Monday, January 31, 2005

A pop culture post - The West Wing

You know Josh Lyman? Bob and I just found out this weekend that Brad Whitford's brother attends our church. We're very excited in that we share space with someone who knows someone even though we don't know either of them sort of way. Brad/Josh has donated several items to our church's auction, including signed boxer shorts. This means he's even better than I knew - his brother is UU, and I think he might be, too...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Grrr. Homophobia and the US Department of Education.

There are some good things to be said for Margaret Spellings, Bush's new Education Department Secretary. Back when they were both single, GW reportedly asked Spellings out on a date, but she brutally rebuffed him. That sounds about right. Also, Spellings was once asked on C-SPAN for comment on census data that showed a decline in the traditional family. Her response? "So what?" She said that there are "lots of different types of family" and noted that she herself was "a single mom." Finally, she replaces Rod Paige, who was the worst Secretary of Education this nation has seen.

That said, some of her first acts in office make me shiver in cold anticipation of what's to come. She's pissed at PBS. She's actually pissed at PBS and a bunny. An animated bunny with his own TV show, Postcards from Buster. Buster travels with a digital camera, giving kids a chance to see different people, places, religions and ways of life. Produced by my own hometown station, WGBH, the show is part of a larger program that receives some of its funding from the DoE.

It seems that in his recent travels, Buster took a trip to Vermont. He learned about maple sugaring, farm life, and - this is what upsets Spellings so much - met two lesbian couples who were getting a civil union. This incensed Spellings enough to demand that PBS remove the DoE's seal from the credits, notify member stations of the controversial nature of the episode, and refund the DoE for the costs of producing it. She also warned that the DoE will be clearer about its expectations for future programming.

PBS has decided not to distribute the episode. They claim that it's not because of Spellings' recent actions. I don't buy it. I am, however, proud of my local station, WGBH, which plans to air the episode in March and will be making it available to other stations.

Here's the thing. Today, 37 US soldiers died in Iraq. Over 1,400 US soldiers have died to date. Over 10,000 wounded, a number that leaves out vast numbers of soldiers suffering mental illness or trauma. According to some estimates, as many as 10,000 more Iraqi civilians have died. But somehow, men marrying men and women marrying women continues to register as a problem for people. I don't understand. My not-understandingness is so physically heavy that I wish I could find plainer words to explain - I don't understand. It's a bunny showing kids lives that may be different or similar to their own. Some kids have gay parents. The bunny isn't saying, look, the gay parents are good. The bunny isn't saying they are bad. The bunny just says that they are. That this is a fact of our lives in 21st century America. The bunny's not wrong. Why, oh why, do the conservatives want to deny and deny and deny the facts of people's lives? And why is PBS taking the politically expedient route and agreeing to denial?

We harm a child of gay parents when we say, 'as a society, we will not acknowledge your existence.' We harm our society when we deny the truth and experience of any one child.

This sucks.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Favorite memories

These are some of my favorite memories - if you're reading this, I'd love to know one of yours...

My earliest memory. I am perhaps two and my mother has just finished giving me a bath. She scoops me from the tub into an endless ribbon of terrycloth and wraps me up in the towel and her arms. I am enveloped and warm.

Shooting the shit with Austin and commenting on the superfluity of something he has said. Then wondering if superfluity could be a real word and hoping it is because I like the way it feels to say so much. Like an icy tube for my tongue to slide down. He insists that it cannot be a word. We head for the dictionary - Merriam Webster online. It's a word and I win, which makes me feel smart and sassy and fluent.

No one time, but every time, I find stillness, resting my ear on Bob's chest and listening to the thump of his heart. I try to feel my own heart beat and his at once, and wait for those moments when they are in sync.

Driving up the coast of California with Karen, two unlikely campers. We're so rested and there's so much ocean. Every morning we wake up and watch the surf, eat an apple or some cereal or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. We pack the tent into the car and travel north. Stop for expensive lunch and nap on the beach. Drive further north. Eat an apple or some cereal or a peanut butter and banana sandwich for dinner and watch the surf. Sleep, carried along through the night on the waves that I can still hear three years later. Talking and singing and laughing so much. My favorite conversation that week was repeated over and over. "I'm full." "Me, too." "But we've only eaten half an apple." "But I'm so full." "Why are apples so filling?"

Sitting in my dingle - a dormroom in a suite that is meant to be a double but has only one resident - double single, hence, dingle - sitting in my dingle, junior year of college, revising poetry madly, finding that small pieces of poems I'd written over the previous three years all went together into one poem that actually described something the way I wanted to describe it. That they worked together to convey the sweetness and fulfillment and not-enoughness of sex, and the way I felt while I pulled the lines together was a miracle. I love the resulting poem, but not as much as I loved the feeling of letting it happen.

Letting Laurie cook me pasta for dinner senior year. I'd be somewhere in our apartment and suddenly, she'd say the magic words, "I'm making pasta for myself, do you want some?" And I'd hobble into the kitchen and talk to her and keep her company while she cooked pasta for both of us, sauce and all. And that pasta always tasted better than any pasta I've ever cooked for myself.

Same with chamomile tea and white rice. My friend Bill graduated from college while I was still a sophomore in high school. I used to take the bus from Portland, Maine to Boston to stay with him on weekends. He was a broke recent grad and rarely had much food in his house. He would make me white rice with butter and salt for dinner and together we would drink chamomile tea. I'd never liked white rice or any kind of tea before this, but I've always felt that anything freely given should be gratefully accepted. And I've often found that I enjoy things I normally wouldn't in such situations. That's what happened at Bill's apartment. To this day, chamomile tea and plain white rice are among the strangest of my comfort foods.

Swimming in the post-tropical storm surf on the Jersey coast with Bob last summer. Falling over ourselves as the waves flowed back to sea and the sand sunk us down and confused our eyes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Rambling on again

Sail the sky with a clever boat and dash free of cramped quarters. Give me a nickel and cradle the goat. Grow your beard longer than your eyes and see further into the stars. Grab your coat. Let's go. Come with me around and around and through these awful woods. I'm graying skin and baggy bones, given over to oldies tunes on the radio. Spinning my lessons into wooly woolen artifices and keeping the flames warm not cold. I'm growing skinny with weariness grabbing berries from the poetry. Giving me warm fuzzy warnings every time I come close. Where is my Huck Finn? Where did he go? Is the camper packed and ready? We'll drive for miles and get the munchies.

Laurie and I have a date to write on February 18 - I'm taking the day off from work just to write!! I'm so excited...By the way, the above was just a blind free write. I actually have no idea what I just wrote down and really don't care whether it's good, bad or ugly. Just felt like brain dumping for a moment or two to break up the workday...