It Won’t be Long

When I woke up this morning, the first song that came to mind was “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” It had been raining all night. Snuggling in my nice warm bed while cold rain is falling outside is normally a divine experience. Waking up feeling like I was outside in the rain was a buzzkill. It’s been like that the past few mornings – I’ve woken up drenched and concerned. There’s no way I can be going through menopause yet, right?

I finally realized that this should be a short-lived experience. I had knee surgery a few weeks ago to remove my Plica. Post-surgery night sweats are common; I’ve just managed to forget about them. You’d think that with as many surgeries as I’ve had, I’d remember how all this works. I told my bestest that if this keeps up I may better off sleeping in a kiddie pool. If menopause is anything like this, I’ll probably just go buy one, even though that’s not the kind of water bed I was envisioned having when I was a kid. Oh, well.

And You Run and You Run

“Appreciate, people, appreciate!”

That was the rallying cry from the Eldest today as we made our way through the mid-day crowds at Whole Foods. I don’t usually get to shop there this time of year; usually by mid-November it’s so encased in cinnamon-scented goodies that I can’t risk it. Despite the lack of cinnamon (yeah!), there was ample evidence of the upcoming holidays. Both Christmas and Thanksgiving were well represented. We’d already been to Borders, passing through the gaudy pink and purple glittering trees as we entered. A trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond was thwarted by a quick recon mission by the Eldest, who decided that she wanted me to live a little longer. Yup, more cinnamon. (Whatever happened to pine-scented goodies? Too religion-specific? Of course, someone’s probably allergic to that too.)

While all of the holiday decor is probably meant to promote cheer and purchasing, what it did to the Eldest and I was promote a feeling of frustration. Why can’t we celebrate one holiday before the next starts? Christmas decorations go up in stores long before Halloween. Halloween stuff started appearing about the time back-to-school shopping was going on. Retailers get a double-bonus with Memorial Day and Fourth of July – between those two holidays, patriotic gear reigns supreme for several months. Easter stuff appears before Valentine’s Day ends, and Valentine’s Day kicks in as soon as Christmas is over.

This constant barrage of celebratory swag adds up to holiday overload. It’s as if the retailers can’t survive without a holiday to promote. There’s no time to celebrate one holiday. Everything has to overlap. Why can’t we just appreciate what we have in our lives right now without the urgency to prepare for the next big thing? What’s the rush?

The never-ending holiday rush leads to us feeling like we’re somehow behind, like if we’re not prepared soon enough we’ve failed. We seldom take the time out to enjoy the holiday. It’s reminds me of the beginning of Pink Floyd’s “Time,” when all of the alarm clocks are going off at once.

Every Year is Getting Shorter
Never Seem to Find the Time

Perhaps if we took the time to enjoy each holiday, one at a time, instead of having them flow into each other, time would seem to go slower?

She like you my hubby

You know how someone says something that can have multiple interpretations? Such is the case with Cali Swing District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie.” I’m an expert in how to Dougie – I’ve been doing one for years. Still, I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean. Besides, he’s mine. I’m the only one who needs his operating manual.

Making Something out of Nothing

Last night, we let the newly-minted 12-year-old watch the movie version of Rent with us. She’s been begging us to let her watch it for a while now. Given that it’s rated PG-13 and she’s a very mature 12, we finally gave in.

She’s seen clips from the movie on YouTube (I’m just a little bit of a Renthead) and she’s heard both the movie soundtrack and Original Broadway Cast recordings, so her father and I wondered what questions, if any, she might have about the movie. It turns out there were only a few. She asked what masturbation was – clearly a parenting and Family Life Education failure. She wanted to clarify that Maureen is indeed Bisexual. She asked what a Drag Queen was. She also wondered if New York was really that depressing looking in the 80s.

The New York question was easy – I grew up an hour from The City and went there many times during the 80s. It really was that ugly. I remember going into Bryant Park once. It was a barren, scary place. These days it is a lovely park. Times Square has been thoroughly Disney-fied (another term I had to define for her). NYC is a far different place now than the time the movie was set in.

Defining a Drag Queen was easy with Angel on the screen. Maureen’s bisexuality was similarly easy to confirm. An explanation wasn’t required – The Eldest already knows about sexual preferences.

Oddly, one thing I tried to clarify, but was rebuffed with a “yeah, I know that,” was the drug use. I suspect Discovery Health is to thank for that. Masturbation proved a bit more complicated, but she and I got through that one just fine. Fathers aren’t usually consulted where little girls’ bodily functions are concerned. I did make sure to tell her that not only could Daddy be trusted to understand if she ever needed to talk to him, but that there are many other females in her life that she can trust.

All of this is on my mind not only because we just watched it last night, but because there is apparently a big uproar over the introduction of an openly gay character on Glee, and the increased emphasis on the fact that there are other gay characters on the show. Apparently it was fine to have a gay character on the show as long as he wasn’t shown doing gay things. How very Catholic Church of these people.

Why in the world would people object to two gay guys kissing, yet be perfectly ok with their little darlings watching all of the other hyper-sexual behaviors on the show. Teen pregnancy, premature ejaculation, all kind of sex – that just fine. Gay kissing? Oh noes, my child will be scarred by the homosexual agenda.

Give me a break. The only reason the kid will be affected at all is that you are against it. They don’t care – or wouldn’t, if you hadn’t conditioned them into thinking that following their heart, mind, and soul was wrong. Why should there be a “homosexual agenda”? Why isn’t this viewed as just another kiss? Because some people make it into a big deal, that’s why.

We’ve never made a big deal about sexuality – it just exists, like any other thing about a person. Hair color, eye color, sexual preference – these are all things we can choose to mask but don’t truly change. You can wear blue contacts but underneath you still have brown eyes. I can dye my hair as often as I’d like but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going gray. My hair is turning gray waaaaay to fast for my liking, but there it is and it keeps coming. It’s just like homosexuality – people can try to ignore it, ban it, hide it, protest it, but it’s still there. It won’t go away. Someone won’t magically turn straight because you want them to be anymore than someone is going to turn gay just because they saw two guys kissing on tv.

The absurdity of it all leaves me shaking my head. I’m glad we’re not dealing with that sort of nonsense in our house. If we had, we would’ve missed out on this gem of a movie (yeah, yeah, not as good as the play , but way more accessible).

Cracked My Heart in Half

There was a videomaking the rounds on Facebook the other day (isn’t there always?). This one is of the standard tearjerker, “isn’t it wonderful to be a mommy” variety. I gotta admit – I’m a sucker for these type of things. For some reason, though, this one just rubbed me the wrong way. It’s almost a shame, because it’s a good video that many people should see. Everyone should remember to cherish the gift of an ordinary day.

It took me a few minutes to figure out why the video annoyed me. For one thing, it touched upon my Corollary of Porn – if the video has a soundtrack but isn’t intended to be a musical, it probably isn’t worth watching. As the author talks, there’s some syrupy music going on in the background. It’s totally unnecessary. Her words, accompanied on the video by pictures of her sons as they are growing up, are enough to elicit an emotional response.

The other thing that bothered me was the discussion of how she had wanted to stop the moments and just keep her boys little, and how their growing up was sad for her. The point of the video was that you should enjoy every moment. Too many people aren’t comfortable with the fact that a moment is just that – a moment, and then it’s time to move on. I’ve heard so many people say they want to stop time. I’ve said it myself. None of us can do that. So it wasn’t really the video that annoyed me – it was the feelings that it brought up that made me grumpy.

Admittedly, I tend towards being a fantastically unsentimental person. I like to live in the moment instead of dwelling on the past. It’s easier to live my life focusing on the now instead of what has been or what might be. I’m not in control of either one of those things. The past is gone and the future isn’t here yet. No matter how much I plan, there’s no guarantee that things will turn out the way I want them to. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan (oh, how I love to plan). It just means that I try to be accepting of what the universe gives me. It’s not easy, but the time it takes to fight it isn’t worth the effort.

So it really bugs me when people talk about their kids and cry about how they just want to keep them little and sweet. That kind of talk always makes me think of Carters – if they could only stay little ’til their Carters wear out. They can’t (well, unless you start them off in massively over-sized clothing). I didn’t give birth to a baby doll. I gave birth to human beings. They will grow up. It’s not always a fun process to go through and I may like some stages better than others, but I signed up for the journey. No just a single moment – lots of moments. Some I’ve enjoyed more, some less, but I’ve always had the best time when I remembered to just be in the moment. No photograph or video ever made can capture how I’m feeling right now. Spending time wishing I was in the past is time removed from what I have right now. The future will come. Hopefully I’ll get to see a lot of it.

Not long before Warren Zevon passed away from lung cancer, he sat down for an interview with David Letterman. Letterman asked Zevon if knowing that he would soon die had given him any insight into life. Zevon said that he now knew “just how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”

That’s just a terrific way of putting it. Enjoy everything. Just live life before it’s over.

After he passed away, a group of Zevon’s friends put together a tribute album. My favorite song on that album, Studebaker, is sung by Zevon’s son Jordan. He remembered his father singing it to him when he was young.

Listening to Jordan Zevon’s song reminds me that in the scheme of things, singing one song to my child can seem so small. It isn’t. I need to remember to not just look for the big memories – vacations, graduations, birthdays. I need to enjoy every moment.

The Time’s Comin’ Near

Today is Veterans Day, the day designated on the calendar to thank all the soldiers, past and present, who have fought for our freedom. Of course, we should thank them every day. So, thank you to all the veterans and soldiers who help to ensure our freedom. To our soldiers and veterans who do so while their own freedoms are being restricted – a very special thank you. You’ve given your all and then some. I’m so sorry we aren’t fighting harder for your freedom.

You see, there are thousands of soldiers who are willingly putting their lives on the line every day so that we may be a free country. Many have given their lives for us. What does our country give them in return? Eternal gratitude, of course – as long as they don’t reveal that they are homosexuals. If they tell, they’re kicked out. Nevermind that their sexual preference has no bearing whatsoever on their ability to be soldiers. Apparently the rights of a rapidly dwindling number of homophobes trumps the rights of thousands of brave men and women who are serving their country despite the fact that their country is not supporting them. How is this even possible today? To me, their sacrifices are much greater than those of many other soldiers. Anyone who is told that they are, in effect, a second class citizen yet still manages to go on supporting all of our rights deserves more than our gratitude. They deserve equality.

C’mon America – put your money where your mouth is. Talking about how soldiers protect our freedom and then standing by while some of their freedoms are violated is, at best, disingenous. At its worst, we’re a nation of hypocrites. If we are truly grateful for our soldiers and veterans, we should be grateful to all of them. If they are fighting for our freedoms, we should be willing to fight for theirs.

I remember seeing the movie “Free to Be You and Me” when I was in elementary school. It was based on feminist ideals, but the sentiment rings true for homosexual rights as well. Everyone should have the opportunity to be who they are.

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman

If the girl grows up to love another woman and the boy to love another man, who really cares? You do? Then next time you thank a veteran, think about whether that veteran is a homosexual. Does that make you less thankful for their sacrifices? Our soldiers don’t get to pick and choose whose freedoms they’re defending. We shouldn’t choose whose sacrifices we are thankful for.

The Pride of the American Side

Thirty five years ago today, 29 brave men gave their lives to the sea. The loss of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald has been memorialized in many ways, but perhaps none more memorably than by Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate Veteran’s Day and thank our soldiers, past and present, for their contributions. People are encouraged to ‘thank a soldier’ – if you see one, go up to them and thank them for what they do for our country. Without their sacrifices, we literally wouldn’t be this amazing country. They deserve our everlasting thanks and gratitude.

The ‘thank a soldier’ campaign got me thinking – how often do we thank others in dangerous jobs? In any job? The men lost with the Edmond Fitzgerald had dangerous jobs. So do many others in industries that are necessary for this country to function. Perhaps for Labor Day, we can encourage people to thank an employee (and not just when they sold you something below retail).

While the sacrifices that military veterans will and SHOULD be celebrated, we mustn’t forget the contributions of so many others who put their lives at risk to ensure that our country keeps going. It takes all kinds of brave people to make our country safe and sound. Don’t forget – many of them are veterans too.

So tomorrow, thank a soldier. In fact, do it any time. Veteran’s Day may be the official day to celebrate, but their efforts protect us every day. Then remember to thank the other people who make our day-to-day life possible. A little gratitude goes a long way.

Leave My Past Along the Way

It’s Tuesday – in our house, that’s Glee night. Glee is one of my favorite tv shows right now, for two reasons. Most importantly, its something I enjoy watching with the eldest. She and I started watching Glee together when it first aired and decided it was our show. The youngest watches it too now, but the eldest and I have the most time invested. We like to talk about the episodes, characters, spoilers, songs – everything. It’s a fun thing to share.

The other reason I like Glee is that it reminds me a lot of the 80s series Fame. Fame was a musical show, just like Glee. Like the eldest with Glee, I played Fame songs and talked about it with my friends. The eldest is getting way more out of her time with Glee than I did with Fame. After all, there were no instant downloads or DVR to maximize my enjoyment of the show. Sometimes my tape recorder made a guest appearance in front of the tv, but it wasn’t until the later seasons of the show that we had a VCR to record it so I could have sound and video.   Some of the songs from Fame I recorded survived on cassette until recently, when they were replaced by YouTube versions. The song “Miles from Here” was in the pilot episode of Fame and remains my favorite.

He’s a really useful engine. You know.

By now, you’ve probably read the story of the mom who let her son dress up as a female cartoon character for Halloween. She handled negative comments about his outfit wonderfully and made an excellent point:

If you think that me allowing my son to be a female character for Halloween is somehow going to ‘make’ him gay then you are an idiot. Firstly, what a ridiculous concept. Secondly, if my son is gay, OK. I will love him no less. Thirdly, I am not worried that your son will grow up to be an actual ninja so back off.

I love her. She’s such a fantastic mom to her son.  Her response to the concept of what can “make” someone gay reminded me of how someone I met addressed the idea and how I could’ve responded better.

Several years ago, we gave away our train table. We listed it for free on Craigslist; first come, first served. As it happened, the person who came to get it was a father who wanted it for his son. As he told us, noting that his wife wouldn’t want him to say that, he wanted to get his son a train table so that his son would play with “boy” toys and not end up gay. What we said to him was, yeah, good luck with that, have fun with the table. What I should have said was this:

“Look, you ignorant fuckwit – what toys your child plays with will not determine his or her sexuality. If you think that’s the case, please get a time machine, go back to the time before you had kids, and get yourself a vasectomy. You are not fit to raise a child. Kindly get yourself out of my house now. I’m sure we can find some sane family who wants a well-loved train table. Or wait – maybe you should take it. Playing with trains on this table may be the only fun your son ever has, growing up in a house with a dolt like you for a father. Just to warn you, though, our liberal cooties have already infected the table. After all, our son and his sisters ALL played with trains. Lord only knows how the girls may have been affected by engaging in this male-centric activity. And oh, by the way – they make GIRL trains now. Also, if you look around enough on the Internet you’ll find Thomas the Tank Engine slash fic. You never know what those trains have been up to in the engine shed. Just sayin’.”

If only I’d been that clever then.

Forming an Artistic Opinion

Have you ever heard a line in a song and been instantly in love? That happened to me last night. I was watching a PBS documentary of the Broadway musical “In the Heights.” The show looked good, I’d heard great things about it, but nothing really drew me to wanting more. That was, until the final moments of the show. During the finale, they sang the words “the hydrants are open, cool breezes blow.” Somewhere between the lyrics and the melody I was hooked. I wanted nothing more than to hear the song again and to see the rest of the show so I could put it into context. Love in two lines.