In response to Shane’s “It Could Happen to You . . . “

8 05 2012

Death is hard enough.  Imagine your  significant other  dies, but you don’t have any rights, because you never got married or you never could get married.  Shane knows exactly what that means, he lived it. He  shows us what his life used to be. His happy life with his partner Tom. And what happens when it’s taken all away—even the chance to grieve  like everyone else.

Watch his 10 minute video and share it. Make this video go viral.

http://youtu.be/pR9gyloyOjM

Press the LIKE button for  EqualLoveEqualRights on Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/EqualLoveEqualRights

I’ve said this before. We all have a 100% chance of dying. None of us knows when or where. So it’s best to be prepared for it. Just a little bit. I’m not talking about buying a cemetery plot and having your name carved into stone years before you actually make it into the ground. That creeps me out.  I’m talking about taking precautions for your family.

What if you’re still alive, but in a coma ( unable to speak or move, unaware of your surroundings), who would make medical decisions for you? Are you sure? Do you have it writing? Not something you scribbled on a McDonald’s napkin. That doesn’t count. Unless you have it in writing, your next of kin will be your voice.  They get to talk with the doctors to determine your treatment plan. How long you stay on the ventilator. Whether or not your organs get donated.  Whether or not you’ll get to live out the rest of your life as a vegetable with a feeding tube.

Those same next of  kin will be making your financial decisions while you’re in a coma or dead. They’ll get to divvy up your belongings and have an estate auction.  Whose name is on the house? The car? What about your pet?

Don’t leave your loved one alone and unprepared to fight your homophobic, insensitive and/or greedy family.  Make your wishes known today. Get it in writing with witnesses. Go to the Notary Republic. See a lawyer.  Your partner could lose their house, business or life savings because of your inability to see your own mortality.

Shane is right. It could happen to you.  It happened to me. I was only 25. Just because you’re young, does not make you immune to mortality. I was lucky. I might have been only a roommate, but at least I got to go to the funeral.

Don’t wait until marriage is legal. GLBTQ community  get your shit together.  Fight for equality, but see a lawyer!

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Back to Crunchy Granola Tofu Lesbianism

20 01 2012

Women get into relationships and then they get fat. How many of us have blamed our partner for our flab? I have. Is it the love or them cooking for us? A change in routine? Or maybe we stop taking care of ourselves, because we’re no longer on the market.  It makes me think of that completely misogynistic, irreverent song “Women Lose Weight” by Morcheeba.  The husband kills the wife because she’s fat. It’s her fault that he had to kill her.   http://youtu.be/z_jGgZ35W5s

I have never really been thin except for those few years as a teenager when I was biking everywhere. When you bike 70 miles in one day, you can eat whatever the hell you want. But I got my driver’s license.  A couple years later, I started college and packed on the freshman 50. That’s what happens when every meal is a buffet, and Pizza Hut is a few hundred feet from the dorm.

After my girlfriend died, I lost about 40 of those pounds over a 4 year span.  During those years, I met quite a few vegetarians and vegans. I snubbed  milk, cheese and mayonnaise. And I began to experiment with  tofu,  Silk milk and Ener G  Egg Replacer.  It’s not that I counted calories or watched fat, because I didn’t . And I wasn’t exercising either.  Maybe it was stress, unhappiness or preoccupation.

When Jacks met me, I was a chunky but average size 12. She called me a hippy. Mateo called me his Tofu Lesbian.    One night when I met  her Lake George friends, I made dinner:  a vegetable lasagna with eggplant and zucchini slices, whole wheat pasta, ricotta with herbs and other various cheeses. And don’t forget the chickpea salad with parsley and an oil/spice dressing.  Unbeknownst  to  me, everyone else was stepping outside to fart the whole night. No one was really into the chickpea salad.

Jacks likes to bring up the incident of the flaxseed pancakes. Our friend Amber who lived across the street  came over for breakfast. Flaxseed is one of those healthy ingredients that I liked to slip into foods.  Omega 3s and a nutty flavor. What’s not to love?  I added them to my eggless, whole wheat, soy milk  pancakes.  It was not long after Jacks and Amber ingested the pancakes, they were fighting over the toilet.  That was at least 6 years ago. To this day Jacks always asks about the pancakes to make sure I haven’t slipped in anything extra.  But  I do keep some in the freezer just in case ;O)

In my size 12 days, I would eat half a sweet potato and two vegetarian sausages for breakfast. Sometimes instead of the vegetarian sausage I would have lima beans or peas with soy butter.  I’m not the type of person who can eat the same thing every morning. It ruined sweet potatoes for me. Now, I’m only interested if it’s fried and accompanied by a dill aioli.

Somewhere along the line, I gained it all back. When I plug in my weight and height into the BMI calculator, it tells me I’m obese.  Now I’m a chunky size 18.  I could blame Jacks going to Culinary school. She would bring home  loaves of fresh Baguette bread every night.  I rediscovered  butter, cream and red rare MEAT!  The soy butter was pushed to the back of the fridge.

These days my friends & I are counting calories and trying to burn a few extra off. Measuring and weighing food. Walking the dog. Shoveling the sidewalk. Dusting off the recumbent bike.  I’m down 6 pounds. It’s a start.  We were all surprised at how small portions of cheese, rice and pasta have so many calories. And some fast food is completely out of the question–like Culver’s Atlantic Cod Dinner .  We’re doing this http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ thing. It calculates the calories you need to create a deficit so that you can lose weight. It’s like Facebook for fatties.

Before I started to count calories, I tried the Weight Watchers points system. That lasted about a day.  They have this  formula  based on  weight, activity, age,  and sex that calculates how many food points a person can have.   I bought their Food Companion book, so I could look up all the food.  I burned more calories flipping through that book. Instead of having all the foods in alphabetical order, they had them in categories.   Basically, Weight Watchers charges a shit ton of money by assigning point values to foods rather than have a person count calories which is readily available on food  packages and the internet.

Besides the cracked out point system,   I have no desire to attend meetings with strangers and share my shame.  Talk about the days when you used to frequent the Bistro and order 2 appetizers, entrée, and dessert. “Yeah, my name is Julie Ann, I’m a lardass.”  Or maybe go undercover. “My name is Chloe, and I’m a compulsive eater.” I wonder if Weight Watcher’s in anonymous like AA. I wonder if they give out chips for pounds lost.  “Hi, my name is Beatrice, I’m a binge eater. I’m 2 months sober.”  “I’m Fran, I’m a foodie. I fell off the wagon today.”   I’m just trying to figure out what the $60 is for. Do you get a sponsor that you can call in the middle of the night when you’re depressed and standing over a gallon of  mint chip chocolate ice cream with a spoon? Do they have their very own serenity prayer, 12 steps, and bad coffee in Styrofoam cups?   Isn’t AA free? And then they have all these special Weight Watcher’s foods—prepackaged and frozen deals.  Because it’s easier to stick with the points system if you’re eating food from the Weight Watchers company. I live with a Chef and you want me to eat a cardboard energy bar and a TV dinner?

I mean seriously, why should I pay a company while I do all the work? Is anyone at Weight Watchers going to get on the treadmill for me?  Let me dial their 1-800 #, “Um yeah, this is Sherri.  How much for a mile of jogging at moderate pace? I want to eat out tonight.”

So my friends and I have begun our weight loss journey.  The tofu noodles snuck back into the crisper drawer. Luna soy bars are nuzzled next the Trader Joes Freeze Dried blueberries in the cupboard.  I’ll work on portion control, counting calories and exercise.  But I refuse to eat low fat cheese, sugar substitutes and fake butter (aka margarine). That’s not food. Those are synthetic substitutions for food just like most of the processed foods in the snack aisle.  And don’t touch my half & half, because it’s going into my coffee.

But I don’t want to be another health statistic either—not just the fat American kind—you know, the dead kind.  So here’s to a sort of return to Tofu Lesbianism— a Reformed Tofu Lesbianism that includes both tofu and butter– in moderation, of course.





Boycott Holland

4 07 2011

If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much. I heard that phrase many times growing up. But it’s not so much a phrase as much as an attitude– one that still permeates Holland.  Only they’ve changed it a little bit. If you don’t act or think like we do, you might as well be a dried up piece of dog crap or a special interest group.  That’s what Holland City Council is saying anyway.  In a 5 to 4 vote, they decided  not to include sexual orientation and gender identity into their fair housing ordinances and equal employment opportunity policy. Jim Larkin their token gay council member resigned in protest.

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/06/gay_resident_resigns_from_holl.html

They said the community should decide (aka “I don’t have balls to take a stand”).  I mean seriously, aren’t they elected  officials? And then they said it would end healthy conversation over the debate. WTF? Hollanders don’t talk about stuff–especially, serious, community changing stuff. Best to leave things the way they are. Next thing you know people will want to drink and hang their laundry out on Sundays.

Grand Rapids ordinances have prohibited housing discrimination based on sexual orientation  since 1994.  That was almost 20 years ago!   I would have to say that even though Grand Rapids is larger than Holland, it’s generally a conservative city and still part of West Michigan’s ubiquitous Bible Belt.  Lansing which is seen as more of a liberal  dyke haven included sexual orientation in their ordinances in 2006. http://www.fhcmichigan.org/images/Arcus_web1.pdf    For those who work for the state of Michigan, there are employment protections based on sexual orientation. http://www.lambdalegal.org/states-regions/michigan.html  If you’re a GLBT patient in a Michigan hospital, you are protected by the PUBLIC HEALTH CODE Act 368 of 1978 which states “A patient or resident shall not be denied appropriate care on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital status, sexual preference, or source of payment.”

So there are many people down on Holland right now like the angry Facebook page that is calling for a Holland boycott.  I get that. But shouldn’t this be something that is decided on the state level. How is it fair that the state of Michigan protects their GLBT  employees, but not its residents? And for those of us who work and/or live in Holland, how are we supposed to boycott? It’s not like we live in a flourishing economy where we can just sell our house tomorrow or find a job with the same pay and benefits next week. Real life doesn’t work that way. And besides, if everyone who is GLBT or GLBT friendly avoids the city, who will be the voice who speaks out? Change only comes over time and with persistence. Not by running away. Well, fuck it. I’m not going to Holland ever again. Thanks assholes! And what about gay business owners in Holland? They do exist.

Conservative Hollanders are accusing special interest groups and non-locals of trying to change their local laws.   I’m not a special interest group. I’m mostly Dutch.  I was born in Holland Hospital—the old part. Lived in Holland for 23 years.  Two of my grandparents spoke Dutch. I Dutch Danced in high school. Played in the Holland Area Youth Orchestra.  Ate at Russ’s more times than I can count.  Bought candy at The Peanut Shop. Currently, I spend 1/3 of my life in Holland. I’ve spent 23,000 hours of my life providing nursing care for Holland residents. Problem is–I’m gay. And I have all sorts of liberal, non-conformist ideas about tolerance and civil liberties in my head.  I might even been contagious. Uh, oh.

The Happiest City? Welkom? Holland has always projected the façade of Happy. It’s the “if we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.”  My coworker who’s a native of Chicago described the attitude best. “You have a husband and wife. The husband wants to go to one place for vacation. The wife  wants to go to another place for vacation. But they don’t talk about it. So they go to a third place for vacation that neither one wanted to go to.” Hollanders don’t talk about things and don’t want things to change.  They want to order half a sandwich and cup of soup at Russ’s until the end of time.  And it better be the same price  and don’t expect a 15% tip. Are you crazy? A menu change would cause a cataclysmic mental melt down.

With the economy the way it is, you think Holland would be more cautious about who it snubs or pisses off. Money is money whether it comes from a Christian Reformed straight couple or a Pagan lesbian couple.  I remember when I was a kid before the
Westshore Mall. Mom would order our clothes from Sears or JC Penny’s Catalogues. Our other choice was a trip to the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids. When I moved to Grand Rapids in 2001, the WestShore Mall was already dying. Big Boys, JJ Finnegans, Lane Bryant Spencers . . . all gone. Everyone is either closing up shop or moving back to Grand Rapids. And the Outlet Mall–last time I was there, it seemed like there were more empty shops than not.  And what about all the companies that have  disappeared?  I remember Life Savors before sugar was cheaper in Canada. Donnelly Mirrors before they sold out to  Magna. RediWhip.  Prince Corporation which I believed turned into JCI which is always laying people off. And those  are just the one’s I can remember. What’s left in Holland?  Muskegon used to be something too until all the factories shut down. The lakeshore and the Tulip Time Festival won’t save Holland.

Grand Rapids Mayor Heartwell said that including the GLBT community is a marketing decision, making a welcoming place for everyone. Notice he never says that he embraces the GLBT community. He’s not flying a rainbow flag in his front yard.  But he  believes in tolerance and a city that allows everyone to live as they are. http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2011/06/west_michigan_mayors_debate_be.html





We’re just like you–mostly

3 08 2010

A commenter wrote that we were a bunch of social justice types itching for a fight just because we wrote a letter to the editor disagreeing with the homophobic Family Research Council & Request Foods Ad in the Holland Sentinel. This is my response:

“Those” homosexuals. “Those” gays. “Those” lesbians. We’re not some random protestors. We’ve been here all along. And mostly we’re just like you. We go to work and to school. We come home. Eat. Sleep. Shower. Shave. Do laundry. Watch a little TV. Mow the lawn. Plant a garden. Recycle. Swim at Ottawa Beach or Tunnel Park. Eat ice cream at Captain Sundae. Shop at Meijer. Donate our old junk to Goodwill. Eat pizza at Fricano’s. Take trips up north. Pay taxes. Vote. Write letters to the editor. Post comments about letters to the editor. Disagree passionately about what others may generalize about us. Because we want to defend our rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech as well as our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We are your daughters, sons, fathers and mothers. We are your family.

We are your doctors, nurses, nurse aides. After you had a stroke, we took care of you. We are your engineers, carpenters, electricians. The house that you’re living in, we installed the plumbing. We are your retail store clerks and factory workers. We made your rear view mirror and assembled your expensive office chair. We are librarians, baristas, landscapers, waiters, and chefs. We prepared your rack of lamb medium rare with a pomegranate reduction. We are your bank tellers, managers, and professors.

I’m the construction worker that paved the roads you drive on. I’m the fast food worker that assembled your Big Mac. I’m the police woman that gave you a ticket on 16th street.. I’m the hot gay guy in my brown UPS uniform that delivered your package last Tuesday. I’m the farmer that grew your organic heirloom tomatoes from seed.

We are as diverse as the rest of the population.  You don’t even know who we are, because most of the time we are invisible. I’m sitting right next to you on the MAX bus. I’m your grandfather’s roommate at Freedom Village Inn. We’re invisible until we speak. After we speak, you complain that we are too loud, too radical and you want us to move to Africa where it’s really bad and we’ve got something to cry about.

But we’re everywhere, and we’re mostly just like you.





The Chef’s Wife

22 06 2010

Subscribe to The Dirty Napkin http://thedirtynapkin.com/issue and read my story “The Chef’s Wife.” You can also listen to it!





Heather’s Stud (the Angry Blog Commenter)

21 03 2010

Dear Angry Blog Commenter,

I received your message.

“Lucy Diamond is a stupid bitch and has no idea what she is talking about.  How uneducated is she to not know who Gary Dop is?”

Unfortunately I was unable to e-mail you back at heathers_stud01@gmail.com It went directly to the mail demons and was returned as undeliverable. This made me sad. I wanted to talk about your feelings of hostility and unrecognized rage.

Honestly, I found your message a little weird—junior high, serial killer-ish. Because you weren’t even commenting on the blog itself. You made a comment about another commenter—evaluating their intelligence and ability to leave a comment. It only made your own ignorance more apparent.

Please do not leave derogatory comments on my blog site. The purpose of my site is to entertain, incite laughter and to provoke intelligent thought. Your comment does none of these things. I wanted to delete your comment and send you a personal e-mail. However, because you left an invalid address, I am forced to blog about it instead. Maybe even psycho-analyze and poke fun.

Most people probably do not know Gary Dop. Do you know who Gary Dop is?  I hardly know him myself. After all, how can you really know god?

It’s obvious that you know Lucy Diamond on a personal level—not just as a random comment on a blog site. And you have been harboring negative feelings toward her for some time.  Really you want to tell her that she’s a stupid bitch, but you’re too afraid. She probably hurt you in some way and vice versa. Instead of leaving angry, pseudo-anonymous comments on my site, it would be better if you talked directly with Lucy using “I feel” statements. Or perhaps you might want to consider therapy to help you work through your feelings.

A couple months ago the top search on my blog site was “Lucy Diamond was a prostitute.”  Was that you Heather’s Stud?  Typically, I don’t use my blog  to attack people that I know in a public forum. And if I do, I most certainly won’t use their real name.  I prefer to verbally accost systems, complete strangers and powerful officials. You fall into the complete stranger category.  I would like to remind you that this is a narcissistic blog. So mostly I like to talk about myself and include self-deprecating humor.

Heather’s Stud, you sound like an angry lesbian with Short Man Syndrome. You want to be big burly dyke so badly, but you need to grow some balls first.  

I should thank you for giving me something to write about, but I don’t think I will.

Julie Ann





Dead Wives

2 03 2010

Check out my short story “Dead Wives” now published in Sex & Murder Magazine

http://sexandmurder.com/_____current_issue.html