Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Marathon of Hope

Photo credit Here

Excerpt from Threatened With Resurrection 

…There is something here within us

Which doesn’t let us sleep, which doesn’t let us rest,

Which doesn’t stop pounding deep inside,

It is the silent, warm weeping of Indian women without their husbands,

It is the sad gaze of the children

Fixed there beyond memory,

In the very pupil of our eyes

Which during sleep, though closed, keep watch

With each contraction of the heart

In every wakening…

What keeps us from sleeping,

Is that they have threatened us with resurrection!

Because at each nightfall,

Though exhausted from the endless inventory

Of killings since 1954,

Yet we continue to love life,

And do not accept their death!

…Because in this marathon of Hope,

there are always others to relieve us

in bearing the courage necessary

to arrive at the goal which lies beyond death…

Accompany us then on this vigil

And you will know what it is to dream!

You will then know how marvelous it is

To live threatened with resurrection!

To dream awake,

To keep watch asleep

To live while dying

And to already know oneself resurrected!

(by Julia Esquivel, Guatemalan poet and theologian, from her book, Threatened With Resurrection: Prayers and Poems from an Exiled Guatemalan, Brethren Press, 2nd Edition, published 1994.  Find it Here.)  

What is it about Easter?  Easter draws wayward and devoted Christians to church like no other.  My mother used to call them C & E’s – The Christmas and Easters, people who generally never attended church and probably had no intention of attending church on a regular basis, but always showed up for Christmas and Easter.  And Easter more. 

I was thinking about that while I sat in Church this morning.  Thinking about what it is that calls to people to go to church on Easter.  Is it tradition?  Happy memories from childhood?  A longing?  A spiritual need to be connected to others?  Obligation?  Guilt?  I’m sure I’ve gone for all of those reasons.

SP and I went this morning because it felt like the right thing to do.  And because lately I always feel better leaving church than I did when I arrived.  And because I too have been feeling that incredible longing to be connected to something bigger than myself again.  And also because I think the right church empowers you with desire, activism and Hope. 

Hope is a funny thing.  It can trick you into doing scary things.  It can give you a push when you think all is lost.  It can hurt and brighten and persuade. 

The historical details of the Easter story are fuzzy.  And as the Reverend said today at church – agreeing on those details isn’t what matters in this story.  In fact he suggested disagreeing, and understanding the story in our own way is what makes life interesting, is what forces us to think and grow and move and change.  Don’t get caught up in the details. 

For me, the story – and the ultimate connector – is Hope.  Hope is what draws people to church.  It is the piece of our humanity that draws us all together.  It is the spirit inside of us that moves us.  And what I was reminded of today in the Easter story is that Jesus was a man of Hope.  He was so incredibly hopeful that we as humanity could change for the better that he did unimaginable things.  That Hope empowered Him with the courage to start a revolution of love.  Can you imagine that?  He hoped so hard in our abilities to love one another and care for one another and be better than we knew ourselves to be that He created a radical revolution of kindness.  I don’t care what religion you are – radical kindness and revolutionary love sounds pretty amazing to me.

My truth tells me that we humans, we are better than this day to day nonsense that we bicker about.  My truth tells me that we are still capable of revolutionary love.  And that we have the ability to change our world.   We are bigger than our little bodies.  And in this “marathon of Hope,” our lives are much bigger than we ever dreamed of.

To me to be threatened with resurrection is to be threatened with the possibilities, to be threatened with change.  To recognize that our Hopes can be realized – but we must be empowered to make those changes.  I have to allow myself to recognize that there is a different way to live, different from the hardness this world imposes.  I too can be part of revolutionary love…of radical kindness.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate.  And Happy Hoping to all!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Power of One

We've all heard that starfish story right?  Here's the basic premise just in case you've somehow missed it. There's a beach that has thousands of starfish that have somehow washed up onto shore.  And a little boy is walking down the beach picking one up and throwing it back into the ocean.  One by one picking up the stranded starfish and putting them back in the sea.  And along comes a man who says to the little boy, "why bother?  There are so many you can't possibly make a difference."  And the little boy picks up one more starfish and hurls it into the ocean and says "made a difference to that one."

Thats how I felt last week.  There are thousands upon thousands of people who are invested and interested in the outcomes of the supreme court hearings last week and I am one of them.  And sometimes it feels fruitless to fight against the thousands (millions?) of people whose minds are still closed and whose hearts have not yet seen that there is room in this world for all of us.  But it makes a difference.  The smallest gestures, they make a difference. If only to one person - but in my book that counts.  It counts big.

So I wrote a little blog post about the power these laws (or lack there of) have over me and my marriage and it blew up.  And people I didn't even know read it.  And I hope that it changed a few minds and a few hearts. Maybe even just one.  

But I can tell you one thing.  It changed my life.  Seeing all that red made a difference to me.  It reminded me that there are people out there who are willing to fight for others.  It reminded me that my life and my marriage count.  

It reminded me that one person CAN make a difference.

So Thank You.  No matter the outcome now or in 100 years (because I know love and kindness and truth and compassion - they always win) - It made a difference to me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Tonight (Or The End Of June...) Will Be Momentous For Me.

Prior to getting illegally married to SP, I always did my own taxes.  Turbo tax was pretty self explanatory and I don't make enough money or own enough property or valuable things to make it complicated.  Fill in the blanks.  Get tax return.  (or pay that one HORRIBLE year when all my paperwork was messed up)  This year SP and I took one look at the laws regarding filing taxes as Registered Domestic Partners (RDP) - the gay version of marriage in CA right now - and knew there was no way that we could file our taxes accurately.  And yet, we still don't make a lot of money, we don't own a house, or have children.  So, in reality, we should be able to file together no problem.  And still.  No.  Dice.  So we paid (some really nice people) a decent chunk of our tax return to file our taxes for us.  So that we wouldn't do it wrong.  So that we wouldn't be audited and have it cost us even more of our hard earned money. 

As many of you know SP and I want babies.  The other day I was thinking about what would happen if something happened to either one of us during labor/delivery.  What if there was an emergency?  Would we have a legal right to one another?  Would our families allow us to visit?  Who would get the baby should something terrible happen (premature I know but these thoughts, they come)  What if one of us becomes disabled?  Or hurt?  Or god forbid - Killed.  What if we win the lottery or lose all of our money.  Will we have any legal obligation to one another?

If you've met us, if you've seen us together - you know we love each other.  I can see the love in SP's eyes every day.  I know that we will fight for our illegal marriage no matter what the government or mean spirited people say about us.  We already fought to get here.  We've been tested.  Being Married, legally, it means something.  It holds weight with others.  Because no matter how deep our commitment to one another, no matter how hard we love one another - some people they need a piece of paper to give us what we know we have already earned.  Just by being us and in love.  But on top of the fact that it means something socially.  It means something legally.  And those what if's and tax issues above, those are things that plague SP and I on a regular basis.  And that sort of thing...legalese and hoop jumping...that shouldn't color your marriage.  Because let's be honest, marriage is plenty hard on its own. 

Today many people are wearing red or changing their facebook photos to the red human rights equal sign to show their support for marriage equality in this country.  The solidarity has been surprisingly touching.  I truly hope that future generations will walk through this world with very different lenses - ones that aren't shaded by sexual orientation and gender norms, and discrimination.  And I am reminded that I'm lucky to be alive in history and to stand on what I believe to be the right side of history.   

Remember when separate wasn't equal before?  Just sayin. 

Fingers Crossed. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why I Think Everyone Should Go To Church

Gratuitous selfies from a happy Sunday!

I know already some of you are like what? I don’t have to go to church how dare you impose your beliefs on me.  I’m a Jew, I’m a Muslim, I’m an Atheist…blarrrr! (you are also a pirate apparently)  But hang in there with me past the title.

Despite your religious, or lack of religious, beliefs I think we can all agree (those of us who are not sociopaths) that everybody here on this little planet, we are all just trying to do our best.  And in general we’re all looking for our lives to mean something and to be our best possible selves while we have time on this planet.  Simple as that.  I know a lot of you think it’s WAY more complicated than that and I’m sure it is, but for the most part that’s what all this nonsense we call life boils down to right? 1) Enjoy this beautiful life 2) Be the best self you can be 3) Find a purpose for this time.  (We will call these Sarah’s 3 commandments…10 always was a few too many for me…cue the lightening now)

I haven’t been a regular church go-er for several years now.  As you may or may not know I grew up in the Catholic church.  Not by force…by direction yes, but definitely by choice.  The church I grew up in changed me significantly for the better.  I made life long friends.  I learned so much about myself.  And I learned how to be a better person.  And every Sunday I got a 1 hour quiet reminder that I had been given the power to do better, be better, and give more.  When I fell away from the church because I’m gay (in case you missed a step) it broke my heart – a whole other story that I will delve into another time – and it took me a long time to get the courage to give church of any kind a try again.  But in that “time away” I realized a lot of things.  Like my church, isn’t always a building or a group of people.  Sometimes my church is a cup of coffee and a really great book.  Sometimes my church is a walk beside the river with the birds chirping.  Sometimes my church is a snuggle with my dog.  And sometimes my church is right here on this blog where I can bear my soul and I know people will listen.  And sometimes my church is actually at church – where somebody outside myself reminds me to be quiet for an hour, to slow down, and that there is a really big world outside of myself.

My God is everywhere.  He (or She?) speaks to my soul in little ways all the time.  Urging me not to forget how fleeting this life is and how wonderful.  And how much more I can give to it.   And so while maybe I don’t REALLY think everybody needs to go to a church building every week.  I do think seeking out an hour of quiet and reflection and beauty each week is a habit we could all benefit from.  And, if you are so inclined, going to a church or a temple or any other place of worship from time to time, can only help – if nothing else you sit and listen and be quiet and are reminded to enjoy this beautiful life, to be the best version of yourself that you can be, and to find a little purpose in all of this crazy.

Today this was my church...a little early morning baking!  YUM!

Happy Sunday Friends!  And may your God bless you…whoever or whatever he/she/it may be to you.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

I am 100% absolutely determined to finish writing about our honey moon before our 1 year anniversary.  Which means I have 6months give or take to write about 2 more cities.  Doesn't sound like much right?  Wrong.  Because the last 2 cities were momentous.  Like huge.  Partly because we packed so much into them and partly because they have so many momentously huge things to be packed into them.  Like the Colosseum people.  And The Brandenburg gate.  I mean really.  I could write about 7 posts about the Colosseum alone.  I could live in there.  I could walk around the Colosseum for 2 days.  Exploring every nook and crany.  I'd particularly like to explore the cranies they don't let you in...but being in Italian jail didn't sound appealing to me.

But anyway.....


Apparently as a small child I went to Germany.  I'm not really sure where in Germany because I was young and I was just recovering from a very rare form of Pnuemonia that I got and suffered through in Sweden (yes this is my life).  All I remember about Germany from childhood are castles.  They were around every corner.  And yogurt.  They had the best dang yogurt

So really Germany was a whole new world to me.  And I've never been to Berlin.

By the time we got to Berlin SP and I were pretty tired.  I love Paris but we don't speak French and that alone can be wearing.  And we had now been walking for about a week straight probably 10miles a day.  You know that saying...walk until your feet bleed?  We did it.  Literally.  I was also eating Ibuprofen like it was candy.

So when SP's aunt offered to pick us up at the Berlin airport and show us around while we were in Germany, I was so incredibly game.  We got into Berlin late at night so SP's aunt gave us the night time driving tour, then we went back to her apartment and crashed REAL hard.  The next day we went to a castle.

Just kidding, we did go to a mansion though.  And it was gorgeous and decadent and sunny and a much slower pace which we really needed.  We wandered through the house and the gardens and I once again imagined how lovely it must have been to be royalty (when IS my royal family coming to get me already?!)


Charlottenburg Palace

We also went to a beer garden.  Now that's a tradition I could get behind.  From my limited experience it seems that Germans take a lot of breaks and drink a lot of beer and they like to be out doors.  Yes. Yes. and Yes.  Sitting outside having a beer, enjoying nature, relaxing, chatting with friends - why are we not doing this more in the US?  It is an accepted part of the culture there to stop and have a delicious beer in the middle of the day.  Yes.  And the Beer.  The Beer is amazing.  comparable to the French croissant.  Like the best beer of my life.


After that we did essentially every major site in Berlin there is to see in one whirlwhind afternoon. The architecture the sun the grass the beer, oh wait, did I mention the beer already?  I think I could be German except for one small thing...the language.  I feel that personally I'm pretty adept at languages.  I can pick up important phrases quickly and I know that if I put in some effort and use it I could learn most of your garden variety languages (nothing tonal that would never happen) but German sounds like nothing familiar to me. And no offense Germans, its kinda ugly sounding.  None the less I really liked Berlin and I would love to spend some more time in Germany in general...

 Reichstag building

 The Brandenburg Gate

 Fun Fact: The Hotel Aldon is where Michael Jackson hung his baby out the window

 Beautiful beautiful Berlin

After the quicksie poo tour of Berlin's major sites SP's aunt whisked us away to her country home.  Another trend I could get behind.  Apparently many German city dwellers also keep a place in the country where they can get away from it all when they are tired of the city life.  Sign me up.  SP's aunt's country house is beautiful and definitely out in the country surrounded by ponds and fields and green.  It was a breath of fresh air after SO MUCH hustle and bustle.  

We were REALLY in the country
 The Martin Luther Doors
The quaintness KILLED me.  Love love love 

Germans love their nature!
 Beautiful Beer Garden, Happy Sarah

And boy did we need that breath of fresh air as we set off to Roma...

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Few Tips From A Worn Out Program Administrator

Dear people of the world who may or may not be applying to various programs or universities etc.  As someone deep in the trenches of admissions let me tell you a few things that will make everybody's lives better...

1) Never staple your checks.  Why would you do that?  Why would you put a staple in something that is essentially legal tender?  Would you staple a $50.00 bill?  No.  Don't staple a check.  Do you know how many machines that thing has to go through?!  Those little staples F those machines up.  Don't do it.

2) Don't staple anything.  See #1.  Most likely in this digital age if you are sending something in paper it has to be fed through a machine.  And your tiny staple is going to F my machine up real bad.  And then I don't like you.  This is why they make paperclips.  Great invention.  Try it.

3) Your issue or concern is not the only one I'm dealing with in the current moment.  In fact it is likely one of 5million issues I'm dealing with.  Please don't assume that your problem is the most important.  I'm not going to drop everything and make sure your issue is resolved.  I am going to do a good job and make sure that your issue is taken care of in a timely manner.  Don't hound me.  If you do you're going on the bottom of the pile.  

4) Don't assume you know how the process works.  You don't.  Even if you have someone on the inside who is telling you all the secrets.  At the end of the day they really don't know all the secrets.  Only I know all the secrets.  And I'm not telling.  Mostly because there aren't any secrets.

5) Just do what the instructions say.  Nothing less nothing more.  

6) In order to do #5 you must in fact read the directions.  After you read them.  You should probably read them again.  Maybe a 3rd time if you're a person who needs repetition to process.

7) If it's on the website I'm not going to answer your call.  If you can't use the resources that you have you can't make it in my program.  End of story.  Getting through the application process is part of the weeding process.  I'm sorry but it's true.  If you aren't smart enough or resourceful enough to submit a complete application (which means doing #5 and #6) you don't deserve a spot in my program.

8) Be nice.  Your chances of getting actual help go up exponentially if you are kind to me.  If you call me and demand things you will get the absolute bare minimum.  If you call and you are nice to me I might help you with #6.

9) If you're applying to a competitive program or school or whatever you're probably the absolute cream of the crop where you are now.  Guess what?  So is everybody else who is applying.  Recognize that you may not get in.  That doesn't mean you weren't qualified.  It doesn't mean that you weren't a good candidate.  It doesn't mean you won't get accepted in the future.  It means that most schools/programs have more qualified applicants than they have spots.  Them's the breaks.

10) Never. Ever. Blame. Me. For anything.  For not gettting back to you at the last minute.  For not walking you through every step of the application.  For not coming to your house to fill out your application for you.  For you not gettin in.  Let me tell you what, you start blaming me, your phone calls are mysteriously going to stop being answered and your application is going to be so far down on the pile it may never be found again.  Just sayin ;)

Apply on my friends.  Apply on...