Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

So I am sitting at my mom's computer in Shapleigh, listening to her and my dad bustle around. We'll walk across the field to my sister's house in a few hours, spend the day there, watch football, eat like mad, laugh, and above all be thankful that we are all together for one more holiday. When I think about all we've been through, first with my mom's illness, then with Gracie (whose absence is felt by all of us)...well, I am acutely aware of how lucky we are. This Thanksgiving is truly a gift.

Last night we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday and my baby sister's 42nd. As is a ritual with my family, we sat around the kitchen table long after the cake was eaten and the presents opened, and just talked and talked, and laughed and laughed. Sam is home from Farmington, and so we were all there together last night, as we will be today. And again...I am most grateful.

After my sister and her family left, and after my mom and dad retired for the night, I stood outside on my parent's deck and just stared at the big Shapleigh sky, and at the stars I never see in Portland, the same stars I looked at night after night when I was a little kid. It was magical.

It feels so good to be home.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

----------------- should be mentioned that my laptop has, at last, found its way to Cyber Afterlife. So posts will be infrequent until I manage to get a new one. Um, yeah.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


in four days, i will be taking a week off--a vacation imposed on me by a compassionate boss who knows i would probably just work right through the holidays because hey, there is that. much. work. to. do. don't even think about showing up here next week darlene or i swear to god i will take away your keys and lock you out of this office. ha. betsy knows me well.

during the months building up to election day, our pace was so frenetic--just constant movement, endless hours, and no time to "shut down". these past two weeks following election day have been a different kind of frenzy. planning every next step with detail. literally mapping out a work plan for the next three months, week by week, day by day, hour by hour. sunday night monique and I sat in my office, both of us physically exhausted, but our minds wide awake with ideas that were pouring out of us so quickly we couldn't write them down fast enough. it was--amazing. a frenzy, indeed.

i so love the work, the energy and inspiration that comes from working with brilliant, dedicated, passionate people who believe in the rightness of the cause with their whole hearts. it is invigorating and challenging and the rewards so beautiful. honest to god, it is an honor and a privilege like none i have ever experienced before. and yet...oh how it drains you. and i am currently running on empty.

so i know this time off is truly necessary. it's just--hard for me to let it all go. i thought about bringing a pile of postcards home next week and just entering data while i watched movies, but that idea was quickly dismissed by betsy, monique and matt. i don't know if they had a secret meeting behind my back, but their "you-need-to-leave-every-bit-of-work-behind-for-a-week" talking points all sounded very, very similar. good for them...and most especially, good for me. it's nice to know someone has your back, holds your best interests in their hearts. those are the moments when you feel cared for, appreciated and loved. mostly you feel grateful. and i am.

if i were a cartoon, my thought bubble would look something like a massive swarm of disturbed bees flying every which way with no distinguishable pattern. just thousands of little dots zigging and zagging all over the place, destination unknown. no shit. i've got to fix that, and quick, because 2009 will require strategic, clear thinking and unrelenting amounts of energy. it will require the very best--of me.

i miss meditating and i have been so undisciplined about it. when i don't do it, i feel...unanchored. adrift. i miss blogging too, i miss those lazy, agenda-free mornings when all there is to do is light a fire, put a billie holiday CD on, and sit with a cup of coffee and my laptop. oscar and willie curled around my feet. i miss my family, my mom and dad, my sister, my sweet nieces.

next week, i will visit all that is missed. medicine for the heart, mind and soul.

and then i'm going back to work, and we're going to kick some serious butt.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

for michael

Got home last night after seeing "the Secret Life of Bees" (the book was terrific, the film not-so-great but tolerable) and sitting in my inbox was an email from a dear friend who is struggling with the end of a six-year relationship. They had a beautiful, lovely relationship, and then about five years into it, his partner became severly depressed. It wreaked havoc on them. My friend was amazing--he tried so hard to be available, to be loving, to do everything right. Truly, they both worked so hard. But in the end, it all fell apart in spite of their heroic attempts to keep it together. And while he is becoming stronger everyday, I know from his voice, from his words, my friend's heart is still so tender, and the healing still so slow.

Yeah. Been there. Done that, many, many years ago. I can think of few things more gut-wrenching than watching someone you love deal with that kind of darkness, and when it comes out of nowhere, it's like a meteorite landing right smack dab in the middle of your life. And it leaves a massive, gaping hole. You feel helpless--watching someone so colorful and vibrant and three-dimensional just mentally and emotionally disappear.

I remember having no earthly notion about how to deal with it, and so many times I would just "check out" myself and ignore it--be so completely blind to the effects that I would just pretend everything was okay. Sometimes I would "take over". Do the groceries, cook, clean, make excuses to friends about why we couldn't join them for dinner, just completely take charge of our lives thinking that if i could make life as easy for her as possible, she would feel happy. There was nothing I couldn't solve, no one I couldn't *be*, and so I took it upon myself to be the anti-depressant. Right. Just completely refusing to accept that this was a deep set, clinical depression.

For a year or so, there was this bouncing back and forth--a "coming out of the fog" as she called it--and I would have her back, at least some version of her. I would celebrate those times, pat myself on the back for being such a patient, loving partner. And ignore all the signs that our relationship was becoming damaged. Badly. There were many, many times when she would allude to the fact that we were in trouble and I would just pass it off as a symptom of her depression. I would slap on a bandaid in a place where a tourniquet was desperately needed. Let's take a weekend trip away--we just need some sunshine and ocean. Let's go out to a fancy dinner. Let's buy new furniture. Let's get a pet. I was flailing my arms around, over my head in water deeper and darker than anything I had ever known.

Eventually, she disappeared completely, into a place so deep in the corridors of her heart that I knew I would never, ever get her back. I mourned the death of that relationship a solid year before it ended. And when it finally and permanently broke apart, i felt in so many ways that i had failed her, and it would be wrong to say that even now, years later, that tiny bit of regret doesn't surface inside me.

Life is so strange. Such a potpourri of sadness and joy and beauty and darkness, all of it flying at us so fast, so unrelentingly. Sometimes we run through it hard and strong as the greatest athletes, sometimes we dance through it graceful as ballerinas. Sometimes we trip and stumble and fall to the ground. I think I am learning that true grace comes from allowing all of it inside, the beautiful and the grotesque, the joy and the sorrow. From letting it touch us in the deepest, most tender places, and then finding the kindness to hold ourselves with that same deepness, that same tenderness.

Compassion grows strongest in dark, quiet places. And when it comes, we must recognize it as a profound gift that we are obligated to pass along to others, that sharing of experience, that ability to say "i understand" and to really, truly mean it. Last night I meditated for my friend, visualizing myself as a ladle dipping into the well of my own experiences, and trying to offer him, with a full heart, a way to quench even a tiny little bit of his thirst.

pema chodron, a buddhist nun whose wisdom and beauty has been a constant guide for me, writes: "When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space."

i do not know why i write such things this morning. except to say, maybe, i understand. and i love you michael.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

data matrix

so what happens when you triple your goal and collect 33,000 plus postcards in a day?

you find yourself in a data matrix. oh. my. god. by the time i get home at night, my eyes are bloodshot and i swear to god i see little white dots everywhere. i can't even think about getting on-line and doing something productive like writing on the slant. right.

it's been quite an amazing week. volunteers start showing up at 9 am and we have a steady stream of them coming through the doors until 9 pm, all of them offering up their data entry skills to help us get the work done. love it. my sweet mom showed up on tuesday, a dozen donuts in hand, and spent the next few hours at the computer for us. and then took a pile of postcards home to shapleigh. she is just the. best. mom. ever.

we've also spent a good part of the week on the telephone, debriefing with volunteers about their collective experiences on Election Day, and most importantly, thanking them for their efforts. the stories have been so moving. here's a few that standout:

in bangor, a big, burly tough-looking military guy dressed in fatigues stopped at the table and wanted to sign a postcard. after he finished, he told our volunteer "I was in Iraq last year, and a gay soldier saved my life. I'm signing this postcard for him."

in fairfield, we ran out of postcards early, and so voters were writing their information on little scraps of paper. when we unloaded the postcards back at the office, there were 25 little pieces of paper tucked inside. love. that.

in south berwick, a young mom just couldn't commit to signing but took a postcard. and stood for a long time staring at the postcard but walked away. 20 minutes later, she came running back, signed card in hand. postcards ran out early in south berwick too, and people literally waited in their cars for 30 minutes until a back-up supply came.

in farmington, i talked with a queer student who was so excited, engaged and empowered by this experience, she's getting a tattoo (seriously) that says:

November 4, 2008


alright--gotta get to work.

and M., if you're reading this from the "other" Portland--congratulations, and welcome to the wonderful world of Aunt-hood. You're gonna love it. And you're gonna be a fabulous auntie M.

Monday, November 10, 2008

postcard heaven

It's been a long while since I've posted anything more than a quote, a video, or a picture. Let's just say...I've been busy. The past 8 weeks I've been in a vaccuum of work, and it paid off, big time. As most people know by now, we did something amazing in Maine on Election Day. Our goal of collecting 10,000 pro-marriage equality signatures in a single day was obliterated. We more than tripled it: 33,000 and counting. It was simply extraordinary and the efforts of our organizers and 350 statewide volunteers was just beautiful. This makes the LGBT political community in Maine so much stronger, and the impact that single day is going to have on our ability to move forward on LGBT equality cannot be overstated. It's a very. big. deal.

And of course, there is little time to catch my breath. You gotta take advantage of this kind of momentum, and keep the train moving forward. No time to rest on your laurels. I spent the last day and a half trying to let go of the work and just relax. Kevin came down from Bangor on Saturday and Corey cooked us a fabulous dinner Saturday night. Sunday we met up with K & J for breakfast, and it felt good to have the posse in one room again. It's been a long time coming.

I fell asleep early last night, but dreamed all night of postcards and data entry and volunteers, oh my. I think that's the first "work" dream I've had since my restaurant days, when almost nightly I would toss and turn and tend bar and wait tables in my sleep. I know what this means...gotta take some time for me at some point, and soon. Betsy has essentially told me that she doesn't want to see my face the week of Thanksgiving, and that if I try to come to the office, she's going to take away my keys. Ha. She knows me well!

I know there is much to write about, and I still don't have the time do it. For now, I'll just say thanks, to my organizers, to our volunteers, to the 33,000 Mainers from Kittery to Ellsworth and in 85 polling places in between who signed on to support our cause.

And I'll leave you with this photo from early Wednesday morning (keep in mind, we had many, many more postcards yet to be returned.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”

Anne Lamott

harvey milk square

as wonderful as Tuesday night was, for so, so many reasons, i am devastated about california.

the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Square is at half mast today in san francisco.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Two and a half hours away from the polls closing. We have made history--and by the end of the day, we will have achieved and surpassed our goal of identifying 10,000 supporters of marriage equality. In a single day. Something that has never been done before, by any independent grassroots organization in the country.

I am so proud of our organizers, of our volunteers, of the organization that I am so lucky to work for. Mostly I am so proud to be a Mainer today. Really, I am simply blown away.

And Obama...fingers crossed. A new day may well be upon us.

I feel hopeful for the first time, in a very, very long time.

we just reached...

...our goal.

by noon.

10,000 postcards.

printing more postcards.

we are running out!

report from the field

It's been an amazing day, already, and we've only been up for 4 hours! We're in 87 polling places across the state, and we're hearing from our morning volunteers that people are signing postcards to support marriage in DROVES. Orono reports that they've had 200 signatures in 1 hour. South Berwick, 77 signatures. Portland polling places are collecting well over 100 per hour. It's extraordinary. The energy in this office is electric. Volunteers on the phone are excited, engaged...working so very hard.

Stay tuned....