Oct 31, 2012

Book Review: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson was an unexpected, beautiful story.

I listened to the book on CD during some long driving hours (it's read by the author - she did such a wonderful job!), and it was one of those books where you don't want to turn off the car because you want to hear what happens next.

This is my first Jackson book, and she really caught me by surprise. A beautiful writer, I mean really beautiful. Her gift of words is sublime and she presents scenes before your eyes with layer after tiny layer of backstory, detail or intertwining. But it's effortless and you pass through it without even noticing the words themselves. I really find it hard to describe, but it's this type of fiction writing that both inspires me to write, and intimidates me at the same time.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed it. Just a really well-done novel with the perfect mix of interesting characters, mystery, back-story and an evolving plot.

The book is about a woman, Laurel, who lives in a seemingly perfect gated community in Florida with her husband and daughter. When a girl is found drowned in her pool, hell breaks lose. It's kind of a mystery-thriller in the deep south, with elements of the supernatural and ghosts, family secrets, and love and relationship dynamics. The author has a wonderful relationship with her characters, it's as though she's discovering them just as we are.

If you enjoy a well done novel with depth and suspense, I'd definitely recommend it. With the ghosts and haunted pasts, it's kind of appropriate I'm posting it on Halloween (you don't have to actually believe in those things to still enjoy it).

Anyone recommend any other good haunted reads?


A Happy Halloweekend

So today is Halloween, and it's been fairly uneventful, aside from crap weather (thanks Sandy) and running out mid-morning to get doughnuts for the office (we all have a favorite little hole-in-the-wall bakery around the corner). Of course they had cute Halloween doughnuts with pumpkin shaped sprinkles!

Most of my celebrations took place this past weekend, and were wonderful.

Went to a sort of crazy show with burlesque dancers, drag queens and shirtless men doing synchronized dancing with twirling lights (who would've thought? Little old conservative Indiana...). Anyway, we dressed as Charlie's Angels, with kind of a drag twist. A bit strange perhaps, but way more fun than just going as the expected! (P.S. drag queen makeup is SO HARD TO DO. Seriously, youtube it.)

the key is the eyebrows. I'm the redhead.
gun pose (note the bull-horned masked demon over my shoulder) :-)
"Thriller", maybe a little different than you've seen it before

Some stars aligned and I got to take a last-minute trip down to see Katrina. I was going to be close-by for a work trip on Monday, so it worked out for me to go stay a couple nights with her! It was such a strange and wonderful feeling to wake up next to her on Monday morning and go to work (maybe a glimpse of what the future holds?)

I love my little nurse bug
She makes my heart happy
Buttercup!
I'm not even to the most exciting part yet! Recently, Katrina made a new friend, S. S is a lesbian, and came out to Katrina. So obviously Katrina told her about me, and they set up a dinner date with me and K, and S and her girlfriend. They were SO awesome, and I was thrilled to pieces that we actually are friends with another lesbian couple. This is a first for us!

They are such an adorable couple, they've been together three years, and they're both in the military. I'm going to keep them completely anonymous on here because even though DADT is officially ended,  everything's not all fine and dandy on that front.

Anyway, we all hit it off right away, even stayed at the restaurant until it closed and then got together the next day for pumpkin carving. 

some of our designs :-)
Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!


Oct 26, 2012

We're Going to Make It

I went to a debate about gay marriage tonight at a local catholic university. I took many pages of notes, and I fully intended to come home and blog about it. And I'm going to. I want to read the book that the debaters wrote (both pro and anti gay marriage), and dissect their arguments into bullet points and thesis statements. But for now, I want to comment on something else. 

I think this type of discourse is invaluable to our society and I am truly thankful to live in a country where, even if we haven't progressed to marriage equality, at least we have the freedom to debate it in public.

And I will do a complete review of both sides of the argument soon. But truth is... the argument kind of doesn't matter anymore because the momentum is there, this new generation is taking it's place, and we've already won in the future. 

As I sat in that room with hundreds of people, many of them students from the university, I thought to myself, "this means we're going to make it". The fact that people care about it, means we're going to make it. At one point one of the debaters took a poll of the room by a show of hands, and easily 90% of the audience raised a hand in support of gay marriage. And I know that sampling of people isn't indicative of our country's population, but these young people are the future movers and shakers of America. 

The opposition got into arguments about tradition and ideals and all that. But you know what another tradition is? Saying "fuck tradition". Men used to buy women from their fathers as brides (maybe still do in parts of the world). Marriages used to be arranged, or little girls given as child brides, or husbands were able to have as many brides as they liked. One of humanity's better qualities is an ability to change. Sometimes we have traditions that we keep because they are best, and but luckily we have the ability to adapt our system to make things better. 

We don't live to serve our traditions. Our traditions exist to serve us. 

------------------------

Ok, enough said on that for now. Today was the most beautiful fall day. I am just soaking it all in before winter comes. The forecast says its going to drop nearly 30 degrees for tomorrow! 

My little sister had her engagement photoshoot today and it was gorgeous, and she was so happy she did it (I'm trying to refrain from "I told you so!"). 

They are so cute, I was getting teary-eyed a little. I'm such a girl!
Shoot location was a beautiful park on the river.
I was also so happy to have some time today to take this little butt on a walk. He loves plowing through the leaves.


He was determined to pee on that tree no matter what. 
It's kind of the official Halloween weekend this weekend, since the real holiday falls on a Wednesday next week. Dressing up tomorrow night with some friends as Charlie's Angels, drag-queen style for a big drag/burlesque show. (Don't be a drag, just be a queen) It's going to be awesome, I'm so excited!


The pic isn't great, but I'm working on my costume as the "redhead" Charlie's Angel. On the right is Katrina (yes, the one with the mustache) and her little sister. The border patrol officer and the "border-hopper", in honor of her father. She was voted best costume! 

I actually get to see her this weekend. ❤ Hopefully she won't be wearing those fuzzy eyebrows. 


Oct 18, 2012

Lucky Girl

Country drives with breathtaking fall colors. A covered bridge festival complete with cinnamon rolls as big as your head, homemade crafts and deep-fried everything. Cuddling in the chilly air under warm covers. A walk in the city along the canal. Haunted houses and woods filled with just as much laughing as screaming. Browsing at the mall with nowhere else to be. Cuddles on the couch watching our favorite shows. Family bonfires and hayrides in the country. Playing with the guinea pigs and spotting the birds. Lovey cooking me dinner, and breakfast. And best of all? Waking up next to her, three days in a row (there's just something about seeing the one you love when you open your eyes in the morning that fills a need in your soul). I'm a lucky girl.

With Katrina and her little sis, they're so cute
Beautiful Indy
Playing with Bastien, the guinea pig (happy heart is jealous)
Looking sexay
She makes me laugh
The store clerk was shaking her head at us... :-)

And did I mention that we just maybe went and looked at a possible future apartment? (EEE!!!!!!)


In other news... a federal court in New York struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional today! This is the second time that's happened... which probably means one step closer to the Supreme Court hearing the case. 

I've been listening to so many debates this week! Obama & Romney, the independent voters debate between libertarian Gary Johnson and green party candidate Jill Stein. I went to the Indiana governor's debate. I'm getting a little debated-out, but I am really excited to be able to go to a debate at a local university about gay marriage next week. So cool that they are doing that here! The important thing is to get people talking about it! Things are changing!


Oct 11, 2012

My Coming Out Journey (So Far)

Last year, I wrote about National Coming Out Day. Maybe I wasn't really ready to come out to anyone on that day, but when I look back, exactly one year later, I am so excited how much progress I've made in my coming out journey. Not just towards others, but for myself.

Gay Community
I used to be scared of gay people. When I realized years ago that I was in love with a girl, I told myself "but I'm not like them" (them = some abstract stereotype of gay people, especially gay women I had in my mind). I didn't look down on the GLBT community, I just felt like I didn't belong. But I wanted to belong. I think the main reason was because I didn't actually know very many gay people, or have gay friends.

In that past year, that has changed SO much. I met a few people through a local social website, looking for friends, and that has led me to meeting all sorts of people in "real" life. Some of them are gay, some of them aren't, but the point is all of them are genuinely GLBT friendly, and I can be 100% honest with them about my relationship! A new and wonderful experience for me.

I found a great local gay bar that was something of a community center, and instead of feeling out of place, I felt completely welcome and accepted. For the first time, I realized there really is a gay community in this area and I didn't feel so alone. (The bar sadly closed a few months after I discovered it... I cried.)

The last night at the bar before it closed.

I have also become more connected with the gay community online as well. Especially through blogging, and finally starting to get into twitter and instagram (only slightly addicted now). This has been tremendously encouraging for me to see that there are so many others out there, girls like me and K, going through similar experiences.

Friends & Family
I have come out to more and more people in my personal life. Some of them directly - through conversations, letters, or phone calls. Others, indirectly just by making a decision to be less guarded about my relationship. I think in the past year, there have been 10 or more! With each person, it's like a burden lifted, even though it can still be scary.

I've also had the new experience of when I'm meeting people, just telling them from the start about K. No more secrets! It still speeds up my heart when I hear myself say something casually about "my girlfriend" to someone, but it is so wonderful - you have no idea.

Luckily, I even have one co-worker who I've been able to tell about me and K. Thank god for that, otherwise I think I'd just explode at work sometimes. It helps beyond words to have an ally.

Me & Katrina
That is the first time ever I have used Katrina's name on my blog! She gave me permission, and I figured it was appropriate for National Coming Out Day. I was careful when I started the blog, for her sake especially, but she's become a lot more easy-going about people finding out about us. She's not exactly shouting it from rooftops, but it is no longer a cataclysmic end-of-the-world event. In fact, she's even told some classmates, family members and random strangers over the past year. Her coming out story is very different from mine and moving at a different speed, and I've come to accept - that is ok!

We are Ruth & Katrina. It's making me smile just to type it out.

Anyway, a lot has happened over the past year for Katrina & I and our future as well. She got into nursing school, she moved out and got an apartment (which is great because we don't feel like teenage kids anymore sneaking around her mom when I visit her now), we even went to the NOH8 Campaign!

Me & Katrina, our official NOH8 photo
The Future
See how much has happened in only a year? That makes me so excited for this coming year of coming out. This time next year, maybe I'll be out to my extended family or my co-workers. Maybe Katrina's dad will finally know (Katrina's mom won't let her tell him...). Maybe we'll be out on FACEBOOK! Now I'm just getting my hopes up.

But there is a good possibility that a year from today, I'll be living with my love in our own place. That is too good to be true right now. I'm thrilled to pieces that I get THREE days in a row with her for a long weekend, starting in less than 24 hrs!

Thanks for coming along with me on my coming out journey so far. Stay tuned - there is so much more to come! I can't wait to see how life has changed by October 11, 2013.



Oct 10, 2012

What Are You?

"You've got a little something, with your olive skin. What are you?"

"Do you mind if I ask... what is your ethnicity?"

These are the types of questions I get every so often, sometimes from complete strangers. Someone trying to decipher my ethnic makeup, like it's some great mystery. I'm not offended by this in the least. In fact, I take it as a compliment. I've always been fascinated by different cultures and ethnicities. My only disappoint comes when I give them the truthful answer and it's nothing exotic at all.



I can see where they're coming from, I have kind of olive skin, dark hair, prominent nose and the dark almond-shaped eyes. I've gotten guesses ranging from iranian, egyptian, and jewish to latina (one co-worker at my internship in Tennessee insisted on calling me "Maria", because she was sure I was mexican or something...).

The truth is, I'm just a mixture of some of the usual early 1900s european immigrants to America. Some german, swiss, hungarian, and some more german. Secretly I've always wished I was something a little more than "vanilla". Like Ruth, the moabitess in the bible, or maybe Esther (my middle name), the persian beauty.

Maybe it's just a "grass is greener on the other side" type of thing. Do you think everyone kinda wishes they were one thing or the other? I'm happy as I am, but I'll admit sometimes I choose to mark the "prefer not to answer" in lieu of the check box for "caucasian". Not really sure what that says about me, if it's good or bad. But that's how I've always been.

K is half guatemalan. She refers to her dad as "the border hopper", as he quite literally hopped the border from Mexico into the US as a young man. He's all legal now (thanks to her mom!), but her parents have quite a story. Anyway, I love the fact that he did that, because otherwise I wouldn't have my K! I think of her as my little "latina caliente" (hot latin woman), and I get all giggly if she talks to me in spanish and calls me "mi amor" (my love). She's not actually fluent, but she probably speaks it better than most. 

Do you see your ethnic background, national identity or race as an important part of who you are? Do you own it with pride? I love the rich diversity our world is composed of. I guess it's ok for me to be happy as I am, vanilla as it may be, because it takes all kinds to make up the beautiful human race.


Oct 3, 2012

This Year, I'm a Single-Issue Voter

Gay marriage is legal in six U.S. States. That leaves 44 where it is not legal to marry. This November, in a little over a month, four U.S. States will have the opportunity to legalize marriage equality in their own state. If those four pass... that's 20% of states with legal gay marriage!

I'm 25 years old. I don't know what my future holds, but I would like to hopefully be able to get married someday. Where I live. To the girl I love. I don't want to have to wait til I'm 50, or even 40 years old. How long will the remaining 80% of states take to reach the conclusion that we need to be proactive about providing the same rights to everyone? How long will it take for the courts or the federal government to abolish DOMA?

Sometimes I feel like we're moving quickly and making progress. Other times, states like North Carolina do something stupid like ban gay marriage with a 61% majority. I look at my own state, Indiana, and it's hard for me to hold onto hope that I could get married before I turn 30.

I think there are so many important issues in politics. I find them interesting, and I get pretty passionate about many. Foreign policy, education, environment protection, immigration, health care. I am pumped to watch the debate starting in a few minutes between President Obama and Mitt Romney!

But I can't lie... this year, I'm mostly a single-issue voter. You know why? Because this single issue has a HUGE impact on my life and my future. Voting is about letting your voice be heard, right? Well, this is what my voice is saying. And I'm going to keep saying it until it is heard - and there is equality for all.

Love this campaign happening right now called The Four 2012, encouraging people to use social media to spread the word and get their friends in Maine, Washington, Minnesota and Maryland to vote for marriage equality on election day!

Do you live in any of these states! Please vote!!! And spread the word!

What issues matter most to you this election?







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