29 January 2006

2.8 at 6:01

Saturday night 6:00 and I'd just finished watching/reading a sub-titled Vietnamese movie on Sundance so I was channel surfing, being both disappointed in the lack of anything interesting to watch and disturbed at my lack of life which has resulted in me lying on the couch on a Saturday night..... Then it happened. My first thought was that Trevor was running through the house. It kind of had that sound, like padded feet on a hard wood floor, but even Trev's chunky self couldn't cause the couch to shake. Alex and I looked at each other with a "What the..... ?" look.. EARTHQUAKE! Just a little one, and it lasted only a few seconds, but it was long enough for me to know what it was. And though it did prompt me to spend the night on the couch (I wasn't eager to go downstairs. Thinking if there was a bigger one, I didn't want to have the house fall on me), it did make for some excitement in my night.....

27 January 2006


As I pulled into Portland this morning, the ever persistent Northwest drizzle turned into a down pour, so by the time I unhooked my trailer and got into my vehicle I was soaked. But it's Friday, and time to start my weekend. I come home, turn up the heat, put on some dry clothes, let Alex in, pour a glass of wine, turn up the heat a little more, apologize to Alex for turning up the heat, and try to relax...

Usually Friday is my "do nothing day". Content to curl up on the couch, spend all day in my pj's, catch up on the news, watch a bit of CSPAN, and maybe enjoy an independent film or two, but not today. See, yesterday was one of those days. You know, the kind that knock you a bit off your axis and make you look at the world from a slightly different point of view..

It was one of the days I volunteer. Every Monday and Thursday I kick myself out of bed a few hours early so I can transport meals to the day center. The center is one of several run by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and provides breakfast and lunch as well as support to people living with HIV/AIDS. It's an easy enough task. I pick up the container from the day before, drive over to where the food is prepared, and bring them back fresh supplies. Almost always, I join them for lunch and visit. They're a great group of people, eclectic to say the least.. There are people recovering from addiction, families, artists, single mothers, immigrants, gays, and a few who live in shelters, though most of them live in public housing and work when they are well enough to. Every time I go down there I am touched by one of them. Whether it's the single mother who talks with such pride about her son, the hip artist whose work is just remarkable, or the immigrant who loves to have conversations so he can work on his English, they are all beautiful people.. And then there's HIM.

I first noticed him about a month ago. He sat on the church steps, playing a battered guitar, and singing old Johnny Cash songs. He had one of those smiles that surrounds you like a bear hug you can't escape from. I knew I was going to like him immediately. Every time I see him he's in a good mood, so much so that it's contagious. Friendly to everyone, always eager to join the conversation. He is simply more alive than anyone I've met in a long time.

As I walked into the center it was hard not to notice him. He always dresses well, but yesterday he looked as if he could enter any business in town and run the place; nice dress pants, freshly ironed shirt, tie, shined shoes, and these fabulous suspenders... After a lunch of fried chicken, rice, and veggies, he and I sat talking and working a 1500 piece puzzle, the most fun I'd had in weeks. And as the day center closed for the day, I couldn't help but think to myself as he walked off, looking sharp in his suit and over coat, "No one would ever know by looking at him. No one would know that he is living on the streets."

While we tried to fit puzzle pieces together, he'd explained to me that he could live in public housing but has chosen not to. Instead, he lives in a tarp covered shelter which he insists is dry and warm. He'd gotten up early yesterday, went to his storage unit, and ironed his clothes. He says that living on the streets makes him more determined to better his situation. He's resolute on making it on his own.. He is amazing...

So later today, instead of taking a "do nothing day".. I am going to get up and go to the day center so I can put together the rest of the puzzle, laugh, talk, and be alive with HIM.... But for now, as the rain falls outside, I can't help wondering, "Is he warm? Is he dry? Is he safe?"...............

I wish it was spring.........

26 January 2006

Mystery Solved!

It's time to end the debate over the DQ slushy once and for all... After I finished my stint at the day center where I'm volunteering, I stood in line in the wind and drizzling rain (sorry hairball, it doesn't seem to want to go south yet), freezing my butt off so that I could solve the mystery, the mystery of the Mr Misty...

This is it- the Artic Rush. After a lengthy discussion with the woman in the window, I can report that it is in fact the very same Mr Misty, only renamed.. And after having a "red" flavored one, I can also say that it is still just as good... Why did they rename it? I guess we'll never know... But this case is now closed.......

25 January 2006

Diet fit for a "Queen"

Maybe it's because I drive by this every morning at 2:30 on my way home from work, tired and hungry after a long drive, and can't help noticing this sign because I wish it was open so I could grab a bite, but do they really think anyone woke up on New Year's morning, looked in the mirror, and thought to themselves, "Ya know, my butt's starting to look a little big in these jeans. I think I'll go down to Dairy Queen and get a SALAD"

This Dairy Queen is maybe a 5 minute walk from my house, 3.5 minutes if Alex is pulling me along. Luckily for me I don't suffer from a sweet tooth. I usually get a small cone and, if I'm quick enough, take the first bite before handing it off. I swear Alex can eat ice cream faster than any creature on Earth! This pic's from last August, but I thought I'd embarass her by posting it.

24 January 2006

Clearing the Air, the next chapter

I know I promised at the end of what I posted yesterday that I'd have something light and chipper for today, and I do. However, until I conquer the challenge of posting a picture, my words wouldn't make any sense. (any help from you bloggers who aren't stuck riding the little bus on this would be appreciated)

As I began receiving comments on my previous posts, I had to pause to absorb the huge amount of love that seemed to attack me from my computer screen. It was truly overwhelming. But, though I was immensely moved by your words, I also know I must clarify a few things..

(oh no.. Here comes another rant)

I did not become a part of this blog-o-sphere in an attempt to garnish praise or blow my own horn. I do not seek any admiration or recognition. And I don't for a minute think I deserve a party any more than any of you do. I started blogging as a way to open up dialect between myself and those I care about, and not just between myself and others, but also in hope that we'd all finally be able to speak more honestly with each other.

(Being as most of those reading this are members of my family, I address the rest of this post to you.)

From where I stand, and correct me if I'm wrong, the way I see it is this- We have all been through hard times and, while the love in our family has never been in question, sometimes it's hard to believe that we can reach out to each other for support without fear of judgment or rejection. Some of us have, in silence, battled drugs, alcohol, and depression. We have bravely faced unexpected and much loved additions. And, though it's never easy to accept, sometimes the story doesn't end "happily ever after". As big as this family is, and as much love as we have for each other, to think that even one of us has ever had to cope through a difficult situation alone should be unacceptable! And whether we've broken a finger nail or feel like the world is crumbling around us, we need to know we can turn to each other for anything.

This summer as we gather in AZ for the grand camp out adventure, let's have a party for all of us! May I suggest the night of the 27th, being as that is my birthday :) Oh, and pen-nut's anniversary too! (How kind of everyone to be gathering to celebrate our special day with us :) ) Once the short people (oh, sorry hairball, let me correct that). Once the younger crowd has been tucked in, let us all gather around with our drink of choice and toast each other. For, though none of us are flawless, I would argue that we are all "uniquely perfect"! And that is cause for great celebration....

I love you guys!!!

23 January 2006

Truth + Love trumps Ignorance + Hate

(First visit to my blog? Then I insist that you scroll down and read them in order.. No cheating!)

Recently during my never ending search of the web, I came across something that, though I desperately didn't want it to, hurt at least one of my feelings. Someone I know has a site on My Space, and, as many people do, he'd filled it up with various items. One of which was quiz wherein he'd answered several, sometimes bizarre, questions.

Have you ever been stabbed/shot? No
Would you ever eat pizza with chocolate chips? Maybe
Have you ever danced like a whore? Definitely not

Then some random word association.

Uniform = dunno
Clown = Bozo
Rainbow = fucking queer

What?? Surely, I read that wrong. No, that's really what it said. How could it be that someone so close to me had such feelings? Surely, he wasn't referring to me. Surely, he never meant for me to ever come across this page.

(Side note: For those not already aware, the rainbow is often used as a symbol of gay pride. It represents diversity and inclusiveness. Anyway, back to my story....)

I closed his page, tried to do the dishes, tried not to let this affect me, tried to forget what I'd read.. No luck... But I knew that, no matter how badly I wanted to lash out at him, no matter how much I wanted to yell and scream and jump up and down on his head, to do so would not be productive.

Instead I sat down and composed a quick email..

"I was looking around on My Space and came across your site. And though I tried ignore what I read there, I can't.. I can understand that you're just doing your "tough guy" part by referring to someone as a "fucking queer".. But as someone who has all too often been called a "fucking dyke", I need you to know how much that hurts.... That "fucking queer" you're talking about, that's me..

I recently started up a blog. You're more than welcome to go and read it. Perhaps if you read what I wrote, you will see where I'm coming from..

I love you very much. And I hope you know that... "

Then I went about my day. Feeling a little better, but not really, about actually saying something to him instead of adding it to the long list of hurtful moments that I usually just accept as part of life. I had hoped he'd respond, perhaps I'd even receive a half-hearted "Sorry if I hurt your feelings. It wasn't directed at you" apology, but I also feared that his thoughtless comment was just the tip of an iceberg. That he may have some deep-seated homophobia that he would then direct at me since I'd stepped out as a target. When his reply came a few hours later, I held my breath as I opened it.. What he'd wrote brought tears to my eyes..

"I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to offend you or anybody. It was just the first thing that came to mind when I was filling out that thing. I cant make up any excuse, like trying to be a "tough guy". All I can say is that I didn't think it through before I did it. So, I am truly very sorry and I will change that comment before I hurt anyone else.

I hope you accept my apology-"

This was probably the most heartfelt apology I've ever received. Not only did he heal the hurt he had unintentionally caused me, but by not trying to make any excuse for it he'd somehow healed a small amount of the scars that have been inflicted by the words of others.

True to his word, his site has been changed. It now says "never ending" next to rainbow.. This meant more to me than I could ever express to him, and I am so very thankful that he is a part of my life...


I know I'd said in my Clearing the Air post that being gay isn't central to this blog so it seems a bit soon to have it as the subject, but when something like this touches me as this has, it couldn't be passed up without notice.. Stay tuned tomorrow as I bring you something on a much lighter note...

18 January 2006

Jump in

(Side note- should this be your first time to my blog, skip along to the "Clearing the Air" post.. reading out of order is highly frowned upon..)

Because of obvious reasons I have spent a lot of time lately thinking of my grandma V. For those of you who may not have known her, I will hopefully offer a glimpse into this amazing woman's life through the following story-

Gathering around the pool was always central to any family get-together, as it was on this typical Arizona summer day. Sadly, I'd long since outgrown the simple joy of swimming in my grandparent's pool, leaving that task to my dozen or so younger cousins. Instead, one or two of my aunts, my grandma, myself, and a few other various family members milled about, watching a couple of the smaller folk bob around like apples during a Halloween festival. Grabbing my cousin Cody, always one of my favorites on this side of family, by the arms, I tossed him into the center of the pool. He was maybe 4 at the time and had yet to hone his skills. Still, the ever present blow-up floaties he was wearing popped him like a cork back to the surface and we were all delighted with this new found entertainment. Teeth chattering, it was seldom truly warm in this pool, he climbed back onto the side, eager for another go. Once again, through the air he flew. Only this time when he entered the water, his arms were stretched above him and the only thing to bob like a cork were the floaties. With unbelievable ease, they'd slipped right off his (still to this day) skinny arms, and he went straight to the depths of that small, kidney shaped pool. It took a few seconds to grasp the idea that, no matter how much we wished it, he wasn't going to suddenly learn to swim, and a few more as we looked around at each other with a dazed "ok, now what" look on our faces. But, before any of the rest of us could begin to form a course of action, (fishing him out with skimmer net was going to be my first plan of attack) my fully dressed, 60ish at the time, grandma was jumping in after him. Without a moments consideration of herself, feet first, she jumped in.

She lived every day of her life this way. Whereas many people I know stand around and think about how to help those around them, she was, instead, jumping in. I never knew her to not be doing something for someone else, and always with infinite compassion and inexhaustible, unconditional love. And for that, she will always be my hero.

I know all to well how overwhelming it is to move to action instead of thinking about it. Sometimes it's hard to see the value of the little things you may do for others, but the point is not to change the world, the point is to make a dent, and perhaps with all of us making dents, we really can make a this a more pleasant place for all of us to live.. In my links section you'll find a link to Volunteer Match. Go there, enter your zip code, and they will let you know of all the volunteer opportunities in your area. Think you haven't the time? Find some. Sometimes it just takes a day or two. Each position posted will give you the date and contact information, as well as an idea as to what is involved.

Don't just stand there, damn it, jump in.....

Clearing the Air

Yes, I'm gay..

(gasp!! Is this really the way she's going to start her blog?? )

It is.. And to be blunt, deal with it.. Do you suddenly feel the need to stop reading, divert your eyes, protect your children, go back to acting or pretending it's not true, judge me? Well, I guess that will just have to be your problem. But before you do, I ask that you at least hear me out..

( We're not going to have to read about it, are we?? )

Seriously.. It's not as if I've just made some huge news flash, but it's long past time for me to make sure it's known and not only talked about when no one is really listening. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean it's the basis of my life. I won't censor my posts and I will tell it like it is, but being gay is just a small part of who I am. I'm a human being, a woman, an American (though I'm sometimes ashamed to admit that), a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, friend, and a hundred other things.. I live 900+ miles from my nearest relative. That's partially due to the fact that it's been easier for me to live beyond the immediate judgment of those who I love most. It pains me to know that those who mean the most to me have no idea who I am. Should you care to find out, I invite you into my reality.... Let's start by clearing the air...

For too many years I have lived within the boundaries of an unspoken understanding that you won't ask and I won't tell. That ends here, today. For here, on this blog, I will no longer be subject to the self-imposed fear of your rejection. I will no longer feel the need to conform to your standards. And I will no longer be silent so that you can be comfortable. My being gay is not a lifestyle choice. It's not a lingering effect of childhood sexual abuse. And, above all, it certainly isn't any fault of my parents. Contrary to what you or anyone else may think, I didn't wake up one day and decide to be gay. To think that is simply absurd!

How could anyone possibly believe that I chose to have my life be this difficult? For umpteen years, I woke up every day hating myself because I wasn't the person people expected me to be. Now I wake every day knowing that millions of people would rather beat the hell out of me than shake my hand. Hard as that is, it's still immensely easier than the self-hate that used to consume my life. I struggled for years before I was comfortable enough to live my life instead of existing in it, and though I'd often thought I'd never be able to honestly say this, I am happy with who I am..

Are you having a hard time reading this? I'd apologize, but there's nothing for me to apologize for. The truth isn't easy, but it is necessary and long overdue.. And as long as we keep living in the world where we don't talk about things in the context of truth, we will never really communicate. Truth starts here.. Comment as you wish, but know that hate and judgment will NOT be tolerated.. Not on my blog.....

And now that the air has been cleared, let's begin.................... Welcome to my blog!