A Photograph of me without me in it

A Photograph of me without me in it
A photograph of me without me in it

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The End of Junuary

Weekends, I huddle in front of our gas fireplace in our home here in Seattle. I nestle up in a wool blanket and wear my wool socks so that I don't get too cold while we I talk with my parents in North Carolina.

Mom always asks, "What's the weather out there?" This month, I respond, "Like usual. Rainy, cloudy and cool. Highs in the 60s and lows in the 50s. What's it like there?" Something like, "Ninety-seven degrees with 100 percent humidity. My hair is frizzing everywhere."

The weather here in Seattle is one of the many markers of differences between the land of my childhood and the land of my adulthood.

I could ask, "How many SUVs did you pass on the road today?" The number would be high in North Carolina and low in Seattle proper, even though those of us in Seattle have more hills and snow and bumpy roads in the mountains to manage than North Carolinians living in the Piedmont have. "How many hybrids did you pass?" Here is Seattle, the question is more like which hybrids did you see the most, but in Raleigh, the answer might be, "How can you tell a hybrid from an SUV?" (I know that there are hybrid SUVs, but it seems to me that Hybrid SUVs are a paradox.)

In Seattle, we have a preponderance of Starbucks, Tully's, Seattle's Best Coffee, and other coffee shops. In Raleigh, on most corners you'll find a church instead of a coffee shop, and there are as many varieities of churches in Raleigh as there are coffee shops in Seattle: Methodist, Baptist, Presbytherian and so forth.

Dressing up in Seattle is significantly different than dressing up in Raleigh. Last week, my partner Ann went to a "semi-formal" event: in this context, "semi-formal" meant no blue jeans. In Raleigh, for sure you'd need to wear hosiery and pearls (and somethinkg fancy to cover all you parts.)

In Raleigh, complexions tend towards tan, and hair gets blonder in June if you're white. In Seattle, we're mostly pasty with dark hair unless we go get some highlinghts at the beauty parlour (that's Southern for Supercuts).

Seattle's the city for me, but I wouldn't mind a little more sun by June. I wonder if this year we'll have Julyuary, too. It's looking like it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happy Gay Day!

Happy Pride! Today Ann and I marched with our church in Seattle's Gay Pride parade. Our church was a forerunner and continues to be active in embracing GLBTQ people as people loved by God who should also be embraced by the church. We get a lot of cheers. Today one guy hollered to us over and over again, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

Today's parade of colorful flags and folks marched under banners of politicians, companies, clubs, support groups, affinity groups, churches and so forth. Usually there are a few brave souls hollering out about sin and hell, but I didn't see them today.

I first marched in a gay pride parade 17 years ago. As I waited for my friend Jodi, who would chaperone me on my first parade, I paced along the area where groups lined up waiting to enter the parade. I passed a man three times, who stopped me the third time and said, "Excuse me, are you a lesbian?" I affirmed that I was, probably the first time I had made this declaration publically. "Because," he explained, "you don't have the look." I told him, "I'm new at it." He nodded, as if this explained it.

I spent my first pride day trying to figure out what the look is. Though there is a stereotypical look for lesbians: short hair, no make-up, tee-shirt, athletic build, and comfortable shoes, there are lots of different looks. That day, I wondered if I would ever really fit in anywhere.

I'm sure I cried when PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) gave me a sticker that said, "PFLAG loves me." Not given to sentimentality, I always cry when PFLAG marches by.

Today, 17 years later, is again the day when GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexua,l Transgendered, and Queer/Questioning) people and straight people who embrace us celebrate...what? what exactly are we celebrating?

I'm celebrating a life filled with a love that I never thought I'd have. I'm celebrating the fact that I can live in my country true to who I sm. I'm celebraing New York's passage of gay marriage and all of the other political advances (Though, yes, there is more to be done.) I'm celebrating all of the people who support me and love me. So I'm celebrating me and you.

Today, my peeps and I waved across long spaces, smiled and cheered, "Happy Pride!"  So to you, "Happy pride."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Farkle Sparkle

Our friend Jerry sparkles all the time, but especially when he plays Farkle, a dice game of little skill and lots of luck and laughter.

We are new to Farkle, but apparently the game's been around a long time. Remembering a story about its inventor, Sir Albert Farkle, as I recall, I imagine that Sir Farkle and the Earl of Sandwich were good friends. I went to the innernets (not a typo; a favorite Bushism) to learn about Sir Farkle. Alas, I couldn't find him, as there seem to be many stories of inventors.

From Wikipedia--an excellent news source irregardless of what teachers might say--has also been called or is similar to Cosmic Wimpout, Squelch or Zonk, among other names.

My favorite farkle site, http://www.officialfarklerules.com/, tells this history:

Farkle goes back a long way and it would take a few pages to relate the whole history, so we will try to sum it up in one sentence. Back in the Early 13th Century, after having many daughters, Sir Anthony XVIII of Wasack finally had a son, but Sir Anthony begrudged the tradition of naming sons after their fathers, (after all he was the 18th in a long line of Anthony’s of Wasack) so he decided to break the tradition, but he couldn’t think of a suitable name for his new son so his son went nameless for about a year when, while playing with his favorite toy, a set of wooden dice, he spoke his first word, which was the word "farkle", and in commemoration of this great event, Sir Anthony the XVIII of Wasack, decided to give his son this unique name while he was on the earth, speaking of earth, that is where Dacy and Amy found the ancient manuscript with the official rules of the unique game of Farkle, which was the game that Sir Farkle I of Wasack invented. (Some sentence!)

The site adds rules, including this instruction: Anywhere between 2 and 86 players may play in one game. Anymore than that, and it’s just way to long before you get to roll the dice again, let alone the size of the room you’d need.

We play with six people. It's a good number.

Another rule from the official rules site that I like says that player must get 10,000 points recorded on the scratch paper for a normal game or 8,435,042 points recorded if it’s going to be a really long night.

Jim Spinarkle, who played basketball for Duke way back in the day before Duke was a basketball powerhouse, sparkled when his pigeon-toed cute self played basketball. I've seen his older self as a sportscaster. I wonder if his older self plays Farkle now. If so, I'll bet he sparkles when he plays Farkle, too: Spinarkle Farkle Sparkle. Say that three times fast.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I thunk and I thunk, "What should I get my dad for Father's Day?" Something homemade would be nice. Sister Jenn made Mom that nice straw kitchen necklace. I could do that, and Mom and Dad could have a matching set. Dad would never wear his, though, since he never goes in the kitchen. Maybe a couch necklace. No. The necklace would just get in the way of the remote control when he's lying down. Besides, my age is now in double digits, so the necklace, even though it would be made of those patriotic red, white and blue straws, wouldn't be so cute.

 Perhaps I should think about Mother's Day gifts. Flowers? No. A poem like Brother Matt's poems for Mom on Mother's Day? That's an idea worth considering, but let me keep thinking.

What does Dad really like? He likes to exercise in his boxers. Maybe a stationary bike that he could ride at home so that he could wear his boxers when he rides? Oh. He already has one of those.

 Investments! That's what Dad really loves. I could call him and ask him to talk about investments all day. He would love that, but since it's his gift, I would probably have to listen. I just can't do that. Hmmm. I know: I'll pay attention to all of the investments I've made through the years. I'll make a list. That will make him happy.

Happy Father's Day, Dad! Love from your daughter who just cannot get interested in the stock market despite your best efforts. I love you. Mary

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Practically Nekkid

My mom, reading of my adventures in the trauma center because of Tuesday's car wreck, worried about the state of my dress. She asked what any good Southern mother worried about her daughter's modesty might ask, "It sounds like they cut off all of your clothes except your underwear, so you were practically nekkid. What did you wear home?"

It is true that all of my clothes, having been cut off of me, were no longer wearable, and my shoes, too filled with glass to be salvageable, were destined for the trashcan.

What does a good Southern girl wear home from the Emergency Room at midnight? The hospital social worker found some paper clothes, extra large unisex. (They would have fit my 350 pound granddaddy, but I was glad to have them.) I was glad it wasn't raining so that the paper didn't stick to me. On my feet, I wore those hospital socks with treads so that I didn't slip. The social worker (bless her) also found an old black sweater that had been donated that I could wear over my paper top.

When I clean out my closets for summer this year, I'm going to donate my clothes to Harborview Hospital's Emergency Room. If you live near a hospital, I'll bet your hospital could use some of your clothes, too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There are Angels Everywhere

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.

Paul Simon, “59th Bridge Street Song”
Angels were with me again last week when I was in a bad car accident, but I seem only to have some bruises and sore spots—no broken bones or blood.
I was driving my little Honda Civic Hybrid when a large white SUV broad-sided me, carrying my car 110 feet, breaking a lot of glass and knocking the driver’s side doors in a foot or so. Once I stopped moving, I looked out of what used to be my window to see my first angel on the sidewalk, an ordinary-looking man waiting for the bus (I assume, as he was at a bus stop), and pointing to his phone to indicate that he was calling 9-1-1.
Then another angel, this one dressed as an African-American woman in her fifties, walked up to my “window,” and told me that she hadn’t seen the accident but that she had parked her car up ahead, and she would stay with me until the emergency vehicles got there. She asked if I was okay, and she told me that she also had called 9-1-1. When I heard the first siren, she told me, “That one’s going to another emergency, but yours will be here soon.”
I looked around to see the SUV that had hit me. Though it’s front was bashed in, the passenger area looked untouched. A young man in his twenties or thirties came over to see if I was okay. Maybe that was the driver. I don’t know. I told him I was okay and he walked away. I didn’t see him again. When we heard another siren and saw a fire truck coming, she said, “This one’s yours.” Then there were a lot of flashing lights and firemen and EMTs, and I didn’t see her again. Maybe she flew off, or more likely, she got back in her car and drove away, perhaps having no idea how comforting she had been.
Fireman—more angels--introduced themselves, and asked if I was alright. “Yes, I’m fine, but I can’t get out of the car.” One introduced himself as Mitchell and said that they would get me out, but that they would have to use a saw to cut off the top of the car. I must have looked surprised because he explained, “It’s totaled anyway.” The fireman put a blanket over my head to protect me from the glass, and I listened to them cut the car’s metal and saw light through the blanket as they lifted the roof off.
Behind me, one fireman put a collar around my neck just in case, and then they pulled the seat back down, lifted the blanket from my face, and cut off my seatbelt and my (new!) rain jacket. They slid a board under my back (another precaution), and lifted me from the car and into an ambulance. Four men fussed over me, two of them trying to get blood from my dainty veins, on the seven minute drive to the regional trauma center.
Once at the hospital, I was whisked into the emergency room and attended to by a flurry of medical angels. One very kind nurse angel named Catherine asked me, “Are you okay?” Polite like a good Southern girl, I replied, “I’m good. How are you?” She laughed and said that I was her favorite patient for the day. I love being the favorite.  Pretty quickly, this flock of doctors and nurses cut my clothes from me (my favorite new sweater!), decided I was okay and flew to their next patient.  The one person who remained, a social worker, asked me if she could do anything, “Could you call my partner, and please tell her I’m okay.” She did.
Firemen, EMTs, and trauma docs and nurses kept telling me that I had used one of my lives. Ann pointed out that I had already lost a couple. I was x-rayed and scanned. “There are no broken bones, but you must really have to go to the bathroom.” I did, but I wasn’t allowed to sit up until all of the tests were done. The next twelve hours went quickly for me as my adrenaline settled down and the nurse administered morphine for pain. Since I really was okay, I was not a priority, and Ann and I and our friend Ellen, another angel, just sat there for a very long time.
Ellen sat with me while Ann went to get dinner around 8:30 p.m. Ellen encouraged me to cry, and with her encouragement and the morphine, I finally did. Ellen went home to sleep, and Ann and I listened to the announcement of incoming traumas, short radio announcements that indicated that lots of someones’ lives were changing that night. Some came by ambulance and others by helicopter. I had some applesauce (the best applesauce ever!) around 11 p.m.  as we listened to the announcements and to the stories unfolding around us. (There were three other beds in this room, all surrounded by curtains, so we couldn’t see, but we couldn’t help but overhear the story’s of one motorcyclist, one bicyclist who was “t-boned” by a car, one helmetless bicyclist doing drugs who had hit a curb, one softball player, one burn victim and one man who had had a stroke.)

An EMT said to the man who had had stroke (he was conscious now), “Are these your legs or did you bring a chicken in here?” Presumably, they had gotten to know one another on the ride in. I laughed heartily, and so did Ann, as she said, “That’s rude!” A nurse said to the man with burns, “I’m gonna turn you over and look at your bee-hind because that’s the most interesting part.” I think his burns were worst on his bee-hind. The softball player who had leapt a fence to retrieve her new softball, asked, “Is it typical not to be able to pee?” (The answer is yes.) We  heard, “What’s your name? What year is it? Who’s the president of the United States? Who’s the president of Libya?” I had to pause on that last one.
In my mind, I catalogued the things I had lost in the accident: my car, my brown corduroy pants, my dark green turtleneck, my new sweater, the earrings from Palm Springs, my glasses (where did they go? They had flown from my head.), my new green Gortex raincoat, a pair of Smartwool (they’re the best) socks, keys to the schools where I work, my prism sunglasses, my Adele cd and my Bruce Cockburn cd, my uggs, the Storm season ticket-holder license plate holder, and the garage door opener.

Then I catalogued what I had saved: my underwear and bra, my watch, my book bag, and my life.

I feel lucky.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

O, Another Pioneer!

Our fried Colleen argued at a cabin on San Juan Island last weekend that she would have been a pioneer with Ann and Marie. All weekend, she pointed out evidence that she has a pioneer spirit.
I don't actually think that Colleen would have been just a plain ol' pioneer who settled the west, but I do think she would have been on the Lewis and Clark expedition as a scientist.

As Ann, Marie and I sat on the deck, sunning our toes and reading our books, last weekend, Colleen was collecting creatures that I would call jellyfish in a bucket on the dock. Apparently, there were three different phyla in that bucket: lots of tiny jellyfish, a pink jelly-fish eating tianafore (or something like that) and some other creature that floats  translucently in the salt water.

The giant, the tianafore, was a little smaller than the palm of my hand, but it was voracious. In its hour in our bucket, it ate two of its bucket-mates. You could tell because you could see them inside its translucent self.

Colleen was delighed about all of this activity. She ran to the water to collect them, gave the drunken sailors on the dock a high school biology lesson, and clapped her hands as she showed us the tianafore's voracity. After an hour, she reluctuantly returned the sea creatures to the bay, but that night she planned to take some back to her ninth grade classroom. "They'll love this," she clapped and grinned.

Colleen definitely has the enthusiasm needed for Jefferson's expectations of Lewis and Clark, and I know they let girls go because of Sacajawea, so I think she would have been on that expedition: not a pioneerso much as an expeditor.

I know Lewis and Clark would have appreciated her keen powers of observation and enthusiastic spirit. I suspect she would have figured out how they could make ice-cream on the journey. She'd be famous, for sure. As it is, I'm glad she's my friend.