Thursday, May 17, 2012


Nothing will stop a mother in her tracks faster than a scared voice on the other end of the phone saying "Momma, I need you."

Yesterday, on my way home, in the middle of a freak out over having to deal with something I work on that's behind the middle of tears and swearing.... my 15 year old daughter called me to tell me that her boyfriends mother had died. Her boyfriend is almost 16 and his mother was just 36.

My world stopped on those 4 words.."Momma..I need you."

See, I love what I do. I help and/or run volunteers for two fairly big alternative lifestyle events in the South East...on top of about 53 other things yearly (not counting, home, actual work, kids, family etc etc).  I have a passion for it and it gives me massive amounts of pleasure even when it's frustrating and tiring. I love working with the volunteers and they give me back so much, most of the time without even realizing that they make it worth my while. I don't do this work because it pays a dime, I do it because I love it. If I actually calculated the hours, days, weeks, months I put into what I do, the numbers would be astronomical. I don't say this to brag..I'm not big on the recognition and part of the reason I love what I do is that it's behind the scenes. No, I'm not the only one who does things because gawd knows it's takes a lot of us to get it all done.

But lately the actual cost of what I do has taken it's toll on me. I've allowed and accepted things that are costing me dearly, in ways most people don't seem to realize. It's easy to do really, because for one, I make it LOOK easy (or so I'm told), I rarely (if ever) say NO and Just because someone says "I need X to happen." they don't always realize that A through W has to happen first to make X even possible..and even if they do, they usually have their own alphabet soup of things to get done too and don't have the time or capability of worrying about yours.

But it doesn't really matter what I do...what matters is what it's costing me.

I've missed my 11 year old softball games because I had too much work to do.
I've missed conversations with my 15 year old because I had a phone conference.
I can't tell you the last time I went to bed with my husband instead of after him...Hours after him usually.
I've lost weekends with my boy and my girl because of the work I've had to get done and couldn't leave the house or because my head was somewhere else.
I've sacrificed more sleep than most people can imagine and far more than is healthy for me.
I've gotten sick from it.
I've cried over it.
I loose parts of my house for months at a time.
I stop cleaning because I don't have the time or the energy.
I stop serving because I don't have the time or the energy.
I've sacrificed the stability of my job, choosing to do conference work while on the clock so maybe, just maybe, I don't have to take that time away from my family later on that evening.
I've spent days, literally, covered in paint and glue, sweat and tears.
From January until June, every year, I am owned by this. By the time May is here, I don't even try to plan anything because everything takes back seat to what I do.

And yet, when I'm told that someone else can or will pick up the slack, it rarely if ever, happens.

Note: I started this and never finished it because it had me in tears the entire time. Now that the event is over and I've resigned my position, I thought it best to come back and hit "publish". I've done whats best for myself and my family...and I am content with that. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

cherry tree

cherry tree by Mylittlefetish
cherry tree, a photo by Mylittlefetish on Flickr.

This project has been the bane of my existence for the last two years. 
Last year, we wanted to build a cherry tree for SELF. Well ok...I wanted to build a tree....the idea itself is one we borrowed.  The idea is that people use the little cherry shaped slips of paper to write things they want while at our event...someone to go to class with, someone for dinner, someone to teach them to do something...and hang them on the tree. Someone else comes along and says "Hey! I can do that!" and Viola! Connection. We like connections. 

Last years tree was a conglomeration of an outside umbrella stand, a broken shade umbrella, a LOT of paper and about 4 hours of me cursing it while trying to build it. It was unsteady, but it was a huge hit. 

This year, I was tasked with not one tree, but TWO. I wanted to cry. Not only that but it needed to be movable. *eyetwitch*

So after about 3 hours in home depot and a lot of fussing..the tree was made. BTW, did you know that searching for ways to make stage prop trees is nearly IMPOSSIBLE!?!?! Especially 3- D Trees. And once again, my Dad, Mr. Jack-of-all-trades, stepped in and told me how to fix the issues I was the limbs staying up and how to stop using hundreds of rolls of paper to make this happen only to throw it away after 4 days. The little basket is to hold the blank cherries for everyone to tie they're wishes to. 

It's PVC pipe, covered in foam spary insulation and then painted. and darn looks like a dang tree!

The top is a little rough still but I'm going to work on that when we have more green ribbon. The best part? It's not only MOVEABLE, it's sustainable and it breaks down into a few pieces and is easily stored. 

I think I'll take pics as I go along with the construction of the other one...maybe I'll post it to E-how or indestructible...because really..everyone should have access on how to build a darn tree if they need one without cutting one down. I'm no George Washington. 

I am very freaking proud of my tree. 

tall & the F&*#ed up BMI

tall by Mylittlefetish
tall, a photo by Mylittlefetish on Flickr.

This is my 11 year old, Miranda, standing next to my partner, Frankie after her softball game. While yes, Frankie is rather on the short side (much like me), Miranda on the other hand is freaking tall. She gets a kick out of comparing her height to Frankie's every time she gets to see him. I think they are pretty darn close (Because I know Frankie normally wears shoes with thick soles) but he says she has an inch to go. Miranda is the tallest kid in her class and has been since 2nd grade. She doesn't have a problem with this and she likes being tall. 

She's 5'1" tall and when she went to the Dr for her check up, the Dr told her she was overweight by 20 pounds. Her step mom took her..because had I been there the Dr and I would have had WORDS. 

Miranda plays ball. And when I tell you she plays ball I mean she plays Hard. She doesn't have much natural talent but she makes up for it in heart. She needs to have energy to play and that comes from food. We don't eat out much and even when we do, she likes healthy food because that's what we eat at home and she likes it. She likes fruits and veggies, doesn't drink very much soda and sports drinks are for games only. 

Her coach loves that no matter what she tells Miranda to do, she does it, without question and immediately. When her coach gave them a verbal check list of the way they needed to be dressed for games, Miranda went home, made a list and checks it off each time she gets dressed. Right down to her shoes being double knotted. Then she shows up and expects her coach to inspect her uniform. LOL If she has forgotten something, even something so simple as a signed paper, she freaks. 

She thrives on schedule, consistency and clear concise instructions. We're suggesting a military career but she's hesitant about that because she doesn't want to have to learn to shoot a gun. She's asked me to look into branches that wouldn't require that. 

But my kid is a little neurotic. If someone tells her she has to do something, or something is wrong, she obsesses over it like you would not believe. She makes lists of how to deal with this. She asks daily how much sweets she can have...that includes fruit...and what time she should be in bed by even on weekends. We left her home for a evening alone and instead of taking advantage and eating more candy or staying up late when she totally could have gotten away with it, she called me asking the same things. 

And now, thanks to an out dated BMI scale and a Dr. with no idea what this kid does on a daily basis and didn't bother to ask, she has her first issue with her weight. She whispered it to me through the dug out fence, covered in dirt where she just slid home; sweaty and tired from playing for an hour and a half on a school night. 

I am going to go home today and paint on my bathroom scale "You are so much more than just a number on a scale. This scale doesn't weigh your loving heart, your intelligent mind, or your sparkling personality."Just in case she gets on it.  I am going to paint "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!" On the bathroom mirror so she see's it every time she looks at it.  I'm going to paint "Good Food is good for you. Eat when you are hungry." On the fridge because it is full of food that is good for her. 

Then I am going to fire her doctor. 

Unconventional Mothers

I don't really much write about mothers day. Not because it's not celebrated, but more because it's one of those small holidays that mostly get's lost around our little family. It warrants a card and sometimes it warrants going out to dinner but not much else.

You see my mother, while wonderful in her own right, is a bit odd. She was 17 when I was born and most of my life, I spent being HER parent more than she spent being mine. She was the "cool" mom..the one who let me throw parties as a teenager when my father was out of town. Parties that she supplied the alcohol for underage teenagers for most of the time and didn't blink an eye at when we imbibed in less legal activities. She helped me sneak out of the house (Is it really sneaking out when a parent knows where you're going?).

She wasn't the best role model. She lied a lot, she stole, even from my father. She taught us to lie as if it were second nature. I watched her get arrested twice, calling my father each time to come home from a 7 day a week job to get her out of jail. She had a shopping problem and wasn't good with money so she would take checks from him, forge them and bounce them. She couldnt keep a steady job most of the time. She cheated on him. A lot. Most of the time she forgot to give us lunch money and she never signed report cards or much so that when I graduated High School and moved away my mother signed my sisters progress report for the first time in years and was called about it being forged.

Still, she is my mother. She did eventually grow least a bit more. You see my mother, much like her mother and all the women in my family except me, did the same thing most women do...they attempted to stop their lives when they had kids and lived through their children. But children grow up and leave and then the mothers are left empty and alone. She slightly lost it at that point.  When I was 22 my father finally caught her cheating (he knew for years but this was in his face) and they divorced for 3 months. She stopped talking to all of us. She was late to thanksgiving dinner (blasphemy in our family) and my great grandma made me lock the door so she had to ring the bell. They got back together and she changed in many ways.

 She's still the town gossip and you don't share secrets with her or expect her not to tell the world. She still talks about her sex life or sex in general like we're discussing the weather. She can't cook unless it's friend chicken and sometimes that's questionable. She can always be counted on for babysitting, helping with anything and talking in third person. Which drives me crazy but that's just the way she's always been. She gives directions with words like "yonder", "right past the red barn" and by referring to locations that haven't existed since before I was born (do you know how hard it is to find the stock yard that burned 4 years before you were born?!?!?). She talks about people I don't know, or don't remember as if they are common knowledge to me. She can't be trusted with a checkbook and she still often borrows money from us because she's forgotten to pay a bill and my Dad will kill her if the lights get turned off. Often this bill is unpaid because she spent the money buying clothes or things she doesn't need or can't wear. You can't trust half of what she says, she twists things around and sometimes she's as two faced as they come.
And when she get's drunk, she's a flirt..even with my partners. But flirting is as far as it goes now.

But my mom can rope cows and bale hay. She knows how to drive a tractor and she can grow a garden better than anyone...something I so wish I picked up. She's crafty and she decorates beautifully even if it's  other peoples houses that she works for. She makes new flower arrangements to put on the family graves for every season. She taught me to change a tire, but never taught me to apply mascara. She's the one I call when i need help moving heavy things because my dad has a bad back and my husband has bad mom is built short, stocky and strong..just like me. She has rough hands and she doesn't mind physical labor. If I see her in makeup it usually means there's a funeral to go to. I don't think she's ever owned a piece of expensive jewelry in her life. She's probably the closest thing to "butch" I ever knew growing up..some days she still is.

She moves things....people give her clothes, furniture, knick knacks..and she re purposes them or finds someone who needs them. She has an entire back room and a shed full of these things...she's probably replaced most of the clothes in my closet as I've lost weight so I don't have to go buy new ones. If I need matter how odd it may sound..I check at moms first. Melon baller? Ask mom...Tea length black skirt? Check the back closet.

She tells people that my husband and my partner are the best son-in-laws she's ever had without blinking an eye to the fact that they are both biologically women and that there's more than one of them. She asks about my girl and how she's feeling because she knows she's sick.  She never questioned or faltered at my be being gay...though she did get tired of the bad cis-male partners I chose for a while before I settled down in my sexuality.  She treats all of the loves of my life, and my extended chosen family as if they were born into our family.  She helped me re-plant roses, because they are my husbands other partners favorite flowers. She's happy about the idea of when we can built a big house so they can all live there with us.

She is unconventional and no, she will probably never deserve a mom of the year award. She's quirky and funny...and most of the time you roll your eyes at whatever she's saying, and toss half of it away. She is gloriously faulted, magnificently human, and she's the only mother I have ever had, mistakes and all.

One day, when my children make a list of all my faults, all my mistakes and quirks and silly little things I've done, I hope they laugh and smile and think "that's my mom and I love her." Because I just did.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Pin that made me loose my shit

Most of the time, I admit that I take my luck in life for granted. When I came out in High school, my family didn't really even blink an eye. "Oh that's just Gayla!" was commonly heard and while I'm sure they often thought it was "just a phase" they never really gave me a hard time about it.

So it's rather easy to spend 34 years of your life surrounded by love and support and be entirely insulated from the insults, being misunderstood and the down-right HATRED that people can spew at you just because of who you choose to love. Yes...even in Alabama. I was never kicked out, taken to the doctor because something was wrong with me, or hurt because I was gay. I was never told that who I loved or how I chose to live my life was wrong or a sin, even though I am a part of a very southern baptist family and was raised in a church. Hellfire and brimstone was a normal sunday morning brunch dish with a side of guilt...but never for loving and never by my own family.

But as we say in the south, bless the Internets heart, I'm exposed to it on a regular basis now.

Most of the time it doesn't bother me. I can let it roll off my back and ignore it. I can chalk it up to someones belief system and I don't have any issues with them having their own opinions. There have been only a few times in my life when I've reacted to something written online in such a passionate way that it's brought me to tears. This morning happened to be one of them.

The president's support of same sex marriage has sparked tons of debate. Now whether it's a campaign ploy or  too little too late doesn't really matter to me one way or another. The fact that he even said it is huge but I'm not that political. I vote with my gut with my brain throwing in a healthy dose of reality but mostly I'm an action person. You support me actually marrying the person I love? Rock on! Now, do something to make it LEGAL. Because otherwise? You're just talking outta your ass.

But this morning while playing on Pinterest someone I follow pinned on of the equal rights posters that's supposedly from Obama's Campaign Headquarters. This one, actually:

I clicked on it just to see it a little better and I was shocked when my eyes ran across these two comments at the very top of the page:

So sad.....another step of moral decline for our country

^Agreed. Next pedophiles are ok, I mean "its only love"/

I spent the morning being pissed off about it. I walked away. I stopped looking at pinterest because I didn't wan't to be tempted to reply. And you know what happened? It got increasingly worse. Yes, I was touched by the number of people who spoke up and rallied against this. I was touched by the knowledge that more people than not saw gay marriage as an equality issue and were on the same side.

But it haunted me and nagged at me until I couldn't stand it anymore. With tears in my eyes, I wrote a response:

First, I believe you are all entitled to your own opinions. Doesn't hurt a thing, right? 
 I happen to be a happily partnered gay woman. I've been with my partner for 5 years, raising 2 happy, well adjusted kids. Comparing my LIFE to that of someone who preys on innocent children in a depraved and unacceptable way by any standard is not only shamefully judgmental, but hurtful. I have no need for any church or religion to recognize my marriage because I have no need to belong to a church or follow organized religion. 

What I want is the same rights that my next door neighbor has. I want to know that in 50+ years when my wife is lying in a hospital bed dying, that they'll let me be there to hold her hand. I want to know that my health insurance will cover her if she gets sick or hurt. I want to know that she can sit beside me when we go to our childrens school plays without having to worry that our 11 year old is going to get the crap beat out of her for her mom being gay. I want to know that if something happened to me she'd have the right to draw my social security check. I want to know that if she was lying in a hospital room, hooked to machines and unable to live on her own that I could make the decisions she and I agreed to. I want to know that she can go to the local McDonalds with my father and he doesn't have to worry about getting attacked because his daughter is obviously gay. 

You know what I REALLY want? 
I want to know how my having the EXACT same rights as you do impacts your MARRIAGE? 
Because you're entitled to your beliefs, and you are entitled to your rights. But they END when they are designed for no other reason than to take away mine. I am no threat to your marriage. I am no threat to your religion. I am no threat to your children. I am no threat to your way of mine. But you want to stand in judgement, control my life & deny me the right to be equal.

No, I don't even begin to imagine that it will change the mind of even one of those people who would post something so far beyond the concept of reality. People who have closed their minds and use a religious document that teaches love and forgiveness as a weapon towards others are unwilling to accept other views of reality no matter how many times they are pointed out as truth.

I cannot change the way they feel. I cannot change their minds. I don't have to.
I also don't have to sit there and say nothing. Because this is my reality every day and I choose to live in happiness and not hatred.