Sunday, December 30, 2012

Facebook, You Are Not My Friend

Let me begin this post with a warning: If you are Facebook friends with Danielle and me and you are a woman between the ages of 15 and 45, you are probably pregnant.  Our news feed has been absolutely inundated with ultrasound photos and pictures of pregnant bellies.  I'm starting to suspect that we may be the Fertility Fairies,  knocking up everyone in our path.  So, if you haven't already, you'll want to leave your computer immediately to go pee on a stick.  Don't worry.  I'll wait.

(I twiddle thumbs.  You pee.)

Welcome back, and congratulations on your pregnancy!  I'm sure you'll want to share this good news with the Facebook world, as you have every right to do.  Exciting news deserves to be celebrated.  Still, whether you know it or not, you likely have Facebook friends who are dealing with infertility issues.  Therefore, I have assembled a quick primer to keep your posts from getting blocked and you from being un-friended.

1. Wait a skinny minute before announcing your pregnancy.  I like being in the loop and all, but I don't need to learn of your pregnancy 2 minutes after you do.  Sure, your excitement is bubbling over like a shaken soda can, but keep in mind that pregnancies are so fragile in those early days.  Early announcements on social media seem like you are taking a healthy pregnancy for granted.  Tell your family and close friends as soon as you want, but you might want to hold off a bit before sharing your news with the random guy who friended you after you met at a mutual friend's birthday party.  Random guy can wait to find out.  (Unless you suspect random guy might be the father of your baby.  In that, you two need to have a conversation, stat.)

2. We will just assume you are nauseated.   It's public knowledge that pregnant women are prone to experiencing morning sickness and general nausea, so if you're going to post on the subject, please make it anecdotal.  For example, maybe your kid said something funny to you while watching you puke your guts out.  That is post-worthy.  But continuous posts about how much you hate feeling queasy?  Keep in mind that some of us are crazy enough to want that queasiness more than anything in the world.  (Weirdos.)

3. Spare us the play by play.  Because I am excited for you, I want to hear about your pregnancy and celebrate the milestones with you.  Heard the baby's heartbeat?  Tell me about it.  Found out the sex of the baby?  I want to know.
But please spare us all the torment of websites like this:
A  FB feed informing me of your baby's weekly development?  Oh boy! 
This website is offensive on two levels for me.  First of all, I don't care for minutiae-laden posts of any nature.  For my family, though, the real harm lies in the fact that these posts are just weekly reminders of what we have yet to achieve.  Plus, the fetus pictures are kind of creepy, right?

4. Ration your belly shots.  In other words, please make sure you actually have a baby bump before you start photographing it.  It is interesting to document the baby's growth on a monthly or quarterly basis.  However, posting weekly shots is just annoying, and we won't be able to tell much difference anyway.  It is probably also worth noting that, in general, these shots are more flattering when you wear a shirt over your belly.  Just my two cents.

Of course, none of these rules are totally hard and fast.  I'm sure someone could follow these suggestions but behave in ways that would be horribly hurtful to infertile couples.  Likewise, another person could bend these rules a bit and be totally respectful. In the end, it really comes down to sharing vs. oversharing, celebrating your joy vs. rubbing it in everyone's face.  If you're not the type to post 5,000 self-portraits on Facebook or to constantly update the cyberworld on what you had to eat today (and yesterday, and the day before that, etc.), you probably lack the temperament to be one of "those" pregnant women.  For that, we thank you.

Oh, and there is a fifth rule.  It is perhaps the most important one, so pay close attention.

5. Take these "rules" with a grain of salt.  They were written by a person who's posted at least 30 pictures of her dog.  Sleeping.

Friday, October 19, 2012

To Tell or Not to Tell?

     There's a new girl at work I just adore.  We hit it off right from the start, and as we've gotten to know one another better we find we have more and more in common.  For instance, we are both stupid crazy about our dogs.  We each have pumpkin patches growing in our yards this fall, and both patches have produced underwhelming results.  (I'm talking puny pumpkins.)  We are grammar snobs, and we enjoy subversive activities like reading and decorating our porches with mums and scarecrows.

     She's the kind of person I could see myself spending time with outside of work, and I'd love to have her over to the house sometime for dinner.   Nosy person that I am, I'd also like to see her house.  (I heart real estate, big time.)  I'd like to share gardening ideas with her and just hang out every once in a while.  I am, in the jargon of reality tv, ready to take our relationship to the next level. to delicately mention that, by the way, I have a wife?

     I think my new friend will be a safe person to come out to.  But think is the operative word here.  Sure, she says, "Shit!" on a regular basis and has proven herself to be unfailingly kind and helpful in the time I've known her.  However, I also know that she is a devout Christian, and coming out to Christians is sort of a mixed bag.  There are plenty of Christians who are loving, accepting, and, well, Christian to people like Danielle and me.  Others, though, smite our very existence and show us the opposite of God.  More are somewhere in between: not outright mean or critical but happy to gossip about us and eye us with suspicion.  I can't even commit to going on a treadmill once a week; Lord knows I couldn't handle time in the rumor mill.

     As a Christian, it saddens me that it is Christians I am most fearful of when outing myself.  I'll feel quite close to a person and want to share a more full friendship with them but back away when I discover that they are Christian.  I feel like a nervous gay Dorothy eying Glenda upon my arrival in Oz: "Are you a good Christian or a bad Christian?"

     I used to think I could spot a "good" Christian a mile away.  His or her attire would lean toward the progressive side.  Think Toms, Chacos, or Teevas for shoes.  There would be a high presence of flannel, but not the form-fitting, stylish kind.  Outdoorsy clothes, dangly earrings, and even dreads might accentuate the look.  However, my "good" Christian theory went out the window when I heard a girl in striped toe socks, pig tails, and many ecclectic, not-particularly-clean-looking accessories go on an absolute diatribe about the wonders of Sarah Palin.  She also claimed Obama was a Muslim.  (Goodbye, theory.)

     So, to tell or not to tell?  It's such a crapshoot sometimes.  On the one hand, I can protect myself from ridicule, gossip, and rejection by staying in the closet and under the radar.  Sometimes, this is a smart thing to do at work.  There are plenty of people with whom I can interact cordially and do not need to see outside of the workplace.  If coming out happens on a need-to-know basis, these folks really don't need to know.  There's not much to gain and plenty to risk.

     Other times, though, the risk is worth it.  I have developed strong bonds with a small  group of co-workers, and they are not only work friends but just plain old friends.  I cannot imagine what it would have been like not having them to talk to about our struggles conceiving or the celebration of our first/eighth anniversary.  How lonely work would have felt!  Life is integrated, and you need people at home with whom you can discuss your work life and people at work with whom you can share your home life.  Otherwise, it's like you're living two lives, and listen: I'm busy enough as it is.

     In the end, I will probably come out to my new friend.  She's so easy to talk to, and I'd love to give a more honest answer to her Monday morning greeting of, "How was your weekend?"  My friend loves to laugh, and I think Danielle will absolutely crack her up.  I want them to meet so badly!  Selfishly, I also want people to know I'm not a 31-year-old spinster and that, yes, I am getting some.  All that pity they are taking on me?  So unnecessary.

    But coming out is still scary.  It feels a bit like jumping out of an airplane.  You can peer over the edge all you like, but you have no way of knowing how things will turn out.  All you can do is take a deep breath and pray like hell there's something to catch you.  Because you can't un-jump.  You can't take it back.  You could crash and burn, get bruised or broken, and be dragged through God knows what hell. 

     So far, my parachute has been steady.  My friends have granted me a soft landing.  I've enjoyed a nice spell of time spent in safety and complacency.  But the sky is calling me again.  I look out the window.  It's an astonishingly long way down.  I close my eyes, and take a deep breath.

     Wish me luck as I fall.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gayngst: How We (Awkwardly) Began

     I like watching couples fall in love in the movies.  The experience is always sweet, breezy, and lighthearted.  I'm sure having a musical score doesn't hurt.  However, I doubt there is a soundtrack peppy enough to counterbalance the turbulent start Danielle and I had when we first became a couple.  Sure, we had plenty of blissful moments feeling the first flush of love.  It's just that, at that time, we still thought we were just friends.  (Idiots.)

     At the height of our headiness about the wonderful "friendship" we'd found, Danielle and I moved to separate states to begin our teaching careers.  I remember the profound sense of loss I felt when I drove her to the airport and watched her embark on a new journey without me.  I was irrationally and obsessively concerned that I might become a lower priority in her life, that I would no longer be important to her. 

     I needn't have worried.  During the year we spent apart, we talked on the phone each night for at least an hour.  In addition, we wrote letters to one another and even kept journals that we mailed back and forth periodically.  (You know, totally normal friend stuff.)

     As I became more integrated into my new community, the middle-aged ladies at my new church took me under their wings and set me up on two blind dates.  For the duration of both dates, I remember wishing I could just sit across the table from Danielle instead of making polite conversation with strangers.  My connection with her was the deep bond by which I judged all other relationships.  Needless to say, my underwhelming enthusiasm and investment in these fledgling relationships led to no second dates.  The guys I met, nice though they were, did not make me laugh or make me feel as myself as Danielle did (and still does).

     For her part, Danielle recalls checking her phone frequently on these date nights.  The longer the night went on without a phone call from me, the more worried she became.  She admits to being secretly relieved each time I called to give her some ho-hum report about my brief forays into the dating world.  (Again, isn't it typical for best friends to hope their best friends have only bad dating experiences?)

     Much of our year apart is a blur to me at this point.  I remember feeling pretty down much of the time and chronically homesick for Danielle.  That spring, I decided that I would leave my job at the end of the school year and move to Washington, D.C., with Danielle.  Danielle offered to fly from D.C. to Texas, where I was living at the time, to ride with me during the move.

     Once our road trip was planned, we could talk of little else.  The promise of a fun-filled adventure together became the carrot we dangled in front of ourselves to help us survive what was, unequivocally, a difficult year.  Two best friends traveling across the country together- what could be better?

     Plenty, it turns out.  Even though we were riding in a Toyota Corolla jam-packed with my belongings, there seemed to be ample space in the car for tension and angst.  We spent long stretches of time not talking while our minds raced, worried, and questioned.  We had always felt so comfortable together, but something wasn't connecting now.  What wasn't lining up?   I began to question my decision to move in with Danielle.  Maybe our relationship wasn't going to be what it had been. Danielle feared that I would hate living in D.C. and resent her for encouraging me to move.  Of course, the move was a sensitive and potentially volatile topic, so we chose to avoid the subject- or any subject, for that matter.  It seemed the weight of even one word would break the fragile eggshells we walked upon.  When pressed about that road trip today, Danielle and I tend to laugh and exclaim in unison, "That was awful!"

     The road trip angst ended up being a harbinger for the drastic changes to come in our lives and relationship.  I won't go into the nitty-gritty details, but once I moved in with Danielle, we shared many kisses that we did not talk about.  At all.  For weeks.  I eventually wrote Danielle a letter to ask her what our relationship was and whether or not we should pursue a romantic relationship.  Conveniently, I gave her the letter before I left for vacation with my family.  You know, to keep the whole not talking thing going.

     Initially, Danielle was understandably fearful and apprehensive and expressed that she did not want us to become a couple.  I handled this news very badly.  Here is an illustrative example from that time period: when Danielle and I had lunch together at a local diner, my passive aggressive jukebox selection was Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces".  I find this is hilarious now, but I was absolutely serious about it at the time.

     Eventually, Danielle and I were forced to address our fears.  Fears of jeopardizing our friendship, of coming out, of being ostracized, of being so very vulnerable with another.  We could no longer deny that our bond ran deeper than friendship.  This time period involved more crying, hand-wringing, and drama than a telenovela marathon.  We were not at our best.  Our story would have made for a wretched romantic comedy.

     But, we got through it.  Even though our life still has its challenges, I truly believe that for us, the hardest part is over.  I don't feel particularly nostalgic for those restless nights or the pens I emptied scribbling furiously into my journal.  I do experience a certain wistfulness, however, as I marvel at how fragile we were in those early days of couplehood.  Very easily, there could have been no us.  And yet here we are, eight years later and going strong.  That realization fills me with overwhelming feelings of gratitude, abundance, and faith in the Thread that guides and connects us all.

     You know, kinda the opposite of angst.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

While We Weren't Looking

     As Danielle and I approach the first anniversary of our wedding, our thing in September, I can't help but be reflective about the twists and turns and multiple awkward moments that brought us together in the first place.  Although we've been married only a year, we've been a couple for eight years, so we've got a bit of journeying behind us.  In honor of this year's milestone, I'd like to devote a few posts to the story of how we met, got together, fell in love... you know, all that sappy stuff.  Of course, the story is about us, so there is still plenty of nerdy hilarity to be recounted along the way.  This is not, after all, the Hallmark Channel.

     To begin with, I was never terribly boy-crazy as an adolescent and teen.  This makes much more sense in hindsight.  My crushes centered around long-haired boys who played acoustic guitar and talked about their feelings.  In other words,  male lesbians.  In an effort to impress them, I took up guitar and began writing my own songs.  What I lacked in boobs, I tried to make up in rhyme.  I spent hours curled up on my bed writing songs and short stories and figuring out how to move my fingers quickly from an E major chord to a B7.  I moved on to playing bar chords.  I sang in coffeehouses and joined songwriter circles.  Still, my standing Friday night date was watching rented movies at home with my parents.  I went on zero dates in high school and attended the prom stag.  While a guy friend did send me flowers one Valentine's Day, I spoiled any chance of romance by giving him a thank-you note the next day.  However, even though boobs inevitably trumped rhyme and I remained single, I was happy. 
     Danielle's teenage years followed a similar pattern.  Her family moved across the country in the middle of her high school career, so she ended up performing in two different high school productions of Pippin.  She was also an active member of her high school choirs and served as a peer support volunteer.  She describes her high school self as "an athletic supporter."    She and her friends "cheered for the soccer team.  But we weren't cheerleaders.  We even made signs."  This recollection was followed by a gasp, an "Oh God!", and the admonition, "Please don't make me look like a dork."  (That's why I added in the part about me sending a thank-you note for the flowers.)

     College life was no different for us.  Danielle was an Orientation Assistant and Peer Mentor and worked with the soccer team.  I wrote a little for the school newspaper, volunteered as a tutor, and worked for the campus programming board.  Both of us were very involved in the campus community and got to meet a lot of interesting, fun people.  Our cumulative date tally for college? Zero.

     Danielle was a senior my freshman year of college, and we never crossed paths that year.  However, her college advisor messed up her class schedule, resulting in an extra fall semester for Danielle.  It was this semester that Danielle joined the programming board.  During the board retreat, we discovered that we both love banana baby food and that we had never been kissed.  We became instant friends.  While we weren't inseparable initially- She had her life, and I had mine- we moved easily into deep conversation any time we were together.  When the time came for her to graduate that December, I remember feeling terribly sad that I would not likely get to see her anymore.  As a graduation/Christmas gift, I gave her a glass slipper ornament to remind her that she would one day find her happy ever after.  I did not see or hear from her for three months.

     That March, I entered the school talent show.  Guess who showed up on the judges panel?  Danielle!  I was so thrilled to see her.  At some point that evening, we must have reconnected and exchanged phone numbers or something.  All I remember is that we began to spend more time together.  We would see each other once every other week.  Every other week became once a week, and once a week turned into hanging out pretty much every night.  There were times when I would come back to my dorm after spending hours talking with Danielle at our local coffeehouse and I would feel that giddy, heady feeling of falling in love.  But I was a good Southern girl, so it did not even dawn on me that having a relationship with Danielle was a path I could take.  Yet, our non-courtship courtship continued.  We used to drive around our small town just listening to music and talking.  We exchanged cds and made each other mixed tapes.  I spent a weekend helping her move from a house to an apartment.  She introduced me to Nutella before Nutella was cool.  We started singing together, and to this day our voices blend better with each other than they do with anyone else.

     Although it was a matter of years before Danielle and I realized and acknowledged what was really happening in our relationship, we still look back fondly on those early days.  I remember so clearly how delighted I felt to be around her, how I never tired of her company, and how no one else's company compared.  I wanted desperately to impress her, yet I felt totally comfortable just being myself.  She and I also marvel at how the universe conspired to bring us together.  We'd never have met if her advisor had given her a correct class schedule.  (We are still paying off the student loans accrued that extra semester, but we concur that the debt was worth it.)  We also would have lost touch if Danielle hadn't been invited to judge the talent show or if I hadn't been performing.  How different and empty our lives would be if the universe hadn't knocked us into one another with such persistence!

     I think we also owe a great debt to our many years of being single.  In our efforts to attract an interesting, engaging partner, we had amassed some wonderful life experiences that made us interesting, engaging people.  Because I had played guitar and written songs since high school, I was the type of person who felt comfortable entering a college talent show.  Likewise, Danielle's love of music and the arts made her an ideal talent show judge.  And when our paths!  Our voices, conversations, jokes, and, well, lives blended together in such a joyful, meant-to-be way.

     While we weren't looking, we found exactly what we sought.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Is Not a Game

     Recently, Danielle and I were on our annual lake vacation with my family.  I will go ahead and warn you to dismiss any images that just appeared when you read the words "lake vacation".  The place is nothing like that.  My family has been visiting the same rural lake community for over 50 years.  And the "cottage" we stay in looks as if it has not been renovated in nearly that long.  Although pillows are provided as part of the amenities, visitors would be wise to bring their own- unless, of course, they have no issues with laying their heads on a ten-year accumulation of sweat stains.  Likewise, flip-flops or sandals are a must for guests not wanting to turn the soles of their feet tar black.  There is rust and mold in both bathrooms, and the dresser drawers open only intermittently.  The entire "resort" smells of cigarette smoke and sunscreen.  If you sit outside, you will hear country music blasting, calls reminding guests that Bingo will be starting in ten minutes, and the sound of children's laughter.
     Given this setting, it is no wonder that Danielle and I found ourselves walking along the pier carrying both Dairy Queen cones and our winnings from Skee Ball.  We were relaxed from vacationing but also nervous about being in the two week waiting period between our last insemination and the time when we would be able to take a pregnancy test.  Our best efforts to distract ourselves with arcade games, jigsaw puzzles, board games, novels, and the Olympics had not kept our minds off the question that permeated our waking moments: were we pregnant this time?
     Each time we try for a baby, our chances of getting pregnant are 15 percent or less.  Since this comes out to about a one in six chance, many people going the IUI route conceive within roughly six months.  What the doctors don't point out, however, is that a 15 percent chance of pregnancy has a converse side; there is an 85 percent chance nothing will happen.  At $1,500 a pop, this is a helluva pricey lottery ticket.  Were the potential outcome not so desirable (parenthood!), we would never have developed this gambling habit.
     For her arcade prize, Danielle had selected a set of rubber dice she planned to use in her work with young children.  As we sat on the splintery pier, she asked me to pick a number between one and six.  I chose four.  She proceeded to roll the dice eight times before landing on a four.  She tried again for a four, this time reaching the magic number in only four rolls.  As she repeated this experiment for a third time, it took twelve tries before dice displayed four dots.  By this time, I understood her illustration: the six-sided dice provided a nice metaphor for our monthly chances of conceiving.  It could take only a few or frustratingly many tries before the stars aligned and we got pregnant.  Even when the conditions are right, we have no control over the outcome.  The dice will fall where it will.
      When we got home from the lake we found that, for the eighth time, our number did not come up.  An hour after we found out that our try did not work, I got a phone call from my baby brother telling me that he and his wife were expecting their first child.  This was never how I expected to find out that I was going to be an aunt.  A moment I'd looked forward to for so long left me numb instead of excited.  While I am truly happy for my brother and sis-in-law and know that they will make fantastic parents, I never thought that they would be having children before me.  I felt like that pink plastic peg I used to stick in the cars on the Game of Life board.  All the other cars were moving past me to bigger and better fortunes while I kept being sent back to Go, paying fines and penalties with each trip.
     While Danielle's and my experience lends itself well to game comparisons, the problem is this: this is not a game.  We are not doing this for sport or diversion.  It is a vulnerable experience to feel like the pawn on some board, completely lacking control of the outcome.  In truth, none of us are ever truly in control of our lives and circumstances.  We have just had the harrowing experience of seeing the veil lifted from that illusion of control.  This will probably make us wiser and stronger in the long run.  For now, though, we've decided to suspend our pursuit for one month.  We are going to spend more time talking with our doctor, examining our options, and discerning our next steps.   We are not counting ourselves out, but we need a break from the wondering, worrying, and grieving.  We are sad and tired.  We need to recharge.
     Before you know it, though, we'll be at the table again, kissing the dice, making the greatest wish of our lives, and letting it roll.  Because one of these times, our number's bound to come up.

Friday, July 27, 2012


     I am SO over the whole Chic-fil-a thing.  I mean, REALLY over it.  I don't like the company and how unwelcoming they are to Danielle and me, but I'm a vegetarian and don't eat there anyway.  Sure, I've had the occasional container of waffle fries, but boycotting Chic-fil-a is really no skin off my nose.  I have, for all intents and purposes, steered clear of them for quite some time.

     Problem is, the controversy isn't going away.  It's all over Facebook, and I'd really rather not be reminded of it.  I don't like it rubbed in my face that my family's rights are even up for discussion because it's SO RIDICULOUS that they are up for discussion, that they are at all controversial.  I don't know how many ways I can say this: we are SO not a threat.  (Unless you are frightened by people who garden and knit.  In that case, all bets are off.)  Still, all these polls are floating around the world of social media asking my Facebook friends whether or not they'll eat at Chic-fil-a in light of the CEO's comments.  While I'm sure that many people we know will continue to patronize the chain despite disagreeing with company's stance, I'd really rather not know about it.  What I don't see won't hurt me.  (Technically, the money spent there will hurt me a little bit, but the expense of an occasional Chic-fil-a visit is negligible.)  But I do have to see it.  For example, my desktop screen tells me that my cousin's wife, who is actually quite supportive of and loving toward us, has decided to continue eating at Chic-fil-a.  My third grade teacher, whom I LOVE, shared an article about how Rev. Billy Graham (whom I used to admire greatly) is encouraging Christians to increase their patronage of Chic-fil-a in order to show their support of "traditional marriage".  It SUCKS to be disappointed in your third grade teacher.  I'll admit that it was refreshing and encouraging to see my mother declare, "I'll never eat there again," but I've not seen many people actually swear off the company.

     And that may be okay.  The world will not end.  I know this because I get gas at Exxon.  Yes, most of my fuel is purchased at a station owned by the first company ever to earn a negative score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.  This means that Exxon not only does nothing to support gay rights, it actually takes actions to undermine equality.  However, the Exxon I patronize is the gas station closest to my home, by far the easiest place to gas up if I need to refuel quickly on my way to work as well as the pit stop most on the beaten path when I'm headed home.  If I'm out and about in a different area and have a choice, I will avoid Exxon.  However, I still end up there at least every other week.  Likewise, I ask for Lowe's gift cards each birthday and Christmas even though Home Depot is an expontentially more inclusive, GLBT-friendly company.  It's just that Lowe's is right down the street from me and the closest Home Depot is nearly an hour away.  I choose the easy road instead of the moral one.  I think we all do from time to time.  The point is, I am simply not in a position to begrudge anyone a chicken sandwich every now and again.

     In the end, I think we all live by our beliefs in the best ways we know how.  Voting with your dollar can be difficult.  This is partly due to ignorance about where products come from and partly because, gosh darnit, we like our creature comforts.  For instance, I purchase a lot of my food from local, sustainable farms and prefer farmers markets and small dry-goods stores over supermarkets.  Still, despite my opposition to practices in the meat packing industry and mass food production in general, I like to stop at McDonald's on most road trips to get some too-sweet coffee and a package of salty fries.  My stomach and conscience hurt a bit afterwards, but I do it anyway.  I don't see this as any different from finding out that people who know and love Danielle and me also love Chic-fil-a sandwiches.

     The positive thing about these controversies is that they force us to think a bit more creatively about how  we put our beliefs into action while also co-existing with companies we have qualms with.  We begin to stand up for our values in new and inventive ways.  For example, perhaps it's okay to give in to a craving for Chic-fil-a nuggets if you then balance out the purchase with a comparable donation to the Human Rights Campaign (  Think of it as the gay rights version of carbon neutrality.  Maybe the solution is to decrease Chic-fil-a consumption (EAT LES CHIKN?) while becoming increasingly vocal when you hear anti-gay comments casually inserted into so-called polite conversation.  Combating discrimination face-to-face is going to be more effective anyway.

     A good friend of ours struck a great balance recently when she took her daughters to their local Chic-fil-a for Cow Appreciation Day.  This is a day when you can get free food from the chain if you come in dressed up as a cow.  She and her girls had already been busy planning their visit and costumes when she got wind of the company's donations to anti-gay organizations and general anti-gay stance.  Well, she couldn't very well renege on a promise made to a kindergartener and preschooler.  Still, she is one of our staunchest supporters and greatest cheerleaders and did not want to appear to condone the company's views.  Instead, she brought her support of marriage equality into the restaurant right along with her two cute bovine impersonators. Here is a picture of the results.

     In the video below, Jackson Pearce offers not only an articulate argument against Chic-fil-a's support of "traditional marriage" but also provides an opportunity for action.  Mike Huckabee has called for Chic-fil-a supporters to eat there on August 1st to show that they side with the fast food restaurant.  Ms. Pearce suggests that people supporting GLBT rights should go Chic-fil-a that very same day to ask for a free water.  This takes a few cents away from money that might otherwise be donated to anti-gay causes and also forces the company to follow the biblical directive of Proverbs 25:21: If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  I'm not particularly fond of confrontation, so I won't be participating in this particular protest, but maybe this type of creative dissent will work for you.  Ms. Pearce is also boycotting the company from here on out.  Maybe you will, too.  I will, but that is the form of protest that works for me.  Maybe you will continue to eat at Chic-fil-a but will wear a GLBT-supportive t-shirt each time you go to remind the company that you do not share their views, to make sure they don't forget that GLBT folks and our allies still exist.

     As for me, I will try to go to Exxon less frequently.  I don't think a total boycott is realistic, but perhaps I can cut my purchases in half.  I will try to gas up at the station near my work even though it is at a funny intersection and requires a left turn.  I hate left turns like nobody's business, but it turns out that I hate discrimination even more. 

     In the end, regardless of what actions we take and whatever opportunities we take to stand up for justice, it is my hope and prayer that we would be guided by a new kind of slogan: LUV MORE PEEPL.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

50 Shades of Huh?

     Even though I am a lesbian, I'd like to think that I can girl talk with the best of them.  I love jewelry, cute shoes, home decor, romantic comedies, and cooking.  I can spend a long time bombarding my nasal passages in a Yankee Candle store.  If I'm talking to another woman who's interested in gardening, I could rattle on indefinitely about the perennial garden I'm planning for the front yard.  (Don't start this conversation with me unless you want an earful about mums and purple ferns.)  Even though I clearly do not do my hair, I am interested in looking at different hairstyles.  I don't wear make-up, but I can make at least a little conversation about the new shades of nail polish I just bought.  However, one of the latest trends to hit the female world is abysmally lost on me: the popularity of the Shades of Grey series.

     Obviously, Danielle and I are not the target demographic for these books.  If I'm reading a book and come across the word cock, you can be assured that the text has to do with sustainable farming. Yet, the books have achieved enough attention and notoriety to have stayed solidly on our radar.  Our friends have read them and like to talk about them.  We have heard about many of the kinky details, told to us with either disgust or delight, depending on the friend recalling the scene.

      It probably goes without saying, but we will also steer clear of the theater while Magic Mike is playing.  In our world, male strippers are like white noise.  We don't particularly notice their presence or absence.  I did actually go to a strip club for my 18th birthday, but that was mostly to celebrate the fact that I was old enough to get in.  I was trying to feign a certain level of badass-ness, although my true colors shone through in the too-big corduroy pants from Goodwill that I wore that night. Who knew clubbing and corduroy don't mix?  (Danielle had a similarly "edgy" experience at this same club another time when a man walked up to her and asked, "Are you a nurse?")  This club had two sections, a dance club and a strip club, and I ended up spending much of my birthday night talking with a close friend at a table in the strip club.  We went there to escape the noise of the bass-heavy dance club.  That's right: the strip club was enticing because it was quiet.  So, that gives you some context.

     Anyway, all of these new, sex-charged offerings inspired me to inquire of Danielle, "Do you wish we used whips and stuff?  Because I will if you really want me to."  I didn't want Danielle to feel like she was missing out on some mind-blowing sexual experience, but - truth be told- my internal monologue was pleading, Please say no...please say no...please say no.

    Of course, there is a reason Danielle and I ended up together.  Our mutual tameness is part of that.  "Oh, God no!" she replied.  "Actually, whips make me feel guilty.  They make me think of slavery."  Thank goodness.

     "And I'm not really that into handcuffs, either," she continued.  "Reminds me of immigration reform.  Remember that episode of The Good Wife when that woman got deported?"  Yes, I agree, that was a sad show.

     Leave it to us to have a social justice bent to our sex life.

     From there, the conversation got pretty silly as we talked about the most ethical sex props.  Danielle made some crack about KY jelly but then offered that actual jelly could be put to creative sexual use.  But only if it was locally made.  Like the gooseberry jelly we just got from that lady at the farmers market.  That would be okay.

     If I could stomach reading the Shades of Grey books (and I don't think I can), I would love to write a parody series featuring normal, lame lesbian characters.  I would call it 50 Shades of Indigo.  In the book, if one character hurt her partner during sex, the sex act would stop so that the offending character could fix a nice, soaking bath for her sore lover.  Much apologizing and cuddling would ensue.  There would be more pages devoted to the characters talking about feelings and the health of their relationship than all of the needless poking and prodding found in the original books.  The steamiest scenes might involve the presence of strategically placed bits of farmers market gooseberry jelly.  Or local honey.  Organic, of course.

     All of this is to say, you straight people have your minds in the gutter.  Before you know it, Pat Robertson is going to be condemning your wanton depravity and encouraging you to be more like your wholesome lesbian friends.  In fact, these books might just be a boon for the gay movement.   We come off looking rather pure (see Ellen video below) by comparison.   So go on.  Have your Shades of Grey/ Magic Mike flings.
     Just remember:  if I show up one day looking a little sticky and smelling faintly of gooseberry, don't say a damn thing.  You have no room to talk.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Hallelujah

For some time now, I have been struggling to write about what it's like to identify oneself as both Christian and lesbian.  These terms are not mutually exclusive; in fact, these two parts of my identity complement each other to make me, me.  But darned if the dearest things aren't also the hardest to write about.  My attempts to put my faith into words have resulted in reflections and ramblings that I don't want to impose upon you, dear readers.  Instead, I'll be succinct: God and I are on good terms.  We have made our peace.  Like everyone, I've got my stuff to fix.  It's just that lesbianism isn't part of that stuff.

In fact, the experience of being in a loving, committed relationship has deepened my understanding of the big concepts of spirituality: faith, grace, forgiveness, unconditional love.  By entering into a covenant relationship with Danielle, I get to participate in a microcosm of the "I- Thou" relationship between God and Creation.  That's pretty heady stuff, actually.  Therefore, instead of posting my teenage-diary-like prose about a grown-up topic, I am enclosing the lyrics to a song a wrote for Danielle.  Sometimes poetry and music can go where sentences cannot, and this song is my best attempt to capture in writing my love for God and for my wife.

You're My Hallelujah

Where two or more are gathered, they say God is found
But I don't need a scripture to know that I'm on sacred ground
You come to me as gift, as lover and as friend
You're my hallelujah, you're my amen.

God loves without condition, something I don't understand
But I'm learning to receive it from your extended hand
You teach me about grace as you forgive time and again
You're my hallelujah, you're my amen

I will raise my hands in praise
for all that I've been given
Each time we love selflessly
We get a glimpse of heaven

Sometimes love is easy.  Other times, it's toil.
But we have made a miracle out of seeds and sweat and soil
We're learning about faith as devotedly we tend
You're my hallelujah, you're my amen

I will raise my hands in praise
for all that I've been given
Each time we love selflessly
We get a glimpse of heaven

Where two or more are gathered, they say God is found
Journeying beside you, I stand on sacred ground
You come to me as gift, as lover and as friend
You're my hallelujah, you're my amen

You're my hallelujah
You're my hallelujah
You're my hallelujah
You are my amen.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sex with Dogs

          If there's any myth about gays and lesbians I'd like to debunk it's the stereotype that we are a hyper-sexed people prone to one-night stands, threesomes, and all manner of fetishes.  (Please.  We don't even own chains for our tires.) Some would pontificate that condoning homosexuality pushes the sled of morality down an icy, slippery slope at breakneck speed.  What would happen next?, they posit.  Plural marriage?  Sex with animals?
          We are here to attest that our sex life is about as scandal-free as they come.  (No pun intended.)  While our dog does factor into this aspect of our lives, she serves a role the Morality Police would relish: that of a deterrent.
           Our dog Fluffy is a sweet little rescue pup who dearly loves her people.  She curls up with us on the couch when we watch t.v. and rides in the car with us on brief errands.  She "helps" drop off the recycling each week and makes a wonderful hiking companion.  We often pick dog-friendly restaurants when eating out so that she can join us.  She wants to do everything with us.  And we mean everything.
          To her credit, our dog has been ingenious in developing a wide repertoire of strategies for derailing our most intimate moments.  Sometimes, she sets a romantic mood by bringing her food in the bedroom to crunch loudly or by slurping water from her bowl with significant force, as if it suddenly occurred to her that she is very, very thirsty.  (Move over, Barry White.  There's a new soundtrack in town.)  Other times, she thinks the whole event is a big puppy pile-on, jumps on the bed, and rests on top of both of us while furiously licking our faces.  Usually, she opts for a more direct approach and brings us a squeaky tug toy.  We imagine her thought bubble is, "Hey, guys!  I know a better game we can play!"
          Since adopting Fluffy two years ago, our foreplay has devolved from passionate kisses and gentle whispers to ridiculous attempts to keep the dog occupied and off our bed.  Once, hearts palpitating, we hid small treats for her around the living room in the style of an Easter egg hunt.  Dog biscuits were under couch cushions, behind table legs, and even in plain view.  Our plan was foiled, however, when she found the most obvious bones and did not think to search for others.  We were just a few kisses into the act when we heard the jangle of dog tags and the pitter-patter of little paws coming down the hall. 
          Over time, we've gotten a bit wiser and have figured out that a large, chewy bone will keep Fluffy busy for a mostly adequate amount of time.  In our house, this is what we call a sex toy.  Even though we don't keep pace with the licentious stereotypes, on a good night you just might find us kissing, exchanging knowing looks, and saying, "Shall we give Fluffy a big treat?" 


Friday, May 4, 2012

To Know Us Is To Love Us?

        For a long time, Danielle and I have been floating around in a bubble.  To be sure, it's a beautiful bubble and a cheerful one.  If it had a noise, it would sound like children's laughter.  Its color is the yellow of sunlight streaming through a window.  Its insides are filled with the lightness of easy confidence and a naive faith in, well, the goodness of us.  Encapsulated in this bubble, Danielle and I sincerely believed that if people opposed to gay marriage or homosexuality in general simply got to know us, they would have a change of heart and reconsider their beliefs on the subject.  That they would vote for our civil rights and not against them.  That they would become our advocates.  I mean, surely they would like us.
      And so we struck out, full of idealism and the determination to be the best little gay ambassadors anyone had ever seen.  It was a charge we took seriously, and we did it with gusto.  Striving to be the textbook definition of "fine upstanding citizens", we paid our bills on time, paid taxes without complaint, and got not so much as a speeding ticket.  We recycled as if we got paid by the pound (still do), and, to Danielle's dismay, I even picked up discarded cans lying in parking lots.  To this day, if you pass us on the street as we're walking our dog, you are likely to see us toting two- count 'em- two poop bags just in case our pooch decides to get overly ambitious about blessing the neighborhood with free fertilizer.  We own a house that we responsibly maintain.  We care about curb appeal and property value.  We work in service professions and devote a great deal of our personal time and personal finances to our work.  We support local businesses and use fuel-efficient cars to take us to them.  We give 20 percent tips.  We teach Sunday School.  Other than being lesbians, we've done everything we were "supposed to" do.
    Our diplomatic powers seemed to work, and people were, in fact, changed as our lives intersected with theirs.  Our lifestyle was incongruous with all the stereotypes they had been fed.  We were not godless and immoral.  We never invited them to orgies, and not once did we wear leather and chains.  We put an ordinary, human face on homosexuality.  Suddenly, the abstract became personal.  The same people who once wanted to restrict the rights of gays now got fairly riled up against placing said restrictions on Danielle and Elaine.  Being able to watch this evolution in some friends and family members was a profound and powerful experience.  This is, after all, the stuff that makes you believe in humanity.
     It is no wonder, then, that our bubble floated on.
     When the bubble finally burst, it felt more like an explosion.  Danielle was reading an article online and came upon a quote from a colleague of hers who was speaking in favor of North Carolina's Amendment One, a proposed constitutional amendment to limit marriage to a man and woman.  This was not a case of some casual acquaintance running her mouth; rather, this was a friend we had invited to our wedding.  This was a woman who had shared countless conversations with Danielle about fertility and all the ups and downs that come with trying to start a family.  How could she talk, laugh with, and advise Danielle on the crazy world of family planning and then vote to undermine the very family we are striving to create?  Was she only tolerating us and simply pretending to be open-minded?  How could she betray my Beloved in this way?  How was it possible, I wondered, for anyone to meet Danielle and not be compelled to fight for her?
     Even in my anger, I knew we had learned a powerful and important lesson: prejudice is one friggin' knotted ball of twine, and it won't be unwound without much time and painstaking effort.  Sometimes personal relationships are not enough.  Sometimes the quiet example of an honorable life persuades no one.  Sometimes, no matter how hard we work to be "good", it won't be good enough.
     This betrayal was extremely hurtful, a punch in the gut preserved in the black and white of print.  It was a low point in our journey.  Our once shiny, delirious bubble had been reduced to a slimy puddle at our feet.  However, there was a much more hopeful lesson in store for us: as much as people can disappoint you, they can also surprise you in the most marvelous of ways.
     We learned this second lesson via Facebook when a friend of ours began speaking out against Amendment One in a very public, passionate, and vocal manner.  She posted videos, forwards, quotes, and even Bible verses to explain her reasons for fighting against the amendment.  And boy did she catch a lot of flak for her stance!  Our parents did not reject or reprimand us for being gay, but she experienced friction within her family simply because she is supportive of gay rights.  Sometimes Danielle and I become so caught up in our own struggles and battles that we forget how much courage it can take to stand up publicly as an ally of the gay community.  In a note our friend sent to us, she recounted her experience, "I live in a tiny little town and got yelled at by my dad the other day because I am telling EVERYONE on Facebook that "I love gays" (his words, not mine)...... Well, after my dad yelled at me I "accidentally" left some of the videos about Christians who are against the amendment up on his computer before I left the room. He shortly after came and apologized, saying he would educate himself more before making a vote."
     Our friend's life will not be affected one iota by the Amendment One vote.  She does not have anything personal to gain from its passage or rejection.  Even so, she is risking rebuff from her family, friends, and faith community.  She is doing so in the name of justice and because her faith compels her to do so.  She is also doing so because she is our friend- our true friend- and friends don't let their friends get pushed out or pushed around.  Even after attracting controversy, she held fast to her position and never let up on trying to persuade others to bend in the direction of equality and justice.  These days, she is my heroine and a far better ambassador for the cause than Danielle and I could have hoped to be.
     While I cannot pretend to be thankful for all of the hullabaloo about Amendment One, I can at least admit that there might be a few roses hidden in this thorny patch.  Danielle and I are reminded that bubbles, lovely as they are, do pop.  Putting unreasonable amounts of faith in people can, at times, be as futile as trying to will a bubble to stay intact on a windy day.  However, there are times people can fill your heart with such hope and optimism that you feel you could burst with happiness. 
     So forget bubbles.  Friends on a mission- now there is something to marvel at.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

IUI Primer

When we began the process of trying to conceive a child, we found ourselves faced with an unfamiliar lexicon, the language and jargon of fertility science.  We tried to order sperm units (definition below) only to find that there were different kinds of units and that the type of units we needed were not in stock. We were left scratching our heads, thinking, "Different kinds of sperm?  Whooda thunk it?"

To provide clarity for other couples on a similar journey to parenthood (and in an effort to entertain others), we have assembled a dictionary of the most common terms we've encountered.

intrauterine insemination (n)- the process of using a catheter to inject sperm into a woman's uterus; usually referred to as IUI   Translation: The swimmers don't have as far to swim if they start out in your uterus.  It's like starting a marathon at mile 12.  Sentence: They should've lubricated the catheter more during my IUI. 

Unit (n): euphemism for one vial of sperm, enough for one IUI treatment  Translation: This little vial is smaller than a bottle of nail polish.  This is fitting because the vial is the cost of a bottle of nail polish when the decimal is moved two places.  (Provided you buy expensive nail polish.)  Sentence: We paid HOW much for that unit?!

Washed (adj.): lacking semen  Translation: Apparently, semen in the uterus causes bad cramping.  Therefore, sperm are "cleansed" of their semen so that solely sperm are used in the IUI process.  Other types of fertility treatments use "unwashed units", meaning units containing sperm and their semen entourage.  Sentence: Mommy, how do the washed units get washed? (Did you notice that we threw 2 vocabulary words into that sentence?  We know we have an intelligent readership.)

Open Identity Donor (n.): a sperm donor who is willing to be contacted by your child when your child reaches the age of 18.  Translation: You will pay extra for this option.  Sentence: If we are picking an open identity donor, we'd better make sure he's not a weirdo.

A.R.T. vials (n.): A.R.T. is an acronym for Assisted Reproductive Technology, and these "units" are used in IVF (in vitro fertilization) and other fertility procedures  Translation: Don't let the acronym fool you; this has nothing to do with charcoal pencils or oil pastels.  Sentence: Silly me!  I tried to order A.R.T. vials for an I.U.I. procedure!

Clomid (n.): one of the most commonly used fertility drugs used to regulate ovulation  Translation: When drugs regulate hormones, hold on to your hats!  Sentence:  Honey, do you remember that time you had a crying fit when you were on Clomid?

Letrozole (n.): another common fertility drug that helps regulate and promote ovulation   Translation: See Clomid (above)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Marriage Is....

We dread campaign season.  For the months leading up to an election, our ordinary lives are interrupted by waves of sadness and anxiety as we realize that, once again, the everyday securities of life afforded to others are-for us-being decided at the ballot box.

It is a very vulnerable feeling when our financial and legal peace of mind are up for popular vote.  Call us picky, but these are rights we'd rather not place at the whim of the electorate.  We do not wish to be used as pawns to embolden the ever-catered-to "values voters".

This May, North Carolina voters will decide whether or not to amend our state constitution to limit marriage to solely male-female couples.  Gay marriage is already illegal in North Carolina, so the amendment is in many ways redundant and superfluous.  However, the amendment will further restrict the rights of any unmarried couples- gay or straight- and create legal snafus, conundrums, and outright catastrophes surrounding important issues like child custody, hospital visitations, and estate settlements.  Some consequences, such as dealing with the burden of drawing up cumbersome amounts of legal documentation, will be annoying and inconvenient.  Other ramifications, like being denied the right to be with your ill or dying spouse at the hospital, are cripplingly heartbreaking and heartbreakingly crippling.

The inevitable finally happened. Today, on the way home from work, I saw my first "Vote Yes" yard sign in support of the amendment.  On the sign were very predictable words: "Marriage.  One Man.  One Woman."

After my initial, visceral reaction of hurt and anger, I was struck by another thought: this definition of marriage is far too simplistic.  To me, marriage is an experience, an active journey.  Marriage is not a pair of nouns- the people in the relationship.  Instead, it is a vast and varied collection of verbs- it is what the nouns in the marriage do that makes the marriage a success or failure.

While my definition of marriage certainly won't fit on a yard sign, I feel compelled to offer some sort of rebuttal to the people who put that sign up in the first place.

Marriage is.....
- not complaining about the hard day you had because you know your spouse's day was even harder
- arguing and then talking through points of contention
- never belittling one another
- seeing the same outfit for what feels like the 5,000 millionth time
- spending your day off taking your spouse's car in for an oil change
- going to funerals together and holding onto each other for dear life
- taking evening walks in comfortable silence
- remembering to go on dates every now and then
- feeling safe enough to share your lowest points and show your worst self
- wanting to greet your spouse with your best self every day
- excitedly waking up early to fix your spouse breakfast in bed
- having someone to curl up with on snow days
- facing medical scares together
- staying up late on a school night to talk excitedly about future plans
- paying bills and somehow making ends meet
- ditching the lingere and wearing mismatched pj's and socks to bed
- laughing till your cheeks hurt
- receiving a humbling amount of grace and forgiveness
- feeling the vulnerability of knowing how shattered your life would be without your spouse
- witnessing your spouse grow as an individual and being a source of encouragement for the journey
-  tackling life's challenges with humor and tenacity
- being able to finish your spouse's sentences but letting your spouse speak for him/herself anyway
- splitting up household chores to knock them out quickly
- welling up with pride and gratitude as you think, "This amazing person chose ME."
- resting in the unconditional love of another

Perhaps, dear yard sign maker, I DO want to redefine marriage.  Your definition just won't work for me.  Marriage is far more expansive and infinitely deeper than the easy slogan of "one man and one woman".  It is an adventure and a resting place, a challenge and a comfort.  It is one of the most significant and powerful life experiences a person can have.

And my marriage is my business, not the business of voters.

Please spread the word and encourage any and all North Carolinians you know to vote NO in May.  We would be exceedingly grateful for your support.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Where DO babies come from?

                For the past 6 months or so, Danielle and I have been in the process of trying to start a family.  Since we are biologically sperm-deficient people, this process has been understandably difficult to navigate.  Fortunately, the path has been rife with humor, without which we might have succumbed to worry and desperation.  Instead, we have in many instances laughed till we’ve cried.  (You have to have a pretty sick sense of humor when you’re spending ass-loads of money to have a baby.)
                When we announced to friends and family that we were thinking of getting pregnant, there were plenty of creative suggestions from the peanut gallery.  A few friends actually offered their sperm, which we politely declined.  (They smoked too much pot to produce good swimmers, frankly.)  Turkey baster jokes abounded.  Some friends encouraged us to go to a bar, get really drunk, and try getting pregnant the old-fashioned way.  (This was vetoed immediately.  We have watched the afterschool specials, and we know how that story ends.)  But perhaps our favorite suggestion came from my twin aunts, who were particularly proud of the scheme they cooked up.  You see, Danielle and I both have brothers.
                “Elaine,” one aunt exclaimed to me, “we had the BEST idea!  What if Danielle’s brother is the donor for YOU, and then your brother is the donor for DANIELLE?  That way, the children will be related, and they’ll just feel like they belong.”
                While we were flattered that they had put so much thought into our fertility process, we were not at all eager to follow their plan.  Ummmm, ….ew!  I don’t want my brother’s sperm going anywhere near my wife’s body.  Just the thought of this turns me into a squirmy second grader busily inoculating myself against cooties.  Furthermore, this plan would raise all sorts of questions as to what role our brothers should play in our children’s lives.  Can you see us on the road at Christmas saying, “Kids, we’re just 10 minutes away from Uncle Daddy’s house!”  Fortunately, I know our brothers and their significant others would be equally resistant to the Brotherly Love method of sperm donation, so our children are saved from this cesspool of incestuous-ness.
                For a good amount of time, Danielle and I thought seriously about choosing a friend be our sperm donor.  That way, our children could grow up knowing their biological father.  This person would not be one of their parents but could play some sort of role in their lives.  We even had a particular friend picked out.  However, we could never muster the gumption to bring up the topic.  I mean, really.  How does one go about requesting sperm?  “Hey, Bill.  I love what you’ve done with the place!  By the way, what’s your stance on artificial insemination?”  I’ll be darned if that topic just never comes up naturally in conversation.
                After giving it a lot of thought and talking with our doctor, we decided to use an anonymous donor through a cryobank.  With the sperm source secured, we thought the majority of our decision-making was through.  Boy, were we wrong! The Donor Edition

                Cryobanks are very thorough at gathering information about their donors.  This is a good thing because you can learn about the medical history of each potential donor’s family.  You can also select donors with physical features like hair and eye color that resemble your own in order to up your chances of having a kid that looks like you.  For an extra cost, you can access donors’ personal essays and see pictures of the donors as children and adults.
                Initially, I felt very superficial paying more money just to see donors’ pictures.  I reasoned that we should select our donor based on more meaningful characteristics like health history and IQ scores.  As long as donors had our same hair and eye color, we did not need to see photos to know if a donor would be compatible with our family.  However, - and Danielle will be delighted to see these words in type- I was wrong.
                It is amazing how a visual image can create a sense of connection and familiarity or elicit thoughts of, “Nope!  There is no way you will be our donor!”  Some of the guys looked too cheesy, dramatic, macho, or preppy.  Anyone who wore too many gold chains or looked like he might be remotely affiliated with the mob was immediately nixed.  Super hippy-dippy guys made us worry that our babies might come out smelling like patchouli.  With each rejection of a potential donor, we felt like such snobs, as if we were hurting the guys’ feelings or something.  However, we were looking for just the right fit.
                We eventually discovered a donor whose photos looked eerily similar to pictures of my father as a young man.  I am a Daddy’s girl, so I would love for my children to look like their grandfather.  My mother loves the way my brother’s smile reminds her of her father, and I would love to experience that same feeling of familiarity.  What a gift to be able to look at your child and love not only them but see in them the face of another dear loved one!  Since Danielle is going to carry our first child, selecting this particular donor would ensure that our child would look like an exact combination of the two of us.  We strongly connected with this young man with a familiar face and knew that our donor search was over.  After viewing hundreds of donor profiles, Danielle and I were ready to order sperm “units”.
                When we went to place our order, we discovered that our chosen donor was- get this- sold out!
                Back at square one, Danielle and I resumed our new hobby of profile-surfing.  The process could be likened to cruising for a date.  You dismiss some people instantly, linger on some profiles, and simply shake your head at others.  Two particular criteria began to gain some prominence in our search.  As a part of the donor questionnaire, potential donors were asked to describe their hobbies and to name a favorite book and author.  We began to read between the lines of some of the hobbies.  Likes videogames?  Translation: increased probability that he is lazy and lives with his mother.  Really into boxing?  In other words: is in shape but has potential anger management issues.  We tended to lean towards musicians, writers, and outdoor enthusiasts.  They seemed to be a safer bet.
                And as for books?  Well, let’s just say that you should not leave the “favorite book” section of your questionnaire blank if you want to father Danielle and Elaine’s babies.  It’s bad enough not to have a favorite book, but failing to list a book leads me to believe that one is not able even to NAME a book.  This simple omission knocked several men out of our potential donor pool, and the words, “HOW can you not have a favorite BOOK?!” were exclaimed a number of times during our search.  Of course, the favorite books also had to be quality works.  Anyone proclaiming love for Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, for example, must stay many degrees of separation from Danielle’s birth canal.
                In the end, our donor won us over with his words.   Sure, his hair color and facial features looked like a mixture of Danielle and me.  He also had a good health history, high IQ, and had ambitious plans for his life.  More importantly, his donor essay was well-written and took a level-headed perspective.  He was not overly emotional or overly effusive about the prospect of fathering children.  What really sealed the deal, though, was when he described one of his family members as a “voracious reader.” 
Oh, Jerry McGuire.  You had us at voracious.  You had us at voracious!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Is Dedicated to the One I Love

Happy Valentine's Day!

I've reflected for some time about just what would be an appropriate post for this particular blog on this particular day.  Should I rail against the unjust juxtaposition of deep love and in a time of deep discrimination?  Should I take on the Republican presidential hopefuls who spar with each other but remain united in scapegoating Danielle and me?  Maybe I should, and maybe I day.

Today, I want only to be thankful.

In high school and college, I spent many years dreading Valentine's Day.  Tongue firmly in cheek, I referred to it as "Singles Awareness Day" and marked the holiday with increased chocolate consumption and a prayer in my heart that I would one day have a Beloved to share the day with.  That day finally came and with it, blessings beyond my most audacious hopes and creative imaginings.  Danielle and I have been together for almost 8 years, but I never stop marveling at what a gift she is in my life.  She is my joy and my strength, and I need her more than ever these days.

This past year has been enormously challenging for Danielle and me.  I lost my job last spring due to budget cuts.  This was right around the time we first started trying to get pregnant.  In the middle of our five months of fertility treatments, my grandfather died. We continued to fix up our first home.  I started a new job in August, and it has absolutely drained me of time and energy.   Nevertheless, we managed to plan, finance, and actually show up for our wedding in September. (More posts about that to come.) People often throw around phrases like, "I couldn't have done it without you," and, "You're a lifesaver," but I am here to attest that I would not have survived from last February 14th until now without Danielle's love and patience.  At least not without straightjackets involved.

These days, it is not uncommon for me to be at work from 6:50 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and to bring more paperwork home to do while watching "West Wing" with Danielle.  (Yay, Netflix!)  Danielle and I used to split up a lot of the household chores and responsibilities, but now I come home each night to find that she has already prepared a delicious dinner and started a load of laundry.  She runs most of the errands and does the dishes and daily maintenance needed to keep our family unit running.  Moreover, she has not complained about it but instead has made these sacrifices with patience and a loving heart.

I don't make it easy for her.  I have occasional depression and anxiety about work, which causes me to have difficulty sleeping and leaves me feeling terribly down on Sunday nights.  (I hold onto my precious weekends with such a grip I must have traces of Saturday embedded in my fingernails.)  When I wake up in the middle of the night in tears, Danielle holds me, soothes me, rubs my shoulders, and speaks words of reassurance.  On nights when I toss and turn as fitfully as the struggles in my mind, she reminds me to breathe and recites back to me all the good she sees in me.  She won't let up on showing me the light in myself until I can begin to see it on my own.

She could tell me to suck it up and just get over it, but she never does.

This is grace, pure and simple.

So, you can see how buying her a bouquet of roses for Valentine's Day won't quite cut it.  There's nothing I can give, do, or say, no gesture grand enough to thank her for choosing me.  For sticking by me when I'm a prickly mess.  For loving me "as is".

Hopefully, she'll think a blog shout-out is romantic. (Don't worry, folks.  I've got more surprises up my sleeve.  I'm not THAT cheap!)

Happy Valentine's Day to my road trip companion, best friend, source of my belly laughs, hot mama, mind reader, caretaker, generous heart, genius of cooking a PERFECT fried egg, harmonizing voice, welcome home hug, partner, and wife.  I love you more deeply every day and know we'll make it through whatever else life throws at us because we are us.  And we work.  We fit.  We are SO good together.  I remain deeply in love with you and am filled with optimism about the adventures we'll have between now and next Valentine's Day.


p.s. Take note, Republicans: If Danielle's example is any indication, gay marriage isn't going to destroy traditional marriage.  However, it may damn well raise the bar.