Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wow, Was I Ever Right...

You guys DO know stuff.

Did you read all of your suggestions below? So many good ideas for must-have holiday music! I had a handful of them among my collection already, but was pleased to add a bunch more.

(One thing I forgot to mention -- if you haven't heard them already, Diana Krall does a bunch of the Vince Guaraldi holiday songs and they're amazing. If you like that kind of thing. But then, I LOVE the heartbreaking rendition of Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," so there you go.)

Thing that REALLY surprised me, though, is how many of you are familiar with the dulcimer. How is that possible? How did you learn of it?

Once when my family and my friend Emily's family were in Disney World on vacation together, Emily and I (and our moms) ended up at the American Pavilion in Epcot Center. There, one of the outdoor stands featured and sold dulcimers. The young dulcimer salesman, dressed in a turn-of-the-century costume, demonstrated how the instrument was played. He was the one who told us that the dulcimer was the only instrument genuinely native to America (I do not know that this is true, Liz - I am repeating what a costume-clad Epcot-based salesman told me) and that it was designed to be a stringed version of bagpipes. Then Emily and I, having such rich musical backgrounds, tried to play them ourselves, and managed to plunk out a duet of (I think) "Amazing Grace" in full harmony. We attracted a small crowd. Which meant, of COURSE we HAD to HAVE the dulcimers, of COURSE we would continue to play them, we're practically NATURALS at them, of COURSE this was a smart, if not cheap, purchase. And yes, of COURSE the dulcimers went from "musical instruments" to "wall ornaments" about three minutes after we arrived home.

In other news, I hope you (Americans) have had a lovely holiday weekend.

Following a long and complex series of "plans" (We are going to Phoenix! No, Ish's family is coming here! No, just his parents! No, not until Friday!), at the last minute we ended up hosting three people on Thanksgiving itself, not including ourselves. While not exactly raucous, this turned out to be wonderful, because it gave me a chance to see if I could actually produce a meal of several components for five adults -- including a turkey which I've never prepared before -- without burning down my kitchen or giving anyone food poisoning.

And there was no pressure at all, because my friends would be happy if I served them cold cereal as long as it came with enough wine. (This is why, in fact, they are my friends.)

But then I'm not sure why -- maybe because all the pressure was off? -- I kind of went a little crazy. I did all of my holiday decorating early. I got fancy candles and some silly decorations and thought long and hard about the table setting and centerpieces.


You can't tell, but those are white trees up on the black shelves on the right,
and we hung lights from wall to wall (where the regular lights usually hang).



You can kind of make out the white trees now.
They were only $3.99 at Michael's!



A close-up of nothing in particular.



Those are sparkly red candles on top of the piano you can't see.

I determined I would brine the turkey before roasting it and spent days searching for the right recipes.

So now, since I NEVER ever blog about food I prepare (mostly because I don't ever do it) OR wines we drink, I will now regale you with details of our Thanksgiving dinner. With photos. (For those of you who haven't already seen them on Facebook, that is.)

I should begin by pointing out that at no point did I set anything on fire, and the closest thing we had to a mishap was the cat puking up bites of the autumn leaves that adorned the table.


I picked up real leaves from trees in Redwood City.



And because I thought the table was pretty,
I took about 40 million pictures of it.









You can sort of see that the houseplant (whose name is Victor)
has lights on him. That was no easy task.


The menu was basic but wonderful. We had the turkey, of course. Between Williams-Sonoma and Alton Brown, Tom turned out pretty darn well!





Ish poses with the turkey.

We had a million sides. I made a wonderfully light and fluffy sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top (the secret to "light and fluffy"? I added two beaten eggs and mixed it well with a hand-mixer. Who knew? I've been making heavy casserole for years...). I made an apple-pecan-cornbread stuffing/dressing. Ish rocked out with his family's corn risotto (yellow and white corn sauteed with some cream and jalepenos), and also made pumpkin and pecan pies from scratch. Be still my heart. Bemily pulled up the rear with some smashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and Ben's family's traditional "cheese spaghetti" -- some noodle, egg, cheese concoction that involves bacon. We started with a baby spinach salad. (This all followed the fancy-pants hors d'oeuvres that Tony brought.)


From left to right: Salad and turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole,
cheese spaghetti, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn risotto.
Note: nothing is on fire.


As for cocktails...

I mulled cider, and kept it going all day in a crock pot -- smells so good! Everyone has their own mulled cider recipes, but I prefer to use the Williams-Sonoma mulling spices, and lots of 'em. I bring the cider to a rolling boil with the spices in, and then reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Delicious! Then I put a bottle of bourbon out next to it, so guests can spike the cider if they see fit.

Bemily brought some drink they'd made called the Apple Pie. It was a deadly and delicious concoction of cider and scary booze. Everyone had a taste of it to start the afternoon, and then avoided it so as to remain standing by the end of the evening. I avoided it altogether, fretting as I was about sticking to the dinner-oven-menu schedule. It is a bit unclear how much Ben may have ingested, and that is probably for the best.

We did, however, break out some of the best wines in our collection. (I say "our collection" as though I've had anything to do with obtaining any of these wines. Note: I have not.)


A gratuitous photo of "our" wine collection, which lives in this new
wine fridge that Ish's parents got "us" for Ish's birthday.


Just before dinner, we opened a Zonin Prosecco that Tony brought and a Gloria Ferrer blanc de noirs. For whites (which were sipped througout the day), we had a Bighorn Chardonnay and a Jonata Sauvingnon Blanc. I hate Chardonnays that taste buttery and oaky, which most California chards do, and I avoided the Bighorn for this reason. Everyone else enjoyed it. The Jonata sauv is the fanciest white we own -- Jonata is hard to come by -- and it was tasty, but also not my favorite. When we moved on to reds, we served a Copain Pinot Noir and a Donum Pinot Noir. At the end of the evening, we served a Jonata dessert wine that is the best dessert wine I have ever tasted, bar none.

All in all, it was lovely.

Ish. Full.


The boys get amorous. Did I mention that
the "Apple Pie" drink had EVERCLEAR in it?




The following day, we got up early(ish) to revisit the grocery store and to get a Christmas tree. That afternoon, we re-hosted a Thanksgiving re-meal -- again, no pressure! -- with leftovers galore. Ish's parents came over, along with my Cousin Nate and his fiancee, Liz.

Sidebar: I have mentioned this before, but I don't know if this is the sort of thing people who aren't related to me care about. But here is a brief series of fun facts, Sammis family-style, in case you happen to be interested: In college, my dad became good friends with a man named Roger. Roger has many ties to Maine and to Cliff Island. Through my dad and Roger's friendship, my entire family has been traveling to or living in Maine since. In fact, my Aunt Kathy (my dad's sister) and her husband actually lived on Cliff Island for a few years...with their sons, my cousins, Matt and Nate. Liz is Roger's daughter. This means that Liz and Nate have known each other for their whole lives (Maine can be a little small, but Cliff Island is VERY small), but they never even considered dating each other until a few years ago. And now they live in San Francisco together and are getting married. Crazy and awesome.

So Nate and Liz and Liz's brother came over on Friday, along with Liz's mom, Maura -- who I have always thought of as an aunt -- and Nate's mom, Kathy, who actually IS my aunt. And us, and Ish's parents (who got to meet members of my family, hurrah!), and a few friends thrown in for good measure.

I don't know why I'm telling you all this.

But now you know what all I've been up to. (Erm, for the most part.)

And for what it's worth, I'm feeling very festive lately. I suspect it has to do with the fact that Ish and I are getting married. And not for silly-dumb reasons related to getting married, either -- good, solid reasons. I don't feel as groundless and rootless as I've felt these last seven years in San Francisco. I have LOVED every second of living here, yes, but I have also been without much of a plan. And while I don't -- erm, WE don't -- have any idea where we're headed, either, we at least know we'll be together.

That's a whole lot more certainty than I've had in a long time. And it feels good, and sweet, and special, and like I should indulge while I can.

It's like emotional eggnog.



Putting up the tree.



Hanging lights.



Success!



This photo was taken with flash.
The tree really loses something with flash.




Just, you know, trust me, it's pretty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hey! You Know Stuff!

Dearest Invisible Internet Friends, my holiday music collection is tired.

I love the music I have, but I need more stuff. Stuff that doesn't suck. (The stuff I have doesn't suck, I've just heard it all SO MANY TIMES.)

I will now tell you my favorites, as long as you promise not to laugh:
- Bing Crosby (the one featuring the Andrews Sisters)
- Stevie Wonder (so awesome)
- Every album produced by Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma from about 1998-2000 (oldies, but only selected songs)
- The first Harry Connick holiday album
- Mariah Carey
- The first Babs holiday album

And a few instrumental CDs I've collected over the years, including a handful of "Big Band" Christmas albums and...um...an entire album of only dulcimer music.

Now, I'm gonna have to go ahead and assume you are unfamiliar with the dulcimer, and the unique tones it produces when you strum it with help from a small wooden stick. You're also probably unaware that the dulcimer is the only musical instrument native to the US, and that its strings are fashioned to sound something like bagpipes.

It's kind of a long story why I know this. But I will tell you that once, a very long time ago, my friend Emily and I both took up the dulcimer for about 13 1/2 seconds. After which we discovered that the dulcimer also looks kinda nice hanging on a wall.

Anyway.

I need new songs and new albums. I honestly don't think I own any music that's come out in the last five years (maybe more, I'm losing count) except some dance-music remixes that I heard them playing in Old Navy.

Help!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Like A Slow-Moving High School Reunion

Oh, Facebook.

I don't think my high school's graduating class even had a 10-year reunion. Or 15, which would have been this year. Looking ahead, I can't think of a reason to bother with the 20-year, since by then everyone will have joined Facebook and we'll all be caught up.

I'm not even kidding.

If somehow you are missing this online high-school reunion phenomenon in your own life, let me explain how it works. Through the magic that is Social Media, your lost connections can be sewn together again, piece by piece, in five easy (and sometimes mindblowing) steps.


Step One: Your Past Shows Up In Your Email

You receive an email with the following words: "John Smith" has added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know John in order for you to be friends on Facebook.

And you think...John Smith? Which John Smith? Certainly not THE John Smith who used to snap my bra strap in line for the cafeteria in the 8th grade? And who went out with my best friend but dumped her that summer when we were 15? And who got drunk on wine coolers and made out with me that summer between freshman and sophomore year of college at that party that time when I realized I'd always had a bit of a thing for him and then never saw him again anyway? Surely not. Surely it's a different John Smith, like, from some sort of work thing.

Step Two: Confirmation

You log in to Facebook and click on the link and there he is. John Smith. Not from work. From middle school. And high school. And that time you made out. And now's he's staring back at you from your computer screen, looking older and fuller with slightly more heft and slightly less hair, wearing a college sweatshirt with what could be his alma mater or not, you don't remember, smiling and holding a baby with one arm while a toddler clings to his other. He looks, for all intents and purposes, great.

A weird sense of something you can't quite place makes your stomach clench. You click and confirm that John Smith is indeed your "friend."


Step Three: Snooping

Now that you have been granted "friend" status, you begin the snooping process. John is married and living in the same town he -- make that you and he -- grew up in. He has two kids. He has 4 photo albums, and from these you ascertain more than you could have suspected Facebook would tell you. You know what his wife looks like (you don't know her; maybe he met her in college?). You know what his kids look like and how old they are and their names. You know that he has a cute house and silly dog and vacationed last spring in Mexico.

And then you go a step further and you see who John Smith's friends are, and whoa. Turns out, John's still hanging out with the same group from high school. Then you realize why those faces in those photos looked familiar.

(You also maybe see the name and face of the one who broke your heart so many years ago you were supposed to be too young to have a heart to break. You never even thought to look for him on Facebook, because what would you say? But there he is, too. You'll have to figure out what to do about him later.)


Step Four: The Re-Introduction Email

One of three things happen once you have made contact.

1) Nothing. You are now friends and that's all there is to it. No need for further discussion.
2) He writes you.
3) You write him.

Assuming you find yourself in position 2 or 3, the email itself is practically a template. I envision that there are millions of these emails flying through Facebook's pages every day.

**********************************************************

Hi Random Person From Grade School,

So funny to see you here. It's been such a long time! I can't believe we've gotten so old...

I see you're Some Kind of Marital Status. I have to say, it took me by surprise. I never thought you'd ever settle down / I always thought you'd be married by now. But I guess it's not fair to base my assessments on your middle-school dating tendencies. Haha!

Your pictures are great. Do you enjoy living Where You Live? What are you doing for work?

I see you're still friends with That Guy. I hope he's well. Please tell him I say hello next time you see him.

So fill me in...what all have you been up to?

-Kristy

**********************************************************
And then you get a fill-in-the-blank response, plus tons questions about YOUR life. So you answer. You find yourself trying to encapsulate everything you are and have become since high school.

You're a bit shocked that it only takes three paragraphs.


Step Five: And Then?

Once you've gotten through the initial snooping, casual how-are-you emails, you're stuck. It's not like you're suddenly going to be friends with this person you don't really know but whose name you doodled on your notebook once, for a week, about a million years ago.

It's NICE to know what he's up to. It's even nicer to be able to have a civil conversation that doesn't involve bra-strapping or spitballs.

But then what?

You start noticing his Facebook status updates, and they aren't really very interesting. He's dropping the kids off at their grandma's, and that doesn't really mean anything to you or your life or your own day.

And then he publishes something about how he voted for McCain. He changes his profile image to a "No You Can't" picture. You see he has recently joined a fangroup of Sarah Palin and also Metallica. His favorite movie is listed as "Wedding Crashers."

All of which is cringe-worthy and somehow really quite wonderful.

Because this was a gift.

You didn't have to lose that 15 (or you know, 50, whatever) pounds to go to your reunion. You didn't have to show up with your stories and pictures of your kids. You didn't have to worry about your outfit, or if your lipstick was on, or if you were good enough.

This exchange, while totally online and in many ways constructed, was way more natural and honest than some put-on party with nametags. Here we are, here is our life. Here is a genuine snapshot of who I am and who I know and what I do and where I'm headed this afternoon.

I am reminded of why I knew John and why I liked him. I am also reminded of why we fell out of touch: we never really had anything in common except a shared experience that was forced upon us. When that stopped being true and we went off on our own, we stopped sharing an experience and we stopped being friends.

But here we are, again, part of the same experience, again. Sure, it's online and distant, but it's still true and it's still something we share -- and this time, voluntarily. He from his side of the world and me from mine.

I don't think there's any easy way to explain why this is so compelling. It just feels like some of my life's loose ends are being tied up.

My life isn't really impacted in any way by knowing that last saturday, John's little girl's soccer team won.

Except somehow it is.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just Because I'm Not Blogging About The Wedding

Dear Smart Internet,

Perhaps you've heard? Ish and I are getting married. Hurrah! And not surprisingly, I have no shortage of crazy ideas about what this wedding thing could, should, might be like. What I do, apparently, have a shortage of are venues that agree with my "vision" by which I mean "budget."

I have scoured all the available resources, but I feel like I must be forgetting something.

Anyway, if any of you local-ish folks have any brilliant suggestions for an off-beat and fun wedding venue in San Francisco (the city itself), please send it along.

We're thinking March.

Thanks!

Love,
k

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Job, My Ass, And Mysterious Nylon-Eating Ebola

With drawings! Just scroll down. They are really uh...a sight to behold.


Sometimes I think about event planners -- the kind they show in movies, or the kind I've met in Hollywood. They are always depicted as having huge budgets and an army of helpers waiting for commands. They wear black and have perfect makeup and hair, and wear headsets and use clipboards and BlackBerrys and military lingo, and they give the impression that they aren't the kind of people for whom "relax" means much.

I am not that kind of planner. (I am not that kind of anything, really.)

I like to think that it's because my planning requires me to balance 80 billion things simultaneously, in a world where pretty much any plan we have can change on the fly; where I'm essentially reporting to five or six different types of customers who all have entirely different demands all at one time; and where I don't have a headset-clad, BlackBerry-synched army. I tend to believe that SUPER-organized people might have their heads explode were they to try to walk a mile in my shoes.

Which isn't to say I'm not organized. Sure, I am. I'm also just...uh...let's call it "flexible." (Note: Sometimes I think "flexible" might be code for "mad as a hatter" but you know, potato-potahto.)

The point is that I have what I consider to be a good balance of "professional" and "crazy" happening at any given moment during a conference.

So if, by some chance, all the prep-work has paid off and somehow everything stayed on course and the event is going entirely smoothly and I even look sort of put-together in my new outfit and makeup that hasn't yet slipped off my face in a stress-sweat torrent, you'd better believe that something is going wrong under the surface somewhere.

Which was precisely the case at BlogHer Boston this past October.

Knowing I would be returning to the East Coast during the autumn, I bought a new outfit for the occasion. I chose a black sweater and paired it with a long, rust-colored plaid skirt.

Now.

I would love to have worn super cute boots with the skirt, but that would require an entirely different blog post about how I apparently have gorilla-sized calves that do not fit into regular knee-high boots. So let's move past that for now. Instead...

I also got a pair of rubber-soled, chunk-heeled, practical shoes because I knew I'd be on my feet, all day, for several days, and that can be very painful. But to make my chunky-shoe situation cuter, I bought a pair of rust-colored tights. (My bare legs in October? Not so cute. And also, what kind of sock would you pair with black chunky shoes and a long skirt anyway?)

On the morning of the event, I got dressed while it was still dark out. I put on my whole New England Autumn get-up, complete with matchy-matchy earrings and bracelet, and strode confidently down to the meeting area. My sister, Healy, was with me, acting as volunteer extraordinaire.

First of all, let me just say that there is something about control-top tights in the right size that makes me stand a little straighter, walk a little taller. I feel more put together because my whole wardrobe is complete, meaning even underneath.

Well, until. Until.

And here is where the drawings come in.

To familiarize yourself with what is about to be a very uncomfortable day for me, here is a drawing of my rear-end.



Consider that the "control" image.

Because here is my butt in brick colored control-top tights:



Better already, yeah?

About 20 minutes into set-up, as I'm hauling out badges and booting up my computer and confirming AV checks and carrying all kinds of boxes and signage around the hotel, I notice that my tights seem a wee bit...breezy?

Breezy like, Hey, is there a draft under here?

So while in the huge closet with all the supplies and boxes, I felt around and, sure enough. I had a bit of a hole. Not a full-sized wind tunnel, but still.

A hole.



Hmmm.

With registration about an hour away from opening, I figured I had three options.

1) Run upstairs to my room and apply copious amounts of hairspray and clear nail polish to the edges of the hole.

2) Run upstairs to my room and remove tights entirely. Replace them with...ohthatsright, I chose NOT to buy a second pair. Or bring any kind of appropriate stand-ins. So I could remove the tights and expose all of the BlogHer conference to my glowing-so-white-they're-blue legs.

3) Do nothing. Hope for the best.

Naturally, I chose #3.

Well, come on. It's a stupid hole and what? It's not like I'm not otherwise distracted. I can deal with a hole in the butt.

30 minutes into registration, I'd been seated for quite some time, and had forgotten about my situation. That is, until I adjusted myself by standing up and re-tucking my skirt under me. That is when I noticed that the hole had grown, quietly, of its own volition, while I was doing nothing but SIT.



Healy?

Yeah?

I have a really big hole in the butt of my tights.

You do?

Yeah. And I don't think there's anything I can do about it.

Do you have an extra pair?

No, of course not.

So what are you going to do?

I don't know. But I'll probably end up blogging it.

By the time the programming started and the hotel staff was starting to set up for the mid-morning snack, I was back on my feet. This time, with new determination.

It was obvious the hole was just going to keep growing. It was likewise obvious that I wasn't going to do a damn thing about it and so what? SO WHAT, HOLE?!?! YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.

But as the hole inched its way through the "control" top like some bizarre nylon-eating ebola virus, I noticed a few things I hadn't really paid attention to at first.

The part of my butt that was sticking through the hole in the "control" top? It was not on the same surface plane as the rest of my ass. It was a mound of butt-cleavage, protruding like a continent from under my skirt.



And you know? That's no longer just uncomfortable, that's officially on the painful side. By that point, the "windy" factor had gotten way worse, too, and in fact, the part of my butt jutting out like its own country became a noticeably different teperature than the rest of my butt, which remained warm and cozy under the nylon.

It was evident that the hole was not going to stop until it climbed to the farthest reaches of the "control" top. But it was not going to win!

The conference was going perfectly smoothly. Everyone was having a great time. I could not let one stupid hole get me down.

Well, and then I had to pee.

I did not do a drawing of me trying to get the tights -- with half an ass -- off of me, because even I have to draw the line (as it were) somewhere. Just know that it was difficult and kind of hurty, and involved a lot of rolling and unrolling of the control top waistband.

Also? The word "futility" is given new meaning when you're trying desperately to hike up near-assless tights over your butt in the name of professionalism.

What is that? Healy asked, leaning over my computer later in the day, during a 10-minute down period.

I didn't want to forget about it. I will eventually blog this.

Are you...is that...are you drawing a picture of your butt?

It's really just an outline.

By the time the cocktail party rolled (ahem) around, my tights had won the Battle for Complete Asslessness.



But they had not won the war! Because I still managed to get everything packed up and shipped out AND attend the cocktail party, all without ripping the stupid tights off.

So no. I am not THAT kind of event planner. THAT kind wouldn't have the sort of ass to give her these kinds of problems in the first place, but she would have bought TWO back-up pairs anyway, just in case.

But then SHE wouldn't have anything to post on her blog, and I'm pretty sure that gives me the edge.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Before I Get To The Butt Drawings

(and uh, not to water down the importance of this issue with my post title...)

I just wanted to quickly address two of the comments in my last post.

#1: Anonymous 7:08 PM said...
What's the we? I don't understand the fascination with gay unions from the heterosexual left-leaners. I'm all for live-and-let-live, but don't we have bigger fish to fry?

I woke up this morning thinking about this comment, for so many reasons, apparently. I don't know which point to make first.

- Speaking on behalf of (at least some) heterosexual left-leaners, I would LOVE not to have to have this debate at all. Live and let live? FINE BY ME. I'm not the one who has an issue, or who feels the need to "defend" traditional marriage, or who's out there creating new laws to redefine old ones specifically to strip rights of a minority group. It's not the liberals who give a shit what anyone does in their bedrooms. Why are the conservatives (and it is, by a vast majority, the conservatives) so obsessed with what the gays are doing? What on earth are we defending marriage against?

Here is a comic bit from one of my favorite local comedians, Mo Mandel. He is impersonating the gruff men from the rural area he grew up in.

I hate gays.

Why?

'Cuz they're always comin into my dreams and tryin to have sex with me!



- I absolutely agree we have bigger fish to fry. BUT. Right now, today, Ish and I can get married whenever we damn well please, and some of our best friends can't. I have a right they don't because...wait, why again? And that makes it my issue.

- Yes, I believe I -- and even "we" -- have a civic duty to protect the equal rights of all citizens. If minority groups never got support from majority groups, where do you think we'd be as a nation today?

I don't actually think we're on this immediate slippery slope, no. But if today we're a-okay with taking rights away from one minority group, what's to stop us from taking them away from another?

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

- Pastor Martin Niemölle


I have heard a lot of rhetoric about how it's not fair to compare the civil rights issues that gays are currently facing with the civil rights issues that minority races have faced. I have heard many times that comparing "sexual preference" to "race" is totally different. But I have not heard one argument as to why.

I suspect the undercurrent is that some people still believe being gay is a choice.

It isn't.


#2: Tom said...
I'm surprised that Prop 8 passed too, and I don't live in CA and don't have a horse in the race. But don't lay this at the feet of organized religion. The people of California have spoken -- the same ones that ALWAYS vote Democrat (except Obama). If it was voted down, everyone would be singing the praises of a democratic process. When it doesn't turn out the way you want it, all of a sudden, it's moral and religious people, and a bad system. That's entitlement at it's finest. The first lesson people should learn, and we're failing our grade schoolers, is that life is not fair.

- "Life is not fair" is not good enough. No, life is not fair, but I believe that there's a better shot of it being fair here than anywhere else in the world (except perhaps Canada, maybe New Zealand). When it comes to any civil rights debate, "Sorry, but life isn't fair" is not a reasonable defense.

- I disagree adamantly with the direct democracy approach in California and everywhere else they're imposing similar processes. Ballot measures are anti-republican and I am fundamentally opposed to them. Yes, even when measures I agree with pass (like Prop 2, and voting down Prop 4). We have legislative officials for a very good reason.

I think ballot measures are a great way to take the pulse of a city, county and state, but that doesn't, shouldn't, and can't automatically make those measures constitutional -- not at a state level, and not at a federal level.

- "All of a sudden it's moral and religious people"? No, not all of a sudden, but yes, it is moral and religious people; or at least, it is people claiming that they are protecting marriage for moral and religious reasons.

Look, this is NOT me harshing on Christians because I think I'm so progressive and believe that anyone who has faith in Jesus is backwards. I do not believe that, not in any way.

But I am not making stuff up about who:
  • Created this measure
  • Supported this measure
  • Poured tons of money into this measure
  • Lied about this measure

Yes on 8 was strongly backed by a coalition of religious and conservative groups, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Knights of Columbus and the California Catholic Conference.

So no: it is not ALL Christians, and it is not ALL Republicans. But those ARE the majority of Yes of Prop 8 folks. In fact, based on the latest Field Poll (you can download this .pdf of the results if you want), here are some demographics to chew on -- not because I'm being elitist, entitled, or arbitrary:

73% of Obama voters do NOT support Prop 8.

84% of McCain supporters do.

61% of people with a post-graduate education do NOT support Prop 8.

62% of people with a high school education do.

62% of voters over 65 support Prop 8.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Perspective.

To say that this has been an emotional time would really be quite an understatement.

I don't know if it's because I'm still smarting from the anti-feminist vitriol I felt subjected to personally as a Hillary supporter, earlier this year; I don't know if it's because I will never forget the profound sense of defeat I felt four years ago, when Bush won reelection and I knew, at the very least, we'd be another four years at war, in debt, as bullies on the international front; I don't know if it's because I could not understand anything about the Palin selection, and recoiled in horror when hearing some of her more adamant, hate-filled admirers shrieking about terrorists; but after so many years of feeling like I was living on some other planet -- even though my thoughts were (I swear) rational, and legally sound, and research-based, and supported by the framework of our Constitution -- it is hard to believe that this is true.

I don't know that this brings with it profound and lasting change from a "now Virginia votes Democrat" point of view. But for now, for today, for this election? Holy cow.

Virginia voted for a black man for president. And maybe North Carolina (?). AND INDIANA. I was with El_Gallo last night, and he is from Indiana, and has often cited the fact that his home town was the site of the largest KKK rally in American history. There is a young member of his family (an in-law, to be fair) who admitted to being "afraid of black people."

INDIANA voted for Barack Obama.

I am hoping that if I say it (write it) enough times, I will start to realize that this has really happened. It's historic and important and kind of shocking and amazing.

Mostly, it says to me that this country really wants to move forward, and really wants to believe in our American mythology. And I'm totally down with that.

But I'm not stupid. I don't think Obama is going to wave his magic wand and make everything perfect, just like that, *poof*. I am a little trepidacious about announcing what I hope real change will look like, because I'm not sure it's possible, or how long it might take.

But I do think this country's overwhelming optimistic enthusiasm is important, and it's something we haven't had in a long time. Optimism itself is both healing and an agent of change -- it's momentum to propel us forward. I hope it does. I think it will.

I woke up this morning feeling more hopeful than I have in a long, long time. It was a very good feeling.

And then I cried.

It is looking like Prop 8 will pass here in California. This will mean writing a ban against same sex marriage into our state constitution. I am surprised, perhaps naively. I also don't understand how this is possibly legal.

I heard a major supporter of Prop 8 actually say on the news this morning, "This isn't about discrimination. This does not take away any rights from gays. The gays have the exact same rights that straight people do." Which is an outright lie. It gives straight people one big right (and loooooots of smaller but important ones) that gay people do not have. This means making a law for one kind of person and not for another.

Which I find completely and 100% legally, Constitutionally, indefensible.

I got into an online argument with several folks on Monday. They suggested, and I'm kindly paraphrasing, that if we broaden the definition of marriage so that we don't discrminate against the gays, we open up a can of worms. Because what's to stop the liberals from wanting to broaden the definition of marriage to include incest, children, polygamy, and animals?

Leaving me to shake my head and say, Well, uh, lots of things?

(Common sense being one of them.)

The point is that we are trying to define marriage on a national level. And, as with all other laws we pass, it is our duty as American citizens to do so in a way that does not give the right to one kind of citizen and not another.

You know how all US citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote?

Do you think that when African Americans wanted the right to vote that the opponents said, "Oh sure, and what's next? We'll let golden retrievers vote, too?" YOU BET THEY DID. Same with the crazy women who thought they should get the same right that men had. "And if women can vote, next thing you know, we'll be letting 10-year-olds in the polling booths!" Right.

Except no.

There is no reason that a national definition of marriage cannot be between one consenting adult citizen and one other consenting adult citizen. No reason, that is, except for arbitrary notions of morality and religion which are debatable from a theological viewpoint and irrelevant from a legislative one.

It wasn't that long ago that black residents of this country were considered 3/5 of a person and the notion that they should have the right to vote seemed ludicrous by "modern moral standards."

Yesterday, America voted Barack Hussein Obama to be the next president of the United States.

For now, perhaps we've lost the same-sex marriage equality battle, but we will win the war.

Yes we can.


*************UPDATE with twitchy eyes ***************

Gay rights activists are already taking this to court. This comes as no surprise, of course. But what makes me get ranty and break out in hives is this kind of sentiment (from this LA Times article):
"Now, if they want to legalize gay marriage, what they should do is bring an initiative themselves and ask the people to approve it. But they don't. They go behind the people's back to the courts and try and force an agenda on the rest of society."

Initiatives like these propositions asking the voters directly to amend a state constitution makes no sense to me in a republic.

Regardless, just because people vote for something doesn't automatically make it legal. Nor does it make it constitutional. (Which is why we still have those legislative and judicial branch thingamajigs.)

Going to the courts isn't "going behind the people's back." It's actually kind of the opposite. Going directly to the people, fueling them with lies, and using votes from a (slim) majority to try and take away rights from a minority, actually goes "behind the back" of the American political process. By which I mean subverts its process and fundamentals.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Not The Halloween Where I Saw A Lesbian Cowgirl Scale The Wall To Get To The Ladies' Room

But that was a good story, too. You can read part one here and part two here.

Halloween, 1995

When I think of autumn and fallish, Halloweeny memories, for some reason this time in my life comes to mind first. (Note: marching band competitions come to mind second. Sad? Yes. True? Also yes.) In 1995 was a junior in college. I was living at home and commuting to a local branch of UCONN. I had a few acquaintances there, but not many and no one I was especially close to. It was a lonely time in my life in many ways, actually. But I was very happy nonetheless, because I felt really engaged in life.

I've written about this before, but after a miserable first year of college -- and by miserable I do mean miserable -- something clicked. I decided I was too young and smart to be so unhappy and to feel so out of control of my life. So I stopped feeling sorry for myself (Note: I think a lot of my motivation came when I somehow transferred my sadness into anger. It worked, but was unsustainable. I do not recommend.). And I turned things around.

A year later, I was barely 20 years old. I was in great shape and was working out regularly. I was managing a full-time class load in the honors program. And I had a part-time internship at a marketing agency. AND I had a part-time job at the cafe at the local Barnes and Noble.

AndAndAnd I was always looking for my next boyfriend. (Note: story of my life.)

At this time, I was mostly looking for love online. Not because that's where all the hot guys were -- trust me; 1995 had not exactly lured the stud muffins to the internet -- but because I wasn't finding them in real life. Again, I didn't really have any friends to hang out with. I wasn't old enough to go to bars or clubs, and even if I had been, I wasn't going to go alone. And because I wasn't living in a college town by any means, the guys I met were either much older (meaning married with kids) or in high school. The guys my age were away at college, or in their first jobs out of college and living in, say, New York City.

Meeting Kevin was, therefore, a lovely surprise.

I was scheduled to work an afternoon shift at the B&N Cafe on Halloween, so I decided to show up fully decked out in costume. I wore a very adorable (if every-so-slightly small) Minnie Mouse getup, including yellow mouse shoes, mouse ears and nose, false eyelashes, tights, and even the faux bloomers. My very dorky manager was a little concerned that perhaps I was TOO costume-y, but the district manager was in that day, and gave me his full approval.

Toward the end of my shift, a half-cute, half-handsome man came into the cafe. He looked to be somewhere in his twenties, and was very much "my type." He was tall and broad-shouldered, with dark hair and dark eyes. I remember him in a nice coat, like a fancy trench sort of thing, even though it's entirely possible my memory is messing with me. He was clearly a professional of some sort. And he was very smiley. We may have flirted while I made his coffee drink, but I think when you're in a Minnie Mouse costume, it's a little hard to tell who's smiling with you and who's smiling at you. (Note: ALSO story of my life.)

When my shift was over and I was headed out, I ran into this man again. He stopped me, I think, and asked something adorable about where I might be going, dressed as I was. We chatted a bit. And then the up-to-that-moment-in-my-life-unheard-of thing happened. He asked for my phone number. A young, professional, handsome man asked me for my number. WHILE I WAS DRESSED AS MINNIE MOUSE. Ah, memories. His name was Jeff.

Now, perhaps you're remembering lo those 4 paragraphs ago where I said something about "Kevin." Turns out, I'm getting to that.

I was rather tickled that Jeff had requested my number, and while I didn't expect him to call right away, I thought he definitely would call. And then a few days passed, and a few more. And then a week. And then it had been two FULL weeks before the phone finally rang and I answered it and a friendly man's voice I didn't recognize was on the other end.

"Is this...Kristy?"

"Yes." (?)

"Hi. This is Kevin."

"Hi!" I said, trying to sound like I had some idea who it was. Because I didn't at all.

"Uhm, you don't actually know me."

That would explain it.

"But you uh -- this is going to sound strange. I think you met my friend, Jeff, at Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago."

"Oh, uh, yeah."

And then I'm pretty sure Kevin started laughing, because the entire conversation was about to be hilarious. He basically told me that Jeff thought I was adorable and had a great personality, but forgot to mention that he already had a girlfriend. But Jeff thought that Kevin and I would hit it off, and so he gave my number to Kevin and insisted that he call me. Which he didn't really want to do, because how random is that? But then, what did he have to lose, because the worst I could do would be to hang up on him, and so far I hadn't.

I thought the story was pretty funny, and flattering. Because Jeff must have been persuasive.

I agreed to meet Kevin for coffee at the same B&N Cafe later that evening. And we did, totally, hit it off. Kevin was every bit as adorable as Jeff (if not more so), and sweet and funny. We dated for a few months, and had a great time.

We're still in touch.

I'm not sure what the point of this entry is, other than to say that it's kind of funny. You never know what's going to stick out in your mind (and heart). Why is that particular autumn and that particular boyfriend my automatic go-to when I think about Halloweens past? Of course, I have lots of other wonderful Halloween memories, bt that one strikes first. Maybe it was more pivotal than I even now realize?

Who knows.

What do you remember first?