Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Holidays - Part Trois

I am afraid that with my post The Holidays - Part Deux I may have confused some folks into thinking that I was still lost in the drama of it all.  I'm really not.  It was more a background as to why I am indifferent about the holidays - well most particularly, Christmas, and it was a nice jaunt down memory lane briefly remembering a time when I wasn't. 

The reason I had set out to write is that I had still been reeling, quite shocked, from an e-mail I had gotten from my father's wife announcing their arrival in my town-nine hours away from theirs by car-for Christmas.  The e-mail started: "Looking forward to spending Christmas with you."  as if we'd already made arrangements. I read further to learn of their intended visit and hotel reservations.  FOR THE FIRST TIME!

I am moving away from my initial shock, and frankly, anger at her e-mail to working my way into being a gracious hostess for their visit.  A little grudgingly.  But I'm working on it.  There are three separate distinct issues - two of which I will get over, one of which I still have to decide how or if to respond to.

1) Having to "have" Christmas.  Now I know that just because they've invited themselves I don't have to "host" Christmas.  My silly friend who suggested that it meant I suddenly had to pull out the pans and make some elaborate meal is entirely wrong.  I feel no such compunction or obligation.  But, apparently, at some level, though, I have to "do" Christmas.  And unlike visiting other folks, there is some responsibility on my shoulders for me to figure out what it is we will do. 

2) Having my family to visit.  I live away from them for a reason.  It IS sweet that they want to visit and be with me.  I do understand that, in theory.  I am trying to accept it and be happy about it, but I like living my life.  And I like living my life away from them.  Thank you.

3) And this is the one I have to figure out whether to respond or deal with and that is the invitation (or lack thereof on my part) of themselves not only just to visit - I can and have accepted that - but to visit on a holiday, when I might have had other plans.  I might have been going out of town.  Or I might have been invited to share it with another family even semi-locally who I would now have to invite my family to, as well?  Nowhere in the e-mail was there a question - an "Is this okay?" Maybe they're smart enough to realize I might answer "no" - and I can sort of respect that - but this isn't a "We're thinking of coming through at the end of June" or mid-March, or some non-descript time. This is at a time when I might very wel already have plans of my own that I may have no desire to include them on (or if I did, perhaps I would have already invited them to visit to begin with...?). 

I want to be gracious enough to say it's okay to come for this holiday (because otherwise I'm a raging bitch, let's face it), but it wasn't okay the way you did it.  To find a way to set a clear boundary.

Hell, what I want to say is that my lover is whisking me away to her family for the holidays, and gosh, darn, I won't be there... but since I don't have a lover, let alone one who is whisking me away for the holidays, (where IS that sugar momma?) and telling them would raise all sorts of other questions I wouldn't particularly want to answer... well, then, that wouldn't work, either.  Details.  It always gets lost in the details.

So THIS is the post I wanted to write.  The other stuff, frnakly, is history.  It just is what happened before.  THIS is what is happening TODAY!!

Ah, as I always say, though, apparently resistance is futile..

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Not quite as sexy as an on-demand pay-per-view channel, but, it'll have to do.

Alt title: Oh, yeah, so that's what this feels like...

My paternal grandmother was bipolar - except then, we called it manic-depressive.  And so there's always been this underlying awareness that it can run in families, and, well... whenever I have gone into see someone who shrink-wraps, I always am sure to mention this.  I've never really thought I was, but I'm not the professional, now am I?

I never really thought I was because while I had the "mania" - attributable also to my ADD - I was never really depressed.  I can't say I was always "happy", but for the most part, I think I was relatively well balanced.  Until, oh, about, three and a half years ago. 

And even then, my depression was understandable.  I described it as situational.  A certainly understandably depressing situation had most certainly been at the root of it.  And that explained the first year.  And being alone in a new town.. Well, maybe that explained the second year.  But really, by the third year, shouldn't I be freaking done with this depression thing?  Yes, I could see subtle improvements.  I could look back at the year before and say I was better than I had been.  But damn, if this wasn't taking forever.

And I can't say I'm out of the woods yet.  I still see lots of trees blocking the sun around me.  But I can say in the last month and a half, there has been significant, noticeable, improvement.  Periods of excitement and energy and - dare I say it - happiness have been more than just fleeting.

A lot of it, I recognize, centers around the new position at the church. I forget, sometimes, how much I like people.  How much I truly enjoy them.  And as a result of this new position, I have taken it upon myself to sit down with as many of our members as I can.  And I'm loving it.  Just loving it.  Finding things that people are getting excited about.  Pulling out areas where they may thrive within the community.  Finding people to support others who took a particular ministry on their own. 

My theme, by the way, (even though I don't *need* a theme) is sharing the ministry.  And I feel strongly about this, and could get on a roll, and bore you all to death, although keep you mildly entertained by the energy and excitement *I* feel about it.  But I'm loving what I'm doing.  I'm enjoying seeing seeds I have planted begin to take root.  I am excited about the possibilities.  I feel like I have found my calling.  Maybe not my long-term calling, but a short-term one and I am enjoying it.

Which I haven't done in a long while. 

Oh.  Yeah.. So this is what happiness feels like.  So this is what it's like to enjoy my life, again.  There is a light at the end of that tunnel - there is sun beyond those trees.  I will emerge.  I am emerging.  Damn, that sunshine on my face feels good. 

P.S.  The problem with blog posts on demand is that there is the possibility that I might end up taking your request and using it to write about something only remotely related.  I can't help where the spirit takes me... ;)  So, my friend, I know I barely touched on what you wanted me to write about.  But maybe in another post... ;)

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Holidays - Part Deux

One of the problems about Thanksgiving is that it isn't even over before people are preparing for Christmas.  Driving home from my Thanksgiving dinner, there was already Christmas music playing - even on the radio station I had been so excited in the morning which had been advertising that they would WAIT until this holiday was over before beginning the next one.  Mostly I listened to a book on CD, then, while driving home to avoid the songs about Mommy kissing Santa Claus.

Christmas.. well.. it has mixed memories for me.  I do remember being a kid and being excited to get up in the morning and see what was under the tree.  We were allowed to attack the stocking before the adults got up, but nothing else.  Not that we didn't manhandle the presents and try to figure them out. 

Stockings had a formula.  There was always an orange or an apple at the bottom plumping the toe of the stocking and weighting it down.  Then there were a lot of Hershey's kisses and other candy, because our upcoming breakfast of Grammy's cookies wasn't going to be enough sugar.  I never ate the fruit.  Never.  Not even a day or two later.  It always went back into the fridge, and who knows who ultimately ate it or if it were tossed.  I'm actually not a fan of Hershey's Kisses, either (I know it's sacrilege, don't tell "Santa"). 

But then there would be a small gift.  I don't know what they were when I was really young - I don't remember them - but in the last few years that we *did* celebrate Christmas, my mother had begun giving me, at least, old toys of hers.  I remember one year a particular 3D wood jigsaw, that I enjoyed taking apart and figuring out how to put back together again.  I always enjoyed those gifts.  Usually there would be a note with them explaining where they'd come from.  This was clearly AFTER we had stopped believing in Santa. 

We weren't allowed to wake the adults.  My parents were smart.  But they didn't sleep in too late, either.  Everyone was usually in the living room around the tree by 7:30 AM.  Sleepy parents, and if we were lucky, grandparents were there, too.  We opened one gift at a time, taking turns.  Mom, usually, would sit by the tree and select which presents went to whom, and my brother or I would be "Santa" delivering them from her lazily (I understand now) sitting by the tree to whomever they belonged. 

Breakfast would always be Grammy's cookies - she would bring tins of them that would last a few days.  As an older adult, receiving those tins either by mail, or to take home in person, were always the highlight of my Christmas, and I admit, what I miss most.  Others, sometimes, make cookies similar to hers, and each year I flock to them and savor them and think of her. 

We would be done with the frenzy within a few hours.  Who knows - it might have only been 30 minutes, but it seemed like hours - good hours - to me.  And then there was always the difficult moment of deciding what to play with first. 

Now, if my mother had been smart, and had the patience of a saint (she is smart, she is not patient), she would have made my brother and I sit down that afternoon and write Thank You notes.  She would have made THAT part of the tradition.  If I were ever to have kids (not very likely at this point), I would hope that I would instill that discipline in my children.  Because I'll tell you now.  I suck at it.  Big time.  And I feel bad. But anyway, that could be another post. 

I have no bad memories of Christmas as a child.  I hope I threw no tantrums because I didn't get what I wanted or I couldn't play with something or I wanted what my brother had, but I have no memory that I did.  I hope I was appreciative of everything - even the clothes we would traditionally receive from my father's cousin.  I have no soiled memories of those Christmases. 

When I was thirteen, though, my memory of Christmas, itself, has been blocked out.  It was very cold, and my grandparents car couldn't start to drive home just a few hours away, so they spent an extra night.  Eventually, the day after, they were able to warm up the car battery or whatever it was that needed warming and they were on their way. My brother and I were downstairs in the basements - in our rooms - playing with our gifts, when my father came downstairs and told us to come upstairs because he needed to tell us something.  Actually, I don't remember what he said or even that he had come downstairs, I only remember walking in the room and seeing my mother sitting on the couch crying with tears streaming down her face. 

The grandparents who had just left an hour or so before were her parents, so my mind immediately shot to the worst scenario - they had been in an accident.  What else would make my mother cry so? 

----- I just have to say the obvious here.  One of the worst things, ever, for a kid, is seeing your mom cry.  That day, and several others that followed during my adolescence where she cried are the worst memories of my childhood - I always felt so helpless.  -----

They sat us down - again, I presume my father did, and did all the talking, frankly, but I can't remember through the numbness.  And he told us he was leaving - that they were separating. 

I remember, at the time, feeling this great rush of relief.  Oh, that's it? Grammy and Grandpa are okay?  I hope I didn't say out loud "Oh that's it?"  I think both my brother and I knew how serious things were by how serious they were.  I hope I was respectful, and quiet, and didn't say anything too stupid.  I can't remember. 

And then we were sent downstairs to play, while my Dad packed a bag.  Within an hour or so, he was gone. 

(Wow - this is totally not where I thought I was going this morning with this post, but I guess I needed to)


Frankly, at first, I had no idea what to think of it all with my parents separating.  They never fought - several of my friends' parents fought and so when one set separated, it wasn't surprising; and another set, surprisingly is still together thirty years later.  I just viewed it at first like my father had gone away on a business trip and he would be back.  It wasn't until six months later that it struck me that he wouldn't just be back, and that he couldn't just come back as if nothing had happened.  And dealing with my parents' separation took me the rest of my adolescence to deal with and only as an adult do I understand my father's actions. 


When Christmas rolled around the following year, my parents had been "dating" or trying to date and we had seen him somewhat regularly.  My brother had left for college that fall, and so it had mostly been my mother and I together.  My brother, of course, returned home for Christmas break, and we were all together to decorate the tree a week or so before Christmas.  We actually had a fresh tree for the second year in a row bought by my father sitting in the stand. Several boxes of lights and ornaments from the attic were all on the living room floor waiting assembly.  My brother and I were waiting in the living room and my mother and father were upstairs.  My father, it was planned, was going to spend the night on Christmas eve with us so he would be there when we woke up on Christmas morning.  I assumed, naively, that my parents were upstairs making out or something, since there had been several visits with him where at a certain point I was told to go downstairs so they could have time together.  My mother had been working hard to woo my father back, cooking meals she never otherwise cooked, and I knew they had been (at a minimum) kissing upstairs on several occasions (I don't want to know what else, I still don't need to know what else). 

So while my brother and I, increasingly impatiently, were waiting downstairs, my mother and father were upstairs.  But they weren't kissing, it seems.  Apparently, there had been some confusion, some miscommunication, and my father wasn't planning on spending Christmas eve with us, but instead with his girlfriend.  He would come by on Christmas day, but he wouldn't wake up with us in the morning.  He was clarifying this with my mother upstairs.  Eventually, my father came downstairs, and I don't know exactly what he said - I can't imagine he admitted all those details to us - but my mother was upstairs crying, and my father didn't stay for us to trim the tree.

I don't know if my brother and I just trimmed the tree ourselves - or if we had already started while they were talking - but I don't remember my mother coming back downstairs to decorate, and so I assume that we did.  I don't remember Christmas, frankly, at all.  Although I'm sure it happened, and gifts were given, and that my father did come by. 

By the next year, though, my father and his girlfriend had moved in together.  My mother and I didn't bother with a tree.  Pretty much that was the end of Christmas for us.  Two years in a row of bad luck - to put it lightly - was enough for her.  And, frankly, I can't blame her.  I was fifteen, and my brother was practically on his own - I'm not certain if he even came to stay with us during his Christmas break, or whether he stayed with other friends.  He hadn't lived with us over the summer so I'm not sure he did for that Christmas, either.  And by the following year, he had already dropped out of college (taken a year off, which is now 28 years off, soo-o-o I don't think he's going back) and was living on his own. 


I'm an adult now.  I understand my father's reasons for leaving, and I can even have compassion for the timing.  His girlfriend is now his wife of 20+ years, and I know, now, that he had been developing feelings for her - although had not acted directly on them - before he left my mother.  I see how she is a more compatible partner for him, and I am happy for him.  I can honestly say that I don't "hate" Christmas.  But I'm not particularly fond of it either.  I do enjoy spending it with other families.  Three years ago, I was living with a family with two kids, 10 and 7 at the time, and being there to experience their joy on Christmas morning was one of the best Christmases of my life.  And I wish I could have spent more with them.  My ex-wife and I always wanted to spend Christmas with the grandkids when we were together, but they were across the country, and usually her son was spending it with his in-laws, so we were never invited. 

Christmas, to me, is for the kids.  Last year I got into a disagreement with my then-best friend over whether Christmas was just a kids' holiday - she was in the spirit, I apparently was less so.  But as an adult, those were the moments that would melt my heart around Christmas - seeing the kids' enjoyment. 

Today, I am content to spend the day alone, although I often will share the meal with friends, too.  Last year, for exmaple, I had Christmas dinner with my priest and his partner after services that morning.  I do not begrudge those for whom the day is special.  But I do not look forward to 29 more days of Christmas music, either. 

This was not the post I set out to write - but I guess I needed to set up the background for this season and this year. 

Stay tuned for The Holidays - Part Trois. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's all good!

My last post just now, I'll admit, was a little sad.  But the really good news is that it is just a moment.  I do miss her - we used to talk nearly every day for at least an hour.  But I am broken of that habit.  And I have grieved.  And today, it seems, I am letting go.  It is a good thing.

I am finally emerging from the grief.  It's kinda cool to be able to step aside and look and see.  The grief over losing her as my best friend, and the grief of my ex-wife. 

I've had my period of mourning.  And I have had a period of healing. 

Am I perfect? Well, no, of course not.  Will I have moments? Yes, of course I will. 

But a great weight has lifted.  This last month and a half, I have felt better.  I have felt energized.  I have felt.. well.. a lot of things. 

I have no idea what is ahead of me now.  But I am ready, today, to admit that these other things are behind me.  They are no question a part of my life.  But they are in the past.  I am ready for the future. 

It's all good, people.  All good. 

WANTED: Best Friend

Eleven months ago, almost to the day (it was the day AFTER Christmas, rather than the day before), my best friend decided and announced to me that she didn't want to be my friend anymore. A misguided Christmas present, apparently, can do that to a relationship, although the story is a little bit more complicated than that.

We've talked three times since then: we had a brief quarter where she actually tried to call me once a month.   I'm not quite sure what I might have done to have ended those, other than miss her call that last time she tried.  That was June.

She's been working for quite some time on her next athletic achievement - try-outs for a local sports team.  Something that has been very important to her for awhile now, and taken significant importance after an unfortunate injury took away her ability to do her favorite sport as well as she used to.  In her life, this is a significant event.  Try-outs happen on a grand scale once a year - in November, but in the spring, sometimes, if there are a few openings, they will also have try-outs to fill a few spots.

It was in our talk in March or April when the last try-outs happened, and I asked her, even if she communicated nothing else to me ever again, to let me know if she made it.  She promised me, then, that she would make sure I would know when it happened.  And we had talked after those try-outs where she confirmed she hadn't.

So try-outs happened again.  And I knew they were vaguely taking place about now, so I sent her a "good luck" text nearly three weeks ago. 

Ten days ago she found out she got on.

Today, I found out.  And not from her.

I want to share her good news - I want to shout to people, "Hey, my best friend..."  and it is then that I realize given that she didn't share this great news in her life (equivalent, people, for her to having a baby - that kinda exciting big life event) with me, I probably should stop thinking about and referring to her as my best friend.  I am no longer one of the people she shares these things with.  Her 342 and growing Facebook friends and strangers, yes.  Me, no. 

When we had those three brief phone conversations, she also promised me we'd be friends again someday.  Given that she didn't keep the promise of telling me when she made the team, I guess I shouldn't be holding my breath....

Applications are now being accepted...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Holidays

Oh, the mighty holidays.  Good times. Except when they aren't. 

The Twitter is getting all wired up for the holidays.  Thanksgiving tomorrow, er.. later today (Good morning to you, insomnia, I love writing posts at 3:30 AM).. and also beginning to prep for Christmas.  I was reminded earlier today that I need to make sure there are music CDs in my car because we are about to begin that infernal Christmas music.

Holidays can all strike us in different ways.  I admit, I am mixed both in my expectations and in my memories...

I'm not a big holiday person.  My mother wasn't - mostly they were a reason for her to get anxious, not relaxed.  And that anxiety, in hindsight, was palpable.  We did not have a very large extended family - although most everyone was fairly close.  My mother had a brother with two children, and my father was an only child. And the holidays were the few times we'd see my cousins or my grandparents - so that was nice.

As a kid, Thanksgiving was always extra special for me, because my birthday followed quite quickly afterward, so we'd often celebrate it, too, while at my grandparents.  My grandmother's moist cake, with vanilla ice cream melted into the crevices of her nice china that we ate on.  We may have often eaten out for Thanksgiving but we just as often returned home for cake. 

While I mentioned my mother's anxiety above, really it was quite minor compared to many's stress that raises during the holidays.  I'm not sure why we put such pressure on ourselves to make a single day so perfect.  But often we do - worrying about whether the turkey will come out right, and on time.  Will we have enough pie? (Always a key question for me, so with my ex, we often brought the pies form Marie Callendar's ourselves) The important things.

Initially, I had no particular plans for celebrating tomorrow, and frankly, I was perfectly fine with that.  I am perfectly content to spend a holiday or two by myself, and have done so frequently.  But on Sunday, our new priest to be invited me to join him and his partner as they had way too much turkey not to share.  This was not my first holiday spent with a priest, or even a gay priest and his partner.  I went home after Sunday services with our current priest to have Christmas dinner with him and his partner last year. 

But if I hadn't, I would have been fine.  I have spent many holidays alone and was perfectly content.  (Have I said that already? Is it possible I might protesting too much? Nah...)

This evening, while taking a hot bath, though, I remembered one of the hardest parts of my separation from my ex-wife:  losing her family, too.  If we were together still, there is no question we would all be gathering at the home of her sister's daughter where I spent many of the holidays that she and I shared together.  My ex is one of six siblings, and her oldest sister, ALONE, had six children, so HER extended family was quite large, as those kids, too, had long since started having children.  There would easily be between 15-45 of us at every holiday.  And it was quite a crew. 

The ex had mixed feelings about her family, but I always enjoyed the affairs.  Playing basketball out front while waiting for the meal to finish.  Laughing inside about the same dramas that happened year after year.  Don't let Melissa make the gravy, because if she does, it will take forever.  The karaoke machine one year - I had fun belting out hits, although in hindsight that was a Christmas.  Watching out for my mother-in-law who was an alcoholic and would manage to find it no matter how hard you kept it from her.  At some level we wanted her to enjoy herself, but when she'd get drunk enough to hit on the grand-kids' generation, well.... My, she was quite the flirt even in her 80s. Every posed picture like a sex kitten. 

Her oldest sister is a big woman - tall, broad, hugs you like a bear.  She's goofy, and silly and very loud, and very passionate.  Don't get her riled up - although she was often amusing when she was.  Very early on in joining the family for celebrations, one of her daughters told me how grateful they were I was in my ex's life because I had brought her back into the family, and back into the holiday gatherings. 

I always loved the big meals.  Her family, so huge, was so different from mine.  And never having to be responsible for preparing a meal except once there, or preparing a house for guests, was a tremendous relief that allowed me to simply enjoy the gatherings. 

As I stepped out of the bath this evening, wrapped myself in a towel, I thought of them all gathering tomorrow, and wished I was there.  In some ways, it'd probably be safe, because I imagine my ex has faded back into the woodwork again.  She enjoyed herself while she was there - for the most part - but was never particularly excited about going.  Shooting hoops with the nephews and nieces and great nephews and nieces.  Hurrying the gravy along so that we don't have to wait an extra hour to eat.  Making sure that Mom's drink was more coke than Jack. (Oh, how she loved her boyfriend Jack!)  Trying not to fill ourselves before the main meal came out.  I do realize, in hindsight, this is what holidays are about: family. 

I do miss that family. It was hard to leave them behind, too.  In this spirit of Thanksgiving, though, I am grateful that I was able to be a part of that family, and of all the families I've been fortunate to be a part of for a holiday or more. 

May you and yours enjoy the day and the meal and the fellowship.  Stop, pause, and remember this is a day to be grateful for the blessings we have, and that family and friends are such a huge part of our blessings.  Relax and remember it is just one meal on one day and know that it doesn't have to be perfect.  No-one will starve... it will be just fine.

And take a moment, too, to remember our poor Canadian friends (since I have so many readers from there) who have already had their flash-in-the pan for the holiday and will sadly be going to work tomorrow.  Raise a glass for them and try not to make them feel TOO bad on Twitter... ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What if?

I have this post percolating, but I'm not sure how to title it, and I hate that.  I find that the title comes to me first and usually helps provide me a unifying theme - keeps me on track once I start typing so that I am semi-cohesive... But the title isn't coming to me at the moment.  You, the reader, already know if I came up with something brilliant.  Well. No, you don't because you haven't read the post yet, only my verbal throat-clearing. 

As I wrote earlier, I firmly believe that sexuality is a spectrum, and that few of us are 100% in one direction or the other.  And because God has a sense of humor, I have learned long ago to be very careful in speaking about absolutes.  He likes to say, "Oh really?" So I don't tempt him. Because temptation is bad. ;)

As such - avoiding absolutes - I can't tell you that I'm 100% lesbian.  But I am amused that for several friends the thought of me with a man makes them laugh out loud. Literally.  So, I'm probably pretty close to the end of the spectrum, but I don't rule anything out absolutely.  (See above). 

The "political" problem about admitting the spectrum, is that it makes that old saying / question "But you just haven't met the right man..." in theory accurate.  No.  I haven't met the right man.  But I don't know if the right man is even out there, or if I'll ever meet him, or why I would have to wait for him anyway.  One day, though, I don't discount the remote possibility that there could be a man I might want to share my body with.  I have no doubt there is a man out there I might want to share my life with - but my body is a whole different affair. 

One of the reasons I leave myself open and am fairly comfortable with the idea of bisexuality is my experience with my second serious relationship.  She was unashamedly bisexual.  No question.  Although I think even the term bisexual wasn't adequate.  She described it to me essentially that making love to a person was just a natural extension of her affection for a person.  And that makes sense.  A lot of sense.  And she loved a lot of people.  :)

A good friend of mine from college was a lesbian when I met her.  Or so she thought.  I don't know if she was die-hard or not, but she actually had girlfriends in high school which was more than I had done.  So, her lesbianism had been well established. 

Until that summer that she lived with a guy.  Frankly I don't remember my reaction to that, and a part of me, today, wishes I could.  Probably because (ideally) I didn't really have much of a reaction at all.  She was happy, she was enjoying his company, and as she has admitted to me now, she was quite happy given all the shagging they were doing (to put it politely).  Good for her. 

And even as I type this now, I wonder why I should have an opinion on the matter.  Why who she sleeps with should matter to me?  I mean when we (later) slept together, she certainly knew what she was doing, so.... ;) really isn't that all that should matter to me?

I can't say I thought much either way about her sexuality.  I knew her as a lesbian, but I don't think I felt any need to give her a label or re-label her.  She was just my friend.  (Technically, still is, I should watch those verb tenses!)

Several years out of college she met and married a guy.  So?  Exactly. So.  And about fifteen years later, she got a serious crush and fell in love with another woman.  By this time, it was clear that her husband was an ass and that she wasn't particularly attracted to him, and didn't desire him any more.  I was absent during many of those fifteen years, so I can't speak much about their marriage and how it went over that time. 

But she found herself in a conundrum.  In love / lust with a woman and most definitely NOT attracted to a man she'd spent a significant portion of her life with.  What was she? Who was she?  Was she just a lesbian after all?

She was clearly growing and changing, and her husband was not growing and changing in the same ways, and so she finally made the difficult decision to separate.  And then go to hours and hours of therapy to accept her lesbianism.

God does have a sense of humor.  He really does laugh. 

The girl she fell in love with was a fickle girl.  So, it wasn't as if she ran from his arms into hers, and lived happily ever after.  Sadly, no.  She left him, and now, suddenly available, the woman she was interested in went screaming in the other direction.  Ain't that the way it goes? But she knew / realized / understood that the separation from her husband WAS separate from her feelings for this woman, and even though this woman did not remain available, she did not want to return to her marriage. 

So she spent several months wondering what the f* was wrong with her? 

Last night, I re-read an old post here from during some of this dark time for her.  And I admit it broke my heart all over again remembering this.  It may be part of why this post is percolating. 

Just when she started to accept, maybe I really am just a lesbian, she fell in lust with a guy.  And had great mind blowing (yes, I'm jealous) sex with him.  Over, and over, and over again.  She might even be still having it right this moment as I'm typing this post (and I laugh because she might just tell me she was for spite! *smile*).  She's still slept with other women, but she's found a man whose company she really enjoys, and whose body she really enjoys. 

Despite my jealousy over the mind blowing sex, I am happy for her. 

But boy did that throw her into a whole other tizzy about "What am I? Who am I?"  Poor girl.  (Don't feel THAT sorry for her, did I mention she gets to keep having mind blowing sex?)

There have been a number of women - often married - who have given me their #wineparty confessions of kissing a girl, or exposing themselves to another woman, and how much they enjoyed it.  Some of them wonder if they might want more... I'm a good listener.  And I think for many, they may never feel a real pull to have sex with a woman, but their x% of their sexuality that isn't straight recognizes that we are just humans. 

All of that, really, is actually an introduction to the topic that was really bouncing around my head this morning.  What would it be like, now, having loved women passionately all my life to suddenly develop sexual hormonal feelings for a guy?  I've kissed guys before.  As in before I realized I was a lesbian.  And let's face it, when your eyes are closed, you have no idea what gender you are kissing.  Well, unless there is stubbly beard or ticklish mustache, but my kisses with boys were all pre-pubescent prior to facial hair. 

There's a guy at work who teases me that I am on his bucket list. 

And I enjoy flirting with him and teasing him much as I do many of the women I flirt with.  Flirting is fun.

But there is no desire or interest to do anything more with him - which I can't say the same about the some of the women I flirt with. 

But what would it be like to wake up one morning with raging hormonal feelings for a man?  What would it be like to have these feelings for someone whom I never expected I would?  How would that feel?  How confusing would it be? What insecurities would surface? 

Would I go online and research videos on how to give a blowjob? (They're out there - I know!  There is a LOT of advice online about how to give a blowjob!)  Would I worry that his interest in me was only for the challenge? (The bucket list).  Would I question my whole existence as a lesbian before that?  Wonder if I was really stupid and hadn't given men a fair chance like my father asked me when I came out in high school? 

I mean I can admit I thought "Wow" when I saw Brad Pitt on the big screen with Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise.  And, yeah, if that young cocky cute boy had wanted to have a go with me in bed after I saw it, I might have decided to give it a whirl (Those abs, that smile, his hair falling in his eyes...)

Would I then look back at all those experiences and wonder if maybe they were telling me I was straight after all?

The good news is I'm experienced enough to know that it doesn't have to be a dichotomy - either one or the other.  I understand bisexuality exists.  I acknowledge its potential. 

But still? People laugh at the idea of me with a man.  In fact, the bright burning bush fire from God that my ex was losing it was that she accused me of having an affair with a man.  Wha-a-a? Okay.  Now I know that she's the one who is crazy, not me.  And God bless my friends who laughed at that.  What would my parents say if I brought home a boy?  My exes? My church? What would people think if I had the hots for a man? Fell in lust with a guy?

I admit, the description my friend gave me of the boy she's having mind blowing sex with sounds appealing.  She describes him as a lesbian trapped in a man's body - that apparently he actually knows what to do in bed to please a woman as opposed to (I'm assuming) most other men (she's been with).  Okay, maybe I could have sex with a lesbian man... ?

I don't know. 

For one woman I've been with, I was her first, and to the best of my knowledge so far, her only.  And I waited, after we first made love, for her to freak out.  She was 40 and just had sex with a woman for the first time.  She was a natural, by the way.  And it never happened.  Later, she started questioning her identity overall... but she knew that she wasn't straight.  Frankly, I never felt the need for her to define anything more.  She loved me, it didn't really matter, otherwise.  But I was amazed that she never freaked out about having just had sex with a woman.  I kept waiting for it.. gently probing to make sure she was okay and, well, she was.  Wow!

I don't know if I would handle it so gracefully.  Although, I guess if there was a guy that was special enough for me to consider sharing myself with him that way, well, then... I guess / hope that it would just make sense.  Just be what was natural, and like my former lover, not be so shocking. 

I don't know. 

But it was what I was thinking about, randomly, this morning.  And thought I'd share with you. 

Do I go to work today?

Now a friend of mine will see this title and get her feathers in a fluff immediately because I was teasing her last night that I might not go this one day this week that I am expected to be in.

Actually, procrastination is NOT what this is about.  But I put that title in there for fun.  I do that sometimes.  I'm a wild girl. 

The true title might have been something like Lottery? Or Spam Pt 2? Or, I dunno... so I wrote the title above.  Don't kid yourselves - I know the title is the most important part of the post and if I don't hook you with the title, you'll never read the rest of the post.  So I agonize over that.

But today, I clearly didn't agonize.  This morning in my Borg Blog e-mail account was the following letter:

Now, I admit, the first instinct is to think it's a spam scam.  Except for the following few things:
  1. Gillian & Adrian Bayford really do exist.
  2. They really did win the Euro Millions jackpot lottery in England (which I verified NOT by clicking their posts)
  3. Their links actually are to the sites that they list in their e-mail - i.e., it's not a link that says one thing but takes you some place else (I tried to create one here in blogger, as an example, but Blogger won't let me)
  4. The place the links take you to are actual legitimate news outlets
  5. They do NOT claim to be Nigerian Princes.
  6. They do not appear on the SURFACE to be looking to have their money laundered.
  7. They don't give me any directions of what to do - no bank account information to be wired to.
  8. Their English and writing is actually fairly grammatically correct and not broken. 
  9. Their e-mail address - while apparently from a free e-mail account service - does at least actually seem to match their name and isn't full of gobbledygook
So I admit, I'm kinda confused, and kinda curious.  I may be one of ten lucky folks to be receiving $1mm USD from them.  I sure could use it...

But still.  To keep my friend from giving me a hard time, I guess I better go shower and go to work.  After all, according to the articles, that's what the Bayfords would do...

On a serious note, any thoughts about what to think about this e-mail would be much appreciated. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Coming Out

I am currently working on a contract in a distribution center.  So we have inside office people and people who work in the warehouse. While the company is one big happy family, the conversations that take place in the warehouse are of a vastly different nature and flavor than those inside.  I really enjoy the warehouse, including some of the more, um, raucous conversations - like the day the warehouse supervisor brought in bull balls and fried them up.  But that's perhaps for a different post. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking through the warehouse and some guys I've been working with stopped me telling me they had a question for me:  Were you born gay? Or did something happen to you?

I imagine for some people who are gay, perhaps, something happened to them.  It may have simply been something that helped them acknowledge who they are, or it may have been something traumatic to turn them away from the opposite sex.  But most of us are born this way.

And I want to clarify what "this way" means.  I believe very strongly that sexuality exists on a spectrum - with very few people actually being one extreme or the other.  I think a lot of people who identify in one direction or other, may be within 20% range - where 80% -99% of their attraction is for one sex (gender, whatever the politically sensitive word is today! ;) ) and 1-20% perhaps possibly attraction for the sex / gender that they don't identify as their sexual orientation. 

A lot of "activists" might shy away from saying these things, because if there's an ounce of possibility you might like the opposite sex, then, gosh, being gay is a choice.  No.  Not exactly.  Choosing to be true to who you are is a choice.  Choosing who you find attractive is not. 

But that's my opinion - for whatever it's worth.

For those who identify as straight, or heterosexual, there rarely is an "aha!" moment where you realize you are "straight".  You may have a moment where you have it confirmed - where someone just looks SOOO hot, and.. well, but usually you start with a base understanding that you're straight, and to figure out that you're something else is the way it works.

I came out in high school.  I had done some experimentation, that in hind sight, made sense and confirmed that I was gay, but I didn't realize that at the time.  Nope, I assumed I was just like everybody else, and so I tried to find boys who were cute, and went on dates.

But none of them really clicked for me... I went out with this one guy who was really sweet, wooed me, paid for our dates, bought me stuffed animals, and did all of this even on the date where I decided to let him go and break up with him. 

And I wondered - if such a wonderful and sweet guy doesn't do it for me... Hmm...

I remember writing in my high school journal, "I wonder if I'm...."  I couldn't write the word.  Lesbian didn't come naturally off my tongue - still doesn't ;) But lesbians do! ;) Oops.  Anyway.. it was a process.  In some ways, I didn't just wake up and be gay.  No, I was always gay.  But slowly, I realized, Hmm.....

I found certain sources, and did some reading, and things started to make some sense.  And the many times I've fallen head over heels for a beautiful woman since then, have given me the confirmation I needed.  And the many times I haven't fallen for wonderful men that I loved dearly as a friend, have also given me the confirmation I needed.

That's *my* story, and my experience.  Anyone who wants to guest blog and share their experience, feel free to e-mail me.  It is a confusing process, and sometimes it doesn't happen so early in life, and for some it happens even earlier.  My ex-wife came out in her late thirties after two marriages.  It takes a lot to be so self-aware, and to allow yourself to be you.

If you're reading this and wondering about yourself, it's okay to wonder.  Take your time, and take a look around to understand how you truly feel, what truly turns you on.  The answers are there, but you must be patient to hear them. 

Even though it's been a long time, I am a good listener.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

God and Gays and, well, Amish

Since I've awoken from my afternoon nap, I have had two interestingly juxtaposed inputs - blog entries from lesbians who have been told that God can't love them the way they are (or part of that theme) and watching the first episode of  Breaking Amish that was aired on TLC.

It has been so-o-o-o long since I came out, that I can't remember really what it is like to "come out" - to discover who you are and that who you are doesn't necessarily mesh with that which is around you.  Moving to a small town three years ago gave me a reminder experience, but I never hid who I was, and I am happy with who I am - so hiding was never something to be considered.

People politically try to often compare homophobia with racism.  Marriage equality, for example, is easy to compare to Loving v. Virginia and the Supreme Court case that declared that it was unconstitutional to punish people for an interracial marriage.  We share in common a history of being a minority, and being shunned, in general society, for being that minority - for being discriminated against, for having our actions considered illegal not for the actions themselves but because of who we are. 

Not a lot of fun.

But that analogy - that comparison - is rarely a satisfying one.  It leaves this huge gap in understanding the fears and the risks that LGBTQZWXY folks share in risking being shunned by their family and their friends.

I remember in high school one of my best friends - who cannot remember this to save her life, and I don't need her to - screaming at me, essentially, that if I ever brought a girlfriend over to her house she'd never talk to me again.  She came to my union ceremony, and has since gotten over that.  But telling people you care about is a risk.  I remember the short-lived friendships I made at freshman orientation in college withering away after they saw me at the Coming Out Day table on October 11th.  People who no longer looked me in the eyes and who darted off in the opposite direction.  I do have vague distant memories of these hurtful actions taken by others.  I'm old, though, and it's been awhile.

I have been fortunate, though, that my family has been fairly accepting.  Their biggest concern - which any family would have about anyone embarking on something "different" in life - was that it would be a hard life for me - that I wouldn't have a normal family life that they had.  That others would make it harder.  They just wanted my life to be easier - as most families would want for others in their family.

I never had to worry that my family would suddenly stop loving me for who I was.  I am and was very fortunate.

But it could have gone differently, and for so many coming out, it has or it will.  Even in today's more "liberal" "accepting" society (again, I'm old, it wasn't quite so acceptable back then - no Will & Grace..), children still risk alienating their parents, losing their siblings, being extricated from their families.  Not belonging anymore.

People who are a minority by race - while there may be some internal racism within the community - for the most part don't have to worry that their parents will hate them because of the color of their skin.  Mostly because they got it from them.  Or so I'd think.  For the most part, they don't have to worry about telling someone that they are "different" because what is "different" about them is evident.  Now I will not pretend to argue that I understand how hard it is to be of a different race than those around you, and how hard it is because you can't "hide" necessarily - I don't pretend to know, and I am not comparing challenges.  Both sets of minorities face challenges.  My point here is merely to point out while some of those challenges are the same, some are quite different.

By the time the producers / directors of this series Breaking Amish has reached these young adults, they have already pretty much made their decision.  Inviting camera crews into their lives in their last days, essentially, in their communities, pretty much has sealed the deal for most of them.  And it is heartbreaking to watch them realize that they have to choose not only a "lifestyle" - or being true to themselves or trying to have an opportunity to figure out who they are - but they risk being shunned and NEVER being welcomed back.  They can go back "home" but no-one will face them, include them, support them.  In reality, they can never go back. 

So episode 1 - which is all I've watched so far - is about the heartbreak of these families telling them to go back their bags and leave and, "Well, it's been nice knowing you, but you are now damned to eternal hell-fire". Much of the same garbage (in my humble opinion) that some folks in the guise of religion tell people who are LGBQTXYZ  (I'm so old, it used to just be G, it was a great stride to add the L (that's not entirely true, but adding the "B" was a true expansion of the political climate's "inclusiveness")).  These people in the show are going to New York City where they won't suddenly be welcomed with open arms into the new world they've chosen.  There, too, they will be Other.

I lost my virginity not in any sort of romantic, love struck fantasy manner - even though I did wait until I was eighteen.  I lost it because when I was on the dance floor with other lesbians - not much older than I - they would literally run away in the middle of the dance when they learned I was just coming out.  I needed to get that "out of the way" to even have a CHANCE at being accepted into this "new" world. 

I know that the bloggers I have been reading are still quite young.  And some other young lesbians I've met make me realize that with time and experience can come maturity and acceptance - that I have come a long way from where they are.  But it is painful and heart wrenching to read them struggle with their faith and their family and feeling at peace with who they are themselves.  And watching, just now, Breaking Amish, I felt like I saw another set of young people dealing with a very different circumstance who could understand how they feel, nonetheless. 

I wonder, though, sadly, if I introduced my new Amish "friends" to these new young lesbians, if the young struggling Amish folks would shun us, too. 

We are more alike, folks, than we are different.  And maybe I should re-title this post that..

Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated. 

P.S. To my new lesbian friends - if you find this post - trust yourselves.  Be true to yourselves.  As Doctor Seuss wrote:  Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Otter Box and Sox

So, I believe in the general resilience of the special glass used on iPods and iPhones.  I dropped my iPod many, many times (not on purpose, no) before it finally cracked, and even cracked, it still works.  I never had a protective carrying case for it.

I'm on my third iPhone now and for the first time, I bought a protective case.  I even bought an Otter Box.  But I am highly doubtful that it will help me. 

The reason I bought it is that sometime around December, the camera on my previous iPhone got so scratched that pictures taken with it became quite fuzzy.  Only the camera on the back.  The camera on the front was still sharp - so I did become somewhat skilled in taking pictures over my shoulder or without being able to see exactly what I was taking...

But getting a "fresh" start, I decided I would try and protect this camera better.  Now that I know that the glass surrounding the camera is NOT the special relatively scratch resistant glass that is on the rest of the iPhone. 

I carry my phone in my pocket. I'm not a purse gal, not that I think a purse would necessarily prevent the rattle with the keys and coins that happens in my pocket, anyway.  I still don't know how the camera got so scratched - I have done research into my pictures and time-stamped the demise around Christmas last year.  I can't remember anything in particular that I did.  I have just assumed, generally, that it got scratched up over time, and that might be the case.

So.. I went to look at cases to protect the camera.  And ALL of them are open in the back to allow the camera to look out without any kind of protective film or skin to protect the camera.  So, if something had POKED at the camera lens from within my pocket, for example, I'm not really sure any of them will protect the camera. But, at least, in theory, it provides a ridge so the camera is not flat against whatever it rubbed against.

I decided to go for the Otter Box.  My best friend bought an Otter Box when she first got her iPhone about three years ago, and was in love with her Otter Box, even though getting the phone in and out was a bit like trying to get into Fort Knox.  Those things are fricking expensive.  So I bought the "Commuter" case which offers less protection up front, but since I didn't have any problem with it up front, I'm less worried.

And, I still have insurance...

But, already, I think my iPhone feels about its Otter Box the way my feet feel about sox at night, now in bed.  It can't wait to squirm out of it... It doesn't QUITE fit right, and it just feels confining, and all it wants to do is push it off.

You can see, for example, the pieces of the otter box sitting on my desk at work now.

I don't know if this will work, long term, but... I'll take a lot of pictures in the meantime!! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Church Politics

Oh, how I would love to write a post about people at the church.   Oh, if you didn't have to deal with some of these personalities personally, you would find them quite amusing. 

Now I know that all of these characters are likely found at every or most churches or other religious homes.  So, the reality is that I could tell you all about them, and like everyone else in my blog, you'd think I was talking about your church down the street. 

With my recent, um, promotion, I, now, am involved in the inner workings of how the sausage is made.  I feel like I should go read Upton Sinclair, again, so that the church inner workings don't look so bad. 

Luckily, I love people and I am able to step back - mostly - and be amused by their quirks.  I am enjoying the excuse / opportunity to get to know a few more folks better and I enjoying getting folks energized and excited about the things to come...

We'll keep it on that positive note. 

Wipe off that smirk....

Hee hee...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kicking it Around...

So, I had to make a difficult decision recently.  For the most part, I know I made the right decision, and I feel relief.  But at the same time, I am already feeling like a little puppy with my nose to the glass and wanting back inside.

Being active in my community has been one of the ways in which I have strived to increase my social opportunities in town.  I'm not sure whether either of the things I volunteer for actually do much for me socially, but at least they provide me something to do.

I have mentioned before that I'm active in my church.  I prepare the church bulletins, and have been the overall administrator of much of the day-to-day minutiae.  This past month, the members of my church (foolishly) elected me to be the lay leader of the church - the head of our governing board.  I've been hinting here and there about it, primarily on Twitter, and telling a few individuals about it, but mostly letting it sink in before sharing it.

I am honored, certainly, by the confidence they have in me to do this - although I do also respect and understand that a part of it was that no-one else was foolish enough to take it on.  But the last month or so I have gotten excited, and enthusiastic, and been brainstorming and inspired and all sorts of good things.  Really good things.  We're going through a transition, and there's a lot to be done.  I've already been meeting with lots of folks in the church and getting an idea what makes them love our church, and where they feel a passion and a calling.  All good stuff.

I have also been more than just a soccer coach.  For the last two years, I've served on the Rec league's board.  Mostly I did it so they wouldn't forget me when it came time to recruit coaches since I had been an assistant coach for my best friend's daughter's team, and I don't have any kids myself.  But I really enjoyed it.  Our board is under "staffed" and so each board member took on several roles.  So, in addition to coaching, I ran the concessions stand, helped with the candy drive, and was director for a league. 

This season was a bit overwhelming.  And I was grumpy for reasons outside of soccer, and finding myself constantly pulled away from being able to coach my kids.  Which was the fun part.  So, near the end of the season - technically before I even knew about the church responsibility - I was considering taking a break.  I was feeling burned out, and I wanted to just coach. With the new church responsibility, I had a good excuse I could use to gracefully back out for a couple of years (or longer, we'll see....) from the soccer responsibility. 

Tonight was our soccer "banquet" for coaches, refs, team parents, board members, etc.  And our elections for the following year's board.  The board is light, and I felt a pang to want to help out - there were almost as many empty slots as there were people who filled them in - seven people and five remaining open slots.  I did resist, and for the most part, I am glad I did.  But I have enjoyed being a part of the team, and a part of me will miss that.  They know I'm available to help, but they also know many others who have offered to be available not really follow through to be there, and once I'm no longer obligated to get up at 9 AM on a cold winter Saturday morning to winterize the field, I'm less likely to do it. 

So, tonight is bittersweet.  A bit of relief, a bit of sadness.  One woman offered (unsolicited) about what a wonderful coach I was and how much her daughter had enjoyed having me as coach.  Those accolades are always nice.  So I'll stick to the good things, and let go of the less pleasant things, and we'll go from there. 

A sheepish "Ooops!" and post #200


So, as I wrote in the last post, the final issue that tipped me over to getting the iPhone replaced was the difficulty I was having with listening to music even though I had hit shuffle on the playlist, it kept repeating whichever song I was on over and over.  And I was frustrated that I couldn't turn off the iPhone to reset and reboot the problem.  That THIS was what finally made me do something. And then, the next morning, after it had been rebooted, having the problem continue was what led to my brief (let's humor me) rant that I posted.

Today, the new iPhone arrived. Rather the new-old iPhone. And I kept my tweeps informed minute by minute as I awaited the restoration of my old phone's data onto my new phone, and the status of pictures, music, apps, etc.  It was very riveting stuff.

But, finally, I get it mostly configured the way I want it.  As best as it's going to get for now, and I decide to try out the speakers, and play a song from the music library I have downloaded onto my iPhone.

And the f-ing song repeats. Swear to God.  WTF? I mean this stupid bug must be with the system, or some virus, or.. oh.. wait... if I click up near the name.. What's that? Oh.. the controls for shuffle and repeat?  And, what is that? the phone is on repeat 1?


Well.. I needed to get myself a new phone anyway. 

This is my 200th published post (there are several unpublished ones).  I am grateful, like sheep, you all continue to follow me... Baa-aa-aaa! 

Stick around and share with your friends. :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

And that, ma'am, is why I threw my iPhone against the wall...

Okay, so I haven't actually done so.  But I am tempted to do so this morning. If a new one wasn't on its way, and it wasn't QUITE clear that I would be charged now at this point if it were damaged, well... Sit back and let me tell you the story! ;)

So a few weeks or so back, the top button on my iPhone started getting sticky and had trouble depressing.  It didn't take too long before it stopped being able to depress at all.

For you non iPhone-ers, here are a few of the uses for the top button:
  • to lock the phone - to prevent you from butt dialing, e-mailing, texting, or deleting apps amongst other things
  • to take a screen shot - I like to take screen shots with my phone frequently. 
  • to turn off the phone
And this is pretty much the order in which I discovered my issues with having the top button stuck.  I fixed the first issue by having the phone automatically lock after one minute.  I don't think I've done too much butt dialing, but it does, often, require I still hold onto the phone outside of my pocket while I wait for it to lock.  Not a pretty solution, but it was one that enabled me to live with the problem for a couple of weeks.

Well, I have still had several moments where I would like to have done a screen shot in the last couple of weeks, but I could grudgingly live without that function.  And, clearly have.

And frankly, I rarely turn my phone off, so it's taken me a couple of weeks to realize what the detriment is in not being able to.  When your software and your apps get wonky, just like any other computer, sometimes a reboot clears things out.  So, last night, while doing some cleaning, I had my iPhone on speaker and went to one of my playlists (with more than one song on it) and hit the Shuffle option.  It only played one song on repeat.  Period.  Over and over.  I could move to the next song manually, but if I didn't do anything else, it would just play that song over and over again.

So, that was the tipping point for me, and the point at which I realized that this is a very clear reason to have the phone replaced.

Now I have an iTouch, too - first generation I believe.  (I mentioned this last week for those keeping track of my toys).  I have dropped that puppy and cracked the screen.  God bless it, it keeps on working, anyway.  And before I cracked the screen, I even slipped and dropped it in the toilet.  It did recover, thank God, although for a few days there I was quite nervous.  I had no cell phone at that time, and it was my sole source of potential communication (within WiFi) when I was out and about.  But it recovered. 

When we went to buy the iPhone last year, there was no question in my mind that we would pay for the insurance.  My colleague and business partner was already grousing a little over the cost, but for me, having had one before, and having the iTouch, I was most comfortable with getting it.  (When all these problems did arise, she did not hesitate to poke me by letting me know that her Droid is working just fine)

Armed with the account info I need, I head to the local Verizon store that's only a mile away.  Because I really would like them to just physically replace it - but they can't do that these days.  And I should have known that because even when I bought the phone from their store, it didn't come from their store.  What's up with that? But that's another issue.

She inspected the phone, looked up the account, and given that it had been over a year since I bought it, concluded that it would have to be covered by insurance since the original manufacturer's warranty had expired. And, oh, by the way, it's a third party insurance company you have to make the claim with, but here is their phone number.

So, not even out of the store, I have dialed the number into the keypad, and immediately get the recording that it would be faster for me to go online, so I did.

But here's the problem that will bite me in the ass.  I don't know HOW or WHY it stopped working.  It got kinda sticky.  Did I unknowingly spill soda in it? I don't think so (hence the unknowing part).  But I don't know why.  And apparently that's a big issue with these phone folks, and by outsourcing the insurance (which in theory, I understand) a huge hot potato issue arises.

After going through three of the six steps to file an insurance claim, the website stops me and tells me based upon my description of the problem, it isn't their problem.  And that I should go back to Verizon and have them replace it.  They did give me the magic words: "Extended Warranty Program".  So I call back to the store - hoping that she will be able to give me my phone, but alas, I have to call *611.  Oh well.

I do.  And at some level what happened next was a small God-send because I really couldn't understand the first woman I was talking to.  Her microphone was too close to her mouth or something and her speech was really garbled and hard to understand. 

But I did understand her first part (and I understood it again the second time I went through the process) which was IF I WAS WRONG and they determined that indeed it was damaged, well, then, sorry dear, you should be aware that you are taking the risk of being charged.  Excuse me? Couldn't you just send me back the phone and I would send it on to the insurance company for a claim instead? Or even better yet, couldn't you then send it along to the insurance company?  Apparently, the answer to that is "no".  So.. do you want to continue and risk being charged full price for a new iPhone?

Okay.  Fine.  I'm really not happy with that risk, but what choice do I have?  Insurance takes care of damage, warranty takes care of manufacturing issues.  On a serious note, several folks did tell me that I should run over the phone with my car.  I am beginning to understand why - that would CLEARLY fall under the insurance company's responsibility.  No risk. 

Next thing she has me do is check my current system.  Now I've avoided downloading the latest system because I was kinda fond of my Google maps.  And everything else was working - so it wasn't like it was urgent.  But apparently, you can't return a phone unless it is upgraded to the latest system.  In theory, I understand.  What if the malfunction was a result of a bug they'd already fixed? Okay.  But this isn't a software issue, folks, it's a hardware one.  Wha-t-ever.  So, without thinking, I start the software update on my phone.  A-a-and, of course, cut off the phone call. 

While I waited the fifteen or twenty minutes for it to reboot and load the new system software, I thought to myself, well, the good thing is that at least I've rebooted it now, so my music will shuffle again. 

Imagine my reaction this morning when I hit shuffle, and the same freaking song just repeated over and over again.  :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Actions Speak Louder than Words

REAL TITLE:  Stop the fucking whining and go do something yourself to "solve" the "problem".

It is quite clear after only about, oh, five seconds on Facebook that I really should wait another 24 hours or so before reviewing social media.

I live in a swing state.  When political commercials weren't airing, the politicians themselves, visiting nearby areas, were on the television or radio.  I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO tired of politics and all this crap.

And I pretty much left a comment on a friend's status that said Oh for God's sake, quit your whining.  Today is the same as yesterday.  It took us more than four years to develop this mess. Go volunteer for a vocational training program or do something to help the problem yourself.

Tough words from a writer.  ;)

Y'know maybe our President isn't doing everything right.  Maybe, even, he might be the source or contributing to some of the problems we have.  But you know something? He's not the first, and he's not the last.  AND - the most important piece of all - he's one person.  Let's not fricking forget that any legislation passed - any "law of the land" must go through Congress first.  If we have fricking sequestration it is going to be because CONGRESS didn't pass a budget.

So let's stop blaming OTHER people and become involved ourselves.


My church runs a food pantry.  I see the "entitlement" issues - believe me.  But I also see the people out there who truly are hurting and truly need help.  Hell, in the last three years, I was one of those people, too.  Much like our justice system that lets guilty people go to try and avoid imprisoning innocent people (another system that is FAR from perfect), our assistance programs help some people who don't really need help so that those people who DO need help get it.

Do you REALLY believe that people are not entitled to food? REALLY?  Do you really believe as a society we should let people starve?

But part of the reason for the lack of discipline in our adults is the failure of our society - as parents, as teachers, as fellow citizens, to help provide appropriate structure and discipline for them when they were kids and now as adults.  Now I'm not blaming EVERYONE.  I am just saying that we have created this problem by raising a generation of kids - generally speaking - who believe that when they say "give me" they will get.  We have had a generation of parents who give their children EVERYTHING - video games, cool bikes, pokemon cards, etc. - WHENEVER they ask.  Without requiring them to earn it. Parents who clean their rooms for them, and are adverse to making their kids do chores because it frankly takes longer than doing it themselves. 

So, when you're planning for Christmas this year - or Hannukah, or whatever gift-giving tradition you're doing, consider whether or not buying your kid everything they ask for isn't contributing to the problem.

Okay - that went a direction I wasn't planning - but you can't blame all of this entitlement - that has been going on for quite a few years now - on Obama.

You can't.

You can look inside yourselves and your fellow human beings in this society and consider how the things you've done and they've done, and others have done have contributed to this.  Like Bush's Leave No Child Behind that took the teeth out of the education system by removing ANY consequence for not doing your school work and failing out.  I have a fellow blogger friend write about a new substitute teaching job she has that is pure hell PARTLY because her students know that they can get a D- with 20%!! Really? REALLY??

And you all expect ONE man - whether it be Romney, Obama, Ryan, Biden, Clinton or Jesus to SOLVE that problem.  And to do so in FOUR YEARS??? FFS folks.

Going back to the original point of this blog post - is that if you see that something needs to change - be the change.  Do it yourself.  Go volunteer for a vocational training program.  Go volunteer for an after-school tutoring program so that our children can learn to learn.  Go volunteer for a soup kitchen and recognize that there are some people who are simply not able - mentally or physically - to care for themselves in the way that you are.  Go volunteer for a drug prevention program so that we limit the amount of people who abuse drugs and incapacitate themselves from being able to take care of themselves.  START a program that does any of these things or anything else that you think might be contributing to this attitude of entitlement.  HELP provide opportunities for people to take care of themselves.  BE A PART OF THE FRICKING SOLUTION AND STOP WHINING!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you truly truly believe that ONE person can make a difference and change things, then go be that one person!! Seriously.  Because I don't believe that ONE person can, I believe that ALL of us working together as a society can.  I think each of us can make a significant difference, but it is only by working together - something that Congress and the President have a hard time doing because of BS - that we can truly make a difference.  So go.  Work with someone, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  Quit your fricking whining. 

Today is the same as yesterday - but you can be part of making a great tomorrow!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Amusing Spam...

And really, how can one begin to talk about amusing spam, without referencing Monty Python?  Surely, like me before this morning, it has been awhile (if ever) since you've seen this skit... "But I don't LIKE spam....!!!!!"

And it is a useful analogy - there in the cafe, it was impossible for the "woman" to get a meal without spam, so, too, it is impossible to blog without spam.

Spam, spam, spam, spam....

Now I haven't received THAT many spam comments - not like my friend Crooked Stamper, who has been commenting a lot on commenting that's spam, and wondering the great question that humans must ask: why?

(I think I got an eggs, bacon, spam, and sausage - it sounds like she got a spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, bacon, spam, spam order.  And really, shouldn't she be happy? I mean who doesn't like bacon? Don't they say it goes with EVERYTHING? ;) )

Blogger is pretty good at catching spam.  I admit it, now that I've seen a few, it follows a well-pat formula.  And I try to avoid, myself, inadvertently following its formula when I leave my own comments now.

When I first started my blog, I took all the security precautions, while trying to open it up as much as I could.  You can leave anonymous comments on here.  Partly that was because my friend Robin was the only one reading for awhile, and it made it easier for her to appear as if she were many people! ;) But I can respect the need / desire for one - particularly when first commenting - to be anonymous.  (And if I couldn't, well, then, we'd have a whole lot of other issues here, now wouldn't we?)

So, I have allowed anonymous commenting.  But, early on, I turned on captcha.  At least it would filter out the spam.  Ha ha! Gotcha!  It's like having sex with many partners but wearing an industrial strength condom.  Or so I'd think - since really, I know very little about condoms, and what little I have heard is that none are "industrial strength".  But I digress.

When I started to first get readers other than Robin, one of them politely mentioned that I'd snag MORE fish if I turned off captcha.  Is that more, then, like having an IUD, so that the boys don't need to wear a raincoat? Wait - this analogy is going way south! Sorry...

Although, let's face it, Spam is a lot like an STD.  More like that than an unwanted pregnancy, although, I do think that once the schemers have found you, they don't let you go.  I have two posts that were found early on by the Ukrainians - they are my top two most popular posts - and I have NO idea what they get from that post.  I wonder, sometimes, if some spammer has used MY two posts on ADD as an address for spam to someone else.  Given the inordinate amount of traffic to those posts, and the dearth - dry desert - of comments... I dunno.. something's going on there.

However, I wanted more fish (goodness, those mixed metaphors) so I turned off captcha a long time ago.  And have even given the advice to a few other blooming bloggers.

This morning, in my e-mail box, I received a comment from Anonymous.  I have learned - mostly - not to get too excited when I see a comment from Anonymous - I have learned that 9 times out of 10, it's spam.  And the spam folks are often quite creative.  It's a vague enough comment, often complimentary - soothing to the ego - followed by a polite, hey check out my website, and a link.  When Crooked Stamper finds out exactly what spammers get from this phishing (Hey, isn't that clever how it all circles back around, again? ;) ) she'll let me know, although I assume they get paid per click just like legitimate advertisers.  It's things like "Really great article... For more you should catch my friend's article...<insert link here>."  And if any of you have the answers for my friend Crooked Stamper, please feel free to leave them below - but, um, leave off your really helpful website, 'kay? 'Kay...

Now Blogger is a really good IUD, it seems.  Er, I mean, it's a really good filter for spam.  I honestly think that everything it's caught was spam, and everything it allowed to be published is not.  My first spam I scratched my head, but trusted Blogger's experience, and now that I have seen several more, I know with certainty it was right.

But today's e-mailed spam comment made me laugh given the nature of it, and given that I *don't* use captcha, and that Blogger is pretty easy to set up with it.  Oh, and that the comment, asking a question and looking for an answer, was anonymous.

Hi there! I know this is somewhat off topic but
I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment
form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having difficulty finding one?
Thanks a lot!

Followed by a "My Page is..."

So, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous - here's the answer to your question:  Blogger has an interface for captcha so you don't need to install a plug-in.  :)

Glad I could help.

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam... really - do click on the link above and have a moment's smile with Monty Python and the gang... It truly is amusing spam.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Politically Correct is No Longer Politically Correct

Because I declare it makes it so, right? Sure, why not?  Let's go with it...

But seriously, though, as I have aged, matured, and grown wiser, I have come to recognize that politically correct is usually not correct.  If anything, it's arrogant, elitist, and well, therefore, wrong.  At least as far as what it is intended to be.

The real term I think we need to adopt, instead, is political sensitivity.  And frankly I think that sensitivity needs to go in both directions.

I grew up on the East Coast, and growing up those of Asian descent - or at least certain portions of those of Asian descent - were referred to as "Oriental".  I knew nothing different until I moved to San Francisco - a city and an area with a large Asian population.  Now, I admit, when I hear the term "Oriental" it makes me cringe.  I have been properly re-doctrinated sensitized to the impropriety of using that term.  I've moved a little further closer to the East Coast than the West, and I hear it frequently.  I do think geography plays a part, sometimes, in the choice of terms that are used.

There is a fine nuanced - but quite emotionally charged - difference between a person of color and a colored person.  Grammatically, if the underlying word were something other than "color" the preferred word choice would be to lessen the number of words, and put the adjective before the word "person" and eliminate the word "of"/  An example:  "chair of wood" versus "wooden chair".  The second construction, grammatically, is much more preferred.

But political correctness usually has little to do with grammar, although it has everything to do with word choice.  Or should I say, choice of word?  You see my point.

I think rather than concentrate so strongly and so heartily on political "correctness", we should instead strive for political sensitivity.  Be sensitive that certain words may have a history that make them an undesirable choice to be applied towards others.  And be sensitive that sometimes people don't know what to say, and that rather than judge them solely on their choice of words, judge them on their intentions.  Feel free to educate them about how a certain word choice might not be the best choice, but do so gently, as your mother might have taught you it was not appropriate to use certain four letter words in polite company.  How many stories have you heard of toddlers using the word "fuck" or "shit" and getting a giggle and reaction so they use it again.  Until someone can teach them that it is not appropriate.

Yes, some people, like toddlers, use words deliberately to get a reaction.  You don't need to be sensitive towards those who are being insensitive to you.  It's been nearly twenty years since I moved to San Francisco - and frankly I can't remember the moment when someone informed me that my choice of words was not the best, but I imagine it was done gently.  The person who I said it in front of understood that I meant no offense, that I knew no better, and that it was not meant to harm. 

I think we are quick to find offense where none is intended, and create a bigger issue than is needed.  I think we do this at the personal level, and I think we do this at the political level.  And I think we need to stop, step back, and try to understand each other as humans, as individuals, and to not assume what was meant was mean or bad, and to try and return with kindness and understanding. 

This is not a new concept that I am iterating for the first time tonight.  I have touched upon it before.  I spoke about thinking of us as a collective - a Borg Collective - where we hurt ourselves when we hurt one another in We Are Family.  I talked about taking care with our choice of words in Sticks & Stones.  I wrote about it in Isn't Dyke Derogatory?  I thought I even had a post that was even more on point, but I am not finding it as I trip down blog memory lane. 

But the point I want to make is that we should treat each other with respect and hear more than just the words that come out of someone's mouth.  That respect goes both ways.  The person next to you might not have any clue that his words might be found offensive.  And the only way he will get a clue - and truly understand it - is if you explain it to him in a way that shows him you don't think he intended the potential consequence of his words, and another way he might express himself that is less potentially upsetting.  But look behind the words. 

As I write further, I think the post I am thinking of might still be a draft and unpublished.  I was on a radically pro-choice website a couple months back and posted a rather innocent comment that inadvertently did NOT use the politically correct words of the day.  MAN if I didn't get slammed.  Even when I tried to explain where I was coming from and my intention, there were many who could never get past the initial word choice that I used.  I reacted sensitively to their anger - and in the end, I didn't publish my post because I knew I was too upset to be able to step back and look at the situation more objectively.  Had I done wrong?  Yes and no.  I can see why a certain word choice MIGHT lead to certain other conclusions - even though I hadn't intended them.  But I hadn't intended them, and frankly, in my grand beautiful world of political sensitivity rather than political correctness, that would have meant something and had some value.  And I could have been gently guided into understanding the offense that certain words might generate.  But to just take offense over a word choice without looking underneath the words is just as offensive to me.

In church a few weeks back, one of the kids told another of our parishioners how they'd been kept home all week because they'd called their teacher a bitch.  This particular woman was - understandably - upset about it.  If it had happened to me (he then threatened to call her a bitch, I think), I don't think it would have upset me in the same way.  It's a word.  He's a kid.  He's trying to get a reaction.  And frankly, my job isn't to be liked by him.  If he likes me, bonus.  My job is to set a good example for him, be a role model, where possible, and to give him a positive experience rather than a negative one.  To educate him.  To help him understand the consequences of his actions, and with consequences that DO mean something to him.  (Yeah, I'm just SO great, wonderful, omniscient and omnipotent to do ALL that.. now who's talking about being arrogant?)

But if you can step back, in this example, and understand what the child is trying to accomplish - to gain attention - and to instead disarm that method and encourage him in other ways, you address the real issue. 

You can call me dyke, you can call me muff-diver, bitch, a whole host of words.  The words, alone, ideally won't upset me.  What will upset me, what will hurt, will be the intent behind them.  If you intend to hurt me, you may.  But frankly, as I learned when writing Sticks & Stones, and its follow-up, if it hurts me, usually it says more about me and my own issues than it does about yours. 

I don't know if this is at all coherent.  But I think one person, or one group of people, generally determining what is "correct" to say and what is "incorrect" and judging others solely by their choice of words - particularly if that choice is uninformed as to the potential meanings of such words - is simply arrogant.  It's elitist - we know what YOU can say, and you don't.  We are the arbiters of what is RIGHT, and you aren't.  It's arrogant.  And it's not useful.  Instead, be sensitive, and help others be sensitive.  Let's emerge into an enlightened world of political sensitivity.  Where there is no "right" and "wrong" but there is compassion and understanding for our fellow human beings.  Because as a society, in the end, we are one.  And what hurts one of us, hurts us all.  And what lifts up one of us, can lift us all up. 

You have been assimilated.  Resistance is futile.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Old iPods

I have an old clunky 20 GB white iPod that contains most of the music I owned before.  I don't even know if I still have the computer with the iTunes with the library of all the CDs I had once owned and burned.  I thought it was on an external hard drive, but I'm not exactly certain where that hard drive is.

But that is an aside.

I took a trip across country in 2007, and the old clunky 20 GB white iPod died.  Pfft.  Done.  Couldn't be revived.  And it was horrible at the time because I was driving long days - going from friend to friend.  My father replaced it at Christmas that year with a first generation iPod Touch (with LESS memory) which has mostly been replaced by my iPhone.

All of the above is mostly verbal vomit dancing around the real topic of this post.

At some point, after Dad bought me the iTouch, I was surprised to discover the white iPod worked.  Still to this day no idea why.  But now I have this little (relatively heavy) archive of music I used to listen to. 

When I took off on that cross country trip, it was after having had a marriage counseling appointment that my wife had not come to.  The third such appointment for couples counseling that I attended singly.  In the eight years we had been together, I had learned (poorly) that when my spouse was in this angry place that the best thing to do was to give her space.  I sucked at it.  I wanted to fix things.  I wanted her to feel better.. and I wanted to do whatever I could to help her feel better.  But I couldn't.  The only way for her to feel better was to leave her be.  And that was hard.

I was at a transition point in my life.  About to embark on a new job in a new career that I was scared about, but excited about, too.  At that moment in time, though, I had no employment obligations and this new career was likely to be all-time-consuming with little to no opportunity for future vacation and I had never driven across country, and really wanted to do so.  The lease to the car was about to expire, and since I had stopped the 100 mile daily commute two years earlier, we had plenty of miles pre-paid to spare. 

So I got home from counseling, packed up the trunk, and took off across the country.  It was a wonderful trip in so many ways, but bittersweet given the circumstances that partly inspired it. 

I had a lot of time on the road to think.  I needed it, too.  And I have to say that my faith in God grew much stronger on this trip.  Against all odds, frankly.  I remember driving through mountain passes and asking - out loud - what am I supposed to do?

I created this road trip play list my second day in when I was at the hotel at night in New Mexico.  In addition to good songs to keep me awake while I drove, I filled it half with love songs and half with "she done me wrong" songs to try and figure out which songs were calling to me more.  Seriously.  And the love songs were the ones that continued to call to my heart.  I loved her.  More deeply than I could have ever imagined.  Even though she was crazy and driving me crazy and pushing me away.

I loved her.  And that was the underlying message I received, at some level, was to just love her.  To open my heart wider and love her. 

I spent a year and a half doing that, my heart open as wide as it could be, and so when I walked away - when I finally had to walk away, I was done.   I was done grieving the relationship that once was.  And so, now, when I think back about my ex - and when I have over the last three years, mostly what I feel is numb.  Sometimes, I have even wondered whether I really did love her.  I had put everything that belonged to her, everything that I had given her that she had literally and figuratively thrown back into my face, and put it into a steel box in my heart that was well protected and from which I was well protected. 

When I think about what I was grieving the last three and a half years, it wasn't her.  It was my life.  It was everything I gave up and left behind.  And I never quite knew what to make of it - I kind of thought I should be missing *her* more and aching for *her* more, but I accepted that I didn't because I had already grieved her.  And I do believe it.  But every once in awhile it made me wonder if maybe I hadn't loved her like I thought I did.

Last night, for some reason (God?) I pulled out my old iPod and recharged it.  This morning, for some reason (God?), I decided to bring it into my contract place to listen to while I worked.  And I knew that the best of my music was pulled together in this Road Trip play list, so I selected it and hit play.

It started with simple old country with Alabama belting out "High Cotton", (Old times there are not forgotten..) and moved onto other songs that pulled at the strings of my memory.  I smiled listening to "At the Zoo" by Simon and Garfunkel, started moving to "Move It" by Baja, remembered romantic evenings from college listening to old Tracy Chapman and Indigo Girls.  It was an amusing musical trip down memory lane.  I was figuratively patting myself on my back for having such great music.  There were some tear-jerkers that I resisted being pulled too deeply into - "Bad Goodbye" with Clint and Wynonna, for example - mostly because they had applied to other relationships, too.

I was just zipping along and enjoying the day's soundtrack - my life's soundtrack - until The Promise by Tracy Chapman came on.

Oh, that song... Five minutes and 28 seconds of heart-tug for me.  I think I may have even purchased the CD with that song on it while on the road trip, but I won't swear to it.  But I played that song on repeat for hours.  Particularly when I was away from my spouse, hoping that she would wait for me...

"If you wait for me.... then I'll come for you....although I've travelled far.  I always hold a place for you in my heart..."

Over and over.. "If you think of me... if you miss me once in awhile, then I'll return to you..."  I wanted so badly for her to tell me she missed me, for her to want me to return to her while I was on that trip. 

"Remembering, your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace... I'll find my way back to you... if you'll be waiting..."

Over and over, hours and hours.. the song just encompassed everything that I wanted when I was on that trip.  Everything that I was willing to give to her.... "in a place where I can feel the beating of your heart...." 

"Together again.. it would feel so good to be in your arms.  Where all my journeys end.  If you can make a promise.  If it's one that you can keep.  I vow to come for you. If you wait for me.  And say you'll hold a place for me in your heart."

And with those opening strums of the guitar, the bow across the violin, I was reminded today how very deeply I loved her.  How very much I wanted her to have a place for me in her heart. 

Generally, these days, if you ask me about the woman I left behind, I speak about it all with much distance.  I have grieved the loss of her and I have long since learned to live my life without her in it.  It is easy for me - for you - to dismiss the importance she once held for me because I don't feel it now  - I can't feel it now.  But today, I was reminded.  I once loved her very deeply - and all I wanted was for her to make room for me and want me to return to her.  And back then, I was willing to wait for her, too...