Friday, December 26, 2008

Not Pretty Enough

The title of this post is taken from one of my favorite Kasey Chambers songs. You can see the video here. Be patient, it takes about 20 seconds to load. When the video is over you'll need to press pause or navigate from the page, it loops automatically.

Some days I just feel fat and ugly, no matter what. It was such a day a few days ago, the day that Brent and I did our final Christmas shopping and I tried on a sweater I liked. I decided to buy it even though I thought I would look much better in it at about 15 pounds lighter. It is a red sweater, and I wanted to wear red this Christmas for some inexplicable reason. (Anyone who knows me knows I don't generally dress to be "festive", and I've been known to wear mourning clothes for Christmas.)

Anyway, that night Brent and I were surfing the web together in our Des Moines hotel room as dear Willow slept, and he came across a slide show "When Stars Have a Bad Day". Some of the shots are just normal aging, so whatever... some of them though are totally gross shots of women who have done way, way, way to much to try to look good (or just "partied" too much), ruining their bodies in the process. Check out #s 8, 13, 14, 17, 24, and 25 especially. These are some sad pics, especially, to me, a child of the 80's, the pictures of Madonna. I know it's kind of mean in a way, but if you are ever feeling fat and ugly, these are the pictures for you, guaranteed you will end the gawk session feeling better about yourself. And happy about the fact that you have not tried to lose weight to much, too fast. Or gotten to many lifts of whatever sort. Or worn your heels too high for too long.

But then I started feeling crappy about the sadness of it all. I loved Madonna in her heyday, and have always appreciated her scrappy attitude toward authority, including self-proclaimed authorities on fashion. She also had a real body, not chubby at all but muscular, gorgeous, tight, and real. You could imagine knowing someone, maybe even more than one, with a body like that. Now, she has taken on that look of a woman who is aging without grace, without acceptance, and possibly (seriously) without food. The picture of her in this slide show shows her looking, well, really anorexic. I am saddened by the apparent dissolution of her confidence. She was never an especially well balanced personality, being well known for her arrogance and intense hunger for fame, but to my teenage eyes she was tough, no nonsense, and didn't take crap from anyone, making her obvious faults very forgivable. But this picture shows her just looking sad, drained, worn out, spent, and done for. Ah, I do cry for you Madonna.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

An Open Letter to Barack Obama and Pastor Rick Warren

Dear President-Elect Obama and Pastor Rick Warren:

I was at first dismayed and appalled at the idea of Rick Warren delivering the invocation at your inauguration. When I first heard of the choice I must admit I was incredulous that you would give someone who, despite his intelligence in some matters, appears to wish gays and lesbians did not exist. As of merely couple of weeks ago, the Saddleback church did not welcome "unrepentant" gays and lesbians, and even has had an outreach program to "help" gays and lesbians choose a heterosexual lifestyle.

But then a few important things happened. Pastor Warren, you displayed the courage of your convictions when you stood up to folks who did not want you delivering the invocation for someone such as Barack Obama, who has stood very clearly for overall civil rights for the LGBT community (to the unfortunate exclusion of full marriage). You also accepted an invitation to dinner from Melissa Etheridge, a prominent lesbian who is married and has children, and who has been very outspoken in defense of marriage rights for same sex couples. I applaud you for having the courage to act in a Christ-like way and open yourself up to knowing and loving people you may disagree with deeply.

President-Elect Obama, I am glad America is getting a President like yourself, someone who is willing to stick his neck out and make hard decisions, who is willing to challenge his base in order to further dialog on important issues such as LGBT rights, as well as to make common cause with someone such as Pastor Warren. Not only did Pastor Warren omit some of the most egregious text on church website within a few days of the controversy breaking open, he also does much more for the poor and disadvantaged of the world than most. His practice of reverse tithing (giving 90% of his income instead of 10%) and his work to help those with HIV/AIDS are admirable.

However, I must publicly take issue with you both on your positions regarding same sex marriage. President-Elect, I was a little disappointed, yet only slightly surprised, to read in your book The Audacity of Hope that you "believe that American society can choose to carve out a special place for the union of a man and a woman as the unit of child rearing most common to every culture."

Even though you do go on to state that you support full legal rights for same sex couples (hospital visitation, property rights, etc.), this is cold comfort to those who want the recognition of their secular and/or spiritual communities as married couples. Denying this recognition I think is not only gratuitous, but also cruel. Especially doing it in the name of "a special place... for child rearing". According to the "State of Our Unions 2007" by the Marriage Project at Rutgers University, marriage as an institution is in decline overall, and large numbers of children grow up in single parent or otherwise "fragile" households.

In this environment, then, it seems nonsensical to deny the right to marry to a population who could, conceivably, renew the institution and offer loving, two parent households to children with the same security and rights that opposite sex couples can offer their children. Furthermore, in this time of tight budgets, why not simply open marriage up to same sex couples, instead of starting what would surely be a cumbersome process of creating an entirely new legal category called "civil union"? If you truly do believe in giving the same rights to same sex couples, I see no legitimate reason not to call it "marriage".

Of course, we could instead drop marriage altogether as a legal category, call all unions "civil unions", and let the religious institutions do the marrying. However, I think this would be more cumbersome than simply opening up marriage, and also smacks of a sort of "if we can't keep it for ourselves, then no one can have it."

I hope you will both do some serious soul searching in the months to come and change your positions on same sex marriage. It seems to me fairly certain that within the next generation same sex marriage will become a reality in this country. Which side of history do you want to be on?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wondrous Snow

As I write this it's been snowing now for over 2 hours here in Seattle. It is dark out, and the snow is glowing in the air as it falls. Willow and Brent are asleep in the bedroom. I had to get up and take pictures of the garden, and cover a few plants. I have some Clarkia amoena given to me by another native plant enthusiast in gallon containers, and though it is hardy I wanted to be sure to protect the seedlings since the pots are currently full of tiny leafy little plants. When we return from our trip to the Midwest at the end of December I'll plant them in the ground as soon as the weather permits.

Though I despise the cold, I have always loved snow. The way it cleans everything up, and reminds us of who we are in the world. The silence of the glistening flakes, each one unique, falling to the ground. The way the new snow glows and lights up the night sky. The cozyness of being inside as the snow falls outside. The adventure of snow angels and incalculably tall mounds made by snow plows. The skiing. And tonight, the wonder of our dear daughter as she looked at the snow falling and kept repeating, long past her bedtime, "It nofing outide, it nofing outide!" We always say goodnight to our dog, who pretty much lives outside, and goodnight to the outside, before we have "night night time". As I took her outside to say goodnight, we saw the snow and I told her about it. She has seen snow before, but this is her first time being old enough to really experience it fully. Brent went outside and brought some snow in for Willow to hold, and we watched it melt together in Brent's hand and then in Willow's hand. The look on her face... well, I wish sometimes that I had a video camera implanted in my eyes. I love to watch her little face light up with amazement and wonder, and that it did tonight as she held the snow and watched it melt.

Even more amazing is that, though she went to the window many times as I read her her bedtime stories and rocked her in the rocking chair, she actually consented to lie down not too far after her usual bedtime, and went to sleep. Brent suggested that tomorrow she might catch some snowflakes on her tongue, if it is still snowing. She was all about that as she ran back and forth from the rocker to the window, talking about the snow. I hope it keeps on snowing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Weaning Continues

Well, I'm sitting in my living room typing this as my lovely and dear husband lies down next to our dear and sweet daughter, waiting for her to finally sleep. This past week or so since weaning, Willow has been going to bed late and having a bit of trouble with sleeping... finding everything to distract her from the task at hand. If she has milk in her sippy, she wants it exchanged for Pediasure. If it's Pediasure, it must be exchanged for "plain milk". No matter how many dolls and animals are on the bed, of course it is the one that is left in the living room or tucked into her play oven that she must have, NOW. For the first few nights with no mama milk I gave her a bit of leeway, going back into the kitchen or the living room once or twice for supplies. But after that little grace period, I stopped the practice and instead I make a big to-do about getting everything before entering the bedroom... which liquid in the sippy, which animal to take into the bedroom, which book, does she have her binky.

Not surprisingly, that helps alleviate any of my own possible guilt, but still and all Willow knows how to party hearty until the rooster crows if she isn't reigned in. She'll want to switch to the rocker from the bed. Or to the bed from the rocker. Or go from mommy & daddy's bed to Willow's bed. Or back again. And on and on.

Brent just came out of the bedroom... at only 9:30! She's been typically not falling asleep until 10 or 10:30. He said he "laid down the law", and wouldn't let her change sides of the bed or get in the rocker or...

I like this daddy putting to bed thing, very luxurious for me! It can only happen when Brent comes home from work early, since he often doesn't get off from work until 9 or 9:30 at night. But on nights when he'll be home earlier, I'll be doing the first part of bedtime: reading the stories, tucking into bed, and lying down for 15 minutes. Then Brent will come in after we've been lying down for 15 minutes. I think it's going to work like a charm.

Willow has been amazing about weaning. She will ask to nurse sometimes, and she will cry about it sometimes, but when asked "Do you still get mama milk?" She always says "No". We talk about missing mama milk, and that it's ok to feel sad, but now there is "No more mama milk".