The Great Migration
Published November 17th, 2005 Essays 1 Comment Edit
The think tank has moved. I did, however, bring over my little missives from the previous site. Stay tuned….
Saturday, November 12th, 2005
Back to Busy-ness
I am amused and feeling a sense of happy contentment. It’s Friday night, and we have no plans. I think to myself… what a luxury. We seem to be busy all the time. And I want to know, when did that happen? When did busy become the way of life? I’m scratching my head here.
Everyone is rushing. Have to get to the next meeting, the next phone call, the next dinner, the next movie, the next chore around the house. We have calendars on desks, in phones, on computers, in hand held devices. And most of those, well the electronic ones anyway, have alarms. Not only do we constantly have to write everything down, we have to audibly remind ourselves that we wrote it down.
I know, sitting here right now, there are things I should, or could, or am supposed to be doing. I can walk around my house and see all of the things left undone. If I think on it hard enough I also conjure up all the stuff not done outside, but it’s raining, so I have an excuse. Sadly, not only do the tasks around here plague me, but the piles of paperwork and files on my desk start to creep into my consciousness. They do, if I let them. I must fight it!
I want to be a kid again. Or, better yet, be me, now, but with the magic secret super power I had as a kid… that strange and mysterious ability to forget absolutely everything, except what I was doing at the moment. To ignore anything, including the sounds of mom calling from the house, even when she used all three of my names, and that meant business. But, I didn’t hear it, at least not right away. And when I did, finally, she’d probably used the dreaded three name technique to gain attention one, two, or even three times. I was in my own world, master of my own fate. In charge, completely, of my destiny. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. I did nothing, except what I was doing, right then, at the moment.
At the moment, that’s the key.
Now as an adult, I am distracted. I’m watching a movie, or reading a book, or having a conversation… and suddenly, without intent or warning, the voice starts… my evil little inner twin, the task master. It begins to knock on my consciousness, slowly at first, little pictures or a word floating into “view” inside my head. It lets me know, I am not alone. It is always, except when I’m sleeping, with me. Even in sleep I think it’s there, it’s just probably sleeping too. But when I’m awake, it’s awake. It says things like… trash… or maybe… phone call. It doesn’t have to speak loudly, or even report its message fully. It just has to whisper, like wind slightly rustling the leaves. It pushes me, gently. Starting the swirl of thoughts in my brain…. Can you believe what that kid said today? Oops, I forgot to make that call. Where was that file? The look on that parents face was so sad. I need to remember that number when I go up to court. The car is so dirty. What’s for lunch? The lawn should’ve been mowed before it started raining. That shop door needs a new gasket… And so it goes… the list. Before I know it, three scenes of a movie have gone by and I’m thinking, what the hell just happened? Damn, I have to rewind.
Our lives, as adults, are busy. There are appointments and weddings, shopping to do, calls to make, bills to pay, papers to finish, and lawns to mow. There are friends and family to spend time with, work to be done. It is a never ending constant parade of to dos, should dos, must dos. From the moment we wake until the moment we sleep, which sometimes does not come easily thanks to all the thinking, we are bombarded with it. And I, for one, think it’s time we left all the busy-ness behind and got back to the business of being kidlike again. The business of living now, seizing, as they say, the day. Letting everything else melt away… until finally, surprised because it snuck up on us, we get that elusive feeling of peace. Finally, if not briefly, satisfied with our lives, our homes, and ultimately, ourselves… inner voices quieted, a pervasive feeling of giddy awe ensuing, we do face the day, freer than we were. Amused, contented, and still. Think of it, a world of happy contented people. Looking at and living in the moment. Our world would quiet, and we… well… we might, finally, get to see an entire movie… without thinking about a thousand other things, and then having to rewind.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
How to Accessorize
Lately, I feel like an accessory. Or, more to the point, I feel like in being gay, I’m a sort of accessory. Ten years ago, we weren’t, the gay I mean, even talked about, except, of course, in a negative light. Now we are everywhere. Flip the channel on the television and you’ll find us… on talk shows, sitcoms, the food network, and many of those home-decorating shows. We are the best friend, the funny neighbor, and the hip buddy with the excellent fashion sense. We are politically savvy, and not just where gay marriage is concerned. We know and are passionate about environmental causes, finding the cure for various kinds of cancer, keeping arts programs in schools, and education.
The marketing people, whoever they are, have figured this out. Because not only are we everywhere, we are also spending money. We are, generally, successful. Marketing firms know this. They have found a new and vital segment of the population. Sneaking into visual and print media are more and more ads with gay couples, or inferring gayness, in some way. They are trying to tap our market. And us… we’re easy. All a marketing firm has to do is acknowledge us and we’re theirs. Say to the heavens that we exist and are just as normal as every other person or couple, and we are with you, ready to do almost anything, support almost anything, buy almost anything.
Not to say we’re cheap, no… just hungry for simple recognition. A simple acknowledgement that we, just like all those straight people and couples out there, are the same. We love our families, our friends, and our partners. We want homes, jobs that provide a decent salary and some good benefits, peace in our lives. We want to raise families and contribute to society. We are passionate, creative, driven, smart, loving, playful, generous, deep souls… just like all of you. We breathe the same, feel the same, and love the same. We are no threat. We have no plans to take over the world. There is not a covert gay conspiracy, as some would suggest, lingering just under the surface of our wish to be “just like everyone else”. We are not recruiting. There is no secret phone line we must call every week to report the numbers we have scored for our team to determine if we’ve met our quota. No… we are, as much as anyone else, boringly normal.
And the media, as I’ve already toyed with earlier, is aware of this. They know we are here, and yes, we are queer. All of this new acknowledgement and media attention has lent itself to a mysterious phenomenon. Not just as portrayed on television and in movies, but maybe partially because of how we are portrayed on television and in movies, we are actually, in some circles, cool. We are hip, or at least, to know us is hip. Want to be thought of as “in”… mention you have a gay friend, roommate, old college buddy you always knew was gay. Want to be happenin‘… say casually, while relaying what you did last night, that you went to dinner with your gay friend and their partner. It’s social clout you can spend, it is. Think it isn’t so? Think being “in” with the gay doesn’t get you anywhere? Think again. Having a gay friend, relative, and/or a close acquaintance, can get you a long way up the hip and happening ladder. Say you watch Ellen or Will and Grace regularly, that you listen to Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, or Elton John… let on that you have heard of, or better yet have been to, a gay club or two and you, my friend, are in “the club”. That group of trendy, with it people, who are cultured, savvy, urban, and living on the cutting edge. Know how to accessorize, and the world is not only your oyster… it’s harvested, cooked, and prepared just the way you like it.
Let me explain. Need decorating tips, help with your wardrobe, a new recipe to try on your arriving company from out of town? Ask your male gay friends. They can help. They know which tie to wear with what shirt. And for that matter, they know which shoes to wear with what skirt. They can whip up a soufflé while simultaneously deciding what couch position provides the best feng shui. Need to know how to build a shop out back, tune your Harley, or what football team is ahead in their division, ask your female gay friends. They will be able to knock out a room remodel while quoting the prices of the best and most effective hiking boots sold at REI.
They key here is, according to our ever-present media, you have to know what you need and then know which gay person can be most helpful to your cause. Shoes? Harley? Plants for the sunroom? The starting line up for the San Diego Chargers? Choose wisely, and the gay can help. In fact, it’s best to have a bevy of gay people in your life. You never know when one will come in handy. If nothing else, you’ll be hip in non-gay circles and in with the newly trendy gay crowd. You’ll have an in. You will no longer be the back woods, unintelligent, uninformed, sad excuse for the regular person you once were. You will be, tah dah, friend of the gay. With the right gay friend, you’ll be a well rounded person. Lead a life that’s more vivid, more interesting, more colorful. No longer afraid to shop, to ride a Harley, to better arrange your furniture. No longer in the dark about what goes into a crème brule, or how many players are actually on a baseball team. You will be better equipped to deal with anything life throws at you. You will have constant comic relief. You will be politically correct, and yet somewhat controversial. All because you, my friend, know how to accessorize.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
I have this problem. Some wouldn’t think about it in that light, but to me, it’s a problem. I am a bit overweight. And on the surface, that would seem, to most people, to be the problem. But, it’s not. The real issue for me is, with my inner eye, I see myself as thin. It’s true. On the inside, I’m thin and in shape, just as I was 20 years ago at the height of my most in shape period. I can’t seem to realize that I’m not the same smallish, athletic, physically fit person I was then. Because inside, I feel like I am that person. Consequently, I don’t seem to be able to get motivated to work out. Which, at the center of it, is the thing.
It’s a conundrum of sorts. I “know”, some place within myself, that I am overweight. I “know” that the best thing to do is to eat better, work out, drink lots of water. Yadda yadda yadda. I know all of this. And yet, my thin inner me protests. It tells me I am already in shape, I’m already healthy. Why do I need to spend all of that time on the stationary bike, lifting weights, doing strength building exercises? Why do I need to choose the salad sans dressing over the burger with fries? A thin person doesn’t need to worry about all of that. And me… I’m thin. I know it. Thin.
Then it happens. The wake up call. I see a picture of myself and BAM! I can’t avoid it. There they are, staring me in the face. The chins. And, there’s not just one of them, as there should be and is on a thin person, there are two of them. Worse yet, as I hold back the gasp, sometimes there are three… if the angle is not quite right or my head is down. I know it’s me, I see the picture… yes, it’s me. I’m appalled. I’m shocked. I’m horrified. The visual image doesn’t match my inner picture of myself. Where’s the thin me? And who, someone tell me, is this girl with the chins? I can’t get my mind around it. But there it is, in the picture I’m holding in my hand.
If only I could hang on to that image of myself. Keep in touch with the shock of seeing the chins. Spoken of so often now that I almost feel the need to capitalize them as a signal of their “enormous” importance. If only I knew how to translate all of the visual horror into a change of self image. But no, I can’t. I’m horrified one minute, holding the picture, and feeling like the ol’ thin me the next after I put it down. Strange, but true.
I know what needs to happen. I know what I need to correct this terrible disparity. What I need is a brain exchange. A thought swap of sorts. I need to find a thin person who thinks they are too fat and switch mind sets with them. That, it seems, is the answer to my problem. Because just as I know my problem of perceived thinness is getting in my way of weight loss success, I know there are thin people out there whose thoughts of fatness are hindering their struggle to maintain and gain weight. If, somehow, we could switch patterns of thinking, we might, and probably could, both find success. Me as an overweight girl on the path to a thinner me, and them as a person who is too thin on the road to a fuller bodied them. We would both be much healthier. I think it could work.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, there are more important issues to worry about in the world. I know that the state of my reduced me self image should not be compared to world peace, hunger, war, incongruities in the fight for equal rights. And yet one small victory here is big for me. It would mean a reduction in my number of chins. I would see myself as I am now, and act. Which, if one looks at it, is a cause for celebration. Because finally, I might find myself with an inner thin self image that matches the truth of what is. And isn’t that what we are all looking for? An inner truth matching our projection of ourselves into the outer world. Just think… if we had a world where people could truly be themselves, whatever that would mean, what a beautiful world it would be. Self images, far and wide, improved… inner and outer. The thin inner me would rejoice at that. No more inner conflict. No more thinking I’m thin only to find, alas, I am not. No more shock in seeing pictures of myself. I can start… I can… it would just take a strong conversation with myself, again… and a chin up… or two.
Tuesday, October 11th, 2005
Pie and Coffee
Here it is, Tuesday, I’m back at work. How to describe the weekend? I find myself at a loss in this area because I’m emotionally pulled in so many directions. But here I sit, alone in my office during lunch, about to give it a try anyway, as torn as I am.
I guess the first thing that comes to mind is beautiful. And it was. The celebration of my grandmother’s life, held on Saturday, October 8, at noon, was simply beautiful. Not just the setting, though it was, and not just the people, though they were as well. No, it was the spirit of it. The mood. There we were, a large room full of people, all thinking and feeling so deeply about her. All honoring her. And honestly, there was joy in it. Sadness, to be sure, but also a feeling of joy and connection. She would’ve loved her day. Children and grandchildren getting up to talk about her, their voices all filled with so much love and respect. Music… sung and played, food… including, of course, chocolate, a slide show… with music, and people laughing about this thing or that thing they remembered her doing or saying. So much love, and so present in the room, the sense of a life so well lived. And I guess, thinking about it sitting here, that’s the thing. She lived her life well. And we, those lucky enough to be related to her, to be present because of her, learned that from her. We have learned how to live our lives well. The whole event so well organized by her children, the slide show so well done by her son. Her husband, our father and grandfather, so well looked after by his children, his grandchildren. So much compassion, so much respect. And there it is… the truth of the matter, and the truth of a life like hers. Even that day, with her physically gone from us, we were more connected because of her. The family bond strengthening… feeling her arms wrapped around the collection of us, hugging us tightly together. As if she was saying to us, I’m still here, holding you all. We all felt it. As we held each other, as we cried, and even as we laughed. I feel it still. I don’t think it will ever go away. Her power so strong, her influence so rich, her love so great.
We spent the rest of that day together, those that could, and the better part of the next. And then Sunday night we went to watch my uncle play music. She would’ve loved that as well. People enjoying his music, some food, some wine or beer or whatever, and again, being together.
Karen and I left for home after Tom was done making music, and half way there, tired from driving so late, we stopped… for pie and coffee. I thought it was fitting, and I know grandma was smiling. She herself a fan of stopping during early morning hours for pie and coffee, getting a break from driving during long road trips, children asleep in the car. I thought to myself, as afterward we got back in the car and continued the drive home, grandma was there with us. And I know that she’s here with me now. As she will always be… during stops for pie and coffee, during those transcendent moments listening to a great piece of music, during a hug, a call, a laugh, the reading of an email from family. She is there. And that, as it always will, gives me a great sense of comfort… and joy.
Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
A life… Beautiful
My grandmother passed away early this morning. I got the call from my mom some time around 6:30, though now it’s hard to remember just when. I drove to work, not really remembering the drive, and have found myself sitting here, not able to concentrate on whatever task it is I’ve had at hand. And that much, I’m sure, is to be expected. I’m working today because, I think, if I didn’t, I’d just be sitting at home, restless… thinking. Instead, I sit here… restless, interrupted at times by a phone call or email I have to answer, and thinking.
I saw my grandmother three weeks ago. Frail…yes. Tired… absolutely. Full of life… always. She was an amazing woman. Had an amazing life. I walked around my grandparents house three weeks ago in wonder. Slowly passing by photographs of a positively amazing history… awe struck. Phenomenal. 64 years with my grandfather. 64 years of love, of life. A life so rich, so beautiful, that wandering around looking at the record of it, I could feel it’s texture. There were books and drawings, copies of marriage licenses, and picture after picture of a life so full it spilled from those photographs out into the living room, where the miracle of that life sat manifest… in children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The legacy that’s been left is not just that these people all exist because of her, but that they are all, every last one of them, stellar. Magnificent. They are the best people I know. Intelligent, kind, loving, curious, full of laughter, accepting, driven, artistic, educated, musical, good to the core people. There is never judgment, never an unkind word, ever. They rejoice with each other, celebrate each other, comfort each other… all of them. All the time. There is never a criticism, even a hint of should or shouldn’t… always, in the truest sense of the word, there for each other. My grandparents had seven children, who themselves had 19 children, who themselves have starting bringing many more into the fold. And in the bunch of us, there is not one who is not, in his or her own way, an outstanding human being. All of this, for me, started with my grandparents… the people that they were… are… have been to us. Those two people created the beautiful tapestry that is our family. Those two people created something rare. And we, who are lucky enough to be part of it, know it. It is not, and has never been, taken for granted.
There was a lot of laughter that weekend, three weeks ago, as there always is with this family. My grandmother, central to the scene, as she has always been, involved in it all. I thought to myself, sitting with them that day, what an honor it was, and is, to be a part of it. The luck of my draw. I often wonder how it happened, that I ended up a part of this history, a link in this beautiful chain. I am thankful, every day, for my fortune. I am grateful every day, for the honor of it. And from now, until the end of my days, I will be celebrating my grandmother’s life, as she would’ve wanted me to… by living my life in the best way I can. With joy, love, peace, and happiness, amidst the family… that she made.
Monday, October 3rd, 2005
Three days in San Jose
Just got home from hanging with the in laws. It was a good trip. Karen’s parents seem to have accepted me, and better yet, they really like me. I think it’s nice for her. All the years of not really being able to be herself, and now she can just be. They are obviously happy she is happy, which is really the important thing anyway. We didn’t do much while we were there, other than hang around chatting, but that was nice. Every time I’m with them I like them more.
We did go to a movie one night with her sister, Cathy, and her nephew, Charles. I really like that kid. He’s 16 and sort of quirky, and it’s that great kind of quirky. He’s smart, has a great off beat sense of humor, and he doesn’t feel the need to conform to what’s hip. He’s a kid who absolutely loves movies. Old and new, it doesn’t matter. Plus, he knows about them… technique, directors, cast, etc. He’s passionate about it, and that, in anyone, is very attractive. We saw the movie Serenity. Good movie even if you’ve never seen the tv show. There were a lot of people there who obviously had not just watched the tv show, but have gotten into it so much they dress the part. There are clubs for browncoats. Who knew. Not I, but it was pretty entertaining watching them. It was premiere weekend for this particular film and since there’s such a huge cult following, which I also was unaware of, there was a line, the people in costume as I mentioned before, and pre-show trivia complete with prizes for those who knew obscure tidbits about the characters, etc. Needless to say, I didn’t win anything. I did, however, come home with a key chain, thanks to Cathy’s quick grab of a flying key chain after the trivia was over.
Karen’s parents made a full on turkey dinner Saturday night. I guess they figure that they don’t get their kids together very often and since all three were there, it was a time to celebrate. I got the honor of being the forker. When Karen’s dad carves the turkey a person stands there and forks the carved turkey onto the platter. I was told that not everyone gets to be a forker so I was touched he asked me. Standing there, forks at the ready, I felt the pressure to perform and live up to my new post and title. He said I did well, so I might, if I’m lucky, be asked to fork again.
Today I’m lucky enough to be able to hang at home. Relax after traveling. Karen, busy as she is, had to go in to work today. A perk of my job is getting to take off quite a bit of time. I’m fortunate enough to earn comp time on top of my accrued vacation time, so that helps. I slept in today. What a luxury. Sitting here sipping on green tea, still wearing pajamas that I know I won’t change out of, looking outside at the forest and the rain, I think it’s time to head in and see what movie I can find to watch. It’s Monday, and I’m home. How lucky am I?
What ya’all had to say to this point….
(Anonymous) 2 weeks ago
Jeeze Girl…I gotta take issue with your latest epistle. Your’e one of my best friends and there is absolutely nothing “with it” or “cool” about me…I’m the old frumpy grumpy guy; the token old fart. Therefore your whole primise is ruined. Sorry about that, but then it’s not the first thing I have ravaged or despoiled. ted
(Anonymous) 2 weeks ago
I’m so proud to have a gay friend. Makes me kinda cool. You go girl. But hey the white socks/w black pants have got to go!!!!!
(Anonymous) 2 weeks ago
If ones knows TOKENHIPPYGIRL they also know that chins don’t matter. sm
(Anonymous) 3 weeks ago
Tam, you have a way with words that keeps me cracking up…You are very talented, and this note would be fabulous in some magazine somewhere…When are we going to get you published???
(Anonymous) 5 weeks ago
Pie & Coffee
Thanks for this. I came here to read, once again, the previous piece you wrote (and to send it on to Aunt Elizabeth) and find you have been spinning your magic again. I love these things you write and I know everyone else does too. Thanks again. Love, Syd