Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Passages, continued.

I was hoping to have better news for the blog, but another important woman in my life passed away this past week. Helen Milliken was the mother of my unofficial ex-step-father, which is really an inadequate term for Bill, who remains a close friend of the family. My family is obviously complicated, but suffice to say, Helen was like another grandmother to me growing up. We spent a lot of time with her and her husband, Bill Sr., at their cottage on Mackinac Island, which is a sacred place. In my memory she is perfectly perserved on a sunny autumn afternoon on the deck, gardening in a wide-brimmed hat, tandem bicycling, and calling her scottish terriers to "din-din." She loved animals, had fluffy hair, and knobby fingers. She was very elegant.
The funny thing is that since my mom and Bill split, I haven't seen or spoken to Helen or her husband. And I don't know why. When I heard Helen was not long for this world, I wanted to write, but I didn't know how to get over the fact that we had been so close, and then hadn't spoken in a decade. I had been hurt--I felt like they wanted nothing to do with me, and though I know that probably isn't true, those feelings prevented me from writing when I had the chance. I couldn't write and ignore those feelings, and it felt inappropriate to demand answers from a person struggling with cancer. I don't know how to reconcile all of this, except to say that she was loved, and that I am very proud of the political work that she did when she was first lady of Michigan.

Here is a great article about her and the ill-fated ERA:

She also supported the arts through her work with Art Train and supported environmental and preservation initiatives. All of these high-minded values are uphill battles,  and as some of the rhetoric from this recent election reveals, her work is far from over. May we all live as conscientiously.

Friday, November 9, 2012


I received news this morning that my step-grandmother, Barb, had passed. Barb, or "Babci"as she was called by her grandchildren, was kind-hearted and will be missed by our family. She was probably the best card-sender I will ever meet. She never missed a birthday, or christmas, or halloween, or Easter for that matter! She knew how special getting a note from someone in the mail is, and I have often aspired to become better at sending cards because of her...I go through spells, but somehow it's a habit that is hard to maintain, which just goes to show you, that she must have been thinking of others all the time. She also led an accomplished life. She ran her own business and served in the armed forces at a time when I imagine it was quite unusual to be a woman in the military. I always thought that was really admirable. Of course her greatest accomplishment of all was having the courage and love to adopt my then three-year-old step-mother, and raise her to be the woman we all love and cherish today. Carolyn--your mother will be missed, but her legacy of kindness lives on in you and all the people she touched.

Of course this morning's news hits closest to home, but there have been several other deaths in the past few months that have weighed heavily on my heart. Just recently, Lindsay's grandfather passed. I did not know him, but I know Lindsay is very close to her grandparents, as I am, and I have the greatest empathy for her and her family.

My high school dance teacher, Deborah, also passed recently. I don't know the details, but she had been battling with brain cancer a few years ago, and I imagine her death was connected to that. She was always very fit and healthy, and it is sad to see her go before her time, especially because I know she has a teenage son. She ran Dance Body and I worked with her every school day for four years. Dance body gave me the opportunity to choreograph and study modern dance years before college. I have no doubt that she was instrumental in my pursuing of modern dance, and helping me believe it was possible.

Earlier that week I also learned that a server who worked at the adjoining restaurant to Plum had been killed in a skateboarding/motor vehicle accident. We were more acquaintances than friends, but he was close to a few of my co-workers, and someone who always seemed to be around. It is always particularly unnerving when a peer dies, as it is so unexpected and violent. It reminds me of my own mortality, not to take for granted any of my loved ones, and that each day is precious. We are fragile beings and lives can change in an instant. I feel sympathy for the family of Stephan, but also for the driver of the motor vehicle, who's life has surely changed a great deal. Even if they made a mistake, they do not deserve the burden that they now undoubtedly carry.

It is times like these when I wish I had some religious rhetoric to lean on. To say that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. That they are in a better place or something of that nature. But, as a non-religious person, I would feel like a hypocrite. So I can only say, This is the way of things. And as often is the case with "the way of things," there is circularity. There is balance. It is with that in mind that I am overjoyed to hear of a new (very little) life:

Little Anden was born this week to Rachel and Scott Hubbinger, who over the past few years have become very dear friends to my grandparents, Nono and Gdad, and to our family. Rachel has been a caretaker to Nono, a big help to Gdad, and has gone above and beyond the call of duty. I am so excited for her family, and hope for them the best of health, luck, and fortune in life. They certainly deserve it.

Hopefully the next post will be lighter. Love to all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The people have spoken...

Washington state approved gay marriage! As did Maine and Maryland. And Minnesota refused to ban it. A victory for civil rights! I have no doubt that some day history will reveal the opposition to gay marriage to be no different than the bigotry that opposed inter-racial marriage once upon a time. Between going to Mt Holyoke, and living in the most liberal neighborhood of one of the most liberal cities in America, I know my fair share of people who identify as other than heterosexual. And they deserve to be part of the same happiness that Nathan and I get to be part of. And it makes my marriage feel even more legitimate, knowing that I'm partaking in an institution that is available to everyone. Well, at least in Washington.
Democracy at work.

We also LEGALIZED POT because the war on drugs has failed, and it's time to regulate (and tax!) a substance that is used by many many people who would otherwise never break a law in their lives. Let's turn a waste of money (jailing harmless citizens) into a way to generate revenue for the state. 

Washington also elected Jay Inslee, Susan Delbene, Jim McIntire, Bob Ferguson, and Maria Cantwell.
Oh yeah. And OBAMA.

I know I have King County to thank, who voted at near 86%!!!!
I am also proud of many of my friends who worked on campaigns and helped to pass many important issues, especially Referendum 74.

In the rest of the country, voters made a clear statement about their values. We are all particularly pleased to see Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin destroyed at the ballot box for being sexest (strong language necessary) assholes. Elizabeth Warren with her progressive economic expertise declares victory in MA, and more women were elected to the senate than any other time in history, including our first ever Asian-American woman. In addition to that, the first ever practicing Hindu, and several openly gay persons were elected to Congress. It is a breath of fresh air to feel that the country is shifting, finally, to accept our compatriots who may not lead the "white bread" lifestyle. The Republican party is not representative of this country anymore. It's not necessarily that I think there aren't some respectable Republican views, there are. I understand that the party used to stand for small government and fiscal responsibility, but as long as I've been politically cognizant, the Republican party has been forcing large (ineffective) government action down our throats, like the No Child Left Behind act and trying to amend the constitution to limit marriage rights. I think they are torn because they are trying to at once appeal to extreme religious persons who scare the majority of the country, to fiscal conservatives who are wary of the Bush administration's track record, and to Tea Party nut jobs. The angry white vote is not enough to sustain the Republican party anymore. The minorities they have alienated are becoming majorities, women are educated more now than ever, and the people who have seen the wrong end of this recession are poor now, and will vote in their interest. I hope that the Republican party will see this as a sign that reform is necessary, that it is time for the party to get back to its roots of rationalism, instead of attacking women, the environment, poor people, gay people, and minorities. And hopefully they will stop throwing around the word "Socialism," because they clearly don't know what it means. 
To my republican friends and family, I hope this is a wake up call to your party. I hope they come back stronger, more honest, and more realistic. It would be nice if our government actually worked the way it was supposed to. 
If you have time, watch this clip. I don't find Rachel Maddow to be funny, so her jokes are kinda annoying, but her points regarding the election hit home for me. 

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Part 2

Some pictures from the party...
Ben went as Romney's binder full of women. As you can see, Tashina is helping him out with his costume.

Steph as Poison Ivy and Hannah as Sally Ride. Also: candelabra 

zoro, a blind ref, and a mummy princess

Punch from the cauldron!

Jaime is a cartoon face. I forgot what that kind of illustration is called. 
Matt is slapped by Nadia (true story).

Brian and Kate as Where's Waldo characters

Nadia made this costume from scratch. She's the highlife girl!

Cody makes for a very mysterious batman.

Michael repurposed his costume from the titanic party...cheater.

Lauren, Nathan and I as Watson, Sherlock Holmes, and Irene Adler. 
A sort of loose interpretation.

Indiana Jones!

Nathan being silly.

Jaime makes a sad face.

I don't even know. I think Nathan was dancing?

You can see my halloween lanterns in this one!

Nadia being cute.

Nathan being cute.

I realize I didn't get any pictures of the pumpkins we carved! And we put tombstones in the yard! Nathan and I will be putting lots of decorations away this weekend now that it's Nov. We've got to get a move on so that we're not the people with rotting pumpkins and halloween lights up still at Thanksgiving.