(I know, I know, I should follow my own advice...)
For The Scheherazade Project.
Patience was losing hers. She’d been sitting in the museum gallery for nearly an hour. Waiting for Connie to bring their son. The old mommy switcheroo, every other weekend. Every other weekend for the last 7 months. 15 days she’s been allowed to see Jacob. Every day she was without him she felt echoey and washed out. Since the day she had come home from work to find her house empty of Constance and Jacob, nothing had seemed solid or Technicolor. People were stretched and distorted into grayscale blurs. Their words coming disjointed and estranged from their lips. Except for the words of her lawyer.
And now everything was going to change. Even though Connie had refused to let Patty know where she was living, Patty knew that the papers had been served last week. The judge’s orders. Joint custody. She’d had three angry phone calls from Connie since. The final one just last night. Patty wasn’t going to back down, this week she would get to bring Jacob home, make him a sandwich, help him settle in, read him a book, peek in on him while he slept. She hoped he remembered his old room, still liked his toys. If they got home soon enough there would be time to go back out to the store and get him something new.
Patty looked at her watch again, sighed, and stood up from the bench. She walked to the sculpture opposite and pretended to study it. Really, she was trying to distract herself. Connie was frequently very late to these little switch offs. She seemed to derive pleasure in stealing even more minutes from Patty’s time with Jacob. Patty expected her to be late to this meeting, too. She expected Connie to arrive slowly, resentfully. She expected Jacob to be upset and without any of his things from Connie’s house. She expected Connie to expect to be able to talk her out of keeping him for her court-allotted two weeks. But she didn’t expect Connie to be over an hour late.
The museum was getting ready to close, the other people filtering out. Children’s screams out in the lobby were distorted by marble vacancies into sirens. Patience looked at the sculpture and saw her son’s body laid out on a highway. Someone zipped closed a jacket – the sound echoing in the near-empty gallery – and she heard a body bag closing over her son’s face. She started snapping her fingers. It was a nervous habit she thought she’d broken long ago. She looked at her watch. She wished again that Connie had a cell phone, or that she’d let Patty have the number if she did.
Her snapping fingers slipped into her pocket, fished out her cell phone. She scrolled to the entry under Jacob’s name and pushed “call” – half afraid Connie would still be there, sullenly refusing to honor the court orders, half afraid that the phone would ring and ring and ring. Patty was aware that the last group of tourists was leaving the gallery – fading from view as she focused her attention on the phone and it connected. “This number is no longer in service. If you feel you’ve reached this message in error, please check the number and dial again.”
Patty’s phone dropped from numb fingers and cracked on the marble floor.
(I don't know why on this blog the photo credit is so tiny. I didn't take the photo, it's a public photo on Flickr taken by elfis gallery. Click on the picture to go see more of his stuff.)
I've mentioned before that The Brother Just Younger than I is a mechanic. Actually, he spurns the title mechanic. He says that mechanics are just grunts. He's some sort of Automotive Super-Special Extra-Talented Technician or something. But that's an aside. Like I've said before, my brother works on cars. As a side deal he, and every other person-who-works-on-cars in the entire world, deals in used vehicles. Of the refurbished type. People come in having done something very bad to their cars, and when they get the repair estimate, they opt just to abandon the car there and buy a new one.
All but one of my cars has come to me this way. In fact, I don't think I can even conceive of buying a car from a lot. How strange! You mean you actually buy cars that work when you first look at them?
The car I was most excited to buy from my brother was a Jeep Cherokee. This was about 4 years ago. Kristin and I wanted a car that we could take camping. Something with clearance. Something with 4 wheel drive. Something that we could haul stuff in. My mother had had this Jeep for several years and had just put a lot of money into it. New paint job. New upholstery. New roof rack. New stereo. But there was some sort of engine problem, and so she ended up after all that work deciding to buy a new truck. So she offered the jeep to me, and The Brother Just Younger than I offered to finish restoring it for me.
I waited for that jeep for 6 months. It felt like a luxury: buying a car while I had a car still running. Normally I explode my cars and then frantically look around for a new one. My brother was doing this on the side, not getting paid, I was just buying the parts (at his cost) so he could only work on it when he had extra time. So 6 months pass. And finally he calls me to tell me it's done.
I do a little happy joy dance and go pick it up. I spend the day registering it. Kristin and I drive it around. We want to go show our friends my spiffy new car, but none of our friends are around. We drive-by milkshake a friend's car (we knew she was getting out of work any minute, so we put a milkshake on her car -still in its cup! We're not like that!) and sat in the new car to wait for her to come out and be surprised) and while we were waiting for the friend to get off work, a drunk woman drove up in her car and wanted to know if we knew what the suicide hotline number was so she could call it because she was wanting to committ suicide. So, Kristin ends up talking with this woman and distracting her, while I call 911 to tell them that there was a very drunk woman in a car wanting to committ suicide. Kristin was trying to get the woman to get out of the car so that when the police showed up she would be in less trouble, but she wouldn't. Finally the police came and the woman FREAKED OUT that we had called the police. But we couldn't let her drive off and possibly kill someone else while trying to kill herself. Even if she wasn't serious about trying to kill herself, she was waaaaaaaaay too drunk to drive. In all of this confusion our friend came out of her work, got freaked out that there was a fresh mint shake on her car, threw it on the ground, and took off. She didn't recognize my new car, so she didn't think that it could have been us. So we wasted a shake AND the only person who got to see my new car were two police officers and a drunk crazy. It was a sign.
The next day was the day before He Who Could Sell Snow to Polar Bears' wedding. Smokin' Bunny-cakes and I were going to spend the evening doing girly things since we were both Bridesmaids. We got into my snazzy new jeep and drove to the store to pick up supplies and on the way home a woman ran a stop sign too late for me to stop and I hit her head on going 45 miles an hour. My jeep spun around a couple of times and ended up facing the opposite way I had been going. People ran over to see if we were ok. All I kept saying was that I'd only had my jeep for 36 hours. 6 months of waiting for 36 hours. Anyone who came to talk to me got to hear all about all the improvements we'd done over the last 6 months -- gone. I called Kristin on a stranger's cell phone and told her I'd had a bit of an accident and could she come get us? She arrived in her robe and Oscar in the back of her car, because I had sounded so calm (shock will do that to you) that she hadn't thought it was a serious accident. When she got there they were strapping Smokin' Bunny-cakes to a board to take her to the hospital and I couldn't for the life of me decide which hospital they should send her to. At this point Kristin still worked for the SLC Police dept, so she called her colleague on duty and asked her to come take pictures of the accident scene (something they don't always do). My head felt wobbly and I kept walking around in circles insisting that I didn't need to go to the hospital since I couldn't afford to pay for it. Finally a paramedic and Kristin convinced me to let Kristin take me to the hospital. And Kristin had the wonderful task of calling my overly-dramatic parents to tell them that both of their daughters had just been in a serious car accident the night before their son's wedding. The Brother Just Younger than I raced to the hospital to assure himself that it wasn't that the brakes had gone out (not that they would have, he's very good at his job, but he's a worrier and he likes to take responsibility, so in his mind the only reason I would have gotten in an accident was if he had somehow made a mistake with the car). S B-c and I were severely banged up, but the bruises were covered by our bridesmaid dresses, and we attended the wedding the next day, sore and slow, but pretty enough for pictures.
So now here I am. 4 years later. Having waited several months for this little SUV to be completed. I drove it home last night, but now I'm just a little bit scared. You can be sure that after I get it liscensed that I am going to be VERY careful driving through intersections...
...is one who, when in town busily graduating, still takes the time to look for your bound thesis in the department reading room and poses with it AND THEN sends you the pictures. I've never seen the bound version, as we don't get copies. And I haven't been back to the department since I graduated. Thanks, Lauri and Benji! (notice how her finger is very subtly and cleverly pointing to my name so as to subconsciouly draw one's eye to it and lend me more consequence)
I've been meaning to post this poem for quite a while. I was going to do it on the 6th anniversary of the tragedy, but was on vacation at the time. So, since I don't have anything else to say today, I thought I'd give you this.
When it happens, I am in the van
waiting for eleven kids. Heavy
gray clouds, the bell barely rung
and a crowd of children flowing
out the opened doors as the first wet
falls. There is no warning, just heavy
drops hitting little heads and then light
and noise together and a child’s body
smoking among a ring of her fallen friends.
I think about running
to help, my CPR card flashing but
there are terrified children to come
and I need to be
where they can find me and besides,
I can see a teacher arriving.
I find myself telling the lie
of impenetrable rubber wheels
and creating a game –
with the ones who’ve made it
-- of keeping our arms
folded and away from the metal sides as I look --
yes look at the ones who are getting up
and the smoky one who isn’t – for the two
I am missing. I don’t dare
leave these frightened children here
alone (and besides, it’s against regulation)
so I ask, calmly, in a voice that wouldn’t fool
a child, did any of you see Devin or Alicia?
Now everyone’s quiet and I am
regretting my words cause
here they are, wetter than the rest,
gray-lipped and scented
like a summer barbeque.
All the other kids are repeating my lie
about the wheels as I get up to shut the door
and even I flinch when my hand touches metal
while another thunder claps. Alicia twines
around me, I can’t bear the smell of her
so I tell her she’s safer
on a seat with her feet off the floor.
Once at the daycare, I can’t get any of them to cross
the ten feet of exposed cement until
I offer to carry them. One by one
I shuttle them to safety with my hand
held over their heads. Even the oldest,
eleven, insists on that fragile protection.
The phone has already begun ringing
from parents wanting to know
if it was their little girl injured,
the news not completely out --
there’s no way what was left of her could live.
I make a call to each lucky parent.
They all come quickly to collect.
Here, I’ll try to write about science,
probability. About a stepped leader and a charge
rising up from the ground.
A positive flash. An accident.
Attraction. About a flagpole less than fifteen feet
away and untouched. About precision, a circle of
friends around her brushing shoulders,
thrown, stunned, but mostly unburnt and alive.
I keep returning to something rising
from the girl herself – further, faster
than what was pulled from that flagpole,
or the pipes on the school
or the trees, or the industrial size swing set.
Or maybe just opposite to all these things.
Something easier to spot and strike.
I will never write it. I will never see
that moment. Only after and before.
This poem is in first person, as if
by making it about myself, I could also
make it not true.
People are writing for The Scheherazade Project. They really, really are! Go check it out, maybe you, too, will be inspired.
You'd think that after having all our shit piled in unseemly humps around our dining room, and shoved in dark corners of random cupboards for 2 months, and after 2.5 YEARS of having less than satisfactory storage where there was an 83.72% chance of opening a cabinet and having something fall on you cracking your skull and causing either permanent brain damage (34.9%) or just really severe headache, putting our dishes away (new dishes! bought at an obscene deal over 2 months ago!) in our new (spacious, dreamy) cabinets would be accomplished post haste and bring with it unparalleled pleasure.
(now how's THAT for an opening sentence?)
Instead we have put away approximately 2 plates 1 mug and 1 bowl. And the cold cereals. Because everyone knows that all cold cereals get stored in the cabinet above the fridge. But other than that... nothing. I just stare into the cavernous depths and hear the echo of my breathing and am PARALYZED by the emptiness.
Let's see... where should the mixing bowls go? Here? or... maybe over the sink?... or how about here over the stove?... or WHAT IF I PUT THEM IN THE WRONG SPOT AND THEY STAY THERE FOREVER FROM THE FORCE OF HABIT BUT REALLY ITS THE WRONG SPOT AND OUR LIVES ARE UTTERLY AND FOREVER RUINED AND WE MAY AS WELL NOT HAVE SPENT THE TIME AND MONEY MAKING OUR KITCHEN BETTER BECAUSE NOW I'VE GONE AND DONE IT!
And I haven't even TRIED to figure out where to put the measuring cups, or the cheese grater, or the George Forman Lean Mean Grilling Machine or the industrial sized bottle of olive oil. And, if you want to know the truth, the mug and bowl are on probation in their current spots -- trying them on as it were -- and the plates only got put away because we bought a plate rack. I mean, WHERE ELSE ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO GO? It would be silly to make a fuss over getting a plate rack to display our new super-dealio plates only to put them somewhere else. Though that rack might make a great filing system for our bills...
And then there's this huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge expanse of countertop. And I want to put our canisters on there. The canisters holding pasta and beans and other staple-type things. Because we invested in these canisters when we had the open shelving before and now it just seems that the countertop's the best place for them. But Kristin believes that a big open expanse of countertop should remain pristine. Like a stretch of cryptobiotic soil. Or that field where the Indian cried in that old commercial. She thinks my beautiful canisters are equivalent to the dreaded "clutter". I say -- "hey, it's a countertop, they're canisters. You EXPECT to see canisters on countertops. Where are we supposed to put them, in a CABINET? Ok, fine. You think they should go in a cabinet? Then YOU figure out which one." And then we sit and stare at the cabinets again -- sucked in by their deep gravity wells while I mutter that if we could put them on the countertop they'd already be put away. And isn't that the maxim for our kitchen? Efficiency?
At this rate it'll take us longer to move into the new kitchen as it's taking us to build it.
And I just re-read this and I realize that I have a huge assumption here. What if EVERYONE doesn't know that all cold cereals are stored in the cabinet above the fridge? What if we're only storing them there out of habit and it'd be more efficient to store them elsewhere? CRAP. Now I've only got 2 plates maybe put away. Thanks a lot, a lotta help you are. Sheesh.
This weekend saw us attending the Utah Arts Festival. Where I would have taken more pictures, but it was so crowded that I quickly grew claustrophobic. Plus, we didn't have a little blanket city on the grass, so we were wandering around with all the stuff needed for Julia AND our food, so that meant that my hands were a bit full. But I got this picture and one of some phallic desserts, and some of some freaky looking stiltwalkers, so we're all good.
Saturday, besides the interminable painting I mentioned in the previous post, Julia got to have her very first sleep-over. My parents have claimed the final Saturday of each month as Grandparent's Night. They want one night a month when they have all their grandchildren sleeping over.
Kristin and I were nervous. Julia is still not sleeping through the night, and some nights are really tough. But we also wanted a night off, so off she went. And Kristin and I actually got to go OUT. After we got done with the painting we went to a smoky club for dinner. The Bayou. For their famous sweet potato fries. YUM. We sat out on their patio. The heat of the day had passed and it was pleasantly cool. The air was scented with smoke, but not so smoky as to make us cough. Our food was delicious. We felt like grown-ups. We giggled. We talked about how we were enjoying ourselves AND still missed Julia. Kristin observed that the only thing that would make our night more perfect would be if there were some live music playing in the main room that would filter out to us just loud enough to hear and enjoy, but not too loud that we could talk without yelling. Within a few minutes great live jazz began in the next room.
To top the evening off, we noticed that there were fried twinkies on the menu. I have always wanted to try fried twinkies. It's a morbid obsession. I mean, we talk about twinkies being the worst of the worst when it comes to transfatty preservative sweets. It's a poster child for poor eating habits. And then to make it worse by dipping it in batter and DEEP FRYING it? It's got to be marvelous!
So we ordered some. And they were AMAZING. So good. With a raspberry sauce. God. Perfection. I am never going to order them again. Once was enough. I don't want to spoil the memory.
We topped off our evening of decadence by watching 2 episodes from Queer as Folk: The Final Season. Can I just say that I am so sick of TV (fake) lesbians being unable to hold a relationship together after kids are introduced? Sick of the high drama custody battles and the correlating assumtion that 2-mom couples can't hold it together or keep it out of the courts? I mean, yes, I know, it's TV. And yes, I know it's only 2 couples. But that's 100% of the lesbian couples shown. I know viewers thrive on the drama. But why don't they make the drama over some very real nightmare-like situations? How about one of the moms gets in a terrible car accident and while she's in a coma someone takes her birth-child from the other mom because she's not a legal parent? Or how about a set of grandparents suing for custody over their biological grandchildren to keep them from being raised by lesbians? I can think of lots of drama that doesn't involve the implosion of a lesbian marriage. I should write my own show...
So that, and the work on the kitchen, made up our amazing weekend. And Julia had a great time, too. She only woke her Grandma and Grandpa up 3 times. Of course, one of those times involved keeping them up for an hour, and she did get them up at 6:30 am, but still! A pretty good night. I guess we're on for July. Kristin and I better get planning our next date night.
Did I tell y'all what we had decided to do? You remember how I was all anxious over the fact that we had rustic maple base cabinets but cherry wall cabinets and spice maple crown molding? Well, after all that, when my dad priced buying 2 new cherry cabinets and replacing the doors on the existing cherry cabinets it turned out that that was only $50 less than ordering all new rustic maple wall cabinets. Cherry is expensive! ( I knew that, but I didn't really KNOW that until seeing the prices!) So, all our cabinets match.
And, boy, are they beautiful. I didn't have a lot to do this time, since I can't install cabinets, but I got to admire... Here's Dad installing the first of them.
Oh, shoot, I need to back up...
Ok, Kristin and I had put off painting the arches and the new construction and the alcove (which we had painted 2 years ago when it was a hall, but since there was no light in there we didn't realize just how very patchy our paint job had been) and the trim until we couldn't put it off any more. So we spent all Saturday priming and painting painting painting. .
So then, on Sunday, we were ready for the install. My Dad is an amazing installer. He did it for years and years. Was the best. He's slower now, but still amazing. He knows right were the studs in a wall are. Without measuring even. Just drills and there you go. Instant stud. Cabinet hung. Amazing.
Ok, so he stuck the first two cabinets up and then we had to skip a cabinet because they made it wrong. So then Dad stuck the formica for the backsplash extension behind the stove (this picture is best viewed large)
And THEN we got to put in the over stove cabinet and microwave.
After that he put in the Cabinet above the fridge, and then began putting the knotty pine tongue-in-groove boards back on the walls and ceiling. .
Finally, he put in the cabinet that hangs over the stairway and forms part of the banister. That included installing another countertop (small, but such an addition!)
There's still a lot of little things to be done to finish the kitchen up. That last cabinet needs to be installed. We're missing a drawer front. There's a lot of trim to go up. We're looking at probably another 2 days of work -- next Sunday and another day after that. But because it's really coming together now, I'm going to hold off showing "after" pictures of the weekend progress to better maximize the impact of the end result.
Look for an update next Monday!
I smelled sweat, salt, sun, grass, SPF 50. I smelled a kid who had played hard all day outside and had come inside only to collapse. I smelled a KID.
Not my baby. Gone was the smell of milk and spit-up and that sweet, musky scent that rises of a baby's skin that I think must be the way the breeze is scented in heaven. And I realized that it's been a while since she smelled that way. As long, perhaps, as she's been finished wearing a daily bib.
Right at that moment I wished that I could freeze time. Because right now my baby's not gone. But the future is coming. She's growing up. It's right there under my nose.
Don't you just love it when I can't think of a good title, so I just stick some noun or gerund up there with the preposition "on" in front of it? SO pretentious. But then, that's me, pure pretention...
I've been reading with great interest the various discussions about gender and babies that have been occurring. And just today I read a new angle to the discussion. It's by Shannon of Peter's Cross Station.
I read her essay with delight, because it reflected some of Kristin's and my experiences with the gendering of our daughter. We dress Julia for comfort, practicality, and style. And, with these as our criteria, that means we dress her from both sides of the gender aisle.
When Kristin was pregnant, we bought "gender neutral" clothing that were rarely gender neutral. What they were were boys clothes that girls could get away with wearing. I still remember shopping in TJ Maxx and coming across two very cute Oink Baby newborn outfits. One was a little blue short set. One was a salmon-colored dress. Though I loved the salmon dress, we bought the blue outfit, justifying that we would put a girl in the blue, but that we weren't sure we had the guts to put a boy in the salmon. This hesitation on our part to push gender too far with a boy is part of why I was hoping we'd get a girl.
I am familiar with negotiating the sticky (but necessary) wicket of gender as a girl. I feel confident that I can create a space for Julia to express her gender in whichever way she wants to. I feel confident that I can help her deal with the social repercussions of playing with or violating the social bounds of gender (if she should want to do that). I feel that I have a pretty intimate understanding of how gender expression works as both a limiting and freeing proposition for someone biologically female. I'm comfortable with female masculinity, I'm comfortable with female feminity. I have a lot to learn, but I've got a foundation and a reliable map. I know that we're not going to raise a girl who is afraid of breaking gender rules. We will raise a girl who knows that she is more than her expressed gender.
Yet, when it comes to males... although I know the principals are the same, until recently I've never experienced or had close association with men who consciously played with gender. I was speaking with a friend once about it. I told him that I was worried, not about raising a "sissy-boy" as he suggested, but about raising a boy who didn't know how to move through the world of gender with confidence and grace. Our donor has what I would call a fluid gender expression, and I know that he would be an invaluable resource for us, but still I was worried. I worry that I won't know how to guide a boy through the repercussions of gender backlash. I worry that I won't be able to handle the consequences of putting my boy in a salmon dress. I can handle a stranger thinking my girl is a boy, can I handle that same stranger thinking my boy is a girl?
People sometimes express surprise that Julia wears pink and little dresses. Before our showers, we told people emphatically that we didn't want pink. We were hoping to avoid a deluge of insipid, frilly, Disney treacle. It didn't work. The people who honored our request were the people who wouldn't have given that stuff anyway. So we ended up with pink things -- most of which we returned. But pink is just a color, and it's a pretty one. So Julia wears it. We choose to make her wardrobe choices just that -- choices. What can she move in? What is she comfortable in? What is easy to wash? What looks good on her? We relaxed our stance on pink because not to do so would be taking an element of choice and turning it into a reflex. It wouldn't be bending gender to use, it would be rigidly enforcing gender rules through avoidance.
So, now as we consider adding another child to our family, it's occurred to me that I wouldn't be devastated to find myself pregnant with a boy. I only hope that we'll be able to make our clothing choices on his behalf true choices and not just knee-jerk reactions.
Although, I do have to you, we're not putting him in blue.
Just to remind you what she looked like prior to the onset of the clippers, I present to you this picture:
Though she doesn't look it, she really is much more comfortable with her fur gone now that it's so hot here. And with the first cold night she'll poof out with fur like a dandelion...
This is my (only a few days) late story for The Scheherazade Project. The theme was "a pane of glass is broken". And, while I think that theme makes a great title for a poem, it proved a difficult theme for a short story. I guess I just suck at thinking of themes...
Regardless of my theme suckage, a new theme is up, so head on over and get inspired (and doesn't that just sound inspiring itself?).
A Hairnet, A Bowl
The windshield was the most disturbing thing about the car, he decided. He had worried that there would be blood on the seats and that that would send him over the edge. And there was blood on the seats, but it was the windshield that made his vision blur and darken at the edges; the windshield with its inverse impact sites that he wished he hadn’t seen.
A line from a poem memorized and forgotten long ago kept winding and unwinding around his brain. I will hold my awkward bowl with all its cracked stars shining like a complicated lie and fashion a new skin around it. The bowl as metaphor for the speaker’s own battered head cradled and held up as lesson or warning or offering. And the place where her head had whipped its way into the glass did look like a bowl starred and shining, and certainly that was a prettier, more poetic image than the one which thrust itself most insistently in his direction.
He thought the windshield, at least the part that had held her head, looked most like a hairnet. One of those large ones worn by lunch ladies every where. One that she would never be caught dead in. Something innocuous and a bit laughable as it was improbable. There were even strands of hair clinging to it to add verisimilitude. And since his eyes were so dry as to be a bit blurred, he could tell himself that he didn’t really see the bits of scalp clinging to the ends of some of the clumps of hair. After all, there was a lot of debris in the car and not all of it was of human origin. Her car was always totaled, even when it wasn’t totaled. It was easy for him to believe that during the tow to the wrecking yard some of her papers or potato chips had blown around and stuck to drying blood on the clumps of hair. Rather that than the other. Rather that than the other and he pulled his eyes away and looked at less damaging damage.
He had been putting this task off for too long. The insurance papers were folded up small in his pocket. He had just wanted to see the car before signing it away. And now he’d seen it, so he might as well sign. Get on to the next step. He’d put it off too long already. But he’d been waiting, waiting, hoping that she could be there with him. She’d be weak, maybe in a wheelchair, and she would cling to whatever part of him she could reach as they looked together at the remains of her car. How the crumple zones had crumpled. How the contents of her trunk had rushed into the back seat. How it was a good thing she had been driving without him and not sitting in the passenger seat. How it was shocking what damage a PVC pipe could do to a windshield, to a passenger seat. How he would squeeze her hand or shoulder (but gently, gently) and they would both think about how lucky they were and then they would sign the papers and bitch about how they were being cheated out of full value. And then they would leave, bickering over which new car to buy.
No point in waiting any more. No point. No point even in wishing that he had been in the car with her. At least someone else would be making these decisions now. At least someone else would be conscious of the liminal. He pulled the folded-small papers out of his pocket and a pen from behind his ear and signed the settlement against the rear passenger side window. It was starred, but for this task just sound enough.
Sorry to be so post happy today, I just had to share this and then I'll shut up. Scroll down two posts if you want to see some beautiful pictures of my water baby which I'm afraid are going to get lost in my deluge of words today.
I don't know if it was my own eloquence, the "cut direct" on Pride Day, or the fact that there's been a bunch of hits on my blog over the last month or so from google searches related to this issue, but Kristin just forwarded me this email and there's a little tear on my cheek from the rush of emotions. Really, this is all I wanted: a bit of inclusion in the community, a feeling that we weren't to be completely ostracized just because we'd chosen to have children, an acknowledgement that my points were justified. It's funny because a friend of mine was asking how this was going at Saturday's bbq and I was telling him how frustrated I was getting and how ready I was to just start my own...
Since your email there has been much dialogue here at the Center about how kids could be included at the Potlucks so that families feel welcome, while still honoring the founders intention to have the potlucks be a place where adults could be with other adults, discussing adult themes and topics. I see the value in having both options available, and have been pondering many issues, even down to liability issues. I have seen examples of how other groups handle this issue and have taken ideas and feedback from various sources. This is what we have come up with, which I think will give opportunities for every one to get a chance to attend on a regular basis, if not every month. I would very much appreciate it if you would contact me directly with any feedback,
Greetings fellow Potluckers and potential new members!!
We have decided to allow the host of each Potluck to determine if kids are welcome at the potluck that they are hosting in their home. There are several reasons we have decided to make the change, including feedback from participants, but the biggest reason is to be more inclusive of all segments of our community of all colors and configurations, including parents, kids, single folk, and couples.
Hosts should be given the liberty to decide what is appropriate in their home environment, as they already do with pets and alcohol.
***Please be sure to make it clear in all your communications whether or not it is a child inclusive event, if alcohol is okay, and if pets are in your home for those who might be allergic.
It is important to remember that parent(s) are at all times responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their children and it is up to the parent(s) to determine if any particular gathering is appropriate for their child, not vice versa.
Please do not feel pressured one way or the other about the potluck you host. Both kid inclusive and adult only gatherings have their appeal for different reasons. You are free to determine which kind of gathering you host, as well as which kind of gathering you attend.
The Potlucks have been amazingly successful and FUN so far, and we hope this decision makes the socials even more inviting! Thanks for all you do to make this program run smoothly and to continue to grow and flourish!
We have been in contact with the woman who captains the Sugarhouse charter and she was telling us that she had no problem with letting children attend, but that the blanket rules had her hands tied. Kristin and I can't wait to attend our first potluck, and we can't wait to host one!
This weekend, not only did we get the grocery shopping and the laundry done (not the ironing, alas, but then perfection is to be strived for and rarely attained), but we finally got our front yard in order. It's been mud puddles/dust patches, dead grass, and weeds for far too long. Years, in fact. We had to schedule a bbq for Saturday night to give us the incentive to get it done, but get it done we did. We even had time to shower before our friends arrived.
Here is a before picture taken clear back in April when we thought we'd get started right away:
And here is an after picture:
And it only took us months of planning and 7 hours of backbreaking labor! But our neighbors were so surprised. We've had the ugliest yard on the street for so long and then poof! suddenly we have the prettiest. The best part is that the big bare patches which moonlight as mudbaths for the dogs are now under the sandstone. This will go so far towards keeping our house clean I can't even tell you. Now all we have to do is water the lawn occassionally and plant some snapdragons here and there and we'll have an elegant yard which is also pretty damn water efficient and extremely low maintenance. Once we get the grass perked back up, it should only take one deep watering a week and a mowing every other week. We're hoping to be able to afford to finish xeriscaping next year (provided we don't move) and then we won't have to water or mow at all! (yes, if you follow the link it will tell you that xeriscaping doesn't necessarily mean completely dry, but that's what we're aiming for in the majority of the front yard).
The rest of the weekend was filled with a bbq Saturday night (our reward for getting the yard work done) that was the perfect end to a hard-workin' day; a picnic at the park Friday night with Merr, Summer, and Camden that was the perfect way to begin the weekend; and a Father's Day bbq at my parent's house. We're all three exhausted, but it's a happy kind of exhaustion.
Now all I have to do is get the ironing done tonight.
Psst... our wall cabinets come in this week...
First off, I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful responses to my posts on home and place and community. One of the things I have loved most about blogging has been the on-line community that I have found. I always know that when I am low, I can reach out and get hugs from people I respect and admire. Thank you.
Secondly, I guess I can admit that perhaps the whole raising meat animals thing is going a bit far. Especially since I don't even really eat meat. I mean, I eat some fish and fowl and pork. But other than fish, I don't eat any meat that I haven't prepared with my own little hands. Because of the ickies that only I can (apparently) see. Yes, I know there are people out there who think they can see the ickies. But you can't. You can't see them all. NO ONE is pickier with their meat than I am. Even Kristin, who's been living with me for 6 years, can't get all the ickies out. So, I am certain that if I had to butcher animals to eat meat then I just would never eat meat again. It's all just an elaborate scheme to justify having a goat. Or two. And chickens. Chickens are a must. When you know your chickens and how healthy and happy they are, and you know that there's no rooster around to fertilize the eggs anyway, then there's no guilt to eating their eggs. Plus, home raised chicken eggs just taste better. We should know, we've been getting most of our eggs from my parent's chickens for the last 6 years. And those are some spoiled ass chickens. The only downside to having chickens is you've got to have the nerve to cut their heads off when they get sick, or when they turn cannibalistic. Oh yes. Chickens can turn cannibal. They start to eat their own eggs. And once one chicken figures out that eggs are tasty and edible she teaches the others, and before you know it it's all Lord of the Flies in the Henhouse. And the only thing you can do then is whack all their heads off. My parents leared this the hard way. They also learned the hard way that you really do need to hold on tight to the chicken's body once the head comes off, or they really do run (and fly) around spurting blood everywhere. So, I need someone in my co-housing project who can cut chicken's heads off, because I can never, ever do that. I can't even be around while it's done.
And, people, I really am so excited about the whole co-housing thing. It's all I could talk about with Kristin over dinner last night. There are some co-housing projects in Portland and sometimes they have rental openings, so we're going to be checking them out if we end up moving there. In fact, we're going to be checking all the communities we're interested in to see about co-housing opportunities. I think it might be really cool to live in co-housing and then (if we really do like it) start one of our own once we get settled in a place.
So, I'll keep you posted!
For a long time I realized that the problem with moving is that you leave people behind. I want my people with me always. Ok, not in my house, but on my street, in my community. I want to gather all my loved ones from everywhere they’ve flown and pack them up with me and take them with me when I go. Yes, it’s true; I want to start a commune. Not the kind of commune where everyone lives in the same big house and wears patchwork clothes and shower irregularly and stink of patchouli (I hate the smell of patchouli) and eats only tofu and sleeps with each other. Not like that. That just sounds icky. Well, I guess the patchwork clothes do sound kinda cool… NO! Not that. Something different.
I’ve been thinking about it. I want to buy a big piece of land somewhere. Somewhere with mountains. Maybe New Mexico. Maybe Oregon. Maybe Washington. And I want people to buy in. Not every resident would have to invest a significant chunk of money, but I would want the majority of people living there to have bought in. Because I don’t want Kristin and I to become petty dictators (and we would, oh how we would, give us some power and we would go MAD with it) but because I would want the people living there to be invested in it. Something holding them there so that if things got difficult they couldn’t just walk away. And when I say buy in, I don’t mean that people would give the commune all their money and worldly possessions, I mean, that they would contribute a set sum either in one payment at the beginning, or on a payment schedule – like buying a house. But I also don’t mean that people would buy individual plots of land and own individual houses, but that they would buy into something like a corporation or coop – the land and the buildings owned jointly by the group as a whole – the individual residences put into trust or some such. Hopefully the people invited to participate wouldn’t only be there because they put money in it… but, still, as much as I hate it, money’s important. Plus, with more people than just Kristin and I contributing to the cost of the land, the whole enterprise would be debt-free that much sooner.
Ok, so people invest. And we begin building. I envision something like a tiny town, a hamlet, with a community center – kitchen, great room, rec room, craft room, guest rooms – and individual residences circled around it. I imagine small private gardens and larger community gardens and vegetable plots and a fish pond and a playground. I imagine animals: pets, goats, horses, chickens, turkeys – I’m not sure about geese, though, geese are mean – maybe a sty of pigs. But mostly I see people and an aesthetic. I see people whose skills and strengths complement each other, who love each other and the community they’re creating, who believe in consensus and cooperation and dialogue. Every time I meet someone new I think about how they would fit into my future commune. I joke about it, but still I do it. So far I’ve got a very diverse group of people and talents in mind. I’ve got computer geeks and technophiles and teachers and chefs and carpenters and mechanics and designers and animal lovers and engineers and gardeners and musicians and writers. And, of course, I’ve got therapists to help us talk though problems (ha ha).
I can see us all together, building something beautiful. Something coherent and patchworky. Something green and sustainable. I want the commune built of straw bales and bamboo and recycled materials. A (in Portland) has been talking about ways we could use wind and solar energy to power the commune, and how we could harness methane from composting toilets. I want our gardens to be organic and our livestock to be organic and hormone/antibiotic free. Though I don’t fool myself that the commune could be completely self-sustaining, eventually I want us to grow all our own produce (or at least 90%) and meat and dairy (I’m still on the lookout for a butcher). I figure that once we have to raise and butcher our own meat, even though the commune won’t be completely vegetarian, our meat consumption will be far lower than it would be if we were buying meat. I would like to provide opportunities and support for people who would prefer to work on the commune as well as support for people who would prefer to work jobs in the larger community around the commune.
Are any of you surprised about how much of a dreamer and idealist I truly am?
This vision I’ve had has always been relegated to a distant and hazy future. Something Kristin and I talk about in context of winning the lottery or what we’d do if the world were a perfect place. But I’ve been giving it more thought. Maybe it doesn’t need to start so big or be so far in the future. Something like what I want is complex and would have to grow slowly and organically. It would take a lot of time and a lot of planning and work. So why not get started sooner rather than later? I’m thinking that maybe, after we’re both done with school and have better jobs, maybe we can start looking around for some land. Maybe in 5-6 years we can get a group of friends together and buy the land and get started in a smaller way. I’m inspired by the tantalizing hints Bri’s been dropping about the possibility that they and some friends might be getting together to buy and renovate apartment building. Maybe it’s possible.
Anybody want in?
I was five, I think, when my mother first taught me how to orient myself in the valley. “See the small, brown mountains? Those are the Oquirrhs. They are in the West, where the sun sets. Just to the north of them is the Great Salt Lake, the faint mountains up there are actually islands in the lake” “And the big, purple, pointy mountains are in the East, right?” “Yes. The Wasatch Mountains are in the East. They stretch from the North to the South. And there in the South they bend as if they want to hold hands with the Oquirrhs, but they can’t quite reach.”
Ok, maybe she didn’t say all of that all at once. I think I’ve made it clear that I don’t really remember dialogue as what was really said, but rather what I think was probably said – or what I would have preferred was said. But I think this comes pretty close to what one of those first geography lessons would have sounded like.
To live in the Salt Lake Valley is to always have the mountains within view. Our trees are neither high enough nor thick enough to hide them. Our streets are so broad that even downtown the buildings are not thickly packed enough to block them. They throw our valley into twilight as they create long sunrises and sunsets that unfold and fold again behind them. They are so present as to be invisible. We take them for granted even as they inform our senses of place and direction.
If our Mother gave us lectures and discussions, our Father preferred more experiential lessons. We’d be driving home in his truck when suddenly he would claim amnesia. “I can’t remember how to get home,” he would say, a helpless look on his face, “you’re going to have to tell me where to go.” And he would drive around in circles or straight lines until I would start giving him directions to get home. Sometimes we would be in an entirely unfamiliar part of the valley – miles from home – and all I would have would be the mountains to tell me which direction we were going: where we would have to go to make the mountains look as they look when I’m looking at them from home. My brothers and I got to the point where no matter where we were in the valley we could navigate our way home. We could never be lost.
This navigation by mountain is not something I can stop doing just because I leave my valley. Whenever I travel I keep track of the directions and what stands in place as markers. This is not unique to me, but is, I think, a result of living here. A few months ago Heather of Dooce wrote about a trip she took to San Francisco. She told about how she could tell that her companion was driving the wrong way not because she was at all familiar with San Francisco, but because she had noticed that the mountains were on the wrong side of the car. I have had similar experiences. Wherever I am I take the mountains in, orient myself against them. If there are mountains around I may have no idea where I’m going, but at least I’ll know in which direction I’m pointed.
No matter where I am in the valley, I always know in which direction I face. Except, sometimes, at night. Out in the country, or the suburbs, where lights don’t wash out the stars, I have seen the stars come out against the mountain-shaped holes in the sky so often that I can navigate by their positions alone. I like to think it is the Viking raiders and Valkyries in my genes raising their collective horn-shod heads. But really, it is a sense of place so deeply embedded as to feel inherent. Some times, in the city, at night, when I can’t see the stars or the mountains, I will lose my sense of direction. Think I’m heading North when I’m really heading East. These moments, before even I realize my mistake, feel surreal, wrong in a way almost indescribable. As if my heart itself was beating out of rhythm. The moment I realize my mistake, there’s an almost physical spinning as my internal map shifts to match my view, as my heart struggles to resume its accustomed beat. I’m almost dizzy and then it’s over and I fit as I should within my world.
The first time I left my valley alone, without my family, I spent the trip disoriented and sick with a lingering sense of unease and anxiety. I had followed directions to drive to Twin Falls, Idaho, and I had no idea where I was in relation to my valley. I had left mountains behind. I was on a wide plain surrounded only by sky. I knew I was north, and I knew I was west. But was I in the part of Idaho above Nevada, or above Utah? I made my friend draw a rough map for me and then I reviewed my car trip and re-imagined my route using her map. In a way I was calmer, because I could place myself within the bigger picture – I could find my way home if I had to – but in other ways I remained just as uneasy. There were no mountains around me. I felt exposed and vulnerable. I felt as if a strong wind could spin me around, relocate me in a place with no reference points. I was relieved to drive home.
I made that trip several times. The lure of the girl stronger than my fear of being flattened and tossed around. Each time I left the final mountain range I felt as if I were jumping into deep water or walking into a dark cavern. I drove the same route each time, the highway stretching like a string toward home, my car a loop around my finger. I grew more comfortable, the tug of home soothing to me. I always had a reason to leave, an excuse for fleeing. A direction calling me. Safety beckoning. This is the way I have been able to explore, to stretch myself out. I always know how to get home.
And so I worry. I worry that to cut that umbilicus is to cast myself adrift, to lose my way and pull my spouse and children into the wilds behind me, searching for a place to belong. In this way I think that being so deeply rooted in a place can be a liability even as it is a source of comfort. Is anyone else out there as deeply rooted to your home? Have you ever moved? Did you regain a sense of place, or did you/do you remain feeling out of place? How do you find your way?
Kate. For guessing right on that I had prepatellar bursitis. I went to the doctor Friday afternoon and that's what they decided it was. The stuck a big needle in it and pulled out a whole bunch of pretty-colored fluid and then x-rayed my knee. Nothing broken, nothing torn. Just a very inflamed bursa. Then they wrapped it, gave me a prescription for ibuprofen 800's and sent me on my way. I'm supposed to keep the knee elevated and iced and watch for swelling. I was worried that my knee would swell on the plane because limbs tend to swell on a plane anyway, and there's no way that in coach, with a lap baby, I could keep my knee elevated. Well, the knee did fine, it's my left ANKLE that's currently resembling a balloon.
We didn't make our 2 AM flight to Houston Saturday morning, but did get on the 8 AM flight. Julia did well, considering. After screaming her way through the ascent, she fell asleep and woke up in time to cry all the day back down.
And then she was peachy for the rest of the trip.
It was great to see Kristin's family, and her sister's kids are so wonderful with Julia.
We got bumped off the afternoon flight back to SLC, though, and so didn't get back home until after Midnight. I'm exhausted. Kristin's exhausted. I actually had 2 deadlines at work this morning, and the adrenaline I summoned to get me through them on so little sleep has left me shaky and spacy and irritable. In addition to the irritability that I'm currently experiencing because I'm stuck in pre-mentrual HELL. No period. Endless amounts of bloating and hormones, though.
I'm thinking up a great post about navigation and mountains, however. So stay tuned for that.
Oh, yeah, and I'm changing the S Project rules. A new theme every TWO weeks. Cause there's just no way I can get a story written every week...
Anybody know what this is?
Can you explain it to me?
Does this mean I'm getting famous? Or that I was famous and now am getting less so (since it seems like one of the charts shows my blog value as declining)?
It's kind of funny, since I work for a regulatory agency of some repute, but I have NO IDEA what anything on that page says except that someone has placed a value on the stock of my blog and I never got any money from it...
So this is the best I could do on a rainy friday at my desk. If it makes you feel any better, the specimens in the picture are genuine endangered species. In fact, they went extinct shortly after this photograph was taken...
Remember when I mentioned falling and hurting my left knee right before vacation? Well, it’s still injured. It’s been over 3 weeks. It scabbed over nearly immediately, and now I have a mauve patch where formerly there was missing skin, so that’s not the problem. The problem is the swelling and the pain.
I thought I had merely bruised it. But well after a bruise should have healed, the knee continued to hurt when I applied pressure to it. A sharp, burning kind of pain. It has proved to be exceedingly inconvenient, because if you’ve seen pictures of my bed you know that I have to use a ladder and crawl into it – and the knee I normally use to crawl into bed is my left knee. I’ve been flopping belly-first onto the bed ever since I injured it because putting any pressure on the knee has been excruciating. But my knee never purpled with a bruise (It’s not unusual for me not to purple, bruises rarely show up on me while they still hurt, but normally the yellow-ish/greenish color DOES show up once the bruise is no longer painful) so I’ve been thinking that maybe it was more than just a simple bruise I was dealing with.
Still, I’m a patient woman when it comes to pain, so I’ve just been waiting for it to heal.
Then last Friday night (that’s right, a whole week ago) I kneeled directly on that knee for what felt like nearly an hour. True, I had a cushion under that knee. True, I was kneeling on both knees, so it’s not that my whole weight was on that one knee. And, after a moment or two it stopped hurting (or I stopped paying attention) and I thought I was fine. But the next morning the knee was swollen. It was a strange kind of swelling – the swelling itself wasn’t painful in the least. It doesn’t hurt when I bend the knee or walk, only when I put direct pressure on it. I only noticed the swelling because I was wearing shorts and noticed that my knee was the wrong shape. When I poked it the knee was squishy, like a ball full of gel, and it only hurt when I pushed my finger hard enough to touch the structure of the knee underneath all the squoosh. It stayed swollen like that all weekend and I grossed out many a person on Pride Day by poking my finger in my knee all the way to my first knuckle and then inviting them to do the same…
Icing the knee has had no immediate effect, but over this week the swelling has gone down somewhat. Now, instead of the whole joint being swollen there’s just a glob of jelly directly over the kneecap. And it still hurts like a mofo in that sharp, burning, abrading kind of pain when I poke it or apply direct pressure. But other than that the function of my knee does not seem to be compromised in any way.
Anybody ever have anything like this happen to you? Do you think I should go see a doctor?
I’m afraid that too many years without health insurance have trained me to avoid seeing doctors. I figure if I’m well enough to consider how much medical care would cost me then I’m not sick enough to need to go. But I DO have health insurance right now…
Oh yeah, and because when I first injured my knee I thought it was a simple bruise and scrape, I didn’t inform my boss or the HR person that it happened…
Oh, and, in case you were wondering… the kneeling on the knee for such an extended period of time in the first place? TOTALLY worth it!!
Straight up, folks, the glow is slipping. My eyes are starting to get just the tiniest bit beady. The corners of my mouth are getting just a shade taughtly down-turned. My voice has just an edge of ice to it. Any minute now I expect my nostrils to begin flaring with incipient indignation and all small, fuzzy creatures within a ten foot radius spontaneously to expire.
Kristin's convinced that my period is nearly upon us. She's excited, poor woman.
But, we saw Jennifer last night, and that's always a fun time. And we had some AMAZING triple creme well-aged brie. And, most importantly, I got the rest of the Pride pictures up.
Funny thing about Pride... it's FULL of kids. Kids are excluded at most of the "community" functions and I can't get the Center to accept that queer parents are worthy of more than just one program, but the Pride festival positively explodes with children and their queer parents*. A huge part of our joy this year was simply basking in the happy glow reflecting off all their faces -- and looking around at all the potential new best friends. And then we went home, and Pride ended, and the parents with their children did their disappearing act again.
Where do they go? Do they feel isolated? Do they feel unwelcome at any other events or are they just wrapped up in their own, individual lives? Where have they found community, or do they not need it like I do? Was the joy on their faces simply a revelling in community that they rarely have time for, or was it relief at being, in this one instance, safe and welcome and included and, perhaps, even valued, in a community? How much of this is my projection?
Of course, not all of those children were children of queers. Some were children of allies. And how wonderful is that? At a festival in Utah (the land of all things conservative and quiet for the "sake of the well-being of children and society") where, for once, buttoned-up Utah lets it all hang out, kids run around drag-queens, bull-dykes, fetishists, passionate kisses, skin and more skin. Here children play, unaffected except by a sense of heightened festivity and love. They leave and return to their lives with happy memories, pleasant associations, a lack of fear. The larger the festival and the more children in attendance, the greater our chances for sustained change in the long run. It's really too bad that the leaders in our community don't seem to undestand that -- and thus they deny us more opportunities to change the future through children.
On a related note, my emails to the center about the community potlucks have not resulted in a change of policy. I'm seriously considering sending letters to the editors of our local queer magazines and maybe trying to organize an inclusive block party. However, I did have one moment of satisfaction. The organizer of the potlucks is an acquaintance of a member of our parenting group. During the festival she attempted to greet this member and the member gave her the cut direct in honor of me and my struggle. I know this shouldn't make me so damn gleeful, but what can I say? I'm petty like that. If I can't achieve substantive change, at least I can be snippy, gossipy, unpleasant and immature about it, don't you think?
Speaking of snippiness...
There's a new theme up at Scheherazade. When Cali first suggested a Short Story Saturday I put it to the masses and many of the masses said that they thought it was a good idea. So, masses, there you go. A theme to spark creativity. I know you're busy, so if it's not a good time to write, that's OK. The Lady knows that I didn't get to last week's theme, myself. But even if you can't write a story, you should definitely make time to read what the others are writing. And, if a story is not your thing, I am willing to link to poems, photographs, or other forms of art that build on a week's theme. Cause really, as Lauri would say, I'm super easy.
* I am trying to refrain from referring to them as families because I consider childless couples in long-term partnership to be families, too, and I don't want to exclude them from this title even though I'm trying to make a point about the joys of being surrounded by families that include children.
Did you know that if I eat too many carrots on an empty stomach it makes me extremely nauseated? It’s true. I forgot and just ate an entire sandwich bag full for breakfast. Now I’m hating life. I’m trying to keep from hurling as I type this. The last thing I need is to have a vitriolic carrot puree spewing from me all over my desk. This sucks, why did I do this? I need to go find some crackers or something.
On another note, I’m still feeling happy and glowy…
Oh yeah, and I got the rest of our vacation pictures up. These are all from Kristin. She took more (and better) pictures than I did. Probably because I didn’t manage to break her film camera half way through the trip.
I should be able to get some of her Pride pictures up this evening or tomorrow morning. She is so happy with her new camera. It makes me wish that it hadn’t taken an accident to get her one. When I first met Kristin she was working as a forensic photographer with the Salt L*ke City P*lice. And at that point she still loved photography. During that first year we were together it was a common occurrence for us to be driving somewhere and suddenly she would pull off the road and start taking pictures of something spectacular she had spotted. I loved that she was so passionate about it. I had dreams of the two of us putting together an exhibit of photography and poetry that built on each other into something spectacular.
But when every night when you look into the eyepiece of your camera and all you see are dead bodies, abused children, fatal accidents, beaten girlfriends and wives, the detritus of all the inhumanity that humans are capable of dealing each other, you stop wanting to look into your camera. By the time she finally quit her job photography was no longer a joy or a comfort to her. So I took up the digital camera that she had never liked and started documenting our lives. Her 32 mm film camera sat in the cupboard unused and forgotten most of the time.
But a few months ago she started talking about Digital SLR cameras. A friend of ours has one and Kristin has been coveting it. But those cameras are expensive. And if she couldn’t bring herself to show much interest in the cheaper digital, or her 35 mm, why should we spend the money on another fancy toy.
I was so wrong. On this vacation she finally picked up her camera again. And when I broke the digital I was heartbroken not only because I used that camera every day, but also because here Kristin was coming out of photography stasis and there I go and break the easiest camera in the house to use.
But it’s ok, she wouldn’t have been happy with the old Nikon, anyway. Now I’m glad that I broke the camera. Because now…
So the yard looks terrible. So we still haven't painted the arches. So we found out our remaining cabinets will cost us $800 instead of the $500 we had budgeted. Who cares? Not us!
We even bought new cameras to celebrate! That's why there are pictures to document our joy. I got a Nikon Coolpix P2 and Kristin got a Nikon D50. And we got a free photo printer and free photography classes, WAHOO!!!
Also among the big purchases this weekend, we arranged with my brother to purchase the 1996 Kia Sportage he's fixing up. If you happen to know that the 1996 Kia Sportage is a death-trap or pure lemon, DON'T TELL US. We desperately need a 4 door vehicle with enough room to take the dogs camping with us, and this is the only one we can afford. In another month or so Julia will be too big for her bucket and my little two-door tercel is too small to get Julia in and out of a rear-facing car seat that doesn't come entirely out of the car with her each time. So be happy for us? K?
Anyway, back to the roundup. We hung out Friday night, Saturday went camera shopping and then to help decorate our Parent's Group float and then off to Grandchild the First's Fourth Birthday Party and then to a pre-Pride party and then to the Pride Dance. We didn't have time to get to the Dyke March. This was the first year since SLC has had a dyke march that we didn't make it. Sunday was Pride, and Kristin, Julia, and I walked in the parade next to the Gay and Lesbian Parents of Utah's float. It was a lot of fun, but Kristin and I are determined that by next year we will have gotten her Virago fixed and that we'll be in the parade with Dykes on Bikes!
It was strange. All the years that I've gone to Pride, I've always been one of the restless ones -- never enough friends, never gotten to Pride early enough, to get a good space on the ground. I would wander around the grounds, hoping to run into friends who had claimed some prime real estate. This year we were there early (because of the parade) and with a large group of other parents, so we formed a big blanket camp in a great, shady, space and watched the restless ones make their way by. I loved it. We may have seen fewer acquaintances in total, but we didn't end up overly tired and sunburnt. The blanket camp is definitely the way to do Pride. But next year we'll sneak in a picnic lunch so I don't have to spend an hour in the hot sun to buy over-priced, crappy food.
I've got my good shots uploaded to flickr. I'll see if I can get Kristin's up in the next couple of days.
I'm still glowing. Let's see how long I can hold it.
Well, here is a Tree of Utah-shaped hole in the universe. My contribution to this week's Photo Friday theme of home-town oddities. As all of you know, I live in Salt Lake, and it is my hometown, too. And Salt Lake has plenty of oddities, some of which may even vie with this gigantic structure for pure unexpected strangeness. But, unfortunately, I broke the digital camera on vacation and we don't know when we're going to replace it. And we had taken this picture two years ago, but just now developed the film. So this is what you get. A hole in the universe where my digital camera should be. For more info on the Tree of Utah (and pictures of it in the day when you can see the colors), check here and (for a more "official" view) here.
Speaking of oddities... this weekend is Pride in Salt Lake. And, strangely enough, the pride parade in Salt Lake is the second biggest parade in the state. Second only to the Days of '47 parade that takes place on July 24th (Utah's celebration of statehood -- a holiday that is celebrated more fiercely here than the 4th of July). So, pioneers first, gays second. But only just. The funny thing is that most of the gay people here, unless they're actually in the parade, don't get up early enough to watch the parade. So who's out there cheering and watching? Does anyone else catch the bitter irony here? I could write pages on it, but since I have been informed numerous times that my posts are too long, I won't.
This year Kristin and I are going to be in the parade walking with the GLBTQ parent's group. We're going to help decorate the float tomorrow. But this is not the first time we've been in the parade. In 2004 Kristin and I began to get active in the Young Adult group of our Unitarian Universalist Church. And they did a marriage-themed float for the parade. Since Kristin and I had just gotten married in San Francisco, they asked us to be the lesbian brides on the float. So we did. It was the only time (of all the times we'd been married) that we got veils and white and bouquets. I truly enjoyed it. There's a huge part of me that wishes we'd done more planning with our weddings. Oh, well, maybe the third time's the charm.
On the same roll of film that had the Tree of Utah on it there were pictures from that Pride Parade. So, I thought I'd share. Call it another hometown oddity. In an effort to keep my post shorter in words, I've put more of the parade story on the pictures. You can read, if you like, by click ing on the pictures.
This post is in honor of Blogging For LGBT Families Day
While Kristin and I were on our night-time tour of Portland, N took us around some of the neighborhoods that she thought we might be interested in moving to. She was right, the neighborhoods are exactly what we will want should we move to Portland. We picked up some fliers on houses for sale and
quietly loudly, with much exclamation and disbelief, had heartattacks over the cost of real estate in Portland. Chances are good, that should we move to Portland, we won't be able to buy a house that would suit our needs, in a neighborhood we like, for quite some time. Especially if we're a two-student family with two young children.
But still, if we're going to move out of Utah, Oregon, the Portland area in particular, would be the smartest place for us to move. Outside of Utah and Houston it's the only place where we have family. A nascent support network. And though Kristin and I will do it if we have to, we can't imagine moving to a new community, leaving everyone and everything we know and love behind, without some loving faces at the end of our journey. To welcome us to our new home with open arms. To help us settle in and feel as if we belong. To babysit for us when we need to do things sans children. We imagine ourselves moving anywhere but Portland and we imagine ourselves cast away, adrift, alone in our exile. And all the more bitter for it.
Why am I writing about moving on Blogging for LGBT Families Day? Because to protect our family as best we can in the US we have to move out of Utah. Utah does not recognize our family. Utah does not recognize my status as a mother to Julia. Utah claims that the state has a valid interest in providing each child with two parents -- as long as those two parents have biologically different genitalia. So I cannot adopt Julia because my doing so -- my having the legal right to protect her, make decisions for her, leave her my social security, call her my daughter -- would forever preclude her from having a father. It doesn't matter that she will never have a father. It doesn't matter that she has a plethora of loving, interested, non-father, male family members already. The state, and many people within the state, would rather Julia have less family, less protection, less love, less legitimacy than less of a chance to call some male "Daddy." So, we're moving. Hopefully not before Kristin finishes her Master's degree in two years, but perhaps as soon as next summer.
Lying in bed with Kristin last night, she turned to me and said something along the lines of it's exciting to live in a place as progressive as Portland, it's a beautiful city, but the thought of moving, of packing up our entire lives, is overwhelming to me. It'll be good, but it'll also be a huge loss, and I'm worried about navigating that.
And I replied Yes, I know. I'm trying to focus on the larger picture, the long-term good of our family, and not the loss of this house that we love and have worked so hard on, not the loss of proximity to our family and friends, not the loss of the canyons and desert and mountains that feel like a part of my soul. I know I'm going to be crying as we pack up because I know that even though we're telling people that the move is only temporary -- just until the adoptions go through-- we most likely won't ever call Utah home again.
Or maybe as we settled in for the night she just sighed heavily and curled her body into mine as I cried with my hand on her hip.