8.29.2008

The Post I Didn't Want To Write

Early this morning, my friend Susie passed away after a long struggle
with cancer. To cancer, I say, cancer, you suck. You really, really
suck. Months ago, Susie made the brave decision to stop treatments.
Around that time, she started doing all these amazing things -
skydiving, travelling, riding horses, every time she missed a hockey
game it was because she was doing something cool.

I was glad to hear her doing all those things, though in the back of my
mind I had this sinking feeling that she was doing them because she knew
her time was running out.

I keep trying to write more, but I just can't right now. For the last
20 years, August 29 has been the day when I honor the memory of my
friend Jos. It breaks my heart to know that this day is now the day
Susie died, too.

She was in so much pain these last days and weeks. She deserved none of
it. The world is a less funny place without her in it.

8.27.2008

Del Martin Dies

I know you all think that I'm just here, out and proud and all that jazz and yes it's true. I am. However, the ability for me to be that way started many years ago with the hard, hard work done by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Rest in peace, Del. You did excellent work.

NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2008

Community Mourns the loss of beloved Civil rights leader Del Martin, 87

(San Francisco, California, August 27, 2008) - Today, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community lost an iconic leader and a beloved friend. Del Martin, 87, passed away in San Francisco with Phyllis Lyon, her lifelong partner and spouse, by her side. Martin was one of the nation's first and most visible lesbian rights activists who dedicated her life to combating homophobia, sexism, violence, and racism. Martin's many contributions to the LGBT movement will resonate for decades to come.

"Today the LGBT movement lost a real hero," said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "For all of Del's life, she was an activist and organizer even before we knew what those terms meant. Her last act of public activism was her most personal -- marrying the love of her life after 55 years. In the wake of losing her, we recognize with heightened clarity the most poignant and responsible way to honor her legacy is to preserve the right of marriage for same-sex couples, thereby providing the dignity and respect that Del and Phyllis' love deserved."

Martin began working as an activist after receiving her degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. While working on a newspaper in Seattle, Martin met her partner Phyllis Lyon and the two began working on behalf of lesbians in their community. Martin and Lyon have devoted their lives to working towards LGBT equality, healthcare access, advocacy on behalf of battered women, and issues facing elderly Americans. Their many contributions over the past five decades helped shape the modern LGBT movement.

In 1955, Lyon and Martin were among the founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights organization. In 1956, they launched "The Ladder," the first lesbian newsletter, which became a lifeline for hundreds of women isolated and silenced by the restrictions of the era. Del Martin was the first openly lesbian woman elected to the board of the National Organization of Women (NOW), and in 1971, encouraged the board to pass a resolution stating that lesbian issues were feminist issues. In 1995, Martin and Lyon were named delegates to the White House Conference on Aging by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. In 2004, Lyon and Martin became the first same-sex couple to be married in the state of California, and subsequently became plaintiffs in the California marriage case, helping to ensure that the fundamental right to marry under the California Constitution belongs to all couples, including same-sex couples.

"Del lived her life with great compassion, wit, tenacity, generosity, and valor," said The Honorable Donna Hitchens, Founder of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "She inspired thousands of us to be more courageous and energetic than we thought possible. When faced with moments of fatigue, laziness or weakness, one had only to ask - 'What would Del and Phyllis do?' While she will be greatly missed, her legacy will be cherished forever."

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon were married in California on June 16, 2008 after 55 years together.

"Ever since I met Del 55 years ago, I could never imagine a day would come when she wouldn't be by my side. I am so lucky to have known her, loved her, and been her partner in all things," Lyon said. "I also never imagined there would be day that we would actually be able to get married. I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed."

Gifts in lieu of flowers can be made to honor Del's life and commitment and to defeat the California marriage ban through NCLR's No On 8 PAC at www.nclrights.org/NoOn8

8.26.2008

Still Gets Me

This weekend we found ourselves with a whole Saturday stretching before
us. My response was to stay in my pajamas until Andrea got all
motivated to go on a cleaning kick. That inspired me and I headed to
the basement to see what I could get rid of.

I was merciless. We got rid of broken suitcases, old software, clothes,
stuffed animals and more random crap, enough to fill the ample back of
Andrea's car and spill into the front seat. We dropped it at the
Salvation Army. When we pulled up a team of workers sprang into action
and unloaded everything for us in 2 seconds. Bye bye, stuff!

While I was down there, I stumbled across an envelope. I knew exactly
what it was - it was printouts from old city directories and the phone
book from various towns in my home state. A kind woman from the
internet had gone to her local library and looked all that up for me
when I was searching for my birthmom.

Right there was the listing. I knew what I was looking for, I went
right to his name and smiled. Then my heart started to race,
remembering how exciting the search was at that point - I had a name, I
knew what my name had been, I knew a bunch of other stuff that will
always be too personal to share here. That information was stuff I'd
wondered about for as long as I'd been able to wonder, and the mystery,
my mystery, was unfolding right there in those photocopied phone book
pages.

Later, I stumbled onto the notebook where I'd kept the rest of my
searching stuff. More documents, the letter from my agency that
basically said gee thanks for asking about yourself, here's a few
nuggets of information, but don't bother us about your story again. And
while we're at it, don't you think you should just be happy that you
were adopted and not try to find anything more out about where you came
from? That message plays out through every document I have from them,
hell, it played out more times than I would've ever expected as I told
people I was searching.

I think there's this notion that adoptees who search for their stories
are somehow unhappy/dissatisfied with their adoptive families. For
whatever reason, the act of searching rubs all kinds of people the wrong
way, more than once I was asked why I was even bothering to search,
wasn't I happy with my family?

I can assure you once and a thousand times more that has nothing to do
with it. I searched because I needed to know where I came from, who I
look like, why I do certain things. I am lucky, I was able to find all
that and a whole lot more.

As I read through some of the documents from my search, I started to
shake. I knew how it ended, I had names to go with the generic
descriptions written in the info from the agency and yet I shook as the
story, my own story, unfolded once again.

Soon enough, I put the book down, brought it upstairs when I was all
done. I won't lose it again. Someday I'll share it with Val, show her
the journey I went through that has brought us here, to an amazing world
where my little girl is so lucky and so blessed to have an extended
family who adores her.

8.25.2008

So Proud

At gymnastics today, Val insisted on walking on the big beam, you know,
the one that's the same size as the gymnasts you've seen on TV using.
Or, I guess I could say oh yeah, gymnastics places have beams in a bunch
of different sizes. I had no idea until Val started going.

Anyhoo, she totally insisted on going on the big one. She'd shown some
interest in it before but not like today. Today, it had to be there.
She even followed all directions from her teacher before going on it.

But once she got on, she didn't get off until the end of class. No, she
walked up and back and back again, with me holding her hand until I
boldly said okay, Val, you try it by yourself. And holy shit, she did.
She walked by herself on that big beam (yes, there is a giant mat
underneath and I was right there ready to catch her) for more than half
the length of it.

I almost cried, I was so proud. She's getting so damn big.

8.23.2008

Not How I Wanted It To Go

Val and I were not far from the vet's last night so I figured we may as
well go pick up Zeus' ashes. I say that all casual, like I didn't cry
most of the way there.

Val settled down to color at their little kid's table while waited. It
wasn't long before the nice receptionist brought them out to me, with a
very kind 'I'm sorry for your loss.'

I'm standing there, trying not to lose it so I quietly say Val, please
put down the marker so we can go.

She decides that is the perfect moment to throw one of the biggest
tantrums of her life and I end up carrying her, screaming, out of the
vet's where she sits until she calms down long enough to go on a time
out while I stand there, holding the box of Zeus' ashes and wanting just
one minute to remember my sweet old guy.

He's home now, sitting on top of Gus' ashes where he belongs.

8.20.2008

ha, looks like she cocked an ear

I've got no words. She's just cute.

Crisis Averted

I asked the wise folks over at www.car-seat.org about whether or not the
top 2 slots on Val's seat can be used for rear-facing. They pointed me
to a transcript of a chat with the director of engineering for the
company who made the seat. He said that all slots can be used for
rear-facing so woo hoo! Val can continue to ride that way in all her
seats for at least 5 more pounds.

I Feel Ill

Susan noticed today that Val was too tall for the shoulder harness on
her seat in Susan's car. For rear-facing seats, the shoulder strap
should be at or below the child's shoulders but you have to move the
straps up as the kid grows. Val hadn't been in Susan's car in a while
so we didn't know that she'd grown quite this much.

We moved the straps up and went on our way. It wasn't until later that
I realized that Val may actually be too tall for the slot height she now
needs. Not all slots are reinforced for rear-facing. On this seat, she
needs the slots that are only made to forward-face.

Translation: we finally have no choice but to flip her seat around. But
only in Susan's car. In our car, she has different seats that don't
have this particular problem.

Nonetheless, I feel ill at the thought of turning her around when she
weighs 6 lbs below the weight limit.

I understand that part of my concern over car safety stems in part from
losing my dear friend Jos 20 years ago next week. She's not alive today
because she did not wear her seatbelt. It was an awful lesson to learn
when I was so young but it's stayed with me, kept me and my passengers
safe over the years. Now that I have such a precious little passenger,
well, I do everything I can to keep her safe.

Even if that means she rides forward facing in her Auntie's car. Sigh.

8.19.2008

So We're Getting Married

Very soon, in fact. At the classiest and most nifty of all City Halls
available to us, in The City. It seems worth it to me to drive an hour
up there to do this since our local office is um, a little seedy. I'll
take that fancy rotunda any day.

To celebrate the Big Day, I shelled out for some new duds. Val went
with me and I have to say she did really well with the whole thing. She
played in the mirrors and kept saying things about 'Mary.' Took me a
while to figure out that she meant 'married.'

I don't know how I'd imagine picking out my wedding duds, but it
probably didn't involve taking real stock of my my post-partum figure or
giving time-outs in the dressing room. I suppose I could shell out for
a fancy dress (and yes, hell yes, I would get the whitest of white
dresses no matter who snickered at the notion of me presenting myself as
a virgin) but I'm just too cheap.

My mom's wedding dress was on sale and though she's saved it all these
years, she waves it off and says oh, it's nothing much. I got it on
sale. If that's how it would be, if it would just hang, hermetically
sealed until I die and Val is stuck cleaning out my house. No doubt
she'd give it away then so it made more sense to get a number of
nice-looking pieces that I can keep using afterwards.

I guess you could re-use a white wedding dress too but it might look a
little silly.

We're not registered, what would be the point? We haven't planned a
party. We're just eloping in our own town. Again, I don't know what
I'd imagined but it was probably more than this. The minute I figured I
was into the ladies, any wedding dreams went away, tucked into a little
corner of my heart that's so far away I can't find it right now.

8.15.2008

The Truth About Dogs

On the way up to the vet with Zeus last week, he rode in front with me.
I kept my hand on him the whole way, letting him know I was there for
him, that no matter what came next, I'd always be there for him in some
way.

About halfway to the vet's I had this fleeting thought, a stupid
whimsical thought, 'let's get a puppy!'

Then it was gone. The truth is, we're just better with older dogs, the
grey haired ones who have a little grey around the muzzle, who are
already housebroken and who want nothing more than a quiet place to
sleep and 2 square meals a day.

I'd be leaving something out if I didn't tell you that the bassets are
really not that well behaved. I blame this on our apparent inability to
train puppies. Even thought they're almost 8 now they still get into
shit and still counter surf every damn day. You can't say we didn't
try, but seriously, we are totally Old Dog People.

Someday, a day far far in the future, we'll go to the pound and find
ourselves another sweet old dog to love. But for now, I'm sort of
enjoying having what some would call a normal number of dogs.

I don't yet think about Zeus as healthy, right now I remember him as he
was just last week - too sick to get up, too tired to eat. I carried
him outside to pee, the day before he died he couldn't even stand up to
do it. He peed all over my leg that day. I guess that's when I knew
his borrowed time was just about up.

I look forward to the day where I remember mostly his hippity hopping
and that one bark of his. For now, we're waiting to pick up his ashed
and put them on top of Gus' where they belong.

Rest in peace sweet boy. You're definitely missed around here.

8.14.2008

Suck

The vet just sent us the bill for the Z man's last visit. Seeing
euthanasia written there is just so fucking sad.

Best Day Yet

Preschool goes like this for us - Andrea drops Val off and I pick her
up. This lets me get into work at a reasonable hour so I can leave to
go get her at an equally reasonable hour. Today I ended up working from
home, stupidly going for lunch at a fine Taco Bell near the school. I
had to pass it on the way back and let me tell you, it took every.
Ounce. Of. Strength. to not go get her at 2 pm.

But I had work to do (go figure, I ran into a clearcase issue I'd never
faced before, one that even had the cc support guy going 'oh, I'll need
to call you back) so I drove steadily past the preschool and went home
to finish up my work.

Speaking of work, the hell that was the end of last year and the
beginning of this year manifested itself in a really crappy first half
review. Sigh. Even though things are going better, the hell carried
over as half of my review so I'm now both newly motivated to kick ass at
work (this, of course, is a good thing) and stressed as hell about never
fucking up, not even a little.

It's not a great place to be. I'm doing my best to get past this place
but, sigh.

Anyhoo, enough about That Which Concerns Me The Most right now and back
to the day in preschool. I took a break from work around 4 and went to
get Val. I figured she could play at home while I finished up my work.

When I got there, the kids had all just had their snacks and were lining
up to play a game on carpet mats. Preschool apparently gets many many
miles out of a stack of carpet squares. Today's game was that they
played music while the kids marched on the mats. When the music
stopped, they were to sit back down. They were all set to start, Val
was sitting on her mat when she saw me.

Her face lit up, she waved and started to come over but I realized that
she wanted to play the game. So I stood at the edge of the room and
watched her march around, so proud of herself, showing me her school.
Yes, I'm tearing up as I write this, so proud of my big girl and her
very own life at school.

I stayed about a half hour, watching the mat game, then watching Val do
more than her share of mat cleanup. They danced (to a God CD, of
course) after that, again with Val following directions from the
teachers, beaming at me all the while. When it was time to go outside,
she decided it was time to go home at last.

She's had a great week, bonding with the other kids more and coming home
happy every day. And today, watching my confident little girl march
around on the carpet mats, I was just so proud.

8.12.2008

Tardy

That's the story of my day. I had a 9 am meeting that I call into,
somehow I slept through the snooze button and woke up at 9. Good thing
I have spiffy new lappy because I made it mostly on time.

During the meeting I realize I have a project to do sooner than I'd
thought so I start working on that, helping Andrea get Val off to school
while I'm at it. I figure I'll work from home till lunchtime, then go
in.

Until 10:45, when I get a reminder about another, really important to me
meeting that's at 11. Fuck, fuck fuck.

I leapt into the shower and made into work only 5 minutes late for the
meeting. Not bad but I think my heart is still racing from all the
excitement.

8.09.2008

Um

I think it's been 8 years since we only had 2 dogs. It feels kinda
weird. And sad, there's a little guy missing where he should be hippity
hopping for meals.

But then again, he hadn't really hippity hopped in a long time.

Zeus gettin' comfy on Gus


Zeus gettin' comfy on Gus
Originally uploaded by liz2d2
I hope they're sitting like this right now. Hard to believe that both of our old guys are gone now.

Rest in peace, Z man. I hope Gus was the first one to welcome you to the other side. We miss you over here, buddy.

8.08.2008

How It Went

The Z man had kind of a tough week. He slept all day and could barely
get up to go outside. Okay, really, I carried him out and got peed on
more than once. But he was eating so we didn't make any decisions.

Yesterday he ate a cheeseburger from McD's but this morning, he
refused. Tonight brought the same story, the refusal. I looked at him
and said Z, you couldn't tell me any louder that you were ready.

Val and I went up with him. On the way up I explained to Val what was
going to happen, how Z wouldn't be coming home with us, how we couldn't
help him any more except for this one way.

When we walked in, I carried him while she walked beside me. A nice
woman in the waiting room heard me tell the receptionists that I had
Zeus here, she said oh, Zeus isn't looking too good. Right, I thought
but what I said was 'we're here to euthanize him.'

I waited only a minute then they led us back through the ICU where Z was
saved a few years ago into a quiet room where I guess, this sort of
thing goes on. There were pamphlets for the pet cemetary and even cards
from a psychotherapist. And kleenex, boxes and boxes of it.

The doctor came in shortly after I'd answered Val's 8000 questions about
what we were doing there. She was the one who'd saved him from the
granola, she'd become his doc after that. One look at him and she told
me there's no way she'd try to talk me out of it, that it's our duty
when we take these animals into our lives to help them go when there's
nothing left to do.

She explained to Val that they'd done all they could to try and make him
feel better but that sometimes this is the last thing you can do. When
they injected the drug, it was over before all the medicine was in. He
was gone.

I couldn't stay afterwards. With Ellie, with Al, with Gus, we lingered
but with Z, I just couldn't. I think I'd said all my goodbyes over the
last month. The vet helped me cover him and Val and I left through the
side door.

Of course Val had to go potty while we were having a cuddle in the
parking lot so we had to come back in, go past the people we'd seen on
the way in, only this time we had no dog with us. Finally, we headed
home, Zeus' collar in my hand.

It's on top of Gus' ashes now. We'll put Zeus' up there too when we
pick them up.

Farewell sweet boy. Thanks for almost 8 years of your one bark, but 100
snores, of your silly half-mast tail, your resistance to all things,
your place in this family. That place is empty now but there will
always be a place for you in our hearts.

I can only hope that you're at peace now, trotting around with Gus while
Alice refuses to acknowledge the lot of you.

8.07.2008

Farewell Z Man

I just put Zeus to sleep. It was quick, and I think painless. His
doctor was there to do it, she cried too. He turned down McDonald's so
I know there was nothing left to try.

8.04.2008

Sometimes It's Easy To Talk Out Your Ass

The other day we met a very nice woman who no doubt had the best of intentions. She has two daughters and is the sort of woman who bore the process of being pregnant and giving birth in a dramatically different and more enthusiastic way than I did.

That's right. She loved being pregnant and even loved delivery. Me? Not so much. The 6 months of nausea wasn't that great, nor was all that labor or the c-section. Granted, I knew that the end result of all that nonsense was going to be a kid so that certainly made it all worth it. I guess you could say I'm on the other end of that lady's spectrum -- I tolerated being pregnant and delivery but I love being a parent. I knew I would and it has not disappointed or surprised me yet.

So anyway, this woman (who, seriously, was very nice. She's not some random asshat.) decided that it was would be so great if Val had a little sibling. So she kept talking about it, saying it in different ways while I smiled politely and gritted my teeth, choosing for the moment not to tell her about all the failed, some painful, IU.I's, all the shots in my ass, all the painful/uncomfortable dates with dildocam-wielding wandmonkeys and all the tears that come with each failed cycle.

No, I sat there with my polite grin until I could take it no longer.

Actually, I said, we've been undergoing fertili.ty treatments for about a year now (yes, dears, I exaggerate somewhat but sometimes rounding gets the point across a little better, especially when you're trying not to cry in front of those nice strangers) and while we totally agree with you that Val would be a fantastic big sister, this is a hard subject for us right now.

Oh. She said and changed the subject with a quickness that sort of belies the undercurrent of uncomfortableness that seems to surround all talk of infertility among those who are lucky enough to have no relationship with this particular beast.

I share this because well, it bites to have these conversations when you're not expecting them and because I want to remind you all of something you already know -- that in so many situations like this, if you don't know what to say, a simple I'm sorry, perhaps even one punctuated by a kind smile or a pat on the arm, well, that goes a hell of a long way in making something that Sucks with a capital S suck a little less.

8.03.2008

Confession

I suck at playing wing. Or maybe I don't exactly but I just don't have
a lot of confidence when I have to play it.