Ginsie would say to me.

When we went, I believe I always stayed with my mother in "her" room. The bedroom at the top of the stairs, with a bed so high up off the floor it was a jump to get in. Every room had a fireplace, as it was built in 1901 before central heating. The front parlor, where the fancy furniture was, reserved only for when the ladies from church stopped by to visit.

Visiting was an art.

I remember being given white gloves to go to church for Easter Sunday. And once putting on my mother's powder make up on my face, only to have it come off in rivers of sweat while sitting in the pew. Again, Ginsie tsk tsked me, and wiped my face off, somewhat pleased at my attempt to be a grown up.

As I grew older, I became terrified of that house. To the point of a phobic response. I hated sleeping there because of the footsteps that were always going up and down the stairs all night long. My mother shrugged and said it was just her grandfather and he was the nicest man in the world.

Don't be afraid.

But I was. The last time I slept in the house was in college, when I went with my mother there to visit. By then Ruth, my other great aunt, had moved to the downstairs bedroom- the one where everyone died- and I stayed alone in her room upstairs. I remember grabbing a book, any book, to read to try and make myself so tired I'd fall asleep.

I couldn't. Instead, I lay awake listening to those damn footsteps all night, waiting for them to come in my room.

If you don't believe in ghosts, that's only because you've never been in a haunted house. I don't think I'm particularly sensitive- I don't think anyone had to be in that house.

I don't understand why I was so afraid. My best friend growing up lived in an old farmhouse that was haunted, too. Mr. Shilling, we would say, walked about the attic at night. I was never afraid in that house.

Mind you, I never went into the attic, either.

But there was something about that Lynchburg house that made my skin crawl when I was older. It's just out of my reach.

I want to go back. I want to stand in that house again and understand. Honestly? I don't think it's about the ghosts. I think it's about my mother. Who she was there. Something about her history and her past- she loved that place and yet when Ruth died, after Ginsie, she tossed it away. All the furniture, all the things... gone.


Was my great grandfather a sweet, wonderful man as she said? Why did she carry a bag full of over 100 letters he wrote her, everywhere, for years and years? She said he was the only one who ever truly loved her.

Was it my shame of being a lesbian in a place that it was clear I would never be accepted? I was told to sit and shut up when my great aunts would go on about the "coloreds."

Not a word, my mother would say. I've tried and it's not worth it.

Why have I never told my own kids about the two doting old women who called me "Miss Pitty Pat" after the character in Gone With the Wind. Who taught me about the Civil War from the Southern perspective, and would not have the name Sherman or Grant ever whispered in their home.

I am feeling much better today, and piles of work await. I can't spend the day ruminating on it, trying to picture the staircase, the kitchen, the roses that were Ruth's pride growing in the garden.

But I can't help but wonder... Why?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Some Friday Humor

Donald sent this to me and it made me laugh out loud. Please enjoy some spirited nun humor.

Yes, it's respectful, yes, she's a real nun.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Class and Race and Raising Boys

We talked to Jake and Zachary tonight extensively about class and race. They did not understand why my parents had great educations, and Jeanine's parents never went to college.

It started with the story of Ruby Bridges. She had gone to speak at Jake's school today. One of the first kids to integrate a school in the south, she was a brilliant student who passed an impossible test to gain access to an all white school in New Orleans.

Jake said the story was long but worth it. He was wide eyed with clear respect for all Ms. Bridges had done.

Then, as it was homework time, a question about paper. Jake said, I want to start a paper company...

I said, Your great-great grandfather did start one. In North Carolina. It's why we have money.

The conversation turned to education, weaving in the Ms. Bridges story, to why some people have money and some don't, some go to good schools, some don't. Why did everyone take their kids out of school when Ruby went?

Money and race and socio-economic class.

Why did Nana Weezie live in a boxcar? How did Grandma's dad run a paper company? Why did Momma Jeanine not finish school until she was 30? Why didn't Nana go to college? Why did you? Who gets money, and who doesn't? Are there rules?

Yes. Yes, there are rules. Unwritten ones. Like why all the parents pulled their kids out of the school Ruby went to. Why the US Marshalls, as opposed to local police, kept watch over her.

They were the only ones who would keep her safe.

How things change, slowly.

Great questions. I'm curious as to how they take in our answers. We talked about how people, simply because of the color of their skin, did not get to have opportunities. How one of the smartest people we know never got the chance to go to college- and how unfair that was. How Nana would have loved to go to college- how Grandma didn't have a choice- it was expected.

How education made the difference- especially a great education. Work hard because you have the chance, we said. Not many people do.

I am reminded of spending time at Dorchester High School a few years ago. It broke my heart. Kids so long lost, never with hope, spending time in what seemed like a jail. Kids. Kids that could all be something great.

Or when I worked with young runaways, twenty years ago, trying to find them a place in the system. They came from desperate poverty, abusive homes, living on the streets- and faced a system that only saw numbers and bed counts. It is hard for me to go back there- so many were lost. And the stories I heard... unrepeatable. A boy who had been put in a dryer. A girl raped at 8 by a stepfather and at 13 carrying his baby. A kid who went to a party, caught in the gang crossfire, dead.

He was 16 and loved to play the saxophone. Just like Zachary does.

I hope they understand how precious the gift of access is. I hope they understand, someday, their privilege and open their hearts.

I am so grateful to Ruby Bridges. I am grateful that she continues to have the energy to engage young audiences and remind them of what it was like in 1960. It brought up an amazing conversation tonight in the house.

And reminded me, again, of how important it is for my boys- soon to be white men- understand.


Compromise. I realize that is the name of the game these days. LGBT issues are now the third rail of politics, right along with abortion.

I'm not against it, it's just that there are times I think you cannot compromise without losing your integrity. I don't like that.

After the last few days of negotiations here in Massachusetts, I have come to understand why politicians lose their way. I look at David Patterson of New York and I get it. Eventually, all the compromises eat away at your sense of right and wrong.

Doesn't give him an excuse- some of the allegations are pretty horrific. But when you dance with that line often enough, you lose yourself.

I don't ever want that to happen to me.

I know now that the good guys aren't always good guys. A friend who is a lawyer said that law school is designed to take away your soul. I don't know if that's true, I am not a lawyer.

Politics will take away your soul, too. It's a big game of negotiations and no one wants to lose. Getting on the losing side too many times means you are no longer effective. I know I don't want the good guys to be without strength.

But at what cost?

I'm not sure.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Love Master

Today is my 19th anniversary. Okay, not the wedding anniversary but the day when after we had met and had uh... um... you know, we had gone through about two weeks being apart because we just didn't think it could possibly work.

But, I invited her over to watch Star Trek and... the rest is history. We decided to take it day by day.

It's been a bit frantic, hectic and unsettled around here. I haven't had a ton of time to focus. As I was unloading the dishwasher with Zachary this morning, I said, ZACH! I don't know what to do for your mom. It's our anniversary.

So you're asking the love master? he said.

Um... yeah. Sure.

Well, he pondered, I think you should cancel our lessons for tonight, get Aunt Cathy over to cook tacos and you two go out to a nice dinner at Lumiere.

(Lumiere is our favorite local place)

Ah. I don't think you're missing your lesson, bub.

Time is ticking... I have till about 7PM tonight to pull something together. What to do?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Blogs: Going Cold Turkey

"wake up in the morning feelin' like P Diddy..."


Kesha might be groovin' that way but I'm not today. It's rain/snow/sleeting out. I have taxes to do, piles of work to go through and the ever present laundry pile has grown to epic proportions.

I read over the weekend about a police blog that has hateful homophobic rants from cops on it. I'm not going to give you the link because I don't think it should get a single click.

And people wonder why I don't trust cops as a general rule.

There is also going to be a mass, moonie style wedding of 400 gay couples in DC to get a world record. I know we fight for rights, and part of that means the right to be foolish but geesh. Does anyone think about the frame the right can use on this?

Which brings me to my thought de jour. While I was in DC last week, a friend talked to me about how he stopped- cold turkey- reading blogs and list servs for a month. He said, hey, I like what you write, what a lot of people write, but I felt like I needed perspective on the movement.

I couldn't agree more. Years ago, I was at a conference and a presenter said, Stop watching the TV news. Read a book about a subject. Or at least a magazine. Get away from the soundbites.

I have never watched the TV news again. I don't. I find it hysterical, focused only on the bad, and rarely all that informative. But I do read online newspapers, and blogs all the time.

What would it be like to take a break of that size? How would I feel at the end about the LGBT movement? It's an interesting question. Part of me loves research, digging in where a blog post or a list serv email brings me. How many police blogs are there? How often are they homophobic? Is this a rare instance, or an example of a deep rooted problem?

I get curious and I have to say, I like knowing the answers.

But what if I stopped? What if I took time to read some books on the movement, it's history, or evaluations of the current political environment and put down the instant gratification blogs and online news brings?

When I dropped everyday news coverage, I know it made me a more critical thinker. I became more keenly aware of how that coverage is used to manipulate. In fact, I became quite good at creating those frames myself.

On the other hand, we are in a time when little steps are being taken every day. The President has nominated out lesbian Laura Duffy to serve as U.S. Attorney, the chief federal prosecutor, for the Southern District of California -- the district that encompasses San Diego and surrounding areas. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of plans to establish the first national resource center to assist communities across the country in their efforts to provide services and support to older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

I don't want to miss it. I don't want anyone to miss it.

So while I'm really not going to "brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack," because that's simply nasty and I have to unload the dishwasher, go to the grocery store, I'm going to spend some time today thinking about what it would be like to go cold turkey for a month.

Maybe then I would wake up feelin' like P Diddy.