Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sky Smile

Driving 580 coming home from Novato this evening, the sunset was in three wide bands of blue, orange, and foggy purple. There was a slim crescent moon and soon two bright stars, one off each end of the crescent. It looked like a benevolent face smiling down on the Bay.

I did not try to take a photo. I know the limits of my skills as a photographer - especially while riding in a car - and the limits of the photo abilities of a cell phone. Imagine this.

UPDATE 12/3/08:
Here is a photo of the moon and planets over Hong Kong that almost matches what I saw.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

We don't have any. Other than a couple dozen, or more, people at my mom's house, and particular dishes, that is. A friend of the family's brought her yams with pecans and mandarin oranges for years, and the last two years she has brought them to the house and left for another Thanksgiving dinner. She even brings the yams in the same dish every year. Another friend, when she's not in LA with her daughter and he son-in-law's family, always brings Brussels sprouts in some form.

A volunteer at the food bank told me that in her family, everyone writes what they are thankful for on slips of paper which are then baked into crescent rolls. When the rolls come to the table, each person takes one and reads the slip, and then everyone guesses who wrote which one.

I really like this idea but I don't think I could institute it at Mom's. Our Thanksgivings now require two or three tables, and hardly anyone eats rolls. With three kinds of stuffing, we don't exactly need them.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Post for Nov. 28

KT's mom arrived for Thanksgiving with some kind of stomach bug which happily took up residence in KT and No. It's our favorite holiday and No had to miss it - when you have a stomach bug, you don't really want to be around food, but more importantly, and considerately, they didn't want to bring the bug to the unsuspecting crowds at Chez Mom.

I was exposed to the bug also since Kt, No, KT's folks and I had dinner together Tuesday evening, but I thought I'd dodged it. I don't get stomach trouble often and when I do it's just usually lots of burping. It hit me late last night - as the last folks were leaving, actually - and kept me up all night. I thought I'd have lots of time to leisurely write a post today but since I haven't eaten since yesterday and have been either sleepy or sleeping, the brain's not firing up.

But I am committed to posting every day. Now that you've come to the end I guess I can mention that my committing to write every day doesn't mean you have to read every day...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Food Bank Bailout

To see this editorial cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, go here. This is what it looks like at my food bank.

If you want to find a food bank in your community, do an internet search for "food bank" and the name of your city, county, state, or region. If you're in the US, you can go to the website for Feeding America, formerly America's Second Harvest.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's the weekend

It's a nice long one too and that's great because I'm really tired.

Yesterday was a great day, but very long: I arrived at work at 9am and left at 730pm. In the meantime I was involved with our big turkey giveaway, at which we gave turkeys to 378 families. The line was a block long, but we got everyone a turkey, stuffing, and gravy in just over two hours with help from the Alameda Fire Department and staff at Wind River Software.

Did I take a break then? No, I went back to the trailer and signed up or recertified a bunch of families. I walked over to the coffeehouse and got the most spectacular drink I've gotten in years: I ordered a regular hot chocolate but because I'm well-known in the neighborhood as a food bank do-gooder, the folks in the store gave me an enormous HC with caramel sauce and a big fluff of whipped cream with chocolate shavings and more caramel sauce on it. It was so rich it carried me through for the rest of the day.

... Which included serving 50 people at the regular pantry program in the evening. We normally serve 25, but all of the volunteers, without saying anything to me, were determined to stay until everyone who walked in by 630pm got served. No, KT, and KT's folks showed up, doubling my staff, and we couldn't have done it without them. They packed bags, helped clients make selections, accepted and logged donations, and generally freed me up to do new client intakes and general taking-care-of-people. We were serving an hour after we closed.

This time of year is stressful and busy and all of that. I've been getting paid in hugs and smiles, which is a great bonus.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lying with the big dogs...

A couple years ago Zirpu and I dogsat our neighbors' Rhodesian ridgeback mutt Thanksgiving week. We brought him to Mom's because we couldn't leave him home for that many hours, and Mom and Zirpu introduced her dog, Pi, to Rocky outside.

Pi had a bed that Rocky loved. He laid on it most of the afternoon, despite Pi's protests.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Get Ready!

This evening driving home from an economy-stimulating adventure, Zirpu and I passed the church about half a mile from here. There's a small marquee next to the church on which they announce Halloween parties, special services, short Biblical verses, and the like. Tonight's sign says:

Judgment Day Meeting
November 23
845 and 10am

Friday, November 21, 2008

Temper, Temper

We served 62 people at the food bank today. Being the week before Thanksgiving, and the last Friday of the month (we're closed next Friday) I wasn't surprised. I resisted closing the sign-in list until well after 3pm, but when I realized that the list went to 70, 45 of them had been checked in and 30 of them had been served by 3:30, I decided I had to go with the commitment made to the volunteers. They didn't even start leaving until 4:30. It was a long day; I didn't even take a lunch.

There seems to be a direct correlation between how much English a new client speaks and how many people come into the food bank to drop off donations, get something signed, interview to be a volunteer, and how many times the phone rings. If that person doesn't speak English or Spanish, add 5% (it occurs to me that none of the non-English speakers today spoke Spanish, either). On top of that, two little girls got in a fight - the littler one threw a plastic stool, which broke apart - and a baby was crying most of a solid hour and a half.

All the volunteers, including a brand-new one (who fortunately has worked at another food bank), were very pleasant to all of these clients today. It was hot and loud inside the trailer, and all of us kept our tempers. I'm especially interested to note that I kept my temper today, since circumstances pointed to other times when I've lost it: The food bank director was at the food bank less than an hour today; I didn't get a break; I didn't eat very well; the phone was off the hook for an hour so there were 12 messages to take and return; there were a lot of things going on all day that I had to manage.

This evening I was talking with Miz Jinkins about none of us losing our tempers today, and she said that she thought that "losing your temper" should mean that it went away, and "keeping your temper" means staying mad. I think the words "control of" are implied in the phrase to the extent that we leave them out altogether: "I'm keeping [control of] my temper" or "I'm losing [control of] my temper." Still, I like the visuals of "loosing" rather than "losing" - "I'm loosing my frustration." That is what it feels like to me - I loose my temper, it's out and bounces away.

Fortunately today I didn't lose or loose my temper. I think I may be mellowing out, because I know that a lot of the same conditions that have really tested me in the past don't get to me the same way that they used to. I do not consider myself a mellow person by any means. But I may be mellowing. How does that happen?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's The Se-e-eason for Loooviiiiiing,,,

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you

A man came into the food bank earlier this week with his red-cheeked toddler, who, big-eyed with sleepiness, looked more like a Precious Moments figurine than a real girl. He was running errands and had come in to drop off a donation check, which was pretty significant. He said that he was having a good year, and he knew other people were having a bad year, so this year he is upping the amount he's donated in the past.

Mom asked me what I want for Christmas this year, and there really isn't anything. I'm thinking about talking to the family (Mom, No, KT, and Zirpu) about considering giving my pet charities money instead of things to me for Christmas. I know what I think is important, and I don't want or need music, books, or clothes (other than the Holy Grail of garments, jeans that fit perfectly). I've been fortunate this year: I'm not only employed, I'm doing what I want to do; I'm educated; I'm healthy; I'm safe; I have food in the pantry. Rather than receive a gift, I'll give my gift proxy to someone else. Laughter with my family is gift enough for me anytime.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next Blog

Sometimes when I'm just not ready to go do something else, I click "next blog" at the top of the page of whatever blog (including mine) I'm currently looking at.

Most of the time I get a blog that isn't in English. I understand that people are blogging all over the world and all of the time. However, since Google/Blogger is in Mountain View, and the Blogs Of Note all seem to be written in English, it seems strange that I usually get sent to blogs written in Portuguese, which to me looks like Spanish spelled incorrectly. Perhaps it's just an English skewing since the Blogger staff probably speak English most of the time so that's what they "note."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Straighter Hair and Greener Grass

When I was in grade school, it seemed like a lot of the Asian girls wore their hair in a straight pigtail on the tops of their heads (see picture in yesterday's post). Maybe it wasn't a lot, but it was definitely more than one. Maybe they didn't always wear their hair that way, but things stick in my mind and as the event fades into the past, I remember less of it... like the details.

Part of why I remember this is because I was envious of those girls' hair. I wore mine in a long braid down my back. I had cloth-wrapped bands twisted at both ends of the braid, and often an orange or red yarn ribbon tied at the end. Sometimes I wore the kind of hairties that had white plastic marbles attached to them. My hair was always in a braid - I remember that it seemed to naturally part into three sections every morning (probably because I slept with the braid).

I really wanted straight black hair. I could have worn pigtails sticking straight out to the sides or even on top. I could have worn one long ponytail in the back, or medium length, or short, and/or I could have had bangs. I had none of those things. I had blondy-brown thick curly hair that could only be worn in that long braid. When I was ten I got a radical change to my hairstyle - cut to neck-length and with bangs, and wore it that way for about three years, but if I'd had any sense of what it looked like I would have hated that too. When my hair was at its longest since I've become an adult, I didn't braid it but I always wore it in a ponytail. I had to wash it every morning to keep it from becoming too tangled to brush, and the thick part under the hairtie was always still damp when I went to bed.

I still want straight black hair. Sometimes people ask me if this is my natural curl (and I find myself thinking, "isn't it obviously natural?") so I respond in the affirmative, and they tell me how lucky I am to have curly hair. But I always think of how much easier it is to curl hair than it is to straighten it, so it has always felt to me as if the straighthaired have more style flexibility. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence and all that.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Haircut Needed

I don't know what to do with my hair. I don't want to shave it off again (it's going to be cold in January at the warehouse). I don't want to wear it in the style I wore most of the time between 13 and 38. I don't want to crop it close in back with curls on top, though I know that would be a perfectly decent look. I'm having trouble committing to hair gel.

I only wear it in a pigtail on top of my head to give Zirpu a chuckle. I never wear it out of the house this way. I don't consider myself that vain, but....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dark Fantasies

November 10, 2008

Kaiser started harassing me to get a mammogram at the beginning of the summer. For some reason my birthday had defaulted to 1/1/68 so as soon as I joined I was late to get it done. When the birthday thing was finally straightened out, they left me alone for about six weeks, and then they started again. I made the appointment for the second Thursday of October, and I tried to approach the day with a "rite of passage" attitude.

I was given the most elaborate hospital gown I've ever seen, a cloth one that wrapped all the way around like a monk's cassock, held closed by the second sleeve. Despite the elaborate garb, I wound up not feeling like I'd experienced a rite of passage, but feeling just that virtuous "preventative care" feeling I get after leaving the dentist. They sent me on my way with the promise of a postcard with the results.

[Note for those of you who wonder what it's like: It didn't hurt. I've had men squeeze my breasts harder. For the record, though, the radiology tech said that it's different for everyone, depending on breast size and time in your cycle, as well as - though she didn't say this - pain tolerance levels].

The postcard came, dated October 15:
I did not wait seven days to be contacted. I called after four days to make the return visit, which was scheduled for Nov. 6. I barely spoke to anyone about the return visit, because I was trying not to think about it. That was easier than it would have been otherwise, because of the Presidential campaigns and the Prop. 8 campaigns winding up to fever pitch (and the no on 8 campaign winding up at all). Everyone I knew was absorbed in politics talk, as was I.

When I thought about the return visit to Mammography, I found myself thinking, against my will and against my superstitions, about what I was going to say about what was happening. Telling Zirpu, who's already got a lot going on. Imagining telling my brother and my mother, who already lost someone to cancer. How much and when I would tell the volunteers at work. Whether the Bi Women's Group was even going to apply to my life during this. Telling myself I would "beat this thing," imagining the faces and names of women I know who have. Then I would quickly veer away, and force myself to think about something else.

I was really annoyed with myself for indulging in these dark fantasies. I knew that these were the first mammograms I've had and that Kaiser, having nothing to compare these pictures to, was being as cautious as they've been with Zirpu's heart. So I would repeat all this to myself when I was imagining the bad stuff.

I went back to Kaiser, and this time bypassed the fancy gown. I told the woman who offered it to me that I would decline it to save resources, though the real reason why I did was because Shmeen told me I could. "You don't have to look like a patient just because it makes them feel better, " she said, "Besides, it's stupid. You wear it for five minutes and then they put it in the wash. Stupid!"

The first thing I asked the radiology tech was if I would know anything before I left that day because I did not want to get bad results off a postcard. She said a doctor would look at the x-rays right away and meet with me within about ten minutes. She took the pictures and I went to wait for results. In those eight minutes I coached myself to not freak out if the doc told me they wanted to take a biopsy. I reminded myself to go into crisis management mode to take care of business, get the appointment made for as soon as possible, and freak out later.

The rad tech came out and told me the pictures showed nothing, and everything is fine. She noted that I have dense breast tissue, which once she mentioned it I realized I'd heard that before during breast exams at an annual physical or two. She said I should tell the rad techs at future mammograms so they could compensate for that when posing my breasts for the mammogram machine.

"Everything is fine." Great words to hear. That's why I start this story with those words.

A Late Post

Since I haven't been to bed yet, for me it's still Saturday and the 15th, though the clock indicates it is 12:40 am on Sunday the 16th. So a short post and I will write more thoughtfully tomorrow.

1. Four places that I go to over and over:

The food bank, the Hayward Public Library, Mom's, home

2. Four people that e-mail me regularly:

Shobi-wan, Mom, the Tea Lady, Zoyie

3. Four of my favorite places to eat:

Pakwan, Alice's (La Patisserie & Le Paradis in Hayward), Buon Apetito, Mom's

4. Four places that I would rather be now:

The Cabin (Rocky Mountains), Playa Fiesta (Puerto Vallarta), Lake Pinecrest, somewhere quiet

Four TV shows that I watch (but none regularly - I go in spates):

Battlestar Galactica (grrr!), Dinner Impossible, Chef Jeff Project (which ends this Sunday), The Daily Show

Friday, November 14, 2008

In Review

The FBD asked me to write a self-evaluation for a performance review, which I did on the BART train last night while going into SF for dinner with Motochick. When I was a student I never waited until the last minute to do my homework... but I haven't been a student for a long time. This afternoon I learned that my self-evaluation is going up the chain; I thought it was just going to the FBD. Fortunately I wrote rather formally anyway.

The self evaluation sheet is the least complex review form I have ever seen. At Saint Mary's College we had the kind of performance review sheets on which you circled a number (1-5, 5 is low) and then we went to essay questions. This one was hard because there were no hints in the questions, which were two: "Strengths" and "Weaknesses." The "Weakensses" piece was difficult not so much because I'm perfect (which of course I am, ha ha!) but because really, the tasks that make up my job aren't that difficult. The difficult stuff is all about personality.


Welcoming attitude toward clients, volunteers, and donors

Evaluating potential volunteers for long-term positions at the AFB – improvement over the last year

Communicating needs to volunteers – improvement over the last year. Also communicating gratitude to volunteers for their time and work

Counseling clients on range of issues beyond “just needing the AFB.” I try hard to destigmatize needing the AFB.

Similar understanding of the AFB mission as the FBD and how that mission is expressed during day-to-day operations. Willingness to do many things (for example, go to ACCFB [to pick up wholesale produce] on way to work) to forward that mission at all times.


Managing frustration – improvement over the last year, but could always be better
(for example: Last spring when a lot of volunteers didn't show up one week, I was really angry and I believe everyone knew it. When a similar thing happened in September, I was frustrated but I didn't lose my temper).

Understanding how the metrics [inventory and client data for each month] are put together and how to read them, which I am working hard to improve.

(b) 1 I am becoming more comfortable with making “executive decisions” about food inventory
and volunteers as time goes on. I wait much less often for the FBD's availability/opinion than I used to.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Last Tuesday night, I was listening to Robert Siegel and Nichelle Norris try to keep us all up to date, or rather up to minute, with all the news coming in from everywhere back east. Because there's always some blank time between polls closing, whoever hosts all those news shows has to keep talking - especially on public radio, where they can't break to commercials or dazzle us with special visual effects like holograms to fill in the time.

The discussion was, of course, about the ethnic background of who was at that time still only "likely" to be our next President. Robert Siegel remarked that Obama would be the first president whose name ended with a vowel, unless you counted Kennedy. Nichelle Norris darted in with "And if you count 'Y' as a vowel."

I'm reading Middlesex, which was published in 2002, and while discussing Dukakis' run for the White House in 1998, Eugenides writes in the voice of the narrator, the grandchild of Greek immigrants:

..."Dukakis." A name with more than two vowels in it running for President! The last time that had happened was Eisenhower (who looked good on a tank). Generally speaking, Americans like their presidents to have no more than two vowels. Truman. Johnson. Nixon. Clinton. If they have more than two vowels (Reagan), they can have no more than two syllables. Even better is one syllable and one vowel: Bush. Had to do that one twice.

(I thought of some three syllable presidents. We've had four since 1901, two of whom were named Roosevelt).

Just above the part I've quoted, Eugenides writes, "Maybe the time had come when anyone - or at least not the same old someones - could be President."

Seems like the time has come now. Obama's not even an incumbent vice president after a successful eight years, which is what I was expecting it would have to be for a person of color to be elected president.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One of those moments

Sometimes you make a new friend, through some social activity like a party or a club, or through a mutual friend. You know this friend for awhile, and you think you know them "well enough" and then one night you're listening to them talk and you realize they weren't what you thought they were.

Sometimes the realization is about something great, like you see their passion for something, or they get educated about something and can hold discussions of depth on that subject. I've had this experience recently. A not-very-new friend suddenly seems much more complex than I had assumed - and I know this is because I'm seeing something in her that may have been there all along, but I didn't have the opportunity to see it until now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Advice From Zirpu

Zirpu is very annoyed about something right now. Since that's not an unusual state for him to be in, I won't bother telling you what he's annoyed about.

He just said that he was told once, "When someone is really annoying you, pretend they are really enlightened and they are trying to teach you a lesson."

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Missy Mommies

When I was growing up, all the kids in the neighborhood spent almost as much time in each other's homes as we did in our own. I've listed before the different attractions different houses offered. We had a lot of sleepovers at each other's houses too, sometimes on school nights. I remember late-summer nights of sleeping out in the W's yard, and one in particular when Eri and I swung on the swings for hours as the sun went down and the sky turned to purple and black.

Sometimes one or another of us would be overcome with wanting to be at home. I only remember this happening at J Jump Joyful's or DeeKay's house, probably because I don't remember my mom loving anyone as much as she loved me, except - maybe - No. We'd go to bed, and whoever's mom would come in to say good night and turn off the lights. Somehow, one of us would tell the mom she was sad, or wanted to be at home. The mom would sit on the bed and rub the kid's back, speaking in a quiet voice about having "the missy mommies" and how that was okay, you would see your mom in the morning but now it was time for sleep and in the morning we would have breakfast and you would go home and Mom would be there for you just like always...

The lulling voice and the back rub would relax you so much that you could snuggle into your pillow and hear the other kids' breathing and when the mom got up and left the door a little ajar so the hall light would make a slice on the floor and you knew that this was an okay place to sleep.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Something Not On Politics

I have come late to biscuits and gravy. This is mostly because I did not grow up in a biscuits kind of household, but I didn't grow up in a gravy kind of household either. I usually saw gravy at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I didn't know "sausage gravy" was something people still ate (though it had many appearances in the books I read).

Shobi-wan is probably one of a rare breed, the native Wyoming vegetarian (she told me that for the first ten years after she stopped eating meat, her relatives would always offer her chicken instead). While we were living together, Gardenburger opened up in southeast Portland and Morningstar Farms products became available at the grocery store. You know the saying, "My girlfriend/boyfriend is a vegetarian, so I am too."

Shobi-wan introduced me to biscuits and gravy with vegetarian sausage-tasting patties and homemade biscuits. However, recently Zirpu and I were at Costco and he enthusiastically purchased three boxes of Morningstar "sausage" patties and I was reminded of those biscuits and gravy Shobi-wan used to make.

I asked her and her response, had it been verbal rather than by email, probably would have been accompanied by a not-very-but-slightly exasperated sigh. She said any white gravy will work. I didn't know what white gravy was, but checked out my trusty Joy of Cooking, to me the place I go to learn/review American basics. I can make an Indian feast but I've had to look up how long to roast pork, make any kind of gravy, and how to part out a chicken.

Fortunately we have a jar of bacon grease in the fridge so I used 1:1 bacon grease and flour, plus a little extra flour (either it wasn't ever going to thicken or I lost patience), and a cup of milk. The veggie sausages got heated in the microwave and broken up, and I served it over canned biscuits. I think there's a part of me that believes you either have to be in the South, from the South, or grown up rural - that part of America that is "real"** - to make good biscuits.

I like these better than the B&G I've been getting at our breakfast place. The gravy was thinner and less greasy so I didn't feel like I'd eaten a jar of paste after. And almost vegetarian!

** Oops. Sorry. Well, not really.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Exhausted and Angry

Anger is exhausting. I've been trying to figure out how to talk about a conversation I had with an acquaintance on Tuesday, and I've been stuck about what to even say about it. Oddly enough, I know this guy much better now than I used to, or would otherwise, if we hadn't gotten to a point where we said that "we can respect each other even though we have differing opinions"... which is really another way to say "I don't want to talk about this anymore."

I had a long talk with KT last night and another one with YaYa Words of Thunder this afternoon. I'm feeling less wound up - at least for now - and now that I'm feeling less wound up, I've been thinking that I need to put the anger behind me. It's only hurting me. I will be behaving differently, but I need to let go of the anger so that I can do my job, enjoy hanging out with friends, and sleep at night. I have to figure out how to talk to people about this election without losing my temper.

Unlike some of my friends, I thought 8 was going to pass. And I figured if it didn't, the supporters of man/woman "traditional" marriage would be back in two or four years anyway, just as the Oregon Citizens Alliance came back in 1994 after being smacked (lightly) in the 1992 election. All I can do is talk about what I think the Constitution stands for, which is freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and freedom to worship or not. But until I can get rid of the anger, I can't talk about the Constitution in a rational manner.

Tomorrow I'll be with friends, one of whom has promised me a soak in the hot tub and many drinks. Hopefully those three - the friends, the hot tub, and the liquor - will help me expel the anger so I can start over next week feeling happy my guy is going to be the President in January.

Friday, November 7, 2008

To Me, They're Still Married

These are the beautiful happy faces of two people who deserve more than separate-but-equal. Their love is real, and so is their marriage. So are the marriages of the 18,000 other same-sex couples who've gotten married in the last five months.

I'm too angry about Prop. 8 passing to write much about it yet.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down the frost, green thrives, the crops don't fail,
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes, our best efforts do not go
amiss. sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen; may it happen to you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Adventures At Hillside Church

My polling place was busier than I've ever seen it (which is to say, there were about a dozen people voting). As I got out of the car I observed an African American woman being videotaped by her sons, maybe 10 and 12 years old, dancing her way to the door with her ballot. I congratulated all of them for being there that day, for her bringing the boys and for the boys coming along. The woman asked, "Do you have something to say?" and her son swung the camera toward me. I approached while repeating my speech about how it's our number one duty as citizens to vote, that Election Day is much more important than July 4th. I said I was glad that she was showing them how to vote and told the boys I was glad that they were with her. She said she was taking them to school late because this was so important.

Inside, I stood in line in front of a Latino man who was voting for the first time; he'd become a citizen three years ago. I congratulated him and shook his hand, welcoming him to our most important job as citizens. Broken record? It's what I believe. We chatted a bit about the arguing - he said there's been a lot of arguing in his household as everyone has strong opinions. He mentioned his wife was angry at him for his position on 4 (which he didn't tell me, and rightly so). We agreed that we are disappointed with the lack of dialogue we've had this election season.

When I came out of the church, there was another African American woman out front, maybe waiting for someone. We both remarked on the high turnout. I crossed my fingers and said, "I hope my sides win." She said, "Is it this one? My friend just sent me this" and played a piece on her cell phone of "The next President of the United States - Obama! Obama! Obama!" I thought to myself that she had made a pretty big assumption about me (but thank goodness it was correct), and responded, "I hope so!" Then, getting into the car, I called, "Yes we can!" She said the same to me, dancing with her phone.

It was a good way to start Election Day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Two, Four, Six, Eight...

It's election day! If you are, or are like, one of the few people I know who hasn't already voted absentee, GET OUT THERE.

I am feeling fatalistic about 8 ("Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry"), and about 4 ("Waiting period and parental notification before termination of minor's pregnancy"), which has gotten next to no attention because this season been all about 8. I got home last night and the No on 8 sign I put up yesterday is gone. I looked around to see if it had blown off in the wind, but nothing. I'm really, really disappointed in what I assume are my neighbors, because hardly anyone lives here and it's a cul de sac so the only other people around are the trashmen and paper deliverers. Disagreeing with me is one thing, but taking my voice is another.

I drove through a four-corner Yes on 8 rally on my way home. I'm feeling depressed about all this. I think Obama will win, but 4 and 8 will pass. It's so annoying and saddening to me that this is what it comes down to: The culture wars, where no one can be convinced of the opposite position, there's little or no dialogue, and people behave rudely (at best) to each other. There's something wrong about that.

I think the civil status of gay and lesbian people will change all the way in my lifetime. That's what I think about an Obama presidency: Brown v. Topeka Board of Ed was 57 years ago, Loving vs. Virginia was 41 years ago. Look at how much things have changed already for gays and lesbians since Stonewall. I'm not being complacent, I'm being hopeful and optimistic.

Which is what we have to be on Election Day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Almost There

Back in the days when I would drive straight through from college to home, I always felt like the trip was coming to an end when I would drive past "the bump," a wooded hill next to 80 in, I think, El Cerrito. It was across the highway, more or less, from the piece of Emeryville that sticks into the Bay where the guerrilla art used to be. I knew I was an hour from home, and it was great and awful at the same time: Almost there, but not there yet.

That is how I'm feeling about this election. We're almost there, but not there yet. I've been really wound up, about a number of things, for the last two weeks. I feel like when this is over, most of the things I'm wound up about will have been settled. I hope they are settled the way I want them to be, but right now I really want it to be Wednesday morning - hopefully the decisions will have been made by Wednesday morning.

I know three times as many people who voted absentee than I know people who are actually going to the polls. I like going to the little church on the hill and saying hello to the poll workers, and I don't mind standing in line to vote. I haven't had to do it at my current precinct, but in the past standing in line to vote made me feel like people are participating. This year, though, I wish I had already voted. I'm still undecided about one of the measures, and I just want the decisions made.

If you're voting, and you haven't yet, go out tomorrow, or drop off your absentee ballot. Be heard. I hope you vote the same way I will, but my voice is no louder than yours unless you keep silent. This election will be over soon - I hope.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Candidate

I thought he was taller.

The Tea Lady and I stopped by Democratic HQ for Hayward to get some yard signs and thought that since this probably as close to him as we'll get, we should get a record of it.

I am looking forward to this election's being over.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Thursday morning I needed to stall for time at the beginning of service. We were running a little behind inside and weren't totally prepared to have the clients come in yet. I went outside, saying I would make some announcements... slowly... and faced the eighty or so people waiting to come in to get some fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and bread. I made the usual announcement about our next Saturday program and then launched into a political speech.

I reminded everyone that this Tuesday is Election Day and if they're registered to vote they need to go and vote. There was a smattering of cheers - and now I know what "a smattering of cheers" sounds like. I told people how and where they could find out where to vote, and how to sign up to work at polling places. I cried, "Tuesday is the day to make your voice heard! This is when the nation listens to you!"

Sure, I ramped up the hysteria, and I was hoarse afterward. But I didn't say anything I don't believe: There are responsibilities that come with being a citizen, and I believe that voting is one of them. I never mentioned any of the ballot measures or candidates for any office. I want everyone to turn out and participate in our imperfect democracy... the more participants, I like to think, the more perfect democracy.