Nov 30, 2012

Beautiful Hearts

Happy Friday!

I've been in such a crafty mood lately. We're doing a very low-budget Christmas with my family this year, so that's challenged me to get creative and make things instead of buying them. It's more work, and it takes more thought, but the end result is worth it because you get something very personalized. Anyone else making some homemade gifts this year? What are some of the best non-purchased gifts you've received?

I saw this Seattle lovely while browsing on Equally Wed today (love that site!). The best part is that this beautiful couple can actually be married now in their own state! 

I love the eco-chic and understated elegance. Simply gorgeous! source

Photography by Michele M. Waite Photography


"Two Beautiful Hearts"






Nov 26, 2012

Book Review: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

This was a wonderful way to introduce myself to Jeanette Winterson. I think we will be quite close from now on. Her memoir, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" was captivating, honest, and hopeful. I was amazed by her level of self-consciousness. I found myself repeating the same line just to let it sink in further. She doesn't waste one word. I loved her wry humor, philosophical viewpoints on the smallest life moments and her gift of seeing past black and white to the humanity in us all.

It's so much more than the story of her life events. It's a beautiful interpretation of what it means to be alive, to be human, to be loved and to belong. You're going to want to buy a copy and underline something on nearly every page.

I listened to the book on CD this weekend while driving, and I found myself audibly responding constantly with "Yes!" and "mmmhm" and laughing and crying. (The audio version is magnificent, read by the author herself. But now I'm anxious to get a hard-copy, I wasn't kidding about the wanted to underline everything!)

This is Jeanette's story of finding herself and her place in the world. She was adopted at only a few weeks old, and was raised in northern England by a religious zealot mother. She spent her childhood being locked out of the house or in the coal pit, preached to about the end times or being told that she was "the wrong crib" (when she was "bad" her adopted mother would tell her she wished she had gotten a child from another crib). Her adopted father was an emasculated man, whose only role in Jeanette's life was to beat her when his wife bade him to.

It's not about her feeling sorry for herself. Rather, we watch as she slowly emerges into the woman she is, despite these surroundings. She finds herself in books, books, and more books. She has to hide them from her mother who won't allow her to read things other than the six household books (including the bible, of course), because she says about books, "you never know what's in it until it's too late".

She discovers her body and desire, her desire to love and be close to another woman. As you can imagine, that doesn't go over well with her mom. She is kicked out at age 16 when she tells her mother she is in love and she is happy. Her mother replies, "why be happy when you could be normal?"

I could go on and on about this one. I would really recommend it, to anyone. She is gay, but it's not a book about that. If you love literature, and the connection that creates beyond time, beyond gender or age or race or anything, then you will connect with this book.

She follows a painful quest later in life to find her birth mother, discover the truth about where she comes from, and learn what it really means to be wanted. The beauty of it all is, that she would never take any of it back.

Anyone a Winterson fan? Should I start with "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" next? Any other favorites? I am so excited to read more!



Nov 22, 2012

There's an App for That (Being Thankful)

A while back I started using this app called "Gratitude" on an almost daily basis. It is so great! A cute little notebook where you can write bullet point lists of things you're thankful for. You can attach little pics from the day, decorate it with a theme, read encouraging notes about being thankful and even rate the day from one to five stars. I would definitely recommend it! It helped me keep perspective every day and focus on the good things in life. (if you don't have a device that uses "apps" a real journal would work too! I love moleskins for lists like that)

I've been slacking a little in using it lately, but this morning when I woke up, I made myself sit down and type up ten things I was thankful for before I started the Thanksgiving festivities. It was refreshing and it reminded me how important that simple activity is. It fills my heart and brings everything into focus.

App Gratitude Journal, and Gratitude Journal Plus for iPad, by Happy Tapper

And not just for Thanksgiving - for every day!

For those of you that celebrated Thanksgiving today, I hope it was a day with a full heart and focused on the things that matter most. 

These were my ten things:

1. New Friends - I've made some great new friends this year. Intelligent, interesting, motivated people who accept me as I am. I am grateful to have people in my life that help me stretch and grow into the person I want to be.

2. A Group of Unique Individuals - My family. If I wasn't related to my mom, dad, two sisters and my brother, I would still want to hang out with them. I love and respect all of them so much for the unique and amazing people that they are. I'm so lucky that I can be honest with them about who I am and they accept me.



3. An Online Community - I'm am so thankful for a group of like-minded bloggers who share their lives and support from around the world. It's a daily encouragement and reminder that we're all in this together.

4. My Baby - I couldn't be with her today, but I get to see her this weekend. I don't have enough words to describe how thankful I am for this girl in my life. I love how our relationship has grown. She is a steady and healthy part of my life that feeds my soul and brings joy to every day.

5. My Own Space - I'm thankful to be independent and supporting myself. 

Having your own space means
you can decorate your fridge like a snowman.

6. My Nine-to-Five - I'm thankful for a job with regular hours, paid vacation, and work and co-workers that I enjoy. I get to do something different every day, use creativity and develop my skills. 

7. The Air in My Lungs - my sight, my hearing, my taste. My ability to laugh, walk, sing, swim, kiss, sleep and cuddle. I'm so thankful for my physical health and abilities and the freedom that comes with that, I don't want to ever take that for granted.

8. Oh the Places I've Been - every place I've been has a place in my heart and has broadened my world. I'm especially thankful for the other countries I've been able to spend time in - New Zealand, Jamaica, Australia, and Canada. 

9. A Step Forward in Equality - I'm thankful President Obama was re-elected and our country is taking steps in the direction of marriage equality. Heart by heart, vote by vote, state by state. We're changing for the better.

10. The Little Things - A little dog's wagging tail, a hot bath, that first bite of pumpkin pie, a good story on a TV show or in a book, a happy notification on your ipad, or a funny youtube video.

My favorite puppy cuddling
My favorite meal on earth
double pinochle! (anyone else play pinochle?)
A very wiped out little dog


Nov 19, 2012

'Tis the Season to Come Out

When I take off a band-aid, I do it quickly as possible, even if it means knowing it's about to sting really bad. Katrina, on the other hand, is more like the person who leaves it on forever until it eventually gets all soggy and washes down the drain without you even noticing in came off.

That is a pretty fair analogy of how we both choose to "come out" to people.

I like to rip that sucker off and deal with the consequences. She avoids and avoids it until it sort of just happens naturally (they find out) and she doesn't have to do much directly about it. Obviously, we handle things quite differently.

This holiday season has become THE year to come out to many of the remaining people in my life who don't know about Katrina. Not sure why it's all falling into place, but it is. So I'm ripping off the band-aid: read-or-not, here I come (out)!

I kind of want one a little bit. source

My Office Christmas Party

Every year, my office has a special dinner out at a nice restaurant and everyone brings their significant others. I've been working there for over three years, this will be my fourth Christmas Party with them and I've never brought a guest. Everyone at work just assumes I'm single and straight I suppose. It's not that I haven't wanted to bring Katrina, it just genuinely hasn't worked out before with her school schedule. But this year she can actually come.

When I realized that, I was simultaneously ecstatic and petrified. That means my co-workers will know. That means they'll realize this is something I've been keeping secret. That means my boss will know I'm gay. Seriously, I'm nervous just thinking about it. I don't know how everyone will react. I don't think anyone truly has a huge problem with gay people, but I've heard them say not just a few derogatory remarks concerning LGBT community over the three years I've been there.

On the one hand I'm scared about them knowing. On the other hand, I'm afraid they'll meet Katrina and not realize she's my girlfriend girlfriend. Maybe they'll think I was just sad and always coming alone so I brought a friend. I don't want to have to spell it out and rub it in their faces if I can help it.

(One time a co-worker, looking at a wedding story of two gay men, remarked "where is the bride? I don't see her in any pictures!" Being gay is never their first thought because they don't seem to have a lot of contact with actual gay people...)

I just want my girlfriend to meet the people I work with every day, and my co-workers to meet my amazing girlfriend. God-damnit, is that too much to ask?!?

Gay gifts from zazzle.com

Christmas With My Extended Family

My extended family lives all across the U.S., so I don't get the chance to see them often. Sometimes when we're lucky at least some portion of the family can gather together for the holidays. This is one of those years. And for the first time ever, Katrina will be meeting them.

She is really nervous. I've met almost all of her family, and they know me pretty well. Some of them know about us, some don't. But the gatherings with her family are always really relaxed, lots of friends and random people showing up, so it's not big deal when I'm there.

With my family, it's such a rare thing, that it's usually just our family. And maybe an occasional boyfriend/girlfriend. My sister hasn't even brought her fiance yet! My parents gave me the OK to bring Katrina (I am so proud of them!) and it's going to work out for her to come with us the weekend before Christmas. So, I guess this is the year! I don't know how they'll react, but I know that they won't be able to not love her (would could not love her??). I think they'll all get along well and have a lot in common. Whether or not they'll realize the nature of our relationship isn't that important to me right now, I just want her to meet them. She is my family.

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

So there you have it. I didn't realize it going into this year, but this apparently is going to be the year I come out to the better part of the remainder of people in my life who don't know about me and Katrina. I didn't plan it this way, but I'm going with it. It's scary as hell, but the band-aid has to come off eventually.

What band-aids have you ripped off in your life? Do you tackle situations like this head-on, or let it happen gradually without taking action? Have you ever done something before you felt ready? Any tips or advice for me in these upcoming situations?



Nov 12, 2012

26 Times Around the Sun

As of today, I have traveled 26 times around the sun. I don't remember all of the details of each of the 26 voyages, but certain moments are alive in my memory. My experiences & impressions gather like the dust of a comet's tail, illuminated by the sun and shining more and more brightly as the comet is swept into it's next revolution.

source

I've never been afraid of aging. Maybe it's just the part of me that loves change. Or the part of me that loves learning. And I know I'm not near the top of "the hill" yet, but so far aging has only meant good things for me: developing my mind, growing as a person, meeting new people, gaining independence, experiencing freedom, finding myself, learning balance, developing relationships.

I am so glad life is bigger than I ever imagined. 

I am so thankful I have my own tiny role on this earth.

I am so thrilled that this is just the beginning. 

It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them -- the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas. - Fyodor Dostoevsky

This time around the sun, I hope to grow those things which matter most, my character, heart, generous qualities and progressive ideas.

I had a very happy birthday thanks to my beautiful family, fun new friends and steadfast old ones, generous co-workers, and my sweet, thoughtful little bug. I think I'll cap it off with a hot bath and a good night's sleep.

I got to spend time with my love. (It's never enough time!)
shooting clay discs (or rather, trying...)
Some of the very thoughtful gifts I received (elephant cards from this etsy shop)
Katrina made me scratch off tickets with my favorite personalized prizes!
The only not-so-happy part was when she
drove away at 6am this morning... :-(


Nov 7, 2012

She Wrote Me a Song

Katrina is not a traditional gift giver. She does love to buy things for people, and she is one of the most generous people I know, but her best presents aren't things that can be purchased & wrapped. One of her signature gifts for people is a personalized song

If you are someone in her life, it is only a matter of time before she writes one for you. She is a self-taught guitar player, and she will think of a song that the person likes, and then rewrite all of the lyrics with hilarious, personalized information, stories or jokes. I've watched her perform many of these and inevitably the recipient of the song will laugh a lot, but always end up teary-eyed. Katrina puts so much effort into each song, they are always meaningful and from her heart, and her love for that individual shines through each verse.

Me and Katrina in 2008
Katrina and I were best friends by mid-2007, and we began dating at the beginning of 2008, so I really shouldn't have been surprised when she pulled out her guitar on my 22nd birthday that November and sang me my very own song. We were still a long way away from "coming out" to anyone at that point, and it wasn't a "love" song. It was an us song, and it pretty much covered things from the first day we met up until November 2008. She had remembered little things I had told her, things I liked and all of our inside jokes.

I don't think this song will make much sense to anyone else, but I love it. I still smile through the entire song every time I watch it. You can hear me laughing while I record her, but what you can't see are my eyes getting all watered-up behind the camera.

I love this girl. She is truly one-of-a-kind. Her genuine love for people astounds me and I am thankful every day that she loves me so much. She is driving up in two days for my birthday weekend (26 years old!), and I could care less if she spent a dime on me. I just want her here so I can nuzzle in close with her arms around me. I know that sounds cheesy, but it couldn't be more true.


She is just so stinking cute! My song was written to the tune of Modest Mouse's "Float On". (I love Modest Mouse...) You can probably tell, she's picking fun at some of the things that make us very opposite.

What have some of your favorite or most meaningful gifts been? Have you every gotten something super unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary? 

(in case you're trying to follow along) Lyrics: You learned to steer a horse and buggy when you were ten - when bonnets were the latest fashion trend. In high school you had read almost every book on the shelf - when you saw Two Towers you were dressed up like an elf. Frodo-pants is your doggie's name and Tolkien is to blame. Is quidditch really a game? Are Jane Austen and Jane Eyre the same? Well, you came to TU to study graphic design - you would meet a half-guatemalan girl with time. We met at Lissypuff's house on J-term break - we were so opposite and it was great. We went to the Chicago Museum of Art - why is art all about naked body parts? You put up with me every day, but we still get along ok. We could cuddle all day... we wouldn't do homework anyway! Alright alrighty who needs homework when you could stay up and play suck-o-do-ku all night? Alrighty who needs homework when you could hang out with fuzzybug all night? Don't worry even if Larry adds on a few more paintings, you'll still pass class alright. You sold books with southwestern and now you could conquer anything in sight. I'm proud to call you my bestest friend, Ruth M you are a superstar.


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