Dream On

As someone who definitely knows my way around gabbing with people, individuals are often pleasantly surprised to discover the quiet side to my gregarious self. So, my recent silence (both in writing and in speech) has been disconcerting to some folks.

Or so I’ve been told.

Recently, I have been faced with a plethora of life challenges and my body simply stopped working the way I wanted it to work, and I ended up with pneumonia.

The sad thing for me, though, is that my connection with God and my spiritual side has been as stuffy and muddled as my nose and lungs have gotten.

My heart is heavy with indecisions and confusion, and I’m having a hard time feeling hopeful these days. I feel anxious and stressed and often times scared, and I’m thinking that maybe now isn’t the time to be silent.

I am a gay, American woman of immigrant peoples and have serious concerns that my country is on a path of destruction and discrimination. I have significant worries that this administration’s policies are not policies that will “make us great’, but in fact, do quite the opposite.

On the morning of the “Woman’s March” that was held in Washington and nationwide, the Princess and I went to see the motion picture, “Hidden Figures”. The movie is based on the brilliant, black NASA physicist and mathematician, named Katherine Jackson, who was instrumental in the early years of the US space program. We both wanted to participate in our loc0al march, but prudently decided that my claustrophobic issues and our rainy weather would be reason enough to stay away. So, instead we went to an early showing of this film and were pleasantly treated to a quality story and an excellent reminder of past times.

As I sat in the theater, immobile with emotion, I couldn’t help but see the juxtaposition of the day. We were watching first-hand the outward discrimination of Ms. Jackson and her co-workers as they heroically pushed on, day after day, insult after injury. At one point in the movie, Ms. Jackson’s boss questions why she’s taking such “long breaks” during the day. He discovers, to his great embarrassment, that it was because there were no “colored restrooms” nearby. NASA’s only bathroom “of color” was over a half a mile on the other side of their campus, so she had to run back and forth every day; rain or shine.

It’s when her boss, played by Kevin Costner, takes mallet in hand and smashes the sign hanging over the woman’s restroom that says, “For Coloreds Only”, and declares to his employees, “As long as we pee all the same color at NASA, we all use the same bathrooms,” that the tears started to uncontrollably roll down my cheeks and my body felt sick with shame.

There I sat in a luxurious, remote-controlled, padded lounge chair – the epitome of American ingenuity and affluence, watching a movie depicting discrimination of a minority from the 1960’s; acutely aware of the various marches taking place outside of our local theater, and it sadly dawned on me, “Are we repeating history once again? Has America elected a man so intent on 0making this country “great” that he’s going to do it at the cost of those that actually DID make it great?”

We’re a country based on differences; a country based on acceptance. We’re all human and all valuable and all “pee the same color”. So, let’s not take that for granted, and let’s remember who we are – a country of dreamers and inventors and a country of freedoms and of hopes.

I care not that you voted for “him” or voted for “her”. I care that you stand up for what is right and what is wrong. It is important that we go forward, with the understanding that no man is better than the other; and no woman less than, either.

We must not go back to a time when “colored bathrooms” is a concept we agree to – whether in practice or in silence.

We’re all human and all valuable.

And all “pee the same color.”

I pray we all remember that and pray we all dream on.

Until the next time, be kind to each other, and I’ll catch you the next time, looking at life from my shoes.

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I’m a Noodle!

Years ago a close friend asked me what it was like for me to come out of the closet. Not one of our more typical topics of conversation for breakfast, but I figured, “What the heck? I’m game.” Actually, I was quite honored that he trusted and valued our friendship enough to even ask me; until then, no one had even attempted to broach the subject.

I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remembered talking about the fact that it certainly had nothing to do with any closets for me. To me closets have always been a source of comfort – kind of a safety zone. I remember during the Bay Area’s 1989 earthquake, I actually went to my closet a number of times during the numerous aftershocks that took place – thought my behavior was a little stranger than normal – until my therapist assured me that a lot of people were exhibiting a lot of different behaviors during this disaster.

Boy was I relieved! I was already wrestling with the vague awareness that I was different. I certainly didn’t want to be certifiable nuts on top of that.

No siree, Bob! We had enough wackos in the family.

My closet had always been a safe zone from the craziness of my childhood, so my therapist felt my sitting in it after the quake was totally appropriate. And I was paying her the bucks to validate my saneness, so I figured she had to be right.

Coming out for me, however, felt anything but safe. I felt alone and afraid; like I was driving down a long black tunnel with no lights and I didn’t see any “light at the end of the tunnel”; until more and more celebrities started their coming out process and I saw that I wasn’t alone in this tunnel of uncertainty – there were other “blind drivers” with me – and they were important people.

My initial disclosures that I made to family and close friends were mostly smooth sailing. The first friend I told actually laughed and was relieved that I wasn’t just diagnosed with some terminal illness. I was so nervous coming out to her during breakfast, that I choked on my tea a number of times and had a hard time swallowing my blue germ pancakes. When I finally did confide in her, I coughed out my blueberries and tea onto my plate and quickly uttered, “I’m gay, alright? I’m gay! I don’t know why the hell I’m gay, but I am!”

And then in case she felt I was hitting on her while I was spitting out my blueberries and tea, I quickly blurted out, “And no, you’re not my type, so don’t worry.”

For the first few seconds, I wasn’t sure she totally got what I said because she just quietly stared at me with what appeared to be a look of confusion, and then suddenly she howled with laughter and said, “For Pete’s sake, Lucie, you were so squirrely, I thought you were gonna tell me you had cancer or something! My boyfriend, Ralph, thought you were gay. Guess it was just me and you who didn’t know, eh?”

And then we both started laughing and I settled down and enjoyed what was left of my spit-out breakfast.

Coming out to Paula, at 35 years old, was a “piece of cake” compared to telling some of my other friends and family members. The fact is, there are still a number of family members that don’t really talk too much about it. They know the Princess is my special live-in friend, and most of the time, we leave it that way. I continue to correct them when they introduce us as “friends”, and they continue to do it. It’s one of those dances that will probably continue until they die, and it’s ok because it’s really not my problem; it’s theirs.

I realize that there are people that hate the Princess and me simply because we love each other. I also realize that many of these same people hate others because of their preconceived notion of what they think these people’s “differences” represent.

I get that.

We’re afraid of what we don’t understand.

As a young, innocent white woman from upstate New York, teaching a challenging group of predominately black kids in inner city Oakland years ago, I was afraid.

It was my kick-ass, Italian, New York attitude, that saved my butt many-a-time during those first few months teaching in Oakland. When I think back to those early morning walks with my kids through the drug-infested neighborhood of our school, I seriously believe I had an angelic guardian “Goombah” watching over me. To this day, I can’t explain it, but as soon as the gang-bangers saw my kid-lings and I headed toward them, all drug deals came to a screeching halt, and we were greeted with smiles and enthusiastic “Good mornings!” as we strolled by them, like nobody’s business.

Parading with my kids through the drug-infested streets of inner-city Oakland was much easier for me, than coming out to my family, friends and co-workers. Much easier. At least I knew who the bad guys were in Oakland. Coming out to my family members and friends was harder. Much harder.

Some days I felt like I was blindly driving down a tunnel, defiantly participating in a game of bumper cars with other reluctant drivers; until I was so banged up that I decided a “pit stop” was necessary and declared a moratorium on everything dealing with my sexuality because I was so emotionally beat-up that I couldn’t “drive” any more. It was brutally exhausting and it shouldn’t have been.

I never understood why my loving another woman was any big deal. I was still the same person. I was still a good teacher, a good friend, a good sister, a good Aunt, a good daughter……

Why did people care who I loved?

Because somehow their God cared and judged me?

My God doesn’t judge me. My God loves and accepts me. Why would he have made me the way he made me?

Contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t choose this life-style.

I am an intelligent, kind, reasonably evolved woman.

I am not crazy.

(And, sorry, but I think you’d have to be a “little crazy” to choose this life-style.)

I think my Mom summed it up pretty well when I came out to her before dinner one night and I asked her, “So, what da ya think about having a gay kid, Ma?”

She looked at me like only she can when you’ve asked her a stupid question, and said, “Cazzo! You’re my daughter! You’ll always be my daughter. Now what do you want for dinner? Rigatoni’s or spaghetti’s?”

Yep.

I think that’s as important an issue my sexuality should be for everyone.

As far as I’m concerned, we’re all pasta and I’m a noodle. And who cares?

Have a great day, People, and I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes!

 

Deputy Fields: Perpetrator or (Second) Victim?

Deputy Ben Fields, the South Carolina police officer of the infamous desk-flipping incident at the Richland County Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, was fired a day after the incident.

An internal investigation by the Richmond County Sheriff’s office concluded that the “maneuvers he used in the confrontation were not acceptable.”

Uh-Hun.

Ya think?!

Before you send me a virtual high five, though, because you think you’re about to read a piece on the condemnation of this man, you might want to hold back on your high fives.

In no way, shape or form do I believe that this grown man should have abused this child,  and he needs to bear the full responsibility for such a unconscionable  act. 

It was abusive.

It was wrong and it was an unacceptable use of force on a student.

Before you condemn this man to rot in hell for eternity for his abominable, unacceptable, abusive actions, though, let me ask you these questions:

What created the environment that had Deputy Fields in this position to begin with?

Why is it necessary to have police officers on our campuses today to assist with these “little behavior problems” that are steadily increasing with each passing day?

Where are the support systems for these hard-working, over-worked, under-paid, abused officers and teachers who are entrusted with educating this challenging group of children?

Obviously, these are multi-layered problems, with multi-layered solutions.

I would just like you to consider the position that these officers and teachers are placed in EVERY day of their working lives, before handing down a judgment on this man.

I was a teacher of SBD (severely behaviorally disordered) children many years ago, and I can tell you, from firsthand experience, it’s a war zone in some of these classes.

Our school was the last hope for some kids, before they got carted off to juvie hall.

So, you either made it with “Miss B” or off to kiddy jail you went.

I can honestly say that all of my kids stayed out of juvie hall, but I can’t claim that some of them didn’t end up in the prison system, as they got older.

Unfortunately, my intuition and instinct tell me otherwise.

Things at my school got so bad that the staff had to take a special training called, PART (Professional Assault Response Training), to learn how to predict, assess and respond to aggressive/challenging behavior of our student population.

During the training week, the school staff called a “special meeting on ME”, one afternoon, because I innocently announced, at the previous PART meeting, that “I didn’t spend all my time, money and energy getting an education, so that I could get a job learning tactical strategies in how to take down a kid.”

“After all,” I naively informed them, ”I was a lover, not a fighter and I’d be damned if I’d put ME,  or one of my staff people in harm’s way taking down some kid twice my size, from their junior and senior high programs.”

“My body’s meant for giving hugs, not doing take downs,” I empathically continued.

Uh-Hun.

Well, hugs are real hard to give when your 8 year old student, without any provocation or warning, abruptly stands up, starts swearing “F–K You” to who knows who and commences to throwing student desks around your classroom at everyone and anyone near him!

The only thing I could do was safely get my other kids and instructional assistant out of harm’s way and let him trash the room, while I called the Police.

Did you ever watch an 8 year old get handcuffed?

Not fun.

You know what else wasn’t “fun”?

Watching a very patient, loving police officer get spat on, kicked in the groin, bit and hit on by an out of control, totally wild 8 year old.

After the boy was handcuffed and placed into the back seat of the police car, I watched this thrashing child, who looked like a “caged animal”, somehow kick-in the back window of this officer’s vehicle, and I wasn’t sure who I felt sorrier for – my 8 year old, that was handcuffed and kicking, in the back seat, the frustrated, defeated-looking Police Officer, slowly driving out of our school’s parking lot; the concerned, very involved staff people, who didn’t have a clue as to how to deal with him, or me, his caring, naive teacher, who wondered if she somehow could have read his mind and avoided the whole scene?

Maybe I felt sorry for all of us.

And maybe, just maybe, there’s a small part of me that feels sorry for all the School Resource Officers and staff people out there who are doing their jobs, day in and day out, with a throw away population of kids that not a lot of people want to deal with on a regular basis.

There’s no excuse for Deputy Ben Field’s actions with the 16 year old, South Carolina student.

But maybe gathering more background information on the situation can explain part of what caused this horrific scene to take place, in the first place, and we can use this incident (and other incidences like it) to go forward as a society, and put into place the necessary programs and support systems to help future Deputy Fields and the unsung, hard-working, dedicated teachers and staff who work with this population of children.

Until that day, I’ll simply ask that you try not to judge him as anything other than what he is, “an imperfect human being, who committed an egregious act.”

Let the judicial system take care of Deputy Fields and his inappropriate behavior, and let’s put our limited time, energy and monies into helping the teachers, staff, guardians and students themselves, with these behavioral problems; so that we, as a society, can learn from this heinous act and avoid having other future student and staff victims.

I Believe………

I’ve been avoiding this post for a long time, because it’s not really “fun”, and for those of you that have been “following me”, and those of you that actually “know me”, you know that I prefer having fun, as often as I can – both in “written word” and “in life”.

So, let me honor your heartfelt inquisitiveness about the “real me” and respond to some of your “inquiries”, both written and imagined.

Despite my silly “demeanor” on my blog, I, like most people, experience “life challenges” on a daily, regular basis.

I choose to write about them in a humorous, silly way because it’s easier for me to “handle them” that way.

I am not in denial.

I am not “avoiding issues”.

And I assure you, I “feel deeply” about issues; both current and past – personal and worldly.

That being said, let me state clearly some of the “issues” that I have a strong opinion on and firmly believe in:

I believe that “ALL lives matter” – human, animal, gay, black, white, purple, whatever.

So, I am presently very disheartened with the current state of affairs with how SOME police officers are mistreating SOME black people, how SOME blacks are mistreating SOME police officers; how SOME people are mistreating SOME gay individuals and how SOME humans are mistreating SOME animals.

I believe in marriage for any couple that is dedicated to each other, loves each other, and freely (and responsibly) wants to enter into it. And believe that if your religion does not afford you the “right” to enforce that “privilege/law”, then I believe that you need to be in a profession that does not require you to legally implement something that’s against your beliefs.

I believe that laws don’t truly change what people firmly believe in, but, at times, help level the playing field.

I believe that every competent, responsible person has the right to own a gun – a gun. Translation: a pistol, a rifle, not an AK-47 or a weapon of mass destruction.

I believe we need to arm our service people (whether military personnel or police officers) with “weapons for war”, but I don’t personally believe I need to have the right to own a bazooka.

Call me silly, but I just don’t see the need for it in my day to day life, and can’t really see it “fitting into” my purse!

I believe that it is mentally incompetent PEOPLE who kill PEOPLE, and that our current lack of mental health services in this area is abominable.

I believe that we each owe each other a sense of “community” and that we’re each responsible for “cleaning up after ourselves” – whether that’s appropriately disposing of our cigarette butts, or cleaning up the “air, water or land pollution” we’ve individually created in our environment.

I believe in the right to die in a dignified, pain-free manner, surrounded by people who love us when our body can no longer sustain us in a dignified, pain-free manner.

I believe in the right to religious freedom and the right for you to practice that religion in your day to day life, as long as it’s practiced with a respect and honor for all religions and does not promote a “religion of superiority”.

And lastly, and most importantly, I believe that EVERYONE has a right to his or her own personal, subjective opinion, as long as you express it in a respectful, intelligent manner without trying to impose that opinion on me or someone else.

With that being said, I sincerely hope that I’ve answered MOST of your questions about me and that we can go on with the job of being silly each week, because I don’t know about YOU, but I certainly have enough crap in my day to day life to be anxious about, and really PREFER being silly.

Go out and have a grand day today, People, and if you happen to be one of those cigarette smokin’, bazooka toting individuals that I wrote about, please be responsible and don’t be throwing your butts anywhere near your bazookas!

Hopefully, I’ll catch y’all next time, for another adventure looking at life from my shoes!

 

Life in my Shoes as a Gay (Older) Woman

Forgive me.

I’m having a hard time being “funny” this week.

My heart is very heavy today, and I can’t break through that heaviness without expression and letting go of this otherwise yucky feeling that I have deep inside of my heart.

For those few of you who don’t know me and/or who have not read my blog’s “about page,” I need to make you aware of the fact that I am a gay woman living in Northern CA with my wonderful partner and two wacky cats.

My being “gay” does not define the sum total of who I am and does not in any way make me an “expert” about what it’s like “being gay,” but I feel I need to state it, so that you may appreciate my “little sensitivity” to what it’s like some days living life in “my shoes” as a gay (older) woman.

I, like Ellen DeGeneres, have no hidden agenda and am not in any way, shape or form, trying to promote my “gayness.”

My only “agenda” with my blog is to share a moment or two of happiness and silliness and to try to make your day a little more “bearable.”

So if my being a very loving, compassionate, kind (sometimes silly) woman, who happens to be in a relationship with a woman of the same attributes offends you in any way, please feel free not to read my blog any more, and by all means “unfollow me.”

I will not be offended.

On the other hand, if you care to try to understand how it feels to be “in my shoes” some days, please feel free to read on:

Contrary to what many people believe, I did not choose to be gay.

Why would I, an intelligent, conservative, former Roman Catholic brought up in a conservative, Roman Catholic household from a small, rural area in upstate NY, ever CHOOSE a life style that is misunderstood by many, judged by the religious multitudes, and ultimately hated by countless individuals? Why would I ever CHOOSE a life style that makes my life difficult on a regular basis?

I am silly, People; Not crazy. (At least not verifiable, anyway!)

My partner got stuck in her company’s elevator a few nights ago for a good amount of time.

This is not earth-shattering news in and of itself, and for many of you (myself included) it might even have a humorous bent to it, in light of the fact that she ended up playing quite a few games of Angry Bird while waiting to be rescued, but for me it ended up breaking my heart.

When the Princess texted me that she was “f-ing stuck in the f-ing elevator” and she “couldn’t get ahold of anyone at her company,” I decided to take matters into my own hands and contact her Manager.

I called him and left a very polite message, identifying myself (as the Princess’ partner), and informed him that she was stuck in their company’s elevator. I also said that should I not hear back from him in a half an hour’s time, I would contact the local fire department to get her out.

I texted my partner what I did, and she was mortified, totally upset, and “wigged out” because I “outted her” at her place of business…where she (an older contract worker) was praying they hire her for a full-time, permanent position when her contract position expires in March.

She couldn’t believe that I identified myself as “her partner.”

How could I commit such a thoughtless act?

Hun…maybe I was thinking that my highly asthmatic, hard-working, over-achiever partner (of 16 years), who I love to the moon and back, was stuck on this previously problematic elevator and that she needed to get out and get home, and I didn’t care what the hell her Manager “thought of me or her.” I simply left a message for the man to apprise him of the situation, and that either he needed to address the matter in an expeditious manner or I would, period.

I wasn’t rude. I wasn’t “wordy.” I just politely stated the facts and informed him of the situation.

If he was any kind of a Manager, he’d be concerned and a tad upset, and would help me get her the hell off the blasted elevator! That’s all I was thinking when I called him.

And, to the man’s credit, that’s exactly how he responded.

But the Princess feels he’s been avoiding her all week, because now he “knows she’s gay,” and she wonders if that’s going to negatively impact her chances of permanent employment in March.

I don’t know.

Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t.

I just know I can’t live my life in a “bubble of lies,” and I won’t.

She, on the other hand, has had a couple of restless nights worrying about the fact that maybe now “he won’t like her any more because she’s gay…”

And that really breaks my heart.

I am a loving, caring, church-going, tax-paying woman who is somebody’s daughter, sister, Aunt, cousin, friend, and neighbor.

And I just happen to be gay.

My being “gay” neither defines me nor explains me, but to some people it limits my humanness, and to those people I say, “Shame on you. Shame on you and your holier-than-thou feelings of superiority and judgmental statements of righteousness. You are not my God. And you are not my redemption.”

I don’t know if the Princess will get hired permanently for this job come March.

I certainly hope so.

I know that up until this time, they WERE going to hire her because they value her work ethics and competencies, and I pray the fact that she’s “gay” is no more of an “issue” than the fact that she happens to be a “redhead,” too.

But that, dear People, only time will reveal.

I can only live my life day to day and try to be the best person that I can be, one day and one adventure at a time.

And I sincerely hope for her sake (and ALL our sakes) that at the end of the day, we get judged not on our sexual identity or religious or political affiliations, but on how much we’re valued as human beings and how much we value others.

Until next week, be kind to one another, People. You never know what life is like in someone else’s shoes.