Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 4 in a small town near Tampa, FL: No therapy like completely immature humor

Seen on the drive back from the Wagon Wheel Flea Market to the new home that my dad and his wife recently purchased:

Ha ha.

We also passed a business whose sign read "Quaker Steak and Lube." My sister and I are mystified. While pondering that, we passed a restaurant apparently named "HISPANIC RESTAURANT." Don't know where to start with that one.

One more day plus a few more hours, and I'll be on my way home to Jam Guy, Toby, Meimei, our garden, and lube-free steak.

(Hey! I survived NaBloPoMo! Somebody give me a monkey sticker!)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Aaaand...heard tonight from person who shall remain nameless

"You know, like, when there are natural disasters? Those people in third-world countries really have an advantage over us, because they know how to survive on sand and bugs and stuff."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Heard tonight from person who shall remain nameless

"The thing about shopping in India is, it's really hard, because people just keep coming up to you to ask for money. I mean, so many people keep asking you for money that you can't even buy stuff."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

People in airports

are almost always a mess, yours truly included. I don't just mean a literal mess, although that happens too--airplane air is not kind to your hairdo; you have circles under your eyes from time changes; your clothes are rumpled--but everyone's emotions are closer to the surface. Mothers that probably don't snap at their kids all the time snap left and right, probably because they are tired and feeling extra-protective far from the safe confines of home. Impatient guys in sharp suits and ties get on their cell phones and you can hear their impatience rampage out of control in their prickly, jagged voices; they punch at their blackberries like they're trying to displace someone's ribs. Couples bicker and sigh loudly at one another, or else make out or lay all over each other on the airport carpet, while normally mild germophobes eye them with overt disgust and outrage and something like fear. How it manifests in me? I, normally a bit soft-hearted, cry at the slightest thought of anything remotely sad. Or happy, for that matter. Once, watching Lilo and Stitch on a flight to Hawai'i, I literally sobbed--sobbed--for five minutes straight. It was embarrassing.

Today they played Wall-E on the plane. I was so distraught and brought so close to tears at all the touching/suspenseful/wistful scenes that I had to keep taking my headphones off and switching back to reading my book. Then my book, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, would get touching or suspenseful or wistful, and I would have to switch back to Wall-E. Then I would have to switch again, and again. Then I would get stressed out and try to study instead of reading or watching the movie. Then I would miss Jam Guy and the way he nobly motivates me to study, which would make me think about how thankful I am for his presence in my life, which would make me distraught and close to tears again. In the end I wept helplessly over all three love stories.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tonight I am a jangly bundle of nerves

I am apprehensive about a family Thanksgiving visit coming up tomorrow, with all of the emotional twistiness that such visits entail, and I am disproportionately sad about leaving Jam Guy for the five days that I'll be away on this trip, probably because the time we have been having these past few months, finally living in the same town, in the same house, has been so sweet, and spending five nights away from him feels like taking a risk that I will wake and find it has all been a nice dream.

I am trying to stay positive and light and have faith in the process of walking my path. One foot in front of the other has gotten me to this place of incredulous joy; I have no reason to stop trusting in forward motion. And I am going to try my best to believe that visiting my dad will not be a departure from the kind of happiness that I experience here in our little house, but a way to move even further into it, to broaden it and enrich it. I am going to try to trust, to fall without a parachute, to erect boundaries that are flexible and grounded in compassion and love and a history of real affection, to avoid crouching fearfully behind a poky cement rampart and peering from a great distance at someone I have never not loved and always hoped to truly know.

I am going to remember to give thanks, over and over again, for all of the things that are not obvious, along with the things that are.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I went to a yoga class tonight

and it felt SO GOOD. I haven't taken a class since I moved up here to Santa Rosa in August. I was invited by a good friend of Jam Guy's, and it was a small and intimate class of just six women, which was lovely. I can't wait till next week's class, and I think I will really need it after Thanksgiving. Yay for Downward Dog!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Correction to post below

Where I said that the song below was "kind of cheesy"? I just read the lyrics again in the cooler light of morning, and I have to correct: They are really, really cheesy. Cheesy like Chester the Chee-toh Cheetah. Cheesy like the mysterious orange sauce that is produced from those blue mac and cheese mix boxes. Cheesy like it ain't easy. Not good, tasteful cheesy, like Camembert and Stilton and Taleggio. Velveeta cheesy.

I still like it, though. A lot. I like the idea of heartbreak after heartbreak serving as stepping stones to joy. I like the idea of a greater plan; I like that I found Jam Guy because, not in spite of, the often-bumpy, muddy, wildly-circuitous path I took on my way here.

But. I am no longer considering it for our first dance at the wedding, because everybody we know will laugh us out of our own damn backyard, and they won't be wrong to do it, either.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lately I have been liking country music, unapologetically

My weekly drive to and from Berkeley for a review class is pretty much the only time I listen to the radio. You know that Sublime song, "Boss DJ"? Where he goes, "Nowadays the songs on the radio all, all drive me crazy"? That's kind of how I feel lately, tuning in to the top 40. Maybe I'm getting crotchedy and un-hip now that I've hit 30. There are a few songs I like, but they are so few and far between, and the majority are (to me) SO BAD that they actually make me cranky.

So--and yes, maybe this is evidence that I'm getting soft in my old age--lately I've been tuning into the country station. I'm finding that a lot of country songs, which I busily discounted as a teen and twentysomething without really listening to them, sound to my unexposed-to-country-music-ear fresh, unpretentious and pretty. Many of them are just telling stories with pretty melodies: not a whole lot to not like.

Today as I was just starting home I heard this song, with lyrics that sounded so much like me talking to/thinking about Jam Guy that it made me cry nearly all the way to Petaluma. Granted, I don't use the term "God" so much (preferring "God or the Universe or Fate or the Dao or the Jedi Force or whoever or whatever is running things") but if you switched out "God" for my more ungainly terminology, it would sound pretty much just like me.

I googled it as soon as I got home; it's called "Bless the Broken Road" and it's by Rascal Flatts.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Now I'm just rolling home
Into my lover's arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

It is kind of cheesy, but then so am I, often, when it comes to Jam Guy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sidewalk Monkey to Jam Guy, while enthusing about how much she likes venison

"I could probably really get into deer hunting, if I weren't so scared of guns. And also of killing deer."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jam Guy and Sidewalk Monkey watch an episode of 30 Rock, and interact with it

Scott Adsit, as Pete: I just got a memo saying that every floor in the building has to designate a floor emergency marshal...I can’t do it, because my head is too big for the helmet.

Sidewalk Monkey, to Jam Guy: Hey! That's you!

Minutes pass.

Tina Fey, as Liz: I only took that napkin because I wrapped chicken in it!

Sidewalk Monkey: Hey! That's me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It occured to me today that I live in heaven

during the time that I walked to the raspberry patch, picked a gleaming red handful of raspberries, walked back to the picnic table at which Jam Guy was sitting, and presented them to him like they were exotic, priceless jewels. Which they kind of are.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dinner tonight is

pork loin, bok choy and mizuna, which I adapted from Ray Lee's Chicken and Choy Sum recipe in Breath of a Wok, by Grace Young.

Finished product:


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tonight's dinner

cooked by Jam Guy, the source of most of our dinners:

It's the Steak with Butter and Ginger Sauce recipe, from Simple to Spectacular, by Jean-Georges Vongericheten and Mark Bittman. Jam Guy served it with steamed jasmine rice and with a salad assembled entirely from ingredients picked this evening from our garden. (My sole contribution to dinner: I picked the veggies!) The salad, of mixed greens, radishes and sungold tomatoes, was very simply dressed with walnut oil, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper, and the tiniest pinch of sugar.

Note my half-full (Sidewalk Monkey, perpetual optimist, nice to meetcha) Negroni in the right upper corner, one of my favorite cocktails--I know it's meant as an aperitif, but it's a strong one, and I'm a lightweight, so I usually end up nursing it into dinner. In fact I'm still a wee bit tipsy, and dinner was like an hour ago. It's a 1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, though Jam Guy, through patient experimentation, found that I prefer it with half sweet and half dry vermouth, to bring out the bitterness of the Campari. I love bitter flavors. Plus a Negroni is the most beautiful shade of almost neon red.

Here is what Toby does the entire time that Jam Guy is carving the steaks:

"Dropthesteakdropthesteakdropthesteakdropthesteak." Hope springs eternal.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why it is sometimes hard to garden with a dog around

What Toby does while I am raking the yard (which, for what it's worth, is a days-long project: I spent nearly 5 hours on it today and got maybe a tenth of the way done): follows close beside me, often getting in between me and the rake; glares suspiciously at the rake, which he has apparently decided is a gravely dangerous enemy that he must herd me away from; inevitably walks directly into my rake, even when I'm standing still to scroll about on the iPod, and then cries loudly and reproachfully enough that the entire neighborhood must think I'm actually beating him with said rake. Also: if I stop to dig for the roots of an interesting-looking tuber-y type thing, in hopes that it is an abandoned sweet potato or garlic plant that I can replant in the vegetable garden or present to Jam Guy to supplement dinner with some night, he stands right over whatever spot I am trying to dig in, or better yet, sits on it. It is not efficient, and often annoying. But I love him. How could I not?

(photo by Jam Guy)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reminder: Do more stuff outside

The uncomfortably accurate Randall Munroe strikes again, on

Actually, this cartoon makes me feel relatively accomplished, in that I usually get out from under the covers and pour some of the coffee Jam Guy has made for me before gluing myself to my laptop. I need my email/facebook/bloggy fixes before facing the wide, uneditable world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Doing NaBloPoMo

So I have this thing where if I make some sort of a pledge to do a thing, I have a hard time backing out. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was voted to be one of the class Peer Leaders--this group of students that was supposed to be all exemplary and counsel our fellow students and what not. We all had to sign a pledge that included not touching drugs or alcohol till we graduated. I'd had a few goofball drinking sessions in ninth grade with friends, but totally, earnestly gave it all up. Staying sober while in high school is not a bad thing, of course, but I remember it being harder than I thought it would be. But I had promised, so I stayed the course all virtuous and what not. (Of course, when Senior Prom and all the graduation parties rolled around, I learned that most of the other Peer Leaders had not been nearly so committed--but I was still glad, if only for my own sense of integrity or whatever, that I had stuck to my promise.)

So I signed up all excited for NaBloPoMo this month, and it really isn't as easy as I thought to think of something to blog about every day. Moreover, I realized that November includes Thanksgiving and the few days before and after it, during which time I'll be in Florida spending T-day with my dad and his new wife. I don't know if I'll be able to get any computer time during those days. It might be another, probably important, lesson in commitment. It might be a lesson about standing up for some of my own rules while spending time with my dad, which would be a new and probably timely thing. Or it might be a lesson in self-forgiveness. We will see.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winter garden, year 1

In mid-October, we had a lovely visit from Jam Guy's mom and dad. His dad helped put in a winter garden for us, showed me how to plant seeds in rows, and gave me lots of excellent instructions for caring for the garden. The first day I saw specks of green, I was so excited that I took a cell phone picture and texted it to Jam Guy right away.

Because we had some real rain after a dry spell a few weeks ago, the specks of green turned into real plants practically overnight. Happy with the gorgeous soil created by 30 years of farming by the family who lived here before us and quenched after a long dry spell, our veggies immediately exploded into all sorts of fantastic verdancy. However, the weeds appreciated the rain and gorgeous soil too, and while they are very pretty--forming this lacy, jade-green carpet all around our vegetables--for a little while it was hard to tell what was weed and what was baby veggie. (Metaphor: it takes practiced discernment and patience to learn to identify what's good for you and what is just competing with what's good for you.)

But I've spent the last few days assiduously weeding, especially since alot of the veggies are ready or close to ready to harvest. The weeds are still thriving, but they're a bit more under control. I've been doing all this assiduous weeding in either a tube top or a sarong, hoping to fade some of the wifebeater tanlines I've accumulated running along the creek. I'm a productive multitasker. Don't hate.

And dinner tonight is featuring a salad made from our first harvest from this garden (of various baby lettuces, French breakfast radishes, and baby beet greens that were thinned out today) so I thought I'd get some pictures before we started picking. Here they are!

Bok choy (and indigo radicchio to its left):


Radish tops:

Swiss chard and purple kohlrabi:

Mesclun mix:

"Kitchen sink" lettuce mix:

French breakfast radishes, ready to go:


Lots of lettuce!:

And even more lettuce:

And here's a picture of the dinner Jam Guy made tonight--potatoes sent to us from Jam Guy's parents, needing nothing more than a quick boil and a touch of butter and salt; rare porterhouse steak topped with Point Reyes blue cheese; and our fancy from-the-garden salad with a simple vinaigrette.

I told Jam Guy the other day--while I was tugging weeds away from baby lettuces--that when I was a little kid growing up in the suburbs, the words "vegetable garden" had conjured for me thoughts of Peter Rabbit--basically that they were places meant to be invaded by talking rabbits, places that existed in a make-believe world. Tidy rows of fat green edibles flourished in fairy tales, not in my life. Here is one more way that my life with Jam Guy has, to my absolute joy and incredulous relief, proven me wrong.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And now it's time for an upper

Two words: Puppy Cam.

A slightly less-garbled edit of something I wrote in the middle of the night several years ago,

when in a not-so-happy place, when with a person I was beginning to suspect I deserved better than. I found it fairly recently on a water-stained, wrinkled chunk of legal pad that had made it from the East Village through Brooklyn and San Diego to my life now, and sort of liked it, and messed around a bit with it to neaten it.

I do remember writing this, now that I see it again on its jagged piece of yellow pad. I remember getting up in the middle of the night because I couldn't sleep because I couldn't get comfortable because I felt afraid to move away from said ex-person in case he interpreted that movement as some sort of evidence of infidelity. I remember I was sad; he had probably said some unkind words and while I still struggled to understand them he had fallen soundly asleep, as though lulled by the knowledge that my heart was more broken, again. I remember falling restlessly into half-sleeps and dreaming, or thinking, or both, of my mother, and of how her family fled China. I don't actually know how old she was when they left her home, but I know she was young enough to be a child who went where her family went and old enough to remember. I remember finally giving up on sleep and climbing as quietly as I could out of the loft bed that we shared, the bed that his rage eventually broke one day towards the end of us, and writing because I couldn't think of any other way to feel less lonesome.

dragon dream

the man who sleeps there at my side
breathes like a dragon while he sleeps.
i lie, the dragon's dog, and try to keep
as still as will allow this night:

this night, full of dreams, like:
my mother, twelve years old, ready to drown
in honest grief for scores of pretty gowns
that must be left behind.

soldiers, faces indifferent as plates
will cut the gowns into useful squares.

man sails into the stratosphere
but i, seated tight on center-Earth
cheated of a place of birth
i am the only dragon here.

Reading that today, I am so grateful for the happiness in my life, for the changes that have come about, for the people that helped me on my path to this place, for the lessons I have learned. Never again will I take for granted self-sovereignty, strength, an easy day, the kind of love that redeems and cradles you. Thank God or whomever it is running things that I have landed back in myself and have, again, the chance to turn to the cool side of the pillow, one night at a time.

This is about the human heart.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This economy sucks.

We are all feeling it: either we don't have a job, or our partner doesn't have a job and so we're subsisting on one income in a culture where you really need two incomes, or everybody has a job but nobody can afford gas to get there, or something. I have high hopes that this is going to get better as President Obama takes office in 2009. In the meantime, to cheer ourselves up, let's watch this video of cats on treadmills.

Some analysis: what I like best about this video is that the white cat, who looks a lot like my cat, lies down the instant she is placed on the moving treadmill. And when she is denied in her attempts to lie down, she inexplicably plants her head down onto the track, as though in a passive but deeply committed protest.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I love these, even if I can't think where or with what to wear them.

The best part of the description for this Nisadora (for Guess by Marciano) is:

The 1/4" platform makes the 3 1/4" heel feel like 3".

Well, that should help. Now they're practically sneakers.

I am always really drawn to multicolored shoes, particularly when one of those colors is red, and even more when another one of the colors is yellow. But then I never know what to do with them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oy, my tum, take two.

I don't know why my stomach has been getting so upset lately. It concerns me for a variety of reasons, not least among those that the last time I had such a sensitive GI was when I was a little kid. And I was one stressed-out little kid.

So since I'm in an unprecedentedly happy place in my life, why am I so queasy all the time? (No, I'm not pregnant.) It makes me wonder about what's going on in my subconscious sometimes, and at other times it makes me wonder about what's going on in those taco trucks we frequent and love so well.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holy moly, our house smells good

While I was working at the winery yesterday, Jam Guy walked to Treehorn Books and bought a used copy of The Complete Meat Cookbook, by Bruce Aidell and Denis Kelly.

I am always excited when he brings home a new used cookbook, especially one from Treehorn, whose small, cozy used-cookbook section we've been spending happy afternoons in pretty much since the moment we met. The first time I celebrated a birthday with Jam Guy he presented me with three cookbooks from there, all rice-themed, all still among my favorites. When I spotted Julia Child's "My Life in France," looking all well-read and antiqued even though it was published in 2006, I bought it to surprise Jam Guy with. When,while browsing there one day a year and a half or so ago, he spotted a copy of "Pass the Polenta" by Teresa Lust--a warm, evocative collection of short stories and recipes that I had rapturously extolled and pressed him to borrow--he called me in New York to tell me how much it made him miss me. We buy each other new old cookbooks from the cookbook nook sort of on the regular, and we're both always stoked to unwrap them.

Anyways. Tonight Jam Guy is making Pork Braised in Milk and Capers from his new old cookbook, along with some mashed roasted garlic and potatoes to pour the lovely milk sauce over, and a tomato-mint salad from our hyperactively, determinedly-producing EarthBoxes. Nobody has told these plants that it's freaking November. Ssshhh.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More thoughts on Prop 8, these from the very smart Josh Scheer,

who posted them in the note "Confused Gay Man, 11/5/08" on Facebook. Excerpts:

..."'(P)rotecting the sanctity of marriage' is not a valid argument. If protecting the sanctity of marriage is of such concern, why do half of marriages end in divorce? Where is the government regulation there? Isn't adultery a crime? If it is, then prosecute! We must protect the sanctity of marriage!

The laws of our land cannot be based on people maybe being uncomfortable because there might be a gay couple in their neighborhood. The fact is, there is no inherit danger or threat to society caused by same-sex couples marrying.I've heard people say it 'threatens the moral fibers of our country.' Does it really? More so than bigotry?

Gay people who love one another and want the same marriage rights and privledges as heterosexuals are not a threat to our country's morality. Bigotry, on the other hand, most certainly is.

This was an election that was won on the idea of 'change' could the voices of so many voters have been so progressively forward and flagrantly bigoted in the same song?"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Today I took a break from fretting

and spent a few hours pulling weeds in the backyard.

I was very happy when it rained last weekend, because I knew we needed it; however, the quarter-acre of weeds that immediately surfaced are clearly happy about it too. Moreover, pulling baby weeds out of our baby vegetable garden proved to be a task a bit over-advanced for my baby-gardener-level skills: I am pretty sure that some would-be mesclun ended up in the yard waste, and I am pretty sure we are going to end up with some weeds in our salad bowls.

While I weeded I pondered the decision Jam Guy and I had made to not be legally married until everyone could be legally married--that we would go ahead with the wedding anyways, but not sign a license. My sister, ever the rational and wise one of the pair of us, pointed out that this plan does not actually advance "the cause" in any way, but rather is a statement "precluding (my) own happiness." I feel wrong entering an institution that not everyone can enter--that my own sister and many of my friends can't enter--but I do see her point.

But I have the choice to make, and at bottom I don't want to live in a place where some of us have a choice that others don't. But here we are.

My sister suggested I think of doing something more proactive, which is part of why I am blogging about Proposition 8 so obsessively--not so much because I think that my blogging is particularly proactive, but because in searching for proactive steps I can take to aid in the effort to repeal Prop 8, I've had it on my mind a lot these last few days.

For starters, something we can all do today that is proactive--thanks to Jam Guy for forwarding me this link--is to sign the Courage Campaign's petition, found here:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oy, my tum.

Last night I may have eaten some bad cambozola. All mold, Sidewalk Monkey learns the hard way time and time again, is not the delicious kind.

At least that's my best explanation for why I've had this upset stomach since then that gets worse every time I eat something. Maybe eating half an al pastor superburrito and washing it down with a beer and some atole wasn't the wisest choice for dinner tonight. There are other reasons, too, that I am now curled up around a tepid glass of Pelligrino and moaning into the bubbles.

Tonight I am a bit in the doldrums. I have spent the day fretting over other people's marriages being rendered invalid by Proposition 8 and then also over my own wedding gown, and I am not unaware of the unjust imbalance there, and I fretted over that imbalance and injustice too. I fretted over how happy to be about getting married, I fretted over wanting to go to the march in San Francisco tomorrow and whether my stomach would be well enough that I wouldn't have to map out every porta-potty on the parade route. I fretted about being an insensitive person and a selfish, self-centered bride because I was fretting so much about my own wedding, which feels somehow grotesquely and fatly privileged now because it is a heterosexual and thereby potentially legal affair. Because I can sign a marriage license with the person I love and have all the excitement and drama that comes with it, because other people can't, because I didn't do anything different than the people who cannot do this and yet I have this privilege. Because 40 years ago Jam Guy and I could not have gotten married. Because what is happening now to the LGBT community is really not that different, and because our children will look back at this vote and see how backwards and small-minded the majority of voters were on Tuesday.

I fretted all day, and now I am certain that 1) my fretting served to exacerbate my digestive woes and 2) other than that, my fretting accomplished nothing at all. Nothing that served the cause for equal rights for all people, certainly; nothing that got me closer to making positive change; nothing that earned a dollar or pulled a weed or fed a starving family or lobbied for fair legislation or even took a proper bust measurement. It was not productive. It generated stomach acid.

I did post on another blog in response to the author writing about how she felt that opponents of Proposition 8 were not showing enough tolerance and understanding to the supporters of Proposition 8--that we are not showing the tolerance that we ask them for, basically, and that we are wrong for criticizing the belief systems that led those voters to support Proposition 8. She wrote that we should all just be happy for how far the country has come--because we have a black President, which "would have been UNTHINKABLE 20 years ago!," because just 40 years ago the DSM categorized homosexuality as a mental illness, because Christianity is opposed to homosexuality and so we have to be patient about undoing 2000 years of homophobia...and so rather than being angry, we should constructively channel our rage into something positive and have a little respect for other people's views and beliefs.

My response was:

I have to politely disagree with you: It is one thing to disagree with the idea that all people have the right to marry. It is another thing to take action to revoke that right. Contrary to the Yes on 8 propaganda, this is not a moral issue or an issue about beliefs; this is a civil rights issue.

This country has come a long way on its perception of gay people specifically and on civil rights in general. I agree with you there. It has not, however, come far enough. The fact that racism is no longer legally tolerated in the workplace or socially acceptable does not make me less angry when I encounter racist ideology; the fact that we have elected a black President thrills me, but we heard a lot of racist commentary about him during the campaign process.

I respect the rights of people to attend a church that does not recognize gay marriage. I respect everyone's freedom of belief. I do not like it, but I acknowledge that it is important to respect people's right to say that they feel creeped-out about gay couples. What I cannot accept is those people voting on a measure that blatantly defines some people as less equal than others.

It is unfair, it is mean-spirited, it is small-minded, and it should not be accepted, any more than any other civil rights violation should be accepted.

I don't actually know if she reads her comments, or if it made any difference, or anything. I think what I need to do now is channel my anger not into understanding Proposition 8 supporters, but into making change happen. I have done a lot of sitting around clamoring that change needs to happen with other people that already agree with me. I don't know exactly how and where to reach the 52% of people I need to talk with--or heck, just like 3% that might be on the fence would make the difference!--but I know I need to start somewhere, because sitting around being mad about it is literally making me ill.

That and the cambozola.

But action, Joan Baez says, is the antidote to despair. And the change is already underway.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on Proposition 8

Yesterday a small majority of voters in California elected to approve a constitutional amendment that starts with the words "Eliminates Right."

At the same time, an enormous national majority voted the first African-American president into office.

I am thrilled at Barack Obama's victory for all sorts of reasons--he opposes the war, he understands the perspective of working families, his speeches made me feel hopeful in a way that the last eight years nearly erased. He was the right candidate and finally the right candidate won; the country has shown that it finally believes intent and capability are more important than skin color. But for all that, I am not able to celebrate.

It is a weird feeling. On the one hand, this is a huge victory for the civil rights movement started half a century ago. On the other hand, huge civil rights are being taken away from an entire segment of the population. I am holding onto hope that Obama, who said he opposed Prop 8 but also said that he opposed gay marriage, only said the latter so that he could get into office and is now going to make some changes that actually enable equal rights for everyone.

So a small majority (last time I checked, a 4% spread) can actually amend our constitution and eliminate a right. What does this mean for the protection of our civil rights in a very general sense? Could we further amend the constitution to take away other rights? Are we that vulnerable to the transparent bigotry of one evangelical vehicle that campaigned with television spots blatantly designed to engender fear of gay people? Is it possible that with enough funding and heavy-handed, proselytizing commercials, we could get a majority to vote to amend nearly every clause of the constitution that protects our rights?

I would like to think it won't happen, because our rights are important and protected. But today California (and Arizona and Florida, and in a more specious and less direct way, Arkansas) said that our rights are important and protected--unless you're gay. In which case you should be happy with a lesser set of rights. Equal rights for everyone except some folks IS NOT EQUAL RIGHTS, and is in absolute opposition to the ideals that this country is supposed to represent.

And--do people who voted for Prop 8 actually know any gay people? How can people today vote to make anyone's marriage less valid? How does that happen? How can you see two people in love and transformed by the joy of making their love official in front of their community and then vote that joy away from them?

I am trying to keep in mind that this is one step in a long, difficult battle that started a long time ago and will probably continue beyond my lifetime. I am seeing that complacency no longer has a place in our country's politics, that I can't throw my hands up and start planning move to Canada anymore. After the last presidential election, I really felt ready to leave; this time--maybe because of the hope I feel from the right candidate winning--I feel that it is my job to stay here and stay in the fight to make this country a place in which I am proud to live.

One important message of the Proposition 8 vote, I believe, is that we need to be vigilant, more than ever, in protecting our civil rights. I was born here and have been guilty of being a complacent citizen who takes her rights for granted, but today I see that we are still very much in an era where people let fear of the unknown translate into legislating inequality. We are not yet far enough removed from Roe vs. Wade, from Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, from Stonewall to turn our backs to the battle.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I truly never thought

that a person of color would be elected President in my lifetime. Tonight I am overwhelmed with happiness. My children will have a kind of hope that I imagined and believed in but never really possessed until today. Tonight I feel that voters voted for their ideals and for just that kind of hope--that we have a president now that we can respect, that we can feel truly has the best interest of citizens at heart, that wants to change the world in a real and positive way.

I might become a parent during this presidential term. Thank God or whoever it is running things that I can be an idealist again in time to be a parent, which is pretty much just in time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today is the birthday of my absolute favorite triple Scorpio--Jam Guy

In the late morning I built a sort of epic muffaletta. I left it on the butcher block, briefly, for Jam Guy to wrap up--he is better at wrapping things than I am. Five minutes later, Jam Guy walked in on Meimei perched on the edge of the butcher block, her tiny pink tongue tentatively pressed against a corner of mortadella.

Meimei safely shoo'ed away from our picnic pièce de résistance, Jam Guy wrapped it soundly and packed some of our dried plums, a couple of beers for me and a couple of Cokes for him in a cooler, which rested on top of the muffaletta on our drive up to Blind Beach.

The drive is a long, winding road through deep redwood forests, along the Russian River, past mountaintop pastures with sleepy-looking sheep watching our car. Today we pulled away from home in a drizzle and by the time we crossed the top of the mountain we were surrounded by a full-out storm, with horizontal gales of pelting rain and the world ending in a wall of mist twenty yards in any direction from our car. No sheep were out. Redwood branches slouched where they had been blown in the middle of the road and the live oaks stood like weird druids with trembling, dripping fingertips.

We pulled up to the beach and Jam Guy hopped out into the downpour and was immediately drenched. I let Toby out to pee, and watched the turning ocean in awe, and even water-loving Toby was ready to get back into the car after he'd done his thing. We decided to eat our picnic in the car. After two big slices of muffaletta each and candy-sweet dried plums for dessert, Toby and I hopped out of the car again to make sure he'd have enough leg stretching for such a long drive, since we didn't get to play fetch with him like we usually do at the beach, and because I wanted to check out those crazy roiling waves again and peer over boulders at the seagulls coasting with their improbable indifference on the flailing ocean. As soon as I stepped out with Toby, he trotted off to splash in a puddle and a gust of wind snatched a napkin out of my pocket. I went chasing after the napkin, and when I had snatched it and turned, I saw a thrilled Toby chasing after me with a big grin on his face. So Toby and I played tag in the tempest, running back and forth through the wet sand and gravel, splashing the hardest through the deepest puddles of saltwater spray and rain, grinning and squealing at each other with our two open mouths dripping with rain. I don't know which one of us had more fun, but Toby was ready to get back in the car a few seconds before I think I would have been.

Thanks to the waterproofness of my jacket and boots and the whole layering thing, I didn't realize how soggy I'd gotten till I was back in the car. My pants were literally dripping rain--but happily, my thermal long johns, which are designed for skiing or something, were pretty dry, so I rode the rest of the way home in those. On the way back Jam Guy stopped at a little saltwater taffy shack--I didn't want to go in because I was wearing, you know, long underwear--and came back with a bright sack of taffy, and we rode home littering the car with wax-paper wrappers and guessing about which flavors went with which colors and getting kind of sick from so much sugar.

What I am doing now is smelling the perfumey richness of a homemade macaroni and cheese and a sour cherry pie, both which are in the oven at this moment. Jam Guy, on his birthday, has insisted on making us dinner. That absolute prince among birthday celebrants has fixed us a couple of hot rum toddies to take the chill off while we wait for dinner. It is a good day.

(Happy birthday, honey!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Three ways to know you are loved, in case you ever doubt it

1) Because somebody brings you a bowl of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with freshly-grated cinnamon while you sit on the couch under a blanket and clap your hands in anticipation and then in delighted appreciation.

2) Because said somebody has digital pictures of you all over all of his electronic stuff--phone, home desktop, work laptop.

3) Because, after said somebody has mostly fallen asleep, he wakes suddenly and mumbles, all sleep-addled but in utterly sincere tones, "You hypnotize me," before falling back into almost-sleep.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Today it is pouring rain

It's the first real rain of our rainy season here, which we need because the creek is so low you can hardly see it unless you are nearly down into it and our friend who farms in Rincon Valley told us last week that his watering hose was spurting gravel from the dusty bottom of his well. The pattering sound on the roof keeps changing as the rain slows and speeds and as the wind moves the water in circles and lines. The garden looks greener already; the tiny broccoli seedlings getting started in their baking dish flooded immediately and had to be moved to the drier plain of the picnic table.

Jam Guy and I and Toby and Meimei are spending our first rainy Saturday tucked into our living room, with our little house wrapped around us keeping us from getting wet. That is enough to be grateful for.