Monday, June 30, 2008

On the Importance of Pride

It is still (g/l/b/t/q) pride month, after all, so I might as well use this time to reflect and post a little more on the topic of being a biaffectional woman married monogamously to another woman, and having children together.

It's funny how with time, we come to insulate ourselves from some of the harshness of life. Important for survival, really, but also in some ways destructive because it allows prejudice and discrimination to become unchallenged, especially to the extent it is subtle (racism, for example, is so insidious now-- and dangerous in a significant but historically different way-- in large part because in many areas of the U.S. it has become incredibly subtle).

G. and I are certain that we were born to be the way we are. We are educated enough on the destructive nature of the "ex-gay" movement, and the ineffectiveness of the work of those who claim they are "curing" gays, to feel confident that trying to change this aspect of ourselves could literally kill us. I also feel theologically, morally, and ethically comfortable with my belief that our love for one another is true and worthy, and that real love-denied is God-denied. Our love does a dis-service to no one. If someone wants to claim otherwise, I defy them to provide real, solid, scientific proof. It just isn't true.

Since I am comfortable with who I am, and with who G. and I are as a couple, being a same-sex couple has become sort of a footnote in our lives. Contrary to what "gay liberationists" might claim, I haven't assimilated. I simply have integrated all the aspects of who I am into a whole being. I could want nothing more for my children than for them to live fully into their wholeness, and so it is also a gift to myself to do so. This is of great service to me and the other people in my life.

I always wanted to be a mother, since I was a very young child. Now I am. I have always wanted to get married, to live a married life. Not because that is an expectation placed on me by society as much as I find the idea of committing myself to someone in a monogamous relationship to be a spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally fulfilling approach to life. I am actually probably too lazy to do anything else, too.

I am true to myself, and that is something about which I feel very good.

G. and I are so comfortable with who we are, that we rarely any more feel the need to either fly a banner or to hide it. We do enjoying "flying the banner" at pride events and gathering with others who have experienced similar things to us at times, and at other times we are too scared to hold hands, for example, when we are taking a walk on the beach. Sure. We once were walking down the street without touching one another at all, not even talking in any way that indicated we were a couple, and a man spat at us and shouted in our faces "Fucking dykes. 9-11 is YOUR fault!"

But in our day-to-day life, we just are who we are. We get up, we go to work, we take care of our kids, we have doctor's appointments and parties to attend, we mow our lawn and fix the faucet, etc. etc. In all this, there are only brief, fleeting moments when I choose between living a life of truth vs. hiding. An example of one of those moments: when chatting with the grocery store clerk about why I can't remember the pin number on the debit card (embarrasing story from the other day), do I say, "my wife" or "my partner" (to make it more gender neutral) or "my husband" (I NEVER make this choice anymore...I don't want to live a lie) doesn't feel like changing the pin number to something I can remember. And if I make it gender neutral, how do I end the sentence without saying, "she?"

Despite those fleeting moments, I have found that 90% of the time, if I approach my relationship comfortably when relating to others, they do too. Our neighbors, the other mommies at my kids playgroup...whoever...even if they skip a beat, they too are able to generally integrate the wholeness of who we are into their understanding of the world and, often, embrace us. I even like to think that by us being who we are, they come to understand us no longer as some abstract threatening concept, but as real, kind, and loving human beings who are doing no harm by being who we are.

But sometimes the "skipping a beat," the difference between whether we are tolerated, or accepted, or embraced, and if just tolerated, at what level, those fleeting moments...they do come to weigh down on us, to harm us, and they do impact our quality of life and also the type of life our children will experience.

Within the last month or so, our family attended an event of significance. Our children were playing happily a short distance from us, and someone we didn't know who was standing just a step or two from them commented that they were cute and asked the hosts "whose children?" The hostess replied that they are ours, gesturing toward G. and myself. "Ooooooh," the questioner replied with some indication of discomfort and/or disapproval in her voice, "I didn't know THEY had kids."

I pretended not to hear because it just seemed easier, and I certainly didn't want to cause any disharmony at this occassion. I never know how to handle these situations, no matter how much they come up. But I am becoming more and more aware that my kids are listening to *everything,* and they do hear this stuff, and it does come across to them as an invalidation and questioning of their very family. As benign as this described scenario sounds, just imagine its weight on a small child, especially given that it is not an isolated type of incident.

Some have used this to argue that same-sex couples shouldn't have children at all. I find that argument utterly ridiculous. Should racial minorities not have children to protect young ones from racism? I mean, REALLY.

As I play the scene I just described back over and over in my mind, I can imagine different responses. Perhaps I could have said, for example, "Yes," as I walked over to my children, "they are ours." This would have said to my children, "I am proud and unashamed of our family." But I didn't, and honestly, I don't know if there is ever a perfect response to bigotry, even subtle, insidious bigotry.

So here we are, people whose very essence and value and basic human rights are questioned daily...right in front of our own children, even.

Recently, as if to remind me of the work still needed on this issue (and believe me, this is work I'd rather not have to do), I moved over 3000 miles with my family to a new home, a new community. All that insulation I had created was stripped. We were vulnerable again.

I learned a couple months ago that someone in the church quit immediately upon my hire, after reading my biography in which it is honestly stated that I am married to G. and that we have two children. This actually stunned me. In my life as a religious professional to date, it hasn't been an issue. I grew up so isolated from this type of thing, and my faith community (the same one I grew up in) is known for its welcoming of families like ours. So I nearly fell off my chair when I found out, but it is the ugly truth. Now, as our congregation moves slowly toward possibly working toward official "welcoming congregation" status, while the majority of the congregation is supportive or at least neutral, some of that prejudice is surfacing. I have already been questioned for not choosing to live in hiding. Like I said, it's not like I am waving the banner around or anything, but I am comfortable with who I am as well. Is this something unique to congregations in my new geographical region, or something more endemic that I have somehow been sheltered from in my approximately 30 years (give or take) in this faith?

It just goes to show, the prejudice is still there. The silent and muttered disapproval is burning a hole in my stomach, really. And for the sake of my children and yours, we ought to call it like we see it (all of us, gay, straight, or anywhere in between) so we can one day find these wounds finally healed...

Here's to doing my small part.

An Open Letter to Family Equality Council

I am posting the following for public discourse because:

1. I know others are in a similar position and frustrated, and I figure it doesn't hurt to communicate to one another what it is we are doing to resolve the matter so that we can share our needs with the Family Equality Council with some unity.

2. I would love it if anyone with more information or details in regard to any of the items mentioned in this letter would come share them in the comments section here so we can start to collect all information floating around out there...just in case the council is unable to respond in time.

Dear Family Equality Council,

My family and I have recently moved to Massachusetts. Last week, I heard about Family Week in Provincetown. I am interested. However, as I am not yet “in the know,” I am finding it more than a little frustrating to get more information.

I need to do some basic planning in order to attend, and I can’t wait until the last minute for most of the planning. For example, I will be taking some time off work to attend. I don’t have a full week I can take off, but I can get one or two days at least. I need to figure out which day(s) will be most fun for the particular members of my family. And I need to make this decision in time to arrange for time off. I also need to do some financial preparation for this event. I will need time to "save my pennies," so to speak.

From some conversations online with other folks in similar positions, it seems I am not alone. So while I would love a response with pertinent information via email, what I would appreciate even more (and ultimately I think it will save you from having to answer too many repeat questions from different people via email and phone), is if you posted the following on your website:

  • Under “frequently asked questions” you post the question: “What is family week?” The answer you provide is a little helpful, but I am still unclear. Is it a conference? A festival? A structured collection of inter-related but independent events?

  • Could you please post a preliminary schedule of the events with a brief one-three sentence description of each? I understand that details may still be under development, but even something tentative that could be grown as the details become more firm would be extremely helpful in asking for days off from work, for example, or gaining my children's investment in the event as another example. Again, please post any information you have available, even if you will need to add more information later or need to reserve the right to change any information.

  • Could you provide information about whether the registration fee applies to those attending only part of the week (say, one-three days), and if so, whether it is prorated?

  • In the schedule of events, could you list any cost associated with the event, and note whether this is a fee charged only to those who are unregistered or to everyone (a cost on top of the registration)?

  • For those who are not able to come for the registration period, could you specify whether or not we have a specific location where we will need to go to pay fees or check in when we arrive. For example, if my family is arriving on Tuesday, do we go straight to the first event we plan to attend, or should we go to a main location first?

  • Could you provide more details about the registration cost? Does the registration cover all members of the family? Is it a suggested donation or a required fee? Is there a sliding scale or scholarship program? If I make a donation in addition to my registration fee, can I specify that it be used as a “scholarship” for someone who can’t afford the fee?
Thanks for your help. I am on your email list to receive updates as they become available, but I am anxious to make sure my family’s participation is not precluded due to a delay in necessary details.

And finally, thank you so very, very much for your work on behalf of our families and for this event which sounds so lovely and must be so much work!



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some Folk-y Music

Heard this in church today (played and sung a little more upbeat/with a faster tempo, however), and thought it beautiful poetry about life: "There is a hole in the middle of the prettiest life." I couldn't find a video of it to embed, but thought it worthy of being passed on anyway, for those who can stand a little folk music with a bit of a country twang (G., you have my blessing in skipping the opportunity)...

Go to, look in the upper righthand corner, and press the fast forward button until you get to the song "For Real."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Movie Recommendation: King Corn

I watched another food documentary on Instant Netflix today. The title was "King Corn." It featured a segment from Wray, Colorado. Funny that. I spent a summer in Wray. Right around the fifty-one minute mark of the movie...that's what I remember from driving into Wray. Cows packed into small confined spaces as tightly as they could fit, and the stench of it all.

This movie title and subtitle makes it seem like it is going to be predictable, and yeah, perhaps the message is (although G. thought the message was a little unclear, I thought it was a well told story). But it does some interesting things along the way, and it was a well worth-it and enjoyable watch. Around one hour and twelve minutes, when they started breaking down the farm by finances, the "a-ha" moments started rolling out one after another.

The only thing I found irritating about this video is that there was a whole segment on diabetes, but not once was type II explained as a disease seperate from type I, with a different cause, pathological process, and often scope of complication. That's one of my major pet peeves, so you can assume the movie had to have some redeeming qualities in order for me to recommend it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Use Your Walking Feet..."

...It's a very silly parental phrase I picked up goodness knows where. It means, "walk," as opposed to running.

Tonight, it was as if some divine parent said it to me, "Use your walking feet 'Masasa.'" But "walk" was in opposition to driving. The battery on my van died while I was at work. G. is sure she turned off all lights in the van before giving it to me to drive to work, but she was moving dozens of boxes in and out of the van this morning, and it appears one of the back lights got flicked on. She must not have noticed that one.

So I walked home, since G. was already asleep in bed (as were the kids).

I had really worked up in my mind what this walk was going to be like, when we first put an offer on this house and I was considering changes I might make in my transportation choices. I have never liked walking. It actually makes me feel irritable, especially when the weather is not perfect walking weather. I would rather bike or skate (not rollerblade, apparently, as I have failed miserably so far at that). This walk seemed like it would be pleasurable for the first half, near the downtown area where there were things to see and people still out and about. But the second half seemed like it would be a bit dreadful to me. There is a stretch of road with quiet houses on one side and a mildly wooded area on the other side. The street lights are more stretched out, so it gets dark too. I don't like walking in the first place, but walking without landmarks is an especially dreadful activity.

I felt before doing it that the second half of the walk would be a boring one. Instead, I found the whole walk to be rather invigorating.

The first part was easy, as I suspected. I did stop at a restaurant after the first 0.3 miles or so, and thankfully there were several still open (it was around 11:45pm), just to get a sandwich since I hadn't had a real dinner and mainly to hear someone's voice besides my own. I got a cheese and veggie sub and some homefries, and ate a few bites before putting it away in my bag. Between taking some bites and checking out the different businesses, I kept my mind fairly busy. Before I knew it, I hit the grocery store that I know is between 0.7 and 0.8 miles from my house. This felt encouraging...I was getting so close.

The next stretch was the part I had been dreading. In fact, I suddenly noticed there was a little hill in front of me just to add an additional irritation. I know, I know, a little hill-- one I'd never even noticed before-- should be no big deal. But it has been a while since I've taken a walk this long aside from times when I've set out to "go hiking." I'll admit I am not in good shape right now. Nonetheless, my mind went drifting and I didn't notice I was on the hill for some time. Suddenly my other thoughts stopped and I said to myself, "man, I am getting a little feet and legs are starting to hurt." And then I realized I was on the hill, and I felt better knowing this was the cause.

When I reached the top of the hill, I could see the roundabout that is one of the central pieces of my neighborhood! I also could see a school that the neighborhood kids attend. "If they walk home from here," I thought, "I must be close." So much for no landmarks!

Soon, I was in the roundabout. At that point, mild anxiety arouse again as I considered that it felt like I was "almost home," but in fact, my street was still a ways up the road, and my house is about 0.3 miles up my street. But it wasn't too bad getting to my street. The longest stretch of the whole walk was probably the one on my own street, as it had fewer landmarks and was the darkest of them all. But I made it home in the exact amount of time I predicted: about 40 minutes. I live about two miles from my work, so I was walking a 20 minute mile, more or less, which is what I predicted. I do hate walking after all, and am out of shape, but 20 minutes seems average.

My realizations include:
  • Since I am not big on walking, I wouldn't want to walk this everyday, but I think biking it will be a breeze, and I think I'd be willing to walk it on occasion.
  • Tonight was a cool night, but humid. I came home somewhat chilly but also damp and sticky (ick!). I don't think I could have tolerated the humidity if it had been hot out. I was glad to be walking when the sun was down.
  • I think I could walk this with M., if not the full way, at least partially (and we have already taken a bus to my work, so we could catch a bus if he got tired). I wouldn't do it with K., on the other hand. She is a hard kid to walk with in general: she gets tired very fast and also does a lot of funny walking (walking while putting her head and shoulders down so she yanks off your arm, etc.). I might try it sometime with her in a stroller, but in this weather I can't imagine tolerating our beloved backpack/frontpack carrier because we'd both be soaking...and the sling would irritate my old car-accident related upper back injury (the injury that has given me daily headaches for about five years now).
  • The sidewalks for the most part are great on this walk! Nice and wide...very old New England. You don't see sidewalks going in like this anymore. It makes for a much more pleasurable walk, and if absolutely necessary, could be a safe albeit illegal haven for a biker trying to avoid crazy New England drivers. There are some stretches of sidewalks with big tree roots going right through, ripped up and ill-maintained. But most of it is nice.
  • On my way, I passed a street sign where there was no street. It was a street name followed by "Terrace." It appears it is a footpath Terrace. I found that to be a delightful felt like it must be an old street that survived the invention of cars unscathed!

All in all, I am reminded once again that sometimes I build things up in my mind to be much more difficult or unappealing than they actually are. I am glad for this reminder.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Stimming House

This picture might also be worth 1000 words:

So we have been in our new house for a little less than a week, and we are still mostly packed up in boxes. I think this is going to go much more slowly than I had been hoping. I just want to be in and settled.

But what is that behind those boxes that are sitting on our 3-season porch? Why...a pool! You just can't see it because I took this picture at night.

For our first couple days here, I didn't have much opportunity to get in the pool. G. and the kids were able to make it in once or twice, but I just couldn't seem to get the timing down. Finally, during the last three days, I've been able to fit in some time in the water each day.

K. has always really loved the water, and M. has been a bit more cautious. We have been on hiatus for a while now from our parent-child swim classes, in part because M. hated the coolness of the water. It is really nice now to have some control over the temperature.

What is interesting is that K. now seems a bit more insecure when we get into the water (it could just be the insecurity of moving coming into play), and also she is not tolerating the temp of the water quite as well. She wants to be in the pool with us, but seems very tentative once in. I am hoping once things settle, she too will settle into the house and life with a pool so she can enjoy herself in the water again.

M. on the other hand, in just these few days, has begun to relax tremendously and enjoy water again. He napped later than usual today, so G. took K. up to bed tonight at the usual time but M. stayed downstairs with me for a little extra time.

I asked M. if he wanted to go dip his feet in the pool, and he said that he did. We went out, and were dipping our feet, and not more than five minutes later, M. decided to go ahead and basically step down into the his clothes and all. He played very contentedly even as it began to rain. I let him stay in the pool because there were no signs of lightning, but I made him come inside the house once the rain started to come down more heavily.

This child who once seemed to have a mild sensory aversion to pools is now the last to get out of the pool. A transformation largely in this single week of daily swims. We are so lucky to have a pool in our backyard for no-pressure family swims. It beats parent-child weekly lessons hands-down. M. has been able to come into comfort with the water in his own way and in his own time this week. He even is comfortable enough now to let me just lightly support him with a couple of fingers while he tries some basic swimming moves (leg kicks, and basic arm paddling, which is still very rudimentary).

The pool is a great place for "stimming" activities: for rocking, for slow spinning, for kicking and splashing, for bouncing/jumping, for making patterns with the water. We all do these things naturally in bodies of water, especially children. But M. and I both love that it is a built in feature of this house.

We also set up the computer yesterday, and I was playing some music off my mom's blog. M and I were tilting our heads back, looking at the ceiling, and swaying from side to side as we listened to it (along with bouncing and dancing too). The ceiling in the sunroom is a drop ceiling...a nice one, though, as drop ceilings go. The squares are soothing to look at when swaying. Very stimmy, and very soothing, and very bonding.

M's been enjoying some floor space in the living room to work on his new 24-piece puzzle (the pieces are quite large, and the puzzle is something like 2.5 x 3 feet when completed). He can do that puzzle again and again and again with complete focus as long as K. is busy doing something else. Yesterday, he lined up all his matchbox cars across the sunroom and then pronounced proudly to me, "Did it, mama!" Yes, baby, you did!

Even though our lives are still very much in upheaval here, our new home feels so right and good. And very stimmy-friendly. Hooray!

Worth 1000 Words

Since this beautiful picture is worth at least 1000 words, I'll let it speak for itself. I'll say only that it is listed as the work of Barbara Davidson and came from the Los Angeles Times in a series featured here:

I found it while checking out "Family Week" events in Provincetown on a website linked from here:

It's Pride time!

$25 of Gas

This cartoon found at during an internet search using the term "tank of gas." By the way, like many others, on some significant level, I am hoping the price of gas remains high to affect change in U.S. consumption of fossil fuel resources. Still, I worry if I'll be able to afford to heat my house this winter, as it is oil heat.

I have sooooo much to post, but have been too busy with the move to actually take the time to do so. Hopefully in the next few days...

In the meantime, thought I would share quickly a challenge I have given myself now that we are in a better location for biking, walking, and bussing.

I filled up one of our cars the other day, the one I have been driving lately, with $25 of gas. This took it from slightly above 0.25 tank to about 0.75 tank. In other words, it was about a half tank. Now my challenge for myself is to measure how far I can get by before I get back down to that slightly above 0.25 mark. As time goes on, I hope to get longer and longer stretches from a half tank of gas.

Though G. and I decided we won't be selling one of our vehicles at this stage in our lives, if I can go long enough between gas refills, I will alternatively be considering "garaging" my car for a six month period. That is, putting it in the garage (except for occassionally drives around the neighborhood just to keep it from rusting out, etc. from non-use) and canceling my insurance policy. If the six months go well, I'll consider an extension. But first step is to see how well I do with the half tank.

I will share any observations worth sharing as/if I have them as I do this challenge. So far, my only observation is that this move wasted a good portion of my half tank!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quick House Update

Looks like closing will be delayed. I paid insurance for one year in full this morning, but the closing attorney said the lender demands 24 hours after they receive the insurance binder to prepare the loan documents. Urgh. I soooo wish this would have been simpler last week.

This will make closing tomorrow, except the seller's attorney is saying he isn't available tomorrow. This is frustrating, but at least now we seem to have it is just a matter of another day to three until we can get in our house.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Blog Treasure: "It's Not on the Test" Song

Thanks to a homeschooling mama for posting this video on her blog (which I discovered this evening) along with the following quote:

"Just as eating against one's will is injurious to health, so study without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in." --Leonardo Da Vinci

She also passed on the very clever idea of using rain gutters to house books for the kids, with fronts displayed. I wonder if there is somewhere in the new house where we have good wall space to do this? This is one of the pictures she shared of the "reading corner" in her house:

So I guess that makes two major treasures discovered!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thinking of the Summer Olympics

Thinking of the summer Olympics, I watched tonight on instant Netflix a documentary called "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama." The last twenty minutes or so were particularly useful in focusing my attention on the issue of China's occupation in Tibet. I was struck by the Dalai Lama's positions in juxtaposition to China's leaders, and even "liberal America's" response to the occupation...take for example, boycotting items made in China (I don't often buy products made in China myself, for other reasons).

I found the Dalai Lama's statements important even as I meditated on China's own recent natural disaster. Speaking of that, did any of you hear the related Blog of the Nation on NPR on June 11th? It was interesting to hear more in depth conversation about the Chinese people's responses to its government and the national spirit in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What am I saying about food?

I have been thinking for some time now about what I am saying to my children about food. What messages, what values, what nourishment am I giving them through food?

I have no answers now, am just continually reflecting.

A person on one of my online parenting discussion boards posted a question about how she should explain to her animal-loving daughter that the meats they eat were once live animals.

There was a good discussion, on many different levels. On one of those levels, I said this:

I think this can be a tough one, even for those of us who are vegetarian families.

I was raised vegetarian, and have chosen to remain vegetarian into adulthood. I value this and hope to pass it on to my children. My wife was raised eating meat, but her feeling is that our kids should not eat meat until they can understand what it means and make a decision for themselves.

So we're a vegetarian household.

Nonetheless, here are a couple examples of tricky situations we have been in:

1. Our younger dog was hit by a car and killed on Valentines day after his leash failed and broke loose from his harness. We explained to my son that his dog was dead. It was hard, but we tried to explain what that meant. Fast forward a month or so, and we are at the store, and we're passing the meat section and my son asks about it. I was rushing through the store with two toddlers, trying to get my shopping done in a hurry, and without thinking, I told my son: "We don't eat that. Those are dead animals." Then, I caught myself rushing through that first conversation about meat without being present for my son, but it was too late. He looked at me with a look of complete confusion and then asked if our dog was there. OMG!!!!!! It was heartbreaking.

2. My son loves this Signing Time video with animal signs. One of the signs is for "turkey." I don't recall if he's ever seen a turkey live before, but he knows what they are: that they are animals, a type of bird. We've talked about turkeys, made turkey sounds, pretended we were walking around being turkeys, signed "turkey" as we've looked at video images of turkeys walking around and eating on his Signing Time video. My wife's sister was babysitting my son during my baby girl's therapy appointment a week or two ago. When we returned to pick up my son, my sister-in-law (his babysitter) had my son tell us what he did while we were gone. He told us they walked to the store. Sister-in-law said, and "what did we get at the store?" and my son replied, "A turkey!" I found myself taken off-guard. I didn't want my son to be confused, nor is this something I want my son to think about with no thought, if that makes sense, so I said, "M, was that turkey alive or dead?" M. said, "dead." Meanwhile, there was SIL, cooking up the turkey for her husband and kids for dinner in front of us all. It's not like G.'s family isn't cooking up meats around us all the time, but I found that particular instance stirred some sadness inside me about those experiences.

It's not that I don't want my kids to get real information. It's just that (1) the grocery store incident reminded me of the importance of the information being age appropriate, especially given how disconnected we are from the raising of our food, (2) I want my kids to understand death first, and I know they are confused about it still, and (3) I am learning that these first conversations can come naturally but I feel strongly that they should come with some sensitivity, especially for vegetarian kids.

Even having been raised vegetarian and raising my children as vegetarians, I am still trying to figure this one out.

What am I saying about food? What am I saying, to my wife, to my children, to myself?

I watched an interesting video on "watch instantly" Netflix tonight. It was a documentary on zen buddhism and cooking called "How to Cook Your Life" I wouldn't recommend watching only part of it. Like a meal, it had many flavors. I found it thought-provoking, and would love for any of you to watch it (if you haven't seen it), and share your thoughts on any level.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Dream Bike

By the way, of course everyone in the below photos should be wearing helmets. Yikes!

This is my dream bike right now. I started reading the blog of someone using it, and I am just in awe. I could fit both kids AND groceries. Or heck, the dog. I could have a new baby and bring the baby too. I could bring loads of books and art supplies back and forth from work, even in the rain. I know it would be less maneuverable than a good ol' fashioned bike, but I don't mind. Really. I swear if I got this, I would drive only in the winter or when heading out of town. I am in LOVE.

It would pay off in gas, I am certain of it. Still, I don't have the money. The CHEAPEST is $2500 and would have to be shipped from out of country, putting it waaaaay over the top. Couldn't I build something like this within a $1000 range, somehow, if I knew some talent to help me??! Not that I can afford a $1000 bike either, can dream. Or fundraise???

On a related but different note, I was brought to this discovery by two paths:

1. I have been looking for a good bike and a good biking system where I can take the kids around town and also pick up groceries.

2. I have begun to tiptoe into a big debate on one of my online parenting boards about the safety of bike seats for young kids, versus bike trailers, versus riding in cars. I would LOVE to see any statistics anyone can dig up on each of the above three. I would like to do some comparison, taking into account that the studies might be apples to oranges. Still, I'd like to just see.

Sprint to Closing

It may be another week or two before I post anything good. I hope that won't prevent any of my six readers ;-) from coming back.

We are in the homestretch, the sprint to closing on our new house. Closing will happen Monday, and then we will take slightly less than two weeks for our move. It still feels uncertain. I am not sure whether that is because we are in a different state and the process is so unfamiliar, or if it is because of how the mortgage industry is right now, or because of all the trouble this purchase has been so far (a CONSTANT negotiation) or what. But I will believe it when those keys are in my hand.

If you looked around our house, you'd have NO idea we are moving.

Nonetheless, we're hammering in the final nails. Our attorney is working out some detail on the mortgage commitment letter with our lender. We have a tentative final walk-through time scheduled with our real estate agent. Our landlord has been showing our rental house like crazy, and we've been trying to stay out of her way. I am working on our homeowner's insurance application.

Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Edited to add:
How bad is old knob and tube wiring in an electrical system? Apparently, VERY bad. A few hours after posting the above, it began to complicate our lives a great deal-- particularly in getting home owner's insurance-- even though this wiring is a relatively small amount of the wiring in the house. Will this slow or stop our sprint to closing? Or cost of a couple thousand dollars we don't have? Maybe. Please continue to keep your fingers crossed for us. As it turns out, I was right on in having a sense of caution.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Now I Will Tag...

Once I take a nap (just took a dose of my meds and am falling asleep here), I will tag:

The Learning Umbrella

Ms. Kitty's Saloon and Road Show

Monkey Mind

Rainbow Mama


And while I am posting, can I ask this? I love to garage sale but am so bad at finding a good deal. One of my goals for next year is to significantly reduce the amount I am driving. I may have even found a bike trailer to hitch on for the kids through Freecycle. My problem is that I need a bike. G. has a bike, but it is too small for me. I don't have money for a bike, however, and am thinking Craiglist or Freecycle are going to be my best bets. Yet, looking on the central Mass. Craigslist, I got totally overwhelmed. Can anyone help me keep an eye out for a good bike on that list? Or at least tell me how to choose a bike: how do I know what size I need, etc?

Determining The Title of My Memoir

First of all, happy birthday to me! Well it is the day after my birthday, but I stayed up late to start this post, and now I am going to finish it.

Given that it is my birthday, sort of, it's a good day for the following.


September tagged me, and as my mom said, "it's a cool one - not too time-consuming," and I will add that it is as silly or as serious as you want it to be.

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person that tagged you.
4. Tag five more blogs.

Okay, so in my high school journalism class, I was demoted from writing titles because I've never been good at them. This was harder for me than it ought to have been.

But I still had some fun with it.

Here are some titles I thought of...

  • First, I had trouble with the six word thing. My early attempts included some word fudging. One of my favorites from that stage was Make a List, Graph It, Forgetaboutit! If you don't count "a" as a word, that helps. Anyway, anyone who knows me well knows I am a serious list maker, and that I graph and plan and scheme in a most serious manner, but 80% of the time I forget the project I've taken ever so seriously soon enough because I've moved on to the next one.

  • Then I took this task more seriously for a bit, and thought of titles that represent the "core me." "They" say every preacher has one good sermon in them. It's possible I may have written mine, and that now everything is a variation. If I make it into a six word title, it is something like: Love Lived Freely, Fear Through Thee. Okay, actually, the sermon part may apply best to the first three words. And I am not sure if the title even makes sense now, the way I broke it down into six words. But basically, the idea is that the fundamental core of my life has been my attempt to live a life centered in LOVE, even when that has meant living (charging) through huge fears. I decided that if G. had her way, she would probably vote to transform the above title into something more like: Chaos...Love...Chaos: Fear Love Not, which probably reads even less smoothly than the one above, but is likely a more accurate description of the way I live my life. That is...dive in because love is the strongest value, live in the chaos that happens when love determines your course (think: our experiences as foster moms), then repeat! But fear not, for love is worthy. Along those same lines, I thought of Chaos, Love, Fear...Chaos, Love, Fear. I liked that one because I could imagine a series of chapters with each of those words as titles, repeating themselves over again as needed ("Chaos Part I," "Love Part I," "Fear Part I," "Chaos Part II" get the point). I think I could easily write about my life in this manner, but it really under-emphasizes love, which I believe to be the stronger and most important theme.

  • That made me think of one I liked even better, but that may have involved more than six words depending on how you count them, and that sounded a bit unoriginal: She Was Called & So It Was. Still, that's a pretty good synopsis of my life, and the development of my family and vocation. The last or first words of the book would have to be "and it was good," from scripture.

  • Similarly, I tried to summarize my life is six words, and PHEW! That's pretty much impossible. The best I could come up with was It’s Good, Just Not That Simple, but I didn't like that title. It sounded negative.

  • Never Fully Understanding, Never Fully Understood were words I used when posting a comment on another blog. And I guess I do feel like my life does have that thread in it (especially the "never fully understanding..." must nod here to my own constant state of confusion LOL). But that probably is overly simplistic and would come off as negative even when I don't mean it to be so (oh, yes, because I will never be fully understood ha ha ha), and truly, my life IS good.

  • So then I started thinking more about my personal characteristics. It reminded me of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I couldn't remember all their names, but I could think of lots of good title words that could pass as their names even if they weren't really. Ones I came up with included: Sleepy, Grumpy, Happy, Dopey, Mopey, Sneezy. I also liked this one because it lended itself well to chapter titles, and I could easily shape my life to fit within these chapters. Sneezy would have to be a medical chapter, by the way, which could be very interesting. That said, only one chapter for "happy?" Hmmm. Had to move on.

  • Thinking of my personal characteristics also immediately brought this one out: Her Obituary Was Written and Updated. Or I guess since it isn't a biography but rather a memoir, perhaps it should be My Obituary Was Written and Updated. G. will laugh at this one. She knows it's true. I've written my obituary. I have fill in the blank spots she can use for updates (add children or whatever), but it is otherwise done. And I go back every now and then to update it. What I still have to do, and plan on doing, is put together most of my memorial service. G. calls this morbid. For me, it has nothing to do with death really. It is absolutely 100% an expression of my love for her, a deep desire to take care of her, and my way of honoring what I know will be among the harder things for her if I die before her (G. does not enjoy writing, and she especially abhors articulating emotion in public). I think this title says something about the core of who I am and how I think. It also gets straight to the heart of my life because my family is the absolute most important thing in the world to me and the center of my universe in almost every way, shape, and form. After thinking up that title, I got it in my head that I could expand that concept for more flexibility in chapters. And here, I ended up fudging with the word limit again: She Wrote It Because She Lovesya. Alright, alright. It wasn't that good, so I'll go back to the word limit.

  • In a moment of self-doubt I wrote a title I would never use, mainly because it is inaccurate, but I liked it anyway because it is reflective of some aspect of my inner life: Sturdy Girl Outside, Fragile Girl Inside.

  • Poking fun of myself further, but also capturing some of my nature, I thought of: I Hate Change; Let’s Change It. It really needs seven words though. It would read much better as I Hate Change, but Let's Change It. The idea is that I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with change. G. will be the first to tell you that as soon as the dust settles, and I start to get comfortable, I feel the need to stir things up change something. G. is always talking about when things in our lives settle down. The whole notion of "settling down" has become some mystical creature always around the corner. She has been talking about it for the ten years we've been together, and truly, especially since our move to the west coast, our lives are characterized by living in stirred dust. I have to take responsibility for that. I am always taking on projects (starting a charter school among my most recent desires for a potential project, for example), and changing big things (having babies, and so forth). I don't like being idle. At work, too. I often come off as unafraid, daring, willing to take risks, interested in big vision and the future. And yeah, that is largely how I am. However, on a huge level, I also hate change. I am the last to agree to a change in the rearrangement of furniture in my home. I often cry when traditions are altered in the slightest. I prefer to eat the same things for months on end (hmmm...more neurodivergence I suspect). I am cranky, irritable, and generally uncomfortable when things in my environment or the dynamics of my relationships change. Yep, it is love-hate for sure. What a nut!

  • One of the more obscure titles I thought of was: It’s Late Or Never: I Choose… does that even read? The concept was alright, but it didn't translate well to six words. The idea was something along the lines of my slow movement through life, and the choices I have made often involving either "never" or "late." Clearly, however, if one can't describe the concept in a clear fashion, one isn't going to write a book on it, so I guess that one is out. Oh well, it was a very limited depiction of my life anyway.

  • That said, the last one mentioned got me on a roll with the often eccentric, neurodivergent, unusual, funky, and slightly off-center relationship between my internal and the external world. One of the first titles I thought of along those lines was this: Isn’t That the Name, Villa Waffers? My parents and siblings will know immediately what I am talking about. I might have been eight years old, if memory serves, and my family was on a picnic. On our picnic table was a box of Vanilla Wafers. I'd eaten them before and was perfectly familiar with their name, but when I asked for them to be passed to me, I read the name off the box rather than recalling the name. Despite good reading skills, I misread the box. "Pass the Villa Waffers, please" I said. Now that I am on anti-seizure meds, I am starting to realize how this seemingly benign childhood event is a piece of a puzzle in a lifelong pattern. I am now coming to understand that this is a big part of "my story." Why was I unable to rely on memory recall to ask for the Vanilla Wafers? Even if I read the box, why hadn't I caught the difference between my memory of the name and what I was (mis)reading? The answer may in fact be a part of funky neurological wiring rather than just a silly childhood "moment" (sort of like the cliche, "senior moment"). But thankfully, the incident was met with good cheer and generally friendly, compassionate humor rather than mocking. My parents' home has long been nicknamed "Villa Waffers," and we still sometimes use this nickname in addressing correspondence.

  • Thinking in those terms, I was able to come up with several rather highly apropos titles including: No, That Never Occurred To Me; Brilliance Wrapped Up in a Box; I’m Sure I Never Said That; and Glimpses of Brilliance Muted and Lost.

This led to my all time favorite so far. Here we go.......................

Perseveration, Stimming, Deep Pressure, Heavy Work

That would be it in a nutshell. I'd have a chapter with each word as its title, and I would divide up my life's story accordingly. This would be EASY. Each is a therapeutic term describing either neurodivergent behaviors or therapeutic techniques to address neurodivergent needs. People often do the therapeutic techniques naturally if their neurological systems need them, but if you ever go to Occupational Therapy or Speech Therapy, you might just be taught how to use the techniques in a more intentional way.

Anyway, I like the way it captures my life so well, and also captures my distinct interest (obssession...perseveration??) regarding all things medical/neurological in nature.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Survival International

I learned today of an organization called Survival International. Thought a link worth sharing, and some (warning: very unsettling) videos:

The other day on NPR I listened to a political forum on the Diane Rehm show in which one speaker argued against the very notion that global warming even exists. If one can't get behind the need to reduce overtaxing natural resources for environmental reasons, surely the prevention and end to genocide might be a motivator???

That said, the idea of "uncontacted" people is a misnomer, and ethnocentric. The language isn't particularly helpful. However, I am finding a lot of the videos on the Survival International website itself interesting and more helpful. Right now I am watching one called "From the Kalahari to Court." I recommend it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Look Back Over the Last 18 Months

Now that this chapter is closing, I am really feeling the excitement build for November. What an amazing year it has been!