Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Surprising 2008

Short of any catastrophes, I’d like to call the game early and say that 2008 was a pretty good year…especially when I compare it with the humdinger of 2007! Heck, 2008 was a walk in the park. (Sort of)

Let’s take some stock here…2007 had a whole lot of changes packaged wrapped into 12 short months. New country, new job, new time-zone, new food, new friends, new path, new everything really with the exception that I moved back to my home state and so I didn’t have new roadways to navigate…but that aside, I was the new kid on the block.

This year…this year was different…and there were even a few surprises to boot!

1. I rediscovered kayaking and had a great time doing that! Let me tell you, there is nothing like a good paddle after a day of work. Throw in an early afternoon and that is one damn good day!

2. I can cook….a new discovery in my life. It took a while but I am getting better and better. Sure, pasta and eggs are great…but what about stir-fry and chili. (PS. I love my slow cooker!)

3. Let’s talk about resourcefulness…I have about five area libraries wrapped around my little finger, which is great! Some of the librarians even know me by my alias now! Simply amazing!!!

4. How about my apartment…a little oasis as some like to call it. Quaint, cute and cozy are familiar words to describe my humble abode. Really, the place is just ME, small and simple with a lot of character! I even got a bed upgrade and just purchased some rodeo sheets! That’s right…the Wild West is now part of my motif!

5. I make a living and I like it…I like it a lot actually, which is part of the reason that I work so many hours. I must say, not selling my soul to make money was a great decision!

6. Now my friends, they are the ones that steal the show! I’ve made a lot of new ones this year and we have built quite the community. Eclectic, fun and generally good people, sometimes I wonder how it is that I got so lucky! They are exactly what I needed to make 2008 great!

7. Max and Charlie…they take the cake (quite literally)! Max is three and his sister, Charlie is one and I simply love spending time with them. I have dinner with them at least once a week, I go on family vacations with them, and we read stories and do craft projects. Max considers me one of the family and Charlie gives me hugs when I walk in the door. It really doesn’t get much better than that!

8. I’ve read some great books….watched some inspiring movies and even created some things myself.

9. I see my family enough and there is a general appreciation for each other. After being away for so long the luxury of easy phone calls and spontaneous visits aren’t taken for granted quite so much anymore.

10. The largest surprise I think is that I really like it here. I sort of dreaded coming back to the States. There was a good deal of anxiety in moving back for various reason but after this year, I find myself doing odd things like making local investments, saying things like, “next year we will have to do_____,” and even considering another year in these parts just because I like it so much.

It’s startling sometimes when I think back on how much has evolved in the last year…or even the last two. And I’ve even been able to notice changes within myself…more verbal, less scheduled, more conscientious of doing good things for myself…(the list goes on). I’m certainly not perfect but it is more evident to me that I do change, and I can name those changes and claim them as my own. Sure, there are certain things that remain true…the general character of me, the contents of my heart, my hopes/dreams…but the good news is that we are all evolving. Little pieces make and create us each day.

Today I am a collection of those ten different surprises (and more) that I wasn’t a year ago. Next year will be the same thing…but more. And I am grateful….for all of it…even the parts that break my heart. Certainly I am changed because of it…

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama and Donna Rose

Obama and Donna Rose

Wow! Today was quite the day. Waking up to change is a beautiful feeling…a beautiful recognition of hope! I went to sleep early after a string of very long and stressful days. Obama won Pennsylvania and I felt it was ok sleep instead of wait in anxiety. As it turned out, it was a good decision.

Lord knows that I haven’t been a huge fan of any of the candidates. At times I am a cynic about politics but mostly it’s hard for me to trust politicians and even though there was an Obama bandwagon going around, I just couldn’t get on board. Even yesterday, as I cast my vote, my reluctant heart felt vulnerable in trusting something that seemed so unsure…in trusting a person…an idea that has a historical precedence of a let down. But nevertheless, I voted…I waited and I rejoiced this morning with the news…the speech…and the reality check that this wasn’t all just a dream.

Let me tell you, to talk into work and hug a friend…knowing that we were entering into a new age together…a time of change….was a remarkable feeling. To reflect back on the day that Bush was re-elected just a few years ago and spend that day I disbelief and sorrow…to live in that moment of knowing that life would drastically change…My God, the contrast from today is startling.

And so as a reluctant….partly cloudy Obama supporter I relished in the day that at least some of my views of equality and justice were represented and that there is a chance for more change.

And as if that wasn’t enough, work turned out to be not all that bad as I got to spend some of my time learning about the life of Donna Rose and spending some time personally with her.

As an undergraduate, I learned about Donna as a transgender warrior in our country. I looked up to her then as the kind of social advocate I wanted to become, that is, an “everyday” kind of person who chooses to stand for something greater.

Donna Rose, a celebrity of sorts in the LGBTQ world, is know for her personal transformation from being a man (David) to becoming the candid, articulate and REAL woman that we know her as today.

Over dinner this evening, before her lecture, I had the opportunity to learn more about her journey from living as a man (for 40 years) to becoming a woman. I learned about some of her friends…some of her struggles…some of the funny moments and some of the nuances that I take for granted in what it takes to “be” a woman. From the way we walk, to the way we carry ourselves and even the way we shake a person’s hand, the transition and transformation of one’s socialization is quite radical. And I couldn’t help but to think about how passionate she was and how unique of an experience it was (sort of happenstance) that I was there to be taking it all in.

I thought of my friends, gay, lesbian, transgendered, that probably need someone like Donna in their life. I thought about what it would be like to switch places with them so that they too could have the moment…the connection. After all, it’s not an easy road to change…to change your appearance or how you identify. And you need community…you need understanding and I felt that Donna was that kind of person.

At any rate…it was quite the day…change is in the air…after a whirlwind October, November is looking up and I can only imagine and hope for what 2009 can bring.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I gotta say, it’s good to wake up to marriage, taking fresh breaths of freedom and equality. Ahhh….it feels good to be gay in Connecticut today!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Supreme Court of the great little state of Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage yesterday around 11:30am and I am just beside myself with joy.

As a gay person in this world, I will take the small victories and always dream for the big ones, and yesterday was one of those kinds of days. The anticipation…the hope in the air was historic and unforgettable. The kind of hope this country needs.

When the decision came out I just told everyone I saw, acting as if everyone agreed with the outcome from the beginning. Truthfully, I didn’t even care if the disagreed. I was going to live the moment to it’s fullest…resting in the fact that it wasn’t all an illusion and completely in awe of just how monumental October 10, 2008 would go down in history.

My God, when I think of how painful the history of GLBT history has been, the victories of today are even sweeter. I think of my friends in other countries who still live in the closet (that’s where we were 20 years ago…even less) and I have the choice to be OUT in the open. Sometimes the distance between these two realities…these two worlds can be discouraging but then that spirit of hope comes to me, inspired by the decisions of California, Massachusetts and now Connecticut.

As I watched couples hold hands, dance and laugh together last night I thought, “Three down, 47 to go and other countries to follow.”

It’s good to wake up to marriage today, tomorrow, the next day and the next…..

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Critical Conversations for Critical Periods

Lately I’ve been thinking about a few key concepts and how they relate to my life. For the most part, many folks think of me as “very grounded”, which in some ways I am. But what people don’t realized is how much I really do reflect and evolve over time. This is a concept that is hard to see in me unless you are one to stick around for the long haul because the subtle realizations don’t happen every day and are only verbalized after the repetition of said realization has been mulled over for a bit (ie. I am not a verbal processor).

At any rate, back to the key concepts.

1. I’ve been thinking a lot about identity. I know, a huge concept…how uncharacteristic (notice sarcasm)!
2. I’ve been thinking about what I consider my “spiritual home”.
3. I’ve been thinking about love and relationships…mainly because of this great film I saw the other day called “Chris and Don”. A great documentary that I highly recommend!
4. I’ve also been thinking about the quest of strengths…aka “Strengths Quest”.

Ok…now I’ve been thinking about these issues for some time now (you know, my whole life) but recently they have been coming up in conversations a lot more than usual. And I think that is where I have been seeing these changes take shape….changes that were barely manifested three years ago but are now the beginning of a paradigm shift of sorts. I’m not talking monumental mountain moving, but something more along the lines of what I like to call “deliberative heart exploration”.

I know…sounds a lot more Zen than it really is.

But after being back in the US again, being close to home again, refraining from the regular practice of going to Mass and actively engaging in self analysis, these changes have really taken a front row seat in the life that many people perceive to be so (insert word) focused, guided, grounded, deliberative etc.

Hmmm which makes me wonder…if these things are in a process of changing now, I wonder what 5 years will look like?

Certainly, these things can freak some people out. Self analysis and all that stuff…it can’t be tough. But so far, I’m taking it all in stride…one day at a time…and even prioritizing fun over heavy reflection.

It’s good to be in this place…I’ve got to say. To give myself permission to think creatively…to change and melt ideas. It’s liberating even to name this stage as something less firm and more moveable so as not to count of any realizations as “truth” but rather “process”.

And I would recommend this for anyone but then again…everyone is on their own journey.

On that note…off to live it and breath it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Epic Kayak Trip

I had only been 22 for a bit less than a month when my grandmother died. Mary…she died two days before her birthday. I was devastated. But still, a month later I got on a plane headed for Belize for my summer vacation. My last conversation with gram, on the phone was about fish (she had fish for lunch)…important relationships in my life…and my upcoming trip (which she felt uneasy about because I was flying by the seat of my pants always). I talked to her on a Thursday I think…she died the next day (the same day I was coming home to visit…the same day I was going to say goodbye).

She knew she was dying…we all did. She said all her goodbyes and she went on her terms. Of course she did.

She knew she had cancer (again) way before the doctors did. She had the surgery and refused the chemo. Mostly so she would have one good year left in her. It was a quality of life issue. And she lived her life well.

When she died, there were instructions. She asked for a memorial service at her church…food (everything is better on a full stomach she preached)…and cremation of her body so that the ashes could be scattered in the bay that we put grandpa in two years before (who also died of cancer among other things).

As a family we did all of the above but the ocean part. Instead my father kept the ashes. I guess people weren’t ready. At least until yesterday.

Six years later, my family felt ready. Of course, some things changed. We didn’t scatter the ashes because that’s against the teachings of the Catholic church…so we had to improvise instead.

So yesterday afternoon, on an overcast Sunday, my father, uncle and myself took our boats (two kayaks and a canoe) out in the ocean to the breakwall, a mile off shore. We paddled against the current, against the wind and into the choppy September swell. It was a little crazy given the conditions. But damn, it’s been six years! There was no turning back. Who knows when we would have actually followed through with it if we postponed the experience?

As my father tossed her box into the ocean to sink 30 feet below the sting of death came back all over again. Our family just hasn’t been the same without her and we’ve had six years of more painful deaths, including her oldest son, Butch, who died a few weeks ago.

Butch the free spirited, black sheep (if there ever was such a thing in a family of no-conformists), died after his 15 month battle with esophageal cancer. Butch tried his best to live life right up to the end. Reading books, spending time with family and taking walks out in the back woods of his West Virginia property, we all hoped for the best in a situation that just wasn’t working out. Even with the radiation and chemo, his tumor couldn’t shrink enough to make him a good candidate for surgery and then the poison spread…everywhere. Damn the cancer that took him before he was ready to go.

Needless to say, I had a lot to paddle through yesterday…a lot of stuff to work out in the waves. And as much as the timing of all of this stinks, my family certainly knows how to take the road less traveled. Nothing is quite done normally. And everything is quite unique and adventuresome.

Gram probably would have been pissed at the big “to do” that was created in burying her. But she would have laughed at the absurdity of it all. And if she had her way (which she always did) she would have told us how to do the whole thing better.

But the one thing that I have learned from all of this is that it’s not about how you are let go in the end. It’s not about the obituary or the eulogy or the people present at your memorial service. It’s more about all the days that lead up do that experience.

It’s about the conversations about tasty fish…talking with people about the ones you love…sharing your favorite books…digging a hole and planting flowers. It’s about singing in church, even if you are tone deaf and spending too much money on your grandkids. It’s about taking vacations, enjoying each day and spending some time reflection on how blessed we are.

Monday, September 01, 2008

No Woman is an Island

No Woman is an Island

The book “No Man is an Island” is one of my favorites. Written by Thomas Merton, the late Trappist monk, I’ve found a lot of wisdom in his writings and the greater concept that was revealed to me when I was in high school. That’s the last time I read the book. A few years ago I lent out my tattered, musty smelling copy to a friend, hoping that hope might be revealed in the words.

I think what I like about Merton is his sense of justice, mixed with his conviction that life is not lived in a vacuum and therefore, careful balances of patience, active humility and community are essentials for sanity and solid communion.

Sometimes when I am in a bookstore I see copies of this book and the title screams at me!

I am not alone.
I am a collection…of people, places and experiences.
This is all a part of my life.

Sometimes I wonder if a crisp shinny copy will ever say something different. If a new copy will bring new perceptions?

In this last year or so of my life in the States, I have come to find community in some unlikely places. It’s taken a while to cultivate. And like any new place I go, the process is slow…mostly due to my fears. But day-by-day I deal and overcome and give up little pieces…

I’m certainly looking forward to what the future might bring in the next year and beyond but I can honestly say that not a day goes by that I am not grateful for this exact moment. This day….this realization. Because as much as this independent heart of mine goes off into the world and risks desertion, I always go back within my collected self and consult the reflections of the people, places and experiences that have created and nurtured me along the way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Saying Goodbye

A couple of days ago I took off work and headed for Rhode Island; the place I went to college and the place where my heart feels at rest these days. I met a friend and we walked like 10 miles on the Newport Cliff Walk (ok, more like 2 miles but it felt like more). We drove around and looked at the houses, passed by beautiful picturesque scenes, talked about life and had some good laughs. Then we went to this river she knew of, and inlet to the Narragansett Bay. After a somewhat quick change in the car on the side of the road under the guise of a towel I was ready for swimming. Well, it was more like wading in the mud. After all the rain, the silt was all soft and I pretty much sank as I tried to walk in the waste deep water. I didn’t last too long there and we decided to go to the tide pools instead. The tide was coming in so I could swim around and find creatures. The water was a little chilly and I hyperventilated a bit (due to the cold and the initial idea of sharks and other creatures below). But it was a nice swim and more good conversation. Then dinner with some more friends at a favored watering hole. And then lying on a blanket on the quad…talking some more and drawing out the inevitable.

You see, my friend is leaving. She is beginning a new phase of her life. And for a change, I am not going anywhere.

I’ve said goodbye to friends and loved ones before but somehow it’s different when I am the one going away. There is a preparation ahead of time…a rehearsal in my mind of the last hug and kiss. And I can get use to the idea over and over again with each departing. Plus there is the excitement of change. But when someone else leaves there is no rehearsal. It’s a one-time deal. And a hard realization that I am staying and she is going. And although we will miss each other, moving on to good things is bitter sweet no matter who leaves.

It’s like when I move away to other countries. There are people I wish I could take with me and experience life with. And maybe they will visit for a few weeks (that never happens) but I always want to share those moments with people who are special to me. Which is probably why I write.

This friend of mine…we will keep in touch…talk on the phone…visit over breaks and someday, who knows, we may even live next door to each other. But for now, I am in CT and she is out in the big world and it was simply hard to say goodbye.

But life goes on…and I can count on that.

Today I left work early because I caught a cold/the plague. So I did some work at home…I took a nap (I love naps), I watched a movie, ate some good food, blew my nose a bunch, took a shower and drank lots of healthy tea (I love tea). Thank heavens I have AC. And I am certainly glad that all I have is a cold…because it could always be so much worse…

On that note…off to do some more work before bed and another early start tomorrow to do it all over again! Oh the routines in life!

Monday, June 16, 2008


As a kid I always liked a good maze! I had this ability to look at a maze and figure it out with relative ease and speed. It was soothing for me and a way to be engaged without blowing a gasket. Somewhere down the line I stopped doing them but I don't think I ever fell out of practice. I remember that once I finished the actual solution I would go over the maze again and see if there was another solution and if I was feeling really crafty I would make my own maze for someone to figure out.

Now as an adult I find that I am intrigued by the mazes that I come across in life. From the walking / meditative labyrinth, to the many options that one could chose to get to a certain destination, I always search for the alternative. A regular on "the road less traveled" I often find myself on adventures...sometimes spontaneous and always though provoking I enjoy taking the path that is different.

Now that it is summer, I take the long way to work on the back roads and even take random days off. Tomorrow I will go explore a new place and soon I will make some decisions in my life about those "next steps".

As I ponder what it is to follow a path or go off the beaten path I find myself looking at that maze and viewing all the possible options knowing that they are all "good and important". To some, a maze is daunting and uncomfortable just as change is difficult and often avoided. But sometimes stepping into the unknown is like watching David Bowie in a movie...a bit weird, so very interesting and oddly perfect.

(PS: please note that although I really stink at spelling, the word Labrynth / Labyrinth as two, if not multiple spellings. I had to look it up. Just like the time I had to look up the word program vs. programme which is the British spelling)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sweet Summer Sunday

Today I had a great summer (pre-summer) day with my friend...mi esposo (aka my work husband) Miguel. We went swimming in the pool at sweet authentic Mexican food (al pastor con pina rocks my world) and then we went to Diane's Pool which was pretty sweet. It's where the river runs in the woods and there are these little pools formed and some water falls and rapids and people swimming and sun bathing (in the nude). After the Pools, we got stuck in a thunderstorm with rain like Latin America and when it let up, we went bowling! Two games and Guelito beet me both times! Only once in a while I rock the bowling alley...namely on my birthday (yahoo for 5+ birthday celebrations in Salvador).

After I dropped Miguel off at his house I went home to cool off AGAIN and then I ate grapes and mangos and read!

This all equals one awesome day!

On a side goose now has FIVE babies. I don't know where the other two came from since the last "goose report". Plus, their soft down like feathers are almost gone and they have a black head/neck now! Ahhh the joys of nature!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Classic Conversations

Just the other day I had a brilliant conversation with a kindred spirit over a long lunch. As you may know, long conversations that really click are pretty much my favorite activity ever! I love sharing moments with people and exchanging ideas…not feeling like I have to hold my tongue and at the same time there are no feelings of judgment. I think that when people are comfortable with who they are and the process of life that they are engaging in, then even the heaviest versions of these conversations can take on a heartfelt form of mutual learning…keeping in mind that there is a base of trust and mutual reciprocity. I think that when you have people like that in your life they will not only hold you accountable, but also be open to the changes that occur inside them and in you. Because after all, we are all a work in progress…

At any rate, the conversation the other day was a nice melt of film and culture critiques mixed with a bit of real life with snippets of heart felt searching/sharing. To sum up, we talked about a recent South African lesbian film that we had seen as well as a shorter German film that preceded it. (

Now if you don’t know, June is Gay Pride Month and in CT there is a film festival. My friend and I talked about our pride activities, and the reoccurring themes within the film and the larger LGBT community. Maybe in a later blog I will go more in depth….but for now lets stick to this classic conversation. Now because neither one of us are “small talk” kind of people, critiquing these movies only went so far and eventually the real “stuff” in our life became our subject.

My friend had just finished a human sexuality class that she was taking for fun (I wondered how she even had the time). Throughout the semester we had visited different topics within the class but during lunch we talked about the larger idea of a “sexual revolution” that needs to take place.

I will just speak from my own thoughts and say that there is way too much judgment going on about “what” people do in the bedroom, in relationships and with their life in general. I will admit that I do not understand “why” people make certain decisions but I really do work on refraining from judgment, knowing that I am also scrutinized by others as well. This realization helps me feel more open towards people and their different ideas and I am more in a place of compassion and learning.

Now judgment is one of the reason why I think there needs to be a “sexual revolution”. I think that society has been operating under this status quo of how laws of attraction and sex should be. But the LGBT community doesn’t fit into that norm for so many reasons. I mean, even the marriage conversation aside, individuals in society make a big deal out of things that really shouldn’t bother them…but for some reason, they do. And for the record, this rigidity doesn’t just affect the LGBT community but even heterosexuals who live in a different paradigm and refuse to uphold the status quo.

I’m not going to pontificate any further on what I think this revolution might entail but I want to ask some questions to provoke thought….in you (and even I me).

Questions to ponder…
In this modern era of technology, are the people you meet on the Internet “real” relationships?
Is internet foreplay/sex real? Is it OK?
How do you feel about toys, props, outfits and theatrical roles? What about role reversal?
Is it ok to entertain thoughts or even flirt with someone you attracted to if you are married/committed?
What about open relationships? Are they OK?
What if the person you are attracted to is older…younger?
What if the person you are attracted to changes his/her gender?

Ok…I think you get the point. Now if you were engaged in the conversation that I had with my friend the other day then you might get my answer to some of these questions. And if you’ve known me for a while you might realize a change in thought, which is my larger point here.

In reality, I think people are in a process. Which is why I think the status quo really needs to be busted. There are a lot of people that who don’t want to challenge society, religion, self or partner…but there are a lot of us out there who base their life on the constant flow of change. I think being open to that change in you and in others is not only healthy but fulfilling.

Ok…enough that…lets update a previous blog about my geese babies.
So yesterday morning..there was mom, and babies like always. I got home from work and the mom goose was walking all over the place squawking but the babies were nowhere to be found! I was alarmed…thinking they had been killed…or goose napped by some suburban kid! But then today I got home from work and 3 babies are back (one missing). I’m confused…because these guys don’t fly yet. So where did they go and where is #4? hmmmm

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


A few weeks ago I had a rather large argument with my father. He opened a can of worms with me by bringing up a subject that he thought we felt the same way about. Yet it only took seconds for him to realize that his assumption was wrong. With tears streaming down my face I yelled at him as he continued to speak. I think he was caught so off guard that all he could say was, “I didn’t know this meant so much to you.”

Certainly, what we fought about still remains an intensely personal topic for me but the larger conversation and argument we had was probably even more heartbreaking. In some ways, the thing we argued about represented a handful of other personal issues that I am pretty sure he had no intention of surfacing…but it happened.

As I’ve mulled over this experience, I came to the desperate realization that my father is not who I perceive him to be. And in some ways I think this is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of a child’s life.

To realize that your parents are not who you want them to be is…tough. Especially when you have held them on a pedestal for so many years. As the man who raised me…through a lot of difficult times, he certainly deserves an award….but the picture I painted in my mind about him changed.

As children our parents mold us. I became a small clone of my father in some ways with subtle improvements here and there, mixed with the spunk, intelligence and creativity of my mother. But everyone knows, I am my father’s daughter.

But those “subtle” improvements are more like larger gaps in our relationship. As a result of societal changes, culture, the life I had growing up I now have a different outlook than my father ever will and maybe that is just the way it is going to be. Bur for someone like me…devout…loyal and generally optimistic…it’s hard to find bridges with such important issues.

As I’ve learned in life “learning to agree to disagree” is sometimes the best option. Accepting that people evolve at different paces is important to live. And realizing that you can’t change anyone is a difficult realization to put into practice.

My father is liberal, compassionate, caring, funny, open minded, faithful and loyal.

I am all of those things as well in a different generation. Let it suffice to be said that I evolved from the base that my father created but he didn’t necessarily follow too far behind.

As I write this, I realize how cryptic this really is. But I think the general theme is…I will always love my father unconditionally. And I am grateful that we can disagree on something and it doesn’t end our relationship. But disagreements and arguments of such degree chip away at our hearts…and these days I am more interested in “heart preservation” rather than defending why.

In the end, my father decided to go against what I thought was right even though he felt he was compromising. To fight him any more would have been the real self-sacrifice

Monday, June 02, 2008

Parent Orientation

Parent Orientation:

Today I had the lovely experience of mingling with parents of incoming freshman at the University of the Richest State in America. The experience was another of the many tasks one engages in if he/she works with college students. Nevertheless, representing the broad spectrum of Student Activities, my department, at such an affair is certainly noteworthy in the ebb and flow of summer college life. Which is probably why I jumped at the chance to get away from the office.

Dressed in my navy polo shirt (made in a Honduran sweat shop) with department emblem on the left side, and nametag on the right I became an extrovert for about 2 hours. I initiated conversations like: “How you doing? Is there any activity that your son or daughter is particularly interested in?”

This is usually followed by a few different responses…
1. Yes, my son/daughter will be doing sport _____________
2. Yes, my son/daughter does everything.
3. I have no idea…(a typical response for shell shocked, almost empty nested parents.)
4. Well, he/she is interested in a lot of things but he/she is here for the academics first. (My favorite response) which is usually followed by my comment “well we usually find that students who are involved with other things in college tend to be better students and manage their time more efficiently…” (Insert inside voice: “and they meet good people to party with later on…”)

At any rate, those are how the typical conversations went today. Except for one.

A father and mother walk up to our table and I greet them with the usual jovial attitude that you might find during the holiday season…something in between genuine and genuinely tired. The mother proceeds to glance at the array of pamphlets, printed in full color and a damn good waste of resources (not to mention the newly cleared land from the trees that the paper came from).

As the mother stuffs her bag with paper, the father engages me in conversation. “Our daughter is interested in sports (I can’t remember which one…my guess is rugby).” As I hand him the brochure about club sports he proceeds to lean in closer and ask, “do you have any rainbow alliances?” This is the cautious way of asking, “where are the gay people?”

Well, being the good informed employee that I am, I smile saying, “Oh yes, we have a very active Rainbow Center and several groups to chose from as well!” At which point the mother turns around to join the conversation that her husband prodded. I have now become cornered by two parents, who have created a small intimate circle with their bodies, lowering their heads to my level and their voices to match as they begin their assortment of questions about this said “rainbow group”.

The husband says something towards the effect, “we don’t want to intrude” which is code for “we don’t want to assume you are gay but…” at which point the wife stops him, points to me and says, “well obviously is (referring to me)”….meaning that yes, I am gay and obviously I know where the gays are.
(Note: at this point I am laughing out loud in my head and I even stop for a moment to wipe away the tear that is forming out of amusement or even excitement that these parents are taking such interest).

At any rate, I explain to these now rather relieved parents that this campus was once one of the most homophobic back 10 years ago when I was a freshman but today it has been rated as one of the most accepting and active for LGBT students. They were pleasantly surprised and asked why. I explained that it probably had something to do with hiring good, open people and creating excellent programming. They were so happy…like little country pigs in shit.

I went further to say that I myself asked about the level of acceptance on campus when interviewing for the job and was pleasantly surprised. I told them that I frequent the Rainbow Center often (they have a stellar library, DVD selection and award winning people) and that I would be happy to introduce their daughter, as I handed my business card over.

Let me tell you, they were so relieved as they walked away from our table. I even patted the father on the shoulder as he left, as if he was my own father.

Man, times have changed.

Now parents are asking these questions just like the students are. Kids are coming out earlier and they are choosing a college based on how accepting they are. How revolutionary!

Even though the whole encounter was really funny (I was so type cast for my role as Rainbow Center Ambassador) I was really glad I was there today.

I later commented to a coworker and Rainbow Center staff, that next time I will wear my “celebrate diversity” pin but for some reason my “inner butch” was shinning forth today. At which he commented “ ‘Inner Butch’???? Honey, it's showing on the outside with that swagger and short haircut!!!”

Ahhh…you just have to laugh. Gee it’s great to be gay! I so love my job...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sailing Disaster...

A few weeks ago my dad bought a 14 foot sailboat from a friend. He bought new ropes and cleaned it up nice and today I left work early so that we could sail it on the lake. By the time I got there, dad already had the boat in the water and the sail attached…rainbow of course!

We had difficulty getting the rudder into place and the wind was powerful. So I hurdled myself into the boat, he pushed it out and we might have gotten going if we actually knew how to sail. But for the next two hours we stayed in the cove…

Most of the time we spend on the rocks or painfully close to the waterfall. We almost caught some good wind…and the rudder was down but dad spend more time in the water as I learned the finer points of sailing from within the boat.

At one point, people from the shore were coaching us by yelling things…hahah…but we were too far away to hear.

Two guys in a little fishing boat came by to tug us in. But their boat started taking on water and flooded their boat and the battery that was powering the engine made contact with the water. In turn, that electrocuted the guy who was powering the motor as he held onto the side of the aluminum boat.

So, two boats stuck in the middle of the cove. We had to lend them a paddle so that they could make it in shore and dad swam the boat back in!

When we finally got the boat back to shore we put everything away and then it dawned on him….we forgot to put down the keel! My god…no wonder the damn thing had no direction. It caught wind but just kept going all over the place…

The keel is in the middle of the boat under the water. It’s responsible for giving the boat direction and balance….hahaha! We were all over the damn place.

Aside from the slice in my knee…and my exhausted dad (and the electrocuted man) the trip could have been so much worse.

We discussed the lessons learned over cheese burgers and a vanilla shake. Dad will take the boat out again with his brother and then with any luck we will sell it with a profit. Meanwhile I am sticking to kayaks (hopefully I will buy a river one this weekend).

So much for sailing! At least her sail was pretty.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Heart Awareness

About a year ago I had some trouble with my heart. I went to the doctor. They hooked me up to some monitors...things attached to my chest recording activity all day.

You see, my hear skipped beats. I felt it. It skipped beats at random moments. Just like I was in skipped like someone scared me. But I knew what was coming all the time.

So the cardiologist read the monitor and said it was inconclusive. She said that I what I probably have is called "cardiac awareness"

How poetic.

It means that I can feel my heart. It means that my heart is the same as everyone else, except that I FEEL mine more.

From what I understand, our heart can skip a beat and continue on as if nothing happened. Sometimes our heart beats in our chest and for no reason, all of a sudden, you can feel it.

This awareness, it can be alarming...and sometimes it even feels like I am wearing my heart on my sleeve. Which, if I look at my life in retrospect, maybe this is all fitting and metaphorical.

In reality, I prefer to simply live...and love...and not worry about those moments of self awareness/heart awareness and how that might affect me. For as much as I feel and strive for personal transparency, the ebb and flow of life will always cause the momentary skip of a beat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Late Nights

Lately I've been going to bed with heavy thoughts and having strange dreams.

The other night I had a dream about vacationing in China. Which probably has something to do with the fact that I want to eventually work with people during crisis situations (ie. earthquakes).

Last night I had a dream about sleeping in my kayak. (Lighter subject matter than vacations in China).

Sleeping in kayaks probably has something to do with the fact that my kayak almost flew off the car yesterday in transit (note quiet chuckle). And now the kayak rests in a corner, covering part of a door because I couldn't get it up in the loft (the same loft I want to figure out how to sleep in during the winter which I know is a bit strange).

At any rate...I wake up from these strange dreams, sweating (because I still have my heavy blanket's almost summer) and feeling like I have slept a full night. But I can always convince myself to go back to sleep...and I do. I rarely have trouble sleeping.

I wonder what I will dream about tonight...probably fair labor practices of companies that make athletic apparel...or people who come back into one's life after a hiatus.

hmmmm meditation and bed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

We Evolve

I am currently reading a book by Henri Nouwen. It's cracking into me...hard core.

There is something about a sojourn that really gets to me. Maybe it's the familiarity of the spirit within...the journey...the comfortable/uncomfortable doubt. Or possibly just the sense that I am working on something...that I am forming and growing and being challenged. Maybe it's the reminder...the body check...

Damit...we evolve! And THANK GOD! As scary as it is to change at times, to rip the band aid off the fresh wound and wait for the scab to grow and to heal, our very nature is to evolve. Sometimes this evolution just forms and flows and sometimes it's provoked...out of necessity (Thank you for all those who have held me accountable...we are each others keepers).

So, back to the a prayer, Nouwen spoke about his fear and asked for courage...he wrote, "Is this going to be my chance to see my prison and escape it?"

He goes on to quote John Eudes. "This is a time of purification. A time to identify your ambiguous relationships and ambivalent attitudes, and to make some decisions and chose some directions."

That is where I am. It is so good to know that.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New England Life...

Those who know me have the understanding that my heart is often working out the things of life. Those who are close to me know what things I am working out.

As it so happens, my heart misses a life I once had but lives in anticipation of the present, searching for the moments that bring meaning. Recently I have been reminded, yet again, just why I am here at this place. I was reminded why I am in New England, my birthplace with all her beauty and puritan pride. Sometimes as a native of this strange land, I feel like a stranger. And there are other experiences that feel so comfortable and perfect.

Recently, the goose in my back yard had chicks. (Note: I also have ducks and a beaver but the beaver has been missing for a while). My geese, pictured above, are quite cute. And every morning I wake up and look out the window of my perfect apartment and look for my babies. I love them for so many reasons, but namely for what they represent; rebirth, which brings me to my next point.

My boss recently gave a speech about commitment and weathering the storm, at the end of the year banquet. He used a favorite Indigo Girls ballad called "The Wood Song" to illustrate his point.

As it so happens, this particular song has greater meaning to me than meets they eye. Now I believe that everything takes place for a reason...good and bad... painful and joyful. And so I leave you with the lyrics of this beautiful song to tie together the strings and even find the missing link of how it might bring wonder into our own life.

The Wood Song

the thin horizon of a plan is almost clear my friends and I have had a hard time bruising our brains hard up against change all the old dogs and the magician now I see we're in the boat in two by twos only the heart that we have for a tool we could use and the very close quarters are hard to get used to love weighs the hull down with its weight but the wood is tired and the wood is old and we'll make it fine if the weather holds but if the weather holds then we'll have missed the point that's were i need to go no way construction of this tricky plan was built by other than a greater hand with a love that passes all our understanding watching closely over the journey yeah but what it takes to cross the great divide seems more than all the courage i can muster up inside but we get to have some answers when we reach the other side the prize is always worth the rocky ride but the wood is tired and the wood is old and we'll make it fine if the weather holds but if the weather holds then we'll have missed the point that's where i need to go sometimes i ask to sneak a closer look skip to the final chapter of the book and maybe steer us clear from some of the pain that it took to get us where we are this far but the question drowns in its futility and even i have got to laugh at me cause no one gets to miss the storm of what will be just holding on for the ride the wood is tired the wood is old and we'll make it fine if the weather holds but if the weather holds then we'll have missed the point that's where i need to go

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

He's dying...

I said it for the first time yesterday and it meant that I had to admit it. It was true all of a sudden and now I can’t deny the reality anymore. No matter how many visits he has with the doctor or trips there are to the VA hospital for another procedure, the fact is, he is still dying.

Cancer…it’s taking over. Hospice comes to the house now. We’re hoping for a good summer. Last month we hoped for surgery.

It’s amazing how priorities change when you are dying and how some of the most mundane things in life stay the same just to remind you that there is still a breath within.

He reads books…has conversations (not thinking they could be his last)…goes to the grocery store…even does the laundry. The rest of us go about our day…maybe trying to forget.

For the sake of dignity…he will die with grace, surrounded by those he loves and I guess we can only hope that for each other.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Turning 28...

I recently celebrated a birthday….my 28th. And like always, I was quite reflective, which I guess is not too different than my everyday routine, but maybe just different. I had a good look at my last year of life…where I had been and where I thought I was going. And I realized a few basic things, which are sort of empowering and heartbreakingly normal.

I realized that I was sad last year for a lot of reasons but basically because I was in transition. Because my heart was broken and because I was lost.

I realized that I am quite happy now…at least today….and on a growing trend, most of the time.

I realized that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Which is ok in my world and I am sort of surprised by that.

I’ve had an amazing 28 years. Certainly uncommon in some aspects, and quite normal and run of the mill in others, I am living a good life. I am grateful for the brilliant, amazing, loving and life giving people that have crossed my path. I am in a place of gratefulness, something I don’t express often and probably should. I am content and challenged at the same time and that is quite OK with me. I am moving forward and find hope in that, loving the moments when I am “schooled” on my faults, misgivings, imperfections and random moments of forgetfulness.

I am happy with the woman I am becoming and I look forward to viewing progress in the future. But for the time being I am living for this day.

This year I am going to work on some things…namely gratitude and self-judgment. But in all…life is quite good!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Living With War

When I was in the fourth grade I remember that Operation Desert Storm was taking place. I remember that I made posters in my school from newspaper clippings to hang up around the hallways and the classrooms to “Bring Home the Troops”. I remember writing letters to our troops and making care packages. I remember the images on the TV of the oil fields on fire and the missiles shooting through the night sky. I remember seeing how a sand camouflage tank would jolt when it shot at something. I remember the yellow ribbons and the American Flags I helped pass out.

Today, years and years later, there is a new war from unfinished business. And I remember the day it started five years ago. I remember the protests and the prayer vigils. I remember the reoccurring video footage of the twin towers falling over and over again. I remember the images of congressional meetings and the speeches of justification. I remember watching the first attacks and how I sobbed watching the TV, knowing that I would never forget the moment. And now, more than anything, I intentionally remember the faces of Iraqi citizens who are stuck in the bureaucrat middle ground of the business of war. I remember my friends who work with Iraqi refugees in Syria. And as I walk past Vietnam Veterans near the state hospital not too far from my home, I think of all our troops who will suffer from the affects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I remember Carlos Mejia and his descent to the war and all the other Contentious Objectors who face the struggle of opposing a culture of war.

I am a 28 years old woman. I drive a car, probably more than I should. I have a job that pays well with good insurance. I am educated. I read the New York Times on a whim. I drink Caramel Latte’s on Saturday’s. I oppose the war on principal and I have a hard time keeping the daily bombings and death tolls straight. Which is probably a purposeful laziness. I call myself a social activist and yet there is so much I have not done.

I am 28 years old….I am living.
I am living with war.

I am not living in war.