Happy T-Day Weekend

Happy T-Day Weekend

Enjoy your holiday weekend.  Here’s a repost of my favorite T-day story.  By me, of course.


Turkey Confessions

Several years ago, my extremely practical mother decided to visit me in Philadelphia.  Although she was scared that her inability to understand English might leave her stranded in Phoenix or Washington D.C. as she navigated connecting flights, she made the trek east. 

Because she is practical, my mom decided to pack the 15-pound holiday turkey she’d been given as a morale boost earlier in the week by the hotel where she worked as a housekeeper.  She figured that since the turkey was too big for her to eat on her own, and I wouldn’t have one in Philadelphia (I don’t normally like turkey, but I’ll eat some of it if with others), an eight-hour long flight was justified for the bird.

But, baggage handling being what it is, my mother did not want the bird to get lost.  So, she packed the frozen bird into her bowling bag-style carry-on purse.  Because my mother doesn’t ever travel without packing and repacking often, she packed and repacked the turkey to determine how to best carry it onto the plane.  However, because she is a little clueless about the reaction of those around her to her oh-so-practical ideas, she gave remarkably little thought to the reaction an airport screener might have to the sight of a skeleton appearing on the baggage x-ray machine.  

At the airport on the day of her travel, the screener waited until my mom had gone through the security line and put on her Keds, jacket, scarf, and mittens (she was, after all, going to the East Coast) before calling her over with his index finger.

“What is that?” he said as he pointed to the skeleton splayed out on the screen before him. 

“Toor-kee,” my mother responded, in the one word she knew for sure she could say and which would suffice as a full explanation. 

He looked at her standing there, an elderly Mexican woman with salt and pepper hair, with complete confidence in the propriety of carrying a frozen turkey onto a plane, and no clue that it was a bit odd.  And then, he shrugged while he laughed through an “ok” and waved her on through the line.

She recounted the story later that day when I picked her up in Philadelphia and was a little sheepish when she figured out that he was shocked because bones in a bag might not look so safe.  She worried about what this man, who’d never seen her before and who would never see her again, might think about what it said about her that she carried bones cross country.  

Fortunately for my mother, the embarrassment only lasted a few hours.  Her sense of knowing right from wrong and not having to be born here to learn it was confirmed when, several hours into cooking the turkey at my house, we discovered that in my haste to clean for my mother, I’d returned the knob controlling the oven’s temperature onto the stove incorrectly.  Rather than cooking at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for hours, the turkey had only been cooking at 250 degrees.

And that’s when the head shaking “Ay, mija!” moment, that always seemed to follow a head shaking “Ay, mom!” moment, appeared.  My mom had forgotten her retrospective embarrassment and moved onto things that she knew were real and eternal—her American-born journalist daughter might be more educated and well-traveled than she was, but she would never be as wise.

Common Ground

Common Ground

Every now and then my mom and I stumble into a scene that reminds us that despite growing up in different countries at different times, we’re sharing the same life lessons.

On Friday night, we were pulling out of the parking lot near our hole-in-the-wall sushi place when we were stuck behind a slow black suv.  The suv sat at the stop sign just in front of us for what seemed an eternity as it flashed its brake lights at us. 

Impatient driver that I am, I became flustered and started venting to my mom about inexperienced drivers.  She egged me on (having herself almost been run down several times on this stretch of road) and I cursed at the suv with the USC license plate holder.  A block later, when the suv weaved to my right,  I promptly and loudly revved my engine and zipped by it.  “Take that, dumb USC driver,” I angrily thought.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I caught the driver waving at me as she called my name. 

At the next stop sign, I pulled over.  “You guys cannot do that to me,” I yelled out my window.  “Do you know how little patience I have for bad drivers,” I laughed at my friends and neighbors.  “We just wanted to say ‘Hi!'” they protested.

I laughed at myself and was embarrassed by the lack of patience and kindness I exhibit when lost in the universe of my own vehicle. 

My mom then recalled a time several years ago when she was boarding a bus in Mexico.  She had scoped out her seat and was fairly sure she had managed to score some extra arm room when a larger woman with lots of bags sat next to her. 

My mom’s description of her inner irritation mirrored what I had just lived (although she was less charitable about the size, cleanliness, and looks of the woman sitting next to her).  I laughed as she described her bitchy younger self and the unkind thoughts she had had about the woman. 

She continued, “Y luego la señora me dice, ‘Prima, hola, que gusto verte aqui.'”

She laughed at the memory of her embarrassment upon finding out that the woman sitting next to her was her cousin and that they had a five-hour bus ride ahead of them.

Then my mom smiled at me in the full knowledge that despite all of our differences, we share the same instincts and seem to have the same lessons to learn.

Special Comment

Special Comment

I’m not normally a Keith Olbermann fan, but his special comment last night was really good.  The text is here and a link to the video follows.

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8.  And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble.  You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.  With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.”

Link to the video here.



Attended the ANSWER rally against the inequality legislated by the recent passage of Prop 8.  Estimates are that I was joined by up to 10,000 people (and what looked like seven platoons of police officers).
Some photos:
I Want What The Chickens Got
Your Kids Are Not Excuses for Your Homophobia
Others in the set here.

Signs I didn’t get pictures of:

  • Chickens 1 Gays 0;
  • Boycott Utah;
  • Keep your doctrine out of our covenants; and
  • Straight mom for gay families.
One Liners

One Liners

To my friends—thank you.  Yesterday, your Facebook one-liners echoed some of my sentiments on the election and comforted me as California’s final results became clear (and, of course, the comedian just plain made me laugh out loud).  I’m leaving out your names, but wanted to share some of your thoughts:

  • wants to tell the country “you did good.”  He wants to tell California “you need a do over.”
  • is disappointed.  Since when do Californians allow lawmakers to take away civil liberties.
  • thinks America still has a long way to go—wtf California??
  • is disappointed that prop 8 passed but is refusing to let that ruin the moment.
  • is from California, where it’s not the blacks, it’s the gays.
  • thinks it’s morning in America . . . where does one buy a lapel pin?
  • really shouldn’t be stopping random black people to say “congratulations.”
  • wonders if she can be the official blogger of the Obama Whitehouse. She imagines this would be a cabinet level post.
  • 187, 184, 227, 21, 22, 209 and now 8 . . . damn Califas! Why does this state keep getting it wrong?

Mine just said “is disappointed in so many people.” 

Today’s step is figuring out whether or not to cut off those who disappointed me.  If they don’t respect the actual, living, breathing humans around them, do I really want them in my life?