Outing. No.

We’ve been watching the Olympics for the past week or so. The only sports I’m personally interested in are 1)Women’s Rugby, 2)Men’s Rugby, 3)Mountain Biking: Men’s and Women’s Cross-country. Pretty much covers what we’re interested in seeing. Lots of people have been writing about the Olympics, the athletes, and Brazil in general. Which leads me to…

Ok. I’m not going to link to the article, the piece of rotting garbage who wrote it, or the publication that unleashed this. But I can suss the general outline of the incident. Somebody – a self-confessed straight person – went onto Grindr in Rio and either unintentionally or intentionally outed several male athletes. You all know how to use Google, and I don’t feel like giving any of them free publicity beyond what has already been given.

Outing others without their consent is a sore spot with me. Simply put, forcibly outing someone has consequences that seem impossible in 2016. In 28 US states it is possible for someone to lose their job or their home for being in a same-sex relationship. I happen to live in one of the 22 states that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender presentation. Not everybody is that lucky, obviously. There is also the little matter of the acceptance of family and friends. Not everybody is willing to risk losing those they love.

Not all the outed athletes are from the United States, either. In some countries, being LGBT can be a death sentence. Not hyperbole, just a fact. I have no idea if the “author” of this article was aware of this fact, or if he even cared to research this at all. It really doesn’t matter, as the result is the same: putting someone’s life at risk for entertainment purposes.

My point? That coming out is a personal decision that no piece of trash should force on another. Whether it was supposed to be ironic or amusing or clever, it was disgusting.

A few people have come out to me over the years, with the understanding that it was a private discussion between the two of us. It will remain that way. Their sexuality is their business, not the entertainment of drooling closet cases that flock to that material like flies on a corpse.

If it sounds like I’m taking this a little personally, it’s only because I am.

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Harry Potter and the Final Adventure

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, there were book release parties all over the world for J.K. Rowling’s last ever (she pinky swears this time) Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Not the last wizarding book, most likely, but the last one with Harry, Ron and Hermione; technically, not even written by Rowling herself. It’s a play, written by Jack Thorne based on a story by Rowling, Thorne and John Tiffany. But a Harry Potter story just the same. Since A had never been to a book release party – or any midnight event, for that matter – we decided to go.

It was at one of her favorite bookstores nearby. There were a LOT of people there. Mostly young people, a lot of teenagers by themselves, and some older parents like myself. Some of us didn’t even work there. It was a party mixed in with the waiting to buy the book. There were trivia contests, coloring stations, a wand-making craft project, and a costume contest. The costumes were pretty good. Mr. Quidditch Player and the Mandrake Baby were amazing and won a well-deserved first prize. Draco, Ron and Tonks were pretty impressive too.

I caught up with A after one of the trivia contests. She’d met some new people and wanted to hang out with them. That was a tough decision, but I let her visit with her new friends and trusted that everything would be okay. I saw her again, about an hour or so later, with her new friends waiting in line to buy the book. They seemed pretty good, a couple of fellow book nerds around her age. They were talking about school, how excited they were to read the book, whether or not they’d be able to read a play, why wasn’t the line moving faster – the usual things. The line crawled along.

Finally we got to the front, picked up her book, and left. When we got out, one of A’s new friends was waiting for his ride home. We waited with him outside in the not-so-cool dark. There were a lot of people who had just met at the event as well. Several groups were walking outside saying, “It was so nice to meet you!”, exchanging Snapchats and Twitter handles, walking out to their cars. A and Nerd Guy (not a slam in our house, by the way) exchanged Snapchats and talked about how long it would take them to get through the book if they started as soon as they got home. His ride came, we all said goodnight, and we headed for our ride home.

A does a lot more things on her own now. She’s a teenager, and she’s earned a little lighter leash on her activities. It’s hard to see her go, and more than a little frightening, but it’s time to let her go. Not all at once, but a little at a time.

Posted in Parenting, Random Fun | Tagged ,

Love and Rockets is Back

To be clear, Love and Rockets never really went away. Also to be clear, I’m not talking about the band either. I adore them, and I’ll always be a David J fan, but this is not about them.

Love and Rockets is an ongoing comic series, written and illustrated by Los Bros Hernandez (Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario). It’s been a thing since the early ’80s. It’s my favorite modern-ish comic (modern = written after I became a nominal adult).

The comic features a young Hispanic lesbian couple in some of their stories. The other stories are about Luchadoras, which are also awesome stories but didn’t resonate with me, a white girl from NJ, in the same way. In 1985, when I first saw L&R, it was a mind-blower. A real story about young women in love. I fell fard for it. Many, many, many years later, I’m still a fan.

Today I saw that Fantagraphics, their publisher, is going to be putting out regular L&R magazines again. At last, after the nightmare of this past political week, a ray of brilliant warm sunshine. Getcha some.

If you like graphic works at all, might I suggest taking a look around the Fantagraphics site? I’m pretty confident there’s something for almost everybody over there.

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Happy 4th of July

It’s the Fourth of July everywhere, at least on this side of the International Date Line. The Fourth of July means different things in different countries, of course – in most of the world, it’s Monday. But not here.

In the US, the 4th of July means the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, picnics, BBQs, seeing if you can set your neighbor’s house on fire this year (yeah, that’s right, people up the street – I’m talking to YOU) – in other words, patriotism.

This year, I made up a playlist. Here’s a link.

I have no idea if this will work, but we’ll all find out together.

Also, here’s a little something for the season from John Cena.

Happy 4th, and don’t set your neighbor’s house on fire today.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sometimes, Good Wins

Good can mean a lot of different things. In this case, “good” means “good for women’s reproductive health and the right to make decisions for themselves”.

In a 5-3 decision this morning, the US Supreme Court struck down a Texas law requiring that abortion clinics have admitting privileges at the nearest hospital and set themselves up as ambulatory surgical centers. This law has been replicated in different states to varying degrees (MO, MI, PA, TN, ND and VA). Some states require that clinics have hospital admitting privileges, some states require that clinics become surgical centers. As you can imagine, the laws severely restrict a woman’s ability to obtain what is still a legal surgical procedure.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion for the court. You can find the whole thing, including Justice Ginsberg’s concurrence (which you really should read – it’s pretty short for a judicial opinion) right here (link to .pdf). To make a 40+ page opinion short, Justice Breyer ruled that yes indeed, the TX law posed an undue burden on women seeking an abortion. Let me say it a little louder: abortion is a legal surgical procedure in the US, and it benefits everyone if it’s made as safe as possible.

I want to leave you with a bit of Justice Ginsberg’s concurrence:

When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in
desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue
practitioners,
faute de mieux, at great risk to their health
and safety.

*”Faute de mieux” – for lack of a better term.

I may or may not have teared up a little reading this.

I am an adoptive parent. Many people feel that I must be “pro-life”. Which, by my definition, I am. I value the lives of humans who are here, including women who are pregnant, and their ability to decide what happens before and after a pregnancy on their own with the assistance of their physician is important to me.

This fight is not over. I don’t know if it ever will be truly over. But for today, it’s been ruled on by the justices of the highest court in our country. Today, this battle’s done.

Posted in Politics

A Long Weekend

Any of you who have read this blog more than once know that I am an adoptive parent. So, not a real mother; hence the name of this blog. A’s first mother, M, has had a tough time of it since placing her daughter with us. Several years ago, M began working toward a bachelor’s degree in business. And last Saturday, she finally received her degree.

M invited us about 3 weeks ago. It’s a pretty big deal for all of us: we’ve never been invited to a family gathering of M’s family, and the majority of the people there would be seeing her for the first time. So it was a little stressful, more for some of us than others.

Saturday morning we drove into town and found the venue. We also found M’s mom and her friend, and we were able to find a place to sit together. Then the ceremony started.

A lot of people marched into the auditorium. Various ages, races, backgrounds; some doing this for the first time after high school, most had waited a little while to begin as M did. Some waited even longer, as there were more than a few people who were Dad Goth’s and my age. There are always things that every graduation ceremony has in common. Boring speeches, the walk of destiny up to the stage to get their diploma/picture taken/taking in the families screaming each graduate’s name. Well, I don’t remember much of that with A’s kindergarten graduation, but I may have blanked that out. It’s been a while.

M got her diploma and we all cheered pretty loudly, even me (not known for being all that loud). Finally everybody had their piece of paper in their hands and their tassels on the other side of their caps, and we all left.

We found M and her friends afterwards. M’s friends are lovely, if a little overwhelming. In case you didn’t know, I’m a little shy and anxious when I meet people for the first time. Imagine if, after you’ve extended your hand to introduce yourself, having somebody wrap you in a bear hug and say “I’ve heard all about you. Thank you for taking such good care of our little girl!” I kind of lost it and started crying. It turned out that the two women had been with M when A was born, and were there when A was taken from the hospital by her cradle care family. Apparently they had also helped M choose us for A’s family.

Then we went to the park for a party afterwards. Lots of M’s friends, and some family (her uncle, aunt and a couple of cousins). A had a good time talking with one of M’s friends, her boyfriend and one of M’s second cousins (I think he was…10? 12, maybe?) about books, and Doctor Who, and books, and cats, and more books.

After 3 hours more than we expected to be there we finally went home. Hot, pretty tired, and grateful that A had a chance to meet more of her family.

That’s not the only thing that happened this weekend. I can’t write about the horrific massacre in an Orlando nightclub Saturday night/Sunday morning. I might write about it later, but not today. I’d rather remember this past weekend for the time we had on Saturday.

Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

History was Made Yesterday

Last night, Hillary Clinton won enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. It was a historic moment; the first woman to win the nomination for President, ever. I’m a cisbi woman. I should be ecstatic. This is a very big deal.

I’m a little ambivalent. Not that I’m displeased or unhappy, or that I would stay home this year. Frankly, given the choice between a racist misogynistic hothead and Secretary Clinton, I know who I’d pick. Still though, I’m ambivalent.

On the one hand, I’m old enough to remember the last time Sec. Clinton was in the White House. As the first lady, whose husband extolled her intelligence and legal experience during his first Presidential campaign. “Two for the price of one”, or something of that sort. She was instrumental in putting together the first attempt since Roosevelt at health care reform that went anywhere. She was also someone who called young black men “super-predators”, who was (and still is to the best of my knowledge) a hawk who enthusiastically backed the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan while she served in the Senate. She has never backed down or apologized for any of her previous statements.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have a woman President. It would. There’s no reason not to elect a woman for President. I’m going to need quite a bit of convincing to vote for this particular woman, but I may.

For a few months, I’ve been a supporter of Bernie Sanders, who isn’t really a Democrat but said he was to get on a ballot. He’s a Democratic Socialist officially, and it’s one of the reasons I supported him. I support what he stands for and the bits of his platform he has been willing to share. His supporters, the BernieBros, are a different story. I couldn’t bring myself to support him anymore.

As I said on Twitter last night, what do you do when there’s nobody to really vote for? We’ll find out.

I’ve been voting for a long time now. Voting for long enough to have my heart broken over politicians who promised the moon and delivered a mobile for over the bed. I’m used to the concept of “holding my nose” to vote for the least objectionable candidate because my ideal candidate lost in the primaries. When I voted for President Obama in 2008, I felt like I didn’t have to hold my nose to vote anymore. I could vote for the first black President ever. It was amazing.

Now here we are, in 2016. I’ve got a lot of reasons why I’m reluctant to support Clinton, none of which have anything to do with her gender. At the same time, there is a bright orange bully running on the Republican side who seems an awful lot like Hitler, who possibly shouldn’t even be allowed within 100 yards of the White House. The choice is pretty clear. Come the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, I’ll be holding my nose once again to vote.

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

Some Lives are More Important than Others

TW: Contains descriptions of drugging and rape. There may also be some NSFW language.

For the past couple of days, I’ve been wrestling with whether or not to write about this. On the one hand, a crime like this, and the non-punishment that has followed, is a glaring example of straight white male privilege and arguably should be written about. On the other, this particular case hits a little close to home for me.

In January 2015, a woman was sexually assaulted next to a dumpster outside a fraternity house near Stanford University. She had far more to drink than was a good idea, her blood alcohol level tested for three times the legal limit after the assault. In fact, she had lost consciousness, and could not have consented to having sex. The rape was discovered when some Swedish national students found the rapist on top of the woman and pulled him off. All these are facts that can be found here in the police report.

In March of this year, when the case finally went to trial, the rapist was found guilty of 2 counts of sexual assault by a jury and could have been sentenced for a maximum of 10 years in prison. The CA state prosecutors requested the judge sentence him to 6 years in prison.

Yesterday, the judge decided to sentence him to 6 months in county prison and probation. His reasoning?

The judge, Aaron Perksy, cited (the rapist)’s age and lack of criminal history as factors in his decision, saying, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

I should say at this point that the rapist, Brock Allan Turner, was a school swimming champion. A white man with a “promising future”. Nothing really about the victim, but focused entirely on the perpetrator. The victim made a moving, brutal impact statement in court prior to sentencing. As Rob Beschizza said in BoingBoing yesterday, the judge ignored her statement. Because some lives are more important than others. Certainly white men with promising futures matter more than an assault victim.

I wasn’t raped when I was in college. That was, frankly, sheer dumb luck. There were women who were not as fortunate. Mine happened not much after college. I’ve written about it before so I won’t bore anyone with the details, but I was drugged and unconscious. I chose not to report what happened to the police, a decision I wouldn’t exactly recommend to others but that I’ve never regretted. The woman in this case was unable to make that decision for herself (the witnesses apparently did that for her). But with a trial as clear-cut as this one, where the jury found the defendant guilty and the maximum penalty was recommended? And the judge ignored all of it? It is the message that rape survivors have received over the years: our lives are nothing in comparison to the lives of our attackers.

Posted in mental floss, Politics, Random Fun, Uncategorized

Remember the Fallen 2016

I’m not sure what I want to write today. I want to write something, for the practice if nothing else. But I’m gonna start anyway.

This is Memorial Day weekend here in the US. This is one of two days we have set aside to remember our military personnel. Despite popular opinion, this is the day that we honor our military who died in battle.

People like K’s grandfather, a pilot with the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was shot down during a reconnaissance flight over Germany, and his body was never recovered. He is part of the Unknown Soldier gravesite in Rock Island cemetery. K’s mother didn’t know her father, and her mother never remarried. People like our friends in the neighborhood who fly a Gold Star flag (google it please) every day of the year for their son, who will never walk through their door again.

There are military in my family and others in K’s family, but they all came home. They were affected in many different ways, but those are stories for Veterans’ Day. So, if you or a family member is affected by the military in some way, from active duty to the families of veterans, thank you for your service. I’m happy that we’re not putting flowers on your grave tomorrow. Truly.

Posted in Random Fun, Uncategorized, war | Tagged ,

You Never Know Where Life Will Take You

It’s true. 5 years ago I was recovering from spinal surgery and didn’t think I’d ever play flute again. I used to be…okay. Not the greatest, but good enough to teach and work with some pretty more-than-okay students. At one time I had even considered playing in an orchestra for a living. Then my neck got messed up and I wound up getting it sliced open and having a neurosurgeon muck around with my spine.

Now I’m almost playing again. It’s been…a while since I’d even gotten it out of the case. I now have a flute student who started this week, so I figured I’d better get moving. Been working at it for the past week and my sound is not quite back, but almost. It sounds more like a reed player in a jazz ensemble whose 3rd instrument is flute; the notes are in tune, but the sound’s a little weak.

I hadn’t realized how much a part of my life it was until it was impossible to play. When I’m nervous, I still drum out fingerings to sonatas and concertos and Syrinx against my hand. But the fact is, I have a hard time physically playing the way I used to play.

But here I am. Last week, I had my first teaching job on flute in 6 years. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I found the place that was much farther away than I thought. I went in and confronted things head-on.

“I should tell you before we get started. I have a problem with my back and neck. I’m only just now going back to playing myself, but I still know how to play and I can teach you.” “That’s ok. You don’t have to perform.” And all at once the giant gorilla leaped off my back and we got started.

The lesson went okay for a first lesson. Okay enough for a next one this week; they’re sounding pretty much like a beginner, but by the end of the hour they’d found the spot on the mouthpiece that gives the best sound. I felt slightly less worthless than I had going in. We agreed to try again this weekend. I never thought I’d be doing this again, not teaching flute certainly. Life is weird. Weird isn’t bad, it’s just unexpected.

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