STICKY

PERHAPS WE LEARNED SOMETHING.....
…Perhaps we were only mildly entertained. Regardless, please enjoy these Reviews, Responses, Works of Fiction, and Retellings brought to you by one who hopes to someday join the ranks of those who have written something worth reading.
(Kaylia Metcalfe)

The LGBT Family: Things ARE Getting Better
Kaylia Metcalfe

2013 was a banner year in terms of LGBT rights being brought to the forefront of the national and international consciousness. On the international level, the dramas unfolding in Russia, Uganda, and India are shedding light on how far some places in the world need to come. In contrast, the US Supreme Court’s dealing with DOMA in June and the recent stampede of states joining the ranks of those already on the right side of marriage equality are worth celebrating.  The American LGBT family has much to be pleased about.
2013 ended with 18 states and the District of Columbia recognizing same-sex marriage in some form, and while 18 is a far cry from 50, let’s not forget that those 18 states account for 228 electoral votes and 123 million people which is almost 40% of our population.  (Oregon, Nevada, Wisconsin and Colorado, which account for another 32 electoral votes and 17.5 million residents, recognize civil unions, domestic partnerships or other legal status for same-sex couples.)
Also this year, President Obama included LGBT families (specifically same-sex parents) in his National Family Week proclamation: “Whether united by blood or bonds of kinship — whether led by a mother and father, same-sex couples, single parent, or guardian — families are the building blocks of American society,” This might not seem like a big deal, but it paves the way for full equality for non traditional families. With marriage equality quickly becoming a foregone conclusion, the LGBT family unit is the next, connected, battlefield.
There is a fair bit of good news already. In October, California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, signed legislation that allows more than two people to be a child’s legal parents. The bill was passed in reaction to In re M.C., a 2011 case where two women and one man each seemed to meet the criteria to be the legal parent of the same child. While the legislative ruling was narrow in that it states specifically that the purpose of new bill was to abrogate the previous appellate ruling, it does open up the possibility of more than two legal parents if/when a court deems that limiting the number of adults with legal ties to the child would be detrimental to the child. The bill also paves the way for polyandrous families (who are often a part of the LGBT community) to have an easier time in terms of rights and responsibilities.
Also in October, Governor Brown signed a bill that bans discrimination by health insurers offering fertility coverage. The new law, AB460, amends the state’s Insurance Code to prohibit insurers from withholding coverage for most fertility treatments based on “age, ancestry, color, disability, domestic partner status, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, sex or sexual orientation.”
But California isn’t alone. Back in February, both Kansas and Massachusetts took on the subject of non-biological parenting rights. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a non-biological parent has the right to seek custody, and. the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that same-sex couples who marry and have a child through artificial insemination are subject to the same child custody laws as heterosexual couples. 
More recently, the ColoradoCourt of Appeals in December ruled that in the context of a same-sex relationship, a child may have two mothers – a biological mother and a presumed mother. Furthermore, the Court held that the presumed mother may petition the court for a designation of legal parentage under the Uniform Parentage Act. This is a mixed victory as gay fathers still have an uphill battle… but in terms of precedent and roads being paved, this is a huge win.
Cases like those above are why adoption rights are one of the focused 2014 goals of many LGBT advocacy groups, including the Family Equality Council.  Emily Hecht-McGowan, the current director of the FEC, recently told The Advocate,  “In the vast majority of states, LGBTQ parents still face barriers in creating families. Even when a same-gender couple is already raising children together and they are functioning as a complete family unit, in most states the second parent is unable to create a legal relationship with their own children because of the inability to do a second-parent adoption... [W]e are working at the state level to advance a handful of LGBTQ-inclusive adoption and surrogacy bills.”
At the federal level, the FEC has a bill, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit any public child welfare agency receiving federal financial assistance, (which they all do) from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.  In addition, ECDFA prevents discrimination against any foster youth because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The Act was introduced to Congress back in May and has been “referred to committee”… which doesn’t bode well.

            2013 saw great leaps forward, 2014 promises to be just as significant. 

Kaylia Metcalfe is a writer, blogger and activist in Fresno. She writes for The Fresno Community Alliance, is a contributor to the Gay Central Valley Blog, and serves on the GCV Board of Directors. Her short story collection "Links" is available on amazon.com. Contact her at kayliametcalfe@gmail.com.

Gay Agenda: Holiday Edition!

My December article is up for the Community Alliance!

Here's the teaser....


Gay Agenda: Holiday Edition!

Happy December!

Usually around this time you start seeing the recap lists: “Best Fashion Moments of 2013!,” “Worst Moments of 2013: Politician Edition!,” “Hottest Videos of 2013,” “Most Popular Memes Involving Cats of 2013!,” etc.

And usually we would take the opportunity to go over some of the 2013 LGBT-related milestones and news items.

But unless you have been under a rock, you know about the Supreme Court decision in June. You know about the race to allow same-sex marriage (now 16 states and counting!). You know about who has come out this year, about who railed against equality but maintained they totally aren’t bigots, about who is working to rid California of the trans protection law that would have gone into effect on Jan. 1.

Instead, let’s talk about that Gay Agenda that seems to get so much attention.

... read the whole thing here!

GCV RePost: Rainbow Flag Vs Confederate Flag

I have a new piece up on the GCV Blog.

Rainbow Flag Vs Confederate Flag

Here's the teaser...



A new poll released this week points to troubling public perception surrounding the rainbow flag, historically understood as a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement.

Public Policy Polling found that the Americans polled were more offended by the rainbow flag than the confederate flag.

...


GCV RePost: Signature Gathering Success Means Trans Protection Law At Risk

I have a new piece up on the GCV Blog.

Here's the teaser...

The ironically named Privacy for all Students group announced that they turned in 620,000 signatures on Sunday protesting AB1266, the hotly contested law that provides allowances for students to participate in sports etc along the lines of their gender identity rather than their gender assignment.

We reported on this before in terms of what the bill would and would not do... but fear spreads faster than truth and after fear-monger experts National Organization of Marriage joined the signature gathering efforts their numbers doubled. Their campaign of outright lies and misinformation was a success.



GCV RePost: Bathrooms Bigots and Ballots, Oh My!

I have a new piece up on the GCV Blog.

Here's the teaser...

There is a lot going on regarding AB 1266 also known as The School Success and Opportunity Act. Here is a quick breakdown.

First off, a legitimate explanation of the bill from the bill itself (Read the whole thing here:, AB 1266 )

This bill would require that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

Why do we need this law?

Read the whole thing here....

November Community Alliance Article: TDOR

As always, you can read it on the web or grab a copy at the Fresno LGBT Community Center, the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, or any of the other distribution centers around town.

Click to enlarge


Why I hardly blog anymore aka What a SAHM mom does all day

My day yesterday.... 7:15am to 10:30pm

Shower. No work out, we went to bed really late the night before.
Play with Baby
Update and distribute the agenda for tonight’s meeting
Other misc emails
Blog post re new board
Update web page re new board
Dishes
Make / feed breakfast
Register for FogCon
Change 2nd poopy diaper
Get baby dressed
Play with baby
Prep for walk
Trip to Target
Attempt to get birth control, find out that because of new insurance we now have a deductable of $250 and then even after we meet that, the new insurance doesn’t cover my birth control anyway so instead of it being free… it will cost 70 bucks a month.
Misc phone calls to Matthew, my dr office, and insurance company
Other option is IUD: free
Make dr appointment
Confirm next book club meeting with host
Schedule next book club meeting
Order book online
Update family and personal calendars for book club and new dr appointments
Dishes
Play with baby
Misc emails
Prep / feed baby snack
Vacuum
Play with baby
Prep for nap time
More research re birth control, another phone call…. While on this call, comfort baby who doesn’t want to nap… told that my birth control should be free IF I go to a pharmacy in network, apparently Target isn’t in network. Neither is WalMart or Costco… you know, everywhere walking distance. Told Walgreens IS in network and it should be free.
Called Walgreens to verify
Baby still not falling asleep
Prepped dinner in the crock pot, almost forgot the sour cream but caught it in time.
Developing a slight tick in right eye due to sounds of baby fighting nap
Walgreens seems optimistic re birth control, they will request prescription transfer and get back to me
Silence on the baby monitor…
Dishes
More research re flowers for the wedding. I think I found the package I want, called florist for more info
Flowers ordered! Whew!!!!
Eat a granola bar and lift weights while watching The Good Wife
Write another 2 blog posts for GCV, (queue one for tomorrow)
Research ways to mirror a blog: unsuccessful
Baby up! Play with Baby Clingypants
Prep / feed baby lunch
Lunch was yogurt and hot dogs
Massive clean-up needed after lunch. Change baby’s clothes etc
Dishes
Play with Baby
Prep for next walk
Walk to Starbucks to buy gift basket.
Get lost on the way to Starbucks.
Finally make it to Starbucks and then realize that the phone is no longer in the stroller.
Have mild panic attack.
Backtrack and find phone on the ground.
Do happy dance in the middle of the parking lot
Return to Starbucks, get gift basket items and then treat my rattled nerves to a drink. Baby enjoys free sample of pumpkin cake
Return home, change out of sweaty clothes.
Assemble gift basket
Pay bills
Curious George episode and cuddles with baby
Prep / feed baby a snack
Misc emails
Nap prep of stories and outfit changes
Listen to baby play / cry / coo / fuss /sing for next hour while…
Fold load of laundry
Pick out outfit for tonight’s meeting
Change mind 4 times, eventually settle on something, Glare at frumpy body; vow to eat better tomorrow
Misc email
Remembered to charge phone and do a photo dump
Prep bag and misc for meeting tonight
Upload photos to FB, squee from the cute
Baby nap / jail over…. Change another poopy diaper. Wow. Change own outfit again, this time out of necessity.
Play with baby!
Outside play with baby!
Matthew gets home… help carry crying baby (who wants to keep playing) to the car
Run back inside to get gift basket
Attend Advisory Board Meeting! Talk, network, plan, strategize,
Head home
Dishes (sigh)
Chat with Matthew
Comfort a fussy baby
Watch an episode of Shield
Put on a podcast and go to sleep.











October Community Alliance Article

It's up!
It's in print!

Here's the teaser....


Privilege

You can’t have a conversation about racism without coming across the phrase “White privilege.” You can’t have a conversation about gender roles without getting hit by the concept of “male privilege.”

So let’s take a moment here and talk about what those sorts of privilege mean. They are, in essence, acknowledgements that the playing field is nowhere close to level.

And really, we all pretty much know what they mean—at least in a broad sense.

But as this is the LGBT article, let’s talk a bit about “straight privilege.”
Read the full thing here!

Not a Luddite. I swear.

I like my Kindle.

I like that it is portable, that it is light weight, that it hides what I am reading letting me read science or porn in public without having to explain it to people. I like that I can make the font bigger and give my eyes a rest.

But.

I love books.

Duh.

Really though. Love. Books.

I don't just love reading.  I mean, I love reading... but I really really love books.

Partly because of the, you know, reading.

Partly because of the sheer bookiness of books.

The weight of them.

The smell of them. (Even mass market paperbacks have a semi nice scent.)

The way they look all stacked up on top of each other.




Or sliding down all over each other.

I love carrying books around in my bag.


It makes me feel like I am anchored to something beyond myself, connected to the other hands that have turned the pages and bent the binding.

I love knowing my the feel how much longer a book is... and therefore deciding if I am going to rush or linger.






I like handing a book to a friend.




"Read this when you have time"


"No rush to get it back, let it gather dust at your house for a bit... and give it a try if you ever have a moment."



I love getting books in the mail. Or pulling them from slick plastic bags. Or unwrapping them from brown paper.

I love the way my shelves look for three or four days when I organize my books.... until I start pulling them out to show them to people or Ella starts pulling them out to play with them and they turn into random stacks on the floor of the wrong shelf.


I like reading books to Ella, having her help me turn the pages, having her point at the "cow" and the "moon" and the "clock."

Ella.

Ella and reading.

That is the main thing I currently love about books.

When I read my book and Ella sees me reading my book, she knows I am reading a book.

Not looking at a screen that could be Angry Birds, a FB thread about vaccines, work, play, or entertainment.

She knows I'm reading.

And she wants to be like me, she wants to read.

I love watching Ella "read" her books.

I love knowing that I have inspired in my daughter a sense of joy in reading.

A joy I could not have given her if I read all my books on my Kindle.


Tired

In the last two weeks we had Ella's first birthday party, Reel Pride, a friend's wedding, a long lost friend / out of town guest fun, and the month of September ended.

Ella's party was great. We went all hipster and had it in a coffee shop.

No, actually we went cheap and wanted free AC and a safe clean environment so we had it in a coffee shop. It was a blast. She wasn't sure what to do with the cupcake, but I'm sure that by next year she will have that part down.



Reel Pride was a lot of fun even if I didn't get to see any of the movies. GCV sold concessions and it was neat to be in the lobby for most of the festival. It warms my heart to see so many active community members willing to take part.

Or friends Kelly and Adrienne got hitched in a lovely tiny and super nontraditional wedding in a local park.  I might have to steal from my memories of this event for that book I keep meaning to write.... But I digress. The wedding was lovely and I got to practice taking, what I hope will prove to be, decent photos! A few came out quite nice. Someday I will get around to more practice with my camera....\





A friend from 6th grade came to visit. This was, understandibly, a bit of a risk. We hadn't seen each other since my first wedding 13 years ago, and that was more of a quick hug at the reception. We hadn't actually SEEN each other before that since 6th grade. A few phone calls and a FB connection four years ago... and then suddenly, and I don't really know how, we were planning on a weekend long visit.

It could have gone terribly terribly wrong.

But it didn't



Ella loved her! I remembered why we had been such good friends, and we managed to not get overly tired of each other in the two days we had! Huzzah!

And, oh yes, the month ended.

We got our wedding invites out.

And the month ended.

The countdown to Christmas and the wedding is now looking above my head in neon.

I am both excited and terrified.

And that's all I have to say about that... except to add that I am tired.... so tired... and there really isn't going to be a break for ... a good long while.

At this rate, our honeymoon might turn into three days of sleeping.



Doctor Doctor....

We took Ella to the Doctor's office for her one year check up.

Highs and Lows.

High:
She is pretty darn healthy.

Low:
She is one point into the "Anemic" area.

High: she met all but one of her developmental markers.

Low:
The one she didnt meet is her verbal.

But.

Mid:
We think our doctor is on crack and that she is just fine and it is a range and how dare you judge my baby who obviously understand so many complex concepts so shut up already.

Ahem.

High:
No lead!

Low:
We had to practically strong arm them into doing her blood work. See... there are tests that are required if you are on Medi-Care. If you aren't on Medi-Care because you have insurance, those tests aren't required by the state. So, to get them you have to throw a hissy fit.

Shining Moment of Pure Awesome dad:
Matthew making the tech start over in terms of doing Ella's finger prick because she was not following safety / hygiene regulations. She got huffy but Concerned (and Correct) Dad will win you every time.

He then called in an official complaint to the CA Medical Board.

Also, we are looking for a new pediatrician.

Ella is one years old. She weighs 24.7 pounds and is 28 inches long.

And I love every square inch.


1.

You are one.

One year old.

One very special little girl.

One... not really a baby... but still my baby.

One.

You have lots of blong hair that I am learning to deal with. It is getting long in front and gets in your eyes. But I'm far from ready to cut it.

You have big gray green eyes that watch everything I do... I can almost see the wheels turning.

You have teeth. I think there are 8 in there. I have stopped being able to count because they are sharp.

You have fingers and arms and sweet little shoulders and a back I like to rub when I am singing to you.

You have a tummy that you are very proud of. It is the first body part you can almost always identify.

Sometimes you also know your head, your knees, your toes, your feet... but you always know your tummy.

You have legs that don't just walk.. they walk backwards, they run, and they climb.

You have feet i love to kiss and tickle. You are very interested in your feet. They are some of your favorite things to play with.

You have smiles and hugs and kisses and giggles that I cannot get enough of.

You also have struggles. You don't like taking your naps, you don't like the word 'no" and you don't understand why I cant hold  / carry you around all day long.

You are learning how to hold hands. You already know what it means when I say "Lets go for a walk"

You hate my computer.

You hate having your diaper changed.

You love getting dressed... but you think it is mostly about the game of tag.

Your favorite stuffed animal is your giraffe and your army of monkeys. Or Hallucination Bear.

Your favorite book is Goodnight Moon.

You love dancing with me. We listen to a lot of country music.

Every night Daddy reads Harry Potter to you and then we sing "With someone like you..."

I love you more than I thought I could. I can't imagine life without you.

The past year has flown by, but I am so glad to be your mommy and I can't wait for all the amazing things we are going to get to do in the year to come!

Greek Yogurt and Magic Counters

Ok.

I know I get on soap boxes about weird things sometimes.

I hate the bad grammar in a lot of pop songs.

I constantly question the through process behind story arcs in TV shows.

And sometimes I can't get the absurdity of commercials out of my head.

For example.




I have a few issues with this commercial.

First, the music is Latin... Cuban to be precise... for a Greek yogurt.

This is the song / artist.

Not that one couldn't promote the other, but it seems like using some fun Greek music might have been a nice touch.

Unless us american are seen as too stupid to tell the difference.

All-rightly then, moving on.

Check out what happens at 7 seconds into the commercial.




She takes the lid off the yogurt.
She places it... slimy yogurt covered side down on the counter.

Ummm. Ick.

And then she gets all sexy eating with her yogurt. Which, I guess we can expect in food comercials... but it still irks me. This is practially a lipstick commercial, see how there was no smudging? I was expecting to see a Muller / Revlon cross over moment....

And after eating her yummy yogurt, she grabs another one off the magically clean counter to take with her.

Sigh.

I wish I lived in Commercial Land... where make up never falters and counters clean themselves.



Last night.....

/knock knock
It is 8:40. At night.
I'm not expecting anyone.
The light is out on our porch and the peep hole helps me not at all.
/knock knock
"Who is it?" I call while scrambling to find my phone.
"The paperboy" comes the answer.
"The...?"
We don't get the paper.
It is 8:30. At night. In September. It is dark.
"We don't get the paper" I call through the door, dialing 9-1-1 on my phone.
"I have a free copy for you." the male voice comes back.
"No thanks" I say, finger hovering over the "call" button.
"It's free, and I'm in a contest for a trip."
I stand still. I don't move.
I'm very glad I remembered to close the blinds in the kitchen that face the front yard area.
"Ma'am? It's a free paper."
"No thanks."
"But it's free."
I'm suddenly not frightened anymore, now I'm annoyed.
"No thanks means 'no' dude"
" Come on, ma'am, just open the door. It's a free paper."
"You do know how creepy this is right? I'm not opening the door."
We both stand silent.
I count to five.
He is still out there.
I count to five again.Annoyance is turning back to fear.
"Ma'am..."
"I think you need to walk away dude." I have no idea why I have just said "dude" twice in five minutes. "This is creepy and weird and I'm going to call 911."
Pause
"Whatever bitch"
Off he goes.
I double check all the locks and open a bag of Oreos.

Ups and Downs

Ups and Downs of Today....

Up!
Ella grabbing my face pushing her nos against my nose and giggling
Down!
Ella grabbing my face, pushing her nose against my nose and screaming

Up!
Getting a "Happy Anniversary" text from my sweetie
Low!
Realizing that our anniversary was two days ago
... and that we had both forgotten

High!
Seeing how tall Ella has gotten
Low!
Seeing that Ella has gotten tall enough to rip the colorful paper border off her wall.
Extra low: not knowing where the thumb tack that had been holding it up went.

High!
The Ella cuddles just before bed, all limp armed and face smooshed into my neck
Low!
The epic screaming fit she threw earlier that led to me practicing my breathing through clenched teeth and screaming into a pillow.

And just think. in 10 hours we start all over....


Possible Initiative Action Against CA Transgender Equality Law

Posted on the GCV blog....


Read the full article here.

Remember AB 1266? It is the first-in-the-nation law that allows transgender children access to sex-restricted facilities and programs based on the gender they identify with, rather the sex they were born into. It was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on August 12th and takes effect on January st.

At least that's the plan.

But the law, which has drawn fierce criticism and wringing of hands from Conservatives from the get go, might be short lived. 

Sleepy Hollow

I'll admit it. I love fantasy TV shows.

Buffy: RIP.... you paved the way and set the bar so high....

Dollhouse... you were awesome and gone too soon....

Ahem.

Apparently, the masses are starting to give fantasy a bit more of a go. Yeah, Supernatural has been on for forever (a few seasons too many, but with the eye candy, we don't complain too much). And yes there are (too many) vampire and the like shows out there, but what about original fantasy?

NBC has Grimm (excellent show!)
ABC has Once Upon a Time and soon the Wonderland spin off.

Enter Fox with Sleepy Hollow! (Mondays)

I was ready to not like this show. I was sure we would have contrived polts, repetitive fish-out-ofwater jokes, magic as plot spackle, and really, the Rip Van Winkle addition to the Headless Horseman story? Why? Plus, could the show have enough story to last a whole season?

I'm glad to report that I was wrong.

Yeah, the show is a bit silly and the acting can be a bit hamfisted at times (it is the pilot afterall), but on the whole the writers have done a decent job of making the characters likeable (if not wholy beliveable... that will come later with character development one hopes) and of making the story make as much sense as a story featuring a Rip Van Winkle meets National Treasure sort of scenario with a shaggy haired hero who must stop the coming apocalypse by defeating a headless zombie who can somehow still hear people. There are also witches and the hint that George Washington wasn't just fighting for our freedom from British taxation and tyranny.

I wouldn't say it was a rollicking good time, but it was fun. The saving grace is that the cast seems to know how crazy it all sounds and the influx of humor. Go ahead, watch the preview. If you don't crack a smile, then skip the show... I have a feeling the humor and the occasional tension fraught deep in the dark forest scenes will be what carries this show forward.





I also have to point out that Crane is played by Tom Mison (a British relatively unknown)is pretty darn hunky.




The Patience Stone

The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi



I got this book because I saw a preview for the upcoming movie. A wise person once said that books and the movies adapted from them are like comparing apples with apple pie, but it has been a while since I did a side by side comparison so I figured why not.

This review will focus solely on the book.

I had a hard time reading this book. It is short... very short and the writing style is crisp and unfettered with too many details. In fact, it is downright sparse in terms of details which is part of its charm. And still, it was hard to read because the subject matter is hard to face.

I'm a middle class liberal minded American woman fiercely loved by my partner and supported by my family.
I have nothing besides gender and motherhood in common with the protagonist of this book.

Which is why I felt I must read it.

I was prepared to be dismayed. I was prepared to be bothered. I was prepared to be taught a leson.

I wasn't prepared to have all three things happen so smoothly.

Rahimi has a beautiful grasp of poetry. Even though the novel is translated, it flows like water... it doesn't stop, it waits for no one, it pushes through blockages of judgement and wariness.

This book moved me beyond my expectations.

Set in one single room and told from an almost God-like place of indifference, we see the final days of a man's life as his wife cares for him. But it is not his story, it is hers. It is her voice that breaks the silence and tells us of her life... it is her plight and her history that carry the story forward. It is her body that suffers as he dies and her torrent of words that can not be silenced in the almost silent room.

By being sparse on the details, Rahimi draws our attention to what really matters: her story in her own words.

The ending was shocking and yet unavoidable. The writing was exquisite and the plot, though limited by its own contrivances, moved along and took me on a journey of discovery.

I highly recommend this book.


September Community Alliance Article

It's up!

Here's the teaser....

Orange is the New Black is the new Netflix series from the creator of Weeds.

As we head into September and the inevitable start of the fall television season, let’s take a look at LGBT characters on TV: currently a little lesbian heavy, but moving in the right direction.

Last year, NBC had The New Normal, which followed the adventures of two gay men and their surrogate as they prepared for the birth of their son. It lasted one season despite a lot of hype and a lot of “in” jokes proving that the LGBT community are savvy TV viewers. It takes more than a few fashion jokes and one on-screen kiss to keep us interested. The writing and acting have to be there as well.

The cancelation of this show proved that LGBT viewers are tired of being talked down to in terms of characters on network shows. We are tired of the same lame stereotypes. Shows that deliberately play up the sassy gay men and lovable homophobe characters deserve to fall off the air.


The full article can be read HERE or by grabbing a copy of the issue at the Fresno LGBT Community Center, the Center for Nonviolence, or other local distribution centers.

Nefertiti

Nefertiti



If you love Egypt history, if you are interested in the battle between monotheism and polytheism that shaped the infrastructure and the social customs of ancient Egypt.... well, this book probably isn't for you.

If you are moderately interested in those sort of things in the peripheral, but like a story with a very clear "good guy" and "bad guy" that is loosely based on a few scattered archaeological finds... this book might be just what you want to read!

In short, this book is what I would typically call Lit Fluff... except that it is rather too long for such a designation. It is, however, a relatively quick read for its girth because the writing, while a tad prolific, isn't weighty.

In short, Nefertiti is the story of, you guessed it, Nefertiti as shown through her rival and sister Muty. There is a rise to power, some actions taken because of hubris, karmic retribution, and a whole lot of Muty sighing in frustration as Nefertiti is a horrible person who does horrible short sighted things.

I'm not sure if the characters lack depth because the author is basing them off some very skimpy historical data or if the author was just lacking imagination, but the end result is a forgettable book about what could have been unforgettable characters.

My advice? If you happen to ge the book for free or cheap at a used book store and you have a plane ride in your future, why not. Otherwise, there are more compelling better written books out there.

But that's just me.


Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

By Matthew Dicks



It has been a while since a book grabbed me by the throat / heart and refused to let me go until I had finished it.

I’m happy to report that this is that sort of book.

Don’t be fooled by the subject matter sounding corny or childish. Imaginary friends are, after all, a fairly universal theme in childhood. Dicks, however, finds a way to tell this story in a way that is anything but childish… it is rich and powerful full of literary gems and haunting moments of sentimentality.

In a word, the book is amazing.

Budo is our narrator. He is the imaginary friend of an autistic boy. He stays “alive” by being needed by Max, warning him about bullies, helping to calm him down, etc. But like all imaginary friends, he is confined to the way he was when Max created him… so he can walk through doors, but not walls, he can talk to Max but no one else, and he can’t move all that fast.

The two of them are the best of friends and while other imaginary friends are at risk for fading away when their child friend outgrows them, Budo is confident that Max will need him for a long time yet.

And then something horrible happens and Budo has to decide if he loves Max enough to help him grow up.

I won’t ruin the twists, suffice it to say, the book is paced to perfection, the characters are real in a way that few literary ideas ever are, and the story itself is gripping.

Five out of five stars indeed. I highly recommend this book.



A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith




This book has been in my "to read" pile for a long time.

Years.

I had heard of, I had heard good things about it, I knew it was an important book in terms of literature and such....

Heck, I even referenced it in an article I wrote about a tree dedication a few years back.

But I had never read it.

What a mistake to wait!

This book was excellent. The writing style is classic, at once easy to read but full of gems of prose not often found in contemporary lit. The characters were well rounded and full of life. The description of New York in the 19-teens is beautifully done. It captures the mundane bits of everyday stuff that adds up to a life of memories and holds these fragile moments of time up to the light to be studied.

Yes, there is symbolism. Yes there is metaphor and prose that could be dissected in literature classes. But there is also a story, a compellingly simple story, of a girl growing up in Brooklyn and a more complicated story of the American dream acted out in perfection by the tragedies and achievements of her family.

Nestled in the stories of the family members, allagories and character sketches alike, are tiny chapters that shine like unexpected treasures.

Such as Chapter 22 in which Smith shows us Frannie growing up, discovering books but also showing us how her imagination still personifies numbers (making them into little families in her sums). The juxtaposition is perfectly balanced. Frannie, on the cusp of reading, a pastime which will shape her life, is still a little girl full of dreams and a child's sweet innocence. If there was a doubt in the reader's mind that Frannie is something special, a tree growing where no one expects it to and then thriving on the dirty concrete in a tenement yard, this chapter makes it crystal clear with examples that resonate with subtle meaning.

A triumph of literature, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. It is well worth the time (a bit long for some readers is isn't a book one would want to skim.




Knock Knock

Who's there?

Is it Amazon with my order of diapers?

I hope so. Ella goes through these things like they are toilet paper.


Oh. wait.

***

Who's there?

Is it Amazon with the delivery of our NEW STROLLER!!!????

I hope so. Our old one broke and our little umbrella stroller is about to be too small for her and doesn't work for grocery shopping.



Special thanks to my folks for helping us buy it for her in honor of her first birthday....

***

Who's there?

Is it Amazon with my order of party favors for Ella's first birthday party? I can't believe I am planning a first birthday party for her! Can she really be on the cusp of toddler-hood?




Oh. wait. She's walking like a pro, I guess she is pretty much a toddler now... /snif

***

Who's there?

Is it Amazon with my order of a wedding planning kit?

Because yes, we are planning our wedding.
Venue: check



Food: in process
Photographer: check
Dress: not for a few months....
Flowers: hmmm, Am I crafty enough to make my own with fake flowers?
Honeymoon: CHECK! booked and sorted and planned and OMG I'm so excited!

Wedding Website in case you are curious: HERE!

***

Who is it?

Is it my inner voice telling me to get off my arse and start actively working on my goals?

(Goals like: weight loss, getting into better shape, actually working on the copy-editing, doing more substantive writing, and keeping up with the To-do list....)

Why so it is.

Won't you please come in.....


August Community Alliance Article


Families came to Fresno City Hall and celebrated marriage equality on June 26, the day the Supreme Court ruled on Proposition 8.

With the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this summer reopening the doors for California’s same-sex couples to legally tie the knot, hundreds of people have taken advantage of their “new” legal rights. Of course, we wish them well. Marriage is a fundamental right, a proven aid to living a longer and happier life, and a wonderful way to celebrate commitment and love.

So, where do we go from here?

First, the adage of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies equally to same-sex couples as it does to their hetero-normative counterparts. One hopes the current rush of courthouse steps, country clerk’s offices and last-minute backyard weddings will not have the downside of an equally large rush of divorces next year. The divorce rate in this country is atrocious: 41% for first marriages, higher for second marriages at 60% and a whopping 73% for third marriages. Ideally, it would be nice to see those numbers go down with the rise of same-sex marriages.

You can read the whole hing HERE!


Checking in

Oy.

Ella's separation anxiety is really difficult to deal with.

Thankfully her teething seems to have paused for now... She is sporting 6 teeth; four on top, 2 on the bottom, none even remotely the same size.

She is snagle tooth baby!

She is also jibber jabber baby with no words and Taking Baby Steps baby... only 3-4 at a time, but still!

We have settled in quite nicely to the new apartment.

I am getting used to the stairs. Ella has finally gotten used to waking up in her new room. (Yay!)

We love going for walks... and we go for one every morning. Yep. Every morning. Not sure how long this will last, but for now it is nice.

Really? Life ain't too shabby right now. Of course I need more time, of course nothing is as clean as I want it to be, of course I wish my short story collection was further along...

But really? Things are going well.

Hope the same can be said in your neck of the woods.





GCV Blog Post

I have a new piece up on the GCV Blog.

Here's the teaser...


Are you aware of what’s going on in Russia?





First there was the new law that made it illegal to promote the LGBT “lifestyle” to youth… meaning that no public displays of LGBT affection or support (no flags, no holding hands, no festival, no information). Here is a great break down of the new law, the predictable response of the people, the even more predictable response by the police... and a fun twist of pointing out that on the day this new law was passed President Putin announced his divorce.

.....

Read the whole thing here.

Face palm for the day

I'm in the grocery store with Ella. Our cashier is a young guy, early 20s, white, friendly. I have seen him several times because Ella and I go to the store multiple times a week. (Don't judge, mommy needs her walk.)

Anyway, he smiles at me and then he says something along the lines of “Your baby is really cute.”

Quick Humble-Brag moment: My baby is cute. Very cute. I can’t go anywhere without people stopping me to tell me so. Really. /end Humble-Brag.



“Thanks” I say, distracted by the credit card machine.

“What’s her name?” he asks.

Ok, I know this is a fairly typical question. I get it a lot. It is right up there with “How old is she?” BUT, but I still find it slightly odd. Do strangers normally ask my name? No (thankfully). Why ask her name?

Maybe I’m just paranoid and weird. Whatever.

“Her name is Ella, I say.”

“Bella? He asks me, “Like, from Twilight?”


“No!” I say, with probably more venom than necessary, “Ella. EL-la. With an ‘e’.”

He still looks blank, so I clarify further, “You know, like Ella Fitzgerald.”



He looks blanker still, but he smiles anyway, “Oh, I don’t know her. What’s she been in?”

“She’s not an actor,” I say feeling both flabbergasted and annoyed, “She was a musician.”

“Oh!” His smile is even bigger now, “That’s cool. What band is she with?”

“No man,” a voice behind me joins in, “She was a solo act. Like, from a long time ago.”


The Rastafarian man in dreads is now also smiling at me. “Hey man, I think it’s cool that you named your baby after Ella Fitzgerald.”

I debate correcting him, we didn’t name her after Ella Fitzgerald, they just both have the same name, but before I can he cranes his neck around and takes a good long look at her.

She, oblivious to this whole thing has been lounging in her stroller casually eating Puffs and watching the world go by with a look of apathy. She’s bored by shopping and adult conversation apparently.

“Oh.” Mr. Dread Lock Hair looks confused. “Is her daddy black?”

Let me just say here that both Matthew and I are pale pale white people. And Ella, Ella is the palest of all because I smother her in sunscreen when we take the trash out. You don’t want to see the amount she gets covered in before an actual walk.

 


Also, what the hell?

“I blink stupidly at him for a second. “No… her daddy’s a big tall German.”

“Oh,” he looks crushed.

As I push the stroller away he calls out after me, “That’s ok, it’s still cool that her name is Ella. Bye Ella!”

Ella just smiles her toothy grin and pops another Puff into her mouth.

She wasn't just any old singer, by the way, she was a GREAT singer.



Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the "First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", and "Lady Ella", was an American jazz vocalist[1] with a vocal range spanning three octaves (D♭3 to D♭6).[2] She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

Fitzgerald was a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook.[3] Over the course of her 59-year recording career, she sold 40 million copies of her 70-plus albums, won 13 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.


Things we lost in the move:



My hairbrush. Actually... all three of them. Poof, gone. No accounting for where or why or how.

A shelf for one of the bookshelves. It is a rather decent sized piece of wood. how it could have just wandered off, I have no idea.

My kitchen broom.

My favorite small paring knife. One of the only sharp things in the kitchen that doesn't activly frighten me. Gone. I'm unreasonably bitter about this.

A box of push pins. This is just random and slightly annoying.

Outlet covers (the baby proofing kind). I KNOW I had a box of them.

A roll of black trash bags (unused)

Ella's toothbrush. She had two, now she has one. It is the one that isn't shaped like a toothbrush so really, Ella had a toothbrush and now she has a little plastic banana thing with bristles on it. Poor kid.

Most things are easily replaced. But the mystery goes on. I sort of imagine all these random items (that would have been packed in very different boxes) finding each other at the city dump (because I am assuming that they all got accidentally thrown away... except the shelf, that I jsut don't know.) I imagine them all in a little circle talking about how they miss the family they used to belong to.

The hairbrushes will adopt the baby toothbrush.

The push pins will play with the socket protectors.

The knife will vow to keep them all safe.

The trash bags will turn into a fort.

They will all live happily ever after.

...

Oh.

I guess the other thing I lost in the move was my sanity.

Ahem.




Ella and the Vacuum Cleaner (a story without a happy ending.... yet)


Once upon a time there was a baby named Ella who had colic.

Her mommy knew she had colic because Ella cried. A lot. The doctors and the websites all said that if the baby cried more than three hours for more than three days every week for three weeks… it was colic.

Baby Ella did indeed cry that much.. and more!

So, her mommy knew she had colic… but there wasn’t any sort of cure for colic except for time and patience.

And the vacuum cleaner.

For some reason, listening to the vacuum cleaner would sometimes, only sometimes but still, calm baby Ella down enough to let her fall asleep.

Eventually, baby Ella grew out of her colic and her mommy sighed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Nowadays Ella is almost a toddler. She loves to play and listen to music. She is a very good sleeper (even if she doesn't always want to go down for her naps).

And Ella hates the vacuum cleaner.

If her mommy tries to use it while Ella is playing in a nearby room, Ella screams in terror.

If her mommy tries to use it while Ella is safe in her high chair, Ella screams in terror.

If her mommy tries to use it when Ella is upstairs playing happily in her crib, Ella screams in terror.

Terror. Big body shaking tears and gulping sobs of terror.

The kind of crying that takes nearly half an hour to quiet or sooth away.

So her mommy got crafty: “I’ll vacuum while she is asleep!” she thought, “After all… baby Ella is a good sleeper. She sleeps through parties, TV shows, the door bell and me hammering together a bookshelf! She even slept through kids playing with fire crackers right under her window!”

But Ella has a 6th vacuum cleaner sense. Even asleep, she hates it and will wake up SCREAMING if her mommy tries to use it at night.

Ella’s mommy is at her wits end and the floor is in desperate need for a cleaning.

Can you help Ella’s mommy find a happy ending? She would love you forever!



Roll for Dex and give yourself a -10 for "Baby Interference"

I think Ella's mission in life is to make my life just a bit more dificult so that I appreciate myself and such more. Examples?

Working out.

Not the easiest most fun thing to begin with. One must be motivated to clear a space on the floor, insert the DVD into the player, and then you know… actually DO it. (Yes, there have been times when only steps 1 and 2 have actually happened.)

But working out on the floor while simultaneously being a human jungle gym for a chunky 9 month old? That is more difficult.

Upside: when I finish, I am much more pleased with myself.

Building furniture: Or in my case, assembling particle board furniture, but whatever.

It isn’t all that hard to do… alone. But doing so with a 9 month old who wants to either eat the screws, deep throat the screwdriver, climb on the pieces, or, you know, use mommy has a human jungle gym WHILE doing it? Yes, difficulty bar raised again.

Which makes it that much sweeter when the darn thing is done and the cubbies are inserted and it looks so darn cute in the living room!

 Cooking:

I do cook… and lately I have been cooking while playing baby hopscotch in the kitchen.  Baby hopscotch involves keeping her entertained with her toys, not dropping things o her head when she suddenly barrels into my legs, not stepping on her, keeping her out of the cat’s food and water, keeping her out of the cupboards (the child locks are in the mail box that we don’t have keys to yet… another rant for another day), and still following the recepie or adapting the recipe or saying “crew you” to the recipe and just randomly throwing things into bowls and pots.

Which does make eating a healthy meal at the end of the day very satisfying… even if it isn’t the meal you meant to cook and even if the tuna noodle casserole suddenly has peaches in it.

Anything involving books.
Reading.
Packing
Unpakcing
Shelving
Sorting

It matters not. If the task involves books then it also involves Ella either undoing whatever I just did or redoing it based on baby logic. Or hiding books under the couch. Or bopping me in the head with “Brown Bear” while I am trying to read anything else. Seriously, my daughter has a major love for “Brown Bear”

Talking on the phone

She has figured out that the phone makes fun noises and even more fun noises if she makes noise at it. So…all conversations now take place on speaker so she can gleefully shout out her feelings on the subjects of blocks and the cat to whoever is on the other line. This is great when I am talking to my mom, my aunt, or my Maifan-San. Not so much fun when talking to Comcast or my editor.

I love my daughter. But, I might just love her a little more once she isn’t always attached to my knees with her baby gooey death grip.

Nah, I’ll probably miss these days.


Probably.