Monday, October 31, 2005

my hail marys, our fathers

Sometimes I come to this blogging experience like a penitent Catholic.
"Readers, forgive me, it's been 11 days since my last submission..."

Here are the random thoughts (you're always on my mind) I've been collecting in the interim.
All grown up
Went and had my annual PapMammopalooza yesterday. Feel like
such an adult. Haven't been feeling particularly fit lately. Okay, I feel like shit being dragged around in a generic trash bag. Anyway, I only thought I felt bad as I was directed towards pre-stirrups-humiliation-weigh-in. Knew I'd put on a couple of pounds, but was unprepared for the...enormity (floabw) of the metamorphosis. Almost awe-inspiring in that "I got all that done in just six months? Damn!"
Been doing a fair amount of brain teaser/word puzzles lately. Subconscious fear of Alzheimers is my guess. It's like cerebral calesthenics—I actually get kind of a good brain rush...hard to explain. Anyway, it occurred to me that if my physical energy and my mental energy were switched out, I'd be a mildly retarded professional athlete.
My son
My son is moving from Houston to California. Or Oregon...I'm not completely sure. I hate the thought of being an even vaguely clingy mom. Hate it. But, shit, I love that boy and here are some of the reasons why.

  • He was recently in Seattle and called me to tell me about this bumpersticker he thought I'd appreciate: We're making enemies faster than we can kill them. This from a previously apolitical creature who is guarded (and rightly so) about the tendency for people to turn over their mental steering wheel to whichever leader, preacher or whackjob happens to have a spare set of keys.
  • Popular culture and music are appealing to me, but not always on my radar screen. I don't have to personally track down what's happening because I can just call my son. Like the other day I asked him, "what the hell is that tuft of hair called that guys grow just below their lower lip?" And he says, "It's a soul patch, mom." And I am completely happy.
  • Our tastes in books, music and movies have enough overlap that his suggestions are almost always on target. He recently suggested we watch Me, You and Everyone We Know. And all I can say is ))<>((
Lordy, lordy
When the moons of religion and irony align, I say HALLELUJAH. Do not miss this article about a baptizing, proselytzing, electrifying Waco preacher.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

vigils: power or futility?

Mecom Fountain, 6:30 p.m., tonight October 26, 2005

There are nationwide vigils tonight mourning the 2,000th life lost in Iraq (2000 U.S. military lives, of course. There've been estimates that the Iraqis have lost anywhere between 10,000 and 37,000 lives in this war) and whenever I mention this, I always hear the question what is the point of having a protest at all?
Well, it's not like the vigils are going to change national policy overnight. And it is always tempting to reduce such activities as impotent stands by a bunch of hippie fanatics. But most modern social and political change, regarded as historically successful or beneficial, has woven into it's beginnings protests such as these.
This is, after all, the week of Rosa Park's death. At the very least, we should not be giving up our seat to an injustice, just because the majority don't agree or are too afraid to speak up. As opposed to hiding behind internet donations or grumbling in private conversations, the act of standing up in public (or remaining seated, whatever makes the statement) is a powerful symbol. Often as unsettling to those that demonstrate as it is to those that drive by.
2752 lives were lost on 9/11. What happens when we match that number with U.S. military deaths in Iraq? Because everyone knows that is what this is really about. A war to avenge the loss of American life in the 9/11 WTC attack. Whether the attackers and Iraqi leaders were directly connected or not (not). Whether there were weapons of mass destruction or not (not). Whether Bush told the truth or not (you fill it in). So what will we have proven? We can kill our own (and others) with as little justification as al-Qaeda?
This war has always been a huge mistake. We have proven nothing and have earned the widespread disgust and disapproval of most of the civilized world. Tens of thousands of lives have been brutally, and meaninglessly lost. "W" is for wrong.
P.S. The rally was small (less than the 150 signed up, I would estimate) but earnest. Most people just drove by. Many honked and gave us the peace sign. A few flipped us off or swore at us. Altogether a gratifying exercise of freedom of expression by all.

random thoughts that cheer me up

virago \vuh-RAH-go; vuh-RAY-go\, noun:
1. A woman of extraordinary stature, strength, and courage.
2. A woman regarded as loud, scolding, ill-tempered, quarrelsome, or overbearing.
[what a surprise, this second definition]

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
Erasmus said it first, but Tom Waits said it best.


"If I were King of the Forest,
Not queen, not duke, not prince.
My regal robes of the forest,
would be satin, not cotton, not chintz."
The Cowardly Lion

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

surled wearies

There are probably eight Houstonians not watching the Astros/White Sox game right now.
I am only technically not one of them...because I'm not in front of the television but Barbara is calling plays and scores to me while I do something, anything, but watch the game. It's not that I don't like baseball, it's that the pleasure I experience is not worth the stress I receive while watching.
Anyway, I'm in one of those creative and conversational troughs. To use a topical metaphor, my mental catcher keeps signaling suggestions to me and I keep shaking her off. Nothing seems all that interesting. So I'll stop here until something fabulous pops into my head or I get knocked over by a line drive.

P.S. Went to bed early. Slept like a Cardinals fan.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

proposition too stupid

MoveOn.org sent an email to it's members asking if we wanted to endorse or oppose Texas' Proposition 2 on the November ballot. Prop 2 bans same-sex marriage and goes further to define marriage in such a way as to potentially nullify any domestic partnership benefits and prevent any form of civil union. This is a no-brainer but I guess they ask so as to accurately represent their members. No surprise, I oppose the measure. I sent the following (or a cleaner, abridged version of it) to MoveOn:
In ten days, my partner and I will celebrate our 19th anniversary. We met, raised two children, bought a house and have worked here in Houston during these 19 years. It is beyond ridiculous that ours and other same-sex relationships be regarded as less than "real" marriages—it is a national disgrace and, to put it eloquently, just plain fucking stupid.
Most of the people I have worked with (in oil & gas corporations, no less) over the years–Texans across the political spectrum–have had little or no problem with my orientation or our relationship. I mean, they didn't really care one way or the other...which is the true measure of success. The real issue is that if we were granted the legal right to marry today, it would hardly cause a ripple among the general public. The majority would be completely unaffected.
This is just a diversionary tactic and I am sick of being used by homophobic conservatives as a political hot potato. Give us the same rights and get on to other pressing matters.
I am so goddamn tired of this foolishness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

birthday postscript

Since we were petsitting for friends out in East Jesus on my birthday, Barbara found a steakhouse–my annual carnivorous request–to take me to in (far) East Jesus called Hoffbrau Steakhouse. We headed over there after tending the dogs. When we arrived at the address, the sign was there but the restaurant was not. Turns out the owners changed the name to "Texas Country Cookin'." Now, any business sporting an apostrophe where the g used to live is immediately suspect. Then again, Texans do know their beef. Besides we were already out there, so in we went.
What a fully-rounded cultural experience: from the wan looking 16-year old hostess named Tiffany, to the dusty, taxidermied critters in the front showcase (available for sale, of course), to the spotty-looking longhorn cattle head on the wall, to the waitstaff all sporting shirts that looked like the state flag with armholes—all screaming local charm. But nothing, and I mean nothing, was more apropos than the unexpected entertainment.
Sitting at o
ne of those electric organs that have all the musical instruments mystically crammed onto the motherboard and available at the flick of a switch, was the lead and only singer for Rockin' Rod's Oldies Revue. Yessirree Bob, there he was, a sixty-year old man in a gimme cap singing Temptations hits with a such a twang that I imagine that's what it would look like if they taxidermied Motown. Rockin' Rod. Again with the apostrophic assault.
I felt morally obligated to order Surf & Turf. The waitress brought us our soft drinks in two quart-sized plastic glasses. The straw a vertical pole in the chunky ice floe of diet coke. The food was mediocre but the experience was sublime. I think Barbara wants to make sure you know that she expected this to be a good steakhouse. She gets full credit and I am the one who insisted we stay. What a great time.

they say it's your birthday

So yesterday I celebrated my 47th birthday. And like every year since we've been together, Barbara treated me like royalty. Well that's an understatement.
It sounds so sentimental (and I am perversely allergic to all things sentimental—especially on the heels of my diatribe against "cutesiness") but it's the the naked truth that the woman treats me like it's my birthday everyday. Why is it so hard to talk about having found this unbelievable relationship? Because misery is so much more interesting? Or am I just afraid of making someone else feel badly...like I'm bragging? Or because I don't want anyone to think I'm sappy? Jesuschrist, that's so stupid.
It will be 19 years this month that we've been together. I've snagged the brass ring. I think we are more than the clich├ęd
soulmates. She is the loveliest human being I've ever known and facing the world together side-by-side is the most unexpected and wonderful experience of my life. We each have strengths and weaknesses oddly complementary to the other's weaknesses and strengths. But I can't say exactly why this extraordinary relationship works. Yes, we communicate and, yes, we treat each other with care...but some of this feels like luck. Just two roads crossing at the right place. I don't believe there's a cosmic "cruise director" out there. No Fates moving the chess pieces at the perfectly timed moment. I just feel lucky. And happy. So happy birthday to lucky me.

Friday, October 14, 2005

cutesiness

Thanks to my dear friend Joe, I am happy to share this bit of holiday consumer tackiness: the christmas sweaters are in and on sale.
Holy Jesus of the Kitsch Creche, you can actually put your hands in reindeer head pockets. As a crusader against all things "kute" I may sound a little harsh about the "Christmas Kitties" sweater and the like. But I find that kind of cuteness in adults to be as appealing as drooling.
And these sweaters are actually more classy than some I've seen. If you want to see some real beauties, go near a mall or flea market in November and be visually pummelled with Christmas Regalia Apparel Purchases. And we all know what that spells. And while we're on the subject of Christmas "Kitties," they are kittens not kitties, underpants not panties, and most of all: tits not titties. We are not three years old.
Happy Holidays.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

a secret and some sleep

No More Secrets
I realize that none of you have been sitting on the edge of your cyberseat waiting to find out about the big SECRET...but I'm going to pretend you were anyway. (Besides, most of you already know, even if you didn't know you knew.) We've been preparing for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary surprise party. There. Now you know for sure. I couldn't take the chance that they'd stumble across my blog site and spoil the surprise, hence the big hush-hush.

So. A huge success. Both Rafael and Dolores were very surprised and, after the initial shock of seeing that many people giving them a standing ovation, seemed delighted. There were 80+ family and friends in attendance and everything went smoothly (a tribute to my anal-retentive list-making personality, so I'm told).

Barbara and I scanned and cleaned family photos for months so we could present Mom and Dad with a Flash presentation of their lives together, complete with The Penguins singing Earth Angel in the background. It was a total success. We also had six photographs of them enlarged to poster-size and mounted. These were hung up on the balcony above the head table and added so much to the ambience (thank you, LF, you rock).

All the siblings worked together. Gena made copious arrangements for food and housing, not to mention running interference on the day of so that Dad wouldn't show up at his usual hangout—the clubhouse where we were furiously setting up; Michael made and provided 60+ bottles of wine with our parents' portrait on the labels; Elysa created beautiful centerpieces
; Elena and Mark took care of setup and lighting. Then we all worked together to take care of a thousand other details. Michael, Elena, and our cousin Sean snapped photos (which I'd love to post as soon as I get them). Gena's friends pitched in like they were family (and like it or not, kids, you are now). Thr surprise arrival of Marisa and Lindsay (a surprise to Elysa and I) provided by our cousin Maureen completed the event.

I love my parents and they deserved to be honored for making their relationship work for 50 years and everything that entails. I don't love them because they are Ward and June Cleaver. I love them because they are not. Because their life triumphs are all the more significant in light of their feet of clay and, just as importantly, my feet of clay. There is always tension when grown families reunite. Particularly when we all live a thousand miles away from each other. But not one thing during this weekend felt like a step backwards. It was all either great or encouraging. I am so proud of my parents, my brother and sisters and all of our children.

The Aftermath
That was last weekend. A cool front finally broke the oppressive heat spell yesterday. Last night was the first air-conditioner-free night in over 5 months and holymarymotherofgod did I sleep well. I slept like every hour of sleep was a gulp of cool water after walking for miles in the heat. (So maybe I woke up a little bloated.) Not setting an alarm was a delightful indulgence.

Now, what? I'm having a little post-event blues (as always) and trying to tame the project-induced chaos in my house. This is not my strong suit but there's more sweet than bitter in my weariness and tapping into some new creative (albeit downscaled) project will help. It's my methadone.

Work continues to put a smile on my face. I am learning all sorts of stuff. It may surprise my friends and family how many hours I spend at work completely silent—just tackling the animation at hand, headphones on, mouse just a-clickin'. My co-workers are delightful, quirky geeks. I am so at home I can't stand it! I miss my old friends at other jobs (and you know who you are) and wish I could transport them all to where I am. I've begun signing off voicemail messages or emails as "reporting live from downtown Houston..." and I know that is completely stupid but I can't control myself.

Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for not giving up on this blog. It's a source of incredible happiness to me to know that you're still reading and responding.