Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get yo bad self out that closet.

Without disclosing too much about what I "do" right now (it's just too depressing, trust me), I was spending some time with a teenage girl who is in the middle of discovering her sexual identity. I knew she was having trouble, and that she was being persecuted at school for her sexuality. She was withdrawn and quiet during our time together today, but when I took the initiative and brought it up myself, the flood gates opened. There are so many things for which kids get teased, but it seems the most painful of them (bad skin, SES, and of course sexuality) are the things they can't control. Yes, so now I've established that. I don't think sexuality is something we choose. The world is tough enough for teenagers, but it's absolutely tragic when they feel boxed in and persecuted for something that truly belongs to them. I remember just being destroyed when I didn't get asked to prom my junior year, and I certainly never had a date to homecoming. And here's this girl, smart and witty with eyelashes Oprah would envy; she does get asked to a dance, and the school won't let her and her same-sex partner attend.

In Ohio, the age of consent (the age at which a child can legally agree to have sex with someone of an appropriate age) is 13, technically. More generally, it's 16. I would think that if someone is of the age at which they can choose with whom they have sex, they should be entitled to choose who they take to school dances. Regardless of how one feels about gay marriage, this really does seem like a basic civil right.

Being someone of a particular spiritual persuasion, I feel required...nay, challenged to love all. It's really hard. I fail miserably on a regular basis. But the least I can do is not be concerned with the things others do that have no bearing on my own health and safety. This is simply one of those things. I sat her down and referred her to GLAAD and our local chapter of GLSEN, and she became bubbly and excited. No one had ever suggested to her that there are people whose job it is to help kids through these transitions. There are people who can help her bear her burdens. I'm deeply thankful that I've always (well, at least for most of my life) had that knowledge.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I imagine that as we get older, the things for which we're willing to sacrifice get larger or of more significance. When I was a child, I sacrificed visits to the ice cream truck to save up for an American Girl Doll (does that give away how old I am?). When I was an exchange student, I sacrificed conditioner and razors for train tickets. When we first entered the working world, we sacrificed cable to save up for a house. Now...I find myself sacrificing my social life to pay for dog therapy.

Yes, dog therapy. Recently, we adopted a second puppy (Buster), and everything was hunky dorey until his balls dropped. Then Maybe, the older dog, decided that if we weren't going to remove him from her life, she would do it herself. So we hired a militant dog whisperer, and now our dogs wear leashes constantly and are verboten from getting on the furniture and live virtually separate lives. In the last six months, Maybe has gone from attacking him once every five minutes to once every 30. Astronomical.

I suppose I just started realizing that maybe I've gotten too caught up in my yuppiness. We're childless and have full time jobs and buy most of our groceries from Whole Foods. I'm definitely in a bubble most of the time. I can't imagine many other things that are more superfluous than dog therapy.

All this and we don't pay a full tithe. We used to, and when we were in a much lower tax bracket than we are now. I'll admit it because I don't think we're alone. I think lots of people get caught up in the things we think we need, and leave little room for imparting our earthly gifts upon others. Lately I've been trying to examine my spirituality and community, and I've found my progress thwarted by my "things." It's pathetic, and I'm frequently disappointed in myself. Despite my best efforts to ignore fashion and vanity, I still stand in my closet (yes, "in") and pout at my clothes. I find myself pining over pots and pans in Williams-Sonoma catalogs. I drool over expensive bottles of wine at the Cork and Bottle. When did I decide these things were important? Obviously, I've lost some of my focus. None of these things are really ours, anyway. I apply that mantra via my environmental philosophy; it should also be part of my spiritual philosophy.

I'm not saying I'm going to stop everything and pay a full 10% to my church; it would be a stretch. Further, I don't think tithing should all go to any one church. There are plenty of other noble causes that could use a little help. I'm also not saying everyone else should either. I can't speak for everyone's financial situations, and it's not my place to determine anyone else's ability. I am saying I'm going to reconsider some of our priorities (like dog therapy), and perhaps restructure those priorities so that when I meet my Maker, I'm not all like, "Oh, I totally wanted to, but helping Maybe's dog aggression and Buster's poo eating problem was more important."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yeah, I got these

I was told yesterday I have nodules on my vocal cords. My question is, why did God have to make the inside of our larynxes (spelling?) look so suggestive? Really? Anyway, I got 'em. So now I pretty much have to shut it for at least the next month.

I'm a singer in my "spare" time. I play at bars in the area. I travel a bit. It's fun, and I don't really know what to make of it. But having someone tell me to stop doing it because I've injured myself makes me re-evaluate my goals. Or at least evaluate them for the first time.

When I was a kid, I just wanted to be the Little Mermaid. I thought she was super-glam and sang like a mossy angel. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I really translated that dream to an above ground pool. But that's for another day. Regardless, I'm being forced into a hiatus. I had to cancel gigs in Chicago and Lexington; I had to let my drummer down. Buuuuuuut...I'm not really sad. I'm kind of relieved. I have a day job, and I actually have a second part-time "recreational" job, and then I squeeze music, gardening, dog therapy, home improvement projects, and a moderately healthy marriage into all of it. I was getting a little burnt out. On Wednesday, I get to have another camera stuck down my throat to determine the severity of the nodules. They'll take pictures, and I'll hang them on my fridge and let people ask questions. But, I suppose if I'm destined to sound like Tom Waits (instead of the Little Mermaid) for the rest of my life, it might not be such a bad thing. He makes a lot more money than I do. Besides sometimes I find it's easier when someone else makes my decisions for me. Sometimes I need someone else to bear that burden.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I'm a terrible planner

(Guess which one I'm married to)

Meaning I just don't put things in a good order. I plan things to the T, but I like to do everything all at the same time, so that my life feels like a perpetually exploding volcano (sympathies, Iceland and the rest of Europe).

Last night, I threw my husband a 30th birthday party. Over 40 people showed up. I cleaned like crazy and made everything from scratch. Mini flank steak and arugula sandwiches, honeyed goat cheese with pears and almonds, crudites, yummy yummy Paula Deen cake, homemade red onion jam on crostinis (you need to eat these). We had a fire, home brew, and a 401K bucket for loose change. And then...we got McWasty-faced. And then...we had to go to confirmation this morning at church.

So a little background. Super short. Mitch was raised Mormon. I was raised with unabashed spiritual freedom. I met Mitch. I became Mormon. We changed our minds. We started going to an Episcopalian church and loved it.

When I planned this party, I knew that today was the only day we could get received ("confirmation" for people who have already been confirmed in another church), but we had some scheduling conflicts and could only have the party the night before. Mitch and I had a deal, but of course that deal went down the crapper in the face of red wine and expensive gin.

Needless to say, this morning was difficult. I was disappointed in myself because I had wanted to be prepared spiritually for this moment. I struggle constantly with my relationship with God and my relationship with faith communities. I'm incredibly demanding of God, and incredibly insecure in that relationship. But I need it, and I need the people around me to support and affirm it. This morning, Mitch still had the spins and gut rot, and I was exhausted and a little nauseated by the wine glasses and beer bottles and leftover chip dip all over our coffee table, kitchen counters, and dining room table. We stumbled out of our house this morning to find a lost cell phone on the porch and candles still lit from the night before. Everything about this day was supposed to be affirming and holy, and it just got off to an terrible start.

I'll say first that I didn't intend for this blog to be a spiritual one, in that I just wanted to write about the things that happen to me generally. It just so happens that today those happenings were of a spiritual matter. We've been going to Church of the Redeemer for almost a year and a half. We've joined a Bible study group and tried to insert ourselves in the culture and community of this church. But we really had no idea that we were so blessed. When we went to the alter to have the Bishop welcome us into the church, we were so humbled by the people who came up to lay their hands upon us. It was a small group, but a powerful one, and the Spirit was certainly present in that moment. Despite the hangover and residual stress, my decision was confirmed when I felt the hands of our community on my shoulder and on my back. Both Mitch and I have confessed that we felt that hand on our backs for hours after. Without divulging too much right now, this choice was not easy for Mitch, and I still feel (a little) guilty for not preparing myself better for this morning. I thought it might just be a symbolic formality. But I was humbled to find that my perception is sometimes irrelevant, and that God will decide what is a formality and what is a firm step on my journey.

Either way, note to self: don't have a party the night before my kids get baptized. Another note to self: make more macaroons next time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Impulsivity at its finest

I have this terrible habit of starting things in a moment of (perceived) clarity. For example, last weekend I just started ripping up the carpet because I felt like it. I started grad school one time because I was in the mood. I tattooed a Shel Silverstein illustration on my hip because I felt inspired.

And thus, I started this blog. Mostly because I'm currently sitting alone in my office, having just gotten off the phone with an insurance company about a denied claim for a "pre-existing" condition, and have no one to whom I can complain (husband = in a meeting, mom = in San Antonio, office mate = actually doing work).

I've started several blogs, none of which have lasted. One I started presumably under a pseudonym to allow for some anonymous rantings, but I apparently don't understand enough about technology to actually make it anonymous. Another I started as a venture in experimental green life changes, but suffered immensely at the hands of my own conscience while trying to reduce my carbon footprint to nothing. So in this one, I'm not changing, and I'm owning my feelings. This will be cathartic at the least, but we'll see how long it lasts.

So no joke, still reeling from the fact that my insurance won't cover an office visit for ocular migraines (really, I was going blind at my desk several times a week), my husband literally just called me to say he locked his keys in his car. We only have ONE car (the other one fell victim to my shrinking carbon footprint), so I am not really in the position to take a key to him. You know, I don't listen to my parents much, but one thing my dad always taught me was to keep a spare key in my wallet. Now that you all know that (all zero readers), you can steal my wallet and break into my shitty Subaru and steal my Jim Gaffigan comedy CDs, but seriously, this is exactly why I do that. I imagine that he will miss his dentist appointment while waiting for AAA, and we will be blacklisted at Gentle Smiles since this will be his second missed appointment this week. Apologies, Dr. Dentist, for my awesomeness.