Same Love

A secret very, very, very little people know about me, is that until I was at least double digits I thought that I was gay. This wasn’t caused by a persistent thought about the same gender in a uniquely sexual way but, rather an appreciation for the opposite gender. I related to males more than females and thought that perhaps G-d made a mistake in my gender cocktail.

Around this time Ghostwriter was my favorite show, I detested anything any shade of pink, and always considered it a compliment when I was referred to as ‘one of the guys.’ I was 9 and rocking a side pony tail like it was my day job before I could fully understand that I had been filled with falsely preconceived ideas of what love was, wasn’t, and that this emotion must only ever be shared between a man and a woman.

“That’s it.,” I thought.

There was no way I was straight.

My parents didn’t give me ‘the talk.’ In fact, they avoided many talks including the one that started and ended with ‘just because you are not attracted to anyone in your 16 person 1st grade class doesn’t make you a lesbian.’ But, the lesson my parents did give–perhaps unintentionally–was that there is a necessary beauty in allowing a person to come into their own, on their own. This is a lesson I carry with me every day and am continually grateful that I was raised–in whatever accidental way it was– to take and love people for who they are, NOT  who I want them to be.

I bring this up now because,  Colorado recently passed the civil union bill.  I couldn’t be a prouder resident of this state and only hope that this bill, and those like it, continue to be passed nation wide. While I may not rock side ponytails anymore and I definitely know that I’m not gay; that’s not important. What matters is that gay or not, people are people and deserve those rights and liberties entrusted thousands of years ago. So I say, no freedom till we’re equal; damn right I support it.

#Samelove

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But they told me a man should be faithful and walk when not able and fight till the end. But I’m only human

Life was a lot easier in my firefly-catching days.

Of course, times were different back then. Success meant winning the Skip-it competition in 4th grade, love was being told you were ‘pretty enough to be a Spice Girl’ and beauty was determined by the number of perfectly positioned badges I had earned at Girl Scout camp in the fall of ’94. Concepts like bills, heartache, and inferiority didn’t exist.

But my favorite thing about elementary school was the purity of everyone’s actions.

When my friends and I argued we’d always say ‘sorry’ and we’d always mean it. Hugs were in no short supply. If you needed something, anything–from a pencil to a slinky–and especially when you forgot your lunch at home, everyone at your table contributed perfect portions of animal crackers and fruit roll-ups, without be asked. It’s what we did.

But these were different times.

Now, I work for an organization that I love beyond what a few characters on a screen will allow me to express. I have amazingly bold, gifted, and talented co-workers who each come with their own set of pros and cons. But, I just finished a week where people weren’t willing to say sorry when it needed to be said and when I metaphorically got hurt on the playground, no one asked  if I was ‘alright.’ The bottom line is, we’re older now and protect our egos over each other. We’ve become more concerned with judgments and insecurities, fearing what we don’t know rather than enjoying what we do have. We think about ‘potential shortcomings’ and assume the worst of one another as opposed to using our strengths to shield others’ weaknesses. It seems like my team has gotten to a place where we operate on the defense forgetting that no points can be scored without an active offense. Part of me wishes I had the strength to describe everything awful that happened this week and just how hurt and offended by the whole series I am, but I don’t. What I do have is the strength to explain the conversation I had with a coworker (from another team) last night and how he corrected what I once saw as weakness.

With tears hanging from my eyelashes in a dimly-lit Chiptole I stared down at the table ashamed to admit I was a part of a team that was hurting. I started off by rationalizing  everything that everyone did that was wrong. I created excuses and hoped for a different outcome to a story I already knew the ending of. And after 12 minutes of talking in circles and avoiding naming names I took a deep breathe and sighed, “I wonder if the problem is me….”  I struggled all week in deciding who was to blame. I only wanted to know where it all went wrong, so that if I was in the wrong I could correct it. Things got quite and no one spoke until I blurted out, “The real problem is I have to go into work everyday to face a group of people who have said they have no problem hurting me. And, I have no choice but to either accept it or reciprocate their emotion.”

In an unexpected twist the co-worker started to smile. He looked at me and said, “But, what if there was a third option?” Annoyed, with his whimsical thinking I rolled my eyes and dropped my head. He said, “Now, hear me out. What if you loved them–whoever they are– in spite of the hate they show?” Intrigued by the concept I cut the melodramatics and opened my heart to the possibility of loving something I knew might hurt me. He continued his theory by explaining that I wouldn’t be the first (or the last)person to have to work with people whose intentions appear impure.  He reminded me of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the fact that he died loving in spite of hate and then finished his lesson by saying to me, “you aren’t sacrificing who you are by loving in spite of hate–you are being who you are by loving in spite of hate.”

I won’t lie; this doesn’t solve all of the harm done on our team. But, this does change things. Because now, when someone metaphorically forgets their lunch at home, loses their Lisa Frank binder, or breaks their pencil I’m going to share mine regardless of whether or not they would do the same for me.

And I’ll do it, because it’s what you’re supposed to do.

Buy it, coppin’ it, washin’ it, ‘bout to go and get some compliments

I’ve heard of Pintrest but, never really gotten behind the whole “look at pictures for hours and think about but, never actually make anything” thing. It wasn’t until one of my darling and ever procrastinating friends uploaded a picture of a coat holder she made from a picture frame that I wised up to the whole recycling of ideas machine that is Pintrest.So I borrowed and then modified the idea as is modeled below. But then today I was looking at it and got to thinking..’how can I make this good thing, better?’ And that’s when it donned on me, decorate it with something I love!

The Steps:

1. Buy/Obtain a  picture frame.

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I bought mine for .75 cents after popping some tags at the local Goodwill. I loved the vintage feel of it/couldn’t resist.

2. Remove the middle (usually glass) portion of the frame and the backing.

This, I feel like, goes without further explanation.

3. Buy some hooks.

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I got mine for around 2$ from Walmart (forgive me do-gooders)

4.  Apply the hooks in the location of your choice + add adhesive backing

I just eye-balled where I wanted the hooks to go and then screwed them in myself—-bare handed. Chuck Norris/my dad would be proud.

5. Hang it.

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Depending on how strong your adhesive is you may not want to hang certain (heavier) items from it. But, I hang my coat, scarf, and wallet (which is filled with fat ca$h) on it and it stays just fine.

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I finished and prepared to write Queen Martha Stewart herself as I glanced on my cluttered bedroom floor to pick up a perfectly framed team photo. Taken in early October, I don’t think one photo can ever capture the spirit of my time or the current place I am more than this photo so I placed it on top of the hollowed out square to complete this look. You don’t have to do the same but, I figured what better place than the entrance of my bedroom to hang some happiness.

Finished:

teamhooker

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the autumn leaves so dry and sweet tell me everything is not broken

“A couple hundred years ago Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. He said, “Never leave that ’til tomorrow, which you can do today.”… This is the man who discovered electricity; you’d think we’d pay more attention to what he had to say. I don’t know why we put things off, but if I had to guess it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of rejection. Sometimes the fear of just of making a decision. Because… What if you’re wrong? What if you make a mistake you can’t undo?

….’The early bird catches the worm.’ ‘A stitch in time saves nine.’ ‘He who hesitates is lost.’ We can’t pretend we haven’t been told. We’ve all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time; heard the damn poets urging us to seize the day. Still, sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today’s possibility under tomorrow’s rug until we can’t anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin meant. That knowing is better than wondering. That waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake, beats the hell out of not trying.”

So where have I been you ask? Loving completely, risking everything, and praying daily.

I pledge allegiance to my Grandma

I just deleted this whole blog post because I realized after re-reading it that no amount of eloquently typed words on a screen can express how funny my students are. But, just imagine 23 innercity HS students reactions once they heard me explain that Jesus’s being born in Bethlehem makes him Arab….not Mexican.

and if that didn’t work then watch this.

I’ve never really believed in an “inside” voice. Either you want to be heard, or you don’t.

Poetic justice, poetic justice, You were so new to this life but damn you got adjusted

In college I had a gay friend. In fact, I had several gay friends–most of which were both open and honest about their sexuality. Others however  were not as comfortable.

There was one friend who excelled at the not-so-out gay lifestyle. We’ll call him Jake. Jake wore Toms and flannel in the fall, drove a super American car, and had a petite girlfriend who he almost constantly and publicly praised as being “fuc*ing hot.” Jake was involved  around campus and great at beer pong so for the most part he was well liked. Most considered Jake  the All-American (heterosexual) boy next door.

But, I had my suspicions. A lot of us who knew him did. We assumed his girlfriend, puppy, and facebook relationship status were all pieces of a well maintained coverup. To us, Jake was –and is–gay. Like most friendships the longer you know a person the more mutual friends you develop. Jake was no exception. Each month we’d add at least 2 people to our list of shared contacts. By the second year of our friendship we had collected so many mutual friends that Ash Ketchum would’ve been jealous. And with each new mutual friend came a new set of questions and poised facial expressions which, in the most polite way possible, asked, ‘is he gay?’

For a long time I didn’t know how to respond to these questions. Sure I had my suspicions but, they were just that…suspicions. I remained torn until I finally confided these concerns to yet another mutual friend, Lisa. Lisa had LOTS of gay friends. I figured if anyone knew how to approach the situation it’d be her. Lisa said she’d ask me one question and if I didn’t know what to do after that then she’d ask him herself. She asked, “has he ever told you he’s gay?” Of course the answer was no. If I knew the answer then it wouldn’t be a suspicion. Duh. Lisa went on to explain,”if you don’t know that he’s gay and he hasn’t told you that he’s gay then really there’s no valid evidence for you to believe that. Who are you to tell someone else who they are or aren’t?” I grew defensive wanting to explain that I wasn’t ‘trying to out him’ I just wanted to ‘help him.’ And that’s when Lisa gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. She said, “it’s a common misconception that you can’t help others unless they are ready to help themselves. But, the truth is, you can’t help put out a fire that doesn’t exist.” Her point was: just because I saw Jake as gay, in the closet and struggling to balance those two worlds doesn’t  mean that any of those statements  are true.

So why share this story now?

Today one of my oldest friends announced her decision to de-hijab. After a few texts and even a DM I couldn’t help but to remember Jake and how I felt every time I was asked, ‘but, is he gay?’  People are about the bottom line. They don’t care about the beginning, middle, or end so long as you give them a happy ever after. And as much as I’d like to just say, “HERE IT IS!” That’s not the way life works. You can’t appreciate the ending to a movie without knowing the beginning. I say this because I have noticed a spike in the amount of girls I know who are de-hijabing and am in many ways concerned. My biggest concern is that it will become a  trend in which Muslim girls everywhere are cutting the metaphorical movie short just to give people the ending they want. And, I don’t believe in compromising identities. My second concern is that people will forget what hijab is and it’s highly subjective meaning for each girl who wears it. Regardless of how hurtful  it is (as a hijabi) to watch this trend emerge it’s more important to me that we remember that hijab is something that is worn just as much on the inside as it is on the outside. That is to say that, like Jake, just because a female decides to remove (or for that matter wear) the hijab it doesn’t necessarily mean that she is struggling or any less firm in her deen (religion) than she was when she was wearing it. Please do not misunderstand this as a justification piece–it is by no means that. But, it is a reminder piece. It’s time to pass on the lesson that meant so much to me a year ago today: unless you have the full story, you will never have the full story. And without the full story you will never appreciate the movie. So who are we to criticize?..Oh right, no one.

written with love and chai in hand, with the purest of intentions for Winnie.

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Heavy heart, now a weightless cloud, making time for the ones that count

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Lately, I’ve spent most of my time catching my breath. And that’s no fun.