Monday, March 31, 2014

Just Cause (Part 4)

And continuing 40 Days of Worthy Causes... I'm highlighting a cause a day for each day of Lent. I hope you'll find some of them worth looking into, even supporting — and I hope you'll tell me what some of your favorites are, too, in the comments.

Day 16: Breast Cancer Action. I first heard of BCA from a person who's had breast cancer who dislikes a lot of other breast cancer awareness organizations. She has a pretty good rant about it, that I couldn't possibly top, so I'm not going to try. From BCAction's site: "...they are the only national breast cancer organization that does not accept funding from companies that profit from or contribute to cancer. Because they can't be bought, they tell the truth about important issues concerning our health, like toxins in the environment. Their work affects all of us, not just those with breast cancer."

Day 17: Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd first came to my attention after Bindi Irwin decided to associate herself with Sea World. Paul Watson, of Sea Shepherd, had some great things to say about both why Sea World is terrible and also why that's not the fault of one fifteen-year-old girl. They do incredible work and have the best logo for a nonprofit I can think of. From their site: "Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species."

Day 18: Families Against Mandatory Minimums. I saw The House I Live In this week, and it left me with lots of feelings and thoughts and plans for action (if you're interested in watching it, it's available on Netflix). One thing that was very clear to me is that mandatory minimum sentences aren't helping anyone — and from even the least sympathetic, most mercenary viewpoint, they're costing us a ridiculous amount of money. From FAMM's Mission: "FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting for smart sentencing laws that maintain public safety. FAMM sees a country where criminal sentencing is individualized, humane, and sufficient to impose fair punishment and protect public safety."

Day 19: Autistic Self Advocacy Network. This is another organization that's important to someone who'se important to me — and one that's specifically helping a population that's often talked about by others speak for itself. From the mission statement: "The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. Drawing on the principles of the cross-disability community, ASAN seeks to organize the community of Autistic adults and youth to have our voices heard in the national conversation about us."

Day 20: The Root Social Justice Center. The Root started as a coworking space, but has become so much more in such a short period of time. It's rare for me to go two weeks without attending some event there, and every time, I'm just impressed with the simplicity of the idea of having a space where important social justice work of lots of different kinds happens under one roof. From the "About the Root" page: "The Root SJC provides a physically and financially accessible space to support and bring together communities working for social justice. We operate collectively to sustain a space that strives to be free of oppression, harm, and injustice."

Day 21: Invisible No More. From the home page: "Invisible No More is a peer run group representing the Trans* community, based in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. We exist for the purposes of Support, Advocacy, Education, and Celebration." INM's on this list because they supported a really wonderful production of "The Naked I" this weekend, which arguably counts toward all four of those purposes.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just Cause (Part 3)

It's time for a continuation of 40 Days of Worthy Causes. I'll be highlighting a cause a day for each day of Lent. I hope you'll find some of them worth looking into, even supporting — and I hope you'll tell me what some of your favorites are, too, in the comments.

Day 11: Planned Parenthood. Probably, you all know what Planned Parenthood does, but if not, it provides health care, of many kinds, to people who need it, and takes a lot of heat for doing so.* I still go there because I have insurance, and they took care of me when I didn't, and now my insurance dollars fund something I believe in. From the "Who We Are" page: "Planned Parenthood is one of the nation's leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, and the nation's largest provider of sex education. Planned Parenthood also works with partner organizations worldwide to improve the sexual health and well-being of individuals and families everywhere."

Day 12: Heifer International. HI is one of the first three charitable organizations I can recall raising money for, as a child** — there is something tangible and easy-to-understand about giving animals that can feed, clothe, and otherwise sustain people. From "About Heifer": "We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses." Also, I would swear that there was a bit on The Office where Kevin described HI's work as "a great prank," but I can't find it, for the life of me. Anyone else remember that?

Day 13: Sylvia Rivera Law Project. From the home page: "The Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence." Seems important, right?

Day 14: Bike and Build. I first heard of this group a year ago (two?) when they were doing a bike clinic with kids at the church of a friend of mine when I was staying at said friend's house. From the home page: "Bike & Build organizes cross-country bicycle trips which benefit affordable housing groups. Specifically, we fund projects planned and executed by young adults. Over the past 10 seasons we have donated more than $4.5M; built for more than 160,000 hours; pedaled over 7.5M miles; and engaged more than 2000 young adults in spreading the word about the affordable housing crisis in America." And hey, if you're interested, they still have 2014 rider spots available.

Day 15: Camp Rising Sun. People who know me well know I believe in camp, generally. This camp helps kids with cancer. I first heard about it from a former coworker, one of their volunteers, who used to (perhaps still does?) go back every summer, and when she came back to work she just shone with the joy of that experience. From their "Who We Are" section: "It is our mission at Camp Rising Sun to provide a safe nurturing environment to kids who have faced the diagnosis of cancer, so that they may grow and learn from their experiences to become the best they can be."

Day 16: National Park Foundation. Maybe it's just because I'm sick to death of winter, and ready to get out and hiking, but our national parks are awesome, and I support them. "The National Park Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service, enriches America’s national parks and programs through private support, safeguarding our heritage and inspiring generations of national park enthusiasts."

*Also, unrelated to Planned Parenthood, but related to what PP gets a lot of attention for, which is abortion: If you have a chance to see After Tiller, I hope you will — I saw it a few weeks back and it really moved me and shifted my thinking about some things. I saw it with the only other person who I know saw it, and she is probably bored of hearing me talk about it by now. You can watch it through Amazon, if there isn't a screening near you.

**Other early favorites were:
  • Unicef, because children
  • What was then the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief, now Episcopal Relief and Development, because church
  • The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, because competitive reading. Anyone got a kid doing the MS readathon? Or any other readathon?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Right Said Fred

Why should I write a post when my friends do it better?

Here is what my Facebook feed said about the death of Fred Phelps today. I think it is pretty safe to say that none of these people would have been considered pro-Phelps, or even Phelps-neutral, while he lived. I did not cherry-pick these responses. This is literally every response I saw.

Rev. Emily C. Heath: I pray that Fred Phelps finds in death the peace and love of God that he never found in life.
"Do not repay evil for evil..." - 1 Peter 3:9

Heidi Carrington Heath: Prayers of healing, peace, and reconciliation for Fred Phelps. Fred, may you be surrounded by the infinite mercy of God's love that loves all of us. May you find the peace in death you could not find in life. May your family find comfort as they grieve your death. Go with God.

Patrick Hagerty: I know that the man, while alive, espoused a hate-filled agenda. I hope, now that he is gone, that he is at peace and all the conflict and pain he caused can now start to heal. In the end we should treat even those who despise us with compassion, although they would not do the same for us. It's what makes us different.

Sonora Chase Snyder: Farewell Fred, and may God heal you before you get reincarnated.

Beth Zacharias Hunt
can’t help but wonder where Fred Phelps finds himself this afternoon.

Erik Marino: Fred Phelps is dead. My bracket is ruined. 

George Takei: Today, Mr. Phelps may have learned that God, in fact, hates no one. Vicious and hate-filled as he was, may his soul find the kind of peace through death that was so plainly elusive during his life.

Mary Lambert: Don't practice what Fred Phelps preached. A death is a death is a death. My wish is that he is met by the beautiful souls he hatefully picketed and learns compassion, empathy, and true love.

I may have more complicated feelings later, but right now, I'm hardly thinking about Fred Phelps. I am thinking about how lucky I am to be in a circle of folks who are so loving and hilarious and unhateful. I am pretty excited that these are the people I have surrounded myself with, or been surrounded by, over a lifetime.

Note: All quotes are used with permission, and attributed by permission, except for the ones by celebrities who already shared the sentiments publicly, so, seems OK. I don't actually follow either Mary Lambert or George Takei, but my real-life friends shared their words.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just Cause (Part 2)

Sometimes, things happen, like not having the internet at home. But now, a day late, we have a continuation of 40 Days of Worthy Causes. I'll be highlighting a cause a day for each day of Lent. I hope you'll find some of them worth looking into, even supporting — and I hope you'll tell me what some of your favorites are, too, in the comments.

Day 5: Green Mountain Crossroads. GMC is an LGBTQ community organization for southeastern Vermont, southwestern New Hampshire, and northwestern Massachusetts. It was founded by a couple of people who are simultaneously really incredibly lovely and very very dedicated to their community. From the Facebook page: "Green Mountain Crossroads is a nonprofit organization working to increase the connections among the LGBTQ communities. We maintain a community events calendar on our website, and assist in organizing events, workshops, performances, and support groups. Our website also provides resources and referrals for health and well being."

Day 6: Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund. I have a friend who's on the board of this organization (they have 16 days left to raise $10,000 on their indiegogo campaign, if you're into that), but I also just love the idea of supporting student activists, specifically. From their "about the fund" page: "The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund provides grants to students actively working for peace and justice. These need-based scholarships are awarded to those able to do academic work at the university level and who are part of the progressive movement on the campus and in the community. Early recipients worked for civil rights, against McCarthyism, and for peace in Vietnam. Recent grantees have been active in the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression; building the movement for economic justice; and creating peace through international anti-imperialist solidarity."

Day 7: Justice in the Body. I got to know this organization (and one of its founders) when I crashed on its floor (organization, not founder) about a year ago. If you're in the Portland area, check it out — I find myself frequently wishing it was closer, or actually just more widespread. They're doing great work in so many seemingly disparate but widely varied ways. From their "About JITB" section: "Justice in the Body is a socially responsible education, training, and movement center devoted to integrating well-being, love, justice, and liberation with individuals, groups, and social movements." The founder I met had a practice of asking people who asked about JITB: "What would justice in your body look like?" I've been carrying that question around for a year now.

Day 8: Academy of Hope. My first job out of college was teaching adult ed at AoH, and that experience was totally formative in so many ways. It changed how I thought about teaching, and learning, and privilege, while I was at the same time living in a group house that was changing how I thought about faith and community. Big year. When I moved back to DC a few years later, I volunteered, and am proud to have also participated in their adult spelling bee, which is among the best fundraisers I've participated in. From the "Mission and Values" page: "Academy of Hope's mission is to provide high quality adult basic education in a manner that changes lives and improves our community. ... Since its beginning in 1985, the Academy of Hope has been powered by adult learners, volunteers, donors and staff who are dedicated to building one of the most respected not-for-profit organizations in the Washington, D.C., area."

Day 9: You Gotta Believe. An old friend is adopting a 19-year-old young man through this organization. I can't think of any reason why most of you would know that the adoption (or fostering) of older youth is, like, A Thing for me, but it is. From their mission: "You Gotta Believe is one of a precious few organizations in the U.S and the only organization in the New York City Metro area that solely limits its practice to finding permanent parents and families for young adults, teens, and pre-teens in the foster care system. We were founded with a mission to find adoptive parents for pre-teens, teens and young adults before they age out of the foster care system and run the extremely high risk of becoming homeless."

Day 10: Yes!And Collaborative Arts. Did you know that March is Youth Art Month? Neither did I. But I do know that having artistic outlets, early, made me comfortable in many of the things I am today: weird, silly, a gifted problem-solver... Those outlets also gave me the friend who suggested this nonprofit to me. From the "About Y!A" page: "Yes! And... equips children and young people with the tools to be better learners, to believe in themselves and to realize their dreams through the work of creating collaboratively with peers and professional artists. As educators, we practice and teach a different way of interacting with kids, with each other and with the world. We believe that children learn best when they are given the opportunity to engage with one another, classroom content and their own ideas in the context of a safe, affirming and specific environment – this we call Tribe Centered Learning, a unique brand of Collaborative Arts Education."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Just Cause (Part 1)

So now we embark on our 40 Days of Worthy Causes. I'll be highlighting a cause a day for each day of Lent. I hope you'll find some of them worth looking into, even supporting — and I hope you'll tell me what some of your favorites are, too, in the comments.

  • Day 1: Episcopal Relief and Development formerly The Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief). ERD is one of my go-to organizations, mostly because it's well-managed. From the "What We Do" page: "Episcopal Relief & Development works with Church partners and other local organizations to save lives and transform communities worldwide. We rebuild after disasters and empower people to create lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease. Working in close to 40 countries, our programs impact the lives of approximately 3 million people around the world. ... Our four core program areas [are]: Alleviate Hunger and Improve Food Supply, Create Economic Opportunities and Strengthen Communities, Promote Health and Fight Disease, Respond to Disasters and Rebuild Communities."
  • Day 2: JDRF. When I started asking around about people's favorite causes, I was surprised by how often this one came up, because I didn't immediately recognize the acronym. But it did come up, a lot. From the "About JDRF" page: "JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. JDRF’s goal is to progressively remove the impact of T1D from people’s lives until we achieve a world without T1D. JDRF collaborates with a wide spectrum of partners and is the only organization with the scientific resources, regulatory influence, and a working plan to better treat, prevent, and eventually cure T1D. ... JDRF is currently sponsoring $530 million in scientific research in 17 countries. In 2012 alone, JDRF provided more than $110 million to T1D research. More than 80 percent of JDRF’s expenditures directly support research and research-related education. In 2012 Forbes magazine named JDRF one of its five All-Star charities, citing the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness."
  • Day 3: Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department. TPVFD is mostly on this list because of the good work frequent commenter Mike is doing with them, both as a volunteer and through partner efforts for community CPR training. From Mike's comment on this post, "I got a grant for my volunteer fire department to teach a CPR instructor class (CPR instructor training is surprisingly hard to get and very expensive) for free to people who commit to teaching a certain number of free CPR classes for the community over the next few years. Next we'll be looking for funding to do an instructor class for bilingual Spanish speakers, so we can offer CPR classes in Spanish, and ASL speakers so we can offer classes in sign language. (You'd think that would be available already in these parts -- D.C. -- thanks to Gallaudet University, but even they use interpreters and non-signing instructors.) Disclosure: The training is provided through the donated labor of a small business Heather and I started to teach CPR and first aid, so we will also be able to employ some of these new instructors. But we are not making any money from the grants. (Like us on Facebook: Takoma Park CPR.)"
  • Day 4 (also International Women's Day): Girls on the Run. This is another one that's dear to the heart of several who are dear to me. From the "Who We Are" page: "We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. ... We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. Girls on the Run honors its core values. We strive to: Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making; embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness; express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions; nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health; lead with an open heart and assume positive intent; stand up for ourselves and others." I'm not really doing it justice. It's a phenomenal curriculum that incorporates physical health with confidence-boosting and leadership and other good values.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Some quizzes I have taken lately, their results, and how accurate I think they are.

Which "Frasier" Character Are You?
Unassumingly beautiful, you are the object of everyone’s affection. The secret is that that you’re warm and elegant, the kind of person who fits in at a fancy ball and at home with a bucket of chicken. Accuracy: Medium-low.

Which U.S. President Are You?
Andrew Jackson.
You’ve never been given handouts and for that, your success tastes so much sweeter. You may be given great power, but you have the great responsibility to handle it. You always do what you think is best. Hats off to you.
Accuracy: False. I mean, of course I always do what I think is best, but so does everyone. The rest is just wrong.

How Neat Are You?
Clean, but not obsessive.
You maintain a healthy balance. You don’t automatically wrinkle your nose when you walk into slightly messy room, but you also know how to clean up after yourself and be a grown-up human in the world. You make an excellent roommate/romantic partner/general cohabitant.
Accuracy: Not great. I'd describe me as, "Messy, but not consistently revolting."

Which Mythical Creature Are You?
Positively enchanting! You’re naturally adorable, but your enemies are in for a nasty surprise if they think that means you’re helpless. You’re feisty and quick to act, and you’re a bit of a trickster and enjoy practical jokes. You know how to enjoy yourself. From appreciating a sunny day to standing up for what you think is right, you carpe the diem, always.
Accuracy: Meh. Whatever.

Which ’80s Pop Icon Are You?
Daryl Hall and John Oates
Some people think you’re kinda dorky, but you don’t care – you know you’ve got style and talent. You’re not afraid to throw yourself whole-heartedly into romantic relationships. You like so much stuff that you actually keep a list of the best things in life.
Accuracy: This is not what I expected, but I like it fine. Watch out, boy, I'll chew you up.

Which "Community" Character Are You?
You're the mother hen of your group, always keeping people in line and making sure they have what they need. You might be bossy at times, but it's because you're usually right. The maternal thing isn't the only thing that defines you, though. You're a badass in business and on the foosball table.
Accuracy: This is as close as I was likely to get on this quiz. Just grateful not to get "Annie's Boobs."

Which "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Character Are You?
If life were an after-school special starring a girl who's constantly learning lessons about being a decent person, that girl would be you. Showing an unrivaled penchant for personal growth, you've transformed yourself from kind of awful to an exemplar of goodness.
Accuracy: I stopped reading after it didn't say "Oz." OK, not really. Very low accuracy. Fun fact: My ex went to the same Las Vegas Catholic school as Charisma Carpenter, at almost but not quite the same time.

Which Michael Jackson Song Are You?
"Man in the Mirror."
You're a deeply sensitive person who just wants to make the world a better place — starting with yourself. You're not perfect, but you're always working towards bettering yourself.
Accuracy: Not bad.

Which of Jesus's Disciples Are You?
Saint Thomas
Ferociously intelligent and streetwise, you don’t take any nonsense from anybody and aren’t afraid to call people out on their BS. Some might call you argumentative, but you know what you want and you’re not afraid to ask for it.
Accuracy: Pretty good. I'm grateful they left out the whole "faithlessness" angle.

Which Johnny Depp Character Are You?
What would the world be without an attractive daredevil like yourself? You live lief on the edge and are always looking for the next thrill, even if it means risking your own life. Though you come off as a badass, you're really a big softie — how else can we explain your love for emotional singing?
Accuracy: Terrible.

Which “Goonies” Character Are You?
You are wise beyond your years, which can often seem like you are being brash when really you just know a lot. You don’t mind not being the center of attention but are not afraid to take charge when need be. Also, you are a lot more fun than you are given credit for, which is something you always enjoy surprising people with.
Accuracy: I obviously only wrote this whole post because that answer is perfect and I want to be able to refer back to it forever.

So, what whatever are you?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's always nice to feel really understood.

It's kind of an eventful week, socially and religiously and whatnot. The great irony is that more to report means less time in which to report it. But I had pancakes for dinner Tuesday and went to church Wednesday and am having dinner with friends tonight and may go to a film festival gala Friday and Saturday there's an event happening where I'm really into the opening acts but somewhat less so into the main act, and, well, you know, stuff.

Also: Yesterday, I went to Google something.

I typed in, "has anyone ever gotten the," and Google autofilled it as, "has anyone ever gotten the jackpot in candy crush," and here's the thing:

That is what I was going to ask.


Yeah, so, big times. You?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lent-al stew

So, you know, Lent's coming. (Starting Wednesday, in fact.)

Last year I started a discipline here that I liked, but dropped the ball on.

This year, I'm attempting to improve.

I'm going to highlight 40 good causes — one a day for each of the days of Lent (so, one each day of Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, skipping Sundays) in a weekly roundup post on Sundays.

Here's your chance to influence me.

Share in the comments below (or on Facebook) whatever good causes are your favorites right now — nonprofits especially, but also Kickstarters for people doing good work, etc. Share as many as you like; include a description if you like, include a link if you can. Feel free to share things you're personally connected to, organizations you give money to, groups you serve as a volunteer, groups that have helped you when you needed it, whatever. Secular and religious are equally welcome, and religious certainly includes non-Christian.

Some of your suggestions are likely to get highlighted on CMC between now and Easter.

What's out there?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dumb, Alec

Sometimes, I read something and want to talk to people about it.

You are my people.

Alec Baldwin wrote a stupidly long piece for New York Magazine called, "Alec Baldwin: Good-bye, Public Life." If you want to read it, go ahead, and then come back. If you don't want to read it but still want to follow what I'm talking about, highlight the text that follows for what I think he was trying to say:
He is not a homophobe, and everyone thinks he's a homophobe, but he seriously isn't and he knows plenty of actual homosexuals, and also, he wishes everyone would just leave him the hell alone, and so once he's done with these 5,283 words (many of them accusations leveled at other people and several of them homophobic), he's never talking again.

I may be missing some pieces; it really was very long.

I am sympathetic to the plight of people who live in the public eye, especially unwillingly. I am not on the side of photographers and reporters who think it's OK to intrude on every facet of someone's life because he's an actor, especially if some of those facets are yelling at children.

I also have often expressed my fondness for Alec Baldwin, which is real.

But also? I think that when you have your own giant platform where you are determining the content, and you choose to sign off from public life —never commenting again — with words and phrases that include, apparently unironically:

  • "tranny"
  • "cocksucking"
  • "toxic little queen"
  • "...I didn’t view “toxic little queen” as a homophobic statement. I didn’t realize how those words could give offense..." is going to be hard to give you credit as the unhomophobe you apparently want to appear to be.

Any other thoughts on what's happening here? Am I just missing the comedic genius?

Friday, February 14, 2014

I choo-choo-choose you

Today, my dear friend Cal posted on Facebook:

Happy Lupercalia, y'all! Let the wearing of goat skins and the consensual flogging begin!

to which I responded (privately, but not anymore),

You naked kids and your fertility thongs stay far away from me.
Sorry — as I also said to Cal, I haven't said or done anything else remotely funny lately, so that's what you get.

I'm maybe a little goofy today — early morning (5:30), plus dogsitting for my sister, plus my first Valentine's Day with a date in many years (the last Valentine's Day I had a steady, said steady was far away from me, and the last Valentine's date I had before that was in 2006 and I don't remember it). And I don't think Valentine's Day is a huge big deal, but it is nice to go bowling with someone and make them fun surprises (that I can't tell you all about, because RI reads this).

But you know what was also really nice? A pot luck last year with loving friends.

And the running naked and whipping the ladies who choose it sounds pretty good too, if that's your kind of thing.

And another friend is home with her snowbound kids today, giving them a schoolless good time, complete with chocolate and movies.

What's your deal today?

Friday, February 7, 2014


I had reason to talk to a friend-of-a-friend about some stuff I'm puzzling over today. She's both very smart and also very educated in helping people think about things.

Sorry, that was weird and vague. She's a life coach, and while I wasn't going to her for coaching, I think she can't totally turn it off.

I wish wish wish I had written down her exact words, but since I didn't, you get the paraphrase:

You should do what makes your body feel good.
When you find the things you should be doing, you'll feel a sense of relief in your body.
Spend the rest of your life chasing that relief.

I suspect not everyone has the exact reaction I did, but memories of times I've done that — chased relief, or attained relief — flooded me.* They were followed fast by awarenesses of where I'm not doing that, where I'm struggling or have struggled.

Mind. Blown.

*Hey, we haven't talked much about RI lately. In case you're curious, that's still going on, still wonderful. And it was the first of those relief moments I thought of. Even our struggles (mostly logistical) contain some element of that. I hope every one of you has something that gives you that, whether it's relationships or life's work or faith or avocation or anything. Because this stuff is for real amazing.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stormy weather

Today, my workplace was closed due to snow.

The highlights:

  • As I am part of the "emergency communications team" at said workplace, I got up at 5:15 a.m. to share the word. Which mostly went fine.
  • At about 6:15 a.m., after attempting to record the outgoing message for the switchboard about one million times, I texted my neighbor and subsequently went to her house in my pajamas to try again on her landline. That went better.
  • I watched a few episodes of Dexter. Big revelation: A date that is featured sort of casually but repeatedly on that show is my exact date of birth. So that's fun.
  • I videochatted with my sister and niece and nephew, which included tours of both houses, a puppet show, and my nephew's enjoyment of a toy drill for just slightly too short a time for me to come up with "that looks boring" as a clever thing to say. Those kids are very very very amused by seeing me upside down or sideways.
  • I ventured out to the convenience store .6 miles away from my house on foot, both because I needed the exercise and because my driveway wasn't plowed yet. It took almost an hour round-trip because of the snow.
  • My sweet friends had a temperature-solstice pot luck over the weekend that I was very excited about but then was too sick to attend, with the result that I have an excess of my favorite summer dish, which means peach cobbler, which is seriously summer in a bowl and good for the spirits of the snowbound.
  • I watched Breaking Away. Golly, that's a good cast and a beautiful movie.
So, pretty much of a win overall.

How's your day going?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Video killed all other interests

So, I have watched a lot of movies lately.

A lot.

Here is a nearly complete list of the three and a half weeks that started with my Reel Quandary and ends with last night, in roughly reverse chronological order.

Some of that volume of viewing is due to my determination to cut down the Netflix list. Some of it is due to the fact that, right at Sharknado time, I got a new and amazingly better TV. And some of it is no doubt due to the fact that it's freezing out. Like, really, really cold.

In any case, there are a lot of great, great movies in that mix, but it seems silly to try to talk about them all. So: What are you watching that I should add to the list? And what of what I've seen do you want to hear more about?

* Didn't finish: Too pro-Rand
** Didn't finish: Too rapey
*** Didn't finish: Insufficiently awesome effects for my new TV

Monday, January 27, 2014

Trying to become the funk in your right

Calvin says this is the most romantic scene in film history.

Which is funny, because I always thought it was this.

Which maybe explains how (or why) I sometimes confuse "sexy" for "romantic."

What's your most romantic (or sexiest) film scene? And are you OK with that?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Higher than a...

So today, the car radio broke again. It worked perfectly for a few days, and I could turn it off or adjust the volume — and then, just before a very long drive, it stopped working, and so is now stuck off.

Naturally, I had to sing to myself a little in the car.

And I found myself singing, kind of loudly, "Star! Fish! Were meant to fly-ai-yi..."

Which, no. Not quite.

Two things, then:
  1. Ever caught yourself singing something odd and not quite right?
  2. If starfish were meant to fly, would it be more terrifying or hilarious?

Monday, January 13, 2014

ZIP a dee doo dah

This hardly seems like it would warrant a post, but who else am I gonna tell?

More than six years after moving to my current address, I have twice in the last week found myself inadvertently responding to requests for my ZIP code with my old one from the DC area. I had that ZIP code for eight years (at three addresses).

At what point do we think that'll wear off?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Reel quandary

There are currently 47 things on my Netflix instant queue.

Last night, I decided I'm making my way through it, one way or another. I'm watching things from the queue, deleting things I have no intention of watching. And last night, that worked out great. A little Trading Places, a little Wolves of Kromernothing complements the magic of Murphy and Ackroyd like gay werewolves that are metaphors for gay people, I always say.

Tonight, I decided to scroll through with my eyes closed and stop at random.

And this, right here, is where we (collectively) decide what kind of person I am.

Because the movie I brought up is Intolerance (1916), described by Netflix thusly:
Four stories spanning two millennia illustrate how intolerance has been a destructive force in the history of mankind, including the fall of Babylon.
I can only assume it's in there because it's an Important Film, and because a few years back I was working my way through the AFI's top 100 films of all time.

But this is a three hour and 17 minute silent film. About intolerance.

Watching it tonight is clearly not an option. That honor's probably going to Valley of the Dolls or Bill Cunningham's New York, or, like, anything else.

So, friends:

  • Am I going to watch this movie eventually, or
  • Should I just remove it from the queue?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vomit, leather, criminals, and a treadmill

I haven't posted much, but I haven't been doing much. Here are four things I have done, unrelated to each other, in chronological order:

  • I got crazy-sick with that stomach bug that's going around. It was over fast(ish), but while it was not over, it was a nightmare. I don't recommend it.
  • I went to a leather/drag-themed New Years Eve/birthday party, and it was super-fun. I don't know what more information on that readers are likely to want, so I present it just like that, with an invitation for question-asking.
  • I put together a treadmill with a femme friend. In case you are wondering about our mad problem-solving skillz, we put the handle in the freezer, and also used olive oil. If you are marveling at our awesomeness, you are right to do so. If you are scoffing, well, shut up. I have a fully functional treadmill, and did not have one before we thought to employ the freezer and the EVOO.
  • I caught myself reading the police and court reports in the local newspaper and then Facebook searching to see if I know anyone in common with any of the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators. I realized as I did so that it was not the first time I've done that. I am unsure if that is just a thing people in small towns do, or if it is just my own quirk, but regardless, I'm not sure how to feel about it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What you read here

Of the top-ten most-read posts this blog has ever had, five were in 2013.

Of those five, four were month-of-gratitude posts.

And of those four, three were written by people other than me.

Just thought you might be curious, and plus, it's an easy post to pull together. Here's to a 2014 of posts written by other people (as well as me), to first-time visitors and old friends, to words worth sharing with everyone you know.

Those top-five 2013 posts:

  1. >
  2. Thanks for the lift
  3. Spinning
  4. Devil is in the detailing
  5. Lessons of Gratitude from my First Year of Marriage
Which were your favorites from CMC this year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

A reading rainbow

Do you find there's so much on the internet you don't have time to read it all?

Does that lead to you opening a tab for each and then not getting back to them sometimes for a looooong time?

Hey, me, too.

This weekend, I was very, very sick. Today, I am better, but have been taking it easy on the couch. And catching up on the whole internet. And I think part of why I keep those tabs open is that I keep meaning to not only read them, but share them with an appropriate audience.

Hey, appropriate audience.

Seriously, all of these links likely aren't for any of you, but if you can't find something here that interests you, what are you reading?

OK, so now I read (and closed) all those tabs. What are you reading?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas list

Presented without comment for posterity, a list of the Christmas- or winter holiday-themed things I've viewed over the last couple of weeks, in roughly the order I watched them:
  • Rare Exports: A Christmas Story
  • Elf
  • Cheers: Christmas Cheers
  • Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • 30 Rock: Ludachristmas
  • My So-Called Life: So-Called Angels
  • The Ref
  • Friends: The One with the Monkey
  • Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Amends
  • Arrested Development: Afternoon Delight
  • A Russell Peters Christmas
  • The Office: Secret Santa
  • The Office: Christmas Wishes
  • The Office: Classy Christmas Part 1
  • The Office: Classy Christmas Part 2
  • The Office: Moroccan Christmas
  • The Office: Secret Santa
  • The Office: Dwight Christmas
  • 30 Rock: Secret Santa
  • Last Holiday
  • Jingle All the Way
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Without comment from me, that is. Yet, that is. Any comment from you?


  • Die Hard
  • Die Harder

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nothing you can't get somewhere else

OK! Christmas Eve, and apparently Advent was not long enough this year! Still lots to do!

This is the time when I usually could use something funny or sweet or beautiful to remind me there is light in the world — in addition to just, like, stress.

You too?

You've come to the right place. I've been storing up the best of what people have shared with me, and now I share it with you. But enjoy.

What's your favorite? What did I miss?

For those of you celebrating, Merry Christmas, everyone.
For those of you not, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine how obnoxious this whole time of year must be.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sentence of the day, post-Krampusnacht pre-Solstice edition

"Point is, you have way more excuses to be a morris dancer than most people, including most morris dancers."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Got a light?

Every year, it seems like I have a hard time wrapping up the month of gratitude on time. December comes too fast. This year, it seemed to come faster.

This year, the beginning of Advent came with the beginning of December — Advent calendars would have you think that's how it always is, but it's only about every seven years, and seems rarer than that.

I keep feeling like I should have been better prepared for Advent this year — should have had an advent wreath together, or an advent calendar, or something.

December's also a dark month here. Last week, I finally remembered to eat lunch because it was starting to get dusky — around 3:30. Twice.

We fill the month with twinkly lights and candles — for Advent, for Hanukkah, for solstice, for Kwanzaa, for St. Lucy's Day, for Christmas. Advent is time to get ready for Christmas. Solstice brings increasingly brighter days — eventually. The first Sunday of advent, I lit candles with old friends while I shared a meal, chased with hot chocolate and laughter. Tonight, the second Sunday of Advent, I am watching the creepy Finnish Santa movie Rare Exports followed by the amazing Elf, with Chinese food and peanut butter cookies, with people who I care about and who respect these gatherings as ritual.

But it is dark, dark, dark up here, sometimes in more ways than one, and it's really important to make a point of finding that light where we can, and sharing it whenever possible, I think.

A belated day 30 of our month of gratitude: I am thankful for literal and metaphoric light in the darkness, and for the people that shine both with me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting lucky

OK, as usual, I am a little behind in wrapping up the gratitude. I'll get to it.

But sometimes, you need to point some obvious things out to the world.

A pot luck, by definition, should involve some element of luck.

People show up and bring food.

If you're worried no one will bring food you like or can eat, you bring food you yourself like and can eat.

If the lack of a signup sheet means everyone coincidentally brings dessert? OH WELL.

At the last pot luck I had, almost everyone coincidentally brought alcohol instead of food of any kind. OH WELL.

I have slightly more sympathy for people who try to mitigate the all-dessert possibility by assigning broad categories, but only slightly. And specific sign-up sheets, where you have to declare exactly what you will bring more than a week in advance, are for people who can't handle actual pot lucks. Those people would do better to not have them. That's what caterers are for.

Or, you could face your fears and take the plunge.

It's just one meal. Maybe something exciting will happen.

Discuss. I know some of you do this. Why?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thank You for Breaking My Heart

Today's guest post is by Calvin Rey, of 17aDay fame.

A little less than a year ago, I was staying at the Heartbreak Hotel, aka bzzzzgrrrl’s guest bedroom. It was looking like my relationship of 10 years was ending kind of suddenly. And also not suddenly, because later, when I thought about it (when I could think), neither of us had been happy for a while. Whether we were the cause of one another’s unhappiness or not, something needed to give. You know?

And it gave. I spent some time in a friend’s attic space before I found a more permanent home, which turned out to be more of a temporary home, and now I am very satisfied with my beautiful apartment and with the two hilarious, genuine, kind people with whom I share it.

Getting dumped couldn’t have happened at a better time, either. I was working with a talented and huge-hearted group on a community theater project around gender and mental health, so built-in support system. I had just bought a car very cheaply from one of the cast members, so independent transportation. I had (and still have) a job that demands I be present with members of my community who have immediate needs, so daily distraction. Aforementioned friend’s attic space had just opened up, so private space to reflect and grieve. The friend’s house is downtown and within blocks of other friends, so excessive drinking followed by a safe walk home.

Of course, it hurt like hell. Still hurts a lot some days, and I struggle with all these new-again problems like dating and sex and roommates and sleeping alone and holidays and sharing friends and negotiating shared space in a small town. But mostly, my self-awareness and community connections and capacity for emotion and appreciation of life and its beauty have expanded like the shockwave of a supernova. Often I’m a mess and there are particles everywhere, and my friends love me anyway. And so do I.

So I’m grateful to my friends both local and far away who offered me shelter, food, hugs, an ear, a shoulder, or a drink. And I’m grateful to the person who spent 10 formative, turbulent, adventurous years with me and then had the wisdom to call it quits. And I’m really grateful to my resilient, messy, boundless, still-beating heart that now splits open every time I see the moon or fall in love or feel sunlight on my face (i.e., almost daily).

Over at my blog, 17aDay, I end my posts with a three-line poem of 17 syllables. (I call them haiku for short, but it’s complicated.)

Haiku for a Month of Gratitude

Letter to my heart:

Remember, the more you break 
The more room you make

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thank you

Happy Thanksgiving.

I think we've discussed before that I feel conflicted about Thanksgiving; for some of why, see Cal's blog. It's worth knowing that the things we were told about Pilgrims and Indians is beyond sappy and inaccurate; it's dangerous, willful propaganda.

But then there is pie, which is not such a big deal, and the one time a year my mother's side of the family is together, which is a big deal, and an opportunity to reflect on gratitude, which is the biggest deal of all, to me.

So, conflicted.

I try to separate the great gifts of this day from the reason for the season, and I do OK, because like most Americans, I do just fine at ignoring history, mostly — but ignoring history has a price, and I am lucky enough that I'm not the one paying it, mostly.

Sorry, didn't mean to be such a downer. It just seemed wrong to have you along for this ride for a whole month without my saying anything.

And today's piece of gratitude, about which I feel unconflicted, is you.

It's everyone who reads this blog, ever.

And it is most especially those of you who've helped me out this month.

The eleven of you have enriched this month for me through your stories and your generosity and your taking some of the pressure off me.

Day 28 of our month of gratitude: I am thankful for you. Thanks again.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tony Chestnut knows...

Today's guest post comes from dear friend and semi-frequent commenter Kay.

I am grateful for my daughter Amanda's curly brown hair.

This gratitude comes with some basic background gratitude. I am grateful that Amanda exists at all, which means that I am grateful for the miracle of life that makes sperm and eggs make embryos. I am grateful for the scientific discoveries and freedoms that have allowed in vitro fertilization to develop, so that Amanda’s particular embryo could live. I am glad that her embryo came along with her sister’s embryo, and that they both held the genetic material of lots of people who came before us, many of whom I love. Many of whom had hair.

I’m glad that Amanda’s hair is brown. It looks like mine, though not like mine did when I was her age. I’m grateful that the twins had different hair colors; everyone except my willful uncle Bill could tell them apart as infants. Amanda’s hair, once it grew in past its puffy six-month faux-hawk, is a nice chestnut color. Toe-knee chest-nut nose eye love you. Chestnut hair will let her blend in more places than her blonde sister will. It keeps her head from getting sunburned, unlike Elisa’s air-colored hair. Amanda's hair color looks like my mom's hair color and my grandmother's hair color. It looks like the color of the wooden farmhouse table that she and Elisa are eating popcorn at right now. I'm grateful for the table, since you mention it. Dad made it. Now he’s Grandpa.

I’m grateful that Amanda’s hair is full and curly. That means I am grateful for the genetic background that shaped the hair follicles on her scalp. I’m glad she doesn’t have really bad lice or cancer, or anything that would make her hair not be there. I’m really glad, by the way, that she doesn’t have cancer. I am glad that she is a well child, a hearty and hardy child. Her nutrition is good, and I am grateful for that. Her hair puffs off her head like a cloud, except when the weather is cold. Then it statickly clings along her round Betty Boop face.

I wish that Amanda liked her hair. She wishes it were straight and blonde like Elisa’s. Elisa's is very similar to Barbie's hair. It is similar to the long, flat beach when the tide has washed out. The sand is wet and vacuumed flat and thick and firm against the ground. It can be dug into, with some effort and with some beach toys. It rarely needs smoothing. Amanda’s hair is like the newly tilled ground. It smells of life and dirt, it houses things like worms and fireflies, buttercups and clover. The occasional rock. It is not hard to work your way into the shiny locks on the side, rub up against the matted tangles in the back. I am not especially grateful for the tangles; I am grateful for the purple bottle of de-tangler spray.

What I love most about Amanda’s curly brown hair is that in the middle of the night, or once she has fallen asleep, or before she wakes up in the morning, I can go love it. I nestle my nose down by her ear, into her warm cloud of hair. Her hair and her head are warm. Wrapped around pillows and under blankets, they surround her perfect set of tiny grinding teeth. Her hair keeps her dreams warm. I nuzzle my face into her hair and smell childhood and parenthood. Humanity and sleep, warmth and comfort. I feel peace and reassurance.

And there is something else, a little bit more of something that I can't name. I don't have any words for this feeling, since I didn't know about it before I put my face in Amanda's hair a few months ago. It separates me from everything else out there. It makes everything in the world finally make sense. And it makes everything else not matter at all. It gives me a feeling of big peace and tiny, infinite thanksgiving.

I’m grateful for my daughter Amanda’s curly brown hair.