Saturday, November 26, 2011

California Dreamin' : A letter from the Godfather

A blog entry from Alan, our dear friend, and Godfather to our children. When Michigan finally shuts its doors in a few years, and only the casinos and medical marijuana clinics are left, you can thank the hateful Prop 4 from a few years back. The brain/creativity drain that this state is experiencing is staggering. You can find more of his work here at his personal blog:

Dear Governor Snyder,

Greetings from California!

My name is Alan. I was born and raised in Michigan. Most of my family lives in Michigan. My husband, Brian, was born in Michigan and most of his family lives there as well. We both received our degrees at Michigan colleges. Brian has served as Director of IT for several successful high-tech Michigan companies. Most recently I was a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. And now I have just begun my first semester as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at [California University], in [somewheresville], California.

Given my life-long Michigan connection (and my family has lived in Michigan for well over a century), and given that there were open positions in the Chemistry Departments of Grand Valley State University or Western Michigan University for which I was highly qualified, you may be curious as to why I am now a Californian. Put simply: an important factor in our decision to leave our home and family is that Michigan’s Republican-controlled government is too anti-gay for my husband and me to continue to live there.

So then, my years of experience as a successful high school chemistry teacher (and four-time Kellogg Foundation Influential Educator award winner), as a researcher in cutting-edge polymer chemistry research as well as novel educational research, the money paid by Michigan residents to fund my two University of Michigan Master’s Degrees and my U-M PhD (12 years of University of Michigan tuition, benefits, and stipends!) are all now benefiting the state of California and its residents. Things may not be perfect here when it comes to equality, but at least California offers domestic partnerships and benefits. Not to mention, of course, the loss to Michigan of having two highly-paid professionals spending their combined income in California instead of Michigan.

Do you think that sounds like a net win for Michigan? Do you think losing all those thousands of dollars in our spending and taxes and our combined job experience (not to mention community involvement and volunteer work) was really worth the pittance that domestic partnership benefits may have cost the state? Clearly the answer is “No, and no.” So then, for you and the other Michigan Republicans to claim that this is an economic decision is obviously false.

If I am wrong and your decision to steal benefits from state employees truly is about the economy, not bigotry, then I am sure that you will point me where you have announced that you will guarantee to reinstate these benefits when the economy improves. Or, if this is really about the cost of benefits, then I’m sure you can point me to your proposal to cover only gay male couples — we’re cheaper to insure than heterosexual couples because we don’t need hugely expensive maternity coverage. Or, if this is about the economy, perhaps you should simply cut maternity coverage for everyone altogether. Having children is, after all, a lifestyle choice and as you have said, “the additional cost associated with the extension of health benefits to a new group [ie babies] in the midst of significant budget shortfall could potentially impact the ability to hire staff necessary to provide services for state citizens.”

You know what else could potentially impact the ability to hire staff necessary to provide services for state citizens? If highly qualified potential employees move away. But clearly this isn’t about the economy at all. The passage of the hateful Prop 4 back in 2004 was bad enough. However, Michigan voters were assured again and again by supporters of that constitutional amendment that “every single person currently receiving any kind of benefit would continue to do so.” (Metro Times, October 24, 2004). Of course, those people lied and immediately set to work to try to dismantle domestic partnership benefits at state universities.

It is disappointing to see you and your Republicans friends once again dancing to the tune being played by right-wing religious political extremists in Michigan. It is even more disappointing to see you attempt to hide behind the obviously phony claim that this is an economic decision while just this week you were trumpeting Michigan’s #2 economic ranking in the recent BEES report.

But, if you believe that it is worth saving a couple bucks and to lose talented Michigan residents and their experience, their incomes, and thousands of dollars of tax revenue in order to satisfy the anti-gay agenda of religious bigots, then I’m sure you’ll agree that it was fortuitous that my husband and I moved out of Michigan. From talking to our friends in Michigan — both gay and straight — it sounds like we may have lots of new neighbors out here in California in the near future, too.


– Alan, [somewhereville], CA

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Walking after midnight

Just like Patsy Cline, our dear Eli has begun to go walking after midnight; specifically around 4 or 5 AM. Instead of looking for love, he’s looking for food. He usually crashes out around 7 each night, and is apparently up and at ‘em bright and early, playing on the computer, trying to work the Wii, waking up his sister, making messes in the bathroom… you know, the typical stuff you do in the early hours of the day. He woke up the other day and helped himself to one of his sister’s leftover birthday cupcakes. The insanely tinted pink frosting is now ground into the carpeting on our stairs. We found a somewhat eaten ice cream sandwich in the sink the other morning, melting away down the drain. He couldn’t get the wrapper off, so he gnawed away at what he could and (thankfully) put it in the sink instead of chucking it on the floor.
We have put a lock on his door, for both his safety and for our sanity. The mornings are crazy, and being able to keep him OUT of his room is a good thing while we are getting ready. It is also used to keep his sister at bay, although she has figured out how to jump up and free the lock, letting herself in to wake him up or harass him. He is adamant about us NOT locking him in his room each night, and after his hollow promises to stay in his room until we wake him up, we have begun securing him (sounds better than locking him up) in his room.

Please do not call Child Protective Services on us, and Grandmas, calm down. It is for his safety. I have checked with our friend who is a child psychologist and he said it is okay. I pressed him about post-traumatic stress issues or repressed memories and he assured me that his young mind won’t remember anything but cupcakes and puppies from this time in his life. I feel bad we have to do this, but with his nocturnal activities, we need to make sure he is safe. I was thinking about the amazing, feel-good movie “Mommie Dearest” and I did a quick search for bed restraints. Dear Joan had the right idea. Kiss your kiddies goodnight, and then strap them in, Hannibal Lecter style to ensure sweet dreams and a peaceful night for Mommie, Daddie, and Papa Dearest. Apparently the only people using such devices now are prisons and mental institutions, so no go on that idea.
So we are left with a stern warning each night, and a tentative promise of no wondering. We have kept the door locked, and each morning, we hear him rattle the door to try and get out around 4 a.m. Putting him back in bed only generates howls and screams from him, which generates howls and screams from sleeping beauty next door, roused way too early to begin her hectic day.

It’s a no win situation for any of us. Please cancel any nominations for Parents of the Year. I am secretly excited for their teenage years when they spend all day in their rooms and sleep until noon. Until then, I will rely on our $1.00 solution for a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's in the cards, a Halloween Tarot Reading from Spo

My buddy Michael, of Spo Reflections did  2 dozen readings (for other people)  on All Hallow’s Eve. He did a basic reading spread, using 7 cards. This is what my reading said. My comments follow his interpretations.

Card #1  - “The Card about you” (in your nowadays status)
Card #2 - “Home” matters
Card #3 - “Work” - or what you are doing/keeping you busy
Card #4 - “The Relationship Card” viz. how you/others are doing, and the energies happening.
Card #5 - “Positive Energies”: the matters you should be aware of and use.
Card #6 - “Negatives Energies” : things thwarting you/impeding you/tripping you up.
Card #7 - The “Summary” Card. A sort of what the future holds OR what is your status. It is more a mirror held up to you, rather than ‘this is what will happen”. 

I used a deck called “The Hallowe’en Tarot”, which has suits of pumpkins, ghosts, bats, and imps.  While it is easier for me to lay out 7 cards and read the ‘gestalt’, it is not much fun for you. So, I will explain one by one.

#1- Death   oooh! the Death card! I hear you shudder!  Well, not to worry. This card is about major transformation.  The Death card in this position heralds major changes for you in the near future. It does not mean you are going to drop dead. This is good news. I am glad I am not going to drop dead. Changes? What kind? Ooo, a mystery.
#2- 6 Ghosts - a nostalgia card, or a card about children. Apparently your home life is dominated but ‘child energy’.  A no-brainer I suppose.  Tarot is often is merely a ‘mirror’ to your life.  Hmmmm, I do believe you are correct on this one.
#3- King Imps  A king card in the work position says you are doing well with work, Nuff said. This cracked me up as work is crazy, and I am most stressed when I am there.
#4- 8 Ghosts  A seeking card. Are you looking to expand your friendship circle, or work on your family life/relationships?  It seems to predict you will, or should do some soulsearching. We have had many friends move or transition away from our circle lately, it’s been sad.
#5- 6 Imps  A victorious card; in the positive position, it implies you are doing welll/will do well in work and what you are about to accomplish. This is good news. I just wish my art career would start to pay a bit better.
#6- 9 Imps  More imps!  And this is a negative card of worry. Apparently your propensity to fret and worry is your worst matter.  Lordy, this is so true
#7- Star - a ‘stellar’ card’  whatever is happening, it is going to work out fine. This is good news too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011