Friday, December 30, 2011

The Christmas Letter I Meant to Send

Every year, it seems like the holidays almost sneak up on me.  That doesn't make any logical sense, since I know full well that December 25th is Christmas and it's not a moveable feast.  Still - this year, there were a few too many irons in the fire and I never got cards sent out.  That's a shame, since I like Christmas cards (or "holiday greetings," if you prefer; whatever hangs your holly) a lot.  I actually like sitting down with a stack of cards, an address book, and festive stamps.  Alas, this year, it simply was not to be.  At first, I told myself that I'd get them out as New Year's cards, or maybe Epiphany - nope, that's not going to happen either.

And since one of my pseudo-resolutions is to decreased the amount of beating myself up for not being a constantly efficient juggler of the fiery swords of home/work/writing/personal lives, I'm letting it go.  I'm sorry for that, but I'm also accepting of it.

But if I had written a Christmas letter, it might have gone something like this:

Dear Family and Friends:

It's been an eventful year here in the Nest.  FryDaddy and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary and he's now a semester away from being a bachelor - at least on paper!  (And while there may certainly be a graduation party in May, it will in no way be a "bachelor party."  I've made my voice heard on this one!)  So let's look back on 2011:

January - A freak snow and ice storms caused the semester to get off to a late start.  I resolved to ask myself often during this year, "How can I enjoy this more?"  Not bad as resolutions go, and it's one I'm going to continue to work on in the coming year.  I started teaching an introduction to film course that focused on science fiction and enjoyed it quite a bit.   FryDaddy and I celebrated our joint birthday (weird, I know) and kept slogging through the long-distance marriage trial as he continued with his studies at UNC-Greensboro.
March - FryDaddy and I spent spring break in the exotic locale of the hospital.  All is well, and he's now an improved cyborg.  No mutant powers seem to have manifested.
April - We both traveled to San Antonio, Texas to present original work at the national Popular Culture/American Culture Association conference.  We always enjoy the PCA conferences and this one involved Tex-Mex food and the Alamo.  A beautiful, hospitable city that we hope to visit again.
May - For our first anniversary, we took a sightseeing trip up to Washington, DC.  While we certainly didn't see everything, we had a blast and it was fun to get reacquainted after a semester of (mostly) being separated.  We continued the separation with summer school sessions, though.  Eyes on the prize, people!
June - I hosted what I hope becomes an annual event - a "girls only" party involving big hats and the Belmont horse race.  We also added a small grey kitten to our household in June.  We were a little concerned about what Spooky (60 plus pound shepherd mix) would think, but no worries.  The two are best friends and often curl up together to sleep.  That's cute - seeing Spooky attempting to groom a kitten, though - that's priceless!
July - With FryDaddy home for the last part of the summer, we spent a few days finally re-arranging the kitchen to suit a 6'4" cook.  It's amazing how much room a pot rack can buy you!
August - It was my turn to be in the hospital bed as I had sinus and throat surgery.  Minor in the big scheme of things, but uncomfortable and I'm glad it's in the rear view mirror of the year.  Much improvement, though, so yes, it was worth it!
October - With the fall semester in full swing, we took off to spend fall break (where else?) at a conference.  The regional PCA was held in New Orleans and we had  bon temps galore, mon amis!  I'd go back again in a heartbeat!  Fantastic people, warm reception for the work we'd been doing and did I mention the food?  In October, Dad was also inducted into the Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame - his college baseball team [he played catcher] won the college World Series in 1955.

Throughout the year, we were involved in the Great Buffy Rewatch of 2011, which was run by a Canadian we met through (where else?) conferences.  Both of us had individual work published as part of this, as well as working together on a few pieces.

In no way does this cover everything that happened this year, but it's a good sampling.  2011 was actually pretty good to us and we're hoping the Mayans were wrong about 2012!

Love to all in the coming year!

Mockingbird and FryDaddy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holly-Trimmed Musings

Let the holidays commence!  The final papers are commented upon and graded.  Final projects have been graded and returned.  The last communication journals have been (you guessed it) graded and all numbers have been crunched.  For good or ill, the semester is done.

The Christmas holiday, however, is not.

Here at the Nest, holiday preparations are somewhat incomplete.  We have a tree, which has been strung with lights.  We held off on ornaments to give the kitten (it's her first Christmas, you see) a chance to get used to the outside being inside.  It seems that she's not much of a climber (quite interested in the wrapping paper under the tree, though), so we hope to hang at least some ornaments.

Other decorations - well, I hope to at least get the mantel decked.  The halls very well may be on their own this year.  There are a few lights strung around the porch roof, a Christmas flag flutters in the yard, and most windows are adorned with an electric candle, thanks to an elaborate system of drop cords.  It's not Martha Stewart, but it surely is not John Prine, either.

I was getting in quite a snit about this - I felt like a slacker.  I mean, it's the evening of the 20th and my house is decorated in a style which can kindly be called "Early Box."  I have family who begins baking for Christmas a month early and I have friends who go all out (and I mean "all out" in the Southern use of the term, which basically means that everything that doesn't move is spray-painted gold and tastefully gathered and grouped) and have their houses "holidayed" by Dec. 1.

You know what?

I finally figured out that it doesn't matter.  My house will never cause an editor of House Beautiful to say, "By George, I must share this sight with the general public!"    Doesn't matter.  The bank account is a bit thin and the credit card balances seem higher than they should.  Doesn't matter.  The Nest is warm and cozy, populated by a friendly-to-the-point-of-goofy white mutt and a not-so-little-anymore grey kitten who can wipe out a day of grumpiness by curling up on my lap for ten minutes.  FryDaddy and I are together, with clean bills of health.  Our problems are the relatively small problems of people living in a stable, industrialized society - too much food, too many friends who haven't been sent cards, too many choices of what to watch and where to go.

Think about it - what lovely problems to have.

The angels will come to proclaim the Good News.  It's up to me to stop whirling long enough to listen.

Come on in, friends.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amendment One, Part Four

I know this has become a lengthy series and I promise I'll write about other things.  However, to me, this is an important issue which deserves some concentrated attention.  (Also, it's my blog, so I get to decide what I'll write about.)

This post - the last in the series - will focus on the elephant in the argument; namely, the religious angle.  Many people have a knee-jerk reaction to this amendment because of a particular religious point of view.  It's a point of view that focuses only on the sexual aspect of a relationship and depends heavily on some flawed arguments.  Let me deal with this briefly and then show how a particular court case comes into play.

1.  God made Adam and Steve and a whole bunch of other people.  Or maybe just Adam and Eve - Genesis will make your head spin.  Chapter 1 says humans were created after the animals and that male and female came about simultaneously (1:24 - 27), while chapter 2 says that man came first, then the critters, then the female of the human species (2:7 - 22).  Which account is correct?  And if that's confusing, hang on.  It's a wacky book.

2.  Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed by tolerance shown to gays.  Go back and really read the story - chapter 19 in Genesis.  (By the way, don't you ever get curious as to what "gomorrahy" might be?  No?  Maybe it's just me.)  Don't have a copy handy?  Well then - angels came to town and stayed with Lot, a "righteous man."  Wicked men of Sodom came to the house and demanded that Lot turn the strangers over to them for (there's not delicate way of putting this) a gang rape.  Lot refused (good guy) and offered his virgin daughters to the crowd instead (what??).  If you're going to be honest about what got Sodom smote/smited/smitten by the angelic host, you have to admit that it wasn't consensual homosexual sex.

3.  Gay relationships are an Biblical abomination in the same way that sowing a field with both beans and corn is.  The laws in Leviticus (where the term "abomination" is used to describe any number of actions; some of which are awful (child sacrifice to Moloch) and some of which are far less serious to us today (don't eat at Red Lobster) are hard to figure out.  And it's especially hard to suss out exactly which of these outdated laws I'm really ought to obey and which I can shrug and ignore.  I'm from the heart of barbecue country in North Carolina - the swine is hardly an unclean animal to me.  Especially when you add in the New Testament.

4.  Paul isn't to be totally trusted, either.  In his letter to the Romans,  Paul makes quite a big deal out of men who have chosen to go against God's "natural plan" (wording varies on translations).  The problem here is that  Paul often contradicts himself - look at Corinthians.  In the very same chapter (14), he first says that all who have the gift of prophecy shall speak so all can hear and learn.  Three verses later he orders that women are to stay silent in church.  Hope none of them have the gift of prophecy, or things could get dicey.

5.  Christ says nothing on the subject.  Nothing.  Zip.  Zilch.  I've always thought that if homosexuality was so all-fired important, somewhere in the four Gospels, His thoughts on the matter would be clearly recorded.  Don't take my word for it - get yourself a copy of the New Testament and read the Gospels.  If you limit yourself to reading Christ's words (the so-called "words in red" because they're often printed in red ink), you'll see what I mean.  Instead of condemnation and contempt, we have accounts of Christ preaching through his actions a ministry of acceptance that doesn't just border on radical; it upends the status quo entirely.  (My favorite is the bit of telling his disciples to  get the room for the Last Supper from a man they'll meet who is carrying a jar of water, which was totally woman's work.  May as well as told them to look for a drag queen.)

So the court case.  Legal Lesson 4 - Any law must pass the "Lemon test," named for the 1971 case of Lemon v. Kurtzman.  Here's the case, by the way.  Governmental action must meet three tests to pass muster.  If the action fails any of the three tests, it's unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (which way trumps Amendment One of North Carolina, remember.)  First, the action must have a secular legislative purpose.  Second, the action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion.  Third, the action must not result in an 'excessive government entanglement" with religion.  Lemon makes it hard to say with a straight face that Amendment One is all about secular concerns.

I've heard patently ridiculous arguments on this issue.  Such as . . . gays can't have kids (well, not "naturally," whatever that means in this day and age of in-vitro and surrogacy, not to mention adoption), so we can't let this happen.  Or married gay couples will come into North Carolina and have legal issues (property division, child support, etc.) that our courts just aren't set up to handle. (That's from Rep. Kelly Hastings.)  Really?  Our courts can't determine and protect the rights of our citizens?  Then we have bigger problems to concentrate on.  Or that if we let this happen, soon we'll have 40-year-old men marrying 8-year old girls. (That one's also from Rep. Hastings, who apparently never met a slippery slope he didn't like.)  Really?  Even now, a bride has to be old enough to pay full price at the movies and I don't see that moving backwards.  We're talking about consenting, loving adults.  C'mon.  Are we so scared that we're really willing to use the Constitution of North Carolina to codify discrimination and fear and intolerance?  Shame on us if we are.

Watch this, if you will.  There's nothing to be afraid of.  This is a young man to be proud of.

And then watch this.  The one thing both sides seem to have right is that it's all about family.  I just believe in a bigger definition of that than some others do.

And then vote against inequality.  I know I will.