Coping


Coping

Originally uploaded by moyalynne

My daughter has developed a brilliant coping mechanism for her tantrums. She takes a magazine (astonishingly politely, she asks if we have finished with it first), and begins to shred it up into tiny pieces.

I think of this and, compared to some less constructive “adult coping mechanisms,” I am proud of her. Eventually she becomes so engrossed in the task that she calms down and is able to cope again. Later, we can even talk about what it is that made her so mad.

She first created and demonstrated this skill on the floor of the back seat of the car a couple of weeks ago, where I still keep the huge pile of shredded magazine.

She did it again yesterday when she was mad about going to school. We gave her an extra copy of our latest Advocate.

I’m thinking that I should bring home a copy of the latest Rolling Stone, JUST so she can rip it up. Or maybe I should think about my own ability to cope.

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Carried in my heart

We were married last Sunday, October 5, out near Ocean Beach, surrounded by beautiful people, flowers, skies, and the great ocean.

There is so much to say about the ceremony and reception, but allow me to refer to my wife’s story, and also copy my brother’s picture, and just sum up the sweet conclusion to our wedding. After we wrapped up the poetic ceremony and fabulous reception at around 4p, the most die-hard guests came down with Leanne and me at last to Ocean Beach. Though we missed some people who had already come to the beach — and could have been walking further down while we frolicked — it sort of felt like we were part of the common tide. I took Lucy’s pocket kite out of my pocket and had a good run with it, actually getting it airborne — a nice metaphor for how I felt! The Enders family joined us and brought their own kite! Rob and Sam and McKenna and Will all tumbled around in the waves, of course pushing each other in. Loret scooped up Aislin from a scary encounter with a big wave, and Andy and Kristin watched bemused as I dipped my dress into the ocean while trying to fly the kite. Opting to spare their shoes, Alicia and Janice enjoyed the view from the Promenade while Leanne and I had to run rescue our shoes and purse, which were almost swept out to sea in that same huge wave!

family and kites on the beach

family and kites on the beach

A beautiful day that showed us many fortunes indeed.

Now that it’s been just over a week since our beautiful wedding day in the Tulip Garden, I’m still in a bit of a fog with all the things I’ve experienced, and all the things I still find to be mysterious.

Here are a few things I know about being legally married:

  • It takes a village. Of people — and places. To put together a party so big. And we are awed with gratitude for everyone who pitched in to make it a great day.
  • Every wedding dress should have pockets! Pockets rock.
  • Anyone should be lucky to have their child hand them flower petals while they recite their vows. It made our hearts melt.
  • It makes a huge difference to be a family recognized not only legally but under the general term of “marriage” — as Therese Stewart said, the word “marriage” matters; as Kate Kendell said, no father ever said he wanted to dance at his daughter’s civil-union-domestic-partnership-ceremony. “We dance at our children’s weddings. We get married.” It’s so much easier to describe ourselves now.
  • It’s all about love — within and for our community. I thought a lot about people who couldn’t make it for various reasons, and almost all of which mean they’re going through some sort of pain. I wished I could reach out and touch everyone who wasn’t there and let them know that they are indeed “carried in our hearts.”

Here’s what I DON’T know:

  • I still don’t know the mystery of how we became a family — I love how the Rev. Jerene Broadway and Rev. Jim Lowder, who performed our ceremony, described that as the work we’ve already done ourselves. Their work was merely to officiate the recognition of it.
  • I don’t know whether Prop 8 will pass and take our legal marriage away in November
  • I don’t know how to let people who would take it away know about our family, know just what this means, and above all know not to be afraid.

Maybe it will just happen slowly, naturally — well, with a bit of effort, as the kite lifts into the sky at dusk on a lovely fall day.

Love is patient and kind

Leanne and I are getting married soon, and we’ve been spending a long time working out our (excellent) vows. It’s great to take the time to re-appraise yourself of what is beautiful in your relationship — and in your partner. Often through this process, I have felt like all couples should have the opportunity to have a marriage celebration a decade after they first met: that’s when it’s really right to remind yourself of the strength of your relationship.

So it comes at no better time that I ask forgiveness of my fiancee-wife for accidentally posting a naked picture of her on Flickr! I did take it down as soon as I saw that Becky made a snarky comment (thanks Becky!) (after only being viewed 9 times). Leanne, forgive me, you are beautiful but my focus was really our daughter and her piggy-bank — I didn’t notice you in the corner! And if you are one of those lucky 9, please forgive me as well.

And now for another word on love:

(she forgives me!)

My gold medal

new lucy

new lucy

Now I remember what it is that feels so familiar about the Summer Olympics. It was this time of year four years ago that they last rolled around. It was August 2004 when I also went into labor.

That first night after my water broke, I felt cramps in waves and I laid awake on the couch trying to do the impossible (ignore them). Late at night, I watched the great San-Francisco-y movie “Dopamine” and I remember it as the drug it felt like.

The following night, we felt more festive and turned on the Olympics to compare people’s extraordinary physical feats with what I was going through in my body. The day after that, Lucy arrived. Though no party, labor was nearly marvelous (I say with the miraculous blog-ability of four years hindsight).

In those first couple of years before Lucy could verbalize as much as she can now, her birthdays seemed like testaments to us making it through another year together. Now they are growing with an abundance of her own special characteristics. But there are those moments I look back to those nights of labor and wonder at that line of demarcation between then and now.

These particular Olympics and their attendant controversy (come on, there is always that) are not nearly the point. The athletes themselves form a band around the world, in their exquisitely practiced form so unearthly yet commonplace, and we all feel like we could be one of them – or they could represent us all. Not so much one country against another, but a union. There are some things that all of us have done.

Lucy watched two Olympic dives tonight (which is all of what I’ve managed to catch so far as well) and then proceeded to demonstrate everything that she could do too – just like while watching the Cirque du Soleil, when she dragged her stool out, got up on it, and cried about how much she too wanted to fly.

As Lucy herself said once, “I’m your special, mama.” She makes everything so common and so singularly unique – nothing felt like this before those Olympics four years ago. Just like she is, I’m still working on it and still get to wonder all the time.  If birth were an Olympic sport…

Thoughts on vacation

Indeed, I thought while I was on vacation. Along stretches of Highway Five and down along the Amtrak line, where you’re not found on a map and nobody really knows where you are, I had time to think. And to finish a book.  The long travel-based stretches were about it for thinking though — the rest ranged from peaceful family time to utter chaos, and often the chaos won. Certainly no time for thought there.

I’ve been playing around with SlideShare in attempt to both put a story to vacation and overcome my legendary dislike of PowerPoint.  Let’s see how far I get:

Prisoner of hope

wedding day

I’m so excited to confirm that long-lost pals Jim Lowder and Jerene Broadway have accepted our offer to come out and perform our wedding ceremony in October. I’m indebted to Jim for the concept of hope in general (see my previous post), and I’m extra indebted to Jerene for a recent email and shout-out to African American theologian Cornel West, as quoted in a recent Rolling Stone article:

The categories of optimism and pessimism don’t exist for me. I’m a blues man. A blues man is a prisoner of hope, and hope is a qualitatively different category than optimism. Optimism is a secular construct, a calculation of probability. Black folk in America have never been optimistic about the future – what have we had to be optimistic about? But we are people of hope. Hope wrestles with despair, but it doesn’t generate optimism. It just generates this energy to be courageous, to bear witness, to see what the end is going to be. No guarantee, unfinished, open-ended. I am a prisoner of hope. I’m going to die full of hope.

In making me aware of this quote, Jerene has kicked the entire concept of hope to the next level. I can only endeavor to be a prisoner of hope and abide by this thing I’ve been so compellingly recently drawn towards. It has occurred to me since giving birth to Lucy that having a child (in any of various ways) is itself the ultimate act of hope, and likewise it has also occurred to me that it provides indeed a precious reason to hope in general.

Jerene provides me with the biggest gift when she elaborates, referring to the Cornel West quote:

He is quoting the book of Zechariah when he refers to himself as a “prisoner of hope,” a phrase which has always captured my imagination. I resonate with his insistence that hope is the courageous choice, for I surely know that it is easier to be cynical & despairing than to be hopeful. I’m working very hard to live into that kind of hopefulness. From your writing, it sounds like you have chosen hope as your home. May you continue to reside there, welcoming others in.

Such beautiful words; I count myself lucky to receive them. Thanks Jerene.

Leanne interrupts me just now to tell me that one thing our daughter has marked in the latest catalog as a required birthday present is actually not for sale (the surfboard). Way to go Lucy! Nothing is beyond your reach. May you always be filled with this. May we all be so lucky to be prisoners of hope.

Chapel of Hope

On Thursday, May 15, it’s true, Bette Midler’s particularly brassy-voiced version of “Chapel of Love” was ringing through my head as I was running down Market Street trying to get to the California State Building by 10am, in time for the Supreme Court’s decision on In Re Marriage. (As you may remember,) It was a very hot day, and I was panting and sweaty by the time I reached the Supreme Court — not in good shape for my photo opp with Kate Kendell — but I was feeling surprisingly hopeful about the immediately pending decision on marriage.

It struck me that, having hope, I could have been greatly devastated by a negative decision, and yet I decided to act in accordance with hope itself. I was not disappointed that day.

Since then I’ve been completely charmed by the fact of hope itself. So when the NCLR called to offer Leanne and me an interview spot this week on All Things Considered with Melissa Block, we cleared our schedules. We spoke hopefully, soulfully, and as if we were talking with friends — who just happened to span the nation.

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about the Harvey Milk quote my friend Jim Lowder used to quote in his sermons:

The important thing is not that we can live on hope alone, but that life is not worth living without it.

Never have I appreciated that sentiment as much as I have in these days, and it strikes me that the act of living at all is the ultimate act of hope. As for marriage, we think the third time is a charm and yes we think Californians will act fairly and keep our marriage legal, but above all, we have hope, we have each other, and we have our family. These things are the most precious of all, and I’ll make as many vows as it takes to keep them that way.