People still die of AIDS, remember. Our society doesn't talk about it that much anymore but yes, it is still something we need to remember is out there, and need to educate people who think the crisis is over.
Nothing. Just making plans for finding a husband now that I can get married.
"You can get married in Florida??"
No. I mean, I can go to one of the states where it is legal and do it, and it means something big now. All the good marriage benefits are on the federal level.
"Oh. Who are you going to marry?"
I'm not sure yet.
"I'll help you look. Do you think it's going to be legalized in Kansas?"
Mmmmm...maybe not for a while. Illinois will be next.
"I think it will come here after that."
Wishful thinking, Mom. They're still teaching Creationism in public schools in Kansas.
"If it can happen in Iowa, it can happen here."
I think the state supreme court in Iowa legalized it because of wording in the state constitution. But in Illinois there is enough public support for it to be legalized.
"The Kansas state constitution was written based on the Illinois state constitution, so if it is legalized in Illinois then they can use the same argument in Kansas. When Kansas was becoming a state, I think they asked whoever wrote the Illinois constitution to come down and write it for Kansas too. I don't know. But the language is very similar in both documents."
"And there are going to be all sorts of legal issues now. Like what if you live in a state where it is legal, and you are married, but your company wants to transfer you to a state where your marriage isn't legal to save money because they don't have to pay spousal benefits? You could sue for discrimination."
I see Chico's was having a sale on Smarty Pants.
"Mmm-hmm. I bought a pair in each color."
"Oh that reminds me. I have a funny story about your nieces. We were going to Chik-Fil-A, and--"
Wait, wait wait wait wait wait. You brought them to Chik-Fil-A?
"Yes, they wanted to go. And so I--"
I don't want to hear the rest of this story.
Don't tell me.
I don't want to hear it.
Because Chik-Fil-A is leading the evil empire against gay people getting married!
"I know, but--"
I can't believe you are telling me you went there and gave them your money.
"But the girls wanted chicken nuggets."
I don't care. Bring them someplace else. They are old enough to understand what it means to spend money at business that use their profits to make laws that hurt their uncle. Vote with your dollars, Mother. Do you want me to get married or not?
Then stop giving your money to anti-gay organizations.
"(sigh) Fine. Next time I'll bring them to Chipotle."
It's healthier anyway. Chicken nuggets are disgusting.
I am going to go to Haiti in a few weeks, on a trip with some people from my nursing program. We are visiting a clinic a few hours north of Port-au-Prince; we are also bringing boxes of school supplies to an orphanage.
After a quick phone call, during which I engaged in some hard-core begging, an AIDS organization here gave me a box of "rapid" HIV testing kits to bring along. These testing kits are self-contained and give results in appx. 15 minutes. Perhaps some people will want to get tested, perhaps not; Haitians are a very conservative people, and many practice voudou and therefore have all sorts of beliefs about what AIDS is. So we'll see how it works out. At least I have something I am certified to contribute to this trip, as I am not a licensed nurse yet.
Today I spent the afternoon talking to several Haitian people who live here in Florida about how to say some basic phrases in Creole, which we will need. "My name is ..." (Yo relen ...) "How are you?" (Kijan ou ye?) "Are you pregnant?" (Eske ou ansent?) I
think Creole is easier to learn than French--everything is
spelled how it sounds. However, it is difficult to find two
people who agree exactly on what the words are or what that proper spelling actually is.
origin of the language (from what I learned) was from Haitian slaves
wanting to communicate without the slave owners understanding them,
so they changed the words enough to be unrecognizable when spoken.
This is also why there isn't much of a standardized written form of Creole.
I asked my Haitian friends how to say numbers--and these people, who lived all their lives in Haiti, are now in medical school here in the U.S. and so they are obviously intelligent--but they could not agree how the numbers would be spelled. They had to phonetically sound them out and take their best guesses. Is the number "1" spelled "yon" or "youn"? Maybe there is an official spelling somewhere, perhaps in a book written by someone nominated by a government official of some sort, but it doesn't mean much if people don't use that standard or are taught anything about it.
It doesn't really matter. I'm not going to teach anyone language lessons. I'm going to pass out backpacks to kids and maybe do some HIV tests, perhaps read blood pressure for someone in the town.
I also wasted much time Googling photos of what Haiti looks like. Lots of mountains, lots of rocks. Lots and lots of sprawling slums. We won't be at the beaches but they look beautiful. This will be a wild ride emotionally, between feeling exhilirated from seeing the country to hugging orphans and being sad.
Due to my certification as an HIV testing counselor, as well as my participation in a certain low-budget cable TV show, I have worked as a public speaker at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada, speaking on issues of student health and "LGBT awareness." Are you aware there are LGBT people all around you? I am here to tell you, yes there are. Trust me. I'm a professional.
When I was in Denver preparing to speak to a group of students for a New Student Orientation program, I went to my hotel's business center to print out some notes. On the desk I found a letter, written from a mother to a daughter, printed out but forgotten and left behind. Of course I read it.
This letter made me tear up right there in the computer center, so I took it to my speech. I admired this parent for having the guts to not only discuss date rape and condoms with her daughter, but to express her own feelings with such grace. When I walked up onto the stage, I asked if anyone in the room would either claim it as their own, or mind if I shared it. No answer. So I read it for the audience.
After years of hanging on to this letter, now crumpled and apparently in the beginning stages of biodegradation, I am going to print it here. Enjoy.
This is the moment I looked forward to all my life; however it is also the moment I fear - seeing my beautiful little baby move on and live her life.
All is well, as my heart is filled with pride and joy as you grow to be a fine, young lady and seeing you proud of yourself for who you are inside.
You have helped me become the woman I am as we grew together.
You went through high school with flying colors.
You have definitely chosen your high school friends wisely; I know you will do the same with your college friends, especially your boyfriend.
Remember, have as one of your parameters for your boyfriend to be: he has a close relationship with his family and respects his parents.
If you must, remember to use good protection and BE SAFE.
Suggestions for being safe:
Have a designated driver if you decide to drink.
Be with another girl friend if you are going to hang out in boys' rooms, and if you must and you are alone, keep the door open.
Be with another girl in your room if you are going to have boys hang out in your room, and if you must and you are alone, keep the door open or tell them they cannot come in.
Be wary of date rapes. Do not accept any drinks from anyone. Get them yourself. Don't leave your drink and then come back to it.
Remember you have only one body; you have only one soul. Take care of it.
Drink lots and lots of water -- it is 50% of your body weight.
Remember to take your vitamins.
I love you. I am proud of you.
I know you are proud of yourself and that is what is most important.
If someday you decide college is not for you and you do not know what you want, it is okay. Be proud that you found out.
Your room will always be available for you when you want to come home for a visit, for a homesick fix, for a good cry break-up fix, for the holidays, for going home for good until you determine what you want to do...
Make your life's decision based on what is true for you and not what is true for me or your dad.
My job is done. I have given you wings to fly and I am happy and proud of/for your flight.
Be happy and proud of your flight and life your life--being true to yourself always.
I remember your first day in school. My heart was broken into pieces. I could not leave school. Your teacher finally asked if I wanted to volunteer. You guessed right...yes.
I remember your first flight alone on a plane. It was nerve-wracking. I must have looked at the clock more than a hundred times counting the minutes when you were picked up at the airport.
I remember when I first left you with a babysitter to go to work. I'd come home for lunch just to see you. After a while you wouldn't come to me. That definitely brought tears to my eyes.
Nobody told me how much harder it is to let go of you when you go off to college. I find myself crying hysterically. It feels like your umbilical cord is being cut for a second time. I know, however, you will be just great...no matter where you are.
You are a precious gift. I remember when you were born like it was yesterday.
I love you. I am proud of you. I thank you for being you.
I'm supposed to be studying so of course this is the perfect time to procrastinate and write a story.
Several days ago, as I lied in a post-slumber state of quasi-wakefulness, I cracked open my eyes towards the clock to see the time. But a dark spot on my pillow caught my interest--specifically, that blurry spot seemed to be moving. Slowly. Towards my face.
Confusion jolted me awake and I focused more clearly on the spot: it was a little greyish-brown caterpillar, inching along at a purposeful yet methodical pace. Inch-inch-inch, the little caterpillar inched along. My first reaction was to just lay there and watch it, and wonder what exciting adventures it had planned for its day, crawling to I-didn't-know-where. It was little and cute. Aw.
Then...Wait. There is a caterpillar on my pillow.
Let's suspend the concerns that, had I not awoken, our little caterpillar friend could have crawled into my ear or up my nose or otherwise violated me in some sort of unsanitary manner. Those thoughts flashed through my head. But I was more concerned with how this caterpillar arrived in my bed in the first place. I do not have any plants in my apartment; there are no flower boxes on my 2nd storey* windows. Maybe a moth found its way in and I did not notice, but Gurdy the Cat is famous 'round these parts for launching strong defensive maneuvers against any invaders that mistakenly enter our confines. I have seen him battle a moth or two, and it is quite a sight. (...mostly because he has crossed eyes and tends to miss the first few times he attacks and he is a dramatic spaz, but if he swats at the air enough he will hit something eventually and the moth usually meets its demise. Anyway--that's another story.)
I used a paper to scoop up the caterpillar and I ran it downstairs, where I flicked it onto the bush by our door. My neighbors have seen me in my underwear numerous times, no big deal, and anyway this was a quick trip and I ran back up to my apartment to solve the bigger mystery at hand. Did I not clean under my bed lately? Actually I had Swiffered just the day before. Hmm. And then the thought occurred to me, I am so gay, my bed makes butterflies.
Okay, let's be serious now. I decided an investigation was in order, so I filled a bucket with soap and grabbed my mop, and I waked the 5 steps it takes to cross the span of my pathetic studio apartment back to my bed. And I draggged off the mattress and flipped the frame on its side. Inventory of contents under the bed:
1 stack of books under the center, which pushed the sagging boards up for much-needed support
1 pair of rather-valuable K2 inline skates I haven't used since I wore them in the skating "challenge" on the Real World/Road Rules Extreme Challenge 2000, but I still keep because I am going to use them again SOMEDAY
A box filled with cake pans, cupcake pans, and other various kitchen gadgets that I never use, but...see K2 explanation above
1 box of dog toys, from when I was a Humane Society volunteer and foster-parented puppies
I dragged everything out of the way, mopped, and examined the floor for signs of other life. Nothing. So I began to move all the stuff back, but I stopped at the dog toys. Maybe there was something in there Gurdy would like to have? Perhaps something that rattled. He loves rattly toys. Hmm. I opened the box.
The last time I fostered any puppies was when I lived with my beau, and he moved out a few years ago. Therefore, this box had stayed under my bed, unopened and periodically shoved out of the way as I cleaned, for approximately two years. Unbeknownst to me, along with the dog toys and a blanket and a food dish, I had stashed several cans of puppy chow in that box. Those cans had ruptured, squished out their contents, and provided a delightful little buffet for unmentionable sorts of creatures.
I'm so gay, I scream when I see bugs. Not so funny anymore, is it, you big girl?
How did I not know this was happening under there? For some reason, those cans didn't smell bad. This led me to believe they popped open a long time ago, slowly, and I never noticed anything smelling odd from under my bed. Either that, or I was just a complete pig, a thought that I could not shake and it made me feel really bad about myself. But no one else noticed anything strange...and there have been plenty of other...you know what I'm saying. Anyway--
So I ran downstairs, in my underwear again but this was too gross for me to stop and care, and I brought the box outside and threw it in the dumpster. Maybe the caterpillar wasn't from that box and it was all a coincidence. But at that point it didn't matter. It wasn't the bugs that bugged me; it was the clusters of eggs on the cans. OMG. It was an entire ecosystem under there.
The moral of the story: I don't know. Maybe this is just a warning to clean under your bed today. And open every box. You never know what you'll find.
*Yes, this is how you're really supposed to spell this word. I promise.