Tag Archives: MN

Things About Me

***This was also from my “other” blog, posted originally on feb. 24th, 2013***

I’d like to say a few things about myself.  Here are some negative things:

I scream.  I yell and curse and say “fuck” a lot when I’m mad.  I get really crazy rage feeling like I’m bursting at the seams with emotion, all of them shades of hate and anger.  I lash out at those I love.  Maybe because I’m trying to push them away.  Maybe because I know they’ll still love me.  Either way, it’s no fun for either of us, and it’s not fair. It’s mean and scary and hateful.

I do not like myself.  I am the exact opposite of the #1 fan when it comes to me.  I have a hard time saying nice things about myself without sarcasm or immediately negating it in the next sentence.  For example: “Yeah, I think I’m a pretty good writer. I mean sometimes. Well, no, not at all, I pretty much suck, but, whatevs.”

I stress eat.  I don’t know if it’s like binge eating or anything that you could really diagnose, but I definitely eat when I feel anything bad or sad or even when I get sick and I’m not hungry, I eat.  This TOTALLY helps my weight and therefore, my self esteem.

Here are some positive things:

K, having a hard time with this one.

Okay, I’m super loyal to my friends and family.  This past weekend I went home to see them all since my parents had come to visit me in St. Louis (I’m from Minnesota originally.) I got so stressed out trying to fit in a decent amount of time with everyone I overreacted to something and ended up crying in front of my friend.  If I could I would have spent four days with just one of them.  I felt like I couldn’t really devote enough time to anyone, but I think they all knew how much I loved being there.

I am somewhat talented in a few things, like writing and crocheting and playing trombone and singing.  I have a B.A. in Music, which is about as useful as a B.A. in English (think “Avenue Q”) but hey, at least it’s a good conversation starter.

I’m GREAT at social situations.  Sometimes I can be overly aggressive depending on the circumstances in which i meet people, but I’ve worked hard at just being pleasant and not letting my out-going nature get out of hand.  Usually it gets that way when I’m either over-confident or nervous, so I just try to keep myself in check and try not to talk too much ( I talk a. lot.) So, usually, I come off as nice and kinda funny and fun.

I’m just putting this out there. I’d like to try and be honest somewhere where it doesn’t necessarily matter.  Also, if anyone else is looking to relate to someone who is not that great, but trying to be better, why not me?  I’m going to try to write every day, but I’m not sure if that will stick.  Hopefully it does.

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“It’s not the getting, it’s not the giving, it’s the love”*

I know many out there find the holidays to merely be a distraction from the hum-drums of everyday life.  I know that the commercialism of Christmas and the length of the season is utterly ridiculous, stretching always closer to the goal of the industry: to make it a year round shopping event.  I mean, I know many Christmas songs urge us to keep the season of giving in our hearts all year through, but I don’t know that they meant having super-early-bird-sale-extravaganza for 9 months of the year.

But, ultimately, I know that the Holidays are the best excuse for those living far from home to reconnect with the ones we love.  I am not a religious person, and I’m not sure I should even really be celebrating Christmas, but for me it is a tradition that brings joy and laughter and family and friends into my household and always yields much kindness and love.  This year is no exception as many of my family members went above and beyond to make sure I still was able to participate.  Back in August I realized I had really screwed the pooch when my boss told me I had run out of vacation time.  This is my first year in the new job and, really, my first grown up job, so I didn’t really get what a “pro-rated 2 weeks of vacation” meant.  When it came down to it, it meant no Christmas vacation.  I called my mom in tears letting her know I had screwed up so badly.  In BESTMOMEVER fashion she told me it would all be okay.

And it was.  Way to go BESTMOMEVER!!

Because she is lucky to be flanked by BESTDAD and BESTBRO.  BESTBRO really bent over backward to make sure all four of us were together as he sacrificed shifts at his delivery job to join my mom and dad in a trip down to StL.

This, however, wasn’t the end of the awesome that was my Christmas this year.  We usually spend Christmas with my mom’s family and when we asked those of them in Minnesota if they would come out to my parents house the Saturday before to celebrate they all obliged.  They had jobs and kids and other things numerous to compete with, but they changed their plans just so we could all spend the holiday together.

I left StL Friday night after work on a plane and then got to spend Saturday with my extended family in MN.  My nuclear family then drove back down to StL to make sure I was with family on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.  The Eve part of this was crucial as the four of us have always spent it together, and we have a very specific dinner which has changed in minuscule ways over the years.  My brother and I staunchly stick to this traditional dinner of steak, lobster (for Mom and Bro), french fries, peas, button mushrooms, crescent rolls, and french silk pie.  Weird? No. It’s AWESOME.  And, with it, came the tradition of much laughter and merriment as the four of us sat around the same table for the first time in probably a year to the day.  George Winston’s “December” played in the background, and candles lit the meal, and even though we were in a hotel room (a pretty swank hotel room I must say) it was home.

If you know what I mean by this, you’re a lucky person.  I know I am.  I may even say that it was a small miracle, with all the pieces falling into place just so, and just at the last minute.  Because my brother was able to take time off and get shifts covered, and I was able to come up the Friday before, and my parents both had the time, and neither my brother nor I have kids and do have understanding significant others, and all those things meant that we four could be together.  It feels like it may be the last time in awhile.

But I know it won’t be the last.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and may the true spirit of the Holiday, love and family, be present in your homes.

*Bonus if you know what this is from!

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4 yrs + <3 = Regina Spektor

For our 4 year anniversary Matt surprised me with tickets to one of our favorite artists Regina Spektor.  This kid should win an academy award for “Shock and Aw-man!” face – he totally had me duped.  Let me back up: about a month ago, maybe a bit more actually, he asked if I had anything going on November 8th.  I told him no, so he said to keep it open and to please not look up “Events” for that day because he wanted to surprise me with something.  So, a couple weeks ago when I was looking at Regina Spektor’s website I was sad and excited to see that she was playing the local concert venue The Pageant on same said date. Sad because I was pretty sure I had accidentally found out what my surprise was, and excited because OMGREGINASPEKTOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I ‘fessed up to Matt that I had just been looking to see when she might be in town, and his jaw dropped in what I thought to be an “aw-man, that SUCKS” face and he proceeded to dash my dreams by telling me that was NOT what we were doing.  He did guarantee, though, that what we were doing was MUCH COOLER.  What could be cooler than Regina though?  Well, I guess NOTHING because, after telling me I should wear comfy clothes and shoes because I may be “exerting” myself, we walked down Delmar to none other than The Pageant to see OMGREGINASPEKTOR.  I jumped up and down and shook him and told everyone around us that he surprised me with this, to which I was told I “got a good one.”  I whole-hearted-ly agreed by jumping up and down and shaking Matt some more.

I had never seen a concert at The Pageant up until last night.  It’s a nice venue, with a large, sunken, standing room only floor in front of the stage.  This is then surrounded in a U-shape by two or three levels of little tables and barstool-counter space to sit and have drinks, with a bar at the back directly across from the stage.  There is then an upper floor balcony that has reserved stadium seats.  We got general admission so had our choice of trying to find a little table/bar area or being on the floor.  We chose the floor and ended up being only about six “rows” of people back from the stage.  The stage is raised maybe five feet and makes for a very intimate setting for those on the floor.  I was a bit worried leading up to her performance that some tall kid was going to stand in front of me – I had this happen at a Ben Folds concert a few years ago at Gustavus in MN and it SUCKED.  These two girls at the last minute shoved in front of my friend and me and being that we are both about 5’5″ it really didn’t make any sense that these two had to be in front of us, being that they were about 5’10”.  So, I made a pact with what turned out to be a couple of high school kids to allow their friends to come back (they had left to use the bathroom) if they promised not to situate the taller amongst them in front of me.  They were very good sports about it, and overall the people around us were equally nice and I got a primo-spot windowed between two boys who were about my height DIRECTLY in front of Ms. Spektor.

Overall the concert was really great.  It is so awesome to see a performer live and realize that they are the REAL DEAL.  By that I mean she really is as talented and amazing as she sounds on her albums. Regina Spektor, for those who don’t know, is a singer-song writer who plays piano.  She’s originally from Russia but eventually moved with her family to the U.S.  Her voice is elastic and smooth like buttah’ (in my professional opinion) and to me she always sounds like she’s, the best way to put it is, tasting her words.  And she has every reason to taste them; her lyrics are decadent, made all the more scrumptious with tongue-in-cheek humor, great storytelling, and sometimes just sounds that she enjoys making.  Pair that with her vocal prowess and you have a recipe for musical soul-food.  Alright, end of foodie metaphor.

Like many concerts these days Regina was only on stage, with  3 song encore, about an hour and a half, but she made it worth the price of admission.  She hit up all of the crowd favorites, which were all pretty hard-core fans as I’m sure you’d imagine being that she’s not a giant pop star, as well as new stuff, a joint performance with her husband and front man for the band and opening act Only Son Jack Dishel, and a song by who she said was one of her favorite Russian singer-song writer’s called “The Prayer” which she sang in her native language.  Song-wise she got in about 25 of them and not on one of them did she miss a note.  I’ve been to enough live performances of amateur and even professional bands who go flat or get out of synch with each other.  This woman is a machine and truly a professional performer as each song sounded just as beautiful and heartwrenching/delightful/funny/soulful as it does on her albums, made more so, not less than, because she was RIGHT THERE singing to us.

So, favorite moments of the concert: 1) Her song “Eet” opens with the line it’s like forgetting/the words/to your favorite song and at one point she stopped singing and announced with a giant smile that she forgot the words as she kept playing the piano part.  What made it better was that Matt thought she actually did, not knowing the lyrics by heart like the rest of the audience 🙂  2) Hearing most of my favorite songs (would have loved it if she had just played down her whole “Far” album) up close and personal and wanting the concert to just keep going.  I forgot a bit what that was like as I think the more recent live bands I’ve seen haven’t been really to my liking or, I like them but I don’t KNOW their music so I get kind of bored.  It was really great to feel absorbed in what I was listening to and watch her sing her heart out.

Not so favorite thing (single, itsy-bitsy wish it could have been just a little more awesome thing): She really didn’t engage the audience.  She seems like such a cool lady, clever and interesting, but we didn’t really get much out of her as far as her personal musings on her music.  She was very gracious, thanking us after the applause ended on each song, waving a bit, looking out into the audience (she plays piano so she sings to it most of the time) but no stories, no “hey, St. Louis is cool” no “I wrote this because I really thought it would be interesting to write a song about Art wanting to escape the museum or this boyfriend let me steal his hair power or because I like to think of myself as stuck in the 80’s”  I guess I was just hoping to get to know her a bit more, you know, as much as a giant group of people can get to know a girl standing on stage performing for them.  But you know what I mean: I love hearing the stories behind the music, even if it’s not that big a deal, as often it’s not.  Writing music is such a strange and wonderful gift, it’s like a super power.  I would totally choose that over most other super powers, possibly over flying: writing and performing awesome songs that touch people’s souls.

Oh, Regina, you’ve stolen my heart, and I know so little of yours 🙂  Thanks for being such a perfect surprise!

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“Bleak House” Read-A-Long

 

One of my favorite blogs to keep up with is Sophisticated Dorkiness written by my friend Kim.  I have had the privilege of being friends with Kim since we were about 12 but I rarely get to see her being that she lives in North-West Minnesota and I live in South-East Missouri.  So, when she posted about doing a read-a-long I thought it would be a great way to connect with her and try to tackle Dickens, my Mt. Everest as far as authors are concerned.  Now, Kim reads a LOT (her Goodreads widget has a goal of 100 books for 2012 whereas mine has 26.  She’s listened to/read 97, I’ve listened to/read 22) but I think the playing field will be leveled a bit it with “Bleak House” being 800 pages or so and, again, being Dickens.   Kim shared this through a Bloggess she follows Jenny Loves to read, and if as a fellow blogger you’d like to read-a-long as well follow the link, and leave me a holla’ holla’ in the comments!

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Bone Babe 4-evah!

Despite the name of my site name being “orangetrombone” I don’t think I’ve really ever discussed my being a trombone player with a music degree. I have Music B.A. from the University of Minnesota – I call it the “I LIKE MUSIC” degree because really, like the Avenue Q song goes, “What do you do with a B.A. in English? (insert Music)”

I got the degree because I originally wanted to be a teacher which turned into a music teacher/band director, which was taking a long time, and it turns out I kinda suck at theory, so when they revamped the B.A. to be more versatile (aka, easier) and less like I was working to become a composer, I went that route and finally got the heck out of college. I do still want to go back to school and become a teacher: the more I sit at my desk “helping” people the more I dream of getting out and actually HELPING people, and get rid of those pesky quotation marks.

I am glad that I got this degree, though.  It’s definitely different than anyone else I know in StL.  So, great conversation starter at the very least . . . but really I feel like the hours I spent in a practice room, listening to my music history pieces, and struggling through the demon-theory are well worth it, especially since I can claim to have a degree in something that I’ve loved and been raised with, even if it’s been relegated to hobby-status.  Because music, and really being a trombone player, in many ways defines me.

Being a trombone player, especially a female trombonist, is special in the band/instrumental world.  It is definitely a bit of a tomboy instrument growing up since it’s big and loud and has the word “bone” in it, which never fails to be followed up with Beevis & Butthead-esque tittering (heeheehee “tit”!) The sections I’ve been in from middle school through high school, college, and now in community band were/are dominated by nerd-boys, usually tall, lanky geeks who also know how to fix your computer, which has definitely come in handy.

Because of this male-domination, being a “bone babe” means toeing the fine line between lady/mom and being “one of the guys.”  You have to be okay with sick, dumb jokes while you make sure they have their marching shoes and be an awesome kick-a** girl.  Bone babes are rarely butch since most of us LIKE guys, though if you dig the chicks that’s totally cool too.  The point is, even while one of the “guys” you have to occasionally remind these boys that, while you’ll take care of them with cookies and slide oil, you are not their mom and they need to treat you well and like a girl every once in a while.

When my dad decided I would play trombone, he convinced me by telling me that “bone women” were to coolest girls in the band, super laid back, funny, and always the best players.  I was sold.  I was lucky, too, to have a best friend and fellow bone babe right from the get-go who shared my love of dirty jokes and being B.A. with a capital B.  Courtney and I had the best time all through middle school and high school, and our senior year we were the only girls in the Marching Band trombone section, and our boys loved us.  We made them locker signs and treats and it was the only year we bothered to take a group picture.  The trombone trio of the wind ensemble my senior year was also the most fun I had in high school band, me and my two boys that I sat between, Mike and Steve.  We definitely got in trouble for talking too much, though we rarely missed an entrance, an art Courtney and I had refined from age 11.

It wasn’t until I decided to pursue music in college, though, that playing my trombone really took precedence over my band social life.  “Bando’s” in my high school had a completely different schedule in high school, so all of my best friends were either in band or in another performance activity I did after school.  I had enough natural talent to keep me going with little to no practice outside of class, and that was just fine with me.  But college is where I hit my stride in playing, and thank goodness I did, or I would have never completed my degree.  Lessons and your studio are a huge chunk of your credits, at least at the UofM.  I was in the UofM Marching Band, which, again, took very little effort on my part as far as playing went most of the time.  So, it wasn’t until I decided to audition for the School of Music in my sophomore year that I really learned to love the “bone” part of being a bone babe.

I started taking lessons with John Tranter , and he is hands down the best music teacher I’ve ever had.  I don’t know what it was, but I felt like he both cared about my growth as a musician and at the same time knew how to cut through the crap without making me feel like dirt.  If I didn’t practice enough he knew it, though he rarely got more than stern in his tone.  So I strove to please him, and along the way I fell in love with my playing.  Now I was making time to practice 2-3 hours a night, sometimes 5 if I fell behind or was working on something difficult.  My first jury (basically your final test in your lessons, performing full solo pieces) I felt truly proud of my playing ability.  I realized I hadn’t really felt that way since I was little, and it was such a high.  To know that you can really do something well, that you performed at the top of your game all by yourself, that was something I had never done on my trombone.  It was weird to think that I had defined myself by this instrument for so long without actually loving the instrument itself, rather, just the culture.

Now, playing in my community band, my trombone has again taken a backseat in my life – a bit literally since it often sits in the trunk of my car waiting for Wednesday night rehearsal.  I hope to someday return to it, and I get a glimpse of that high with each performance, but it does feel like I’ve let the musician in me down.  It’s at those times that I pull out my diploma, and know that I’ve truly accomplished something in my musical career: I am a bone babe, now and forever, and that’s not something that can be taken away from me.

It also comes in handy when I tell people they have poor taste in music: Trust me, I have a B.A. in Music 🙂

 

 

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Some personal feelings on “Vote No”

This year I have been delving a bit into politics on a state and national level.  Being that I don’t really read news or have cable (aka no TV, just a “decorative television” that sits collecting dust) I started listening to NPR quite a bit.  My new love of NPR started with hearing an interesting story which I think was part of “This American Life” but I’ve found myself listening any time I’m in the car, so topics vary from “Radio Lab” to “Money Matters” and, of course, the drive time news.  Now, I know that I’m liberal and that NPR is to a liberal as Fox is to a conservative (preaching to the choir) but I feel they have been fair and balanced, giving updates from both major campaigns, having moderated discussions between top democrats and republicans, and doing a lot of human interest stuff on Romney such as having Mormon theologists debunk stereotypes and give a current perspective on the faith.  The information I’ve been getting has led me to watch most of the presidential debates and fostered an excitement in me for voting on the national level.

What has fostered excitement for me this year at the state level is the hot-button topic of Minnesota’s proposed amendment to define marriage legally as between one man and one woman.  I’m so excited about voting on this issue I got an absentee ballot from the MN Secretary of State booth at the MN State Fair back at the end of August.  Though I’ve lived in Missouri for just over a year and have a steady job and a good group of friends and a community band, Minnesota is still to me my “home state.”  I am VERY proud to say that I am from Minnesota, and I’d like to keep it that way.

NOW I MUST WARN YOU: I WILL BE EXPRESSING MY PERSONAL FEELINGS AND RELATING PERSONAL EXPERIENCE ON A POLITICAL ISSUE.  DO NOT CONTINUE TO READ IF PERSONAL COMMENTARY FRUSTRATES YOU.

I put this boldly because I want to make clear that I’m using my blog most bloggers do, and I DO NOT claim to be an expert or a person of authority.  Only on politics and religion do people suddenly have to become scholars before anyone in the conversation will even begin to think about maybe seeing it from the other person’s point of view, really listen to what they’re hearing or try to understand, let alone allow themselves to be swayed by someone’s opinion.  But I will try to stay away from “studies have shown” or other such statistical bullshit.  These are just some thoughts/opinions on the “Vote No” issue, and not an attempt to change anyone’s mind.  Though, of course if you would like to (respectfully) discuss it, I will oblige.

Today I received a response to something I posted about “Vote No.”  I’ve had heated (from my end) discussions with this person on the topic of gay marriage.  I respect them and care for them and their feelings and opinions.  But on no other issue do we differ more greatly than on this.  This is not an attack on them.  It sparked a great conversation with my friend Paul, a discussion akin to those I have from time to time with my friend Courtney where we “solve all the world’s problems.”  It has now led to this post.

My feelings on vote no stem from my early exposure to gay culture.  I remember being in the car with my mom going to see Gram.  It was my brother and me with her and we were both in elementary school, so no older than 10 and 8, possibly younger.  Our discussion that day mentioned friends of our parents Ron and Andy.  She explained to us that Ron and Andy were a couple and that they had a ceremony in Hawaii.  I remember being confused about how they might . . . you know . . . and also how they might have kids, but mostly I remember both of us being okay with it because my mom explained to me that there a men who like men and women who like women, and that just like Mom and Dad they loved each other very much, which is why they committed to each other.

My brother and I were brought up on drum corps which is how my parents had befriended Ron and Andy.  Drum Corps is, for anyone who doesn’t know, basically like grown up marching band, and pretty diverse, especially when it comes to sexual orientation.  It is a very accepting activity and people come from all walks of life, devoted to their love of performance arts and music.  “Growing up Drum Corps” was a unique experience, as not all kids are allowed to participate in their parents activities, and for good reason a lot of the time.  Not everyone has kids and not everyone is great with them or even likes them, so you do risk your kids being exposed to drugs, alcohol, sex, and explicit language.  In a group as big as MN Brass you also have to worry about pedophiles.  Which is another reason I believe my mom brought up Ron and Andy that day.  During that discussion, or another one possibly as I have a terrible memory, my mom made it clear that Ron and Andy were NOT perverted.  This was the early to mid-90’s and from what I’ve learned/have been told, gay culture was only just becoming more socially acceptable throughout the country.  So she explained that we might be told that gay men and women like to touch children, or that we could “catch” being gay, or be “turned” gay from too much exposure.  These were, she explained, hateful, disgusting lies.  Sick people do sick things, but being gay was not sick, nor did it make you do sick things like molest a child.  I would like to think that I understood this all then, but I know that it was merely a seed planted.

Ron and Andy were together throughout my childhood.  I was, at one point, pretty close with Andy, and I know that they both loved me very much.  When they split up during one of the summers I was doing Bluecoats, I was heart-broken to hear the news.  They had never tried to adopt so there weren’t any kids to consider, a small consolation, and luckily it was, from what I understand, amicable.  I say lucky because, unfortunately for them, Ron and Andy had no marital rights to each other.  Being together for over a decade resulted in nothing more than, legally, a break up.  Like they were teenagers or something.  But they weren’t teenagers and this “break up” didn’t end with a swap of mix tapes and a box of worthless, sentimental trinkets getting thrown out.  This was an end of an era, a dividing of lives and friends and dogs and cars and a renovated apartment that they called home.

But it was not a legal divorce.  It didn’t even have the ramifications of a common-law marriage, which, I don’t know if there are legal ramifications, but if there are, they didn’t get the benefit of those either.  Nothing was protected.  And that’s something that just doesn’t sit well with me.

Now, the response I received earlier today said that gay marriage doesn’t address the instability of a same-sex couple, and therefore the argument for gay marriage always fall short.  This instability issue is something, again, as far as I’ve learned/experienced/been told, that has been given voice many times over, within and without the gay community.  I guess I wonder first, how stable can you feel when your choice of partner downgrades your citizenry, and secondly, how are heterosexual relationships any more stable?  This is the closest I will come to a statistic: a good chunk of straight marriages end in divorce.  And divorce isn’t the only measure of instability.  Straight people cheat, lie, commit adultery, have one night stands, friends with benefits, and hookups: and that’s just the unstable factors or unstable relationship types dealing with sex.  Straight couples also abuse drugs, alcohol, and smoke.  Members of straight couples also abuse and molest both other adults and children.  Straight people steal, exploit, are selfish and unkind.  And straight people not only do this to their own family members, but are allowed to prey on those children left to foster care and adoption.  In light of all of these things that straight people do in relationships of boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife, father and mother, we still feel it is a right, not a privilege, for straight people to marry and to have any amount of children they can create, without question.

So, is it really stability that is the issue?  Understand, please, that I know gay people do ALL of these things as well.  I am not saying that being gay makes you a saint or that homosexuals won’t commit as many of the aforementioned infractions.  But how can the conclusion possibly be reached that a healthy, romantic relationship between two people is instantly more unstable when between two people of the same-sex, and further more, how do you protect that OPINION under the LAW?  How can we pretend that we are thinking of stability in the home with such a minor infraction as not having both genders present in an immediate family?  To me, having a partnership present to raise children would be ideal, a partnership that would be linked to network of caring friends and family of different generations and differing wisdom.  I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that someone could discriminate against same-sex couples and not also discriminate against single mothers and fathers.  Single parents don’t just get their title of parent stripped from them, and their families are not seen as less by law.  Nor should they.  The single parents within my family and people I’ve befriended and worked with know better than many the responsibilities of raising a child well.  My aunt brought up my cousin with the help of my Gram, a same-sex couple in a different way.  He had aunts and uncles and cousins and basketball coaches and teachers who all helped one of the most devoted mothers I’ve ever seen.  My cousin was not at a disadvantage because he had two women caring for him.  He would have been at a disadvantage if his mom and grandma were legally barred from being in his main caregivers and guardians because they were not a heterosexual married couple.

I have tried my best throughout this to make it clear that the reason I voted “No” on the MN amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman is because I cannot see how this is not legal discrimination.  Legally, how do we define it this way?  I was listening to a segment on NPR that was discussing the national hot button topic of rape induced pregnancy.  I’ve never heard it more clearly put when the person who was speaking said that they respected Richard Mourdock’s personal beliefs but that it was not his personal beliefs but his policy beliefs that should be considered.  They went on to say that if you cannot separate the two, which is difficult, then you have to be okay with subjecting women’s bodies to your personal views and opinions which may or may not be correct.  See, when you make a law out of just personal opinion you are saying that your personal opinion is right and making all other opinions wrong.  I guess my hope for the political leaders that are elected by the people of this republic is that they make laws and policies that protect the freedoms of its citizens and make those freedoms equal.  If you commit a murder there are laws to punish you and protect the rest of the citizens of the nation from you because you have ended another person’s life and have stripped them of their freedom to live.  In some parts of the nation legalizing gay marriage is seen as equally horrendous.  But legalizing gay marriage does not hurt anyone, it does not prevent anyone’s personal freedoms.  Those who oppose it based on personal beliefs can continue to oppose it in their own homes and respectfully protest it in public.  A sign hanging from someone’s neck stating “GOD HATES FAGS” is not respectful, but still more protected by the first amendment right now that two same-sex people are protected to commit to one another in a legal marriage.

I can’t stress enough that I hope to have same-sex marriage be made legal the same way a straight marriage is legal.  If I can marry my boyfriend and apply for a license so that this marriage is recognized by the state and by the country so that when he is ill I can be notified, and our children will be legally mine if something were to happen to him, and vice-verse, then I want my gay friends to have that same opportunity by law.  No one should have to fight for their right to be with the person they love in their hour of need.  No committed relationship should be given more legality and definitely not be given more benefits and freedoms than another.  I am NOT saying a gay couple should be married in a place of worship if that place of worship does not recognize their right to be married, and I don’t think there are many, if any, gay couples banging down the doors of these places and demanding the faith leader marry them.  I AM saying that I believe a U.S. court judge should marry them under the same laws that marry straight couples.

And if it’s the word “marriage” that you’re uptight about, then fine, get rid of it.  Abolish it from legal language and create equal commitment laws.  The people who hold onto the semantics of the word “marriage” as a religious word and definition can keep it, I don’t care.  As someone who is agnostic at best and still unsure overall, my marriage will not be legitimate in the eyes of many faiths, but I’ll squeak by with a legal marriage because I’m a chick who happen to like dudes.  If you feel like our moral code as a country cannot escape its religious foundations, in this case religious bindings, then all marriages between men and women that are not recognized first by a church should be illegal, and I don’t think that is extreme.  It just makes us citizens ruled by the Pope: the 15th century called, it would like it’s domination of the church over the state back.

I think we have come so far in this young country to have ideals that explore and value our differences so much more than the founding fathers could have envisioned.  I think our unique situation as a country of so many faiths and backgrounds and beliefs and non-beliefs is being made petty, disgusting, and discriminatory with such closed-minded definitions of love and family.  We human beings are wonderful and terrible creatures, with so much potential for good and for evil.  I vote “No” because I believe we are above this kind of discrimination.  Whether or not you believe what I believe is your business and personal opinion.  I hope, however, you take a moment to decide if you’re personal opinions matter enough to limit the freedoms of others.

Thanks.

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My DAD made me read it! or, how my Dad still influences my literary life

Shush!!  Don’t tell my dad I’m writing about him 🙂

Recently I have been reading a LOT of young adult fiction.  It started when a friend of mine asked me to take over/restart a book club for the Ladies of the Lou’ Crew.  Being that we would have our first meeting in late October I asked if she would mind something scary/creepy, which she did not, and since both our names being Katie isn’t the only thing we have in common she was all for it when I suggested the post-apocalyptic zombie YA thriller The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I was so excited to start the book club I ran out to my local municipal library (1 of 3 library systems in StL, of which I am a member of 2 so far)  and read it almost a month in advance of the meeting.  I liked the book quite a lot: it was creepy, scary, mysterious, and had a love story to boot.  The two in love were of course star-crossed – I mean, who isn’t in a post-apocalyptic society? – and doomed from the get-go, though, not just because of societal law, which I was glad of, but also because of a conflicted female lead who wanted more.  No turning into a monster to be with the one you love Twilight crap for this girl.  And being that I was such a fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth it again made me take up the search for THE. FIRST. BOOK.

You probably have one of these as well, dear reader 🙂  It’s that book that brought you across the threshold, the turning point in your reading: when you went from kid books to Grown Up Books.  This is where my Dad factors in.  My FIRST BOOK was handed to me by my Dad after one of his latest trips to the Real Library, as opposed to the elementary school library I went to with my class once a week.  My Dad can spend hours in a library, looking over book after book, choosing just the right one.  He has to find exactly what he wants because he’s a slow reader and a lover of dense sci-fi novels.  I don’t know that I ever went to the Anoka County Library until I was at least twelve and to me it seemed like a grown up place for serious reading, somewhat mysterious since my Dad would disappear there for hours at a time.

After one such trip my dad handed me THE FIRST BOOK and said he thought I might want to give this a try.  He had noticed that the reading material I had selected for myself was usually gobbled up in a few days time and consisted of The Babysitter’s Club almost exclusively.  I remember being very proud when my dad told me he was impressed with how I could read three to four books concurrently and not only keep track of the individual storylines but the actual page I was on without a single book mark.

Now, he might not really remember doing this, but to me, him handing me a book from the Real Library meant I was ready for LITERATURE.  I remember lying down on my parents old queen-sized bed I had in my new room at the time and having to slow down and re-read the opening paragraphs again and again until I got into the flow of this more mature writing style.  The book was about a young girl who met a boy and together he was going to help her become a witch like him.  The cover, I remember, was black with a ghostly pale girl with black bushy hair on the front.  She had haunting eyes and stared out at you from the blackness.  At the time I was really into witches and magic: think more Salem Witch Trials than Harry Potter.  Unfortunately, I struggled with it and, sadly, at the end of three weeks, I still hadn’t finished it.  I had half-lost interest in it which is why I think my dad returned it without a renewal.

And that was the last time I saw that book.

I moved on to other great books: Little Women and The Hobbit, the latter of which my Dad had read to me when I was younger.  THE FIRST BOOK wasn’t the first or the last time my dad influenced my reading.  He had been reading to my brother and me since we were really little: golden books, these great fully illustrated Disney books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Tolkein, and the occasional short story by Stephen King – the one about the cocaine addict stranded on a desert island who eats his own limbs still gives me the chills. I liked every book he read, becoming engrossed in the characters, all of which he gave different voices, and loved equally the family life of the Ingalls and the grand sweeping adventures of Bilbo.  My brother didn’t really share in this enthusiasm, try as my dad might, though he became an avid reader later.  And it was around the end of The Hobbit that I got my own room, and story-time was done.

When my dad felt we were old enough he was the one to take my brother and me to the Anoka County Library.  Many times the books I chose dealt with something supernatural – ghosts were another big favorite of mine.  At one point I decided I would try to find THE BOOK.  It was then I realized that I had, *gasp!* forgotten the title.  I asked my dad several times if he remembered, but this was probably a couple years later by now.  I was certain the book was titled simply Witch and I knew for certain the girl’s mother was named Kate, but the library didn’t carry anything that I recognized by that name.  I read The Witching Hour and consequently my first novel sex scene, and other such books of a supernatural and dark nature, but never THE FIRST BOOK.

As an adult even the almighty Google let me down.  Only this past month did I discover a group on the site Goodreads for those searching for books from their past.  I don’t know what kind of crazy you have to be to figure out what book someone is talking about from a vague description, but it’s a crazy I like because:

They found it.

They found THE FIRST BOOK.

The ever elusive book from my childhood reading transition.  The one I had been casually searching for the past 15 years or so.  It was called The Changeover: a Supernatural Romance.  I searched the title in the Goodreads database and there it was.  The same haunted, ghostly pale girl staring out from a black cover.  So I was wrong about the title, but the description stated the female lead’s mom was name Kate!  And it was about a girl who meets a boy who helps her change into a witch, just like him.  I couldn’t believe it.  I was so excited I didn’t even care that my first grownup book turned out to be a cheesy-titled YA novel – I had finally found it, the mystery was solved.

That same night, three Mondays ago, I went and picked up a copy from the municipal library branch down the street.  Turns out it was a YA fiction novel which I retrieved from the “Teen Spot” marked by a neon sign that the 90’s would like back, please.  Oddly enough I still haven’t finished it as I have a tendency to still try to read three to four books at the same time, only now my books are a bit more complex (YA not included) and my grownup responsibilities make it so I have to choose one eventually and stick with it until it’s finished before I can go onto the next.

I called my dad the Wednesday after I got it at the library.  As I suspected, he did not remember the book, but I think it warmed his heart to know that it had been important to me.  Since living in StL I talk to my parents about once every couple of weeks on average and most of the time my dad and I discuss TV, movies, and books.  His long-time love of scifi still remains and he recommends different ones he thinks I’d like since my more recently discovered interest in post-apocalyptic plots and shows like “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.”  It feels like a new stage we’ve entered, being grownups and recommending back and forth, since being a teenager and a college student usually involves discovering things on your own, different from your parents.

But then I think back and realize, my dad didn’t stop being interested and then gain interest again in my tastes in entertainment.  He read the whole Harry Potter series with my brother and me, and got me a copy of The Shining.  He even read Practical Magic for goodness sake.  I don’t know that he liked it all that much, but he read it because I liked it so much.

So, thanks, Dad, for doing what some parents can’t seem to do ever: give a crap about what I like.  Taking the time to share with me and let me share back.  For reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even though you thought most of it was “dreck” and texting me scifi recommendations. I look forward to our next discussion.

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