Sunday, September 7, 2008

Nine to Five

Well, I finished my first week (actually four days since Monday was Labor Day) at my first "regular" job in more than 15 years. It has been a long long time since I worked in an office, with a regular schedule and if not a time clock then at least keeping track of time.

I have definitely been spoiled working for myself. The upside of self-employment is flexibility, but the downside is that you're never not working. That is, I would fit in house work during the day but then that meant doing work work at night when the rest of the family came home.

The other downside of self-employment is, of course, financial insecurity. You never know when you'll get, or lose, a job. That's not a whole lot different from any job in today's economy, but self-employment seems even more tenuous. So when I got an opportunity to work in a new field and get a regular paycheck, I just had to give it a shot.

It doesn't leave much time for blogging (not that I have been especially loquacious anyway) but I'm thinking that once things settle down a little I can do more writing in the evenings. We'll see.

For now, I am enjoying a little structure and looking forward to that first paycheck!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Waiting for the bus

I had just turned seven years old when Dr. King made his "I have a Dream" speech. I don't remember it. But I do remember, somehow, that a couple of months later a church was blown up in Alabama and four little girls were killed. In my mind, they were the same age I was and all I was terrified because people would kill little children. I, who had not ever actually seen a black person so had no reason, I suppose, to hate them, thought that I myself was in danger, because I didn't hate black people and they would kill you for that, too.

When I was in seventh grade, we were living in Panama and so the intensity and chaos of 1968 just passed me by. But one thing did happen. We had an assignment to memorize a speech and deliver it in an assembly. I went to the library and got a book of Great American Speeches and I found one by this guy named Martin Luther King. I was enthralled, "my four children will be judged not the the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Again I felt like I was part of that, that I, still never having met a black person, was entitled to be judged by my character as well. When I gave the speech, it was the only public speaking I ever did as a child where I did not stutter and shake.

The next school year, we were living in Summerville, South Carolina, outside of Charleston. My dad was in Vietnam. All the buzz in my junior high school was that the schools were going to be integrated the next year. That year, I rode my bike to school. I would ride from home, down a couple of roads, then turn left along the fence that enclosed the elementary and junior high campus. The campus was on the right, and across the street were houses that were made of wood, a little shabby with metal roofs. Little black children were standing in front of those houses waiting for the school bus. Little children, like me, who had to look across the street to a school that all these other children were going into, but they had to wait in the cold and rain for a bus to take them somewhere else.

How could anyone be so cruel to a child? I somehow understood that the people who made those rules really did not see these children as people. If they did, they would not be so cruel as to force them to watch as other children went to a beautiful shiny school while they had to wait for a bus.

On this night, Barack Obama will accept the nomination for President. I know in my heart that he will win. And this middle-aged white woman has tears coming to her eyes at the thought. Those little children are probably grandparents now, and I hope that they will be watching too.

Friday, July 25, 2008


We lost our precious kitty Piglet today. She joined our family 15 years ago, when Anna was just a toddler. She has been a good cat and we'll miss her.

She was an indoor cat although she would escape into the great outdoors every once in a while. She loved sunny windowsills and liked to sit in front of the window and look out. We have a picture of her not long after we got her, sitting on the back of the couch and staring at the fish in our aquarium. She was a good sitter.

Her name came from her curled-up tail, which we considered having taken off but the vet said wouldn't bother her. It never did, and it made her extra-special. We called her Piggle and Squish-ems because she was always fat and squishy. That's how we knew she was sick - she wasn't fat any more.

Piglet liked to just hang out and chill. When she was still a kitten, she would play inside with her companion Tigger (figure out where we got the names?) but went outside only rarely. Tigger was an outside cat who came in at night and slept with Genny. We lost Tigger to leukemia in 2000 just before we moved to Hoover.

We're put Piglet where we are building a courtyard, and we will make a plaque to set among the bricks and flowers.

We'll miss you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On stimuli

We just got the much-vaunted "stimulus" check in the mail, the one that's supposed to save our economy even though the money was borrowed from China and Saudi Arabia. For a lot of folks, the money is probably going right back out to products from those two countries - cheap plastic crap or gasoline.

So my plan was to be subversive and put it into savings. But then... a couple of weeks ago the Taurus that we bought for our daughter ($1,500 off!) blew a serpentine belt. We got a new belt on it, but then the shop told us the reason it snapped was the compressor on the air conditioner siezed up and the whole AC had to be replaced. There went our "stimulus" check, but at least it was spent locally.

There's a little bit left - I got my hair cut at a good salon and I'm going to get a new pair of glasses. At Costco, the left-wing warehouse store. So I can still be a little bit subversive.

Monday, June 16, 2008


If it weren't for the earthquakes, I'd send my daughter to California to go to college and live her life. Because in California, my amazing Anna would be able to marry the girl of her dreams if she wanted to.

I have to admit I never considered myself the marrying kind, and when I did marry at the age of 30 it took some adjusting. Nearly 22 years later, I look back on the adventure and think, why would people want to deny this opportunity to anyone?

I fail to understand how anyone who claims they want to "preserve marriage" thinks that the way to do that is to deny it to people. It defies rational thought that two people who are the same gender can't get married because if they got married then there wouldn't be marriage!? How does that work?

Maybe by the time Anna's old enough (wait till you're at least 25, sweetie!) we will have made some progress. I know I'll keep trying. It's for the children. Like mine.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Family by Fate and by Choice

I come from a large family. I'm the oldest of six - a brother and four sisters. My Aunt Bea, my mother's sister, had ten children. Of all those kids, one turned out gay - one of my cousins, who lives in North Carolina with his partner. Of my siblings, only two of us had children - my brothers' two sons, and my two daughters. One of my daughters is gay.

Why the family history? Because although the vast majority of the marriages and partnerships in this family are heterosexual, we're still an LGBT family. Most families, if you cast the net wide enough to encompass a family reunion, are LGBT families.

Families come in so many permutations, and the one that today's American fundamentalists insist is the only one, isn't. Family is a malleable concept, changing based on the culture, the times, and the human spirit.

As far as I'm concerned, a family exists when the people within it call themselves a family. Whether they're the same gender or not, whether they have children or not, whether they are the same generation or multiple generations, they are family. Let no man cast them asunder.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sounds like Bull to me

This has to be a drive-by post; lots of house cleaning and car cleaning going on today. Many others have commented quite eloquently on LaLa the Mayor's "decision" to not sign a proclamation or approve a parade permit for the nearly 20-year-old Pride Parade. He says a "personal lifestyle choice" should not be "endorsed by government."

There are a lot of things that are personal lifestyle choices: wearing expensive clothes, borrowing money from friends who you give government business to, attending a Christian church, participating in medieval Catholic rituals. Being gay is just not one of them.

What a fool.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Two Boats and a Helicopter

Once there was a man whose house was in a flood. He stood on the porch as the waters rose. A boat came by, the driver urged the man to get on board but the man said he was waiting on the Lord to save him. The waters rose, the first floor was flooded and as the man looked out his second story window, another boat came to rescue him. The man turned the boat away, saying he would wait for God to rescue him. Finally he was clinging to the chimney on the roof. A helicopter flew overhead and dropped down a ladder. The man waved it off, saying Jesus would save his life. Finally he was swept away in the waters and drowned. At the pearly gates, he saw God and said, Lord, all my life I did as you asked but when the time came you did not save me. And God said, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what else did you want?"

Mayor Larry Langford wants us all to pray and wear burlap and ashes, so we'll stop shooting each other. "We're hoping this will get the attention of God as we humble ourselves and say to God, `We need you desperately,'" one citizen says. "We need to humble ourselves and ask God to forgive us, and he will heal our land," proclaims a preacher. Langford tells the people at his revival meeting to pray for an end to the violence plaguing the city.

Here's another story: In Wisconsin, parents let their little girl die. She was sick, from diabetes it turns out, but they wouldn't take her to a doctor because they believe in the Bible and that prayer would heal her.

Langford and his preachers and an awful lot of Birmingham's citizens are like those parents.

Why do you think that you do not already have the attention of God? And more importantly, what exactly do you expect God to do? Are you waiting for some magical light from the sky that will transubstantiate bullets into butterflies? Perhaps you expect every thug and miscreant in the metro area to simultaneously have a Road to Damascus experience. Maybe you will wake up tomorrow, the ashes still gritty on your forehead, and all the falling down houses and unkempt yards miraculously will have picket fences and fresh bright paint.

Or maybe, just maybe, God wants you to get out there and do the work. Maybe he has sent you what you need, but you're ignoring it because you'd rather make a spectacle. That way it looks like you're doing something. But in reality, your child is dying.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It must be the ZIP Code

I've gotten two robocalls for Republicans in the last three days. Don't know why they're calling me, except that I live in a ZIP Code that includes a lot of rich people.

The McCain call was actually pretty benign. It was recorded by an Alabama person (I didn't take notes unfortunately). He talked about how McCain was the best person to lead us in the war against radical Islamic terrorism, and he invoked the sacred name of Reagan.

UPDATE: Just got another McCain robocall, this one from McCain himself. He's ready to lead the nation as a Reagan Republican. Lower taxes and return "our party" to the small government principles it was founded on. Secure our borders, appoint conservative justices like Alito. Protect the sanctity of life, which his 24-year record supports. Best qualified to fight our relentless enemy of radical Islamic terrorism. We can and will win this war.

(Good thing he's not promoting the sanctity of marriage, considering his record in that regard. And it seems like saying he wants to return to small government roots is a bit of a dig on the current Republican party, no?)

The scary one came today from Mike Huckabee, who recorded the message. Sounding oh so sincere, he talked about how he was the one to further conservative principles and be a leader for "conservatives like us." His main focus - and this is what scares me - was how he would immediately get to work on a federal "life" amendment and a federal "marriage" amendment. No details of what those actually entail; I assume his target audience responds like Pavlov's dogs to the words and doesn't need an explanation.

He also talked about how he "cut taxes 94 times" when he was governor and that he would be the person to promote "the values of Alabama."

Not a word from Huckabee about the economy or Iraq, which as we know are the main issues people care about. At least McCain, misguided as he might be, acknowledged the issue.

Most of us, regardless of our political bent, are a lot more concerned about whether they'll have a job and be able to pay the mortgage, or whether their family member or friend is going to come back from Iraq in a flag-draped coffin. They really don't care about the homosexuals and they barely care about abortion. They might parrot the lines that the preacher gives them on Sunday, but in day to day life they are a) more tolerant and b) more realistic than Huckabee seems to give them credit for.

If you must vote on the Republican ballot, please for the sake of our nation, vote for anyone but Huck. That kind of narrow minded dogmatic thinking doesn't deserve the respect of your vote.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beyond the Pro-Choice Cliche

The Birmingham News ran its annual "Roe v. Wade is bad and women are stupid" editorial today. I've gotten to the point that I don't even get mad at them any more, because it's the same old stuff. Abortion kills babies. Women are idiots. Just Trust Us.

Well, I have decided that I am beyond pro-choice. I am pro-abortion. Perhaps a stupid thing to say on the Internets, but damn it I'm tired. I was annoyed when NARAL changed their name from National Abortion Rights Action League to a meaningless acronym. I think "pro-choice" is a weak and meaningless word and "right to choose" is a meaningless phrase. We gave power to the forced-birth advocates (I will not call them pro-life because they're not) when we stopped claiming abortion, and now we're letting them set the terms of the debate.

There shouldn't even be a debate. Abortion is a medical procedure. Any woman who gets pregnant should have access to an abortion if she wants one, and I don't care why. It's none of my business. It's not the government's business, and it's not some sidewalk preacher's business either.

And, you anti-abortion folks who might actually read this, remember - if you think abortion should be illegal "except" - except for rape victims for example - they YOU are pro-abortion. You just think the government should be making a decision instead of the individual.

This is the letter to the editor that I sent in to the Birmingham News. We'll see if they print it.

I gladly celebrate the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. That Supreme Court decision recognized that every citizen has a right to make personal medical decisions without the interference of the government.

Roe v. Wade means that no politician can force me to bear a child against my will. Without the right to abortion, the state can decide for me whether I should have a child.

Once the government is the one making the decision, then you have had your rights taken away. If today the government can force you to have children by prohibiting abortion, then tomorrow it can force you to not have children by requiring abortion, e.g. China.

If you want to speak out against abortion or even demonstrate across the street from a clinic, I completely support your right to do so. It's a free country. And I want it to stay that way.