Sunday, August 3, 2008


I've just returned from a memorial service for a 20 year old who was killed in a horrible, fiery car accident, along with her boyfriend, and another couple, who were their best friends. Our church was filled, standing room only. There were people of all ages and races and sexual orientations and a million other differences, yet we were all united by our love for this young woman, Caitlin Lee.

Parents are not supposed to bury their children. Her parents adored her, as did everyone who knew her. She was their only child. I made me recall that, were it not for a miscarriage, I would have a child her age, whose birthday would have been this month. I wanted to have children "one day", but was consciously using birth control pills at the time, because I knew I didn't want to have children with the man I was married to at the time. I later learned that I'm infertile, that that pregnancy was just a "lucky" chance.

Over the years I soothed myself with the knowledge that, because I didn't have children, I had a much freer life than someone who did. But that didn't really quell my desire to be a mother. I've always loved children, probably because I'm the oldest of four. My youngest sister is 7 years young, and she is the one of us who has had the most complex life. She is a recovering alcoholic, 1 year sober this month. She also has three kids, ages 10, 4, and 3. She's lost primary custody of her children because she attempted, and nearly succeeded at, suicide last June. Her ex is abusive (go figure) and is not someone she can be around safely. She is currently unemployed, though about to start college again to obtain a degree in something that will enable her to make some kind of a decent living for herself, and, hopefully, regain primary physical custody. In the meantime, though, she's riding the Greyhound up here tomorrow, about a 10 hour drive or a bit longer, I think. She arrives at 11pm, so I will have to go down to pick her up. Then, she and I will travel up to a midway point between my place and his (about 300 miles or so) to pick up the children from her friend, who happens to be the one he gets to keep the kids all the time. Then, we'll turn around and drive back to my house, where they'll stay for the week, I guess.

Don't get me wrong -- just seeing the children is well worth it -- but this will be the first time I've seen my sister since her sobriety began. I will have to sanitize the house, for MY sake, not hers. Then I will need to childproof. And then go buy groceries for them, and the list goes on.

But on the other hand, my little sister could have succeeded in taking herself permanently out of the picture last year, so I'm trying to view this all with gratitude for having the opportunity to do this for her, and for me.

Tell the people you love how you feel, as often as you have the opportunity. Tomorrow is in no way guaranteed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shooting in church

Most of you are probably aware of the news story about the gunman who entered a Unitarian church in Knoxville, TN yesterday and began shooting, killing two people and injuring about seven others. Well that church is of the same denomination as the one that I belong to. So this is a big story for me, and for many of my friends. Tonight they had a special service, and there will be another special service Wednesday. Our minister, who is off during the month of July, is returning early in order to preside over this service, and the one on Sunday. Like I said, this is a big deal.

I have frequently wished our denomination received more press...that people would get to know us better. Maybe my wish has come true, though in a way I would not have chosen myself. I believe we have a unique opportunity here to show the world how we live our commitments. It's easy to hate someone who causes pain to others, and makes people afraid to be in the very place that will bring them the greatest degree of comfort. But our challenge now is to our principles. What are our principles, you ask? They are as follows:

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
I hope we're up to the task.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's been a while!

I can't believe it was nearly a year ago that I last posted on this blog! How does time go by so quickly without my knowledge of it passing? Maybe this is what being middle-aged is all about. But hey, it could be worse, right? Time could *not* be passing...and that would be bad, m'kay?

So, to catch up:

Completely recovered from the rotator cuff surgery (YAY!!!), but hubby had to have it in January, so BOO! for that, but he's completely recovered from that now, too. However, he had to have knee surgery in early June, and it resulted in the complication of blood escaping from the surgery site and lodging in his calf muscle -- VERY painful, from what I could tell, and it caused a tremendous amount of swelling that really freaked me out at first. But now his leg/ankle/foot look pretty normal again. Still, he has to wear a compression stocking for another month, but least he can walk, and now is almost pain-free.

Lived my life-long dream last month by singing lead with a rock-n-roll band! Three words for y'all: SCARY. AS. HELL!!!!! But I got through it, and maybe will even be willing to do it again. I need some vocal coaching, but it's for things like breath control and being sure to sing from my diaphragm instead of shallowly. One of the big challenges I've had is selecting songs that work well with my voice range. I am fortunate to have a pretty decent range, but I find I do a lot better if I start off singing low notes, and work up to the highs. I guess that may be true for anyone, though.

Baby sister is out of rehab, has almost a year of sobriety under her belt, and is working through the legal system to deal with custody issues for the three children. They are, unfortunately, back with their father, who insists that she must come there to see them. This is something that is not going to happen, because this man is abusive, controlling, and dangerous. I can't understand how a court ever even allowed him visitation rights, much less anything else, but it doesn't matter whether it can be understood or not -- it just has to be dealt with. And I'm very proud of baby sister for being able to step up to the plate and work on getting her life in order. It takes a tough cookie to do that, and I'm betting on sis being able to rise up to the challenge. I am learning to distance myself somewhat from feeling like I have to do something, and have really made some significant strides toward being less swayed by difficulties, or even dysfunctional people/groups/systems.

Growing upside-down tomatoes for the first time, too! I've never grown food before, so this is all very new and exciting to me. I know -- it's crazy -- but I don't care. :) I go out every day to look at my babies. lol I water them, examine them for any problems, compare one day's size or quantity to the! It's just ridiculous how much I enjoy this. Hubby and I are talking about what we want to do with the yard in the years ahead, and trying to go ahead and make some plans. The thing is, it's a lot easier (and cheaper!) to talk about than to actually start doing. lol Oh well -- we're happy here regardless, so I guess we can just keep talking until we feel like getting around to doing something about it. :) I have lots of other things growing, too, but these are of the decorative variety. My garden contains: clematis, marigolds, coleus, bleeding hearts, astilbe, Jacob's ladder, a GINORMOUS hydrangea, calla lilies, and a tea rose bush. There's also the hanging basket of mandevilla, and the baskets of other flowers I've grown from seeds, like vinca and sweet peas. It makes for a lovely site out my front windows, and I'm so proud of having accomplished this. Mind you, hubby does all the really hard work, bless his heart, but he lets me take credit for what just happens naturally anyway. lol He's a good man, let me tell you.

Later this month we're looking forward to having his son and new girlfriend stay with us, and also will be welcoming a friend I met online probably 12 years ago. We met once, in 1999, and ended up spending 2 wonderful nights with her in Colorado Springs, when we were out there last year. It was wonderful to spend time with her and to get to know her better. Her "excuse" for coming here is to attend a concert -- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, followed by one of my friend's favorite bands -- Def Leppard. So, hubby and I are going to the concert with her, if you can believe that. I've never been into hard rock, so this will be a real experience for me. Wish me luck! I need to remember to bring my earplugs so I don't blow out my ear drum! :D I'm going to have to find some appropriate concert attire, too. What do you imagine that would be for Joan Jett and Def Leppard? I'm thinking black.

So, anywho, that's the news from Lake Woebegone. Now, this was a nice post, right? But in the days to come, I hope to work my way toward discussing current events and matters of spirituality. If you've been reading this in times past, you know I'm a Unitarian Universalist. I find that the longer I participate in this denomination, the more deep and wide my search for meaning becomes. I feel I am now outside "Plato's cave", but does that mean I'm really outside, or am I in just an outer room of said cave? How would you know if that was the case anyway? You can really take off from there, considering how large the physical world is, and realizing there are things unseen to us, because they're too small, or because they're too far away, or maybe because they're in a form that can't be seen, like sound waves and ultraviolet rays...

And now I close this post, because I don't want to start thinking about all that again, late on a Friday afternoon & all. Thanks for reading, if you have, and I hope you'll be back soon. I have neglected this for much too long and hope to make amends for that now. :)

Peace, out -- yo. (What is the correct punctuation for that anyway?)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Britney Spears and the media

Quoting from “Lard and Clear,” read Monday’s headline in the New York Post. “The bulging belly she was flaunting was SO not hot,” wrote E! Online.

I can't believe I'm writing about Britney Spears to begin with, but this story has really grabbed me and won't let go. I'm no fan, and never have been. But my reason for not being a fan has less to do with not caring for the type of music being created -- it has to do with the sexualization and marketing of a now-grown CHILD by that child's parents.

How could parents possibly think that performing suggestive (ha! understatement) dance moves while singing about sexual situations while clothed in a porno version of the "innocent schoolgirl" would do anything other than cause problems? Notice how mild I'm being there? "Problems" could include relationship difficulties, substance abuse issues, ERRATIC BEHAVIOR (remember the shaved head rehab look?), and inability to make informed decisions. Any of this ring a bell?

But the issue here is actually much less obvious somehow. People are making fun of Britney Spears because they think she's FAT. And, God knows, that's the WORST THING YOU CAN BE!

Everyone knows she's had two children, but that really has little to do with this situation. The more important aspect is WHY there is such an uproar about this troubled woman's PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE body.

Let me come right out and say that I am FAT. No one would be wrong to label me as such based on the look of my body. I have dealt with all of the aspects of being fat throughout my life, including having offensive and hurtful fat epithets hurled at me by men driving by while I was walking down a street in Boston. (People can be so kind.) I've been teased, I've been frowned on, I've been avoided, I've been laughed at outright, especially if I was (God forbid!) trying to do something a fat person shouldn't do, like eat, or exercise. And though I've come a long way in self acceptance, I'd still practically sell my soul to look "normal". It's an awfully heavy burden to bear, knowing that your physical home disgusts people who aren't shy about saying so.

But what is "normal"? I look at the photos of Britney Spears on the MTV Awards and I don't see "ME". I see a young mother who, though thicker than before, is beautiful, and talented, and yes, apparently not at her best, but I don't see a FAT WOMAN.

E!, People, TMZ...all y'all -- what the hell is wrong with you people? Do you really live in a world that requires skewering the weak among us? Everyone knows Britney has problems, and big ones, but do you really have to strike at the very core of almost all women's be a physical be unacceptable??? Who do you think you are, seriously??? Let's get you up there on stage in less clothing than most people wear to the beach and see how well you measure up. I bet we could get a big audience (pun intended) that would actually pay money to "critique" your physical selves.

You know what, though? I wouldn't be in that audience, and neither would most of the "fat" people I know. Why is that, you wonder? It's called decency. It's called having the ability to put yourself in someone else's place. It's called compassion. Try for the definitions. It might do us all a world of good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kroger + GLBT news + the First Amendment

Following is a letter to the editors that I've sent to the mainstream media in my area. I urge you to think about the import of this action and message and do what you can to make a difference for free speech in this country.

Regarding the story that Kroger is reviewing a contract with the company DistribuTech which distributes a local free newspaper, "Out and About". Following is a quote in Nashville's "The City Paper":

"Kroger spokesperson Melissa Eads said in a statement that the papers were removed in accordance with a company policy of not offering publications that serve political or other agendas. "We have had a long-standing policy in place that prohibits the third-party from distributing publications that promote political, religious or other specific agendas."

I am 44 years old, straight, and married. I do not feel that "Out and About" serves any kind of political, religious, or 'other specific agendas'. "Out and About" is a NEWSpaper, like "The Tennessean" is a newspaper. Krogers in our area have free newspapers that cater to parents, African Americans, etc., so I'm unclear as to the difference between these publications and "Out and About". I am neither a parent nor an African American, but I'm not bothered in the least by there being publications available in my Kroger for these particular groups of people. I just simply don't pick up free newspapers in which I have no interest, rather than insisting that my choices are more important that those of others and removing their ability to make their own decisions about what to read.

Nashville, and other cities, have other options for grocery shopping, and I will definitely take my business to Publix or any other grocer who doesn't have a policy of discrimination. I strongly urge Kroger to consider the impact of thisdecision on the wider community, and opt for tolerance, the first amendment, and freedom of choice.

I close this post with a statement from Rev. Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Update -- surgery Thursday + sister news

This is just a note to say that I won't be able to post or probably even visit here for a bit. Thursday I'll have the rotator cuff surgery I talked about before, so my left shoulder/arm will be immobilized for a while afterwards. I hope I'll be able to use my hand a bit, but don't know how that's going to be. So, fair warning -- I may not be able to respond to messages for a while.

Second, if you're the sort to pray or send good vibes or whatever, please remember my youngest sister. She has had lifelong problems with alcohol and depressive disorders, and tried to commit suicide Sunday night. She has 3 children, 9, 3, and 2. They are with a friend right now, but legally will probably revert to their father's custody. This is problematic in that he is abusive and seriously contributed to my sister's issues, and in that he has no help whatsoever for the kids. My mom is on her way up there now to see what she can do, including whether or not she can take the kids home to Florida with her "while this gets sorted out". The hope is that she might be able to foster-partent them, or adopt them even. When my sister is released from the hospital, which I hope is a long, long time from now, she will have visitation rights, but only with supervision, so she's really created a difficult situation for herself and for those who love her and her children.

We all need peace, wisdom, and guidance in this matter. All good wishes will be appreciated.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Torn rotator cuff & labrum left shoulder...

Yes, me. That's what the pesky upper arm pain turned out to be, thanks to the wonders of MRI technology. So, the surgeon who took care of me when I broke my ankle/leg, and did the miraculous carpal tunnel/deQuervain's release that alleviated a 20-year problem, will be fixing my crappy-ass shoulder.

I didn't injure it -- it just developed over time. Apparently, there is also a bone spur on my clavicle, I think, which, he said, would also irritate the biceps tendon, creating that arm pain that I thought was muscular. So, he's going to remove the labrum (cartilage) altogether, smooth the bone spur, and, because he said my arm/shoulder was "hanging by a thread" (his words!!), he's going to clean up the ragged parts and rejoin the rotator cuff itself. He may also need to de/reattach the muscle(?)...tendon(?) of those, I think.

Surgery is scheduled for June 14. I put it that far out because we leave for Denver next week, and will be gone for 10 days. I don't want to be looking at surgery as soon as I return, so I'm going to do it the week after. I was supposed to drive down to my niece's wedding this weekend, but I'm unable to do that now. The doctor said I can do whatever I feel like doing, but that if anything hurts, don't do it, literally, because I could further injure my shoulder and create a much more acute situation. So, no driving for any length of time. And especially not in hubby's car, which is a stick-shift and has a sporty suspension. (Read: bumpier ride) He's got a band gig this weekend, and has to have the van to load and carry all of his equipment.

Life just gets more and more interesting, doesn't it?