Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall, Seen From Our Balcony

Flats. And More Flats. And Then...More Flats.

Today Bobby and I headed out, bikes strapped to our car, to meet our friend Matt and his friend Laura. We planned to drive to the trailhead, bike a portion of the bike trail that follows the river, eat lunch in the neighboring town, and then bike back to our cars. Round trip we'd be doing about 35 miles in great fall weather. Plus, the restaurant we were going to is seriously the only good Mexican food I have had since moving to Colorado. It was worth biking 15+ miles one way to be rewarded with that veggie chile relleno at the end. Trust me.

Bobby, ready for a (potentially cold) bike ride

Me, modeling my sweet argyle socks and "I'm a real cyclist!" padded shorts. They are pretty much not flattering at all because you look like you're wearing a diaper. But that extra half inch of padding truly does make a big difference.

I was telling Bobby he looked creepy driving with his gloves- there may have been a "Dexter" reference in there somewhere.

We got to the trail head and Bobby so kindly unstrapped our bikes from the car. It had warmed up a lot, and instead of being 49 degrees it was high 60's/low 70's.

I'm ready to go! Mostly I wanted to get to that Mexican food asap.

The start of the trail- fall has been beautiful here, but unfortunately the wind has been blowing like crazy this week and most of the leaves are gone now.

We did our first leg- 15 miles- and arrived to a patio table at the restaurant. Good food was had by all, we rested a bit, and then headed back out to finish out the ride.

Matt and Laura, waiting. Waiting for what, you ask? Oh just this...

Bobby discovered a flat tire as we were getting reading to head out. Luckily, he was prepared with a spare inner tube. He fixed it, and off we went to the Panaderia we had passed on the way in- I love traditional Mexican bakeries, freshly made churros are incredible.

So, we hit up the Panaderia, get a bunch of treats, and continue on our way in the lovely fall weather. There are no bike lanes in this town, so we had to use the sidewalk. We come across a toddler- seriously, younger than 2- playing in the sidewalk, unattended, in front of a house that faces a 4 lane busy road. While this was troubling, we were more concerned with the open front gate that was blocking the sidewalk completely. We had to veer off into the rocky strip that bordered the road, and as soon as we were back on the sidewalk, we discovered our tires were full of goathead stickers. Bobby's tire immediately went flat. Mine was full of stickers as well. Matt and Laura seemed ok. We decided I would wait with Bobby while Matt and Laura biked back to our cars. So, they left us, and we walked our bikes up to the park where the trail joined the street. As we turned the corner, we saw a girl walking her bike towards us... it was Laura. Her tire was now flat.

Laura decided to call her friends, and Bobby called Matt to let him know we would be getting a ride to the trailhead.

Once everything was settled, we tucked into our bakery treats and waited to be rescued. Laura's friends picked us up, and we made it back to the trailhead safe and sound. And as soon as we got home we headed straight to REI for new tubes and tires.

All in all, it was a very good Saturday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo Project Update

You may remember my posting awhile back about the two huge boxes of photos I wanted to have scanned in, organized, and then saved to my external harddrive, preferably by Jan 1st. Here is an idea of what just *one* entails...

Opening it up, I immediately wanted to just close it again and forget I saw anything.

But, it's like Pandora's Box. I started pulling photos out, as well as entire photo albums full of pictures.

I organize them into like groups before scanning them in, and the sorting sometimes takes longer than the scanning itself.

This is what the floor of our study looks like right now. Everything you see has already been scanned in, I'm just deciding on how I want to store the originals- back in the albums, or in the awesome Container Store photo storage boxes I purchased last year, when I simply organized a fraction of my photos, gave up, and didn't even consider the monumental task of scanning them in.

I've also written in the past about how I try to live with minimal possessions, and the process by which I gave away more and more of my things. At this point, my two major groups of things are books and pictures. I'm hoping this scanning and consolidating will take care of the latter, and the former will probably all be donated to a local second hand bookstore. I'd say I'm about 1/4 of the way done with the actual scanning, and I've already processed more than 300 photos. This is one of those grunt work projects that just never ends, that you never want to start, but you have to. And I'm definitely glad I did- I've had fun going back through them, even if doing so has sometimes felt like being in a rocket ship time machine set to random.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Farm Day

Last Saturday was Farm Day with our CSA. It's the last pickup of the season, and they invite all the members out to the farm to see where the food is grown and glean the fields. For our last pickup we got an insane amount of grey Hubbard hard squash, a baking pumpkin, a pile of tomatoes, a half gallon of homemade organic, local apple cider, fresh roasted green chilies, and a huge bag of apples. After we hauled all that back to the car, Bobby and I hit the fields. I really, REALLY wish I had brought my camera to the farm, but at least we had a good time photographing the pile of food we brought home, as we laughed and told each other about 10 times "getting a CSA was SO worth it".

We both agreed we should lay everything out on the table and take a picture. It was pretty ridiculous.

In addition to the potatoes, carrots, peppers, broccoli, swiss chard, corn, and tomatoes we gleaned from the field, we also got to pick out a carving pumpkin. Here I am for size reference. Bobby said a few times "this is the best Halloween pumpkin I've ever had!". Thanks for making dreams come true CSA. You're a peach.

You might be thinking, what do you do with all those squash?? The good thing is, these gray guys will last until March, provided they are stored in a dark, temperature controlled, fairly cool place...

so now they're living on the shelf in our laundry room. Their more colorful friends will last until December this way.

This is a HUGE wooden bowl in the middle of our dining room table, filled with apples.

Then we took about two hours to wash, chop, and store all the fridge worthy veggies.

More veggies and the chard filling up both drawers- the left one that's closed is more of the same.

All of the onions, potatoes, shallots, garlic, and beets we got will be going in a wire hanging basket we scored from Goodwill for $1.50, but it needs to be hung. So for now they're living in a canvas bag.

We have been eating like crazy this whole week, and you can bet that the apple cider is almost gone. I need to use the chilies soon before their roasted awesomeness is wasted, but everything else is working out well. Between the natural shelf life of the hard squash, and the fact that we sorted, washed, and chopped pre-emptively, I think we'll get through without wasting too much.

All in all, I'm VERY sad our CSA is over. I've shopped at farmers' markets for years, but CSA's are so much easier, and to me, more enjoyable. Once you vet your CSA and know how they work before you buy a share, you absolutely know that everything you are getting each week is local, organic, and fresh picked. You get to see the people who grow and pick your food every single week for 5 months, or in states with longer growing seasons, sometimes as long as 9 months. Plus it's always fun to have veggies fresh enough to have clumps of dirt on them, or fruit that naturally ripened instead of being picked early to sit on a truck for a month and arrive at the store feeling like a rock and tasting like nothing. Plus, it's cheap. Our CSA was $500 for 5 months. That's $100 a month, $25 a week. We had a fruit and veggie share of local, organic, fresh produce, plus we had a flower share- we got a bouquet every week of native flowers. And then at the end, we were able to glean as much as we wanted. I saw some families carting away wagon loads of food. It's a healthy, environmentally friendly, and economical way to help local farmers and eat great food. I don't ever want to go without a CSA again, and I hope I don't have to!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Fluff After the Heavy

Did you know I have a serious obsession with Jim Hensen? And The Muppets? And especially Sesame Street? Oh warm fuzzies for every bit of that business. Here's a bit of Grover love. I almost can't handle his skinny little arms and his rumbly voice. It's too much to bear how much I love it. Here you go....

Also, can we talk about how rad Sesame Street has always been with being forward thinking, egalitarian, non-discriminatory, and celebrating so many different cultures/people/ideas? I *adore* this video of a young girl singing about how she loves her hair, just the way it is.

And last but not least, Big Bird learns about voting- sidenote, Snuffy is quite possibly my favorite character. If I had a favorite. I love how his mouth moves in circles, and his lashes are so long and flimsy. This is old school Sesame Street...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stay. And Fight.

Today is National Coming Out Day. While we all have our own morals, and we all have our own opinions, here are mine. I wrote this when we found out that Prop 8 had passed, the same night we were celebrating the election...

Written Friday, Nov 14th, 2008
I’ve been thinking about how to write this since the night it happened. All things considered, Election 2008 should have left me a thoroughly satisfied person. Since the primaries way back last spring I’ve been fully invested in supporting Barack Obama’s campaign. I anxiously followed every news report, agonizing over some, celebrating over others, waiting and hoping and working and praying that in the end, yes, I would wake up on November 5th and see that he was my President Elect. As the days drew nearer, and it became more clear that looking forward to victory was not folly, the numbers, the pundits, the polls, the people- it was all there. Still, election day I was on a razor’s edge, breathless, just wanting it to be over and wanting it to be over the way I so hoped it would be.

There was something else happening Nov 4th- Brian’s birthday. We all agreed to get together at Bri’s house first, working ourselves up in the comfort of his apartment with CNN- and those holograms! They did the trick. We headed out to Gilley’s to meet up with even more people, and as we were walking across the parking lot the air was cold and the sky was clear and people were walking ahead of us and behind us and I was thinking of how I was pretty sure this night would end and everything seemed so perfect. My friends around me, joking and laughing and tussling with each other like puppies, happy in the night air, excited about what was happening, heading to what would end up a huge celebration party. The place was packed with people of every age and color, cowboys and yuppies and babies and grandmas, American flags, blue streaking through everything on hats and shirts and posters and balloons, we had done it. There was a necessary humility, and underneath that a paranoid fear that something could go terribly wrong, but all in all we all knew we had won, and won big. The tug of war arc of blue and red at the bottom left of CNN’s screen told us we were fast building a majority to support the new administration, and we were all talking about how we just couldn’t believe we were so young when the first black president was elected, how far we’d come, how hard we’d worked, but above all how much we believed in this new page in America’s history. We were moving forward. We would have a President who believed in personal sacrifice, in helping one another, in realizing we are only as strong as the weakest among us, that while we should strive individually we still, in the end, succeed or fail together, as a nation, as a people. When CNN put up the countdown for what would put Barack over the votes needed, the entire bar broke into a countdown, and then broke into shouts and tears and hugs, flashbulbs popping, cameras rolling, it was over and it was us and I really thought I couldn’t handle so much happiness. The previous years were a hard 8 to turn, and it had. The sheer numbers across the board were a stunning indictment of the previous administration’s policies and a clear mandate from the people. We were moving forward. I leaned into my friend’s, my family, my heart, these people I have knit to me over the past 7 years, and just breathed it all in. It was perfect.

It was perfect. It was.

And then Arielle leaned into my right side, holding her phone, still lit up from the text she had received. “Prop 8 passed” was all she said. It passed. And see this is why I couldn’t write this blog. Because I am crying so hard right now I can hardly see to type. Prop 8 passed. Prop 8 passed. Prop 8 passed. I don’t know how many times I need to type it to try and force everyone- every single person- who fought for it, who cried yes to it, to understand what they did to my friends, to my family, to my heart. To that night. When we were na├»ve and overjoyed and looking forward to a new day. That night, when Prop 8 passed, said yes, if you are gay or a lesbian, you don’t count. You don’t get those rights. Your love is wrong. We won’t let you get married. I want you to be in the middle of an ecstatic crowd, next to people crying and clapping and giddy with relief, and then come into my experience, that circle, seeing my friends clapping and cheering, and standing with Arielle knowing they would know soon too. When we told them, it just all stopped. You would have thought that we were somewhere else completely. I will never, ever, forget the look on Katie’s face. There wasn’t even anger. It was just utter grief. Just broken down, nothing left to fight with even if you wanted to sadness. She left and we comforted those around us who stayed and cried into our shoulders, our hugs, our own tears. It was absolutely shocking. It made me sick. I would never, ever have thought that Prop 8 would pass. I was worried about so many other things, but I don’t think any of us really thought that people would step into a poll booth in California and vote to write a constitutional amendment to keep two consenting adults from joining together in marriage. I don’t even know what to write. It’s all been said before, and nothing can change those people’s minds. The blatant lies funded by several million given by churches and their members no doubt helped solidify the fears they already had. And yes, this is a democracy. Majority rules. But if the majority of people in this country still think that marriage between two men, or two women, is the most pressing issue of our day, the most important task to confront, I am beyond disappointed, beyond disgusted. I don’t even know what I am.

There really is nothing left to say. These are people who, when they kiss their husband, or look at their wife, or watch their children sleeping, must not seriously be able to comprehend that every day gay and lesbian couples and parents do the exact same things. They fall in love. Their hearts race and they’re nervous and giddy and excited. They have poems and songs. They dance together in their kitchens. They fight over stupid shit. They don’t like their partner's parents, or they annoy one another with quirky habits. They take off one another’s shoes when they fall asleep, read the paper together over breakfast, text each other sweet messages, they want and raise children, they love and worry about them- I can’t even go on, this is ridiculous, really do I have to spell this out that they are human beings? That they are no different from you? Really? I have to lay it out like that so you can understand that your petty self centeredness is destroying their chance at having a marriage? That for some couples in California, that yes box that you so confidently checked, maybe with righteous pride, may have drawn a big X right down the middle of their marriage license? They went to bed as wives in their house, as husbands in their apartment, maybe with cats tripping down the hall or babies sleeping next to them, and they woke up to find… what? How dare you. You make me sick. I am filled up, eaten up with disgust for you. With frustration that you are unmoved in the face of the grim reality that your choice wrought. That you can walk peacefully through this earth, that you are pleased with the stand you took.

What stand was that? What we fight against the strongest says a lot about us as people. And what were you fighting against? With 25 million dollars. With speeches from the pulpit of your church where you speak of love. With deceptive ads and fear mongering? You tell me. I want to hear you say it. You were fighting against the right for two consenting adults to join their lives together in love under the rights and protections and honor marriage is given. So. In this time of economic crisis, when we are in two wars, when people are losing their homes, their jobs, their life savings, when children in the richest country in the world can’t go to the doctor, when women are still left unequal under the law to men, when we are polluting our earth, when we have so many problems that need our attention and time. This is your fight. In this time, you chose this fight. This was more important than volunteering with children. This was more important than donating your money to feed the poor. This was more important than making care packages for troops. This. You have chosen your fight. And it has defined you. You should be ashamed. I am worn out with it. No logic can sway you. I give you the humanity of those who you cannot fathom are like you, and you sneer at it. You would rather children stay locked in a broken foster system than be given to a loving home with two mommies, or two daddies. Such is the depth of your conviction that being gay or lesbian is some kind of deal breaker in being able to relate to one another as humans. Somehow that love is inherently different. You obsess over the mechanics and it makes you uncomfortable and you just stop right there wrapped up in your intolerance, stubborn, you just can’t make that last step and say that the love they feel for one another is every bit as real, and valid as what you feel.

So. Where do we go from here? I’ll tell you. I’ll go down as someone who saw you for what you were. Who are you? Let’s look to the history books. You are the man beating his wife, because she’s just a woman and no law protects her body. You are the factory owner bending the backs of children over the endless hum of the sewing machines. You are the men throwing women into jail because they dared reach for the ballot. You are the pushers of laws that forbid blacks and whites to marry. You are the cop setting dogs on people marching for their freedom. And no, that’s not too harsh.

You came into that night, into my circle of friends, into our knot of happiness, and you attacked us. You hurt them and that kills me. You denied them their equal rights under the law. You don’t know what you’re doing, and you don’t know who you are. But I do. And someday in the not too distant future, in history books that have yet to be written, everyone will know who you were. You will take your spot in that long line of mistakes, of bigotry, of ignorance fueled by fear and division.

Someday my children will ask me “How could they have ever thought such things?”

Your children will have a very different question. I hope you’re ready for that day.

Some would say the above is very harsh. I think it's very real, and raw, emotion. This was a little over a week after it happened, and I was still this upset. And I'm not even the object of the discrimination! This is empathetic rage. I can't even imagine if I was trying to build a life with another woman, and a family, and I wasn't able to access the rights, protections, and privileges of marriage. I can't imagine being gay and giving my life to my country, serving and sacrificing, knowing all the while that if they knew who I was, if they knew my true self, they would abandon me. That the very offer of my LIFE is not worth it to them, because of who I love.

Come out STRONG. Come out PROUD. And come out ready to FIGHT. We are not there yet, but we are on our way.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pictures from the Scanning Adventures: Japanese Amusement Park

Go ahead. Laugh at me. I'm laughing right now. That's me, purple hoodie, next to a terrified child, as we plunged into darkness on a Jurassic Park theme ride at Universal Studios Japan. I was there because we met our business goals, and the trip was a thank you from my employer. Of course, one entire day of the weekend was a business meeting, conducted entirely in Japanese, so I don't know how much of a reward it was in the end. Be sure and click on the picture and see how awesomely awkward every single person in this picture is.

Anytime I'm taking myself too seriously, or need a good laugh, all I have to do is pull up this picture. Works like a charm every time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ups and Downs

Last week on Facebook, this was my status after a particularly hard couple of days-

"I'm having one of those weeks where I'm incredibly beaten down about all the things I care about, and try to fight for and work for and be educated about and vote in favor of. It all seems like trying to push water uphill with my hands lately. I'm so tired and frustrated. I feel like none of it matters, or is making a difference. The news made me cry yesterday and today. Blech."

It's hard to stay motivated sometimes when you're deeply involved in so many activist circles. I feel defeated, and useless, and so very, very small in the face of all the injustice I see in the world. I read the news every day for about an hour, from all over the world, I try to stay informed, I vote, I register others to vote and volunteer with political campaigns, I volunteer with organizations I support, and I try to be educated on a variety of issues. A lot of times, it feels awesome. Standing in the middle of a throng of people on election night, and counting down to victory, and being so happy that all of my hard work for the previous year and a half had mattered, that felt good. Getting e-mail updates from various organizations I support, saying that this bill or that bill passed, or that this boycott or that boycott worked, that feels good. Knowing that someone I registered voted for the first time, or someone I talked to got fired up to get involved in an issue- awesome.

But other days, and sometimes weeks, when the news is disgusting and there are setbacks and I have bad encounters with people or no one seems to know or care about a huge problem that was on every news website, I get so discouraged. And you know, I'm more discouraged by the lazy apathy than I am by the passionate hate, or the strong resistance. At least when someone is resisting something they have made a choice, they're involved in shaping the world around them. I can, strangely, respect a vigorous and outspoken opponent infinitely more than I can an apathetic and ignorant bystander.

When I'm feeling down, and needing an up, I try and put things into perspective. For example, I think about the fact that the women's suffrage moment officially started in 1848, but we didn't get the vote until 1920- 70 years of struggle. I also have a collection of quotes I've come across over the years that makes me feel better. Motivated. I think this is one of my all time favorites-

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”- C. Chavez

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Bit Wrung Out

I'm tired kittens. Super deep down weary. Between the two non-profits I intern with I've been so busy the last few weeks, but it's a constant busy, the kind of busy that is naturally fuzzy and without borders due to working weekend shifts at info booths, or answering e-mails at 11 p.m., or reading scholarly journals on Sundays at 10 a.m., or getting random assignments and making day before the event commitments to work.

I'm loving all of it, but I also love schedules, and order, and it's hard to come by when one is working for two different organizations. The people I work for are amazing, I believe in what they do, it's the direction I'd like my career to go in, but I definitely need to find a way to "clock out", as it were. I always say "I'm just going to check my e-mail twice a day, morning and night" and instead I check it about once an hour for one organization, while I'm on the computer researching for the other. It creates this feeling of constantly working. And while I love to work, I also like downtime.

Maybe I can get better about self-organization. I was always really good about motivating myself to create and stick to study schedules while I was working and going to school, both full time, so I just need to do the same for my interning. I am so happy I get to do the work that I'm doing, and I'm grateful for everything I'm learning, I just need to balance it a bit.

I've always been at my best when I'm at my busiest, but it was usually a healthy mix of school, work, volunteering, socializing, and working out. Now it's just a bit too skewed towards work (which is, of course, volunteering), and all the other pieces are getting edged out. Plus, because I was a Democratic Precinct chair in Dallas, and an Obama Precinct Captain, and a delegate to the Democratic State Convention, I've been getting tons of e-mails about helping out here in Colorado, and I really want to. But right now I'm so all over the place, lacking a set schedule, it's hard to add that to the mix.

That's my goal for October. Balance. It's not a matter of too much work- I've been far busier many times in my life and was pretty stress free- it's just a matter of corralling it. How very Texas of me to use such a metaphor, right?