Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Visiting family members

Last week I had a relatively unexpected visit from my youngest sister, her kids, and my Mom. The visit went well, I have to say, but that was probably because it was brief. Here are the beautiful kids:
Now you can see why I'm so crazy about them. The oldest is 8, and the two younger ones are 11 months apart -- the girl is the older of the two, and will be 2 years old in July. Her younger brother weighs 1 lb. less than her, and is nearly as tall as she is. He's going to be a big man when he grows up. Both of his parents are tall, so I imagine he and his sisters will be as well.

I don't know what to expect from this move, so I'm trying not to have expectations at all. My sister has called me a few times since being down at my Mom's, and I take that as a good sign. She tells me that my mother is driving her nuts, again, but she claims that she understands that she just has to put up with it until she gets her own place. She had a job interview today, but I haven't heard how that went. This was something my mother found for her, which was part of what drives her nuts -- Mom tends to take over people's lives.

The funny thing is that Mom called me last week to say that she'd begun to read Melodie Beatty's "Codependent No More" and recognized herself in it. She said, and I quote "I don't know how any of y'all have stood me", referring to her always trying to tell us all what to do with our lives. I guess she needs to read a little farther.

Tomorrow morning hubby and I leave for the Northern Virginia area. There we'll visit his son, ex-wife, sister, and one of my cousins, as well as perhaps one of his friends there. The original reason for the visit is to take care of some business, which we'll deal with on Friday. Otherwise, the trip is just for leisure. I'm looking forward to seeing the people we'll be with, though I do worry about being overwhelmed. I plan to take as many precautions as possible and let hubby know when I've reached my limit, especially physically.

On the way back Sunday hubby and I will spend one night in Barboursville, WV, which is a suburb of Huntington. WV is a beautiful state, and I really look forward to seeing it during the late spring. I've only been through there once, but what I remember seeing was absolutely stunning in terms of natural beauty. I'm glad we'll have a chance to enjoy the state during a nice drive on a Sunday when we're not in a huge rush. Kentucky will be covered on Monday, and, as I recall, it was just about as gorgeous as West Virginia. All in all, this should be a lovely Memorial Day weekend.

I hope you all have a good holiday as well. Think good thoughts for us, please. :)


Friday, May 19, 2006

The birds....

Today was the day of the birds, large and small.

We live on a sloping lot on the edge of a great stand of woods, which border a field on the back side. Because of this, and the fact that we have a total of 8 bird feeders (2 suet, 2 thistle, 2 sunflower/mixed seed, 2 hummingbird), we have quite a relationship with many of our feathered friends. This time of year, we see lots of babies coming off the nest, learning from their parents how to obtain their food.

At the suet feeders this week, we've had lots and lots of Starling fledglings. While not the most attractive of babies, they are pretty funny, which counts for a lot. They began this week gathering on our deck, wobbly and fuzzy-looking, watching their Mommy get mouthfuls of yummy suet, begging her to feed them. The first day, she did just that. The next day, the babies got a little more bold and began perching on the rails, looking wobbly still and wanting to be fed. You could tell, though, that she was not bringing them as much as they'd like, so they started competing a little more, becoming brave enough to fly up and perch very precariously on the rope lights we have draped between the feeders. Their attempts to steady themselves was quite entertaining! By the end of the week, though, they were able to get to the suet feeder themselves and get their own food, much to Mom's relief, I'm sure.

As is the case every year, we have wild turkeys that live in the woods behind our house. Now these guys totally crack me up. They walk around in our yard and in the neighbors', seemingly oblivious to what goes on around them, until someone comes outside! Then they hurriedly rush toward the woods, in some kind of turkey race-walk-strut thing. Occasionally, the fly into the trees. I will never forget the first time I heard a flock of turkeys "take off" from the trees at sunset -- it happened to be on Halloween night, nearly 3 years ago. It sounded like helicopters! Now, though, I'm used to them and still find their antics pretty entertaining. I just looked up what they eat, and there doesn't appear to be anything I'm willing to put out for them that would be attractive, so I'll just have to keep hoping for their occasional visits and antics.

But today was the pinnacle of my bird experiences. I noticed this afternoon that there was a baby robin, still with pin feathers, hopping around on my front porch. It looked a little like this:
After it had hopped to the edge of the porch and continued to just sit there for about 20 minutes, I wondered if it was injured. It didn't appear to be -- it just appeared to be lost. I then wondered if it would fly away if I tried to join him on the porch, so, in that event, I took a book with me and, as slowly and as quietly as I could, I opened the door -- fully expecting to be alone on that porch, reading. However, it surprised me and stayed put! I sat down on the porch steps, and just watched for a bit. I could then hear this little bird calling out to its mother (I'm assuming), but not acting as though he were frightened. I continued to sit there, observing in silence, when, surprisingly, it began hopping toward me! I stayed still, and, the next thing I knew, it hopped up on my arm!!! I was shocked!!! It didn't appear ill or injured, or even nervous -- just young. I noticed when it heard an adult robin call, it would call in return. None of the adults seemed to care, though. The baby continued to sit contentedly in my hand, but I knew it couldn't last forever, so I slowly lowered it to the ground, at which time it decided to poop on me! lol I knew it had to happen sooner or later! But once it reached the ground, it flew about 4 feet, and began hopping across the lawn. It reached the woodpile we have under a tree, and began its calls again. This time, an adult robin seemed to recognize, or at least respond to them. At that point, the adult got close to the baby, then turned around and hopped a short distance away. The baby followed. I think I saw the adult feed the little one at one point, but can't be sure. I continued to watch their little march up my lawn, until I couldn't see them anymore. I can only hope that this little fearless treasure continues to survive and even thrive. It certainly touched my life unexpectedly and made my day incredibly special.


Monday, May 15, 2006

The joy of friendship

Today I'm home after five days in Memphis, visiting friends. I'm so very happy to say that it was absolutely wonderful. :) Sometimes seeing people, especially people whose friendship means a lot to me, is very difficult -- I avoid it at times for fear of rejection. You know, the old "I'll avoid you first so I don't have to risk you not wanting to spend time with me." But this week was stellar, in that no one was avoided, and I was rewarded by wonderful times and a lot of shared affection.

First, there was dinner and a taped comedy show at W's house. (No, not THAT W -- *my* W is about as far as you can get from the other one) We (my friend K and I) had filet mignon, cooked with much flourish and accoutrements, and also slaved over by my umbrella-wielding friend due to the giant rainstorm that came up during the cooking. Still, everything turned out well. His partner, N, made his famous guacamole and salsa, which we devoured, naturally. They had also made roasted potatoes and Greek-style green beans, which were also delish. K & I had brought a cake from TCBY, which was almost totally gone by the time we left. Just FWIW, those cakes are yummy and very light! I think I'll be buying them more often now!

Thursday we tried out a new restaurant, called The Soulfish Cafe. Catfish is as Memphis as BBQ, and this place seemed to do great justice to it, though K & I both settled for something different. This is another restaurant I would highly recommend, though there are so many in Memphis it's hard to keep track. Afterwards, we worked with a little 8 year old girl K has worked with for several years. This precious little child has several severe disabilities, but is quite bright and very loving. There was a time when I, and many others, believed she'd never even talk so you could understand her, much less be able to attend school, but surprise surprise!! She liked to pretend she was talking on the phone, and at one point told the "person" on the other end "Why don't we shoot for next week?" She also, surprisingly, mimicked my "blah blah blah" when I couldn't think of anything else to say, so I hope her parents don't mind that she's added that to her vocabulary. :) She hugged me numerous times, which filled my heart with great joy, and I truly, deeply appreciated the opportunity to get to know her better through play therapy.

That night we had dinner with P, A & P, who made a delightful gourmet meal of Tuna steak with a seasoned butter glaze, fried rice, and yummy spinach salads. For dessert we had mango sorbet, raspberry sorbet, and Mayan chocolate ice cream. Everything was wonderfully prepared, visually and culinarily. Talk about being pampered!

Friday was a bit of a rest day, though K & I did make it to the greatest breakfast place in the universe -- Brother Juniper's College Inn. You can't help but have a good day if you start it here. Brother Juniper was St. Francis of Assisi's cook and a devout follower. Breadmaking is one of the skills he was known for, and Brother Juniper's follows this tradition by having a breadmaking school to teach young people a worthwhile skill. All I can say is try the biscuits. Trust me.

Hubby joined me Friday night, and we opted for deli sandwiches and such at K's home that night. On Saturday, we drove down to the new Farmers' Market, a much needed addition to downtown. Though we didn't stop, it looked packed, which is an excellent sign. At noon we joined L, J, M, and D for a birthday lunch for L at The Brushmark, part of the Brooks Museum of Art. It was the perfect day to sit out on the patio, and we all had a marvelous time. Afterwards, we retired back to L & J's house for L's homemade Ponchatoula Strawberry cake, my all-time favorite! We enjoyed a lot of interesting discussions, good music, and the fun of watching L open her birthday gifts! All of these folks mean a great deal to me, and I was so happy to see them all and spend time with them without stress or pressure.

Saturday night we met J & C for dinner at Abuelo's. We had about an hour's wait, so we got to hang out at the bar and talk. Unfortunately, I can't drink liquor due to some of the meds I'm on (boooooooooooo!), but, fortunately, that's not required for me to have a great time. :) We all had a delicious meal, and continued to chat it up for some time after. I'm sure they were glad to see us go when we finally left, due to our loud laughter and raucous demeanor. ;) Kidding about the raucous demeanor, but only slightly. We truly had a great time. It was so good to see J again -- I've missed her terribly, and getting to reconnect did my heart and soul a lot of good. :)

On Sunday, we attended Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church and got to hear what appears to be their future settled minister. In UU churches, a delegation of church members previews ministers who are looking for a new, permanent position, and then, based on their recommendations, the congregation calls a minister to be their candidate. Usually that means that the new minister spends a week or two with the congregation, preaching once but usually twice. This was the new minister's first sermon there, and we were both very impressed. He is a young man, married, and from the Chicago area. He seems to have a lot of energy, which this congregation will clearly need, as this particular church has a large number of children and young people. I hope it works out that he becomes the settled minister, and I look forward to visiting this church when we visit Memphis in the future.

Afterwards, we had lunch at The Commissary, home of the BEST BBQ in Memphis, with Lance's brother and sister-in-law, whom I love very much and with whom I'm still close. Their one and only daughter is pregnant, something I learned on the anniversary of Lance's death this year, which I thought was lovely. :) She is an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and is a forensic chemist. She's probably one of the coolest, most unique young women I've ever met, always secure in the knowledge of who she is and who she's not. She has never followed fad or fashion, and has always been delightful. Her wedding two years ago was beautiful and perfect, and I'm sure she and her husband will be exceptional parents. I can't wait to be a Great Aunt (though I would say I'm already a great aunt! Hahahaha!).

The best part of this visit was seeing so many friends and having such a wonderful time with them. Though it may not seem like it to those who know me, I do get shy when I think of being with people I think a lot of. I do worry that I'm not valued by them, or especially in the case of those who live in my old hometowns, that I'm forgotten (out of sight, out of mind). But this weekend did a lot to dispel those fears, and I truly hope I've grown enough that I will not experience that kind of distress in the future. I believe my friends who say they will visit me here at my home, and I look forward to entertaining them and showing them my surroundings and adopted city.

On a different note, I spoke with my mother and baby sister today -- it appears as though sister is leaving her hubby AGAIN. She spoke with me for a long time, talking about his newest refusal to go to counseling, saying they don't need it. His reasoning for his not needing to attend sessions was that there were important things they could be doing at home, like studying for something related to his job. I asked sister if he ever does that -- she said no. He begged her not to leave, not to take the kids away from him, etc. He claims he'll do anything to keep her, he'll change, etc. I asked her why she would believe this when he's showing clearly already that he's not willing to even go to counseling, or Al-Anon again, while she's right there? She said their counselor asked him to read "Codependent No More", and he got through half of it, saying he wasn't co-dependent and didn't need to read any more. At the second session, the counselor kept confronting him about co-dependency issues. He would respond with other issues, and the counselor would stop him and try to redirect him to the issue at hand, but he would continue to try to distract. This is very typical behavior for him and I reminded her of other examples of this in previous incidents. She agreed, but obviously has some conflicting feelings regarding this latest breakup. I pointed out, too, that she has to have left him at least 100 times, including before they were married, and she did admit that that was true. So, it looks as though we'll be having some company here this week, and that's fine with me.

It's so good to have better boundaries! Knowing the difference between ME and NOT ME is crucial to self-preservation, especially in my case. I spoke with my therapist about that today. I also told my sister that she needs to realize that SHE did not cause my recent illness, though the experience I had with her husband did have a catalyzing effect. I assured her that I love her, and I am very proud of her willingness to go to daily AA meetings, to have a sponsor, to do this very difficult personal inventory and to try to figure out the best way to live her life, for herself and her children. There's nothing I would like more than to see her healthy and whole. I'm hoping that this is the turning point for her, and I will continue to keep that thought in my prayers.

So, it's been a great week or so, and I'm looking forward to good times ahead as well. I see my psychiatrist tomorrow, and will find out what I need to do about continued pain which doesn't seem to be completely resolved by PT and Neurontin. I suspect my new PCP will order more physical therapy, which is fine with me. It does help, but I just don't think I've had enough of it. Still, I can tell there's been progress, and that means a lot.

Until next time...progress, not perfection is my mantra. :)

Love and peace,

Sunday, May 07, 2006

God help us

Folks, very few things really stun me these days, but I have just been stunned. I just read on (my now new favorite blog) http://Jesuswasaliberal.blogspot.com (thanks Rick!) that the folks, Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, behind the "Left Behind" series of books, are allowing and I guess cooperating with a video game being made called LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces. I am quoting from the website itself:

Game description

Wage a war of apocalyptic proportions in LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces - a real-time strategy game based upon the best-selling LEFT BEHIND book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Join the ultimate fight of Good against Evil, commanding Tribulation Forces or the Global Community Peacekeepers, and uncover the truth about the worldwide disappearances!

· Lead the Tribulation Force from the book series , includingRayfordd, Chloe, Buck and Bruce against Nicolae Carpathia – the AntiChrist.

· Conduct physical & spiritual warfare : using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world.

· Recover ancient scriptures and witness spectacular Angelic and Demonic activity as a direct consequence of your choices.

· Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City .

· Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!

· Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!

· Play multiplayer games as Tribulation Force or the AntiChrist's Global Community Peacekeepers with up to eight players via LAN or over the internet!


The emphasis above was mine. On the Left Behind website, there is this statement:

Critics who have raised questions about violence in Left Behind: Eternal Forces have neither seen nor previewed the game as it is still under development. Based upon the bestselling Left Behind® novels, the period in which the game is set is a chaotic and dangerous time where the Tribulation Force is recruiting new members and defending itself against the Antichrist's Global Community Forces. The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil, but does not gratuitously depict violence or death.

Left Behind Games, Inc. shares concern over the types of entertainment offered to families. As such it is putting forth every effort to create a quality and engaging game with a high standard of decency and content. As stated by Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces is a little more violent that an animated chess game."


On the LeftBehindGames.com site, part of the interview with the magazine GameDAILYBiz says:

BIZ: At a time when video games are often cast in a bad light in the mainstream press because of violent or sexual content in some titles, do you feel that Christian games are sorely needed to emphasize more wholesome values among today's youth?

TL: Left Behind Games was established on the belief that given the choice, people will voluntarily choose games with positive moral elements. We just need to make sure the Christian games are as fun to play as other games. Only one of the top twenty grossing movies of all time was rated R, and that movie was The Passion of the Christ.

It is my opinion that Christian games can only make a positive difference in our culture if they portray the Jesus of the Bible; a caring loving person who didn't come to condemn, but to save. This message will reach our youth...and the best way we can show the youth we care, is by spelling love as TIME. As parents, we need to be connected with our kids and video games provide a great opportunity for us to do this on a regular basis.


Please, please PLEASE tell me those of you who read this blog are as outraged, shocked, horrified, and angry as I am??? Please tell me that you see the craziness of these statements and understand that THIS is why our country is in the mess it's in in Iraq and in our own country? Please tell me there's a way out of this, and that those of us with the ability to think rationally and logically will be able to make our voices heard, and ACTUALLY make our voices heard???

Had I not read these things for myself I would not have believed them, but something is VERY VERY WRONG in our country and in so-called mainstream Christianity when it is acceptable, and desirable, to have a video game, supposedly portraying what JESUS would WANT us to do, which includes KILLING PEOPLE, ever!

Oh please please please let their be a light at the end of this particular tunnel.

I don't know what else to say here.

With that, I close and say PEACE, to ALL.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Virtual friends and connections

People are frequently surprised to learn how many people I consider close friends whom I've only 'met' online. I guess I'd be surprised, too, if I'd not spent the last 10 years of my life working online in some capacity. Though I don't have a paid online job at the moment, I continue a volunteer position I've held for many years, sending out subscription notices to parents of children who subscribe to a particular newsletter. This is to comply with the COPPA (Children's Online Protection and Privacy Act) laws, keeping parents informed when their kids ask for mail to be sent to them from a particular site aimed at kids.

I began my online life in 1996 on AOL, like a lot of people start out with. I learned, through avid exploration, that there were these things called 'chats' and that the chats that occurred in sponsored areas had 'chat hosts'. I very much wanted to be a chat host, though I learned that most were unpaid volunteers. I still thought this was pretty nifty, and figured that, if the Internet was the wave of the future, then learning the ins and outs of chat hosting might be a surfboard upon which I could ride that wave. I was right.

After a few months of volunteering as a host, I was hired to be a Chat Coordinator, which meant I got paid a miniscule amount of money to coordinate with up to 40 volunteer hosts to staff chat rooms. While this was no easy gig, I did learn alot, and made a lot of friends in the process. At that time, kids over the age of 13 were allowed to be hosts, so I made a lot of teenage, as well as adult friends. Ten years later, those kids are adults, graduating from college, going on to grad school, most of them, and I still know and am in contact with a half dozen of them or so. I hear from others out of the blue from time to time, but the six or so that I talk with frequently feel like my own kids.

There are adults, too, that I keep in touch with, and they are among those I count among my closest friends. We've been through a lot together -- births and deaths, divorces and marriages, health and illness, despair and happiness. And I am definitely the better for it.

Today I have this blog, which allows me to blabber unfettered to whomever might come across this tiny little corner of the Internet. I still have many virtual friends, but be assured that I also have a lot of "real life" friends, too. Some of my virtual friends have become real life friends, and some I hope will become that in the future.

Whether a friend is someone I see in person or just check in with online, each friend is equally real to me, and their presence or lack thereof matters greatly to me. I am so grateful to have been given that opportunity 10 years ago to learn to make connections without boundaries. I can't imagine my life without my "virtual" friends.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Perceptions of Reality

It surprises me each time I'm confronted with the fact that people's perceptions of reality can differ greatly. It makes me wonder, sometimes, if I ever have a firm grip on it myself. If reality can vary from person to person, based on their own perceptions and filters, is there ever any one reality at all?

For my youngest sister and my husband's daughter, their realities are vastly different from those of the rest of their families. For them, those of us who report our observations that don't jibe with how they see their lives are their enemies, to be repelled and forced away. This shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but it makes me less likely or able to reach out to other, "safe" people, for fear that my perception of others may be off after all.

I just watched a documentary called "The Grey Gardens", about Jacqueline Kennedy's aunt and cousin, who were apparently quite eccentric and lived in a very different manner than you'd expect Bouvier's to live. Their reality was quite different from most of the rest of the world. But was it wrong, or was it just different? That's hard to know. It's easy to call them crazy, but they did have choices, and they had the monetary resources to do things differently, yet they chose not to. Is this crazy, or just a choice?

You may be able to deduce that my mood today is not one of the more festive ones I've had lately. There are several reasons for this, I think. One, the incident with my husband's daughter has been very hurtful, both to me and to him. Two, my sister's crap is still going on, and I worry that her ex will discover or come to realize that she plans to leave him AGAIN at the end of the month, when school is out. If he discovers that, I'm concerned that there is a good possibility he will do something to interfere, and maybe hurt her and/or my mom. Three, we are facing several financial challenges in the next little while, which are impacted by my current unemployment. I feel very guilty about not working -- I've had a job since I was 15 years old, and I'm not used to not being the main breadwinner, frankly. I am beginning to question whether my "inability" to work right now is real or valid, or if it's just me being lazy. I worry that I'm just whining, that nothing's really wrong with me, that it's all in my head, that I'm draining my husband financially and emotionally, that I'm crazy...you name it. Today is not a good day, people.

I feel tender inside, bruised. This is more emotional than physical, though it's a little bit physical.
I don't do rejection well. I take it personally, even when it's not. I know there are plenty of folks who care for me and think I'm pretty happenin', but when someone who is supposed to be important in my life doesn't care for me, I have trouble with that. And when I feel like I'm letting down people I love, I have trouble with that. Basically, I guess I just have trouble, huh?

So with that, I'll close, and see what's happening on "Judging Amy". Maybe I'll gain some kind of wisdom from Maxine. If not, maybe I'll knit, and at least do something productive.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's been a day.

I know I've posted twice today, but I feel the need for one more. That last one, by the way, was published in my church's newsletter this week, in place of the minister's normal 'musings'. She asked if I'd let her do that, as she had to be away at a conference during the time she normally writes her message. I was so flattered and pleased that she'd be willing to let me speak in her place -- naturally I said yes. I've gotten several very kind responses to that article, and hope that I can edit it enough to send to local newspapers, etc. as an op-ed piece. I'm proud of what I wrote and what I stand for. I hope I can be an instrument of peace in causing people to think more clearly about the issue of social justice.

But the reason I wanted to write again is a feeling of loneliness. I know I isolate myself, especially lately, with all of this medical stuff I've had to have done. I don't like to complain about my own problems or my own needs, which makes it hard for people to respond to them. I tend to ask more questions than I answer. I don't let people know how much I need them, though I always try to let people know what their friendships mean to me. And I definitely know that people's lives get busy, and they don't have time for friends, maybe especially those who are mostly online friends.

Don't get me wrong -- I have plenty of real life friends -- have talked to at least 4 today by phone. I've been invited to lunch, to hear music, to play bingo, etc. But none of those things actually touched the place in my heart and soul that's aching to be soothed. I can't even name what it is, but it's there.

Being in physical and psychological pain really bites. I am managing the pain better with Neurontin, and I started taking Metformin, too. I don't know if the combination of those things makes it more likely that I'll feel "tender". I wonder if I'm just defective sometimes, and then I'm sure that I must be.

This weekend I will have company -- 2 friends that I love very much and look forward to seeing. I know they are both very concerned about me, and I hate that, honestly. I know they'll want to please me and to be sure that things go the way I want them to, but I hate that I can cause that much concern for my feelings. It makes me feel manipulative, which is something I really hate.

Some friends are having a hard time this week, and apparently I can't help them, which is also frustrating and leaves me feeling lonesome. I have a hard time reaching out to people at times, especially to those who mean the most to me, and that just makes it worse. I can't tell them how much their absence means to me, because I don't want to sound so dependent. I don't think I am, but I am afraid I'll sound that way, and run them off.

I'm really a case sometimes, aren't I? Oh, and then there's that fight with my husband's daughter. Here's the basic story: he called her last week at a time when she said she couldn't talk, and then she got mad at him "because he kept on talking". She wrote him an email, saying she couldn't call him because her voice would be so loud she'd wake the kids up, due to her anger. She called him selfish and rude and said a few other things, and that just did it for me. I wrote her myself, telling her it was the pot calling the kettle black, and that she needed to grow up. I told her not to answer the phone if she couldn't talk, for heaven's sake, and that she owed her dad an apology, among other things. She wrote back to me about not having the luxury of being able to be depressed (!!!!!), which, for me, totally tears it.

So, now I'm waiting on Hubby to get home, in his depressed mood, wanting me to help perk him up. I hope I can do that, but who's going to perk me up? At least tomorrow I have another full day to myself, and I may just not answer the phone even. I find it hard to make small talk when my heart feels so pained. It's so much easier to talk in IMs than on the phone, most of the time.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind at the moment. Wish me luck, if you believe in such things. I really hate feeling this way.


Come Out of the Closet, Straight People

I don’t remember the day I chose to be straight. But I do remember my first gay friend, though he was closeted at the time. He was a boy I with whom I attended high school, and he sang in the special choir, because he had such a beautiful voice. We dated, but there was never any kind of physical attraction, though I do believe we attempted a kiss or two. However, it just didn’t work the way it was “supposed to”.

My parents LOVED this young man. They thought he was a wonderful person for me to date. I realize now that, even though I didn’t realize his “lifestyle choice” at the time, they sure did, which was why he was suitable to date their daughter. Funny how some things, or people, are acceptable when they serve someone’s particular purpose.

When I was 16 years old, my father died after a long illness. This young man sent flowers to ME, to my house – not to my family and not to the funeral, but to me, in support. He also escorted me to the funeral, which I desperately needed. Because he’d already graduated, we didn’t see much of each other after that, until one night a few years later, friends took me to a gay bar for the first time. We went in a group, and stayed closely together, so no one would mistake us as “regular” customers.

But there on the dance floor, I saw my friend, dancing with another man. When he saw me, his face lit up! He seemed so thrilled to see me – I was quite shocked to see him . Naïve thing that I was, I didn’t realize he was gay. But even then, knowing that he must be, based on what I witnessed, it didn’t change the fact that he was my dear friend who stood by me during some of the worst times of my then-young life.

Fast forward about 20 years. My then-husband died of a massive heart attack on March 27, 1999 in my living room, in my arms. The first people I called after the paramedics arrived were his brother, and his friend from work, a gay man and his partner. The gay couple drove straight to my house and followed us in the ambulance to the hospital. They, along with my husband’s brother and sister-in-law, waited with us in the family room, crying silently, sending me good vibes across the space of that tiny room. We all knew my husband was dead – we were just waiting for the official news. When it came, my husband’s gay coworker wept openly, as did we all.

Two days later, at the visitation, I was paid visits by several other gay people, including some of his coworkers. I was also visited by a lesbian couple – one of which was my best friend for the last 10 years who was taking her exams in her 3rd year of medical school. Her partner was undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. And the lived in Little Rock, AR. We lived in Memphis, TN. Weeks later, one of the gay friends called to ask if he “could just do SOMETHING, ANYTHING! Put gas in the car!”

And now, after having joined this Unitarian Universalist congregation, and being allowed to serve as the Vice Chair of the GLBT+Friends committee, I have the opportunity to give something back. That something is my unequivocal support. The common thread among these friends, other than what may be seen as the obvious one of sexual orientation, is actually the lengths to which these people were willing to go for me. Even though it was inconvenient, even though it was not fun, they were there for me in the most difficult times of my life.

In November, we in Tennessee have the opportunity to vote on whether or not we want our state constitution amended to declare that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. I intend to vote against this amendment. I am a straight supporter of the GLBT community and believe that they are entitled to the same civil rights as I have. I realize that I will catch some flak from those with closed minds and cold hearts, but how can I say it’s not worth it in light of all the love and support I’ve received?

I’m asking you to examine your hearts and ask yourselves which side of this fight you wish to support. One hundred years ago, I, as a woman, would not have been allowed to vote. It took men standing along with women to obtain that right for us. White people of conscience eventually helped turn the tide in the battle for full civil rights for African Americans. And so in this fight, it’s time for heterosexuals to come out of the closet and openly support their GLBT brothers and sisters. Imagine the beloved community we can create if we all stand together on the side of love.


Unexpected side-effects from Blogging

I started blogging a few months ago, after reading FatDoctor's blog. I found her through a plus-size person newsletter I receive, FatTuesday. I had no idea that a doctor, who happened to be overweight, would or could be so candid about her life, both professional and private. Because much of my life has been spent working with/for physicians and other healthcare practitioners, I suppose I was more moved by her than I would have been by anyone else. Thanks to her, I have found quite a few unexpected benefits, including, I think, health benefits, from this activity.

First, I have been able to get some things out of my head that need to be out of my head. I've been able to tell the blogosphere about the nightmares that frequently torment me.
Second, I've connected with other people, from all over the world,
who reassure me that I am not alone.This is an amazingly comforting notion.

Third, that reassurance confirms for me that we all do live in an
interdependent web of existance,which is one of the principles that we Unitarian Universalists live by. Though I've always believed this on some level, I've found that connecting with virtual strangers is a very gratifying confirmation that people are pretty much the same, no matter where they are or what they're raised or come to believe.

And finally, I have found that people really care. If you don't believe me, read the comments on FatDoctor's last two posts. You'll quickly realize that, even without face-to-face contact, people do come to care for each other in the blogosphere (I hate that word, but it fits here) and there is nothing virutal about it.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rainy Tuesday

It's a yucky day outside. Lots of thunder, rain, cold -- just yucky.

This morning I had physical therapy, which I usually kind of look forward to, but today I just felt too bad to "enjoy" it. Headache, muscle pains in my arms, etc. -- the PT helped some, but not completely. I still wonder what's going to happen in terms of dealing with my arm pain. That has not been relieved at all, and it seems that my lower back pain is more frequent than I even realized. I've lived with things like this for so long that I guess I don't even notice them. The Physical Therapist even gasped when he touched the part of my back that I believe is where the sciatic nerve is, because it was so tight and out of line. When he pressed on it, I thought I would levitate off that table. However, I do know I have to let him do what needs to be done or I won't have any chance of getting better.

Yesterday I had an MRI of my lumbar spine and an Echocardiogram. The MRI was for the lower back pain; the Echo was for a condition I have called Left Ventricular Hypertrophy, which is enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart, and Mitral Valve Prolapse. I have to have those every now and then, and, so far, I haven't had a call from the doctor yet, so I'm assuming no news is good news.

I'm tired, too. Rainy weather doesn't help, of course. I want to take a nap, but then I don't want to mess up my sleep tonight. However, I don't have to get up at any particular time in the morning, so maybe I will after all.

About my sister...apparently, she's going to her day treatment program as she's supposed to, and attending AA meetings daily, which is great. However, her ex is still up to his same tricks. Trying to say she should be able to drink a beer or two like he does, hovering over her and my mom all the time. Sister is kicking herself for not staying gone last time and plans to leave again when school is out. I'm concerned that he will catch on to this plan, and do something bad to her and/or to my mom. He's crazy enough, and certainly mean enough. How do I ever divorce myself from this situation, I wonder? There's no way to not hear about my sister as long as I have a relationship with the rest of my family, and I want/need to have a relationship with the rest of my family.

Also, hubby's daughter is being a big, huge bitch herself, and has a similar situation with her idiot husband. What's up with drunks, anyway? And why do they just have to fuck up the lives of everyone around them? I hate people.