Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stand up

I want to be like Del Martin... I want to be so proud of who I am that I am willing and able to stand up and speak out about who I am without fear of reprisal, regardless of what that might be and without fear of shoving my wife out of my life by alienating her with my actions.....

I want to make a difference. For someone. Somewhere.

I wish I had known about Del in the late 80's. I didn't have that role model growing up. There was one woman I thought was gay and was my friend, but when I broached the subject she shut me down so hard and so fast, I was scared to pieces to mention it to another living soul for a long time. My actual coming out experience, when I finally did begin to share with others, was mild. I only lost one friend, that came back to me later. But my struggle was horrendous. I fought it. I hated myself for so long. Now, I look back at journals and OH MY GAWD I was a DYKE, but I would NEVER admit it even there. It took silently melding myself into a group of lesbians I tripped over at 18 to make me realize that it was really okay to be gay. It was simply a facet of who I was and it was okay. I just wish I had had someone in high school that could have said to me, even if only privately and hypothetically, that being gay was okay.

Yes I know my experiences then helped to shape who I am now. But there have been so many young people that have had that miserable experience and instead of surviving it, killed themselves over it, because that was the only way out of their closet that they saw. I know that feeling. I tried that exit route. Luckily I was saved, but no one then knew the why. And really... they didn't even try to find out the why. They assumed I was a 'normal' teen having 'normal' teen issues....

I want to make a difference. I hope I can.

--

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Del Martin has passed

With Phyllis Lyon, her partner, by her side, at 87, a legend has died. I didn't know her, but I admired her for all she stood for. And in her lifetime she stood for so much. She came out of the closet long before it was even thinkable for gay people to do so. She believed in equal rights for all, and was able to finally *really* marry her partner of 55 years in June of this year. In 1960 she and Phyllis started a newsletter that grew to a magazine. In 1979 she and her partner started a health center for gays and lesbians. She and Phyllis were the first lesbian couple to insist on joining NOW at the couples membership rate. The list goes on and on. She stood up, spoke out and never let go of the idea that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights as any other human.

She had such courage. She had such conviction. A woman to be admired for all time.

From her obituary:
"Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to honor Del's life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through NCLR's No On 8 PAC at www.nclrights.org/NoOn8."

Even in death, she continues to stand up for what's right. A legacy lives on.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Update on Cruelty - Have Mercy!

The community came together and donated money so that the little kitten of my earlier post - the kitten who was thrown against a door and had a broken leg and a bazillion fleas - can be repaired! In fact her surgery was scheduled for today and hopefully was successful! The humane society has named her "Mercy"...

The local police are still investigating the incident, but at least Mercy is getting taken care of!

I love it when a community gets together to help the helpless!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Violated

I have been violated. I have been accused of being in a relationship that is not "the ideal situation for children" and it was posted on my door.

I am incensed. Outraged. Just plain PISSED OFF. People came on to my property, walked past my rainbow flag, and posted a notice on my door that is PRO proposition 8 - the proposed amendment to the constitution that would only recognize a marriage between a man and a woman. I wasn't home and my WIFE was sleeping when they showed up at our door, so they left their brochure along with a hand written note that said "Sorry we missed you."

Actually, we are sorry we missed them. It could have been an interesting discussion.

Among other things the brochure says:
"A Man, A Woman, Plus California's Children. While death and divorce may prevent it in too many cases, the ideal situation for children is to be raised by a married mother and father. Proposition 8 is a positive step.

Proposition 8 protects our children from being taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage..."

Trying to appeal to people who know gay and lesbian couples and who wouldn't want to 'take away' something from them, it says that Prop 8 doesn't take away any rights or benefits from gay or lesbian domestic partners. But it goes on to say "Proposition 8 will not change this [the rights of domestic partners]. It just wouldn't be called marriage, and public school teachers wouldn't have to tell children it is the same as marriage."

This makes me angry on SO many levels!!! They say they are protecting children. What I get from what they say is that if Prop 8 passes, teachers will get to tell children that only men and women can get married to each other. What do gays and lesbians get to do??? Do they get to be 'domesticated'? They can form a partnership that is, supposedly just like marriage, (it ISN'T) but can't be called marriage because gays and lesbians are 'different'? How's that for perpetuating discrimination! Prop 8 makes it legal to teach discrimination. How nice.

And on another level... who is anyone to say that the "ideal situation" for raising children is with a married mother and father? Really? What makes it ideal? Because they are married? When did the fact that two people got married automatically make them ideal parents? Is there some potion that is drunk at the wedding that infuses ideal parental instincts?

Now I don't want children. But PLENTY of my gay and lesbian friends do and have. I suppose I am not an expert, but they appear to be doing a fine job of raising their children.

HOW DARE THEY USE CHILDREN TO TRY TO MAKE THEIR POINT!

I don't understand why it matters to ANYONE else who I marry. Someone needs to tell me how I hurt anyone else when my wife and I got married. I know tons of heterosexual married people and their individual marriages didn't affect anyone else right to living their life the way they choose. My marrying my wife didn't change anyone else's marriage or rights to anything else.

http://www.eqca.org/site/pp.asp?c=kuLRJ9MRKrH&b=4026385

I HATE being violated.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Knowing

She knows. Yet she doesn't know. She can feel it slipping, but she can't grab it tight enough to stop it. Pieces and parts are going, and there is nothing that can be done.

I see it happening. It is not as vivid for me as it is for others seeing it daily, but the picture has been painted well for me and my mind can grasp it. I am not good at feeling helpless. But I am also not good at fighting. And I am not faced with it day to day, so it is easy for me to sit back and armchair quarterback, almost as if it has nothing to do with me. But it does.

As we age, we just don't work like we used to. Our bodies begin to fail us. Our minds begin to quit. Somewhere along the line I think somehow medicine has gone wrong. I know that people are living longer and longer but, really, is it all that good? If you are fortunate to not have arthritis and diabetes and heart problems and dementia, you are rare.

Before now, getting old was abstract. I could tell you what to expect from an elderly person in terms of common medical and mental problems, but it was never a personal thing. Now as I talk about it, I realize that it has become personal.

My mom is old. I can't fix it.

It is personal now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Processing in real time

Despite my anxieties about changing my name, until today, it has proven anticlimactic. The great majority of institutions allowed me to make the name change via email, which surprised the living daylights out of me. Only my bank required that I come in, and those that didn't accept an email request, wanted only a phone call to process the change.

As of today, I was down to three changes that needed to be made.... the phone company, my bank and my auto insurance/homeowner's insurance. The bank was simple. In and out in under 8 minutes. I then went to the insurance agency. When I made the decision to go to the insurance company, I didn't know I had signed up for a comedy show. I suspect that I am the one who thought it was funny. But someone's got to be the straight man sometimes, right? (yes... pun intended).

I walked in with paperwork in hand. A very nice, mid 40's gentleman met me at the counter, asking if he could assist me. I informed him I was there to change the last name on my accounts due to a marriage. I told him I thought I had all the paperwork he would need, and put it all down on the counter... marriage certificate, interim paper license (new picture license came today in the mail - woo hoo!) and my previous picture license. He cheerfully took the papers and said he would go make a copy, and off he dashed.

He returned my original paperwork to me and I gave him my insurance card. He sat down at his desk, just behind the public counter, and began typing. Moments later he stopped. He got up and came to me with the copies of the paperwork in hand.

And so his processing begins....

With the marriage certificate on top, his hand hovering over it he asks, rather shakily,
"Um, forgive me, but what are we doing here?"
"Changing my name."
"Uhhh... which one are you?" as his hand continued to hover over the document.
"This one," I said recognizing immediately that this man isn't stupid. This is his first gay marriage name change. I pointed to my name.
"uhhhh... and you're ....?" He can't figure out how to word the question, how to ask, what words to use.
I smiled. I pointed to the document in the appropriate places and said, firmly, and I have to admit probably a tad bit too loudly, "This is me. I married HER. This is my old name. I have taken HER last name as my new last name."

The words floated in the air for seemingly forever while he tried to figure out how to breathe again.

"umm.... ooooo kay," he said with even less confidence than before.

So many things to process, so little time! He is speaking to a lesbian. She got married to a woman. She just essentially announced it to the whole office. She doesn't care that anyone else, coworkers or other customers, knows. I SWEAR I could see all of this processing in his head as he stood there, frozen for a bit.

It gets better!

He picked up the papers again and went back to his desk and began typing. A supervisor came by to assist another agent and as she walked past his desk he asked for help. Or rather he made an odd noise that got her attention, which indeed was his goal.

"uuuuhhhhh".... she looked at him expectantly. "She's here to make a name change on her account after a ......" his voice is strained and about two octaves higher than it should be, and yes, there is a conspicuous silence as he almost can't quite say it. "..... marriage."

"Yes?" The supervisor prompted him.

"Well, I, uh, well, I don't know the code to use ... with ... uh... this one."

Firmly, carefully and calmly the supervisor stated, "The same code we always use with any name change due to marriage." And she stated the code.

"Oh, oh, Okay," he replied in a more normal voice, and he began typing. The supervisor stood by and watched as he made the changes.

Then, with confidence he clearly doesn't actually feel, his voice still a tad too high, he speaks to me.

"um... okay.... the paperwork will now say " and he proceeded to stumble over deciding to say my name, my wife's name and our last name together as in Joe and Susan Smith, and he couldn't do it. So he said my name and then my wife's name as two separate names.

Which was fine with me. I was having fun with this! I smiled and thanked him. He got up from his desk and came over to the counter and returned my ID card. He stared at me, struggling to say something. He indeed realized he possibly could have offended me with his lack of ability to act professional given this circumstance he had never experienced. His staring went on for a long while before he said...

"Are you planning a trip?" This caught me by surprise for just as second. Was he offering me a deal on a honeymoon? When I told him there weren't any trips in my near future, he stumbled over sharing that their agency had a fantastic travel agency. I thanked him and put my things together to leave. He made one more attempt to try to make sure things were smoothed out and that he wasn't going to get in any trouble from me complaining...

"We also do DMV services..." and his voice got smaller. He was defeated. He gave in to the idea that he had not handled himself well at all. "...but you probably already know that..." he continued, almost inaudibly.

I decided to let him off the hook...

"Yes I am well aware of the wonderful services you offer here and the DMV services are one of my favorite reasons for staying with your agency."

With that I smiled, gathered my things and left. He looked slightly green, but was breathing more normally.

In no way was I offended. Those of you who know me know I can be a bitch when I want to be. I didn't think it necessary at all in this case. While I was getting tremendous enjoyment out of watching him squirm, I never got the sense that he was homophobic, only ignorant to the possibilities that are now out there. I'd like to think that I made it easier for the next gay or lesbian couple that goes in for the same reason.

Hopefully.

Next up... the phone company!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Adventure and a snow cone

My wife and I spent Saturday just cruising all around town hitting yardsales. We searched for nothing in particular, just wanting to learn more about our town and thought maybe we could find a few bargains in the process. We did indeed find one awesome bargain... a set of halogen shop lights for $10 - and they work! We were very proud of ourselves for that one! What a grand adventure we had!

And then we drove by a snow cone vender. Okay, so I guess they're called shaved ice now, but really... they're snow cones. It was HOT out and my wife thought the idea of a snow cone sounded awesome. I actually turned around and went back so we could get a snow cone.

When we got to the little stand, there was no one at it, but there was a gentleman painting a post near by. He hollered for someone to come out of the liquor store that the snow cone stand was stationed in front of. Sure enough, a young man walked out and opened the little stand up. We eagerly gave our flavor order (I ordered Rootbeer and my wife ordered Wild Cherry) and he switched on the machine spit out ice for us.

He filled the cups with ice and then did something that made both of us raise our eyebrows and exchange looks. He packed the ice in the cups - using his bare hands. He really worked the ice to pack as much in the cup as he could. This man had just walked out of the liquor store where he had been presumably helping customers buy alcohol... and here he was shaping our snow cones with his bare hands. Without saying a word, we each knew the other was thinking "When did he last wash his hands?" We both assumed it probably wasn't recently.

He poured the flavor on them, really smothering the ice with our respective flavors and proudly handed them over. We gave him our money and walked away.

We stared at the snow cones for a moment.

We ate them anyway.

It was HOT out!!

I think we both consider that our biggest adventure of the day.

And we didn't die.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Where does cruelty come from?

I long ago realized that I would never 'see it all' and that there would always be something else that could amaze me. And today gave me that.

Who could hurt a poor, innocent little kitten? How could someone possess so much hatred that it would be okay to throw a kitten at someone's door, like today's newspaper? That's what I saw today. A small, undernourished, horribly flea infested kitten was indeed tossed at someone's door - hard enough to startle the occupant inside. She opened her door to find, wrapped in a towel, this sad little kitten, mewing at her. She took it to the humane society who brought it to us.

To look at her, you would never know that she had so many fleas that she was pale with the anemia they caused, aside from the pale gums that is. All she wanted was love. Someone to pet her and pay attention to her. Someone to give her affection to.

She didn't even seem to mind that she was skin and bones, severely undernourished so much so that you could easily see ribs and leg bones. She just wanted to be close to you.

She didn't even complain when, upon close examination, her broken leg was discovered. She didn't wince or back away, let alone cry out in pain. Instead, she purred loudly and pushed her head into me, wanting one more ounce of love.

Pick her fleas off? Sure, she'll sit there and purr through it.

Take xrays of her body to see the extent of damage? No problem, just keep stroking her and talking to her, and you can do anything you want. And if all you wanted to do was to hold her, she would happily stare into your eyes, waiting for the next good thing you were going to offer. And wanting so much to give to you that love right back ten fold.

All she wanted from you, expected from you, heck, believed you would freely give to her, was love.

How can someone throw something that trusting, that innocent, at someones door?

One again in my life, I am shaking my head in amazement..

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Circle of Life

I shouldn't be surprised. Time has certainly moved along. Suddenly the reality of what that means is catching up to me.

You are born, you live, you die. Sounds like a simple process, but when you are intimately involved in it, that 'live' part sometimes connects with 'die' a little more poignantly than you expect.

In the last 2 weeks four long term clients have died. They touch my life, and I theirs, only briefly in the grand scheme of things, but some of those 'touches' are very significant because they have put their trust in myself and our hospital to care for the creatures they love very much. Sometimes that makes for some incredibly intimate connections. And suddenly, those people are gone from my life forever. I know that their loved ones grieve for them far more intensely than I, but I still find myself grieving a bit. I guess I am surprised by that. In discovering that I am grieving, I am realizing that these people have come to mean something to me.

In a similar vein, I am now seeing pets that I recall so fondly meeting as babies, getting old and dying. Some of the goodbyes I have said recently have hurt nearly as much as saying good bye to my own pets. As these elderly animals come in for their last visit, I have found myself struggling to be professional and complete the task set before me. It is not my job to cry and be upset when someone else's dog dies. It is my job to be compassionate and to be strong and allow the client to have as good an experience as one can have when you have to say your last good bye. Recently, that has proved to be very difficult. An interesting new experience for me to learn from.

And so the circle of life continues.

DMV Bingo and the double life

I am finding that at the moment, I am leading a double life... I seem to be in identity limbo! I have completed the federal process in changing my name, and have just completed the DMV process. But until the new photo ID comes, I am somewhat in between names. I have notified credit cards and utilities, and some changes have been completed. Some however require my physical presence to complete the process. Oddly, I am almost not sure who I am and what name to sign!

Take DMV for example. I was smart enough to make an appointment before going in. When I got there for my appointment, I gave my name and she couldn't find me. Suddenly I doubted the date of the appointment was about to groan out loud at my foolishness for not double checking the paper I printed after making the appointment. The lady behind the counter asked why I was there. I told her it was for a name change. So she asked for my 'old' name. I said that was the one I gave in the first place. She smiled, perhaps a thin smile with just a hint of impatience, said AHA, and asked for my new name. Low and behold, that was the name I had made the appointment under. I had NO recollection of doing that.

As a slightly funny aside, my DMV bingo experience was fairly mild compared to the social security office. My lucky bingo number was F010. I was seated only a short time before my number was computer voice called. Oddly enough, I got the very same man that I got the last time I went to my local DMV office. He was just as interactive this time as then. He moved at his own pace (about 75 MPH slower then I tend to move) and spoke very little. My first encounter with him was to get my new personalized plates for my truck. During the process, he said two words. I kid you not. I handed him my old plates and the form that would get me my new plates and he silently typed away at his computer. An eternity later, after I stared at him staring at his computer screen, he got up, went to a drawer and retrieved my new plates. He handed me a piece of paper and nearly scared me to death when he spoke aloud, asking me to 'Sign here'. And I was done.

As I approached Mr Silent Man Tuesday, I smiled and wondered if it would be a repeat performance. I wasn't disappointed. I handed him the completed form, the marriage certificate and my birth certificate. He typed a few things in the computer and stared at the screen. Something printed out. He typed some more and stared again. Something else printed out. He typed some more and stared some more. One last thing printed out and he again startled me with a 'Sign here' demand on my new interim license. He was forced to speak more this time because I had to get a new picture done (oh joy) so he had to say 'over here for your photo'. After the picture was done, he said, "Two weeks for your new license." and I took that to mean we were done.

Don't get me wrong. He wasn't unfriendly in his actions or his tone at all. Just quiet. It was actually quite humerous.

Back to my double life. Right now I find myself trying to remember who I am when I write or say my name. Which is odd, because I have spent the better part of the last year using my wife's last name for a lot of things, just not the 'legal' stuff. Now I guess I am finally melding into my new self. Seemingly very slowly.

It has been a fun process. I have no idea if any other newly married woman, lesbian or otherwise, has experienced the same feeling I have as this process has come together, but I tell you I have been positively giddy. It is almost like completing the name change process has allowed my mind to really believe that this marriage is real. Really. I seriously giggle when I think about it!

So is this what they mean about finding yourself???

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sprinting Kitty



If I hadn't been there to see it, I wouldn't have believed it! Splash likes to sprint. No purpose, no bug or bird being chased... just an all out windsprint!

We were working the garage the other evening when he flew by us out into the drive way at top kitty speed. I initially thought, 'hmmm he must have seen something out there.' After the second time, I began watching him because I was concerned that maybe something was watching us (we have a skunk that pops by now and again) and he was chasing it off.

Nope. Not the case at all.

He walked to the very far back of the garage and sat. Then he stood up and stretched and then bolted, through the garage and out the drive way. He did this 10 times. I kid you not. My wife and I counted! Each time was the same. After each run he would saunter back into the far back of the garage, rest up a bit, stretch and then bolt out again. My cat was doing windsprints!

What a funny little cat!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flying!!

Today was great!!! Occasionally we train for shorthaul - flying beneath a helicopter to allow for insertion into a search area that might be difficult to access or take a heck of a long time to get to if you were to hike it. Today was Kaeden's and my first 'for real' flight for a search.

WOW... Kaeden was fantabulous! He wore the harness without fuss, hooked into the system and flew like a pro (better than I did I think!) and when we set down and got the harness off, he went right to work like we had just gotten out of our truck! He was so meticulous.... He searched everywhere he could get to and was absolutely in heaven when he realized he got to swim TOO! He, of his own choosing searched both shores and everywhere he could access via rock across the creek. And when he saw something he knew he hadn't checked and the only way there was to swim, he slid in carefully and swam to it... It was fun to watch.

When I finally could watch that is.

First we had to rock scramble and I discovered I don't scramble as well as I thought I did. Or maybe the granite was so smooth after slipping three or four times my rock scrambling confidence was shaken. We walked on a crack. Really. A crack that some places only the toes of my boots could grip.

Kaeden's initial philosophy with the smooth granite was to run as fast as he possibly could across it. That worked for about halfway. After slipping and falling once, he somewhat abandoned that method and became a LITTLE more cautious and fared far better than I. Built in four wheel drive comes in handy....

We searched what we could as far as we could and then flew back out. This time I took more time to look at the absolute beauty of the land we were flying over. And I gotta say WOW there is some wonderous wilderness out there!

It was a GREAT day!